Created By: 313Bluestreak on February 24, 2013 Last Edited By: 313Bluestreak on July 18, 2013
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Nice, Mean, And Inbetween

A trio consisting of a nice character, mean character, and a character who mediates between the two.

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In certain group dynamics, you will notice three characters with different mannerisms, attitudes, and personalities that are easy to identify with - a character who is nice and gentle, a character who is mean and tough, and the character who is caught in between the two other characters.

  • Relatively Nice Character: This character shows everybody a great deal of respect and kindness, even to his worst enemies. He's the one who usually doesn't engage himself in violence, although he does when pushed too far. Other variations would have him to be seen as naive due to seeing no reason to be justifiably angry with others and always believes there's some goodness in them.
  • Relatively Mean Character: The polar opposite of the Relatively Nice Character. The mean character will often bully the nice character and get into fierce arguments with the inbetween character. He may turn out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but with a heavy emphasis on "Jerk". If he isn't a mere jerk, he may be the gritty and violent Anti-Hero who will go the extra mile in doing what he has to do and will show no amount of kindness or mercy to anyone whom he feels are a threat to him.
  • Inbetween Character: This character isn't as well-mannered as the nice character since he has a few negative traits. But unlike the mean character, he's doesn't have many bad manners as he does, and he's mainly a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a heavy emphasis on "Heart Of Gold". Another variation would be that he isn't a jerk, he's just serious about his duties. He can be a Nice Guy, but not to the point of being naive or a pushover. He may be too introverted to be nice or mean, usually. Often, he will be the leader who shows respect to his comrades while keeping the two in line in one way or another, mostly the mean one.

Note that this group dynamic can be a unique way to establish moments of how each character acts and what defines them. This is a snippet in the Power Trio explaining the basic makeup of trios - "Trait 1, Trait-opposite-of-Trait-1, Trait-Between-the-Two."

Examples:

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  • Sleeping Beauty has the Three Good Fairies: Flora (nice), Merryweather (mean), and Fauna (inbetween).

