Optimus Prime: After eons of conflict, I finally see the truth of your words, Megatron. Megatron: And what might that be, Optimus? Optimus Prime: This universe, no matter how vast, will never be big enough for you and I to coexist.
An Arch Enemy, archfoe, archnemesis, or simply nemesis is some character's designated and most important enemy.
The Arch Enemy can be the Big Bad, The Dragon, The Rival, an Evil Counterpart, or even a Harmless Villain. The essential element is that, with them, It's Personal. Most typically, the Arch Enemy is a foil of some sort. For example, the Arch Enemy of the physically strong could be very smart. If the villain is the Bigger Bad, his Arch Enemy commonly is the Big Good.
The Arch Enemy will stand out from the Super Hero's Rogues Gallery — there will be one opponent where the relationship to the hero and the motivations for battling them are more potent. These feelings may be one-sided, felt more by the villain than the hero.
A hero's Arch Enemy is not necessarily the biggest threat to them. Lex Luthor is considered Superman's Arch Enemy; Brainiac is smarter and Darkseid is vastly more powerful and dangerous, but for Lex - and, to a lesser extent, for Superman - it's personal between them.
Sometimes, the hero could have made the same choices as the Arch Enemy: the Arch Enemy is showing us what he could have become, as in the case of Batman and the Joker.
A hero may possess more than one Arch Enemy if more than one villain from his Rogues Gallery stand out, or if a former Arch Enemy dies and new one comes in to the picture. As an example, consider Spider-Man: the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and Venom have all established themselves as recurring and iconic foes of Spider-Man, each of whom has been considered the wallcrawler's Arch Enemy at different points in time.
Lastly, remember that this generally refers to the enemy the hero considers to be his Arch Enemy, and ideally, it should be personal on both sides (though there are plenty of good "But for Me, It Was Tuesday"-type Arch Foes out there). Especially in the case of a Rogues Gallery, the hero is usually considered an Arch Enemy to all of his villains, but he doesn't treat all of them as such. Electro, Rhino, Scorpion, and others all consider Spider-Man their most hated foe, but compared to the Goblin, Venom, or Doc Ock, Spidey regards these guys more like superpowered nuisances. Also, remember that being the Big Bad does not automatically make a villain the hero's arch enemy.
Beware of letting an Arch Enemy fall victim to Diminishing Villain Threat.
See also Breakout Villain, for those instances when a run-of-the-mill villain ascends to Arch Enemy status.
Not to be confused with various works known as Nemesis. Also not to be confused with the Swedish death metal band.
The Arch Enemy is more prone to certain tropes than the common villain:
Calvin: Hobbes, we have lots of mortal enemies! If this club only had one mortal enemy, then where would we be? Where would Superman be if he only had one super villain trying to take over the world every other day? Where would Spider-Man be if there was only one weirdo out there who managed to find enough time in his day to moonlight as an evil lunatic? Where would Batman be if all he had to do is defeat one highly unrealistic villain in order to save... whatever it is he aims on saving? I mean, come on!
In Boys Und Sensha-do, Shiho Nishizumi and the Sakai family despise each other due to ideological conflicts, including the Sakais trying to get more people, including boys, involved in sensha-do. The dislike the Sakais have for Shiho only intensifies after she disowns Miho, who is getting closer to Akio.
A large number of these can be found in Diaries Of A Madman, but particularly mention has to go to the relationship between Discord and the protagonist, Nav.
Star Wars: Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's Arch Enemy; meanwhile, Vader probably counted Obi-Wan as his.
Pirates of the Caribbean's Jack Sparrow and Barbossa. Once both men have died at least once, the conflict between them becomes more of a friendly rivalry.
Commodore Norrington might also want to put himself in for consideration as Jack's Arch Enemy, though Jack seems to regard him as more of an obstacle and sometimes pawn.
Cutler Beckett may qualify, as he has been the source of much/most of Jack's problems in his life. When using Jack's compass, it points him towards Jack, and Jack guesses that what Beckett wants most in the world is to see Jack dead.
