Mutual Envy

Scamp: I'd do anything to have what you have!
Angel: And I'd do anything to have what you have.
Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure

One character, or group, sees another character or group as better off... but they and/or the audience discover that those they envy are almost as jealous of them, or perhaps even more so. Basically, this is for when envy is portrayed as a two-way street.

This at times is needed to give some perspective to characters who need it.

Often the setup for a "Freaky Friday" Flip. Can sometimes be found in The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry. Compare Be Careful What You Wish For, which often has a similar basis and reasoning and is sometimes found in the same works.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Lucky Star, the Huge Schoolgirl Minori envies her best friend Yutaka for being small and cute, all the while Yutaka envies Minori for being tall and cool.
  • In Azumanga Daioh, Chiyo-chan wishes she was tall and cool like Sakaki, whereas Sakaki wishes she were small and cute like Chiyo-chan.
  • In Fruits Basket, both Yuki and Kyo envy each others circumstances and personalities. Kyo wants to be acknowledged by the Sohma main house as part of the Zodiac, so he envies Yuki who, being the rat, gets a privileged place over Kyo and even the other members of the Zodiac. Yuki on the other hand has always been in a Gilded Cage, maintains distance due to turning into a rat if a girl hugs him, and doesn't have any real friends, so he envies Kyo's personality, outgoing nature, and ability to bond so easily with others.

    Comic Books 
  • The Spider-Man/Human Torch Trade Paperback "I'm With Stupid" shows their relationship through the years, with the last story, "I'm With Stupid" pointing out the good things they have: Spidey gets to be near all the hot women and also be able to follow Reed without needing a translation into "normal," Johnny gets to have the trappings of fame and go to various universes Spidey would do anything to go to. Or the perks of power "with NONE of the responsibility."

     Film — Animated 
  • In Lady and the Tramp 2: Scamp's Adventure, Scamp wishes he had the street smarts and free lifestyle of Angel, whereas Angel never really wanted to be a stray dog, and wishes she had a family like Scamp.
  • Aladdin involves Aladdin jealous that Jasmine lives in wealth, while Jasmine is jealous that Aladdin's life isn't as controlled as hers.
    Aladdin: I wonder what it'd be like to [live in the palace]; have servants, valets...
    Jasmine: ... oh, sure, people who tell you where to go and how to dress...

    Literature 
  • Both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn put each other on pedastals, thinking the other the smartest person they know and wishing that they had the other's life.
  • Animorphs: In The Ellimist Chronicles, two Ketran flying crystal cities meet. One Ketran blurts out that the others are building a hydrofoil (which means the crystal requires less manpower to stay airborne) just as his counterpart exclaims that they're building a spacecraft.
  • In Hans Christian Andersen's story "The Goloshes of Fortune", the titular goloshes cause wishes to come true (although no one who wears them is aware of this property). A watchman puts them on and, looking up into a lieutenant's window, wishes he was the lieutenant. He enters the consciousness of the lieutenant — and the lieutenant, looking down enviously, wishes he was the watchman, which restores the watchman to himself.
  • The Prince and the Pauper: This is why the prince and the pauper decide to switch places inMark Twain's novel and its retellings.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle Earth legendarium, Elves and Humans envy each other. Humans are mortal and die after a comparatively short time, and our souls have to leave the World after we die, so we envy the Elves' "immortality." The Ageless Elves, who very slowly get tired of living but can't die of old age and certainly can't leave the World dead or alive, know that they're all going to be here when it comes to an end. They envy Humans for being able to leave when we get "weary," and for having the option to keep existing after the end of Time. Elves call death a "Gift," which can rub mortals the wrong way.
  • In Discworld vampires and werewolves are jealous of each other. The antagonism is said to come from the fact that werewolves are jealous of vampires being thought of as suave and sophisticatednote , while vampires are jealous of werewolves being able to fit more easily into human society (when in human form, obviously).
  • The entire plot of Hating Alison Ashley. Erica is jealous because Alison is rich, beautiful and has a mother that is more cultured than her own. She learns at the end that Alison is jealous of Erica's embarrassing, but supportive and kind, family who all attend the camp play to see Erica while Alison's mother can't be bothered to show up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon and Leonard, both brilliant scientists, envy each other their childhood. Sheldon's mum is too much of a religious nut for his taste (he still loves her), but he envies that Leonard's mother is rational, logical and a brilliant scientist herself. Leonard's mother is however extremely cold and emotionally abusive, and Leonard loves and envies how Sheldon's mother is sweet, caring and understanding.
  • In Stargate Atlantis Rodney meets a parallel universe version of himself called Rod. He becomes jealous of how quickly Rod connects with everyone on the base and he thinks that his sister likes Rod better than him, Rod says that he is envious that Rodney says whatever he thinks without fear of criticism.

    Music 
  • The song "Wouldn't It Be Good?" by Nik Kershaw is about this.

    Theatre 
  • The Musical Woman of the Year had a song called "The Grass is Always Greener" which is a duet between famous TV news personality Tess Harding and her ex-husband's second wife. They both extol the virtues of the other's life, with the wife excited about discos and celebrities, while Tess would love to make a pot roast or sew a button.
    • One version had Kathie Lee Gifford sing with her partner:
    You know Regis Philbin! That's So Wonderful!
    What's So Wonderful? First you take two asprin!
    • One version with Raquel Welch (while Bill Clinton was President) used:
    Dinner with the President! That's So Wonderful!
    What's So Wonderful? Jogging to Mc Donald's!

    Video Games 
  • In Persona 4, Chie's shadow reveals that she's secretly jealous of her friend Yukiko's looks while Yukiko's jealous of Chie's independance. Of course, what actually lets their respective shadows get under their skin is the fact that Chie feels better when Yukiko has to depend on her and Yukiko was relying on Chie (or someone) to help her go somewhere in life.
  • Sora and Riku admit to this at the end of Kingdom Hearts II. We already knew that Riku was Sora's Always Someone Better growing up, but it's here that Riku confesses he was equally jealous of Sora's carefree attitude. They conclude that they both have something the other could never imitate - "having you for a friend."

    Western Animation 
  • DCAU:
    • The Batman/Superman Adventures episode "Girls' Night Out" dealt with Livewire escaping to Gotham City and Supergirl helping Batgirl when Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn join Livewire. Kara likes the energy and excitement of Gotham, while Barbara thinks the fresh air of Smallville with none of the night work or Gotham's big-city congestion is fine for her. This leads them to being Fire Forged Friends, which carries over into Justice League, where "Comfort And Joy" have it where Barbara invited Kara to go skiing with her.
    • In the Justice League episode "Metamorphosis" has John Stewart see his former Marine buddy, Rex Mason, has it nice:
      John Stewart: I've never thought much about the choices I've made. Maybe if I'd taken the other road, I'd be where Mason is now. Rich, successful...
      Hawkgirl: (wryly) And engaged to a beautiful woman?
    After John promises Sapphire Stagg he'll bring Rex home safe, we get this:
    Sapphire Stagg: No wonder he always looked up to you.
    John Stewart: (puzzled) Me? He's the one who had it made.
    Sapphire Stagg: No. He watches you on the news all the time. He still misses it being in action, saving people's lives. I think he'd trade places with you in a minute.
    John Stewart: Guess it's true about what they say about "the grass always being greener."