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In a nutshell, it's a character having a conflict for reasons that are either weak, or contradict previous characterization.

For example: Why is The Lancer disagreeing with The Big Guy on the way to infiltrate the enemy base? The Lancer actually suggested similar plans before. In fact, it's The Lancer's favorite kind of plan, so why is he disagreeing with it now? He never says. It's just so The Lancer can go off on his own, screw up, get captured and be rescued, and then learn a valuable lesson about teamwork, that he will just forget the next time he is handed the Conflict Ball.

As we all know, Conflict is the driving force of a story. As we also know, not all writers are good at pulling it off. So we often get conflict either out of nowhere or based on trite or contrived reasons. Much like Poor Communication Kills, this is done to keep the plot moving, or at the least to Railroad it to where the author wants it to go.

The Load, the Ineffectual Loner, and Commander Contrarian often do this, being belligerent and contrary for no apparent reason, or to Overcome Their Differences with the leader.

When there is some actual effect compelling the characters to fight all of a sudden, that's a Hate Plague.

Compare Rule of Drama, Idiot Ball, Apple of Discord. See also Out-of-Character Moment.

Now since this trope involves contrivance, this is not technically possible in real life.

Examples of Conflict Ball include:


All Serial Media


Anime & Manga

  • In One Piece, Usopp is surprisingly adamant about not abandoning the Going Merry, despite admitting that he knew it couldn't be fixed, and Luffy is quite undiplomatic about his decision to let it go, without noting that he had previously been unwilling to accept that the ship was doomed.
    • The Going Merry was not only a present from Usopp's sick friend, and a reminder of his home town, but a sentient being. It's understandable that Usopp would have trouble letting go. At the same time, it couldn't sail any longer. Luffy had no choice but to get a new ship. He couldn't very well give in to Usopp and sail his crew to their deaths.
      • What is odd is that Luffy never mentions to Usopp that he also had refused to believe that the Going Merry was doomed, and silences Nami when she tries to explain his point of view to Usopp, which makes it easier for Usopp to perceive Luffy as being heartless. It's also natural for Usopp to get sentimental about his friend's gift to the point of ignoring rationality, but in this case, he also went against what he personally knew to be true.
      • The Going Merry fixes itself in the Skypeia Arc and Usopp knows that too. It's plain heartless to abandon it, but at the same time still sailing in it is plain brainless (and Luffy is not THAT brainless). Franky even points out it's better FOR THE SHIP to abandon it, because if the crew it loves sinks with it, the ship will not find peace. Usopp's denial is part of his character personality based on his own side story. Eventually Usopp learns that things like this happen and he has to learn from this, not deny it or lie to himself leading to a moment of redemption, yes, this one, at the end of Water Seven Arc he's still a coward and fights with deception, but now he doesn't make excuses for his coward personality; he now accepts he is a coward. Plain and simple
  • The Soul Society in Bleach does more than occasionally show fondness for this trope as Captain Yamamoto and Central 46 have been considered to do this before. Though some are willing to contest the former, the latter not so much.
    • Which is a little odd considering how little the Central 46 have actually been in it; their biggest mistake was exiling Urahara for a crime he didn't commit, but was expertly framed for by Aizen. In the Soul Society arc they were presented as ruthless pedantic to the point of Lawful Stupid, if not plain evil, in wanting Rukia dead, but this too was a ploy by Aizen as he had actually murdered all of them already and had taken their place.
      • The problem with these is that between Yamamoto and Central 46, one will suggest a plan of action and the other will agree out of respect, seemingly without taking into consideration whether this plan was good or not. Also, almost every problem encountered in, say, the movies, the fillers, and many in the canon are their fault. In the Bount arc, it's revealed that Central 46 ordered genocide of the Bounts because they might eat human souls to get stronger, despite the fact that they didn't really show any definite desire to do this. In the second movie, Central 46 decided that since Hitsugaya and his friend had the same Zanpakuto in two different forms, that one of them needed to die....for some unexplained reason. In canon, Central 46 seemingly did nothing to investigate Urahara and Tessai's innocence, simply declaring them guilty based on opinion and leaving no further investigation. Even yelling at Urahara when he tried to defend himself.
      • Actually they did investigate. When Urahara tried to blame Aizen, Central 46 informed him they had collected witness statements from 200 shinigami to confirm Aizen's whereabouts at the time in question. Urahara didn't have a leg to stand on, especially as he was caught "red handed" with the forbidden hollowfication research (and victims).
  • Certain viewers have noticed in Project A-ko on how B-Ko's desire for C-Ko probably would have gone better if she didn't antagonize A-Ko so much. One might think that well conflict is an absolute necessity in an action story but then you realize that B-Ko wasn't exactly the main antagonist in the 1st movie.
  • Mousse from Ranma ½ is almost always in conflict with the titular protagonist, which is absurd when you realize that their primary goals regarding Shampoo coincide perfectly. They have literally no reason to fight, since (aside from his massive ego) Ranma should love an opportunity to remove one unwanted love interest, and Mousse should be happy to have at least one ally who will want to see Shampoo end up with Mousse. But that would be too easy, so instead Mousse is too blind to see the reality, and Ranma just responds as usual to someone attacking him.


