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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 Stock Shonen Hero, who is a Hot-Blooded, All-Loving Hero that believes in The Power of Friendship, the Stock Shonen Rival is an aloof Jerkass who believes 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.


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. 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, Jerkass —> Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Blood Knight, Heel–Face Revolving Door, Inferiority Superiority Complex, Reformed, but Not Tamed, Revenge, Byronic Hero, Grumpy Bear, 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. 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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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Soga Ninokuru is a subversion. He's aloof, abrasive, ruthless, and all-around a visually and behaviorally more hard-edged counterpart to the protagonist Matsuri. He's also introduced as an antagonist furious that Matsuri would spare Shirogane. However, before and after that, their relationship is only even a Friendly Rivalry on Soga's side, while Matsuri openly admires his older colleague.
  • Bakugan:
    • Shun Kazami from Bakugan. Shun is one of the calmest and quietest characters in the franchise. He is also a loner who wishes to become a ninja. He trains with his grandfather. Along with Dan, he created the rules of Bakugan and thus is one of the best players out there. Unlike most, Shun uses wind attributes. Shun has long, black hair and dresses in either purple or green depending on the season. Shun has a troubled past due to having an Ill Girl mother. In the Japanese version, she dies but the English dub censored it and had her fall into a coma instead.
    • From the same franchise, there's also Spectra Phantom. Spectra is cruel and uncaring, serving as an enigma for a majority of Bakugan: New Vestroia. This causes those affiliated with him to constantly contemplate the villain's wants, desires, and intentions, and even his true self, as seen when Mira starts to believe he is her long-lost brother and when Shun questions Spectra's true purposes during the New Vestroia evacuation. He is willing to do whatever it takes in order to attain victory, as seen by his shameless activation of Forbidden Ability Cards. He also is power-hungry, first seeking to rule all of Vestal and later seeking and try to harvest the power of the Perfect Core Energy from Drago and desiring his Helios to become the Ultimate Bakugan. He is confident, and sometimes even overconfident, in his abilities, not even the least bit intimidated by any opponent. Spectra is lastly shown to get carried away during battle, beginning to scream and laugh evilly, or even insult his opponents. Despite his great cruelty, however, and no matter how much of a greedy traitor he may be, Spectra is not without his more "human" emotions, either, as he still feels connected to Mira and even begins to miss Gus when he is believed to be dead. He also does the right thing from time to time, aiding Dan in evacuating New Vestroia when the threat of the newly activated BT System arises along with previously helping Mira free Ace, Shun and Marucho in Beta City. All in all, however, Spectra is only loyal to himself, as he betrays the Vexos to pursue his own goals and refuses Dan's several offers to team up. Spectra uses fire attributes at first, the same as Dan, but later switches to dark attributes, though he was no longer the rival during then.
    • Magnus from Bakugan: Battle Planet is a Composite Character of various characters from the original continuity, including Shun and Masquerade. He acts as Dan's aggressive main rival. Magnus is a deep-voiced boy with a mainly black color palette (in contrast with Dan's bright red one). He's associated with black-colored snake and spider Bakugan.
  • Beyblade:
  • Black Clover.
    • Subverted with Yuno, Asta's first rival. He's introduced as this type of character (tall, handsome, cool-headed, aloof, smart, very talented) but it quickly turns out that he just became very reserved and stoic in an attempt to leave behind his weak crybaby past, and not only does he care deeply (and, by genre standards, pretty openly) about his rival and childhood friend Asta, he's also one of the few people who actually believe in his ability to make it big and views him as his main motivation.
    • Also subverted with Leopold Vermillion, Asta's second rival. While he does come from a prilveged background, personality-wise and power-wise he's basically a Stock Shōnen Hero who just so happens to be the rival to another Stock Shōnen Hero.
  • Bleach:
    • Grimmjow, despite his limited appearances. He always had a desire to defeat Ichigo at his strongest after getting scarred by his Getsuga Tenshou and briefly fought for the good guys in order to fight him one more time. He is a Foil of Ichigo, as Grimmjow is a Blood Knight who only cares about getting stronger and reigning Hueco Mundo as King, while Ichigo is a Blood Knight in denial over how much he enjoys fights and seeks to protect his friends. Grimmjow is also the only member of Aizen's army who points out that it would be more practical to just kill Ichigo now before he can become strong enough to pose a threat, but Aizen (who has bigger plans for Ichigo), shoots this idea down and when Grimmjow decides to do so anyway he is punished by Tousen for disobeying orders by hacking off Grimmjow's arm.
