open/close all folders
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, 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.
- 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 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. Blue Team originally consisted of the main SPARTAN characters John, Kelly, and Sam. Kurt filled in briefly after Sam's Heroic Sacrifice, and Linda, Will and Fred took up Blue Team's mantle during the first battle for Earth. Gray Team was made up of Adriana, Jai and Mike, three Ineffectual Loners sent on long missions behind enemy lines.
- Touhou does something like this, based on the stages the character are bosses of. The first three bosses are generally unrelated to the plot. the stage four boss has about equal odds of being connected to the Final Boss. The stage 5 boss is the Big Bad's Battle Butler, with few exceptions. The stage 6 boss is responsible for whatever incident is going on, and in charge of a handful of subordinates and some prime real estate. The Bonus Boss has some connection to the Big Bad. There are some exceptions to all of these, and they're becoming increasingly frequent.
- 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.
- Also, four of the trolls took a role as a "patron" for each of the kids. Vriska is John's, Terezi is Dave's, Kanaya is Rose's, and apparently Karkat is Jade's.
- In early 2011, readers learned that the Trolls have long-deceased adult ancestors, with similar personalities, zodiac symbols, and powers, but their own separate subplot. Fanartists responded accordingly.
- Trolls and kids also have some overlap in their titles - and of course this makes similar events happen to them.
- Pretty much the only characters that break the mold are the kid's version of Jack Noir (he is the Disc One Final Boss, while the troll's is an Exile), and Doc Scratch, who manipulates both sessions without bothering with a counterpart.
- Well, technically Doc Scratch's counterpart is Bec, as they're both First Guardians: Doc Scratch is First Guardian of Alternia, and Bec is First Guardian of Earth. But since Bec is a Good Dog, Best Friend, he only cares about Jade's welfare and not about meddling.
- Bec has recently gotten a new counterpart in God Cat. The First Guardian of the rebooted universe.
- Both Jacks are more parallel than it seems at first. Both end up destroying their own session's originating universe and help create the Green Sun.
- And it gets even worse, as it was revealed that all of the ancestors of the trolls actually played a session that resulted in a reset, which switched their places in the timeline with the troll kids the readers know, who had been the ancestors in the original troll universe.
- And as of 11/11/11, the same thing has happened with the human universe, with the four ancestors of the B1 kids becoming the Sburb players for the new B2 universe.
- As of A6I3, there are an additional twelve extra trolls: the dead A1 trolls in the dream bubbles.
- And, hopefully finally, there are the two cherubim, one of which is the juvenile version of Biggest Bad Lord English.
- The kids' Jack gets a counterpart in Peregrine Mendicant, while the trolls' Jack gets one in the alpha kids' Jack. Both pairs end up fighting in the End of Act 6 sequence.
- 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.