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Spike: Look, if cavemen and astronauts got into a fight, who would win?

Wes: Oh. You've been yelling at each other for forty minutes about this. [[[Beat]]] Do the astronauts have weapons?

Angel & Spike: NO!
Angel, "A Hole in the World"

When a Seinfeldian Conversation becomes Serious Business.

It's common, when people are having a long discussion stretching across a number of different topics, that something will come up that they disagree on. Most of the time, they'll discuss this for a little bit, then move on to talking about something else.

But not this time. No, this time the argument becomes truly heated. Voices are raised. Curses are spit out. Friends are insulted. Furniture is thrown across the room in fury. No one involved is willing to back down until they convince the others that they are right right RIGHT, DAMMIT!!

... all over something as mundane and inconsequential as whether or not peanut butter technically counts as a sauce[1]. It's stupid, pointless, and really shouldn't be worth so much passion, but the characters just. Can't. Let it. Go.

Needless to say, Truth in Television - just see Unpleasable Fanbase, Broken Base, and Base Breaker for a number of media-centric examples. Frequently overlaps with Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny.

Not to be confused with the 1960s Astronauts in Caveman Days comedy Its About Time. Or a Ginger or Mary Ann debate. Not related to Ancient Astronauts.

Examples of Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate include:

Comic Books


  • In Crimson Tide, a fight ensues when one character said that the Kirby Silver Surfer was the only true Silver Surfer, and that the Moebius Silver Surfer was shit.
  • The "pirates vs. ninjas" debate in Sydney White.


  • One Animorphs book informs us that, when they were younger, Jake and Marco would spend entire afternoons arguing about whether or not cheese tastes yellow (Marco thought it tasted sorta green). Now that they're older, they have more serious, adult debates, like Who Would Win: Spider-Man or Batman?
  • In Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, there is a war waging between people who break their hard-boiled egg at the fat end (the "big-endians"), and those who break it at the narrow end.
    • This has spilled over into an analogous war within Real Life computer science. Some CPUs, such as the Intel x86-compatibles, store multi-byte values with the low-order byte first; other CPUs, such as the Motorola 68000 series, store multi-byte values with the high-order byte first. When multi-byte data from one computer is sent to another, e.g. over a network, the two computers had better agree on which way to encode the data or it could end up mangled. To this day, these two strategies are officially called "little-endian" and "big-endian", respectively, and result in just as much animosity as their Gulliverian namesakes.
  • In Cassandra Clare's "Mortal Instruments": Dumbledore or Magnus Bane?
  • Similar to the Gulliver's Travels example above, The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss features an allegory for the Cold War being waged over which side of the bread to butter.
  • The Guinness Book Of World Records was created specifically to end pub debates about the biggest/strongest/fastest whatever.

Live Action TV

  • The Angel episode "A Hole in the World" is the Trope Namer. Wesley walks in on Spike and Angel after they've spent 40 minutes shouting at each other about who would win in a fight between cavemen and astronauts. Pretty soon every one in the show is getting in on the act; "cavemen win" is even one character's last words.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Ted brings a picture that could either be a rabbit or a duck to make a point about how a date might seem right for someone but turn out to be wrong, and vice-versa. Then the gang disagrees over which represented the bad choice, the duck or the rabbit. According to Older Ted, it was the longest, most intense argument they've ever had.
    • When Barney and Robin date each other, their relationship seems to be full of these sorts of arguments. Barney once dared Robin to stab a knife through his chest over a fight about which of them should clean the dishes.
  • Seinfeld has Elaine and her boyfriend of the week get into a heated argument leading to their breakup about when it's appropriate to use exclamation points.
    • In another episode, George and another man try to park in the same Parallel Parking spot at the same time. George insists that the other guy needs to give up the spot because he was trying to pull in front first, and the only civilized way to parallel park is by backing up. The other guy disagrees, and they spend the rest of the night with both their cars halfway in the spot, halfway in the street, arguing over the validity of front-first parking. Everyone who passes by has a strongly held opinion on the issue, even the cops who show up to make them move their cars.