Comicbooks

  • The Civil War in Marvel Comics. Many characters are fighting over the issue of a Super Registration Act, but insist on Let's You and Him Fight with some of their fastest friends rather than getting their act together to prove their case (pro or anti) and finding a solution that doesn't result in very necessary heroes being hunted down like dogs, or more battles as the pro and anti sides fight and invariably give villains free rein in the chaos. In the end, the Pro side got Designated Villains to simplify the debate.
  • In a Black Panther comic, T'Challa is explaining his plan to take out a vampire infested city to Luke Cage, Brother Voodoo and Blade. Blade tells T'Challa that just because he runs a country doesn't mean he can tell him what to do. Cage says Blade is being difficult for no reason since he doesn't have a plan. Blade admits to it and says he just doesn't want to be part of a team. So T'Challa tells Blade to go off on his own and this immediately puts him in a good mood, so good he gives Luke Cage one of his guns before leaving.
    • Blade and John Blaze also traded the conflict ball around in the various Midnight Sons series. One notable example was after Blade had a possession exorcised and returned with information vital to the team but Blaze wouldn't hear any of it and threatened to shoot him.
  • The Lehrigen arc in Elf Quest pushed this to pretty extreme levels: Scouter's rebellion against Ember was not only extremely out of character (although he has been Flanderized into a complete asshole over time), but pretty much against everything the elves stand for.
  • In the Birds of Prey series, Huntress is a living Conflict Ball between Batman and Oracle. Batman is always suspicious of Helena thanks to her past (she killed mobsters in her campaign to avenge her parents -- who were also mobsters), and Oracle is always willing to give her a chance.
  • Oh, dear sweet merciful Xenu, Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog comics have had this A LOT under Ian Flynn, but the crowning moment of this came during 178-179. In those two issues, the House of Acorn imprisons Tails' parents for wanting to reform the government ('Cause that makes your monarchy look benevolent, right?). Sonic sides with the monarchy instead of...you know...his best friend, to the point that Sonic gets into a fight with Tails for daring to break his parents loose! Tails makes some rude comments toward Sonic during the fight, yelling at him for leaving him behind on important missions, and blah blah blah...except that's not why he's fighting Sonic, it's really because Sonic took Fiona away from him. Yep, that was the core reason. Not his parents, just the passing love interest who not only wasn't even the same Fiona that Tails loved (that was a robot duplicate of her), but also who, just a few issues ago, was revealed to be a bad guy.


Fan Fiction

  • In My Immortal, everything everyone does seems to be a bit arbitrary and stupid, but the conflicts bear special mention. Dumbledore appears to be portrayed as a prep because he's not goffik enough, and therefore he must hate all goffs and act cruel and mean to them, just because. Voldemort also appears to be the story's seeker in terms of conflict balls.


