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Contrasting Sequel Main Character

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Q: You hit me! Picard never hit me!
Benjamin Sisko: I'm not Picard.
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A subtrope of Foil. Making a sequel is hard. One needs to find the perfect balance of new stuff to contrast with the original. One way to get some difference is to take your old protagonist and make his mirror image. This can include changing the character's gender too. Was he a man? Have the new one be a woman. Was he an intellectual? Have her be more of a fighter, etc... It also sets up some interesting moments should the two ever meet. Such characters may share some more basic traits, like heroism, allowing someone to note how they are Not So Different.

For contrasting villains go to Contrasting Sequel Antagonist.

Contrast Suspiciously Similar Substitute.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon has a history of this:
    • C'mon Digimon has a supporting protagonist in Abe Makoto, while Yagami Taichi and Zermaru of Digimon V-Tamer 01 are clearly the front and center stars. The functional leads of "C Mon" are Kentaro Kamon, an aloof stoic, when the few triggers of his righteous temper are not hit, who wants nothing to do with animals or digimon, and Bun, a weak glitch "Damemon" or "Badmon" whose behavior is identical to a dog's. Lacking a troubled past like Kentaro, Taichi is a sociable goof absolutely in love with his digimon Zero, a powerful evolutionary throwback "glitch" monster who fancies himself a noble lord. Following this is Hikaru Ryuugi of Digimon D-Cyber, who is an Idiot Hero where Taichi was The Strategist and his Dorumon partner is initially antagonistic towards him, and doesn't have a given name like Bun or Zero. Tsurugi Tatsuno of Digimon Next is much better at raising and battling digimon than Hikaru, who was the worst tamer of his group. Hikaru's partner also becomes a Royal Knight, an upholder of Yggdrasil's law, while Tsurugi's is an illegal monster because it has the ability to defy and kill Yggdrasil. Taiki Kudo of the Xros Wars manga is the first protagonist who isn't Hot-Blooded and also the first one who hasn't raised any of the monsters he works with.
    • The first protagonist, Taichi Yagami was hot-headed, but grew out of it, and had an aptitude for lateral thinking; the next protagonist, Daisuke Motomiya was hot-blooded and stupid to a fault, but he didn't get distracted from his goals; the third, Takato Matsuda, was sweet, kind and a little timid; the fourth, Takuya Kanbara, was an extroverted people-pleaser; the fifth, Masaru Daimon, was hot-blooded and confrontational; the sixth, Taiki Kudou, was a thinker and tactician; the seventh, Tagiru, was an excitable reckless idiot, the exact opposite of Taiki; the eighth, Haru Shinkai, is an insecure, introverted book-worm.
  • Dragon Ball, while technically retaining the same actual protagonist throughout its long run, was intended to switch focus protagonists. Goku is the classic Idiot Hero who loves nothing more than to fight, while his first son Gohan is a passive Martial Pacifist and a huge nerd. Pan, who is arguably the 'hero' of GT, is also completely unlike her father Gohan, headstrong and outspoken.
  • FLCL: In the original series, Naoto Nandaba is a 12-year old boy who tries to be more mature than he actually is because he's surrounded by extremely goofy and immature adults while living in the shadow of the older brother he admired. In the second series, Hidomi Hibajiri is a 14-year old girl who hides behind an apathetic personality because she feels empty and is afraid to express her feelings due to her father's leaving her and her mother. In the third series, Kana Koumoto is a 17-year old girl who has some childish views of the world and realizes she's going to have become an adult soon and tries to have as much time with her friends as she can. Even their relationships with Haruko differ. Naota was suspicious and untrusting but began to fall in love with her while she served as their housekeeper. Hidomi was indifferent to her as Haruko was her homeroom teacher but realizes how dangerous she was as time went on. Kana and her friends saw Haruko as a strange person who was a casual friend to them.
  • Fushigi Yuugi
    • Fushigi Yuugi: Genbu Kaiden, despite actually being a prequel, has a big contrast in Takiko as its protagonist compared to Miaka. There's a 70 year difference between their respective adventures in the Universe of the Four Gods, Takiko entering it in 1923 and Miaka in the nineties, so their appearance is already different with Takiko wearing a hakama and Miaka a blazer-type school uniform, which had become the norm by then. Miaka was lazy in studying, did not have great grades and was extremely hotheaded at times. On the other hand, Takiko was good in school and was very active, keeping her cool during certain situations and being very self-sacrificing in order to understand other people.
    • What little has been shown of Suzuno in her few appearances, she's a contrast to the other priestesses in that she is described as being a very shy and quiet person, contrary to Takiko's appealing and Miaka's headstrong nature.
  • In Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin the main character starts out as a puppy, who trains to avenge his father. He joins a pack of warrior dogs, and since he is smallest and youngest he has to fight hard to earn the respect of others. Eventually he is chosen to be the leader because of his deeds and he reaches the peak of his powers at the last battle of the manga. In the sequel Ginga Densetsu Weed his son somehow knows how to do his father's ultimate move only by knowing that his father is a hero (he hasn't even met his father at this point) and everyone he meets treats him like an alpha male of the pack or something. The kid even lectures his father about how it is not right to kill your enemy after the said enemy has tortured Gin and killed one of his closest friends in an extremely brutal way.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure. Whether coincidental or an intentional design choice, each protagonist of each part tends to have an opposing temperament to their predecessor.
  • Kimi no Iru Machi, which takes place after Suzuka, contrasts Haruto with previous protagonist Yamato. Though Haruto is prone to reckless actions, he generally comes off as more responsible and thoughtful than most of his friends.
  • Steel Angel Kurumi (Kōtetsu Tenshi Kurumi) has a different human protagonist in the first and second series, the one in the second being either the great-granddaughter or great-grandniece of the one in the first. They're reasonably similar in personality ("shy naive character dealing with a robotic Stalker with a Crush" being a crucial plot element in both), but they are of different sexes.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! stars a young, cute, anxious Child Prodigy Negi Springfield. Its sequel series, UQ Holder!, stars a much more classic Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero, Touta Konoe. This gets lampshaded by one of Negi's former students.
    Ayaka: My, my, my. You look nothing like Negi-sensei. Your hair, your skin... You seem like a mischief-maker, without a care in the world. His opposite in every way.
  • Shinn Asuka of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny was probably meant to be this to Kira Yamato, being confrontational and arrogant where Kira was angsty and polite.
  • Kousuke from Sakura Discord was an abrasive, grumpy, always serious and (initially) slightly cynical protagonist. Asahi from My Monster Secret is (too) honest, a bit shy, clumsy, a notable Butt-Monkey, and kind to a fault − as well as a bit of a Covert Pervert. note 
  • The titular character of Naruto is an orphan without any known extended family while his son, the eponymous protagonist of Boruto, has a very loving family. They are both troublemakers; however, while Naruto acted out as a means for attention in general, Boruto acts out as a means to get attention from his father who is always busy. Naruto's lifelong dream was to become Hokage while Boruto has no interest in the career. Naruto was considered a very weak shinobi at first and had to work hard to be strong, while Boruto is a Brilliant, but Lazy Child Prodigy whose skills far surpass what his father's was at the same age.
  • Pokémon Adventures has protagonists ranging from the basic To Be a Master Idiot Hero like Red or Gold, to the Speaks Fluent Animal Yellow, the Gotta Catch 'Em All Crystal, Camp Straight Ruby, Manzai duo Diamond and Pearl, etc...
  • Duke Fleed from UFO Robo Grendizer. Compared to all male leads of the Mazinger Trilogy (Koji of Mazinger Z and Testuya of Great Mazinger), he was the most mature and the less prone to put his foot in his mouth.
  • This is done in the Yu-Gi-Oh! series; Judai is more outgoing and laid-back than Yugi (he's stated to be more a combination of Yugi's skill and Jonouchi's personality). Yusei contrasts both Yugi and Judai by being much more serious than either of them. Yuma keeps to the trend by being even less serious than Judai was and he lacks the skills of the previous protagonists at the beginning of the story, and he's very Hot-Blooded and hard-headed. Yuya is a bit more like Judai with more serious issues, but he acts more comically whenever he is doing his finisher combos to entertain the audience. Also, Yuya isn't as laid-back as Judai and Yuma, and he's rather the quiet type when he's not dueling and his character is relatively well balanced. Yusaku, on the other hand, is different than the previous five, since he started out as a cold-hearted Jerkass (akin to Kaiba) and has a great distaste for standing out. And unlike the previous five, Yusaku doesn't enjoy dueling at all and doesn't really care about his cards. He just sees them as necessary tools to get revenge on his enemies since everything is about dueling.