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[[folder: Video Games]]
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • We have the trio of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Tails is the mild-mannered best friend of Sonic, Knuckles is the tough, hot-headed friendly rival, and Sonic mediates the two, combining the kind-hearted attitude with his cocky and snarky attitude (although it's mostly geared towards his foes).
    • In the OVA, however, while Tails is still the nice one, Sonic and Knuckles' roles have been switched, where it's Sonic who's a trademark Jerk with a Heart of Gold while Knuckles mediates where he's more friendly than his game portrayal but retains his seriousness.
    • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), there's the trio of Sonic, Shadow, and Silver. Sonic is the nice one in contrast to Shadow who is the stoic and aloof Anti-Hero. Silver mediates between the two due to his belief in making a better future, despite being poorly misguided in doing so.
  • In Mega Man X, X is the nice one who is pacifistic and a bit naive. Even so, Zero is the mean one who is snarky and cynical and rebukes X for his idealism. Axl mediates between, for he isn't naive as X, but doesn't have the same extent of having a shoot-first-questions-later mentality like Zero.
  • In BlazBlue the three main characters, Noel, Ragna. and Jin fit this. Noel is a kind girl, while Ragna is a bit hard around the edges, and Jin is named the god of being a Jerkass.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, we have the Shadow Sirens; Beldam, Vivian and Marilyn. Beldam, the leader, treats the other two members horribly, verbally berating them and punishing them for the slightest transgressions. Vivian is kind and non-confrontational, and she pulls a Heel–Face Turn mid-game due to her treatment at the hands of Beldam. Then we have Marilyn, whose personality is sort of an enigma due to her tendency to speak in grunts and moans, rather than actual words.
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[[folder: Western Animation]]
  • Spongebob Squarepants is pretty much the kindest and idealistic character of the series, often to the point where others are annoyed about it, taken for granted, and to the point of being naive. Squidward is the grouchy Jerkass who barely shows his heart of gold, but this is because of dealing with Spongebob and Patrick as neighbors. Finally, Patrick mediates between the two, but this is mainly because of his stupidity.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Bubbles is the most nicest and gentle of the three girls, though she can come across as naive. Buttercup is the aggressive one who constantly argues with Blossom and picks on Bubbles, though she does have a soft spot on occasions. Blossom, the leader, mediates between the two, where she can be mild-mannered, but can come across as bossy at times.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, we have the Cutie Mark Crusaders: Sweetie Belle is the nice one, Scootaloo the mean/tough one, and Apple Bloom the one who is the middle point between the two.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: Edd is the nice one, always trying to find a reasonable, non-violent solution and apologizing for his friend's behavior. Eddy is the mean one, always getting the other two involved in his scams and screaming at them when he doesn't get his way. Ed is inbetween, not as mean as Eddy, but more impulsive than Edd.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • Thomas, Percy, and Toby from the earlier seasons. Toby is nice and respectful, Thomas is cheeky, arrogant and a bit troublesome, (although he has become nicer and kind-hearted later on the series). Percy mediates between the two where he can be nice, but has moments of being cheeky and troublesome like Thomas.
    • There's also the Terrible Trio of Gordon, James, and Henry. Henry is nicer and more sympathetic than the other two while James is more vain and arrogant than Gordon, who occasionally shows his soft and humble side more than James does.
  • There's the trio of Fry, Leela, and Bender from Futurama. Fry is the nicest guy of the group, albelt a bit dumb. Bender is the loud-mouthed, abrasive jerk who likes to drink and smoke a lot. Leela mediates between the two for she's calm and level-headed, although she would often appear as a nag to others if they did something immoral.
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • Theodore is the nicest of the chipmunks, serving as the Morality Pet to Alvin, who is an egotistical Attention Whore. Simon stays inbetween due to him being the smart one and his constant bickering with Alvin.
    • Their Distaff Counterparts, The Chipettes, are this, too. Jeanette is sweet-natured but shy, Brittany is hot-headed and selfish, and Eleanor is caring but more assertive than Jeanette.
  • The trio of Aang, Katara, and Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang is easily the nicest character of the group, although he can be quite scary when pushed too far. Sokka is a full-on sarcastic, cynical, Insufferable Genius, but he does has his moments. Katara is nice and reasonable, but she has mood swings and can have a quite nasty, vengeful side when betrayed by those who were close to her.
    • There's also Azula (the mean one), Ty Lee (the nice one) and Mai (The inbetween one; mostly because of her Sugar and Ice Personality).
  • The Goodfeathers from Animaniacs. Squit is the friendly Naïve Newcomer in contrast to Pesto, who has a violent temper and would always beat Squit up. Bobby is the leader and mediator often keeping Pesto in check or just get a good laugh at him beating up Squit.
  • Sam, Alex, and Clover from Totally Spies!: Alex is the nice one, Clover is the Lovable Alpha Bitch (in contrast to the series' Alpha Bitch Mandy), and Sam is the leader and mediator.
  • The main siblings from Phineas and Ferb. Phineas is the most nicest and optimistic guy in the series aside from formerly being a Bratty Half-Pint from the pilot episode. Candace is always mean to her brothers and always want to bust them for their everyday activities. Ferb is inbetween, for he doesn't say much, although he'll speak a line at the end of every episode.
  • The trio of Buster, Plucky, and Hampton in Tiny Toon Adventures. Hampton is the nice Adorkable one, Plucky is the narcissistic Attention Whore, and Buster mediates between where he can be level-headed, but still has the tricker side similar to his counterpart.
  • In Time Warp Trio, the main male trio has: Sam, the nice and nerdy one, Fred, the mean and tough one, and Joe, the inbetween and well-meaning leader of the group. For the female trio, we have: Freddi, the Shrinking Violet, Jodie, the snobby and needy one, and Samantha, the Brilliant, but Lazy one who remains inbetween most of the time. Jodie is the leader, despite being the mean one.
  • Ben, Gwen, and Kevin from Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Kevin is clearly the mean one, while the nice and the inbetween are Ben or Gwen, Depending on the Writer.
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Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • February 24, 2013
    Skylite
    • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: the Cutie Mark Crusaders: Sweetie Belle is the nice one. Scootaloo the mean/tough one, and Apple Bloom the one who is the middle point between the two.
  • February 24, 2013
    TonyG
    Ed Edd N Eddy: Edd is the nice one, always trying to find a reasonable, non-violent solution and apologizing for his friend's behavior. Eddy is the mean one, always getting the other two involved in his scams and screaming at them when he doesn't get his way. Ed is the inbetween guy, not as mean as Eddy, but more impulsive than Edd.
  • February 24, 2013
    DomaDoma
    Would someone who's seen more than two episodes of Samurai Champloo vouch whether the main three apply?
  • February 25, 2013
    Duncan
    Would certainly go under the supertrope Power Trio.

