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Senior wizards never rowed in public. The damages were apt to be appalling. No, politeness ruled, but with sharpened edges.
Fighting doesn't have to involve shouting or anything physical. For some characters, sharp well placed words are all they need to duel. They can sound very reasonable, even gentle. It's still a knock-out, winner-take-all confrontation, just that the people involved are trying to remain composed and amicable.
This is also Truth in Television, as it's practically a necessity in politics and diplomacy, and just a common trait of a Jewish Mother. Someone with Silk Hiding Steel is likely to engage in this when needed.
Contrast Hair-Trigger Temper (who couldn't do this trope if he/she tried).
Anime and Manga
- Adale from The Good Witch of the West was noted, by her enemy whom she'd just beaten in this, to never be at a loss for words.
- Played more literally than usual in the Territory Arc in Yu Yu Hakusho, wherein one of the characters with Territory abilities can create a Territory in which violence is not possible, and the only way to beat the other person is to make them say whatever the Taboo might be at the moment. Kurama talked him into making the whole Japanese alphabet taboo one letter (kana) at a time, then made him laugh--setting off several of the Taboo sounds and beating him at his own game. Even better because the character, Yuu Kaitou, is Shuichi Minamino (aka Kurama's Secret Identity)'s Unknown Rival at school.
- Also one earlier in the Four Saint Beasts Arc, where at the end Hiei notes that Kurama has to have the last word.
- In Corsair, Aura, princess of a pirate clan, is kidnapped by the governor-general of a nearby territory, Jean-Hughes D'Aubigne. Their first conversation with her as a hostage consists of them sharing a meal and speaking in polite monotone while exchanging sentiments such as "It's hard to believe a beauty like you is also a dirty sea pirate."
- In Black Butler II, those meetings between Sebastian and Claude that don't degenerate into an outright brawl inevitably turn into this, as they exchange backhanded compliments and critique each other's buttling-skills.
- Light and L's battle of wits in Death Note in all it's EPIC passive-aggressive glory. Later, there's Light and Near's.
- Anthy Himemiya of Revolutionary Girl Utena is EXTREMELY good at this, though it's also deconstructed in that it's one of the VERY few ways she can fight back against the people who abuse her, having been emotionally anesthetized by years of emotional and sexual manipulation by her once-kind, now Manipulative Bastard brother Akio.. It's very telling that she stops doing this and talks quite more bluntly when Utena's Heroic Sacrifice gives her the strength to leave Akio and Ohtori Academy.
- Michiru from Sailor Moon sometimes dabbles on this, especially in the first anime. She at times manages to discreetly troll her own girlfriend Haruka via this trope.
- A staple of the Oniisama E anime, when it doesn't dabble in Melodrama and Ham-to-Ham Combat. i.e Aya and Mariko resort to this trope when they cannot slap one another, Rei and Kaoru trade playful insults if Rei is in a good mood, and Fukiko heavily relays on this when she's angry.
- Father Enrico Maxwell and Sir Integra Hellsing often dabble in this, very understandably since they're leaders of their respective factions and cannot just go and attack each other.
- The characters in Archie Comics engage in this from time to time.
- Katy Keene has this, especially between Katy and Gloria.
- Millie the Model has Millie and Chili going at it
- The first Iron Man movie has a wonderful little example between Pepper Potts and Christine Everhart.
Pepper: (after Stark's one night stand with Christine) I have your clothes here; they've been dry cleaned and pressed. And there's a car waiting for you outside that will take you anywhere you'd like to go.
- The Green Hornet:
- Britt never directly confronted his dad, but he never missed a chance to disappoint him. When Britt talks to you, you cannot be sure if he is praising you or insulting you (he bluntly tells Kato he had no life and called Casey “old”). The obvious example is when Kato is hitting on Casey, Britt doesn’t like that and, instead of confronting his feelings, he humiliates Kato by asking for a coffee. When Kato confronted Britt (by punching a hole in the wall) , he manipulated Kato with guilt and convinced him that Kato misunderstood the situation and that it was all part of their cover.