Film

  • Team America spoofed this. One of the guys had a problem with the new guy, and he eventually told the new guy his improbable reason he had a problem with actors, although that traumatic event should have made him hate furries.
  • In Volcano, an angry black guy butted heads with a bigoted cop, while the volcano was still going off. The effort to stop the lava conveniently helped them see past their differences.
  • George A. Romero just loved tossing this one onto the court in Night of the Living Dead. It wasn't guaranteed to get everyone killed, but it never helped their situation to stand around and quibble.
  • In the Star Wars movies, the Jedi Council are more or less good people. Sticklers for the rules perhaps, and maybe they should have kept a closer eye on their Chosen One, but at the end of the day, they tried to do the right thing. In much of the Expanded Universe however, they council doesn't just carry the Conflict Ball, they play intense games of Volley Conflict Ball at a moment's notice. Example: In Knights of the Old Republic 2, you have to visit three hidden Jedi and convince them to band together and help you fight the Sith. Individually they all agree with you. Once you get them together, they suddenly think that you're Sith and that cutting you off from the Force will magically fix everything. Why? Because the writers demand conflict!
    • Actually, the Jedi Masters regard you being a threat more than the Sith, but the entire Force. Sith ruling over the Galaxy? They'll survive that. The death of the Force? Nu-uh. Plus, technically, you did bring the Sith there (Kreia), though of course, it's all due to Kreia manipulating you from the start.
    • The Ruusan Reformations. This is where you see the movies' Order come to be from the KOTOR-era Order. Much stricter, less flexible, and a bunch of new rules that make conflict virtually impossible to avoid. (No love on pain of expulsion? Really?) This is where the Jedi stopped growing and became static/stagnant.
      • The Ruusan Reformation was supposed to be a response to the lessons learned from the New Sith Wars. The problem is that the Jedi learned all the wrong lessons.
    • The post-ROTJ EU runs off this trope, particularly Legacy of the Force. It doesn't matter how many Aesops the Galaxy has learned, it doesn't matter how many planets are devastated, how many populations eradicated, how many governments toppled, there will always be one planet that feels the need to wage war for absolutely retarded reasons.
  • Bride Wars has the two protagonists have their weddings for the same date and the same place. The two have been best friends for years, but they now suddenly don't want their identical dream weddings to be combined in what would be an awesome double wedding. Bad Movie Beatdown had a field day pointing out how arbitrary it was, to the point of a gaping Plot Hole.
  • Lost in Space had the father go from merely being neglectful of his son Will to outright dismissing anything he has to say, even when he should at least address some of those things.
  • Wild Wild West. Sure it was their first assignment, but Jim West and Artemus Gordon's fighting came across as petty instead of natural differences in their characters.
  • Apollo 13 has astronauts Jack Swigert and Fred Haise argue over what may have caused their mission's accident. In real life, no such arguments occurred at all, and was added because Word of God thought it didn't seem right that they were completely together through the rest of the mission. It is ultimately Justified afterwards, when they discover their CO2 levels have gone up considerably and it's affecting their judgment.


Literature

  • In the Dinotopia book The Maze, at one point the characters enter a field of angry gas. They would never have known about it (and split up angrily--fatal given their location) if Booj hadn't taken the offer of "You think you're above us anyway, why don't you go up?" literally, and jumped to a ledge above the level of the gas.
  • In Robert Merle's Malevil, the conflict ball is given to Catie. A shameless tease, frequently undermining discipline, arguing against Emmanuel, and causing problems for her husband Thomas, Emmanuel's second in command.
  • In the Wheel of Time, it is often averted or played straight, depending upon your point of view. Despite the obvious rise and return of the Dark One, the many factions in the world bicker and fight each other rather than teaming up. Could be viewed as an aversion, as the entire series seems to be a response to classic fantasy series like LOTR, where political and philosophical differences are just too great to easily set everything aside and band together against the approaching evil. However, a recent straight example of this trope is Egwene's opposition to Rand's plan to destroy the remaining seals. Although it's a curious plan that's a bit outside the box, it never shows her even considering why Rand wants to do it or to try communicating with him to discuss the matter. She just immediately dismisses it as a horrible idea and sets about trying to turn everyone against him, all for the sake of conflict.


