One of the easiest ways to put emphasis on two rivals is (if the context's right) to give them contrasting Elemental Powers, usually matching their character. The most common couples are Fire for the hot-blooded one and Ice for the calm one. Light and Darkness are also extremely common, especially between the Big Good and Big Bad. In anime and manga the pairing Thunder and Wind is frequent, referring to Buddhist Mythology. Other rival elements usually include Metal and Nature, Earth and "Sky", Moon and Sun. Of course the "rivals" aren't always enemies. Usually they can be friendly rivals or even siblings but make sure the elements are ones that would be in natural opposition before you add an example. (Rock and Dirt, for example are too similar) Subtrope of Red Oni, Blue Oni. See also Elemental Powers, Sibling Yin-Yang, Land, Sea, Sky, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Fire/Water Juxtaposition and Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition.
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Anime and Manga
- In Dragon Ball GT we have the two brothers Nuova Shenron (fire) and Eis Shenron (ice). Nuova is not even a noble demon and is just doing his job. Eis is sadistic.
- Yaiba: The title character is the chosen wielder of the Raijin sword and is a good natured, noisy hero. His rival Onimaru wields the Fujin sword and is a cold-blooded, evil tyrant.
- In One Piece is seen with two of the Admirals: the lazy but righteous Aokiji and the ruthless General Ripper Akainu. Also the duel between Ace and Blackbeard reached his top with Ace's Sun clashing against Blackbeard's Darkness.
- In Naruto, the titular hero has Wind chakra, while Sasuke has Fire (beats Wind) and Lightning (loses to wind) Chakra. Another friendlier example could be Kisame and Itachi (who can use Fire techniques.)
- In Gamaran, the Boisterous Bruiser Zenmaru specialize in the "Kagutsuchi Kata" (Fire God Form) style, while the much calmer Shinnojo is an expert of the "Mizuchi Kata" (Water Dragon Form).
- In Fairy Tail there are Natsu (Fire) and Gray (Ice). Another elemental-related rivalry is the one of Makarov (Light) and Jose (Darkness).
- Digimon Adventure: The Hero Tai was Fire, The Lancer Matt was blue Fire in his early forms and Ice in his more powerful stages.
- Digimon Savers: In their burst mode evolutions Masaru powers up by summoning a miniature sun and dropping it on himself, while Thoma powers up by summoning a crescent moon.
- In Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin and the Kyoto arc Big Bad Shishio Makoto can be considered rivals (both were highly skilled hitokiri during the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868), and now they're enemies. In their final battle, Kenshin's revamp and secret attack summons forth a fierce squall, while Shishio's special attack and power up are announced by roaring flames which ultimately lead to his Karmic Death as he eventually overheats and burns alive.
- Rin Natsuki/Cure Rouge and Karen Minazuki/Cure Aqua from Yes! Pretty Cure 5. The former uses fire elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Passion. The latter uses water elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Intelligence. These two characters early on are depicted as rivals that couldn't get along most of the time and hate being one-upped by the other. However, over the first season, they came to an understanding, and the rivalry became less severe.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S has the child-like ice-using Unison Device Reinforce Zwei and the far more cynical fire-using Unison Device Agito. Agito immediately identifies Rein as a rival when she finds out that The Federation her group is fighting against has a Unison Device like her though after Agito's Heel-Face Turn and adoption into Rein's family, this turns into a more friendly Sibling Rivalry.
- Namor the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. Namor does not actually have water powers but is at his strongest underwater and while operating on the surface will periodically take dips to restore himself. The Human Torch is a fire shooting android that defends New York while Namor seeks to destroy it.
- X-Men has Surge and Dust who are rivals. They are only ideological rivals though as Dust is at a severe disadvantage in a physical contest. Another example is given by Iceman, a shape shifter who draws energy from his surroundings and Havok, whose laser beam shooting body requires a special suit to keep under control. They are a bit more evenly matched but, again, are romantic rivals for a woman's affections more than anything else.
- Batman and the Outsiders has a villainous couple with heat and cold powers, who are actually trying to find a cure to their opposite powers.
Film — Animated
- Heat Miser and Snow Miser in The Year Without a Santa Claus. Their fights throw the planet's seasons into disorder.
