Nice, Mean, and In-Between

In certain group dynamics, you will notice three characters with different mannerisms, attitudes, and personalities that are easy to identify with — a character who is nice and gentle, a character who is mean and tough, and the character who is caught in between the two other characters.

In villainous versions of this trope, this can consist of one villain who is nicer or more innocent than the other two and the other villain who is more villainous and meaner than the other two.

Note that this group dynamic can be a unique way to establish moments of how each character acts and what defines them. This is a snippet in the Power Trio explaining the basic makeup of trios — "Trait 1, Trait-opposite-of-Trait-1, Trait-Between-the-Two."


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • The Axis Powers, with Germany as the mean one (a Drill Sergeant Nasty with some less-than-pleasant ambitions), Italy as the nice one (a relatively good-natured - if easily manipulated - pasta-loving ditz), and Japan as the in-between (a socially awkward and somewhat strange The Stoic).
    • The Bad Touch/Friend Trio sometimes also qualifies as this (in Fandom at least). Prussia usually played off as the mean, arrogant jerk (usually ignoring all the nice things he does in canon). Spain is usually the super nice, I don't care what you do to me I will still be friends with you (loosely true when with Romano. But debunked with the whole 'armada' situation. And France is the middle ground.
  • Fairy Tail's First Generation Dragon Slayers (Laxus is a Second Generation so he doesn't count) fit this trope: Wendy Marvell is nice, Gajeel Redfox is mean (and even attacked the Fairy Tail members during his days as a part of Phantom Lord), and Natsu Dragneel, who is a good-hearted hero with a temper and a love of fighting, is in-between.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: The Minerva trio plays this a lot. Initially, Shinn is the Hot-Blooded Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Lunamaria is the Nice Girl, and Ray is the Aloof Ally. Near the end, Ray's "evil" nature has been revealed, Shinn becomes Ray and the Big Bad's conflicted puppet, and Lunamaria remains a nice girl.
  • Shinji, Rei, and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji is the nicest guy in the series whereas Asuka is a very hot-tempered Jerkass. Rei sticks in the middle due to her cold and quiet demeanor.
  • The originally three Straw Hat Pirates from One Piece: Luffy is nice, Nami is mean, and Zoro is inbetween. Both Zoro and Nami can be said to be jerks with a heart of gold, but Nami is more actively unpleasant (beating up people when they act stupid, manipulating them for favors and money), while Zoro is just very reserved and slightly antisocial. Zoro and Nami's roles switch in more dramatic situations (such as the case of Usopp leaving the crew), when Nami is more likely to let compassionate feelings or worries take over, while Zoro keeps his cool and isn't afraid to state the harsh truth or threat people.
  • Pokémon's very own Team Rocket: while a villain, James is a mostly harmless Upper-Class Twit who forms a close bond with his Mons and prefers to give his opponents a fair fight when given a chance, Jessie is the mean, bossy, temperamental dog kicking one and Meowth is between the two, unscrupulous but kind of the Loveable Rogue/Traitor with some traits of The Philosopher.
  • From the first series of Sailor Moon, Ami/Mercury is always sweet, gentle, and patient, Rei/Mars is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and Usagi/Moon is nice and optimistic, yet whiny and occasionally bratty.
  • A group example in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches: Nancy's witch group is nice, with most of them being Nice Girls to some degree - only Nancy herself is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but the heart of gold is easy to find. Takuma's witch group is mean - most of them are villainous, and the only one who is on the side of good can still be a bit of jerk. Rika's witch group is inbetween - all of them (except Asuka) are on the side of good, but some of them acted villainous at their introduction, and they are generally more rough around the edges than Nancy's witches.
  • The three main duelists of Yu-Gi-Oh!: Yugi is Incorruptible Pure Pureness incarnate, Kaiba is a jerkass who occasionally shows his Hidden Heart of Gold, and Joey is usually friendly but has a Hair-Trigger Temper.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers we have:
    • Ammy (Nice), Herbert (Mean), Tagg (Inbetween)
    • Sakura (Nice), Lyuri (Mean), Hikari (Inbetween)
    • Zeal is a one man example with him representing nice, Red Eyes mean, and Zach the inbetween.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Despicable Me, all three of Gru's adoptive daughters are good girls. However Agnes is by far the most innocent and affectionate, Edith is a mischievous prankster, and Margo is the caring older sister but she can be cynical and snarky.
  • The three soldiers in Mulan. Yao is the mean one, short in temper as he is in stature; Gentle Giant Chien-Po is the nice one; and wise-cracking Ling is the in-between.
  • The villainous trio of the Dazzlings in My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks. Sonata Dusk is the nicest and dumbest one. Aria Blaze is mean and grumpy, always picking on Sonata. Adagio Dazzle is in-between, stopping the other two from bickering so that they'd focus on their Evil Plan. She's the most evil of the trio, but can put on a façade of niceness if need be.
  • Shrek: The first movie has the nice and proper Princess Fiona, if a bit private and easily embarrassed; the "mean" ogre Shrek, mostly standoffish and uninhibited tendency to say what's in his mind; and Donkey, whose criticism comes out easily (like Shrek) but the most social of the three.
  • Sleeping Beauty has the Three Good Fairies: Fauna (nice), Merryweather (mean), and Flora (inbetween).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Played with in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Blondie (nice) is an Unscrupulous Hero, Angel Eyes (mean) is pure evil, and Tuco (in-between) is an Anti-Villain, a thoroughly despicable person who is by far the most human character in the whole movie, made likable by how funny and childish he is and caught between the other two outlaws, who act like forces of nature rather than people.
  • In Jawbreaker, Julie feels guilt/remorse over the incident involving the death of Liz Purr and leaves the clique; Courtney is the Alpha Bitch who reigns over Reagan High and manipulated an innocent girl (Fern Mayo) into taking Liz's place; and Marcie may be a hand in Courtney's doings, but she is a fairly nice person.
  • The Plastics in Mean Girls: Karen is the nicest one (if only because she's too dumb to be truly malicious), Alpha Bitch Regina is the mean one, and Gretchen is in-between (fairly nice, only acting mean under the influence of Regina). Cady is also inbetween due to being shy at first, but suddenly becomes mean like them.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Original Trilogy: Luke (nice), Han (mean), Leia (in-between).
    • The Prequel Trilogy: Padme (nice), Anakin (mean), Obi-Wan (in-between).
    • The Sequel Trilogy: Rey (nice), Poe (mean), Finn (in-between).
  • The Three Stooges: Curly (nice), Moe (mean), Larry (in-between).
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Ray Stanz (nice), Peter Venkman (mean), and Egon Spengler (in-between).
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Howard (nice), Dobbs (mean) and Curtin (in-between)

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: Edith is the motherly, warm-hearted one in contrast to her cranky, bigoted, Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist husband, Archie, who bickers with his son-in-law Michael who can be opinionated, but is nicer than Archie.
  • As far as judging is concerned, the early seasons of American Idol have Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul. Paula is more supportive, but Simon is very critical, though he really does mean well, and Randy is a balance.
  • From The Big Bang Theory, Leonard is the nice one, Sheldon a grade-A vain and pompous genius, and Penny mediates with her sweetness, average intelligence, and occasionally bitchy tendencies.
  • Blake's 7 starts off with this between the three main characters: Avon is cynical, arrogant, treacherous and willing to do whatever it takes to come off well, Blake is moralistic, a believer in the big picture and wants to accomplish his goals through the most reasonable means, and Jenna believes in ideals and doing what's right but is definitely willing to Shoot the Dog without thinking twice about it.
  • From Gilligan's Island, Gilligan is the dumb, but nice one, The Professor is heavily prideful of his own intelligence, and The Skipper is a little nicer than The Professor; for he always loses his temper for Gilligan's incompetence, but does show he can be a nice guy every now and then.
  • Glee: Brittany is the dumb but sweet one, Santana is bitchy and cruel, and Quinn is in the middle.
