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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.

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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     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.
  • 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.
    • 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 an 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 Beetle 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 a set of Empathic Weapon super powered outfit.

    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.

    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 and Batman from The LEGO Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. Emmet, main character of the former 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 latter 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.

    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.
  • 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. 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.

  • In Mariel of Redwall, the fourth in the Redwall 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.
  • Tortall Universe: each 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 Daughter of the Lioness 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 of the Provost's Dog books 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In most Kamen Rider shows, each year's show will have a notably different protagonist.
  • 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). Over the classic series, the haughty and moody First Doctor was followed up by the Hoboish and easy-going Second, who was succeeded by the grumpy, elegant and noble Third, the childish, scruffy and carefree Fourth, the responsible and kindly Fifth, the bombastic and haughty Sixth, the playful and Machiavellian Seventh. The Eighth Doctor was honest and romantic, in contrast to Seven's solitary scheming, whereas the Ninth 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. 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. 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. Thirteen will be played by a woman, but we have yet to learn what kind of a Doctor she will be.
    • 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 blond-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 protege.
      • 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, wheras 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 preceding companions 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 so far does not look to become another love interest, but rather a curious soul who needs easing into his world. Bill Potts is also the first overtly LGBT companion in the show's history (unless you count Jack Harkness), and as such obviously has no interest in the Doctor himself, but rather a strictly platonic Professor-Student relationship.
  • 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.
  • Due to the "Fresh cast" approach Power Rangers has, this is usually a given for the ranger who's generally the main focus of the season. (I.E. the red ranger)
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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).

     Video Games 
  • Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories: Both Toni Cipriani and the Leone Crime Family. Their main role in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is a huge contrast to the Grove Street Families from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Unlike them, they have no problem with things such as drug trafficking, torture and supporting sociopaths like Donald Love.
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Niko Bellic is this to various degrees.
    • He marks a huge contrast to the previous protagonists. While Tommy Vercetti and CJ led a criminal life to fill their pockets, Niko is not happy with this lifestyle.
    • Ironically, despite wanting to get away from his past, Niko also marks a huge contrast in terms of coldness. Yes, Vercetti was a mafia enforcer for years and CJ committed very reprehensible crimes, but none of them committed human trafficking in their past as Niko did. Besides, Niko's work directly involves killing people. After all, he's a Professional Killer working for the police, criminal organizations or committing acts of vigilantism. It doesn't help the fact that Niko has the highest bodycount in the entire series.
  • Grand Theft Auto V:
    • Both Michael and Trevor make a huge contrast when you compare them with Niko. Unlike Niko, who is a man who wants to get away from violence, both Michael and Trevor are much more enthusiastic in this lifestyle, especially Trevor.
    • On the other hand, Franklin marks a contrast to Luis Lopez. While Luis wanted to leave this lifestyle to focus on legal business, Franklin wants to be a better kind of criminal.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link is The Stoic, was orphaned, had the fairy Navi as a companion, was The Chosen One, and sealed Ganondorf away. In the Alternate Timeline shown in The Wind Waker, Link has Adorkable elements, grew up with his sister and grandmother, was The Unchosen One, worked without an Exposition Fairy, and outright killed Ganondorf by impaling him through the head.
  • Maia of Summoner 2 compared to Joseph of Summoner. Joseph shunned his destiny, and only answered The Call because The Call Knows Where You Live - twice. Maia's been raised as The Chosen One and embraces her destiny, seeking to accomplish it. It makes her more headstrong, but also less likely to listen to others - believing she knows best, unlike Joseph who was far more willing to take advice - but could be (and was) manipulated as a result.
  • The "hero" of Drakengard, Caim, is a bloodthirsty Ax-Crazy Sociopathic Hero, only saved from Villain Protagonist status by The Empire he fights being worse. In the sequel, he's something of an antagonist and the protagonist, Nowe, is a fairly standard Idiot Hero Wide-Eyed Idealist. The fact that they're related, as Nowe is Caim's nephew, makes this even more notable.
  • In Disgaea (which has a new protagonist in each game, plus cameos from the previous cast) the personalities of each main character alternated for the first four games. The first and third games had characters who were after power (Laharl wanted to become an Overlord, while Mao was in it For Science!) and the second and fourth games had characters with more noble goals (Adell wanted to end the curse which turned everyone into demons and Valvatorez wanted to keep his promise to the prinnies he's trying to emancipate). Played with in the later games: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness had a post-character-development Laharl as the main character again, who was not quite as power-hungry as previous appearances, and Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Killia, who was plenty noble, but had been more like pre-character-development Laharl in his backstory.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Solid Snake, a hardened, battle-hardened, cynical ladies' man and Anti-Hero, of Metal Gear Solid as against Raiden, an optimistic, idealistic rookie with no real combat experience and a steady girlfriend, of Metal Gear Solid 2. Made particularly explicit as Snake is the protagonist of the introduction to the latter game.
