Contrasting Sequel Main Character
Shadow Archetype. Making a sequel is hard. One needs to find the perfect balance of new stuff to contrast with the original. One way to get some difference is to take your old protagonist and make his mirror image. This can include changing the character's gender too. Was he a man? Have the new one be a woman. Was he an intellectual? Have her be more of a fighter, etc... It also sets up some interesting moments should the two ever meet. Such characters may share some more basic traits, like heroism, allowing someone to note how they are Not So Different. For contrasting villains go to Contrasting Sequel Antagonist. Contrast Suspiciously Similar Substitute.
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Anime and Manga
- Digimon has a history of this: the first protagonist, Yagami Taichi was hot-headed, but grew out of it, and had an aptitude for lateral thinking; the next protagonist, Motomiya Daisuke was hot-blooded and stupid to a fault; the third, Matsuda Takato, was sweet, kind and a little timid; the fourth, Kanbara Takuya, was a cookie-cutter clone of Taichi; the fifth, Daimon Masaru, was hot-blooded and confrontational; the sixth, Kudou Taiki, was a thinker and tactician.
- This is done in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series; Judai is more outgoing and laid-back than Yugi (he's stated to be more a combination of Yugi's skill, but Jonouchi's personality). Yusei contrasts both Yugi and Judai by being much more serious than either of them. Yuma keeps to the trend by being even less serious than Judai was and he lacks the skills of the previous protagonists at the beginning of the story, and he's very Hot-Blooded and hard-headed. Yuya is a bit more like Judai with more serious issues, but he acts more comically whenever he is doing his finisher combos to entertain the audience. Also, Yuya isn't as laid-back as Judai and Yuma, and he's rather the quiet type when he's not dueling and his character is relatively well balanced.
- In Ginga Nagareboshi Gin the main character starts out as a puppy, who trains to avenge his father. He joins a pack of warrior dogs, and since he is smallest and youngest he has to fight hard to earn the respect of others. Eventually he is chosen to be the leader because of his deeds and he reaches the peak of his powers at the last battle of the manga. In the sequel Ginga Densetsu Weed his son somehow knows how to do his fathers ultimate move only by knowing that his father is a hero (he hasn't even met his father at this point) and everyone he meets threats him like an alpha male of the pack or something. The kid even lectures his father about how it is not right to kill your enemy after the said enemy has tortured Gin and killed one of his closest friends in extremely brutal way.
- Kimi No Iru Machi, which takes place after Suzuka, contrasts Haruto with previous protagonist Yamato. Though Haruto is prone to reckless actions, he generally comes off as more responsible and thoughtful than most of his friends.
- Shinn Asuka of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny was probably meant to be this to Kira Yamato, being confrontational and arrogant where Kira was angsty and polite.
- The different protagonists of each part of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure tend to have default temperaments that are opposite to their immediate predecessors. Johnathan is gentlemanly, Joseph is a loudmouth braggart, Jotaro is stoic, Josuke is a gambling-addicted Martial Pacifist, Giorno is driven and honorable but ruthless, and so forth. It gets less apparent as the series continued on, though.
- Villainous example in the series as well with its main antagonists that have been named so far, (with the exception of Part 3 which shares the same antagonist as Part 1), going from Dio, Kars, Kira, Diavolo, Enrico and Funny Valetine
- To be specific,Part 1 and 3 Dio is a dog hating narcissist with megalomaniacal ambitions, but is nice to humans who are nice to him and show some honor with his adversaries, Part 2's Kars respects animals, but has no honor when dealing with humans, Part 4's Kira is a Cloudcuckoolander with Super OCD that desires to not stand out, Diavolo has an extreme complex of not being seen and severe Lack of Empathy, Enrico is a manipulative, dirty fighting priest and Funny Valentine is a Well-Intentioned Extremist patriot.
- Dragon Ball, while technically retaining the same actual protagonist throughout its long run, was intended to switch focus protagonists. Goku is the classic Idiot Hero who loves nothing more than to fight, while his first son Gohan is a passive Martial Pacifist and a huge nerd. Pan, who is arguably the 'hero' of GT, is also completely unlike her father Gohan, headstrong and outspoken.
- Pokemon Special has protagonists ranging from the basic To Be a Master Idiot Hero like Red or Gold, to the Speaks Fluent Animal Yellow, the Gotta Catch 'Em All Crystal, Camp Straight Ruby, Manzai duo Diamond and Pearl, etc...
- Mahou Sensei Negima! stars a young, cute, anxious Child Prodigy Negi Springfield. Its sequel series, UQ Holder, stars a much more classic Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero, Touta Konoe.
