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Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors

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The simplest example: The starters of the Kanto region from the Pokémon series — Fire burns Grass, Grass absorbs Water, and Water quenches Fire.

"If there's one thing I know, it's water beats fire. But grass beats water, and fire beats grass. Good God, it's like a never-ending circle!"

Many works feature characters that have some elemental association, and this often includes some form of resistance or weakness to one or more elements. In some cases, these are arbitrary — even very similar characters may have wildly different resistances and weaknesses.

In the case of this trope, however, quite the opposite is true: if you know what elemental associations a character has, you know which elemental skills to use to deal the most damage. This is because, under Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, the elements are arranged in a pattern of fixed relationships to each other: Element A beats element B; element B beats element C; and so on.

In short, this trope is the application of Elemental Powers to Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors.

Note that while while the trope is named for Rock–Paper–Scissors, which has a simple three-item cycle, that needn't be the case for an example to fall under this trope — Tropes Are Flexible, after all. The core idea here is that, given an element, you can reliably say which elements it "defeats" and which it's "defeated by". That said, cyclical patterns are not uncommon — likely because a cycle instates a degree of balance, with no one element being "the best". A common exception is Light/Holy vs. Darkness/Unholy. These two are typically set outside the rest of the cycle, and more often than not mutually weak to each other in favor of the attacker.

As a general rule of thumb this is an extremely popular design choice in the Gacha Games genre, since it lets developers print content and characters/weapons that fulfill similar criteria but for different elements and incentivizes players to pull more and spend more money to cover all possible type matchups.

An elemental sub-trope of Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors. Contrast Elemental Tiers, where one element is intended to be dominant above all others. When a character sticks with a single element regardless of such a system, they become Poor, Predictable Rock. Established rules can be changed further by either side through Scissors Cuts Rock, Barrier Change Boss, and Kryptonite-Proof Suit, or bypassed with Non-Elemental, Element No. 5, and Infinity +1 Element. If an element happens to be resisted by itself, see Like Cannot Cut Like; if an element happens to be weak against itself, see Takes One to Kill One.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bakugan: While none of the attributes are naturally effective against each other, there were ability cards in season 1, that gave a Bakugan a power boost if their opponent’s element was directly clockwise from the Bakugan’s own on the attribute wheel (for example, a Ventus Bakugan would get bonus power if it’s facing against a Pyrus Bakugan). Averted in later seasons and in the physical game, where none of these cards were used, and none of the attributes had any advantage over another.
  • In Black Clover certain magic attributes are effective against others. Poison Magic has an advantage against Plant Magic, Steel Magic is at a disadvantage against Flame Magic, Water Magic has an advantage against Flame Magic, etc.
  • Bleach: Hitsugaya points out that it doesn't matter how much water Harribel throws at him, his power is based on converting water to ice, so he can counter it every time. Harribel observes that logic works in reverse by using boiling water to melt Hitsugaya's ice into back into water she can exploit. Hitsugaya then clarifies he understands this and proceeds to demonstrate that he can control even her boiling water. However, since all they both have is ice and water, this doesn't change their stand-off.
  • Elemental Gelade has the elemental attributes of Edel Raids divided into 3 rings called "Glitter Rings", with the elements of those rings interacting with each other. The first ring has Earth→Wind→Fire→Water→Green→Wisdom, the second ring has Beauty→Sound→Shield→Sword→Love, the third ring has Light→Darkness→Motion→Silence→Life→Death. Then there's a supposed fourth ring with sixth unknown elements. Slightly parodied when the man who introduced this concept to the heroes interrogate Claud on the subject, and the latter answers that the element Sword is weak to Gun, earning a Dope Slap.
  • Fairy Tail: Played with in 100 Years Quest when the gang fights against Mercuphobia, the Water God Dragon. Mercuphobia's control over water is so impressive combined with his raw power he's able to extinguish Natsu's fire (playing it straight) and negate Gray freezing his attacks by just turning it back into water (subverting it) easily. Fellow God Dragon Ignia notes that in terms of elemental matchup, Mercuphobia's water has the edge on his fire despite their roughly equal raw power, but he himself is able to produce fire so intense not even water can put it out.
  • Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku uses the Chinese 5 element philosophy of overcoming and generating interaction. This means that metal hinders (or defeats) wood, wood defeats earth, earth defeats water, water defeats fire, and fire defeats metal.
  • Hoshin Engi: Ryuukitsu Koushu easely curbstomps Ryuu kan since, on top of the difference of level between them, her water powers have a neat advantage over his fire powers.
  • Discussed when Magic is properly introduced in Magi: Labyrinth of Magic: elements of magic are employed by Djinns and magicians alike, and are sorted in an eight-pointed star diagram in a specific order. They are Heat, Water, Light, Lightning, Air, Sound, Power and Life. As a rule of thumb, each element has a perfect synergy with the opposite element on the diagram (for example, Heat and Air, or Life and Lightning) but tends to be incompatible with neighbouring elements. While a skilled user can actually combine Heat and Water to make a single spell using both, they're not as suited for this match up as an Heat + Air combo would be. Direct examples include Yamraiha using a water spell to easily rebound a much stronger Light-based attack, or Ren Kouen mentioning that the Heat-elemental and Power-elemental Djinns he possess should give him the advantage over his brother, who has two Life-elemental Djinns.
  • In My Hero Academia, this occurs several times with elemental quirks.
  • Naruto has this in their elemental jutsus. Each elemental jutsu has its own "theme"; for instance, Earth jutsu are mostly defensive (making walls, for example), and that plays into how they work. Fire attacks feast on Wind, so if you counter Fire with Wind you will simply make the Fire more powerful; Lightning disrupts and tears through Earth; Earth blocks Water; and Water obviously snuffs Fire out. Wind beats Lightning by disrupting it (given how lightning travels through air). Other elemental clashes can still have bad effects — Lightning vs. Water, for instance, is usually bad for any ninja touching the water, except for the caster of the lightning jutsu. It's a somewhat different cycle, though (element points to one it beats): Fire→Wind→Lightning→Earth→Water→Fire. Also, this only appears to apply to the effect of jutsu on each other, not with regular materials.
  • In One Piece, a number of occasions show up that set two Devil Fruits against each other with surprising, yet still logical, outcomes. For a few examples, the abilities of 'Fire Fist' Ace and Smoker canceled each other out, the supposedly godlike abilities of God Eneru were completely canceled out by the allegedly weak powers of Luffy, and the previously unbeatable poison-based powers of Magellan were successfully blocked by the considerably weaker wax powers of Mr. 3. At least until Magellan made an even stronger poison.
    • As of Chapter 573, we have learned of such an effect with Marine Admiral Akainu and his power to become magma: Magma has an advantage over regular fire. There is actual science behind this, as lava has both heat and mass (effectively smothering a weaker flame with its own) and hotter than normal fire. Following this logic, Akainu is able to not only burn Ace severely when they fight, but fatally injure him as well.
    • A more general example is that Logia fruits, as well as those rare Paramecias with inherent defensive abilities like the Chop-Chop Fruit,note  Gum-Gum Fruitnote  or Slip-Slip Fruit,note  cannot protect their user against attacks imbued with Armament Haki.
  • Compared to the games, Pokémon: The Series actually downplays this. While type advantages are acknowledged to exist In-Universe by the characters, it isn't uncommon for Trainers' Pokémon to be able to overcome them completely with the right strategies, moves, and brutal training. This was especially egregious in the Kanto arc where Ash's Pikachu could harm Ground-type Pokémon with Electric attacks (in the games Ground is completely immune to Electric).
  • The Qwaser of Stigmata has an unusual version of this trope since the titular Qwasers control the actual chemical elements. For example, an oxygen Qwaser has an advantage over Qwasers with metallic elements since she can oxidise their elements.
  • The world of Rave Master features eigth possible elements (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Thunder, Sea, Light and Darkness), with each couple of elements in magic being effective against the opposite. For example, during the battle against Climax Boss Doryuu, Ruby saves the party from the former's deadly spell "Nightmare Spread" by temporarely changing everyone's affinity to Darkness, and eventually Haru's Million Suns sword proves extremely effective at cleansing Doryuu's darkness and evilness. This is also subverted in between the two events, when Doryuu reveals that some spells can harm even people aligned with the same elements and tries to crush the party with such a spell.
  • The first season of Saint Seiya Omega featured the following dynamic: Fire→Water→Earth→Lightning→Wind.
  • In Tokyo Underground, the elemental effectivity chart is actually based on conventional physics and common sense: thus, for example, a water mage was easily able to win against a lightning mage due to the fact that pure water is a poor conductor of electricity.
  • The Chinese elemental cycle is used in Ushio and Tora by some high-ranked members of the Kouhamei Sect to kill and fight Youkai. Though not all the elements are shown in action, it is stated that Tora and the Hiyo are Wood-aligned and harmed by the Metal Qi, the artificial monsters made by Inasa are aligned with Water and harmed by Earth Qi, while the Kokuen are seemingly aligned with Earth Qi. This is also an example where the user's elements doesn't need to match his own actual powers (Tora can breath fire and summon lightning, but both are repelled by paper tags imbued with the Metal Qi).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • A manga chapter, and an episode of the Toei anime, had Yami Yugi playing a magical game where he and his opponent controlled dragons that represented the five Chinese elements. Much like in wuxing, aside from the standard "x beats y" cycle, they also had an "x strengthens y" cycle. The Water dragon, for instance, is shown to beat Fire (puts it out) and lose to Earth (gets sucked into it), but give strength to Wood (feeds it) and draw strength from Metal (rusts it). The goal of the game appears to be to strategize how one dragon can benefit another before crushing the opponent with brute force; notably, it takes your opponent's dragons into account, meaning a bad selection can cause you to inadvertently power up your opponent.
    • Early chapters of the manga featured a system like this, though it was never properly elaborated on. Along with the typical ones you'd expect (Lightning beats Water), there were some oddball ones (Fire beats Dinosaurs, Illusion beats Shadow and loses to Demon). How it worked varied as well; sometimes it made the monsters invincible, other times it granted an ATK boost. Some videogames attempted to adapt the concept, with varying results.