Live-Action TV

  • In The West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael", the normally calm, moral and - of course - liberal Leo McGarry character has to turn into a ranting strawman of a right-wing ideologue for plot purposes. It should be pointed out that the actors give a small speech at the beginning that openly states that it doesn't fit into the regular continuity.
  • In an episode of Clarissa Explains It All, she wanted a job, but the parents kept saying no. They gave no reason, even when asked, and they eventually relented for no stated reason either. That might have been justified, as the show was largely seen through her Point of View.
  • The New Generation Kamen Rider series are particularly bad at this when it comes to provoking battles between Riders. They more or less have a rule that any given pair of Riders must fight at least once during the series (preferably more), no matter the cost in terms of character and story consistency.
    • I'll be damned if they aren't cool as hell, though.
    • The older gen had 1: V3 vs. Riderman.
    • This trend was however finally averted in Kamen Rider Double and seemingly every show afterwards, with the Second Rider only having minor disagreements at worst with the main Rider.
  • In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Tommy and Jason suddenly stopped being able to work as a team for one episode, implying that they NEVER were able to work well together, so they could learn a valuable lesson of teamwork. It didn't use the Ineffectual Loner path, but instead used a new variant of All Your Powers Combined for the two of them to beat a monster without their mecha.
    • A straighter version of this happens several years down the line in Power Rangers SPD, when after learning to work together as a team, some episode plot would revolve around the teammates disliking each other. This reached a new high in the SWAT two-parter when the bickering that occurred during the first part of the episode was pretty much unprecedented, even considering the fact that three of the Rangers were openly enemies of the other two in the beginning of the series brought together by an Enemy Mine situation.
  • The character Steven Caldwell of Stargate Atlantis was, according to the actor, supposed to be more of a jerk in the original script. However, the actor subtly nicened him up a bit. Unfortunately the trade off was that whenever the script called for him to truly be a jerk, it often looked a little forced. One notable example is the episode Sateda, in which Shepard claims that Caldwell doesn't value alien team members such as Ronin as much as earth members, a point that had never been hinted at before.
  • Subverted with on Stargate SG-1, where Jack O'Neill suddenly starts acting like an uncaring, greedy jerk, and leaves the Stargate Program when reprimanded to join a group who steal alien technology. However, it later turns out that the whole thing is a trick to unearth said group.
    • Star Trek: Voyager had an almost identical subversion with Tom Paris, showing him having more and more problems fitting in over a long arc culminating in his leaving Voyager to infiltrate an enemy group.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sometimes conflict seems randomly shoehorned in among the characters just so the writers can meet some sort of mandatory drama quota.
    • This was particularly glaring in Season 7 when everyone asked Buffy to leave. They had no particular reason to think that Buffy's plan wouldn't work, no plan of their own, and certainly had no reason to think Faith would be a better leader. And it's nearly impossible to believe that Willow and Xander would turn on Buffy after everything they've been through. But the writers wanted conflict, so it's "Get out of your own house, Buffy." Though this may be partially influenced by changing scripts. According to rumor, Xander was supposed to be outright killed instead of just losing an eye - this was only changed when they realized there wouldn't be sufficient time to mourn him in the last episodes.
    • Season 6 just may have been worse about this, particularly regarding Xander and Anya's failed wedding. Or how about Willow's magic addiction try try to justify her turn to the dark side after Tara is killed?
    • There's a rather aggravating example in the Season 5 episode "Tough Love" where Willow and Tara suddenly get into a fight that comes out of nowhere so Tara can conveniently go out alone to get attacked by the Big Bad.
    • Let's just say that Joyce and Buffy's friends mishandled her return from LA on a thermonuclear level in Season 3's 'Dead Man's Party'. Joyce was an early S1 flake; Willow and Xander were their S6/7 selves four years early.
  • There's an episode of All in The Family in which Mike, the show's resident liberal, abruptly reveals a stay-in-the-kitchen attitude toward women that runs contrary to his character. The purpose of this revelation is to create conflict between him and Gloria.
    • It should be noted that "liberal" and "feminist" are not necessarily the same thing (especially if the liberal in question is male), and that some feminists are outright contemptuous of liberalism.
  • One episode of Saved by the Bell: The College Years has Slater discover he actually has Mexican heritage. He out of nowhere accuses Zack of being racist because Zack tries to set him up with a blonde girl. He actually says "why do you only think girls with blonde hair and blue eyes are attractive? I've dated girls with dark hair and dark eyes". This is completely ignoring that the love of Zack's life was brunette and that he dated girls of many ethnicities in high school, including their friend Lisa. Slater spends the whole episode being overly sensitive and Zack is presented as the one who needs to learn the Aesop.
  • In The Dead Zone TV series, Johnny holds the ball whenever Greg Stillson is involved. One particularly annoying example is when Stillson (Vice President at the time) shows up at his house to ask for his help in bringing a space shuttle home safely after it loses radio contact. Johnny reluctantly helps him, with emphasis on reluctantly. The audience can identify with Stillson's frustration at some points, when Johnny berates him for (what he sees as) using the incident to advance his career. Come on, Johnny. You're helping a team of astronauts get home safely. Does it really matter that Stillson was the one to ask it of you? Notably, this was after Johnny had stopped getting Armageddon visions from Stillson. Stillson was still a shady, ambitious politician, but in this episode it seemed like Johnny was being a jerk for apparently no reason at all.