    • Lampshaded in the abridged Bonds Beyond Time movie as Yusei says this line to Jaden (AKA: Judai):
      Yusei: Stop being happy.
  • Fuka Reventon of ViVid Strike! is a stark contrast to her predecessor Vivio Takamachi of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vivid. While Vivio is a martial arts-loving Genki Girl who easily makes friends and was adopted into a well-to-do family, Fuuka is a martial arts-hating cynical orphan who easily gets into fights with other people and needs to work various odd jobs just to feed herself.
  • The producers of The Idolmaster and THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls are quite different from each other — 765's producer is lax and just starting his career, while 346's is serious and has been at the job for some time.
  • Much like its live-action versions, the animated series for GARO also feature this. Leon was a hotblooded, somewhat cynical newcomer, while Raikou was a calmly devoted samurai. Sword is a goofy musclehead who's been on the job longer than either of them.

    Comic Books 
  • During the period in Grant Morrison's Batman when Batman and Robin briefly replaced the flagship Batman title, Morrison intentionally subverted the classic dynamic between Batman and Robin by putting Dick Grayson in the cape and cowl and making Damian Wayne his Robin. In contrast to the setup that we all grew up with, Dick was a cheerful, outgoing, blue-collar Batman trying to cope with his relative lack of experience, whereas Damian was an angry, brooding, blue-blooded Robin who was raised to be a stone-cold killer.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Done by Peter David for Spider-Man 2099; Miguel O'Hara was created by taking Peter Parker's traits and reversing them.
      "Pretty much every place where Stan (Lee) zigged, I zagged... whereas Peter Parker is a high school student, Miguel is a fully-realized adult working in a laboratory. Whereas Peter was shy and reticent and didn’t know how to talk to girls but talky and outgoing as Spider-Man, Miguel O’Hara was a fully-confident wiseacre with a fiancée…and as Spider-Man, relatively mute."
    • The original Spider-Girl (Peter's teenage daughter "Mayday" in the Marvel Comics 2 universe) is similar. While Peter was a socially awkward loser in high school, she's both brainy but also athletic and popular. Her origin also includes her saving Peter's life, which co-creator Ron Frenz notes is an Inversion of what happened to Peter's father figure.
      "Pete learned through the death of Uncle Ben that if he doesn't act, people die; Mayday learned in her first couple of issues that when she does act, people live. That subtle, but significant difference put her in a much more positive and proactive headspace, which was pretty much the whole vibe of the MC 2 Universe."
  • The original Green Arrow, Ollie Queen, was a loud-mouthed and showy figure who had a sort of pig-headed stubbornness and cocky air about him, but was still devoted to doing the right thing and helping the poor. When he died in the Ninties, Ollie was replaced with his son Connor Hawke, who had been raised in an ashram and been studying to become a monk. As a result, Connor was much more humble and reserved than Ollie, and had difficulty coping with the stardom and larger-than-life aspects of being a superhero. One particular contrast was their reaction to the ladies; Ollie was a notorious womanizer whose libido was fairly infamous among super-heroes. Connor, on the other hand, was deeply uncomfortable around women due to his upbringing and was visibly uneasy when being hit on.
  • The various Blue Beetles show this. Dan Garrett is a far more blue collar (He started as a police officer, later retconned into a archaeologist) and has magical powers at the end of his run. Ted Kord meanwhile is a billionaire CEO, Badass Normal Gadgeteer Genius. Jaime Reyes is a Hispanic teenager, who gets his powers via an Empathic Weapon super powered outfit.
  • When one is chosen to become Captain Britain, they are offered two items: the Sword of Might or the Amulet of Right. The original protagonist, Brian Braddock, chose the latter; his successor Kelsey Leigh, being more practically-minded and not understanding the significance of the items, chose the former.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Necessary To Win, Miho Nishizumi is the main character; as you might expect, she's kindhearted, meek, open to reaching out to others, and does not see victory as the be-all and end-all. In the prequel, Paths Toward Victory, her mother, Shiho Nishizumi, takse her place as the main character, and is cold, arrogant, detached from others, and ruthlessly determined.
  • Made apparent in A Different Kind of Truth. Yu Narukami was a stoic yet all around nice guy with the talent of being perfect in everything he tried and the ability to easily make friends. Jonathan Joestar was a kind, idealistic, unselfish, and musclebound man. Johnny contrasts both by being a snarky, fundamentally selfish, cynical, self-centered, and scrawny kid who cannot move anything below the waist while also not intentionally looking forward to making friends or being with other people.
  • Lulu's Bizarre Rebellion has the Fenette family fulfill the Joestar role of Part 3. However, unlike the badass, hammy, and eccentric Joestars before her, Shirley is a scared teenage girl. In particular she is very different from Jotaro, who'd normally be in her role.
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    Films — Animated 
  • Ariel from The Little Mermaid and her daughter Melody in the sequel. Ariel is a mermaid who's obsessed with the land and wants to become human, while her daughter, the main character of the sequel, is a human but is drawn to the ocean and wants to be a mermaid. They're not strikingly different in temperament, but their goals are complete opposites.
  • Wendy and Jane from Peter Pan and its sequel Return To Neverland respectively. Wendy's character arc was about learning that no matter how much she might want to stay a child, she needs to grow up eventually. Her daughter, Jane, on the other hand, grew up too fast due to World War II and needed to be reminded that she is still a child.
  • Done in Finding Nemo and its sequel, Finding Dory, where the protagonist's companion from the first movie returns as the new protagonist. The first film has Marlin, an uptight, anxiety-ridden widower and single father looking for his missing son. The second film has Dory, a carefree, scatterbrained amnesiac woman looking for her missing parents.
  • Much like Finding Nemo and Finding Dory above, Cars and Cars 2 does this with the first movie companion returning as the main character for the sequel. In Cars, the main character is Lightning McQueen, a Hot-Blooded racer who tries to get over his selfishness by spending time in a remote town called Radiator Springs. In Cars 2, the main character is McQueen's friend Mater, a ditzy tow truck who is far more sensitive then Lightning and gets involved in a spy mission. Amusingly, all four films were made by the same people.
  • Both Monsters, Inc. and Monsters University follow the duo of Mike Wazowski and James "Sulley" Sullivan, but each film puts more focus on one over the other. In Inc the focus was on Sulley, a professional scarer who realizes that frightening children was wrong while Mike was the sidekick who just wanted to get their lives back on track. In University it's flipped with Mike as the main character, a college student who dreamed being a scarer and had the brains despite lacking anything remotely scary while Sulley was The Rival who obsessed over outdoing Mike before becoming friends.
  • Emmet, Batman and Lloyd from The LEGO Movie, The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie. Emmet, main character of the first movie, is an optimistic and sociable Nice Guy who is so generic that even his so-called friends cannot remember anything about him and his arc focuses on him learning that sometimes you have to break the rules and stop following the crowd. Batman, the main character of the second movie, starts out as a cynical and brooding Jerkass, who, being a superhero, is treated like a well-loved celebrity and his arc focuses on him learning to work with others. Lloyd, the main character of the third movie, is the teenage son of an Evil Overlord who doesn't support his father yet is still treated as an outcast for their relation, while he moonlights as one of the city's beloved ninja heroes combating his father, and ultimately learns more of his father than the villain he presents himself as.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • When making the 2011 prequel to The Thing (1982), the director understandably didn't want to make his protagonist too similar to Kurt Russell's memorable character. The solution was to contrast Russell's performance as an experienced, scruffy, alcoholic anti-social helicopter pilot with a young, less experienced but professional-minded female student of paleontology.
  • For the Alien prequel Prometheus, Ridley Scott intentionally avoided making Noomi Rapace's character Elizabeth "Liz" Shaw too similar to Sigourney Weaver's iconic Ellen Ripley. While Ripley was a working-class engineer and single mother just looking to make an honest paycheck, Shaw is a bookish archaeologist driven by her thirst for scientific knowledge, and she's romantically involved with her crew-mate.
  • James Franco's Oscar "Oz" Diggs, the protagonist of Oz: The Great and Powerful, bears this relationship to Judy Garland's Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is a pure-hearted, relentlessly optimistic farm girl who's unshakably loyal to her friends, always tells the truth, and spends the whole story eager to get back home. Oscar is a cynical Guile Hero and a master showman who uses illusions to his advantage, he spends the first act of the movie as a stubborn loner, and he ultimately elects to stay in Oz permanently as its ruler.
