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Privileged Rival

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In order to make them the underdog, more relatable to the audience or for some other reason, a character is portrayed as coming from average beginnings and being relatively anonymous before the plot happens. They can be specifically shown to be poor, downtrodden or outcasts to make this happen.

So what better way to distinguish The Rival right off the bat than by having them be just the opposite? Depending on genre, they can be anywhere from royalty, to having a famous family member, or just plain being loaded—with all the advantages that implies. Of course, this also makes said rival more of a challenge for the hero, which in turn makes the victory that much sweeter.

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It is more common when the character in question is younger, because what your parents do reflects more on your personal story at that point. This trope also allows the rival to start off privileged and grow from looking down on to respecting the hero as he climbs up the ladder himself.

Subtrope of The Rival. See also Alpha Bitch, Rich Bitch, The Evil Prince or Opposing Sports Team. Can become Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor if there's romance involved.


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Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Naruto: Sasuke, while also an orphan, is from the Uchiha Clan, and is noteworthy for his bloodline. His father, Fugaku Uchiha was also chief of police and head of the Uchiha clan before his death. Naruto on the other hand knows nothing of his parentage and is looked down upon by everyone. This relationship gets a lot more complicated in Shippudden. Sasuke has pulled a Face–Heel Turn and become a most wanted criminal with only two friends and Naruto himself still loyal to him, whereas Naruto has slowly but surely gained the appreciation of the Konoha villagers and the greater Ninja world. (And it turned out his parents were actually heroes of the village and his father the Fourth Hokage. Had they not died on the day he was born, he would've been raised as a 'Prince' of the village like Tsunade or Konohamaru.)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Kaiba is the CEO of Kaiba Corp, and while he is self-made, he has a massive advantage when it comes to getting the choicest cards.
  • Berserk: While Griffith is not born a Noble he eventually becomes this to Guts.
  • Dragon Ball: Vegeta is the Prince of all Saiyans, while Goku is the lineage of a low class soldier, or a circus clown. This applies at the end of the series, where they become Vitriolic Best Buds: Vegeta lives with Bulma at Capsule Corp, while Goku lives in the mountains as a farmer.
  • Pokémon: Gary Oak, being how his grandfather gives out starting Pokemon, gets first choice of starters and spent his journey through both Kanto and neighboring Johto practically walking on air, unlike his rival, Ash, who was late and got stuck with an unruly Pikachu, and struggled to just get enough badges to qualify for the Indigo tournament (even though Ash goes farther than Gary, whose elimination happens off-screen). Ash absolved his rivalry with Gary after defeating him at the climax of the Johto saga, which led to Gary stepping out of competitive battling altogether.
  • Gundam
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Zechs is revealed to be the missing heir of the Peacecraft name, and while the family and its country have been shattered, he's still a high-ranking officer and The Dragon to an elegant villain, with access to top-line equipment. Heero is an orphan who was raised to fight and will scrounge parts for his Gundam from other Gundams.
    • Inverted in Gundam: Reconguista in G. Bellri, the protagonist, is the cheerful son of a Capital official who has never wanted for anything—while his mother's job is very busy, his comments that she's never around aren't bitter. His "friend" turned rival Luin is a member of an historic underclass and constantly gets prejudiced comments and pushes himself hard in battle to prove that he and his peers are worthy. When they battle later, Luin reveals that he's always been resentful of how easy life has been for Bellri.
  • Kentaro Sakata from Love Hina starts as this in contrast with the poor Keitaro, however he rapidily lost all of his money on his pursuit of Naru and ended becoming just a background character.
  • Vali Lucifer in High School D×D is this for Issei. The former is a descendant of the original Lucifer so that gives him a high amount of magical reserves, is capable of using Juggernaut Drive without any defects whatsoever for a few minutes, and is capable of learning spells just by reading them. The latter however comes from an ordinary background with normal parents, and just used Boosted Gear for only six months. They also have different tastes in their fetish where the former loves the female buttocks, while the latter loves female breasts.
