Contrasting Sequel Main Character

Q: You hit me! Picard never hit me!
Benjamin Sisko: I'm not Picard.

A subtrope of Foil. 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 an extroverted people-pleaser; the fifth, Daimon Masaru, was hot-blooded and confrontational; the sixth, Kudou Taiki, was a thinker and tactician.
    • The last arc of Digimon Xros Wars introduced a new main character, Tagiru, who was the exact opposite of previous main character Taiki. While both could be Hot-Blooded, Tagiru was much more reckless and excitable than Taiki had been.
  • 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.
  • Fushigi Yuugi
    • Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden, despite actually being a prequel, has a big contrast in Takiko as its protagonist compared to Miaka. There's a 70 year difference between their respective adventures in the Universe of the Four Gods, Takiko entering it in 1923 and Miaka in the nineties, so their appearance is already different with Takiko wearing a hakama and Miaka a blazer-type school uniform, which had become the norm by then. Miaka was lazy in studying, did not have great grades and was extremely hotheaded at times. On the other hand, Takiko was good in school and was very active, keeping her cool during certain situations and being very self-sacrificing in order to understand other people.
    • What little has been shown of Suzuno in her few appearances, she's a contrast to the other priestesses in that she is described as being a very shy and quiet person, contrary to Takiko's appealing and Miaka's headstrong nature.
  • 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.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Whether coincidental or an intentional design choice, each protagonist of each part tends to have an opposing temperament to their predecessor.
  • 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.
  • Steel Angel Kurumi (Kōtetsu Tenshi Kurumi) has a different human protagonist in the first and second series, the one in the second being either the great-granddaughter or great-grandniece of the one in the first. They're reasonably similar in personality ("shy naive character dealing with a robotic Stalker with a Crush" being a crucial plot element in both), but they are of different sexes.
  • 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. This gets lampshaded by one of Negi's former students.
    Ayaka: My, my, my. You look nothing like Negi-sensei. Your hair, your skin... You seem like a mischief-maker, without a care in the world. His opposite in every way.
  • 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.
  • Kousuke from Sakura Discord was an abrasive, grumpy, always serious and (initially) slightly cynical protagonist. Asahi from My Monster Secret is (too) honest, a bit shy, clumsy, a notable Butt Monkey, and kind to a fault − as well as a bit of a Covert Pervert. note 
  • The titular character of Naruto is an orphan without any known extended family while his son Bolt has a very loving family. They are both troublemakers, however while Naruto acted out as a means for attention, Bolt acts out as a means to get attention from his father who is always busy. Naruto's lifelong dream was to become Hokage while Bolt has no interest in the career. Naruto was considered a very weak shinobi at first and had to work hard to be strong while Bolt is already a Child Prodigy at the same age Naruto was when he became a ninja.
  • Pokémon 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...
  • Duke Fleed from UFO Robo Grendizer. Comparated to all male leads of the Mazinger Trilogy (Koji of Mazinger Z and Testuya of Great Mazinger), he was the most mature and the less prone to put his foot in his mouth or let his temper taking over his brains.
  • 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.

     Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Fiction 
  • 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 
    • 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.
    Masrani: When John Hammond entrusted his park to me, never once did he talk of profit. "Spare no expense!", he always said.
    • 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.
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequel trilogy showed Anakin Skywalker to be this towards his son Luke. Both are raised on desert planets, but whereas Luke had a happy family life on a farm with loving parental figures, Anakin was born into slavery with just his loving mother. Luke didn't really angst over the death of his family (he was upset, but since they continually kept him from leaving, he embraced the freedom their death granted), while Anakin's grief over losing his loved ones set him on his Start of Darkness.
    • The Force Awakens' new Power Trio (Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron) are set up as counterparts to Luke, Leia, and Han from the original trilogy in varying ways:
      • Poe is a dashing, dark-haired ace pilot with a sardonic streak, like Han, but is already dedicated to La Résistance, like Leia.
      • Finn is a heroic everyman like Luke, and puts up a valiant effort with a lightsaber (the same one that Luke used). However, he initially wants no part of the Resistance, like Han (albeit for different reasons: Han answers only to himself, while Finn is an ex-Stormtrooper who wants to get as far away from the First Order as possible).
      • Rey is a courageous Action Girl like Leia, but her origins are closer to that of Luke's; he was a farmhand living a humble life on a desert world, while she was a mechanic eking out a living on a harsh Scavenger World, and both are interested but hesitant in taking up the Call to Adventure before getting swept into it by the end. She's also a fledgeling Jedi with a strong connection to the Force, and is much more adept with a lightsaber than Finn. She also differs from the previous female leads, Leia and Padmé, by not being royalty or from a privileged background.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The first Predator's main character, Dutch, is a burly, patriotic commando with strict ethics who starts off with a loyal team containing a Sixth Ranger Traitor who manipulated him into doing his dirty work. Predators's main character, Royce is a mercenary and Blood Knight, a thin loner, doesn't care about most of the others on his "team", and at one point betrays them to flush out the Predators.
  • Done in Finding Nemo and its sequel, Finding Dory, where the protagonist's companion from the first movie returns as the new protagonist. The first film has Marlin, an uptight, anxiety-ridden widower and single father looking for his missing son. The second film has Dory, a carefree, scatterbrained amnesiac woman looking for her missing parents.
  • The DC Extended Universe version of Batman, compared to the Christian Bale interpretation of the character. He's presented as an older, experienced Batman, whereas Bale's version had an entire film devoted to his origin. He also operates in a more fantastical world, and is less stringent about his Thou Shall Not Kill principle than Bale was.

  • 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. She is also very Hot-Blooded, unlike her more calmer male counterparts.
  • 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.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard protagonist Magnus Chase is this to Percy Jackson. While the direct sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, purposely made Jason Grace a counterpart to Percy, Rick Riordan Apparently decided to go a different route in his following series. Both Magnus and Percy are demigods, but while Percy is an adept fighter who becomes a great warrior and embraces his demigod lifestyle, Magnus dies shortly into the first book, is a healer, is the son of a peaceful god and is not suited for fighting, and initially rejects his new demigod life. Magnus loves books, while Percy hates reading. He's more likely to think or talk through a problem than fight, is less physically affectionate, and is generally less emotionally open and friendly. Many fans especially like to poke fun at the fact that Magnus hates the color blue, Percy's signature favorite color.
  • Aya Tachibana, the protagonist of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, is constantly worrying, mildly introverted, and meticulous; while her sister Nako who stars in the Genie Team G Jiken Note spinoff is outgoing, carefree, and ditzy.

    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 honest and romantic, in contrast to Seven's solitary scheming, whereas the Ninth was less trusting and more conflicted. Ten was more chipper than Nine ever got, but at the same time down-to-Earth and relatable to humanity more than any other Doctor, whereas Eleven was completely alien and out of touch with conventions of any kind. The transition from Eleven to Twelve is fairly explicitly this—the very young-appearing (and acting), light-hearted, and incredibly confident Eleventh Doctor was replaced by the much older-looking, grumpier, and self-doubting Twelfth.
    • 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.
  • American Horror Story: In keeping with the show's premise as an anthology series, every new season-long story tends to go with a main cast of core characters who are as different from the previous season's core cast as possible—often giving the actors a chance to show off their range by playing characters that deliberately contrast their previous roles in the previous seasons.
    • Murder House, a family drama set in suburban California, is told mainly from the perspective of the Harmons, a solidly middle-class nuclear family—the adulterous psychiatrist Ben, the tormented former musician Vivien, and the sardonic teenage rebel Violet.
    • Asylum, a psychological drama set in a New England mental institution, is told mainly from the perspective of the head nun Sister Jude and the wrongly incarcerated mental patients Lana Winters and Kit Walker—a closeted lesbian newspaper reporter and a working-class widower formerly in a secret interracial relationship, respectively.
    • Coven, a boarding school drama set in Louisiana, is told from the perspective of the staff and students of a boarding school for witches—most prominently the ambitious aging socialite Fiona, her estranged adult daughter Cordelia, and the teenage Girl Next Door Zoe.
    • Freak Show, a showbiz drama set in Florida, is told from the perspective of a traveling troupe of carnival performers—most prominently the eccentric singer and carnival manager Elsa, the angry young rebel Jimmy, and the sheltered conjoined siblings Bette and Dot.

