Dark Counterpart YKTTW Discussion

Dark Counterpart
A Shadow Archetype paralel to a heroic character
Motion To Discard
(permanent link) added: 2011-10-02 13:06:53 sponsor: Elle edited by: Agares (last reply: 2014-01-13 12:37:24)

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(Inspired by the TRS Thread for Dark Magical Girl, which would be a subtrope. Description needs expanding.)

While Evil Counterpart includes this definition (except for the Anti-Hero allowance) it may be desirable to split this out from there. However, can't start a TRS thread for it until the backlog clears out.

If Upbringing Makes the Hero, this is what you get when a similar character is brought up in much less favorable circumstances.

A hero and his Dark Counterpart are fundamentally Not So Different, but along the way, something happened to the counterpart that set him on a different, darker path, one that puts him at odds with the hero. While the Dark Counterpart may also be an Evil Counterpart, "dark" doesn't have to mean "evil". The Rival, Anti-Hero and Anti-Villain are just as likely roles for them.

Evil or no, this is frequently a conflicted character. You aren't likely to find them in works with Black and White Morality, or if you do they will swing hard toward either Black or White by the end. They often have a tragic past, bad upbringing and/or a "damaged goods" personality (i.e. Troubled, but Cute and Broken Bird). They are strong candidates for a Heel-Face Turn, if evil, but it will not be easy for the hero that tries it; the Dark Counterpart doesn't want the hero's pity and has a lot to learn about trust, friendship and/or love.

Darker and Edgier often figures heavily in the Dark Counterpart's style. If the Dark Counterpart fills an antagonist role, they stand a good chance at being redeemed by The Power of Love and/or The Power of Friendship.

In the Magical Girl genre this role is filled by the Dark Magical Girl.


Anime and Manga
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! appears to have one of these every season.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Aster Phoenix to Jaden Yuki. His Destiny Hero monsters are all Dark-attribute, in stark contrast to Jaden's Elemental Heroes which are more varied in their attributes, and Aster himself is pessimistic in contrast to Jaden's upbeat character.
  • Vegeta to Goku in Dragon Ball Z. Both Sayans, both uber-powerfull. Goku, Lovable Orphan, raised by kind people, becomes a stalwart Defender Of Earth. Vegeta, raised in the Proud Warrior Race Sayan culture and driven to become powerful for the sake of power. He shifts from outright Evil to Dark after Goku defeats him on Earth: by the time of the Namek saga, his power quest has him going after the villains of the season and his attitude toward the heroes shifts from antagonistic to chilly. He ends up falling in love with Bulma and becoming an official Good Guy.

Live-Action Television
  • Faith to Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Faith is a Dark Action Girl and a very lonely character withhas a father/daughter relationship (to mirror Giles and Buffy) with the season's Big Bad, one strong enough and real enough that Buffy's Power Of Friendship doesn't pull Faith back to the good guys right away. Ultimately it's not Buffy that saves her but Angel, a fellow redeemed villain.
  • Clark Luthor, from Smallville, could possibly count. He starts off the same as Clark Kent, until his ship arrives on Earth. Then he's found by Lionel Luthor instead of the Kents, which leads to a much darker version of Clark Kent

Video Games
  • Shadow to Sonic in the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
  • Riku to Sora in Kingdom Hearts. Riku is Sora's rival both in fighting skill and for Kairi's attention. Both Riku and Sora land in Traverse Town when Destiny Island is swallowed by The Heartless, but Sora bunps into Donald and Goofy to form the main Power Trio, while Riku instead meets Maelficient, who convinces him that Sora has abandoned him and twists him to The Dark Side. Both of them are able to become Keyblade wielders and both of them believe they're doing what's needed to rescue Kairi but Riku becomes Drunk on the Dark Side and needs Sora and friends to smack sense back into him. In the sequels he becomes The Atoner, helping Sora from the shadows while still waging conflict with his inner Dark Side.
  • Iori to Kyo in The King of Fighters series. Both of them are ultimately heroic figures and both have Jerk Ass tendencies, but Iori is more prone to violence and bouts of rage.
  • Both Saren and Tela Vasir to Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect. They represent everything that could go wrong with the Spectre archetype.
  • Akuma to Ryu in Street Fighter. They're both Blood Knights, but Akuma has allowed his unending quest to become stronger to consume him. Ryu has flirted with The Dark Side, but so far has had enough moral character to keep in control.
  • Starkiller is this to Luke in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Western Animation
  • Charles Muntz to Carl Fredricksen in Up. Muntz served as Carl's mentor (during his youth for the longest time, prompting him and Ellie to become adventurers and make the trip to Paradise Falls. Post-Timeskip, even though Carl has become a Grumpy Old Man, he still has a little Jerk with a Heart of Gold side to him, while Muntz has gone completely off the deep end of a Moral Event Horizon, hoping for something tangible that will redeem him in the general public's eye and bring him back from Fallen Hero status.
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