Tabletop Games

  • All over the place in White Wolf's Old World of Darkness games. It seemed that every single faction was in a war, cold or hot, with every other faction; a particularly standout example would be the entirety of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse line, where the various tribes fought each other, other shapeshifters, regular humans, and sometimes the Wyrm (the entity they were supposed to be fighting), mostly for reasons that made the reader wonder how the place ever got past the stone age. Shapeshifters, simply put, can be just as bad as any humans but with infinitely more anger issues and less self-control.


Videogames

  • Many hotheaded RPG characters, whether heroes or villains, will be more in the mood to fight when it makes more sense to talk, because the plot can't go further if they resolve things peacefully.
  • The entire population of Azeroth was handed one of these between Warcraft III and World of Warcraft. Nearly all the civilizations of Kalimdor, which includes forces from both the Alliance and the Horde, allied to fend off the Burning Legion and the Scourge by the end of the former game, but those alliances dissolve offscreen in the years between the games. The release of Wrath of the Lich King, and the corresponding rise of the Scourge as a major threat once again, has caused a thaw in relations between the coalitions, but they still battle openly in some places. The main purpose of the war seems to be to have an excuse for the two sides to be in opposition.
    • Varian and Garrosh are walking Conflict Balls!
    • The Wrath of the Lich King area of Grizzly Hills is of special note, as its main theme is that you must help your faction to gather as much of the Hills' plentiful resources as possible, while sabotaging the rival faction's attempts to do the same. Both factions want to use said resources to help them defeat the Lich King - which is to say that in Grizzly Hills, the Lich King's two main enemies are locked in a savage war over who will get to fight the guy they both actually came there to fight. With enemies like these, the Lich King doesn't need any friends...
    • In Icecrown, the Horde and Alliance each have a flying gunship specifically built to take on the Scourge, and yet are used almost exclusively against each other. This culminates in Icecrown Citadel, where they battle over who has the right to take on the Lich King. They do this even though the respective gunship captains are otherwise very sensible sorts who are perfectly aware that every Horde and Alliance soldier who falls in battle becomes a potential recruit for the Scourge.
    • The ground forces in Icecrown are worse, and yes, there's a ground campaign simply because the scourge would overrun anyone who just flew in to confront the Lich King. Anyway. Because of impassable mountains, the ground forces have to take a path right through a series of gates in some rather impressively defended walls. The first assault starts off with some reasonable teamwork, but then the Alliance blames the Horde for what happens next, and the Horde apparently takes that as an excuse to screw the Alliance and go it on their own. They end up sabotaging and backstabbing each other whenever it looks like one faction might take a gate, because allowing someone to take the gate would mean having to fight through the other faction - again - to progress towards the Lich King, only from a less defendable position. The aforementioned airship captains praise the ground forces when they hear about this.
    • At this point, the Alliance vs Horde conflict is really only sustained by liberal passes of the conflict ball. Everybody seems to realize that the war is counterproductive at best, and every expansion gives the two sides a common enemy. With the ridiculous amounts of Enemy Mine, taking place between them, you would think they would start to realize that there's really no justifiable reason to be fighting anymore. At least not until the writers give them one by making characters more evil.
  • The "ring of conflict" in Nethack is a conflict ball... for the group of monsters you're facing.
  • Used as a joke in some of the Touhou games, especially fighting games. Often the fights are for improbable, ridiculous reasons. However, it's also clear that, ultimately, these people just like beating the heck out of each other!
  • During one infamous scene in Tactics Ogre', your choice directly affects your best friend's choice to put the Conflict Ball into play. Essentially one of you is going to be a Knight Templar to the other's Chaotic Good and there's nothing you can do about it.
  • In Mega Man X 5 many reploids you fight want to have a piece of your character for various reasons. While there are varying degrees of justification, the fact that several not in the throes of Maverick fever insist on doing this when the giant space colony is coming crashing down is a bit incredulous.
    • Mega Man X4's entire plot starts simply because Colonel would rather throw the entire Repliforce into a pointless war with the Maverick Hunters than simply turn off his Laser Sword when asked to come to the latter's headquarters.
  • The Conflict Ball is the plot to Vivisector: Beast Inside. It starts out with a General Ripper hiring an Evilutionary Biologist to create an army of Half Human Hybrids, only to split into a civil war over disagreements over how the army should be utilized. Okay, that's reasonable. Then the General decides to nuke the biologist's soldiers for no good reason, and when he tricks the player character into coming to their island hideaway, he conveniently forgets to inform his own soldiers that he required your help, turning them against you for no reason other than to add more enemies for you to fight. It gets worse, though; later on, the General kills your only ally in the game for absolutely no reason but to get you to abandon him for the doctor's side, and then you learn that the beast soldiers are pre-programmed to hate humans on sight, forcing you to fight your new allies, even though there really should be no reason for that to happen. In essence, the only reason why you have to fight any enemies in the game is because But Thou Must!.
  • In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, you must fight each one of your potential party members before they can join your party, mostly just because fighting is what the game is all about. This leads to some rather odd, out of character moments from each one before they join you. Roberto, for instance, acts like a complete Jerkass when you first meet for no particular reason, despite being a perfectly nice guy afterwards.
  • The AI in Galactic Civilizations II likes to lob one of these your way if it gets bored. The galaxy is prosperous, quiet, and peaceful? A Mega Event goes off in which one of your citizens assassinates the head of the Drengin Empire, plunging you into war! Which drags the Drengin's allies the Drath Legion into it, and thanks to their racial ability they convince the Yor to attack you too! But then the Altarians step in on your behalf, and use their racial ability to have the Iconians help out too, but that serves as the last straw for the Korx who team up with the Thalans...
  • In the RPG Dragon Age: Origins, Logain Mac Teir, a trusted general and adviser to the king, who is lauded as a hero by the people, suddenly and deliberately abandons the king and all of his soldiers during a battle with an invading Darkspawn hoard. They all die. Logain then attempts to return to the capital and claim the throne, even though the kings wife is the clear successor. This causes a civil war between Logain's supporters and those that oppose his unjust rule. While the civil war is going on, a massive army of Darkspawn is ravaging the countryside, presumably killing thousands. Two towns in particular, Lothering and Honnleath, are known to have been destroyed and their inhabitants nearly wiped out. This is all done under Logain's claim that he is "doing what's best for Ferelden." Because of his his betrayal and the resulting civil war, Ferelden is nearly destroyed by the invading Darkspawn before the Grey Wardens are able to fight back.