Film — Live Action
- A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned has mages tied to a single element, using the classic four-element system. We see in the story that aeshes (fire) and shamais (water) don't get along, as the aesh heroine quarrels with a shamai the group meets and suspects him of stealing the Crown, and he in turn suspects her of being a traitor or just dangerously ambitious. Presumably, ruahks (wind) and aretzes (earth) also don't get along, but we only once see a ruahk and aretz in the same scene (though we do see that ruahks really don't like being underground.)
- Also, ruahks apparently blame aretzes for hay fever.
- In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jack is a creature of earth and air. To get back Jenny's soul from the nix, he must go into water. He is warned that this will mean he will not come back the same as he was. During the fight, the elemental oppositions are repeatedly mentioned.
- In the Emerald Sword Saga, the bad guys are almost always associated with fire, while our heroes are marked with wind.
Mythology and Religion
- Judeo-Christian religions generally associate God with Light and/or the Heavens, while the Satan character or God of Evil will be associated with Darkness and/or Earth. One the other hand God is the giver of restful shade while Satan appears as an angel of light and bright red dragon.
- Leviathan (Sea) and Behemoth (Earth) from the same religious family. They are the most proud of beasts and will eventually kill each other.
- In Egyptian Mythology we have Horus the Sun god opposed to Set, the god of storms and murderer of Horus' father Osiris.
- In Eastern Mythology, there are the Demon-turned-gods Fujin (wind) and Raijin (thunder).
- Japanese Mythology has a sibling rivalry between Amaterasu (sky, sun, light) and Susanoo (storms and ocean).
- The four Elemental Lords of the Forgotten Realms setting each hate the one that embodies their opposite element. Akadi the Lady of Air battles Grumbar the Earthlord, and Kossuth the Firelord duels Istishia the Water Lord. This also holds true for their worshipers: according to the 3E supplement Faiths & Pantheons battles between Elemental Archons of opposing elements are the stuff of legends.
- Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000: The four Chaos Gods are opposed two by two, as they are essentially the sum of one emotion felt by sentient creatures. Khorne (rage) is opposed to Slaanesh (desire) and Tzeentch (hope) is opposed to Nurgle (fear of death).
- This can go even further because each of them can be (very roughly) thematically associated with one of the classic elements. Khorne is fire (rage and combat) and is opposed to Slannesh's water (sensuous, flowing). Tzeentch is air (which is often associated with intelligence, and is ever-changing) and stands opposed to Nurgle's earth (plodding, tough, enduring).
- Each of the five colors of magic in Magic: The Gathering have different elements they specialize in which contrasts their enemy colors. White is an enemy of Black while Red and Green are both enemies of Blue.
- Most Toa teams in BIONICLE have a Toa of Fire as The Hero and a Toa of Ice as The Lancer, typically having a Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamic. Tahu and Kopaka from the Toa Mata and Toa Nuva arcs are the most prominent example, although they're both just as likely to start arguing with Gali, the Toa of Water, as they are with each other.
- While not rivals in entirely, the Series 1 and Series 2 tribe of Mixels are based on contrasting elements and are often paired together, leading to interesting Mixes, and often embarrassing Murps. This includes the fire-based Infernites vs. the ice-based Frosticons, the electric-based Electroids vs. the rubber-based Flexers, and the earth-based Cragsters vs. the plant-based Fang Gang.
- In Pokémon your rival will always pick up the pokemon who has the elemental advantage over yours. Legendary duos tend to have opposing "elements":
- Pokémon Red and Blue: had Mewtwo representing cloning and man-made advancements and Mew representing birth and natural evolution.
- Pokémon Gold and Silver: had Ho-oh, who represents the sky and sun and Lugia who represents the sea and moon. While Lugia isn't a water type, it does learn a few water moves naturally.
- Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire had Groudon, who represents the power of the land and Kyogre, who represents power of the sea.
- Pokémon Diamond and Pearl had Darkrai, who represents the darkness of night, and Cressilia who represents the light of the moon.
