As two of the four classical elements, and probably the two most frequently used in fiction, it's no surprise that fire and water can play dominant roles in building atmosphere in visual media. A raging rainstorm can carry as much pathos as a burning house, just as a roaring bonfire can be as comforting as a calm lake. When a writer wants to form an immediately obvious contrast between two characters, places or events, though, it can be particularly visually stimulating to associate one with fire, and one with water—perhaps drawing a contrast between creation and destruction, tranquility and belligerence, or nurturing and consuming. A downpour can signal the end or the turning point of a Battle Amongst the Flames.
Alternately, it can be equally stimulating to create a contrast between fire and ice, with the two playing into differing flavors of destructive power, or mutually destructive elements that help form the world. See Fire/Ice Duo for this specific variant applied to characters.
If writers want to play with religious motifs, this trope can play into imagery frequently associated with baptism, with a "baptism by fire" forming a contrast to traditional baptism by water. If this trope is employed, expect lots of playing around with the Orange/Blue Contrast or some other form of Color Contrast.
Compare Evil Is Burning Hot and Evil Is Deathly Cold (when this trope is employed in two differing portrayals of evil), Kill It with Fire and Kill It with Water, Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition (where Lightning replaces Water as Fire's counterpart), Elemental Rivalry (when this trope is used to set up two elemental wielders as adversaries), Life/Death Juxtaposition (when one of those elements has a creation motif and the other a destruction motif), and Hailfire Peaks (where the ice/fire variant is built into the terrain).
This trope frequently comes into play in Four Element Ensembles, when characters' uses of fire-based and water-based abilities are used to set them up as Foils. Depending on the form that it takes, this trope can be a sub-trope of Elemental Powers (if characters are associated with fire, water or ice through their uses of elemental abilities), Empathic Environment (when changes in the state of the physical world reflects changes in the emotional state of the characters that inhabit it), or even just Elemental Motifs (if the rain and fire are more metaphorical than literal). See also Red Oni, Blue Oni. When this trope is paired with gender dynamics, the Water tends to be a woman while the Fire is often a man.
- Black Clover: Fuegoleon and Nozel have had an intense rivalry since they were children which remains even as adults. Fuegoleon uses Flame Magic to form a lion and large fire blasts. Nozel uses Mercury Magic, liquid metal, to form an eagle and shape into many different forms. Fuegoleon is a warm and hot-blooded person, having his moments of hamminess, who judges someone for their worth and not their social status. Nozel is a cold individual, aloof towards even his family, who has the arrogance of royalty.
- Fushigi Yuugi: Suzaku (a phoenix) is associated with fire, and has a large fire pit in his shrine. Seiryuu, a dragon, is associated with water, and has a shrine full of waterfalls.
- Gamaran: the Boisterous Bruiser Zenmaru specialize in the "Kagutsuchi Kata" (Fire God Form) style, while the much calmer Shinnojo is an expert of the "Mizuchi Kata" (Water Dragon Form).
- In the opening of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - Northern War, it depicts Rean crouched down with Valimar and a fiery foreground (which is the same pose and picture used in the OST cover of Cold Steel II, only animated), while Lavian Winslet is depicted as blue in the icy cold region of North Ambria.
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS introduced the child-like Reinforce Zwei and the cynical Agito, the two sole living Unison Devices in the current era who have affinities to ice and fire respectively to further showcase their contrasting personalities and pasts (the former was created and raised in a loving family environment, while the latter had to be rescued from an illegal research facility). Although their animosity completely disappears at the end of the season due to Agito being adopted into Reinfore Zwei's family.
- Combined with Bookends in regards to Subaru's character growth during StrikerS. Her first scene features her trapped in a burning building and crying out for help. Her final scene is her rescuing two children crying out for help that were trapped on a ship during a thunderstorm.
- When Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha INNOCENT finally gave Magical Girl forms to Nanoha's two friends, the Hot-Blooded Arisa and the Shrinking Violet Suzuka, they're revealed to have fire and ice attributes respectively.
- Minor example in ViVid Strike! where Rinne has the tiepin that her mother gave her smashed and thrown into a toilet by bullies on the day her grandfather died, establishing her as a foil to Vivio (who had the stuffed bunny that Nanoha gave her burned in a fire when she was kidnapped back in StrikerS). Both destroyed objects would serve as the design basis for their respective Transformation Trinkets.
- Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid: We have Tohru (fire-breathing dragon), and her rival Elma (aquatic dragon).
- Moriarty the Patriot: William's Elemental Motif is fire, Sherlock's is water. William is constantly associated with fire in a huge swath of ways, from anger, hatred, to inspiration, passion, and light. Meanwhile, his Hero Antagonist Sherlock is much the same with water, from deep unknowable depths to calming purification. The Final Problem even ends with them plunging from a burning bridge into the River Thames as Sherlock finally wins their confrontation.
- My Hero Academia: Shoto Todoroki can use both fire and ice powers, the fruits of an abusive relationship between his fire-using father and ice-using mother. His body is split into a fire and an ice side and he is more inclined to use the latter as he hates his father.
- Naruto: We have Kisame and Itachi (who can use Fire techniques.)
- One Piece: Seen with two of the Admirals; the lazy but righteous Aokiji and the ruthless General Ripper Akainu.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The character Homura (whose name means both 'fire' and 'dawn') experiences her greatest failure while kneeling in water spilled by a broken pipe. Walpurgisnacht had recently attacked Mitakihara, killing Homura's only friend and leaving the town in ruins.