 Mike: Hey, pal, you're not getting that space. I mean, I'll sleep in my car if I have to.

George: I'll die out here.

  • Hank and Davis of Corner Gas apparently have a long-standing debate over who is cooler - Darth Maul or Darth Vader. Davis supports the Vader side and staunchly believes that everyone just thinks Darth Maul is cool because he has a double lightsaber.
  • The Spike TV show Deadliest Warrior is ALL ABOUT this trope. The premise of the show is to pit two types of "Warriors" from different time periods against each other to see who would win; it is almost embarrassing to see how seriously some of the experts think their warrior is just the best.
    • Subverted from time to time, though. Occasionally Manipulative Editing is used to make things look more hostile than they actually are, and in a few cases (SWAT vs. GSG9, SEALs vs. Israeli Commandos) the teams acknowledge that they don't REALLY hate each other.
  • There is an episode of Married... with Children in which a riot breaks out amongst the members of NOMAAM over the question of who starred in the first lite beer commercial.
  • In the Cheers episode "The Triangle," the bar regulars (who frequently debate mundane topics) get into an intense discussion of Roadrunner-Coyote cartoons. The argument escalates from whether the coyote is obsessed or simply hungry, to whether his ability to survive falling off a cliff indicates he's the Antichrist.
  • In Community Jeff and Britta spend an entire evening arguing with each other over which of two bars is better. This already inconsequential argument infuriates Troy when it turns out that because the bar doesn't have an actual name, they're talking about the same bar, but don't realize because they're referring to it by different distinguishing features.
    • And again when it comes out that Jeff is the only member of the study group that dislikes the Barenaked Ladies. Hilariously, they're having this argument at the exact same time they're arguing over something actually important, and treating it with more gravity.
  • A running joke in Ricky Gervais' Extras. The main character and his best friend would ask each other questions like, "what would you rather be? A penguin, where you are a bird but you can't fly, or a flying fish where you can fly but you're still a fish." Once or twice an episode.
  • Myth Busters addressed one of these that was going on at their own website; namely "Can a plane take off if it's on a conveyor belt running in the opposite direction?" They tested it, and concluded that yes, it can; forward motion is driven by the propeller and how the wheels interact with the ground is irrelevant.
    • Myth Busters in general plays host to a lot of myths born of such subjects. Particularly trying to test the legitimacy of taking idioms literally.
  • Supernatural: Sam and Dean Winchester have their own version of this as shown in the episode "Death's Door" with Chuck Norris vs. Jet Li.
  • Have I Got News for You: Quite often Paul Merton would indulge in this; once having a (seemingly) aggressive shouting match with Arthur Smith over whether or not you should put tomato sauce on baked beans.



Web Original

  • Space Battles has an entire discussion forum dedicated to precisely this issue.

Western Animation

  • The Venture Brothers: Who Would Win in a fight, Lizzie Borden or Anne Frank?
    • Henchmen #21 and #24 seem to have these debates a lot. Another episode showed them arguing over whether or not Smurfs lay eggs.
    • Not only 21 and 24, but the creative minds behind the show themselves have these kind of debates all the time. In one commentary track Doc references a heated argument they had about what woman was hotter: Fiona Apple or Jewel. Another time on a convention panel, a fan wanted to know their opinions on the Lizzie Borden v. Anne Frank debate but accidently asked their opinions on a Helen Keller v. Anne Frank debate. The results can be seen here at 6:49.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has the ever-continuing 'best pony' debate.
    • The answer is clearly Pinkie Pie.
  • In The Simpsons episode 'Homer at the Bat,' Wade Boggs is knocked out cold by Barney after the two argue over who's the best British Prime Minister of all time.

 Barney: And I say England's greatest Prime Minister was Lord Palmerston!

Wade Boggs: Pitt the Elder!



Barney: Okay, you asked for it, Boggs!

