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Stock Shōnen Rival

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If your series has a Stock Shōnen Hero, he's going to need a recurring opponent. Enter the Stock Shōnen Rival.

This character is usually the Privileged Rival, The Lancer (a rival who is also your teammate can make for good stories, hence why Fighting the Lancer is a thing), or even an enemy. Unlike the idealistic Stock Shonen Hero, who believes in The Power of Friendship and easily amasses True Companions, the cynical Stock Shonen Rival will believe only in the power of his own strength.

In terms of power levels, the rival usually starts off stronger than the hero. As the hero grows stronger and slowly closes the gap, the rival will either become openly adversarial or pull a Face–Heel Turn, fearing that his worldview is being threatened by this nobody. Alternatively, he may believe the dark side will increase his power, which often leads to a one-on-one fight between the two. Often, the hero's optimism and strong sense of justice will make the rival question his reasons for fighting, which may trigger their own Character Arc. Eventually, the hero can even progress to the point where he can defeat foes who can utterly destroy the rival, increasing the intensity of the feud where the rival may be unwilling or unable to accept that the lowly upstart who was once beneath him can now fight on par with him or even beyond him against increasingly powerful enemies that even the rival has trouble with.

There's a great chance that the Hero will triumph over the Rival in ideals if not in power. In keeping with the Shōnen Coming of Age Story about making friends and overcoming obstacles through sheer willpower, the Rival represents something contrary to these messages that the Hero must overcome for the story to hit home, and thus often serves as the Hero's final opponent. By the end, most learn the value of friendship, or at least begrudging respect.

An encompassing trope that's usually some combination of Anti-Hero, Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy, Instant Expert, JerkassJerk with a Heart of Gold, Blood Knight, Heel–Face Revolving Door, Inferiority Superiority Complex, Reformed, but Not Tamed, Revenge, Byronic Hero, Perpetual Frowner with the occasionally Smirk, and Evil Sounds Deep. In some cases he may also be a Char Clone. He also tends to be a Chick Magnet and Mr. Fanservice, though he will quite often be a Celibate Hero; more aware of romance and sex than the typically chaste Stock Shōnen Hero, but too brooding and serious to be romantic. He's almost definitely the protagonist's Mirror Character. On this same note, he often forms a Beta Couple with an important, but secondary female member of the gang in a Last-Minute Hookup at the end of the series; more recently, it's also become common to pair him with the female lead if she is not already romantically linked to the main character. Because the hero is usually a Primary-Color Champion, the rival will usually utilize visual tropes such as a Blue Is Heroic (Sort of), Evil Wears Black, Tall, Dark, and Handsome, or Red and Black and Evil All Over. He tends to have ice, fire, or lightning powers and more often tends to wield a blade of some sort. His dynamic with the hero tends to be the the blue to the Hero's red, Shadow Archetype.

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  • A rare female example with Alicia Kheng from Agent Ali. Compared to Ali, Alicia is The Ace in both their school and as a M.A.T.A agent. Unlike Ali who became an agent out of his luck in being able to use the I.R.I.S, Alicia became an agent after receiving extensive training since young and her adoptive father being a general of M.A.T.A.

