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Opposites Attract

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Old and rusty meets new and shiny.

"Strange extremes meet in love's pathway."

Strong relationships, in both TV and real life, thrive on how each member compensates for the other's weaknesses with their own strengths, and vice versa.

A Motor Mouth just isn't as funny if he doesn't have the Straight Man to torment. Similarly, only when a sweet, shy person is paired up with an equally jerkish one is their kindness and shyness made all the more noticeable.

It is all but guaranteed that the characters' differences will cause more friction than harmony between them. That's what gives the Odd Couple its fuel for Slap-Slap-Kiss, Will They or Won't They?, and Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other situations. Bickering and mushiness in one package. What's not to like?

The Odd Friendship also has elements of this, but tends to focus on how the differences make them see each other, and maybe the world, through new eyes. Perhaps the serious one is Not So Above It All, or the Shrinking Violet has an inner strength they never knew they had. A Moe Couplet also does something similar to this, focusing on how each half of the couplet brings out the other's endearing or nurturing traits.


Opposites attract has become so widespread in buddy cop shows, in the form of Serious White Guy meets Loud Black Guy, that it branched off into its own subtrope.

About the biggest challenge in creating a day-and-night dynamic is to keep the attract and repel cases relatively balanced. When the pendulum swings too far toward the repel side and the characters seem more interested in torturing each other than helping out, it's no longer cute to watch; it's just masochistic. The key (both in fiction and in Real Life) is to watch the pair's goals. If they want the same thing but use completely different methods to achieve it, it's this trope. If they want different things entirely, it's a divorce waiting to happen.

If you add a third-party mediator for balance, you get a Power Trio.

Contrast Birds of a Feather. Compare Too Much Alike.


Popular Opposites Attract dynamic tropes


IMPORTANT: Please, no ships, just Canon portrayal of attraction. If you see an example that hasn't been portrayed in canon as this type of attraction (or hasn't been portrayed in canon at all), please delete it. This also means examples will tend to be spoilery, so read on at your own risk.

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority has gruff, brooding, cynical Midnighter Happily Married to kind, cheerful, optimistic Apollo. Even their costumes emphasize this trope: Apollo's is white with a gold sun emblem, while Midnighter's is black with a silver crescent moon.
  • Batman and Catwoman: One is a stolid, no-nonsense upholder of the law, the other is a mischievous (but never malicious) lawbreaker. They Fight Crime! (sometimes, when she's not causing it herself).
  • Peanuts features Peppermint Patty and Marcy. Peppermint Patty is extroverted and athletic but Book Dumb. Marcie is introverted and intellectual and not at all into sports. They develop a symbiotic relationship, with Peppermint Patty protecting Marcie from bullies and Marcie helping Peppermint Patty with her studies.
  • Persepolis: Subverted. When Marjane returns to Iran in her late teens, she starts a relationship with Reza, who's her polar opposite in terms of personality, Marjane being outspoken and extroverted and Reza collected and introverted. Marjane initially thinks that this is why they complement each other so well, but after they get married their personalities increasingly clash until they decide to avoid each other.
  • Would you ever believe the shy nerdy wallflower Peter Parker to end married to the out going party girl Mary Jane Watson? Well it happened.
  • Runaways paired quirky nerd Gert with dumb jock Chase, All-Loving Hero Karolina with Blood Knight Xavin, and fearless Molly with shy Klara.
    • In the reboot, troublemaker Jubilee grudgingly admits that she's attracted to rule-abiding Sanna. It later turns out that the attraction is mutual, and they end up as a couple.
  • Superman has Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter and Lois Lane, determined and outgoing reporter.
  • Two members of the Legion of Super-Heroes: Supergirl and Brainiac-5. She's a warm, nice and friendly Flying Brick. He's a super-intelligent, rude jerkass with non-existent social skills. Plus she's a believer and he's an atheist.
  • Teen Titans:
    • When their relationship began, Starfire and Robin (later Nightwing) were this: Robin was reserved and methodical to Starfire's passionate impulsiveness. As the trope often works in real life, they began to influence each other so that each acquired a level of the other's personality, to the point that their breakup ultimately had Nightwing making an impassioned plea for Starfire to stay and Starfire making the reasoned, logical choice to leave.
    • Raven and Beast Boy. One is an emotionally-schizo daughter of a demon who has a tendency to sometimes turn evil and attack her friends quite frequently, one is a fun-loving, optimistic Manchild who can turn into just about any animal on the planet. Due to Raven's emotional issues and her desire not to harm people she cares about, the two are frequently on/off but always come back to one another due to Beast Boy refusing to take a hint. Prior to the New 52 reboot, Raven had recently made the decision not to ignore or suppress her feelings any longer and to embrace the future with Beast Boy. How they fared may never be known...
  • Cyclops and Phoenix of the X-Men. He's an emotionally withdrawn introvert control freak and she's fire and life incarnate an outgoing redhead who reads minds. He draws the attentions of at least two other hot and extrovert telepaths, which suggests there's something interesting going on behind that facade...
    • Cyclops' second major love interest, Emma Frost, also qualifies. One's a stoic born leader who grew up in an orphanage, the other's a wealthy, snarky seductress trying to atone for her past villainous deeds.
  • Gambit and Rogue: he's a dashing kinda powerful ex-theif who blows things up by touching them, she's an introvert extremely powerful ex-villain who absorbs people's powers by touching them. They're currently the only X-Men to be Happily Married.
    • Though when you think about it, Rogue and Gambit are kinda similar. Both have brown hair, both worked for Super Villains (Mystique and Mr Sinister respectively) before defecting to the X-Men and both their powers relate to touching things. Their personalities are distinct enough for this trope to work, but the couple are more alike than they know.
  • Morbius and his fiancée Martine are this, both in appearance and personality. Morbius himself even wonders out loud how "an out and about society girl" could fall in love with "a morose scientist who can't stand the sun", saying even he doesn't have a hypothesis for that one.
  • ElfQuest: Discussed by Tyldak and Kahvi in regards to her past relationship with Rayek. He thinks their differences in background (she's "ice", he's "fire") were the problem. Kahvi disagrees though, saying that differences make good sparks. It was his arrogance which she hated.