[punches out Boggs]

Moe: Yeah, that's showin' 'im, Barn! [mockingly] "Pitt the Elder"...


{{[[[Crowning Moment of Funny]] punches out Moe}}]

    • Another episode has Ned Flanders say that his denomination of Christianity (The Northwest Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism) split off from the Catholic Church several centuries ago over the right of worshippers to come to church with wet hair. He then sheepishly admits that his denomination has since abolished that right.
  • In one episode of Sealab 2021, the entire crew of Sealab get caught up in an argument about the hypothetical possibility of transferring their minds into robot bodies. So caught up that they don't notice that all of Sealab's safety systems are catastrophically failing.
    • Who cares, Pod 6 was full of jerks anyway.
  • In Drakken's debut episode of Kim Possible, he is shocked to find out that Kim is Dr. Possible's daughter, Dr. Possible having been someone he knew in high school and one of the people he is attempting to take revenge upon. When Ron (who is currently Drakken's prisoner) makes fun of him for not making the connection, Drakken defends himself on the basis that "Possible is a very common last name." Drakken ends up leaving the room in order to get a phone book just to back up his argument, causing him to miss the fact that rescuers are breaking into the building.
  • In the Futurama episode "Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?", Zoidberg discusses "the ceremony of Claw-Plach, where my species fight to the death over matters of honor. Also whether abbreviations count in Scrabble. They don't!"
  • In an episode of G.I. Joe, the Dreadnoks can be seen in the background having come to blows over whether breath mints or candy mints are better. (Or if one product was a breath mint or a candy mint.)

Real Life

  • If an airplane were on a conveyor belt, could it... uh, never mind.
    • As noted above, this was tested by the Myth Busters. It worked.
    • Debatable, since it was moving FORWARD on the treadmill, still generating lift. (Oh god I'm starting the trope inside the trope.)
      • No, you're just conceding defeat. The argument is that the treadmill would keep the plane from moving forward.
    • Randall Munroe of Xkcd explains it all here. (Short answer: The question is ambiguous. Shorter answer: Yes.)
  • Pirates vs Ninjas. That is all.
  • Coca-Cola vs Pepsi.
  • Star Trek vs Star Wars
    • Original Series vs Next Generation (or even just Kirk vs Picard)
    • Whole websites have been devoted to resolving the question of (or boasting the answer to) "Who would win in a fight between the U.S.S. Enterprise and an Imperial Star Destroyer?"
  • The Console Wars
  • Does .999...[repeating] = 1?[2]
    • Yes. This is basically an application of Zeno's Paradox, from the ancient Greek, but it wasn't until a hundred years or so after Newton that Calculus evolved to the point that it could definitively answer the question. Please, let's accept it and move on.
      • Although the fact that there is no X such that .999... < X < 1 answers the question also.
  • Zutara vs. Kataang. Need we say more?
  • In an interview with Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton discussed this essentially happening in politics. When you have two similar candidates (in this case Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton), the campaign becomes about stressing the minor differences between them. That can lead to them passionately stressing and arguing about a stance that the candidates don't actually find that important.
    • Heck, any random, small, and otherwise irrelevant, difference in political, philosophical or religious views could turn into this. We could give examples of this, but we're not going to.
  • Even this wiki isn't immune: Timey-Wimey Ball once had the line, "debating which time travel theory is right is much like trying to find the best flavor of ice cream". After over fifty different edits of what the best flavor of ice cream actually was, the joke was removed.
  • The Other Wiki has these in spades. For example: is that city in northern Poland called "Danzig" or "Gdańsk" in English? There's even been wars about punctuation!
    • Though to be fair to punctuation, incorrect punctuation can dramatically change the meaning of a statement. "Let's eat, Grandpa." means something different than "Let's eat Grandpa" just as "Let's help your Uncle Jack off a horse." is something different than "Let's help your Uncle jack off a horse."
  • A three way debate: Left-C vs. Right-C vs. Down-C. Which one is the one true correct place for your Ocarina?
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