    • Renji was introduced as this, as he was the first antagonistic Shinigami Ichigo met and one who had a personal investment in taking Rukia back to Soul Society, but Ichigo outclasses Renji fairly early on and Renji becomes something close to Ichigo's best friend as the series went on, outpacing Chad and Ishida in that department as he had more screen time.
    • Ishida was the de facto first example of this during the beginning of the series, being the typical cool, analytical loner that opposed Ichigo only to befriend him later on. This role was eventually taken over by Byakuya Kuchiki, Rukia's incredibly strict older brother, who looked down on Ichigo's defiant attitude towards Shinigami law.
  • Syaoran Li of Cardcaptor Sakura starts off as this to Sakura, though as time passes more dents in his stoic antisocial attitude start to appear. Midway through the series he actually starts to gain a schoolboy crush on Sakura, with his rivalry towards her slowly fading in favor of him becoming a Dogged Nice Guy.
  • Aki Hayakawa from Chainsaw Man is a Deconstruction. He has the majority of the traits of the archetype, being a secondary lead with a much more serious disposition, having a tragic backstory and desiring revenge. However, all Aki's desire for revenge amounts to is attempts to deal with his guilt over the death of his little brother, and his actions are shown as incredibly damaging and harmful to basically everyone he cares about while giving him often less than nothing in return. Likewise, he and Denji do end up fighting, but the circumstances behind it end up making it a horrific tragedy.
  • Digimon:
    • Matt from Digimon Adventure is a deconstruction of this trope. He at first appears to be a cool aloof loner that constantly argues with Stock Shōnen Hero Tai. Later it's revealed that he's actually overly caring and too concerned with the safety of the other teammates, particularly his younger brother TK. This is what allows him to awaken the Crest of Friendship to unlock more power down the road. However even afterwards he suffers Aesop Amnesia and challenges Tai to a duel in front of the others, mostly out of his own insecurity, and because he's jealous that Tai sometimes seems to have a healthier relationship with TK than he does. His Digimon are icy wolf types that materialize into a cannon, in contrast to Tai's firey dinosaurs that materialize into a sword.
    • TK himself was a downplayed example to new goggle head Stock Shōnen Hero Davis, acknowledged In-Universe to be a sort of reprise of Matt and Tai's relationship, but the true rival figure was Ken. Ken was a genius compared to Book Dumb Davis, and had respect, stardom, and fans, but lacked any true friends. He saw Digimon as pawns for his amusement, rather than the Bond Creatures they are. After he reformed from being the evil Digimon Emperor, he still preferred to work alone until Davis finally got through to him and they did a Fusion Dance. Afterwhich Davis and the team went to great lengths to visit him in the real world, as well as on missions in the digital world to let him know they all saw him as a teammate and true friend.
    • Rika from Digimon Tamers is a Rare Female Example of this to Takato, starting off as a stoic loner who only sees her partner Renamon as a tool to level up akin to a video game while Takato literally created his partner Guilmon to be a cool pet and friend. She does get better eventually, though she still remains a snarky tomboy. Like Seto Kaiba below, she also happens to be a card game champion.
    • Koji in Digimon Frontier is a sort of direct reprise of Matt from Adventures, but played straight without the deconstruction. He was the second to awaken his spirit, and spent most of the first arc travelling alone, only sometimes crossing paths with the main group. When he finally does join full time, he constantly butts heads with Takuya, the new goggleheaded protagonist. They also Fusion Dance and have wolves/guns vs dinosaurs/swords dynamic in their evolutions. Their elemental powers are Light and Fire rather than Ice however.