    • Raiden is in turn contrasted by Naked Snake in Snake Eater. Naked Snake was energetic and confident, experienced, and sleeps with the Chinese spy EVA at the end of the game. And Naked Snake in turn was contrasted by Old Snake (Solid Snake after some Rapid Aging) in 4. Now nearly a Death Seeker, a man without a place in the current battlefield and almost no attraction to his female allies.
    • Which was contrasted by Big Boss (formerly Naked Snake) in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a disillusioned veteran without a country or cause, seeking a purpose. Unlike Snake, Raiden, and even his younger self, he forms a sort of ersatz family out of his mercenary company, compared to the series' typical lone wolf approach.
    • Which was contrasted by Raiden in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, a mercenary who claimed to fight for justice but also sought, well, revengeance. Which was contrasted by "Jack the Ripper", Raiden's Combat Sado Masochist persona who just plain likes to kill things.
    • Which is contrasted in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain by "Venom Snake" (an even older, grumpier Big Boss), who contrasts both Raiden and himself from "prequel chapter" Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (which takes place less than a month after Peace Walker). While Venom is still a charismatic leader who's A Father to His Men, he's also a revenge-driven man well on his way to becoming a villain. He's also a lot more subdued in personality compared to previous protagonists (including the Snake Eater and Peace Walker versions of himself). Also, while Raiden ultimately decides to follow his own path, Venom Snake is actually a Body Double who's been carrying out the will of the real Big Boss.
      (wearily) Kaz...I'm already a demon.
  • The protagonist of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd Irving is a classic Idiot Hero - headstrong, quick to action, confident in himself, and optimistic about bringing change to the worlds. In contrast Dawn of the New World's protagonist, Emil Castagnier, is a male Shrinking Violet, quick to apologize, and lacking confidence in himself until his Character Development and Superpowered Evil Side / Split Personality kick in.
  • Tales of Berseria is a prequel to Tales of Zestiria and fittingly the protagonists contrast each other. Outside of Zestiria's protagonist being male and Berseria's female, Sorey is a hero raised by Seraphim, becomes the Shepherd, and faces the Lord of Calamity before becoming a Seraph. Velvet is an Anti-Hero raised by humans, becomes a daemon, and fights a "legendary Shepherd" while going down in history as a Lord of Calamity.
  • Whenever the Assassin's Creed series introduces a new assassin protagonist, you can bet that they'll be different from previous protagonists in some way. The series never sticks with one assassin for too long.
    • Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad of Assassin's Creed I is a no-nonsense (if overconfident) veteran Professional Killer.
    • Ezio Auditore da Firenze of Assassin's Creed II is a playboy youth from a wealthy banking family who chooses to enter the cloak-and-dagger world of the Assassins to take revenge on the Templars who betrayed and killed his parents, only officially joining the Order in the final mission.
      • The contrast between the two goes even further when their complete lives are viewed. Altaïr was extremely cynical all the way to the end, taking the view of Humans Are the Real Monsters and seeing a Crapsack World. Ezio gained a real appreciation for life, taking the view that Humans Are Flawed, but overall decent people and that The World Is Just Awesome. Even their deaths are portrayed in contrast. Altaïr dies alone, locking himself in a vault, having lost his wife and one of his sons to inter-factional conflict within the Order. Ezio dies on a bench, watching his wife and daughter in the market, content with his life.
    • Connor Kenway of Assassin's Creed III is an idealistic rookie Assassin who's treated as an outsider because of his Mohawk ancestry, and ends up directly at odds with his father Haytham, the Grandmaster of the Templar Order in the course of his mission.
      • Assassin's Creed III: Liberation has the series' first female and black protagonist, Aveline de Grandpre. She can switch between different "personas" for different situations, which is a lot more subtle than Connor. She rebels against her assigned role as a nobleman's daughter, while Connor's Native American background was clearly dominant. She's also more conflicted than Connor about morality, and tends to be impulsive in contrast to his stoicism. She too, has a Nice Hat.
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag stars Connor's grandpa, Edward Kenway, a nigh-alcoholic, selfish pirate who ends up getting mixed up in this Assassin and Templar nonsense entirely by accident and spends most of the plot insisting that he's not in it for their revolution. He also spends a good portion of the game pining over his lost love. And he's blonde. At the same time, he and other pirates attempt to establish their own Republic, which harkens back to Connor's beliefs in freedom.
      • Adéwalé, Edward's Number Two for much of the game, is the protagonist of Assassin's Creed: Freedom Cry. By that point, he's a slave-turned-pirate-turned-Assassin. Having experienced life from multiple sides, he has finally found a purpose in life with the Assassins, which puts him in contrast with Edward, who wanted nothing to do with the group. In the DLC, Adéwalé is ship-wrecked on Saint-Domingue and ends up getting involved in the Maroon rebellion, helping free hundreds of slaves. The Assassin-Templar conflict is only tangentially involved here, and the main struggle is against the British slave-owners. While Adéwalé is reluctant to spend so much time away from his Assassin duties, he eventually grows to sympathize with the Maroons and helps them greatly, to the point of a Heroic B.S.O.D. when the British governor opts to kill slaves en masse rather than allow them to be freed.