  • The Transformers film series seems to be headed this way with Transformers: Age of Extinction, which replaced Shia LaBeouf's long-time protagonist Sam Witwicky with the new character Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg. Where Witwicky was a middle-class suburban Kid Hero, Yeager is a middle-aged working-class single father who works as a mechanic in rural Texas. Bumblebee seems to be upholding the tradition with Charlie Watson, in addition to being the first female protagonist of the series, she's a Working-Class Hero like Cade but is even younger than Sam was in the first movie.
  • Several characters in Jurassic World seem deliberately written to contrast similar characters from the original Jurassic Park, as Jurassic World is the first film in the series that doesn't reuse any of the principal characters from the first movie. note 
    • Claire Dearing, an emotionally distant thirty-something workaholic who meticulously obsesses over the park's profits, contrasts John Hammond, an eccentric elderly showman who starts the park to realize a personal dream. Where Hammond is a loving grandfather, Dearing is introduced as the child protagonists' aunt, and she's too devoted to her job to consider having children. Notably, Claire shares Hammond's all-white wardrobe, and she's also asked to watch two children while their parents are going through a divorce. Lampshaded by Simon Masrani in one scene, when he gets sick of Claire spewing financial figures at him.
    Masrani: When John Hammond entrusted his park to me, never once did he talk of profit. "Spare no expense!", he always said.
    • Owen Grady, a cheerful, idealistic Fluffy Tamer, contrasts Robert Muldoon, a grim, cynical Great White Hunter. Notably, both of them have special relationships with the velociraptors, but where Owen tries to train them by forming bonds based on mutual respect, Muldoon merely sees them as worthy adversaries and wants to see them all exterminated. Owen likes kids and is a former Navy man, unlike scientist Alan Grant.
    • Muldoon was trim, blunt and direct, and he wanted to kill the raptors, but Hoskins is big, superficially chummy, and wants to exploit them. Visually, Muldoon wears loose, worn, practical outdoor clothes in earth tones, while Hoskins wears an spotless, too-small earth-tone shirt, with less practical black slacks and a fussy little goatee; he's not really someone who gets his hands dirty.
    • Lowery Cruthers, a slovenly computer geek with an authority problem, is written to evoke Dennis Nedry. But while Dennis betrays his superiors for personal profit ultimately dies trying to escape the park, Lowery stays loyal to his boss and ultimately risks his life to stay behind and save Owen and Claire. Notably, Claire chews him out for having a cluttered workspace, just like Ray Arnold did to Dennis in the original.
  • Star Wars:
    • The prequel trilogy showed Anakin Skywalker to be this towards his son Luke. Both are raised on desert planets, but whereas Luke had a happy family life on a farm with loving parental figures, Anakin was born into slavery with just his loving mother. Luke didn't really angst over the death of his family (he was upset, but since they continually kept him from leaving, he embraced the freedom their death granted), while Anakin's grief over losing his loved ones set him on his Start of Darkness.
    • The Force Awakens' new Power Trio (Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron) are set up as counterparts to Luke, Leia, and Han from the original trilogy in varying ways:
      • Poe is a dashing, dark-haired ace pilot with a sardonic streak, like Han, but is already dedicated to La Résistance, like Leia. Like Leia, he is also the one who is captured by the First Order.
      • Finn is a heroic everyman like Luke, and puts up a valiant effort with a lightsaber (the same one that Luke used). However, he initially wants no part of the Resistance, like Han (albeit for different reasons: Han answers only to himself, while Finn is an ex-Stormtrooper who wants to get as far away from the First Order as possible).
      • Rey is a courageous Action Girl like Leia, but her origins are closer to that of Luke's; he was a farmhand living a humble life on a desert world, while she was a mechanic eking out a living on a harsh Scavenger World, and both are interested but hesitant in taking up the Call to Adventure before getting swept into it by the end. She's also a fledgeling Jedi with a strong connection to the Force, and is much more adept with a lightsaber than Finn. She also differs from the previous female leads, Leia and Padmé, by not being royalty or from a privileged background.
      • BB-8 is a droid who serves the rebellion, like R2-D2, but as opposed to R2's tall and cylindrical "trash can" design with blue highlights, BB-8 is short and spherical with orange highlights. He's also much smaller, faster, and more agile than R2, and while R2 is primarily part of Those Two Guys with C-3PO, BB-8 works alone without another droid partner. In addition, while R2-D2 is The Gadfly who loves messing with and pranking his comrades and has little obvious affection for anyone, BB-8 is more of the Consummate Professional who spends less time joking around and shows a great deal of respect both to those around him and to R2, whom he seems to idolize. There's also the fact that R2 was mostly a Non-Action Guy while BB-8 is more of an active combatant, even hijacking an AT-ST at one point in The Last Jedi.
    • Jyn Erso continues this trend in Rogue One. Unlike the Skywalkers or Rey, she has no questions as to her origin and believes in the Force from the beginning. Ironically, despite being given a lightsaber crystal, she has no Force abilities herself and is the first protagonist in a Star Wars film to not be on the path to become a Jedi. She is also the first main hero of a film to die in the movie she first appeared in.
    • K-2SO is this for C-3PO. Threepio is a shiny golden, human-sized Non-Action Guy and Cowardly Lion, while K-2SO is a black-armored droid much taller than a human and with non-humanoid proportions who is The Big Guy of the team who seems to relish combat. Whereas Threepio is more of a polite, if stuffy presence to his allies who has a tendency to freak out in combat situations, K-2SO is a totally blunt enforcer who is distrustful of his comrades and remains unfailingly sarcastic even in the midst of battle.
    • DJ in The Last Jedi is deliberately set up in contrast to Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back. While Lando is a clean, elegantly dressed black man in bright clothing with a Badass Moustache, DJ is a shabbily dressed hobo in dull rags with scraggly Perma-Stubble played by Latino actor Benicio del Toro. Lando is a smooth-talking politician who cares deeply for the people of his city enough to reluctantly strike a deal with the Empire, whereas DJ is a total loner on the bottom rung of society's ladder, who believes that the First Order and the Resistance are essentially the same. Most crucially, while Lando comes to regret working with Vader and eventually joins the Rebel Alliance, DJ is on the heroes' side from the very beginning but betrays them without a second thought to save his own skin.
  • The first Predator 's main character, Dutch, is a burly, patriotic commando with strict ethics who starts off with a loyal team containing a Sixth Ranger Traitor who manipulated him into doing his dirty work. Predator 2's main character, Harrigan, is a middle-aged, anti-heroic black Cowboy Cop who doesn't play well with others but is ruthless in hunting down the Predators when they come into his territory and after his people. Predators's main character, Royce is a mercenary and Blood Knight, a thin loner, doesn't care about most of the others on his "team", and at one point betrays them to flush out the Predators.
  • The DC Extended Universe version of Batman, compared to the Christian Bale interpretation of the character. He's presented as an older, experienced Batman, whereas Bale's version had an entire film devoted to his origin. He also operates in a more fantastical world, and does not appear to have a Thou Shall Not Kill principle, unlike Bale.
    • Both modern versions of Batman differ from the version introduced in the original Batman film and its three sequels. The Michael Keaton Batman was a little more awkward and eccentric as Bruce Wayne, in contrast to the Bale and Affleck versions who were both charming, one-percenter yuppie types. A crucial difference is that, while the other two make sure to devote equal time to both Batman and Bruce Wayne, it's implied for the Keaton version that "Bruce Wayne" is little more than a mask to protect his identity as Batman, rather than the other way around. Unlike Bale, Keaton's version is fully willing to outright kill his enemies if necessary, and unlike Affleck, he's occasionally even smiled while doing it.
  • Similarly to the Batman example, every cinematic version of Spider-Man has made sure to make its version of Peter Parker subtly different. Tobey Maguire's version was a rather pathetic awkward geek who developed the Spider-Man persona to win the heart of the girl he loves, and differed from his successors by using organic web-shooters. Andrew Garfield's incarnation was more of a handsome, charismatic "nerd" who had a slightly darker personality than Maguire, and started as a vigilante hunting down the man who killed Uncle Ben. His Parker was unique in that his powers had a direct connection to Oscorp. And finally, Tom Holland's performance is a young, Wide-Eyed Idealist who's inspired by the other superheroes around him to do good in the world, and shares his secret with others. Holland is also both the first Spider-Man actor who's even remotely close to Peter's actual age and the first to play him in a world where other superheroes exist. All of them have had different love interests thus far (Mary Jane Watson, Gwen Stacey, and Liz Allen, respectively.)
