Spiritual Antithesis

"I came home from these regular monthly drinks that we have in London and grabbed one of the nice hardback comics next to the bed—and in this case it was [Frank Miller's] 300. I picked it up, flipped through it, really not very much paying any attention to it. And one of the speeches about 'The only free men the world has ever known,' and literally had a moment of incandescent rage and shouted at the book, ‘You hunted slaves!’ And at that second the entire plot of Three downloaded, including the twist, the structure, everything."

The Spiritual Successor's Evil Twin,note  the Spiritual Antithesis is referencing an earlier work by using similar characters and themes, but going in a completely different direction. Often set at the opposite end of Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. May serve as a Deconstruction (or Reconstruction if the original work was a deconstruction itself) or Stealth Parody of the original work.

It can best be described the concept of foils applied to works instead of characters. Often seen as a Take That! against the original work (though it may simply be meant as commentary or as a What If? scenario, and is occasionally even made by the same people), and closely related to Satire. May involve Whole Plot Reference. Sometimes is actually a sequel to the original work, in which it usually serves as an Internal Deconstruction. The Moral Substitute is a related trope, where the work is meant to be the antithesis of what its creators see as moral failings within another work or genre.

Of course, nothing prevents a work from being the Spiritual Antithesis of one work and the Spiritual Successor of another at the same time, which may often result in said work being X Meets Y or This Is Your Premise on Drugs.

Genres that play this role to each other:


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  • Valvrave the Liberator is can be this to Code Geass. The latter has opposing major characters who are too naive and says a wall of lies are needed to make the world gentler. The former is about a machine to "reveal the truth to the world", dealing with characters who are too bitter, and therefore create a safe haven for an oppressed people.
  • While being a Spiritual Successor to Shakotan Boogie, Wangan Midnight is also this. While sharing both racing themes, Wangan Midnight focuses more on street racing while Shakotan Boogie puts more emphasis on Running Gag and Shakotan-styled cars. Wangan Midnight also took the races on the expressways while Shakotan Boogie focus the races on touge and city streets.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was this to Neon Genesis Evangelion (bonus points for being made by the same people) and its own Spiritual Predecessor Space Runaway Ideon.
    • FLCL is another Spiritual Antithesis to Evangelion, also created by the same people - according to rumors, many people who just finished working on End of Evangelion felt down and wanted to create something crazy and optimistic to cheer themselves up.
  • You may also say that GaoGaiGar, first reconstruction of Super Robot genre after Evangelion was another one of these for it - it celebrated and embraced the same tropes Evangelion criticized or outright rejected.
    • And GaoGaiGar has its own counterpart in Betterman, a horror/drama show set in the same world.
  • Tiger & Bunny might be this for Darker Than Black - both are takes on Super Hero genre that have superhumans glowing blue while using their powers, but former has much more idealistic take than latter, which is much more cynical and prefers Not Wearing Tights and antiheroic variety. Neither works go into extremes - just like Darker Than Black stays on the cynical side but acknowledges existence of idealism, Tiger & Bunny is very optimistic, but has few shades of cynicism on it.
  • Makoto Shinkai's last two works have strong contrasts with his two previous works.
  • WataMote could be considered the opposite of The World God Only Knows. In both shows the main characters are big geeks and supremely talented in the field of dating sims and visual novels, but whereas Tomoko is despised for this and desperately seeks love and attention (to a creepy degree), Keima isn't affected by his geekiness and couldn't care less about being popular in real life.
    • WataMote can also only be one to Lucky Star. Konata is a beautiful Otaku Surrogate girl who is Wrong Genre Savvy, playing life as it if were a dating sim, yet despite this is well liked, very social, and has plenty of friends. Tomoko, meanwhile, is an unattractive girl with greasy, unkept hair, who is very crude and crass. Her social awkwardness, massive ego, and being Wrong Genre Savvy has led to her having only about one real friend. Very much unlike Konata, she constantly seeks attention from the opposite sex, and plays OtomeGames rather than Galge. Tomoko is a more realistic depiction of what a female otaku is like rather than idealized surrogate girls like Konata.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino likes to follow up his dark and depressing series with their opposites - Zambot 3 was followed by Daitarn 3, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam by Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, and Space Runaway Ideon by Combat Mecha Xabungle.
    • The Gundam franchise in general (even the Lighter and Softer entries to a degree) is an antithesis of what Gene Roddenberry's work in Star Trek represented. If there are strange new worlds to see in the Universal Century for instance, expect them to have a lot of the same problems we deal with on Earth.
  • Satoshi Kon first two films Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress are wonderful examples of this trope as well as Spiritual Successor . Both films look into female figures in the entertainment industry and the admirers that follow them. However, where as the former aims to be Deconstruction of idol culture, as well as a dark critique on patriarchal standards and Fanservice attitude towards women, the latter is a far more lighthearted, sentimental look at the idea of admiring such a famous figure. Both films also feature Kon's penchant for Mind Screw as well as Postmodernism, granted Perfect Blue does it for a more haunting effect, where as Millennium Actress feels more introspective. Yet, ironically, the former ends on a note of Earn Your Happy Ending where as the latter ends with a Bittersweet Ending.
  • Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star; both are Space Opera shows about a Cool Starship crewed by a Ragtag Band of Misfits and both were made by the same production company around the same time. The former is gritty, cynical, minimalistic in its Science Fiction trappings, and shows that In the End, You Are on Your Own; the latter is shiny, idealistic, favors a Fantasy Kitchen Sink and a Sci FI Kitchen Sink, and comes down on the side of the Power of Friendship. Put musically, Bebop is Jazz, Star is Power Metal.
    • Another antithesis to Bebop is Space Dandy, made by the same creator. While Bebop is a heavy, realistic look at a 90s cyberpunk future where space travel has only gone so far, Dandy is a call back to Silver age 50s idealistic sci-fi where the possibilities are endless. Bebop focuses on humans and stays mostly on Earth, Dandy has a wide variety of aliens and robots, and doesn't go anywhere near Earth. Bebop has a strong sense of continuity, Dandy's main cast dies in every other episode. Bebop is mostly grays and blues, Dandy is every color it can get it's hands on. If Bebop is Jazz, Dandy is Rock & Roll and Disco.
  • The two Animated Adaptations of Nekojiru are opposites of one another, and how they depict their source material: the earlier animated short series takes the more mundane stories and focuses on the scathing satirical elements, while the OVA compiles the bizarre, fantastic elements into one Big Damn Movie.
  • As part of the science adventure series, Robotics;Notes provides a contrast to both Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head. Setting-wise, the former series takes place on a rural island as opposed the bustling urban areas of the latter two. Thematically speaking, Steins;Gate serves as somewhat a cautionary tale about time travel with the consequences it entails. In contrast, Robotics;Notes takes a more optimistic look at its central innovation(robots in their case) and the potential that can be achieved with them.
  • Sword Art Online and Log Horizon both involve players in a video game. But while SAO is (initially) The Most Dangerous Video Game, complete with high drama and tragedy, LH deconstructs the trapped-in-a-game scenario as The Game Come to Life, with notable touches where The World Is Just Awesome. Log Horizon pokes fun at SAO's high stakes in its beginning story line. They also have polar opposite main characters, as SAO's Kirito is a black-wearing swordsman who specializes in solo play and surpassing hurdles with his raw skill and experience, while LH's Shiroe is a support spellcaster clad in white, who leads a guild and shines most when it comes to strategy and management.
  • Overlord could be seen as another Spiritual Antithesis to Sword Art Online. SAO starts on the opening day of a massively-hyped VRMMORPG, but thousands of players become trapped in the game, and are told by the creator that they can only escape the game by beating the highest level of the dungeon, and if they die in the game, they die in real life. Overlord starts on the last day of a once-popular VRMMORPG that is now shutting down due to its dwindling player base, and only one player gets trapped, without any explanation, in a fantasy world that's highly reminiscent of the game but filled with intelligent, emotional, real people instead of NP Cs. In SAO, the teenage main character Kirito starts out at level 1, and spends years in the game, leveling up as part of the player base's ultimate quest to escape the game. In Overlord, the adult main character Momonga is already at the level 100 cap when he gets trapped, and he pretty much gives up on escaping on day one, preferring this new fantasy world over the life he left behind, with an unfulfilling job and no close friends or family. Kirito is a hot-headed hero with a strong moral code, reluctant to even kill serial killers in self-defense. Momonga is a cold, calculating strategist with no problem slaughtering entire armies if they get in his way or sacrificing innocent pawns to protect his secrets. At times, the contrasts are so uncanny that it seems like it was done intentionally: Kirito is a dual-wielding swordsman while Momonga is a spellcaster, which seem like total opposites, but when Momonga wants to travel incognito, he passes himself off as a dual-wielding swordsman, something he can do quite effectively with the Super Strength and speed that comes from being level 100, although real warriors recognize that he's just swinging his swords around like an amateur.
  • Saya no Uta and Haiyore! Nyarko-san are the "Cosmic Horror Story vs. Lovecraft Lite" example listed above. They're a Deconstruction and a parody, respectively, of "What if a boy meets a girl...but the girl is something utterly inhuman? "
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Kill la Kill both play with the Magical Girl Warrior genre. The former is a Deconstruction that heavily runs on Break the Cutie moments and has cynical and dark tones. The latter is a Reconstruction that runs heavily on Black Comedy Rape and has over-the-top and ridiculous tones. Even the protagonists seem to be opposites; the former stars an idealistic and kindhearted girl who had a normal life until the events of the series, and ends up becoming God, while the latter stars a hardened and moody girl who's never had an ounce of happiness until she met her True Companions, and ends up living the normal life she's always wanted.
  • Oddly, Macross and its American adaptation Robotech became this as their timelines progressed. In Macross, the Zentraedi become more like humanity, while in Robotech, thanks to repeated invasions, humanity is becoming a warrior race like the Zentraedi.
  • For most of Space Patrol Luluco, Alpha Omega Nova is a superficially similar but spiritually antithetical version of Kaworu Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Both are secretly alien bishonen who use their charm to entice the main character and get closer to their objectives, but while Kaworu is an angel of free will whose love for Shinji is pure and unconditional, Nova has no free will or emotions and merely lets Luluco deceive herself into thinking he could return her love. Yet, in the end, his change of heart makes him a lot more like Kaworu than he was originally.

