Follow TV Tropes


Nice, Mean, and In-Between

Go To
With this dynamic, expect squab-bles.

In certain group dynamics, you will notice three characters with different mannerisms, attitudes, and personalities that are easy to identify with — a character who is nice and gentle, a character who is mean and tough, and the character who is caught in between the two other characters.

  • Nice Character: This character is simply what they are — nice, polite, friendly, and helpful. They show everybody a great deal of respect and kindness, even to their worst enemies. They're the kind who never loses their temper nor resort to violence, although they do when pushed too far. Other variations would have them to be seen as naive and gullible due to seeing no reason to be justifiably angry with others and always believes there's some goodness in them, and often at times, they can appear to be too nice. They'll most definitely be the peacemaker when the mean and in-between characters get into fights. In a trio of siblings, they'll most likely be the youngest. If they're the dumb one, he'll easily be a Kindhearted Simpleton. They can be the Token Good Teammate if they're a part of a villainous trio or if the in-between character is more mean than nice. In a Freudian Trio, they're commonly either The McCoy or The Kirk.
  • Advertisement:
  • Mean Character: The polar opposite of the Nice Character. Simply put, this character is rude, unfriendly, harsh, and abrasive. They're the one that the nice and the in-between have trouble getting along with. The mean character will usually bully the nice character and will engage in fierce arguments with the in-between character. While they may turn out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, they will put a heavy emphasis on "Jerk" in which his heart of gold appears on small occasions. If not a mere jerk, they may be the gritty and violent Anti-Hero who will go the extra mile in doing what they have to do and will show no amount of kindness or mercy to anyone whom they feel are a threat to them or they may be a grouchy cynic. If they're the leader, expect them to be strict and no-nonsense. In a trio of siblings, they'll most likely be the oldest. If the "mean" aspect goes too far, they can be the Token Evil Teammate. In a Freudian Trio, they're commonly either The McCoy or The Spock.
  • Advertisement:
  • In-Between Character: This character isn't as well-mannered as the nice character since they have a few negative traits. But unlike the mean character, they don't have many bad manners as they do, and they're mainly a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a heavy emphasis on "Heart of Gold". If they're not a jerk, they will most likely have a Sugar-and-Ice Personality who can either be too aloof, quiet, or serious to be nice or mean. If they're indeed a Nice Guy, it won't be to a naively idealistic extreme, and not to the point of being a pushover. If they're the dumb one, this means that their niceness and meanness will vary from time to time due to their stupidity. They'll commonly have a close brotherly/sisterly relationship with the nice character and will have a rivalry with the mean character. In common ways, they will be The Leader or the mentor of the group who shows respect for their comrades while keeping the two in line in one way or another, mostly the mean one. In a trio of siblings, they'll most likely be the middle child. In a Freudian Trio, they're commonly either The Kirk or The Spock.

Darker versions of this trope can qualify. For example, if there is a trio of villains or jerks, there will be one who is nicer or more innocent than the other two and the other villain/jerk who is more villainous and meaner than the other two.

If this trope applies to three female characters, they'll typically be Town Girls too, with the nice one as the Girly Girl (unless she is an Alpha Bitch), the mean one as the Tomboy and the in-between one as neither.

If there are 6 characters in a group, the dynamic will come in 3 pairs, meaning that there will be a nice pair, a mean pair, and an in-between pair.

Note that this group dynamic can be a unique way to establish moments of how each character acts and what defines them. This is a snippet in the Power Trio explaining the basic makeup of trios — "Trait 1, Trait-opposite-of-Trait-1, Trait-Between-the-Two."

Compare The Good, the Bad, and the Evil, a scenario in which the trio gets into conflict with each other.


Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ah! My Goddess gives us the three goddesses. Belldandy the All-Loving Hero and resident Magical Girlfriend is the nice one, the aggressive Skuld is the mean one, and trickster, half-demon Urd is in-between.
  • In Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, the Super Peace Busters can be divided into this, with one girl and one boy in each category. The Nice members are Menma, who was The Heart of the group until she died, and Poppo, who's the only one who remains relatively friendly years after the tragedy. The Mean members are Tsuruko, a snarky and unemotional Defrosting Ice Queen, and Yukiatsu, an arrogant Jerkass with a cutting wit who's jealous of Jintan. The In-Between ones are Anaru and Jintan, both of whom are temperamental but ultimately good-hearted.
  • Assassination Classroom has Nagisa as the Socially Awkward Hero, Karma as the Jerk with a Heart of Gold with psychotic tendencies, and Kayano as the Genki Girl who harbors a secret hatred for their teacher, whom she assumed killed her older sister.
  • Bloom Into You
    • The main cast. Touko is the Nice, since she's a pleasant and good-natured individual whose Establishing Character Moment involves gracefully turning down a suitor. Sayaka is the Mean, since she can be a bit snippy and passive-aggressive with those who get on her bad side, but is a decent person at heart. Yuu is the In-Between, since she can be brutally honest and snarky, but nevertheless will always help others who need it.
    • In the School Play, the main character meets three people who knew her in different ways. Her classmate is the Nice, since he gives a highly flattering account of her as The Ace, and hopes for her to get back to school. Her younger half-brother is the Mean, since he doesn't shy away from telling her that she was cold and distant from him, their mother and his father, albeit hoping that they can come together as a family. Her girlfriend is the In-between, since she was apparently the only one the main character trusted with her vulnerable side, but can't help but tease her at times.
  • In Bokurano, Machi, Koyemshi and Kokopelli are this, as the three people who came from a victorious universe to recruit pilots to continue the game. Machi is surprisingly compassionate, believing that everyone is special to their loved ones, and is quite kind and supportive of Kana. Koyemshi is a jerkass who treats virtually everyone like dirt and often takes sadistic pleasure in what's going on. Kokopelli is a polite yet somewhat distant mentor figure to the protagonist, but fails to tell them what's really at stake.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: Atsushi is nice, being a shy, scaredy All-Loving Hero, willing to help anyone who (whenever or not) need, Kunikida is mean, being the hot-tempered controlling Jerk with a Heart of Gold, constantly chewing Dazai's head out for his antics, and Dazai is in-between, being a cheery, manipulative, but well-meaning Suicidal maniac.
  • The three adults of Comic Girls. Ririka Hanazono, the dorm mother, is the Nice one, being kind and nurturing to her manga artist tenants. Mayu Amisawa, Kaos' editor, is the Mean one — she does care for Kaos, but also doesn't hesitate to tell her when her submissions aren't any good. Miharu Nijino, who's homeroom teacher for Kaos, Tsubasa and Ruki, is the In-Between one, being a Stern Teacher who's serious and professional, but happens to have a soft spot for Tsubasa's manga.
  • Dragon Ball: Although the three of them rarely work together, goofy yet cheerful Goku is the Nice one, prideful and sour faced Vegeta is the Mean one, and Piccolo who has gone from enemy to ally is In between.
  • Fairy Tail's First Generation Dragon Slayers (Laxus is a Second Generation so he doesn't count) fit this trope: Wendy Marvell is nice, Gajeel Redfox is mean (and even attacked the Fairy Tail members during his days as a part of Phantom Lord), and Natsu Dragneel, who is a good-hearted hero with a temper and a love of fighting, is in-between.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: The main trio of Edward, Alphonse, and Winry. Alphonse is the nice (being a kindhearted Gentle Giant stuck in armor), Edward is the mean (being The Napoleon who enjoys fighting and gets especially pissed when people bring up how short he is), and Winry is the in-between (a Nice Girl who's very friendly as long as you don't destroy or insult her automail.)
  • Genesis of Aquarion has Tsugumi as a Nice Girl, Silvia as the Clingy Jealous Girl, and Reika as the misunderstood Jinx.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • The Axis Powers, with Germany as the mean one (a Drill Sergeant Nasty with some less-than-pleasant ambitions), Italy as the nice one (a relatively good-natured — if easily manipulated — pasta-loving ditz), and Japan as the in-between (a socially awkward and somewhat strange The Stoic).
    • The Bad Touch/Friend Trio sometimes also qualifies as this (in Fandom at least). Prussia usually played off as the mean, arrogant jerk (usually ignoring all the nice things he does in canon). Spain is usually the super nice, I don't care what you do to me I will still be friends with you (loosely true when with Romano. But debunked with the whole 'armada' situation. And France is the middle ground.
  • Jewelpet: The energetic, cheerful yet absent-minded Ruby is the Nice one, the girly and sassy Garnet is the Closest-to-Mean one and the intelligent, friendly yet responsible Sapphie is In-Between.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny:
  • My Hero Academia's main power trio consists of sensitive Nice Guy Izuku "Deku" Midoriya (Nice), Brutish Bully Katsuki Bakugo (Mean) and icy, withdrawn Shoto Todoroki (In-Between).
  • Naruto has this dynamic with most of the Genin teams, who generally have at least one Nice Guy, one somewhat stuck-up and hot-tempered "mean" individual and one stoic or dispassionate "in-between" person.
    • Team 7: Naruto is highly compassionate and forgiving, if sometimes immature and lacking in social skills. Sasuke is cold, aloof and has a growing obsession with revenge that he places before those close to him. Sakura is hot-tempered and quick to punch those who annoy her, but also cares for her friends.
    • Team 8: Hinata is incredibly kind and reluctant to hurt others, to the point at which it holds her back as a ninja. Kiba is loud, boisterous and determined to prove himself. Shino is quiet and unemotional.
    • Team 10: Chouji is a kindhearted person and loyal friend to Shikamaru. Ino is somewhat vain, bossy and competitive. Shikamaru is lazy and can often be sarcastic, but cares a lot for his friends.
    • Team Guy: Lee is a somewhat dorky and incredibly polite young man who's very honorable and sincere. Neji is cold, arrogant and dismissive of others before Naruto defeats him and helps him become a better person. Tenten is the straight man of the group, even if she often gets exasperated with her teammates and teacher.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
    • Asuna/Konoka/Setsuna. Asuna is the mean girl, often belligerent to the main character and sometimes her friends, while Konoka is very patient with her and nice to basically everyone she meets. Setsuna falls somewhere in the middle, nowhere near as off the handle as Asuna, but doesn't possess Konoka's level of kindness either.
    • Nodoka/Yue/Haruna. Haruna frequently teases and bullies her friends, forcing both Yue and Nodoka to keep her in line. Most of the time though, Nodoka is almost impossibly sweet, putting the needs of her friends before her own, while Yue quietly snarks about, but wouldn't hurt anyone without a good reason.
    • To a lesser degree, the three cheerleaders. Misa is the sexually agressive, somewhat bossy and frivolous borderline Mean, Sakurako is the cheerful and bubbly happy-go-lucky Nice, and Madoka is the more stoic and grounded In-Between.
  • Shinji, Rei, and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shinji is the nicest guy in the series whereas Asuka is a very hot-tempered Jerkass. Rei sticks in the middle due to her cold and quiet demeanor.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Similar to Sailor Moon, there is the main trio in the first season. Hazuki, being very similar to Ami, is shy, mild-mannered, and sweet (nice), Aiko is the snarkiest one and with her Brutal Honesty sometimes comes off as rude (mean), Doremi, just like Usagi, is friendly and compassionate, but also bratty and immature (in-between).
  • In One Piece:
    • The original three Straw Hat Pirates: Luffy is nice, Nami is mean, and Zoro is in between. Both Zoro and Nami can be said to be jerks with a heart of gold, but Nami is more actively unpleasant (beating up people when they act stupid, manipulating them for favors and money), while Zoro is just very reserved and slightly antisocial. Zoro and Nami's roles switch in more dramatic situations (such as the case of Usopp leaving the crew), when Nami is more likely to let compassionate feelings or worries take over, while Zoro keeps his cool and isn't afraid to state the harsh truth or threaten people.
    • The three main admirals (before the timeskip at least) fit this to a T. Aokiji is the nice being the most laidback, noble, and honorable of the three admirals. It definitely helps he'll put his foot down if he seems something as unjust. Akainu is most definitely the mean being one of most ruthless, heartless, and most sadistic characters in the entire series. He stands by "Absolute Justice" and will use any means necessary to achieve his goals even if that means killing hundreds of innocent people in his way including his own men. And Kizaru is the in-between being the most lazy and relaxed of the admirals. He can as polite and laidback as Aokiji but as brutal as Akainu in battle.
      • After the timeskip, Aokiji left the Marines after Akainu got promoted to Fleet Admiral. Fujitora replaces Aokiji as the nice, since he has even more honor and is friendlier than Aokiji.
    • The Big Mom Pirates' Three Sweet Generals fall into this as well. Katakuri, surprisingly, is the nice. Despite being the most brutal of the Three Commanders, Katakuri is the most honorable of them. He is also fiercely protective of his younger siblings and will go through hell and high water to protect him. He also views Luffy as a Worthy Opponent and is one of few villains (if you can even call him that) to actually wish Luffy luck on his quest to becoming Pirate King. Cracker is the mean being the most foul-mouth and arrogant of the Sweet Commanders. He also likes to hide inside of his biscuit solider armor saying he hates pain making him a bit of a coward and constantly has a Slasher Smile on his face. Smoothie is the in-between being the perfect balance of the three. She is the most polite and is always a good host serving them drinks... of the animate animals by using her powers to squeeze the juices.
    • Arlong's three subordinates. Hachi is the Nice, since he unwittingly helps Zoro due to not recognizing him as Arlong's prisoner, and later regrets what he did. Kuroobi is the Mean, since he's especially distrustful of Nami (albeit reasonably so), and is especially contemptuous of humans. Chu is the In-Between, since he lacks Hachi's redeeming characteristics or Chu's more unpleasant ones.
  • Pokémon's very own Team Rocket: while a villain, James is a mostly harmless Upper-Class Twit who forms a close bond with his Mons and prefers to give his opponents a fair fight when given a chance, Jessie is the mean, bossy, temperamental dog kicking one and Meowth is between the two, very often pretending to be good to trick our heroes but also has kind moments especially towards the main heroes' Pikachu.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets have a special case of this, since there are five sisters in all, three of them fill the Nice role in their treatment of male lead Fuutarou, albeit each in different ways, with the remaining two being the Mean and In-Between.
    • Eldest sister Ichika loves to tease Fuutarou for kicks, but is willing to act as the mediator to get the others to eventually accept him as their tutor, encouraging her sisters to treat him nicely. Middle sister Miku is shy and withdrawn, but is revealed to be a total sweetheart when she opens up, and after she accepts him she's shown trying to do nice things for him like cooking, despite being a Lethal Chef. Lastly, Yotsuba is the first of the quints who accept him as their tutor, and she tries to get him to have fun and smile more to snap him of his Perpetual Frowner state.
    • Second sister Nino is the Mean one, being a harsh-type Tsundere whose personality is the one most likely to incite conflict, and she wants to get Fuutarou fired from his tutor job simply because she sees him as an interloper in their home, with no consideration whatsoever for the troubles that implicates (for him because he needs that money, and for herself and her sisters because they need the help to study).
    • Youngest sister Itsuki is a Tsundere as well, but leans less on the harsh side than Nino and thus falls into In-Between her and the other three. Her introductory scene had her butting heads with Fuutarou, yet she still attempted to be nice by offering him some of her food when she saw he didn't eat much, only for him to reply rudely (thus unlike Nino giving her a more valid reason to reject him). Despite not wanting his help due to that, she's shown to be sympathetic to his economical struggles, and gradually swallows her pride upon realizing they both need each other, even stepping up to defend him from Nino when she goes too far, causing a spat between them.
  • Ranma ½: Out of the Tendo sisters, Kasumi is nice, Nabiki is mean, and Akane is in between. Kasumi plays surrogate mother to her sisters, and is extremely sweet and docile. Nabiki divides her time between ruthlessly exploiting people for money-making schemes, and toying with their emotions for her own amusement. Her Pet the Dog moments are relatively rare. Akane is a kind and typically friendly person, but she has a violent temper and a tendency to overreact to perceived insults.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • From the first season, Ami/Mercury is always sweet, gentle, and patient, Rei/Mars is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a Hair-Trigger Temper, and Usagi/Moon is nice and optimistic, yet whiny and occasionally bratty.
    • Of the primary Outer Senshi, Setsuna/Pluto is open and friendly to the Inner Senshi, Michiru/Neptune is more aloof and less agreeable, but at the same time still behaves polite and cordial to them, and Haruka/Uranus is more colder and distant.
  • Super Milk Chan brought us three particular characters from the King’s Idea Laboratory:
    • Nice: Tetsuko is the shy, curious, dreamy companion of the title heroine.
    • Mean: Robodog is the loud, shameless, rude canine robot.
    • In Between: Dr. Eyepatch is very humble to most characters he knows, but has a strong dislike for Tetsuko.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: We have the first three Mew Mews: the good-hearted, outspoken, but somewhat immature Stock Shoujo Heroine Ichigo is the in-between to shy and sweet Retasu (nice) and spoiled Lovable Alpha Bitch Minto (mean).
  • Tamagotchi: The tiro, Mametchi is the nice one who cares about his friends and is a even a cool big brother, Memetchi is a downplayed version of the mean part because she is also nice, but has the most emotional outbursts of the group, and Kuchipatchi is in-between due to being The Ditz of the group, but can be more rude than Mametchi.
  • A group example in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches: Nancy's witch group is nice, with most of them being Nice Girls to some degree — only Nancy herself is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but the heart of gold is easy to find. Takuma's witch group is mean — most of them are villainous, and most of the ones who are on the side of good are still not perfectly pleasant. Rika's witch group is in between — all of them (except Asuka) are on the side of good, but some of them acted villainous at their introduction, and they are generally more rough around the edges than Nancy's witches.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!