  • Every cinematic version of Superman has had different interpretations over the decades, each of them having different ways to portray the Superman/Clark Kent dichotomy. Christopher Reeve's Superman was a light-hearted, old-fashioned kind of hero reminiscent of the Silver Age who merely used the Clark persona as a facade. Brandon Routh's version was mostly similar to Reeve's, albeit a bit quieter and more introspective, what with him returning to Earth after a five-year long journey to Krypton, questioning his relevance in the 21st century and having a son out of wedlock with Lois Lane. Henry Cavill's portrayal is the most flawed and morally conflicted version of Superman, constantly mindful of the effects his actions have on humanity and questioning his place in the world. Another difference from Reeve and Routh is that Cavill portrays both Superman and Clark as the "real person", with the issue of a Secret Identity not addressed until the end of Man of Steel. In the sequel, the difference between Clark and Superman becomes a bit more obvious, with Cavill playing Superman in a stoic and patient, sometimes stern, manner, and Clark becoming more dynamic and assertive.
  • Ghostbusters (2016) subtly frames the members of its all-female Ghostbusters team as Foils of the team from the original 1984 Ghostbusters, resulting in them being recognizable stand-ins with their own distinct personalities.
    • Erin Gilbert to Peter Venkman. Like Venkman, she's initially the least enthused about busting ghosts, and joins the team after losing her university teaching gig. But where Venkman was a self-centered, slovenly, Brilliant, but Lazy Anti-Hero who started the Ghostbusters to turn a profit, Gilbert is idealistic, ambitious, and highly professional, and she gets into busting ghosts to help people. While Venkman was The Charmer who often used his charisma to get his way, Gilbert is the most shy and socially awkward of the group in spite of her determination and leadership skills.
    • Abby Yates to Ray Stantz. Like Stantz, she's The Heart of the group who's initially the most enthused about busting ghosts, she brings the most knowledge of the paranormal to the table, and she's known for her Adorkable enthusiasm and energy. But while Stantz was somewhat reserved and shy, and had to be convinced by his friend Venkman to use his paranormal knowledge to start a business, Abby is the most confident and outgoing of the group, and she's the one who convinces Gilbert to start a paranormal investigation business.
    • Jillian Holtzmann to Egon Spengler. Like Spengler, she's The Brains of the group who brings the scientific know-how that makes busting ghosts possible, and knows much more about "hard" science and engineering than her companions. But while Egon was a stoic and somewhat emotionally stilted genius who felt more comfortable around science experiments than around people, Holtzmann is a quirky, fun-loving Bunny-Ears Lawyer who's the most laid-back of the crew, and regularly makes jokes in dangerous situations. She's also something of a Blood Knight, and tends to charge into danger faster than any of her friends.
    • Patty Tolan to Winston Zeddemore. Like Zeddemore, she's the street-smart, working-class Token Minority of the group who joins the Ghostbusters to assist on missions, despite lacking the others' specialized scientific skills. But while Winston was openly apathetic about the paranormal, and only joined the Ghostbusters because they offered him a steady paycheck, Tolan volunteers to join the team because she believes that they need her skills, and she's initially their first client after she witnesses a haunting in the New York Subway. Lampshaded, when it turns out that her uncle is played by Ernie Hudson.
  • The Godzilla franchise has this with its title character: the original Godzilla was a Tragic Monster, the Showa incarnation was a villain who eventually let go of his anger and became a hero, the Hensei incarnation was an indifferent No-Nonsense Nemesis, the Legendary version doesn't even seem to hate or even bear a grudge against humanity (even going out his way to avoid hurting people deliberately), the Godzilla of Shin Godzilla's mere existence as an radiated creature is a tragedy onto itself and the Godzilla of Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters is one of the more malevolent incarnations of the creature — and that's without getting into the Godzillas of the reboot-happy Millennium series.
  • Assassin's Creed (2016): The movie is set the same year as Assassin's Creed II: Discovery, which means Aguilar and Ezio Auditore are contemporaries. Aguilar, like Ezio, is an Assassin, wears a hood, has hidden blades and parkours his way through his city. Both Ezio and Aguilar are Multi Melee Masters and confront the Templars-led Spanish Inquisition at the time of the Granada War (Ezio does in Discovery). However, Aguilar's origins are very much a Mysterious Past while Ezio's are well established, Ezio's lavish white and red outfit reflects his Florentine nobleman origins while Aguilar's darker and more humble outfit has Moorish influences (since he comes from the Emirate of Granada). Also, Ezio didn't have one of his fingers severed during his induction in the Brotherhood, and Aguilar doesn't wear a Badass Cape.
  • Prince Akeem from Coming to America is this to both protagonists of Trading Places:
  • In A Fistful of Dollars, Joe is a laid-back, bearded man with slightly unkempt clothes who doesn't express his feelings much. In For a Few Dollars More, Colonel Mortimer is polished, well-dressed, and even more level-headed by contrast. As a Contrasting Prequel Main Character, Tuco from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is hot-tempered, impulsive, and even more unkempt than Joe. Joe himself seems to change throughout the trilogy; he's more impetuous around Mortimer and more level-headed around Tuco.

    Literature 
  • Black Jewels: Jaenelle in the main trilogy, and Cassidy in the sequel novels The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady.
    • Jaenelle is a Superpower Lottery winner and a mythic figure - Witch, Dreams Made Flesh, the Living Myth. This has had its downsides - in her youth, she had difficulty with basic Mundane Utility magic because her overwhelming magical strength interfered with fine control, and her parents didn't understand her powers and experiences and doubted her mental stability. She first appears in the books as a preteen child. Jaenelle becomes estranged from her biological family and her adopted father is the king of the underworld.
    • Cassidy is fairly low-powered - rank four out of thirteen according to the setting's power ranking system - and possesses no unique special powers. Her lack of overt specialness has caused her trouble in the past - she lost her first position as a Queen because her followers deserted her for someone more glamorous. Cassidy first appears in the books as a grown woman in her early thirties. Cassidy gets along well with her birth parents and her father is a carpenter.
  • Ikhsior, the protagonist of Cantata in Coral and Ivory is a former sea captain, strong and good at wrestling, that's from a well off territory and is way out of place at the Coral Palace. The protagonist of Pavane In Pearl And Emerald, Kide, is The Social Expert and is dependent on his knowledge of court manners and art to survive, with no athletic skills worth mentioning.
  • The Cosmere: Vin of Mistborn: The Original Trilogy and Waxillium (aka Wax) of The Alloy of Law. Vin started out as a mistrustful and abused Street Urchin while Wax came from a noble family and ran off to the untamed wilds to become The Sheriff. Vin is somewhat Book Dumb, but thinks quickly on her feet; Wax is more intellectual, relying more on science and plans things out. Also Marasi the female lead of Alloy contrasts Vin in that Vin is a badass Action Girl but also has some more feminine interests like dancing and dresses, while Marasi is more of a girly girly but is a member of her school's gun club and studies criminology, both of which are quite stereotypically masculine interests.
  • The title character in the Discworld novel Mort (first in the Death subseries) is a vaguely well-meaning young man who "thinks too much" about useless things (like why the sun comes out during the day, when the light would be more useful at night) and is prone to going along with things because it's easier than arguing. His daughter Susan, in Soul Music and subsequent Death books, is a highly determined and practically-minded young woman who has very strong opinions on everything.
  • Dora Wilk, of her eponymous series, is a Fiery Redhead who sees the best in everyone and is quick to make friends; by contrast, Nikita of the spin-off The Girl from the Miracles District is quiet, aloof, and distrustful.
  • In The Hobbit, Bilbo is a respectable gentlehobbit who wants nothing to do with adventures, but is prodded into it and comes back happier, having traded his reputation at home for many friends throughout Middle-earth and mostly good memories. In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, Bilbo's cousin and adopted son, is seen as odd (even before he starts idolizing Bilbo) and very much wants to go on an adventure like his cousin; when he does, it takes a heavy physical and emotional toll on him and leaves him unable to live in peace in Middle-earth.
  • Jumanji ends with the game falling into the hands of two boys, Walter and Danny, with a tendency to start games without reading the instructions, unlike Jumanji protagonists Judy and Peter. When Walter and Danny received their own book, Zathura, said book also revealed them as more prone to arguing.
  • In Provenance, by Ann Leckie, which is a standalone spin-off from Leckie's Ancillary Justice novels, the heroine, Ingray, is deliberately the opposite in many respects of Breq, the protagonist of the Ancillary books. Whereas Breq began her series as an Experienced Protagonist and is consistently a Consummate Professional, Ingray basically starts out as The Ingenue, albeit of a Spirited Young Lady variety. Notably, both books start out with their main characters rescuing someone who was in storage, but whereas one of Breq's first scenes involves her effortless curbstomping attackers outside of a bar, Ingray starts out with A Simple Plan immediately unraveling, as her transporter refuses to carry her person in a box off-planet unless he gets the cargo's consent once defrosted, and shortly after that, Ingray finds out she's apparently had the wrong person broken out of jail. Further, whereas Breq is from The Empire that's an absolute monarchy essentially ruled by a God-Emperor, and her society has no gender roles but a default female pronoun, Ingray is from an oligarchic republic with multiple genders and pronouns.