    Comic Books 
  • Warren Ellis in the afterword of Black Summer contrasted it with Civil War, saying that Mark Millar's event shows watered down version of superheroes coming in conflict with the government, while he wanted to show in Black Summer what he thinks would really happen.
    • Ellis must love this trope - when Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross created Marvels, a deconstructing but still idealistic portrayal of Marvel Universe, Ellis wrote Ruins - a depressing Alternate Universe where everything that could go wrong did, worse than you can imagine - that is generally seen as Marvels' Evil Twin. When Busiek made a sequel to Marvels, Ellis responded with Ghost Boxes - a compilation of alternate Universes where the X-Men failed to stop the threat from his Astonishing X-Men series, each more depressing than the previous one.
    • He once pulled it on himself as well. His original proposal for Planetary contrasts it with his run on Stormwatch - the latter was a depressing story of a secret super-team doing what they can to stop superpowered threats and the former, while still having its grim moments, is about a secret super-team discovering unknown wonders of the world. It's saying something the same proposal said the big theme in Planetary is Elijah Snow, his Author Avatar, rediscovering the beauty of the world.
    • Ellis may have planned to turn it around, since the series was Left Hanging, but Doktor Sleepless took a central character who was a hybrid of Elijah Snow and Spider Jerusalem and revealed him as a Villain Protagonist who was an Omnicidal Maniac.
  • Alan Moore has done this to himself.
    • Someone described the Alan Moore version of Miracleman as "Superman told as a horror story". Or, perhaps more accurately, the original Marvelman done as a horror story. Moore himself said that all he did in Miracleman and the thematically similar (albeit more realistic) Watchmen was do a serious version of Harvey Kurtzman's famous satire Superduperman for MAD. Where Kurtzman parodied the superhero tropes for laughs, Moore played it for dramatic value.
    • His run on Supreme is the opposite to his Marvelman — in both cases Moore takes the character of a Flying Brick based on Superman, who was also the epitome of the age during which he was created, with all its flaws, and molds him into the complete opposite, while making him more complex and interesting than he was before. The difference lies in tone - while Moore turns Marvelman towards Darker and Edgier waters, while breaking apart many traditional tropes of the Silver Age, Supreme under his guidance took path towards Lighter and Softer territory and paid tribute to the same tropes Marvelman tore apart.
    • His Lovecraft Trilogy, The Courtyard, Neonomicon and Providence, is a homage but also an antithesis to Lovecraft. Moore generally brings the sexual subtext of Lovecraft's original stories out into the open, places more emphasis on the dubious racism of the original stories and largely shows a more sympathetic portrayal of the occult than Lovecraft allowed.
  • Star Wars Legacy is this to Knights Of The Old Republic II. Whereas KOTRII is an unrelenting and ruthless deconstruction that simply tears apart and criticizes the Star Wars universe, Legacy deconstructs the setting only to than examine the positive aspects of it (as opposed to bringing strong focus on the negative) and puts it back together.
  • Switchblade Honey is this to Star Trek - it shows a future where the exploration of space is handled by a bunch of insane egomaniacs, which leads to a war with a much more powerful enemy, which humanity is losing. Heroic idealists, who would become great heroes of Starfleet in Star Trek, here end up in prison for opposing the corrupted system.
  • Kieron Gillen seems to be driven to do this:
    • Three was consciously tailor-made to be this for Frank Miller's 300. 300 has heroic Spartans fighting for freedom against the irredeemable, evil Persian Empire and played with the actual history. Three has less clear conflict with Spartans as the slave-hunting antagonists from which the titular three slaves are running away, and Gillen recruited an academic Classical history consultant to keep the setting and story accurate. Of note is that Gillen initially intended to make just as much an over the top, black and white take as Miller with the Spartans as the bad guys, but then found the real facts far more interesting to portray than either.
    • Another ongoing title by him is Über, which is a very grim and violent deconstruction of comics which use the idea of World War II being fought with superheroes and mad science as an excuse for lighthearted Rule of Cool high-jinks. What happens when you give superpowers to a gang of genocidal imperialists? Bloodshed and destruction escalating to almost pantomine levels is what. It also throws the idea of something like Heroic Spirit being a real match against Power Levels out the window. It doesn't matter how brave you are, if you can't throw around tanks like your opponent, you will be splattered over a mile-wide area.
    • He also intends The Wicked + The Divine, to be this for his own series, Phonogram. As he explains, Phonogram is about how the art inspires, changes and destroys the consumers, while The Wicked And The Divine is about what choices creators of the art make and how it changes and destroys them.
    • And of course there is his run on Journey into Mystery which is a whimsical, light-hearted series about Loki, god of mischief, imagination and stories, who refuses to accept that Status Quo Is God and desperately tries to change only to ultimately fail and kill the only chance to truly change he ever had. Contrast with Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, which is a moody, semi-gothic series about Morpheus, god of dreams, imagination and stories, who refuses to accept that everything changes and desperately tries to stay the same only to ultimately fail and undergo change by being reborn in a new body.
  • The Order was a Lighter and Softer Spiritual Antithesis to two earlier works at once. Like the Milligan/Allred version of X-Force, it featured superheroes who were also C-list celebrities, but unlike X-Force the characters were genuinely altruistic and idealistic instead of being self-serving and cynical. Also, it followed Strikeforce: Morituri in featuring "normals" who were given artificial superpowers on a strictly time-limited basis, but unlike Strikeforce: Morituri the results weren't lethal when the time ran out.
  • Gene Luen Yang's The Shadow Hero is a Spiritual Antithesis to his previous work, Boxers & Saints. The Shadow Hero is about a young man who gets possessed by an ancient Chinese national spirit and becomes a superhero, whereas Boxers was about a young man who gets possessed by an ancient Chinese national spirit and ends up getting utterly morally corrupted and becoming a mass murdering terrorist.
  • Grant Morrison's New X-Men is a deconstruction of the X-Men franchise that deliberately moved the franchise into general sci-fi, involving the X-Men dealing with small-scale, mutant based crimes and conflicts. Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men, which came shortly after Morrison's, is a reconstruction that returns the characters to their superhero roots, involving the X-Men battling supervillains and working to prevent a cosmic threat from devastating Earth.
  • Similarly, Rob Liefeld's Heroes Reborn was a Darker and Edgier revamp of the Avengers that epitomized the Dark Age of Comics. It was immediately followed by Kurt Busiek's epic run on the Avengers, which was a Lighter and Softer reconstruction of superheroes that helped bring an end to the Dark Age.
  • Animal Man has Deadpool. Both were obscure characters that got daddies that retooled them to very powerful street heroes trying to be recognized by bigger teams and Breaking the Fourth Wall, but other than that they take completely different directions. Animal Man is a Nice Guy family man and animal rights activist with very few close friends in the superhero community, while Deadpool is a lonely Jerk with a Heart of Gold mercenary with many Vitriolic Best Buds in the superhero community. Animal Man is a vegetarian, while Deadpool is practically a carnivore. Animal Man barely uses his very minimal Healing Factor, while Deadpool gets by with his extremely rapid healing factor. Animal Man is a product of The Silver Age of Comic Books whose most famous run went on to harshly criticize The Dark Age of Comic Books, While Deadpool is a product of The Dark Age that went on to lightly criticize the worst aspects of The Modern Age of Comic Books. Animal Man played breaking the fourth wall very seriously and would always forget when he did because he can't truly see it, while Deadpool plays breaking the fourth wall for comedy and always has that ability. After Grant Morrison's run, Animal Man went on to more horror, sci-fi and mysticism based stories, while Deadpool still stayed in comedy-based mercenary stories. Animal Man isn't in many big stories while Deadpool has Wolverine Publicity.
  • Deliberately done with the two bearers of the Captain Britain title, who made completely different choices when given the choice between the Amulet of Right and the Sword of Might. Brian Braddock is a man who chose the amulet as he felt he was a scholar not a warrior, while Kelsey Leigh is a woman who chose the sword because she believed that she needed to be a warrior to defend her friends and family.
  • Grant Morrison's The Multiversity and Jonathan Hickman's New Avengers. Both involve heroes from numerous alternate realities facing a major threat to all of their worlds. The latter is a Darker and Edgier deconstruction that sees the heroes of the various worlds coming into conflict over who will live and making morally dodgy choices for the greater good. The former is a Lighter and Softer reconstruction in which the heroes unite together to battle the threat and do so without sacrificing the values, morals, and hope that superheroes represent.
    • Mark Waid's All-New, All-Different Avengers in turn is this for Jonathan Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers - the latter two featured an epic, dark plot of the bigger, more powerful than ever team of Avengers and recreated Illuminati trying to stop the destruction fo The Multiverse, making hard, morally ambiguous choices along the way and finally fighting over their decisions. Waid follows that with a much Lighter and Softer series where the Avengers are broke, forced to go back to basics, taking a young generation of heroes as their students and going back to simply punching villains in the face.
    • Similarly Al Ewing's New Avengers series is this to Hickman's. Hickman had the cast of Marvel's iconic characters tangled in a dark storyline which was downplaying the fantastic aspects of the events and trying to ground them more into hard science-fiction narrative. Ewing has a cast of C-Listers in straight-up heroic adventures and his book is not afraid of embracing how silly superhero stories can be.
  • The 2015 Contest of Champions is this to Avengers Arena. They are both based on the "Battle Royale with superheroes" premise, Anyone Can Die rule, and both cash on what is popular at the time (Arena on the popularity of Hunger Games movies and Contest on the success of the video game of the same name). However, when Arena was Darker and Edgier, treated its characters as C-List Fodder (the writer was outright surprised anyone cared about them at all when he received complaints about this) and gleefully kills fan-favorites for shock value and to push one of rhw Original Generation characters, largely seen as a bunch of Creator's Pets, Contest is Crazy Awesome with only one new character, bringing up obscure characters to cherish them, had actually resurrected several dead ones, and most of those killed were Expendable Alternate Universe versions of popular characters. Both series set up as the Big Bad a quirky classic villain who manages to pull it off with the help of new dragons. Only in Arena that's Arcade, who openly abandons his quirky shticks to go on trying too hard to prove he is a real threat and his dragon is a new character, who provides him with powerful tech and disappears from the story, while in Contest it's Collector and Grandmaster, who are so powerful their quirks are the only advantage against them and need to prove nothing and their respective dragons are established characters (Maestro and Punisher 2099), whom they use to rein kidnapped heroes in and who form an alliance to turn against them. Arena follows theBattle Royale formula to the letter, whenever it makes sense or not and openly ignores continuity, past characterization and any questions why nobody is looking for kidnapped heroes (in fact they had to bring a different writer to answer that one), while Contest comes in with a strong explanation of how the whole thing can be set up without anyone finding out ( which actually fails as people do find out, something that never happened in Arena) and never goes further than basic premise in similarities with Battle Royale, instead establishing its own rules and ditching the premise entirely after the first 6 issues.

