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Elemental Rivalry

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"Man once again faces the war for the dawn, which has been waged since time began. On one side is the Lord of Light, the Heart of Fire, the God of Flame and Shadow. Against him stands the Great Other, whose name may not be spoken. The Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice, the God of Night and Terror."
Thoros of Myr, Game of Thrones

One of the easiest ways to put emphasis on two rivals is (if the context's right) to give them contrasting Elemental Powers, usually matching their character.

The most common couples are Fire for the hot-blooded one and Water or Ice for their cool-headed rival. Light and Darkness are also extremely common, especially between the Big Good and Big Bad. In anime and manga the pairing Thunder and Wind is frequent, referring to Buddhist and Japanese Mythology. Other rival elements usually include Metal and Nature (as Cold Iron demonstrates), Earth and "Sky", Moon and Sun.

Of course, the "rivals" aren't always enemies. Usually, they can be friendly rivals or even siblings, but make sure the elements are ones that would be in natural opposition before you add an example. (Rock and Dirt, for example, are too similar.)

Subtrope of Red Oni, Blue Oni. See also Elemental Powers, Elemental Personalities (when their differing element-based personalities are the reasons for the clash), Sibling Yin-Yang, Land, Sea, Sky, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Fire/Ice Duo, Fire/Water Juxtaposition, Light/Darkness Juxtaposition, Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition, Lightning/Wind Juxtaposition, Solar and Lunar, Flesh Versus Steel, and Life/Death Juxtaposition (when life and death are considered elements).


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball GT, we have the two brothers Nuova Shenron (fire) and Eis Shenron (ice). Nuova is not even a Noble Demon and is just doing his job. Eis is sadistic.
  • Yaiba: The title character is the chosen wielder of the Raijin sword and is a good-natured, noisy hero. His rival Onimaru wields the Fujin sword and is a cold-blooded, evil tyrant.
  • One Piece:
    • It is seen with two of the Admirals: the lazy but righteous Aokiji and the ruthless General Ripper Akainu.
    • The duel between Ace and Blackbeard reached its top with Ace's Sun clashing against Blackbeard's Darkness.
  • In Naruto, the titular hero has Wind chakra, while Sasuke has Fire (beats Wind) and Lightning (loses to Wind) Chakra. Another friendlier example could be Kisame and Itachi (who can use Fire techniques.)
  • In Gamaran, the Boisterous Bruiser Zenmaru specialize in the "Kagutsuchi Kata" (Fire God Form) style, while the much calmer Shinnojo is an expert of the "Mizuchi Kata" (Water Dragon Form).
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Natsu (Fire) and Gray (Ice).
    • Makarov (Light) and Jose (Darkness).
  • Digimon
    • Digimon Adventure: Agumon was Fire, while Gabumon was blue Fire in his early forms and Ice in his more powerful stages.
    • Digimon Data Squad: In their Burst Mode evolutions, ShineGreymon powers up by summoning a miniature sun and dropping it on himself, while MirageGaogamon powers up by summoning a crescent moon.
  • Rin Natsuki/Cure Rouge and Karen Minazuki/Cure Aqua from Yes! Pretty Cure 5. The former uses fire elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Passion. The latter uses water elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Intelligence. These two characters early on are depicted as rivals that couldn't get along most of the time and hate being one-upped by the other. However, over the first season, they came to an understanding, and the rivalry became less severe.
  • In Magi: Labyrinth of Magic: When they first confront each other, Judar's status as Aladdin's foil and bitter rival is the fact that is shown using Ice Magic, while Aladdin't natural affinity is with the element of Heat (Flames). Much later in the series, Hakuryuu after falling into depravity ends up having such a contrast both with Alibaba and his brother Kouen: Hakuryuu's Djinns are aligned with Life, while both Alibaba and Kouen possess Djinns aligned with Heat (Amon and Astaroth) and Force (Agares), which according to the In-Universe Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors are both in contrast with Life magic.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS has the child-like ice-using Unison Device Reinforce Zwei and the far more cynical fire-using Unison Device Agito. Agito immediately identifies Rein as a rival when she finds out that The Federation her group is fighting against has a Unison Device like her though after Agito's Heel–Face Turn and adoption into Rein's family, this turns into a more friendly Sibling Rivalry.
  • Maken-ki!: Azuki and her rival, Yan-Min, utilize wind and lightning respectively. Azuki's Maken ("Hawk") allows her to move at such speed, that she can create walls of solid air in her wake. Whereas Yan-Min's ("Kienbu") directly infuses her body with lightning, which greatly enhances both her speed and striking power as well.
  • Samurai Deeper Kyo has the fire user Hotaru, red oni to his half-brother Shinrei's blue oni, who can manipulate water. The two also sports opposite behaviours and contrasting hair colors (blonde for Hotaru, silver for Shinrei). During his days as a member of the Four Saints he also had a bit of rivalry with Akira, who can use ice powers.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has the fire-breathing dragon Tohru and her sea serpent arch rival Elma (Elma is never shown using any water powers on-screen, but they play a role in her backstory). Notably, the two started off as close friends in the past and resume their friendship later in the story.
  • In Rave Master 's world, most people are born with elemental affinities, each of them effective with its opposite. Among the resulting couples, we have Haru (Light) with both Lucia and Pumpkin Doryuu (Darkness), Fire-user Shuda vs Flow-user (Water) Deep Snow, Musica (Thunder) and Reina (Ocean). Invoked with Gale Glory and former Big Bad Gale "King" Rareglove, who were both aligned with Water, being born the same day, but after a traumatic event they switched to Light and Darkness.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: The protagonist Matsuri has control over wind. His senior Soga, who considers him his rival, is associated with thunder and lightning.
  • Invoked in a spoilerrific case in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: the Upper 1 Kizuki Kokushibo invented the Moon Breathing style to contrast the Sun Breathing created by his brother and object of envy Yoriichi.