  • Redwall: In Mariel of Redwall, the fourth in the series, Brian Jacques intentionally made Mariel very distinct from Matthias, Martin and Mattimeo, the protagonists of the first three books. Most obviously he made her female, but her revenge motive and relative dose of combat pragmatism serves to distinguish her personality. Her weapon, the Gullwhacker, is even designed to be as unlike the Sword of Martin as possible, being a disposable object (it is revealed in The Bellmaker that she keeps replacing the original) instead of an ancestral heirloom weapon. She is also very Hot-Blooded, unlike her more calmer male counterparts.
  • The works of Rick Riordan:
    • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard protagonist Magnus Chase is this to Percy Jackson. While the direct sequel series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus, purposely made Jason Grace a counterpart to Percy, Rick Riordan Apparently decided to go a different route in his following series. Both Magnus and Percy are demigods, but while Percy is an adept fighter who becomes a great warrior and embraces his demigod lifestyle, Magnus dies shortly into the first book, is a healer, is the son of a peaceful god and is not suited for fighting, and initially rejects his new demigod life. Magnus loves books, while Percy hates reading. He's more likely to think or talk through a problem than fight, is less physically affectionate, and is generally less emotionally open and friendly. Many fans especially like to poke fun at the fact that Magnus hates the color blue, Percy's signature favorite color.
    • Also, while Percy wondered his entire childhood who his father was, but was extremely uncomfortable and awkward when he finally did meet Poseidon. Magnus, on the other hand, never really let it bother him (and when he did finally meet Frey, he immediately went in for a hug.)
    • Of course, there's the comparison of the main three characters of The Lost Hero versus those of The Lightning Thief. Jason is more serious and heroic compared to Percy, Leo is far more reckless and dangerous compared to mild and cautious Grover, and Piper is more timid and (initially) uncomfortable in battle compared to Action Girl Annabeth.
  • Aya Tachibana, the protagonist of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, is constantly worrying, mildly introverted, and meticulous; while her sister Nako who stars in the Genie Team G Jiken Note spinoff is outgoing, carefree, and ditzy.
  • Tortall Universe: Each sub-series has a quite different main character from the previous.
    • Daine of The Immortals isn't as different from Alanna as the rest, but she's a Nature Hero and foreigner to Tortall who is almost exclusively a mage rather than a knight and combatant.
    • Keladry of Protector of the Small is a spiritual successor to Alanna of Song of the Lioness as a knight-in-training, but they're quite different to each other. Alanna is short, quick-tempered, quick to fight, and has a very powerful magic Gift. Kel is very tall and keeps growing (5'8" last time we see it mentioned) and quite The Stoic — while not averse to a fight, she doesn't like to if it's not needful. She's also a Badass Normal without even a sniff of magic and has Good Parents who remain quite alive throughout her books.
    • Aly of the Trickster's Duet is a Consummate Liar and The Spymaster, while the previous three ladies are quite straightforward and honorable. Her story also takes place outside of Tortall, a first in the series.
    • Beka Cooper is a commoner living in Corus' slums, and as such her life and morality is a lot messier than any of the previous protagonists, and she meets most nobles at a distance.note  She's also a Shrinking Violet who keeps a journal.
  • The Vampire Hunter D prequel series Another Vampire Hunter has the Noble Greylancer in contrast to D. While D is a half-vampire that works as a lone hunter, Greylancer is a vampire lord that rules over his own territory with armies at his disposal. Whereas D is distant, stoic and doesn't let people get too close, Greylancer is more sociable and approachable in addition of relying on his family for counsel and advice.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • In the second series, the three main protagonists are very different from Firestar: Brambleclaw, the closest comparison to Firestar, is bolder and more assertive, but he also doubts himself much more, fearing that he's destined to be like his evil father. Squirrelflight is feisty and disobedient just for the sake of it, unlike her much more serious father, despite their similar physical appearance. Leafpool is a medicine cat apprentice, rather than a warrior apprentice, following an entirely different path in life.
    • Jayfeather in the third series particularly stands out from the earlier main characters in that he's blind and that his path in life is one he actively didn't want at first.
    • Alderheart in the sixth series is, compared to other protagonists, far more sensitive, anxious, and uncertain of himself; he blames himself for everything that goes wrong.
  • In L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the protagonist Dorothy Gale was famously written as a Fish out of Water Audience Surrogate, an ordinary Kansas farm girl who finds herself whisked away to the Land of Oz by a tornado and spends the whole novel desperately trying to get home. For the first sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, Baum replaced Dorothy with the new protagonist Tip, a young boy who's a native of Oz, and turns out to be Ozma, the long-lost Queen of Oz, magically de-aged and gender-flipped and unaware of her true identity.
  • Star Trek: New Frontier gives us Captain Calhoun, who is far more pragmatic, almost ruthless, compared to the other Starfleet captain protagonists. In particular, he is the only person besides Kirk to pass the Kobiyashimaru test, but they used polar opposite methods: Kirk simply cheated by tampering with the testing computer, while Calhoun made the unprecedented decision to Shoot the Dog.

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: In keeping with the show's premise as an anthology series, every new season-long story tends to go with a main cast of core characters who are as different from the previous season's core cast as possible—often giving the actors a chance to show off their range by playing characters that deliberately contrast their previous roles in the previous seasons.
    • Murder House, a family drama set in suburban California, is told mainly from the perspective of the Harmons, a solidly middle-class nuclear family—the adulterous psychiatrist Ben, the tormented former musician Vivien, and the sardonic teenage rebel Violet.
    • Asylum, a psychological drama set in a New England mental institution, is told mainly from the perspective of the head nun Sister Jude and the wrongly incarcerated mental patients Lana Winters and Kit Walker—a closeted lesbian newspaper reporter and a working-class widower formerly in a secret interracial relationship, respectively.
    • Coven, a boarding school drama set in Louisiana, is told from the perspective of the staff and students of a boarding school for witches—most prominently the ambitious aging socialite Fiona, her estranged adult daughter Cordelia, and the teenage Girl Next Door Zoe.
    • Freak Show, a showbiz drama set in Florida, is told from the perspective of a traveling troupe of carnival performers—most prominently the eccentric singer and carnival manager Elsa, the angry young rebel Jimmy, and the sheltered conjoined siblings Bette and Dot.
    • Hotel, a mystery/crime drama set in a California hotel, is primarily told from the perspective of detective John Lowe and his family as he investigates a series of murders that turn out to be the work of a serial killer. Other primary characters include the mysterious Countess, the literal Vamp owner of the hotel and her string of eerily similar lovers, hotel staff such as manager Iris and bartender Liz, longterm residents (not all of whom are alive) and a revolving door of guests (including several real life serial killers).
    • Roanoke really switches up the format. It presents itself as a mockumentary about the paranormal experiences of a young couple who move into a haunted house, featuring both Talking Heads style interviews with the "real life" characters and dramatizations by In-Universe actors playing them. Halfway through the season, this premise comes to an end and the story picks up in its "sequel," which brings both the "real life" people and their reenactors together in a reunion series. By the end of the season, it also features talk show segments, YouTube footage, and more, to create a Found Footage amalgamation.
  • Although Angel was a spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Until season 5) and not a sequel, Angel fits this trope well in contrast to Buffy. Serious and brooding where the original was cheerful and social, a vampire where Buffy was a human, an anti-hero where Buffy was more of a straight hero (occaisional "what the hell, hero" moments excluded), solitary where Buffy was social, and generally facing adult problems like parenthood, unemployment and legal issues, where Buffy started out in high school and only started facing adult problems in her later seasons.
  • Arrowverse: The main characters of Arrow and The Flash (2014):
    • Oliver of Arrow started out a carefree playboy, with 5 years of perpetual trauma turning him into the stoic shadowy figure he is today. As a hero, he operates mainly as a Terror Hero, preferring espionage, intimidation, and then punching his way out.
    • Barry of The Flash is The Pollyanna, rarely letting the crap in his life get him down. Barry tends to rely on his powers, usually running first and planning second. While Oliver tends to stick to the shadows and let his status as The Dreaded do the job for him, Barry actively strives to be a symbol of hope.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Most incarnations of the Doctor are the opposite of their previous incarnation in some large, glaring way (while other parts of the characterisation shift more subtly).