    Fezzik (nice guy), Vizzini (jerk), and Inigo (mediator) in The Princess Bride.
  • February 25, 2013
    alnair20aug93
  • February 26, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    Knightly Knavish And Neutral

    ...I'm having difficulty seeing how this concept is different from the Freudian Trio, though.
  • February 26, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    The Freudian Trio is about Logic versus Emotion whereas Nice Naughty And Neutral is about good-manners versus bad manners.
  • February 26, 2013
    Noaqiyeum
    ...It shouldn't be. The superego advocates for doing what's best for others, the id advocates for doing what's best for the self, and the ego mediates between them. Politeness, meanness, and moderation fit into those categories very neatly.
  • February 26, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    I see what you mean now, but what should I do with this trope anyways?
  • February 27, 2013
    SneakySquirrel
    I don't know, I think this could be separate from Freudian Trio, since I'm sure I've seen at least some examples of Freudian Trio where it's not superego = nice, ego = neutral, id = naughty. There is overlap, but since Good Is Not Nice and id doesn't have to mean selfish but can also mean emotional...

    • Also from Alvin And The Chipmunks, their Distaff Counterparts, the Chipettes are this. Brittany is hot-headed and selfish, Jeanette is sweet-natured but shy, and Eleanor is caring but more assertive than Jeanette.
    • Out of the Outnumbered children, at least in the early seasons, Jake is the nice one, Ben is the biggest 'problem child' due to his constant lying, and Karen is in the middle.

  • February 27, 2013
    acrobox
    Hmmmmmmmmm I feel like it overlaps with pretty much every other trio, but at the same time its distinct. Not sure if it merits a trope as in I could really see it going either way.

    If you have three characters and put them on any spectrum, and then limit the spectrum to the range of those three characters, you of course end up with two extremes and a neutral.

    Infinitely.

    Liberal, Conservative, Independent. Smart, Stupid, Neutral. Strong, Weak, Normal. Interesting, Boring, Okay. Popular, Unpopular, has some friends. Lawful, Chaotic, Neutral. Lucky, Unlucky, Normal.

    High amounts of Attribute, Lack of-Or-Opposite Attribute, medium amounts of Attribute.

    So i don't know about adding more Spectrum oriented Power Trios.

    What would be more interesting from future Power Trio set ups is three distinct attributes, rather than three distinct places along a spectrum.

    Loved, Feared, Respected. Strong, Smart, Fast. things like that.
  • February 27, 2013
    ungodlySupreme
    You should probably add the Maiden (nice) Mother (nuetral) and the Crone (mean). Those are what Terry Pratchett called the Power Trio of the Witched of Lancre.
  • March 23, 2013
    Koolkev
    In Time Warp Trio, the main male trio has: Sam, the nice and nerdy one, Fred, the naughty and tough one, and Joe, the neutral and well-meaning leader of the group. For the female trio, we have: Freddi, the Shrinking Violet, Jodie, the snobby and needy one, and Samantha, the Brilliant But Lazy one who remains neutral most of the time. Jodie is the leader, despite being the naughty one.
  • March 24, 2013
    DunDun
    I agree with acrobox. This trope is going to be omnipresent in any Power Trio, so why have this? (I realize this hasn't been commented on in a while, but it's still here.)