    • Touma yet another straight iteration of this in Digimon Savers. He's a child prodigy, techinical genius, and high ranking member of DATS while the hotblooded Masaru is streetwise punk who likes to punch things. They get placed on the same team. Like previous examples, he has a dog based partner to the hero's dinosaur/dragon. Even the way their partners address them highlight their differences in work styles and friendship. Gaomon addresses Touma with a firm "Yes, Master" or "Sir, yes Sir" while Agumon addresses Masaru with the colloquial "Aniki" or "Bro."
  • Doctor Slump: Subverted with Obotchaman. He was presented as a rival for the heroine Arale, because Dr. Mashirito built him to destroy her and was destined to be an Evil Counterpart of her. However he turns out to be an extremely kind and polite boy that even ends up falling in love with the protagonist, but later episodes Dr. Mashirito washes his brain to turn it into a purely evil version, so he played this role briefly.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Vegeta is one of the Trope Codifiers. He started as a Arc Villain in Dragon Ball Z, and after he was defeated by Goku and co., he would then make it his life purpose to surpass Goku and later gives into evil in an attempt to defeat Goku. He would later regret his actions and pull a true Heel–Face Turn. He's a privileged rival both as the Prince of all Saiyans on their homeworld, and after marrying Bulma Briefs and becoming one of the richest men on Earth. For a long time he played the arrogant bully archetype, constantly deriding Goku for being a lowclass soldier. Especially during the Android Arc he was determined to work alone and not rely on help from the other Z Fighters, but started to mellow out after spending more time with his own son Trunks, and having his rival's son Gohan surpass him as well. Several years later, he and Goku finally settle into being Friendly Rivals as they train under Beerus and Whis. As the only other Saiyan as dedicated to training as Goku, he's the only one who can still match him Super Mode for new Super Mode. Mostly.
    • Despite being the Trope Codifier, Vegeta is something of an Unbuilt Trope. Unlike most anime rivals, it's repeatedly made a point how Goku is always one step ahead of him, and his aloof behavior isn't because he had some traumatic upbringing, but simply because he was (initially) a horrible person who had no qualms with killing innocent people who got in his way. The rivalry between him and Goku and his inability to match him was what ultimately led him into performing a Face–Heel Turn to finally get one over on Goku... Which turned out to be pointless, as Goku had already achieved a new tier of power that made the power boost he got from turning evil again useless from the start. If taken today, Vegeta would sound like a cautionary tale against forming a rival dynamic with another person, as it can be quite self-destructive in the long run, if it weren't for the fact that he's largely responsible for The Rival archetype in anime/manga.
    • Piccolo could qualify as well. At one point in Dragon Ball, he is Goku's Arch-Nemesis where he treated Goku as a Worthy Rival. However, he comes to pull Heel–Face Turn where he remains very stoic, serious and calculating to contrast Goku's Book Dumb and impulsiveness. While Piccolo quickly fell behind in power, he got used to working as a team much faster than Vegeta ever did. In Goku's abscence he's usually Number Two leading the squad or raising their children, and is still Goku's confidante when he needs advice or a new strategy to win the day.
  • Fairy Tail has some of those:
    • The first is Gray Fullbuster, who is introduced as Natsu's first rival. They would constantly bicker and fight before being broken up Erza. However, Gray subverts many of the conventions in that he's actually weaker raw power-wise than Natsu but makes up for it in his creativity with his magic at least until he gets a Slayer-type magic of his own, he believes in The Power of Friendship just as strongly as Natsu does and in fact is Natsu's best male friend, and while more brooding and angsty has quite a bit of fire in him too.
    • The second is Gajeel Redfox, who is introduced as a villain. He's also a straighter example as his origins are very similar to Natsu, as both were raised and taught by dragons, but Gajeel was a selfish jerk who thought himself as the talk of the town. Even after he mellowed out with Character Development and fell in love, he never loses his edge or his rivalry with Natsu.
    • Sting Eucliffe (arrogant bully) and Rogue Cheney (cool loner) are built as this for Natsu and Gajeel respectively, being two new Dragon Slayers introduced shortly after the timeskip, but then this whole dynamic gets subverted as it turns out that they're nowhere close to the levels of either Natsu or Gajeel, the people they're supposed to rival. Natsu alone is able to beat them one-on-two during the Grand Magic Games and Gajeel manages to overcome a powered-up, possessed Rogue later. From that point on, they act more like admirers/disciples for Natsu/Gajeel than actual rivals proper.
  • Played With for Arthur Boyle in Fire Force. Arthur and Shinra are always bickering and treat each other like enemies, but Arthur's typical rival stoicism is just the result of him being simple-minded.
  • Food Wars! has several characters who play with the archetype, but none of them actually play this straight.
    • Erina Nakiri combines this trope with elements of a classic Defrosting Ice Queen Love Interest to Soma. Being the granddaughter of Tootsuki's Headmaster and hailed as one of the most prodigious students that has ever enterred the academy, Erina looks down on Soma for his humble background and refuses to admit that his "lowbrow" cooking can be any good. Soma makes it his primary goal to make her acknowledge his cooking, but Erina remains mostly Out of Focus during the first half of Soma's first year in Tootsuki. By the time the story decides to put her into the limelight, she is in no position to fight Soma as a rival, as her Abusive Dad took over the school, and she needs to enlist Soma and his friends to help her depose him and break free from the trauma of his abuse.
    • Takumi Aldini, despite on the page image, is a subversion. He is the first among Soma's year-mates to be shown as being on equal grounds with Soma, being equally experienced in the kitchen from helping out in their families' respective diners since childhood, but possessing more technical knowledge due to being in Tootsuki longer than Soma. But despite declaring himself as Soma's rival, Takumi proves to neither be as priviledged or skilled as he was built up as, and his personality is far less dignified than the typical examples of this trope.
    • Akira Hayama is probably the straightest example of this trope. He is a well-known ace whose excellent sense of smell is said to be on par with Erina's "God Tongue", and thus an "elite". He's also the first person to defeat Soma in a cooking competition, when his dish is scored higher than Soma's in the Fall Classic's preliminaries, and proved himself to be the superior chef when he actually won the competition. He gets Out of Focus after the Fall Classic Arc, however; and while he did oppose Soma once again when Azami coerces him to cook for his regime, their match is never framed as a battle between classic rivals.
  • Haikyuu!!: Subverted with Kageyama. Compared to friendly, energetic, inexperienced Hinata, Kageyama is an acknowledged prodigy who thought himself better than his teammates, has an antisocial personality, and a terrible temper. He decimates Hinata's team in the prologue and Hinata swears revenge upon him. However, when they end up on the same team (rendering their rivalry pretty much moot), he defrosts and learns The Power of Friendship alongside Hinata, eventually becoming less of rivals and more of close friends with him. Their hair colors and names even contrast.
  • Subverted with Killua Zoldyck from Hunter × Hunter. Killua has elements of an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy and is very much a Blood Knight who enjoys fighting. He was raised to be a Professional Killer but wants to quit and have a more normal life. Killua used to be a Sociopathic Hero and was a Tyke-Bomb but since meeting Gon he has learned to be less violent. He fits most of the criteria, but is actually Gon's best friend rather than a rival.
  • Sesshomaru from Inuyasha is the protagonist's older half-brother who maintains a frosty and contemptuous attitude towards him when he doesn't act as an outright Big Brother Bully. He takes pride in his noble heritage as a full-blooded demon and he's much stronger than Inuyasha by default (making him a Privileged Rival), but the more Inuyasha uses the Tessaiga to tilt the odds in his favor, the more jealous he becomes. In the end, he and Inuyasha have to learn to put their sibling rivalry aside for the greater good.
  • Megumi Fushiguro from Jujutsu Kaisen is a downplayed one. He has many of the traits, being the black-haired secondary lead with a cold demeanor, desire to not be outdone by Yuji, and an ideology that clashes with Yuji's, making him not see himself as a hero. Despite this, Megumi wants to help people who are good, becomes one of Yuji's closest companions, and his rivalry isn't as intense as many other shōnen rivalries.
  • While he's older than the usual example of this trope, Superintendent Akechi from The Kindaichi Case Files certainly qualifies. Handsome, classy and a genius in multiple fields, he is everything the Book Dumb Idiot Hero Kindaichi is not. He's first introduced as a high-ranking member of the police force with supreme confidence of his own intellect, and initially dismisses Kindachi as just a Snooping Little Kid play-acting as a detective, despite having heard of Kindaichi's exemplerary deductive capabilities from Kenmochi (whom he outranks). He mellows down a lot after Kindaichi manages to solve the case they were working on before he does, even acting as Kindaichi's Friend on the Force in place of Kenmochi to grant him access to the crime scenes in other prefectures, but continues to act condescending towards Kindaichi when they meet in person, even if he's far less malicious about it.
