Cell competition is a process by which otherwise viable cells are actively eliminated due to the presence of more competitive cells. It is a conserved phenomenon and occurs in various developmental and experimental contexts. Competitive elimination represents a safeguard mechanism that potentiates animal development. However, the process can also be hijacked, for example, by cancer cells to promote and sustain malignancy. One of the challenges facing the field is that the term 'cell competition' is used to describe a variety of phenomena whose relatedness is under debate. The goals of this review are to provide an overview of the literature on cell competition-like phenomena, highlight where there are discrepancies, and, when possible, provide alternative interpretations to reconcile the dissonance. Central to this is a comparison of the various models of cell competition. With our critical examination we seek to draw attention to future prospects in the field of cell competition. We believe that the elucidation of the interplay between loser and winner cells in the process of cell competition will provide new targets for the development of cancer therapeutics.