Webcomics

  • Emily McArthur of Misfile has had this a lot lately.
    • Justified quite a bit, in that Emily likes her "misfiled" existence - in which she's learned a lot of new and interesting things, made new friends and basically lives a life that's more than an extension of her mother's lost dreams. She also knows Ash hates her new life (or more specifically, hates the fact that he's a she in it). Emily doesn't really want to fix things, and only admits this when Ash tries to get her to commiserate with her one time too many. She even tried to explain this.
    • A straighter example would be the constant, immature sparring between Emily and Missi. While Emily has generally gotten better at this and only retorts back when provoked, Missi seems to take a perverse delight in annoying her. The only reason for this, it seems, would be so that the two can clash over their feelings for Ash. Even more irritating, though, is Missi's refusal to accept that Ash isn't her girlfriend anymore. It's makes one wonder whether Chris only created her to exacerbate personal drama in the lives of the two protagonists. When you consider that Ash and Emily are steadily becoming less hostile towards Rumisiel over time - they aren't friendly with him, but they seem to trust him more than they did at the start - this theory isn't without justification.
  • Hardly a week goes by without something going down in Candi, and there have been perhaps three instances over the course of the comic's six-plus-year run where characters have actually, permanently learned anything from the resulting drama. Trevor, Linda, and Rebecca in particular are especially fond of The Ball.


Western Animation

  • In an episode of the Super Mario Bros. cartoon series, "True Colors", the Koopas spray red paint on half the townspeople, and blue paint on the other half. The Toads begin arguing over petty differences (egged on by two of the Koopa Kids) and end up dividing based on color. Naturally, this allows for a corny allegory about racism.
  • In episode 12 of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan, Tom and Anne both get a hold of the ball for a time when Tom refuses to believe Ms. Scarlet Avondale is the crook simply because she's female and Anne insists a woman can be a crook just as easily as a man, as if it's an accomplishment. Anne turns out to be right, but the reason for the argument is rather silly.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic uses this in a number of episodes, like Rarity and Applejack's escalating tiff in "Look Before You Sleep", and Applejack and Rainbow Dash's competitiveness getting out of hand in "Fall-Weather Friends".
    • Invoked by Twilight in "Lesson Zero" with the hope of being able to solve someone's problem and learn her weekly Aesop. It gets out of hand when everyone in town winds up fighting over her doll. In doing so, she ironically ended up holding the Conflict Ball herself, by dint of her sudden obsession with helping fix others' problems.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Whenever Candace actually goes along with her brothers' latest scheme, she (usually) has a great time and often gets quality time with Jeremy. Yet she is constantly trying to bust them for no apparent reason beyond sibling upmanship (pointless as they genuinely look up to her) and winning her mom's approval.
    • Though lately even she has pointed out that the urge is irrational, but she still goes with it. Sometimes, admittedly, the things the boys are doing would be dangerous if they were even a smidgen less competent (showcased in "Phineas and Ferb get Busted" where one misplaced bolt led to most of the house being wrecked. Thank goodness that Just a Dream...), and sometimes she does seem to be in it more because she thinks what they're doing is dangerous (like the all-terrain vehicle bit) or disruptive (driving cattle through downtown).
      • By now, even her failure to ever bust them is lampshaded almost every episode, and she often tries (and usually fails) to resist the "urge to bust" like it's an odd G-Rated Drug addiction.
  • Total Drama Action: The cast seemed pretty cold and mean to Courtney's reappearance even before being shoe-horned in as the season's 'villain'.
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