- During the period in Grant Morrison's Batman when Batman and Robin briefly replaced the flagship Batman title, Morrison intentionally subverted the classic dynamic between Batman and Robin by putting Dick Grayson in the cape and cowl and making Damian Wayne his Robin. In contrast to the setup that we all grew up with, Dick was a cheerful, outgoing, blue-collar Batman trying to cope with his relative lack of experience, whereas Damian was an angry, brooding, blue-blooded Robin who was raised to be a stone-cold killer.
- Done by Peter David for Spider-Man 2099; Miguel O'Hara was created by taking Peter Parker's traits and reversing them.
"Pretty much every place where Stan (Lee) zigged, I zagged... whereas Peter Parker is a high school student, Miguel is a fully-realized adult working in a laboratory. Whereas Peter was shy and reticent and didn’t know how to talk to girls but talky and outgoing as Spider-Man, Miguel O’Hara was a fully-confident wiseacre with a fiancée…and as Spider-Man, relatively mute."
- The original Green Arrow, Ollie Queen, was an loud-mouthed and showy figure who had a sort of pig-headed stubbornness and cocky air about him, but was still devoted to doing the right thing and helping the poor. When he died in the Ninties, Ollie was replaced with his son Connor Hawke, who had been raised in an ashram and been studying to become a monk. As a result, Connor was much more humble and reserved than Ollie, and had difficulty coping with the stardom and larger-than-life aspects of being a superhero. One particular contrast was their reaction to the ladies; Ollie was a notorious womanizer whose libido was fairly infamous among super-heroes. Connor, on the other hand, was deeply uncomfortable around women due to his upbringing and was visibly uneasy when being hit on.
- In Necessary To Win, Miho Nishizumi is the main character; as you might expect, she's kindhearted, meek, open to reaching out to others, and does not see victory as the be-all and end-all. In the prequel, Paths Toward Victory, her mother, Shiho Nishizumi, takse her place as the main character, and is cold, arrogant, detached from others, and ruthlessly determined.
- Made apparent in A Different Kind Of Truth. Yu Narukami was a stoic yet all around nice guy with the talent of being perfect in everything he tried and the ability to easily make friends. Jonathan Joestar was a kind, idealistic, unselfish, and musclebound man. Johnny contrasts both by being a snarky, fundamentally selfish, cynical, self-centered, and scrawny kid who cannot move anything below the waist while also not intentionally looking forward to making friends or being with other people.
- When making the 2011 prequel to The Thing (1982), the director understandably didn't want to make his protagonist too similar to Kurt Russell's memorable character. The solution was to contrast Russell's performance as an experienced, scruffy, alcoholic anti-social helicopter pilot with a young, less experienced but professional-minded female student of paleontology.
- For the Alien prequel Prometheus, Ridley Scott intentionally avoided making Noomi Rapace's character Elizabeth "Liz" Shaw too similar to Sigourney Weaver's iconic Ellen Ripley. While Ripley was a working-class engineer and single mother just looking to make an honest paycheck, Shaw is a bookish archaeologist driven by her thirst for scientific knowledge, and she's romantically involved with her crew-mate.
- James Franco's Oscar "Oz" Diggs, the protagonist of Oz: The Great and Powerful, bears this relationship to Judy Garland's Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is a pure-hearted, relentlessly optimistic farm girl who's unshakably loyal to her friends, always tells the truth, and spends the whole story eager to get back home. Oscar is a cynical Guile Hero and a master showman who uses illusions to his advantage, he spends the first act of the movie as a stubborn loner, and he ultimately elects to stay in Oz permanently as its ruler.
- The Transformers film series seems to be headed this way with Transformers: Age of Extinction, which replaced Shia LaBeouf's long-time protagonist Sam Witwicky with the new character Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg. Where Witwicky was a middle-class suburban Kid Hero, Yeager is a middle-aged working-class single father who works as a mechanic in rural Texas.
- Several characters in Jurassic World seem deliberately written to contrast similar characters from the original Jurassic Park, as Jurassic World is the first film in the series that doesn't reuse any of the principal characters from the first movie. note
Masrani: When John Hammond entrusted his park to me, never once did he talk of profit. "Spare no expense!", he always said.
- Claire Dearing, an emotionally distant thirty-something workaholic who meticulously obsesses over the park's profits, contrasts John Hammond, an eccentric elderly showman who starts the park to realize a personal dream. Where Hammond is a loving grandfather, Dearing is introduced as the child protagonists' aunt, and she's too devoted to her job to consider having children. Notably, Claire shares Hammond's all-white wardrobe, and she's also asked to watch two children while their parents are going through a divorce. Lampshaded by Simon Masrani in one scene, when he gets sick of Claire spewing financial figures at him.
- Owen Grady, a cheerful, idealistic Fluffy Tamer, contrasts Robert Muldoon, a grim, cynical Great White Hunter. Notably, both of them have special relationships with the velociraptors, but where Owen tries to train them by forming bonds based on mutual respect, Muldoon merely sees them as worthy adversaries and wants to see them all exterminated.
