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Bromantic Foil

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"Only things I care about in this world: sports, your love life."
George to Nathaniel, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

This is a male character common in any media with a romantic plot. He serves as a foil to the male lead, both for the audience and for the potential Love Interests in the work. Often he has an outwardly abrasive personality. Despite that, he is the main character's primary male companion. Common developments for the character include some sort of falling-out with the main character, often over a very serious issue. He is often a Chivalrous Pervert or Lovable Sex Maniac, and meets with the disapproval of the female cast members in various ways, from exasperated sigh to Megaton Punch. Sometimes this is taken to the point of being a Butt-Monkey. If the work has an Official Couple featuring a stereotypically attractive female, he'll probably publicly and futilely lust over her right up until the main character's interest comes out in the open.

As the main character's foil, his function is to show by example what the main character is NOT. Often, by contrast with him, it is no surprise that the main character has an Unwanted Harem. If he does end up in a relationship, he's probably part of the Beta Couple. If he gets together with the main character, it's through a Gay Option. Often he is also the Plucky Comic Relief.

Sub-Trope of Foil. See also The Lancer, Sidekick, Those Two Guys.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tadashi Teruya from 11eyes, Kakeru's best friend (somehow) and constant subject of derision by Shiori. Curiously, in Story of another side, he actually gets a chance to show that he's more than just the Butt-Monkey.
  • Akame ga Kill! isn't a harem series (at least, not officially. . .), but it does play the trope straight with Lubboc. He's a Chivalrous Pervert, but most of the women on his team find his antics annoying. By contrast, Tatsumi seems to just naturally attract female attention. He does have a Love Interest of his own, Najenda, the leader of their entire group in fact, but she's not really considering a relationship until after their war is over. He ends up dying anyway, so nothing ever comes from it sadly.
  • Furuichi of Beelzebub plays it dead straight. He lusts after all the girls, and is quite jealous of the attention Oga gets. He has an admirer of his own, though: The Manly Gay demon Arandron.
  • In the first season of Code Geass we get the cool protagonist Lelouch and his more awkward best friend Rivalz.
  • Eishirou Sugata from Heaven's Lost Property. While he's a lot more reserved than the Lovable Sex Maniac protagonist Tomoki, he's also completely bonkers.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has Ishigami, who contrasts the male lead Shirogane. Where Shirogane is popular, a hard worker, and thinks before he speaks, Ishigami is a pariah, Brilliant, but Lazy, and has a bad habit of putting his foot in his mouth. However, Ishigami ends up being the Hero of Another Story instead, with his own love story and interests making up a major chunk of the plot.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has Chamo sort of filling this role early on, being a sort of Jerkass and Dirty Old Man to contrast with Negi's Adorably Precocious Child. Later on, Kotaro is introduced, being a Mouthy Kid to contrast with Negi's maturity.
  • Otaku no Musume-san's titular otaku father has the added issue of his foil being a lolicon. The friend's admirer, who is totally oblivious to his taste, assumes that since he's clearly not attracted to young women, he might just be gay.
  • Hyosuke from Please Teacher! is an interesting case in that he has a love interest of his own and yet he continues to act the part. Also, within the show itself, a character accused the main character of Ho Yay with him.
  • Ryoga performs this role for the title character of Ranma ½: lawful, wrathful and guarded where Ranma tends to be chaotic, arrogant and trusting. Notably, he is outwardly much more shy and polite to pretty much everybody except Ranma, who is a major Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Edogawa from Sora no Manimani. In comparison to reserved bookworm Saku, he's loud, crazy and not even technically a member of the Astronomy Club.
  • Saruyama from To Love Ru. He's there just to be the envious friend that is jealous of Rito's ever growing harem. His Casanova Wannabe antics are also the exact opposite of Rito when it comes to trying to impress girls. Don't help that, in the sequel Darkness, he gets pushed to the background.
  • Wolfwood and Vash from Trigun have the bromance and the foil part going, including the dramatic fight, but not the rest. Wolfwood is about as cool as Vash, with a bonus of brooding, dark looks, and they use similar varieties of Obfuscating Stupidity.
  • Miyamura from Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches. He and Yamada always hang out, and his silliness and perverted ideas contrast him to Yamada's constant need to play the Straight Man. Nonetheless, he does his best to be Yamada's wingman.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anyone but You: In contrast to the romcom's lead Ben, a self-proclaimed 'fuckboy' with a deceased mother, his best friend Pete is laidback and has a great relationship with his family. Pete is the only one who can really chastise Ben for his less-than-ideal behavior towards Bea.
  • Andy's co-workers in The 40-Year-Old Virgin each play a different kind of foil in their quest to get him laid. One is only interested in casual hook-ups, one incessantly pines over an ex-girlfriend, and one is in a relationship but is unfaithful. Somewhat oddly for a Sex Comedy, following their advice brings him nothing but trouble, and he finds happiness by remaining chaste until he eventually marries the love interest.
  • Dead Poets Society: Todd is this to Neil. Both trapped by controlling parents, the latter is outgoing, confident and seen rebelling and taking charge of life, while the former is quiet and shy and appears rather timid. In a surprise twist Neil is revealed to be the Decoy Protagonist, and Todd is the real hero.
  • Roman from The Fast and the Furious franchise was this to Brian in the early movies, and The Smart Guy Tej in later installments.
  • Men in Black had Buddy Cop variation with Agent K, The Stoic, and agent J, the Cowboy Cop.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean had Straight Man Will Turner and Wild Card Jack Sparrow.
  • In Shaun of the Dead, Ed serves as this trope for the titular character Shaun. While Shaun may fail to impress his girlfriend, his step-father, and his younger co-workers, at least he has a girlfriend and a steady job. Ed, on the other hand, lives on Shaun's couch, plays video games all day, sells marijuana, can't be trusted to write down phone messages, and is prone to silent but deadly flatulence to break the tension of emotional moments.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009) has Sherlock and Dr. Watson, with the twist that Sherlock, the main character, is pretty much the foil.
  • Star Wars had Lovable Rogue Han Solo and Farm Boy Luke Skywalker.
  • X-Men: First Class focuses mostly on the friendship between Badass Bookworm, Good Samaritan Charles and Byronic Hero turned Visionary Villain / Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds Erik.

  • Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts - Yuuji is the best friend, but Kouta is the pervert.
    • Baka and Test is an unusual example in the lead guy, Akihisa, is the Butt-Monkey and the best friend, Yuuji, is the one abusing and using said butt monkey. Then again, it is also unusual in that Yuuji is only a few steps short of being the lead guy himself; it wouldn't be a stretch at all to say that Akihisa and Yuuji are both the protagonist.
      • Not to mention, Yuuji has a love interest of his own: Shouko Kirishima. Though Shouko is, well, a Yandere...
  • Masomi Kida of Durarara!! seems like this compared to the (sort of) protagonist, Mikado. While Mikado is fairly shy and reserved, Kida is a keet and Chivalrous Pervert constantly obsessed with hitting on girls. Ultimately subverted though, as Kida's personality and general cheerfulness is largely Obfuscating Stupidity, and he's actually pretty melancholic. As for Mikado, while he is shy, he hides his inner badass.
  • Harry Potter often contrasts between Harry, The Chosen One, and Ron, his Butt-Monkey best friend.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Taniguchi is a friend to the protagonist, Kyon, and is a Casanova Wannabe and a Small Name, Big Ego, whereas Kyon himself is a snarky Covert Pervert.
  • Nobunaga from Haruka Nogizaka's Secret. Yuuto's best friend who's very open about his fanboy tendencies, when the point of the series is to keep Haruka's own love of anime hidden.
  • Ford to Arthur inThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
  • In John Dies at the End the two protagonists have this relationship, Dave being a depressed Deadpan Snarker and John an upbeat Casanova Wannabe that relishes on the strangeness of his life.
  • In Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions!, there's Makoto Isshiki, Yuuta's back-seat classmate who has a hobby of profiling girls in their class.
  • Yamato Kurose from Mayo Chiki! is this, though since the female lead pretends to be a man he teases the main character for being gay instead of lusting after her in his turn. It also doesn't help that Jiro's friend, after seeing his fearful reaction from being touched by a female student, loudly questions in the middle of a crowded hallway if he is gay.
  • Tatsukichi Hayama of MM! plays this straight, though he has someone who admires him.
  • Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! offers an unusual example with Yoichi; since the male lead Mahiro is Tsundere and high-strung thanks to his Unwanted Harem's antics, Yoichi plays the Foil by being cheerful and unflappable, which means he gets along well with the rest of the cast. He also has moments of Not So Above It All, such as when he believes Nyarko's Fake Pregnancy lie.
  • Oresuki has protagonist Joro with his friend Taiyou/"Sun-chan" as a double subversion. At first, Sun-chan looks like your typical cool best friend; he's athletic, approachable, handsome, and has the attention of the two girls Joro was initially trying to date. Then at the end of the first arc we learn that he never really liked those two and strung them along, despises Joro for stealing away the attention of a girl he liked in middle school, and attempted to date the heroine if not for Joro inadvertently making her fall for him, making the aforementioned incident happen again. It briefly ruins their friendship, but after they reconcile Sun-chan pretty much becomes a true Bromantic Foil and largely played comic relief.
  • In Over the Wine-Dark Sea Menedemos is a Jerk Jock, a Handsome Lech, and a Magnetic Hero. Sostratos is more austere and less charismatic but he is Good with Numbers and aspires to be The Philosopher. Naturally they can't stand each other.
  • In Student Council's Discretion, Ken has the bluntly stated goal of turning the entire (female) student council into his harem, and draws analogies to a main protagonist in ero-games that he plays. Kurimu, the President, responds that his actions are probably closer to this trope instead. It's also a Shout-Out to CLANNAD: Ken states that his name can be written like "Okazaki" in kanji, and Kurimu answers "You mean Sunohara, right?".