    • Assassin's Creed: Rogue: has Shay Patrick Cormac - a one time Assassin who betrays them and becomes a Templar. He kills the very people who took him in and helped raised him. He also works with the villains whom were in part III, making himself a Villain Protagonist. And while he's given a Freudian Excuse for this, it still doesn't justify his actions. Especially since the ending shows him committing the assassination at the beginning of Assassin's Creed: Unity that led to the French Revolution.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity features Arno. While the son of an assassin, he was partially raised by the templars, only coming back to the assassins later in life. He also places more value on relationships than ideology, demonstrated by his willingness to join his Childhood Friend Elise (a templar) on her quest for vengeance, while also dancing around the assassin's council and different factions for the sake of those he cares for most.
    • And this is in turn contrasted in Assassin's Creed: Syndicate with the twin Jacob and Evie. Both of them are career assassins, with commitment to the cause first, though they differ over methodology. Jacob is also Hot-Blooded and tends to leap first at the templars before wondering about consequences. Evie meanwhile is methodical almost to a fault, devoted to her father's ideals (Jacob personally holds some resentment towards him due to being Always Second Best) and more the stoic than most of the previous 3 protagonists.
    • Bayek in Assassin's Creed Origins technically precedes everyone else listed above making him Contrasting Prequel Main Character in many aspects: first, he is deeply religious and believing in the afterlife in contrast to most Assassins who were secular, agnostic or straight up atheistic. Also unlike other Assassins who would form families in their later lives - a given considering they would leave descendants behind - Bayek is already a father at the start of his game.
    • Desmond, the true protagonist of the first three numbered titles, has run away from the Farm, unwilling to spend his life in a Secret War against an Ancient Conspiracy, and becomes a bartender, until said conspiracy finds him and pulls him back in. He's reluctant, but ends up personally experiencing the lives of several of his Assassin ancestors, filling him with renewed confidence in the Assassin cause, as well as using the "bleeding effect" to learn his ancestors' skills. His ultimate Heroic Sacrifice sets him aside from all the other protagonists.
    • The protagonists of the present day plot, unlike Desmond, are regular everyday schmucks who managed to get roped into Assassin-Templar conflict. The protagonist of Black Flag and Rogue are both new employees at Abstergo who are given a chance to aid the Assassins and the Templars respectively. The protagonist of Unity and Syndicate are normal citizens that the Assassins manage to come across while hacking into the Helix.
    • Origns marks the return of an established, named protagonist in the present day plot. Layla Hassan is an ex-Abstergo employee. A tech genius, she created the latest version of the Animus which has mobile capabilities. But she decides to leave the company behind when she doesn't get credit for her work and seen as a threat for being too smart. Unlike Desmond, Layla isn't a hero trying to save the world from the Templar's, but a selfish, ambitious woman at war with the people who rejected her.
  • Legacy of Kain.
    • Blood Omen's Kain is a former noble man destined to becomes the Balance Guardian of Nosgoth, he's assassinated by the Death Guardian, turned into a vampire, who then seeks revenge against his assassins. Kain decides to damn Nosgoth so the vampires can rule it.
    • Soul Reaver's Raziel is a former vampire hunter who was vampyrised then betrayed by a jealous Kain. (Except not really It's complicated) Raziel returns as a wraith-type creature who can travel between both the spectral and material realms, and he plans to kill his vampire killers to save Nosgoth. Both protagonists are after revenge, but by contrast Raziel is driven more by justice and Kain is driven by survival for his race.
  • In the first The Legend of Kyrandia, the protagonist is a classic heroic Prince Charming. In the second, the protagonist is a Plucky Girl alchemist. In the third, the protagonist is an Omnicidal Maniac (the Big Bad of the first game).
  • .hack R1 Games' Kite is an optimistic Kid Hero, while Dot Hack GU's Haseo is a darker, more brooding figure who prides himself on killing Player-Killers.
  • Final Fantasy likes to vary its tone a lot:
    • Final Fantasy's heroes were Heroic Mime characters with no names and fixed Jobs, so Final Fantasy II stars a main character with a Canon Name (Firion), flexible skills and a whole game mechanic based around talking. Then Final Fantasy III is back to using something in the middle - the characters have dialogue but it isn't assigned to one character in particular, and while you can change their Jobs you are restricted to using specific Job classes instead of the more flexible approach taken by Firion.
    • Cecil of Final Fantasy IV is an emotional man atoning for the sins of his past, a highly decorated soldier and has dramatic and intense relationships with his party members. Bartz of Final Fantasy V is a laid back Idiot Hero with no particular qualifications beyond birthright, who has a bickering, 'normal' relationship with his party members.