    Comic Books 
  • The Golden Age Green Lantern has an inverted version of the East Asian elemental relationships. He used the element of fire, was strong against metals, but was weak against wood.
    • The modern Green Lantern comics have this with the emotional/color spectrum rather than elements. For instance, Willpower/Green rings are vulnerable to Fear/Yellow rings, which are vulnerable to Hope/Blue rings, which depend on the aid of Willpower/Green rings to actually do anything.
      • Rage/Red rings give the user the user the ability to vomit blood that weakens other rings, the disadvantage is that most red ring users are unable to make constructs, and they also were vulnerable to blue.
      • Greed/Orange rings can store far more charge than normal rings and can absorb energy from other colors, but not blue.
      • Indigo/compassion can copy other colors.
      • Black/Death, which is the absence of color and life, normally can only be beaten by a combination of green plus one other color or by white.
      • White/Life is the combination of all other colors except black, and their combined abilities.
      • The First lantern was a Reality Warper and Emotion Eater who had an advantage over all the colors, although Orange was particularly resistant to him. His only vulnerability was against Black.
  • Various Marvel Comics heroes have used this trope at several points to defeat certain enemies, most often villains who either transform themselves into some giant elemental-type creature or otherwise use a certain type of energy in their powers.
    • Spider-Man: Electro, Sandman, and Hydro-Man have all been defeated by being doused with water and/or some chemical compound that negatively affects them, like wet cement.
    • X-Men: Iceman once defeated the Human Torch despite the apparent weakness, using his ice powers to create steam and water vapors around Torch and extinguish his flames. Obviously, The Torch was struck dumb.
    • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk has defeated some of his opponents this way, such as by spraying the villainess Vapor with oxygen when she had transformed herself into hydrogen, effectively turning her into water (which should have required burning it), or by beating X-Ray (a living field of radiation) with a lead pipe, which disrupts his radioactive body.
      • This is much more more fun if you realize that pure oxygen and pure hydrogen tend to explode when combined.
      • Vapor and X-Ray were both members of the U-Foes, a group of villains who tried to get superpowers by copying Reed Richards' flawed space flight. They ended up as direct analogues of the Fantastic Four (but evil, and therefore punchable), making them Elementals twice removed.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): A few villains and heroes who use conflicting elements fight during the giant brawl across New York in "The Witch and the Warrior". Two dark/shadow manipulators try to take down Dr. Light, who blasts through their combined power, and Killer Frost handily freezes Inferno solid.

    Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, during the Fourth Movement, the Raleka wizards plan to fight water-wielder John with fire and electricity. This might have worked if they hadn't been distracted into attacking a whole lot of other people first.
  • In Sailormoon Millennia Trilogy there is a part where Arseniru attacks the Sailor Senshi with fire. Sailors Mars and Leo, who have fire powers, are especially affected by it, while the ice warriors Sailor Mercury and Sailor Gemini are immune.
  • Son of the Sannin, being a Naruto has this all present and accounted for. The Bloodline Limits that allow combined elements also make it more complicated, as the jutsus of combined elements can offset or neutralize their natural weaknesses.
  • The (Edit) War for Ash’s Freedom to not be Betrayed, being a Pokémon: The Series fanfic, naturally has this, and its existence is used for comedy. At one point, Darkern Edgier tries to kill Pikachu to give Ash something to angst about; however, he picks a hoard of Gyarados to do the job. As Gyarados has a 4x weakness to Electric-type attacks, Pikachu wipes them all out with a single Thunderbolt. Darkern tries again, this time with a hoard of Rock and Ground-types; however, as Ash has all of his Pokémon with him at the time, he merely has everyone with a Grass, Water, or Ice-type move open fire, resulting in another curbstomp in his favor.
  • Leviathan in Manehattan's Lone Guardian exploits the triangle as depicted in her Mega Man Zero entry below to the fullest, shrugging off a direct lightning strike without issue.
  • In Pirate Heroes, Wyper eats a Devil Fruit that allows him to turn his body into metal, making him immune to Enel's lightning attacks. Enel however reverses the advantage, using electricity to magnetize Wyper's body and tear him apart.

  • In the kung fu movie Mystery Of Chessboxing, the evil Ghost Face Killer is a master of "Five Elements Style", a collection of techniques thematically tied to the five elements of Chinese philosophy, and to defeat him, The Hero Ah Pao needs to learn which elemental technique counters which.

  • A couple of instances from Fighting Fantasy:
    • The final confrontation of Return to Firetop Mountain, between you and the warlock Zagor. Prior to the adventure, you're told of the Elemental of Chaos now in Zagor's hands, and you'll need to seek four golden dragon teeth containing four Elementals of Good before facing the warlock. The final battle have Zagor releasing his elementals, one at a time; you'll need to have all four elementals and use them in the right order, to win the battle.
    • The ending of Stormslayer plays out in a similar way. Throughout the adventure you're given instructions on seeking the help of four heroic elementals - Vulcanus of Fire, Zephyrus of Wind, Arkolith of Earth and Hydana of Water - and as you face Balthazar, the main villain, Balthazar reveals his ability to transform into any elemental of his choice, and you can bypass Balthazar's forms by getting the right Elemental of good to fight for you. Unlike Zagor though, if you don't have the right elemental, you can still fight Balthazar yourself, rather than getting killed on the spot for lacking the right items.