  • H2O: Just Add Water initially has meek but kind Cleo as Nice, hot-tempered Deadpan Snarker Rikki as Mean, and bossy yet well-meaning Emma as In-Between. Occasionally Rikki and Emma will swap around, with Emma getting so bossy she's condescending and Rikki proving to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • House: Wilson is the most caring and compassionate, Dr. Jerk House is clearly the mean one, and Cuddy is the no-nonsense boss and the mediator.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
  • iCarly: Carly is the nice one due to her being a Morality Pet to Sam, who happens to bully Freddie all the time. Freddie is the mediator since he is nice to Carly while finding it hard to get along with her best friend who treats him with zero respect even while they're temporarily in a romantic relationship.
  • The Middle: The studious, inoffensive Brick and spirited, encourager Sue; the vain, pompous, opinionated and tyrannical coolness policeman Axl, who cracks down on all "dorks"; and the parents in the middle, each in a unique way: the major McCoy-like Frankie and the stoic, distant Mike.
  • Rudy's Literal Split Personalities are this in Misfits. Rudy's 3 personalities embody Freud's 3 functions of the brain, with himself, the womanising and a slight Jerkass character as the ego and the inbetween, the sensitive, idealistic and compassionate Rudy 2 as the superego and the nice and Rudy 3, the violent psychopath and much bigger Jerkass as the Id and the mean. Rudy 1 and Rudy 2 have a troubled but close relationship while the two had to have Rudy 3 arrested, implying Rudy before the split was more in touch with his good side than with his bad.
  • Orphan Black: Initially , the Clone Club consists of the trio of the impeccable and paranoid Allison, warm and gentle Cosima, and Hero with an F in Good Sarah. They later get their respective Character Development, though it barely shakes-up the dynamic.
  • Out of the Outnumbered children, at least in the early seasons, Jake is the nice one, Ben is the biggest 'problem child' due to his constant lying, and Karen is in the middle.
  • The famous Freudian Trio from Star Trek: The Original Series. Kirk is the kind-hearted one, Spock is logic-oriented and stoic which can make him come across as rude, and McCoy is in between where he can be grumpy, but does show more compassion than Spock.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Elena is a nice, friendly Girl Next Door, Damon is a violent, dangerous vampire, and Stefan is a stoic, brooding vampire, who is much more reasonable than his brother Damon.
  • Wizards of Waverly Place has the Russo siblings: responsible and nice (but Not So Above It All) Justin, sneaky and mischievous Alex, and Max is the inbetween.

    Video Games 
  • In BlazBlue the three main characters, Noel, Ragna. and Jin fit this. Noel is a kind girl, while Ragna is a bit hard around the edges, and Jin is basically the walking definition of a Jerkass.
  • Final Fantasy VII's initial trio of fighters: Tifa is the sweet, compassionate one, Barret while devoted to the cause, is the loud, aggressive one, who has to be frequently restrained to punch people who just stand in his way, and Cloud, while aloof and cynical, is far less confrontational and seems to have a sort of a "live and let live" mindset. Even their respective weapons appear to translate it: Tifa fights with her fists, Barret with a Gatling machine gun and Cloud with a sword.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: After Ostagar falls, the Player Character is joined by Alistair and Morrigan to stop the Blight. Alistair is Nice since he's something of a naive, idealistic, kindhearted simpleton who believes in doing what's right and helping people. Morrigan is Mean since she's very abrasive, sharp-tongued, believes in taking the ruthless path every time, and often antagonizes Alistair for being too much of a bleeding heart. Just short of acting like a blood-thirsty psychopath who revels in being pointlessly cruel and killing everything in sight, the Warden is In-Between, since being the leader forces them to act sensible and make tough decisions that Alistair won't make (no matter how nice you are), but they obviously aren't as abrasive or ruthless as Morrigan.
