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 Versus Cynicism. May serve as a Deconstruction (or Reconstruction if the original work was a deconstruction itself) or Stealth Parody of the original work.

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.

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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    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 that you can imagine - that is generally seen as Marvels' Evil Twin. When Busiek made a sequel to Marvels, Ellis respond 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 that 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 secret super-team doing what they can to stop superpowered threats and the former, while still having it's grim moments, is about secret super-team discovering unknown wonders of the world. it's saying something the same proposal said big theme in Planetary is Elijah Snow, his Author Avatar, rediscovering 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.
    • And you could say his run on Supreme is the opposite to his Marvelman — in both cases Moore takes character of 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 Silver Age, Supreme under his guidance took path towards Lighter and Softer territory and paid tribute to the same tropes Marvelman tore apart.
    • Watchmen is an antithesis to Marvelman. Both are Reality Ensues deconstructions of superhero stories, but Marvelman suggests that heroes are in the end too far above human beings to comprehend them, while the heroes of Watchmen (other than Dr. Manhattan) are all too human in their behavior and mindset.
  • Arguably 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.
    • He also intends his new book, The Wicked And 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 who's 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 forth 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 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.

    Fan Fiction 

  • Similarly, 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.
  • 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 in comparison to the MCU in large. 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.
    • 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.
    • Chappie is one to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both deal with robots that were designed to be law enforcers gaining sentience and causing chaos. The difference is that Chappie has a gentle personality and was led astray, while Ultron has a God-complex and was a villain from the get-go. Chappie and Ultron also have radically different designs; Chappie looks industrial and has just the bare minimum features, while Ultron has a fully expressive face and a streamlined build.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas can be considered one to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Both feature the Villain Protagonist dressing up as Santa Claus before realizing how wrong their actions were. But whereas the Grinch dressed up as Santa in order to steal gifts from the Whos, Jack did it because he wanted to spice up his life and add a new spin to the holiday. The Grinch's malevolent intentions end up not really harming anyone, while Jack's benevolent intentions end up causing mass mayhem.
  • Pacific Rim:
  • Steven Spielberg produced Poltergeist at the same time as he was making E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to contrast each other. He described ET as the Suburban Dream… While poltergeist was 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 and what Verhoeven saw as a militaristic, borderline-fascist message, turning the novel on its head into a satire of militarism and propaganda.
  • 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. 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.

  • 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.
  • Chinua Achebe found Heart of Darkness to be one of the most racist things he'd ever read, and wrote Things Fall Apart to show that native Africans were not, as previously believed, total savages.
  • 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 Hammers 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, CT 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: Word of God has said that when reading Lord of the Rings, 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, so he wrote a book that tackles medieval fantasy from that angle.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 arguably 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 protrayal 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.
  • 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 Series/Community. Both are sitcoms that pay incredible attention to detail and canon, and both (like The Office) are centred 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).
  • 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 Versus 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.
  • 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, Patrick is a confident, arrogant, and highly observant man who can easily read people's habits, and behaviors.

  • 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 sounding unprofessional), and layered, lush harmonies, The Will To Death had songs recorded in as few takes as possible, and minimal backing vocals.
  • Thrift Shop to Suit and Tie. Both are songs about clothing and style, But while Suit and 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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 as it did for flash and dramatic overacting.

    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!

    Video Games 
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Speaking of Halo, its take on race relations 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, 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. Most interesting is the end of Halo 3, where the Sangheili and the humans decide to go their own separate ways. Though a lot of mutual respect has developed between them, they've agreed that there's still too much bad blood because of the war and that trying to maintain relations would only lead to more conflict down the line.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni 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.
  • 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.
  • In Super Smash Bros., Little Mac is basically the anti-Jigglypuff. While Jiggs is a female nonhuman with a great air game balanced by a terrible ground game, Mac's a male human who's top tier on the ground and crappy in the air.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog resulted in many Funny Animal games. While they all Follow the Leader, one exception was Sparkster of Rocket Knight Adventures. While both their games are similar (starting on the 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 90's, 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.
  • 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.

     Web Comics 

     Web Video 

  • There's a very good reason that Reddit and Tumblr have such an infamously bitter Fandom Rivalry. Their respective communities and general user culture 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 militant atheists and openly anti-feminist users. By contrast, Tumblr users are predominantly women, the site is much more actively welcoming to non-white users, and it's known for being hospitable to Liberal and Progressive politics, but it's frequently criticized for attracting radical feminists and openly anti-white rhetoric. In general, Redditors are often stereotyped as smug intellectuals who will gleefully rub even the tiniest factual errors in other users' faces, while Tumblr users are often stereotyped as hysterical crusaders who make passionate speeches without bothering to do the proper research.

     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.
  • 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.
  • Even though most of the similarities were definitely not intentional, Rocko's Modern Life is undoubtedly this to Ren and Stimpy.
  • 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 and even after learning the truth he refuses to accept that he'll grow up, but he eventually works alongside his future to deal with a common enemy. Danny however never does this with his older self, opposing him all the way due his older self being a violent sociopath responsible for destroying most of humanity. By the end, Timmy embraces that he'll one day become an adult after admitting his older self was cool, while Danny rejects his future in favor of a better one where he still remains a hero.

     Real Life 
  • Part of the reason that the Afro is considered a culturally significant hairstyle is that it was conceived as an antithesis of the conk, which had previously been the most popular hairstyle among blacks from the 1920's to the 1950's. 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 Pride movement in the 1960's, 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 Pride movement adopted for themselves, wanting to express pride in their African roots.