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Duality Motif

If a character has an element of duality to their nature, such as a Superpowered Evil Side, mixed-species ancestry, a Split Personality, or even something as simple as a Tsundere's two distinct moods, this duality can be foreshadowed or visually reinforced by introducing a dual nature to their visual design. Whether it's two-tone clothes, mismatched eyes, or hair that changes color at the part, the two sides of their character come out in their appearance.

This aesthetic link can be a rule of the universe, such as all werewolves having a brown eye and a blue eye, or a fortuitous in-universe coincidence. Not every case of duality in appearance is part of a greater motif for the character—and would thus not be this trope—but if attention is drawn to both the outward and inward sides, particularly if by another character, then there's little doubt that the former is there to draw emphasis to the latter.

A Duality Motif is inherently limited to single characters, with many other tropes covering visual contrast between characters. The one exception is when two people form The Dividual—including Single-Minded Twins—the contrast between the two bodies can highlight contrast in the shared personality.

See Peek-a-Bangs, Two-Faced and Skunk Stripe for visual designs that can be—but are not always—used for this effect.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Jio Freed from 666 Satan has one blue and one red eye, as well as half-and-half hair. This is mainly to symbolize the fact that he is a host to Demon 1i, Satan.
  • Nei in Avenger has heterochromia to indicate that she (or he, it ain't exactly clear, either) is both a Robot Girl and a real human. Well, actually, she/he is neither but has the potential to become one of the two.
  • The Count from Gankutsuou has a red eye and a green eye. This symbolizes not only his moral ambiguity and inner conflicts, but also the fact that he is part-human, part-monster, part-alive, part-undead and part-earthling, part-alien through his symbiosis with Gankutsuou. The duality symbolism is also present in some representations of his crest, a stylized heart divided into two clear compartments with different colours to represent his remaining human feelings and the fact that he is gradually turning into a cold-hearted monster.
  • Allelujah Haptism from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has a gray eye and a gold one. His hair always obscures one of the two, cluing any viewers into whether it is he or his evil Split Personality Hallelujah that is currently in control. In the end, he ends up pulling his hair back to reveal both eyes, allowing both personalities to simultaneously control his body, giving him the reflexes of two people.
  • Mika Ayanokoji from Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora, whose right iris is purple and the left, orange (though, the latter may be an implant). Her dual nature seems to be that she is simultaneously manipulative and scheming and dangerously passionate for Kaon.
  • The Lyrical Nanoha series has two examples:
  • The eponymous Hellhound of Nora; when in human guise, his right eye is red and his left is yellow.
  • The Count D from Pet Shop of Horrors has heterochromia, one eye being purple and the other, whom he hides under his hair, is golden. In the manga, it's explained that this is meant to be representative not only for his non-human nature, but also for his inheritance: his father and grandfather have golden and purple eyes, respectively. Since each one has a very different personality, and D has personality traits from both, his heterochromia symbolizes this dual nature.
  • Big Bad God of War Homura from Saiyuki has one golden eye, and one blue one, as a result of his father being a human.
  • In Sukisho, whenever Yoru takes over Sora's body, one of his eyes turns gold while the other remains blue.
  • Lord Darcia of Wolf's Rain has one blue eye and one golden wolf's eye hidden under his Eyepatch of Power, to show that he's found a way to turn himself into a wolf so that he can enter the Paradise forbidden to humans. Fortunately his plan is thwarted by Kiba and Cheza, but his evil wolf eye lives on...
    • Darcia has a few other duality tropes at play. For example, when he returns in episode 25 after having been absent since episode 12, he is wearing a masquerade mask which appears to be both smiling and weeping at the same time. He's in love with the good twin from a set of twins who definitely have Sibling Yin-Yang going on, and it was the Evil Twin who murdered Darcia's lover and subsequently tries to seduce him as well and at the end of episode 26 insists that both he and Kiba are "Chosen", which cements him embracing what he perceives as his role: to be Kiba's Evil Counterpart.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Yubel has one orange eye and one green eye. In Season 4, after Judai merges with Yubel, his normally brown eyes change to these when using his newly acquired Green Lantern Ring powers.
  • In Fruits Basket, Haru has hair that's white with black roots, making it look white on top and black toward the bottom. Hence, his Split Personalities are known as White Haru and Black Haru.
  • Fairy Tail: After killing his fellow dragon slayer, Future Rogue got both the powers of the Shadow Dragon Slayer and the White Dragon Slayer. This is emphasized by his new appearance, which combines black and white colouring. Especially when he enters the White Shadow Dragon Mode, half of his face remains the same while the other one is concealed by a shadow.
  • In One Piece, Inazuma has a white half and black (orange in anime) half motif that goes to his hair and long cloak. Downplayed, though, in that it represents his dual gender nature (which is indirect, courtesy of his boss EmporioIvankov).
  • In Naruto, Zetsu also has a white half and a black one. The white is loud, brash and a humorist while the black is serious and composed. They can even split in half.
    • Karin is a lesser example: The left half of her hair is straight, while the right one is spiky and unkempt. It's to emphasis her Mood-Swinger nature.