    • Terra of Final Fantasy VI is an insecure former enslaved soldier, with amnesia from mind control, who has to come to terms with her repressed inner strength to succeed. Cloud of Final Fantasy VII is a traumatised young man and swaggering former elite SOLDIER, who remembers too much due to mind control and has to come to terms with his repressed inner weakness to succeed. (Cloud's personality draws somewhat from VI's deuteragonist Celes, another cocky and aloof magic soldier who was designed to contrast Terra in much the same way.)
    • Squall of Final Fantasy VIII was intentionally written to be more 'human' and 'normal' than the FF heroes so far. Where Terra and Cloud's troubles are about self-identity, Squall's troubles are about his relationships with his friends and family, with his teenage identity problems more in the background. Previous FF heroes (even the most everyman ones) existed strictly in a fantasy world, but Squall goes to high school, rents cars and reads his classmates' blog posts.
    • Zidane of Final Fantasy IX, Tidus of Final Fantasy X and Vaan of Final Fantasy XII were more friendly and confident heroes to counter the brooding and insecure Terra, Cloud and Squall.
    • Lightning of Final Fantasy XIII is back to being moody and serious, with elements of her character and look designed to be a Distaff Counterpart to Cloud and Squall.
    • Noctis of Final Fantasy XV has a Meaningful Name (Noctis Lucis Caelum) which is supposed to indicate his contrast to previous Tetsuya Nomura-designed heroes - 'Lucis' (clear) to contrast with Cloud, and 'Noctis Caelum' (night heavens) to contrast with Sora (daytime sky). Note also that Lightning's name contains the word "Light" and she is themed around Light Is Not Good, while Noctis is themed around Dark Is Not Evil (with the usual Nojima idea that Darkness is an element of rest and peace; Noctis is laid-back and a little lazy, while Lightning is extremely highly strung and judgemental.) Both Lightning and Noct have promotional renders displaying them in the same pose, with Lightning bathed in shafts of white light and Noctis lurking in shadows.
    • Compilation of Final Fantasy VII:
      • Zack Fair from Crisis Core is more hotheaded, attitude-driven, laid back, and friendlier than the colder, thoughtful, insane Cloud Strife from the previous game. Various motifs are set up to contrast the two - Zack Fair and Cloud Strife, how the compassionate Zack uses the blunt edge of his blade while the intimidating Cloud always uses the sharp edge, and the Animal Motif that compares Zack to a puppy and Cloud (in Advent Children) to a wolf.
      • The main characters of the original VII are Cloud, Aeris, Tifa and Barret, with Cid getting a lot of important things to do towards the end. Dirge of Cerberus's protagonists are Vincent and Yuffie, who had been Optional Party Members in the original, and Reeve, the alter ego of party member Cait Sith; Cloud, Barret and Tifa appear only in a brief cameo and get a couple of lines each.
  • Deliberately invoked in the Valkyria Chronicles games; Welkin Gunther from the original is a brilliant but rather absent-minded and eccentric intellectual, Avan Hardins from II is a Book Dumb and Hot-Blooded Idiot Hero with lots of charisma, and Kurt Irving from III is a studious and military-minded pragmatist with No Social Skills.
    • III's Power Trio as a whole definitely contrast the trios from previous games. Whereas Welkin-Alicia-Isara and Avan-Zeri-Cosette are fighting for a clearly honorable cause, earn plenty of public accolade, and are supportive of each other from the beginning; Kurt-Alicia-Imca are fighting in morally dubious missions, will never have their heroics made public, and start with a lot of venom between themselves. That said, III's trio are all good at heart, just like their predecessors.
  • Arguably the case with Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, highly trained pros from Resident Evil, and Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield from Resident Evil 2, the first a rookie cop on his first day on the job, the second a civilian with minor training.
  • The first two Silent Hill games feature this. Silent Hill stars Harry Mason, an implacable Papa Wolf who, in the best ending, is painted as Messianic Archetype. In Silent Hill 2, the new protagonist, James Sunderland, is quite the opposite: cowardly, self-centered and even responsible for at least two deaths.
    • Heather from Silent Hill 3 is a frightened but rather sassy young woman. Silent Hill 4s protagonist, Henry Townsend is quiet, agoraphobic and almost emotionless. Silent Hill: Origins stars Travis Grady, a calm, lonely trucker. Alex Shepard from Silent Hill: Homecoming is a delusional though determined vet and Silent Hill: Downpours Murphy is a thoughtful yet violent inmate.
    • The first game's reimagining Silent Hill: Shattered Memories does this with the same person. Here, Harry retains his drive, but lacks the physique to, say, fight off monsters with his bare hands. What's more, he loses his role as a Chaste Hero, and has gone through a divorce instead of having his wife die. Also, the game silently judges you on what your real intentions are; if you're not focused enough, it'll turn him into a drunk, a womanizer or a coward.