- Lowery Cruthers, a slovenly computer geek with an authority problem, is written to evoke Dennis Nedry. But while Dennis betrays his superiors for personal profit ultimately dies trying to escape the park, Lowery stays loyal to his boss and ultimately risks his life to stay behind and save Owen and Claire. Notably, Claire chews him out for having a cluttered workspace, just like Ray Arnold did to Dennis in the original.
- In Mariel of Redwall, the fourth in the Redwall series, Brian Jacques intentionally made Mariel very distinct from Matthias, Martin and Mattimeo, the protagonists of the first three books. Most obviously he made her female, but her revenge motive and relative dose of combat pragmatism serves to distinguish her personality. Her weapon, the Gullwhacker, is even designed to be as unlike the Sword of Martin as possible, being a disposable object (it is revealed in The Bellmaker that she keeps replacing the original) instead of an ancestral heirloom weapon.
- Pretty much every series in the Tortall Universe has a quite different main character from the previous.
- Daine of The Immortals isn't as different from Alanna as the rest, but she's a Nature Hero and foreigner to Tortall who is almost exclusively a mage rather than a knight and combatant.
- Keladry of Protector of the Small is a spiritual successor to Alanna of Song of the Lioness as a knight-in-training, but they're quite different to each other. Alanna is short, quick-tempered, quick to fight, and has a very powerful magic Gift. Kel is very tall and keeps growing (5'8" last time we see it mentioned) and quite The Stoic—while not averse to a fight, she doesn't like to if it's not needful. She's also a Badass Normal without even a sniff of magic and has Good Parents who remain quite alive throughout her books.
- Aly of Daughter of the Lioness is a Consummate Liar and The Spymaster, while the previous three ladies are quite straightforward and honorable. Her story also takes place outside of Tortall, a first in the series.
- Beka Cooper of the Provost's Dog books is a commoner living in Corus' slums and as such her life and morality is a lot messier than any of the previous protagonists, and she meets most nobles at a distance.note She's also a Shrinking Violet who keeps a journal.
- Vin of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy and Waxillium (aka Wax) of The Alloy of Law. Vin started out as a mistrustful and abused Street Urchin while Wax came from a noble family and ran off to the untamed wilds to become The Sheriff. Vin is somewhat Book Dumb, but thinks quickly on her feet; Wax is more intellectual, relying more on science and plans things out. Also Marasi the female lead of Alloy contrasts Vin in that Vin is a badass Action Girl but also has some more feminine interests like dancing and dresses, while Marasi is more of a girly girly but is a member of her school's gun club and studies criminology, both of which are quite stereotypically masculine interests.
- In The Hobbit, Bilbo is a respectable gentlehobbit who wants nothing to do with adventures, but is prodded into it and comes back happier, having traded his reputation at home for many friends throughout Middle-earth and mostly good memories. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, Bilbo's cousin and adopted son, is seen as odd (even before he starts idolizing Bilbo) and very much wants to go on an adventure like his cousin; when he does, it takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on him and leaves him unable to live in peace in Middle-earth.
- The title character in the Discworld novel Mort (first in the Death subseries) is a vaguely well-meaning young man who "thinks too much" about useless things (like why the sun comes out during the day, when the light would be more useful at night) and is prone to going along with things because it's easier than arguing. His daughter Susan, in Soul Music and subsequent Death books, is a highly determined and practically-minded young woman who has very strong opinions on everything.
- In L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the protagonist Dorothy Gale was famously written as a Fish out of Water Audience Surrogate, an ordinary Kansas farm girl who finds herself whisked away to the Land of Oz by a tornado and spends the whole novel desperately trying to get home. For the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Baum replaced Dorothy with the new protagonist Tip, a young boy who's a native of Oz, and turns out to be Ozma, the long-lost Queen of Oz, magically de-aged and gender-flipped and unaware of her true identity.
Live Action Television
- Star Trek
- Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation compared to Kirk of Star Trek: The Original Series. Kirk is more adventurous and action prone, Boldly Coming and more likely to dive and be at the fore front of any situation. Picard, on the other hand, is more diplomatic, older, more reserved and philosophical. He's also more prone to delegate to his subordinate, almost never going on away missions - unlike Kirk.note Also unlike Kirk, Picard does not generally mingle in his free time with his bridge crew. That's why the final scene of the series, where he finally joins their weekly poker game, feels so meaningful. Kirk, however would regularly play chess with Spock or spend time with Bones, going on shore leave with Scotty.
- Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine compared to Picard. Picard is the quintessential Officer and a Gentleman, being content to look at the big picture in a given situation, while Sisko is much more of a front-line officer, and is more willing to get his hands dirty and deal with problems directly. Notably, Sisko is also the first Star Trek protagonist with a family (he's a widower and a single father), meaning that he's also far less stoic and objective than Picard, and is more likely to get emotionally involved in situations since he knows that he has a son to protect, and because he had to endure losing his wife in a previous battle. And while Kirk and Picard were idealists who took the high road whenever possible, even when it cost them, Sisko will always Shoot the Dog if it gets the job done.