    Comic Books 
  • Triad in Reboot Legion Of Superheroes has one amber eye and one lilac eye, and wears a costume with orange and purple panels. When she splits in three, Triad-Neutral retains the two-toned clothing and eyes, while Triad-Purple and Triad-Orange are just in their colour.
    • The original continuity Duo Damsel (formerly Triplicate Girl) also had a two-toned costume which split into orange and purple costumes. However, her eyes were both amber, and her duplicates did not represent different aspects of her personality as Triad's did. When she became Duplicate Damsel, able to create as many bodies as she wanted, her duplucates all had the same orange-and-purple costume.
  • As well as being the Trope Codifier for Two-Faced, Batman villain Two-Face also wears suits which are the sort of sober outfits you'd expect of a DA on the "clean" side, and loud checks and stripes on the scarred side. In some stories his Supervillain Lair is spotlessly clean on one side and a mess on the other. Everything about him has to reflect his duality if at all possible.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Unborn, the 2009 film, one of Casey's eyes starts changing color to match that of her unborn twin brother around the time his soul—which is attached to hers—starts killing people.
  • The Shining uses a lot of this, with mirror reflections and symmetrical items such as double-doors, to reinforce the dual-nature of the hotel (which is practically a character itself) as well as Jack Torrance with his inner demons.
  • In District 9 the iris of Wikus's left eye turns gold (and huge) at around the seventy-second hour of his transformation into a Prawn. It's one of the ways the audience can identify him at the end of the movie.
  • In Dont Look Back, the characters' appearances slowly change over the course of the movie. Characters who are midway through their transformations often have mismatched eyes.
  • Lucie has them in Livid. Her heterochromia is described by another character as a sign of her having two souls.

    Literature 
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Villainess Ysanne Isard, main antagonist of the X-Wing books has mismatched eyes. The right is blue, and the left is red. They're often symbolically attached to the cold efficiency (her nickname is Iceheart) and fiery anger she's known for.
  • In the Roger Zelazny book This Immortal, protagonist narrator Conrad Nomikos has heterochromia, among other odd features. But then he is probably a mutant and is definitely hundreds of years old. His unique appearance is an important plot point.
    I glare at people through the cold blue one on the right side when I want to intimidate them; the brown one is for Glances Sincere and Honest.
  • In Jostein Gaarder's philosophical novel Maya, the character Laura has one brown eye and one green eye. The narrator thinks of this as somehow connected to her dual nature - one side of her seems to care for all living things and the planet as a whole, while the other side seems to care about everything in the world except human beings.
  • Hnick from Dmitri Yemets's book series Methodius Buslaev has one blue eye and one black eye according to Book 3. His body is stitched from at last two different corpses.
  • In Stardust, the protagonist Tristran's mismatched ears (one ordinary, one pointed) indicate his mixed human and magical parentage and resulting dual nature, which the reader knows about but Tristran does not.
  • In The Shattered Kingdoms, Meiran/Lahlil has this going on as a result of having been mistakenly bestowed with the "blessings" of both (mutually hostile) Nomas deities. One of the Nomas describes the two deities (a sun god and a moon goddess) as warring over her body. The most obvious sign is her mismatched eyes, but it is also present more subtly in her behaviours - for example, she's said to favour different hands depending on whether it's day (sun god) or night (moon goddess).

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Get Smart Max visits a circus which has a half-man/half-woman, who dresses half in a tuxedo and half in a Pimped-Out Dress. He/She moves his/her head to profile whichever of his/her two halves are speaking at a given time, and occasionally argues with him/herself.
  • Lieutenant Aiden Ford of Stargate Atlantis has one eye turn completely black due to an accident during a Wraith attack on the city. This same accident also got him hopped up on and addicted to Wraith enzyme, causing him to go AWOL and hunt down the Wraith on his own.
  • In the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide" Johnny Fever gets a job as a TV DJ spinning disco records. He doesn't want to do disco so he invents an alternate persona named "Rip Tide" for the TV gig. He dyes his blond hair dark for the part, but only the part of his hair not covered by his beret. This duality of hair color reflects the duality of "Johnny" and "Rip," who starts to take him over a la Jekyll & Hyde.

