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Land, Sea, Sky

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"Crystal bats fly! Search the land, search the water, search the sky!"
skekUng, The Dark Crystal

This is a form of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, in which the three elements of Earth, Water and Air are made a trinity.

Land is usually depicted as steady and stable, Sea as unpredictable, and Sky as free spirited. Land may also involve death because of burials, and sky will often be the "king," especially in works created before human flight, since no matter where you are, you're always under the sky.

Sea is usually depicted as the most hostile of the three; considering most of the time humans are at sea, they're on a pretty small (relatively speaking) ship, and at the mercy of the extremely unpredictable sea, which could decide to throw storms, whirlpools, tsunamis and other unpleasant things at you at any moment, this is hardly surprising.

In terms of skillsets, Sky will be the Fragile Speedster and Land the Mighty Glacier almost 100% of the time, since the wind is fast but insubstantial, and the ground is solid but immobile. However, it isn't easy to associate the element of water to a role in Competitive Balance as the first two: as such, Sea can be a literal Squishy Wizard, and form a Fighter, Mage, Thief triangle; otherwise, it can be the Jack of All Stats, referecing the fluidity of water, and in that case the three will form a Balance, Speed, Strength Trio.

In an Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors setting, expect Sea to overcome Land,note  Land to overpower Sky,note  and Sky to defeat Sea.note 

These are considered to be the three classic Theatres of War, each with its own branch of the military (Army, Navy, and Air Force respectively) specialized to fighting in it.