    Comic Books 
  • Namor the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. Namor does not actually have water powers but is at his strongest underwater and while operating on the surface will periodically take dips to restore himself. The Human Torch is a fire shooting android that defends New York while Namor seeks to destroy it.
  • X-Men has Surge and Dust who are rivals. They are only ideological rivals though as Dust is at a severe disadvantage in a physical contest. Another example is given by Iceman, a shape shifter who draws energy from his surroundings and Havok, whose laser beam shooting body requires a special suit to keep under control. They are a bit more evenly matched but, again, are romantic rivals for a woman's affections more than anything else.
  • Batman and the Outsiders has a villainous couple with heat and cold powers, who are actually trying to find a cure to their opposite powers.

    Fan Works 
  • Paradoxus: Altalune is an Ice Person and Trisha plays with fire. They are sisters and have a Cain and Abel relationship in which they constantly quarrel, throw insults at each other, and often come to blows. It gets even more nuanced (and angsty) after they get Character Development Trisha pulls a Face–Heel Turn as a result of too much emotional pain while Altalune realizes the shitty sister she's been to Trisha and wants to save her. So, now they are on opposing sides. Kind of.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned has mages tied to a single element, using the classic four-element system. We see in the story that aeshes (fire) and shamais (water) don't get along, as the aesh heroine quarrels with a shamai the group meets and suspects him of stealing the Crown, and he in turn suspects her of being a traitor or just dangerously ambitious. Presumably, ruahks (wind) and aretzes (earth) also don't get along, but we only once see a ruahk and aretz in the same scene (though we do see that ruahks really don't like being underground.) Also, ruahks apparently blame aretzes for hay fever.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jack is a creature of earth and air. To get back Jenny's soul from the nix, he must go into water. He is warned that this will mean he will not come back the same as he was. During the fight, the elemental oppositions are repeatedly mentioned.
  • In The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, throwing an earth elemental at a Flying Carpet destabilises the air elemental that powers it (this is called sylph-abuse). The main character notes that while fire/water is the elemental opposition everyone thinks of, earth/air is just as powerful.
  • In Upright Magic by Vadim Korostylyov, the benevolent water elemental Clear Trickle is an old enemy of Evil Living Flames, the Underground Fire. They only are afraid of each other, since no magic performed by any other characters seems to harm them. The Clear Trickle is almost fully vaporized by the Fire when he heats the stone cave where she is hiding, and later it is she who quenches him in the final battle. In the film the book is based on, the rivalry is also present but less pronounced, because the Fire and especially Clear Trickle get little to do, in contrast with their Adaptational Badass book selves.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Gotham's Season 2 finale, Firefly with her flamethrower and Fries with his liquid-helium gun go at it in a fire-vs-ice duel.
  • The first Bad Future in Heroes has a fire-using Peter battling Sylar, who is using ice powers.
  • Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki/Blade uses lightning-based attacks while The Rival Hajime/Chalice uses wind-based attacks.
  • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive features the ice-based Flurious and the fire-based Moltor as brothers with a mutual rivalry, fighting against each other as much as they fight against the Rangers.

  • In the Emerald Sword Saga, the bad guys are almost always associated with fire, while our heroes are marked with wind.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Judeo-Christian religions generally associate God with Light and/or the Heavens, while the Satan character or God of Evil will be associated with Darkness and/or Earth. One the other hand, God is the giver of restful shade while Satan appears as an angel of light and a bright red dragon.
  • Leviathan (Sea) and Behemoth (Earth) from the same religious family. They are the most proud of beasts and will eventually kill each other.
  • In Egyptian Mythology, we have Horus the Sun god opposed to Set, the god of storms and murderer of Horus' father Osiris.
  • In Eastern Mythology, there are the Demon-turned-gods Fujin (wind) and Raijin (thunder).
  • Japanese Mythology has a sibling rivalry between Amaterasu (sky, sun, light) and Susanoo (storms and ocean).

    Tabletop Games 
  • The four Elemental Lords of the Forgotten Realms setting each hate the one that embodies their opposite element. Akadi the Lady of Air battles Grumbar the Earthlord, and Kossuth the Firelord duels Istishia the Water Lord. This also holds true for their worshipers: according to the 3E supplement Faiths & Pantheons, battles between Elemental Archons of opposing elements are the stuff of legends.
  • Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000: The four Chaos Gods are opposed two by two, as they are essentially the sum of one emotion felt by sentient creatures. Khorne (rage) is opposed to Slaanesh (desire) and Tzeentch (hope) is opposed to Nurgle (fear of death).
    • This can go even further because each of them can be (very roughly) thematically associated with one of the classic elements. Khorne is fire (rage and combat) and is opposed to Slannesh's water (sensuous, flowing). Tzeentch is air (which is often associated with intelligence, and is ever-changing) and stands opposed to Nurgle's earth (plodding, tough, enduring).
  • Each of the five colors of magic in Magic: The Gathering have different elements they specialize in which contrasts their enemy colors. White is an enemy of Black, while Red and Green are both enemies of Blue.

    Theme Parks 

  • Most Toa teams in BIONICLE have a Toa of Fire as The Hero and a Toa of Ice as The Lancer, typically having a Red Oni, Blue Oni dynamic. Tahu and Kopaka from the Toa Mata and Toa Nuva arcs are the most prominent example, although they're both just as likely to start arguing with Gali, the Toa of Water, as they are with each other.
  • While not rivals in entirely, the Series 1 and Series 2 tribe of Mixels are based on contrasting elements and are often paired together, leading to interesting Mixes, and often embarrassing Murps. This includes the fire-based Infernites vs. the ice-based Frosticons, the electric-based Electroids vs. the rubber-based Flexers, and the earth-based Cragsters vs. the plant-based Fang Gang.