    If anything, this would be a snippet in the Power Trio article explaining the basic makeup of trios - "Trait 1, Trait-opposite-of-Trait-1, Trait-Between-the-Two."

    I can see this being a mundane version of a Power Trio, but the description is just... in need of repair then.
  • April 3, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    Bump
  • April 3, 2013
    MorganWick
    The way it's used these days, I'm not fond of using "naughty" here. Heck, using its literal definition I don't like "naughty" used to describe a mean character.
  • April 3, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    Okay, I'm stuck in a dilemma whether or not this trope should be a {{Omnipresent Trope|s}. However, I'm still thinking about keeping the examples. What do you guys think?
  • April 4, 2013
    Frank75
    This should be corrected IMO: "Knight Knave And Squire: Knight (neutral), Knave (knavish), and Squire (knightly)."

    Why isn't the Knight the knightly one???
  • April 4, 2013
    Stratadrake
    In the titles, "Nice, Mean, and Inbetween" Rhymes On A Dime so that is almost a winner.

    But as stated, the real concern has to be whether this is separately tropeable i.e. NOT redundant with Power Trio, which already says that it's usually "two opposites and one mediator".

  • April 12, 2013
    MokonaZero
    In Blaz Blue the three main characters, Noel, Ragna. and Jin fit this. Noel is a kind girl, while Ragna is a bit hard around the edges, and Jin is named the god of being a Jerk Ass.
  • April 29, 2013
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, we have the Shadow Sirens; Beldam, Vivian and Marilyn. Beldam, the leader, treats the other two members horribly, verbally berating them and punishing them for the slightest transgressions. Vivian is kind and non-confrontational, and she pulls a Heel Face Turn mid-game due to her treatment at the hands of Beldam. Then we have Marilyn, whose personality is sort of an enigma due to her tendency to speak in grunts and moans, rather than actual words.
  • April 29, 2013
    TwoGunAngel
    Scratch that last example from me about the Powerpuff Girls. I forgot it was already on there.
  • May 28, 2013
    Iamabrawler
    Would Ben, Gwen and Kevin (from Ben 10: Alien Force and Ultimate Alien) work in the Western Animation section? Kevin is clearly the mean one, while the nice and the inbetween are Ben or Gwen Depending On The Writer.
  • May 31, 2013
    PsiPaula4
    In the Avatar The Last Airbender example, please change "Avatar" to Aang. Yes, he is the Avatar, but that is not his name.
  • May 31, 2013
    313Bluestreak
    ^Done.
  • May 31, 2013
    Jess
    Don't forget Azula (the mean one), Ty Lee (the nice one) and Mai (The inbetween one; mostly because of her Sugar And Ice Personality) from Avatar The Last Airbender (same series as Aang, Sokka and Katara.)
  • June 10, 2013
    acrobox
    So i'm still of mind that this is Too Common To Trope for reasons stated above. But if you're going to do it at least remove the section about how it usually matches up with other Power Trios since there are examples even on this YKTTW where it doesnt match up at all.
  • June 10, 2013
    acrobox
    right - just that if you have three different people, on any scale they will have two extremes and a mediator.
  • June 10, 2013
    somerandomdude
    Sleeping Beauty has the Three Good Fairies: Flora (nice), Merryweather (mean), and Fauna (inbetween).
  • June 10, 2013
    acrobox
    That said, if the niceness scale is integral to group dynamics or the plot, that might be a meaningful trope. That is someone is defined by their niceness, another is defined by their meanness and the last one is consciously trying to balance the two or caught in the middle.

    But if its just a general observation it will eventually decay into Relatively Nicest member of the team, Relatively Meanest member of the team, and not as nice or as mean as the nicest and meanest members of the team.

    But it's hard to draw a line between relevant and relative.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=m58san0qz7ok78j6e497g8zt&trope=NiceMeanAndInbetween