In The Prestige, Borden and Angier start as friendly rivals, but the two become arch-enemies when one loses a wife. By the end, one has lost his wife and his life, the other reaches a Pyrrhic Victory in besting his enemy but losing his brother and wife as well.
Godzilla is the Arch Enemy of the Japanese Self-Defence Force as a whole during the films where he's the villain (ornot). He also has his own recurring nemesis in KingGhidorah, who has battled him across eight films and four continuities, and whose gleefulmalevolence provides a stark contrast with the Big G's more mindless rage. One could also make a case for Mechagodzilla, Godzilla's only enemy to rival Ghidorah for number of appearances (save forMothra) and ability to hurt Godzilla (the Heisei version of Mechagodzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II is even stated to have been based on the recovered remains of Mecha-King Ghidorah from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, essentially making it a combination of Godzilla's two arch-enemies).
As far as Mothra goes, her arch-enemy is Ghidorah as well; she tolerates Godzilla's existence as long as he's not misbehaving too much, but when Ghidorah gets involved, she knows fully well that the whole planet she has sworn to protect is in danger. Epitomized by the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, the first and third of which featured either Ghidorah or a close relative as the antagonist.
Godzilla Final Wars made Gigan her arch-enemy instead so that the single coolest redesigned monster in the film could fight her during the climax while Godzilla dealt with the more plot-relevant antagonist—who was again, eventually revealed to be Ghidorah (this time in Kaiser form).
In Halloween no matter where Michael Myers goes, his psychiatrist Dr. Samuel Loomis will always be there to stop him.
In Iron Man 3 the Mandarin finally makes his film debut as a Diabolical Mastermind out to destroy Tony. Tony's true Arch-Enemy — and the true Mandarin — is Killian, who is every bit as smart as Tony, but more ruthlessly manipulative and clever enough to hide in anonymity.
The Iron Monger aka Obidiah Stane may have a better claim to the title in this film series (even if he was only in the first movie). He had a very personal relationship with Tony until their goals ended up diverging. It's implied that his betrayal may have mentally impacted him into the second movie.
Myth and Legend
Loki and Heimdall in Norse Mythology. Fittingly enough, they kill each other in Ragnarok. There's also Thor and Jormungandr who do the same.
Magic: The Gathering: Urza and Yawgmoth is the best known Arch Enemy pairing, although there are dozens of individual hatreds. They've even released a variant named Arch Enemy, although that's dedicated more to a dynamic of Big Bad vs. Enemy Mine.
As an illustration of how deeply the Ultramarines vs Word Bearers hatred runs: in the Horus Heresy novels, it is revealed that the Ultramarines keep a precise count of time since the beginning of a battle - known as the Mark. The Mark of Calth, for the battle in which the Word Bearers first attacked the Ultramarines, will be left running until every Word Bearer is dead. Meaning that an Ultramarine can give you a precise count of how long it is they have wanted the Word Bearers to die, even ten thousand years after the original battle. Now that is enmity.
Dungeons & Dragons fourth edition setting, Points Of Light, has a sourcebook detailing the realms of the gods, called The Plane Above. In it it mentions certain gods who have a special, personal hatred for one another, giving the examples as Bahamut vs Tiamat, Avandra vs Zehir, and Moradin vs Asmodeus. With the exception of Bahamut and Tiamat, these examples are kind of out of the blue. Other examples include Gruumsh vs Corellon (which is taken from their Forgotten Realms counterparts, as well as The Raven Queen and Orcus, though Orcus is generally traditionally seen as the arch enemy of Demogorgon.
Speaking of Dungeons & Dragons, Bane and Cyric. They hate each other worse than they hate any of the good gods.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, this seems to be the case between D.D. Warrior Lady and Warrior Dai Grepher. They are seen fighting on several Spell and Trap Cards in a feud that started when she was Warrior Lady of the Wasteland and continued when he became Dark Lucious. The first one was Simultaneous Loss, but there were several others.
And Baker also turns up in Start of Darkness (the trope namer, that is) as one of Xykon's rivals for the position of second-in-command to the Unholy Master early on in the book.
Bobby Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson hated, hated each other with a passion. Bobby felt Johnson was a devious coward, Johnson thought Bobby was a foul tempered "little shit." Intensified tenfold after JFK'sassassination.
Also, Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense and a close personal friend of Bobby's who only got closer to him after Jack's assassination, got caught in the crossfire. This may have influenced some of Johnson's decisions in The Vietnam War.
Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope were two of the major pioneers in the field of paleontology and between them identified over 142 new species of dinosaurs. Unfortunately, they hated each other with a passion and each became obsessed with defeating the other and proving himself the better scientist. Their frenzied race, known as the Bone Wars, extended over fifteen years and ended in a virtual stalemate, and both men were nearly bankrupted by the effort. In the end, they both made enormous contributions to the study of dinosaurs, committed any number of shady deeds to undermine each other, and ended up in the poorhouse. Not So Different, indeed.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third presidents respectively, were this; after George Washington left the office, these two formed bitterly divided parties against each other. Ironically, due to how voting worked at the time, Jefferson wound up as vice president to Adams when he entered office, making things even worse than they were before. After both of their terms as president were over, however, they went on to become good friends.
Actually, they were good friends before Adams became president, having collaborated on the Declaration of Independence and worked together overseas. But when their political ideologies started to diverge, their relationship fell apart. Luckily they patched it up when they retired.
More on 19th Century American politics - Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay; a rivalry that started for political reasons when Clay allegedly cheated Jackson out of the presidency in 1824 by making a "corrupt bargain" with John Quincy Adams and which later turned personal in 1828 when Clay organized and carried out the slander campaign which led to the death of Jackson's wife, Rachel. The blood feud lasted for over twenty years!
Another example from US politics: Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich.
In the current Congress, John Boehner vs. Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell vs. Harry Reid.
In the related area of American campaign strategizing and punditry, James "the Ragin' Cajun" Carville and Mary Matalin, respectively Democratic and Republican campaign strategists and pundits extraordinaire, have called themselves arch-enemies on several occasions. They're quite right: they repeatedly found themselves fighting campaigns for opposing candidates in The Eighties all the way up to 1992, when they were high-ranking members of the Clinton and Bush campaign staffs, respectively. Then they got married in 1993. Opposites Attract, one supposes... (They still appear opposite each other from time to time on CNN and other networks to bash each other's political heads in. One wonders what their daughters—around whom they do not talk about politics—think of all this.)
Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz fought for years over who invented calculus.
Newton also hated Robert Hooke with a passion. It's widely believed that his famous statement "If I have seen far, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants" was a swipe at Hooke, who was notably short.
Liberal William Lyon Mackenzie King and Conservative Arthur Meighen were bitter rivals in university, and the bad blood between them carried over when they both went into politics. Both men would serve as prime minister of Canada and led their parties against each other, but this trope was arguably subverted because King repeatedly wiped the floor with Meighen in their political Curb Stomp Battles.
Half a century earlier, a much more balanced version of this played out in Britain between William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. Gladstone was a vaguely anti-imperialist Liberal (until he took office, whereupon the empire actually nearly grew twice as much as it had under Disraeli), a devout Christian very involved in social causes, and very much a man of ideas. Disraeli was a raw politician (though not without principles), ethnically Jewish, not a particularly serious Anglican, something of a hedonist, and a Conservative imperialist extraordinaire (he was responsible for making Queen Victoria Empress of India). For her part, the Queen loved Disraeli (and not just for making her an Empress) and hated Gladstone ("He always speaks to me as though I were a public meeting."); she made Disraeli an Earl but didn't even give Gladstone the courtesy of recommending a successor when he retired (and picked his least favourite candidate out of spite). Gladstone was frugal and very good with money (becoming Chancellor of the Exchequer four times, including twice as his own Chancellor); Disraeli was a bit of a spendthrift and kept having to write Romance Novels and other penny-dreadfuls to stay solvent. They led their parties against each other in several elections in the late 19th century, more or less taking turns governing the country and trading insults: Disraeli mocked Gladstone's nickname, GOM (the "Grand Old Man"), as really meaning "God's Only Mistake." For his part, Gladstone called Disraeli shallow even in death. These two men hated each others' guts with a passion not seen since in British politics.
While not to the same level as the two mentioned above, the rivalry between Labour leader Harold Wilson and Conservative leader Edward Heath dominated British politics for a decade.
Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, hated Richard Nixon almost more than words can adequately describe. When he told Nixon this, Nixon said "Don't worry. I, too, am a family man, and we feel the same way about you." To give you an idea of just how much Thompson hated him, observe this article, written just a few days after Nixon's death.
If the right people had been in charge of Nixon's funeral, his casket would have been launched into one of those open-sewage canals that empty into the ocean just south of Los Angeles. He was a swine of a man and a jabbering dupe of a president. Nixon was so crooked that he needed servants to help him screw his pants on every morning. Even his funeral was illegal. He was queer in the deepest way. His body should have been burned in a trash bin.
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, who saw themselves as the protectors of their respective faiths and battled one another for control of the Mediterranean for their entire lives. Their chief admirals, Andrea Doria and Khizr Barbarossa became archenemies by association.
Francis I of France has also been seen as Charles' arch-enemy, and to a lesser extent, Francis and Charles also both had considerable personal rivalries with Henry VIII of England.
Czar Peter the Great of Russia and King Charles XII (Carolus Rex to Sabaton fans) of Sweden, who spent all of Charles' adult life at war with each other. It was noted that as long as Charles ran Sweden and Peter ran Russia there would be no chance of peace, so much did they hate each other.
Reinhard Heydrich, Deputy Leader of the SS and founder and head of its insidious intelligence branch, the SD, was The Rival and archenemy of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of German Military Intelligence (the Abwehr). Heydrich was a Deceptive Disciple to Canaris; Heydrich had a lifelong hatred of naval officers (due to being fired by the navy for dishonourable conduct- namely, falsely promising a woman he'd marry her to get her in bed; said woman was the daughter of an admiral) but he made an exception for Canaris, who became his friend, mentor and his neighbour. Canaris in turn liked and respected the intelligent, ambitious, and multi-talent Heydrich- until the mid-to-late 30's, when he gradually realized that Heydrich was also a murderous psychopath indifferent to terror and mass murder of innocent people, which went hand-in-hand with his growing contempt for Nazi Germany as a whole and led to Canaris becoming a leader of La Résistance (though, like most conservative enemies of the regime, he hoped to make Germany a large nation at the expense of some neighbours before getting rid of it). Heydrich seemed to regard Canaris as a Friendly Enemy- he liked him, but as a ruthless careerist he had zero qualms about plotting his downfall and death; he knew full well of his anti-Nazi activities and was building a case against him at the time of his assassination. Canaris may have had a hand in Heydrich's death, and the eventual arrest and execution of Canaris was built in large part on evidence collected by Heydrich.
Real Life - Countries and Institutions
England and France have historically been enemies that never got along and warred constantly. Nowadays they're kinda like Vitriolic Best Buds instead.
Norway and either Sweden or Denmark, whoever Norway was not in an alliance with.
Sweden is this to the rest of the Nordics(Except Iceland, its either Denmark or the US).
More seriously, Russia is this to Sweden and Finland both.
Ancient Athens and Sparta, even as there were some times that they helped one another.
The U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Became more like rivals during Detente in the late '60s and '70s, but escalated back into archenemies during the '80s until the Soviet Union's fall in 1991. These days they are on more or less good terms, though Russia has a habit of blowing a lot hot air every now and then, but it's treated more like an Unknown Rival now.
The US-Soviet rivalry is odd in that the recent rise of China as an economic superpower seems to have made some Americans nostalgic over the Soviet Union. The recent Russian spy scandal was rife with jokes about how the FBI and CIA were ecstatic about a return to the good old days.
Ironically, the United States had good relations with Tsarist Russia. Russia was officially neutral during the American Revolution, but nevertheless indirectly helped it by supplying arms to France and Spain, both of whom were allied with the colonists. Russia was also the only European country to declare support for the Union during the American Civil War (because they thought an intact America would stand a better chance of counterbalancing the power of The British Empire), although they didn't actually intervene. The Russians also sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1867, and boy are the Americans glad that the Russians didn't have that land during the Cold War.
Argentina and Great Britain over the Falkland Islands.
The Roman and Persian Empires battled each other for centuries, but Rome's traditional Arch Enemy was Carthage, as per The Aeneid.
Poland and Germany have long detested one another. Luckily, this seems to be winding down what with the end of the two bigwars.
Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Greece and Turkey. China and Japan. Japan and South Korea, Israel and Palestine. Really, it could go on and on...
Let's see, North Korea and South Korea. North Korea and Japan. North Korea and United States. North Korea and anyone in the EU who is not Switzerland or Sweden.
The United States Republican and Democratic parties in general and their presidential nominees every four years.
For that matter, the North and the South of America. Some don't really care, but attitudes for both range from Southerners viewing Northerners as obnoxious "left wing loonies," and Northerners viewing Southerners as ignorant rednecks. There are also some individuals in the South who still are bitter about losing The American Civil War, and will react quite angrily if questioned on this point. Likewise, some Northerners have never gotten over the incident.
India and Pakistan. Three major wars and one minor conflict and several close calls and both sides have nukes? Archenemies.
India and Japan are petitioning for permanent security council seats, while Pakistan and Korea are in committee to vote them down. This would strangely make Mexico a burgeoning rival for Brazil.
In any duopoly, the two dominant companies could be considered this.
Pepsi and Coke
Marvel Comics and DC Comics are a subversion: while they compete with each other, they generally work together to bolster the comics market, share most of the same customer base, and often team up for crossovers.
Nintendo and Sega, during the fourth generation of video games.
Sega was Nintendo's arch-enemy before it stopped making its own gaming consoles. Nowadays we have the three-way archenemies of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.
Disney, being a multi-media conglomerate, has different arch-enemies in different fields
Disney and Warner Bros. were this in the field of animated shorts before that format mostly disappeared. Nowadays, there's a bit of this between Disney Toon Studios (which makes films, mostly direct-to-video ones) and Walt Disney Television Animation on one side vs. and Warner Bros. Animation (which also does TV shows and direct-to-video films) on the other side.
And since Disney owns Marvel now and DC has been owned by Warner Bros, the Marvel/DC rivalry takes on an extra layer.
On a more regional level, Al Jazeera (Qatar) vs Press TV (Iran).
The African countries of Ethiopia and Somalia have had more than their share of spats over the centuries.
Adolf Hitler (and by extension Nazi Germany) saw the Jews as his archenemy. By the time he died, the feeling was definitely mutual.
Armenia and Azerbaijan, or Armenia and Turkey. The former is India and Pakistan on a small (and not world-ending) stage.
Egypt and Israel apparently have the lowest approval ratings of each other than any other pair of countries.
Denmark and Sweden have apparently fought more wars than any other two countries.
Given their long shared history, everybody in South-East Asia could be argued to be each other's archenemies. Malaysia and Indonesia fought a confrontation over the formation of the former, Singapore has at best Teeth-Clenched Teamwork with Malaysia, Malaysia butts heads with Thailand and the Philippines over Islamic insurgencies along their borders, Vietnam and Cambodia still aren't on good terms after the Vietnam-Cambodia war, Vietnam jockeys with Indonesia in ASEAN over who's the regional power, everyone fights over the Spratly Islands, and nobody cares about Myanmar or Laos.