  • "The Bear, The Fire, and The Snow" by Shel Silverstein. The bear fears the snow, the snow the fire, the fire the river, and the river the bear.
  • In Codex Alera,there are three pairs of opposing elements: Fire vs Water, Air vs Earth, and Wood vs Metal. Keeping a craftsman with only an Earth Fury suspended in mid-air saps their powers, burying an Aircrafter saps theirs, dunking a Firecrafter in water or surrounding a Watercrafter with fire will cancel them out, and putting a Woodcrafter in a metal box will cancel out theirs. It's never seen, but it can be assumed that stuffing a Metalcrafter into a wooden crate would drain their powers. An exceptional craftsman can have multiple elemental pet Furies of varying types, though, which makes keeping them prisoner or nullifying them much more difficult.
  • Blazer powers in Chivalry of a Failed Knight can be oriented around elements, such as with Stella and Shizuku. Shizuku surpasses her weakness to lightning-oriented Blazers in an early battle with pure water, but later loses to the lightning-using student council president Touka.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series has four elements: Air, Water, Fire, Earth. Neighboring elements, like Air and Fire, can enhance each other, but opposing pairs (Water-Fire and Air-Earth) are bitter enemies. This came out particularly grimly in Phoenix and Ashes, where an Air Master pilot crashed and was held at the mercy of corrupted Earth elementals for a while, emerging with severe PTSD.
  • Mentioned in Fengshen Yanyi with the Chinese 5 elements philosophy: Princess Longji is able to easily defeat Luo Xuan's fire-based Fabaos (Magic tools) using her water-based Fabaos, while later, when the minor villain Hong Jin tries to escape her by flying on a cloud of earth, she summons a cloud of wood note  and is able to catch up to him.
  • In The Girl from the Well series, every ghost is aligned with one of the five Eastern elements. Because Okiku drowned in a well, she is a spirit of Water, making her strong against spirits of Fire but weak against those of Earth. The ghosts of Aitou village are of Earth: strong against Water and thus Okiku; but weak to Wood, thus allowing Tark to exorcise them with wooden stakes. The woman in black is aligned with Fire, and Hiroshi Mikage is aligned with Wood.
  • The magic system of I'm In Love With the Villainess involves the four classic elements, each weak or strong against another: Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire. Outcomes can still very, however, given difference in magical aptitude, how the magician applies their talents, and very rarely, individuals with control over more than one element.
  • Journey to Chaos: The magic system features ten elements and all of them have an opposite that they are both strong and weak against. For instance, water puts out fire but heat from the fire can be used to evaporate the water. During Mana Mutation Menace, Eric uses air magic to prevent someone from teleporting with lightning magic.
  • In Kaze no Stigma, fire mages can't be harmed by fire and can even stand on lava.
  • In The Spectra Universe, the six clans represent the six colors. The three "secondary" clans: Nome (orange), Sprite (green), and Muse (purple) have a natural disadvantage against their complimentary primary color: Mer (blue), Cole (red), and Lectran (yellow), respectively.
  • Sharon Shinn's Troubled Waters novel, though written by a Western author, uses the Eastern elements. Each person is governed by one element, giving them certain personality traits and sometimes superhuman abilities, and some elements pair very well with one another and some are always in opposition. For example, the main character is a coru, governed by the water element; she eventually marries a hunti man, governed by the element of wood. Occasionally this subverts itself—the heroine's mother was a coru and her father was a sweela (fire element).
  • "Wizard Bait": Since Sally is a Fiery Salamander, she easily manages to beat the Ice Witch Besberdin, reducing her to a heart-shaped lump of ice in an empty canteen.
  • In one of Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, a dragon and a merman play this game, only they unwittingly play with different interpretations of what defeats what. When one plays Fire and the other plays Water, they each assume they've won, leading to an argument that results in the death of the merman.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the reality gameshow series Endurance the Temple of Fate showdown were resolved by pitting Wood, Water and Fire against each other. Water doused Fire, Fire burned Wood, and Wood floated on Water.
  • Leverage: Redemption: In Spirit's Ruse, the fictional card game at the center of "The Card Game Job", fire, water, and earth cards are weak to each other. Eliot says it's "basically rock-paper-scissors", frustrating Breanna, who admits that yes, it's exactly like RPS.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Wu Xing in Chinese traditions has five elements. They are arranged in two cycles.
    • The first one is the destructive cycle, where each element destroys another. Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood, Wood depletes Earth, and Earth absorbs Water.
    • The second cycle is the generative cycle, where each element strengthens another. Wood fuels Fire, Fire produces ash (Earth), Earth contains precious Metals, Metal can contain Water, and finally Water nourishes Wood.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ammo: When it comes to demons of elemental nature, Fire beats Water and Air beats Earth, but the opposite is also true.
  • Dungeons & Dragons features the four classic Western elements as monster subtypes, Inner Planes, and fundamental building blocks of the Multiverse. The basic game had a notion of "elemental dominance" in which one elemental would deal extra damage and enjoy protection from another: Air has dominance over Water, Water has dominance over Fire, Fire has dominance over Earth, and Earth has dominance over Air.
  • The Time Travel-laden 'Verse shared by the Feng Shui Tabletop Games and Shadowfist card game also uses this variation. Coincidentally, the most significant "boss" NPC associated with the Shadow element also becomes a technological cyborg when travelling into eras that won't support her magic.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a stylized version of this trope with its Color Wheel. The game has five colors associated with land forms, creatures, and most importantly a style of play. Adjacent colors tend to share strengths and play styles (red and black are both great at killing creatures, for example), but are opposite/opposed to the two other colors (white likes to prevent damage, red likes causing it, while black will simply bring a dead unit back to unlife). But opposing colors are capable of finding common ground, and characters in the setting can have allies of opposing colors; Lorwyn's beauty-obsessed elves sport green and black members, while there's a group of white and red giants who oscillate between being extremely zen and extremely passionate. The game also has some "colorless" cards such as lands or artifacts, and a few that are multiple colors. As for the colors themselves:
    • White is associated with light, valor and order. On the attack it uses numerous weak creatures working together or a few powerful champions, all of which can be further augmented through spells. But White tends to show itself best in defense; White is where you most likely find creatures with Vigilance.note  White magic is partial towards life-restoring spells, or enchantments that prevent your opponent from doing damage to you or your creatures (Lifelink is most often seen in White creatures). But while White can deal with almost any threat, it does so only partially; its removal spells either give your opponent an out, or make an "equal" trade that destroys a lot of things, including your own. If a White spell doesn't destroy something, it more than likely only taps (temporarily disables) a target, meaning you need to coordinate such effects so as to take advantage of these openings.
    • Blue is the magic of air/water, deception, and intelligence, built around counterspells and altering the flow of the game. Blue magic tends to have the highest number of Flying creatures, but they are generally ill-suited for direct combat and instead employ indirect damage or disruptive abilities. While Blue is good at shutting down the enemy, it doesn't have many offensive options. Blue spells usually don't destroy cards but instead forces them back into the hand or Library.
    • Black is the color of death, night, and amorality, and its magic is designed to degrade enemy creatures and whittle down the other player's health points. It's also very strongly associated with the Cemetery so Black cards tend to have effects like Unearth and Deathtouch. This power usually comes at a price, but the payoff is generally worth it. However, Black magic struggles to deal with things that aren't living, such as enchantments, artifacts, and other Black creatures
    • Red magic is associated with earth/fire, destruction, and chaos. It's the most offensive color, boasting spells that do direct damage or destroy enemy artifacts and lands, and fast-striking creatures that do the same (Red creatures are the most likely to possess Hastenote ). But like Black, Red has trouble with enchantments, and has to burn down big creatures with damage since its own creatures tend to fall short of Green's power.
    • Green is the color of nature, life, and raw power. It likes big and powerful creatures that trample the opposition, and its magic can buff them further or gather the resources necessary to summon them. But the only way Green can deal with opposing creatures is through direct combat; to help balance the opposition to Blue's Flying creatures, Green creatures are the most likely to possess Reach.
    • In a more traditional example of this trope, it's fairly common to see cards that are either more effective against enemy colors or are very efficiently costed but only work against enemy colors. For an example of each, Kor Firewalker is a white creature that can't be directly interacted with by red cards and gains its controller 1 life whenever an opponent casts a red spell (red has the most damage-dealing cards in the game, so gaining life works directly against it). Flashfreeze is an undercosted, easy-to-cast, counterspell (causes an opponent's card to be discarded without effect) that can only target a red or green spell.
  • Pathfinder: In Second Edition, imperial dragons follow a version of this based on the classical Chinese model. Each variety is aligned with one element — fire, water, earth, metal or plants — and finds its powers hindered by an opposing element while becoming stronger if targeted with a specific third. Forest dragons, for instance, are aligned with plants; consequently, they're fed by water (attacking one with a water-based spell causes no damage and instead gives it temporary hit points) and hampered by metal (if struck with a metal weapon, they lose access to certain abilities for a while). Sovereign dragons are a notable exception, as they're closely tied to earth but are neither fed by fire nor hampered with wood as would be expected; other imperial dragons suspect they struck a Deal with the Devil, sacrificing their elemental affinities in exchange for greater arcane magic.
  • Scion: The titular children of the gods can utilize Boons that fall under a variety of Purviews, which range from the elemental (earth, fire, sky, fertility) to the abstract (guardian, chaos, death, health). Although the different Purviews have no direct relationship with each other in normal gameplay, there is one aspect in which they do: dealing with monsters of the Greater Titans. As the chthonic embodiments of different elements, the creatures that dwell within the Greater Titans possess different templates depending on the Titan. In addition to specific skills and powers, these templates grant the monsters an immunity to their own element, but attacks of certain other Purviews are granted bonuses against them (e.g. Monsters dwelling in Musphelheim, the Greater Titan of Fire, have the infernal template, which renders them completely immune to the Fire Purview, but vulnerable to the Water and Sky Purviews).
  • Some of the earlier video game adaptations of Yu-Gi-Oh! used two tiers of Elemental RPS based on eleven elements: The first one is, in advantageous order: Fire, Forest, Wind, Earth, Thunder, Water, and Fire. Then you have Shadow→Light→Evil→Dreams→Shadow. The eleventh element, Divine, had no type advantages or disadvantages. A monster with a superior Attribute will automatically win a battle regardless of actual stats.