    Video Games 
  • The Drawn to Life games has Heather, a little girl whose face is half covered in shadows. She is Mike's sister in the real world.
  • Yuna from Final Fantasy X has heterochromia to indicate that she's half Al-Bhed. She has a green eye and a blue one.
  • The vampire sisters in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin have heterochromia to indicate they aren't full vampires yet. Each of them has one eye of the other's normal colour, creating a creepy impression that they've switched eyes.
  • Levi Tolar, on-again off-again Dragon, originally from Super Robot Wars Alpha, has one red and one golden eye, to match her mecha Judecca. Her eye color changes fairly regularly though, depending on game and whether her Levi personality or her Mai Kobayashi personality is dominant.
  • Ragna the Bloodedge of BlazBlue has these to indicate that he is half-vampire. However, this only applies in one particular instance of the Stable Time Loop: in all others, including the one covered by the story, his changed eye, the red one, is linked to the function of his arm, the fake Azure Grimoire. When it stops working, so does his arm.
  • MapleStory's Luminous has one red eye due to the corruption of the Black Mage which gives him Yin-Yang Bomb powers.
  • Minogame from Hellsinker possesses differently colored eyes to symbolize him being a Hermaphrodite as well as possessing control over both Sol and Luna.
  • In Talesof Graces, anyone possessed by Lambda develops heterochromia, with one eye turning red.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney DS, Angel Starr has differently colored eyes, but it's hard to tell because the eyes are tiny and we only see one eye at a time. (When the hair covers the right side of her face, she looks nice, but when she's angry it covers the left, so we never see them both at once.) According to the creators, it's because she wears colored contacts, and is thus invoked
    • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All: Matt Engarde's Peek-a-Bangs represent two different sides of his personality. When his bangs are covering the right side of his face, he acts like a happy-go-lucky Surfer Dude who can be pretty slow at times. But when he slicks his hair back He reveals his true self; a Manipulative Bastard who believes people are only there to be used and thrown away.

    Web Comics 
  • Most of the Val'Sullisin'rune family in Drowtales have mismatched eyes, a fact that is commonly known in the setting and referred to as "devil eyes" in the case of the Ill'haress Ash'waren. It is not clear that they have any sort of "dual nature" aside from the case Ash's daughter Faen: the dual personality Blue = Innocent / Purple = Mysterious or Badass fits.
  • Kade from Eerie Cuties has a yellow/gold left eye and a blue right eye. Of course, he is a Werecat...
  • The chimera boy Archie from Ellen's second life dreams in El Goonish Shive, although he hasn't been drawn in colour yet, appears to have heterochromia, given that one of his eyes is filled, and the other has a pupil and a gap between the pupil and the outline of the iris.
  • Homestuck: Sollux has one eye that's completely red and one that's completely blue, thus making him have both heterochromia and Monochromatic Eyes. However, this wasn't immediately obvious because he wears a pair of red-and-blue 3D glasses almost all the time. This duality is symbolic of his bipolar disorder. It continues after he "half-dies" (he's got two dreamselves): he gets one white eye (from his dead self in the dream bubbles) and one black eye for his blinded realself. The "half-alive" Sollux with Aradia has the same eyes but reversed.
  • Sudoku (Jigsaw's sister) in Last Res0rt also has heterochromia, with no special explanation attached other than her father (Cypher) having green eyes and her mother (Meridian) having blue. She's the only one in the family with this trait though.
  • Tsukiko from The Order of the Stick has one dark blue eye and one light blue eye. This represents her status as a Mystic Theurge who can cast both divine and arcane spells. The magic that emanates from each of her hands is the same color as the eye on the opposite side, and when she casts Dominate Person, the victim gains her heterochromia as well. She's also from a country built on East Asian stereotypes, so it's possible that the trope's presence in anime was a factor in character design (and her otherwise East Asian coloring makes the mismatched blue eyes particularly striking). Her slippers also match her eye color. Apparently she's just decided to go with it.
    • A more trivial example: Pompey the half-elf has one pointed ear.
  • Charlie of The Zombie Hunters, a Half-Human Hybrid Zombie. has one normal, pale blue right eye, while the left eye has a black sclera and a glowing white iris, like those of most other Zombies. He easily conceals it with a special contact lens.
  • Berri in Fiyora Nya has one red eye and one green eye. Though they apparently change colors due to her other souls.

     Web Original 
  • In Survival of the Fittest, Dominica Shapiro , who was dual in nature (displaying both a thoroughly villainous and surprisingly heroic side), has heterochromia. Similarly, v1's Hawley Faust has heterochromia, possibly to emphasize both his status as a reformed villain and his being a Foil of Adam Dodd.

    Western Animation 
  • In Batman: The Animated Series, as in many of the other works in which he appears, half of Two-Face's face has been scarred by acid, his hair changes color at the mid-line of his head, and his eye on the scarred side has been stained yellow. In this particular incarnation of the character, he wears two-tone black and white suits that further have each clothing element switch color along the mid-line of his body (i.e. Black jacket, white shirt, black tie switches to white jacket, black shirt, white tie.) He is torn between the noble personality of Harvey Dent and the violent 'Big Bad Harv', settles choices with a coin flip, and is obsessed with duality, taking the trope to its logical extreme.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko's scar covers almost the entire left side of his face, incidentally making one eye look smaller than the other. His internal struggle is heavily emphasized.


    Mismatched EyesElectronic Eye
Ditto AliensPersonal Appearance TropesDyeing for Your Art
Characteristic Clothing ColorsImageSource/Video GamesFinal Fantasy Dimensions

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