  • Ashita no Joe : Toru Rikiishi is this to protagonist Joe Yabuki. The former is more collected and cultured and a better-functioning member of society, with much more experience in professional boxing. Joe is an orphan who has spent his entire life in the streets, is an absolute jerk and his bratty and impulsive behavior induces fear and irritation whereas Rikiishi's induces admiration and respect. Besides, Joe trains in a hovel under a bridge while Rikiishi has a gym built just for him by a rich family. They met when in juvenile prison but while Joe got there due to thievery, Rikiishi was imprisoned for assaulting people, almost killing a man in the process.
  • Saki:
    • Kiyosumi are a bunch of nobodies, while Kazekoshi has long and illustrious history in competitive Mahjong; on the other hand Ryuumonbuchi is loaded with fat stacks of cash and "buy" talents from all over the country (literally, in case of Hajime). Guess who made it to National Championship?
    • It gets more extreme in the spin-off Saki Achiga-hen: Achiga is a bunch of nobodies and their captain is a monkey. They are expected to go against Shiratodai, who are monsters among monsters and whose leader is the arch-nemesis of the main series' protagonists.
  • Girls und Panzer (which can be dubbed as Saki on tanks) has a school that is without Tankery up until the last year, and is expected to go against: St. Gloriana, who is proud of their history in Tankery; Saunders, who deploys lots and lots of tanks; and Black Peak, who has the legendary Nishizumi Maho and her elite panzerkorps.
  • Inverted in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure Phantom Blood where Dio is adopted into wealth by the Joestar family from poverty, and thus becomes a rival to The Hero Jonathan Joestar in an effort to steal his new brother's wealth. Once he gets comfortable and attains his vampirism, Dio is around as wealthy as his rivals or even more so thanks to amassing an army of servants.
  • Student Council President Satsuki Kiryuin in Kill la Kill is this to The Hero Ryuko Matoi, the former being the daughter of a Mega-Corp leader that invokes One Nation Under Copyright over a piece of land it rules, and the latter having a rough, but normal upbringing until her father was killed. Ryuko turns out to be Satsuki's sister in a shocking twist.
  • Captain Tsubasa:
    • Tsubasa's fist rival Genzo Wakabayashi is a Princely Young Man who plays for a private school's team which is full of talented rich kids, so he plays it straight until Defeat Means Friendship.
    • Tsubasa's second rival, however, is Kojiro Hyuuga, who is very underprivileged since he comes from a very poor family and thus inverts the trope. He tries to shame Tsubasa for being middle class, but Tsubasa tells him to shut up.
    • It's zigzagged with Jun Misugi, another super talented Princely Young Man... who's actually an Ill Boy and thus Tsubasa has a huge advantage over him.
    • Genzo ends up having his own Privileged Rival in Karl-Heinz Schneider, while his and Tsubasa's friend Misaki has one in El-Si Pierre. In both cases the boys have left Japan to prove themselves in Germany and France, respectively, and in Schneider's he also was the first rival who also offered Genzo respect after he was bullied for being a foreigner (Genzo even counts him as a Childhood Friend).
  • Code Geass pits ex-prince turned Rebel Leader Lelouch against his half-brother Schneizel. It's not that Lelouch is necessarily hurting for resources or manpower, Schneizel's just loaded.
  • Diana Cavendish from Little Witch Academia is The Ace, a member of the most prestigious magical family in the world, boasting ability and knowledge beyond most of the teachers and worshiped by the student body. The main character Akko Kagari, on the other hand, is muggle born, terrible at magic and looked down upon by pretty much everyone.
    • Subverted with the muggle Andrew Hanbridge, who despite being from a noble family and is introduced not thinking highly of magic, finds Akko amusing and ends up encouraging her, having only philosophical arguments with her on the nature of magic while never coming into conflict with her goals.
  • From Zoids: New Century there's Harry Champ, one of Bit's rivals. To wit, Harry comes from a rich family while Bit was a junk dealer. And that's not mentioning that the Blitz Team already suffers from Perpetual Poverty
  • Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia plays with this trope, as while he is the son of the Number Two Pro Hero with an incredibly powerful Quirk and is the richest member of Class 1-A besides Momo Yaoyozoru, and the only student besides her who got into UA without having to sit the Entrance Exam as they were both recommended students, Todoroki has a horrible home life that has made him Troubled, but Cute and a Broken Ace. Izuku Midoriya, by contrast, comes from a more modest background (his father works oversea and is never home, leaving his mother as essentially a single parent, though she doesn't seem to need to work) and was always looked down on growing up because he was Quirkless until he met All Might, but Midoriya is mostly a well-adjusted person and has always had a supportive parental figure in his life and is handed quite a few lucky breaks. Eventually Todoroki becomes a Friendly Rival to Midoriya when Midoriya helps Todoroki with some of his personal problems.
    • Iida also was a downplayed example in the Sports Festival arc, vowing to beat Midoriya but never being a full-blown rival like Bakugou, who himself appears to be from a middle or working-class background.