    Video Games 
  • Abomi Nation is a Mons Series heavily inspired by Pokémon, so this is a given. Abomis can have up to two of 8 types: the four Classical elements (earth, fire, air, and water), plus electricity, ice, plants, and Neutral. Hitting a weakness will double your damage, while hitting a strength will halve it. Hitting two weakness at once will, of course, result in Quad Damage.
    • There is a similar sub-mechanic with flying Abomis. Unlike ground and flying being explicit types as in Pokemon, they are an additional trait applied to each Abomi. Flying Abomis take half damage from ground-based moves such as Lava Floor, but take double damage from certain attacks designed to hit flying targets.
  • In Aground, some magical equipment along with magical enemies are linked to five elements: Fire, Water, Ice, Earth and Plant. Elemental armor and magical enemies are strong against their own element and two others while vulnerable to the remaining two elements.
    • Fire is weak against Water and Earth.
    • Water is weak against Ice and Plant.
    • Ice is weak against Earth and Fire.
    • Earth is weak against Plant and Water.
    • Plant is weak against Fire and Ice.
  • The combat for Arcana on the Super NES was centered on the idea of elemental strengths and weaknesses. Several spells either affected an element onto the target, changed the target to a given elemental alignment, or even combined several elements together to make spells that could affect multiple weaknesses; these were strangely given the name "Attribute X", with the X being the power level of the spell. The game based not only its gameplay but its world mythology around the interplay of the four elements. It also subverted some of the typical expectations of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, as each element was either strong or weak against the element next to it in the sequence, and was neither strong or weak against itself. Earth-elemental attacks, for example, were weak against Wind-elemental enemies but did a lot of damage against Water elementals, while being neither strong nor weak against Earth- and Fire-elemental enemies.
  • In Artery Gear: Fusion the 3 core elements form a triangle: red (Molten) is strong against green (Crystal), green is strong against blue (Thunder), and blue is strong against red.
  • Azure Dreams is about as explicit as you can get: Fire beats Wind. Wind beats Water. Water beats Fire.
  • Borderlands: The first two games have Fire, Corrosive (acid), Explosive and Shock (electricity) damage paired against Flesh, Armor or Shields. Non-elemental damage is weak against armor, Explosive functions as non-elemental with area-of-effect, Fire shreds flesh but is weak against shields, Corrosive shreds armor but is weak against shields and flesh, and Shock shreds shields. On Borderlands 3 the damage types are replaced with Fire, Shock, Corrosive, Frost and Radiation; non-elemental damage is weak against armor, Fire shreds flesh but is weak against shields and armor, Shock shreds shields but is weak against flesh and armor, Corrosive shreds armor but is weak against flesh and shields, Frost shreds armor but is weak against shields, and Radiation hurts the same as non-elemental but with damage-over-time.
  • Unlike the first game, Brown Dust II corresponds the mercenaries by 5 elements, which deal bonus damage if they fight enemies with the opposing element. Fire beats Wind, Wind beats Water, Water beats Fire and Light and Dark deal bonus damage to each other.
  • Cassette Beasts has a unique twist on this trope — while elemental attacks do deal increased or lowered damage based on the strengths and weaknesses of the defending element, the more important interaction is that they will buff monsters that resist the attack's element, debuff monsters that are weak to the attacking element, or sometimes even change the defending monster's element entirely. For example, an Air-type hit by a Fire-type move gains an air shield buff, a Fire-type hit by an Air-type move gets an extinguished debuff which lowers their offenses, and an Ice-type hit by a Fire-type move will turn into a Water-type.
  • A few Castlevania games in the Metroidvania genre have weapons that deal elemental damage and enemies variously affected by it. The one that takes the cake is Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, which had a whopping ten elements (Fire, Ice, Electricity, Poison, Plants, Ground, Stone, Wind, Light and Dark), one for each of the Battle Cards. However, except for the elemental Armors and Devils, the strengths and weaknesses of the monsters to the various elements were never explicitly spelled out, and this added to the Guide Dang It!-ness and the Fake Difficulty of the game.
  • Child of Light has Fire > Lightning > Water > Fire. Aurora's Light-elemental spells are also effective against undead and dark-aligned foes and aren't resisted by anything, making Light an Infinity +1 Element.
  • The console RPG Chrono Trigger uses a Fire → Lightning (divine form) → Water (including ice) → Shadow wheel, with a few quirks. In the original Japanese the Lightning element uses the kanji for heavens, which explains why Crono uses both lightning bolts and Luminaire; the DS retranslation goes with "Light" instead. Another oddity is that futuristic technology, including light-based lasers, deals Shadow damage, as do any Combination Attacks that mix different energy types, but if Light represents purity it makes sense that Shadow represents the opposite. Interestingly, there are several in-game examples where Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is replaced by "Fight Fire with Fire." The different-colored Scouts in the Ocean Palace absorb all elements besides the one they use. When you fight Magus, he also uses Elemental Shields which absorb all elements except the one he's currently throwing at you.
  • The sequel Chrono Cross is a bit weirder about it. Its elements, called innates ("elements" are the spells themselves), are white (holy/energy) versus black (shadow/gravity), red (fire/magma) versus blue (water/ice), and green (wind/plant) versus yellow (earth/lightning). All are strong against their opposite when attacking, but take extra damage in response. As a result, it's wise to build a party using different innates so that one character of the opposite color could deal extra damage to a boss, while another of the same innate as the boss could survive and heal as needed, and a third character with a neutral element played support. Especially when fighting that bastard Miguel.
  • In Club Penguin, this is basically how Card-Jitsu works: Water extinguishes Fire, Fire melts Snow, and Snow freezes Water.
  • Crash Fever has four colors, each represented by a symbol of the respective element that they’re based of, and their order of effectiveness against the others is as follows: Red(Fire) > Green(Grass) > Yellow(Electric) > Blue(Water) > Red.
  • Dauntless has six elements that are grouped into pairs: Blaze and Frost, Shock and Terra, Radiant and Umbral. Behemoths of one element take more damage when attacked with weapons of their opposing element, and armor provides better protection against attacks of its element. For instance, when fighting a Blaze Behemoth, it is recommended to wear Blaze armor and fight with a Frost weapon. Neutral weapons, armor, and Behemoths do not factor into elemental interactions.
  • Dark Dot has the different types of Elementals weak against their opposite element, arranged in a circle with nine total elements.
  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: Water beats fire, fire beats light, and light beats water, with 130% and 70% efficiency for attack and defense respectively. All three beat non-element with 110% to 90%.
  • The Denpa Men has eight elements: Fire, Water, Electricity, Earth, Wind, Ice, Light, and Darkness. As far as standard elemental advantages go, Fire > Ice > Wind > Earth > Electricity > Water > Fire. Light and Dark are more complicated: Light Denpa Men resist Dark but are weak to Light. Light enemies are often weak to both. Dark enemies are often only weak to Light, but Dark-aligned Denpa Men strongly resist both Light and Dark, while being slightly weak to all other elements.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, some enemies (such as the Snowman, who is Weak to Fire) take extra damage from certain elemental attacks. The tooltip confusingly refers to the status effects, so enemies can be strong or weak against Poison, Burn, Freeze, or Shock.
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory have two systems; Types and Attributes with the former falling under Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors (because the game's "Blind Idiot" Translation switched the names). Attributes are a system of eight elements consisting of two rock-paper-scissors-style trios and one pair with Mutual Disadvantage. Digimon that are weak to a specific element take 1.5 times normal damage, adding to the damage multiplier from Types. One trio is water (which includes ice) > fire > plant form one trio. The other is lightning > wind > earth. Light and darkness are mutually weak against each other. Unlike with Types, there are no elemental resistances and individual attacks have elements instead of the Digimon's entire moveset. To make up for not being able to hit elemental weaknesses, Non-Elemental skills are slightly stronger and more accurate than their elemental counterparts.
  • Digimon World -next 0rder- has nine attributes. The first four are arranged in a wheel, Fire > Nature > Air > Ice > Fire. Holy and Dark attributes are mutually weak against each other, and so are Hand-to-Hand and Weapon attributes. The last attribute, Filth, is strong against Holy, Dark, and Weapon types, but weak against the other five.
  • Dinosaur King has six elements which roughly correspond to a dinosaur type, and two which don't: Fire (mostly tyrannosaurids and some carnosaurs), Water (sauropods and a few spinosaurs), Electric (ceratopsians), Earth (ankylosaurs and stegosaurs), Grass (mostly hadrosaurs) and Wind (a theropod grab bag). Secret and Unknown are the element types that have no other affiliations.
  • Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights: Treasure Animatus have strong / weak affinities in battles against other Animatus. Humanoids are strong against Avian and Aquatic but weak to Terrestrial; Aquatic are powerful towards Terrestrial and Avian types except Humanoids etc. Placing an Animatus with an advantage gives it a 30% boost in battle while a disadvantage drops it, there's also Arboreal type Animatus that have neutral affinity without affecting the other types.