  • This is prevalent in the Shin Megami Tensei games.
    • The Player Character of Shin Megami Tensei I started as an Ordinary High-School Student and a Momma's Boy. In Shin Megami Tensei II, Aleph is an Artificial Human and is a good enough dancer. The only thing they both have in common is that they have no affinity for magic, making both of them Badass Normals.
    • The Demi-Fiend/Hito-Shura of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne started out as an Ordinary High-School Student until he was dragged into the Vortex World and forcibly transformed into a Half-Human Hybrid. On the other hand, the protagonist of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey is an adult Badass Normal military officer deliberately getting himself involved in the plot.
    • Flynn from Shin Megami Tensei IV is a blue-clad Samurai from feudal Mikado with a Hime Cut. This is contrasted by Nanashi of Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, who is a green-clad Hunter of Monsters from post-apocalyptic Tokyo with Delinquent Hair.
    • Devil Survivor 2's protagonist (Hibiki Kuze) is pretty much the exact opposite of the protagonist from Devil Survivor (Kazuya Minegishi). DS2's protagonist wears white-blue in complete contrast to the DS1 hero's black-red, and his dialogue options are overall much more upbeat and silly. Also, DS2's hero is much more proactive about getting to understand his party members, helping them change, and saving the day, while DS1's hero is just trying to keep his and his friends' heads on their shoulders and doesn't take action until the final day (and even then, one of his options is to run his ass off).
    • This is also prevalent in the Persona sub-series:
      • Persona 3 and Persona 4 do a subtle change off. Both main characters are still blank slates, but P4's protagonist (Yu Narukami) has a larger build than his P3 counterpart (Minato Arisato/Makoto Yuki) and also looks far more masculine. Most likely a result of a few fans complaining that P3's protagonist looked wimpy. Even in the crossdressing contest in Persona 4, it's very hard to mistake Yu as feminine.
        Additionally, the animated adaptations have them show a contrast in a single character archetype: The Stoic. While both Makoto and Yu have Deadpan Snarker and Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies, Yu's eccentric stoicism is played much more for laughs than Makoto's, largely because Yu is a friendly and empathetic individual from the start, while Makoto starts off as cold and detached. Additionally, Makoto tends to get more openly emotional when his friends are threatened than Yu does.
      • The optional female protagonist of Persona 3 Portable has dialogue choices which imply that she's much more upbeat and energetic than her male counterpart. It's even apparent in the color choices for each scenario; the male protagonist is associated with the color blue, and the female protagonist with red.
      • The Persona 2 duology pulls this with its player characters: Innocent Sin's Tatsuya Suou is an aloof teenage loner, while Eternal Punishment 's Maya Amano is a perky, outgoing young woman.
      • Persona 5 extends this trope to the entire cast of playable characters. Persona 4's heroes are Amateur Sleuths. Persona 5's heroes are Phantom Thieves. More specifically, the protagonist of Persona 5 contrasts greatly with previous protagonists; unlike the P4 protagonist who had very straight hair and becomes very popular at school, this protagonist has rather messy hair an is treated with disdain and mistrust due to his criminal background. And unlike the previous two protagonists, he has virtually no school life; he participates in no sports teams or clubs, and only two of his non-party confidants actually have any connection to his school (and most of their events occur outside of school). Furthermore, the previous two protagonists tend towards stoicism and have rather subdued reactions, whereas the protagonist presents himself as a stoic in his day-to-day life only for the facade to fall off as a Phantom Thief, where he's more prone to theatrics.
  • [PROTOTYPE] and [PROTOTYPE 2], complete with making the protagonist of the first the villain of the second. Alex Mercer, the original protagonist, was amnesiac, manipulated somewhat easily, and sullen. The protagonist of the second, James Heller, was rage filled, remembered everything, and saw through his enemies' plans. Alex also became more verbose in 2, in contrast to Heller's bluntness and propensity for swearing.
  • BioShock
    • Jack from BioShock, as an ordinary human who fights mostly with scavenged small arms and improvised weapons, had a distinct feeling of vulnerability to him even as he acquired more powerful Plasmids and began to prove himself in battle. This is compounded by the revelation that he was little more than a mind-controlled slave of Fontaine's from the very start, devoid of free will. Subject Delta, on the other hand, is a hulking, heavily-spliced monster of a man, clad in an armoured suit and capable of braving even the ocean floor unscathed. Meanwhile, others regard him as nothing but a mindless automaton, but the fact that he actually does possess free will is a large part of his character and motivation.
    • Unlike the first two, Booker DeWitt of Bioshock Infinite has a significant identity outside of his mission, which isn't a quest for survival; he's hired to rescue Elizabeth, who is herself a marked contrast to the loneliness that permeated the first few games. He speaks and comments much more on the things going on around him, in that he speaks and comments at all.