- The same pattern holds true when comparing Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager to Sisko. While both had inclinations in both command and technical directions, Sisko was a full-time command officer who would occasionally do engineering work, while Janeway had spent long enough at the science officer's desk that she was doing double duty for about half of Voyager. Sisko, as discussed above, was focused on doing what he had to do, while Janeway cared about Starfleet ideals to an almost unhealthy degree. Sisko had a very low tolerance for many groups of adversaries, while Janeway was more diplomatic most of the time, even negotiating with the Borg.
- Kung Fu takes place in the Wild West, where Caine is alone Walking the Earth. Kung Fu: The Legend Continues takes place in contemporary Stargate City. The job of Protagonist is split between Kwai Chang Caine II (the Identical Grandson of Kung Fu's Caine) and his son Peter, a police detective. "I'm not my father. I don't do kung fu. I'm a cop, that's who I am, that's what I do."
- Detective Inspector Sam Tyler of the original BBC series Life On Mars was the calmer By-the-Book Cop to Gene's Cowboy Cop. Detective Inspector Alexandra Drake of the spinoff Ashes to Ashes is less by the book and more Tsundere Lady Drunk.
- Ryuga Dougai, the current bearer of the GARO title from GARO The One Who Shines In The Darkness is hotheaded, emotional, socially outgoing, but inexperienced in battle. Whereas Kouga Saejima, the main character from the original GARO series is stoic, almost always ahead of his enemies, but socially detached. Happens again with GARO: Makai no Hana. Raiga, the son of Kouga and Kaoru, is a very caring and warm person, who is generally good with people, while pre-character development Kouga was everything but that.
- Although Angel was a spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Until season 5) and not a sequel, Angel fits this trope well in contrast to Buffy. Serious and brooding where the original was cheerful and social, a vampire where Buffy was a human, an anti-hero where Buffy was more of a straight hero (occaisional "what the hell, hero" moments excluded), solitary where Buffy was social, and generally facing adult problems like parenthood, unemployment and legal issues, where Buffy started out in high school and only started facing adult problems in her later seasons.
- In most Kamen Rider shows, each year's show will have a notably different protagonist. For example, the first three post-revival riders were friendly and heroic, then we had Takumi Inui. The hyper-competent Souji Tendou was followed by the clumsy Butt Monkey Ryotaro Nogami, the nervous, shy Wataru Kurenai was followed by the cocky, assured Tsukasa Kadoya, and Eiji Hino, who constantly has trouble making connections with other people, gave way to Gentaro Kisaragi.
- Doctor Who:
- Most incarnations of the Doctor are the opposite of their previous incarnation in some large, glaring way (while other parts of the characterisation shift more subtly). Over the classic series, the haughty and moody First Doctor was followed up by the Hoboish and easy-going Second, who was succeeded by the grumpy, elegant and noble Third, the childish, scruffy and carefree Fourth, the responsible and kindly Fifth, the obnoxious and unstable Sixth, the playful and Machiavellian Seventh. The Eighth Doctor was more of an Adaptation Distillation of traits from the Fourth Doctor (but Hotter and Sexier for the Americans) than a reaction to the Seventh in any way, and he and the incarnations going onwards have contrasted each other much less aggressively so far (the aim being to present a slow character growth, valuable lessons learned forming the basis for the new Doctor's personality, rather than the Classic series' reliance on Campy gimmicks and shocking Freak Outs). However, the transition from Eleven to Twelve is fairly explicitly this—the very young-appearing (and acting), light-hearted Eleventh Doctor was replaced by the much older-looking, grumpier, and more standoffish Twelfth. The Doctor himself comments on the contrasts.
- Done peculiarly in the Fourth Doctor's first season - half of the creative team wanted to differentiate the new Doctor by making him lighten up and be wackier after such a serious previous Doctor, and the other half wanted to differentiate him by making him darker and more brutal after such a noble previous Doctor. It is real testament to the ability of Tom Baker and Robert Holmes that they managed to pull off both, at the same time.
- Certain companions were replaced with their complete opposites:
- The First Doctor's 'granddaughters': first a dark-haired, cautious, weird, ethereal girl, then a blond-haired, outgoing, perky Nightmare Fetishist. Both were Impossible Genius girls from utopian future civilisations, so the replacement was a not-too-bright 1960s woman who implicitly came from a broken home.
- Liz Shaw, an intelligent, astute and ambitious scientist, was replaced with the ditzy, undereducated and scream-prone Jo (who nevertheless would clobber bad guys with heavy objects). This was done because it was felt Liz was too strong a Doctor substitute. Then the writers realised how anti-feminist this looked and replaced the gentle and compliant Jo with a bright and hot tempered journalist who would shout back at the Doctor.
