Apple of Discord

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
How Do You Like Them Apples?

A group of people are thick as thieves, supporting each other in all things. If they ever reiterate this, it's Tempting Fate. You will soon see a third party enter and ask them to decide something. It may be something as mundane as deciding what toppings they want on their pizza, or something as serious as which one of them is the leader.

Apple of Discord is a sister trope to Centipede's Dilemma and a great way to hand a group of people the Conflict Ball. If the decision is whether to trust a once-villainous member of their group, it is the They Still Belong to Us Lecture.

Compare Yoko Oh No. For an object that everyone wants and drives them into conflict, see Artifact of Attraction. For the religion, see Principia Discordia.

No real life examples, please; we really don't need the Edit Wars.

Examples of Apple of Discord include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Chao uses a future version of Negi's family tree to disrupt his entire party as they all want to know who he will marry.

Negi party self-destructs!! [Record time of 57 seconds]

  • The Litchi Hikari Club appears to be tearing itself apart after the capture of Bishojo schoolgirl Kanon.
  • One Piece's Little Garden arc has a hundred-year-long series of duels fought between two best friends because of an argument over which killed the bigger sea monster. Although at this point neither care what started the duel any more (or can even remember), they keep fighting out of pride and honor and probably because they just like fighting.

Comic Books

  • A Bamse story involved some characters interfering with the opening of Pandora's box. Skalman temporarily defeated them by asking "Who is the most dangerous of you?". While the Ills argued, Hope managed to entrap them in the box again. Only to have it later opened by Pandora's husband.
  • Happens constantly to the Fantastic Four. The tiniest disagreement between them inevitably degenerates into shouting matches, which are basically never resolved and lead to a vicious cycle of passive-aggressive bickering and brooding (or in Ben and Johnny's case, No Holds Barred Beatdowns). They always get back together in the end though, usually after being forced to team up again to take down some supervillain or another.
  • In the Asterix story "Asterix and the Roman Agent", the titular agent (who can start arguments just by standing there doing nothing) comes to the village with a vase as a gift to the most important man in the village. Instead of giving the vase to Chief Vitalstatistix, he gives it to Asterix, which leads to a chain reaction of arguments until the entire village is at odds with one another.


  • Lord of the Rings: Frodo uses this as a tactic against orcs that captured and imprisoned him.
    • Gandalf did the same thing to the trolls who had caught Bilbo and the dwarfs in The Hobbit.
  • In Mossflower, Martin and friends are captured by Tsarmina's soldiers and escape by encouraging their captors to fight over the remaining food.
    • There's also more than one instance in the series of calling out an insult while both captors' backs are turned, so they'd each think the other said it, start fighting, and allow the protagonist to slip away.
  • In the Isaac Asimov Black Widowers story "To The Barest," ex-Black-Widower Frank Ottur invokes this and alludes to the mythological example by leaving a sum of money in his will "to the barest" of the current Black Widowers, whatever that means—with the additional caveat that if they are Genre Savvy and refuse to argue, the money will go to a local Nazi group instead. (For extra points, Ottur deliberately chose a lawyer named Parris as his executor.)
  • At the end of Discworld novel Feet of Clay, newly free-will-enabled golem Dorfl pulls this on a collection of evangelical priests. Though from disparate and rivalling faiths, they're briefly united in their endeavor to convert him until he says he'll be happy to dispute the matter with the priest of the most worthy god. Predictable bedlam ensues.
    • It gets better because he said he'll do it when he's free from work. He's working 24/7 and won't be free until he's dead.
  • According to historical records, during the Warring States period of China, the gift of two peaches kills three great warriors who were sworn brothers (the one who was snubbed was Driven to Suicide, and then the other two followed suit).
  • Mentioned repeatedly in Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy . Since almost all the characters in the book are members of Discordian and/or Erisian conspiracies, this should come as little surprise.

Live-Action TV

  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Dewey does this to Hal's barbershop quartet group, asking the members why each of them has his own specific role within the group. They do make up (in the middle of a performance, no less), but presumably have problems again at the end, when Dewey starts in on them again. Played dead straight with Dewey working on a couple that performed. Five minutes after Dewey started in on them, they were in a gigantic fight.
    • This sort of behaviour is his modus operandi throughout the series with the younger brother being generally quiet but interjecting the right line at the right time so that everybody else will react according to his plan. Dewey is one hell of a Magnificent Bastard.
  • The Tenth Kingdom: The trolls are holding Virginia captive, and Wolf throws a box into the room. The note says that it's a present for the strongest, bravest troll. Cue all three knocking each other out.
  • In Better Off Ted, Heterosexual Life Partners and coworkers Phil and Lem start arguing when Rose, Ted's daughter, asks if one is the other's boss. In the end, they make up when they decide to give each other equal authority.
  • In a season 4 arc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike nonchalantly brings up issues that almost break the Scoobies up entirely. By the end of the season, they figure out that their arguments were just Spike messing with them, but they don't completely feel comfortable around each other again until they team up and defeat the Big Bad through the Power of Friendship. Literally.
  • In a sketch by Loriot, two couples go to a restaurant together to celebrate the friendship they started when they vacationed together. At the end of the meal, the waiter recommends the house specialty dessert, the Kosakenzipfel, which both husbands then order. Unfortunately it turns out there is only one left. The two decide to share it, but this becomes so complicated that it devolves into a shouting match between the two families who are now presumably enemies for life.

