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Anime & Manga
- Neon Genesis Evangelion is built around the three pilot "children" (Shinji, Rei and Asuka) and their adult supervisors/mentors in Nerv (Misato, Ritsuko and Kaji). Many of the twists relationships and complications within each group are contrasted with similar situations in the other group. To complete the picture, each group gets a support trio of its own: Shinji and gang get Those Two Guys and the Class Representative, and the adults get the Bridge Bunnies. Now each of the kids from school has a corresponding grownup: the geek, the jock and the chick.
- Made even more insanely complicated by the fact that the pilots fit the same archetype after a Gender Flip, Asuka's Precocious Crush on Kaji, and Misato and Shinji's deeply, deeply weird relationship. Add Gendou and the Three Faces of Eve motif to the mix, and you've got yourself one hell of a headache.
- There's also the older generation of Yui, Gendo (with support from Fuyutsuki), and Naoko. And the old men of SEELE
- Revolutionary Girl Utena does this starting with its second story arc. Each character has their own corresponding temporary duelist counterpart, who all learn An Aesop when they try to enter into the duels. Utena and Anthy both get their own Spear Counterpart during this storyline, although Anthy's turns out to be Anthy in disguise. Kind of. Mind Screw ensues.
- Dragon Ball: By the time of the Buu saga you have at least four cast herds in roughly similar molds. The main guy (Goku-Vegeta-Gohan-Krillin) their girl (Chichi-Bulma-Videl-18) their kid (Goten-Trunks-Pan-Maron) the quirky father-in-law or patriarch with an honorific in their name (Ox King-Dr. Brief-Mr. Satan-Master Roshi), an auxiliary fighter (Gohan-Future!Trunks-Buu-Yamcha) and a non-human companion usually more attached to someone who's not the main guy (Nimbus-Oolong-Puar (or Turtle)-Bee)
- Naruto takes place in a world where everyone, even some villains, is forced to team up in squads of four ninja. The characters in each team of main characters all seem to fit particular molds as well. Each team has:
- An either goofy or incompetent ninja; generally gutsy/impulsive (Naruto, Choji, Kiba, Lee, Kankuro, Konohamaru, Hiruzen, Jiraiya, Obito, Yahiko, Zaku)
- A smart, clever, or strategic ninja that is much Darker and Edgier; the Blue Oni to the aforementioned Red Oni. (and generally superior, at least initially) than the first (Sasuke/Sai, Shikamaru, Shino, Neji, Gaara, Udon, Homura, Orochimaru, Kakashi, Nagato eventually, Dosu).
- The Chick (Sakura, Ino, Hinata, Ten-Ten, Temari, Moegi, Koharu, Tsunade, Rin, Konan, Kin), this one being the most variable. For example, Temari is only The Chick relative to her even more brutal brothers Gaara and Kankuro.
- The more experienced mentor (Kakashi, Asuma, Kurenai, Gai, Baki, Ebisu, Tobirama, Hiruzen, Minato, Jiraiya)
- And yet unlike the normal dynamic for this trope, they have a Love Dodecahedron anyway.
- And to make things even more confusing, even though they're supposed to follow this dynamic, plenty of them don't. (To name a few, Akatsuki, Taka, Team Samui, the Kin/Gin Brothers, and the Kages with their bodyguards. Not to mention three of the four Konoha teams getting messed up due to people leaving, people arriving, people dying, and people going on maternity leave.)
- There's also the Sannin specific mold where you have the Sannin leader (Jiraiya, Orochimaru, Tsunade) their protege (Minato/Kakashi, Kabuto/Anko, Shizune) and a new apprentice from team 7 (Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura)
- Clamp's X1999 has seven main good characters grouped around Kamui, and seven main villains (sort of) grouped around Kamui's twin star and childhood friend Fuuma. Both groups also have their own stargazer, who are two sisters.
- The Prince of Tennis has several teams of 7 regulars, coach and a couple of supportive characters.
- Minami-ke has numerous groupings of a reserved character, a childish character, and an intelligent character. Respectively among the sisters we have Haruka, Kana, and Chiaki. Among their friends we have: Haruka, Maki, and Atsuko; Riko, Kana, and Keiko; and Yoshino, Uchida, and Chiaki.
- Lucky Star cast is made up of interlocking girl trios.