    Comic Books 
  • The former second Robin Jason Todd from the Batman comics has this type of relationship with his fellow Robins Dick Grayson and Tim Drake once he adopts the moniker "Red Hood". While Dick and Tim are unambiguously good guys, Jason is an antisocial outlaw who resents them for not only having a better relationship with Batman than he did, but also for being too forgiving towards criminals that the Red Hood would have executed without hesitation. After some character development, Jason shifts from being an enemy of the Bat-Family to being a Token Evil Teammate who'll put aside his differences with Dick and Tim to fight for the greater good, though he's still a loose cannon.
  • Black Adam of Shazam! started out as an Arch-Enemy to the titular character and slowly evolved into this type of archetype over time, not only to Shazam but also for Superman and Hawkman. He started out as a ruthless villain but transformed over time into an equally ruthless Anti-Hero with thematically darker colors and a brutal no-restraints attitude towards his enemies, often contrasting morally and philosophically with his more heroic counterparts who can find it difficult to get along with Adam.
  • It's very easy to interpret Sabretooth as one to Wolverine. Their decades old feud in the modern day is in part fuelled by Sabretooth's insistence that Wolverine is exactly as bad as he is, but just won't embrace it, for the sake of making good with the "frails". Whereas Wolverine eventually came to consider the X-Men family, Sabretooth has never formed any long-lasting, meaningful relationships without some outside interference like his personality being warped by magic. However, which of the two is truly stronger depends on the writer, and, ironically, Wolverine fits the aesthetic better than Sabretooth does.
  • Depending on the Writer and the characterization, Eddie Brock/Venom could be seen as this to Spider-Man. Both Venom and Spider-Man have the same powers, but whereas Spidey is a goofy, optimistic and geeky Science Hero who believes in showing mercy to enemies and dearly values his friends, Venom is a cold, antisocial, distrustful and angry anti-hero who prefers to work alone and doesn't have Peter's moral restraint. It also helps that, like many examples of this trope, Venom tends to be obsessed with defeating Spidey and to prove that he is superior to him in every way. Venom and Spider-Man also started out as enemies (with Venom being more powerful than Spidey to boot), but then they became uneasy allies later on. It's especially apparent when both Spidey and Venom have to put their differences aside once in a while to deal with a bigger threat. To make it even more apparent, some incarnations of Peter and Eddie have been friends since they were kids, which can give their relationship a bit of a Naruto/Sasuke vibe.
  • Wonder Woman: Artemis originally served this role to Diana when introduced. Artemis is a member of the Bana-Migdhall tribe, a more militant and less trusting tribe of Amazons. She was chosen to serve as an Anti-Hero Substitute to Diana during the '90s and was characterized as Diana's total opposite, being arrogant, ruthless, much more eager to use violence and obsessed with proving her superiority to Diana. Eventually, Artemis underwent Character Development and became more of a Friendly Rival to Diana.
  • General Zod of the Superman mythos is an Ur-Example, taking on a semi-familiar form before characters of this archetype became more prevalent in modern times. He's a Privileged Rival who was trained in Kryptonian military arts unlike Superman who was raised on a farm, generally wears darker, black colors, has his worldview of Kryptonian supremacy challenged by Superman's philosophy of protecting the weak, and has the rare, occasional team up with Superman against a more powerful threat like Rogol Zaar. However, what should be noted is that unlike Vegeta, Sasuke, Bakugo, and other modern "rival" type characters, Zod never truly grows into an Anti-Hero protagonist who stands by Superman's side as both a friend and rival who acts as The Lancer, instead remaining as an ever-present villain in Superman's Rogues Gallery without any significant Heel–Face Turn.

    Films — Animation 
  • Donkey Kong in The Super Mario Bros. Movie is introduced as Mario's first major opponent. He's initially the stronger of the two, but then Mario gets his second wind and turns the tide of their fight. After that, DK develops an inferiority complex and acts hostile to Mario even as they team up to take on a mutual threat. He later softens up after Mario saves his life, however.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lucas Barton of The Wizard fame has the hallmarks of this character type, being a Privileged Rival who's skilled at 97 NES games and rubs in his gaming aptitude in front of everyone. He's like a proto-Gary Oak or Seto Kaiba, although with significantly less honor as he's willing to sell the protagonist Jimmy out to a child kidnapper in order to sabotage his ability to compete in the tournament.