- Rurouni Kenshin: Kenshin and the Kyoto arc Big Bad Shishio Makoto can be considered rivals (both were highly skilled hitokiri during the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868), and now they're enemies. In their final battle, Kenshin's revamp and secret attack summons forth a fierce squall, while Makoto's special attack and power up are announced by roaring flames.
- Yes! Pretty Cure 5: Rin Natsuki/Cure Rouge and Karen Minazuki/Cure Aqua. The former uses fire elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Passion. The latter uses water elemental magic and is designated as the Cure of Intelligence. These two characters early on are depicted as rivals that couldn't get along most of the time and hate being one-upped by the other. However, over the first season, they came to an understanding, and the rivalry became less severe.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: One of the openings featured Bastion Misawa with Water Dragon and a similar fire dragon. However, Water Dragon was the only one of the two to have ever been used in the anime (and the only one of the two to be defictionalized).
- BoBoiBoy: To unlock BoBoiBoy's water elemental, his friends help him relax, as his accumulating stress led him to unlock his fire elemental. The two elements also tend to clash in personality, BoBoiBoy Fire is passionately playful/violent while BoBoiBoy Water keeps a tranquil state of mind.
- This was the basis of the first superhero crossover in the history of comics back in 1940, when Marvel Mystery Comics #9 had the Sub-Mariner (the Prince of Atlantis) facing off against the original Human Torch in a showdown that was billed as "the ultimate battle of Fire against Water".
- The aforementioned rivalry between Namor the Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch also carries over into the current comics, where Namor is a frequent supporting character in books featuring the Fantastic Four (of which the second Human Torch is a member). Namor, a proud, overbearing monarch known for his stoic personality, provides the perfect foil for the compassionate, fun-loving daredevil Johnny Storm.
- Batman and the Outsiders has a villainous couple with heat and cold powers, who are actually trying to find a cure to their opposite powers.
- The first page of issue #1 of 100 Bullets is a flashback sequence showing the the central character Dizzy Cordova standing in the rain with a gun to her head, and it's immediately followed by a scene of a nude Dizzy taking a shower. The final page of the final issue has Dizzy in the burning Medici manor, pointing a gun to Agent Graves' head, possibly about to be burned to death.
- The Lion King (1994): The climactic fight scene has a lightning strike starting a brush fire in the Pridelands as Simba returns to Pride Rock and challenges Scar for leadership of the pride. After Scar's defeat, a rainstorm quenches the fire and symbolically washes away the traces of Scar's destructive regime.
- Moana: When Moana confronts Te Kā, the visuals contrast Te Kā's fury and lava with Moana's gentle but powerful ocean.
- Raya and the Last Dragon: While talking with Boun on the boat, Sisu associates the Druun with fire, stone, ash, and destruction, and dragons with water, life, and creation. Dragon magic is heralded with the appearance of water, and their disappearance is heralded by the absence of it.
- The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl: Sharkboy (a bitey, angry water-guy) and Lavagirl (the feisty, but caring fire-girl). Although the characters themselves seem like they wouldn't be able to get along (and indeed, they are often hurt by each other), together they make up for the other's weaknesses.
- Done subtly in Blade Runner 2049, where Officer K's earliest memory is him hiding a beloved toy from bullies inside a massive, roaring furnace, and his last act is sustaining mortal injuries while saving Rick Deckard from the bad guys not only during the pouring rain but lying on the seashore, immersed in ocean waves.
- Spread across two films with Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace, which are (not coincidentally) the only two James Bond films to be direct sequels to one another.
- The climax of Casino Royale has 007 fighting to save Vesper Lynd from the bad guys amidst a collapsing building in Venice, and ultimately diving into the water in an attempt to save her from drowning.
- The climax of Quantum of Solace has 007 and Camille fighting the bad guys in a burning building in a desert in Bolivia, and just narrowly avoiding being consumed by flames.
- Used as a plot point in Constantine (2005), where it's explained that water is a "universal conduit" that can facilitate transportation to Hell and its surrounding realms. In order to reach Hell, which is made of fire and brimstone, a person has to suspend at least part of their body in water while on Earth.
- In a meta sense, the training scene in Creed II, where Adonis trains in a desert to prepare for a fight with Viktor Drago; deliberately contrasts with the training scene in Rocky IV, where Rocky trains in the snow to prepare for a fight with Ivan Drago.
- Demolition Man has a fire/ice juxtaposition. The prologue set in 1996 has John Spartan and Simon Phoenix fighting in an abandoned building that Phoenix has doused with gasoline, and the criminal ignites the pool of gasoline Spartan is standing on to try and burn him alive. The final battle is set in the 2032 cryo-prison and Spartan defeats Phoenix while the latter is standing on a pool of water, by dropping a "cryo-seed" in the water, flash-freezing the criminal and finally kicking his head off.
- In Escape Room (2019), the first of the Escape Room challenges is a rapidly heating room that eventually burns after the time runs out. The second challenge is a rapidly freezing tundra that eventually induces hypothermia after the time runs out. This is lampshaded by the contestants.
- Discussed in Freddy vs. Jason where it's suggested that some of the animosity between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees stems from the fact that the former was created from fire, and the latter was created from water. (Freddy became a dream-dwelling demon after being burned to death by an angry mob, and Jason became a hulking zombie after drowning as a child.)