      • The haughty and moody First Doctor was followed up by the Hoboish and easy-going Second.
      • Two was succeeded by the grumpy, elegant and noble Third.
      • Three was followed by the childish, scruffy and carefree Fourth.
      • Four was followed by the responsible and kindly Fifth.
      • Five regenerated into the bombastic and haughty Sixth.
      • Six became the playful and Machiavellian Seventh.
      • The Eighth Doctor was honest and romantic, in contrast to Seven's solitary scheming.
      • Unlike Eight, Nine was less trusting and more conflicted.
      • Ten was more chipper than Nine ever got, but at the same time down-to-Earth and relatable to humanity more than any other Doctor...
      • …whereas Eleven was completely alien and out of touch with conventions of any kind.
      • In-between Eight and Nine we have the War Doctor, who very deliberately refuses to call himself "Doctor", spending his life fighting the Daleks in the Time War and making some questionable choices. "The Day of the Doctor" contrasts his grizzled, mature attitude to Ten's regretfulness and Eleven's playful forgetfulness.
      • The transition from Eleven to Twelve is fairly explicitly this — where the light-hearted and confident Eleven effectively was an Adorkable old professor in a young man's body, the brooding and self-doubting Twelve is best described as an edgy and cheeky teenager who happens to look like an old man.
      • Thirteen, besides being the first female incarnation, is much more cheerful than the grouchy, irascible Twelve, showing the marked childlike glee of someone who Jumped at the Call, with a mixture of Four's childish attitude and Ten's scruffy good cheer, and with a personality that seems much goofier, more enthusiastic, and more awkward than any in a long time. Her first official outfit is markedly more colourful and casual than any NuWho Doctor yet (complete with rainbow-strap suspenders), and she ends the trailer with a megawatt smile and "Right then, this is gonna be fun!"
    • Done peculiarly in the Fourth Doctor's first season — half of the creative team wanted to differentiate the new Doctor by making him lighten up and be wackier after such a serious previous Doctor, and the other half wanted to differentiate him by making him darker and more brutal after such a noble previous Doctor. It is real testament to the ability of Tom Baker and Robert Holmes that they managed to pull off both, at the same time.
    • Certain companions were replaced with their complete opposites:
      • The First Doctor's "granddaughters": first a dark-haired, cautious, weird, ethereal girl, then a blonde-haired, outgoing, perky Nightmare Fetishist. Both were Impossible Genius girls from utopian future civilisations, so the replacement was a not-too-bright 1960s woman who implicitly came from a broken home.
      • Liz Shaw, an intelligent, astute and ambitious scientist, was replaced with the ditzy, undereducated and scream-prone Jo (who nevertheless would clobber bad guys with heavy objects). This was done because it was felt Liz was too strong a Doctor substitute. Then the writers realised how anti-feminist this looked and replaced the gentle and compliant Jo with a bright and hot tempered journalist who would shout back at the Doctor.
      • The Fourth Doctor's companions: Sarah Jane Smith, a clued-in but physically delicate Muggle Best Friend, was substituted with Leela, an intelligent but undereducated Nubile Savage who the Doctor tended to pick on as an inferior and who specialised in intuition and violence. Then she was replaced with Romana, the Doctor's superior in intelligence but with less life experience. Then Romana, so competent that she often took charge and had the Doctor learning from her, got subbed out for Adric, also a genius alien but a young boy instead of an adult woman, and who the Doctor was raising as a protégé.
      • The concept for Ace was basically "the exact opposite of Mel". Mel was a girly, garishly-dressed Damsel Scrappy who nagged the Doctor into improving his health, whereas Ace was a punky tomboy who lived on a council estate and blew things up with homemade explosives.
      • Rose, a blonde working-class shopgirl in a life slump, is replaced by Martha, a black middle-class medical student with an ambitious personality. Both of them fall in love with the Doctor, so the next one, Donna, repeatedly states that she finds the Doctor unattractive. She's also more snarky and assertive than both of the other two combined.
      • Clara Oswald is a Caucasian nanny/teacher who's addicted to travel and adventure and recklessly brave; in short, she's the Doctor's Distaff Counterpart. An outside force arranges for them to be brought together because of the trouble their similarities can cause and possibly to fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy, and Clara ends up directly affecting his lives more than any previous companion — to the point that he first seeks her out based on what she has already done from his perspective — evolving into one of his few canonical love interests, albeit a platonic one. Eventually, the Twelfth Doctor is forced to let her go for good, and goes on to fulfill another romantic relationship with not-quite-companion River Song, whose whole existence emerged from his (as she is the child of two of his companions, conceived in the TARDIS, and kidnapped and raised to kill him).
      • After these relationships moved by cosmic forces, Twelve meets Bill Potts, a black cafeteria worker who just gets swept up in his adventures, and is first and foremost a curious soul who needs easing into his world. Bill is also the first overtly LGBT companion in the show's history (unless you count Jack Harkness), and as such she and the Doctor obviously have no interest in each other, instead having a strictly platonic Professor-Student relationship.
  • Ryuga Dougai, the current bearer of the GARO title from GARO The One Who Shines In The Darkness, is hotheaded, emotional, socially outgoing, but inexperienced in battle. Whereas Kouga Saejima, the main character from the original GARO series is stoic, almost always ahead of his enemies, but socially detached. Happens again with GARO: Makai no Hana. Raiga, the son of Kouga and Kaoru, is a very caring and warm person, who is generally good with people, while pre-character development Kouga was everything but that.
  • In most Kamen Rider shows, each year's show will have a notably different protagonist.
  • Kung Fu takes place in the Wild West, where Caine is alone Walking the Earth. Kung Fu: The Legend Continues takes place in contemporary Vancouver. The job of Protagonist is split between Kwai Chang Caine II (the Identical Grandson of Kung Fu's Caine) and his son Peter, a police detective. "I'm not my father. I don't do kung fu. I'm a cop, that's who I am, that's what I do."
  • Detective Inspector Sam Tyler of the original BBC series Life On Mars was the calmer By-the-Book Cop to Gene's Cowboy Cop. Detective Inspector Alexandra Drake of the spinoff Ashes to Ashes is less by the book and more Tsundere Lady Drunk.
  • Star Trek
    • Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation compared to Kirk of Star Trek: The Original Series. Kirk is more adventurous and action prone, Boldly Coming and more likely to dive and be at the fore front of any situation. Picard, on the other hand, is more diplomatic, older, more reserved and philosophical. He's also more prone to delegate to his subordinate, almost never going on away missions - unlike Kirk.note  Also unlike Kirk, Picard does not generally mingle in his free time with his bridge crew. That's why the final scene of the series, where he finally joins their weekly poker game, feels so meaningful. Kirk, however would regularly play chess with Spock or spend time with Bones, going on shore leave with Scotty. Curiously, they also have inverted backstories; Kirk was studious and straight-laced when in the academy, though once he graduated he cut loose and became a casual and easygoing, playing fast and loose with the rules. Picard is a Former Teen Rebel who was an infamous skirt-chaser until a near-fatal injury got him to shape up and become the fastidious and intellectual Gentleman Adventurer we all know and love.
    • Sisko of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine compared to Picard. Picard is the quintessential Officer and a Gentleman, being content to look at the big picture in a given situation, while Sisko is much more of a front-line officer, and is more willing to get his hands dirty and deal with problems directly. Notably, Sisko is also the first Star Trek protagonist with a family (he's a widower and a single father), meaning that he's also far less stoic and objective than Picard, and is more likely to get emotionally involved in situations since he knows that he has a son to protect, and because he had to endure losing his wife in a previous battle. And while Kirk and Picard were idealists who took the high road whenever possible, even when it cost them, Sisko will always Shoot the Dog if it gets the job done.
    • The same pattern holds true when comparing Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager to Sisko. While both had inclinations in both command and technical directions, Sisko was a full-time command officer who would occasionally do engineering work, while Janeway had spent long enough at the science officer's desk that she was doing double duty for about half of Voyager. Sisko, as discussed above, was focused on doing what he had to do, while Janeway cared about Starfleet ideals to an almost unhealthy degree. Sisko had a very low tolerance for many groups of adversaries, while Janeway was more diplomatic most of the time, even negotiating with the Borg.
    • Archer of Star Trek: Enterprise appears to borrow some traits from all his predecessors (from our view point, he actually predates them all if going by the setting's timeline). Being the captain of the only friendly ship in unexplored space, he's more of a pathfinder like Kirk or Janeway and is frequently forced to make do with whatever resources he had on hand rather than relying on any other Federation/Earth ship/station. His diplomatic skills skirt between reasonable (he is responsible for kick-starting what will become the Federation) and explosive (especially when concerning Vulcans, with whom he has a personal score to settle). Being an explorer also means that he has probably the worst luck among any of the Captains. He also makes some ethically questionable decisions, such as withholding a cure from a dying species and resorting to piracy in order to complete his objective. He's also not bound by any Federation rules, since the Federation doesn't exist yet, so he makes up rules as he goes.