- Roughly in Soul Eater, as we have the two main groups of students - Maka, Black Star, Death the Kid being the first and Ox, Kirikou and Kim the second. Each has the 'bookworm' (Maka and Ox) the 'bruiser' (Black Star and Kirikou, though in different ways) and the unusual one (Kid the god, Kim the witch). The less geodesic attribute is Dual Wielding: Kid and Kirikou. A flashback to how Black Star ended up in Death City indicates the teachers followed a similar pattern for at least one group (Stein/Spirit, Sid/Nygus, possibly Joe/Marie), and parallels between the character types can definitely be made. Plus, there is the fact that each character's weapons are characters in their own right.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn! showcases multiple mafia families each having seven members and each member having one of seven flames.
- GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class features the main Five Girl Band and the separate-but-similar Fine Arts club.
- Legend of Galactic Heroes has this on an interstellar level. At the outset of the show, you have Reinhard von Lohengramm in the Galactic Empire, a highly principled strategic genius of an admiral with strong ethics, who has a close right-hand man, a close right (left?) hand woman who later becomes his wife, and a group of admirals who are loyal to him and question the prevailing social order since they are trying to serve better ethical principles (honor, loyalty, transparecy and relative equality) than the ruling aristocrats. Over in the Free Planets Alliance you have Yang Wen-Li, a highly principled strategic genius of an admiral with strong ethics, who has a right-hand boy, a close right (left?) hand woman who later becomes his wife and a group of officers who are loyal to him and question the prevailing social order, since they are trying to serve better ethical principles (honor, loyalty, transparency and democratic equality) than the ruling bureaucrats.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing has an equivalent female character for every male pilot, usually one who mirrors and/or balances his personality, and who is important to his character development in some way. Heero-Relena, Duo-Hilde, Trowa-Catherine, Quatre-Dorothy, Wufei-Sally, and even Zechs-Noin, and Treize-Une.
- Grant Morrison's run on the Comic/Justice League of America used this as a major theme. The League's first major foes are a group of extremist superheroes called the Hyperclan, whose members are idealized versions of the League's lineup that mirror their powers. A later storyline has them go up against literal evil duplicates of themselves. Yet another has them face The Injustice Gang, a team consisting of each JLA member's greatest enemy (ie, Lex Luthor for Superman, The Joker for Batman, etc.) Finally, in a later adventure they discover the existence of a Mirror Universe and must deal with the Crime Syndicate, consisting of their incredibly sadistic counterparts from that universe. What's amazing is that Morrison managed to make "The JLA vs themselves" a recurring theme without it ever becoming repetitive.
- A few years later when Joe Kelly was writing the book, he gave us the League of Ancients, a group of JLA counterparts from 1000 BC. Their Superman counterpart was a highly religious golem, their Wonder Woman was a member of a fierce warrior tribe, and so on. Notably in comparison to Morrison's groups, this bunch turned out to be good guys (though, in grand superhero tradition, the two Leagues still fought each other upon first meeting.)
- In Justice League of America (2013), Amanda Waller chose the JLA's members based on how their powers can combat the Justice League. Martian Manhunter's telepathy is strong against Superman, Stargirl can easily destroy robots like Cyborg, Vibe can sense the Flash's speed force, and so on.
Films — Live-Action
- The two families in The Legend of Frenchie King consist of one female leader, her four siblings (all female in one family, all male in the other) and their non-Caucasian servant.
- The Deryni novels feature a Geodesic Cast of duos (Morgan and Duncan, Cardiel and Arilan, Kelson and Dhugal, Alyce and Vera, Charissa and Ian Howell, Wencit and Rhydon, Loris and Gorony) and groups (Camber and his family, the Camberian Council, the evil human regents of the tenth century, the de Corwyns/Morgans/McLains, the religious hierarchy, the royal courts - Festillic, Haldane, Torenthi, Mearan, Trailian). Justified in that this reflects the many loyalties individuals have: to family, to feudal overlord (and ultimately the king), to Church and its God, to the human race(s). The loyalties and the conflicts between them are a large part of the interest for the reader. As a fellow Camberian Council member tells Denis Arilan, "Pray to every god in heaven that you are never forced to choose among your oaths."
- The Fourth book of The Dark Tower book, Wizard and Glass, shows through flashback how Roland's childhood Ka-tet parallels his current group of companions, most notably the similarities between Eddie and Cuthbert, while between the two of them Susannah and Jake have almost all of Alain and Susan's personality traits ("The Touch", the similarity between Susan & Susannah's names, Susan & Jake's being the loves of Roland's life).