  • In The Grace of Kings, one of the two main protagonists is the grim honor-obsessed Blood Knight Mata Zyndu, who wants to avenge the slaughter and betrayal of his noble family. The other protagonist, Kuni Garu, is not a Stock Shōnen Hero, because he's a clever and somewhat book smart Guile Hero. However, he is very cheerful and good and making friendships. While Kuni and Mata start out as friends, as Kuni accumulates greater power, Mata comes to resent him and become a Rival Turned Evil.
  • Sword Art Online: Sinon is a rare female example. Her goal in life was to ensure she could continue getting stronger, and after getting annoyed by Kirito directed all of that rivalry towards him, becoming determined to beat him in battle. She is overall very stoic and snarky to contrast Kirito's more idealistic and inquisitive nature in GGO. She however is forced into an alliance with Kirito in the BoB tournament and ends up developing a Fire-Forged Friendship with her new partner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider: The franchise unsurprisingly has a huge number of characters who would qualify for this trope, with the vast majority either being the series' Deuteragonist or Second Rider.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: Ren Akiyama/Kamen Rider Knight is dark and aloof as opposed to the bright and optimistic Shinji Kido/Kamen Rider Ryuki. Being the first Kamen Rider in the series, he has much more battle experience than Shinji and starts off easily being able to defeat Shinji before the latter eventually catches up. Ren also gets bonus points for having a dark past tied to his lover falling into a coma. Ultimately, it wouldn't be out of place to claim Ren is the Trope Codifier for this trope in the franchise.
    • Kamen Rider 555: Both Yuji Kiba/Horse Orphnoch and Masato Kusaka/Kamen Rider Kaixa fulfil this role in Kamen Rider 555 for different reasons.
      • Yuji and Takumi Inui/Kamen Rider Faiz have more attention placed on their relationship throughout the series, and start off being enemies in their alternate identities while being friendly in their civilian identities. Eventually, due to a number of unfortunate events, Yuji undergoes a Face–Heel Turn before finally eventually deciding to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to defeat the series' Big Bad.
      • Kusaka serves as almost an inverse of Yuji, fighting alongside Faiz to defeat the Orphnochs while being utterly reprehensible as a human being, and thus largely antagonistic towards Takumi. He's also introduced as being generally more socially and martially competent than Takumi though Faiz's various upgrades eventually allow the latter to eclipse him.
    • Kamen Rider Blade: Hajime Aikawa/Kamen Rider Chalice/ Joker Undead starts off as a cool and aloof wild card in opposition to Kazuma Kenzaki/Kamen Rider Blade. While appearing to also have an interest in sealing the Undead, he fights Kenzaki numerous times towards the beginning of the series, and directly expresses a desire to fight Kenzaki in order to increase his own power at one point. The series even concludes with them battling against each other as Hajime's instincts as the Joker Undead go out of control.
    • Kamen Rider Kabuto: Inverted as it is Arata Kagami/Kamen Rider Gatack who has more Stock Shonen Hero qualities while the protagonist Souji Tendo/Kamen Rider Kabuto is more like a Stock Shonen Rival. While Kagami is Hot-Blooded and more prone to rush into things, Tendo is portrayed as The Ace with very few, if any flaws. Being the protagonist, Tendo is clearly demonstrated as superior to Kagami for most of the series, and Kagami never quite succeeds in catching up to Tendo.
    • Kamen Rider Gaim: Kaito Kumon/Kamen Rider Baron/ Lord Baron starts off the series as the leader of the Team Baron Beat Riders group opposed to Kouta Kazuraba/Kamen Rider Gaim's Team Gaim. At the onset of the story, Team Baron is shown to be much more successful compared to Team Gaim, and Kaito's Social Darwinist philosophy is heavily contrasted against Kouta's All-Loving Hero mindset. As with Kamen Rider Blade above, Kouta and Kaito eventually have their final battle against each other, although unlike Hajime, Kaito more explicitly pulls a Face–Heel Turn at the series' conclusion.
    • Kamen Rider Geats: Michinaga Azuma/Kamen Rider Buffa is not a Second Rider nor the Deuteragonist, but he resembles the trope in most aspects at the start of the show: he's an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy who prefers to rely on his own power, and is cold and standoffish towards others. The main difference is that he's never actually been stronger than Ace Ukiyo/Kamen Rider Geats, which makes him willing to pull a Face–Heel Turn and switch sides to gain the power to crush Ace and all other Kamen Riders. This ruthlessness also demonstrates that while Ace is willing to manipulate people, Michinaga has fewer scruples than Ace does about what he's willing to do to get what he wants. The series consequently deconstructs all of these traits, as his stubborn, uncompromising, lone wolf attitude repeatedly gets him in over his head and leads him into trouble.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • BIONICLE: Kopaka is the stoic, intellectual, ice-wielding Lancer who frequently butted heads with Tahu, the bold, hot-headed, fire-wielding Leader. Although neither of the two were particularly open to the importance of Unity, Kopaka was clearly the lone wolf of the Toa. Even after Character Development set in and they grew better at cooperating, Kopaka still preferred to keep to himself otherwise.

