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Some people treat children's card games like Serious Business... and sometimes it's even justified, when the game determines world events.

However, the Cavalier Competitor will insist on playing this game like it's a game, of all things! Rather than rant and rage at losing Hit Points, they'll amiably congratulate their opponent on a clever move. When their opponent Trash Talks about their unbeatable combo, he'll say "can't wait to see it!". And most impressive of all... the Cavalier Competitor will usually win. It may be nothing more than a mildly interesting hobby for them, but they can beat anyone, anyone at this game. Maybe they're a performer and not a technician, and their laid back perspective has given them a powerful Metagame advantage. Perhaps they're just really talented at it but don't want to "go pro". In extreme cases, they're a Genius Ditz who never played the game before and doesn't think it's a big deal.

In a sense, they're just being a good sportsman about the whole thing, which is especially disconcerting to everyone else who is seriously into it. He just wants to have fun and chides opponents for taking it so seriously... sometimes, even when the fate of the world depends on it. In a setting where the Serious Business game does impact world events, the Cavalier Competitor will be a decidedly Smug Snake because this person can and will treat it like a game even if lives hang in the balance. The Arrogant Kung Fu Guy has nothing on them, their dismissive attitude routinely insults opponents. Alternately, they may realize lives are at risk, but consider the whole thing beneath them, and play only for the amusement value of playing. Unlike the former, their ego tends to be big enough to gather a solar system and they will drop the nonchalant act if an opponent starts beating them, possibly even get a breakdown if they lose.

This has some overlap with Scrub. See also Spirited Competitor.

Examples of Cavalier Competitor include:

Anime and Manga

  • Judai/Jaden from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX embodies this trope to the extent that, when he takes the first season finale seriously (even though absolutely nothing is riding on it and he just laughed his way through a battle for the fate of the world), he starts losing. This only lasts until the third season, when he starts taking everything seriously and has a Face Heel Turn.
    • In the real-life version, this is a very legitimate strategy to take against some players. Having an easy smile on your face when your opponent massively overextends and is about to rush you to death can sometimes be more a more effective defense than an entirely filled back row.
  • Cell from Dragonball Z demonstrates the second interpretation of this trope when he reaches his Perfect form, an end-result of having Frieza's and the arrogant Vegeta's cells in him. Wanting to see Gohan's hidden power for a greater challenge, he crushes Android 16's head beneath his foot to have his anger erupt. Needless to say, his wish was granted. Once the pissed-off, now Super Saiyan 2 Gohan starts pounding him with ease, Perfect Cell gets angry and drops his Cavalier Competitor attitude, since the game isn't fun anymore. Were it not for Goku stepping in, Perfect Cell would have taken his ball and gone home.
    • Frieza himself is another example of the second interpretation of this trope. He often plays cat-and-mouse with his enemies because he is so certain of his power.
    • Also Buu and Gotenks, Gotenks makes up one of the most bizaare and powerful attacks in the series just for fun, and Buu is pretty much the embodiment of this trope once he kills Babidi and absorbs the good Buu, he seeks out Gotenks as a worthy foe, but quickly gets bored and decides to read a book instead.
      • Buu, much like Cell before him, plays the second interpretation straight. He's cavalier about a fight so long as he's the one winning. The moment someone stronger comes around, it's no longer fun and he starts to suffer epic breakdowns.
    • Goku himself is combination of the first variety of this and Spirited Competitor unless his opponent's evil registers to him even more than their power does. Which usually becomes the case when they do something sick like blowing up his best friend with a sadistic grin on their face.
      • Android 17, one of the androids Dr. Gero programmed to destroy Goku, is just like him in this way (without as much of the "spirited" part), oddly enough. In fact, his only reason for proceeding with the Goku hunt after killing Gero is the entertainment of it all.
  • Subverted in Hikaru no Go. When Akira first meets Hikaru, it seems like this trope is being played out to a T: Akira, the genius wonderkid, gets his ass handed to him at Go by Hikaru, who seems to take the whole thing as a joke and says it's his first time playing. The match shocks Akira to the point that he spends years obsessing over it. The irony is, Hikaru isn't really playing at all, he's just following the orders of his ghost companion who Akira can't see; said ghost is an INCREDIBLY serious competitor and definitely not cavalier.
    • Later on, when Hikaru begins playing Go on his own, he plays Akira again and gets destroyed. This makes Akira even more angry, because he thinks Hikaru is being so caviler, he's not even trying.


  • Randy in Balls of Fury goes into the tournament thinking it's a highly competitive but still harmless ping pong game, and can't understand all the extreme attitudes about it. However, their interpretation of "Sudden Death" ping pong has actual death for the losers. He loses the Cavalier Competitor attitude pretty fast after that.
  • This trope was used as Character Development for Amber in Hairspray. Her mom orchestrated Tracy's exclusion to win a call in competition for her, and once defeated, Amber gets over it and tells her "it's just a title" (paraphrased). Her mom didn't take it so well.
    • She said something more like "Mom, I lost. Let's just deal with it". It gives a general impression that she didn't care that much about it (well, after winning so many times, it's easy to understand why).


  • In The Demonata a character manages to win Chess with Death against Lord Loss in this way. Unfortunately, this upset Lord Loss so much that he could no longer gain any enjoyment from chess, reverting to inflicting suffering on mortals as his primary means of amusement.
  • For a serf, the Tourney in the Apprentice Adept series means the difference between exile, continued tenure as a serf, and full Citizenship (being a life of ridiculous luxury and freedom), and thus is extremely Serious Business. Citizens can enter if they feel like it, with nothing at stake. Stile's Tourney opponents in the first trilogy include the Rifleman, a Worthy Opponent who takes the skill and competition very seriously, and honestly wishes Stile success after Stile defeats him, and an unnamed ten-year-old Citizen who "beats" him in a "contest" of poker machines and crows about it disgustingly, while Stile now only needs one more loss to disqualify him from the Tourney, which is fairly life-or-death by this stage.

Western Animation

  • Twilight Sparkle pulls this one off in the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "Fall Weather Friends." During the big Running of the Leaves race, Applejack and Rainbow Dash develop an intense rivalry and take the race very seriously. Twilight, a first-timer who is quite non-athletic, is seen just strolling along throughout the race, admiring the autumn leaves with a peaceful expression on her face. In the end, Twilight comes in fifth, which isn't a great showing, but her friends come in dead last because they tired themselves out too quickly, whereas Twilight paced herself and saved all her energy for the final stretch.
    • Incidentally, Twilight's strategy is more or less the opposite of what one would do in an actual horse race. But then this was more of a marathon.