Mutual Envy

Scamp: I'd do anything to have what you have!
Angel: And I'd do anything to have what you have.

One character, or group, sees another character or group as better off...but then they and/or the audience discover that those they envy are actually just 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 and may end up in a Perspective Reversal. 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. See also Grass Is Greener.

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.
  • Accel World
    • This happens in the first volume between Haru's childhood friend Chiyuri and Kuroyukihime, who introduced him to Brain Burst. Chiyu envies Kuroyukihime for doing more to help Haru in the space of a few days than she could do in the course of the past few months, having felt helpless as Haruyuki was bullied and distanced himself from her and Taku, and being unhappy that Haru seemingly doesn't have an equal relationship with his benefactor. Kuroyukihime becomes jealous over how Haru is much more familiar with Chiyu, and seemingly takes Chiyu's side in an argument over whether Chiyu is Cyan Pilenote , and this jealousy helps Kuroyukihime realize that she's in love with Haru.
    • Later on, it's also revealed that this is true between Haru and Taku. Considering that Taku has almost everything that Haru doesn't- he's good at school, a star kendo athlete and popular- it's not surprising that Haru would envy Taku, but what would Haru have that Taku envies? The answer is that Haru and Taku are both similarly capable of depression and self-loathing, but unlike Taku, Haru is more resilient and more able to deal with those feelings in a way that isn't self-destructive.

    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 II: 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 in Mark 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.
  • Although never outright stated, Harry Potter has this with Harry and Ron: Ron would like to have Harry's money and fame, while Harry would like to have Ron's large and loving family.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon and Leonard, both brilliant scientists, envy the childhoods that the other had with their moms.
    • Sheldon's mom is too much of a religious nut for his taste (he still loves her nonetheless) and he envies the Leonard's mother is rational, logical and a brilliant scientist herself.
    • However, Leonard's mom is extremely cold and emotionally abusive, and Leonard's envious of how Sheldon's mother is much more caring, understanding and sweet-natured.
  • 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 even starts to think that his sister likes Rod better than him—but then Rod reveals that he's envious of how Rodney's able to say whatever 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 
  • 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."
  • The Aki sisters from Touhou are minor gods who envy each other's line of work; Shizuha Aki is a god of dead leaves (as in, she makes the leaves change color in the fall) while Minoriko Aki is a harvest god. Shizuka wishes she could do something more pragmatic like Minoriko, while Minoriko wishes she could do something more artistic like Shizuha.
  • SOON: Yet another reason why Atlas and Fang don't get along. Atlas envies Fang because of her impressive accolades and Fang is smart enough to realize (but not openly admit) that Atlas' ideas, even in failure, are truly brilliant and not something she could accomplish on her own.

    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 exchange:
      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."

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