  • My Hero Academia: Izuku "Deku" Midoriya is a subdued Stock Shōnen Hero with some stock rivals:
    • Katsuki Bakugo plays with this trope by having many traits of the Stock Shōnen Hero (being a spiky-haired, arrogant, Hot-Blooded, red-wearing young man), but also having many story beats of the Rival at the same time:
      • He is introduced as Midoriya's childhood friend turned bully. He initially looked down on the Quirkless Midoriya, then when Midoriya gained a Quirk (thanks to All Might Passing the Torch onto him), Bakugo was understandably bewildered and outraged that Midoriya suddenly had a great power he never knew about and had become the protégé to their childhood hero, to boot.
      • He seems to be blatantly set to follow the "Rival Turned Evil" path a la Sasuke Uchiha below from the get-go (to the point even the people In-Universe point this out and treat him like a ticking time bomb). In a surprising twist, he completely defies it when the League of Villains offers him membership early on.
      • The "big fight" between him and Deku is also a showcase. Although it follows all Shonen rules for this kind of confrontation, even having Deku telling Bakugo that he's not afraid of him anymore, it is happening because Bakugo blames himself for his role in the Disaster Dominoes that ended with All Might retiring (which wasn't actually his fault). Due to the lack of any kind of emotional support from anyone and being incapable of expressing himself properly, Bakugo instead attacks Midoriya out of self-hatred and rage, while Deku — also emotionally devastated by the loss of his idol's career — fights back because it's the only way they understand how to communicate.
    • Shoto Todoroki is a straighter example than Bakugo, but he plays with the trope as well. He's the son of one of the second-best hero in Japan and is pressured to follow in his father's footsteps, has a Dark and Troubled Past, possesses tremendous power that Midoriya can barely match, and has a broody, loner personality to contrast Midoriya's friendlier one. Midoriya acts as his Warrior Therapist during their fight, and Todoroki starts to work towards amending his familial issues and becoming more social. However, he eventually becomes much friendlier towards Midoriya than Bakugo ever does, becoming more of a Friendly Rivalry than a typical example of this trope.
    • Todoroki's father, Endeavor is an example himself, to the Big Good, All Might. He is the #2 hero of the previous generation. His rivalry with All Might parallels that of Bakugo and Deku. He's a pessimistic Foil to the All-Loving Hero who constantly pushes himself to be better and stronger, but to no avail.
  • Naruto:
    • Along with Sasuke, Neji shares many of the traits, being a "lesser" family member from one of Konoha's most prominent clans. In order to Screw Destiny and rise above his birthright, he trains religiously and snubs everyone else in his life, which has made him jaded and condescending. Unlike with Sasuke, Naruto manages to break through to him and bring him down a few pegs, making him more sociable and less cold by the time they're in their mid-teens.
    • Sasuke is another notable example and the Trope Codifier of the Stock Shonen Rival in modern manga, much like Naruto is for the Stock Shōnen Hero. As a Privileged Rival, he unconsciously feels superior to Naruto until he slowly closes the gap. His true target being more interested in his rival, while dismissing him as nothing, leads to Sasuke's Face–Heel Turn. After his journey as a villain and a final fight with Naruto, he goes back to being a good guy. Sasuke has black hair in contrast to Naruto's blond, his clothes are usually black or blue, and he's known for using fire and lightning.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi has two:
    • Kotarō Inugami fulfills the role of the The Hero's rival/best friend who acts his Foil. The twist is Kotarō's personality is very much the standard of a Stock Shōnen Hero while Negi breaks the protagonist stereotype by being a Child Prodigy who wants to solve everything alone and worries too much. Therefore, Kotarō tells Negi he should be more of an Idiot Hero.
    • Fate Averruncus, Negi's archrival in the second half of the series is a more classical example. He's a stoic Jerkass with nihilistic beliefs and fights Negi for his Well-Intentioned Extremist goals. Towards the end of the series, he pulls a Heel–Face Turn after Negi befriends him by convincing him there's a better and less destructive way to save the world.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Asuka Langley Soryu is both a rare female example and a deconstruction of the trope. She is introduced as an abrasive presence for series protagonist Shinji Ikari (who is about as far from a Stock Shōnen Hero as one can get), and her main goal in life is to prove herself the best through her EVA piloting skills. She prides herself on being The Ace, and thinks of herself as the hero, with her color scheme driving the point home. However, as Shinji begins to surpass her abilities, Asuka does not become that much friendlier towards those surrounding him, but instead loses her self-esteem, shuts herself out, and crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
  • One-Punch Man: Speed-o'-Sound Sonic is probably the closest Saitama get to one, though he also has deconstructed traits due to the parodic nature of the series. Like most rivals, Sonic views Saitama as a Worthy Opponent and is obsessed with defeating him, while also being a Smug Super in his own right. Unlike most rivals, he's for the most an Unknown Rival to Saitama who doesn't even consider him worth his time. In addition, the power gap between him and Saitama (like most characters) is phenomenal and Sonic never comes remotely close to closing the gap, though Saitama does keep letting him go in the hopes that Sonic can grow stronger and one day finally pose a challenge to him.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gary Oak, Ash's first rival, was introduced as this. Gary was arrogant and loved to rub it in Ash's face, however, eventually that was toned down. He has his own fan club (of fully grown women at that) that followed him around. Gary has since become a budding Pokémon Professor, much like his grandfather, and has lost his attitude. A good portion of his behavior was actually dub-exclusive. In Japan, he was more friendly and respectable for the most part (much like his current personality), while 4Kids made him more similar to his game counterpart, Blue Oak, and thus closer to the Archetype.
    • Paul is an expy of the below-mentioned Silver of Pokémon Gold and Silver, and it shows. He is an overconfident trainer who openly boasts about how superior a trainer he is compared to others. He doesn't care for socializing or making friends, just training. Paul has very harsh training methods but most of his Pokémon are loyal to him and he treats them well enough. Chimchar was the exception. He verbally abused it and forced it past its limits in order to harness the Blaze ability. This spurred Chimchar to defect to Ash after Paul released it for disappointing him.
    • Mewtwo in Pokémon: The First Movie is this character in Pokémon form (with its design even resembling Frieza from Dragon Ball Z), and his motivation is to prove his superiority despite his origin as a clone. This is most apparent when he's facing Mew, and smugly taunts "Why do you flee from me? Are you afraid to find out which of us is greater?"
  • Pokémon Adventures:
    • Blue was originally more like his game counterpart but after a few chapters changed into a more serious and stoic character. He and Red originally didn't get along well but later became friends. Blue's clothes have changed from mainly purple, to mainly black, to mainly brown but they're always darker than Red's bright red attire. Blue's starter is a Charmander, which is a fire type.
    • Silver has shades of this but in a different way from his game counterpart due to Adaptational Heroism. Silver is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead of just a Jerkass like in the games. Similarly to Blue, he's rather stoic and can play The Comically Serious. He has a Dark and Troubled Past of being kidnapped as a very young child. Silver has a darker color palette than Gold's but downplays Red and Black and Evil All Over thanks to his softened up personality compared to the games. Silver's first Pokémon was an ice-type Sneasel, but his Signature Mon starter is actually a water-type Totodile which he stole from Professor Elm's lab.
  • Black from Pokémon Golden Boys is a counterpart to Silver from Pokémon Gold and Silver. He shares all the qualities of his game counterpart. He's a jerk who only cares about strong Pokemon and goes as far as to abandon his Chikorita for being too weak.
  • While the show is for an adult demographic and is a deconstruction of Shōjo series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica has two characters with shades of this trope.
  • Ryōga Hibiki from Ranma ½. To contrast his rival, Ranma Saotome, who is happy-go-lucky, larger than life, and carefree, Ryōga is very melancholic, stoic, and brooding. For a long time there was nothing Ryōga was concerned with more than getting even with his rival and dedicated his life to training rigorously, but eventually he comes to see there is more to life than this, once he experiences love. Over time the two of them become more akin to friends and even Bash Brothers, although they still retain the rivalry and treat one another as Worthy Opponents.
  • Shaman King: Ren is a haughty, aloof aristocrat to contrast the cheerful, laid-back hero Yoh. He's the first real threat Yoh faces, and initially outclasses him in raw power. While Yoh believes in treating his spirit partner as a friend and equal, Ren views his spirit as no more than a tool before inevitably being pulled into Yoh's group of friends.
  • Slam Dunk: Kaede Rukawa is the biggest rival to Stock Shōnen Hero Hanamichi Sakuragi, even though they are teammates on the Shohoku High basketball team. Rukawa is The Ace of the team, being well-established as a very talented ball player since at least middle school. He is very aloof and disinterested in things outside of basketball.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: An abrasive Ace Pilot, Viral starts the series as a recurring antagonist with a personal grudge against Kamina and later Simon, becoming The Rival to both. Throughout the series, he undergoes Villain Decay, but performs a Heel–Face Turn when an even greater threat shows up. To drive the point home, his name is an anagram of "rival".
  • Teppu: Natsuo is a deconstruction of the trope. Natsuo's life doesn't revolves around trying to crush Yuzuko to the degree, say, Vegeta does and in the end she doesn't wants to be friends with Yuzuko and finds her defeat humiliating.
  • UQ Holder!: Nikitis Laps is more of an allusion to this trope considering he's deliberately modeled after Fate, the main rival of the original series' protagonist. Unlike the stoic Fate, though, Nikitis is extremely haughty and mocks the idealism and naivety of his manga's Stock Shōnen Hero Touta. However, his role is more of a Cynical Mentor/Stealth Mentor than a rival as his fights against Touta are for the sake of making Touta power up and reach the level of God-Tier immortals quickly so he can challenge an evil High Daylight Walker and the Lifemaker. Nikitis' Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy traits are mainly Played for Laughs and once Touta easily sees past his high-and-mighty front, Nikitis joins Touta's group of immortal friends.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Seto Kaiba likely shares Trope Codifier status with Vegeta. Conditioned by his Dark and Troubled Past to consider victory as the measure of one's worth, he became an arrogant, asocial, and utterly ruthless Duel Monsters tycoon. He was Yugi's main rival throughout the series ever since he gave him his first loss, acting as the "Cliché emotionally void antagonist" most of the time, yet often working with him to oppose a greater threat.
    • Every new Yu-Gi-Oh! series has a Kaiba counterpart as a tradition, such as Jack Atlas from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has a subversion in Chazz Princeton, who initially comes off as an arrogant, Draco Malfoy like bully to the Stock Shōnen Hero Jaden Yuki. However, he loses so often that his bragging comes off as mostly bluster, and he ends up having character arcs dedicated to overcoming adversity to become a better Duelist while spending most of the series being Plucky Comic Relief. Jaden doesn't even treat him as a serious rival, but a friend (however, Zane Truesdale plays this trope straighter, as does Chazz's manga counterpart).
  • Karin from Yuki Yuna is a Hero contrasts with the Stock Shonen Heroine Yuna by being this way (with a pinch of tsundere added in). She's introduced as a well-experienced and powerful Hero who rejects the friendship of the other girls. Karin hates how carefree the rest of the Heroes are because she worked hard for years to be chosen and get out of her older brother's shadow. She acts as a standoffish and sarcastic Smug Super for a while, but all that was moot as Yuna shrugs off Karin's animosity and befriends her.
  • Before Killua, there was Hiei from Yu Yu Hakusho, a cold, cruel, arrogant, and pragmatic little guy who started out as an antagonist, eventually evolving into a begrudgingly respectful rival figure to Yusuke.

    Asian Animation 
  • A rare female example with Alicia Kheng from Ejen Ali. Compare to Ali, Alicia is The Ace both in their school and M.A.T.A agent. Unlike Ali who become Agents because of his luck to able using I.R.I.S, Alicia become a Agents after receive a extensive training since her birth and her father was a general of M.A.T.A.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 of Choice, 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."
  • 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 cares about his friends.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 more nice. 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.


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