- Godzilla (2014): In keeping with Gareth Edwards' stated "Man vs. Nature" theme, and to emphasize just how small and helpless the humans are, one scene shows soldiers firing off tiny-looking flares in front of the massive Godzilla, who is still dripping with many gallons of sea water. The tie-in prequel graphic novel Godzilla Awakening also uses this trope with Godzilla and the antagonist Shinomura, lampshaded during the exposition about their backstories. After the Permian-Triassic extinction event caused radiation levels on the Earth's surface to subside, Godzilla retreated to the ocean to feed on underwater geothermal vents, while Shinomura fell through a volcanic vent seemingly into the Earth's mantle to feed there.
- There are two scenes in The Lord of the Rings trilogy that serve as Bookends using fire and water. At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring Frodo saves Sam from drowning in the River Anduin, and at the end of The Return of the King Sam saves Frodo from falling into Mount Doom. Both are scenes of one hand reaching out for another, one underwater (Frodo saving Sam) and one in a volcano (Sam saving Frodo).
- In Sherlock Holmes (2009), the two most dramatic murders carried out by Lord Blackwood (both of which occur at the midpoint at the movie, just as Blackwood's plan is coming together) employ this trope. First he drowns Sir Thomas Rotheram in his bathtub, then we see him burn Ambassador Standish alive about 15 minutes later. Interestingly fire and water here were used as part of the Four-Element Ensemble rather instead of direct foils to each other: Blackwood's first murder after his resurrection was burying his accomplice alive and later he planned to gas the parliament in the film climax.
- The Star Wars prequel trilogy does this rather subtly with Anakin's character arc between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. In Attack of the Clones, his affair with Padme begins in earnest when they share a tender kiss at a lake house on Naboo, with Padme waxing poetical about her fond memories of swimming in the lake as a child. In Revenge of the Sith, when Anakin finally crosses his Moral Event Horizon and tries to murder Padme, he does it amidst the fiery volcanic landscape of the planet Mustafar. Later, in Padme's funeral procession, she's shown wearing a billowing dress decorated with flower petals—which Word of God confirms is a reference to Ophelia's death in Hamlet. While Anakin's passion and anger are associated with fire, Padme (his Morality Pet) is associated with water.
- A central motif in Submarine. The pyromaniac Jordana is strongly associated with fire, while Oliver and his father are associated with water, symbolizing depression and emotional distance. Scene transitions where Oliver is close to Jordana are given a red filter, while ones where he's not have a blue filter. Jordana's fire livens up Oliver's life, but they're not very compatible, fitting with the symbolism. The film also has a lot of shots of flame next to the ocean.
- Used in the climax of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, where the Connors and the T-800 finally battle the T-1000 to the death. First they freeze him with liquid nitrogen and shatter him into a million pieces, which apparently kills him for good. A few minutes later, he manages to reform himself when the heat from a factory foundry melts the frozen pieces of his liquid metal body—forcing the T-800 to kill him by throwing him into a vat of molten steel. The second time, it sticks.
- Employed in V for Vendetta, as a contrast between V and Evey's respective "rebirths": we see shots of Evey basking in a rainstorm following her imprisonment and torture at V's hands interposed with a flashback of V emerging from the fiery ruins of Larkhill Concentration Camp.
- Also spread across two installments in Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker.
- The first scene of Seventh Son, the first book in the series, has the protagonist nearly dying as an infant when his family is caught in a flood (which ends up drowning his oldest brother).
- The first scene of Red Prophet, the second book, introduces us to a man with the ability to control fire, who nearly ends up killing the book's Big Bad by burning down his fortress.
- Harry Potter:
- Used for the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, where the first challenge requires the competitors to face off against four fire-breathing dragons, and the second challenge requires them to swim to the bottom of the Black Lake while battling Merpeople.
- According to Word of God, each of the Four Houses of Hogwarts is also associated with one of the four elements. Fittingly, Gryffindor and Slytherin—the two houses with the bitterest rivalry—have fire and water as their respective elements. Gryffindor's colors are red and gold, and their thematic association with fire ties into their primary virtue of courage, but also their notoriously stubborn personalities (Gryffindors, like fire, are incredibly difficult to control). This contrasts starkly with Slytherin, whose members pride themselves on their cunning and adaptability (much like water constantly shifts forms, assuming the shape of whatever container holds it).
- Turns up constantly in A Song of Ice and Fire.
- There are two conflicting religions based around the ocean-dwelling Drowned God (whose followers show their devotion by anointing their heads with seawater, and consider drowning people an acceptable act) and the fiery "Lord of Light" R'hllor (whose followers show their devotion with huge bonfires, and sacrificing non-believers by burning an act of devotion).
- This trope is used to contrast several of the warring factions in the War of the Five Kings.
- One major faction is led by the dragon-taming House Targaryen, whose members follow the motto "Fire and Blood", have a dragon as their sigil, and claim to trace their lineage to an ancient civilization that was destroyed by volcanoes. One (in)famous member of the family started a lot of drama by attempting to use alchemical weapons to burn his kingdom's capital city to the ground.
- One faction is led by Lord Stannis Baratheon, a militant follower of the religion of the aforementioned god R'hllor, who wears a red gold crown with points fashioned to look like flames, and has a heart-shaped ring of fire worked into his personal sigil.
- One faction is led by the island-dwelling Greyjoy family, whose members have a kraken as their sigil, anoint their leaders with crowns made of driftwood, and follow the religion of the aforementioned Drowned God.
- One faction is led by the Stark family and their Northern allies, who are constantly associated with ice and cold, following the motto "Winter is Coming", and are (initially) led by a man who carries a greatsword called "Ice".
- Two major inciting events in the series involve the simultaneous return of the Others (undead creatures from the frozen North who carry weapons made of ice, and melt like ice when killed) and the fire-breathing Dragons. Both happen on opposite sides of the world, and both happen in the domains of two opposing factions of the war.
- The Robert Frost poem "Fire and Ice", published in collection New Hampshire, in which the speaker contemplates which would be better for the end of the world.
- The Divine Comedy uses both Evil Is Burning Hot and Evil Is Deathly Cold during its description of Hell; fire and heat are used to punish the souls of the damned at various points, such as the burning sands and the rivers of blood, but the deepest layer, Cocytus, consists of a frozen lake where the worst sinners of all are partially entombed within the ice.
- James Baldwin's famous 1963 Civil Rights essay The Fire Next Time takes its title from a Negro spiritual that uses this trope, predicting an eventual fiery apocalypse that will finish the work started by the Great Flood in the Book of Genesis.
"God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, but fire next time."
- In Warrior Cats:
- In Bluestar's Prophecy, the eponymous message she receives from StarClan compares Bluestar to fire, but warns that even the greatest flames can be extinguished by water. Bluestar eventually dies from drowning, but survives just long enough to say goodbye to Fireheart (her apprentice) and her RiverClan children.
- The character Flametail dies when he falls through ice and drowns in a lake.
- In Cats of the Clans, when Rock talks about Squirrelflight and Leafpool, he explicitly compares Squirrelflight to a burning fire and Leafpool to a calm pool of water.
- In The Dresden Files, the mage protagonist is infamous for his fire spells, and it's a sign of his greatly increased power (and changed worldview as the Winter Knight) when he can master ice, the opposite element.
- A minor plot point in Going Postal. Golems can survive extreme heat (such as lava) and extreme cold (such as the bottom of the ocean). It turns out that dumping a water tower on a golem in the middle of a burning building is enough to kill it. Not that it minds.
- In the second series of Wings of Fire, the protagonist's Love Triangle is between a SandWing and an IceWing.
- Life After People: Comparing the fates of Co-Op City (which would flood and collapse in a century) and the San Rimo Apartments (which will eventually burn):
One will be marred by fire in a Life After People. Will the other face death by water?.
- Power Rangers:
- Power Rangers Mystic Force and its counterpart Mahou Sentai Magiranger had a more complementary version, as the team's mentor was an ice sorceress, and it was eventually revealed that her husband was a fire mage. It can also apply to the water-themed Blue Ranger and her love interests in both versions: in Magiranger she eventually married the Sixth Ranger who had The Power of the Sun, while the Mystic Force version of the character was Ship Teased with the Red Ranger, another fire wielder.
- The first two major villains introduced in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive were warring brothers Moltor (fire) and Flurrious (ice).
- Used in Hannibal to contrast Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. Hannibal is shown cooking almost every episode, is frequently framed by firelight, and has a very warm and friendly disposition. He's also a devouring, destructive, catalytic force who is symbolically linked to the Miltonian Devil. Will, meanwhile, is a fisherman who frequently dreams of water and ice, and whose mental retreat is a calm river. His personality is off-puttingly cold and forbidding, and his talents involve assuming the mindset of killers in the same way that liquid assumes the shape of a container.
- Game of Thrones:
- A major event is the Battle of Blackwater Bay, when the ocean's surface burned with green wildfire. You can tell that the set designers had fun with this.
- The first season is book-ended by the return of the White Walkers and the dragons on opposite sides of the world. The White Walkers are undead beings from the frozen north who build, arm, and armour themselves with ice and melt like ice when killed while the dragons are living, fire-breathing creatures described as "fire made flesh."
- Although not in direct conflict as yet, worshipers of the ocean-dwelling Drowned God show their devotion by wearing blue-grey, anointing with seawater, and Kill It with Water while the worshipers of the fiery Lord of Light wear red and show their devotion with bonfires and Kill It with Fire. Furthermore, the cosmology of the Lord of Light sees all things as a contest between fire and cold, light and dark, and life and death.
- Many factions of the War of the Five Kings are visually associated with fire, water, or ice and tend to align similarly to their elements. House Stark is constantly associated with ice and cold and tends to stoic or unyielding personalities whereas their greatest rival House Lannister bears fiery colours like red and gold and are characterized by pride and wrath. The Starks are also closely allied with the water-associated House Tully of the Riverlands and indirectly opposed to the Lord of Light worshiping Stannis Baratheon and dragon-owning Daenerys Targaryen.
- House of the Dragon: A Discussed Trope by Rhaenyra in "Driftmark". Her family is innately aligned with fire, but the Velaryons' element is water, and she ponders the meaning of both.
Rhaenyra: Fire is such strange power. Everything that House Targaryen possesses is owed to it. Yet it has cost us both what we loved.
Daemon: Perhaps the Velaryons knew the truth of it: the sea is the better ally.
Rhaenyra: Fire is a prison. The sea offers an escape.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel and Sauron. Even from her first introduction as a child she was associated with water for her mirror leitmotif. And Sauron is asociated with fire in a few instances. As Halbrand, he wants to be a blacksmith, the priestesses from Rhun that are searching for him use fire-based magic, and he ends the first Season with a contrasting shot of him returning in Mordor.
- Superman & Lois: While Clark's fortress is located in the Arctic, Morgan's is in the desert. Morgan himself acknowledges the contrasts as one of many ways he and Clark are different.
- The song "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple is about how the Montreux Casino and the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio burned down on the shores of Lake Geneva.
- In "Seven Devils" by Florence and The Machine:
Holy water cannot help you now
See I've come to burn your kingdom down
And no rivers and no lakes can put the fire out...
- "Fire And Rain" by James Taylor, the song title fitting the trope thematically.
- Tears for Fears: Roland Orzabal is passionate about astrology, so both fire and water (which are two of the four elements in the Western Zodiac) will occasionally show up in a song or the band's promotional materials.
- On The Seeds of Love album cover, Roland Orzabal's blue suit & umbrella with a fish ornament attached and Curt Smith's gold suit & staff with a sun ornament at the top symbolize the water and fire elements associated with Cancer (Smith's zodiac sign) and Leo (Orzabal's zodiac sign), respectively.
- The red splotch with the small gold paint blobs on the "Woman in Chains◊" artwork signify fire, which is a masculine element in western astrology, while the blue swirls signify water, a feminine element. The song is about the oppression of women in a patriarchal world.
- Orzabal released "Fish Out of Water" as The Diss Track to Smith after the latter departed from the band. The water imagery in the lyrics alludes to Smith being a Cancerian. Smith's Answer Song is "Sun King", which refers to Orzabal being a Leo (the sun could essentially be described as a giant ball of "fire" fueled by nuclear fusion).
- In the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video (which is the first one the group has done since they reformed as a duo), lightning strikes a sailing ship, and a shower of sparks fall into the ocean below. This short "fire meets water" event is a subtle nod that a Leo (Orzabal) has reconciled with a Cancerian (Smith).
- "I Love You But I'm Lost", a song co-written by Orzabal and Smith, contains both fire and water metaphors for Loving a Shadow because you cannot physically grip a flame or liquid water for very long (the former will burn your hand if you touch it and the latter will eventually flow away), just as you cannot physically hold the idealized version of your beloved (as opposed to their true self).
From a flame to the spark of an ember
To a fire on the fifth of November
We escaped from the light, now we count the cost
In a dream, at the edge of a river
Where we swam, when I watched you shiver
Came to life in my arms and then turned to dust
- In Norse Mythology's creation myth, runoff from Niflheim (the world of ice and mist) got too close to Muspellheim (the world of fire and heat) within the Gaping Nothing, which eventually led to the creation of the Universe.
- Pacific Mythology: Pele the fire goddess is in a constant battle with her sister Na'maka the ocean goddess. This conflict actually creates Hawaii, continuously, as runoff from the volcanoes reaches the sea and solidifies.
- Many depictions of Shiva Nataraja ("Dancing Shiva") traditionally depict Shiva dancing inside a ring of fire and water, symbolizing his mastery of opposites (i.e. his mastery of destruction, which makes creation possible).
- Invoked in Chapter 43 of the Book of Isaiah in The Bible:
"When you pass through water, I will be with you; through streams, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through fire, you shall not be scorched; through flame, it shall not burn you."
- And later, in Matthew:
John the Baptist: I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who ... will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
- And later, in Matthew:
- The Song of Songs says that love is a very strong fire that many waters cannot put out and floods cannot drown.
- In the second epistle of Peter the apostle, he says that the world that once existed, that was formed in and out of water, was destroyed by water, but the world that exists now will be destroyed by fire on the day of God's judgment of man.
- In the apocryphal Book of Sirach: "He has put fire and water before you; you can stretch out your hand for whichever you choose." (Sirach 15:16)
- Also from the apocryphal book of 2nd Esdras: An angel tells Ezra the prophet, "There is a city built and set on a plain, and it is full of all good things; 7 but the entrance to it is narrow and set in a precipitous place, so that there is fire on the right hand and deep water on the left. There is only one path lying between them, that is, between the fire and the water, so that only one person can walk on the path." (2nd Esdras 7:6-8)
- In the Mormon religion, "baptism by water and fire" is an important concept (as alluded to by Joshua Graham in the page quote). In this case, "baptism by fire" is a metaphor for receiving the Holy Spirit, which is often depicted as a tongue of flame.
"But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost." (2 Nephi 31:14)
- In Zoroastrianism, fire and water are both considered agents of divine purification and fundamental to the preservation of life. The duality of the two is so intertwined, fire is considered a manifestation of or derivation from water.
- In Aztec Mythology, the combined glyph of fire and water was used as a symbol of war, representing the primordial conflict between opposites central to the creation of the universe. The Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan, one of the main centers of Aztec religious activity, also featured dual shrines to the sun god Huitzilopochtli and the rain god Tlaloc at its top, presumably representing themes of conflict and warfare.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! has some examples:
- Played with in the Duel Terminal Metaplot. The Laval and Gishki monsters are both villains and working together. The best example of this trope though is Lavalval Chain.
- The Atlantians (And after being forced to fight for them, Mermails) are battling the Fire Kings (And perhaps the similar Hazy Flame monsters) again this trope shown by Ocean Ablaze (AKA High Tide On Fire Island).
- And then there are the cards like Frost and Flame Dragon, Elemental Hero Steam Healer, and Battle of the Elements.
- Red and blue fall on opposite sides of the Magic: The Gathering color pie. Usually their conflict comes down to Emotions vs. Stoicism.
- In Götterdämmerung, after being burned on Siegfried's funeral pyre along with its final owner, the Ring, cleansed of its curse, is finally reclaimed by the waters from whence the gold was stolen. While the Rhinemaidens play with it in the river, Valhalla bursts into flames.
- In The Magic Flute, the final test for Tamino and Pamina is to pass through banks of fire and water (though the guardians' duet suggests the other elements are also involved).
- In Hamilton, Hamilton recalls his past in "Hurricane", using it as his reason for publishing the Reynold's Pamphlet, hurting and humiliating his wife in the process. Eliza reacts to this in "Burn".
- Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica: The two paths for the game. Luca, a Maiden of Homura (Fuero), and Cloche, a Maiden of Mio (Aqua). Homura means Flame in Japanese. Mio means Waterway in Japanese. Fuero looks like it should be a fire-related Latin word, while Aqua is Latin for Water.
- Ryu and Fou-Lu in Breath of Fire IV have very similar movesets, but Ryu's moves are generally fire-themed, while Fou-Lu's are themed around water and ice, and Fou-Lu is explicitly described as having an affinity for water (and a corresponding weakness to fire). This represents the fact that Ryu and Fou-Lu are two halves of the Yorae Dragon, an immensely powerful god that was split into two beings by the ritual that summoned it.
- Carrion: Fire is associated with the human enemies in their flamethrower weaponry, and flames will quickly burn and kill the Villain Protagonist monster if it doesn't find water to put them out. Water is associated with the monster, who not only can deposit biomass in the pink organic liquids, but also gains the ability to transform into a worm-like swarm while underwater to bypass small gaps. The monster is also first encountered by humans as an inert biomass in a pool of organic fluid, as shown in the flashback.
- In the Diablo series, the hell you visit in Diablo II has overall a lava and rock motif, while the heavens you visit in Diablo III has a water and crystal motif (at least, before Diablo starts corrupting them). This is especially notable at the part where you must take some portals from the heavens to hell: the contrast is quite evident there.
- Serph and Heat in Digital Devil Saga; the former is a Stoic who almost never speaks and shapeshifts into an ice-themed demon, Varna, while the latter is a hot-headed and impulsive Blood Knight who shapeshifts into a fire-demon, Agni. The backstory also reveals that they, or rather the humans their personalities were based on, were involved in a Betty and Veronica Switch Love Triangle over Sera.
- In Dragon Age II, one early sign that Anders has changed since merging with the Spirit of Justice, is that one of his starting spells is Ice; a stark contrast to Awakening where his introduction had him wielding Fire, though his starting spells were ice-based in both games, showing that the potential for what he would become was always there.
- Drakengard: Arioch made a pact with Salamander and Undine, spirits of fire and water, and uses them together as a Yin-Yang Bomb. Their opposite nature helps to underline the fact that she is batshit insane: having lost her family to war, and her ability to reproduce to the pact, she now eats children... and is one of the heroes.
- Joshua Graham from Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts provides the page quote. A Mormon missionary, he inadvertently became the right-hand man of a warlord named Caesar and his Legion. When the Legion failed to win the battle for Hoover Dam, which would have been a critical victory, Caesar decided to make an example of Joshua to his men, and had him covered in pitch and set on fire, then thrown into the Grand Canyon (he lived). The incident re-awakened Joshua's love of God and prompted him to go home and attempt to reconnect with his people. Joshua reflects of his life that he has been baptized twice; once in water (his traditional Mormon baptism) and once in flame (his attempted execution and the spiritual rediscovery it prompted). The same juxtaposition is used to contrast Joshua with Daniel, as the two leaders of the Zion tribes. Joshua, who wants to militarize the tribals and drive out their enemies, is met in a torchlit cave; Daniel, who wants to flee the valley instead of fighting, is met outside reading by a waterfall.
- Final Fantasy:
- In Final Fantasy V, Lenna and Faris are foils in several ways. In addition to their personality differences, Lenna represents the element of water and Faris represents fire. A bonus job added in the GBA release gives the party members special elemental attacks which reflect this.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy:
- Tidus carries a water-theme with his attacks, leaving a trail of bubbles with his sword (which is blue) and leaving splashes as he runs in EX Mode, references to his original game's water themes. His father Jecht on the other hand throws out Spell Blade and Elemental Punches of fire.
- The goddess Cosmos is associated with water, and her throne, Order's Sanctuary, is covered in a shallow layer of water. Chaos on the other hand is associated with fire, using many fire attacks in battle, and his throne, Edge of Madness, is a Mordor area covered in magma with fireballs raining from the sky.
- Fireboy and Watergirl, a series of flash games in which you control both of the title characters simultaneously and must use their elemental powers to solve puzzles.
- Golden Sun: Dark Dawn: Two gems that give you the power to evaporate water or turn it to ice are held by the Sand Prince and the Frost Queen. The former is a Worthy Opponent who battles you to gauge your strength before he willingly gives you the gem, the latter is a textbook evil queen who won't give up her gem peacefully.
- In the Heroes of Might and Magic series, Gelu wields the Armageddon's Blade in battle against Kilgor, who wields the Sword of Frost. When the two blades meet each other, they unleash a destructive magical shockwave that nearly destroys the planet.
- Jade Cocoon 2: Each of the 4 classical elements is associated with a strategy in battle, with fire minions having the most damaging attacks, and water minions having healing abilities.
- Kingdom Hearts gives us Organization XIII, a shadowy cabal of super-powered Nobodies who all draw their powers from different elemental "attributes" (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Ice, Lightning, Flower, Moon, Time, Space, Illusion, Light and Nothingness). Appropriately, the resident Fire-user Axel and the resident Ice-user Vexen have polar opposite personalities, with Axel being friendly, carefree, down-to-Earth, irreverent, and Brilliant, but Lazy, and Vexen being cold, arrogant, hardworking and scholarly; and while Axel ultimately does a Heel–Face Turn and joins the heroes, Vexen is one of Xemnas' most loyal servants. Oddly subverted with Axel and the resident Water-user Demyx, who are—if anything—the most similar in personality.
- Axel and Aqua have similar issues with being forgotten by their friends, as illustrated by this video.
- There is also some sort of rivalry in Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy between Whim and Yun, being a Water Mana and Fire Mana respectively.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the final two members of the Cobras are set up using this trope. First, Snake battles "The Fury", who's perpetually angry, and battles his enemies by burning them with flamethrowers and jet engines. The very next boss battle takes place in a river in the middle of a raging rainstorm, where Snake is pitted against "The Sorrow", who's eerily calm, and never even throws a punch at him.
- Mortal Kombat:
- The franchise's two iconic rival ninjas are Scorpion, a spectre with power over Hellfire and Sub-Zero, who is descended from an ancient race who can control ice.
- Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 introduced the purple-clad ninja Rain who could control water. Mortal Kombat: Armageddon introduced his half-brothers Taven and Daegon who could control fire. While Taven and Daegon were raised by their father Argus, Rain is an illegitimate child.
- In Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the mid-section of the game involves Sub-Zero traversing the Temple of the Elements to gain access to Shinnok's amulet deep within its walls. The fourth stage is "Water Element", a sewer-like installation where Sub-Zero has to face the god of water. The next stage is "Fire Element", which takes place in temple structure situated in a Lethal Lava Land. Its boss is the Fire God.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors begins with a man narrowly escaping drowning. It ends with a young girl narrowly escaping incineration. Their personalities are similarly divergent; Junpei is highly adaptable and empathic towards others, Akane is a passionate Well-Intentioned Extremist who will unhesitatingly sacrifice individuals for the greater good. Though her base of operations masquerades as a ship at sea, it is really located in a harsh desert.
- Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time introduces the Frostbite Caves, which pits fire-based warming plants and powerups against ice-themed caveman zombies and freezing cold winds.
- Charizard (fire) and Blastoise (water), starting from when they were the opposing version mascots of Pokémon Red and Blue. It's been more common to depict them as counterparts in various media, including in Pokémon Origins where Red's ace Pokémon is Charizard and Blue's equivalent is Blastoise. Series director Junichi Masuda later decided to avert this for the remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen, by not giving the latter an international retitle. He felt that the juxtaposition of fire and water had more aggressive connotations than fire and leaves, and he wanted to portray a peaceful world.
- In Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, the legendary Pokémon Kyogre and Groudon are linked with the oceans and the continents respectively, but Groudon can also use fire attacks and creates a 'Sunny Day' effect when on the battlefield (Its Primal Form in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire makes it a Fire/Ground type). There are also two groups of Pokémon trainers locked in a feud and battling for control of these legendaries: Team Aqua wants to use Kyogre to flood the continents and expand the sea, while Team Magma want to harness Groudon to evaporate the sea and raise new land.
- This was used by Gamefreak as justification for the lack of fire types in Hoenn and Sinnoh. Hoenn is a tropical paradise with half of its area covered by the sea. Sinnoh is extremely cold due to being centered around a giant mountain. So, it makes sense that Fire type Pokemon would have a difficult time thriving in these locations. However, while Gamefreak made sure to include a Volcano in Hoenn so that people who didn't choose Torchic had several Fire-type Pokemon to choose from, in Diamond And Pearl there are only two fully-evolved Fire-type Pokemon in the Sinnoh Dex. One of which is Infernape and the other is Rapidash. This was fixed in Platinum however.
- A Kalos Mythical Legendary known as Volcanion is highly unusual due to being the only Pokemon with the Fire/Water typing. It is able to produce super-heated steam as its primary means of attack. Its typing is seen as bizarre even within Pokemon's tenuous grasp of logic.
- Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands has the elemental opposition between Razia the Marid Queen (who has powers over water, which in the series symbolize life) and the Ifrit Lord Ratash, who has power over both fire and sand (which, in the series, is opposed to water as a symbol of death and entropy.)
- In Psychic Force (PSX), the opening cutscene shows an aerial battle between fire manipulator Burn Griffiths and ice manipulator Keith Evans. At the end of the opening, Burn creates a Phoenix with his fire powers, while Keith counterattacks with an Ice Dragon - a visual nod to the game's storyline.
- In Tales of Phantasia the Eternal Sword is made by fusing a fire-elemental Flamberge (taken from the fire-themed level Odin's Tower) with an ice-elemental Vorpal Sword (taken from the ice-themed level Fenrir's Cavern).
- The Binding of Isaac:
- The Afterbirth DLC in Rebirth gives two new stage variants to the Basement and Caves that they form this: the Burning Basement and the Flooded Caves.
- Repentance adds/canonizes the alternate route from Antibirth that also demonstrates this trope: the first two floors of this path are Downpour and Mines. In this path, it's the Basement alt that has the water theme and the Caves alt that has the fire theme, instead of the other way around as it was in the main path.
- Two of the most prominent evil factions in the Warcraft franchise embody Evil Is Deathly Cold and Evil Is Burning Hot between them; The Scourge is an ice-themed faction of undead whose main base of operations is the Frozen wasteland of Northrend, while the Burning Legion is a Legions of Hell faction of demons and other chaotic creatures, loosely associated with Hellfire.
- The OST cover of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II has Rean with Valimar on the right side with red flames rising from the ground while Crow and Ordine are at the left side with the blue water. While the two have the same primary element being Time, their secondary elements are fire for Rean and water for Crow.
- In the "Kamehameha" episode of Extra Credits, the artist interpretation of "Mana" (the Hawaiian concept of spiritual lifeforce) is depicted as a flame inside a droplet of water.
- In the Sanders Sides series, Roman is associated with Fire and Virgil is associated with Water. It is obvious the two do not get along, especially since Roman represents Thomas' creativity, courage, ego and bravado, and Virgil actually represents the inverse of that, which is anxiety, fear, fight-or-flight instinct and sarcasm.
- WitchCraft SMP: Joey and Pris have one such dynamic; while they initially had an Elemental Rivalry as Joey's starter abilities were fire-based, their Rivals Team Up moves towards them being much more friendly with each other. They later explain that Joey's Duality Motif as the FireFrost Witch has resulted in them being Vitriolic Best Buds.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender which is practically built on the Four-Element Ensemble:
- The first protagonists introduced in the show hail from the peaceful and simple Water Tribe, while the main antagonists are from the despotic and warlike Fire Nation.
Jeong Jeong: Water brings healing and life. But fire brings only destruction and pain.
- The Avatars themselves often encounter this as well. Fire-native Avatars often find learning Waterbending to be the most difficult bending art to learn, and vice versa for Water-native Avatars. Earth- and Air-native avatars also often have similar difficulties with their diametric opposite powers from their native ones, but this trope doesn't directly apply.
- The Grand Finale also features a rather striking battle between Azula (fire-based powers, destructive, uncontrollable) and Katara (water-based powers, compassionate, in control).
- Each season finale features a fight with Zuko (fire-based powers, anger/passion) and Katara (water-based powers, compassion, control) either fighting each other or working together.
- When Zuko has his Heel–Face Turn, the others accept him into the group fairly quickly, but Katara continues to despise him for several more episodes.
- The first protagonists introduced in the show hail from the peaceful and simple Water Tribe, while the main antagonists are from the despotic and warlike Fire Nation.
- The temperaments of Korra and Mako in the Sequel Series The Legend of Korra are convoluted: Avatar Korra, natively a waterbender, is (initially) brash, pugnacious, and confrontational, more in-line with a hot-headed fire-type person (and possibly related: she picked up Firebending easily, breaking the mold set in the previous show). Her friend Mako, a Firebender, is more cool-headed, nurturing, and has a problem with dithering (like water's liquidic inability to assume a form), a more water-type personality.
- In Adventure Time Flame Princess (fire elemental) sees Finn crying over her. She thinks he's a water elemental because he "releases water," which is why they can't get along.
- There's also the episode "Hitman", which has the Ice King—a goofy, fun-loving Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain—trying to defend Finn and Jake from the overzealous assassin Scorcher—an eerily silent, ruthlessly efficient killer—when he almost accidentally has them murdered because he thought a "Hitman" was Exactly What It Says on the Tin (i.e. somebody to come hit them each and nothing more after they beat him up). Notably, this is one of the first episodes of the show in which the Ice King is completely on Finn and Jake's side, and signals the beginning of his Character Development into a more sympathetic Anti-Villain.
- A later episode, "Frost and Fire", features several battles between the above two, Flame Princess and the Ice King. Things escalate to truly epic scale as the bust out their opposed elemental powers to full tilt on the Ice King's home turf, and the Ice Kingdom is melted for a while as a result.
- In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Magicks of Megas-tu". During Captain Kirk's magical battle with the Megan prosecutor, the prosecutor summons up a wall of flames in front of Captain Kirk. Kirk responds by creating a cascade of water to put out the fire. The fire represents the prosecutor's desire to destroy Kirk, while the water represents Kirk's defensive and non-aggressive posture (as appropriate for a representative of the Federation).
- Well, more like "Lava/Water Juxtaposition" in the case of Lilo & Stitch: The Series with experiments Yin (501) and Yang (502). The majority of the episode sets them up that they must never meet or the elemental clash would cause a deadly reaction, but it turns out Opposites Attract and their powers combined can create new landforms. Given that Lilo & Stitch takes place in Hawaii, this could very well be a reference to the legend of Pele and Na'maka in Hawaiian mythology (see "Mythology and Folklore" above).
- Kai and Nya in Ninjago are brother and sister, and each inherited an element from their parents. The hot-headed and impulsive Kai is the Elemental Master of Fire and the analytical and creative Nya is the Master of Water.