    Video Games 
  • Jin Kisaragi from BlazBlue is a Deconstruction. Jin is cold, aloof, and borderline sociopathic. He cares little for the feelings of others, and denounces, in his own words, trivialities like camaraderie, believing that such things are lies that people use to their advantage. He has no compunction with killing anyone who gets in the way of his goal. This, however, is all a façade. The moment he reunites with Ragna, Jin loses his calm, detached demeanor and reverts to his childhood self. His voice becomes noticeably more ecstatic, and he is now prone to fits of maniacal laughter, mostly due to Yukianesa’s influence (which compels him to kill his brother due to his nature as the Black Beast, as well as the Power of Order, which perceives him as a threat to the stability of the world). Jin's obsession with defeating Ragna also leads to the absolute exclusion of everyone and everything around him. This makes him easily manipulated by the likes of Hazama/Yuuki Terumi, who uses him as an obstacle to keep Ragna at bay. Hakumen even calls him out on this in the former's True Ending path in Continuum Shift.
  • Devil May Cry: Vergil fits this trope to a t. He is cold-hearted, aloof and more serious-minded than his twin brother Dante. While Dante prefers flamboyant, stylish attacks, Vergil's fighting style focuses on precision and efficiency. Vergil is power-hungry and determined to prove himself not just superior to Dante but to everyone else in the world.
  • Nedrick from Dragalia Lost, as he is emo, has a cold exterior, and acts as a pessimistic foil for the optimistic main hero. He acts as one of the game’s main villains, but He eventually agrees to work alongside Euden, even though he’s still a bit bitter.
  • Seifer Almasy in Final Fantasy VIII, although his and protagonist Squall Leonhart's personalities are flipped from the usual dynamic (Squall is aloof, quiet, and antisocial while Seifer is smug, crass, and arrogant).
  • Kuja from Final Fantasy IX is Stock Shōnen Hero Zidane's Evil Counterpart. While Zidane is a Chivalrous Pervert who cheers up the others around him and is grateful for his found family, Kuja is an incredibly smug, Wicked Cultured jerk who believes himself to be superior to others and constantly rubs in his disdain for others' lives. However, he leans hard on the Inferiority Superiority Complex aspect, and much of his resemblance to this character type is a facade. When his master Garland gives him "The Reason You Suck" Speech that reveals he isn't the immortal Übermensch he thought he was, at the very moment of his Near-Villain Victory, he goes ballistic and attempts to destroy the entire universe over it.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Dark Pit is Pit's Evil Knockoff / Shadow Archetype intended to serve in the Underworld Army, but refuses to declare loyalty to any side. He wears black, wields a prototype of Pit's Sacred Bow as his weapon, and is known for his lack of respect for the gods and disdain for Pit's Black and White viewpoint. He spends most of the game determined to defeat Pit and prove he's not a mere copy, but just as often takes swipes at the Underworld forces, hinting that he's not as bad as he seems. He ends up making a complete Heel–Face Turn after Pit's three-year imprisonment in the Chaos Ring, during which he was "less than nothing", leaving him unable to deny his nature as Pit's Doppelgänger.
  • The King of Fighters: Iori Yagami is one, for the hero Kyo Kusanagi. He comes from the Yasakani clan who themselves are rivals to the Kusanagi clan, and Iori himself seems to be obsessed with nothing but killing Kyo with his own hands. The two share several techniques, as well as flame powers, but Iori's cursed due to his ancestors making a pact with the mystical entity Orochi. Iori sees his rivalry with Kyo in a deep personal level, but Kyo himself doesn't think of Iori beyond a person that he'll fight over and over. Several characters in the story even question Iori's rivalry or make fun of it. On rare occasions, however, Iori is often forced to cooperate with Kyo under Big Good Chizuru Kagura's urging.
  • Riku from Kingdom Hearts deconstructs the archetype. In Kingdom Hearts, Riku is a calm, cool, collected teenager who is not afraid to go beyond his limits. He showed no fear in stepping into the dark portal when Destiny Islands was being consumed by darkness. Riku became thoroughly jealous of Sora after learning about his possession of the Keyblade and of his new friends. He even openly accused Sora of forgetting about him and Kairi since he was not also actively looking for a way to retrieve Kairi's heart. That envy eventually corrupted his perspective of their friendship into a rivalry, much to Sora's confusion, and resulted in his battles with Sora and his eventual possession by Ansem, Seeker of Darkness. However, Riku had done everything he had out of care for Kairi, when Ansem was about to use him to use her along with the other six Princesses of Heart to open the Final Keyhole, he finally broke free and held off Ansem long enough for Donald, Goofy and Kairi to escape. When Riku finds himself in the endless abyss near the Door to Darkness, he is on his knees, overwhelmed with guilt for what he has done and he spends the rest of the franchise as The Atoner for his actions.