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • The Trope Namer and Trope Codifier is the Apple of Discord used by the Greek Goddess of Strife, Eris. According to The Judgement of Paris, Zeus held a banquet to honor the wedding of mortal Peleus to immortal Thetis (who became Achilles' parents), but Eris was not invited. To avenge this snub, Eris wrote "to the fairest" on a golden apple and threw it into the banquet, where it was immediately claimed by the goddesses Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. The three demanded Zeus choose who claimed the apple and thus the title of "fairest", but he wisely declined. Instead, he chose a mortal man to arbitrate. Each goddess presented their beauty to him while also offering a prize should he choose them. Eventually he chose Aphrodite as winner and accepted her promise of the most beautiful woman in Greece. The man? Paris of Troy. The woman? Helen of Sparta. Thus began the Trojan War.
  • Also in the Trojan Cycle, Ajax son of Telamon and Odysseus jointly save Achilles' body but then fall out over which one of them deserves to be rewarded with Achilles' arms (which were fashioned by the god Hephaistos), which leads to Ajax' madness and suicide.


  • The Golden Apple is a loose paraphrase of the Trope Namer in the "Mythology" section above. The apple is the "symbol of our proud state of Washington" made of golden wire. Eris, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are here named Mother Hare, Mrs. Juniper, Miss Minerva and Lovey Mars. The last-named lady is awarded the apple by Paris, who elopes with Helen.

Web Comics

  • The pizza variety is also used by Jyrra's father in DMFA to rescue him from his sisters.
  • The actual Apple itself is also included, at least occasionally, in the eponymous webcomic The Apple of Discord.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The season one finale of Ben 10 had the heroes distract the villains by asking who the second strongest (aside from Dr. Animo) out of them was.
  • The hero causes the wolves to fight over who is stronger in Happily N'Ever After with this.
  • Tom and Jerry short "The Truce Hurts": Tom, Jerry and Spike make a pact to stop fighting. Then they find a steak and fight over how to divide it.
  • The Looney Tunes short "The Fighting 69th" has a similar ending. Two ant armies fight over a picnic until the humans pack up, leaving only one small pastry with a cherry. Realizing the futility of their struggle, they decide to end hostilities and split the pastry evenly. However, they can't decide which side gets the cherry, and the war begins anew.
  • In the Classic Disney Short "Toy Tinkers" Donald Duck does this to Chip and Dale. Pretending to be Santa Claus he gives one a large walnut and the other a small walnut. Instantly they are fighting over who deserves the large one.
  • Teen Titans had Beast Boy and Aqualad pull this off on the clones that a villain made of himself. The villain had an enormous ego and believe he was perfect, as did his clones. The effect of the question "If you're all perfect, which one of you is the best?" should not be hard to imagine.
    • An earlier episode had a more humorous example where the normally cohesive Titans were unable to agree on pizza toppings. (Notably, Starfire thought ice cream was a topping and suggested that they have it on their pizza.)
  • Garfield and Friends: Garfield once got the Buddy Bears, those bastions of conformity and cooperation, off his back by asking them what they want on their pizza. Garfield even Lampshades this by stating it to be a fundamental human behavior.

Garfield: In the history of mankind, no two people have ever been able to agree on the toppings for pizza.

  • The My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic episode "The Ticket Master" has Twilight Sparkle receive two tickets to the Grand Galloping Gala. When her sidekick Spike declines his, the spare ticket becomes a source of friction between Twilight's friends.
    • And in Season 2, we now LITERALLY have an Apple of Discord.
    • Near the end of the episode "Lesson Zero", Twilight creates one by putting a "Want-It-Need-It" spell on her plushie, hoping that it will allow her to solve a problem and thus have something to report to Celestia. It works too well.
  • As mentioned above, Eris from The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, while the apple is more an Artifact of Doom, in the second episode where she appears, Eris "Gives up on chaos" and gives the apple to the trio, Grim tries to seal it away, Mandy wants to become the new goddess of chaos, and Billy is...well Billy. The three eventually end up fighting over it until Eris returns, glad with the chaos her plan created, and leaves with the apple.
  • One scene in Despicable Me has all the minions fighting over a banana. It eventually falls down a hole...cut to one minion standing apart from the crowd, taking a bite out of an apple. Oh, no.