  • Element TD has six elements in cycle. Fire burns Nature, Nature absorbs Earth, Earth clouds Light, Light purifies Darkness, Darkness corrupts Water, and Water extinguishes Fire.
  • In addition to the weapons Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors, Fire Emblem has a magic triangle sometimes that tends to vary. Anima > Light > Dark > Anima in the GBA games. Light/Dark > Fire > Wind > Thunder > Fire in the Jugdral games. Anima (Fire > Wind > Thunder) > Light > Dark in the Tellius games. The rest of the series simply doesn't use the magic triangle as most magic using units tend to have high resistance anyway which makes it a moot point considering it's only a change in +/- 1 weapon might and +/- 10/15 hit (or just 20 hit in Genealogy or a measly 5 in Thracia). Heroes gets away with this since it scales the damage by 20% (or 40% with certain skills) and it combines weapons and magic into the mix with: Red (Sword/Fire/Dark) > Green (Axe/Wind/some Light) > Blue (Lance/Thunder/some Light) > Red. Additionally, the three color magics also have a tome that enables weapon triangle advantage over colorless types (Bow/Dagger/Staves and some Manaketes/Laguz)
  • Familiars have one of seven types: Fire, Hex, Leaf, Plush, Robot, Slime, and Water which are strong or weak against certain attacks, so you can see a message like "Enemy X resisted WATER-type attack!"
  • Final Fantasy XIV, lorewise, the elements are described as a wheel and hexagram with each points representing Wind, Lightning, Fire, Earth, Ice and Water. Clockwise, the elements in the circle creates the next listed element, while the triangles inside the hexagram describe the elemental affinity in the same manner as rock-paper-scissors. This doesn't get translated into the gameplay, however.
  • Flight Rising has eleven elements: Earth, Water, Wind, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Light, Shadow, Arcane, Nature, and Plague. In the Coliseum, each element does extra damage to three other elements, does reduced damage to two elements, takes extra damage from three elements, and takes reduced damage from two elements. Except for the fact that dragons/enemies of a certain elements always deal reduced damage to and take reduced damage from their own element, these strengths and weaknesses don't necessarily correspond to each other (for example, Earth is strong against Lightning, but Lightning isn't weak against Earth). And there are different degrees of effectiveness, not just "extra damage" and "reduced damage", but also "really high damage" and "somewhat higher than average damage". It all balances out, but it gets complicated enough that even the simplified guides can be difficult to follow for new players.
  • In Fossil Fighters, water beats fire, air beats water, earth beats air, and fire beats earth. Neutral-type vivosaurs are unaffected by this.
  • Freedom Force is another game that uses binary opposition—fire and ice are each weak against each other, for instance. In practice, this means the lucky fellow in any elemental confrontation is the one who can get off the first shot.
    • Partially averted. The substance a character is made of (flesh, stone, ice etc.) sets their base resistances. But attacks and defenses are all bought with points, meaning that you can have a character made of ice who throws fireballs and has a passive defense vs fire. Attack types and resistances/vulnerabilities are largely arbitrary. Aside: Characters made of flesh are vulnerable to radiation attacks making a character with radiation attacks scarily effective. The assigned heroes are all balanced for this, but a custom can hit well above their weight class...
  • Gacha World: A very basic example where elemental bonuses deal 1.5x damage and elemental weakness deals 0.5x damage. Water is strong against fire but weak against wind, fire is strong against wind but weak against water, and wind is strong against water but weak against fire. Meanwhile, light and dark are strong against each other.
  • Genshin Impact: Every element interacts with each other in various ways, especially Pyro, Cryo, Electro, and Hydro, though there still exists a fixed elemental cycle:
    • Pyro attacks work best on Cryo-infused entities, Cryo attacks on Electro, Electro on Hydro, and Hydro on Pyro. The opposite can happen, and while they still dish out good damage, they aren't as effective, especially when breaking elemental shields.
    • Pyro and Electro interacting with each other will cause a fiery explosion, and freezing occurs when Hydro and Cryo interact.
    • Anemo is a unique case. When Anemo attacks are applied on enemies with an elemental status, Swirl reactions will take place, infusing that element and dealing elemental damage to enemies nearby. Swirl even spreads elemental effects to everything around, and in some case, Swirl reactions can infuse multiple elements at once (though they still mainly deal one type of elemental damage).
  • Get in the Car, Loser!: Fire is good against plant, plant is good against water, and water is good against fire. Enemies of these attributes will also absorb attacks of the same attribute. A nuke elemental attack deals double damage to enemies of all elemental affinities. However, a nuke-aligned target is weak to all elements, including nuke itself. A player character's elemental alignment is dependent on their currently active skill, making it important to consider when selecting equipment.
  • Golden Sun is an interesting case. It has only four elements (Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire) and each one is both strong and weak against its opposite. For example, a fire enemy is (usually) weak against water attacks, but a water enemy is also (usually) weak against fire attacks. This does not apply to the Player Characters, who are roughly-equally weak (+/- 2%, hence how earth adepts are "weak" against fire and vice versanote ) to the elements that they do not have affinity with, versus a (starting) 30% (relative) resistance to their base element.note 
  • Granblue Fantasy: Earth beats Water, Water beats Fire, Fire beats Wind and Wind beats Earth. There's another elemental set, Dark and Light are weak to each other. Only the player has the advantages of the second set, enemies with those elements aren't strong against the opposing element.
  • Gyromancer, to a limited extent. A monster's colour doesn't determine whether or not it beats its opponent (that's up to players), but it can give it a head start. For example, a blue monster (associated with water) is advantaged against a red monster (associated with fire), which is in turn advantaged against a green monster (associated with plants). There isn't perfect symmetry, though — for example, nothing is advantaged against purple (darkness).
  • .hack has its own take. There are a total of six elements in the game, with each element opposing another: Fire-Water, Earth-Wood, and Thunder-Darkness. If you attack an enemy using skills or spells of their elemental affinity (Fire attacks on a Fire enemy, for instance), they will take little if any damage; but attacking enemies with an element they are opposed to (Fire attacks on a Water enemy) will inflict significant damage.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic:
    • Heroes of Might and Magic III: The magic system is like this. The castle of Conflux in the expansion is even based on this trope, with most of the units being elementals and a building that allows leveling up each of the elemental schools. The Elementals provide a nice twist to the "rock-paper-scissors" aspect: Fire and Water are vulnerable to the opposite element's damage spells and immune to their own, while Earth and Air are vulnerable to their own damage spells and immune to the opposite's ones.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic V has the Dungeon Racial ability Elemental Chains, which lets Dungeon creatures and the elemental spells of the hero inflict additional damage if the target has the opposite element. Creatures change their element randomly when this happens.
  • Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth has an eastern elements-inspired hexagon, in which elements both oppose and assist one another: Fire opposes Ice and assists Force; Ice opposes Wind and assists Earth; Wind opposes Force and assists Lightning; Force opposes Earth and assists Fire; and Earth opposes Fire and assists Ice. There's also the Light and Dark elements that oppose each other and assist Lighting and Fire respectively.
  • The original Jade Cocoon has a Fire—>Air—>Earth—>Water—>Fire sequence, plus a non-elemental foot stomp attack to which fliers are immune. Each spell in the game is tied to an element and, with the exception of the damage and elemental boost spells, unique to that element. You can combine your divine minions in such a way that they have two or more elements, but it reduces their elemental damage output accordingly and cuts them off from the boost spells.
  • The many hundreds of Divine Beasts in Jade Cocoon 2 each belong to one of four elements; Fire, Wind, Water or Earth. Each element has its own specialties and attributes. Fire beasts generally have high Strength and Wisdom (measures of the strength of Skill and Magic attacks, respectively) and powerful Skill (melee) and Magic attacks, and are the strongest attackers. Wind beasts usually have high Speed (the beasts with the highest Speed value attack first) and a lot of special attacks (which induce status effects, like poison and sleep). Water beasts, as well as having some potent Magic attacks, also possess healing spells for restoring the HP and MP of your Divine Beasts and curing status effects, and are generally resistant to special attacks. Earth beasts specialize in defense, with high Vitality and Spirit (which dictate a Beast's Skill and Magic defense, respectively) and a variety of buffs (such as Defense and Speed increases), defensive spells (like damage-absorbing walls) and impressive attacks. As a rule of thumb, Fire's high attack power beats Water and Wind's low HP, Wind's high Speed and status effects beat Earth's general sluggishness and susceptibility to special attacks, Water's healing spells and resistance to special attacks beat Fire and Wind's primary abilities, and Earth's excellent defense beats the offensive power of Fire and Wind.
  • Kartia: The Word of Fate had a variant using the "qualities" of creatures you could summon, which were Common, Doll, and Shadow. Common beats Doll, et cetera. For those who couldn't keep the dynamic straight, these creatures also had a symbol by their name: rock, paper, or scissors.