- Pokémon Diamond and Pearl also had Dialga who represents time, and Palkia who represent space. More subtly, they also represent Steel and Water, which are both one of the best defensive types, and further Solid and Liquid (making a third Gas with Giratina)
- One rivalry between two elements that's been prominent in Pokémon Black and White is the one between Fire and Electricity. With Reshiram representing Fire and Yang, and Zekrom representing Electricity and Yin. This actually appeared earlier with trainers Flint and Volkener and perhaps even earlier still with Magmar and Electabuzz.
- Pokémon X and Y had Fairy-type Xerneas representing life and Dark-type Yveltal representing death. However, Fairy and Dark-type Pokemon play similarly; being resistant to powerful types and moves revolving around Combat Pragmatism and trickery.
- Strangely enough, there are pokemon whose dual types are rival elements (e.g. the Grass/Steel Ferrothorn), making an Oxymoronic Being.
- Eternal Darkness has a triple example between the gods of Strength, Insanity and Knowledge.
- Killer7 has a character with power over death and his rival with power over life.
- Scorpion and Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat.
- Samurai Warriors has Kenshin (ice) and Shingen (fire), Yoshihiro (wind) and Ginchiyo (thunder) and also Nobunaga (wind) and Mitsuhide (thunder). Note that in most cases it refers to the chosen element of their ultimate weapon.
- Mitsunari (darkness) and Ieyasu (light) in Sengoku Basara. It also has the duo Kenshin (ice) and Shingen (fire) as tamer rivals.
- Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has the Genma God of Light (Fortinbras) opposed to the Oni God of Darkness (Soki).
- Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands has the elemental opposition between Razia the Marid Queen (who has powers over water, which in the series symbolize life) and the Ifrit Lord Ratash, who has power over both fire and sand (which, in the series, is opposed to water as a symbol of death and entropy.)
- Kingdom Hearts: Initially Sora was Light, and Riku was Darkness, though Riku's Heel-Face Turn has turned him into a YinYangBomber. Also Saix/Isa and Axel/Lea whose powers are Lunacy and Playing with Fire, the closest stand in for Power Of The Sun. They started as best friends, but are now enemies.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Two gems that give you the power to evaporate water or turn it to ice are held by the Sand Prince and the Frost Queen. The former is a Worthy Opponent who battles you to gauge your strength before he willingly gives you the gem, the latter is a textbook evil queen who won't give up her gem peacefully.
- The King of Fighters has K' and Kula Diamond, whose styles are similar, yet they use fire and ice respectively. While not his enemy, Kula was specifically designed to directly oppose K', and is even referred to as "The Anti-K'", in series.
- Mana-Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy:
- Somewhat indirectly we have Raze and Ulrika, who got their powers from the Light Mana and Dark Mana respectively. Indirect because while Raze is a truly Light 'em Up guy, Ulrika is more like Soul Power. The real Casting a Shadow person is Ulrika's best friend, Chloe, who doesn't have much interaction with Raze otherwise.
- There is also some sort of rivalry between Whim and Yun, being a Water Mana and Fire Mana respectively.
- Not explicitly, but in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis we have Vayne and Roxis. Roxis, pacted to the Mana of Light, has a lot of light-based moves. Meanwhile, many of Vayne's attacks have creepy blades and eyes that would indicate his element would be darkness. However, Light and Darkness aren't actual elements in battles.
- In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Main Character Mao is able to learn Ice magic naturally, while his Childhood Friend and rival Raspberyl excels in Fire magic.
- Kaguya Houraisan, representing the Moon, and Fujiwara no Mokou, representing Sun. While Kaguya's actual powers don't have much to do with the Moon, she is a Lunarian. Mokou meanwhile has a lot of The Phoenix theme going on.
- Ether subverted or played straight with Kanako Yasaka and Suwako Moriya. Kanako has the ability to "create sky" while Suwako has the ability to "create earth". They used to be enemies ages ago, but now they're good friends and are working together, although Suwako's profile says they still argue a lot.
- According to the lore of The Elder Scrolls series, Flame Atronachs and Frost Atronachs are locked in a state of permanent warfare against each other all across the Oblivion planes. It takes the influence of a Daedric Prince like Mehrunes Dagon to make them stop fighting each other even temporarily.