- The Fourth Doctor's companions: Sarah Jane Smith, a clued-in but physically delicate Muggle Best Friend, was substituted with Leela, an intelligent but undereducated Nubile Savage who the Doctor tended to pick on as an inferior and who specialised in intuition and violence. Then she was replaced with Romana, the Doctor's superior in intelligence but with less life experience. Then Romana, so competent that she often took charge and had the Doctor learning from her, got subbed out for Adric, also a genius alien but a young boy instead of an adult woman, and who the Doctor was raising as a protege.
- The concept for Ace was basically 'the exact opposite of Mel'. Mel was a girly, garishly-dressed Damsel Scrappy who nagged the Doctor into improving his health, wheras Ace was a punky tomboy who lived on a council estate and blew things up with homemade explosives.
- Rose, a blonde working-class shopgirl in a life slump, is replaced by Martha, a black middle-class medical student with an ambitious personality. Both preceding companions fall in love with the Doctor, so the next one, Donna, repeatedly states that she finds the Doctor unattractive.
- Toa Tahu, leader of the heroes in BIONICLE's first saga, was a fiery, impulsive hothead, always wanting to prove himself and compete with his fellow Toa. Toa Vakama from the second saga (actually a prequel) was insecure, perpetually angsty, but more controlled and calculating, although still ruled by his emotions. Toa Jaller from the third saga deliberately invoked this trope, having learned from Tahu's and Vakama's mistakes, so he was more level-headed and confident in his approach, but willing to listen to others. Also, Tahu and Vakama both struggled to keep their team together and act as a leader, whereas Jaller was already a respected Captain and friends with his team members prior to becoming a Toa.
- Maia of Summoner 2 compared to Joseph of Summoner. Joseph shunned his destiny, and only answered The Call because The Call Knows Where You Live - twice. Maia's been raised as The Chosen One and embraces her destiny, seeking to accomplish it. It makes her more headstrong, but also less likely to listen to others - believing she knows best, unlike Joseph who was far more willing to take advice - but could be (and was) manipulated as a result.
- The "hero" of Drakengard, Caim, is a bloodthirsty Ax-Crazy Sociopathic Hero, only saved from Villain Protagonist status by The Empire he fights being worse. In the sequel, he's something of an antagonist and the protagonist, Nowe, is a fairly standard Idiot Hero Wide-Eyed Idealist. The fact that they're related, as Nowe is Caim's nephew, makes this even more notable.
- In Disgaea (which has a new protagonist in each game, plus cameos from the previous cast) the personalities of each main character alternates. The first and third games had characters who were after power (Laharl wanted to become an Overlord, while Mao was in it For Science!) and the second and fourth games had characters with more noble goals (Adell wanted to end the curse which turned everyone into demons and Valvatorez wanted to keep his promise to the prinnies he's trying to emancipate).
- Solid Snake, a hardened, battle-hardened, cynical ladies' man and Anti-Hero, of Metal Gear Solid as against Raiden, an optimistic, idealistic rookie with no real combat experience and a steady girlfriend, of Metal Gear Solid 2. Made particularly explicit as Snake is the protagonist of the introduction to the latter game.
- Raiden is in turn contrasted by Naked Snake in Snake Eater. Naked Snake was energetic and confident, experienced and was much more sexually active. And Naked Snake in turn was contrasted by Old Snake (Solid Snake after some Rapid Aging) in 4. Now nearly a Death Seeker, a man without a place in the current battlefield and almost no attraction to his female allies.
- Which was contrasted by Big Boss (formerly Naked Snake) in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a disillusioned veteran without a country or cause, seeking a purpose. Unlike Snake, Raiden, and even his younger self, he forms a sort of ersatz family out of his mercenary company, compared to the series' typical lone wolf approach.
- Which was contrasted by Raiden in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a mercenary who claimed to fight for justice but also sought, well, revengeance. Which was contrasted by "Jack the Ripper", Raiden's Combat Sado Masochist persona who just plain likes to kill things.
- Which may be contrasted in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain by "Punished Snake" (an even older, grumpier Big Boss), who the entire world wants dead. There's the "prequel chapter" Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes, but that takes place less than a month after Peace Walker, while Phantom Pain takes place after a ten-year coma. Odds are Snake is going to contrast both himself and Raiden.
(wearily) Kaz...I'm already a demon.
- The protagonist of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd Irving is a classic Idiot Hero - headstrong, quick to action, confident in himself, and optimistic about bringing change to the worlds. In contrast Dawn of the New World's protagonist, Emil Castagnier, is a male Shrinking Violet, quick to apologize, lacking confidence in himself, and very quick to apologize until his Character Development and Superpowered Evil Side / Split Personality kick in.