- The Harry Potter books start with a Central Power Trio: Harry, Ron, Hermione. A villainous trio is soon added: Draco, Crabbe, Goyle. Soon after we hear stories of the trio plus one that Harry's dad led, which got many thinking that Neville was going to be promoted to the central cast. As it turns out, Neville becomes part of a mirror-image Power Trio with a Weasley [Ginny] and a Brain [Luna] which carries on the trouble-making tradition of the original (mostly offstage) in the final book. Also, Neville could have been the Chosen One if Voldemort had attacked the Longbottoms instead of the Potters when they were babies. The prophecy did not specify a name, and both Neville and Harry fit the bill.
- The most prominent teachers of the story also fall under this: Dumbledore being the self-sacrificing one (like Harry), McGonagall the brainy one (Hermione) and Snape the one with the issues (Ron).
- Good Omens. Let's see now, there's the human-loving devil a long way from Hell and the human-loving angel a long way from Heaven, then there are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, their four Hell's Angel counterparts and then their four child counterparts, then there's the young Odd Couple and the old Odd Couple, then there's Metatron and Beelzebub, there's Agnes Nutter and Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer and their modern-day descendants...it happens a lot.
- The Brand extension of WWE to Raw and Smackdown. Each show had one world title, one second-tier title, and one tag-team titles. The only difference was the Cruiserweight and Women's titles. After the Cruiserweight title was retired in 2007, the Diva's title was created the following year thus playing this trope straighter.
- The Women's Championship and one of the tag team titles has since been retired, after they where unified, in 2010. The Diva's championship and the Tag Team Championship can be challenged on both shows.
- The WWE brands eventually merged together and the championships were pared down— one world title, one tag-team title, one women's title— but still two second-tier titles. When the brand extension came back in 2016, this got repeated again. Raw got the new Universal title, the U.S. title, the Women's title, and the Tag titles, while Smackdown got the World title and the Intercontinental title, then created its own Tag titles and Women's title for itself.
- Each faction in Monsterpocalypse is made of five Monsters and eight kinds of Units. One of the Monsters is always made up of 4 smaller ones. Five of the Units have Elite versions, and three of them (not necessarily the other three) have 'Glass' or 'Shadow' versions. There are currently 12 such factions, released in two blocks of 6.
- In more recent editions of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as the Spiritual Successor Pathfinder, has True Dragons. It doesn't matter where they come from or what they do. If a new class of True Dragons is introduced, there will be at leastnote five species of them.
- In 4th Edition all player classes were split into four roles: controller, tank, damager, and support. These four roles would be repeated for each source concept they could come up with (martial, primal, holy, magic, etc)
- In Kingdom Hearts, practically every incarnation focuses on a different triangle of the "Two Guys and a Girl" variety.
- Tales of the Abyss gives each of the six player characters a counterpart/rival in the Six God-Generals.
- A variation in all the Bioshock games, even central and important to the plots, and lampshaded in the third entry, Bioshock Infinite:
Elizabeth: There's always a lighthouse, there's always a man, there's always a city.
- Halo's Spartan-IIs rarely operated as one large force. From early in their training, their quasi-family was split into several teams that drilled, ate and later fought together. From what we've seen, teams tend to be arranged in "Two Guys and a Girl" or "four-man Gender-Equal Ensemble" groupings: original Blue Team (John, Kelly, Sam), Red Team (Jerome, Alice, Douglas), Gray Team (Adriana, Jai, Mike), current Blue Team (John, Kelly, Linda, Fred), Black Team (Margaret, Roma, Otto, Victor), etc. Even temporary and makeshift S-II teams tend to fall into these arrangements.
- Touhou, especially in the Windows era, does something like this based on the stages the characters are bosses of, regardless the game's theme and its features. There are some exceptions to all of these such as Phantasmagoria of Flower View and Gaiden Games, and they're becoming increasingly frequent.
- The stage 1 boss is usually being a Warmup Boss, especially to the newcomer of the series lore.
- The stage 2 boss is similar to the stage 1 boss, but role wise, they mostly work as a guardian or gatekeeper of a certain place. Personality-wise, despite being a guardian or gatekeeper, they are trying very hard to do or be something different, to the point where they deliberately halt the heroines' journey in order to do so.
- The stage 3 boss is mostly denoted by a flexible yet quirky personality. While in general they are friendly, polite and/or honest, they become tenacious and merciless once the battle ensues. Some of these bosses may possess Super Strength or Super Toughness of sorts and more often than not they are also proficient in close combat. They are also the first and only boss to tell your character which way to go after being defeated.
- The stage 4 boss has about equal odds of being connected to the Final Boss of the game and is usually the most serious when compared to other bosses, both in terms of personality and difficulty. Their role and/or Spell Cards always seem to change, depending on which character you play or shot type you choose.