  • Dragon Age II: A rather interesting case with the three Hawke siblings. Depending on the player's chosen personality, each sibling fits a different spot. If the player tends to choose the "Good" dialogue options, then Hawke is Nice, Carver is Mean, and Bethany is In-Between since she's not as saintly as her eldest sibling, but also not as abrasive as her Jerkass twin brother. If the player chooses the "Funny" remarks, then Bethany is Nice, Carver is still Mean, and Hawke is In-Between since they're more friendly than Carver but their humor gives them more of an edge to Nice Girl Bethany. If the player chooses the Ruthless dialogue options, then Bethan is still Nice, Hawke is now Mean, and it's actually Carver who is In-Between since he's not as nice as Bethany but not as perpetually angry or ruthless as Hawke. (One of the twins dies at the start of the game, though, so this is never made especially clear while playing the game.)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
    • The first three companions you get for the first chunk of the game seem to embody this trope. Varric is Nice, since he's a wise-cracking and easy-going dwarf who gets along with everyone. Cassandra seems Mean, since she's very harsh, abrasive, and starts off being rather hostile to you since she believes you're the one who caused the explosion that killed thousands of people. (Subverted after the prologue, where she admits she was wrong about you, and later apologizes for accusing you so unjustly). Solas is In-Between, since he is very polite and agreeable, but also very pragmatic and tends to brush off sentimentality in favor of obtaining one's goal as efficiently as possible.
    • At the end of the game, the Inquisitor helps select the new Divine (Fantasy Pope) to restore the Chantry after the Mage/Templar War, whose politics represent this trope. Leliana is Nice since she's the most humanitarian and charity-driven, and focuses on making dramatic reforms to abolish Fantastic Racism against elves, mages, and men in the Chantry. Vivienne is Mean, since she is the most traditionalist and ruthless, and almost fully restores the controversial Circle and Templar practices that caused the civil war in the first place. (Although her reception from muggles is equally hostile since she herself is a mage.) Cassandra is In-Between, since unlike Leliana she restores the Circle and Templar Order, but unlike Vivienne she enacts serious reforms to both.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has Michael, Trevor, and Franklin fulfilling these roles respectively. Michael is a Noble Demon who prefers to let people go if he can. Trevor is the most violent and aggressive of the three and is likely to kill either out of blind rage or just for kicks. And Franklin is the in-between due to being the most pragmatic of three; while not as merciful or gentlemanly as Michael is, he's also far less temperamental than Trevor.
  • In Mega Man, Rock/Mega Man is the nice one, rivaled by Forte/Bass, the mean one who fights usually just for his own sake, while Blues/Proto Man, though excessively independent, strives to live by the idealism and optimism of his younger "brother" robot.
    • In the X series, X is the nice one who is pacifistic and somewhat gullible, if a bit easily guilt-ridden and no ball of sunshine. Even so, Zero is the mean one who is cold, snarky and cynical and calls out X for his idealism. Axl mediates between, as not as gullibly pacifistic as X, but doesn't have the same extent of a shoot-first-questions-later mentality like Zero.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, we have the Shadow Sirens; Beldam, Vivian and Marilyn. Beldam, the leader, treats the other two members horribly, verbally berating them and punishing them for the slightest transgressions. Vivian is kind and non-confrontational, and she pulls a Heel–Face Turn mid-game due to her treatment at the hands of Beldam. Then we have Marilyn, whose personality is sort of an enigma due to her tendency to speak in grunts and moans, rather than actual words.
  • The three main characters of Pikmin 3. Alph is the naive and kind one in the group, and is often mocked by the more brusque and mordant Brittany. Charlie, the leader, stands as a mediator between the two (but that doesn't keep him from being mocked by Brittany as much as Alph is being).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • We have the trio of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Tails is the mild-mannered best friend of Sonic, Knuckles is the tough, hot-headed friendly rival, and Sonic mediates the two, combining the kindhearted attitude with his cocky and snarky attitude (although it's mostly geared towards his foes).
      • In the OVA, while Tails is still the nice one, Sonic and Knuckles' roles have been switched, where it's Sonic who's a trademark Jerk with a Heart of Gold while Knuckles mediates where he's more friendly than his game portrayal but retains his seriousness.
    • Team Dark consisting of Shadow, Rouge, and Omega is a downplayed example. Rouge is the closest to nice in the group and by far the most social, Shadow is in-between in that he appears to be very cynical, egotistical, and moody, but is caring to others even if he doesn't show it, and Omega is the mean one due to being a Killer Robot who's on the team for the sake Crush. Kill. Destroy!.