  • Kirby: Meta Knight is a stoic Dark Is Not Evil Challenge Seeker who has been both The Rival, Aloof Ally, and Stealth Mentor to Kirby, oftentimes all in the same breath.
  • Mega Man (Classic): Proto Man is the Flawed Super Prototype of Dr. Light and Mega Man's Aloof Big Brother. He is known to have a more independent mind in comparison to other robots of his time, which is implied to be connected to his faulty power core. He left Dr. Light's service long ago and chosen to accept his eventual demise rather than risk losing what makes him who he is. He was first seen as one of Mega Man's enemies in Mega Man 3, but made a Heel–Face Turn near the end, acting as an Aloof Ally but still preferring to strike out on his own. Bass could also qualify for this role, being Mega Man's arrogant foe obsessed with being "the strongest robot."
  • Persona 5: Goro Akechi being a Persona user two years before the protagonist aka Joker was not only initially superior to but also possesses some of the same potential as him to use the power of the Wild Card which allows him to use multiple personas, but because he feels like he's alone in the world and has to rely on his own power, instead of drawing even more strength through bonds of friendship which is partially why the capacity of the Personas he can hold is only limited to the two he awakened to. He resents Joker for being a nobody that was able to form genuine bonds, while he's a celebrity that doesn't have anyone to rely on. The more Joker matches and surpasses him in analytical skills, charisma, combat power, the more the resentment grows which led to a few battles between them. During the 3rd Semester in Royal he pulls a Heel–Face Turn and teams up with Joker and The Phantom Thieves but only due to sharing a common goal/enemy.
  • Pokémon:
  • Shadow from Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most well-known cases of this (and is likely some level of a Shout-Out to Vegeta), to the degree where he's heavily mocked for how much Darker and Edgier he is compared to other Sonic characters. Shadow is an Anti-Hero (though originally treated as an Evil Counterpart to Sonic) and an Anti Anti Christ created to destroy Earth. His mostly black-and-red color scheme contrasts with Sonic's blue. Shadow is one of the strongest characters in the franchise and can easily turn into a Person of Mass Destruction if given enough Chaos Emeralds. While he doesn't have a traditional family due to being an Artificial Hedgehog raised by humans, the closest thing he had to family were murdered in front of him which resulted in his Dark and Troubled Past and bitter personality. Even when he's happy, he still maintains some level of grumpiness and he's very serious (Characterization Marches On aside). Despite his stoic behavior, however, he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who genuinely respects his allies.
  • Sword of Paladin:
    • Alex is a knight who is always outperforming Nade, but despite their rivalry, they're still friends. However, it becomes clear that Alex has a lot of hidden darkness due to losing his family to Berienstahl's machinations. He even goes as far as using the forbidden power of the Miasma-infected Royal Gems. The story doesn't treat Alex very well, since he harbors guilt over nearly killing Sophie in his out-of-control dragon form, has to witness Emilia sacrificing herself, loses his chance to get revenge on Berienstahl, and has to put down his possessed brother with his own hands. This culminates in Ragnarek using his inner darkness to possess him. After fighting and talking out his feelings with Nade, he's freed from Ragnarek's influence and is back on the side of good. He also retains his Royal Gem powers despite the loss of those gems, allowing him to remain on a similar level of power as Nade and give him a tough fight in a postgame duel.
    • Zechs, the Dark Knight, is a downplayed example due to being a less personal rival to Nade compared to Alex. He's presented as a morally gray figure and an arrogant Blood Knight who refuses to work with Asgard due to historical grudges between the nations, but he's also a reasonable ruler to Vanaheim. He has a strong desire to one-up Nade in order to prove that the Dark Knight is stronger than the Paladin, but he has enough honor to give up his country's Paladin soul, since he wants to fight Nade at his best. Despite forming an alliance with Asgard, he still wants a rematch with Nade and gets his wish in the True Final Boss fight, where he surpasses Nade's current power and forces the latter to push his limits once more. Unlike most examples, he never uses any questionable power-ups, since his dark power is not corrupt like Miasma and is in fact necessary to purify the Satan Gems of their Miasma.
  • Asch from Tales of the Abyss is angry individual and hates his clone Luke for unwittingly taking his life away from him. While he's technically not a rival, he's more of a Wild Card. He loves deriding him with insults.
  • Zeri from Valkyria Chronicles II is stoic, pessimistic and smart, contrasting Avan who is friendly, Book Dumb and Hot-Blooded.

