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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 (friends, family, Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, etc) 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.


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.


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 Adorkable.

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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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ao no 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.

    Fan Works 

    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.

  • 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.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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 and 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.

  • 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".
  • Fry in Futurama to both Bender and Leela, as he makes the former slightly less evil 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.
  • Rick and Morty: Invoked by Rick and Beth in the first episode, them 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 a cynic, 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.
  • 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.

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