    Live-Action TV 


    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect, Garrus serves as this to a male Shepard, especially if Paragon, where he's The Cowl to their Cape. In the third game, he even ends up hooking up with Tali, if Shepard didn't romance her.
  • The Persona series has a tendency to do this with characters of the Magician Arcana:
    • Persona 3 has two, Junpei and Kenji, the latter of which has you help him in a doomed attempt at love. Junpei's shot at love doesn't end much better, at first. Chidori sacrifices herself to heal Junpei, even knowing that using her powers could potentially cost her life. That said, if (and that's a very strong "if") one does things right, it's possible for her to survive in the Updated Re-release.
    • Yosuke fills the same shoes in Persona 4. His attempt at love is even more doomed: Not only is Saki murdered (and he later discovers she hated him all along), but her death is actually what gets the plot rolling.
    • Ryuji joins the ranks of the foil to the protagonist in Persona 5. Although, he is not a Magician, but the Chariot, and he doesn't have a love interest, so he plays this trope straight.
    • However Morgana, Persona 5’s Magician, does follow series tradition to a certain extent—he and Joker, living together, are clearly shown to be close, and he has a crush on Ann, whom he constantly professes his love for (in a rather... linguistic fashion), but she never gives him the time of day because he’s... you know... a cat.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1: Reyn, the Boisterous Bruiser Dumb Muscle, plays this to the main character Shulk, The Engineer Chosen One. Reyn is a big, bulky guy with a crush on the Team Mom Sharla that is still mourning her missing past lover and looking for him, while Shulk is a much more introverted guy who is in love with his childhood friend Fiora, who reciprocates his feelings for her, while also having Melia fall for him.
  • In The World Ends with You have Neku and Beat. Neku is serious and cautious while Beat is goofy and hot-headed.