    Comic Books 
  • The Duck cousins, Donald Duck, Gladstone Gander and Fethry Duck from Disney Ducks Comic Universe. Scatterbrained but sincere, optimistic and friendly Fethry is always the Nice one, while Donald and Gladstone are prone to alternate portrayals. Sometimes Gladstone is the jovial but Innocently Insensitive In-Between and Donald is the selfish and prone to violence Mean, while other times Gladstone is the arrogant and disrespectful Mean and Donald is the honest, loyal yet hot-tempered In-Between. It helps that Donald's role in stories varies between heroism and outright villainy, largely depending on whether his positive or negative aspects are emphasized.
  • Josie And The Pussy Cats: Melody is the ditzy but nice one, Alexandra is the mean and sarcastic one, and Josie is really nice, if not as nice as Melody.
  • Justice League of America has the trinity of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Superman is the nice, idealistic hero in contrast to the humorless, grumpy Batman, while Wonder Woman mediates between the two.
  • The first three Robins have such a dynamic after Jason's return. Dick (Nightwing) is easily the most openly friendly and kind member of the Batclan even if he has a quick temper and is fiercely protective of his family's privacy and safety. Jason (Red Hood) comes back angry and violent, using murder and intimidation to achieve his goals. Tim (Robin) is more mellow than either of his brothers, he joined up to act as a peacekeeper and mender of family ties and maintains that position even after he has lost his idealistic attitude, Tim is the member of the family to try and bring Jason back into the fold after repeated attacks.
  • In the Gotham City Sirens, Misanthrope Supreme Poison Ivy is the Mean, erratic but perky Harley Quinn is the Nice, and cat burglar with a conscience Catwoman is the grounded In-Between.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield: Odie (nice) is nothing but friendly and passive towards Garfield. Garfield (mean) is constantly selfish and lazy, and loves to bully both Jon and Odie. Jon (in-between) is usually a Nice Guy but is often more assertive to Garfield than Odie is.
  • Charlie, Lucy and Linus from Peanuts. Charlie (nice) is a sweet, helpful kid in spite of his constant Butt-Monkey and Failure Hero status. Lucy (mean) is a bossy fussbucket who often delights in putting Charlie Brown down, though she does have a good side. Linus (in-between) is an Innocent Prodigy who always goes to Charlie Brown's support when he needs it, but he does have his moments of assertiveness.

    Fan Works 
  • Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: What Came After: Popplio, Riolu, and Alesia respectively. Alesia isn't as short-tempered or sarcastic as Riolu, but laughs along with him at Toucannon's insult at Trevenant while Popplio refrains from doing so, and when Riolu gets bitten by a Magikarp, Alesia is busy laughing her ass off while Popplio assists Riolu.
  • In Ragnarok Ragna Guardian, we have 3 examples in the Guardians:
    • The Brawn Triumvirate:
      • Shin plays the Nice, being the most sincere and kind of the group and is very trusting.
      • Reiko plays the Mean. She's made it clear she's only in it for fun and will leave, putting all of Yggdrasil at risk, if it gets to boring. She also has a terrible temper and Can't Take Criticism.
      • Shiro plays the In Between. He has the unlikely combination of being kind, simple, trusting, and sarcastic to an ungodly degree. Their classes even say it clearly: Shin the magic using Clown, Reiko the BFG using Military, and Shiro the sword wielding Knight.
    • The Brain Triumvirate:
      • Anki would be the Nice, as stoic as he may be, he is actually the friendliest Brain to approach and is very empathetic. He is also the staff wielding Sorcerer.
      • Yuki would be the Mean. She is rather merciless in battle and very antisocial. She happens to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. Her class doesn't actuallt fit, however, as she is the BFS wielding Paladin.
      • Saya is the In Between. She is a Type B Tsundere and rather cynical, despite her cheerful appearance. She, however, possesses a great sense of loyalty. She is the Ice magic wielding Indigo Mage.
    • The Crafty Triumvirate:
      • Mukuro is the Nice. They always treat everyone with respect and will deliberately hold back in battle unless specifically told not to. Their class doesn't exactly fit, though, as they are an axe wielding Destroyer How their triumvirate is Crafty and not Brawn is still unknown to this day, since Shin could have easily taken their place.
      • Roku is the Mean. Impulsive, Hot-Blooded and impolite. He is only loyal to Shiro, his brother-figure. He is the knife and fist wielding Ninja.
      • Raka is the In Between. On one hand, she is sociable, kind, and polite. On the other hand, she is a minor Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. Her class is the Ranger.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers we have:
    • Ammy (Nice), Herbert (Mean), Tagg (In between)
    • Sakura (Nice), Lyuri (Mean), Hikari (In between)
    • Zeal is a one man example with him representing nice, Red Eyes mean, and Zach the in between.
  • In Where Talent Goes To Die, the sixteen students are divided into groups of four in order to explore the school, and Kaori Miura's three companions fall into this trope. Sae Edogawa is the Nice one, as she's a kind and understanding individual who's already taken a liking to Miura. Shiro Kurogane is the Mean one, as he holds a lingering grudge against Miura for defeating him in a game of shogi. Akito Sakuragi is the In-Between one, as he doesn't particularly care for Kurogane's attitude, but isn't as active in speaking up for Miura. The "mean" and "in-between" roles switch after the first murder. Sakuragi kills Kurogane in a bid to escape without even needing a "motive." Meanwhile, Kurogane, despite his dislike of Miura, claims that he'd never seriously consider killing her.
  • Wonder Girl, Robin and Superboy, known In-Universe as the "Junior Trinity", in the Teen Titans Our Own League novels. Wonder Girl is a Spoiled Sweet, compassionate, and idealistic princess (Nice). Robin is an aloof, pragmatic Control Freak with a Hidden Heart of Gold (Mean). Superboy, although very friendly and a loyal friend, can be flippant, an Attention Whore, and tends to invite disaster with his recklessness (In-Between). As Beast Boy puts it:
    Beast Boy: [Points to Wonder Girl] You're fun, [points to Robin] you're no fun, [points to Superboy] and you're fun whether we want it or not.
  • Seth In The Pokecity: The Barney-related characters. Vinny is an Extreme Doormat who simply goes along with Flosshead's schemes (nice). Flosshead is a complete Jerkass who has no real qualms about raising hell for fun (mean). Barney, while an abusive asshole in his own right, is usually more occupied in television and booze (in-between).
  • Ask White Pearl and Steven (almost!) anything has Amethyst, Pearl and Garnet fill these roles after they learn that Steven is a Diamond:
    • Since Amethyst has been Locked Out of the Loop and wasn't part of the Rebellion, she lacks the sort of history and baggage the other Crystal Gems have regarding the Diamonds. As a result, she's the most willing to judge Steven on his own merits, and is the only one to continue treating him like her adoptive younger brother figure.
    • Pearl, by contrast, is utterly convinced that he's White Diamond in disguise (given how she's the only one who knows that Rose is really Pink Diamond). She also believes that White Pearl/Earl is Brainwashed, trying to spur her to turn against him and rejecting the notion that Earl legitimately cares.
    • Garnet, meanwhile, is caught In-Between. While she distances herself from Steven, she also makes an effort to understand him rather than simply rejecting him outright as Pearl has, and strives to keep the peace between her and Amethyst.
  • Life Fiber Hunters in Natural Selection follow this dynamic, with Ira as the nice, Nonon as the mean, and Satsuki as the in-between. Ira tends to act like an honorable knight with a strong devotion to both justice as well as Satsuki herself. Nonon is by far the most sarcastic and blunt of the three and gives no quarter when dishing out insults even at her own teammates expense (though usually always with good reason). Satsuki, while devoted to her mission of saving the world from the Life Fibers and is polite with her fellow teammates, is also incredibly stoic with a strong case of Good Is Not Nice as well.
  • The Red Lotus Trio in Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail. Atticus is the Nice for being a kind and loyal corgi king, Lexi is Mean for having a hatred for passengers ("free-riders") and Chloe is the In-Between shown to be a kind and caring girl yet is known to have plenty of resentment issues.

    Films — Animation 
  • Cars:
    • The three Piston Cup leaders throughout the first movie. Retiring legend Strip "The King" Weathers is the nicest of the three, being wise and openly caring to his team. Runner-up Chick Hicks is mean and rotten, not liking to lose and threatening to cheat in any way. Rookie Lightning McQueen is in-between, due to starting out spoiled and narcissistic, but softens over the course of the movie.
    • There's also the three leads throughout the threequel. Cruz Ramirez is nice and gentle, always willing to help train her students, help Lightning get back on top, and hopes to become a racer just like him. Jackson Storm is rude and obnoxious, acting the same way Lightning used to behave, and would taunt the other racers at will. Lightning is pretty much the same as before, not as mean as Jackson but more assertive than Cruz.
  • Charlotte's three daughters in Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure. Aranea is nice and carefree; Joy is cynical and narcissistic; and Nellie is the in-between who serves as their leader.
  • Cinderella: Following Anastasia's Character Development in two sequels (Dreams Come True, A Twist In Time) , the three sisters are this. Cinderella is the nice one, for being the always caring All-Loving Hero. Drizella is the mean one, who remains as cruel as she was before, even to the point of being The Dragon for her mother, Lady Tremaine. Anastasia is the in-between one, who started off as a brat, but made a Heel–Face Turn and became a sweet, yet gruff individual who finds a love interest in the form of a baker. Drizella is the sister with the least character development, though somewhat contradictory at that. She shows concern for Anastasia's well-being in the second film, while she is eager to physically abuse Anastasia at the start of the third film.
  • Despicable Me: All three of Gru's adoptive daughters are good girls. However Agnes is by far the most innocent and affectionate, Edith is a mischievous prankster, and Margo is the caring older sister, but she can be cynical and snarky.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • Esmeralda's suitors are shy Quasimodo (nice), corrupt and sinister Frollo (mean), and snarky but good-natured Phoebus (in-between).
    • Out of the gargoyles, Victor (Nice) is quiet and the most thoughtful. Laverne (Mean) is the most snippy, and frequently insults the other two. Hugo (In-between) is not as sensitive as Victor, but isn't as cranky as Laverne.
  • Ice Age: Sid is the Nice one because, despite his Innocently Insensitive moments, he truly does mean well and helps keep the herd together. Diego is downplayed on the Mean part, since he does become nicer, but still easily comes off as the most snarky of the three. Manny is the in-between, due to having more Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments than Diego, though the two sometimes change places.
  • The Incredibles: All three of the Parr children are good kids. However Jack-Jack is by far the most innocent and affectionate, Dash is a mischievous prankster, and Violet is the caring older sister, but she can be cynical and snarky.
  • The Little Mermaid: Out of Ariel's animal friends, Flounder is innocent and shy (nice), Sebastian is snooty and grumpy (mean), and Scuttle is a friendly but slightly annoying Cloudcuckoolander (in-between).
  • Mulan:
    • The three soldiers. Yao is the mean one, short in temper, as he is in stature; Gentle Giant Chien-Po is the nice one; and wise-cracking Ling is the in-between.
    • Mulan's animal sidekicks. Cri-Kee is an Extreme Doormat who becomes the voice of reason in the sequel (nice), Mushu is cocky and often self-centered (mean), and Khan is more Out of Focus and has the least developed personality (in-between).
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks: The villainous trio of the Dazzlings. Sonata Dusk is the nicest and dumbest one. Aria Blaze is mean and grumpy, always picking on Sonata and quick to criticize Adagio. Adagio Dazzle is in-between, stopping the other two from bickering so that they can focus on their Evil Plan instead. Adagio is supposedly the most evil of the trio, but she can put on a façade of niceness if need be. She also seems to have more self-control than either of the other Sirens.
  • Peter Pan: Peter's admirers are Wendy (nice), Tinker Bell (mean), and Tiger Lily (in-between). Wendy plays surrogate mother to her love interest, the possessive Tinker Bell tries to fend off other suitors through mean behavior, while Tiger Lily simply invites him to a party and dances for him.
  • Rio 2: Among three Blu and Jewel's chicks, Bia is intelligent, book-smart, kind and polite (nice), Tiago is hyperactive, brash, playful and hot-headed (mean), and Carla is a snarky, creative music-lover (in-between).
    • Also, Roberto, Jewel's friend, is cool-headed and laid-back (nice), Jewel's father Eduardo plays as both Overprotective Dad and Drill Sergeant Nasty, stern and irritable (mean), and Aunt Mimi is the spunky one, as well as the peacemaker (in-between).
  • Sausage Party: Twink (nice), Mr. Grits (mean), Firewater (in-between)
  • Shrek:
    • The first movie has the nice and proper Princess Fiona, if a bit private and easily embarrassed; the "mean" ogre Shrek, mostly standoffish and with an uninhibited tendency to say what is in his mind; and Donkey, whose criticism comes out easily (like Shrek) but he is easily the most social of the three.
    • As Shrek 2 rolls around, Puss in Boots becomes the "In-Between" and Donkey becomes the "Nice" while Shrek retains his role as the "Mean".
  • Sleeping Beauty: Out of the Three Good Fairies, we have sweet and naive Fauna (nice), impulsive and short-tempered Merryweather (mean), and calm and wise but occasionally bossy Flora (in-between).
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Of the seven dwarfs, the three most emphasized are Dopey (nice), Grumpy (mean), and Doc (in-between). Dopey is childishly naive, Grumpy's trust is hard to gain and he has a prickly demeanor, and Doc is the self-appointed leader of the Dwarfs and a bit pompous.
  • The Sword in the Stone:
    • In the main trio, Arthur/Wart is polite and humble to a fault (nice), Archimedes is a rude and cynical Grumpy Bear (mean), and Merlin is a helpful father figure with only an occasional tendency to be cantankerous (in-between).
    • In Arthur's family, Arthur is still the nice one, Kay is just an obnoxious Big Brother Bully (mean), and Ector is bossy and strict, but cares about Arthur's well-being more than Kay (in-between).

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gina, Stevie and Jenny, The three normal kids at the reunion in the The Addams Family TV movie The Addams Family Reunion. Gina is a Shrinking Violet who gets along well with Pugsley and Wednesday. Stevie is The Bully to his cousin Gina, Wednesday, Puggsley and his own grandfather. Jenny is somewhat snotty and prefers to avoid Pugglsey and Wednesday but doesn't go out of her way to be mean to anyone the way her brother does.
  • The "Mean Bees" from An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong, Sonali (nice), Tara (mean) and Jayden (in-between).
  • The three other Beatles towards Ringo in A Hard Day's Night and Help!: George (nice), John (mean), and Paul (in-between).
  • The Bad Sleep Well: Wada (nice), Itakura (mean) and Nishi (the real Itakura, in-between)
  • The Big Lebowski: Donny is the Nice, being perpetually affable but clueless, Walter is the Mean as a paranoid wreck who's quick to threaten violence, and the Dude is In-Between, as a snarky, lazy slacker who doesn't do anything unless absolutely required, but generally decent.
  • Clue:
    • Women guests: Miss Scarlet (nice), Mrs. Peacock (mean), and Mrs. White (in-between).
    • Male guests: Mr. Green (nice), Colonel Mustard (mean), and Professor Plum (in-between).
  • Ghostbusters (1984): Ray Stanz (nice), Peter Venkman (mean), and Egon Spengler (in-between). Ray approaches his work with a childish enthusiasm, Egon is motivated by scientific curiosity, while Peter is mostly interested in gaining money and picking-up women.
  • Played with in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Blondie (nice) is an Unscrupulous Hero, Angel Eyes (mean) is pure evil, and Tuco (in-between) is an Anti-Villain, a thoroughly despicable person who is by far the most human character in the whole movie, made likable by how funny and childish he is and caught between the other two outlaws, who act like forces of nature rather than people.
  • The Hangover: Stu (nice) is the rational and thoughtful one of the group (though he does get hurt a lot). Phil (mean) is the foul-mouthed troublemaker who could care less about breaking the law. Alan (in-between) is the dim but well-meaning idiot, though does have quite a malicious streak. Sometimes, especially in later movies, Phil and Alan do switch places.
  • The main characters from Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey: Shadow is a wise and kind Cool Old Guy, Sassy is a sassy and sarcastic Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Chance is loyal and friendly if immature and paranoid.
  • The Host has the Park siblings. Gang-du is the relatively nice one; although he occasionally disrespects his father he loves his family, shows no ill will to his siblings, whom he went through hell trying to provide for as a child, and his daughter is the world to him. Nam-il is the relatively mean one; cynical, disillusioned, rude and annoyed with Gang-du all the time, though he's shown to care about his brother. Nam-joo is the in-between; she's not as nice as Gang-du but not as mean as Nam-il.
  • In Jawbreaker, Julie feels guilt/remorse over the incident involving the death of Liz Purr and leaves the clique; Courtney is the Alpha Bitch who reigns over Reagan High and manipulated an innocent girl (Fern Mayo) into taking Liz's place; and Marcie may be a hand in Courtney's doings, but she is a fairly nice person.
  • Mean Girls:
    • Out of the original Plastics, Karen is the nicest one (if only because she is too dumb to be truly malicious), Alpha Bitch Regina is the mean one, and Gretchen is in-between (fairly nice, only acting mean under the influence of Regina). When Regina leaves, Cady briefly becomes the mean one as the new Queen Bee.
    • The misfits: Cady (nice, the Naïve Newcomer who's talked into Janis' plan), Janis (mean, the embittered leader that thinks up the plan to take down Regina), and Damian (in-between, genuinely friendly though not above snarking about people).
  • Night of the Demons 2: Girl Posse members Bibi, Shirley, and Terri form this dynamic, especially in regards to their treatment of Melissa/Mouse. Bibi is friendly toward Mouse, speaking up for her, complimenting a dress she made and going back to the house to save her. Shirley is the Alpha Bitch and pulls a particularly cruel prank targeting Mouse at Hull House. Terri talks about what happened with Mouse's sister without much tact or rectitude and sometimes insults her or shows amusement when Shirley does, but seems to understand Mouse's Freak Out at going to Hull House, wasn't in on Shirley's prank (which she's clearly unsettled by), and helps comfort Mouse a little bit afterwards.
  • ‘’Raiders of the Lost Ark’’ has the three main antagonists: Belloq is Affably Evil (nice), Toht is a sadistic Torture Technician (mean), and Colonel Dietrich is simultaneously an Officer and a Gentleman and Politically Incorrect Villain who serves as the leader (in-between).
  • The Rock: Among the three primary FBI characters, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (nice, the only who believes in Capt. John Patrick Mason), FBI Director James Womack (mean, Obstructive Bureaucrat who lies and hides details from the others), FBI Special Agent Ernest Paxton (in-between, stern though still serves as a mediating figure between the other two and even goes along with Goodspeed's cover story for Mason's escape.)
  • Seraphim Falls: The three bank robbers. Cousin Bill is unaggressive and solemn when talking about the war (nice). Evan is quick to threaten Gideon, is mentioned as having shot a teller during a bank robbery and only decides not to fight Gideon out of pragmatism (mean). Virgil is cheerful when he first meets Gideon, offering him whiskey, and later refusing to shoot a man in the back, but all the same is quick to decide that a potential witness must be killed (in-between).
  • Spider-Man Trilogy: Peter (nice) is kind-hearted and does whatever it takes to save innocents from evil. Harry (mean) is quite a self-centered jerk who often dismisses his own faults and takes advantage of Peter and MJ; he even becomes a temporary villain due to a misunderstanding. MJ (in-between) is a sweet but assertive Girl Next Door.
  • Star Wars tends to have this dynamic among the core Power Trio of the films:
    • The Original Trilogy: Luke (nice) is noble and idealistic, Han (mean) is a roguish, selfish and snarky (if charming) Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and Leia (in-between) is hot-headed and bickering, but also a kind and loving person as well as a responsible rebel leader.
    • The Prequel Trilogy: Padme (nice), Anakin (mean), Obi-Wan (in-between).
    • The Sequel Trilogy: Finn (nice), Poe (mean), Rey (in-between).
  • Superbad: Evan (nice), Seth (mean), Fogell (in-between).
  • The Three Stooges: Curly (nice), Moe (mean), Larry (in-between).
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Howard (nice), Dobbs (mean) and Curtin (in-between)
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Ned Nederlander (nice, the idealistic Amigo who proposes actually becoming their onscreen personas), Lucky Day (mean, the most intelligent but also most irritable Amigo), Dusty Bottoms (in-between, not as nice as Ned and also the least intelligent Amigo).
  • Wicked Spring: Harrison is a kind-hearted man who longs to return to his fiancee and befriends the Union soldiers. Hogg is a Jerkass and Blood Knight who is even willing to threaten his comrades. After Stand keeps to himself, but considers Harrison's proposal to release their prisoners.
  • Zombieland: Columbus (nice) is a friendly guy who keeps his group together. Wichita (mean) is a distant con-artist who is rude to both Columbus and Tallahassee, though she does eventually grow out of it. Tallahassee (in-between) is a snarky Anti-Hero, but is the most Jerk with a Heart of Gold next to Witchita.
    • The main girl trio of the second film: Madison (nice) being a sweet Dumb Blonde, Wichita (mean) being as snide and nasty as usual, and Little Rock (in-between) being snide like Wichita but less nasty.

  • The Witches of Lancre from Discworld. Magrat Garlick is the sweet and naive one, albeit shy, Granny Weatherwax is the grumpy mean one, and Nanny Ogg mediates between with her friendly attitude and constantly bickers with Granny.
  • Ender's Game has the three Wiggin children: Peter (mean), Valentine (nice), Ender (in-between).
  • Harry Potter:
  • In The Princess Bride, Fezzik is a nice Gentle Giant, Vizzini is a mean Evil Genius, and Inigo is in-between as he's charming and polite but also obsessed with revenge.
  • In Wings of Fire, we have the guardians of the Dragonets Of Destiny. Webs is the kindest to the dragonets and doesn't hate Glory for being a RainWing, but he still agrees with the others to kill her. Kestrel is the cruelest out of the three, verbally and physically abusing the dragonets, even chaining them to stalagmites if they misbehaved. Dune is the dragon in the middle, not being as friendly to the dragonets as Webs but not as abusive as Kestrel, even having occasional moments of kindness.
  • The three Heffley brothers from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. All three have there jerk moments, but Greg is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, making him the nice one, while Manny borderline crosses the Moral Event Horizon at the end of Cabin Fever, making him the mean one. Rodrick is mostly a bully to Greg, but never even comes close to the Moral Event Horizon, making him the in-between one.
  • The three leads of Aesir: Cross Wars. Azrael is kind, gentle and respectful, Azazel is smug, Hot-Blooded and rude, and Uriel is somewhat arrogant, but mostly keeps to herself and doesn't indulge in taunting others outside of battle, unlike Azazel.
  • The three heroic male characters introduced so far in The Spectrum Game. Silas is the Nice one. He's kind, encouraging, and very much a Cultured Badass. Inigo is Mean, being snarky, abrasive, and acts snappily to most who try to get close to him (both figuratively and literally.). Makoto is the In Between. He's a nice enough person, and treats most people with respect, but his obsession with Revenge prevents him from being the nicest he can be.
    • The three females fit this, too. Azurine is Nice, being warm, friendly, soft-spoken and a Perpetual Smiler and Wide-Eyed Idealist. Minori is Mean, somehow being less willing to let others in than Inigo, and being even ruder in comparison. Scarlett is In Between, being as friendly as Silas, but also being The Gadfly who loves trolling people.
  • A villainous example in The Adventures of Petrushka by Margarita Fadeyeva and Anatoly Smirnov, with the three servants of Stencil. The Breath-Measurer is the Nice, as he is much less active in oppressing Stencil's subjects than his two colleagues and, unlike them, has a family that he really loves. The Word-Catcher is the Mean, delighting in every tyrannical whim of Stencil's and sadistic towards the commons. The Step-Counter is the In-Between: he is wicked enough but doesn't take bribes and isn't sadistic, and he is so stupid that, with some Insane Troll Logic, Petrushka persuades him to stop serving Stencil in all but name – without the Step-Counter even realizing it.
  • The Scott siblings in the Generation V series. Due to their mother experimenting with their upbringings, Prudence is a typical heartless bloodthirsty vampire, Chivalry is somewhat more sympathetic to humans and frequently falls in love with them, and Fortitude (raised as human as possible) is the most similar to and sympathetic to humans.
  • Warrior Cats: For the first few books of Power Of Three, the prophesied three start out this way. Hollypaw(leaf) starts out as the nice one who is the most courageous and sociable of the three ( until when she finds out Squirrelflight isn't their biological mother). Jaypaw(feather) is the mean one due to being the most rude and sarcastic out of all the them. And Lionpaw(blaze) is the in-between due to being a bit arrogant but also friendly.


  • King Lear:
    • Lear's daughters. Cordelia is the saintly, kind-hearted Nice Girl. Regan is the Blood Knight who murders and dishes out torture. Goneril is less outwardly vicious than Regan, and more of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing. It is easy to interpret Goneril as actually feeling remorse for her crimes, while Regan has no such regrets.
    • The sisters' three husbands each correspond to this as well. Cordelia's the King of France is a Nice Guy who marries Cordy even when she is disinherited. Regan's the Duke of Cornwall is a sociopath who gouges Gloucester's eyes out. Goneril's the Duke of Albany turns a blind eye to any suffering for the first half of the play, before finally pulling a Heel–Face Turn.
  • In Spooksville: Of the main three, Adam is the nice (being a kind, friendly, and idealistic) Sally is the mean (being rather sarcastic and cynical, but still ultimately a brave and good-hearted girl, and Watch is the In-between (He's not quite as nice as or heroic as Adam but still a decent kid in general.)

    Video Games 
  • In Ace Attorney:
    • The childhood friend trio of Phoenix Wright, Miles Edgeworth, and Larry Butz. Larry is the nice being the most excitable and hotheaded of the trio and is always willing to help out (mainly to girls). Edgeworth is the mean being a Perpetual Frowner who isn't afraid to say what is on his mind about others. And Phoenix is the in-between being a fairly Nice Guy always willing to help out his clients to make sure they're found innocent, but is a major First-Person Smartass due to being the series' biggest punching bag.
    • Interesting case in Apollo Justice where there is three people (at the time) working at the Wright Talent Agency. In this case, Apollo, Phoenix, and Trucy. Trucy is the nice being the most upbeat of the group who works hard to keep company going. Phoenix is now the mean as losing his badge for many years caused him to become very cynical and his former First-Person Smartass is now in the open (especially toward Apollo). And Apollo himself takes over the in-between much like with Phoenix: overall nice who is always willing to help out his clients but is actually a bigger Butt-Monkey than Phoenix ever was leaving him in a constant state of annoyance toward others.
  • In BlazBlue the three main characters, Noel, Ragna. and Jin fit this. Noel is a kind girl, while Ragna is a bit hard around the edges, and Jin is basically the walking definition of a Jerkass.
  • In Banjo-Kazooie (more specially Tooie), the main playable trio of Banjo, Kazooie, and Mumbo Jumbo. Banjo is the lovable, kindhearted, and cowardly bear who would rather talk things out than fight. Kazooie is a very snarky, wise-cracking, and aggressive bird whose taunting always get the duo into trouble against bigger foes (and is generally disliked by everyone who isn't Banjo). And Mumbo is the perfect middle-man who is eager to help defeat Gruntilda but isn't above making jokes toward others when he feels like it.
  • In Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling, Team Snakemouth, the main character trio, consists of Kabbu, Vi, and Leif. Kabbu is Nice; an Ideal Hero who is kind, noble, selfless, and chivalrous, willing to help just for the sake of it. Vi is Mean; greedy, snarky, hot-tempered and rebellious bee who's mostly Only in It for the Money and always demands a reward for every deed (though she does have a Hidden Heart of Gold). Leif is In-Between; stoic, rational and collected, yet not above being brutally honest, insensitive to others' feelings, and occasionally agreeing with Vi's greedy or mean-spirited tactics.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Chihiro Fujisaki, Mondo Owada, and Kiyotaka Ishimaru from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Chihiro is a Shrinking Violet who can't even kill a mosquito, and feels guilty for voting Leon Kuwata guilty, believing it to be equal to killing him directly. Mondo is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold whose Establishing Character Moment is punching the protagonist so hard he knocks him out and sends him flying. Taka is a Badass Pacifist who would be a subversion as he is also a Nice Guy until he Took a Level in Jerkass as a result of becoming his split personality Kiyondo Ishida.
      • There's also Makoto Naegi, Byakuya Togami and Kyoko Kirigiri, the three main "point getters" (i.e. the most proactive in the class trials), and the three most prominently featured survivors. Makoto is a Nice Guy who cares deeply for others and even feels compassion for the murderers. Byakuya is an Insufferable Genius who cares little for others, and while he does become a bit nicer over the course of the game, he's still fairly abrasive. Kyoko has a Sugar-and-Ice Personality, and while she often seems distant and even cold, she also has a caring side that shines through from time to time.
    • In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the three main characters Hajime Hinata, Nagito Komaeda, and Chiaki Nanami fit this trope really well.
      • Chiaki is the Nice being the most helpful person to Hajime and the entire group in general despite her quietness. She is often the voice of reason getting others to clam down whenever a situation arises (such as preventing a hunger-crazed Hajime from entering the Final Dead Room and slapping Akane before she choked out Nagito). She also made it her mission to prevent any one of her friends from dying/killing each other and it helps that she is the Token Good Teammate of the entire group being the only one of them that isn't part of the Remnants of Despair.
      • Nagito is the Mean being an Ax-Crazy nihilist who is obsessed with hope and fighting despair. He is also a major Wild Card who often states that he will side with whoever has the most hope (even if that means siding with the killer) and even attempted to be the first killer of the game. After learning that everyone including himself are a Remnant of Despair, he Took a Level in Jerkass and started to belittle everyone especially his Morality Pet Hajime. He even tried to kill off the remaining group with his own elaborate murder except for the traitor (who was Chiaki as Nagito knew she was the only one who wasn't a Remnant of Despair.
      • Hajime himself is the In-Between. Like with Chiaki, he is eager to help out his friends and tries his best to prevent any more killings. However, he is a bit more cynical than Makoto from the first game and is prone to making snarky comments toward his friends (most of the time to himself). His true idenity as Izuru Kamukura is most likely the cause for this.
  • The main three characters you control in Deltarune. Ralsei is the most gentle, affectionate, patient and pacifistic out of them, while Susie is a violent, aggressive and rude Barbaric Bully and Kris is a stoic, voiceless kid whose actions during the game are controlled by the player.
  • Detroit: Become Human has Connor as the Nice Guy android, Gavin as the Jerkass cop, and Hank as the Jerk with a Heart of Gold cop.
    • The main characters themselves fit the description. Kara is a housemaid android providing what's best for Alice, Connor is an advanced prototype android hunting down his own kind for becoming deviants (even if it's for the right reasons), and Markus is a former caretaker android who leads a rebellion for the freedom of androids either through pacifist or violent methods.
    • There's also Josh as the android pushing for pacifist options, North as the android pushing for violent options, and Simon following either of the two depending on what will Markus decide.
  • Dragon Age has some of this in each game.
    • Dragon Age: Origins: After Ostagar falls, the Player Character is joined by Alistair and Morrigan to stop the Blight. Alistair is Nice since he's something of a naive, idealistic, kindhearted simpleton who believes in doing what's right and helping people. Morrigan is Mean since she's very abrasive, sharp-tongued, believes in taking the ruthless path every time, and often antagonizes Alistair for being too much of a bleeding heart. Just short of acting like a blood-thirsty psychopath who revels in being pointlessly cruel and killing everything in sight, the Warden is In-Between, since being the leader forces them to act sensible and make the tough decisions that Alistair won't make (no matter how nice you are), but they obviously aren't as abrasive or ruthless as Morrigan.
    • Dragon Age II: A rather interesting case with the three Hawke siblings. Depending on the player's chosen personality, each sibling fits a different spot. If the player tends to choose the "Good" dialogue options, then Hawke is Nice, Carver is Mean, and Bethany is In-Between, since she's not as saintly as her eldest sibling, but also not as abrasive as her Jerkass twin brother. If the player chooses the "Funny" remarks, then Bethany is Nice, Carver is still Mean, and Hawke is In-Between, since they're friendlier than Carver but their humor gives them more of an edge than Nice Girl Bethany. If the player chooses the "Aggressive" dialogue options, then Bethany is still Nice, Hawke is now Mean, and it's actually Carver who is In-Between since he's not as nice as Bethany but not as perpetually angry or ruthless as Hawke. (One of the twins always dies during the prologue, though, so this dynamic is never made especially clear while playing the game.)
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
      • The first three companions you get for the first chunk of the game seem to embody this trope. Varric is Nice, since he's a wise-cracking and easy-going dwarf who gets along with everyone. Cassandra seems Mean, since she's very harsh, abrasive, and starts off being rather hostile to you since she believes you're the one who caused the explosion that killed thousands of people. (Subverted after the prologue, where she admits she was wrong about you, and later apologizes for accusing you so unjustly.) Solas is In-Between, since he is very polite and agreeable, but also very pragmatic and tends to brush off sentimentality in favor of obtaining one's goal as efficiently as possible.
      • The three advisors could be seen as falling into this as well. Josephine is Nice; she's the ambassador and resident Nice Girl of the entire organization, favoring diplomatic approaches at all times. Leliana is Mean, in the sense that many of her approaches to war table operations involve silencing people through threats, bribes, or occasionally, outright murder. Cullen is In-Between, as he's generally a pretty sweet guy but also extremely pragmatic, neither as ruthless as Leliana nor as fond of negotiation as Josephine.
      • At the end of the game, the Inquisitor helps select the new Divine (Fantasy Pope) to restore the Chantry after the Mage/Templar War, whose politics represent this trope. Leliana is Nice since she's the most humanitarian and charity-driven, and focuses on making dramatic reforms to abolish Fantastic Racism against elves, mages, and men in the Chantry. Vivienne is Mean, since she is the most traditionalist and ruthless, and almost fully restores the controversial Circle and Templar practices that caused the civil war in the first place. (However, her reception from muggles is equally hostile since she herself is a mage.) Cassandra is In-Between, since unlike Leliana she restores the Circle and Templar Order, but unlike Vivienne she enacts serious reforms to both.
      • While not describing the characters per se, this trope also applies in the companions' different stances on the Grey Wardens and on what the Inquisitor should do with them.
      • Nice: Blackwall, Dorian, and the Iron Bull advocate for recruiting them. Blackwall is the most sympathetic of the Wardens' intentions and actions, whereas Dorian and the Iron Bull acknowledge that the Wardens were completely in the wrong for what they did but they are still needed to defend the world from future Blights.
      • In-Between: Varric, Sera, and Vivienne stand in the middle. Varric outright states that he's not sure of his verdict on them; Sera both fears and respects the Wardens and believes that have committed a lot of mistakes, but they're still needed and their mistakes are why they should learn to do better. While Vivienne's opinion that the Grey Wardens have overstayed their welcome could count as mean, she doesn't necessarily dislike the Wardens like the last three do.
      • Mean: Cassandra, Solas, and Cole outright call for the Inquisitor to banish them. They believe overall that the Wardens were not the order they once were, as they have committed too many atrocities that they find hardly justifiable, and also see them as too dangerous to be given a second chance.
  • Final Fantasy VII's initial trio of fighters: Tifa is the sweet, compassionate one, Barret while devoted to the cause, is the loud, aggressive one, who has to be frequently restrained to punch people who just stand in his way, and Cloud, while aloof and cynical, is far less confrontational and seems to have a sort of a "live and let live" mindset. Even their respective weapons appear to translate it: Tifa fights with her fists, Barret with a Gatling machine gun and Cloud with a sword.
    • Final Fantasy VII Remake alters this so that Cloud is now the mean one, continually getting into pointless arguments with people, pushing people away for trying to help him, having to be restrained from killing unnecessarily and being flat out told by Tifa that he's scaring her, while Barret is still loud and confrontational but in a much friendlier, more community-spirited way. The thread about him punching his men is dropped in favour of him being A Father to His Men, and his initial conflict with Cloud is played more like he's trying to make friends with Cloud but keeps rebounding off Cloud's awful personality. Notably, Tifa, in the original, takes Cloud's side and defends him in front of Barret, but in Remake she's most likely to take Barret's side and appeal to Cloud's better nature to control him.
  • From Fire Emblem Fates, the ninja trio of Kaze, Saizo, and Kagero form one of these trios. The three can all support with each other, and Kaze is the nice character, Saizo is the mean character, and Kagero is the in-between character. Though it's downplayed somewhat in that Saizo is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold than an outright Jerkass.
  • From Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the childhood friend trio of Ingrid, Felix, and Sylvain form this. Ingrid is Nice, Felix is Mean, and Sylvain is In-Between. It's Played With a bit, however, as Ingrid is also a critical Control Freak and Felix is merely a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Grand Theft Auto V has Michael, Trevor, and Franklin fulfilling these roles respectively. Michael is a Noble Demon who prefers to let people go if he can. Trevor is the most violent and aggressive of the three and is likely to kill either out of blind rage or just for kicks. And Franklin is the in-between due to being the most pragmatic of three; while not as merciful or gentlemanly as Michael is, he's also far less temperamental than Trevor.
  • Heavy Rain has Ethan as the pleasant family man, Blake as the Jerkass Rabid Cop, and Jayden as the By-the-Book FBI Agent with a temper.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia has Neptune who's for the most part kind and energetic being the nice one, Noire who's proud and conceited as the mean one, and Blanc who's normally calm, but becomes violent in her CPU form mediates between the two.
    • The supporting characters fall into this as well. Peashy's very outgoing and cheerful, Plutia's normally calm but becomes merciless and cruel in her goddess form, and Uzume's fiercly protective over her friends but has an obsession with keeping cool. That being said, there are occasions where Peashy and Uzume switch places due to Peashy's tendency to play rough and accidentally break things or hurt people.
  • Kirby Star Allies: The second wave of Dream Friends are Adeleine & Ribbon, Dark Meta Knight, and Daroach. Both Adeleine and Ribbon are helpful, cheerful and friendly allies of Kirby, Dark Meta Knight is a cold, ruthless antagonist and the Token Evil Teammate of the three Dream Friends, and Daroach is a thieving-but- polite antagonist-turned-ally.
  • In Mega Man (Classic), Rock/Mega Man is the nice one, rivaled by Forte/Bass, the mean one who fights usually just for his own sake, while Blues/Proto Man, though excessively independent, strives to live by the idealism and optimism of his younger "brother" robot.
    • In the X series, X is the nice one who is pacifistic and somewhat gullible, if a bit easily guilt-ridden and no ball of sunshine. Even so, Zero is the mean one who is cold, snarky and cynical and calls out X for his idealism. Axl mediates between them, being neither as gullible nor as pacifistic as X, but also not having the same extent of a shoot-first-questions-later mentality like Zero.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, we have the Shadow Sirens; Beldam, Vivian and Marilyn. Beldam, the leader, treats the other two members horribly, verbally berating them and punishing them for the slightest transgressions. Vivian is kind and non-confrontational, and she pulls a Heel–Face Turn mid-game due to her treatment at the hands of Beldam. Then we have Marilyn, whose personality is sort of an enigma due to her tendency to speak in grunts and moans, rather than actual words.
  • The three main characters of Pikmin 3. Alph is the naive and kind one in the group, and is often mocked by the more brusque and mordant Brittany. Charlie, the leader, stands as a mediator between the two (but that doesn't keep him from being mocked by Brittany as much as Alph is being).
  • Ratchet & Clank: Whenever paired up, Clank is the nice robot always willing to help, Captain Qwark is the mean, narcissitic Hero with an F in Good and Ratchet is the in-between hero with some snarky moments.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • We have the trio of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles. Tails is the mild-mannered best friend of Sonic, Knuckles is the tough, hot-headed friendly rival, and Sonic mediates the two, combining the kindhearted attitude with his cocky and snarky attitude (although it's mostly geared towards his foes).
    • Team Dark consisting of Shadow, Rouge, and Omega is a downplayed example. Rouge is the closest to nice in the group and by far the most social, Shadow is in-between in that he appears to be very cynical, egotistical, and moody, but is caring to others even if he doesn't show it, and Omega is the mean one due to being a Killer Robot who's on the team for the sake of destroying things and considers just about anyone who's not Shadow or Rouge to be expendable.
    • The Babylon Rogues follow this trope too. Storm defaults to being the nice in the trio due to him being the most sympathetic in the group, Wave is in-between in that she appears to be very snobbish, but is the sanest of the group and Jet is the mean one to due to him being a trademark immature Jerkass for the sake of being short-tempered.
  • The three gods of the Zee in Sunless Sea: Stone is Nice (praying to Stone if you're in trouble will give you succor one way or the other, and her curse does essentially nothing); Storm is Mean (praying to Storm involves Human Sacrifice and is likely to kill you because invoking him angers him, and his curse involves being plagued with bad weather); and Salt is In-Between (Salt is... mysterious. Praying to him if you're in trouble usually means being teleported to either Irem or Kingeater Castle, and getting his attention means crew can disappear. As for his Curse, well, the less said about it the better, but he knows that the worst thing one can do to a traveler like you is take away all they could return to).
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: When Eskel, Lambert, and Geralt interact, they drift into this dynamic. Unflappable, amiable and courteous Eskel is Nice. Bitter, cynical and volatile Lambert is Mean. Deadpan Snarker Jerk with a Heart of Gold Geralt is In Between.
  • The World Ends with You has Neku's three partners, Shiki, Joshua and Beat. Shiki is a Nice Girl who's friendly, compassionate, and surprisingly patient with Neku's initially abrasive and anti-social behavior, even though she doesn't hesitate to call him out when he goes too far. Joshua is an obnoxious Jerkass of an Insufferable Genius, who enjoys casually belittling Neku and turns out to have killed him in order to enter him into the Reaper's Game and use him as a pawn in a plan to destroy Shibuya. Beat is a hot-tempered Jerk with a Heart of Gold who cares for his sister, which leads him to join the Reapers and fight Neku a few times, but he ultimately saves Neku from an otherwise hopeless situation and helps Neku prevail in the final week.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, the initial three members of the group fill this trope. Compassionate and self-sacrificing All-Loving Hero Colette is the Nice, Bratty Half-Pint Genis is the Mean, and Lloyd, who can be a bit hotheaded but is nevertheless truly heroic, is the In-Between.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, there's the three guys. Taiko is the nice, being a Nice Guy with a strong sense of justice. Hiro is the Mean, being an arrogant Jerkass who thinks nothing of cheating on his girlfriend. Kotoba is the In-Between, since while he's a notorious pervert and a stalker, he does have a few redeeming characteristics, unlike Hiro.

    Web Animation 
  • Freeze Flame: The Larry, Wendy, and Ludwig trio from Bowser's Koopalings follow this trope. Larry is the nice one, as he's shown to be the nicest Koopaling, doesn't tend to make fun of people (except call them a "jerkhole" when they treat him like shit), and loves to have fun, Ludwig is the mean one, as he's shown to be selfish, often looks down upon his siblings and likes to think he's better than all of them, and even makes fun of them at times (mostly towards Larry), and Wendy is in-between as she sometimes tends to mock others and call people names at times, but still has a good heart and she's also the more sane Koopaling.
  • Starter Squad has Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur: Charmander is Mean, being a Combat Pragmatist who often acts like a Jerkass to both Squirtle and Bulbasaur, Bulbasaur is Nice aside from the occasional psychotic moment, and Squirtle is In-Between, being nicer than Charmander but much more willing to challenge Charmander's authority than Bulbasaur.
  • RWBY: Ruby's a bubbly and positive Plucky Girl, Weiss is an Academic Alpha Bitch with a tendency to think highly of herself, and Blake is more coolheaded than Weiss but more aloof than Ruby.
  • Eddsworld: Edd is a down-to-earth Nice Guy, Tom is a cynical grouch and Matt is a narcissistic ditz. During his time on the show, trigger happy Token Evil Teammate Tord was also in the "Mean" category.

  • In Megan Kearney's Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and her two sisters superficially comform to this trope. Virtue is sweet, domestic and motherly, Temperance is a prickly, sharp-tongued intellectual who was a Big Sister Bully to Beauty when they were little, and Beauty, whose temperament lies in-between the two, often feels inferior because she's neither as sweet as Virtue nor as clever as Temperance. All three sisters are more complex than they seem at first glance, though. Virtue's "niceness" can be unintentionally harmful, as she avoids dealing with problems and negative emotions, and encourages her younger sisters to do the same. Temperance truly loves Beauty and is ultimately the one who persuades the family to let Beauty follow her heart when she confesses her love for the Beast to them. And Beauty's balance between sweetness and pragmatism makes her, in their father's words, "the very heart of the family."

    Web Original 
  • In Noob, the main guild has its male membership consist of Sparadrap, poster boy for Kindhearted Simpleton, Omega Zell who's both a jerk and a bigot and Arthéon, the guild's leader and Only Sane Man.
  • SuperMarioLogan:
    • Cody is the nice one for being smart, sane and calm, the mean one is downplayed with Bowser Junior since he can sometimes throw a fit when he plays with Joseph and Cody along with being cruel to Cody at times, and Joseph is in-between due to sometimes being the sanest at times and being rude to Cody by calling him weird and making fun of him with Junior.
    • The Bowser Junior, Bowser and Chef Pee Pee trio follow this trope too, but this time, Junior's role is different; Junior is the nice one who likes to play with toys and annoys Bowser and Chef Pee Pee, where it's Bowser who's the mean one for yelling at Chef Pee Pee nonstop and causing additional chores for him, beating Junior up and being a trademark Jerkass, while Chef Pee Pee mediates in-between where he's smarter than Bowser and Junior and being much saner than them, but can sometimes act grumpy towards them when they annoy him, even though Bowser and Junior both start it.
    • The Rosalina, Jeffy, and Mario trio follow this trope as well. Rosalina is the nice one for treating Jeffy with respect and sticking up for him if Mario abuses him in any way, Jeffy is the mean one for throwing temper tantrums and generally annoying Mario, and Mario is the in-between one for being the Straight Man who disciplines Jeffy when he misbehaves.
  • Channel Awesome: After the "Not So Awesome" controversy, this is how the staff is generally viewed: Doug Walker (nice), the naïve manchild with terrible communications problems who was ultimately the only one perfectly willing to apologize for the whole mess, Mike Michaud (mean), the insufferable, immature jerkass responsible for many of the site's problems, and Rob Walker (in-between), who may not be quite as nice as his brother, but is certainly nowhere near as terrible as Mike.

Alternative Title(s): Nice And Mean And In Between


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: