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Positive Friend Influence

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"She'd tell me I'm perfect the way I am and I would believe her, because, that sweet dummy, if she loves us, there must be something good about us.[...] You gotta admit, she makes us better people. I mean look at you, two months without her, you poison a Grammy winner."
Lillian to Titus about Kimmy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

A Positive Friend Influence is a character that helps others within their social circle, be it their friends, family or Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, to start making their way on overcoming their issues and become better people. They often play The Heart to the group, or even the Morality Pet. More often than not, the character that is being helped genuinely never experienced being on the receiving end of such kindness or is simply amazed at how this positive friend's actions bear results or simply by the friend being a genuine nice person who shows heroic attributes.

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It's also very much possible for this to be a two-way street. If a character that is nice is also basically an Extreme Doormat, a more selfish character might teach them to stand up for themselves and become more assertive, while also receiving lessons on being nicer and kinder to others.

Different than The Paragon, a Positive Friend Influence can't help anyone in their Character Development if they aren't close by, while a Paragon might influence entire societies in their development. If the one being helped changed after falling in love with their positive friend influence, then this is Love Redeems and likely Single Woman Seeks Good Man, a Positive Friend Influence is a platonic trope, though they can eventually fall for said friend way later in the plot. If the Character Development was not completed or the friendship ended terribly, then it's possible for that friend to revert to their old ways instead of staying as a healthier person if their positive influence isn't around.

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Truth in Television, there really is such a thing as positive influence when it comes to people, and hanging out with good people can help you become better as well.

A character with this trope often has traits of All-Loving Hero, Ideal Hero, The Heart and often Endearingly Dorky.

See also The Power of Friendship. Compare Contagious Heroism, where the traits passed from one to another aren't just good, but outright heroic and the characters themselves are heroes. Compare also Living Emotional Crutch, a more perpetual, personal version of this; this trope is a step up from that one, where the friend outright cures as opposed to merely being a crutch. This can also overlap with more optimistic variants of Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick.

Contrast Toxic Friend Influence.


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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blue Flag: Despire being a Classical Anti-Hero, Taichi's kindness and willingness to help others end up being a huge support in Futaba's attempts at becoming Touma's dream girl.
  • Goku from Dragon Ball tends to have this effect on others. In fact nearly all of his friends started off as enemies or rivals, before a Defeat Means Friendship occurs and Goku wins them over. It took an especially long time for Vegeta to come round, but the Saiyan prince later admits Goku's kindness had infected him and he had become a better person.
    • Seems like a case of Like Father, Like Son, as Gohan also displays this tendency. He was able to help Piccolo turn over a new leaf, where he goes from the world enslaving Demon King to an Honorary Uncle who thinks of Gohan like a son.
  • Food Wars! has the titular Yukihira Soma as the trigger to Megumi's development, as he teaches her to have confidence in herself, never give up, and face challenges head on. By the Autumn Tournament Arc, she has learned to stand up to herself as she faces the very threatening Kurokiba without trembling.
  • Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket has had a positive influence on just about everyone she's befriended, being able to see their best qualities and encouraging them to overcome their issues. In the end, she even manages to be a positive influence on Akito, the abusive Big Bad of the story.
  • Haikyuu!!: Hinata is kind, energetic, and easily believes the best in others. He's a major driving force in Kageyama's development from tyrannical, aloof prodigy to team player, helps asocial and introverted Kenma open up to others, and drives insecure, anxious Yachi to stand up for herself.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Midoriya has traits of The Paragon in training, since he intends to succeed the current one to Japan, he plays this to Class 1-A and to Shinso. In Class 1-A, his influence forces Iida to notice that being driven by revenge is no action for a hero; Todoroki confront his father's controlling ways as well as the unhealthy way he had been dealing with the trauma; Mineta work harder towards being a hero after watching Midoriya try his best in USJ; and his battle with Shinso ends with the latter deciding to work towards being a hero even if he can't get in the hero course, with implications he started training under Aizawa. His relationship with Uraraka starts as this, up until she starts falling for him.
    • The resident Blood Knight, Bakugo, is immune to Midoriya's attempts at rebuilding their friendship, so his positive influence mostly comes from Kirishima being his loving self and getting a position as his Morality Pet.
  • The cast of the game Fortune Lover in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! were originally a Dysfunction Junction, but most of them are significantly better people in the story proper due to Katarina having befriended them when her Past-Life Memories lead her to throw the story Off the Rails (Mary's manipulative streak notwithstanding).
  • Pokémon:
    • Brock plays this role with Ash, Misty, May, Max, and Dawn as his skills of being a former Gym Leader helped them be better Trainers. Also, they look up to him like a big brother figure as Brock has many brothers and sisters that he takes care of.
    • Ash even plays the role of positive influences towards many people that are closest to him, his traveling companions, and some of his rivals.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Kirito was this for his would be friends and party members, such as Asuna, Lisbeth, Silica, and Sinon. Prior to meeting Kirito they tended to keep to themselves, lacked confidence, or both. But hanging around Kirito would inspire them to open up and feel safer.
    • Asuna has also displayed this during the "Mother's Rosario" arc, helping Yuuki to feel happier and want to get the most out of life.
  • In Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Akira's honest, carefree, and relentlessly optimistic personality quickly rubs off on the people who get to know him. Kencho overcomes his past regrets over his work as a salesman and joins Akira on his road trip to finish his bucket list thanks to Akira's encouragement. Akira's honesty convinces Shizuka to lower her guard and enjoy her life rather than trying to live it completely rationally. When Beatrix loses confidence upon seeing the zombie horde between her and the sushi she dreamed of eating, one Rousing Speech from Akira is enough to get her back on her feet.

