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Spiritual Antithesis / Western Animation

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  • Adventure Time is this to the first 3 seasons of Spongebob Squarepants. It shares a writing team and a few similarities in characters to the original seasons of SpongeBob, but goes in a different direction and focuses on character development and is much deeper than that of SpongeBob, especially in later seasons.
  • Animals started as more less another example All Adult Animation Is South Park, but over the course of its three season's it became the Trope Namer's absolute polar counterpart. Generally likable characters vs unsympathetic comedy protagonists? Check. Positivity over cynicism? Check. LGBT representation vs stereotypes? Check especially given the finale. Utter obscurity versus universal popularity? Check.
  • Batman Beyond is this to Batman: The Animated Series. While both are set in the same continuity, and made by the same people, while being darker series in the animated field, they diverge from there.
    • The Animated Series stars an wealthy, older, stoic, Experienced Protagonist in the form of Bruce Wayne, the original Batman. It features a retro, art deco-influenced Anachronism Stew influenced by the '30s and '40s, the villains are campy yet still not to be trifled with, the stories are told primarily from an adult perspective, Bruce primarily relies on skills-first, gadgets-second, and he became a hero because his life was forever changed by the world of criminals.
    • In contrast, Beyond stars a middle-class, younger, joke-cracking, Small Steps Hero in the form of Terry McGinnis, the second Batman. It features a futuristic, anime-inspired Cyberpunk landscape influenced by works like AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell, the villains are played much more seriously and are a product of the era they live in, the stories are told from a younger perspective, Terry has fewer skills and yet has much more advanced tech to make up for it, and he became a hero because in his youth Terry was a criminal himself.
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    • The Animated Series draws from various aspects of the long-running Batman mythos and distills them, while Beyond is an entirely original creation that takes just as much from other works, notably Spider-Man.
    • Even their archenemies are in contrast — whereas The Joker is a cackling crime-lord who schemes more than he fights, and has the insanity to compensate for a comparative lack of wealth compared to Bruce, Derek "Blight" Powers is a no-nonsense Corrupt Corporate Executive with vast resources, and actual superpowers, that makes him the overdog to Terry.
    • Musically, The Animated Series uses fully-orchestrated composition, whereas Beyond uses dirty-sounding industrial.
  • Bob's Burgers is considered this to the sitcom it was originally panned for trying to copy, Family Guy. While both shows focus on families and their bizarre relationship with each other, FG showcases the often unlikable Griffins and their abusive relationship to each other, milking dark comedy for all it's worth and never shying away from somber jokes, Bob's focus on the heartwarming and simple interactions between the Belchers and their quirky antics while making sure the viewer knows this family loves one another, using a lighter brand of humor.
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  • Legend of the Three Caballeros is this to DuckTales (2017). While they're both adventurer comedies, Caballeros uses the designs of the classic Disney characters, is also much more zany and cartoony, has Donald be a novice to adventuring, and is about a trio who just met. DuckTales redesigns the characters by taking cue from the comics, is much more down to earth, presents Donald as a seasoned adventurer, and is about triplets who've known each other for life. While DuckTales is a mostly episodic show with overarching plot points, Caballeros is straight up serialized with every episode picking up right after another.
  • The Legend of Korra features Avatar Korra, the exact opposite in temprament to her predecessor, Avatar Aang. Where Aang was pacifistic, Korra is pugnacious. Where Aang had some issues firebending, Korra is most likely to reflexively use it when angry (despite water being her native element). Where Aang was born an Air Nomad, one of the most spiritual of the four nations, Korra just can't get it early on, and still has spiritual issues even after figuring out the Avatar State. Aang only ever loved Katara and while there were occasional one off love interests for Katara, the show mostly avoided love triangles, regardless of the shipping fandom. Korra was in a love quadrangle with all of the main cast, and by the end of the Grand Finale, she's dated all of them. Yes, even Asami. They're still both Avatars, though, and still are almost instinctively driven to do right by the world.
    • In the original series, this was stated to be a recurring event between Avatar lifetimes. For example, the strict Yangchen was replaced by the more relaxed Kuruk. Kuruk himself was then followed by a more proactive Avatar.
    • The series itself is built the same way. While the first series was one long story, the second series is broken up into individual seasons with new villains each time. While the original series has Team Avatar traveling all over the world, the new series has the cast mostly stay in the same general one or two locations over the course of each story arc (one of which is Republic City). Finally, Aang is facing a decidedly external enemy, the Fire Lord, whereas Korra must deal with problems that she helped cause in the first place, faces Arc Villains, and constantly has to worry that her decisions are making the world worse instead of better.