    • It'll remain to be seen how Burnham of the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery performs, especially since she's the first Star Trek protagonist who's not in command of a ship or a station. Having been raised as Spock's adoptive sister, she's the first Trek main character not to grow up on Earth, and differs from the others by being both black and female, and appears to be the youngest since TOS Kirk. Like Kirk, she expresses Fantastic Racism towards the Klingons, but in reverse, Burnham hates them for killing her parents, while Kirk hated them for killing his son. She also displays an aggressive and impulsive streak, like Kirk, but while Kirk was something of a Cowboy Cop in terms of his command style but still had great respect for Starfleet regulations, Burnham actually directly rebels against the chain of command and attempts a mutiny that gets her court-martialed and thrown in prison.
    • Every subsequent installment of the franchise has done The Spock differently than the Trope Namer. The originator was the Token Nonhuman alien science officer Deuteragonist onboard a Starfleet crew who tempered the more emotional or carnal desires of his crew member with logic that, at first glance, seems cold and unfeeling. Data was the Tritagonist and an Artificial Human Second Officer, and where Spock strove to suppress the emotions that he was born with, Data's goal was the opposite, seeking to become more human by developing an understanding of emotion that he, as a robot, never had. Data was also much more openly friendly and approachable than Spock. Odo was, in contrast to both Data and Spock, a grouchy security officer with Voluntary Shapeshifting powers who detested humans and hated having to take a humanoid form. His makeup was also much more extreme than either Spock or Data. The Doctor was an somewhat goofy artificial intelligence program who appeared identical to a human except for being intangible, and frequently responded to dangerous situations with severe dry wit. He was also the Renaissance Man, and quite proud of it. T'Pol differed from her predecessors by being female, a fighter, and placed on the crew by Vulcan High Command to keep a close eye on the crew. And finally, Saru is the first non-human First Officer of a Starfleet crew, and has the most distinctively alien appearance of any Spock in the main cast. Personality-wise, he's a serious depressive sourpuss who's always the first in any encounter to advocate a graceful retreat. As of Episode 13 of Discovery, he's also the first alien captain of a Star Trek show's primary vessel.
  • Super Sentai display this every so often, with crossover movies highlighting the differences:

    Multiple Media 
  • Toa Tahu, leader of the heroes in BIONICLE's first saga, was a fiery, impulsive hothead, always wanting to prove himself and compete with his fellow Toa. Toa Vakama from the second saga (actually a prequel) was insecure, perpetually angsty, but more controlled and calculating, although still ruled by his emotions. Toa Jaller from the third saga deliberately invoked this trope, having learned from Tahu's and Vakama's mistakes, so he was more level-headed and confident in his approach, but willing to listen to others. Also, Tahu and Vakama both struggled to keep their team together and act as a leader, whereas Jaller was already a respected Captain and friends with his team members prior to becoming a Toa.
  • Kion from The Lion Guard is a Wise Prince who is mindful of the rules. In contrast, his father Simba from The Lion King was a playful Rebel Prince as a cub.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Subverted with Ring of Honor and its sister promotion Full Impact Pro. The wild and party happy Homicide was a very different champion than the stern technicians that were Low Ki, Xavier and Samoa Joe, more concerned with maiming people than proving anything or earning respect, but Homicide lost the FIP title to Bryan Danielson, who was closer to the mold of the previous ROH title holders and then Danielson lost the ROH belt to Homicide. In the Tag Team divisions the split lasted a little longer with ROH's teams being comparatively less comical and more focused on technique and respect(or lack there of in the case of Special K) but they were brought in line with the fifth team to become champions both in ROH and FIP, The Briscoes.
  • SHIMMER's first five singles champions were all unrelenting nigh invulnerable wrestlers who bent and pulverized their opponents in very direct manners and required similarly dreaded wrestlers or particularly skewed odds to defeat. By contrast, the first five singles champions of sister promotion SHINE were all unlikely ones that relied on shameless cheating or subtle ingenuity to stay undefeated. There was not as clear a contrast between the tag team champions though.
  • Compare the first ROH Top Prospect Mike Bennett, a CM Punk wannabe in the ring who was famously dedicated to his significant other with 2013 ROH Top Prospect Matt Taven, a wannabe pretty boy, Casanova Wannabe and Dirty Coward with the 2014 Top Prospect Hanson, a somewhat stocky, hotheaded, No-Nonsense Nemesis. Taven relied on trickery and connections on his path to success, Hanson took runner up Raymon Rowe with him and pummeled his way to the top of the tag team division, rolling over Taven in the process. The 2015 ROH Top Prospect Donovan Dijak, a towering man who wrestles like a scaled up super junior with the 2016 Top Prospect Lio Rush, a man too small to technically qualify as a junior heavyweight yet strives to wrestle like one anyway. Dijak would turn down his promised television spot for a failed run in the tag team division while Rush would be denied his and instead go straight after the world champion after which Prince Nana's manipulations would lead to him and Dijak switching places.

    Theatre 
  • In many ways, Albus Potter is the inverse of his father in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Harry grows up unaware of the wizarding world, is sorted into Gryffindor, and becomes a popular and talented wizard with great skill on a broom. Albus, by contrast, grows up in the wizarding world with two famous parents, gets sorted into Slytherin, and ends up a bullied Inept Mage who's rubbish on a broom.
  • Though by no means sequels, it's easy to draw comparisons between In the Heights's Usnavi and Hamilton's Alexander Hamilton. Usnavi is a tongue-tied, awkward shopkeep with no big ambitions in life besides returning to his home island in the Caribbean. Compare that to Hamilton, charming ladies' soldier-cum-Secretary-of-Treasury who wants to make a name of himself with no desire to visit his Caribbean birthplace. Of course, there are similarities: both were played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, both have Motor Mouth tendencies, and both are concerned with legacy and who will tell their story (which naturally are important themes in both shows).

    Visual Novels 
  • Not a sequel, but a prequel: The protagonist of Fate/stay night, Shirou Emiya, is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who is dragged into the 5th Holy Grail War. In Fate/Zero, his adoptive father Kitsurugi Emiya is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who willingly enters the 4th Holy Grail War.
  • The protagonist of Akai Ito, Hatou Kei, is a timid, unassertive girl who constantly need to be protected by her girlfriend(s). Her cooking is also honest-to-the-gods awful. Cue the sort-of sequel Aoi Shiro, where the protagonist, Osanai Syouko, is a clear-headed captain of an all-girl kendo team with a very good sense of culinaire— good enough to exceed the girl that she must constantly protect.
  • In Danganronpa, protagonist Makoto Naegi is idealistic, non-confrontational, and a little naive, and in awe of his fellow classmates' talents that helped them get into Hope's Peak Academy since his own talent is rather mundane in comparison (Super High School-Level Good Luck, due to being picked from a lottery to be able to attend the school). In Super Danganronpa 2, Hajime Hinata is more cynical, outspoken, and sarcastic, and despite being unable to remember what his talent is he treats his classmates more or less as equals, while at the same time being more wary of them.
    • Komaru Naegi, Makoto Naegi's little sister and protagonist of the series' Gaiden Game Absolute Despair Girls, sets herself apart from her brother and Hinata by being very emotionally fragile, requiring constant moral support to keep her from giving up (which she very nearly does a few times).
    • And the tradition is continued in New Danganronpa V3, with Kaede Akamatsu, the first female protagonist on a numbered series. According to the comments of her VA and Famitsu, Kaede openly seeks the role of leadership in her group, something her predecessors never did. She also seems to be more of a Genki Girl, in contrast to Makoto and Hajime who often play Only Sane Man to their classmates antics. Famitsu particularly stated that she will be more active than Naegi and from her one line on the second teaser, she seems to be a bit of a Go-Getter Girl as well. The game itself, however, subverts it relatively early on, as Kaede is revealed to be a Decoy Protagonist, and from Chapter 2 and going forward the perspective switches to the true player character, Shuichi Saihara, who in many ways is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the series' previous player characters.
  • The Science Adventure series tends to have fairly distinct protagonists. Chaos;Head has Classical Anti-Hero Takumi Nishijou who is pretty much a cowardly otaku who takes awhile to gain motivation. Steins;Gate's Okabe retains some loser traits due to his delusions, but is portrayed as much more confident in his ambitions. At least until the plot rears its head.
  • The first two main characters in the Ace Attorney games, Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, are young men who are hilarious in their attempts to be serious, are able to bluff their way through nervous moments pretty well, and who have pretty unremarkable backstories (or at least enough so that we don't learn much about them). Athena Cykes is a young woman who is more of an obvious Cloudcuckoolander Butt-Monkey who occasionally locks up in terror and who has a very Dark and Troubled Past.

    Web Comics 
  • Black was a straight teen who had a crush on his female next door neighbor (that he could never be with) and traveled around with an older guy. Xavier is a gay teen who travels around with his female next door neighbor and has a crush on an older guy (that he can never be with).
  • Paradox Space an example between two of its anthology comics. The titular dog of "A Fun Day For Bec" uses his teleportation to fly round the world grabbing baseballs, playing with frisbees, and enjoying himself; meanwhile, "A Fun Day For GCat" features a cat appearing throughout the world eating birds and killing mice before dumping the rotting remains in some poor person's room.

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Red vs. Blue with Agent Washington. Wash is introduced in Season 6 as a more serious, disciplined soldier to contrast with the more cynical Reds and Blues. Unlike other examples of this trope, Wash didn't replace the Reds and Blues, but became the Only Sane Man among their ragtag band of idiots.
  • The Adventure Zone: Amnesty plays this straight with Duck, a Comically Serious straight man who just wants to be normal and fights through survival knowledge and brute strength, about as different from the Camp TV celebrity wizard Taako as it's possible to be. Justin even notes explicitly in one episode that he deliberately made Duck a Bad Liar to contrast Taako, whose main solution to problems (other than running away) was to lie his way out of it. However, Ned still has a lot of similarities with Merle (while he's notably less scatterbrained, they still both have a fondness for barely plausible bullshitting), and Aubrey's differences to Magnus mainly run skin deep, both being impulsive, big-hearted friendly folk who love animals. Naturally, some of this is due to actor bleed - Travis has ADD, which naturally affects how he plays his characters, and Clint is always going to be at least a little forgetful. Justin however deliberately tries to make characters unlike himself - in one The The Adventure Zone Zone, he says this is a lifelong habit, and guesses that it comes from his difficulty finding fictional characters who are fat like he is.

    Western Animation 
  • This pops up frequently in Batman Beyond. Most notably in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, where this is pretty much how Batman beats The Joker. Even when Bruce gave him advice on how to win (by not listening to the Joker's talking), MacGinnis realized his best chance was not by not listening, but by beating the Joker at his own game.
    Joker: [after getting kicked in the crotch] What are you doing?!
    Batman: Fighting dirty.
    Joker: The real Batman would never- [kicked again]
  • Daria is a Spin-Off of Beavis And Butthead. You'll find many people shocked by this: the parent show is about two boys who are Lethally Stupid and pretty much had no apparent families, while Daria suffers through Intelligence Equals Isolation and a family whom she (initially) can't stand. The former relies on Toilet Humor, the latter on Genius Bonuses; Beavis and Butthead want people to see them as awesome, while Daria works hard to avoid others. It makes sense, since Daria was created specifically to be a smart, female Foil to the boys.
  • Avatar Korra of The Legend of Korra compared to Avatar Aang of Avatar: The Last Airbender. They are of opposite genders and noticeably different ages (Aang is 12, while Korra starts off at 17 and ends at 21). Aang is pacifistic and spiritual, knows only airbending at the start of the series, and initially Refused The Call. Korra is hot-headed, far more pugnacious, has known how to waterbend, earthbend and firebend since she was a child, and Jumped at the Call. And by her own admission, she's not so good at the spiritual stuff. Visually speaking, Aang is a short, bald-headed, fair-skinned, slender young boy, while Korra is a tall, long-haired, brown-skinned muscular young woman. Aang only had eyes for Katara the entire series. Korra goes on a date with Bolin, has a failed relationship with Mako, and ends the series with Asami. Both however share a good sense of humor, lots of compassion for strangers, and a certain impulsiveness. They also learn different advanced bending forms. Aang learned tremorsense and lightning redirect, Korra learned metalbending, healing and spirit pacification.
    • As one comment puts it:
      "Aang is good and learns to be the Avatar, Korra is the Avatar and learns to be good."
    • It's worth noting that there's a twist to the formula here: Aang and Korra are technically the same person. Korra is the reincarnation of Aang.
    • It's been shown that each Avatar was more or less a contrast to the previous one. Yangchen was wise and responsible, Kuruk was playful and less eager to interfere with mortal affairs, Kyoshi was dead serious and active, and Roku considered his inattentiveness his greatest failure.
  • In My Little Pony, Rainbow Dash's third and fourth generation forms could not be any more different. In the third generation, Rainbow Dash was a fashionista (mainly known for a line in a song that said "Rainbow Dash always dresses in style"). In the fourth generation, she got the Decomposite Character treatment, with her fashionista tendencies being given to Rarity, and instead, the Rainbow Dash of this generation is a brash, proud athlete who hates anything uncool (though she does come to enjoy "uncool" habits over the course of the series). Played to its logical extreme by the episode "The End in Friend", where they have such vastly different outlooks and worldviews that it leads to them temporarily ending their friendship.
  • Phineas and Ferb and Milo Murphy's Law, if one expands "sequel" to mean "Spiritual Successor made by the same guys and set in the same town." The former is about a pair of ridiculously chipper brothers who were Born Lucky and succeed at any ridiculous thing they try; the latter about a ridiculously chipper boy who was Born Unlucky (literally) and often has to struggle through the simplest tasks. By extension one could contrast Candace (an older sister always on her brothers' case until she learns to get along with them over and over again) and Sara (an older sister who's unquestioningly supportive), or Perry (a secret agent platypus who has a habit of disappearing from his owners' sight, causing people to say "Hey, where's Perry?") and Diogee (an ordinary dog who has a habit of appearing before Milo, causing him to say "Diogee, go home").
  • Star Wars Resistance: Unlike Ahsoka Tano and Ezra Bridger, Kazuda Xiono is a) a Badass Normal instead of a Force-user, and b) although young, older than fourteen, the age the other two were at the beginning of their shows. Also unlike most Star Wars protagonists, Kaz is from a well-off background, isn't an orphan, and is from an "influential world", being in contact with his family before he was recruited by the Resistance. Finally, unlike Anakin, Ahsoka, Ezra, Luke and Rey, Kaz has little to no mechanical skills.
  • Transformers:
    • Optimus Prime and Optimus Primal. Both noble and brave leaders who do battle against a Transformer who goes by "Megatron" for the fate of the Earth. While Prime was seasoned leader of the Autobots, Primal had no military background and was the leader of a small crew of Maximals who only responded to Megatron's theft of the Golden Disk because they were the closest. Prime was a respected and idealized warrior who carried the Matrix of Leadership that gave him the collected wisdom of past Primes, Primal is more down to Earth while having his team question his orders or undermine him, though when he carried Optimus Prime's spark during the season 3 premiere, he started to exhibit more of Prime's personality.
    • Transformers Animated was immediately preceded by the Unicron Trilogy which came with contrasting Optimus Prime's. The Unicron Trilogy's Optimus took many cues from the G1 incarnation, a serious, respected veteran leader. Animated Optimus is an academy washout, born in a long period of peace who has never actually seen a Decepticon outside of history videos and has to learn to be a leader. He was succeeded by the serious Transformers Prime Optimus, who also took after the original incarnation.
    • Transformers Prime: Optimus is longtime leader of the Autobots who was stoic, wise, patient and respected by Autobot and Decepticon alike. Transformers: Robots in Disguise: Bumblebee, who served under him in Prime, is emotional, unsure, more used to being part of a team than leading one and frequently dealt with both disobedience and lack of respect early on. He attempted to emulate Optimus once, but it went nowhere and Optimus told him that he needs to lead his team his own way.
    • Transformers: Cyberverse continues this with a different interpretation of Bumblebee. Where the Robots in Disguise Bumblebee was an experienced soldier who developed into a leader and knew when to be serious and when to cutloose, Cyberverse Bumblebee is an Amnesiac Hero who has to relearn who he was and is overwhelmed by the serious situation he finds himself in.
    • The Transformers, with Optimus Prime and Rodimus Prime, was very likely the inspiration for the above. Optimus is an Ideal Hero who's always ready to fight and an experienced commander who's seen as A Father to His Men, while Rodimus is more youthful, more ready to doubt himself, and tends to treat his troops more like close friends (which they usually are).


Alternative Title(s): Contrasting Sequel Protagonist

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