Fire. An elemental force by nature and longtime rival to water (and by extension ice) However, some writers remove water and electricity has been poised to rival the burning element. Therefore, two partners, rivals, or Foils would have one of them become associated with flame, and the other lightning. This might be because the two forces are similar yet different, Fire and Electricity are both forms and sources of energy. Both are destructive in an uncontrolled state. Both give off light. Both are symbols of life — lightning of the giving of life, and fire of the saving of life. Both are symbols of power. Both have been used as symbols of divine anger. Both have been used to represent technological advancements. Lightning is direct but short, fire takes its time. Lightning can set things on fire, and fire used right can generate electricity. Both are part of an elemental trinity. People of ancient times used to think that lightning was celestial fire. These reasons are used to underscore the Not So Different aspect. Another use of this trope is to symbolize ideals and truths, using them as foils instead of characters. Fire is used to symbolize man's beginnings (Prometheus brought fire to man, and with it intelligence), home, truth, purification and strong feelings. Lightning symbolizes loss of ignorance (The Tower was struck by a bolt of lightning), divine punishment, destiny, epiphany and Man as he is now. Both can also symbolize creativity, divine powers, destruction, and energy. A Sister Trope to Fire/Water Juxtaposition. If combined with the latter, you may get Fire, Ice, Lightning. Compare Elemental Rivalry.
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Anime and Manga
- In InuYasha, one Monster of the Week is a pair of twins with intertwined bodies who are always fighting for the control of the body. One of them uses a sword that sparks lightning, and the other uses a conch that breathes fire. Another Monster of the Week was the Thunder Brothers, one attacked with fire and the other with lightning.
- In Soul Eater, the students are grouped into teams consisting of three meisters and their weapons which tend to form Freudian Trios. One minor group consists of Kim Diehl & Jacqueline Dupre as the id (fire), Ox Ford & Harvar D. as the superego (lightning) and Kilik & Pot of Fire and Pot of Thunder as the ego (one of the pots is fire based, the other is lightning based). Kilik is also an example on his own, since using two elements symbolises that he's really good at synchronizing with weapons ( at one point he's able to wield four partners at once, when most meisters can only manage one).
- In the Lyrical Nanoha series, there is a special ability called Mana Conversion Affinity, which allows a mage to spontaneously convert his/her mana into electric or thermal energy at will (though a single person can only do one of these, with a single known exception).
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Fate Testarossa(-Harlaown), who has lightning-type MCA, is repeatedly pitted against Signum, the leader of the season's "villains" who has fire-type MCA. Although their enmity doesn't last the season itself, their friendly rivalry continues far beyond that.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, there are Harry Tribeca, who has fire-type MCA, and Victoria Dahlgrün, who has lightning-type MCA. They have a really strong rivalry and are Foils to each other, as in case of Slobs Vs Snobs, Harry is a Delinquent leader and pretty much ordinary, and Victoria is The Ojou with ancestral connections. Their rivalry seems to started when they once fought in the DSAA Inter-Middle Championship, with Harry losing to Victoria.
- Ironically, Rio Wesley, one of the main characters from ViVid, has both fire-type and lightning-type MCA.
- Nanoha and Fate's clones, Stern the Destructor and Levi the Slasher are not rivals. Like their originals, they are partners and best friends. However, they have very contrasting personalities, since Stern is the Material of Wisdom who possesses high intelligence and has a stoic personality, and Levi is the Material of Power who possesses great strength, but lacks skill and she's the Dumb Muscle with an energetic personality.
- In Fairy Tail: aside from Gajeel and Wendy, Laxus is one of the many Foils to Natsu. In his case, he acts as a superior, calm (unless he snaps) foil to Natsu (not unlike Gajeel, but he's more Not So Different since he's stubborn as iron). In fact, the three share A LOT of characteristics among them (like Blood Knight for all three, Leeroy Jenkins tendencies for Natsu and Gajeel). Gajeel is often stuck as inferior to both, since Iron conducts both electricity and heat...
- Then Natsu ate Laxus's lightning, gaining the ability to use them both in Lightning-Flame Dragon Mode.
- In Lincoln, there is a scene where Lincoln is arguing with his wife on the morality of going to war. There is lighting flashing through the dark window on Lincoln's side, while there is fire burning in a fire place next to the wife. Lincoln is arguing going to war to stop slavery and stop an insurrection. Meanwhile, his wife is arguing that the lives of young soldiers and consequently their families are at stake. It seems that the use of lightning and fire shows that both are serious arguments-but both have different connotations. Lincoln's lightning might represent both the "divine" justice needed to be done and Lincoln's strong ideological stance. His wife's stance is depicted as a fire-place, usually a symbol of home, and fire as a symbol of truth, indicating there would be a high cost to pay for the war. It may also represent male vs. female. (And maybe ideal justice vs. pragmatic justice?)
- In Oz: The Great and Powerful, the Wicked Witches sisters are represented by this: The older and calculating Evanora wields lightning powers while the younger and emotional Theodora wields fire powers.
- Ever since Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, King Ghidorah, the Arch-Enemy of Godzilla, has been portrayed as having lightning-like "gravity beams" as his Breath Weapon, while Godzilla has his fire-like "atomic breath."