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God is a cynical story starring Klaus Kinski, about white men heading into the Amazon to civilize it and return rich and powerful, but end up dying pointlessly. 10 years later he made Fitzcarraldo — a story starring Klaus Kinski, about white men heading into the Amazon to civilize it and return rich and powerful, and actually learning respect for their own limitations and others.
  • Black Swan manages to serve as both a Spiritual Sequel and Spiritual Antithesis to The Wrestler. Darren Aronofsky described them as "two halves of the same film": both involve artist protagonists whose careers wreak havoc in their personal life but The Wrestler revolves around the beauty found in the "lower art" of wrestling while Black Swan revolves around the horror found in the "higher art" of ballet. They were originally going to be the one movie — with a wrestler falling in love with a ballerina. Aronofsky realised that might be a bit much and split them into two.
  • Hail, Caesar! to Trumbo. Both films are period pieces about 1950's Hollywood, revolving around dramatized versions of Historical Domain Characters (Eddie Mannix and Dalton Trumbo, respectively) who end up dealing with the Red Scare as it hits Hollywood. But while Trumbo is a serious drama about a screenwriter wrongly persecuted for his Communist leanings, Hail, Caesar! is a wacky Black Comedy where the bad guys turn out to be actual Communist screenwriters. Amusingly both films are also nostalgic throwbacks to post-war cinema, featuring multiple sequences taking place on movie sets while in-universe Films Within a Film play out. Hail, Caesar! also features many No Celebrities Were Harmed versions of the historical figures who actually appear in Trumbo, but it portrays them completely differently: Trumbo has Hedda Hopper as the main villain, while Hail, Caesar! has her Fictional Counterpart(s) Thora and Thessaly Thatcher as a comedic nuisance; Trumbo features John Wayne as a villainous bully, while Hail, Caesar! has the fictional cowboy actor Hobie Doyle (a loose parody of Roy Rogers) as a good-hearted ditz; Trumbo has Kirk Douglas as a heroic idealist, while Hail, Caesar! has his Fictional Counterpart Baird Whitlock as a bumbling prima donna.
  • It's a Wonderful Life is this to The Mysterious Stranger. Both feature an "angel" that serves as a guardian to a protagonist. However, the former champions the message that every life matters and that even removing just one person from existence would have drastic consequences, while the latter basically says that nothing matters and that the universe itself is probably just a pointless figment of the narrator's imagination.
  • The anti-semitic Nazi propaganda film Jud Suss is a case of this to a little known British film Jew Suss, which adapted a novel of the same name by German-Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger. The earlier novel/film is based upon a historical person and a miscarriage of justice that lead to his execution, which the Nazi film turns into karma for a Greedy Jew. This also makes the Nazi film a combination of Adaptational Villainy and Historical Villain Upgrade.
  • Let the Right One In and The Film of the Book of Twilight. The latter is fairly well known for its Lighter and Softer take on vampire mythos and there's never any doubt that Edward wouldn't truly physically hurt Bella. The former is a full-on Deconstruction of the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire while Eli is a merciless predator, regardless of how nice she is to Oskar.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • The DC Extended Universe vs. the MCU:
      • The MCU is a centralized production studio where every film is ready for development and they bring in a director to work out the vision of the studio. This has resulted in fairly consistent quality control, tone and a running story spanning between all the films. On the other hand some have criticized the system for diminishing the control the director has on the individual film, putting too much focus on the larger picture at the expense of what the movie could be as a standalone. The DCEU set itself up as placing the Justice League movies at the center of the franchise and allowing the individual directors of other films large amounts of freedom so long as they provide the foundation for the Justice League Crisis Crossover. In fact, rather than starting with a bunch of origin stories and progressing to the crossover like the MCU did, Justice League will provide introductions to a lot of heroes who will eventually get their solo film.
      • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War. At face value, they have similar premises: A working-class hero going up against a wealthy hero over ideological differences. However, look at their subtitles: whereas Dawn of Justice is about former enemies who help found the Shared Universe's Super Team, Civil War is about former allies who break-up the Super Team.
      • Justice League (2017) and The Avengers (2012). Several of the core members of the Justice League can be considered foils or Shadow Archetypes to similar members of the Avengers, taking the same basic character archetypes and turning them on their heads.
      • Superman and Thor are both Human Aliens blessed with superhuman abilities, who see Earth as their adopted home, and end up clashing with rogue members of their species. But while Thor is a jovial Proud Warrior Race Guy with a family back on his home planet, Superman is a quiet stoic who never got a chance to know his real family, and has to deal with feeling like an outcast among the people of Earth. Similarly, Thor does battle with Loki, his weaselly and irreverent adopted brother who becomes a Tragic Villain, and is ultimately loyal only to himself; Superman battles General Zod, a hyper-disciplined soldier and an unrepentant fascist who sees himself as serving the best interests of the Kryptonian people.
      • Wonder Woman and Captain America are both veteran soldiers who are much older than they appear, and were fighting America's wars long before they joined their respective super-teams. But while Captain America was an ordinary man who volunteered to become the ultimate soldier to save his country, Wonder Woman is the scion of a long line of legendary warriors who inherited her destiny as a warrior, and she's forced to spend seven decades waiting for the founding of the Justice League after her adventures in World War II, while Captain America is awakened after sleeping for seven decades.
      • Iron Man and Batman are both wealthy industrialists and corporate CEOs who live in secluded mansions and fight crime with technology, despite lacking superpowers. But while Iron Man was a reckless Man Child playboy who abused his power and wealth until a brush with death convinced him to become a superhero to atone for his past misdeeds, Batman was inspired to become a superhero after witnessing the deaths of his parents as a child, and he has seemingly never had much of a life outside crime-fighting.
      • Suicide Squad to Guardians of the Galaxy. Both are films where the main characters are criminals who are brought together to defeat a greater evil while the primary heroes of the respective universes, those being the Justice League and the Avengers, aren't involved. Although the Guardians weren't as corrupt and willingly opposed Ronan, the Squad were criminals who were promised freedom if they helped defeat the Enchantress. For their lead females, Gamora couldn't agree to Thanos destroying worlds, but Harley was still loyal to The Joker.. Also, the Guardians get their criminal records expunged, while the Squad do not get their promised freedom, though Deadshot does get to spend time with his daughter.
    • Guardians of the Galaxy to The Avengers. On a superficial level, they're almost exactly the same story: a mismatched group of heroes must overcome personal differences to come together for an epic team-up in order to stop a mad alien conqueror who wants to use a mysterious Macguffin to Take Over the World. But while the Avengers are a team of individually respected heroes who have already proven themselves through previous solo adventures, the Guardians are a team of full-on Unlikely Heroes who are initially Only in It for the Money (or for personal revenge), and are regarded as trash by most authority figures before they ultimately save the day.
    • Doctor Strange to Thor: Both are Magic-themed characters who, after a blow to their pride, travel to other dimensions and find a true calling as superheroes defending Earth from mythical/mystical threats. However, the difference is the path they take. Thor - a Norse Physical God - starts off as being steeped into Norse Mythology and lives to uphold his Proud Warrior Race culture, which leads him to be banished to Earth. As a result, he learns to appreciate the mundanity of human culture. Doctor Strange, however, is a ordinary mortal man who starts off as discounting the existence of magic before traveling to the Ancient One's monastery and other dimensions to learn that magic does indeed exist in the MCU. In addition, the magic of Thor is portrayed as Sufficiently Advanced Technology that follow Clarke's Third Law, while the magic of Doctor Strange cannot be explained by Earth science.
  • Pacific Rim:
  • Steven Spielberg produced Poltergeist (directed by Tobe Hooper) at the same time as he was making E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to contrast each other. He described ET as the Suburban Dream... and Poltergeist as the Suburban Nightmare.
    • By the same token, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial can be considered a spiritual antithesis to Spielberg's earlier film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. They're both science fiction films about suburban everymen encountering aliens and tangling with government agents, but Close Encounters is a thriller about a suburban man embracing his inner child as he tries to understand the boundless mysteries of space, while E.T. is a light-hearted Coming-of-Age Story about a suburban boy bonding with an all-too-human alien—who spends most of the movie trying to understand the mysteries of Earth.
      • As a few critics have noted, it's also very thematically fitting that, while Roy Neary of Close Encounters essentially abandons his wife and children in the end to explore the cosmos with his new alien friends, E.T.'s Elliott is the child of divorced parents with a Disappeared Dad—and the movie ends with him reluctantly letting E.T. go back to his home planet while he stays behind with his family on Earth.
    • Spielberg later said War of the Worlds served as an antithesis both E.T. and Close Encounters, having an everyman discovering evil aliens instead of benevolent ones.
  • Despite being an official prequel to the Alien franchise, Prometheus is actually a Spiritual Antithesis of Aliens in many ways. While Aliens is told from the perspective of a platoon of working-class soldiers, and it largely uses the Xenomorphs as a metaphor for the insecurities of childbirth and parenthood (subtly highlighted by Ripley's relationship with Newt), Prometheus is told from the perspective of a group of well-paid academics, and it largely uses the Engineers as a metaphor for overbearing parents (subtly highlighted by Meredith Vickers' relationship with her father, Peter Weyland).
  • The film adaptation of Starship Troopers is this to its own source material. Paul Verhoeven was already working on a script that deconstructed the "War Is Glorious" trope, and after he read Heinlein's novel he kicked everything into high gear. The resulting rewrite is one giant, deliberate Take That! to the novel and what Verhoeven saw as a militaristic, borderline-fascist message, turning the novel on its head into a satire of militarism and propaganda.
  • Paul Verhoeven did this to himself once, too. One of the first films he directed back in the 70s was a Dutch Epic War Film called Soldaat Van Oranje (by now the quintessential Dutch epic film). It involved the Dutch resistance bravely playing cat and mouse with the unscrupulous Nazi occupiers to achieve freedom. Then, after having spent decades in Hollywood, Verhoeven returned in 2006 to direct his last film - Zwartboek. The premise and plot are uncannily similar, except that the idealism levels are exactly nil. The Nazis are even more brutal, the Resistance are deeply corrupt and bigoted themselves, everyone turns on each other, 'Kill 'em All' is in full effect, and even the end of the war doesn't hamper the conflict. It's a very bitter foil to Soldaat's freedom-fighting heroism.
  • The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan have been seen as this ever since they came out, largely because they were Dueling Movies. Both films are big-budget World War II epics that explore the War Is Hell theme in great depth, but they take completely different approaches to their subject matter, and ultimately come to very different conclusions about the nature of war. Saving Private Ryan tells a linear, character-driven story about sacrifice that ultimately comes to the conclusion that soldiers can redeem themselves for the atrocities of war through noble acts. By contrast, The Thin Red Line is a much more philosophical, open-ended story that seriously examines the idea that war is an inherently unnatural act, and seems to suggest that humans often fight wars without truly understanding why. The different settings also help (one is in the European Western Front, the other in the Pacific War).
  • The Thing can also come across as the antithesis to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Both films came out around the same time, but deal with first contact with aliens in very different ways: E.T. lands in the American heartland and befriends the protagonist, with the main goal being to help him return home, while the Thing turns up in the Antartic wastes, destroys everything it encounters, and must be kept from escaping at all costs.
  • The Third Man for Casablanca. Seriously, watch them back to back. It's amazing. And depressing.
  • The 2005 documentary Without My Daughter was a direct answer to the notorious 1991 drama Not Without My Daughter. In the documentary, Dr. Mahmoody argues that his ex-wife exploited anti-Iranian sentiment to make money and screw him out of custody of their daughter.
  • The Order is the spiritual antithesis to A Knight's Tale. It reunites the writer/director and three stars of the latter for a film that couldn't be more different in tone and content - bleak and humorless, with a Downer Ending thrown in for good measure. Whereas A Knight's Tale escaped the potential ire of many critics by presenting itself as nothing more than escapist fluff, The Order was roundly panned for taking itself deadly seriously in addition to simply being dull and poorly written.
  • Rio Bravo was this to High Noon. Director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne loathed High Noon's message and politics (its writer, the blacklisted Carl Foreman, having written it as a critique of McCarthyism), with Wayne calling it "the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole life" and Hawks referring to its protagonist as a man who "run[s] around town like a chicken with his head cut off asking everyone to help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him." As such, they sought to make a Western with a story similar to High Noon (a town is about to be attacked by a gang of outlaws and the sheriff must gather allies to stop them), but instead of having the sheriff protagonist be somebody who barely defeats the bad guys and grows disillusioned with his job due to the townsfolk's cowardice, he is instead a morally upright man who believes in doing what's right, is surrounded by people who do the same, and is ultimately successful through his own effort and righteousness.
  • Pump Up the Volume is the Spiritual Antithesis to Heathers. In many ways, the later film is the sort of earnest, teen-issue-centred angsty melodrama the earlier film both deconstructed and parodied.
  • Madonna's film W.E. is one to The King's Speech. The latter is a loving tribute to George VI and his wife, and vilifies Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson; the former does exactly the opposite.
  • Labyrinth for The Wizard of Oz. Both films are modern musical fairy tales about innocent, virginal teenage girls being whisked away to magical lands that may or may not be imaginary, and both feature the protagonist going on a quest with a trio of non-human companions in order to get home, while being dogged by an malevolent magic-using Big Bad. However, one is a classic Hollywood musical about an incorruptibly pure farm girl who initially wants a better life, but learns to love her home and family along the way; the other is a Rock & Roll musical about a flawed, selfish, antiheroic suburban girl who undergoes her quest to save an innocent child from a gruesome fate that she herself condemned him to—and it ends with the strong implication that her magical companions followed her home. Interestingly, David Bowie's Jareth the Goblin King is practically a mirror image of Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch of the West: one is a hot-tempered, emotionally volatile, grotesquely ugly sorceress who revels in her Card-Carrying Villain status, while the other is a cool-headed, handsome, charismatic sorcerer who seems to consider himself a genuinely decent person.
  • A character example rather than a story one, but it still fits the trope; My Name Is Emily has Emily Egan as the Spiritual Antithesis of Harry Potter's Luna Lovegood. Both girls have Missing Moms who died in accidents when they were children. Both have a Cloud Cuckoo Lander writer for a father and both are bullied at school for their oddness. Luna is The Pollyanna about her situation, has a close-knit relationship with her father and her quirky attitude causes Character Development for others - not to mention that she is portrayed as lovably odd. Emily meanwhile is bitter and depressed, is estranged from her father, is nearly Driven to Suicide over her situation and undergoes Character Development herself through friendships - and her oddness is used to show how detached she is from reality. The kicker? Both are played by Evanna Lynch.