- Kato takes this attitude with Britt when the direct approach doesn’t work: He goes on a date with Casey and lies to Britt about visiting his friend Tony. Does it not seem suspicious that the Hypercompetent Sidekick risks letting his Adult Child employer near a gas gun?
- From Star Trek via IMDb :
Vulcan Council President: Why did you come before this council today? Was it to satisfy your emotional need to rebel?
- This is used as the Jews' ultimate weapon in The Hebrew Hammer, where Mordechai takes on the stereotypical Jewish Mother persona and runs with it.
- Pride and Prejudice is like the WWII of snarkery and Politeness Judo, but almost everyone is so passive-aggressive, blink and you miss it.
- Pretty much everything by Jane Austen is made of this trope because they're about snarking on a society that reveres manners (so most conflict is dealt with in the most cutting — but polite! — manner possible), but Pride and Prejudice is probably the best example because of all the people who disapprove of the couples and make it known in the most polite way possible.
- Someone once re-wrote Dirty Harry in the style of Pride and Prejudice. "Dirty" Harriet Bennett ends up telling Lady Catherine de Burgh "I have no objection, Madam, to your proceeding, since by doing so you shall render my day perfectly agreeable."
- A refrigerator is also the site of Passive Aggressive Kombat in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul... Dirk Gently does not want to open it before his housekeeper cleans it, and sets up elaborate, tiny traps in order to be able to tell if she has, one including a strand of hair. The refrigerator turns out to be so epic in its filth that it spawns a horrible god-eating abomination when it's finally opened.
- Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory does this a lot.
- The Golden Girls is based around this trope. Fortunately, most of this (at least among the main characters) falls under Brutal Honesty.
- Since almost the entire premise is about medieval political intrigue, almost every scene in Game of Thrones oozes with this trope (when it's not oozing with blood, of course). Particularly, any scene with both Varys and Littlefinger.
- Pretty much everyone in The Palace made use of this frequently
- Vampire: The Masquerade. The Camarilla. If you're not indulging in this, you're doing it wrong.
- Exalted has rules for this, with emphasis on Combat. You can actually kill someone with a sufficiently sharp insult.
- Gwendolen and Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest.
- The verbal battles between Beatrice and Benedick in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing practically define the trope.
- A frequent occurrence in the works of Harold Pinter.
- Some of the cases in the Ace Attorney are this.
- Hilariously used in Mortal Kombat 9's Story Mode. As Kung Lao and Liu Kang are talking about Liu Kang's Love Interest Kitana, this exchange takes place:
Kung Lao: "I hope your girlfriend is worth facing Lord Raiden's anger."
- Clementine engages in this with Rebecca in episode 1 of The Walking Dead: Season Two.
Clementine: "You should probably think about being nicer to me. That's just my advice..."
- Rose and her mother fight this way (when they're not more aggressively fighting) in Homestuck. Their refrigerator is a good example of the nature of the feud (goes on for several pages).
- In one arc of Bruno the Bandit, Bruno encounters a gang of pirates who wield weaponized passive-aggressiveness. They do it with the help of magic rings that make other people unreasonably concerned about what the pirates think of them.
- Something Positive: If they could make money at it, this would be the family business of the McIntyres. The champion in the family is, generally, agreed to be Faye.
- Characters in Rumors of War use conversation as their primary mode of aggression.
- Name comes from Vision of Escaflowne Abridged, which spoofed Hitomi's and Millerna's discussions in the real Vision of Escaflowne series, over who would get Allen. Basically, each fight started and ended with an announcer presenting them as intense, brutal fights, even though the actual scenes were just them calmly lying and manipulating each other. The Running Gag first shows up here at 2:56:.
- When Trevor isn't outright Hannibal Lecturing his audience or Ink City at large, he engages in this instead. G La DOS and Mew are other regular combatants, and even Yakko treads the thin line between this and Deadpan Snarking.
- One of the many Cutaway Gags in Family Guy is Peter helping Chris to get his insect badge by observing a family of "wasps." Cut away to Chris and Peter sitting behind a potted plant in a lavish dining hall watching a family of upper-class white Anglo Saxon Protestants doing exactly this.
- Subverted at the end when the father calls his wife a whore in front of their child.