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Fire and Ice Love Triangle

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"Girls flirt with the dangerous guy, they don't bring him home; they marry the good guy."
Jean Grey, X2: X-Men United

It's common enough for a love triangle to be between two guys over one girl, instead of the other way around. These two fellows can be sorted into two general character types, one cold and aloof (the Ice), and the other one warm and passionate (the Fire).

The Ice of the love triangle will be the Blue Oni compared to the Fire, or in some cases, the heroine. He has an aloof demeanor, and is quiet, calculating, introverted, cultured, sensitive, and calm. He's almost always cast as The Stoic and can be antagonistic to the heroine at first, though he can become a with the help of the heroine's love. He's often presented as that hot, mysterious bad boy your parents never wanted you to date, and the one you've always wanted to. However, in some cases he's deemed the 'safer' option over the Fire due to coming off as more controlled and level-headed.

Subtropes of the Ice include Love Redeems, All Girls Want Bad Boys, Ladykiller in Love (in some cases), Defrosting Ice Queen, The Snark Knight, Sugar-and-Ice Personality, and Troubled, but Cute.

The Fire of the love triangle will be the Red Oni compared to the Ice. He's warm, passionate, reckless, and fun-loving. He's often the childhood friend the heroine always thought of like a brother. But now... He Is All Grown Up. He's usually the safer bet than the Ice and will offer a more stable life. However, it's not unheard of for the Fire to be cast as the less stable or appropriate choice due to his perceived wildness.

Subtropes of the Fire include Just Friends, Dogged Nice Guy, Childhood Friend Romance, Hot-Blooded, and Belligerent Sexual Tension.

Note that examples involving two girls to a guy do exist, albeit are rarer.

Compare with Betty and Veronica and The Gentleman or the Scoundrel.

If the two suitors are directly associated with fire and ice in the text, it may overlap with Elemental Motifs. Compare and contrast Fire/Water Juxtaposition (which tends to be more literal than figurative).


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk has Guts as Fire and Griffith as Ice. Casca is a staunch follower of Griffith and wanted to be with him, but grows to accept that she could never be his woman, and his emotionally distant and ambition-driven personality didn't really help with that. Over time, she naturally falls in love with Guts, who has his own emotionally distant behavior but is much more receptive and passionate than Griffith and develops the same feelings for Casca.
  • Shiemi from Blue Exorcist is liked by two guys; one is Rin, who happens to be something of a delinquent and the son of Satan, and Yukio, Shiemi's teacher and Rin's younger brother who can be kind or icy depending on the moment.
  • Fruits Basket has the calm introverted Yuki and the Hot-Blooded Kyo as Tohru's two main potential love interests. It's subverted when Yuki's love for Tohru is revealed to be purely platonic, since he sees her as a mother figure instead of a love interest.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji's two main love interests are the tempestuous and redhead Asuka and the emotionless and blue-haired Rei.
  • Star Driver has Sawako pitted between Takuto (fire, being very spirited and innocent) and Sugata (ice, being calm and mature). Inverted that Sugata is the childhood mate turned arranged fiancee.
  • Yurara has an almost literal example of this, where the titular character is involved in a love triangle between the extroverted and happy-go-lucky fire user Meiwa, and the calm and intelligent water user Yakou. In a subversion though, Yakou doesn't actually love Yurara — he loves her Older Alter Ego.

     Comic Books 
  • Marvel liked to play with this:
    • Back in the 1960s there was the Invisible Girl and her beaux Mr. Fantastic (ice) and Namor (fire).
    • Various versions of the triangle of Jean Grey with Cyclops (ice) and Wolverine (fire) in different realities.
    • Rogue between Gambit (fire) and Magneto (ice) at various points in her life.

     Fan Works 

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Dark Knight: Rachel has two suitors, Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne. Harvey (Fire) is a passionate attorney with a quick temper but ultimately has a good heart at first. Bruce (Ice) acts the part of a carefree billionaire playboy but Rachel is aware he's the ultra-stoic and brooding vigilante Batman. Unusually for this trope, Bruce is Rachel's childhood sweetheart, while she met Harvey later in life. She chooses Harvey because she feels Bruce will never be able to give up being Batman, though tragically she's killed shortly after making that choice. Ironically, Harvey ends up being badly scarred by fire when Rachel dies.
  • The Hobbit trilogy features a love triangle (that wasn't in the book) involving Kíli and Legolas, who are rivals for Tauriel's affections. Legolas is Ice: a cool, level-headed and mostly stoic elf prince who tends to keep his feelings for Tauriel to himself. Kíli is Fire: a brash, outspoken and hot-blooded dwarf prince who is very open about his affection for Tauriel. It ultimately doesn't end happily for anyone; Tauriel quickly turns her affections to Kíli because she thinks she has no chance with Legolas but Kíli dies during the Battle of the Five Armies, much to her sorrow, while a disillusioned Legolas leaves to find his own destiny.

  • Anne of Green Gables: Warm, friendly Gilbert is the Fire to Roy Gardner's mysterious proper Ice as they both court Anne.
  • In Evernight, Lucas is fire (passionate and bold, with a Hair-Trigger Temper) and Balthazar is ice (somewhat aloof and detached, calm and levelheaded) for Bianca. She picks Lucas. Ironically enough, Lucas starts out being rather cold to Bianca whilst Balthazar is warm and friendly to her, though their personalities generally fit the opposite. In this case Lucas is the rebellious 'bad boy' Bianca's parents don't approve of, while Balthazar is considered the more safe and sensible option.
  • Mr. Rochester (fire) and St. John Rivers (ice) in Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester is passionate and hot-tempered, whereas St. John Rivers is described as cold, passionless and marble-like.
  • In Night World, Jez has one of these with Hugh and Morgead. Hugh is warm, friendly and compassionate (Fire); Morgead is cold and snarky with a Hidden Heart of Gold (Ice). She picks Morgead after realizing they're soulmates.
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles:
  • Sally and Angua in Thud! — Sally is Ice (vampire), Angua is Fire (werewolf), although the triangle is more what Angua fears than a serious threat to her relationship with Carrot.
  • Edward and Jacob from The Twilight Saga. Edward is the Ice (aloof, controlled and has trouble opening up emotionally, as well as physically cold to touch) and Jacob is the Fire (hot-tempered, openly emotional and honest to the point of bluntness, as well as having a higher-than-normal body temperature). The third book - which most prominently features the triangle as a plot device - actually has a chapter titled "Fire and Ice" and quotes Robert Frost's poem of the same name.

     Live Action Television 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a love triangle involving Angel (aloof and always-in-control Ice) and Spike (spontaneous and violent Fire) competing for Buffy's affections.
  • In an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, a prim and proper career military man is accused of killing his wife because she left him for her bad boy lover. As it turned out he did kill her, but precisely because she tried to go back to him, undermining his sense of control.
  • Shadow and Bone: Alina has the choice between Mal and the Darkling. Mal (fire) is her enthusiastic, good-humored and down-to-earth childhood friend, whom she's had a crush on for years despite him never seeming to notice her in that way. The Darkling (ice) is the aloof, refined and mysterious Shadow Summoner who offers to help her unlock her true potential and treats her as someone of great importance. At the end of Season 1, Alina rejects the Darkling and runs off with Mal due to discovering how utterly cold and ruthless the former can be, though it remains to be seen if things turn out the same as in the books.
  • Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries fit this trope. Stefan is the Fire, who is warm, kind, compassionate, caring and loving and Damon is the Ice, who is uncaring, arrogant, cold, unsympathetic and impulsive.
  • Veronica Mars has Icy, ever-composed Duncan and temperamental Logan vying for Veronica.

  • In The Snow Maiden the passionate and hot-tempered Kupava is the Fire and the shy and literally frigid Snow Maiden is the Ice. Interestingly, there is a double triangle: Kupava's fiancé Mizgir spurns her for the Snow Maiden while Lel, initially being in love with the Snow Maiden, grows tired of her coldness and goes for Kupava.

     Video Games 
  • Dragon Age offers these on occasion:
    • A male Warden can have one of these in Dragon Age: Origins with the two female love interests. Morrigan is an Ice Queen Lady of Black Magic whose standoffish nature puts her at odds with most of the party; Leliana is a Nice Girl with great passion and gusto. Of course, the Warden can also Take a Third Option with Zevran, who is roughly in the middle of the two extremes.
    • Hawke, in Dragon Age II, can be in this kind of triangle whether they prefer males or females. On the male side, Fenris is Ice, as he has a Dark and Troubled Past which makes him want to keep his distance from nearly everyone, while Anders is Fire due to his quick temper and impulsive nature. On the female side, Isabela is Ice because she avoids emotional attachment and has an agenda, while Merrill is Fire because she's very warm and eager to connect. (Interestingly, both of the Fire characters are mages with the literal ability to perform fire spells.)
  • In inFAMOUS 2 this happens to Cole between Kuo who is well mannered, soft spoken, generally focused even in combat situations and even gets literal ice powers in the middle of the game; and Nix who is violent, egotistical and vengeful. Both endings subvert their attitudes as Nix ends up sacrificing herself trying to kill either the Beast or Evil!Cole and Kuo trying to protect herself by helping the Beast and Evil!Cole.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, the love triangle involves both Sora and Riku having feelings for Kairi, with Sora as fire and Riku as ice. All three of them are childhood friends, though unusually, Sora and Riku were already friends when Kairi arrived following the Heartless invasion of Radiant Garden.
  • Male Shepard could get into one of these situations in Mass Effect 2 with Jack and Miranda. Jack is a Hot-Blooded criminal with Blood Knight tendencies, while Miranda is a cold, calm and composed Ice Queen who Shepard can thaw out. The two of them are even scripted to get into an argument. Not about Shepard though.
  • Gender-inverted and deconstructed in Yanderella. The game seems to be about main character Yatarou choosing between childhood friends the more aggressive Honoka and the quiet and sweet Hinata; the girls are symbolically associated with red and blue respectively and the player repeatedly chooses which one to spend his free time with, culminating in a choice of who to gift a stuffed rabbit to. However, shortly after the last choice it rapidly becomes apparent that both girls are violently insane, and neither of them will allow you to choose the other and get away with it.

  • In El Goonish Shive, a background character talks about being in one of these with 2 guys liking her: one really nice and the other a cool jerk but both hot.
  • The Dave/Terezi/Karkat love triangle in Homestuck with calm, cool kid Dave as the "ice" and the hot-headed and emotional Karkat as "fire".

     Western Animation 
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • In the Bolin/Korra/Mako love triangle in Mako is the ice to Bolin's fire. Interestingly enough, the cooler-mannered Mako is a firebender.
    • In the Korra/Mako/Asami triangle from the same show, Korra in turn is the fire to Asami's ice, which is just as crazy since she's originally a waterbender and Asami, though a non-bender, is from Fire Nation ancestry. The triangle is resolved in the Grand Finale by leaving Mako single, while Korra and Asami end up with each other.
  • The Miraculous Love Square essentially features a double version of this trope with only two people involved. Marinette Dupain-Cheng has a crush on the mysterious and reserved Adrien Agreste (Ice). When she dons the mask of Ladybug, she does not reciprocate the affections of her superhero partner, the reckless and passionate Cat Noir (Fire). Meanwhile, Cat Noir is crushing on his partner, the cool and professional Ladybug (Ice). When he assumes the identity of Adrien Agreste, he regards the friendly and approachable Marinette Dupain-Cheng (Fire) as no more than a friend.