- Whenever the Assassin's Creed series introduces a new assassin protagonist, you can bet that they'll be different from previous protagonists in some way. The series never sticks with one assassin for too long.
- Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad of Assassin's Creed I is a no-nonsense (if overconfident) veteran Professional Killer.
- Ezio Auditore da Firenze of Assassin's Creed II is a playboy youth from a wealthy banking family who chooses to enter the cloak-and-dagger world of the Assassins to take revenge on the Templars who betrayed and killed his parents, only officially joining the Order in the final mission.
- The contrast between the two goes even further when their complete lives are viewed. Altaïr was extremely cynical all the way to the end, taking the view of Humans Are the Real Monsters and seeing a Crapsack World. Ezio gained a real appreciation for life, taking the view that Humans Are Flawed, but overall decent people and that The World Is Just Awesome.
- Connor Kenway of Assassin's Creed III is an idealistic rookie Assassin who's treated as an outsider because of his Mohawk ancestry, and ends up directly at odds with his father Haytham, the Grandmaster of the Templar Order in the course of his mission.
- Assassin's Creed III: Liberation has the series' first female and black protagonist, Aveline de Grandpre. She can switch between different "personas" for different situations, which is a lot more subtle than Connor. She rebels against her assigned role as a nobleman's daughter, while Connor's Native American background was clearly dominant. She's also more conflicted than Connor about morality, and tends to be impulsive in contrast to his stoicism. She too, has a Nice Hat.
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag stars Connor's grandpa, Edward Kenway, a nigh-alcoholic, selfish pirate who ends up getting mixed up in this Assassin and Templar nonsense entirely by accident and spends most of the plot insisting that he's not in it for their revolution. He also spends a good portion of the game pining over his lost love. And he's blonde. At the same time, he and other pirates attempt to establish their own Republic, which harkens back to Connor's beliefs in freedom.
- In the first The Legend of Kyrandia, the protagonist is a classic heroic Prince Charming. In the second, the protagonist is a Plucky Girl alchemist. In the third, the protagonist is an Omnicidal Maniac.
- .hack R1 Games' Kite is an optimistic Kid Hero, while Dot Hack GU's Haseo is a darker, more brooding figure who prides himself on killing Player-Killers.
- Contrasting Prequel, but nonetheless, Zack Fair from Crisis Core is more hotheaded, attitude-driven, laid back, and friendlier than the colder, psychologically questionable, stoic Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII fame.
- Cecil of Final Fantasy IV was an emotional man atoning for the sins of his past, while Bartz of Final Fantasy V is more of a laid back Idiot Hero. Then Terra of Final Fantasy VI was an emotionally damaged girl searching for her place in life, then Cloud of Final Fantasy VII and Squall of Final Fantasy VIII were Defrosting Ice Kings with repressed or forgotten traumas that had turned them into stoic types, then Zidane of Final Fantasy IX, Tidus of Final Fantasy X and Vaan of Final Fantasy XII were more friendly and confident heroes before reverting to a Defrosting Ice Queen in Lightning for Final Fantasy XIII.
- The Power Trio in Valkyria Chronicles III definitely contrast the trios in previous games. Whereas the the first two (Welkin-Alicia-Isara and Avan-Zeri-Cosette) are fighting for clearly honorable cause, basking in public accolade, and supportive of each others from the beginning; Kurt-Alicia-Imca are fighting in morally dubious missions, are hated by just about everyone they meet, and start with a lot of venom between them. Apart from those, though, Kurt is just as nice a guy as Welkin.
- Arguably the case with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, highly trained pros from Resident Evil, and Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2, the first a rookie cop on his first day on the job, the second a civilian with minor training.
- The first two Silent Hill games feature this. Silent Hill stars Harry Mason, an implacable Papa Wolf who, in the best ending, is painted as Messianic Archetype. In Silent Hill 2, the new protagonist, James Sunderland, is quite the opposite: cowardly, self-centered and even responsible for at least two deaths.
- Heather from Silent Hill 3 is a frightened but rather sassy young woman. Silent Hill 4s protagonist, Henry Townsend is quiet, agoraphobic and almost emotionless. Silent Hill Origins stars Travis Grady, a calm, lonely trucker. Alex Shepard from Silent Hill: Homecoming is a delusional though determined vet and Silent Hill: Downpours Murphy is a thoughtful yet violent inmate.
- The first game's reimagining Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does this with the same person. Here, Harry retains his drive, but lacks the physique to, say, fight off monsters with his bare hands. What's more, he loses his role as a Chaste Hero, and has gone through a divorce instead of having his wife die. Also, the game silently judges you on what your real intentions are; if you're not focused enough, it'll turn him into a drunk, a womanizer or a coward.