  • The Halo games' primary protagonist is the Spartan-II super-soldier Master Chief, a famed war hero and brilliant leader with a fondness for pithy one-liners who otherwise is all stoic professionalism and pretty much defines himself by his job, having been kidnapped as a child by the UNSC so they could raise him to become the perfect soldier. Naturally, the other player protagonists tend be quite different:
  • The Mega Man franchise does this all the time.
    • The innocent, childlike Mega Man of the original series was followed by X, who both looks and acts more grown-up.
    • Mega Man X was contrasted (both in his own series and the sequel) with Zero. Where X is deeply conflicted about violence and morality, Zero loves to fight and doesn't worry much about gray areas.
    • After Zero came Aile and Vent in the first Mega Man ZX game. Zero is a robot who's missing his memory but knows how to handle himself; Aile and Vent are humans with no mental problems, but they have a lot to learn about the heroism business.
    • The second ZX game pulls this trope on the first in two ways. The new player characters (Ashe and Grey) have more complicated pasts and more adult perspectives than Aile and Vent. Their partner, Model A, is very different from the easily heroic Models X and Z — he's selfish and unmotivated for large parts of the game. (He doesn't even change forms the same way they do.)
    • In the Alternate Universe, Mega Man Battle Network's optimistic and fun-loving heroes Lan and MegaMan were succeeded in the Mega Man Star Force games by the mopey Geo and his gruff, strange-looking alien friend Omega-Xis. This has often been compared to the original/X series change.
  • Knights of the Old Republic While both protagonists were canonically light-sided by LucasArts fiat, outcry over making Revan yet another white, male, heterosexual video game hero (like every Star Wars game hero had been up until that point) led to Exile being an Ambiguously Brown female.
    • The mentor figures for both games are also basically polar opposites: Bastila and Kreia. The former is a youthful, self-righteous Living Legend, praised throughout the Jedi for defeating The Dreaded Revan. The latter is an old, jaded Consummate Liar who was expelled from the Jedi Order for teachings they felt were heretical. Bastila really likes to stress following the light side to a fault, where Kreia derides both extreme light and dark side choices equally and, as a more specific contrast to Bastila, is actually a Sith Lord bent on destroying the Force entirely. Both comment throughout the game based on choices the PC makes, and both end up leaving the party mid-game to become primary antagonists: Bastila becomes the Big Bad's new Dragon in I, and Kreia becomes The Man Behind the Man of II.
  • King's Quest: King's Quest III had a quiet, bookish wizard's slave named Gwydion discover he was a prince named Alexander and endure an arduous quest to rescue his sister. King's Quest IV follows spirited, Plucky Girl Princess Rosella as she is disguised as a peasant on a quest to rescue her dad.
  • Baten Kaitos has Kalas, who is (initially) a jerkass who cares nothing of anyone's problems other than his own. Meanwhile in Origins, Sagi is quite the nice guy, and is often eager to help out others. Also, while Kalas is a spiriter, Sagi's is a malideiter, his power coming from a dark god.
  • Dead Rising stars Frank West, a calm, cocky photojournalist who is nevertheless altruistic. Dead Rising 2 stars Chuck Green, a straight-laced and extremely serious stunt man who cares deeply for his daughter. Dead Rising 3 features Nick Ramos, a panicky mechanic who is immune to the zombies.
  • The protagonist of Far Cry 4 is Ajay Ghale, a Kyrati-American twenty-something former-troublemaker who gets swept up in a civil war in a foreign land and becomes their strongest warrior, and he happens to really have a way with animals. Compare the protagonist of Far Cry 3, Jason Brody, a caucasian twenty-something rich So-Cal asshole who gets swept up in a resistance movement in a foreign land and becomes their strongest warrior. Oh, and Animals Hate Him. A lot.
  • In Grandia, the protagonist is Justin, a wide-eyed, optimistic youth who eagerly sets off on an adventure to explore the world. In Grandia II, the protagonist, Ryudo, is a cynical "Geohound" note  who more or less gets dragged into the plot against his will.
  • This was suppose to be the case in Devil May Cry 4, with the protagonist Nero. He is a demon hunter for a religious cult, who is fighting for the love of his girlfriend and his faith. However, he hides the fact that he was born with a demon arm which gives him special abilities which makes him insecure. Dante is a freelance demon hunter for hire. He doesn't have an established love interest, despite working with two attractive women. He is proud of his half demon heritage and the abilities that come with it. Ultimately, subverted, however, because Nero has the same cocky personality as Dante, not separating the two.
  • The four non-DLC Vault Hunters from Borderlands 2 each contrast with a different Vault Hunter from the original:
    • Roland and Axton were both former soldiers who utilize turrets in battle. However, Roland's the closest thing to a good guy Pandora has, and he left because of corruption in his unit. Axton, on the other hand, is a Glory Hound and Military Maverick who was dishonorably discharged because of his proclivity for excessive collateral damage.
    • Lilith and Maya are both Sirens, two of six women spread across the universe with mysterious powers, who came to Pandora looking for more information about the Sirens. Lilith is Hot-Blooded with an addictive personality, and tends to enjoy violence more than she knows she should. Maya is of a more sophisticated upbringing, the Team Mom and Token Good Teammate of her gang, and while killing does seem to amuse her, she's not as bloodthirsty about it.
    • Mordecai and Zer0 both fill the sniper role, but in very different ways. Zer0 is a stoic, mysterious, soft-spoken, and Ambiguously Human Assassin with a sleek, high-tech appearance that favors cutting-edge Hyperion weapons. Mordecai's a loud, brash, alcoholic, and definitely human Hunter that's visibly wilder and more rugged and favors old-fashioned Jakobs weapons .
    • Brick and Salvador are both violence-loving berserkers who manage to come off as the Token Evil Teammate even for Pandora. Brick turns out to be a Bruiser with a Soft Center with Hidden Depths who occasionally comes across as the Only Sane Man. Salvador is completely Ax-Crazy and doesn't really have an off switch. Even their physiques and specialties are different: Brick is massive and relies on his fists to pummel foes, while Salvador is The Napoleon and a Gun Nut.
  • Neptunia.
    • Neptune is a cheerful, childish, ditzy, lazy, but confident girl who loves to break the serious mood and is always positive. She balances her flawed personality with her Goddess form Purple Heart, a true Lady of War and Only Sane Woman among the four goddesses. Neptune's younger sister however is dutiful, calm, polite, but lacks self-confidence, and her Goddess form Purple Sister is barely different from her human form. Since Nepgear is too plain and not as amusing as her older sister, Neptune becomes the protagonist of the next two main games again.
    • In terms of goddesses from another dimension, there are Plutia from Victory and Uzume Tennouboshi from Victory II. Both are newcomers from their respective installments, but they differ greatly in terms of personality and importance in story. Plutia is very calm, to the point where she seems to be perpetually tired. She is kind but ditzy, with a minor sadistic tendency and tends to ignore her duties and responsibilities as Goddess, as she spends most of her time either sleeping, making dolls or playing around with Neptune. Occasionally, she goes overboard when showcasing her somewhat twisted sense of humor. Her Goddess form Iris Heart is a Heroic Comedic Sociopath and Dominatrix who indiscriminately and mercilessly frightens anyone else, friend or foe alike. She doesn't care how long her victim(s) suffer from her "lecture", as long as she gets her kicks. Uzume, on the other hand, is mannish but fiercely loyal and honest to her friends, and she rarely speaks ill of them, and unlike the other Planeptune goddesses, she is the most responsible. As Orange Heart, she becomes childlike and bubbly, although she is no less serious about doing her job, particularly when it comes to protecting her friends and her dimension.
  • In Telltale's The Walking Dead, the protagonist of Season One is a grown man, Lee Everett, who (both metaphorically and quite literally) crashes into the Zombie Apocalypse and has to adapt from day one, but is given a chance to start anew and find redemption. Whereas the protagonist of Season Two is a young girl, Clementine, who comes of age during it, and has her happy life ripped from her and needs to avoid succumbing to corruption.
    • Season Three introduces a new playable character, Javier. He had a much bigger name than the previous two protagonists for being a disgraced baseball player. He's also the first protagonist to have lasting and significant difficulties with his family members and is the only one to meet some of them during the apocalypse.
  • The Mafia series:
    • Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven's protagonist, Tommy Angelo, was originally an innocent taxi cab driver who joined the mob for protection, ultimately turned against the mob and got killed for it.
    • Mafia II features Vito Scaletta, a World War II vet who only joined the army to avoid jail and turned to the mob to help his family pay a loan shark, deciding afterward that he liked being a mobster and having money, being willing to hurt people, and even along with his best friend, Joe Barbaro, killed Tommy.
    • Mafia III features Lincoln Clay, a vet of The Vietnam War and member of the black mob with no ties to the mafia and in fact is targeting them after they killed his family. Depending on the choices the player has Lincoln make, Lincoln can be killed by Father James Ballard for having gone too far, contrasting Tommy being killed by Vito and Joe for testifying against Don Salieri.
  • While they are the secondary main characters of their respective series, this is played straight with Ky Kiske and Jin Kisaragi in Arc System Works two fighting game franchises, Guilty Gear and Blazblue respectively. Ky is a rather straight example of a Knight in Shining Armor being chivalrous and all around morally upright, if somewhat naive despite the Crapsack World he lives in. Jin is more of a Knight In Sour Armor by comparison and barely holds his contempt for everything around him and is pretty nihilistic on top of it all. Surprisingly, this trope is averted with the actual main characters, who while having some key differences they both more or less have similar dispositions.
  • Marcus Holloway of Watch_Dogs 2 is this Aiden Pearce of Watch_Dogs even though both are hackers fighting against a corrupt society. Aiden is a cynical, aloof loner who is driven by avenging the death of his niece. In contrast, Marcus is a much nicer person who is motivated to not only clear his name but to also help others incriminated by the very system that screwed him over in the first place.
  • In Mass Effect: Andromeda, Ryder contrasts Shepard of the original trilogy in several ways:
    • Shepard starts the series as an elite, well-regarded soldier being considered for SPECTRE status (which basically means being above the law). Ryder is less experienced and more visibly in over their head.
    • Only one of Shepard's three origins has any living relatives, and even then their mother only contacts them by phone. Ryder's family has a much bigger impact on their personal story, starting with them being one of two siblings.
    • Shepard's iconic outfit is N7 red and black. Ryder is generally depicted in blue and white.
  • Makoto in Rakenzarn Frontier Story is this to Kyuu from Rakenzarn Tales. In Tales, Kyuu is gifted with a very rare class, granting him the potential to become the strongest of all the party members. In Frontier Story, Makoto has classes that aren't very stand out and his level of strength relative to his teammates remains about the same through the game.
  • Pearl and Marina from Splatoon 2 contrast with Callie and Marie from Splatoon. While the duos still have Odd Friendships, they're played differently. Pearl is similar to Callie as they're both Boke and they're both energetic, however Pearl is aggressive and boastful while Callie is laid-back and playful. Marina is a demure and shy Nervous Wreck who is new to music while Marie is sarcastic, outspoken, and a veteran by a few years. The English translation originally made Marina sassy more like Marie, however they later toned her down. The Squid Sisters are typical Japanese Idol Singers, while Off the Hook is more Americanized with their rap and vaguely more English sounding Conlang.
  • Blaze and his Wardog Squadron from Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War are a bunch of idealistic, but talented rookie pilots who fly the planes command has given them and identify strongly with their nation (to the point of fighting against their own when they come to believe that their cause is unjust). Cipher and Pixy from its prequel Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War, meanwhile, are both jaded, battle-scarred mercenaries who bring their own planes and hold no particular attachment to their cause except money, and even on the Knight path, Cipher's armor is mostly sour.
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy has Chloe Frazer step in as the protagonist now that series main stay Nathan Drake has gone steady. Besides the obvious of being a girl with mixed ancestry from Australia, Chloe differs from Drake in personality as well. Chloe tries to keep her partners in a strictly business relationship where Nate usually made fast friends with his. Chloe keeps her feelings bottled up while Nate usually wore his heart on his sleeve. Heck even the way they react to the random problems that a MC faces is different, Nate is usually annoyed in a Why-Me fashion while Chloe tends to laugh it off as a bit of extra fun and excitement. Though that said they also share more then a bit in common, such as being fiercely loyal to those they care about.
  • Arnice of Nights of Azure is a naturally created half-demon, very old, and a veteran Holy Knight. She is familiar with the shadier aspects of the Curia, was cold and aloof before she met Lilysse, and has a very individualistic streak when it comes to her superiors pushing her around. That said, she's a passionate woman when it comes to her Love Interest, and openly declares and displays her affections towards her. In contrast, Aluche of Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon, is an artificially created half-demon, only 17 years old, and was just dubbed a Holy Knight at the start of the game. She is naive about the darker side of the Curia, easily gains companions that trust and care about her, and goes with the flow when others take command. That said, she's Oblivious to Love and is quick to change the subject when it gets brought up, much to the frustration of one of her love interests.

    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 Dangan Ronpa, 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 Dangan Ronpa 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 Dangan Ronpa 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.
  • Subverted in the Golden Sun games: All three games star a Heroic Mime as a protagonist with the exact same powers and class, (and the first and third are father and son, making it a case of Generation Xerox as well), but the protagonist of the second game (Felix) is the one the first game's protagonist (Isaac) was spent running after to prevent the return of Alchemy to the world and rescue his girlfriend it turns out the world is certain to be destroyed if Alchemy isn't restored while restoring it has a high chance of mankind abusing it and destroying the world, and the kidnapped girl is Felix's sister, who quickly comes to understand why Felix went along with the plan. The third game returns to a character who doesn't need to convince the player he's a good guy.

     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.

     Western Animation 
  • 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 young boy, while Korra is a tall, long-haired, brown-skinned 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.
  • 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.
    Joker: (After getting kicked in the crotch) What are you doing?!
    Batman: Fighting dirty.
    Joker: The real Batman would never (kicked again).
  • 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 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.
  • 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").
  • Daria is a Spin-Off of Beavis And Butthead. You'll find many people shocked by this: the parent show was about two boys who were Too Dumb to Live (but somehow managed) and had no apparent families, while Daria suffering through Intelligence Equals Isolation and a family whom she (initially) couldn't stand. The former relies on Toilet Humor; the latter on Genius Bonuses. It makes sense, since Daria was created specifically to be a smart, female Foil to the boys.

Alternative Title(s): Contrasting Sequel Protagonist