- The HALO jump scene from Godzilla (2014) has the soldiers diving down to a San Francisco engulfed in flames and smoke. As Ford Brody is scanning over the city the closer he gets, he catches sight of Godzilla, who would otherwise be really hard to make out from the dark, smoke-covered city were it not for the frequent flashes of lightning that brighten the view.
Also, the MUTOs have their EMP attack, and Godzilla has his Atomic Breath.
- In The Quest of the Unaligned, Laeshana's aesh-fire is used to counter Gaithim's lightning-trap.
Mythology and Religion
- The Myth of Prometheus states that he brought fire to man giving them intelligence. This led the thunderbolt-associated Zeus to chain him to a rock to be tortured for eternity.
- On Charmed's last season, The Halliwells fight with Billie and Christy, using lightning based powers against their fire based powers.
- The 2004 Stanley Cup Final pitted the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Calgary Flames.
- Adell, the Hot-Blooded Red-Headed Hero of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories and his Unknown Rival, the self-proclaimed Dark Hero Axel. Adell's attacks are fire elemental and some of Axel's attacks include Lightning (and he has blond hair and purple Big Ol' Eyebrows shaped like lightning bolts)
- The Electabuzz and Magmar evolutionary lines, which are Electric and Fire-types respectively. The two have parallel movesets, stats, have baby forms starting from Gen 2, and evolve into their next forms in the same manner starting from Gen 4.
- From Diamond & Pearl, we have Gym Leader Volkner and Elite Four Member Flint, who are best friends (but also rivals), have contrasting personalities (Volkner is The Stoic while Flint is Hot-Blooded) and specialize in Electric-type and Fire-type Pokčmon respectively.
- Zekrom and Reshiram, two Olympus Mons who are based on based on the concept of yin and yang. Zekrom is an Electric-type with technological features, while Reshiram is a Fire-type that looks completely organic. In addition, they're also light vs. dark. Kyurem makes them a Fire, Ice, Lightning trio.
- X and Y treats Manectric and Houndoom as this trope, being version exclusive along with their respective Mega Stones.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: Mario and Luigi get fire and lightning abilities respectively. This might be due to their personalities. Mario, a hero, is brave and consistent, though his fire powers existed before this game as the Fire Flower powerup. But Mario is also aggressive and impulsive, showing a little hotheadedness. Luigi, who is slightly lazy and cowardly, (You could say that he's gone in a flash) but is also more expressive in his emotions and funny (he might have a spark of life in him). When Luigi does act, he can make all the difference, and he is as brave as his brother during events with strong enemies. Hence, the partnership between the two.
- In Super Paper Mario, Luigi even calls himself the "Green Thunder" while Brainwashed and Crazy.
- While they lack their powers in Partners in Time, the final boss has a notable attack that uses the fire and lightning imagery as a tell. Using fire to launch a projectile means it's going to hit Mario, and using lightning to launch one means it's going to hit Luigi.
- Dwarves in Heroes of Might and Magic V generally feel a great affinity towards fire, borne from their connection with the dragon-god Arkath, but there are some exceptions; the rune-mage Svea is regarded as an oddity because she developed a talent for lightning magic while acting as an ambassador to the Silver Cities, and the Thanes can use either fire or lightning to enhance their combat abilities (Flame Thanes can generate shockwaves and burn their enemies, while Thunder Thanes use Chain Lightning to attack multiple foes at once).
- In Guilty Gear, Sol Badguy uses Fuuenken (aka Fireseal) and his foil/rival, Ky Kiske, uses Fuuraiken (aka Thunderseal).
- In a similar vein, Sengoku Basara has Date Masamune (representing lightning) and his rival Sanada Yukimura (representing fire).
- In The King of Fighters, before the start of the series Kyo and Benimaru were rivals, but nowadays have become great friends. They're based of a Japanese saying: "Lightning strikes ground and creates fire" (with their friend, Goro Daimon, as the "ground").
- In the Street Fighter franchise, Ryu and Ken have a Friendly Rivalry and thanks to Divergent Character Evolution, their fighting styles became different since II. Ryu is specialized with the Hadouken, while Ken is more specialized with the Shoryuken. Due to this, Ryu's Hadouken are more lightning-based (though, Shakunetsu Hadouken is fire-based) and Ken's moves are more fire-based.
- Fire and thunder are very prominent visual themes in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. The protagonist of that game, Raiden is named for one of Japan's gods of thunder and the fight against Armstrong takes place near the burning ruins of one of the Metal Gears.
- In Final Fantasy IX Black Waltz No. 3 uses Lightning based magic. In the cutscene battle with him, Vivi combats him with Fire magic.
- In the first Devil May Cry game, Dante's main melee weapons are Alastor, a lightning-enchanted sword, and Ifrit, a set of gauntlets that make his punches do fire damage. Also, two of the major bosses in the game are Phantom, a Giant Spider that bleeds lava and breathes fire, and Griffon, an enormous bird of prey that can manipulate lightning.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, and somewhat in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, lightning-bending is a form and result of fire-bending that applied the techniques of its elemental opposite water. Zuko and Azula fit the Foil aspect of this trope best, as Lightning generation requires an absence of emotion and peace of mind, which reflects pretty nicely Azula's cold and calculative nature, whereas Zuko used (at least at first) rage as a source of power for his firebending.
- The characters Jay and Kai of Ninjago are lightning and fire respectively. Kai is rash and impulsive like fire, Jay is...erratic and spontaneous like lightning (in contrast to the usual for this trope) and they often act as foils.