      • Many of the Sonic girls consisting Amy, Cream, Marine, Sticks and Blaze is also a downplayed example too. Amy, Cream and Marine nicest girls in the Sonic series where it's Sticks who's the mean one, due to her being a trademark Brawn. Blaze is in-between combining her sanity and short-temper (Though it's mostly towards her enemies), but she is still friendly and caring to her pals.
    • The Babylon Rogues follow this trope too. Storm defaults to being the nice in the trio due to him being the most sympathetic in the group, Wave is in-between in that she appears to be very snobbish, but is the sanest of the group and Jet is the mean one to due to him being a trademark Immature Jerkass for the sake of being Short-Tempered .
  • From Fire Emblem Fates, the ninja trio of Kaze, Saizo, and Kagero form one of these trios. The three can all support with each other, and Kaze is the nice character, Saizo is the mean character, and Kagero is the in-between character. Though it's downplayed somewhat in that Saizo is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold than an outright Jerkass.

    Web Original 
  • In Noob, the main guild has its male membership consist of Sparadrap, poster boy for Kindhearted Simpleton, Omega Zell who's both a jerk and a bigot and Arthéon, the guild's leader and Only Sane Man.
  • In Super Mario Logan, Cody is the nice one for being smart, sane and calm, the mean one is downplayed with Bowser Junior since he can sometimes throw a fit when he plays with Joseph and Cody along with being cruel to Cody at times, and Joseph is in-between due to sometimes being the sanest at times and being rude to Cody by calling him weird and making fun of him with Junior.

    Western Animation 
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks:
    • Theodore is the nicest of the chipmunks, serving as the Morality Pet to Alvin, who is an egotistical Attention Whore. Simon stays in-between due to him being the smart one and his constant bickering with Alvin.
    • Their Distaff Counterparts, The Chipettes, are this, too. Jeanette is sweet-natured but shy, Brittany is hot-headed and selfish, and Eleanor is caring but more assertive than Jeanette.
  • The Goodfeathers from Animaniacs. Squit is the friendly Naďve Newcomer in contrast to Pesto, who has a violent temper and would always beat Squit up. Bobby is the leader and mediator often keeping Pesto in check or just get a good laugh at him beating up Squit.
  • The trio of Master Shake, Frylock and Meatwad in Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Meatwad is child-like, (usually) kindhearted and frequently abused by Shake, who is a greedy and cruel sociopath. Frylock is inbetween due to him being the smart Only Sane Man, often annoyed by Shake, with a few Not So Above It All moments.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The trio of Aang, Katara, and Sokka in season 1. Aang is easily the nicest character of the group, although he can be quite scary when pushed too far. Sokka is a full-on sarcastic, cynical, Insufferable Genius, but he does has his moments. Katara is nice and reasonable, but she has mood swings and can have a quite nasty, vengeful side when betrayed by those who were close to her.
    • There's also Azula (the mean one), Ty Lee (the nice one) and Mai (the inbetween one; mostly because of her Sugar and Ice Personality).
  • Ben, Gwen, and Kevin from Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Kevin is clearly the mean one, while the nice and the inbetween are Ben or Gwen, Depending on the Writer.
  • Dan Vs. Chris, Dan, and Elise. Chris is a mild-mannered pushover. "Anger Management" suggests that he eats a lot as a way of repressing his anger. Dan is a vengeful, hateful Anti-Hero/Villain Protagonist with a Hidden Heart of Gold. And Elise is much nicer than Dan and often shows disdain for Dan's antics, but is shown on occasion to have a vengeful streak herself.
  • DuckTales: Some incarnations of Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are like this; Goofy as the nice one, Donald as the irritable one, and Mickey as the mostly nice but sometimes snarky mediator/leader.
  • Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy:
    • The Eds: Edd is the nice one, always trying to find a reasonable, non-violent solution and apologizing for his friend's behavior. Eddy is the mean one, always getting the two others involved in his scams and screaming at them when he doesn't get his way. Ed is inbetween, not as mean as Eddy, but more impulsive than Edd. On occasion, this can switch to Ed (nice) and Edd (in-between), since Edd has been known to lose it a couple of times, and Ed doesn't have a malicious bone in his body. That is, unless there is a malicious rock in his shoe.
    • The Kids: cheerful Cloudcuckoolander Jonny and sweet Girl Next Door Nazz (nice), Jerk Jock Kevin and Spoiled Brat Sarah (mean), sensitive yet sneaky Jimmy and unpredictable Funny Foreigner Rolf (inbetween). Sometimes Jonny and Rolf switch places depending on the episode.
    • The Kanker Sisters: naive youngest sister May (nice), Evil Redhead leader Lee (mean) and aggressive tomboy Marie (inbetween), with Lee and Marie occasionally switching places.
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum: Chum Chum is the nice one, the Cheerful Child who is sweet, rather innocent, and can have his feelings hurt sometimes. Kyle is the mean one, a wizard who serves as a snarky Grumpy Bear who despises anything fun, but can have his Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments, other times acting as a full-on Villain Protagonist. Fanboy is the inbetween, due to being dimwitted and funny, but can be more serious than Chum Chum.
  • The junior fire trucks of the children's show Firehouse Tales. Petrol is bashful but innocient, Crabby is grumpy and sullen, and Red is the inbetween who serves as their meditative leader.
  • Futurama:
    • The trio of Fry, Leela, and Bender. Fry is the nicest guy of the group, albeit a bit dumb. Bender is the loud-mouthed, abrasive jerk who likes to drink and smoke a lot. Leela mediates between the two for she's calm and level-headed, although she would often appear as a nag to others if they did something immoral.
    • Mom's sons. Oldest brother Walt is the mean one (frequently abusing the other two), Igner is the dumbest but nicest one, and sniveling and shy Larry is the inbetween.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has the main trio, mostly in early seasons. Happy-go-lucky Billy is the nice one (mostly because Dumb Is Good, but he has his Jerkass moments too); Mandy is a devious, cold-hearted Villain Protagonist (in contrast to Alpha Bitch Mindy); and surprisingly Grim mediates between the two, despite being the Grim Reaper, he's not nearly as evil as Mandy.
  • Hercules TV series' ˇThree Amigos!: hero wannabe Hercules is nice, Snark Knight Cassandra is mean and unpredictable, Cloudcuckoolander Icarus is in-between.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: Jackie (nice), Uncle (mean), and Jade (in-between).
  • In Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy is friendly and optimistic and the Morality Pet to Heloise, a sadistic Mad Scientist who has a crush on him. Jimmy's other best friend Beezy is the inbetween, being the lazy one who constantly fights with Heloise.
  • In The Looney Tunes Show, Extreme Doormat Porky is the nice one, Daffy is the selfish, mean one, and level-headed, snarky, confident Bugs is inbetween.
  • Mixels has the Infernites, Vulk is the nice one, Zorch is the mean one and Flain meditates between the two.
    • Also the Flexers, Kraw is the mean one, while Tentro is the nice one, while Balk meditates between the two, but the latter two switch roles.
  • The main siblings from Phineas and Ferb. Phineas is the most nicest and optimistic guy in the series aside from formerly being a Bratty Half-Pint from the pilot episode. Candace is always mean to her brothers and always wants to bust them for their everyday activities. Ferb is inbetween, for he doesn't say mucus , although he'll speak a line at the end of every episode.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Bubbles is the most nicest and gentle of the three girls, though she can come across as naive. Buttercup is the aggressive one who constantly argues with Blossom and picks on Bubbles, though she does have a soft spot on occasions. Blossom, the leader, mediates between the two, where she can be mild-mannered, but can come across as bossy at times.
  • The Simpsons: The three main senior citizens of Springfield, Jasper Beardly (nice) is soft-spoken and mellow, Old Jewish Man (mean) is extremely sarcastic, and Grandpa Simpson (in-between) is abrasive though with a soft-spot for his grandchildren.
  • Sonic SatAM formed one in the second season. Princess Sally is gentle and rational, Antoine is a pompous Dirty Coward, while Sonic is altruistic but arrogant and hot headed. Antoine and Sonic sometimes interchange, Depending on the Writer (in some episodes Antoine is more just harmlessly stupid, with Sonic as a bullying Greek Chorus to his antics). Sally can also sometimes be snarky and easily agitated, but usually still maintains the 'nicer' role in comparison.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The trio of SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward. SpongeBob is pretty much the kindest and idealistic character of the series, often to the point where others are annoyed about it, taken for granted, and to the point of being naive. Squidward is the grouchy Jerkass who barely shows his heart of gold, but this is because of having to deal with Spongebob and Patrick as neighbors. Finally, Patrick mediates between the two, but this is mainly because of his stupidity.
    • The trio of SpongeBob, Squidward, and Mr. Krabs in the earlier seasons. While Spongebob and Squidward kept their respective personalities, Mr. Krabs plays the mediator where he can be nice on occasions, but is a bit of a money-grubbing boss. In post-movie episodes, Krabs and Squidward switched places. The former became a ruthless bureaucrat while the latter remained the Snark Knight Anti-Hero he's always been.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine:
    • Thomas, Percy, and Toby from the earlier seasons. Toby is nice and respectful, Thomas is cheeky, arrogant and a bit troublesome, (although he has become nicer and kind-hearted later on the series). Percy mediates between the two where he can be nice, but has moments of being cheeky and troublesome like Thomas.
    • There's also the Terrible Trio of Gordon, James, and Henry. Henry is nicer and more sympathetic than the other two while James is more vain and arrogant than Gordon, who occasionally shows his soft and humble side more than James does.
    • Before James came along, there was the trio of Edward, Gordon, and Henry from the The Three Railway Engines book as well as the adapted episodes "The Sad Story of Henry" and the aptly named "Edward, Gordon, and Henry". Edward is the nice and friendly, Gordon is pompous and haughty, and Henry is in between where he was remorseful of his selfish behavior of not wanting to come out of the tunnel.
    • Some later episodes such as King Of The Railway make Thomas, James and Percy into this. Thomas is now more altruistic and idealistic, James is the narcissistic Jerk with a Heart of Gold, while Percy is pretty much the same as before. Thomas and Percy sometimes interchange, due to still having shades of earlier cheekier forms.
  • In Time Warp Trio, the main male trio has: Sam, the nice and nerdy one, Fred, the mean and tough one, and Joe, the inbetween and well-meaning leader of the group. For the female trio, we have: Freddi, the Shrinking Violet, Jodie, the snobby and needy one, and Samantha, the Brilliant, but Lazy one who remains inbetween most of the time. Jodie is the leader, despite being the mean one.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Similar to Bugs, Daffy, and Porky in The Looney Tunes Show , there are their Spiritual Successors who actually played it in this previous show: the trio of Buster, Plucky, and Hampton. Hampton is the nice Adorkable one, Plucky is the narcissistic Attention Whore, and Buster mediates between where he can be level-headed, but still has the trickster side similar to his counterpart.
    • There's also the main female trio, consisting of Babs, Shirley and Fifi. Fifi is the kind-hearted hopeless romantic, Babs is often sassy and insensitive, and Shirley is usually pretty collected, but not above making snide remarks.
  • Sam, Alex, and Clover from Totally Spies!: Alex is the nice one, Clover is the Lovable Alpha Bitch (in contrast to the series' Alpha Bitch Mandy), and Sam is the leader and mediator.
  • My Little Pony Tales has the three boy ponies who played as either supporting characters to the main cast or antagonists depending on the episode. The quiet and kindhearted Lancer is the nice one and actually gets along with the main cast pretty well when his friends aren't around, Ace is the mean arrogant Jerk Jock but even he shows a kind side occasionally, and Teddy is the in-between: a petty bully and prankster but also has Hidden Depths and really cares for his best friend Sweetheart, but even she isn't immune to his shenanigans.

Alternative Title(s): Nice And Mean And In Between

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NiceMeanAndInbetween