See also Classical Elements Ensemble (where Fire comes out to play along with this trope) and Fire, Ice, Lightning, another common elemental trio, and also Fire, Water, Wind if Earth is swapped with Fire. Sub-Trope of Power Trio.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Beast Wars Neo: Magmatron is made of three units: Landsaur, Skysaur and Seasaur.
  • The Big O: The Bigs fit the common characterizations of their spheres — Big O (land) Big Duo (sky) Big Fau (sea)
  • Black Clover has the main trio — Asta is the Land to Noelle's Sea and Yuno's Sky. Asta fights with giant rusted swords that generate Anti-Magic, a power from the underworld. Noelle is able to generate massive amounts of Water Magic. Yuno uses Wind Magic empowered by the wind spirit Sylph.
  • Bleach: There's a subtle name theming referred to these three elements in the Shiba siblings: Kaien (Kai = Sea),note  Ganju (Gan = Rock, hence earth)note  and Kukaku (Ku = Sky).note 
  • Captain Earth: the Manatsu family is composed of Daichi (earth), his father Taiyou (sun) and his mother Umi (sea). The three gates that Captain Earth goes through are similarly named.
  • Dairugger XV (aka Vehicle Force Voltron) has an Air Team, a Sea Team, and a Land Team. In addition to forming the titular Dairugger when all fifteen are combined, each individual team can combine into a larger vehicle. The Air Team forms Kurugger, the Sea Team forms Kairugger, and the Land Team forms Rikurugger. The Voltron adaptation called them the Strato Fighter (Air), Aqua Fighter (Sea), and Turbo Terrain Fighter (Land).
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Tanjiro's Water Breathing and Zenitsu's Thunder Breathing are obvious fits for Sea and Sky, respectively. Though more subtle, Inosuke as Land gets a subtle lampshade when he and Tanjiro first fight, with Tanjiro noting just how low to the ground the other boy fights.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: The three new Chosen Children have quadruped Armor Evolutions to travel faster over the vast Digital World: Daisuke's Lighdramon (Land), Miyako's Horusmon (Sky) and Iori's Submarimon (Sea). Even the opening features a scene of them running/flying/swimming to the distance.
  • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai:
    • The three main techniques of the Avan school are Earth Slash (a Clean Cut), Wave Slash (a high-speed Razor Wind) and Sky Slash (an iai strike which damages the soul). All three are combined to form the school's ultimate technique, Avan Strash.
    Dai: "Slice the earth... Slice the sea... Slice the air... And slice everything!"
  • Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu: While not present in the original series, the remake has Gaiking become Sea to Vulking (Land) and Raiking (Sky). It's rarely obvious due to Gaiking being a Jack of All Stats and using fire-based powers, but in the fight where the two are captured, the Daiku Maryu drags the other two dragons under the ocean to take advantage of the fact that each of them suffer from Crippling Overspecialization and the Daiku Maryu doesn't. Both the original series and the remake also fit the theme with Gaiking's support machines (Bazolar and Kill Jaguar are Land, Skylar and Stinger are Sky, Nesser and Crab Bunker are Sea.)
  • Getter Robo: The three forms of the eponymous Combining Mecha are Getter-1 (a Jack of All Stats which can use its cape to fly), Getter-2 (a Fragile Speedster which can drill through the ground), and Getter-3 (a Mighty Glacier which supposedly excels at underwater combat, but is rarely used). This theming becomes more pronounced in Getter Robo G where the new machine's equivalent of Getter-3 is named "Getter Poseidon", equipped with net weapons and the ability to create cyclones.
  • GoLion: Had Kogane and Suzuishi for sky (Black Lion powered by Thunder, Green Lion powered by Wind), Kurogane and Saidou for land (Red Lion powered by Magma, Yellow Lion powered by Sand), and Shirogane and Farla for sea (the Water powered Blue Lion Was owned by Shirogane, then Farla after the former’s death).
  • Go! Princess Pretty Cure: The first three cures are Cure Flora (Land), Cure Mermaid (Sea) and Cure Twinkle (Sky/Star). In a variant of this trope, the sky character's powers are based more on star shaped projectiles instead of wind. Later they're joined by Cure Scarlett, creating a Classical Elements Ensemble instead, though the previous generation of cures in this setting still fits the bill- there was no previous Cure Scarlett.
  • Gundam Build Fighters Try: The Gundam Tryon-3 is spitted in Riku Tryon (Land), Umi Tryon (Sea) and Sora Tryon (Sky).
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: The first half featured with Earth Alliance's transformable Gundam trio: ground combat Gaia (transform into dog-like mode), aquatic combat Abyss (transform into stingray-like mode), and aerial/space combat Chaos (transform into bird-like mode) representing land, sea, and sky respectively. The first two even bearing Meaningful Name.
  • .Hack//: In the first series, the great heroes of The World MMORPG are Balmung of the Azure Sky and Orca of the Azure Sea. Eventually, Kite joins them, although his title is "Azure Flame" rather than earth.
  • Land of the Lustrous: The three major humanoids follow this rule. The Gems, being landlocked and born from a cliff, represent Land; the aquatic and ever changing Admirabilis represent Sea; and the ghostly and form-changing Lunarians represent Sky, as they also live on the Moon.
  • Love Live!: Parodied where Honoka suggests their idol group name be "Land, Sea, Air" with Umi being Sea for her name, Kotori being Air since her name means "little bird", and Honoka taking land at the end. They don't go with it as Kotori points out that the name isn't fitting for an idol group.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: Nanoha is a Tactical Instructor for the Air Force, Fate is an Enforcer who is also part of the Dimensional Navy, and Hayate is part of the Ground Forces. However, after the Grand Finale, Hayate eventually joins the Dimensional Navy as well. Chrono, Lindy, Reinforce Zwei, Teana, Shario, Griffith, Lucino, Cinque, Dieci and Wendi are part of the Dimensional Navy. Vita, Signum and Agito are part of the Air Force. Shamal, Zafira, Erio, Caro, Vice, Alto, Genya, Ginga, and Subaru are part of the Ground Forces.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: The main characters and their Mashin. Hikaru/Rayearth (Land), Umi/Selece (Sea), Fuu/Windam (Sky). Note that Hikaru's attacks use fire, but since her Mashin lived in a volcano, it's earth heat.
  • In One Piece:
    • One can see the three Admiral's elements in such a light: Akainu (Magma Man) is Land, Aokiji (An Ice Person) is Sea and Kizaru (Hard Light) is Sky. Is also reflected in their fighting styles, with Aokiji freezing the sea to fight and Kizaru attacking from above. Their personalities fit too, Akainu is a hardline enforcer of absolute justice, Kizaru often seems blisfully ignorant of his actions and Aokiji treats most matters with cold disdain and indifference.
    • Kaido's All Stars fit the mold in two different ways: race wise, we have Jack, a fishman (sea), Queen, a human (land) and King, a Winged Humanoid (sky). Power wise, we have their transformations in a Mammoth (Jack, land), a Brachiosaurus (Stock Ness Monster, sea, Queen) and Pteranodon (sky, King).
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon 3: Each of Molly's battles with Ash, Misty and Brock followed this motif. She battled Brock on land. Then she battled Misty underwater. And finally, Ash took the battle with Entei to the skies once Charizard arrives.
    • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire: "Unbeatable" is the opening theme song for the Advanced Battle story arc, and one verse invokes this trope.
    "From the earth, the land
    The sea and sky
    They can never win, but they sure can try."
  • Sailor Moon: The Amazon Trio. Tiger's Eye (land), Hawk's Eye (sky) and Fisheye (sea).
  • The three Steel Saints in Saint Seiya (anime only): Tucana (toucan) Sho, Vulpecula (fox) Daishi and Delphinus (actually not a dolphin but a swordfish) Ushio. The three of them return as the Legendary Steel Saints in Saint Seiya Omega.
  • SSSS.DYNɅZENON: Most of the Dynazenon pilots have an element that’s associated with both the component they wield as well as their backstory: Gauma is water (Dyna Diver is a submarine), Yume is air (Dyna Wing is a stealth bomber), and Koyomi is earth (Dyna Striker is a racecar).
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has this motif in three of the giant Daigan mecha piloted by the Heavenly Kings: the Daigankai (Sea) is a huge centipede-like submarine, Daiganten (Sky) is a colossal airbase-like mecha and finally the Daigando (Land) is a massive, nearly invincible land-based tank.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL: Yuma is Land due to having a Warrior ace monster, several Warrior and EARTH cards and having experience in hiking and trekking. Shark is Sea due to having a heavy sea motif and a WATER themed deck. Kaito is Sky due to having Dragon-type ace monsters, several other galaxy-based cards, and mainly traveling via flight (plus his dub name is “Kite”).