    • TLA is optimistic enough to always have a silver lining in even the Downer Ending episodes, while the much darker Korra ends several of its episodes in utter defeat and despair.
  • Sonic Sat AM and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog aired at the same time on the same channel, but approached the source material in vastly different ways. SatAM was a Darker and Edgier post-apocalyptic tale where Sonic was part of an underground resistance fighting against the tyrannical rule of Doctor Robotnik, who was a truly frightening villain that proved to be a serious threat. Adventures was a wacky and surreal comedy that paid homage to The Golden Age of Animation. Robotnik was an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain who rarely proved to be a serious threat to Sonic. While Sonic in SatAM rarely needed help from Tails and had help from a large supporting cast, Tails was more pro-active in Adventures and Sonic's only recurring companion.
  • The Spectacular Spider-Man seems to have one in the form of the Spider-Man cartoon that followed, Ultimate Spider-Man. The former focused solely on Spider-Man himself as the hero, using only supporting characters and villains exclusively from books starring him, used only internal monologue when depicting Peter's thoughts and had a great emphasis on character development, plot development and how Peter's life and friends are affected by his secret identity. The latter features as many superheroes from the Marvel universe whenever possible, features Spider-Man supporting characters and villains sporadically, features Spider-Man breaking the fourth wall in the middle of a scene to convey thoughts, character and plot development was divided and it focuses far more on Peter and his team of heroes rather than his friends and life.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man also serves as one to Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Both shows are about a hero who works alongside other heroes. The difference is that while USM has an ongoing story that takes place during Peter's early years, BATB is mostly one-shots with Bruce already a veteran. Not to mention while Peter is in a group with few guest heroes, Batman doesn't officially join a team until later in the series, with most guest appearances from other heroes.
  • Teen Titans and Young Justice have this kind of odd symbiotic relationship. The generally serious (though not without its moments of lightness) Teen Titans book was adapted into a zany Lighter and Softer cartoon (though not without its moments of darkness). The generally zany (though not without its moments of darkness) Young Justice book was adapted into a serious Darker and Edgier (though not without its moments of lightness) cartoon.
  • A writer for Time once described SpongeBob SquarePants as "the anti-Bart Simpson". Both are playful young yellow-hued cartoon characters from the most popular animated shows in their respective decades (Bart in the '90s, SpongeBob in the 2000s), but Bart is a cynical spiky-headed troublemaker known for his complete hatred of all forms of authority, and SpongeBob is a relentlessly optimistic flat-headed go-getter who instinctively sees the best in all people. This also spills into both shows' general appeal: The Simpsons appeals to both kids and adults with its intentionally subversive humor on top of its general wackiness, while SpongeBob is unabashedly a kids' show, but manages to appeal to adults with clever humor rather than vulgarity.
    • Both have also come under fire due to the intense amount of Seasonal Rot. Though while with Spongebob it is said because the original creator left the show(before coming back after the second movie).
  • Even though most of the similarities were definitely not intentional, Rocko's Modern Life is undoubtedly this to The Ren & Stimpy Show.
  • The second Danny Phantom 1 hour special, "The Ultimate Enemy", is this to "Channel Chasers", the second 1 hour special to Butch Hartman's first series, The Fairly OddParents!. Both involve time travel, dealing with growing up and meeting and facing against future selves, but take different paths. In Channel Chasers, Timmy rejects the idea of growing up and escapes into the world of television to avoid aging; in The Ultimate Enemy, Danny is stressed about a test that might determine whether or not his future is a successful one. While they both meet and oppose their future selves, each does it differently. Timmy opposes his future self before knowing who he is (believing him to be a threatening individual) and upon learning he is itneracting with his older self, he still has trouble with it. However, they bond as they stop Vicky from trying to reach the history channel (and thus cause a retroactive reality warp that would cause her to become ruler of the world.) Danny however never does this with his older self, opposing him all the way due to his older self being a violent sociopath responsible for destroying most of humanity note . By the end, Timmy does look forward to growing up again after being inspired by his older counterpart, while Danny rejects his Bad Future in favor of a better one where he still remains a hero.
  • Mike Judge's flagship shows, Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill, both satirize life in the American South, particularly Judge's home state of Texas. The difference is the Beavis & Butt-head is more scathing in its portrayal of a crude, ignorant, white-trash bunghole, whereas King of the Hill offered a more respectful portrayal of a wholesome, honest, down-to-earth community.