  • Richard K. Morgan intends A Land Fit for Heroes to be this to The Lord of the Rings.
  • Vox Day wrote his novel A Throne of Bones (the start of his Arts of Dark and Light series) as a "literary rebuke" to popular fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • The Black Company by Glen Cook is this for High Fantasy genre - if one assumes that typical works of High Fantasy are propaganda of the winners, then this is closer to how those events really looked like.
  • Lord of the Flies is this towards the children's book Coral Island. Coral Island has young boys living on an island after their ship's catastrophe and working together to fight "the savages". Golding, having an issue with racist undertones and savagery being presented as an outside threat and not something that lies in human nature, wrote a book in which young boys end up abandoning their civilized ways and trying to kill each other. Oddly enough, another writer, Robert A. Heinlein, took issue with that portrayal and wrote Tunnel in the Sky, which served as an opposite to Lord of the Flies: Boys end up on an alien world and work together for their survival. Some try to go the same way as characters from Golding's book, but end up quickly killed. Mira Lobe's Insu-Pu is another spiritual opposite to Lord of the Flies.
  • John le Carré's George Smiley spy novels (of which The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is the most famous) are known for being the complete antithesis of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, which were still being written when Le Carré began his career. Le Carré intentionally avoided glamorizing espionage with his portrayal of the Cold War, and his novels frequently examined the perils of government bureaucracy and the moral ambiguity of the fight against communism. Unlike Bond, Smiley rarely acted as a field agent or physically confronted his foes, instead relying on his intellect to unravel mysteries and beat Britain's enemies.
  • Harry Potter and Ender's Game. They're two of the defining young adult sci-fi/fantasy series of the Millennial generation, and they have nearly identical premises—but they ultimately bring their premises to vastly different conclusions, and they lie on completely opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. In both, a bullied Child Prodigy with an unhappy home life receives an offer to leave home and enroll in a special school hidden from the rest of the world, where he learns that he is destined to come to the world's rescue in the latest chapter of an decades-old struggle against a malevolent evil (a Dark Lord in one, an Alien Invasion in the other), leading to a years-long Trauma Conga Line while he prepares for an inevitable Final Battle while bonding with a loyal group of True Companions; there's also an ongoing series of highly contested school games ("football on flying broomsticks" in one, zero-gravity laser tag in the other) that everyone takes really seriously, and the story repeatedly points out how much it can suck to be the Chosen One.

    The difference? One ends with an upbeat Earn Your Happy Ending where evil is vanquished through The Power of Friendship and the True Companions remain inseparable for life, with the protagonist revered as a hero. The other has far more of a Bittersweet Ending, where we learn that the whole conflict was based on a cultural misunderstanding, the protagonist is remembered as a monster who destroyed an entire alien race, and he ultimately leaves his friends and family behind to wander the universe in search of a way to atone for his crimes. Politically, one is also far more idealistic, ending with the heroes forming a La Résistance against their corrupt government, and ultimately reforming it through unabashed determination. The other ends with the heroes unwittingly causing the rise of a corrupt government, with one of the most unsympathetic characters attempting to become a benevolent dictator.
  • Chinua Achebe found Heart of Darkness to be racist and historically dubious. He was tired that it was used as a reference point by many readers and academics when discussing Africa. One of the reasons he cited for writing Things Fall Apart was to show that native Africans from traditional societies were intelligent and highly complex individuals and to show that Africa is not a dark place meant for European decadence but a place where people lived lives just like anywhere else.
  • His Dark Materials is explicitly intended as an atheist answer to the Christian allegory of The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Steven Erikson has stated that the impetus to fictionalize he and his friends' home brewed Tabletop RPG campaign as Malazan Book of the Fallen came from having a very visceral reaction to opening the first Forgotten Realms boxed set, in essence saying "This is not what fantasy is supposed to be."
  • The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, 10th book of Ranger's Apprentice series, is an antithesis to The Last Samurai. Like in the film, we have an emperor of (Expy) Japan pushing for reforms, creating a modern army, and being opposed by Rebel Samuraj, while a foreign advisor is stuck in the middle. But here the Emperor is portrayed as fully in the right, the rebels as completely evil, and the new peasant army is a very formidable force - precisely because they are used to work together. And the foreign advisor, rather than switching sides, stays with the Emperor and aids him.
    • The entire series is an antithesis to Robin Hood. The rangers' weapons and tactics are very similar to that of Robin's Merry Men, but they fight for the government, and often against insurgents.
  • John Sladek's satirical Roderick series features a robot who views a corrupt world through innocent eyes. Sladek then turned the idea on its head in the novel Tik-Tok: the world is just as corrupt, so its robot Anti-Hero decides to exploit it by being even more corrupt.
  • Starship Troopers gets this treatment a lot, especially in the 1970s and 80s, with works like Haldeman's The Forever War and Steakley's Armor being the two most blatant. Even Drake's Hammer's Slammers could probably be listed.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None as an opposite philosophical story to the New Testament.
  • When the Windman Comes is an antithesis to Bridge to Terabithia. In both cases a boy from a down-to-Earth family meets a girl with very wild and colourful imagination, who draws the boy into her world. Yet in BTT imagination is a liberating force, opening new horizons for the boy, and the girl is helping the boy to develop it , whereas in WWC, imagination is a destructive force, making the girl's life increasingly difficult and miserable (and even unnecessary dangerous), and it falls to the boy to help her and her mother to "get real".
  • According to Word of God, the Red Room series began as this to Charles Stross The Laundry Files. More specifically, The Jennifer Morgue. After an entire book about glamorous superspies fighting monsters being made fun of, C.T. Phipps wrote a book about glamorous superspies fighting monsters and played it dead straight. The hero even has a preference for redheads and a nerdy pair of lesbian tech support compared to Bob Howard's wife and nerdy gay men tech support. The author has also stated himself to be a Laundry Files fan, though.
  • Robert E. Howard's two Barbarian Heroes, Kull and Conan are this too each other. Both are Blood Knights who face a number of serpentine adversaries, and become kings by their own hands in nations not their own. Kull is older, introspective, melancholic, and completely uninterested in the pleasures of the flesh. Conan, while hardly The Brute, has no time for philosophy, is joyous, and knows the company of many young women in his stories. Becomes Early Installment Weirdness, as Conan started off as a line-for-line Expy of Kull.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin was partially a response to The Lord of the Rings and its imitators. Word of God said he was always more interested in how Aragorn would win the peace after the War of the Ring (which is barely skimmed over in the epilogue) than how he won the war. He also wanted to know if fantasy could work if it had a more socially accurate examination of feudalism based on actual medieval history. Martin also said that it was also a response to Historical Fiction noting that he was tired of the Foregone Conclusion nature of the genre, and wanted to use fantasy as a genre to explore history via various events and historical figures having their Serial Numbers Filed Off.
  • Stephen R. Donaldson is most famous for writing Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, a High Fantasy story about a man from Earth who is forcibly transported into another world and spends most of his time refusing to believe that anything he sees is real. An indication that he might be right is that the story is described mainly in cerebral terms, with things and people often coming across more as the personification of ideas than as real things. Donaldson later wrote Mordant's Need, a Low Fantasy story about a woman from Earth who accepts an invitation to go to another world, where she is told (and almost convinced) that she and her own world has no reality of its own but is purely the creation of Mordant's magic. The story is told in very naturalistic, sensual terms, with much emphasis on physical sensation and practical constraints, and characters are generally messy, flawed and very human.
  • Lavie Tidhar's novel The Violent Century is a Spiritual Antithesis to Über, whether consciously or not. Both are very dark horror-tinged Alternate History stories that deconstruct neo-Golden Age "World War II would have been really cool with superpowered people" comics. However, Über has Nazi Germany developing supersoldiers in 1945 and coming Back from the Brink, launching a whole new escalation of horror, while in The Violent Century all the great powers already have superpeople at the start of the war due to a Mass Super-Empowering Event, and the horror for the reader comes in how little history is actually changed, demonstrating how powerless even superheroes and villains are compared to the real-world horrors.
  • Matilda for Carrie. Both stories feature school girls as their protagonists who come from abusive homes and eventually develop telekinetic powers that they eventually use to punish people. Carrie White is a loner who gets bullied relentlessly and eventually breaks after being tormented too much - using her powers to get revenge on all her classmates, and eventually her entire town. Matilda Wormwood meanwhile is an Iron Woobie who tries to make the best of her situation, similarly to how Carrie does at first. But in this case, Matilda uses her powers to punish her tormentors in ways that get rid of them forever and prevent them from hurting other people (non-fatally of course, since this is a children's book). Both stories feature a Cool Teacher who stands up for the girl. Carrie's Miss Desjardin makes things worse for her - as punishing the bullies pisses off the Alpha Bitch so much she organises a prank that ends up starting Carrie's rampage. Matilda's Miss Honey eventually adopts Matilda to free her from her rotten parents, and they live happily ever after.
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote two books that became these to each other, featuring contrasting protagonists and situations; The Secret Garden's Mary Lennox and A Little Princess's Sara Crewe. Both girls end up orphaned and have to move from India to England. Both spend their story angsting over a missing parent — Mary for her mother and Sara for her father. Sara grew up with a father who doted on her and is kind and gracious to everyone, with a quality that compels all to attend to her. Mary grew up with nothing but neglect and indifference from her parents, and ends up as a dysfunctional sour girl who no one likes. Sara's optimism is put to the test as she struggles without someone to care for her, while Mary's cynicism is tested by learning to let others care for her. Both stories invert the depictions and contrast of India and England. Sara's India was a magical place, and she uses her own imagination and belief in 'the magic' to cope with her dreary life in England. Mary's India was uncomfortably hot and lonely, and in her story she discovers magic and beauty in England.

    Live-Action TV  
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is this to its immediate predecessors, Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Where TOS and TNG are about traveling in a starship, visiting strange new worlds, and demonstrating the moral superiority of a bunch of utopian future-humans, DS9 stays mostly put on the titular space station and deals with internal politics and far more complex moral dilemmas that place it farther toward the cynical side of the sliding scale.
      • The DS9 episode "Crossover" is specifically a Take That! to the optimistic ending of the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror." In the latter, the crew of the Enterprise is able to convince evil!Spock to pull a Heel–Face Turn with an inspirational speech or two, and the implication is that he will manage to reform the entire Terran Empire (his universe's evil counterpart to The Federation). The former turns this optimistic outcome on its head when it turns out that the "reformed" (read: weakened) Empire is easily conquered and enslaved and humans in that universe have been suffering ever since.
  • Bates Motel is a Spiritual Prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. However, the original film was so groundbreaking and iconic because of its unprecedented Halfway Plot Switches that viewers would never see coming. Bates Motel, on the other hand, is a Tragedy because, due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis, viewers know exactly what's going to happen.
  • Blake's 7 was meant to be Star Trek turned on its head: the symbol of the fascist Terran Federation was even the symbol of the Federation Starfleet turned 90 degrees to the right.
  • Breaking Bad and The Wire are both epic crime dramas about the American drug trade that have been called two of the greatest television series of all time by several critics, and both are well-known for examining The American Dream at length—but their respective approaches to their subject matter are as different as Night and Day. Breaking Bad is a classical "rise and fall" story set mainly in suburban Albuquerque, and centered around the white, middle-class, college-educated scientist Walter White; despite its deconstructive take on crime dramas, it's known for its highly stylized elements, and it takes quite a few cues from genre fiction (like Westerns and gangster films) in its portrayal of Walter's journey from a mild-mannered schoolteacher to a tyrannical drug lord. By contrast, The Wire is a sprawling story about the intertwining fates of the many, many denizens of inner-city Baltimore—most of whom are lower-class African-Americans—that has so many characters that it doesn't really have a protagonist at all, and rigidly adheres to unadorned realism. One show uses the drug trade as a backdrop for one man's personal quest to claim his slice of the American Dream, while the other uses social commentary to examine how the the drug trade wreaks havoc on the lives of people just trying to escape the cycle of poverty. Put into literary terms: Breaking Bad is a Shakespearean crime drama, while The Wire is a Dickensian crime drama.
  • Joss Whedon created Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he wanted a blonde female character who, instead of becoming a helpless victim like in most horror films, is a competent heroine who beats the crap out of monsters.
  • Duck Dynasty is this to Here Comes Honey Booboo. Both shows deal with Southern people who would often be stereotyped as "white trash." However, where Honey Booboo is shown as exactly the stereotype, the cast of Duck Dynasty are shown as extremely successful because of their culture.
  • Firefly's setting is deliberately a change of pace from the standard Space Western or Wagon Train to the Stars where the main characters are backed by The Federation or some major organization.
  • Malcolm in the Middle and The Middle are both about a low middle class family struggling with everyday life. While Malcolm is rather mean spirited to downright cynical in its portrayal of family life The Middle has the same amount of bad stuff happening to them but manage to always end episodes on a lighter note than its predecessor.
  • Married... with Children was this for The Cosby Show, contrasting the loving, upper middle-class, black Huxtables with the dysfunctional, lower-class, white Bundys. In fact, MWC's working title was Not The Cosbys.
  • Misfits is a Spiritual Antithesis for Heroes, with its working-class, local, setting; deliberate avoidance of world-threatening storylines; mockery of high-flown philosophy or grand gestures; and open contempt for any idea that people with powers have a moral responsibility to become superheroes. Especially given that all of the protagonists are young criminals serving on community service.
  • The Office (UK) and The Office (US). The former is far more bitter, showing characters that have abandoned their dreams in meaningless dead end jobs, the latter shows a World Half Full where the best things in your life are often right in front of you.
    • The US version has another spiritual antithesis in the form of Parks and Recreation. While the general tone is similar, the setting is deliberately made into the polar opposite of The Office. The Office is set in a dead end private sector job where the protagonists constantly struggle with one another while Parks is set in a first-step public sector job where the protagonists constantly struggle with the general populace.
  • Where Parks and Recreation above may be considered a spiritual antithesis to The Office, it can also be seen as one to Community. Both are sitcoms that pay incredible attention to detail and canon, and both (like The Office) are centered around the friendship group of a motley crew of lovable misfits. However, while Community is focused on how nobody at Greendale is ever going to make anything of their life, and the friendship group is in a way their only refuge from their crappy lives (the cynical end of the spectrum); the Parks gang climb career ladders throughout the series, often relying on each other to help them up said ladders (the ideal end of the spectrum).
  • Veep is basically the photo-negative of Parks and Recreation. The shows share the basic premise of female leads surrounded by misfits trying to cope with the behind-the-scenes antics of government, but that's where the similarities end. The latter focused of the actions of a determined, idealistic public servant whose co-workers quickly became inseparable True Companions, tackling every obstacle with Third Options or someone (usually Leslie) falling on their sword For Happiness. Conversely, the former centered around a group of unrepentant narcissists - ranging from amoral sycophants to total Sociopaths - who can and will say or do just about anything to keep their jobs one more day. While Parks and Rec poked fun at the bureaucracies of politics, it always showed the heroes achieving some amount of success through hard-work, creative thinking, and a little bit of luck; Veep's comedy was far more mean-spirited, with its "heroes" taking two steps back for every foot forward, with the little accomplishments usually coming from someone being thrown under the bus. Incidentally, Selina Meyer had black hair, whereas, Leslie Knope is a blond.
  • The Quantum Leap episode "Lee Harvey Oswald" (demonstrating that Oswald could have and most likely did act alone) was made in response to the Oliver Stone film JFK. Show creator Donald P. Bellisario actually knew Oswald when they were both in the Marines, when he found him to be a disaffected communist oddball, even writing in a scene that really happened of them interacting.
  • In a few interviews, Steven Moffat has said that he considers Sherlock to be this to his tenure on Doctor Who, with his take on Sherlock Holmes essentially a dark Foil of The Doctor. Doctor Who is about an immortal alien time traveler's relationships with his beloved friends who keep him "down to Earth", whereas Sherlock is about a human detective who shuns emotions and friendly relationships. Where The Doctor is an omnipotent being who's afraid of losing touch with his "human" side, Sherlock Holmes is an ordinary human who wants to prove to the world that he's something better than human (as Moffat phrased it, "The Doctor is an angel who wants to be human, and Sherlock is a human who wants to be a god.")
    • Tonally, they're also complete inversions of one another: Doctor Who is a whimsical, light-hearted science-fiction series that's known for its dark undertones, and Sherlock is a gritty crime saga that's known for its whimsical undertones.
  • The classic Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Charlie X" can be seen as an antithesis of Robert A. Heinlein's novel Stranger in a Strange Land, which was published just five years before that episode aired. The plots of both works are essentially the same: an orphaned young man with nigh-omnipotent psychic powers is forced to adjust to human society after living his entire life among aliens, and finds himself entranced by the mysteries of human women. But while Heinlein's Valentine Michael Smith is a blissfully innocent figure who tries to use his powers to rid the human race of everything holding it back, Star Trek's Charlie Evans is a chillingly amoral figure whose alien upbringing leaves him incapable of using his powers responsibly. While Mike ends up successfully founding his own religion and social movement, Charlie is forcibly banished from human society for life.
  • The Thick of It can perhaps best be described as "The West Wing's evil British twin". Both shows have essentially the same premise, as they're both political Dramedies detailing the day-to-day struggles of the frequently overlooked staffers in the ranks of government, but they're as far apart from one another on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism as it's possible to be. The West Wing is a famously optimistic portrayal of American politics focusing on smart, idealistic young staffers trying to reconcile their principles with political realities; The Thick of It is a cynical portrayal of British politics focusing on morally bankrupt people who will do absolutely anything to get ahead. The West Wing gives us an idealized American President in Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, a fearless intellectual who stands by his ideals at any cost; The Thick of It never even shows us the British Prime Minister, but makes it clear that he's an unreliable Slave to PR with no real power in the grand scheme of government.
    • Interestingly, The West Wing almost used the same technique in its portrayal of the President: he originally wasn't supposed to be shown at all, then Aaron Sorkin decided that he should be a recurring character (with about three to four appearances per season), then he was made the show's protagonist after Martin Sheen unexpectedly stole the show in the pilot episode. If the writers of The West Wing had gone ahead with their original plan, the two shows would be even more similar.
  • The West Wing, incidentally, can itself be seen as the antithesis of House of Cards (UK), with President Jed Bartlet trending far more towards idealism versus Francis Urquhart's Machiavellian scheming. And in turn, House of Cards' American remake is the antithesis of The West Wing, with Lindsay Ellis describing it as running Aaron Sorkin's idealism through a shredder.
  • Patrick Jane in The Mentalist is the polar opposite of Adrian Monk. Both are consultants to the police, with completely different personalities. Monk is a socially awkward recluse with Super OCD, while Patrick is a confident, arrogant, and highly observant man who can easily read people's habits and behaviors.
    • The same could be said for Series/Psych which preceded the Mentalist (with even a USA ad showing Shawn and Monk debating over numbers.) Psych also tends to have a good deal of humor and doesn't take itself too seriously compared to Monk and Mentalist.
  • Sean O'Neal of the AV Club discussed this with regards to the Fox News Channel and The Daily Show, a pair of TV news 'alternatives' that were both launched in 1996. Fox News saw itself as a corrective to perceived bias in the American news media, its audience was dominated by the baby boomers, and its commentary ran on righteous indignation and moral outrage. Daily Show host Jon Stewart, meanwhile, always insisted that he was a comedian rather than a journalist, but regardless, the show came to be seen, especially by the millennials and Gen-Xers who made up most of its audience, as a corrective to the "gut feelings over facts" nature of modern journalism that, during the show's height in the '00s, its viewers saw exemplified in Fox News. Furthermore, while Fox News was a decidedly conservative-leaning outlet, The Daily Show was just as stridently liberal-leaning.
    However, O'Neal concludes that, despite these differences, the two were ultimately two sides of the same coin in how they contributed to a blurring of the line between news and entertainment and to a general cynicism of the media and politics, Fox News by getting middle-aged and older people to see liberal journalists and politicians as untrustworthy, and The Daily Show by getting younger people to see all journalists and politicians as buffoons. He held up the debate between Stewart and Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly in 2012 as the pinnacle of this, with the debate ultimately being as much a spectacle as it was a serious discussion — which was precisely what Stewart and O'Reilly intended.
  • Kamen Rider Dragon Knight was meant to serve as one to the Power Rangers franchise, to the point where they refused to hire series fan-favorite Jason David Frank for the former. Though both are an American Adaptation of Tokusatsu shows, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai respectively, Power Rangers focus on a team of 3-5 individuals fighting a common enemy while Dragon Knight focused one hero finding other Kamen Riders manipulated by the Big Bad. In Power Rangers, the Monster of the Day is usually a creature with a gimmick who interacts with the heroes and sometimes spouts jokes and threats while the monsters in Kamen Rider have no voices or even names, they are on pair with the foot soldiers. While Power Rangers does take itself seriously in certain seasons, it still remains light-hearted and idealistic, Kamen Rider quickly let go of its comedic tones in favor of more serious story telling.