    Asian Animation 
  • In Jet and the Pet Rangers, the pets in the Pet Rangers go by a non-elemental version of this theming. Liksi, a dog, is a land animal; Gigi, a fish, can swim in the sea, and Tiyang, a hen, can fly in the sky.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Terrible Trio, a group of villains introduced in the Silver Age, were criminals wearing masks of animals: Fox (Land), Shark (Sea) and Vulture (Sky).
  • The big three Marvel (or rather, their predecessor Timely) heroes of World War II: Captain America is Land, Namor is Sea, and Human Torch (Jim Hammond, not Johnny Storm) is Sky.
  • Robin (1993): A trio of villains Tim encounters in Bludhaven include Monsoon, a woman with hydrokinesis, Badlands, who looks like he's made out of stone and can cause localized tremors, and an unnamed flyer.
  • X-Men: a short storyline in 1999 has the X-Men accidentally transported to the Oktid dimension. There, Storm enters a "spiritual journey" and meets a trio of deities named Trion. In her vision quest, the deities are each wearing a mask: cat, representing earth; fish, representing water, and bird, representing air.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Batman: The Movie, Batman and Robin use three different modes of transportation throughout the film: the Batmobile (land), the Batboat (sea), and the Batcopter (sky).
  • In 2021's Dune, Duke Leto Atreides stresses out to his son Paul that the Atreides have mastered the air and sea on Caladan, but that on Arrakis/Dune, they need the "desert power", i.e. an alliance with the Fremen who know how to survive and navigate through the hostile planet's Sea of Sand.
  • Godzilla
    • From Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the three kaiju who defeat the titular villain are Godzilla (sea) a larval Mothra (Land) and Rodan (Sky).
    • The "Guardian Monsters", who come to defend Japan from Godzilla in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!. There's Baragon (Land), Mothra (Sea) and King Ghidorah (Sky).
    • The three monsters in Godzilla (2014) fit this trope. The amphibious Godzilla represents Sea, to the point where his initial Big Entrance involves a Giant Wall of Watery Doom and a Fire/Water Juxtaposition in the form of soldiers shooting flares past his drenched hide. The male M.U.T.O. represents Sky, being a Giant Flyer whose EMP is the one that takes down the most aircraft and whose second major scene sees him directly attacking an airport. The female M.U.T.O. represents Land, being (as far as we know) entirely land-bound and the monster that is seen furthest inland (namely, the Nevada desert). This is a rare instance were "Sea" is the heroic force, with Godzilla come to stop the M.U.T.O.s from breeding and overruning the planet.
  • Hellboy: Abe Sapien is a sea creature and can breathe under water, Hellboy is mostly land-based and Liz has fire powers with flames that generally expand in the air.
  • Ultra Series movies:
    • The climatic finale of Ultraman Gaia: The Battle In Hyperspace had the Ultramen team Gaia, Tiga and Dyna battling against three kaiju - the dinosaur-like Kingmons, the shark-based monster Scylla, and the flying behemoth Bajiris - respectively on land, underwater, and high in the air.
    • Ultraman Cosmos 2: The Blue Planet has three factions, the humans representing land, the aquatic-based, underwater-dwelling Alien Gyasshi (and their benevolent pets, the manta-like Reijas) representing water, and the hostile Horde of Alien Locusts, the Scorpiss, representing air.

  • Bas-Lag Cycle: China Miéville has this as a central motif, with each of the books revolving around one of the three. Perdido Street Station is about a Winged Humanoid trying to regain the ability to fly, and about an invasion by giant winged moths (Sky); The Scar is about an ocean voyage to the edge of the world, and about a floating city ruled by pirates (Sea); and Iron Council is about a war between two cities, and about an effort to build a railway across a great desert (Land).
  • Black Trillium: In Julian May's continuity of the series, there are three Archwizards: of the land, sea, and sky. Binah, the only non-evil sorceress in the original book, is retconned as the Archmage of the Land.
  • Dinotopia: Every human is assigned a different position in one of said habitats.
  • The Divine Comedy: Roughly seen in the setting of each volume. Inferno leads Dante through underground pits (land); Purgatorio up a mountain in the middle of the ocean (sea); and Paradiso through the Heavenly spheres (sky).
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:
    • Seen in the signature transports of each wizarding school: Hogwarts has its titular Express train (land), Durmstrang has its submerging ship (sea), and Beaubaxtons has its carriage pulled by winged horses (sky).
    • The three tasks of the Triwizard Tournament can also be categorized as this: the first task is sky, with Harry using his broomstick in order to get past a dragon, the second task is water, where the competitors have to dive under the lake, and the third task is land, taking place in a magical hedge labyrinth.
  • Journey to the West: Out of the six Kings serving Sun Wukong before he served in Heaven, the three with the "Demon King" moniker fit the theme, being the Bull Demon King (Land), Water Dragon/Alligator Demon King (Sea) and the Peng/Roc Demon King (Sky). Later on, the three main characters have this as a subtle theme: Sun Wukong himself is the most agile of the trio and fond of his ability to leap across the sky on a cloud, and is a proud trickster (Sky), Pigsy is a fat, lazy and gluttonous oaf who fights with a rake and is the least spiritually-aware of the trio (Land), while Sandy is a large and intimidating ogre who's also the best swimmer of the trio and lived in a swamp (Sea).
  • The Lorax: Features three species threatened by the Once-ler harming the environment: the Brown Bar-ba-loots (who are threatened by deforestation), the Humming-Fish (who are threatened by water pollution), and the Swomee-Swans (who are threatened by air pollution).
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • At the end of the Quenta Silmarillion, all three of the eponymous Silmarils are distributed across these realms: Eärendil sails the sky with a Silmaril bound to his brow; Maglor throws his into the sea; and Maedhros casts himself into a fiery chasm along with his own.
    • The Three Elven Rings of Power follow an "Air, Water, Fire" motif, essentially swapping Earth for Fire. In the story's first draft, the Ring rhyme goes "Three rings for the Elven-kings of earth, sea and sky".
  • Septimus Heap: During the Triple Restore, Septimus, Jenna and Aunt Zelda take the roles of the Air, Water and Land during the spell.
  • Worm: The three Endbringers first came Behemoth (Land), who lives in the Earth's mantle and is the strongest but slowest of them; then was Leviathan (Sea), who lives in the oceans and is the quickest, and finally Simurgh (Sky) who lives in orbit around Earth and is the most intelligent of them.
  • Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories: Features three stories: one featuring turtles (sea), one featuring birds (sky), and one featuring a rabbit and a bear (land).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • In the series' backstory, the alliance of Great Houses who made up the core of Robert's Rebellion used the motif, as emphasized by their animal sigils. The Starks of the North (direwolf) and the Baratheons of the Stormlands (stag) were Land, the Tullys of the Riverlands (fish) were Sea, and the Arryns of the Vale (eagle) were Sky.
    • When Daenerys Targaryen sets out for Westeros at the end of season 6, her military forces display this motif: In addition to an army of Dothraki cavalry and Unsullied infantry, she commands the guerilla-specialist troops of Dorne and the heavily armored knights of the Reach (Land). She possesses a large fleet of ships claimed from the defeated Masters' of Slaver's Bay and is allied with the formidable sailors of the Ironborn (Sea). As the crowning jewel - and one that no other army in the world can currently match - her three dragons have finally reached a size that makes them formidable weapons capable of annihilating vast armies from a safe distance (Sky).
  • House of the Dragon: By the end of Season 1, the Civil War that would later become known as the Dance of Dragons is about to erupt. The Blacks - the faction supporting Rhaenyra Targaryen - assesses its strengths and need for alliances against the Greens- the faction supporting Rhaenyra's half-brother Aegon.
    • In the sky, they have a numerical advantage - 13 dragons to the Greens' 4 - but only 7 of them actually have riders (the rest are wild/unclaimed). The Greens also have Vhagar, the biggest living dragon. To even the odds, they seek to have the second biggest dragon, Vermithor, ridden by someone for their side.
    • At sea, they have a significant advantage, being allied with the Velaryons - the best mariners in Westeros - against the Green-aligned Lannisters.
    • On land however, they don't have many Houses rallied to them yet. They attempt to gain support from the Starks, Arryns, and Baratheons, but the latter side with the Greens.
  • Kamen Rider:
    • Kamen Rider Den-O: The Gigandeath Kaiju that the Imagins can become are of three types: the aerial Gigandeath Heaven, the aquatic Gigandeath Hades, and the terrestrial Gigandeath Hell.
    • Kamen Rider Double: The titular Rider's Hardboilder can swap out its components to travel on land as the default Hardboilder, swap out its rear half for hovercraft components as the Hardturbular (air) or jet ski components as the Hardsplasher (sea).
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power presents three mysterious strangers who are candidates to be Sauron in disguise. The Stranger who arrived from the sky in a Magic Meteor, Halbrand whom is introduced being stranded in the middle of the sea when Galadriel meets him, and Adar, an orc chef who can only live underground.
  • Seigi No Symbol Condorman has the Terrible Trio of Smogton, Gomigon and Hedoronger, who each represent pollution against a different part of the environment. Smogton, a smog monster, represents air pollution, Gomigon, a trash monster, represents littering, and Hedoronger, a sludge monster, represents sea pollution.
  • Shadow and Bone: Morozova's three powerful beasts are a stag, a sea whip (an icy sea serpent), and a firebird.
  • Super Sentai / Power Rangers: Very common, such as Taiyou Sentai Sun Vulcan (Vul Eagle = air, Vul Shark = sea, Vul Panther = land). The most important position, that of the Red Ranger, is usually the one with sky.
    • Choujuu Sentai Liveman we have in the main trio: Red Falcon (Sky), Yellow Lion (Land) and Blue Dolphin (Sea), the same in their mechas.
    • Gekisou Sentai Carranger/Power Rangers Turbo has the three Evilmagic Mecha/Divazords used by the villains, resembling a yellow lion (land), a blue shark (sea) and a red bird (sky) respectively. Since Carranger is a parody series of its own franchise, the Evilmagic Mecha parody the heroes of Sun Vulcan and Liveman.
    • Seijuu Sentai Gingaman/Power Rangers Lost Galaxy has the Steel Starbeast GigaRhinos / Centaurus Megazord (land), Giant Steel Starbeast GigaBitus / Zenith Carrierzord (sea), and Steel Starbeast GigaPhoenix / Stratoforce Megazord (sky).
    • The Hayate/Wind Ninja Academy in Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger/Power Rangers Ninja Storm teaches these three disciplines, and the three core Rangers each wield one. Interestingly enough, the Rangers that join the team later use different abilities altogether (the next two, from a rival academy, use Thunder; and the sixth is Non-Elemental). The Ninja Storm Rangers also have corresponding extreme sport hobbies: Tori surfs, Shane skateboards (and, consequently, spends a lot of time grabbing air), and Dustin's motocross racing has him driving on earthy tracks.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger/Power Rangers Jungle Fury actually gives this to the villains rather than the heroes in the three Fist Demons/Overlords; giving you Kata/Carnisoar (Hawk/Air) Rageku/Jellica (Jellyfish/Sea) and Maku/Grizzaka (Bear/Land). The heroes do have their own version, though, as their secondary mentors (and therefore secondary weapons and mecha) are based on the Elephant, Bat, and Shark.
    • In Engine Sentai Go-onger, the three pollution ministers of Gaiark have this theme, with their monsters each revolving around one of the three motifs. This doesn't appear in Power Rangers RPM due to the pollution angle being dropped.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger/Power Rangers Megaforce has a team of two Rangers of each, except for sea, which only has one (Goseiger explains it as the second sea Ranger being killed off in the backstory; Megaforce downplays the motif and ignores the imbalance entirely). Gosei Knight/Robo Knight uses all three, as does the series Big Bad, a Fallen Angel. There's also one Mecha Expansion Pack for each category, and the three villain factions qualify as Warstar has a Space Base (representing sky), the UMA Beasts have an Elaborate Underground Base, and the Matrintis have an Underwater Base.
    • Shuriken Sentai Ninninger/Power Rangers Ninja Steel has this for the Mecha Expansion Packs. OtomoNin Paonmaru/Rumble Tusk Zord is an elephant (land), OtomoNin Surfermaru/Sub Surfer Zord is a shark-themed submarine (sea) and OtomoNin UFOmaru/Astro Zord is a flying saucer (sky).
    • Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger has its protagonist, Yamato, use the powers of the Eagle (sky), Gorilla (land), and Whale (sea). His 11th-Hour Superpower combines the three into one form.
    • Kishiryu Sentai Ryusoulger/Power Rangers Dino Fury has three main mecha; based on a Tyrannosaurus (land), Mosasaur (sea), and Pteranodon (sky).