- Persona 3 and Persona 4 do a subtle change off. Both main characters are still blank slates, but Yu has a larger build than Minato and also looks far more masculine. Most likely a result of a few fans complaining that Minato looked wimpy. Even in the crossdressing contest later in the game, it's very hard to mistake Yu as feminine. Teddie, on the other hand...
- Both of them show a contrast in a single character archetype: The Stoic. Minato in the manga shows emotion when pushed, making him a Beware the Nice Ones, while Yu is, depending on the Alternate Character Interpretation, is either a Deadpan Snarker or a Cloud Cuckoolander, due to his incredibly weird sense of humour.
- Contrasted yet again with the optional Female Protagonist of Persona 3 Portable, whose dialogue choices imply she's much more upbeat and energetic. It's even apparent in the color choices for each scenario. Minato is associated with the color blue, and the Female Protagonist, red.
- The Persona 2 duology pulls this with its player characters: Innocent Sin's Tatsuya Suou, an aloof loner, and Eternal Punishment 's Maya Amano, a perky, outgoing young woman.
- Persona 5 extends this trope to the entire cast of playable characters. Persona 4's heroes are Amateur Sleuths. Persona 5's heroes are Phantom Thieves.
- Prototype and Prototype 2, complete with making the protagonist of the first the villain of the second. Alex Mercer, the original protagonist, was amnesiac, manipulated somewhat easily, and sullen. The protagonist of the second, James Heller, was rage filled, remembered everything, and saw through his enemies' plans. Alex also became more verbose in 2, in contrast to Heller's bluntness and propensity for swearing.
- Jack from BioShock, as an ordinary human who fights mostly with scavenged small arms and improvised weapons, had a distinct feeling of vulnerability to him even as he acquired more powerful Plasmids and began to prove himself in battle. This is compounded by the revelation that he was little more than a mind-controlled slave of Fontaine's from the very start, devoid of free will. Subject Delta, on the other hand, is a hulking, heavily-spliced monster of a man, clad in an armoured suit and capable of braving even the ocean floor unscathed. Meanwhile, others regard him as nothing but a mindless automaton, but the fact that he actually does possess free will is a large part of his character and motivation.
- Unlike the first two, Booker DeWitt of BioShock Infinite has a significant identity outside of his mission, which isn't a quest for survival; he's hired to rescue Elizabeth, who is herself a marked contrast to the loneliness that permeated the first few games. He speaks and comments much more on the things going on around him, in that he speaks and comments at all.
- The first three Halo games are fought as the heroic Spartan super-soldier Master Chief. Halo 3: ODST reduces the protagonist's fame and power by having them play as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, an unaugmented special forces soldier who is looked down upon by the rest of his team mostly for being a rookie. Additionally, ODSTs hate Spartans and compete against them. Halo: Reach has you as a super-soldier again, but now a cheaper Spartan-III who specialized in black-ops missions against humans, not Covenant.
- The Mega Man franchise does this all the time.
- The innocent, childlike Mega Man of the original series was followed by X, who both looks and acts more grown-up.
- Mega Man X was contrasted (both in his own series and the sequel) with Zero. Where X is deeply conflicted about violence and morality, Zero loves to fight and doesn't worry much about gray areas.
- After Zero came Aile and Vent in the first Mega Man ZX game. Zero is a robot who's missing his memory but knows how to handle himself; Aile and Vent are humans with no mental problems, but they have a lot to learn about the heroism business.
- The second ZX game pulls this trope on the first in two ways. The new player characters (Ashe and Grey) have more complicated pasts and more adult perspectives than Aile and Vent. Their partner, Model A, is very different from the easily heroic Models X and Z — he's selfish and unmotivated for large parts of the game. (He doesn't even change forms the same way they do.)
- In the Alternate Universe, Mega Man Battle Network's optimistic and fun-loving heroes Lan and MegaMan were succeeded in the Mega Man Star Force games by the mopey Geo and his gruff, strange-looking alien friend Omega-Xis. This has often been compared to the original/X series change.
- Knights of the Old Republic While both protagonists were canonically light-sided by LucasArts fiat, outcry over making Revan yet another white, male, heterosexual video game hero (like every Star Wars game hero had been up until that point) led to Exile being an Ambiguously Brown female. Of course, just try asking the fanbase about it.
- King's Quest: King's Quest III had a quiet, bookish wizard's slave named Gwydion discover he was a prince named Alexander and endure an arduous quest to rescue his sister. King's Quest IV follows spirited, Plucky Girl Princess Rosella as she is disguised as a peasant on a quest to rescue her dad. The characterization of Alexander and Rosella still falls into Sibling Yin-Yang
- Baten Kaitos has Kalas, who is (initially) a jerkass who cares nothing of anyone's problems other than his own. Meanwhile in Origins, Sagi is quite the nice guy, and is often eager to help out others. Also, while Kalas is a spiriter, Sagi's is a malideiter, his power coming from a dark god.