    • Beavis and Butt-Head's spinoff Daria also did this with its source material. Both were animated sitcoms about Generation X teens who didn't fit in with their peers, but while the titular protagonists of B&B were a pair of meatheaded, delinquent teenage boys for whom ignorance was bliss, the titular protagonist of Daria was a sarcastic, brainiac teenage girl whose intellect made her miserable and antisocial. The titular leads of both shows were Audience Surrogates, but while Beavis and Butt-head were frequently the butt of the joke (Judge wasn't subtle in his mockery of MTV's target audience in the '90s), Daria Morgendorffer was given a more sympathetic and humanizing portrayal, with most of the humor coming from her commentary on the stupidity and madness of the sick, sad world around her, while she and her friends got real Character Development over the course of the show's run versus the Negative Continuity of the gag-a-day B&B. Daria was originally created as a foil to Beavis and Butt-Head before she got her own show, and while she tolerated the pair, it was frequently made clear that she held them in very low regard.
    • King of the Hill notably made an effort to avoid the cliches of the typical adult animated sitcom, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy. Such shows starred boorish, rowdy, immature, bumbling dads who often got into wacky situations, whereas King of the Hill prided itself in being realistic and able find humor in the mundane, with a lead who was straight-laced, sensible, and hard-working. This is most obvious when comparing Hank Hill to Stan Smith of American Dad!, both of whom are stubborn, conservative patriarchs who have a strained relationship with their sons. Stan often ends up learning lessons on humility and open-mindedness, while Hank is almost always portrayed as the voice of reason.
    • King of the Hill eventually passed the torch of the down-to-earth adult animated sitcom to another Fox show, Bob's Burgers, whose lead, Bob Belcher, acts as an antithesis of Hank in the opposite direction. He also plays the introverted stick-in-the-mud Only Sane Man trying to keep order within his eccentric family, but has more moments of fallibility and is an Open-Minded Parent in sharp contrast to Hank's my-way-or-the-highway stubbornness.
    • On a more obvious note, whereas King of the Hill is a satire of the politically far-right American culture done with love, one of Mike Judge's other shows, The Goode Family, is a satire of the politically far-left American culture that is nothing but scathing.
  • Harvey Beaks was deliberately intended as one to C.H. Greenblatt's previous show Chowder. Both shows are centered around plucky child protagonists who live in unique, fantastical worlds, but whilst Chowder was a surreal, fast-paced Zany Cartoon that tore down the Fourth Wall on a regular basis and took place in an urban setting, Harvey is much more restrained and often delivered bittersweet reflections on childhood and growing up in the woods.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars was set during the time of the prequel trilogy and used the main characters from that trilogy and focused mostly on standalone episodes. Star Wars Rebels went to the original trilogy, used original characters as protagonists, and made more use of serial, arc-based storytelling.
  • Transformers: Prime is this to Transformers Animated. Animated draws more asthetically from the G1 cartoon, and is a bright Animesque Genre Throwback to Saturday Morning Cartoons. Prime draws more asthetically from the Transformers Film Series, and is lot more grim and serious. Animated deconstructs the series background by showing the Gray and Gray Morality that started the Autobot / Decepticon war, while Prime deconstructs the characters themselves to show what made them who they are. Animated notably echews the more "religious" aspects of the Transformers mythos (Primus, Unicron, the Thirteen) so as not to clutter the show, whereas Prime deeply explores these concepts as it goes on.
  • The animators of The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat intended the show to be the polar opposite of the Joe Oriolo's Felix the Cat cartoons due to their hatred of that series and love of the original Otto Messmer Felix cartoons. Don Oriolo, Joe's son, forced elements from that show like the Magic Bag of Tricks into the first season, and put a stop to this altogether with the second season's retool making things more in line with the Joe Oriolo version.
  • Two Disney Channel shows made the same creators, Phineas and Ferb and Milo Murphy's Law, star a perpetually optimistic Weirdness Magnet as they go about their lives. The difference is that Phineas and his brother Ferb are Gadgeteer Geniuses who create the weirdness, whereas Milo Murphy is The Jinx who survives the weirdness.
    • Though the show does reference preceding episodes from time to time, Phineas and Ferb's episode plots are mostly self-contained and feature increasingly ridiculous applications of the Reset Button in each one. Milo Murphy's Law on the other hand features overarching plotlines and a clear continuity. The first show also takes place across the whole summer, while the latter picks up right after during the school year.