    Visual Novels 
  • Byakuya Togami from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is an unfriendly loner with an inflated view of himself who looks down on others most of time.
  • Miles Edgeworth from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Phoenix is a scrappy defense attorney who gets no respect and often suffers the abuses of the snobbish and condescending prosecution. However, that never deters him from getting a victory for his client and professing the belief in a client's innocence and true justice. Edgeworth starts off the series as the diametric opposite, being a haughty and cold-hearted prosecutor who has had several accusations of corruption behind the bench and legal ruthlessness. After being unbeaten for several years, Phoenix comes along and undoes everything, leading him to reconsider his path in life for the better. It also helps that they were once childhood friends before a traumatic event in Edgeworth's life set him on the course that brought them back together as adults.

    Web Animation 
  • Zetto in TOME, especially in the original TTA incarnation. The reboot plays with this trope by making Zetto the alter-ego of The Lancer Kirbopher, while the Video Game makes him outright the Big Bad.

    Western Animation 
  • Prince Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender acts as the rival to the (somewhat) Stock Shōnen Hero Aang. Considering the heavy animesque nature of the series, Zuko fits quite a bit, his character arc resembling the rival's arc in all but name. Introduced as an older, more aloof antagonist who wants to capture Aang, over the course of the series he learns to become less angry and nicer. He is a firebender who normally wears red clothes and has black hair, later adding dual swords to his arsenal. Zuko is the prince of the Fire Nation and son of the Fire Lord, however he was exiled and now desires to capture the Avatar so he can return home with honor. He has a Dark and Troubled Past due to having an emotionally distant and abusive dad, a cruel and unloving little sister, his mother running off, and being a White Sheep in his Big, Screwed-Up Family. Despite his angry demeanor and spending most of the series being a Perpetual Frowner, it is really an act that wears off over the series. He becomes The Atoner after his Heel–Face Turn and joins Aang and his friends.
  • Kevin Levin from the Ben 10 franchise started as Shōnen Hero Ben 10's evil counterpart and arch enemy. Overtime, he became his vitriolic best bud who is more of a cool teen rebel than a villain. He also has the color black as his motif.
  • Lacienega Boulavardezes from The Proud Family is another Rare Female Example of this trope. She's a complete Jerkass to series protagonist Penny Proud. However despite that she has problems of her own such as self-confidence issues (One in particular being her large feet), as well as Dijonay favoring Penny over her. They (sort of) become friends later on.


Video Example(s):



She is a mysterious and extremely strong girl who, like Kat, is a shifter. Originally antagonistic towards Kat, she eventually becomes an ally as her motives are revealed. She has a crow named Xii, who mirrors Dusty's ability to grant her gravity powers.

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Main / GravityMaster

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