- Dead Rising stars Frank West, a calm, cocky photojournalist who is nevertheless altruistic. Dead Rising 2 stars Chuck Green, a straight-laced and extremely serious stunt man who cares deeply for his daughter. Dead Rising 3 features Nick Ramos, a panicky mechanic who is immune to the zombies.
- The protagonist of Far Cry 4 is Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati-American twenty-something former-troublemaker who gets swept up in a civil war in a foreign land and becomes their strongest warrior, and he happens to really have a way with animals. Compare the protagonist of Far Cry 3, Jason Brody, a caucasian twenty-something rich So-Cal asshole who gets swept up in a resistance movement in a foreign land and becomes their strongest warrior. Oh, and Animals Hate Him. A lot.
- Not a sequel, but a prequel: The protagonist of Fate/stay night, Shirou Emiya, is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who is dragged into the 5th Holy Grail War. In Fate/Zero, his adoptive father Kitsurugi Emiya is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who willingly enters the 4th Holy Grail War.
- The protagonist of Akai Ito, Hatou Kei, is a timid, unassertive girl who constantly need to be protected by her girlfriend(s). Her cooking is also honest-to-the-gods awful. Cue the sort-of sequel Aoi Shiro, where the protagonist, Osanai Syouko, is a clear-headed captain of an all-girl kendo team with a very good sense of culinaire— good enough to exceed the girl that she must constantly protect.
- In Dangan Ronpa, protagonist Makoto Naegi is idealistic, non-confrontational, and a little naive, and in awe of his fellow classmates' talents that helped them get into Hope's Peak Academy since his own talent is rather mundane in comparison (Super High School-Level Good Luck, due to being picked from a lottery to be able to attend the school). In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Hajime Hinata is more cynical, outspoken, and sarcastic, and despite being unable to remember what his talent is he treats his classmates more or less as equals, while at the same time being more wary of them.
- Every protagonist to follow Battler in Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a contrast to him, Ange most of all. She's a female Kuudere to his Hot-Blooded male, with completely opposite biases.
- The Science Adventure series tends to have fairly distinct protagonists. Chaos;Head has Classical Anti-Hero Takumi Nishijou who is pretty much a cowardly otaku who takes awhile to gain motivation. Steins;Gate's Okabe retains some loser traits due to his delusions, but is portrayed as much more confident in his ambitions. At least until the plot rears its head.
- The first two main characters in the Ace Attorney games, Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, are young men who are hilarious in their attempts to be serious, are able to bluff their way through nervous moments pretty well, and who have pretty unremarkable backstories (or at least enough so that we don't learn much about them). Athena Cykes is a young woman who is more of an obvious Cloudcuckoolander Butt Monkey who occasionally locks up in terror when something triggering happens and who has a very Dark and Troubled Past.
- Played with in Red vs. Blue with Agent Washington. Wash is introduced in Season 6 as a more serious, disciplined soldier to contrast with the more cynical Reds and Blues. Unlike other examples of this trope, Wash didn't replace the Reds and Blues, but became the Only Sane Man among their ragtag band of idiots.
- Avatar Korra of The Legend of Korra compared to Avatar Aang of Avatar: The Last Airbender. They are of opposite genders, Aang was pacifistic and spiritual, knew only airbending until the start of the series, and initially Refused The Call. Korra is hot-headed, far more pugnacious, has known how to waterbend, earthbend and firebend since she was a child, and Jumped at the Call. And by her own admission, she's not so good at the spiritual stuff. Aang only had eyes for Katara the entire series. Korra goes on a date with Bolin, has a failed relationship with Mako, and ends the series with Asami. Both however share a good sense of humor, lots of compassion for strangers, and a certain impulsiveness.
- It's worth noting that there's a twist to the formula here: Aang and Korra are technically the same person. Korra is the reincarnation of Aang.
- Partially justified as it's been shown that each Avatar was more or less a contrast to the previous one. Yangchen was wise and responsible, Kuruk was playful and less eager to interfere with mortal affair, Kyoshi was dead serious and active, Roku considered his inactiveness his greatest failure.
- Ariel from The Little Mermaid and her daughter Melody in the sequel. Ariel is a mermaid who's obsessed with the land and wants to become human, while her daughter, the main character of the sequel, is a human but is drawn to the ocean and wants to be a mermaid. They're not strikingly different in temperament, but their goals are complete opposites.
- This pops up frequently in Batman Beyond. Most notably in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where this is pretty much how Batman beats The Joker.
Joker: (After getting kicked in the crotch) What are you doing?!Batman: Fighting dirty.Joker: The real Batman would never (kicked again).
- Wendy and Jane from Peter Pan and its sequel Return to Neverland respectively. Wendy's character arc was about learning that no matter how much she might want to stay a child, she needs to grow up eventually. Her daughter, Jane, on the other hand, grew up too fast due to World War II and needed to be reminded that she is still a child.