    Fan Works 
  • In Some Semblance of Meaning, Obsidian's family is better off than Vale's.
  • Kara to Jara in Kara of Rokyn. Kara is not only high-born but also their world's most popular hero. Jara is low-born and takes their rivalry very personally, even though Kara doesn't want to be her enemy.

    Film 
  • John Hughes' Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful were both movies where there was one rich kid and one poor kid vying for the heroine's affections.
  • Gattaca: Since the film takes place in a world where people where having good genes means success, Anton is this to Vincent despite them being raised by the same family.
  • Moneyball: The New York Yankees are the film's go-to rich team to compare the Oakland A's against; Billy Beane's gamble on using sabermetrics when constructing the A's roster is driven by the fact that their shoestring budget cannot possibly hope to compete against other teams in much larger markets who can outbid them for basically any free agent player they want. The movie begins with the Yankees' victory over the A's in the 2001 ALDS, and one sub-plot is Beane grappling with new trade acquisition David Justice, who has kind of an ego thanks to his $7 million salary and relatively long on-field resume and thus feels he doesn't have to put up with Beane's demeanor — Beane retorts that half of Justice's salary is being paid by his old team...the New York Yankees.
    Beane: That's what the New York Yankees think of you. They're paying you three and a half million dollars to play against them.
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    Literature 
  • Deryni Rising has Kelson (young, inexperienced, labouring under a religious and social system that persecutes Deryni) facing Charissa, who's about a decade older, highly trained in arcana, wealthy and related to the royal family of the neighbouring kingdom that has no such history of persecution.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry's rival Draco Malfoy is from a powerful magic family. His father is shown to have the ear of the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. This is an interesting case because Harry is technically a social and financial equal to Malfoy (the Potter family is a long established Pureblood line and Harry is sole benefactor of the Potter fortune following the death of his parents) but is almost entirely unaware of this due to being raised by his Muggle relatives.
    • In the backstory, this was the dynamic between Harry's father James (and Sirius), who were both scions of wealthy and influential pure-blood families, and Snape, who was a poor half-blood.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea: When Ged arrives at Roke Island, he gains a rival named Jasper, who's the son of the Lord of the Domain of Eolg on the Isle of Havnor. Ged is just the son of a smith, and is rubbed the wrong way by Jasper's extremely polite but condescending manners.
  • Jane Eyre: Miss Blanche Ingram is a romantic rival to Jane as they're both after Mr Rochester (Jane loves him, while Blanche is in it mainly for the money and status). Jane is a penniless orphaned governess. Blanche comes from a wealthy and socially prominent family. Though it's revealed that Blanche has almost no dowry.
  • Redburn from The Good Dog is a snobby Irish setter who has affluent owners. He considers McKinley his rival and wants to become the top dog in McKinley's place.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Veronica Mars: Most of the villains are villainous because they have the money to bribe, cheat, and scam their way through the court system which effectively kneecaps the only thing Veronica can do (sleuth, get evidence, get them in court).
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • It gives us Leslie's opponent to the City Council seat, uber-privileged and oblivious Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums empire. Leslie is a woman who has been diligently working in public sector for years.
    • There's the town rivalry between Pawnee and its more upscale neighbor Eagleton. Pawnee eventually ends the rivalry, which started back in the 1800s when the rich settlers of Pawnee fled to Eagleton, by absorbing the town back into it after Eagleton's habit of Conspicuous Consumption drives them to near-bankruptcy.
  • In Round the Twist, the Twist kids' nemesis is the rich kid James Gribble, whose dad eventually ends up mayor of their town.
  • Cobra Kai
    • It serves as a retroactive Internal Deconstruction to The Karate Kid with the two protagonists. In the original film, Johnny Lawrence was this to protagonist Daniel LaRusso, being a rich, country club kid in contrast to Daniel's working class upbringing. However, the series reveals that while Johnny was definitely materially privileged, he also had to deal with severe emotional abuse from both his stepfather and Cobra Kai Sensei Kreese that scarred him for life. In contrast, Daniel at least had a loving family and proper guidance from Mr. Miyagi.
    Johnny: Just because you live in a nice house doesn't mean nice things are going on inside.

