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The Rival
aka: Rival

"How very fitting that Yugi is competing in the first duel of my tournament. It's only a matter of time before he and I face off against each other again. After all, he's my arch rival. The Sherlock Holmes to my Moriarty. The Kaneda to my Tetsuo. The Speed Racer to my Racer X. I could go on, but I won't."

The grim, volatile foe of the protagonist, who, through a series of inexplicable events up to and including attempted murder, gains grudging respect for said hero/heroine (and may even save them) and goes from intolerable ass to tolerable ass. They usually never measure up in a crisis and ofttimes end up sacrificing their lives (Redemption Equals Death) so everybody else can have Character Development. Unless they're a Dark Magical Girl. Frequently a Foil for the hero, showing what he could have become. Usually begins the series with a leg up on The Hero.

If fate is unkind, they may be the Butt Monkey version, the Unknown Rival. If they start out as an Aloof Ally, a Heel-Face Turn can be expected somewhere down the line. Occasionally a regular villain might go through a similar process and become a Friendly Enemy. If their antagonism with the protagonist is particularly emphasized, it'll probably lead to Foe Romance Subtext and Foe Yay Shipping.

Often subject to an Embarrassing Rescue. Might turn evil. On the other hand, the rival might develop a genuine friendship with the hero. If the character in question is also a bit of a rebel, then expect some bad posture and a tendency to lean against things.

Compare with the Arch-Enemy and Sitcom Arch-Nemesis, which may or may not overlap and The Lancer, with a similar personality but on the side of The Hero. Could one of the Opposed Mentors. See also Fandom Rivalry.

Example subpages


    open/close all folders 

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Cokie from The Baby-Sitters Club. Also, one book featured the girls facing off against a rival babysitting club.
  • In the Back Story of James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Deus Encarmine, Rafen and Sachiel were rivals. Lends an edge to their clashes, and their Foil status.
  • Sammael of The Wheel of Time turned to the dark side because he was jealous of his rival (the former incarnation of the protagonist).
    • Demandred has essentially the same motivation, but much, much stronger- he was born (birth name Barid Bel Medar) one day after Lews Therin Telamon (aforementioned prior incarnation) and his life followed that pattern from there on, with him being second to Lews Therin in almost every way, including skill with magic, political success, good looks, and even height. They even both courted the same woman, but she preferred Lews Therin. Then the War of Power broke out, and Barid Bel found out he was better than Lews Therin at one thing- war. Unfortunately, the powers that be made Lews Therin their top general anyway, and that final straw snapped Barid Bel's mind completely so that he became obsessessed with killing Lews Therin and joined the Shadow to better accomplish it, changing his name to Demandred in the process and quickly becoming its most feared general note . In the last book of the series, Rand (who now has memories of his life as Lews Therin back) reflects on how he encouraged this rivalry and expresses regret that he drove Demandred to madness and evil when he could have been one of the greatest heroes of the age- had he not been born at the same time as Lews Therin.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Kevin's attitude toward Roger and Donna.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Scarlet Citadel, Conan the Barbarian rescues Pelias, rival to Evil Sorcerer Tsotha-lanti.
  • Draco Malfoy is this to Harry, going out of his way to antagonize him at least once per book (excluding the last one).

    Manhwa 
  • Tower of God - Novick sees himself as a rival of Koon's half-brother Ran, who in turn sees him as nuisance.
  • In Faeries Landing, Miranda (Medea) hates Fanta and frequently tries to one-up her, but Fanta really doesn't care much. Also, Yuri sees Fanta as a rival for Ryang's affections.
  • Yeong In from Hot Blooded Woman.
  • For Lotto, Aradon in Yureka.
  • Ah-ra towards Ma-ri for Jae-min's affections in Orange Marmalade.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • Clay and Candide in Safe Havens are competitive with each other since right before birth-in fact, who could be born first was their first competition. (Candide claims victory, Clay maintains she only won cause she was four inches shorter than him.)

    Pinball 
  • In Full Throttle, the player's rival is the reigning World Champion, Francisco "The Scorpion" Valentino.

    Radio 
  • A light-hearted comedy example can be found in the long-running "feud" between comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen. The two would frequently appear on each others shows to harass one another and trade barbs, leading to a Crowning Moment of Funny when Jack Benny, who had taken an assumed name to appear on Allen's new game show, finds out his "big prize" is to have his pants pressed — right then and there.
    Jack Benny: You haven't seen the end of me, Allen!
    Fred Allen: It won't be long now!

    Tabletop Games 

    Toys 

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, we have Miles Edgeworth, who was a childhood friend of Phoenix, but is now his rival. He eventually becomes Phoenix's friend again. Phoenix himself says that one of his primary motivations for becoming a lawyer was so he could face Edgeworth in court.
    • Franziska von Karma steps up to the bench for the second game. She violently wants to defeat Phoenix because she wants to succeed where Edgeworth failed.
      • She also shares this position with Shi-Long Lang in Ace Attorney Investigations, specifically in the flashback case four, where she's a thirteen-year-old obsessed with beating Edgeworth in everything. Edgeworth mostly ignores it.
    • And for the third game we have Godot who really hates Phoenix's guts and won't explain why. He blames Phoenix for Mia's death.
    • In Apollo Justice we have Klavier Gavin, the brother of Apollo's former mentor. He is way more helpful than the other rivals though.
  • Yanagi and Hiroki have this relationship in Canvas 2 after reconciling.
  • Battler has two through the course of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. On the first four arcs his rival is most likely Beatrice; while Battler tries to prove that all the murders happened by human methods, Beatrice opposes him stating that all were made with Magic, and they fight for a last time at the Hidden Tea Party of the fourth episode, with Battler victorious over a resigning Beatrice who already got tired of the game. On the Chiru arcs his rival turns out to be Furudo Erika, a piece placed by Bernkastel to serve as the detective, effectively hijacking Battler's role. Both clash numerous times and their conflict finally ends in the famous chained closed room deathmatch.

    Webcomics 
  • Captain Gamer's nemesis (Czar Gamer) regularly swings from friendly rival to bitter enemy and back again.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Lord Horribus considered himself to be Torg's rival, though Torg didn't take this too seriously for much of the series. After Horribus killed Alt-Zoe, Torg still denied him the chance for a final showdown.
    • Bun-Bun also has a Rival in the form of Santa Claus, who tries to kill him each Christmas. An odd version of the trope, since Bun-Bun is a sociopath, and Santa is generally portrayed as a decent (if slightly obsessed) guy just trying to see that justice is done.
  • Lance has a rival in Gold Coin Comics named Blake, who has traits from Seifer in FFVIII.
  • Sixx and Butterfly, and to an extent Ginger and Laura in Collar 6.
  • Dante in Uber Quest seems to have it in for Sesame, in her first appearance she steals a kill and loot drop from Sesame.

    Web Video 


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alternative title(s): Rival
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