  • Spoofed in Kingdom of Loathing, which features a set of five rather ridiculous elements: hot, cold, stench, sleaze, and spookiness. Each "element" is weak against two of the others, sometimes with little logic to those weaknesses (spooky-elemental monsters, for example, are weak against hot and stench attacks).
    • Well, the interesting thing is that "sleaze" seems to be defined as "oily" half the time. Bacon grease, motor oil, even a rotting fish (though that rather obviously also deals stench damage).
    • There are also a few minor elements like Bad Spelling that aren't part of the cycle, and it's possible to discover that the game supposedly has a sixth major element: Cuteness. Maybe.
    • The KoL element chart looks rather similar to that of Wu Xing, noted at the top of the page. Granted, some of the elements aren't in their strictly original positions, but the same general shape applies.
  • The Eastern variant is used in Kingdom of Paradise (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water). It also uses the complimentary and charging system. This is important when constructing your Freestyle Bugei to maximize damage. For example, if you wanted to defeat a Fire boss, you have several options. You can use a pure Water Bugei. You can also charge 9 Wood kenpu and finish it with a powerful Water Kenpu. Or you can do a cycle the system twice starting with Wood and ending with Water.
  • The Legend of Dragoon's cast of characters are all of a specific elemental alignment — Dart for Fire, Lavitz/Albert for Wind, Shana/Miranda for Light, Rose for Darkness, Haschel for Lightning, Meru for Water, and Kongol for Earth. Note that all elements except Lightning follow the Light/Darkness opposition scheme (Fire and Water being strong against one another and so forth), with Lightning's lack of an opposite mitigated by its lack of heavy-hitting skills. There's also a neutral element, mostly possessed by enemies. Dart has this in his Divine Dragoon form.
  • Legend of Fae: The main character uses spells based on the four Western elements, however their relationship with each other is cyclic: Water -> Fire -> Earth -> Wind -> Water (each element counters the one on its right). Casting a spell that counters an enemy's elemental alignment increases the damage output and, if it kills them, also increases the score multiplier at the end of the battle.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III and IV both feature a card game called Vantage Masters. Although the game doesn't do much to make it obvious, the Vantage Masters card game has an elemental aspect to it. Your main attacking cards are called "Natials" and each Natial has a different element - either Earth, Fire, Water and Heaven. These cards all have numbers that represent their attack power and will normally attack for that amount of damage. However, Earth does more damage to Water but takes heavier damage from Heaven, Fire does more damage to Heaven but takes heavier damage from Water, Water does more damage to Fire but takes heavier damage from Earth and Heaven does more damager to Earth but takes heavier damage from Fire. Each player also gets a "Master" card which has no element and therefore is neither strong nor weak against any element type. Finally, there are also Magic cards, which don't deal direct damage, but instead provide special effects, such as buffing another card's attack, reducing the value it costs to play a card, or dealing a large amount of damage one time. Magic cards don't have elements, but sometimes have effects which can be affected by the elements when applied to particular cards.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons: In order to damage Frypolar, a miniboss that alternates between a fiery state and an ice-based one, Link must wait for it to enter its icy form and shoot ember seeds at it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Fire attacks one-shot ice-based enemies and vice versa, although the electric element does not have an opposite and electric enemies consequently have no such weakness. More subtly, however, electric weapons gain a power boost around water, whether rain or in a body of water, where their attacks explode into dome-shaped fields that electrocute anything within them, while wooden weapons gain a power boost in fire and hot temperatures when they are literally lit on fire. Similarly, bomb arrows are defused in rain or when shot in the water and instantly explode in fiery areas.
  • Littlewood: The in-game Card Battle Game has five elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Light and Dark. When it comes to deliberate damage negation moves, Water counters Fire, which counters Earth, which counters Water. Light and Dark, meanwhile, counter each other.
  • Luminous Arc 2 has Fire, Water, Nature, Wind, Light, and Shadow Frost,note  the six of which are involved in a web of conflict (increased damage) and support (increased healing/buffs) links, though the difference is subtle enough to be ignored save for out-and-out immunity. The game also has non-elemental (neutral to everything) and silver magic, which resists any elemental attack and gain support boost from any elemental heal/buff.
  • Luminous Arc 3 develops the elemental relationships further. The six common elements (Fire, Water, nature, Wind, Light and Darknessnote ) are divided into two groups; Fire → Dark → Wind → Fire and Water → Light → Earth → Water, elemental opposites increases damage against each other, Non-Elemental is not affected by the six and Silver is effective against all including non-elemental. Healing and other support spells are excluded from the chart but considered non-elemental.
  • The Magical Vacation games have this:
    • Magical Vacation has fifteen elements, but it's overall a lot simpler than Pokémon: twelve of these elements are each weak to one other element and strong to one other element, so those can be diagrammed in a circle. Then there's Darkness which beats those other twelve, Light which specifically beats Darkness, and Love which is neutral to everything.
    • Magical Starsign has Wood beats Wind beats Earth beats Water beats Fire beats Wood.
  • MARDEK RPG actually had a sensible explanation for all four interactions: Water extinguishes Fire, Fire consumes Air, Air erodes away Earth, and Earth absorbs Water.
  • Capcom likes this. Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX have a triangle of Lightning beats Fire beats Ice beats Lightning — and of course, bosses usually come in fours, one of each and one of a neutral (sometimes earth or plant themed, but never affected by the cycle) variety. Mega Man Battle Network also has a Fire>Wood>Elec>Water cycle, supplemented (in the sixth game only) with a secondary Sword>Wind>Targeting>Breaking cycle. The primary cycle was held into Mega Man Star Force; the secondary cycle was never heard from again.
    • Oddly, Mega Man X: Command Mission has a triangle of Lightning beats Water beats Fire beats Lightning. What's odd is that this game treats ice as Water (in agreement with Mega Man and Mega Man & Bass), and the Zero series treats water as Ice (in agreement with Mega Man 6 and most of the X series). So at some point between the X series and the Zero series, the triangle inexplicably double-reversed itself.
    • The second rotation (Mega Man 6, many X games, and Zero and ZX series) is generally more logical, except for its infamous side-effect: Despite boss battles entirely underwater, Fairy Leviathan is weak to fire and resistant to lightning.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes uses the Light-Dark dichotomy: the Light Beam slaughters Ing and other Darklings, and the Dark Beam is generally very effective against creatures on Light Aether. The first Metroid Prime would have fallen squarely into this with its elemental beam weapons, but with the exception of a few fighting-fire-with-fire enemies and the Chozo Ghosts, the Plasma Beam kills everything dead, even the creatures in Magmoor Caverns.
  • Mewgenics: Jesus Christ. Here's just a small snippet of what cat mages can do: Surf is cast upon short grass, watering it and growing it into the evasion-boosting long grass. The grass is then frozen, turning it into shards of ice that damage anything that walks over that tile. Then, a fire spell melts the ice and leaves behind a puddle of movement-hindering water, which is then frozen to create slippery ice. Grass is also really flammable, letting you coat a large part of the field in fire.
  • Mingsheng has an almost literal case of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: in the climactic battle, the opponent takes battle stances named after the five Eastern elements, and the player has to type in the right element to make the PC carry out the appropriate battle stance to defeat him.
  • In Moco Moco Friends, fire beats nature, nature beats water, water beats fire, and light and dark beat each other.
  • Nexomon has seven types: Normal, Water, Fire, Mineral, Wind, Electric, and Plant. With the exception of Normal, which is neutral to everything, each type is strong against two types and weak against two other types: for instance, the Wind type is strong against Mineral and Plant, but weak against Fire and Electric.
  • The Elementalist class in Nexus Clash had abilities that bolstered its power with one element at the price of vulnerability to other elements.
  • In Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds, all enemies have an element, and using the opposing element will deal much greater damage. It's fairly standard configuration of Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Water and Water beats Fire. There is also Light and Dark, which are, of course, directly opposed.
  • Perfect World: The magic system is this to a T, using Taoist elements: Fire>Metal>Wood>Earth>Water>Fire. Then again, since the game is developed in China, this isn't all that surprising.
  • Downplayed in Persona 3. Your allies' elemental weaknesses form a cycle, but otherwise the games uses individual strengths and weaknesses for each element. Fire-user Junpei is weak to wind. Wind user Yukari is weak to electricity. Lightning user Akihiko is weak to ice, and ice user Mitsuru is weak to Fire. Ken (uses Light) and Koromaru (uses Darkness) are weak to each other's element. The only odd ones are Shinjiro, who uses purely physical attack and has no weaknesses, and Robot Girl Aigis, who also uses no element but is weak to Lightning. This is also discussed. Since Personas are based on their users' characters, Akihiko wonders if him being weak to Mitsuru's element means something.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies, fire plants like Pepper Pult and Fire Peashooter are useful for countering ice-based zombies, while ice plants like Iceberg Lettuce and Cold Snapdragon can disable the zombies' torches and dynamite.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: Freezing plants counter fire-using zombies, and fire-based plants are very useful in Frostbite Caves, keeping nearby plants warm against the cold wind and Hunter Zombies.
  • Plants vs. Zombies Pinball: In the final Wizard Mode, Dr. Zomboss attacks by launching fireballs and ice balls; you defeat him by destroying each projectile with its opposite element.
  • Pokémon has eighteen (formerly seventeen, even earlier fifteen) types. A super effective damage (deals double damage or more) occurs when the attack's type is good against the other's type while a not very effective damage (dealing half the damage or less) occur when the opposite happens. As for how type weaknesses work, most of them are pretty standard like Water beats Fire and Grass beat Water, there are some with clever but more subtle logic like Steel beats Fairy, and there are some unusual ones like Bug beats Dark and Psychic beats Fighting, which are probably an attempt at balancing at the expense of logic, though fans still try to make sense out of it anyway.
    • Pokémon further plays with this by having many Pokémon with two types, so some Pokémon can take up to four times the damage from certain moves (such as the Fire/Rock Magcargo against a Water-Type), and other advantages/disadvantages can end up canceling each other out. Some types are also outright immune to others.
    • An NPC child in Accumula Town even invites you to play Pokémon rock-paper-scissors, with the options being Grass, Fire, and Water.
    • Further complicated by the fact that both the Pokemon themselves, and their moves, have types, and Pokemon can generally learn some moves of non-native types, albeit with reduced power. A fire Pokemon using an electric move, for example, won't be as powerful as an electric Pokemon using it, but will still be super-effective against water Pokemon. This makes exploiting the type system a balancing act; you can increase your coverage of type advantages, but at the cost of raw power.
  • In Pop'n Magic, all enemies belong to one of three elemental types. Fire is strong against earth, which is strong against water, which is strong against fire.
  • Quest 64 plays this one in a less typical faction. In fact, every element interacts with each other in various ways, and there's no immunities, just resistances.
    • Earth — Does double damage to Wind, regular damage to Water, 50% damage to itself, and 75% damage to Fire.
    • Wind — Does double damage to Earth, regular damage to Fire, 50% damage to itself, and 75% damage to Water.
    • Fire — Does double damage to Water, regular damage to Wind, 50% to itself, and 75% damage to Earth.
    • Water — Does double damage to Fire, regular damage to Earth, 50% to itself, and 75% damage to Wind.
    • Neutral/Universal/Nonphysical: Does regular damage to everything, and resists all elements.
  • In Quest for Glory II, you use fire to beat an earth elemental, earth to beat an air elemental, air to beat a water elemental, and water to beat a fire elemental.
  • Raid: Shadow Legends: Magic is stronger than Spirit which is stronger than Force which is stronger than Magic. The fourth element, Void, has is resistant to the other three affinities.
  • Re:Kuroi: Fire is good against lightning, lightning is good against ice, and ice is good against fire. White and black magic are good against each other.
  • Rick and Morty: Parodied in Pocket Mortys, which uses this literally and figuratively, as "rock" "paper" and "scissors" are elemental types.
  • Scurge: Hive uses three types of enemies (biological, mechanical, and energy-based) as well as three types of beam weapons (combustion, EMP, and dissipation). Each beam deals increased damage to one type of enemy, normal damage to another type, and empowers the third type (making it stronger and faster). Easy enough to keep straight when you're only dealing with one kind of enemy, but the game tends to throw multiple types at you at once (sometimes even all three), which can get pretty hectic.
  • Septerra Core. Fire beats Earth, Earth beats Air, Air beats Water, Water beats Fire.
  • Skully revolves around a quartet of squabbling elemental siblings, where you're the pet of Terry, the eldest Earth Elemental brother. Your first boss fight is against Terry's sister, Wanda the Water Elemental, and after you defeat Wanda Terry had her sealed in a magic jar. When you assist Terry in seeking the other elementals, it turns out Brent of Wind and Fiona of Fire had a Villain Team-Up, so naturally Terry and Wanda agrees to an Enemy Mine; in the subsequent boss fight you only need to face Brent while Wanda battles Fiona, and unsurprisingly Wanda of Water defeats Fiona of Fire despite Wanda being the younger sister.
  • Skylanders' PvP mode has the following cycle: Life > Water > Fire > Air > Earth > Tech > Magic > Undead > Life. A Skylander deals more damage if their opponent is weak to their element.
  • The Voidcritters from The Sims 4: Kids Room Stuff have five elements; Fire > Earth > Wind > Void > Water > Fire.
  • Soaring Machinariae: Fire is good against Metal, Metal is good against Wood, Wood is good against Earth, Earth is good against Water, and Water is good against Fire. Every time Iris beats a dungeon, she gets a core item that allows her to change her Energy Burst at the cost of giving her an elemental weakness. Since the five main dungeons are elementally themed, the first dungeon the player completes determines the optimal order to beat the rest of the dungeons.
  • In Spectrobes, Corona->Aurora->Flash->Corona. Also, in the Wii game Origins, Fire->Plant->Earth->Sky->Water->Fire.
  • Suikoden: Using two highest-rank spells of compatible element in the same round would result in them combining into a single ultra-powerful spell.
    • In Suikoden IV, shipboard sea-battles are fought using Elemental Cannons. Countering an enemy attack with the appropriate element would result in the enemy's attack being absorbed into your own, thus dealing damage to the enemy ship equal to each ship's attack power combined.
    • In Suikoden Tactics, the elemental wheel is more strongly emphasized, with each character having an innate elemental alignment. Characters are healed (and their attack and defense go up) when standing on terrain whose alignment matches their own, and are harmed (and attack and defense go down) when on their "enemy" element. The chain goes: Fire < Water < Lightning < Earth < Wind < Fire. While some of the relationships make sense (Water/Fire/Lightning), some are more esoteric and seem to rely on science (earth being a ground for lightning/fire burning up oxygen).
  • Summoner Shuffle is based around this. Fire always beats Nature, Nature always beats Water, Water always beats Fire. The monsters' power rating only comes into play when both summoners happen to choose the same element, and you are actually required to score with weaker monsters as well in order to win the match.
  • Summoners War: Sky Arena: Monsters can be either Fire, Water, Wind, or more rarely, Light and Dark. Fire beats and is resistant to Wind, Wind beats and is resistant to Water, Water beats and is resistant to Fire. Light and Dark beat each other, but they neither beat nor are resistant against anything else.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Luigi's Mansion has the Poltergust 3000, which can suck up elemental ghosts after collecting a Fire, Water, or Ice medal (in that order). After sucking up a specific elemental ghost, you can then expel that element as an attack. The mansion had candles, things that hold water, and some iceboxes. Guess what does what.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King: Each Vellumental's power proves critical for overcoming the one that comes next.
      • The Earth Vellumental is the least direct — its power raises a column of earth that allows Mario to ride out the Water Vellumental's tidal wave.
      • The same wave attack is needed during the fight against the Fire Vellumental, as it will put out is flames and allow Mario to use the 1,000-Fold Arms attack on it without being burned.
      • The Fire Vellumental's Breath Weapon is necessary for melting the Ice Vellumental's frozen defense.
      • Finally, although this only becomes relevant when facing Olly, the Ice Vellumental is needed to freeze the Earth Vellumental solid before it can unleash its arena-wide seismic attack.
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl introduced Pokémon Trainer and his three available Pokémon, and much like their home series, they're mildly vulnerable to certain types of elemental effects: fire-type Charizard taking more knockback from water, water-type Squirtle being weak to grass, and Ivysaur being weak to fire. This mechanic would be scrapped in future games for the fighters (Charizard as a standalone fighter in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, and the whole trio in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) due to criticisms of being perfunctory at best (the only source of "grass-type" moves in the game is another Ivysaur, and water doesn't even do damage in Brawl, strictly providing a knockback effect), ludicrously unbalanced at worst (fire/explosive damage is abundant in Brawl, making life rough for poor Ivysaur).
  • The Tales Series often uses Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Lighting, and Water, in a cycle, then has Light and Dark, which were both strong against each other.
    • Tales of Legendia had Fire-Ice, Lightning-Earth, and Dark-Water/Holy, which each being strong and weak toward each other. Of course, certain enemies were strong to both in the pair...
  • Tales of Graces uses both physical and elemental ... elements. Enemies will carry many weaknesses and you get bonuses for hitting them, and more bonuses for hitting all of them. Most attacks have Two or Three elements, and spells can be charged up to add another 2 in the Updated Re-release. The elements are all represented somehow. Fire attacks hit the burn weakness. Ice hits Freeze. Wind hits poison (and aerial and/or bird sometimes). Earth hits petrify. Lightning hits Paralysis (and almost always hits Nova too). Water hits Slow (and sometimes aquatic). Light hits Nova (the evil element) and often blurs with Lightning. Darkness hits humans. The rest are just type of enemy (beast, reptile, etc) and how you hit them (slash, impact, etc).
  • In Taming Dreams, each sentimancy (attack) has a rune and a sentiment associated with it. Each character has three runes and a sentiment associated with them. The closer the caster, target and sentimancy's runes and sentiment match, the more effective the sentimancy is. Additionally, each sentiment is effective against itself and one other. This is explained by the fact that the battles are against enemies without and the better you understand the enemy, the easier it is to defeat.
  • Tears to Tiara 2 has two sets. The European four (though Fire beats Wind, Wind beats Earth instead) in one. In the other, Holy beats Cosmic, Cosmic beats Darkness, and Darkness beats Holy.
  • In Terra Battle, Fire and Ice oppose each other, and Lightning and Darkness oppose each other. Later patches introduce "super-elements" Sun, Moon, Photon, and Graviton. Sun and Moon oppose each other, but also are strong against Ice and Fire respectively. Likewise, Photon and Graviton oppose each other, but are also strong against Darkness and Lightning respectively. There's also Non-elemental, which is neutral towards all elements.
  • Terra Battle 2
    • Initially, the game has quite a complex elemental system. First, Fire, Ice, and Earth are in a triangle, with Fire -> Ice -> Earth -> Fire. Then, Lightning and Wind oppose each other, and so do Photon and Graviton. Finally, there's Darkness and Non-Elemental (which isn't a true non-element, as it still belongs in the RPS), which have their own interactions with each of the other elements. Darkness Non-elemental 
    • It was considered too complicated, so an update revamped the elemental system and simplified it into two circles. The first circle is Fire > Ice > Earth > Lightning > Wind > Fire, and the second circle is Darkness > Non-elemental > Graviton > Photon > Darkness.
  • Tofu Tower (Naka): Cards and monsters each have one of four elemental symbols, Blue, Red, Green, and Pink except the unknown element "overpowering presence", but it acts like it's Red. In damage effectiveness order, and the reverse is damage resistance: Green > Pink > Blue > Red > Green.
  • Tokyo Afterschool Summoners has 9 types of different attributes that a character has where one has the advantage over the other. This is seperated into three groups:
    • Group 1 has Fire, Wood, and Water. Fire inflicts more damage to Wood but less damage to Water, Water is stronger than Fire but weaker to Wood, and Wood beats Water but loses to Fire.
    • Group 2 has Aether and Nether, which are strong against each other.
    • Group 3 has Infernal, Valiant, and World. They play out the same as group one with Infernal > World, Valiant > Infernal, and World > Valiant but they can also take bonus damage to the same type. Also Infernal is weak to the Group 1 and 2 attributes, Valiant takes less damage from group 2, and World takes less damage from group 1.
    • There is also another attribute that isn't a part of any group, All-Round. This attribute has no strengths against any of the other attributes, but at the same time it also has no weaknesses.
  • There are five elements in Tokyo Xanadu. The first four play this straight, going Fire > Wind > Steel > Spirit (ice) > Fire, while the fifth element, Shadow, beats itself. eX+ adds a sixth element, Light, which is weak to Shadow but strong against everything else.
  • Warriors of Might and Magic follows this scheme: Fire burns Earth, which blocks Air, which bests Water which beat Fire. Furthermore, Light and Darkness are efficient against each other and other two elements (Light against Fire and Air and Darkness against Earth and Water).
  • In Wizard101, all starter schools of magic except Balance have a strength and weakness to an opposite school; Fire is strongest against Ice, Ice is strongest against Fire, Life is strongest against Death, Death is strongest against Life, Myth is strongest against Storm, and Storm is strongest against Myth.
  • World of Mana tends to have elements that oppose each other in pairs: light versus dark, moon (cosmic) versus plant (terrestrial), fire versus ice, and earth versus air.
  • World of Warcraft has this in some places. Elemental creatures do exist, and will usually be immune to their own form of damage (Fire immune to fire; water immune to frost; air immune to lightning, etc.) Some elementals take extra damage from their opposite number and others do not; for example, the water elementals in Arathi Highlands are extremely vulnerable to fire damage, but Ragnaros the Firelord is not especially bothered by frost. The elements are Fire, Frost, Arcane, Nature, and Shadow. There's also Holy but players couldn't build resistance to it.
    • The elementals in Arathi Highlands elaborate on this: they have all four types of elementals in different places around the zone, and each type will drop a special, one-use object that can be used to instantly kill one of the other types. For example, the water elementals drop "Crest of Water" which destroys a fire elemental, and so on.
    • Generally, WoW's Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors isn't much of one, since there are so few enemies that are weak to an element. The secondary benefits of elements (Fire burns for a while and can stun, Frost slows and freezes, poison (part of Nature) does damage over time, Shadow tends to cripple by lowering stats and defenses while doing damage over time) are far more important. Only elemental beings and some bosses (Notably Chromaggus, who changes his resistances and vulnerability at random) can take more damage from an elemental attack.
    • The Ascendant Council fight in the Bastion of Twilight raid instance has elements of this. You fight two sets of two elementals at the same time, and use the abilities of one elemental to negate some of the more damaging abilities of the other. Most notably, using an earth debuff from one elemental to prevent a one-shot kill from the wind elemental, and a wind debuff to prevent the one-shot kill from the earth elemental.
    • That said, the game's fourth expansion pack introduced Pet Battles, a Pokémon-like minigame using the already existing collectible pets. Those are grouped into 10 kinds, some of them vaguely elemental ("Aquatic", "Magic", "Undead", "Mechanical") and others less so ("Beast", "Critter", "Humanoid"). Each of those groups is strong against two others (defense and attack separately), weak against another two. Thus forming two, not exactly Rock-Paper-Scissor graphs, one for defense and one for attack. A big part of pet battling is finding pets that have non-standard loadouts; for example, the Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling, which is "Mechanical" (and thus resistant to magic), but does "Dragonkin" damage with its main attack, which does extra damage against magic pets.
  • In Xenogears, "opposing" elements (Fire and Water, Earth and Wind) beat each other, and increasing your resistance to attacks of one element makes you weaker to its opposite (ex. casting a spell to raise your Fire resistance will make you more vulnerable to Water). However, most attacks and enemies are non-elemental.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has four pairs of elements that are mutually strong against each other: water/fire, light/dark, ice/wind, and earth/electric.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction, this is a crucial gameplay mechanic. For example, a Fiend—no matter how weak—can destroy any Dream monster, no matter how strong. This becomes a lifesaver because it's one of the easiest ways to win the game, as most opponents will use monsters with the same attribute between them.
    • Before Reshef of Destruction and its prequel, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards, there was the Game Boy Color title Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories, which had the dual-elemental loop from Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories. In short, Light beats Dark beats Dream beats Shadow beats Light, and Fire beats Forest beats Wind beats Earth beats Thunder beats Water beats Fire. Divine-type monsters in the handheld games were the Infinity +1 Element, having zero weaknesses.
    • Speaking of Forbidden Memories, every monster card in that game had two Guardian Stars, which gave an ATK/DEF boost to whomever had the advantage. The guardian stars roughly correlated to the elemental trait of the card, though they didn't always match — water cards usually had Neptune, etc. Sun beats Moon beats Venus beats Mercury beats Sun, and Mars beats Jupiter beats Saturn beats Uranus beats Pluto beats Neptune beats Mars. In short, each celestial body beats the one directly farther away from Earth than itself (bearing in mind that Pluto, due to its wonky orbit, was closer than Neptune when the game was being developed in 1998).
  • On the higher difficulties of Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, there are color-coded enemies that can only be defeated with the corresponding elemental sword. Ditto for the Final Boss's first phase. Conversely, Ernst's fairies can only be KO'ed with a different element than their own.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Demon Thesis has this to an extent, as elemental spells will affect each other differently. The creator of the game made a cheat sheet that lays out all the effects, as well as some other nuances. (For example, if a character standing on a grid that was frozen by an ice spell and you attempt to hit them with a fire spell, the ice and fie will cancel each other out, since the ice melts and the fire never get a proper chance to burn anything, and the character will be undamaged).
  • Goodbye Strangers: The fictional video game Zeroworld has Strangers classified into different types that parody the types from Pokémon. It is even more ridiculously unbalanced than Pokémon. The void type, for example, has a total of nine immunities, two resistances, and only two weaknesses, and is not resisted by or ineffective against anything except itself.
  • RPS 101. Each 'element' is weak to 50 and strong against 50, and there are descriptions for why for each.
  • Stampy's Lovely World: In the board game-inspired minigame "Fire and Water", the player on the water side can use a bucket of water to block and extinguish the moves of the fire side.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Lava Piranha

Lava Piranha seems to be defeated once its HP hits 0, but just as Mario is about to receive the Star Points for the fight, it re-emerges covered in fire and with all its health regained.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / VictoryFakeout

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