    Video Games 
  • Street Fighter:
  • Tekken has Asuka Kazama and Emilie "Lili" de Rochefort, who can be seen as Alternate Company Equivalents of the aforementioned Sakura and Karin. Asuka is a scrappy street fighter and ordinary schoolgirl; Lili is the daughter of a wealthy oil magnate from Monaco. Lili loses to Asuka in 5: Dark Resurrection and, driven by revenge, spends the next tournament trying to challenge Asuka to a rematch. In her ending, Lili's butler Sebastian comments that fighting is how Lili makes friends, so make of that what you will.
  • The Pokémon series had this in every generation until Gen V. Comes back for Gen VII.
    • Blue/Green/Gary is grandson of Professor Oak, leading researcher worldwide.
    • Silver is the son of Giovanni, boss of Team Rocket.
    • The rival is the child of Professor Birch, leading local researcher. Inverted later where the player is the child of Norman the Gym Leader and the humble Wally becomes the real rival.
    • Pearl/Barry is the son of Palmer, a Frontier Brain.
    • Hau is the grandson of Hala, one of the Island Kahunas. Gladion is the son of Aether President Lusamine.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield gives us a trifecta of these. Hop is the brother of Leon, the current Pokémon Champion. Bede is by all rights the adopted son of Chairman Rose and his gym challenge is personally endorsed by the latter. Marnie is the younger sister of Spikemuth's Dark-type Gym Leader, Piers.
  • Most prosecutors are this to their defense attorney rivals in Ace Attorney, reflecting how the legal system actually was in Japan at the time. Miles Edgeworth is a rich and famous undefeated prosecutor when Phoenix Wright is an unknown and inexperienced lawyer; his sister Franziska is the same and considered a prodigy since she started her career at 13; Apollo Justice's rival Klavier Gavin is a prosecutor and a rock star. The exception is Simon Blackquill, who is a convicted felon when he faces off with Athena Cykes, who is the daughter of a psychoanalyst.
  • Inverted with the Sith Warrior storyline from The Old Republic where you're the groomed and pampered arch enemy to the mix-blooded Vemrin. He has to claw his way through the elitist Sith academy while you are treated with every courtesy. Even he's convinced you're a speed bump in his underdog story, then you kill him halfway through act one, gloating optional.
    • Played straight in the Sith Inquisitor storyline where the ex-slave Inquisitor is pitted against Ffon Althe, a Pureblood Sith that Overseer Harkun blatantly favors over the other acolytes, giving him many unfair advantages. And unlike the Warrior, Ffon really is just a minor hitch in the Inquisitor's rise to the top, getting ignominiously killed after failing his final test and is never mentioned again.
  • Minerva Victor, captain of Squad F in Valkyria Chronicles 4. Her "rival", Claude (leader of the player's Squad E) just sees her as his superior officer and comrade, while she absolutely resents him. It's gradually revealed that Minerva, coming from one of Gallia's noble families, is so used to privilege she's blind to how good she has it - she got into the Ranger and Officer programs on her family name, got to hand-pick her squad from soldiers clamouring for the chance, is absolutely loaded with cash even in a warzone, and quite possibly get her superior rank on the back of her wealth as well. Meanwhile Claude came from the middle of nowhere, was assigned whatever recruits he showed up with and had to earn their respect, dragged them all through Ranger training with blood sweat and tears, and came out the other side still humble but with just as glowing a CV as Minerva. Looking as his record forces Minerva to consider that she got where she is because of her family, not just her own merit (no matter what her squad full of sycophantic yes-men tell her), which her Selective Obliviousness can't handle.
  • Ensemble Stars! plays with this. Initially, it seems like a straight example: Trickstar are the no-name underdogs facing up against fine, an elite unit containing two wealthy heirs, the butler to one of the former, and a member of the Five Oddballs, a group of very eccentric but extremely talented individuals. However, it's revealed eventually that both Hokuto and Subaru had celebrity parents, and while Makoto is a nobody as an idol he used to be a very successful model. Eichi, the leader of fine, was also very aware of this trope during the war - back then, fine was even more elite, but they deliberately chose normal guy Tsumugi to be their leader to make them seem more relatable in contrast to their victims, who they wanted to portray as freak talents who lived in a totally different world to everyone else.

    Web Video 
  • The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: Blanche Ingram to Jane Eyre. They're both in love with Ed Rochester, but Jane feels she can't compare. Jane is a nurse and a live-in tutor with the Rochesters. She was raised by her abusive aunt Mrs Reed and has no family or close friends. Blanche is from a wealthy family and has many friends. She's a businesswoman who has her own company, she funds a scholarship for innovative women, she's a model and a trained dancer, she designed her own line of vodka and she guest-starred on that vampire show.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy's only rival that also has a Fairy God Parent is named Remy Buxaplenty for obvious reasons. Timmy doesn't care about the rivalry that much, even being sympathetic to Remy being a Lonely Rich Kid, but Remy is intensely jealous of Timmy having parents and fairys that actually care about him while Remy's parents don't even remember his name most of the time and his fairy treats things more like a job to do. Remy is constantly scheming to make Timmy lose his fairys and his money gives him resources that "Da Rules" fairys have to follow wouldn't normally allow.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko is prince of the Fire Nation, initially seeming much better off than Aang, an otherwise anonymous monk before it's revealed that he's the Avatar. In truth, Zuko's current financial situation isn't much better: he's an exile on an underfunded Snipe Hunt with a small crew travelling on an undersized and outdated ship. Zuko actually has Azula as his Priveleged Rival: she has the love from their father that Zuko never did. In Season 2 we have the contrast of now penniless Zuko, hunted as an enemy of the Earth Kingdom and traitor to the Fire Nation vs Azula, who has all the wealth, resources, and influence of the Fire Nation behind her. Both are actively chasing Aang, but decidedly not working together, at least until Azula decides to give Zuko one more chance at the end of Season 2 to join her.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: Princess Morbucks fashions herself as the yellow PowerPuff Girl and is closest recurring villain the girls can classify as a rival. She is incredibly rich, and entirely dependent on spending money to be any kind of threat.
  • Penelope to Atomic Betty in civilian mode.
  • The Smythe-Higgins family from Hey Arnold!, Arnold's family's intergenerational rivals, are shown to be of the upper-class.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: Squidwards's rival is Squilliam who 'got rich doing everything Squidward wanted to do' while Squidward is just a cashier at a fastfood joint.
  • Lola & Virginia: The titular characters, Lola, The Protagonist, who comes from working-class background, and Virginia, The Antagonist, a wealthy Spoiled Brat, who are rivals and complete opposites to each other.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon are blatantly this to the Cutie Mark Crusaders. As if it isn't bad enough having this Spoiled Brat duo incessantly mock CMC for their "blank flanks", they are apparently well off and also seem to look down on CMC for supposedly being lower class, a notion not unjustified looking at their backgrounds: Apple Bloom comes from farmers, a profession that rarely makes one wealthy. Word of Saint Paul says she is also an orphan whose awkward young adult siblings have taken responsibility for her. When Sweetie Belle's parents made an appearance, they came off as typical middle, if not lower, class ruralites. Meanwhile, Diamond's father is a business pony aptly named Filthy Rich. While Sweetie's sister Rarity has established herself as an equally successful business pony, Mr. Rich has obviously been doing it longer and is therefore more established in society. We don't even know if Scootaloo has a family. While the same could be said for Silver, at least she appears to be taken care of while anything is possible for rough and tumble tomboy Scoot. Season 4 at least revealed that she has a proper dwelling, yet mum is still the word about her family.
    • It's inverted with Twilight Sparkle and Trixie, where the former came from a privileged Canterlot home, attended a prestigious private school, and was mentored by Princess Celestia herself, while the latter is a traveling entertainer who lives in a wagon, (according to Word of God) has a Disappeared Dad, and was rendered destitute after her first encounter with Twilight.
  • In Tiny Toon Adventures, there was Montana Max, who was LOADED and was a frequent source of trouble and occasional rival to Buster and Babs Bunny. The entire student body of Perfecto Prep (though they were usually represented by Roderick and Rubella Rat) count as a collective one towards the Acme Looniversity, too, especially in sporting events.
  • Kaeloo has the Rich Bitch Pretty, Kaeloo's rich and annoying neighbor, who's always trying to show off to Kaeloo and her friends and occasionally serves as a rival to either Kaeloo or Stumpy.


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