    Visual Novels 
  • Kaine in A Profile acts as a foil by... being a largely normal person with normal human reactions, which is enough when compared to Masayuki. He also happens to be a female-to-male Transgender man.
  • Masayoshi does this to the protagonist Junichi in Amagami. Interestingly for a female variation, Kaoru does this as well whether she's the love interest of the arc or not.
  • Possible subversion in Aselia the Eternal - The Spirit of Eternity Sword. Kouin comes across as rather perverted and isn't as pretty as Yuuto... but he's also more intelligent, competent and even stronger than he is. He just lacks charisma.
  • Youhei Sunohara from CLANNAD (both Visual Novel and Anime) is an example played straight, heavy on the Butt-Monkey. It was even lampshaded by Tomoya after he was ogling Tomoyo.
    He's one of those people who can never be the main role for anything.
  • Suginami in both Da Capo and Da Capo II. Despite the large gap of years separating the two series, there will always be a Suginami, and he will always be there to serve as the protagonists' foil.
  • Played straight by Aizawa Eiichi in The Devil on G-String and lampshaded in one of the many times he breaks the fourth wall.
  • Issei Ryudou from Fate/stay night, Shirou's only normal friend, comedic example of He-Man Woman Hater and the Unknown Rival of Rin, one of the heroines. Although Issei is also the respected Student Council President, so he's a bit of a subversion.
  • The first Galaxy Angel trilogy has Lester Coolduras, Tact's subcommander who's been his best friend since the academy days. Since Tact and Lester are completely opposites, Lester basically exists to remind the player why the carefree Tact is the viewpoint character who gets the love interests despite the story taking place in a military setting. Lester makes clear that while Tact's job is to take care of the Angel Wing's mental health, it is his own duty to keep Tact's mental health in working condition.
    • The sequel trilogy, Galaxy Angel II, has Lunti Fiadone, the Luxiole's chef who attended the same culinary academy as Kazuya. The two spend their free time together conversing on different subjects, and while he keeps his friendly demeanor around Kazuya most of the time, he expresses extreme jealousy at the fact that Kazuya gets to be "surrounded by beautiful girls" while he gets be "surrounded by pots and pans". Ironically, he often gives Kazuya very helpful relationship advice to deal with his issues, but doesn't seem able to attract the attention of any female like he would like.
  • Kenji Setou of Katawa Shoujo is notable for lacking the usual perversion of this trope - he's a paranoid misogynist instead. Possibly a deliberate subversion, considering the dev team's origin. He also calls the main character "bro". In the first act no-girl route, he is the main character's companion during the School Festival.
  • Yamato's three closest male friends in Majikoi! Love Me Seriously! all qualify as different variations of the trope. Gakuto and Moro are both perverts who are unlucky in love, but while Gakuto is an extroverted Casanova Wannabe, Moro is an awkward nerd who feels overshadowed by his more impressive friends. Kazama, conversely, is The Ace and a Chick Magnet who Yamato often feels inadequate compared to, but is also a Chaste Hero who poses no immediate threat to him romantically. Gen, Yamato's fourth closest male friend, almost reads as an inversion of this trope, as he is a standoffish Tsundere who nonetheless gives mature and sensible romantic advice to Yamato and may become his romantic rival depending on the heroine he chooses to pursue.
  • Torahiko Ooshima from Morenatsu, a gay furry visual novel. Subverted, however, in that he's very tsundere-ish and is the game's canon route (when it gets released), also making him a homosexual example. It's further subverted: He's certainly got the outwardly abrasive part, and fits that part of the trope, but he's also Mr. Fanservice of the game, making it something of an act. It ends up reaching Stepford-y points, particularly during emotional parts of the game.
  • School Days: Taisuke Sanagawa serves as a foil to the protagonist Makoto. While Makoto is a Chick Magnet who is adored by the girls and is a Sex God, Taisuke is an Abhorrent Admirer, and he only gets to sleep with any of them via pressure or by raping them. Even in versions where he does manage to sleep with Hikari consensually, it's still made explicitly clear she was disappointed with his bedroom performance. Arguably, he's more of a deconstruction, considering what he does to his crush in the anime and at least one game route...
  • Uzuki from Sharin no Kuni counts as one, but he is definitively amongst the odder examples of this trope: Even the main character usually ends up as plagued by his antics as the Unwanted Harem. He's also Ambiguously Gay and shows little if any overt interest in any females on top of it.
  • Sumiyoshi of Snow Sakura (eroge) is a very typical example, heavy on the Keet and perversion.
  • Steins;Gate has Daru, an otaku Lovable Sex Maniac and the worst guy Okabe could possibly get dating advice from.
    Daru: Excuse me, have you considered giving the wisdom between these pages a try?
    Okabe: That's a hentai game strategy guide, jackass!
  • The Sociable, popular, hard working chick magnet Asino who is of average ability contrasts against the protagonist antisocial genius Chris from Symphonic Rain and is basically his only male friend. Though not perverted at all, if you go down Fal's route, it ends up with a Love Triangle between him, Chris and Fal.
  • One of the earliest examples is Yoshio Saotome from Tokimeki Memorial, the main chara's best friend as well as the older brother of Yumi, one of the possible love interests.
  • Arihiko from Tsukihime is Shiki's only normal friend, as well as being a comic-relief slacker, pervert, and all-around failure.
    • Seorin's Let's Play lampshades the Ho Yay between the two and Exaggerates it.
    • Shiki doesn't really have "normal" friends. As pointed out in Kagetsu Tohya, they became friends because they've both had an encounter with death that is way too close for comfort. Satsuki isn't normal either; the Nanaya gland don't work on normal girls.

  • MegaTokyo: Largo had shades of this, especially his characterization in the dating sim imagine spots earlier in the comic.
  • Steve from Questionable Content. When he can get off the bus, that is. At first, this was about all there was to him, and he was prone to disappearing from the story for stretches of time. (Less than it seemed, though) Recently, he's been developing into his own character.
  • Reunion (2021): Bas, an old friend of Shiro and Rhea and now Shiro's roommate and best friend. He is perkier and friendlier than the brooding, mysterious romantic lead Shiro.
  • Ja Wangnan, the actual main character of Tower of God's second season, to Chick Magnet Jue Viole Grace aka Twenty-Fifth Bam, the main character of season one. It works, since Tower of God is mainly an action adventure with only a little romantic spice at the sidelines, but the foil and developing bromance as well as the complete opposite effect on women are there. It's also quite funny because Ja might actually not be into women.
  • Konstantin from Tsunami Channel: Experimental Comic Kotone. Bonus points for constantly calling the unnamed protagonist "my brother" and being the Gay Option.