    Fan Works 
  • Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Like in canon, Italy is the opposite of Japan. However, despite their opposite personalities, they have a lot in common too.
    "You're so kind and warm inside that cold and calculating exterior of yours. Although it may not seem like it, we have quite a bit in common. It's nice how we can bond over literature, anime, manga, fencing, food, cats, art...and so much more. Despite not seeming like it, my heart beats fast around you." He gave a fond smile. "I can't help but love that about you Kiku."
  • Guardian portrays Lulu's romance with Posthumous Character Chappu as this—while she is a serious and somewhat cynical teen, he's fun and goofy and acts more his age.
  • All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird has Mahanon and Cassandra, who are arguably as different as they could be. He's an elf hunter who grew up in the woods, reveres the Dalish pantheon, and usually has a snarky comeback. She's a human noblewoman who devotedly serves the Maker and is often extremely serious. They are nevertheless very well suited for each other.
  • Near the end of How I Learned to Love the Wild Horse, Tomboy Biker Babe Donna hooks up with Adorkable nerd Arnold after the two bond over a love of anime.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Yang and Izuku are opposites in almost every way imaginable. Izuku is shy and lacking in confidence due to his Broken background, growing up an only child with only his ordinary mother for company because he father is always working overseas. He's extremely driven to achieve his goal of becoming an amazing Huntsman who saves others, but is inexperienced and lagging behind his peers when he comes into Beacon. Yang is proud of both her abilities and her appearance, growing up with her father, a prestigious Huntsman, and her half-sister Ruby because Raven Branwen and Summer Rose both mysteriously vanished when they were young. Yang is much more relaxed and happy to party but lacks a driving goal or dream in her life, being content to simply help her loved ones achieves theirs. They end up becoming close friends and later start dating.
  • Rainbow Brite and the War of Darkness: Lord Dark (better known as the King of Shadows) and Lady Brite are mates despite being polar opposites. One is the embodiment of darkness and the other is the embodiment of light, yet they explicitly can't exist without one another.
  • Son of the Sannin has, aside from the canon Naruto couples above, Fu the Nanabi jinchuriki and Shino Aburame. The former is an excitable Genki Girl with a penchant for playing dumb to get a kick out of people, while the latter is The Stoic and has a rational and analytical mind.

    Films — Animation 
  • Milo Thatch and Princess Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. She's a Tomboy Princess, he's an Adorkable nerd.
  • La Muerte and Xibalba from The Book of Life. She's a kind, loving Goddess made of sweet candy and he's a cheating, gambling God who's made out of everything icky.
  • Brave: King Fergus and Queen Elinor. Fergus is your typical boisterous Fiery Redhead while Elinor is the graceful, proper queen. Their dynamic is one reason why the kingdom stays together: he's the man-of-action and natural leader in wartime, she's the natural diplomat who can calm feuding factions in peacetime.
  • How to Train Your Dragon plays with this with Hiccup and Astrid. Astrid is The Ace who takes her job very seriously, while Hiccup's skill and physique borders on a physical disability (and he eventually gets an actual one, as well) and he constantly shirks his duties to fellow Deadpan Snarker Gobber. However it becomes clear that they are both passionate, driven individuals who desperately want to groom themselves to fulfill a greater purpose and help people.
  • Mulan and Shang in Mulan II. She's a rebellious, free-spirited warrior and he's a stern, no-nonsense captian. Throughout the sequel, their differences (coupled with Mushu trying to break them up) nearly ruin their engagement, but they manage to find the balance necessary to make it work.
  • The Princess and the Frog has Tiana and Naveen. She's a Workaholic, no-nonsense waitress and he's a fun-loving, lazy prince.
  • Tangled gives us the jaded, worldly-wise thief Flynn Rider and the spirited, innocent princess Rapunzel.
  • Treasure Planet has Captain Amelia and Dr. Doppler. She's a tough-as-nails Action Girl, he's a bookish scientist, not to mention they're basically an anthropomorphic cat and dog, respectively. The two grow closer throughout the movie, and by the end they even have several kids.
  • WALL•E has The Woobie WALL•E and Action Girl EVE. They provide the page image.
  • Frozen has the laidback and introverted Kristoff with the energetic and sociable Anna.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Woman of the Year (1942) is about the marriage between brainy, patrician political analyst Tess and salt-of-the-earth sportswriter Sam. The trope is deconstructed by showing the realistic challenges of a marriage between two people with such great differences.
  • Odd Couple Steed and Mrs. Peel in The Avengers (1998): he follows the rules, she doesn't. He admits that she's "just my type".
  • Rough and tough, working-class, Mike Hagen, and high-society, prim, Mirella Brown in the film, Designing Woman.
  • No-nonsense Captain von Trapp and cheerful Maria in The Sound of Music.
  • The Great Race. The Great Leslie - charming male chauvinist. Maggie DuBois - militant women's libber. How can they not fall in love?
  • Enchanted: Giselle the cheery optimist, and Robert the sarcastic pessimist.
  • Claire and Owen in Jurassic World. Before the events of the film, they didn't go on a second date because they were too different (he showed up in board shorts, she showed up with an itinerary).
  • Performance Anxiety: Peter - the neat freak accountant - and his boyfriend, Jeff, who is a messy, hippy musician.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Roger and Jessica Rabbit. He's an energetic and goofy rabbit, she's a sexy and glamorous woman. They are married and couldn't be happier. Why?
    Jessica Rabbit: He makes me laugh.
  • Deadpool 2 reveals that Negasonic Teenage Warhead, an Emo Teen with a boyish buzz cut, is dating Yukio, who is so cute it practically hurts.
  • The Sun Is Also A Star: Daniel and Natasha have this in many ways. He is more likely to go with his feelings, and also believes in things like fate. She is more intellectual, disbelieving in that because there isn't scientific evidence of it. Even so, she's charmed by him and his bet that he can make her fall for him within an hour actually works.