    Multiple Media 
  • 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.
  • Kion from The Lion Guard is a Wise Prince who is mindful of the rules. In contrast, his father Simba from The Lion King was a playful Rebel Prince as a cub,

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Subverted with Ring of Honor and its sister promotion Full Impact Pro. The wild and party happy Homicide was a very different champion than the stern technicians that were Low Ki, Xavier and Samoa Joe, more concerned with maiming people than proving anything or earning respect, but Homicide lost the FIP title to Bryan Danielson, who was closer to the mold of the previously ROH title holders and then Danielson lost the ROH belt to Homicide. In the Tag Team divisions the split lasted a little longer with ROH's teams being comparatively less comical and more focused on technique and respect(or lack there of in the case of Special K) but they were brought in line with the fifth team to become champions both in ROH and FIP, The Briscoes.
  • SHIMMER's first five singles champions were all unrelenting nigh invulnerable wrestlers who bent and pulverized their opponents in very direct manners and required similarly dreaded wrestlers or particularly skewed odds to defeat. By contrast, the first five singles champions of sister promotion SHINE were all unlikely ones that relied on shameless cheating or subtle ingenuity to stay undefeated. There was not as clear a contrast between the tag team champions though.

     Video Games 
  • 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 sleeps with the Chinese spy EVA at the end of the game. 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.
    • 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.
    • Assassin's Creed: Rogue: has Shay Patrick Cormac - a one time Assassin who betrays them and becomes a Templar. He kills the very people who took him in and helped raised him. He also works with the villains whom were in part III, making himself a Villain Protagonist. And while he's given a Freudian Excuse for this, it still doesn't justify his actions. Especially since the ending shows him committing the assassination at the beginning of Assassin's Creed: Unity that led to the French Revolution.
  • 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.
  • Deliberately invoked in the Valkyria Chronicles games; Welkin Gunther from the original is a brilliant but rather absent-minded and eccentric intellectual, Avan Hardins from II is a Book Dumb and Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero with lots of charisma, and Kurt Irving from III is a studious and military-minded pragmatist with No Social Skills.
    • III's Power Trio as a whole definitely contrast the trios from previous games. Whereas Welkin-Alicia-Isara and Avan-Zeri-Cosette are fighting for a clearly honorable cause, earn plenty of public accolade, and are supportive of each other from the beginning; Kurt-Alicia-Imca are fighting in morally dubious missions, will never have their heroics made public, and start with a lot of venom between themselves. That said, III's trio are all good at heart, just like their predecessors.
  • 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.
  • Devil Survivor 2's protagonist is pretty much the exact opposite of the protagonist from Devil Survivor. Hibiki wears white-blue in complete contrast to 'Kazuya''s black-red and his dialogue options are overall much more upbeat and silly. And 'Kazuya' is more sympathetic toward his party members, with Hibiki more focusing on getting to understand them and helping them change.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 and Persona 4 do a subtle change off. Both main characters are still blank slates, but P4's protagonist (Yu) has a larger build than his P3 counterpart (Minato/Makoto) and also looks far more masculine. Most likely a result of a few fans complaining that P3's protagonist looked wimpy. Even in the crossdressing contest in Persona 4, it's very hard to mistake Yu as feminine.
    • The optional female protagonist of Persona 3 Portable has dialogue choices which imply that she's much more upbeat and energetic than her male counterpart. It's even apparent in the color choices for each scenario; the male protagonist is associated with the color blue, and the female protagonist with 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.
  • BioShock
    • 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 player's fame and power by having them play as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, an unaugmented special forces soldier. Additionally, ODSTs tend to resent Spartans and compete against them (though the Spartans themselves are too mission-oriented to really care). 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.
  • In Grandia, the protagonist is Justin, a wide-eyed, optimistic youth who eager to set off on an adventure to explore the world. In Grandia II, the protagonist is a cynical "Geohound", which are ruthless mercenaries with a bad reputation within the setting, who more or less gets dragged into the plot against his will.
  • This was suppose to be the case in Devil May Cry 4, with the protagonist Nero. He is a demon hunter for a religious cult, who is fighting for the love of his girlfriend and his faith. However, he hides the fact that he was born with a demon arm which gives him special abilities which makes him insecure. Dante is a freelance demon hunter for hire. He doesn't have an established love interest, despite working with two attractive women. He is proud of his half demon heritage and the abilities that come with it. Ultimately, subverted, however, because Nero has the same cocky personality as Dante, not separating the two.
  • The four non-DLC Vault Hunters from Borderlands 2 each contrast with a different Vault Hunter from the original:
    • Roland and Axton were both former soldiers who utilize turrets in battle. However, Roland's the closest thing to a good guy Pandora has, and he left because of corruption in his unit. Axton, on the other hand, is a Glory Hound and Military Maverick who was dishonorably discharged because of his proclivity for excessive collateral damage.
    • Lilith and Maya are both Sirens, six women spread across the universe with mysterious powers, who came to Pandora looking for more information about the Sirens. Lilith is Hot-Blooded with an addictive personality, and tends to enjoy violence more than she knows she should. Maya is the Team Mom and Token Good Teammate of her gang, and she's not nearly as thrilled about the whole violence thing.
    • Mordecai and Zer0 both fill the sniper role, but in very different ways. Zer0 is stoic, mysterious, soft-spoken, and Ambiguously Human. Mordecai's loud, brash, alcoholic, and definitely human.
    • Brick and Salvador are both violence-loving berserkers who manage to come off as the Token Evil Teammate even for Pandora. Brick turns out to be a Bruiser with a Soft Center who occasionally comes across as the Only Sane Man. Salvador is completely Ax-Crazy and doesn't really have an off switch. Even their physiques and specialties are different: Brick is massive and relies on his fists to pummel foes, while Salvador is The Napoleon and a Gun Nut.
  • Neptunia: Neptune is a cheerful, childish, ditzy, lazy, but confident girl who loves to break the serious mood and is always positive. She balances her flawed personality with her Goddess form Purple Heart, a true Lady of War and Only Sane Woman among the four goddesses. Neptune's younger sister however is dutiful, calm, polite, but lacks self-confidence, and her Goddess form Purple Sister is barely different from her human form. Since Nepgear is too plain and not as amusing as her older sister, Neptune becomes the protagonist of the next two main games again.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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: When They Cry 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.

     Web Comics 

     Web Original 

     Western Animation 
  • Avatar Korra of The Legend of Korra compared to Avatar Aang of Avatar: The Last Airbender. They are of opposite genders and noticeably different ages (Aang is 12, while Korra starts off at 17 and ends at 21). Aang is pacifistic and spiritual, knows only airbending at 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. They also learn different advanced bending forms. Aang learned tremorsense and lightning redirect, Korra learned metalbending, healing and spirit pacification.
    • As one comment puts it:
    "Aang is good and learns to be the Avatar, Korra is the Avatar and learns to be good."
    • 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.
    • 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, and Roku considered his inactiveness his greatest failure.
  • 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).

     Real Life 
  • In general, there are a number of times where a child contrasts their parents (like a daredevil contrasting safety conscious parents, liberals contrasting conservatives, children spoiled because their parents lived, and digged out of, poverty, etc.).