    Fan Works 
  • Code Geass: Paladins of Voltron: Bonding with the other Paladins has had a positive effect on Lelouch, Kallen, and Suzaku.
    • Lelouch having people he can completely trust has made him far nicer than he was in canon, while also allowing him to grow as a leader. Additionally, he's sorted through a fair amount of his family issues that, in canon, costed him dearly. He's also lost many of his negative character traits (his tendency to deceive his allies and act impulsively when Nunnally is in danger being the most obvious) and made efforts to open up more to his companions and actually be a person.
    • Kallen's Fantastic Racism towards Britannia has been tempered a bit, and her temper has calmed, though it is still there.
    • Suzaku has changed the least, but the results are noticeable - his Death Seeker tendencies have started to abate (but it will be a while before they are truly gone), and he's finally started to realize he may have made the wrong choice siding with Britannia.
  • Code Prime:
    • Throughout the story, Optimus Prime's influence starts to rub off on Lelouch, slowly turning him from a vengeful young prince into a stalwart and good-hearted revolutionary leader. A lot of Lelouch's changes can be traced back to the fact that Optimus is a moral anchor whom Lelouch can trust wholly and unconditionally, something he lacked in canon.
      • In canon after dealing with the Refrain, Lelouch didn't intervene with the circumstances involving Kallen's mother. Here, he uses his Geass to not only make sure she doesn't serve jail time but to arrange for her and Kallen to live in an apartment, away from Kallen's cruel stepmother.
      • Instead of Bulkhead using himself as bait to lure out the Scraplets, Lelouch uses his Sutherland instead which earns the trust and respect of the other Black Knights as well as the previously distrustful Ironhide, Arcee, and Ratchet.
      • He allows the Autobots to warn the city of Narita of the upcoming battle and get them to evacuate, allowing much of the civilian casualties in canon to not happen.
      • And in a massive deviation from canon, after his first encounter with Mao, he does not erase Shirley's memories of him with his Geass. Instead, he comes clean with her about who he is and why he's fighting. He even introduces her to the Autobots, which soon leads to Shirley joining the Black Knights.
      • This all eventually culminates in Chapter 27 when Lelouch reveals his true identity and his heritage to the Black Knights, who still put their trust in him nonetheless.
      • A less noticeable change at first is how Lelouch refers to the Black Knights. In canon, he referred to them with chess terms (Q1, R1, etc.) signifying how he viewed them as pawns on a board. While he still did at the start of the fic, he eventually stopped doing so, signifying how Lelouch instead views them as people.
      • This is further shown in the first chapter of R2. After Lelouch uses his Geass on a Vehicon to make him help the Black Knights free the slaves at Mt. Fuji, he tells the Vehicon to leave the base and consider the choices he has made in life, instead of simply telling him to commit suicide. Optimus himself notices this change in Lelouch, and is proud of him for it.
    • Contrast this with Megatron's influence on Suzaku.
    • While it takes longer than with Lelouch, C.C.'s negative traits, particularly her cynicism, have dampened as well from being with the Autobots. She begins opening up to them in Chapter 20, telling them about V.V. and Charles's Geass. She even goes so far as to terminate her contract and telepathic connection with Marianne in Chapter 23, but not before declaring that she will tell Lelouch and the Autobots about Ragnarok once the Decepticons are dealt with, and they will stop her and Charles. By the final chapter of R1, C.C. admits to the original Primes when she's giving a Geass to Optimus that instead of her former Death Seeker behavior, she now wants to help her new friends and not lose them.
    • Cornelia becomes a better person herself in R2 upon joining the Autobot/Black Knight alliance, and reuniting with Lelouch and Nunnally.
  • In Icarus, this goes both ways with Lelouch & Lloyd, Cécile, and ASEEC. Suzaku ended up walking into a tighter group who loves and support Lelouch to the point they disliked Schneizel for nearly killing Lelouch and Suzaku. Lelouch, having an support system he can trust and rely on, started to lean on his friends and family more and made mentally healthier choices - including not killing Clovis as he realize Clovis and Cornelia still loves and misses the vi Britannias and accepting his identity as a prince, returning to the royal family - as they gently admonished him they are here to help as his trust issues are tackled as a result.
  • In Incarnation of Legends, Bell's admiration for Kojiro and pure, honest desire to learn from him and become a hero embarrasses Kojiro to the point that he decides to act more like the hero Bell envisions him as, defending Bell and those he cares about from harm, giving him genuinely good advice, and beginning to care more about his image so he won't bring shame on Bell.
  • In Danny Phantom fanfic Resurrected Memories: Befriending Danny, Sam, and the others is what truly makes Ember go from being The Mole to Becoming the Mask and undergoing a Heel–Face Turn. Despite the fact that it was slow, their friendship and kindness towards her causes her to come to truly care for them as her friends and she becomes happier, friendlier, and generally a better person as a result.
  • A Rabbit Among Wolves: After accidentally killing Adam Taurus, Jaune finds himself in charge of a group of White Fang members. While he seeks to reform them for mostly self-serving reasons, his kindness and optimism gradually convinces them to moderate.
  • Equestria Girls: A Fairly Odd Friendship: Gradually, the Rainbooms help Timmy become a kinder and more empathetic person. Despite being angry enough at their duplicity to push them away, he still finds their influence and the lessons they sought to instill into him to be helpful on his personal journey to save Cosmo and Wanda.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Knives Out: Hanging around his personal nurse Marta made Harlan into The Atoner; seeing her genuine kindness, work ethic, and selflessness contrasted against the behavior of his Big, Screwed-Up Family is part of what made him realize he was at least partially to blame for how they all turned out. Most of his actions the night he died were taken in the hopes of fixing some of the damage he caused, and force his family to be better.