    Video Games 
  • In Pokémon, your rival will (almost) always pick up the Pokémon who has the elemental advantage over yours. Legendary duos tend to have opposing "elements":
  • Eternal Darkness has a triple example between the gods of Strength, Insanity, and Knowledge.
  • Killer7 has a character with power over death and his rival with power over life.
  • Scorpion and Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat.
  • Samurai Warriors has Kenshin (ice) and Shingen (fire), Yoshihiro (wind) and Ginchiyo (thunder), and also Nobunaga (wind) and Mitsuhide (thunder). Note that in most cases, it refers to the chosen element of their ultimate weapon.
  • Mitsunari (darkness) and Ieyasu (light) in Sengoku Basara. It also has the duo Kenshin (ice) and Shingen (fire) as tamer rivals.
  • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has the Genma God of Light (Fortinbras) opposed to the Oni God of Darkness (Soki).
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands has the elemental opposition between Razia the Marid Queen (who has powers over water, which in the series symbolize life) and the Ifrit Lord Ratash, who has power over both fire and sand (which, in the series, is opposed to water as a symbol of death and entropy.)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Initially Sora was Light, and Riku was Darkness, though Riku's Heel–Face Turn has turned him into a Yin-Yang Bomber. Also, Saix/Isa and Axel/Lea, whose powers are Lunacy and Playing with Fire, the closest stand-in for Power of the Sun. They started as best friends, but are now enemies.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Two gems that give you the power to evaporate water or turn it to ice are held by the Sand Prince and the Frost Queen. The former is a Worthy Opponent who battles you to gauge your strength before he willingly gives you the gem, the latter is a textbook evil queen who won't give up her gem peacefully.
  • The King of Fighters has K' and Kula Diamond, whose styles are similar, yet they use fire and ice respectively. While not his enemy, Kula was specifically designed to directly oppose K', and is even referred to as "The Anti-K'", in series.
  • Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy:
    • Somewhat indirectly, we have Raze and Ulrika, who got their powers from the Light Mana and Dark Mana, respectively. Indirect because while Raze is a truly Light 'em Up guy, Ulrika is more like Soul Power. The real Casting a Shadow person is Ulrika's best friend, Chloe, who doesn't have much interaction with Raze otherwise.
    • There is also some sort of rivalry between Whim and Yun, being a Water Mana and Fire Mana respectively.
    • Not explicitly, but in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, we have Vayne and Roxis. Roxis, pacted to the Mana of Light, has a lot of light-based moves. Meanwhile, many of Vayne's attacks have creepy blades and eyes that would indicate his element would be darkness. However, Light and Darkness aren't actual elements in battles.
  • In Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, Mao is able to learn Ice magic naturally, while his Childhood Friend and rival Raspberyl excels in Fire magic.
  • Tales of Xillia has Alvin's fire artes against Presa's ice and water artes, contrasting their personalities (though Alvin is rather laidback) and standing as part of the hero group and the Chimeriad. Also hints at a connection between the two; they used to date.
  • Touhou Project:
    • Kaguya Houraisan, representing the Moon, and Fujiwara no Mokou, representing Sun. While Kaguya's actual powers don't have much to do with the Moon, she is a Lunarian. Mokou meanwhile has a lot of The Phoenix theme going on.
    • Ether subverted or played straight with Kanako Yasaka and Suwako Moriya. Kanako has the ability to "create sky" while Suwako has the ability to "create earth". They used to be enemies ages ago, but now they're good friends and are working together, although Suwako's profile says they still argue a lot.
  • According to the lore of The Elder Scrolls series, Flame Atronachs and Frost Atronachs are locked in a state of permanent warfare against each other all across the Oblivion planes. It takes the influence of a Daedric Prince like Mehrunes Dagon to make them stop fighting each other even temporarily.
  • In Ballad of Rapunzel, the seventh game in the Dark Parables series, it's explained that the nature goddess Flora appoints pairs of servants and grants them opposing elemental powers. The pairs are usually siblings; at least, all of the examples shown in the games thus far have been. The two most dramatic examples are the powers of life and death, which she gave to half-sisters Rapunzel and Belladonna, and the powers of ice and fire, which were given to Snow White and her twin brother Ross Red.
  • Dungeons II: A Game of Winter brings in the Undead faction, who mostly use poison and ice, and the forces of Meltysand the Red Priestess, a follower of the Fire God, putting the frost-themed Mindless Army against the fire-wielding fanatics of the Red God.
    • In the third game Dungeons 3, this is actually lampshaded by the narrator when Thalya, the playable character, obtains Ice powers to fight the fire-user Thanos.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, Hallelujah, after a certain plot development, gains access to True Agidyne and True Bufudyne, representing two of the series's four main elements. When Abe fights the party after revealing himself as Hallelujah's demonic father Samyaza, he has access to True Ziodyne and True Zandyne and is weak to both Fire and Ice. Fittingly, the fight is a major part of Hallelujah's character development.
    • Persona 5: Morgana and Ryuji, who have a Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic, specialize in Wind/Garu and Lightning/Zio respectively and are weak to each other's elements.
  • Captain Cold tries to invoke this with Firestorm in Injustice 2, providing the page quote, but Firestorm is implied to consider Sub-Zero his real elemental rival, due to his genuine ice-based powers, while he believes Cold, with his Freeze Ray, merely perpetuates tired stereotypes about supervillains with ray guns.
  • Subtly done in Nioh, with certain characters having Guardian Spirits of opposing elements that match their rivalry and oppositions, such as the posthumous Oda Nobunaga and Matsunaga Hisahide (Tengen Kujaku vs Itokuri), and even more directly, in another Wind/Earth opposition, Ishida Mitsunari with Iizuna and Tokugawa Ieyasu with his loyal Narikama Tanuki. As for the hero, his starting spirit, the water-bound Saoirse, stands opposed to the fiery-looking Ouroboros in Kelley's possession.

    Western Animation 
  • Discussed in Adventure Time, Flame Princess (a fire elemental) sees Finn crying over her. She thinks he's a water elemental because he "releases water," which is why they can't get along.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: One of the reasons it takes a while for Aang to get the hang of earthbending from Toph is because air's affinities (free-flowing, evasive) are diametrically opposed to earth's (direct and confrontational).
  • The Real Ghostbusters has an episode with two gods fighting over and causing havok motivated by an eternal elemental rivalry as one of the gods handle water and air and the other fire and earth.
  • Shadow Raiders is basically this with sci-fi versions of the elements. The different planets of the cluster; Water, Rock, Bone, Ice and Fire are enemies since the dawn of time.
  • The most obvious case in Winx Club is the fairy Bloom (Fire) who is the main heroine and the witch Icy (Ice), who is the most recurring villain.
  • In Wakfu we have Yugo, who can open and use dimensional portals (Space), facing off Tragic Villain Nox, who control time. An example with In-Universe elements include the titular Wakfu life energy, greenish-teal in color, against the deadly Stasis, which is purple.


Video Example(s):


Sauron vs. Lich King

Sauron, who operates on a fire motif, fights the icey Lich King.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FireIceDuo

Media sources: