Much like a Foil character mimics tinfoil used by jewelers to emphasize the shine of a gemstone with their differences, a Mirror Character reflects a character's traits to highlight the similarities.
Mirror Characters, also known as Parallel Characters in some literary circles, almost certainly share personality traits, values, similar skill sets, and possibly even goals and likely a narrative arc. They may have the same or similar background, whether they're from the Wrong Side of the Tracks or born a Royal Brat. They might have have shared the same mentor in the past (or even the present). If they have none of the same backstory at all, their similarities will be significant for coming about regardless of their environment.
Think of them like the character versions of Bookends: the similarities serve to highlight something important about the characters and their story.
Typically, Mirrors will be antagonists of some sort, especially an Arch-Enemy. They are almost certainly The Rival, as two characters reflecting each other so strongly on the same side is often jarring. They can be a Sidekick, but as these characters are generally equals, a successor is more likely.
While a Mirror is seen as the literary opposite of a Foil, in truth the tropes often overlap and a character's Foil and Mirror can be the same character. Call them Mirror Foils, and both the Evil Counterpart and Shadow Archetype are often used to create one.
See "Not So Different" Remark for examples where the Mirror relationship is lampshaded in-universe. Contrast Expy for suspiciously similar characters existing in different works in a way that's clearly intended to be a homage—Mirrors have to be in the same narrative. For plot lines that reflect each other, see Plot Parallel. Compare Counterpart Artifacts, which are mirroring objects.
Please note that Mirror Characters have to be characters. Characters who are very similar to a group they don't belong to is not this trope. For two groups that mirror each other, see Mirroring Factions.
- Alternate Self
- Back-to-Back Badasses
- Balance Between Good and Evil
- Bash Brothers
- Beat Them at Their Own Game
- Birds of a Feather
- Blood Brothers
- Changing of the Guard
- Commonality Connection
- Counterpart Artifacts
- Doppelgänger Dating
- Doppelgänger Replacement Love Interest
- Dueling Messiahs
- Evil Counterpart
- Evil Counterpart Race
- Evil Former Friend
- Evil Knockoff
- Evil Twin
- Fallen Hero
- Fearful Symmetry
- Friendly Enemy
- Future Foil
- Generation Xerox
- Hero's Evil Predecessor
- History Repeats
- The Horseshoe Effect
- I Resemble That Remark!
- Junior Counterpart
- Left-Handed Mirror
- Like Cannot Cut Like
- Mentor's New Hope
- Mirror Boss
- Mirror Match
- Mutual Disadvantage
- Only I Can Kill Him
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You
- The Only One I Trust
- Other Me Annoys Me
- The Rival
- Rival Turned Evil
- Shadow Archetype
- Similar Squad
- Stock Shōnen Rival
- Sympathetic P.O.V.
- Sympathy for the Devil
- Sympathy for the Hero
- Take Up My Sword
- Too Much Alike
- Undead Counterpart
- Worthy Opponent
- Yearning for a Nemesis
- Bizarrogirl: Supergirl and Bizarrogirl are not really opposites as much as reflections. Supergirl realizes the fact as soon as she meets her.
Supergirl: But then you happened. Everything I was thinking... Every emotion in my body... Every doubt I had inside... I saw all of them in your cracked face. You were like me.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Anti-Sonic/Scourge, Sonic's Evil Twin counterpart, is Sonic with all of his negative qualities ramped up, and very few, if any, of his positive ones, and is living, breathing proof of what our hero would become if he went down a dark path. Scourge is fully aware of this, and gloats in issue 172 that this is why Sonic hates him so much, remarking that all it would take is "one bad day" to make Sonic just like him.
- Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus is the archenemy of Spider-Man in a very classic sense. Otto and Peter have a lot in common, both being scientists, who were bullied in school, and later got caught up in freak accidents that dramatically changed them forever. Both received a lot of power and both decided to channel that power by adopting an alter-ego based on eight-legged animal. The difference is that Peter chose to be a superhero and use his powers for good, while Otto chose to become a criminal, who tries to get back at the world. Doctor Octopus is the most recurring villain of the franchise, challenging the very idea of Spider-Man and being responsible for some of the most dramatic incidents in Peters career as a superhero: his first defeat, near death, death of Captain Stacey, establishment of Sinister Six and outright identity theft. At the same time, Otto never really cared about the man behind the mask and kept his rivalry with Spider-Man on sort of "gentlemanly" level, actually making a point of trying not to hurt Peter's loved ones.
- Wonder Woman: Since George Pérez's 1987 run of the comic, Circe has been positioned as this to Diana. Both are magical and mythological superwomen empowered by higher beings who strive to change the world with their beliefs and powers. However, Wonder Woman wants a peaceful world of kindness and virtue, whereas Circe desires a world of cruelty and depravity. Even their behavior marks the contrast of a Madonna-Whore Complex perception seen against women. Wonder Woman: Black and Gold: "The Acquaintance" directly comments on the similarities Diana and Circe share; both are demigoddess offspring of gods associated with the sky (Zeus and Helios), their immortality means they'll outlive most everyone they know, and they've been in relationships with headstrong muscle-bound types (Superman and Odysseus).
- White Spy and Black Spy of Spy vs. Spy are practically identical in almost every respect but their color scheme.
- Zbeng!: Atsanya bat-Simkhon, a recurring character who is basically Sigal, only a far-right-winger instead of a far-left-winger. When Moti tried to introduce them, they were both Comically Missing the Point, seeing the other as a Card-Carrying Villain they share nothing with.
- How to Train Your Dragon 2: The Hero Hiccup and Big Bad Drago Bludvist are both master dragon tamers who grew up fearing dragons, both capable of even taming a Nightfury, and warring over who can influence Toothless is a major part of the final battle.
- Over the Moon: Fei Fei and Chang'e. One is but an ordinary Earth girl, the other is a moon goddess, but they are alike in many ways. They are both struggling with the loss of a loved one, and because of their grief, they exile their still-living loved ones and refuse to accept anything new. They both learn how to deal with their grief and move on in life.
- Rango: Rattlesnake Jake and Rango. Both are larger-than-life "legends" who derive a fair bit of their influence from their fearsome reputations which they themselves have bought into, to a degree. The key difference being that unlike Rango, Jake can actually back his boasting up at least until the end, when Rango gets serious. Jake even acknowledges this by tipping his hat to Rango after the final fight, one "legend" to another.
- Teen Titans: The Judas Contract: Damian effortlessly deduces how Slade psychologically controls Terra through isolation and indoctrination. As a child groomed to be the successor as leader to the League of Assassins, he of all people would know.
- Toy Story 2: Stinky Pete is essentially what Woody would be if he were more possessive and controlling than he usually is.
- Aliens: Ripley and the Alien Queen are both viciously protective Mama Bear types, and Ripley burns the Queen's nest to save Newt, followed by the Queen immediately attacking her, and when the Queen attempts to kill Newt, Ripley responds just the same.
- In Back to the Future, Marty learns from time-traveling to 1955 that his father George was much like him when he was his age. Marty had a demo tape for his band, but didn't let others listen to it, while his father George wrote sci-fi stories, but never let others read them, both due to a crippling fear of rejection.
Marty: (to Jennifer in 1985) What if I send in the tape in and they don't like it? What if they say I'm no good? What if they say, "Get out of here kid. You've got no future."?
George: (to Marty in 1955) What if they didn't like them, what if they told me I was no good?
- Demolition Man: Spartan and Phoenix both fall foul of the verbal morality code soon after getting out of the cryoprison. Moreover, they're both men with an exceptional talent for violence (though Phoenix enjoys it a lot more), and the only reason for one to exist is because the other is still around. (As soon as Spartan has finally collared Phoenix, his superiors don't regret at all that he seems he played a role in the hostages' deaths and send him to the same cryo-prison Phoenix has been sentenced to; with Phoenix out of the way, there's no need for someone like John Spartan. And soon as Phoenix is revived and returns to his old ways, the obvious answer is to thaw out John Spartan to stop him once more.) Lampshaded by Spartan's echoed lines at the start and the end.