    Literature 
  • In the Discworld novels, Carrot is this for the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits that is the City Watch. One of his friends observes that he always assumes the best of you, and is so darn likeable that you can't bear to hurt his feelings by proving him wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine has Peralta and Holt playing this to each other. Peralta learns with Holt to take his own job and life more seriously and start growing out of his adoration for the Cowboy Cop trope and his Manchild tendencies, while Holt learns with Peralta about not taking everything that seriously.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In her first proper conversation with Willow, Buffy encourages her to seize the moment and ask out a boy. Hell, she directly and indirectly inspired her friends to come out of their shells (Willow and Tara), unlock their hidden potential (Xander) or become better people (Cordelia, Angel and Spike).
    • Xander can sometimes be relied on to get people on the right track with some wise words, getting Buffy out of her crisis of confidence and helping her through her Spike's infatuation, giving Willow some male perspective on her relationship with Oz and telling Dawn that just because she has no superpowers that doesn't mean she's not special.
    • Tara helps Buffy through her breakup with Riley, her mother's death and her relationship with Spike. Really, she's the glue of the group.
  • Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 has both main characters playing this to each other, despite Chloe being an evil Jerkass.
    • Chloe grows into the role of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, she learns she needs to care better for her friends, that sometimes she needs to tune down her selfishness in other to help others. A few episodes imply she had a near sociopathic Lack of Empathy, but this slowly changes when she starts feeling sad and guilty after some of her actions due to June's influence.
    • June learns that she needs to grow out of her Naïve Everygirl status and become more assertive to get the things she want, and that she can't just trust everyone and be nice all the time if she wants to live in New York City. Furthermore, she decides to enjoy life more, especially when around Chloe, who knows every bar and cool party in town.
  • Barry Allen/The Flash from The Flash (2014) has done this a few times. In a case of Contagious Heroism, he manages to bring out the good in his former nemesis Leonard Snart/Captain Cold, eventually helping him do a full Heel–Face Turn.
  • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Ren takes it pretty bad whe he finds out that Kido is rubbing off on him and he just can't keep the same jerkass facade as before. Having a heart somewhere people can stab it is definitely not desirable in a There Can Be Only One conflict. Kido can survive that, but he is too annoying to die. That doesn't count.
  • Kamen Rider Ex-Aid: Emu rarely succeeds at directly convincing people to stop being jerks despite his best tries and much to his disappointment. Without him, Taiga and Hiiro wouldn't have any reason to work together. If they didn't have any reason to work together, they wouldn't have any time to figure out that trying to murder each other is actually pretty stupid.
    • Oddly enough, Taiga is a good influence on Nico as hanging out with him teaches her responsibility. Nico brings out the better him that he buried to get by on his self destructive mission. They didn't mean to care about each other, so the distress does stir up their relationship a lot. Nico did a lot to make Taiga less of jerk too.
  • Kamen Rider Build: Sento goes from here into Contagious Heroism as he inspires people to be their best selves and fight alongside him for the sake of love and peace. Kazumi sourly notes that Sento's optimism and ideals are infectious. They rubbed off on everyone in nascita gang (including Kazumi).
  • Kamen Rider Zi-O: Tsukuyomi tries to be a good influence on Sougo, so he wouldn't become Ohma Zi-O, the overlord of time. It's ambigious how much it works or how much it can influence the fated events.
    • Oddly enough, Sougo is a good influence on Geiz, smoothing out his agressive, straightforward attitude to be more reasonable and strategical. Considering how this might help Geiz kill Sougo, it's a good influence, but probably not a good thing.
  • The page quote above from the third season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt shows that Kimmy plays this to the rest of the main cast, with Lillian lampshading it when Kimmy and Titus fight. She also plays this to Jacqueline.
  • In Smallville, Clarke manages to influence Tess into a full Heel–Face Turn by actually inviting her to be a friend and generally supporting her when she is feeling blue.
  • On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jake Sisko is a positive influence for his friend Nog, helping him go from an illiterate troublemaker to a gung-ho Starfleet officer.

    Video Games 
  • Life Is Strange:
    • The plot is kicked off by Max returning to her home town to attend a private school after moving away 5 years ago, shortly after the death of her best friend Chloe's father (implied to be the reason they slowly fell out of contact). In the present, Max has become withdrawn and lacking in confidence (despite her talent as a photographer) and Chloe has become a rebel without a cause; both to the point of an Ambiguous Disorder. Chloe's mother, Joyce, hopes that Max will be able to invoke this trope, although it ends up being mutual (Chloe helps Max be more outgoing; Max helps rein Chloe in and gives her emotional support).
    • Max/the player has the option of being this to other characters. Most notably Kate (assuming you talk her out of her suicide attempt in episode 2) and Victoria (who you can come to an uneasy "not enemies" situation with, if you spend the game making an effort to bury the hatchet). Word of God is that if you sacrifice Chloe at the end of the game, most of the cast is present at her funeral to support Max, because of this trope.
    • Rachel Amber befriended Chloe after Max left, and (if Chloe's anything to go by) helped support her as she and Max drifted apart in the aftermath of William's death. Unfortunately she disappeared some time before Max returned; Chloe has not taken it well. The prequel game Life Is Strange: Before the Storm explores this in more detail, but implies that she might have been something of a Toxic Friend Influence, having introduce Chloe to a lot of the bad habits and company she has in the original game.
  • Night in the Woods: In Bea's route, she will play this to the Womanchild Mae. Because Bea is bitter over Mae getting the chances she could never have and not even caring due to her own immaturity, she will call Mae out on her behavior, how she can't just waltz through life not caring, as well as being a burden for everyone else, her parents and friends especially, to support. In face of that, and of all Bea suffered between her father's dismissive attitude, her mother's death, and working with a possible sexual abuser, Mae is forced in the realization she has to grow up and mature.
  • In the Persona series, the Wild Cards help many of their Social Links/Confidants become better people through their influence.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney has, most prominently, the Miles' Heel–Face Turn after the first game, largely resulting from rebuilding his friendship with Phoenix.
  • Danganronpa has the protagonist play this at large to their fellow classmates, who are a bundle of emotional and psychological messes with issues from low self-esteem to downright mental disorders. Often, they help a classmate through their fears, past traumas, and insecurities in the Free Time Events, and they end up with renewed strength and self-esteem, promising to better themselves once they get off the school/island. Examples include Makoto giving Leon strength to try to pursue a musical career and Hinata making Sonia calm down and feel more comfortable in her role as future queen.

    Webcomics 
  • Dr. Frost: Song says that since Frost came to the counseling center, he's become visibly more human and expressive, and she feels much of that progress is due to Yoon's influence.
  • Questionable Content: The chilled out, but shy, Dale and cranky and abrasive robot May bring out the best in each other. Dale brings out May's kinder instincts, introduces her to new people and showed her compassion when she really needed it. May gave Dale a solid push towards admitting his feeling to the girl he liked, and brings out his more passionate side.

    Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: Most prominently, Hollyhock in season 4, BoJack's possible illegitimate daughter, actually his half-sister through the same father. While they live together, BoJack starts noticing more about himself and the way he should be behaving around her now that he is potentially a father. By the end of the season, BoJack made large strives in his Character Development, becoming more mindful of others, especially Princess Carolyn, Beatrice, Todd, and Diane. This is also partially because of the trauma he suffered the previous season and the events of "The Old Sugarman Place". Her cutting ties with him, when she later discovers the details of some of his worst treatment of other young women, is a key factor in his final downward spiral in the show
  • Fry in Futurama to both Bender and Leela, as he makes the former slightly less evil (though Bender would probably still describe him as a Morality Pet) and helps the latter to overcome her Dark and Troubled Past. He's arguably a positive influence on the rest of the Planet Express crew as well.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has the word "friendship" in the title, so this happens a lot. In particular, it is easier to count antagonists who weren't made into better people by someone.
  • Ok Ko Lets Be Heroes has K.O. playing this to his coworkers, but most prominently Enid, who becomes increasingly protective of him.
  • Ready Jet Go!: Jet is a positive influence on everyone he meets and befriends throughout the course of the show. He helps Sean be more open to making mistakes, encourages Sydney to think outside the box, strengthens Mindy's leadership skills, helps Mitchell come out of his shell, and inspires a sense of wonder and childlike joy in the DSA scientists.
  • Rick and Morty: Invoked by Rick and Beth in the first episode, them stating that by being around Rick, Morty, who had a Friendless Background, can improve in academics, because he has the same genius potential his grandfather; Rick proves it by showing that Morty has gained a large knowledge of advanced physics. This turns out to be a ruse, as Morty acquired a short-lived super intelligence due to an alien seed that dissolved inside him and isn't really more than average intelligence. Long term, this isn't true, as Morty grows to become cynical, ruthless, and more like Rick in a bad sense as the show goes on.
  • Steven Universe: The titular All-Loving Hero Steven plays this to several characters in the city, but especially to the Crystal Gems, who have a boatload of issues showing up as time goes, ranging from self-loathing to outright undiagnosed PTSD.
  • Sofia the First: The titular princess does this throughout the show, her kind and determined nature and high morals, inherited from her mother, and propensity for seeing the good in everyone helping her to reform numerous characters throughout the entire run and even prompt numerous villains into making full-fledged Heel–Face Turn. Most notable amongst these are:
    • Her stepbrother Prince James, who was a bad loser and prone to Unsportsmanlike Gloating and acting without thinking, but became more gracious, humble, and learning to look before leaping.
    • Prince Hugo, who went from being an arrogant, misogynistic bully desperately seeking his father's approval to a kind,selfless team player willing to do what he loved openly without hiding it.
    • Cedric the Sorceror, who had been scheming for most of the series to steal her magical amulet in order to take over the kingdom and rule as an evil wizard, but who through the Power of Friendship grew to care for her enough to forfeit his ambitions and become a great sorceror on his own merit and through doing good.
    • Princesses Hildegard, Clio, and Vivian: a Spoiled Brat, Yes-Man, and Shrinking Violet, respectively, under Sofia's tuition they became less selfish, more confident and less shy.
    • Her mentor Chrysta, who learned to be more accepting of humans and willing to open herself up to others rather than be cold, aloof, and haughty.
    • And finally, Princess Amber, Alpha Bitch stepsister to................ well, scarcely recognisable as the same person at the end of the show's run.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Starfire served as this for the team. Her ever-present kind, cheeriness would help the other Titans through dark days. The episode "How Long is Forever?" reveals a Bad Future where Starfire's absence caused the team to break apart, but her return managed to bring them back together again.
    • In another sense, all the Titans played a part in helping Raven become less brooding and more attentive and open to others, being more selfless instead of just seeking revenge against her father or running away from her fate.
  • Wander over Yonder is an entire show founded around this premise. Wander is an All-Loving Hero who consciously tries to befriend the many bad guys who inhabit his universe in order to bring them to a Heel–Face Turn. His many success stories include his best friend Sylvia, originally a bounty hunter who met him when she captured him.
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