    Light Novels 
  • Haiyore! Nyarko-san has the introverted, somewhat cynical Mahiro and the bubbly, energetic, outgoing Nyarko, fitting just about perfectly with the standard Manic Pixie Dream Girl and/or Uptight Loves Wild plots.
  • The main couples of Minoru Kawakami's light novels are usually like this, due to Author Appeal:
    • Mikoto Sayama and Sadagiri Shinjou from The Ending Chronicle. He's an arrogant, eccentric self-proclaimed villain who thinks he's the center of the universe and she's a sensitive, insecure and modest Nice Girl. It gets lampshaded constantly with both outright calling themselves opposites and loving each other for it.
    • Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere has the overly energetic and carefree Tori and the emotionless and analytical Robot Girl Horizon Ariadust.
  • Reaper has a rather extreme example: Life and Death are a married couple despite being as opposite as anyone could be. They do have some disagreements but are loving and caring couple who truly care about one another.
  • Ship Tease aside, it may as well be Zelgadis the cynical, weary, brooding chimera paired with Amelia the optimistic, innocent, and plucky princess from Slayers, with hints of Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl peppered in there. In the novels, there is also the hot-headed, driven Luke with the snarky, calm Millina (in this case, this is All Love Is Unrequited).

  • One of the major themes of The Accidental Tourist, and the trope is invoked In-Universe by Sarah in the book, who says that Macon and Muriel will be one of those couples at a party whom no one can figure out why they're together. Macon is briefly distracted by this thought, having had those thoughts about others and now was a living example.
  • Percy and Annabeth in Percy Jackson and The Olympians. While Percy isn't dumb, his academic success isn't all that great. Annabeth is a child of Athena, and very intelligent. Percy is a powerhouse in battle, while Annabeth uses her intellect and magical relics. And while Percy is quite sassy, most of it is in the narration. Annabeth has no such reservations.
  • Nico di Angelo and Will Solace. Death and healing, dark and light, introvert and extrovert.
  • The 39 Clues. Ian is a mega-rich, an Evil Brit, and a Momma's Boy. Amy is a Shrinking Violet, pretty smart, poor, and an orphan. She apparently always found him attractive, but when he actually started flirting with her, it was, of course, a trick. And then came a whole new set of complications.
  • Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series has Matt Cruse, poor cabin boy, and Kate de Vries, rich wanna-be scientist... cue angsting about how they can never be together...
  • The Baby-Sitters Club:
    • Mary Anne's father and Dawn's mother are a textbook example.
    • Shy and quiet Mary Anne paired with jockish and outgoing Logan.
  • Alan E. Nourse's The Compleat Consummators took this to a horrifying conclusion with a couple whose differing interests and personalities meshed so well that they ended up as a sort of composite creature:
    "After It had jelled for awhile, It got up from the sofa and went into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee."
  • Ignatius J. Reilly and Myrna Minkoff of A Confederacy of Dunces. Him: fat, stentorian (if hypocritical) in his morality, obsessed with chastity, an archconservative—nay, reactionary!—who believes Western civilization took a wrong turn at the Renaissance and longs for an authoritarian king and authoritarian Catholic Church. Her: thin, stentorian in her love of sex, believing that the world in general and Ignatius in particular is perfectible through sex, an archliberal—nay, radical!—who believes in revolutionary socialism and racial (and gender) equality, and who long ago abandoned her ancestral Judaism for—something. It isn't clear what (other than sex). They engage in a fevered exchange of letters that has all readers firmly convinced that they are in fact almost exactly the same despite appearances and perfect for each other. By the end of the novel, Ignatius has agreed to go to New York with Myrna.
  • Discworld:
    • Captains Carrot Ironfounderson and Angua von Uberwald are on opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism. He inspires her to fight injustice, she reminds him not to set his expectations too high.
    • Similarly, in Interesting Times, it's strongly suggested that Wide-Eyed Idealist Twoflower's daughter Pretty Butterfly inherited her Rincewindian view of the world from her late mother.
    • Parodied with Nobby (grotesque and cynical petty thief watchman) and Tawnee (stunningly beautiful and jawdroppingly naive exotic dancer) in Thud!. When Nobby says Tawnee thinks they're "two halves of the same soul", Sergeant Colon thinks about this for a moment and concludes "Yeah. Not the same stuff in each half, obviously. Sort of... sieved." They split up when Tawnee realises she has options and Nobby realises she can't cook.
  • Razz and Sally in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. They do have some common interests (for example football), but she is down-to-earth, very studious, intelligent and calm. Razz... is not.
  • Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby. He Will Not Tell a Lie; she's a Consummate Liar.
  • Ron and Hermione of Harry Potter's Power Trio: She's uptight, smart, logical and Crazy-Prepared, while he's more laid back, driven by emotion and acts on instinct. This one is particularly notorious for the fierce Ship-to-Ship Combat that surrounded it, and for the author's somber look back on it years after the fact.
    Rowling: "I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That's how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron. [..] I know, I'm sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I'm absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people's hearts by saying this? I hope not. [..] It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it… I'm not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can't believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy! [..] Oh, maybe she and Ron will be all right with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They'll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical."
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss and Peeta, at least by the end of Mockingjay.
  • In Death: Eve has pointed out that Roarke and her have this between them, like in Divided In Death. She is a cop who is crude, rude, not interested in money, believes in the law, and has morals that are basically black and white. He is a former thief who is suave, charming, has more money than you can imagine, believe more in his conscience than in the law, and his morals are very much grey. Fortunately, one thing they do have in common is that they both were raised by bad parents and had lousy childhoods.
  • Brainy ambitious women regularly find P. G. Wodehouse's Upper-Class Twit Bertie Wooster from Jeeves and Wooster romantically irresistible.
  • Victor Hugo discusses this trope in Les Misérables, in reference to Grantaire's devotion to Enjolras.
    "A sceptic who adheres to a believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. That which we lack attracts us. No one loves the light like the blind man. The dwarf adores the drum-major. The toad always has his eyes fixed on heaven. Why? In order to watch the bird in its flight. Grantaire, in whom writhed doubt, loved to watch faith soar in Enjolras. He had need of Enjolras."
  • In Mo Dao Zu Shi, Wei Wuxian is a Motor Mouth smartass and troublemaker, while Lan Wangji is The Quiet One, stoic, proper, and unfailingly adhering to the rules. They wind up Happily Married.
  • Ben and Lacey in Paper Towns. Excitable geek who is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, dating a Spoiled Sweet Lovable Alpha Bitch? Believe it or not, they're not just dating, but incredibly happy together.
  • This seems to be the driving force behind Zavahl's and Ailie's relationship in the Shadowleague books- he has the personality of a bad rainstorm, whereas she is never seen to frown.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. Mara even says it, for crying out loud!
  • In Michael Flynn's Up Jim River, Greystroke says that he and Bridget have this.
  • From The Wheel of Time, Mat is a Farmboy turned Four-Star Badass raised in a Arcadia, Tuon is an Empress and Chessmaster who was raised in a Deadly Decadent Court. They're married.
  • Discussed Trope in the novel Youth in Sexual Ecstasy, the sexual therapist actually says that for a couple to succeed in the long term, they must have opposite temperaments alongside with similar lifestyles and independent realization. The protagonist and his fiancee agree on this being the case for them.
  • In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the biologist and her husband became a couple because she thought he was energetic and alive while he thought she was mysterious. As they got to know each other after marriage, their relationship hit the rocks... Turns out he's overbearing and she's withdrawn.
  • Courtney Milan's Unclaimed is a Victorian-set historical romance between a courtesan and a Christian moralist who has written a treatise on chastity. It sounds like a case of Uptight Loves Wild, but the moralist has much more of a quirky and mischievous sense of humor than one would expect and the courtesan is rather emotionally repressed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel has many examples: Gunn and Fred, Cordelia and Angel, Wesley and Lilah, Angel and Darla, Cordelia and Groo, and Cordelia and Doyle.
  • Penny and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory are such an extreme example as to nearly defy belief. Leonard is a bespectacled, hopeless nerd with a Ph.D in Physics and alarmingly subpar social skills (which suddenly appear impressive when compared with those of the people he hangs out with); Penny is an attractive aspiring actress who works as a waitress in the nearby Cheesecake Factory and never finished college. Lots of Lampshade Hanging on this one.
    Leonard: Are you even listening to me?
    Sheldon: Yes. "Blah blah, hopeless Penny delusion, blah blah."
  • Bones has the coldly intelligent, scientific, atheist, hyper-rational titular character and her partner the FBI agent- religious, more emotional, more of a people person. Clearly they complement each other, but each also finds the other fascinating and attractive. Both lampshaded and subverted on the show; Sweets wrote an essay about Booth and Brennan's relationship dynamic called "Opposites Attract", which Gordon Gordon punctured by calmly stating that Booth and Brennan were complementary, not opposites.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is built on this. Cordelia and Xander, Willow and Oz,Giles and Jenny, Giles and Joyce, Buffy and Riley, Buffy and Spike, William and Drusilia, Faith and Wood, and there's likely several others unmentioned.
  • Sam and Diane of Cheers, practically archetypes of the Mars-and-Venus Gender Contrast.
  • CSI: NY City boy Danny Messer and country girl wife Lindsay "Montana" Messer. (She's still tough in her own right, though.)
  • Practically every couple on DawsonsCreek.
  • Degrassi has done this for just about every pairing and friendship it can. It'd be faster to list the exceptions.
  • The show Dharma & Greg revolves around this trope. Dharma is a free-spirited, tolerant, and ditzy flower child. While Greg is an upright, conservative, somewhat uptight lawyer. Despite the fact that they have virtually nothing in common they got married on their first date.
  • Doc Martin: Martin and Louisa basically cover every trope in this section at some point.
  • Ultra-conservative Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties finds himself attracted to women who are the ideological opposite of him - while his best friend, Skippy, is the intellectual opposite of him.
  • Action Girl Aeryn Sun of Farscape, for some reason, finds herself falling for Plucky Comic Relief who alternates between The Kirk and The McCoy in the form of John Crichton. Though he's pretty well helpless in a real battle, she does end up training him up almost to Badass Bookworm levels. And while she does thaw a bit from her Ice Queen demeanor, he just gets more and more extroverted as he slowly goes crazier.
  • Action Girl/Amazonian Beauty Zoe in Firefly is married to Non-Action Guy/Ace Pilot Wash.
  • For the People:
    • Kate and Anya. They're almost complete opposites in both their looks and personality.
    • It ends up happening for Roger and Jill despite their opposite political views (not to mention being on opposite sides of the prosecutor/defender divide).
  • Game of Thrones: The Starks and Baratheons have almost nothing in common. Robert Baratheon (oldest son, groomed for command, irresponsible leader) is best buds with Ned Stark (younger son, groomed as a soldier, responsible leader). Both get arranged marriages. Ned's works, Rob's... doesn't. The Baratheons hate each other, but the Starks love each other. They're still almost allies until Renly dies. This dynamic even carries over to Arya and Gendry. They'd both rather have the opposite life of what they have at the start, and end up backing each other up. And while Arya is uncompromising in pursuing her dream, Gendry is willing to take what breaks he can get.
  • Glee has the ditzy, goofy but sweet Brittany paired with the bitchy, sarcastic Santana.
  • In The Good Wife the law firm's co-owner Diane Lockhart, who would probably consider the term "liberal wacko" a compliment, is in a relationship with weapons expert Kurt McVeigh, who would likely feel the same about the phrase "right-wing nutjob". They even get engaged as of "The Wheels of Justice".
  • Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham are harsh polar opposites that complement each other well. Hannibal is stylish, charismatic and severely lacking in empathy, where Will is twitchy, unsociable and overflowing with too much empathy. In the series finale, after years of fighting against and for each other, their relationship evolves into something romantic and they run away together.
  • Ted and Robin in How I Met Your Mother. Ted is the Dogged Nice Guy who is a romantic, wants to settle down and have kids and Robin is The Lad-ette who is a gun nut, hates commitment and kids, focuses on her career. The show deconstructs their relationship where they did get together but by the time they talked about their goals, they want different things which resulted to their break-up and remained friends. After a few years, Ted is still in love with Robin which one of his ex-girlfriends pointed out that he's unable to move on due to his unrequited feelings for her while Robin herself did move on. In the series finale, it's implied that now-widower and single dad Ted and the divorced and single Robin got together.
  • iCarly: Deconstructed with the Sam/Freddie arc. They are complete and total opposites that become physically attracted to each other, but eventually break up when the actual relationship fails. They are unable to find any common ground in their interests and actually end up sabotaging them for each other when they try being involved in each other's activities. It ends up being one of the main causes of their break up.
  • Laid-back, jovial "Hawkeye" Pierce and hard-nosed Margaret Houlihan in Mash. They're not a couple, but the attraction is definitely there and definitely mutual; in a couple of episodes it's heavily implied (read: as close as you can get on prime time network TV without actually saying it) that they have sex, and the main reason they aren't usually a couple is that they both realize that their personalities and life goals are fundamentally incompatible over the long haul.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold Arthur and Shrinking Violet (except when she's sufficiently ticked-off) Guinevere from Merlin. Also noteworthy was their difference in class status, with him being a prince and she being a servant.
  • Microsoap used and deconstructed it. As the kids describe it, "It was a case of opposites attract. Then it was a case of opposites drive each other crazy".
  • Moonlighting, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. Maddie (Shepherd) is a chic, smart, former supermodel who's dead serious about running the business; David (Willis) is a glib, lighthearted, and pragmatic Private Investigator.
  • Subverted in an episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. Ned tries find morose Mark Downer a friend and, inspired by his science teacher's advice that "opposites attract", tries to pair him with Martin Querly, only for Martin to fall victim to his contagious depression. Ned then gets an idea from his math teacher's advice that "a negative times a negative equals a positive" and pairs Mark with a just-as-morose girl, which works.
  • Parks and Recreation: April Ludgate and Andy Dwyer, to the point that they've been described as what a cat and a dog would look like if they got married. April is snarky and claims to hate everything, while Andy is upbeat and full of energy. Despite getting hitched after only a month of dating, they end up Happily Married for the rest of the series.
  • Stargate Atlantis: Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard. She's a civilian diplomat and has a total of two relationships throughout the series; he's a Air Force pilot and military man who practically has a girl on every planet. Despite this they establish a successful co-command of Atlantis, frequently defend each other from other interfering superiors and build a close and affectionate friendship, often acting as each others' only confidantes. With lots of Unresolved Sexual Tension thrown in of course.
  • The Vampire Diaries.
    • Damon and Elena. They have vastly different personalities, values, outlooks and beliefs.
    • Stefan and Katherine too, when Stefan's not hating her.
  • Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from The X-Files: Skeptical, scientifically oriented redheaded Catholic meets agnostic UFO/supernatural enthusiast. And it works.
  • No Tomorrow: Evie and Kareema are friends despite being almost totally opposite personalities. Evie's always bright, chipper, and wants a steady, monogamous relationship. Kareema's cynical, snarky and seems to only have casual sex (before meeting Sofia anyway).
  • Little Lunch: Discussed in "The Relationship", when Rory's been asked out by a girl in grade 6. Atticus, who's watched a lot of romantic comedies with his sister, claims that if he and the girl are complete opposites that means the relationship is likely to work out. He's proven right at the end, as it turns out Debra Jo and Rory both have crushes on each other.
  • Schitt's Creek: Nearly all the romances on the show work on this dynamic. Johnny and Moira, Roland and Jocelyn, David and Stevie, Alexis and Mutt, Alexis and Ted, and David and Patrick all contain various permutations of opposites attracting. The only exception is Stevie and Emir, who seem drawn to each other because of what they have in common.

  • "You Lost My Memory" by Skyclad. This romance doesn't end well, but is described as sort of awesome anyway.
    "The Brownian-Motion within this love potion,
    ensures our opinions are always dividing."
  • The Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract" is basically all about this trope. And the music video involves her singing it as a duet with an animated rapping cat...
  • The song also called "Opposites Attract" by Juris.
  • "Little War" by Axxis describes a couple that are exact opposites of each other personality-wise, yet still love each other greatly.
    "We belong together like summer and cold ice."
  • Daniel Amos's "She's All Heart" (from Vox Humana) is about a couple who are "one heart" in spite of their different perspectives and disagreements.
    "She says I complicate things
    I say she over simplifies everything
    But either way, I still believe we need each other."
  • Brazilian song "Água Perrier" (Perrier Water), recorded by Adriana Calcanhotto, lyrics by poet/songwriter Antônio Cícero, has one of Red Oni, Blue Oni type: an intense and creative person who deeply admires a more rational, low-profile, blasé person (kind of an inversion of Uptight Loves Wild). The latter, in turn, lets himself/heself be admired by the other one. The different personalities are represented by their drinks of choice: the Red Oni prefers hard liquor, while the Blue Oni prefers Perrier water.
  • Another Brazilian song, "Eduardo e Mônica", written by Renato Russo and recorded by his band Legião Urbana, brings the titular couple: they have different ages (she's a few years older than him) and tastes (her tastes are more sophisticated, while his are much simpler). Regardless of all differences between them, they build a solid relationship, living together and having twin children. The song originated a stage play, a TV ad and a film, scheduled to premiere still in 2019.

  • The driving force behind the central love story of The Misanthrope. Alceste despises anyone who is polite instead of honest, but is in love with Célimène, who by the end of the play is revealed to be about as two-faced as they come. It's Lampshaded several times.
    Alceste: I see her faults, despite my ardent love
    And all I see I fervently reprove
    And yet I'm weak; for all her falsity,
    That woman knows the art of pleasing me
    And though I never cease complaining of her
    I swear I cannot manage not to love her.

  • Monster High has Heath Burns and Abbey Bominable, a fire elemental and a yeti, respectively. Despite their contrasting powers and personalities, they truly do like each other and are an official couple in the series.

    Video Games 
  • BioWare has a tendency to create somewhat psychotic mad people (usually women) who can be most successfully romanced by a nicer player character.
    • Jack in Mass Effect 2 is impulsive, impatient, anger-driven, and generally insane; the Paragon romance arc involves calmly and patiently listening to her issues and generally being nice.
    • Morrigan in Dragon Age: Origins is a survivalist in the extreme who believes love is a weakness; she does, however, approve of some of the Warden's behavior that is rather contrary to her stated doctrine.
    • Garrus in Mass Effect 2 has trouble with the rules, but is just as likely to fall for Female!Shepard if she calls him out on it and points out that the rules are there for good reasons as if she goes along with his ends justify the means ideas.
    • Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic is attracted to the male player character no matter what, so if you are a silly rule-bending sort or an Ax-Crazy maniac your very straight-laced and overly serious companion will still fall for you.
    • Viconia DeVir in Baldurs Gate 2 is a neutral evil drow priestess who believes that the strong are meant to dominate the weak, but that doesn't stop her from being romancable by good-aligned male player characters.
    • Fenris in Dragon Age II has a real bone to pick with mages and is brooding as all hell. It still doesn't stop him from falling for a snarky mage Hawke. The irony of this is not lost on him and is noted at a few points.
    • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Iron Bull is a hulking, snarky Qunari warrior who really Does Not Like Magic. Doesn't stop him from entering a romance with an elf or human mage, or with a dwarf (who only comes up to his knees). His people have been at war for ages with Tevinter, the homeland of mustachioed mage Dorian, who can be romanced by a male Inquisitor of any race, including Qunari. If the Inquisitor doesn't romance either of them, they can end up together.
  • In Fire Emblem Elibe we have Fiora (serious, motherly Pegasus Knight) and Sain (Chivalrous Pervert who mouths off to authority). And if you max out their supports, they get married.
    • Also Fiora's Tsundere and Hot-Blooded middle sister Farina and Sain's Knight in Shining Armor partner Kent. Yup, they can get hitched at A support level too. They even hang a huge lampshade on this:
      Farina: This is probably someone else's doing... Like Marcus, or Oswin... You know, Merlinus might try something like this, too...
      Kent: I don't think it is a conspiracy... I mean, what would anyone have to gain from making us fight together?
  • Fire Emblem Awakening gives us Henry, a Blood Knight and Perpetual Smiler with some VERY loose screws, and two of his potential love interests: Sumia and Olivia. The first one is a klutzy submissive badass, the second is a cute Shrinking Violet. Also Team Dad Frederick and Tomboy Princess Lissa, if paired up.
  • The Forerunners Didact and Librarian from Halo. The Librarian is a Friend to All Living Things whose favorite species was humanity. The Didact is a Four-Star Badass in a society of pacifists, who was responsible for destroying humanity's empire and sending us back to earth as cavemen. Everyone lampshades how odd this match is; however, they both love each other fiercely.
    Bornstellar: Your relationship with the Lifeshaper does not seem ideal.
    Didact: You don't know the half of it.
  • GTA Radio has a married couple host a political talk show. One's a Democrat, the other's a Republican, both are strawmen.
  • Night in the Woods has Gregg (an energetic and somewhat reckless fox who enjoys committing petty crimes) in a serious romantic relationship with Angus (a nerdy, polite and quiet bear who acts much more responsibly).

    Web Comics 
  • In Doki Doki Literature Girls, Yuri ends up becoming enamored with Natsuki despite of their writing styles and personalities.
  • In Freefall, Florence the anthromorphic wolf is dating Winston, who has spacer genes and so no hair. Niomi thinks it's a very odd case of opposites attracting.
  • In Dubious Company, Walter is an Educated, Goofy, Sky Pirate Bird Man. Tiren is a Hardened, Straight-laced, Ninja Cat Girl. Clearly, the crew knows they were made for each other. Except Mary, who insists that Tiren has eyes for Elator.
  • Homestuck: This is the point of moirallegiance; two moirails are supposed to balance each other's negative traits, thus allowing their other relationships to be more successful and facilitating self-improvement.
    • Vriska and John have some Ship Tease early on, but the ship sinks when John finally realizes how cruel and dangerous Vriska actually is.
    • Deconstructed with Vriska and Tavros Nitram. Vriska is so revolted by her attraction to him that she ends up bullying/stalking him—unable to really love him, but too fixated on her feelings to stay away from him. They do end up together at one point, but soon break up.
    • Deconstructed with Eridan and Feferi's moirallegiance which is similarly ill-fated. They're both high-blooded, given an incredible amount of power over other trolls—but that's where their similarities end. Feferi's a Hot-Blooded optimist who wants to even out Alternia's caste system; Eridan's a spoiled, pessimistic racist with genocidal ambitions. Their relationship is dysfunctional because they can't reconcile their different ideologies.
    • Dirk and Jake are polar opposites in personality, and their differences ultimately lead to a messy breakup.
  • Parodied in I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space when Dr. Wendy and Alice decide to try a Pair the Spares situation. They go out on a date, have a wonderful time...and Wendy decides they're too opposite of each other, and declines a second date.
  • Long Exposure has the romance between The Bully Lean and Mean Mitch and his favorite victim/long time crush, the Lovable Nerd and Band Geek Jonas.
  • L's Empire has Carnation and Pix who are pure evil and pure good respectively.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Hayley is The Cynic and has has a bit of a selfish streak. Elan is a Wide-Eyed Idealist who loves being in a team and automatically puts the needs of others before himself. As a result of their relationship, Hayley becomes more open to others (but is still cynical) and Elan becomes less of a Quirky Bard (but is still idealistic). The opposites attract trope is Lampshaded by V, who compares them with Roy and Miko, who, despite their similarities and Roy's initial attraction to Miko, can't stand each other.
  • Questionable Content: Hannelore's parents - her father is a goofy, well-meaning Mad Scientist, and her mother is a calculating, dispassionate Corrupt Corporate Executive supervillain.

    Web Original 
  • Mille and Iriana of Ilivais X. Iriana is a Broken Bird Creepy Child who acts like an Emotionless Girl to avoid her Drive Core pushing her towards being a hyper Love Freak, and is highly logical and cynical, yet becomes surprisingly impassioned and devoted when those she cares about are in danger. Mille is essentially a blank slate Phonos Weapon in the form of a cheerful, lively, and outgoing Ethical Slut who's a little on the ditzy side and erratically emotional, but take Iriana from her and she becomes dark and sullen. They couldn't be more opposite, and they couldn't be crazier about each other.

    Western Animation 
  • Exaggerated in Codename: Kids Next Door with Kuki Sanban (Numbuh Three) and Wallabee Beatles (Numbuh Four); he's an abrasive hard-boiled proto-badass with an extreme aversion to everything cutesy and sugary, while she's an upbeat Japanese girl with a kind heart and an obsession for stuffed animals. In the series Distant Finale they get married.
  • Laid-back slacker Fry and responsible, reliable Leela on Futurama.
  • G.I. Joe has a lot of these, most notably the silent Snake Eyes is teamed up with the loudmouthed Shipwreck. Also the stoic and by-the-books Duke teams up with the Fiery Redhead Scarlet.
  • Miss Information and Mr. Smartypants on Histeria!: The Dumb Blonde and The Smart Guy.
  • Warm, passionate, generally friendly, closer to Earth Wonder Woman and cold, stoic, anti-social, sometimes arrogant Batman on Justice League. The interesting part is that their oppositions also extend to where they break from their archetype. Batman is still an antisocial antihero, and Wonder Woman plays the role of an idealistic paragon, but out of the two Batman abides a moral compass much more than Wonder Woman, as he's never considered killing anyone and there have been times that she's come dangerously close to punching a hole in at least a few of the villains.
  • Kaeloo: Kind, friendly, cheerful Kaeloo and cruel, violent, Mr. Cat who is almost always in a bad mood.
  • Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable. Kim's always been a popular overachiever while Ron was an unpopular underachiever (at least until the final season, when he joined the football team as the new star running back).
  • Final Space has Gary and Quinn. One is an immature, dense, and slightly insane Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and the other is an emotionally distant genius whose pragmatism borders on ruthless.
  • The Legend of Korra:
  • Steven Universe: Ruby and Sapphire could not be more different and could not be more devoted to each other. Their love makes up the strongest character on their team, Garnet.
  • Robin and Starfire on Teen Titans. Robin is the serious and determined leader, and Starfire is the sensitive, sunny one.
  • Deconstructed realistically in Total Drama with Academic Alpha Bitch Courtney and delinquent Duncan. The bitter arguments start up almost as quickly as the sparks fly, with her ultra-preppyness directly contrasting his harsh nature. Their relationship is unstable from the beginning, and they break up and come back together several times. Eventually, the constant arguing becomes too much and Duncan tires of her by season 3 and he cheats on her with Goth girl Gwen; leading to his and Courtney's final breakup.
  • Silverbolt and Blackarachnia of Transformers Beast Wars fit this trope without Question: Femme Fatale and Knight in Shining Armor.
  • Rogue's attraction to Scott in X-Men: Evolution, at least until you think about it for a while. But on the surface, he is The Stoic and she is The Snark Knight.
  • Young Justice:
    • Goofy, happy go lucky Wally West/Kid Flash and focused, rough and tumble Artemis Crock. Ironically, the writers paired them up because of their similarities — namely, they're both intelligent, yet insecure teenage heroes who resort to sarcasm and bravado to hide how much they care about each other, and are somewhat amused by the fandom latching on to them as part of this trope.
    • From the same series, moody, emotionally stunted Superboy and perky, outgoing Miss Martian.
  • In Milo Murphy's Law, Milo is a cheerful boy who inadvertently causes chaos wherever he goes. He has a crush on Amanda, a Schedule Fanatic with Super OCD. Winning her over might be an uphill battle, but...
    • Amanda has seemingly fallen for Milo after the events of "Cake 'Splosion!", the third episode in which she's shown that Milo's condition is not as bad to deal with as she thought.
    • In "Wilder West" Zack, who's cautious and even occasionally timid, falls for a reckless Girl of the Week named Jackie. He begins to act uncharacteristically adventurous until he realizes what a bad fit they are.
  • South Park: Nervous Wreck Tweek begins dating the permanently chill and stoic Craig.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • It's been more or less confirmed that Sea Hawk, a boisterous, over-the-top man whose emotions are very close to the surface, and Mermista, a Deadpan Snarker who regularly groans bitterly, are an item, despite Mermista's best efforts to pretend otherwise. Word of God has stated that they're "kind of a garbage couple", but Sea Hawk's over-the-top nonsense helps bring her out of her shell, while her snark keeps him grounded.
    • While they have not become romantically involved just yet, Hordak and Entrapta have demonstrated attraction for each other, with Hordak pining for Entrapta throughout season 4. The cheerful, optimistic, loud Entrapta and the sinister, moody, introverted Hordak have a surprising amount of chemistry and common ground.

    Real Life 
  • Actual science tends to show that the best predictor of compatibility is in fact similar background, interests, and attitudes. A likely reason is that we tend to only notice the ways a couple are different (since it's not that surprising when two partners are alike), at which point we feel the need to form a theory to explain why all the couples we see are so different (when they are, in fact, Not So Different). The grain of truth in it is that a partner who's exactly like you in every way would probably cause all sorts of problems, so we do seek our opposites, after a fashion—just not our total opposites.
  • There is also the fact that, up to the past 100-150 years, a person's social circle was limited to their immediate community; people in the same age group, social class, and locality would (theoretically) have common experiences and, ergo, background. This similarity was overlooked because it was so ubiquitous; it wasn't until the modern era with its quick communication between communities that similar backgrounds became a qualifiable factor. Since this factor was discounted (or, rather, not known to exist), it was not accounted for; ergo, the importance of differences becoming "Common Knowledge".
  • SPC Kate Norley, an activist representing Vets For Freedom, a group whose "mission is to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in [Iraq and Afghanistan]," and still an occasional guest commentator on Fox News, while attending the 2008 RNC convention to show her support for John McCain, as part of a campaign that earned her praise from right-wing bloggers up to and including Michelle Malkin, apparently fell in love with one of the correspondents there. They married in 2011. His name? John Oliver.
  • Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
  • James "The Ragin' Cajun" Carville and Mary Matalin. He's a rather liberal Democrat; she's a quite conservative Republican. They were both prominent campaign managers/political operatives in their respective parties from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, facing each other occasionally in races across the country and seeing each other as rivals, being the top operatives of their day. It came to a head in the early 90s, when he was chief strategist for Bill Clinton and she was deputy manager for George H. W. Bush, in preparation for the 1992 presidential campaign. Then...they started dating. Mind you, while they were thinking of ways to beat each other (making this a case of Dating Catwoman, as well). They married in 1993, and now have two daughters. They understandably do not talk politics at home.
  • Literally true (in terms of forces) for charged particles and magnetic poles. Sometimes described as a pun on this trope.
  • Legendarily taciturn and introverted Calvin Coolidge and his lively, socially-adept wife, Grace. The most common reaction people had to meeting the two of them was "Why did she marry him?" Interestingly, however, they were most definitely Happily Married.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners Burt Reynolds and Dom De Luise, particularly during the height of their fame in the 70s and 80s. Reynolds was a brawny, macho ladies man, while DeLuise was an overweight, campy goofball.
  • Jorge Luis Borges was a highly literate intellectual and a vocal anticommunist. Estela Canto was a "dancer for hire" and a committed socialist who was twenty years younger than him. They bonded over, among other things, a mutual love of George Bernard Shaw, who ticked both their boxes by being both a great writer and a socialist.
  • You'd be forgiven for assuming RuPaul's partner of 25 years, Georges LeBar, was some sleek urbanite. He's actually a Wyoming cattle rancher. Fridge Brilliance kicks in once you look past surface differences; RuPaul is very private and introverted in his personal life, so it makes sense that his partner would be someone unconnected to show business for when Ru wants to get away from it all.


Video Example(s):


Luxo Jr. in: Light and Heavy

Opposites Attract

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Example of:

Main / OppositesAttract

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Main / OppositesAttract