Spartan: Send a maniac to catch a maniac.
- In The Prestige, there are plenty of similarities between rivals Angier and Borden.
- Both had a love of magic and so dedicated to the art of magic that they would sacrifice almost everything else they love.
- Both were Happily Married at one point, but both would eventually lose their wives.
- Both would become physically impaired from injuries, due to actions caused by the other, Borden losing his two fingers, Angier walking with a limp.
- Both achieved professional success as magicians.
- Both would eventually have the willingness to "get their hands dirty" and would later display a willingness to kill someone and become murderers.
- In Raiders of the Lost Ark, archaeologist Rene Belloq has this speech emphasizing the similarities between himself and his former classmate and friend, The Hero Indiana Jones.
Belloq: You and I are very much alike. Archeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: John Harrison notes Kirk's love for his crew and presents his love for his own crew as a point of similarity between them. Not to mention how both of them are willing to go to great lengths to protect and save their crew. Also, throughout the movie, Kirk and Harrison have the desire to avenge their loved ones, Harrison against Admiral Marcus for supposedly killing his crew and Kirk against Harrison for killing his mentor Pike. But whereas Kirk, with the influence of his crew, learns that he shouldn't let revenge cloud his judgement and refuses to kill or even stun Admiral Marcus since his daughter is watching, Harrison lets his hatred for Starfleet fester and doesn't care if innocents are caught in the crossfire.
- Star Wars:
- In the Prequel and Original Trilogies, Anakin Skywalker to his son, Luke. Both grew up on the same desolate desert planet before being taken away to train as Jedi Knights under Obi-Wan Kenobi. Both are tempted by the Dark Side to protect their loved ones, but Luke's horror at the realization he is becoming like this father, down to their mechanical right hands, narrowly saves him from falling as Anakin did. Luke's faith in his father manages to save Anakin as well.
- In The Last Jedi: As a Deconstruction of the Lovable Rogue, D.J. is very similar to a pre-Character Development Han Solo. He teams up with the heroes for the money, while constantly reminding them that he's Not in This for Your Revolution and telling the younger, naive heroes the rebellion/resistance is a lost cause and they'd be better off abandoning it. The similarities emphasize the difference that Han decides to help the rebels out and save Luke when the chips are down, while D.J. happily sells the Resistance out to the First Order when they make him a better offer.
- The Antichrist is the Evil Counterpart of Christ, Jesus the son of God and the Antichrist the son of Satan, with the apparent ability to creator wonders and miracles as Jesus himself did.
- According to Christian theology, the Archangel Michael is the leader of Heaven's angels and armies against the forces of evil and is destined to meet the fallen angel Lucifer, formerly the most high in Heaven below God Himself, leading his fallen angels in combat during the War of Heaven as mentioned in the book of Revelation.
- In Jewish and some Christian theologies, Lilith is Eve's counterpart and predecessor as Adam's wife. While Lilith is seen as the mother of demons, Eve is the mother of all humans.
- In Classical Mythology, Zeus overthrew his father Chronos as Chronos overthrew his own father, using the same scythe, to reign over all Olympus.
- Big Finish Doctor Who: In the lead-up to the 40th anniversary, a trilogy of audio dramas was released, "Omega", "Davros", and "Master", to show how the Doctor and these villains were not so different. This is really emphasized in "Master", with The Reveal that the Doctor made a deal with Death while a child so his memories of a murder he committed would go to his friend, which turned the Master evil.
- Creon's story in Antigone very closely mirrors that of the title character of prequel work Oedipus Rex. Both start out as kings on top of the world, but their stubborn pursuit of their goals despite the advice of those around them causes their entire lives to come apart.
- Hamilton: Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton are both Child Prodigy orphans who graduated early from Kings College, and are ambitious, career-driven men. They both try to make themselves of value to Washington during the Revolutionary War and afterwards, practice law right next door to each other. They both even suffer complicated romantic personal lives, but are dedicated to leaving behind a legacy their children can be proud of. All of this serves to highlight the big dramatic differences between Hamilton and Burr: whereas Hamilton comes from absolutely nothing and is desperate to prove himself, Burr comes from a respected family and is concerned about protecting his legacy. Moreover, Hamilton seems equal parts driven by his ideological vision for the United States as well as his personal strive for glory, while Burr on the other hand is willing to be and say whatever he needs to in order to grasp power. This ultimately leads to Hamilton and Burr becoming rivals, with Burr changing parties and colluding with Hamilton's political opposition to keep Hamilton from gaining more power and Hamilton later supporting Thomas Jefferson, his most vocal critique, over Burr in the presidential election because Jefferson has clear beliefs about the country while Burr has none.
- Hamlet: Fortinbras and Hamlet are both young princes motivated to avenge the deaths of their fathers who were their namesakes. Fortinbras eventually takes the Danish throne in Hamlet's place.
- Henry IV: Hal and Hotspur are shown to be equal in ability, but while Hal has the royal lineage, he wastes the opportunity. Hotspur, who would be a brilliant choice, has no blood claim to the throne whatsoever, and they both must defeat their equal in each other to prove their claim to it.
- The Importance of Being Earnest: The Reveal that Jack and Algernon are brothers after all is hardly surprising given how similar they are. Both use fake names to indulge in somewhat scandalous double lives, both are single men looking to marry the loves of their lives. They even repeat each other's lines on a few occasions, underscoring not only their similarities, but the matching motivations.
- Les Misérables: Valjean and Javert, from the consonants in their names onward. In "The Confrontation" they both sneer at each other for "knowing nothing of" one another's lives, and Javert reveals he also grew up in poverty; later, Javert's final song echoes the tune and several lines of Valjean's That Man Is Dead declaration in "What Have I Done."
- The Merchant of Venice: There's a lot of literary theory on Antonio and Shylock as this. The play presents them as twin outsidersShylock as a Jew to Venetian society, Antonio as a "tainted wether of the flock" to the world of love and marriage.
- Titus Andronicus: Titus and Tamora. Both "love" their kids. Both power-hungry. Both willing to kill other people's children in revenge. Both sick nut-jobs. Titus kills his own children bear in mind, whereas Tamora doesn't.
- Minotaur Hotel: Storm has several similarities with Asterion beyond both being minotaurs. Both are physically in their 20s, both have tragic pasts, both have been discriminated for their non-human looks, both have extremely limited knowledge of the outside world, both are stranded alone when they meet someone that will help them out, and both can potentially fall in love with that same someone who helped them out because of their kindness.
- In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, Taiko and Rie end up at odds midway through the game when discussing the death of one of their friends in an apparent suicide, as well as the possibility that it was actually a murder. Taiko is determined to find the truth, even if it means accusing one of his friends of the murder, while Rie admits that she blindly believes in her friends, even if the facts are against her. The fact that Rie's best friend Runa is one of the main suspects for the murder, due to being one of the few people able to commit the crime and having a motive, doesn't help, either. Near the climax of the game, however, after Taiko's best friend Kotoba is either killed or badly burned, Taiko becomes irrational, and has difficulty accepting that Kotoba was tricked into being an accessory to the crime (with the killer arranging for him to die as a diversion and to tie up loose ends), or that he'd been stalking Momoko until confronted with the evidence. Surprisingly enough, Rie also agrees with Taiko when he and everyone else besides Raiko accuse Kamen of the murders.
- Beyond the Western Deep:
- Ashtor and Kenosh are old men who serve as voices of reason to those they encounter, complete with hidden passions for justice and morality.
- Bevan and Dakkan are boisterous young warriors hiding inner turmoil.
- Quinlan and Hardin are young men in command with plenty to prove and plenty of doubters and doubts.
- Dominic Deegan: Not only is Celesto Morgan Dominic's Evil Counterpart (and opposing Champion during the Storm of Souls arc), but Celesto's tendency to believe I Did What I Had to Do, that Utopia Justifies the Means, to act as if he has an Omniscient Morality License and is Above Good and Evil, and his Well-Intentioned Extremist thinking are all mirrored in Dominic being The Chessmaster who often gets accused of Protagonist-Centered Morality. Dominic, recognizing this, keeps trying to offer Celesto a way back to the light on numerous occasions (which he of course sneers at and rejects) while Celesto, when he isn't offering Dominic the chance to join him and make the world a better place, the way they think it "should" be, is usually calling Dominic on his manipulative actions and nastily underscoring their similarities. In a twisted way, even his stint as The Atoner could be said to be Celesto attempting to make amends by turning himself into what he thinks Dominic actually is.
- Girl Genius: The main reason the Other is so reviled by pretty much everyone is that she uses slaver wasps to control people, with them having to obey her every order once they have become revenants. Even other characters with Undying Loyalty hate the idea of forcing people to obey. One of the main forms of opposition to the Other come from Baron Wulfenbach, who has spent the majority of his rule gathering and destroying the Other's technology, and has biologically engineered weasels to sniff out revenants. And then he goes and does the exact same thing as the Other has done to Agatha, by implanting a copy of his personality into his son so that he can control his to some extent and make sure that he doesn't help Agatha. This is explicitly called out in-comic by the Other herself. When the Big Bad herself is criticising you, you know you've fucked up. Still, a few pages later he shows the crucial difference between the two: Lucrezia's doing all of this for herself.
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things: Despite how much Commander Badass dislikes Canadian Guy, they are more alike than he'd care to admit, in tastes of games, enunciation, and even appearance (to the point that they're Palette Swaps of each other). Emphasized in this comic where, despite having three siblings and two children (and though he doesn't mention them, an ex-wife, a love interest, and a surrogate son), Canadian Guy is the one Commander Badass is most drift-compatible with. As it turns out, there's a good reason for that. Know how the Commander's an Artificial Human? Canadian Guy is a bootleg of him made with some regional variants by Canadians.
- Miss Guillotine: In many ways, Ara, the former magical girl of justice is a lot like Sarah, the current magical girl of justice. They have similar appearances and share similar misgivings about being magical girls and their personal inaction resulted in tragedy for people they cared about.
- Monster Pulse: There are huge parallels between Roger's treatment of an Arma ghost regarding Lulenski and Abel's sister and Abel. It also serves as Foreshadowing that just as Abel later received another Arma ghost, Lulenski may yet receive one, too.
- NIMONA: In the end, Nimona and Ballister. Both were abused by organizations that study magic scientifically and emotionally manipulate others to their own ends. Both were taken in by said organizations as children and told that these organizations were the good guys for doing so. Both define themselves by how these organizations defined them. The difference is that while growing up Ballister thought he was being groomed as a hero and continues to behave heroically, while Nimona was told she was "sick" and "dangerous" and as such decided Then Let Me Be Evil.
- A Redtail's Dream: Hannu and Puppy Fox are explicitly shown to have similar personalities during Moose's explanation of how the gods view people; they're both selfish, immature, and would do anything to get out of their responsibilities. The one key difference is that Hannu makes an exception for Ville, whereas Puppy Fox doesn't give a rip about anything but himself.
- Slightly Damned: On an individual level we have Buwaro's adoptive older brother Iratu and Kieri's twin Kazai, Iratu is leading an invasion that has resulted in hundreds if not thousands of medians dead and brushes it off by saying that the good ones will be sent to heaven and the bad ones to hell, earlier we hear Kazai give a similar excuse to not waste time saving them from said attack. They also both view median life as lesser than the lives of their respective species and and will mindlessly follow what they believe are their gods plans, also both become hostile towards their siblings when they don't think in a similar way though the main difference being that Kazai only did so in a moment of anger and genuinely loves his sister while Iratu doesn't love Buwaro and actually tries to kill him.