  • The two Disney Junior shows that Craig Gerber created, Sofia the First and Elena of Avalor both star young princesses who are compassionate, brave, and altruistic, and cover similar themes on love, family, friendship, altruism, and leadership. However, there are a few differences. For one thing, Sofia is a young girl (said to start the series at 8-9 years old) while Elena is technically a teenager of age 16 who turns 17 near the end of season 1. In addition, Sofia started with more standalone episodes before dwelling into major story arcs, while Elena's story arcs are set up right off the bat, and get even deeper. Plus, Sofia is worried about keeping her magical amulet and other magical adventures secret until later on while Elena is more open with talking about it early on. On top of that, Elena has a more noticeable political edge due to being a more direct ruler, while Sofia is more indirect due to her younger age.
  • Another case of two opposing shows made by the same people is Superjail! and Ballmastrz: 9009, on [adult swim]. Both are Bloody Hilarious pieces of Deranged Animation, but one uses bright asthetics as a backdrop for a cynical premise — a Wackyland built by a fanciful madman that serves a high-security prison that holds the worst of the worst, while the other uses edgy asthetics as a backdrop for a surprisingly idealistic premise — a post-apocalyptic future reunited by a Blood Sport where Death Is a Slap on the Wrist and the feel resembles a shonen Sports Anime. As a result, Superjail focuses more on the staff due to the inmates dying by the buckets, while Ballmastrz focuses on the players of The Game, particularly one Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Even the flamboyant Reality Warpers who made the world are polar opposites, the Warden being the star of the show with a fully human appearance and an immature prima-donna personality, whereas Crayzar is a Reasonable God-Emperor with a more bizarre appearance who plays a supporting role and acts for the betterment of mankind.
  • The Jetsons is this to The Flintstones. Both are animated sitcoms created by Hanna-Barbera about an average family living in a distant time based on the values of America in The '60s. The most obvious contrast is the time period (1 Million B.C. vs. The Future), but there's more to it than that. The Flintstones lead a very blue-collar lifestyle due to Fred's manual labor job and their friendships with the Rubbles are a key part of the plot. The Jetsons, on the other hand, are more white-collar and, while not anti-social, George is less connected with the world and doesn't seem to have any close relationships beyond his family and his job.
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power: In the former, Adam/He-Man and the other Heroic Warriors protect Eternia from Skeletor's attempts to take it over. The latter flips this setup around with Hordak and the Evil Horde having already conquered Etheria while Adora/She-Ra and the other heroes are part of a resistance movement trying to overthrow their tyrannical rule.
  • The Snowman is this to Frosty the Snowman. Both specials feature a child befriending a snowman that magically came to life (Karen for Frosty, and "James" for the Snowman note ). Santa Claus also appears in both specials. The notable differences between both specials is that while Frosty the Snowman has dialogue, The Snowman is a Mime and Music-Only Cartoon. Another difference is while Frosty goes to the North Pole and promising Karen that he'll return each year, The Snowman sadly melted away one morning, with "James" saddened over what happened.
  • To a degree, Cartoon Network's two most sucessful (mini)series Over the Garden Wall and Infinity Train can be considered this. Both series bear similar aspects, such as a protagonist trapped in a Eldritch Location setting, and coming with terms with a change in your life (Wirt learning to appreciate his younger half-brother in the former and Tulip's being able to deal with her parents divorce in the latter.) but differ greatly in setting. While the former has elements derived primarily from 19th-20th century Americana fiction, the latter is ambiented in a mid-20th Sci-Fi inspired environment. While OTGW only has the Unknown as the principal setting, Infinity Train allows the main character to explore the vastly different worlds contained in the train's cars.
  • WALL•E has been described as a Lighter and Softer Spiritual Adaptation of Mike Judge's film Idiocracy, both being comedies depicting futures in which consumerism and low-brow culture run amok have left humanity breathtakingly stupid, unable to manage things for themselves — complete with Earth being covered in the Trash of the Titans. A critical difference, however, is in the roads they take to get there, and where their societies ultimately ended up. Idiocracy's dystopia came about as the result of the stupid (coded as contemporary Lower Class Louts) outbreeding the smart (producing what some have criticized as a classist, or even eugenicist, subtext), causing society to decay to the point where, by the year 2505, the world is facing famine due to the decision to irrigate crops with electrolyte-filled energy drinks purely on the basis of marketing hype. WALL•E, on the other hand, has maintained an advanced, high-tech society — and in fact, this is precisely what destroyed them. By delegating all responsibility to the robots, humanity became a race of lazy, overweight, infantilized slobs who can't do anything for themselves and need their robotic assistants to cater to their every whim. In short, while the dystopia in Idiocracy is portrayed as the Logical Extreme of lower-class "trailer park" culture run amok, that of WALL•E is portrayed as the logical extreme of middle-class consumerism run amok.


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