  • The Three Great Beasts, Behemoth (Land), Leviathan (Sea), and Ziz (Sky) in The Bible.
  • Classical Mythology
    • Zeus got sky, Poseidon got the ocean, and Hades drew the short straw for the Underworld but he also gained control of everything found underground, including gold and precious gems, making him the richest of the gods.
    • There are the primordial gods Gaia (the earth), Oranos (the sky), and Pontus (the sea). Gaia, the first and born out of Chaos, conceived Oranus and Pontus via parthenogenesis, and then mated with them. Most notably, the Titans and Greek pantheon were the byproduct of her union with Oranos. Additionally, Tartarus (the hell-pit) was sometimes perceived as a primordial deity/force of nature.

  • The three monsters that attack our heroes in the video for Of Monsters and Men's "Little Talks" are a giant two-headed crow, a shambling beast, and an octopus-shark.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The current incarnation of Damage CTRL consists of members who's gimmick represents the three elements. Iyo Sky is known as the Genius of the Sky therefore represents the Sky element, Kairi Sane is known as the Pirate Princess therefore represents the Sea element therefore Asuka effectively represents the Land element of the trinity.

  • The heroic trio in the modern version of Battle Beasts is Vorin the ram, Gruntos the walrus, and Merk the falcon.
  • In BIONICLE, the settings of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 storylines (which together formed the Ignition/Mask of Life arc) are set on land, underwater, and in the skynote  respectively.
  • The 1999 Transformers toy Magmatron was a robot made up of three prehistoric reptiles - actually called "Landsaurus", "Seasaurus", and "Skysaurus" - a Giganotosaurus, Elasmosaurus, and Quetzalcoatlus respectively.
  • Prior to her receiving an original mold in Transformers: Legacy (a car, which was then retooled into Minerva and Strongarm), Elita-1's alternate modes were a boat (Botcon, Palette Swap of Thunderblast), an airplane (Power of the Primes, Palette Swap of Starscream), and a car (War for Cybertron Trilogy, Palette Swap of Earthrise Arcee), respectively.

    TV Tropes 
  • In a way, this trope and Fire, Ice, Lightning could be seen as two sides of the same coin — Land/Earth coincides with Fire (due to the Earth's molten core and the fact that fire can't travel in water or air), Sea/Water coincides with Ice (water becomes ice when frozen) and Sky/Air coincides with Lightning (lightning drops from the sky during a storm).

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising: The three Green Earth commanders fit: Eagle has stronger air units and is the proud leader of the trio, Jess has strong ground vehicles and tends to be very practical (her resupply power actually makes her pretty handy with air and sea units despite the attack power penalty she suffers with them), and Drake specializes in naval warfare and has very damaging CO powers.
  • Atelier Series: The three games in the "Dusk" subseries are Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk ("of the Land of Dusk" in the Japanese title), Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky, and Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea.
  • Baten Kaitos: The three objects used to seal Malpercio are the Earth Sphere, the Ocean Mirror and the Sword of the Heavens, when the sealing is shown in the 2nd game the line " Marno Ar Hello, [Insert Name Here], accursed one, for the sake of the earth, the sky and the ocean, thy life must end!" is used. Of note is that during the games until the ending, the earth "polluted and barren", the ocean is sealed away ("and the Lost Ocean") and the lower part of the sky filled with the poisonous "taintclouds".
  • Batman: Arkham City: Used in one of the riddles. Although the wording suggests the classic military interpretation the actual answer is a shipping company.
  • Clock Tower 3: At one point Alyssa must solve a riddle involving the three rooder's stones of Earth, Sky and Sea. To be specific, she must put them in the right order to free some ghosts.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: The 3 factions units emphasize on their armies strength. The Soviets are Land for their tough tanks, the Empire are Sea as their navy's excel in taking on enemy ships, and many of their units are amphibious, and the Allies are Sky because they have the most advanced air units that are fast and hit hard.
  • Crash Bandicoot:
    • In the original game, Ripper Roo is fought on a river (sea), Koala Kong in a mine (land), and Pinstripe in his office at a high point (sky).
    • In Cortex Strikes Back, Ripper is fought yet again on a river (sea), the Komodo Brothers in a cavern (land) and Tiny Tiger in a space station with falling platforms (sky).
    • In Crash Team Racing, Ripper Roo is raced in a Shark Tunnel (sea), Papu Papu in a temple and Komodo Joe in a mine (land), and Pinstripe on a floating circuit (sky).
  • Disney Emoji Blitz: When Maui's power is activated he transforms into either a hawk (sky), a bug (land), or a shark (sea) to clear emojis from the board.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The three Weapons awakened in the original Final Fantasy VII conform to these states. Diamond is the land, Sapphire is the sea and Ultima is the sky. The international releases added Emerald and Ruby breaking the trend.
    • In Final Fantasy XIV the Conjurer and White Mage class use the life-giving elements of Earth, Wind and Water as part of their attack moveset in comparison to the Thaumaturge and Black Mage classes focus on the destructive Fire, Ice, Lightning elements.
  • Jurassic World: The Game: The dinosaurs/cenozoics (Land), amphibians/aquatics (Sea) and pterosaurs (Sky) in the battle arenas.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Uses this for Theme Naming:
    • Although the three elements are not the main source of their power, Sora means 'sky' in Japanese, Riku can be translated into 'land', and 'Kai' in Kairi can be translated into 'ocean'. Sora and Riku pick up some specific wind and earth attacks in 3D. Conversely, Kairi is shown to specialize in Light magic when Promoted to Playable in Re:Mind, and doesn't have any unique water-based attacks (yet).
    • Also applies in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep: Ventus, Terra, and Aqua means 'wind', 'earth', and 'water' respectively in Latin. Their Elemental Powers are more emphasized than the other trio (so far).
    • To a lesser extent, Roxas (An anagram of "Sora" with an X added, while also meaning "red" itself, so could be interpreted to be "twilit Sky"), Axel/Lea (Meadow), and a split between Naminé (nami = wave) and Xion (shio = tide).
    • More subtle would be Sora, Donald, and Goofy! Sora is still sky, but he's paired with a duck (water creature) with offensive magic, and a dog (land creature) with stalwart defenses. Combine it with Sora's free-spirited nature, and they fit to a T.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, the final battle against Armored Xehanort is divided into three phases: the first is set on the lands of Scala ad Caelum, the second underwater (Sea), and the third airborne (Sky).
  • Kirby's Animal Friends follow this theme, each specializing in a particular element.
    • The original three friends from Kirby's Dream Land 2 were named appropriately. Rick the Hamster (from riku, land) can climb up walls and doesn't slip on ice; Kine the Sunfish (from kai, sea) excels at swimming and can inhale underwater; and Coo the Owl (from kuu, sky) has improved aerial mobility and can soar through high winds.
    • Kirby's Dream Land 3 added three more friends that follow similar themes: Nago the Cat can jump three times, ChuChu the Octopus can stick to walls and inhale underwater, and Pitch the Bird struggles to fly but excels with copy abilities.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The game describes the Golden Goddesses with this motif. Farore is associated with wind, Nayru is water and while Din is mostly linked to fire, she also formed the terrain of Hyrule itself. This is also reflected in the game itself with the races and locations associated with them. The Kokiri who live in their Forest, the Gorons who live in Death Mountain, and the Zora who live in their aquatic Domain.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The first three transformations; Deku is air (flower helicopter), Goron is land (stone rolling), Zora is sea (dolphin swimming). This extends to the types of puzzles solved in the first three dungeons (the fourth one, Stone Tower Temple, features all related elements).
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: The first three MacGuffins (namely the Goddess Pearls) are collected from the sky spirit Valoo, the earth spirit the Great Deku Tree, and the sea spirit Jabun respectively. Also, the Master Sword is powered up in the Earth and Wind Temples, while the Triforce of Courage is obtained after assembling its fragments in the Great Sea.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Sea is represented by the Zora, their watery Domain, and their Divine Beast Vah Ruta, an elephant that sprays massive amounts of water from its trunk. Sky is represented by the Rito, their windy and mountainous realm, and their Divine Beast Vah Medoh, a bird that flies high above their village. Land is split in two: there are the Gorons, their fiery and mountainous realm, and their Divine Beast Vah Rudania, a lizard that crawls around Death Mountain's caldera shooting fiery cannonballs on lower elevation places; and there is the Gerudo, their desert realm, and their Divine Beast Vah Naboris, a camel that stomps around the desert producing sandstorms.
    • The central overworld regions of the three Legend of Zeldas on the Gamecube and Wii — the Great Sea traversed by boat in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Sea), Hyrule Field traversed by horse and as a wolf in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Land), and the sky traversed by Loftwing in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Sky).
  • Mass Effect 3: The three largest military forces can be seen to represent this in their favoured forms of warfare. The Krogans utilise a ground-based Army and Tanks (Land), the Humans use a Space-Navy with many Carriers to quickly deploy Marine forces (Sea), while the Turians provide aerial-support and bombing runs (Sky).
  • Mega Man Legends: A subtle example with the fights against the Bonnes: first, Mega Man fights their land-based machines in the city and the forest on foot. Then he fights their sea-based machines on Lake Jyun on a borrowed boat. Finally, he fights their sky-based machines atop his own airship. Then they circle back to land for Theodore Bruno.
  • Mega Man X4 has three of Repliforce's high ranking members of the Army (Slash Beast), Navy (Jet Stingray) and Air Force (Storm Owl). Their respective stages are a military train that goes underground, a marine base that opens out to the ocean, and a fleet of air force transports.
  • Mega Man Zero: Three of the Four Guardians of Neo Arcadia fit this mold. Each functions as the military general of their own unit: Sage Harpuia commands the Rekku Army (the air force), Fairy Leviathan is leader of the Meikai Army (the navy), and Fighting Fefnir controls the Jin'en Army (the army). This is off-set partially by the fourth Guardian (Hidden Phantom) and his Zan'ei Army, which was Neo Arcadia's stealth force and anti-Resistance intelligence unit.
  • Mitsumete Knight R: Daibouken Hen: Has the Slates of Earth, Sea and Sky. Scattered throughout the world, you need to gather them and put them all in a machine inside the Pyramid in order to activate the Warp Whistle system.
  • Monster Hunter: Has Rathian as the Queen of Earth, Rathalos as the King of the Skies, and Lagiacrus as the Lord of the Seas. This is best noticed in Monster Hunter 3 (Tri) and Monster Hunter Generations (and by extension their Ultimate editions), as the three monsters appear in them together. Appropriately, the three Elder Dragons that appear in 3 (as well as 3 Ultimate prior to G Rank) are Ceadeus (which swims in the Underwater Ruins), Jhen Mohran (which dwells in the sands of the Great Desert) and Alatreon (a winged dragon who guards the Sacred Land).
  • Octopath Traveler II: Ochette the Hunter is tasked with finding and befriending three legendary monsters who will help protect her island from a prophecied disaster. Cataracta is a Sea Serpent whose home is a sea cave off the coast of a port town, Tera is a lava behemoth who slumbers in an underground ravine, and Glacis is a giant bird who roosts on a snowy mountaintop.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pictured at the top of the page are Groudon (land), Kyogre (sea), and Rayquaza (sky), all of which were based on the aforementioned Three Great Beasts. It has another one in the form of Berries, surprisingly enough. Three especially rare Berries—Liechi, Ganlon, and Salac—are described to contain the power of the sea, land, and sky respectively.
    • With the addition of Trubbish/Garbodor, it completes a Poison-based parody of this trope begun in Pokémon Red and Blue, where it forms a "Pollution Trinity" alongside Grimer/Muk, and Koffing/Weezing. Trubbish/Garbodor is the Trash (Land Pollution) Pokemon, Grimer/Muk is the Sludge (Water Pollution) Pokemon, and Koffing/Weezing is the Smog (Air Pollution) Pokemon.
    • The fully-evolved forms of the original starter Pokemon. The Grass/Poison-type Venusaur is the land, the Water-type Blastoise is the sea, and the Fire/Flying-type Charizard is the sky.
    • A relatively subtle example with the Creation Trio — Dialga is part Steel-type (Land), Palkia is part Water-type (Sea), and Giratina is part Ghost-type (Sky). Since they're the Creation Trio, this is probably meant to represent the three states of matter.
    • The seventh-generation games continue playing this with "Ride Pokémon": Tauros, Stoutland, Mudsdale, and Machamp on land; Lapras, Sharpedo, and Mantine in the sea; and Charizard in the air.
    • And there are the Alolan starters. Fiery Litten is the land, Water-type Popplio is the sea, and Grass/Flying Rowlet is the sky.
    • Type:Null and its evolution Silvally also count. They're meant to look like a combination of various animals, specifically evoking the mythical griffin. More specifically, however, they resemble a mix of a lion (land), a shark (sea), and an eagle (sky).
    • The fully-evolved forms of the lizard starters have this pattern. Sceptile is Land, Inteleon is Sea and Charizard is Sky.
    • The bird starters and their evolutions also have this pattern: the fire chicken Torchic for Land, the water penguin Piplup and duck Quaxly for Sea and the grass owl Rowlet for Sky.
  • Resident Evil 5: The Earth, Sea, and Sky Emblems used to open a gate in one level.
  • Shiren the Wanderer 2: The original party members are Riku, Himakichi, and Asuka. Riku means land, Himakichi is a Kappa, and Asuka is the name of the ancient capital of Japan associated with flying birds. Oh, and the Sixth Ranger can breathe fire, making them a Classical Elements Ensemble.
  • Skylanders Superchargers: Invokes this trope, but the element-specific vehicle are tied to Land, Sea & Sky respectively.
    • Land: Earth, Fire, Undead & Tech
    • Sea: Water, Magic, Dark
    • Sky: Air, Life, Light
  • Supreme Commander: The three playable faction invoke this, with Cybrans being air, the Aeon being water, and the UEF being land. While all three have capable air, land and sea units, it is notable that the beginning tutorial mission for each faction starts you off with only units corresponding to that faction's element, with one other element added partway through the mission. Cybrans and UEF don't get naval units, and the Aeon don't get land units, until a later mission.
  • Team Fortress 2: An achievement named "The Cycle" requires a Scout to kill three enemies in a single life: one while he is airborne (sky), one while he is on the ground (land) and one while he is underwater (sea).
  • Touhou Kikeijuu ~ Wily Beast and Weakest Creature: Features three animal spirits that the player can choose from at the start of the game: Wolf (land) powers up the player's focused shots, Otter (sea) powers up the player's Smart Bomb, and Eagle (sky) powers up the player's unfocused shots.
  • We Happy Few: This is how each of the three character players escape Wellington Wells with three different methods. Arthur escapes by going into a mine so he could get to the only bridge that leads to the mainland. Sally steals a boat and uses it to sail her and Gwen off the island. Ollie uses a parade balloon and flies out of town after broadcasting the truth.
  • Wild ARMs: You acquire three vehicles to get you to places you cannot reach on foot; a ship called Sweet Candy (Sea), the golem Asgard who repels all monster attacks as well as crossing shallow water (Land), and a small airplane called the Gull Wing (Sky).

    Web Animation 
  • Charlie the Unicorn's misadventures take him through to Candy Mountain and the Temple of the Banana King in episodes one and two (Land), an underwater city in episode three (Sea) and up into space in episode four (Sky).
  • Nijisanji English's first two waves, LazuLight and OBSYDIA, follow this theme while also being light and dark counterparts to each other. Elira Pendora and Selen Tatsuki represent the sky, Pomu Rainpuff and Rosemi Lovelock represent the earth, and Finana Ryugu and Petra Gurin represent the ocean.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: The episode "The Terrible Trio" features the eponymous trio from the comics. They all are bored, rich men who inherited family fortunes from oil (land), a shipping magnate (sea), and an aerodynamics firm (air). Their disguises as criminals are, respectively, Fox, Shark, and Vulture.
  • Centurions: Features Max Ray ("brilliant sea operations commander"), Jake Rockwell ("rugged land operations specialist") and Ace McCloud ("daring air operations expert").
  • Dexter's Laboratory: In Last But Not Beast, in order to fight a Kaiju-like monster that he accidentally set free, Dexter invents a Humongous Combining Mecha consisting of four vehicles: a helicopter and a jet (sky), a van (land), and a boat (sea). To secure the operators he needs to pilot the vehicles, he finally reveals his secret lab to his parents, and brings in Dee Dee as well (desperate times call for desperate measures).
  • DuckTales (2017): Has Scrooge McDuck a treasure hunter (land), Donald Duck a sailor (sea) and Della Duck an aviator (sky).
  • Gargoyles: In the Five-Episode Pilot, the three disks are kept in an underground base (land), on a tiny island in the bay (sea) and in an air fortress (sky).
  • Godzilla: The Series: While usually just terrestrial, several episodes give N.I.G.E.L. an aquatic mode for underwater operations. The Godzilla: The Series Gameboy game also adds a helicopter mode to allow him to observe mutations up close, with predictable results.
  • Paw Paw Bears: The three individual totems that protect the titular characters; Totem Bear (land), Totem Turtle (sea), and Totem Eagle (sky).
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Seen in The Rowdyruff Boys when the titular antagonists hurl large vehicles at the heroines; a bus, a plane, and a ship.
  • Teamo Supremo: An episode featured three recurring villains teaming up with this trope in mind- Laser Pirate (Landnote ), Dehydro (sea), and Helius Inflato (sky).
  • ThunderCats (1985): Meta-example. Set on land and feline-themed, with its Recycled In SPACE counterparts TigerSharks (set in the ocean, sea creature-themed) and SilverHawks (set in space, bird-themed).

    Real Life 
  • Modern militaries are divided up into an Army, Navy, and Air Force.
  • The concept of the nuclear triad: being able to deliver nuclear bombs by land-based missiles, submarines, and aircraft.
  • The mascots for the Sydney 2000 Olympics were an echidna (Land), Platypus (water, although not sea since platypi are fresh-water animals), and kookaburra (sky).
  • The reptile groups that ruled the world during the Mesozoic Era could be seen as this: the dinosaurs dominated the Land, the marine reptiles patrolled the Sea and the pterosaurs soared through the Sky. More directly is the Archosaur Power Trio that all evolved together at roughly the same time in the Triassic period in the aftermath of the Permian mass extinction that kicked off the period; dinosaurs (land), crocodilians (sea), and pterosaurs (sky). At the very end of the Cretaceous, during the Maastrichtian age, there was a unnofficial predator trinity each one being a "peak" from its environment, those being the Tyrannosaurus rex (biggest of the tyrannosaurs and considered by some as the biggest terrestrial predator ever) on the Land, the Mosasaurus (largest of the mosasaurs) in the Sea and the Hatzegopteryx (a massive pterosaur and the biggest flying animal discovered so far) in the Sky.
  • Our fossil fuels consist of coal, petroleum oil, and natural gas. There are also the renewable energy sources of geothermal energy (land), hydroelectric and tidal energy (sea), and wind energy (sky).
  • The primary states of matter- solid, liquid, and gas. Relatedly, the areas of physics that respectively study them: Solid mechanics, hydrodynamics, aerodynamics.note 
  • Tom Hanks has starred in three different "survival thriller" films about everyman protagonists forced to use their wits to survive dangerous situations: Cast Away, Captain Phillips and Sully. Cast Away is about a FedEx employee stranded on a deserted island (Land), Captain Phillips is about a merchant ship captain taken hostage by pirates (Sea), and Sully is about an airline pilot whose plane suffers complete engine failure (Sky). As a bonus: he also starred in Apollo 13, which is the same thing set in Space, where he plays an astronaut; it's even Based on a True Story, just like Captain Phillips and Sully.
  • The Mercedes-Benz logo is a three-pointed star symbolizing founder Gottlieb Daimler's goal at motorization on land, sea, and in the sky.
  • The three largest economic powers in Europe — France (Land), the United Kingdom (Sea), and Germany (Sky). As Jean Paul Richter put it, "In the beginning, the good God gave to the French the dominion of the land, to the English the dominion of the seas, and to the Germans the dominion of the clouds." Found in various theaters of war and imperialistic eras in each country's history. Napoleonic France built an empire conquering other nations on continental Europe, the British Empire became the largest colonial empire in history primarily due to their naval strength and possession of overseas territories, while the Germans made notable use of their Air Force in both World Wars and Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe were instrumental in victorious invasions of France and Poland. Also seen in modern commercial transit, with the Chunnel connecting England and France via underwater railway tunnel (Land and Sea), while the German-based Lufthansa Group fields the largest plane fleet in Europe (Sky).
  • The Museum Campus in Chicago is composed of the Field Museum (land), the Shedd Aquarium (sea), and the Adler Planetarium (sky), respectively.
  • The California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco has an indoor rainforest (land), an aquarium (sea), and a planetarium (sky) as its three main exhibits.
  • The three main forms of transportation are roads and railroads (land), boats and ships (sea), and aircraft and spacecraft (sky), respectively.