- The stage 5 boss is the Final Boss's Battle Butler, with few exceptions. These bosses are well-known for their unique Spell Cards and gimmicks, so much so that their bullet patterns are more experimental and can end up being harder than the Final Boss. Depending on how popular they are, these bosses might be Promoted to Playable in main games and spin-offs. This is especially true in the main games when they become a Deuteragonist for Reimu and Marisa, effectively becoming a heroine of their own story.
- The stage 6 boss is responsible for whatever incident is going on, and is in charge of a handful of subordinates and some prime real estate. Some of these bosses may possess a Weapon of Choice of sorts to help them engage the heroines.
- The Bonus Boss is usually optional and is supposed to be a challenge for the player that only appears in the Extra Stage. They can only be encountered if certain conditions are met in the main scenario of the game. These bosses are considered tougher to deal with due to their bizarre bullet patterns and having more Spell Cards than the final boss, often up to ten in general. In addition, these bosses are usually immune to the player's Smart Bomb. Story-wise, while they have little to no relevance to the main story, they do have some connection to the final boss of the game, such as being a relative, a friend, a benefactor, an Arch-Enemy or even a low-level youkai with tremendous power.
- Although Luigi has yet to save Princess Daisy from King Boo, the three characters mirror Mario, Princess Peach and King Bowser respectively. We also have Wario and Waluigi acting as a twisted version of the Super Mario Bros. themselves, with many more parallels to be drawn.
- Every main Mario character also has a counterpart that acts as their doubles partner and Moveset Clone if necessary. Mario Kart Double Dash was based on this concept.
- Pokémon: With the sheer amount of Recurring Element internal tropes, every Generation of Pokemon is a variation of the first. Up until Gen VI, all games were even referred to as '_ Version.'
- In the games you are guaranteed the starter trio, Com Mon bird and rodent duo, and at least one legendary trio. Other common elements are the early game bug duo, fossil duo, and other legendary groupings. Among the humans you have the Professor, The Hero, The Rival, a Distaff Counterpart to the hero, 8 Gym Leaders, a villainous group called Team [INSERT WORD], the Elite Four, and The Champion.
- In the anime, Ash always travels with a girl about his age (usually a newer trainer), and a tall slightly older guy (usually a more experienced trainer). On two occasions there's been a fourth member who is the younger sibling to one of the first two partners. This in addition to the game tropes.
- The Pokemon Adventures Manga takes the game tropes, mostly based on appearance, and gives them a stronger plot to drive the formula even more, such as the hero, girl, and rival acting as a Power Trio.
- Sonic Heroes organizes Sonic's friends into four teams with roughly the same speed-power-flight gameplay mechanic.
- A reason why Suikoden III was acclaimed in terms of Character Development is because of this.
- The toy releases followed roughly the same pattern. (Year A) Introduce a team of heroes and their villains, (Year B) heroes get transformed, and new villains show up, Myth Arc ends, (Year A') new location is introduced with new heroes and villains. Repeat.
- Every team of heroes and every group of villains always aligned with the setting's Elemental Powers: fire, water, stone, ice, air, and earth. The heroes always drew their powers from the elements themselves, while the villains' association with the elements varied from year to year.
- The Order of the Stick has this with Elan's team, Nale's team, and possibly Xykon's team. Also, most of Haley's opponents.
- 8-Bit Theater has three teams of four warriors apiece: the Light Warriors, the Dark Warriors, and the appropriately named Other Warriors. The Elemental Fiends may fit the mold as well. A team of real Light Warriors also exists, but this team is less developed than the rest and has not made any contact with any other team on-panel, aside from being cut off at every corner by the Light Warriors' random acts of violence and Zany Schemes.
- Not to forget the 4 white mages that killed Chaos. Although the comic didn't last long enough to flesh them out.
- Problem Sleuth used this to an extent, with the three protagonists, their various Distaff Counterparts and time-travel clones. However, Homestuck turns it Up to Eleven with four kid protagonists, four corresponding guardians, four exiles, and four sprites. And then there's twelve trolls, who turned out not to be counterparts at all- but they also each have a corresponding lusus and exile... and some of their exiles are alternate universe characters from the kids' session... Argh.
- The Powerpuff Girls has the eponymous trio, of course. Then it introduced their spear counterparts, the Rowdyruff Boys. The comics introduced a further trio, the Powerpunk Girls — evil versions of the Powerpuff Girls from an alternate reality in which good and evil are seemingly totally reversed.
- Inside Out has Riley, her mother, and her father having the same set of five emotions governing their minds.