  • Pretty common with a New Sound Album. For instance, U2 described Achtung Baby as "Chopping down The Joshua Tree" — instead of straight rock with political and social themes, rock with electronica and dance scoring introspective lyrics.
  • John Frusciante said that his album The Will To Death was essentially the opposite of his previous one, Shadows Collide With People. Whereas Shadows had much time put into it's recording (a response to critics saying his previous solo efforts sounded unprofessional), and layered, lush harmonies, The Will To Death had songs recorded in as few takes as possible, and minimal backing vocals.
  • Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" and Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie". Both are hit singles from 2012-13 about clothing and style, but while "Suit & Tie" talks about how the elegant and classy look of an expensive suit and tie is all Timberlake needs to impress, "Thrift Shop" talks about how we spent way too much on clothes and how one's self-confidence can make even ugly clothes from the thrift shop look cool.
  • In a way, Weezer's second Self-Titled Album (more commonly known as the Green Album) was this to their sophomore album, Pinkerton. Whereas Pinkerton was very dark and personal, and possibly their most complex album musically, Green was light, simple, poppy, and safe. Very few of the songs were personal, and the whole album carried an extremely happy vibe to it.
  • Grunge was this to Hair Metal, especially once it got big in the early '90s. Hair metal was big, boisterous, and fun-loving, associated with the glamorous and decadent Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and its musicians wore flamboyant outfits, played face-melting guitar solos, and sang about how awesome it was to be a rock star. Grunge, by contrast, was angsty, moody, stripped-down, and born in the rainy Rust Belt dump that was late '80s Seattle (at the time, the city hadn't yet completed its transition from Boeing to Microsoft), with its musicians playing Three Chords and the Truth while wearing street/work clothes (flannel shirts came to be the stereotypical "grunge look") as a reaction to the self-indulgence of the late '80s metal scene. The differences were most pronounced when they sang about drugs and alcohol; hair metal was all about the good times that came from the Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll lifestyle, while in grunge, it was something that at best took the pain away and at worst destroyed the people who followed it. Hair metal fans saw grunge as music for dour killjoys and felt that its rise had destroyed rock music, while grunge fans saw hair metal as music for mindless hedonists that rock had to be saved from.
  • And in turn, Post-Grunge was this to the original grunge. While it used a superficially similar music structure, it tended to be less experimental, more polished, and overall Lighter and Softer both lyrically and musically, allowing it to pick up fans who had grown disillusioned with the Darker and Edgier subject matter of grunge after Kurt Cobain's suicide but still liked the sound of the music.
  • Woody Guthrie wrote "This Land Is Your Land" as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", originally naming his song "God Blessed America for Me" before settling on the final title. It soon came to be popularized as an "alternative" national anthem among left-wing activists, especially from The '60s onward. While "God Bless America" was rooted in Manifest Destiny, with God personally standing beside and guiding the United States, "This Land Is Your Land" carried a socialist message of America belonging to everybody, especially in two verses protesting income inequality that weren't included in the final version of the song.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • As EMLL and CSP developed into two different versions of the World Wrestling Council, WWC became a spiritual antithesis of CMLL. Two out of three falls became the standard in EMLL and pretty much a must in championship matches while one fall became he default in CSP. Perhaps not by coincidence CMLL title belts became known for how difficult they were to win while WWC's belts for how difficult they were to hold on to. WWC was also a pioneer in many of the gimmick matches CMLL would become known for shunning, a contrast that became more apparent as CMLL featured less and less bloodshed over the years. In the beginning EMLL was content to be a regional promotion while CSP has always had universal ambitions but in a bit of irony, CMLL would become the more international of the two while WWC would end up fairly isolated.
  • The difference between the northeastern and southern styles of wrestling can be summed up with the title hunts. NWA and later WCW favored fan-favorites chasing heel champions, WWF/E preferred face champions taking on heel challengers. This was also behind Hulk Hogan leaving th American Wrestling Association, as he liked being a champion more than chasing one.
  • Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling's intent was to be an antithesis to the "Japanese mainstream", namely All Japan Pro Wrestling's "realistic" presentation of the sport and New Japan Pro Wrestling's "strong style" of wrestling, adopting an "anything goes" approach where the referee existed mostly to declare winners.
  • ECW was this to WCW to the point of bitter rivalry. Though both were offshoots of the NWA, World Championship Wrestling had the support of a major media company and their tradition established as an NWA member to determine their direction of their production (at least until Hogan came along). Extreme Championship Wrestling had a far more contentious break with NWA, had a roster full of castoffs, a small budget and a do-it-yourself attitude that forsook the traditions of pro wrestling to present something far darker. Most notably, both were the antithesis of the then-cartoony World Wrestling Federation, which had to become the antithesis of its past self to compete with WCW and the nWo.
  • Ring of Honor is the spiritual antithesis of Combat Zone Wrestling, created by RF Video after it couldn't get CZW to agree do a deal. They have employed some of the same wrestlers over the course of their existences, the key differences being in how long and how they use them, ROH not being nearly relaxed as far as rules and conduct go, and a much stronger focus on the 'wrestling' aspect of the product, as opposed to the "ultra violence".
  • After witnessing the decline and failure of Universal Wrestling Federation, a company based on 'shoot wrestling' and mixed martial arts, in the face of comparatively traditional pro wrestling promotions, Nobuhiko Takada tried again with Fighting Opera HUSTLE, which aimed less for realism and plausibility and more for flash and dramatic overacting.
  • WSU for SHIMMER. Both were the first two major all-women's promotions on the American independent circuit. SHIMMER had a family-friendly product centred more around pure wrestling. WSU was a Darker and Edgier product (the U standing for 'Uncensored') with lots more cursing and brutality. SHIMMER would usually bring in a wider variety of international talent while WSU would focus mainly on American and Canadian talent.
  • Celtic Championship Wrestling and Over The Top Wrestling - the two biggest promotions in Ireland, who both run monthly shows. OTT is an exclusively over-18's show with emphasis on larger than life gimmicks, extreme rules matches and general drunken fun. CCW is family friendly with a lot more focus on wrestling. They do the occasional over-18's show themselves however.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia is this for the more common type of game in which the PCs are generally expected to work together toward common goals.
    • Also, unlike the vast majority of tabletop games (particularly Dungeons And Dragons), death in Paranoia is not only completely expected and extremely frequent, but also often flat-out funny. Death in something like D&D is considered a serious major event due to Final Death, often signified by the player having to write up a whole new character sheet in some versions.
  • Warhammer 40,000 is this for the idealistic Space Opera genre as a whole, especially Star Trek. Your average Space Opera follows the principle that Humans Are Special and shows them living peacefully with other races and defeating various space evils. In contrast, The Imperium of Man is utterly racist, a behavior learned from their alien neighbors, and its position at the galactic power table was paid for with the blood of millions of humans. Examine the Rogue Traders specifically: Brave and intrepid captains who go out on long missions to find and contact new worlds and new civilizations, with the mandate to exploit the heck out of them, or even wipe the natives off the face of their worlds outright in order to take what's left. Slightly different than the prime directive!
  • Adventure Board Games and Euro Games; the former features, well, adventure scenarios, light role playing, and a greater consideration of production values. The latter are focused more on mechanics, and feature far more mundane tasks like running a farm or a power plant.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda were developed concurrently so that any ideas that didn't fit with one game could be implemented in the other. As such, Mario is a straightforward, fast-paced trek from point A to point B, whereas Zelda was a more open-ended adventure that focused on exploration and building up your abilities. The resulting series developed similarly: Super Mario Bros. is whimsical and lighthearted with several loosely-connected installments and Spin Offs, while The Legend of Zelda is more sweeping with a lore built up across a few titles per console.
  • Super Mario 3D Land to Super Mario 64. The latter introduces 3D gameplay to the Super Mario Bros. series, yet radically changes some of the gameplay conventions. The former, however, not only uses 3D gameplay as its basis, but makes the conventions more true to the 2D games.
  • Splatoon is the complete opposite of Super Mario Sunshine from a gameplay standpoint. Super Mario Sunshine is a singleplayer platformer with slight shooter elements set on an island that's based around cleaning up as much ink as possible. Splatoon is a multiplayer-focused shooter with platformer elements set in an urban environment that's based around spreading as much ink as possible. The fact that during the planning stages it was considered to make Splatoon a Mario spin-off increases this connection.
  • As Mario's biggest rival back in the Nineties, Sonic the Hedgehog was designed to be the anti-Mario in many ways. While Mario primarily deals with flat terrain and platforming challenges, Sonic focus more on speed and using the terrain to build up speed(though not necessarily to the detriment of platforming). While Mario resembles a more middle-aged figure, Sonic is meant to seem more youthful and "hip".
  • Sonic the Hedgehog resulted in many Mascot with Attitude games. While they all Follow the Leader, one exception was Sparkster of Rocket Knight Adventures. While both their games are similar (starting on the Sega Genesis and having a bright and colorful template) the main character of the latter was the opposite of Sonic, and all of his imitators. While Sonic is meant to be edgy and cool with a look that screams The '90s, Sparkster is designed to be humble and adorable and given a more timeless look. Also, while Sonic's games were about speed more than platforming, Sparkster's were more about platforming than speed.
  • Asura may seem like an Expy of Kratos at first glance, given that both fight other gods and have issues with anger, but it becomes apparent that Asura actually contrasts heavily with Kratos, especially as he values the lives of innocents unlike Kratos' lack of regard for them.
  • BioShock:
    • The first game is a made as a Take That! to Atlas Shrugged, making Rapture an antithesis of that book's Galt's Gulch. It shows what it really takes to build a truly libertarian society, and what it takes to keep it together. Ryan uses mind altering drugs and his private army to keep the city in line, and is easily threatened by a civil war if Ryan doesn't take more restrictive actions to prevent someone else from usurping his rule.
    • The Big Bad of BioShock 2, Sofia Lamb, is this to the original game's Andrew Ryan. Lamb is a radical collectivist/egalitarian, Ryan a radical libertarian/Objectivist. However, they do have one thing in common: they are both equally willing to jettison their ideals when they become inconvenient.
    • Columbia, the setting of BioShock Infinite, is clearly designed to be the polar opposite of Rapture, the setting of the first two games. Whereas Rapture was dark, gloomy, cramped, and Under the Sea, Columbia is bright, sunny, spacious, and floats among the Bubbly Clouds. Furthermore, while both cities play host to rapacious robber-baron capitalism run amok, their root stocks come from two very different sources. Rapture's ideology is rooted in rugged individualism and anti-statism and holds little but scorn for nationalism and religion as seen on the banner "No Gods or Kings. Only Man", while Columbia is rooted in American nationalism and WASP supremacy with its founding father Zachary Hale Comstock regarded as a literal prophet.
  • The Breach & Clear series includes two games: Breach & Clear and Breach & Clear: DEADline. While they both are strategy games with RPG Elements about controlling a four-men special forces squad, they actually are very different beside this premise. The original is a Turn-Based Tactics game about realistic operations by real-life special forces against terrorists or drug cartels, while DEADline is a Real Time with Pause game set during a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Chrono Trigger: the heroes save the world by changing time...except that, in Chrono Cross, we find that they inadvertently caused horrible, horrible things to happen by doing so.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: the Big Bad is a classically evil Eldritch Abomination, and the idea that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few is a recurring theme. Dragon Age II: there's no clear Big Bad, just a lot of misguided people (some people have ended up believing that your Player Character was the big bad) and the game shows what terrible things happen when the rights of a minority are trampled for the common good.
    • Additionally, Origins is focused on how much of a difference one person can make: the Grey Warden determines the future of both Orzammar and Ferelden. II is focused on how much they can't — for all their skill, the Player Character can't stop the inevitable outcomes of acts 2 and 3.
  • Fire Emblem and Shining Force, two iconic turn-based strategy RPGs published by Nintendo and SEGA, respectively. The former is a Low Fantasy, politics-driven game where all deaths are final, while the latter is a High Fantasy epic where the dead can be resurrected by the local priest. Another subtle but important distinction is in magic: Fire Emblem focuses strictly on Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors, whereas Shining Force - while having elemental resistances to some extent - places a heavier emphasis on Area of Effect.
  • Gears of War and Call of Duty are different ways of taking the shooter genre (Gears being about taking cover and COD making both sides weak to bullets), seemingly as a counterpart to the radical influence of Halo.
  • Halo's take on multi-star system governments made up of diverse peoples/races is, for better or worse, the polar opposite of Star Trek and other more idealistic Space Opera. Where the Federation is all about bringing different races together for mutual benefit, Halo's major powers have been rather the opposite: The Covenant races are stripped of their culture, indoctrinated into a bizarre and fanatical state religion, and act as specialized cogs in a machine serving a caste of uncaring overlords. The UNSC crosses into outright authoritarianism in order to keep its colonies in line; framing journalists, shutting down the entire space internet, kidnapping children to turn them into Super Soldiers, etc. Even the advanced and supposedly wise Forerunners weren't all that great; while they considered themselves the benevolent and rightful caretakers of the galaxy, their subject species were kept subordinate and ultimately weak, any species who fought against them were brutally punished, and the very Forerunners who designed their kind's wonderful technology used their powers for personal gain. While humanity and the Sangheili are officially allies after Halo 3, and have cooperated closely on a number of projects, there is still a lot of bad blood between the two thanks to the Covenant war, and many individuals from both species have formed their own organizations seeking to wipe the other side out. Even among their main governments, there is some reluctance to get "too" involved with each other.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy is a Platform Hell game with loads of Fake Difficulty. It's about a kid who's a Cosmic Plaything trying to find The Guy and kill him, so he can become the next Guy. The world will not let him. Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril is similar, but takes out the Fake Difficulty. It's about a Determinator with a Screw Destiny philosophy going up against impossible odds for the good of the world. The world won't let him accomplish his goal either, but it will let him try. Both are equally Nintendo Hard, but in complete opposite ways. One fights dirty and hits you where it hurts, the other fights honorably and gives you a fair chance.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II serves as this to the original KOTOR while also being its sequel. The original was a classic "good vs. evil" story about a larger than life Jedi hero and set to tell a tale in the vein of the original movies. The sequel, on the other hand, was a deconstruction of the Star Wars universe with the main focus being about an exiled and effectively nameless Jedi in the darkest hour of the galaxy (which had become a Crapsack World), all while tearing apart the black-and-white concept of the galaxy as well as the entire concept of The Force itself.
  • In Der Langrisser, the Independent route serves as the Spiritual Antithesis of the Light route. The Light route is straight out of a traditional fantasy novel and centers around accepting your destiny as a Descendant of Light and the commands of the goddess to destroy the evil Demon Tribe, but the Independent route rejects the very premise of the Light path as genocidal racism under the mantle of Black and White Morality, and the Elwin of the Independent route is a treacherous and murderously cynical Anti-Hero who believes that peace for everyone can only be achieved by seizing power for himself.
  • Mega Man (Classic) to Mega Man Zero. The former is a quirky series about a boy android who shoots up cartoony, googly-eyed robots and copies their powers with obvious Cartoon Physics. His creator, Dr. Light, and his nemesis, Dr. Wily, are also pretty comical in their own ways. Each game ends with the eponymous character saving the day once again. Zero is much more anime-like, is about a teenage-looking android fighting a war alongside a group of freedom fighters, and has very little to speak of in the way of humor. Victories always come at a cost.
    • Mega Man X takes place in a dystopian future where a powerful rogue android leads a rebellion against mankind. Loved ones die, friends betray you, and enemies come back for revenge.
  • Radiant Silvergun is known for its complex weapon system, giving the player the ability to use any combination of the three basic weapons for seven weapons total on top of a special Limit Break attack, as well as a weapon level-up system that's tied to the player's score; ignoring the scoring system is a good way to end up underpowered in later stages. In contrast, Ikaruga only gives the player one basic twin-blaster weapon to go alongside their special attack that never powers up, and can be reliably completed without learning how to score proficiently; in fact the game will even recognize Pacifist Runs. Additionally, while Silvergun tells a bleak story of humans trying to escape the wrath of a misanthropic god-like entity, failing terribly to put up a Last Stand and all dying, and causing the cycle to repeat ad infinitum, Ikaruga ends with the protagonist(s) taking on the same entity and committing Heroic Sacrifice to put it down once and for all.
  • The Iranian students who made Rescue Nuke Scientist (in which the player controls Iranian soldiers rescuing captured nuclear engineers from Israel) said it was meant as a response to Assault On Iran (in which the player controls American soldiers attacking an Iranian nuclear weapons facility). The makers of Assault On Iran responded to that with Payback In Iraq, which even includes characters and events from Rescue. And said they hoped the makers of Rescue Nuke Scientist would respond again.
  • Slender and SCP - Containment Breach are indie Survival Horror games that are based on Creepypasta. The gimmicks of the game are the complete opposite however. In Slender, the gimmick is look away or die. In SCP - Containment Breach, the gimmick is keep looking or die. Also, Slender puts you in the role of an innocent little girl, while Containment Breach puts you in the role of a (male) former death row inmate. Finally, Slender gets harder as you collect more items, while Containment Breach gets slightly easier as you gather more gear (slightly).
  • The demo to The Stanley Parable is ultimately this for the game itself. The demo is a highly linear experience that frustrates the Narrator and causes him to desire a game about choices, while the game itself is entirely about the choices you make.
  • Umineko: When They Cry can easily be seen as this towards Higurashi: When They Cry. While both series share similar themes and structure (Psychological horror mystery with a "Groundhog Day" Loop function) Umineko is much more cynical and deconstructs several of the tropes in Higurashi.
  • Valkyria Chronicles I: war elevates brave men and women into heights of glory! Valkyria Chronicles III: war crushes idealism and destroys the dignity of humankind!
  • The Avatar (Robin) from Fire Emblem Awakening in comparison to the Tactician (Mark) from Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword. Mark is a Non-Action Person who merely serves as the 'connection' between you and the game. Robin is an actual badass in combat, and a playable class complete with class promotion. Mark is The Faceless with minimal canonical bonds with other characters. Robin is customizable by the player and can even form support bonds and get married with other characters. Mark has minimal importance to the overall plot. Robin is very heavily involved in it.
  • The Sowers of Endless Space are the antithesis of the Reapers of Mass Effect. The Sowers are robots whose mission is to terraform worlds to habitable planets for their dead creators the Endless, while the Reapers are mechanical lifeforms who's sole purpose is to harvest the entire galaxy of all life till there is nothing left.
  • In Super Smash Bros.:
  • The Secret World is the polar opposite of Deus Ex, both use everything in the Conspiracy Kitchen Sink but have different ways of utilizing them. Deus Ex is a Cyber Punk setting about going against or joining one of the Ancient Conspiracy using sci fi weapons and tools. The Secret World is a Dark Fantasy Lovecraft setting, and the player joins one of the secret societies, and fights against Eldritch Abomination's, by using magic.
  • Yume Nikki has its own antithesis in the form of the obscure Her Nightmares: despite sharing striking similarities in their premises — female protagonists are locked within their rooms and spend the entire game exploring their dreams — they have very different executions. Yume Nikki is primarily based on exploration, atmosphere, and symbolism, with Jump Scares being few and far between. In contrast, Her Nightmares severely restricts the player's options and ramps up the pacing, with dreams lasting no longer than a minute and many of them ending with a Jump Scare. Her Nightmares also leaves less to the imagination, making it clear that the unnamed protagonist is being held against her will; this is only one of many possible situations in Yume Nikki, with the more prevalent theory being that Madotsuki is a hikikomori dealing with depression. Side-by-side, Her Nightmares shows inspiration from Western indie horror games like Five Nights at Freddy's and Sad Satan, while Yume Nikki could be better compared to works of Psychological Horror like Silent Hill or Eraserhead.
  • Far Cry 4 is this to Far Cry 3, which was even confirmed by the former's Creative Director. FC 3 was a standard Mighty Whitey narrative involving an American protagonist who becomes the peaceful natives' Chosen One and saves them from the oppressive group that has taken over their island. FC 4 on the other hand features a Western raised immigrant who returns to his place of birth to fulfill his mother's dying wish and also gets involved in a conflict against oppression but if the player doesn't go for the secret ending ultimately leaves the region worse than it was before due to the two "freedom fighter" leaders being just as bad if not worse than the dictator the player just toppled, thus showing the dangers of just throwing yourself into a conflict you know very little about.
  • Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are very similar to each other; both use the gamebryo engine, New Vegas reuses a lot of parts from 3 (mostly due to time restrains), both have 4 DLC's, both feature a main plot that involves the Player Character chasing after a man (your missing father in the former and your would-be killer in the latter) and becoming embroiled in a conflict far larger than themselves, the Player Character is largely self-dependent, and both (really) start with the character exiting into the unknown world with a bright light. That's where the similarities end. In Fallout 3 The Lone Wanderer/Kid 101 has a defined home, Vault 101, which they have to leave behind, the game has a very open ended gameplay that lets the player explore across the vast expanse of the DC Wasteland and ignore the plot for as long as they want, there's a emphasis on your Karma Meter with different foes gunning for you and allies joining you, the story is black and white (Brotherhood good, Enclave bad) and ends with you saving the wasteland. The DLC share little in common with each other, they're separate stories that are tenuously tied to other quests such as The Dark Heart of Blackhall. In Fallout: New Vegas the Courier has no home; they live on the road and walk from place to place to deliver mail (obviously), the game has more Rail Roading (you can't go straight to New Vegas unless you like getting your ass beat by Radscorpions, Deathclaws, and Cazadors) forcing you to take the highways there and slowly learn about the world on the writers' terms, more emphasis on your allegiances than Karma Meter, the story isn't so clear cut (the NCR has turned into a corrupt state with bloated bureaucracy and incompetent military but has the resources to run the area in the long term, Caesar's Legion is a ruthless group of slavers and war lords that crushes all beneath it and while it does bring order it's implied that the Legion will not last long without Caesar leading it, Mr. House wants only New Vegas and will ignore everything else, and the Wild Card has no real leadership skills and isn't likely to improve the lives of the locals), and ends with the Courier deciding who gets the land. The DLC also share the theme of Not-so-Good vs Bad Guys and the theme of "letting go" and "beginning again".
  • Metal Gear Rising can be seen as an antithesis to PlatinumGames's previous landmark game, Bayonetta in story and gameplay. While Bayo is a bright, happy, optimistic adventure more concerned with style and panache, Rising is a dark, gritty assault with heavy focus on the seriousness and complexity the series is known for. Bayos story is ridiculous, incorporating angels, demons, witches and wizards and feels like an afterthought until the end; while Rising is grounded in reality and focuses on themes of the lives of soldiers, the cybernetic arms race, the complacency of modern society and what it means to kill someone. Bayos gameplay is about fighting humongous enemies with huge sweeping attacks and a heavy focus on dodging; Rising is about fighting you-sized foes with tight, short strikes and is built around a parrying system. Bayos music is mostly big band Cabaret remixes of 50s songs and the visuals are heavily stylized while Risings music is electronic hard rock with screaming vocals and the visuals are mostly monochromatic. Bayos levels are huge and can take upwards of an hour to complete, while Rising has very short levels, some of which can be cleared in minutes. If it wasn't for the similar gameplay, it'd be hard to think these games are from the same company.

     Web Comics 

     Web Video 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd Complains About Games He Doesn't Like, most of which probably deserve it. The Happy Video Game Nerd Gushes About Games He DOES Like, all of which definitely deserve it.
    • Another example to the AVGN is Cygnus Destroyer's The LJN Defender. Whereas the Nerd considers LJN Toys his Arch-Enemy and rarely sees much (if any) good in their games, Matt does his best to find the good in their games, and usually (though certainly not always) finds himself enjoying them, warts and all.
  • Similar to the above, while CinemaSins judges movies on how they suck based on their Sins, Cinema Wins does the opposite by praising how great movies are based on their Wins.
  • Both Rebel Taxi and The Mysterious Mr. Enter are animation-focused Video Review Shows whose hosts prefer not to be seen, but that's where the similarities end. The two are very much the Technician vs. Performer of animation reviewers: Pan Pizza is easygoing, jokey, and perverted, and while he does know a well-written work from a poorly-written one, he cares more about a work's style in his reviews, to the point of having an animated Framing Device. On the other hand, Mr. Enter is an Asexual Byronic Hero who is very brusque in his method of critique, and takes decent storytelling far more seriously, being far less forgiving to shows that fail in that regard.
  • Super Minecraft Kid is this to Sammy Classic Sonic Fan. Both are young children who are obsessed with video games and get very angry easily, but while Sammy is a fan of retro games who rants on camera, SMK's videos are all behind his computer and hates Nintendo and classic games. (Though he seems to believe Minecraft was made in the 1960's) Sammy notoriously replaces all profanity with "frick," while SMK is a bit more... open with his language. Outside of their normal content, Sammy makes lighthearted videos of himself related to Nintendo, and SMK makes "animated" videos with content much closer to what you'd expect out of this kid.

  • There's a very good reason why Reddit and Tumblr have such an infamously bitter Fandom Rivalry. Their respective communities and general user culture, particularly where their most Vocal Minorities are concerned, are complete opposites in every way, practically to Jekyll & Hyde levels. Reddit attracts mostly white males, and it's known for being hospitable to Libertarian politics, but it's frequently criticized for attracting a vocal subset of militant atheists, white nationalists, and anti-feminists. By contrast, Tumblr users are predominantly women, the site is much more actively welcoming to non-white and LGBT users, and it's known for being hospitable to Liberal and Progressive politics, but it's frequently criticized for attracting a vocal subset of radically anti-male and anti-white users. In general, Redditors are often stereotyped as smug pseudo-intellectuals who will gleefully search for even the tiniest factual errors in other users' arguments in order to dismiss them out of hand, while Tumblr users are often stereotyped as hysterical crusaders who make passionate speeches without bothering to do the proper research first.
  • The Onion and Clickhole are run by the same creative teams, but their respective styles of humor are so fundamentally different that they may as well call Clickhole "The Anti-Onion". The Onion is a parody of traditional newspaper and television journalism that—like the best satires—uses self-aware humor to force its audience to think about the inherently absurd aspects of society; even at its goofiest, it's usually making some intellectual point about politics or modern culture. Clickhole, on the other hand, is a parody of new media in The New '10s, and it discards satire in favor of absurdism and Surreal Humor; most of its humor comes from how it deliberately refuses to make a coherent point about anything. The Onion has its share of Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped moments related to hot-button social issues, while Clickhole is infamous for its occasional Crosses the Line Twice moments that treat those same issues in as blasé a manner as possible. Case in point: The Onion attempting to discuss racism, vs. Clickhole attempting to discuss it.
     Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time is this to the first 3 seasons of Spongebob Squarepants. It shares a writing team and a few similarities in characters to the original seasons of SpongeBob, but goes in a different direction and focuses on character development and is much deeper than that of SpongeBob, especially in later seasons.
  • For the Man Who Has Everything and "Perchance to Dream" are both stories about a hero who is placed into a Lotus-Eater Machine and given a dream about living a normal life. Superman, as The Cape, dreams this as a Happily Ever After fantasy. Batman, as The Cowl, dreams this as a Psychological Horror fantasy.
  • The Legend of Korra features Avatar Korra, the exact opposite in temprament to her predecessor, Avatar Aang. Where Aang was pacifistic, Korra is pugnacious. Where Aang had some issues firebending, Korra is most likely to reflexively use it when angry (despite water being her native element). Where Aang was born an Air Nomad, one of the most spiritual of the four nations, Korra just can't get it early on, and still has spiritual issues even after figuring out the Avatar State. Aang only ever loved Katara and while their were occasional one off love interests for Katara, the show mostly avoided love triangles, regardless of the shipping fandom. Korra was in a love quadrangle with all of the main cast, and by the end of the Grand Finale, she's dated all of them. Yes, even Asami. They're still both Avatars, though, and still are almost instinctively driven to do right by the world.
    • In the original series, this was stated to be a recurring event between Avatar lifetimes. For example, the strict Yangchen was replaced by the more relaxed Kuruk. Kuruk himself was then followed by a more proactive Avatar.
    • The series itself is built the same way. While the first series was one long story, the second series is broken up into individual seasons with new villains each time. While the original series has them traveling all over the world, the new series stays mostly in the Republic City, although this element fell away as the series got extended. Finally, Aang is facing a decidedly external enemy, the Fire Lord, whereas Korra must deal with problems that she helped cause in the first place, faces Arc Villains, and constantly has to worry that her decisions are making the world worse instead of better.
  • Sonic Satam and the comics to other cartoons and most of the games. In most continuities, Sonic is just in for a thrill, and Dr. Robotnik/Eggman is pretty incompetent. In Sat AM, Robotnik is extremely menacing, has already conquered most of the world, and Sonic is one of the few people who stand between him and total world domination.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man seems to have one in the form of the Spider-Man cartoon that followed, Ultimate Spider-Man. The former focused solely on Spider-Man himself as the hero, using only supporting characters and villains exclusively from books starring him, used only internal monologue when depicting Peter's thoughts and had a great emphasis on character development, plot development and how Peter's life and friends are affected by his secret identity. The latter features as many superheroes from the Marvel universe whenever possible, features Spider-Man supporting characters and villains sporadically, features Spider-Man breaking the fourth wall in the middle of a scene to convey thoughts, character and plot development was divided and it focuses far more on Peter and his team of heroes rather than his friends and life.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man also serves as one to Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Both shows are about a hero who works alongside other heroes. The difference is that while USM has an ongoing story that takes place during Peter's early years, BATB is mostly one-shots with Bruce already a veteran. Not to mention while Peter is in a group with few guest heroes, Batman doesn't officially join a team until later in the series, with most guest appearances from other heroes.
  • Teen Titans and Young Justice have this kind of odd symbiotic relationship. The generally serious (though not without its moments of lightness) Teen Titans book was adapted into a zany Lighter and Softer cartoon (though not without its moments of darkness). The generally zany (though not without its moments of darkness) Young Justice book was adapted into a serious Darker and Edgier (though not without its moments of lightness) cartoon.
  • A writer for Time once described SpongeBob SquarePants as "the anti-Bart Simpson". Both are playful young yellow-hued cartoon characters from the most popular animated shows in their respective decades (Bart in the '90s, SpongeBob in the 2000s), but Bart is a cynical spiky-headed troublemaker known for his complete hatred of all forms of authority, and SpongeBob is a relentlessly optimistic flat-headed go-getter who instinctively sees the best in all people. This also spills into both shows' general appeal: The Simpsons appeals to both kids and adults with its intentionally subversive humor on top of its general wackiness, while SpongeBob is unabashedly a kids' show, but manages to appeal to adults with clever humor rather than vulgarity.
    • Both have also come under fire due to the intense amount of Seasonal Rot. Though while with Spongebob it is said because the original creator left the show(before coming back after the second movie).
  • Even though most of the similarities were definitely not intentional, Rocko's Modern Life is undoubtedly this to The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • The second Danny Phantom 1 hour special, "The Ultimate Enemy", is this to "Channel Chasers", the second 1 hour special to Butch Hartman's first series, The Fairly OddParents!. Both involve time travel, dealing with growing up and meeting and facing against future selves, but take different paths. In Channel Chasers, Timmy rejects the idea of growing up and escapes into the world of television to avoid aging; in The Ultimate Enemy, Danny is stressed about a test that might determine whether or not his future is a successful one. While they both meet and oppose their future selves, each does it differently. Timmy opposes his future self before knowing who he is (believing him to be a threatening individual) and upon learning he is itneracting with his older self, he still has trouble with it. However, they bond as they stop Vicky from trying to reach the history channel (and thus cause a retroactive reality warp that would cause her to become ruler of the world.) Danny however never does this with his older self, opposing him all the way due to his older self being a violent sociopath responsible for destroying most of humanity note . By the end, Timmy does look forward to growing up again after being inspired by his older counterpart, while Danny rejects his Bad Future in favor of a better one where he still remains a hero.
  • Mike Judge's flagship shows, Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill, both satirize life in the American South, particularly Judge's home state of Texas. The difference is the Beavis & Butt-head is more scathing in its portrayal of a crude, ignorant, white-trash bunghole, whereas King of the Hill offered a more respectful portrayal of a wholesome, honest, down-to-earth community.
    • Beavis and Butt-Head's spinoff Daria also did this with its source material. Both were animated sitcoms about Generation X teens who didn't fit in with their peers, but while the titular protagonists of B&B were a pair of meatheaded, delinquent teenage boys for whom ignorance was bliss, the titular protagonist of Daria was a sarcastic, brainiac teenage girl whose intellect made her miserable and antisocial. While Beavis and Butt-head were frequently the butt of the joke on their show, with a heavy dollop of This Loser Is You (Judge wasn't subtle in his mockery of MTV's target audience), Daria was often given a more sympathetic and humanizing portrayal, serving as an Audience Surrogate with most of the humor coming from her commentary on the stupidity and madness of the sick, sad world around her, while she and her friends got real Character Development over the course of the show's run versus the Negative Continuity of the gag-a-day B&B. Daria was originally created as a foil to Beavis and Butt-Head before she got her own show, and while she tolerated the pair, it was frequently made clear that she held them in very low regard.
    • King of the Hill notably made an effort to avoid the cliches of the typical Adult Animated Sitcom, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy. Such shows starred boorish, rowdy, childish Bumbling Dads who often get into wacky situations, whereas King of the Hill prided itself in being realistic and able find humor in the mundane, with a lead who was straight-laced, sensible, and hard working. This is most obvious when comparing Hank Hill to Stan Smith of American Dad!, both of which are stubborn Conservative patriarchs who have a strained relationship with their sons. Stan often ends up learning lessons on humility and open-mindedness, while Hank is almost always portrayed as the voice of reason. King of the Hill eventually passed the torch of the down-to-earth Adult Animated Sitcom to Bob's Burgers, whose lead, Bob Belcher, who acts as an antithesis of Hank in the opposite direction; he also plays the Only Sane Man trying to keep order within his eccentric family, but has more moments of fallibility and is an Open-Minded Parent in sharp contrast to Hank's my-way-or-the-highway stubbornness.
    • On a more obvious note, whereas King of the Hill is a satire of the politically far-right American culture done with love, one of Mike Judge's other shows, The Goode Family, is a satire of the politically far-left American culture that is nothing but scathing.
  • Transformers Prime is this to Transformers Animated. Animated draws more asthetically from the G1 cartoon, and is a bright Animesque Genre Throwback to Saturday Morning Cartoons. Prime draws more astheticaly from the Transformers Film Series, and is lot more grim and serious. Animated deconstructs the series background by showing the Gray and Gray Morality that started the Autobot / Decepticon war, while Prime deconstructs the characters themselves to show what made them who they are. Animated notably echews the more "religious" aspects of the Transformers mythos (Primus, Unicron, the Thirteen) so as not to clutter the show, whereas Prime deeply explores these concepts as it goes on.
  • Two Disney Channel shows made the same creators, Phineas and Ferb and Milo Murphy's Law, star a perpetually optimistic Weirdness Magnet as they go about their lives. The difference is that Phineas and his brother Ferb are Gadgeteer Geniuses who create the weirdness, whereas Milo Murphy is a Born Unlucky Walking Disaster Area who survives the weirdness.

  • Part of the reason why the Afro is considered a culturally significant hairstyle is that it was conceived as an antithesis to the conk, which had previously been the most popular hairstyle among black men in the US from the 1920s through the '50s. Where the conk involved artificially straightening naturally "kinky" hair with corrosive chemicals (implicitly in an effort to adopt a more "white" hairstyle), the Afro grew directly out of the Black Power movement in the 1960s as a backlash, and it involved emphasizing the natural curl and volume of black people's hair. Even the Afro's name alludes to this: it's an abbreviation of "Afro-American", the label that many people involved in the Black Power movement adopted for themselves, wanting to express pride in their African roots.
  • The pinball designers Steve Ritchie and Pat Lawlor take opposite approaches to the machines they've designed. Most of Ritchie's tables are designed for the ball to travel quickly with little stopping or deceleration and are focused on ramps and loops. Lawlor's tables, on the other hand, have comparatively few ramps and are downplayed in favor of scoops, targets, magnets, and other mechanisms that stop the ball. Together, this means Ritchie's tables are focused around speed and action (not that they can't be slowed down either, but that's done deliberately by the player), whereas Lawlor's tables are about trapping the ball on a flipper and then taking careful aim. To pinball fans, whether a table is "flow" or "stop-and-go" is Serious Business and has long been easy Flame Bait material. In a sense, Steve Ritchie is also the antithesis to his brother Mark Ritchie in theme: Steve prefers high-concept themes where you fight an adversary, but all of Mark's tables have mundane themes about everyday life.