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"Strange extremes meet in love's pathway."
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Strong relationships, in both TV and real life, thrive on how each member compensates for the other’s weaknesses with his/her own strengths, and vice versa.

A Motor Mouth just isn’t as funny if he doesn’t have the Straight Man to torment. Similarly, only when a sweet, shy person is paired up with an equally jerkish one is their kindness and timidness made all the more noticeable.

It is all but guaranteed that the characters’ differences will cause more friction than harmony between them. That’s what gives the Odd Couple its fuel for Slap Slap Kiss, Will They or Won't They?, and Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other situations. Bickering and mushiness in one package. What’s not to like?

The Odd Friendship also has elements of this, but tends to focus on how the differences make them see each other, and maybe the world, through new eyes. Perhaps the serious one is Not So Above It All, or the Shrinking Violet has an inner strength she never knew she had. A Moe Couplet also does something similar to this, focusing on how each half of the couplet brings out the other's endearing or nurturing traits.

Opposites Attract has become so widespread in buddy cop shows, in the form of Serious White Guy meets Loud Black Guy, that it branched off into its own subtrope.

About the biggest challenge in creating a day-and-night dynamic is to keep the attract and repel cases relatively balanced. When the pendulum swings too far toward the repel side and the characters seem more interested in torturing each other than helping out, it’s no longer cute to watch; it’s just masochistic. The key (both in fiction and in Real Life) is to watch the pair's goals. If they want the same thing but use completely different methods to achieve it, it's Opposites Attract. If they want different things entirely, it's a divorce waiting to happen.

If you add a third-party mediator for balance, you get a Power Trio.

Contrast Birds of a Feather.


Popular Opposites Attract dynamics:

Examples of Opposites Attract include:


IMPORTANT: Please, no ships, just Canon portrayal of attraction. If you see an example that hasn't been portrayed in canon as this type of attraction (or hasn't been portrayed in canon at all), please delete it. This also means examples will tend to be spoilery, so read on at your own risk.

Anime and Manga


Comic Books

  • When their relationship began, Starfire and Robin (later Nightwing) were this: Robin was reserved and methodical to Starfire's passionate impulsiveness. As the trope often works in real life, they began to influence each other so that each acquired a level of the other's personality, to the point that their breakup ultimately had Nightwing making an impassioned plea for Starfire to stay and Starfire making the reasoned, logical choice to leave.
  • Batman and Catwoman: one is a stolid, no-nonsense upholder of the law, the other is a mischievous (but never malicious) lawbreaker. They Fight Crime (sometimes, when she's not causing it herself).
  • Cyclops and Phoenix of the X-Men. He's an emotionally withdrawn introvert control freak and she's fire and life incarnate an outgoing redhead who reads minds. He draws the attentions of at least two other hot and extrovert telepaths, which suggests there's something interesting going on behind that facade...
  • Runaways paired quirky genius Gert with dumb jock Chase.
  • The Authority has gruff, brooding, cynical Midnighter Happily Married to kind, cheerful, optimistic Apollo. Even their costumes emphasise this trope: Apollo's is white with a gold sun emblem, while Midnighter's is black with a silver crescent moon.
  • Peanuts features Peppermint Patty and Marcy. Peppermint Patty is extroverted and athletic but Book Dumb. Marcie is introverted and intellectual and not at all into sports. They develop a symbiotic relationship, with Peppermint Patty protecting Marcie from bullies and Marcie helping Peppermint Patty with her studies.
  • Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter and Lois Lane, determined and outgoing reporter.


Fan Works

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 "You're so kind and warm inside that cold and calculating exterior of yours. Although it may not seem like it, we have quite a bit in common. It's nice how we can bond over literature, anime, manga, fencing, food, cats, art...and so much more. Despite not seeming like it, my heart beats fast around you." He gave a fond smile. "I can't help but love that about you Kiku."

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Film


Literature


Live Action TV

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 Leonard: Are you even listening to me?

Sheldon: Yes. "Blah blah, hopeless Penny delusion, blah blah."

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Music

  • You Lost My Memory by Skyclad. This romance doesn't end well, but is described as sort of awesome anyway.
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 The Brownian-Motion within this love potion,

ensures our opinions are always dividing.

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  • The Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract" is basically all about this trope. And the music video involves her singing it as a duet with an animated rapping cat...
  • The song also called "Opposites Attract" by Juris.


Video Games

  • BioWare has a tendency to create somewhat psychotic mad people (usually women) who can be most successfully romanced by a nicer player character.
    • Jack in Mass Effect 2 is impulsive, impatient, anger-driven, and generally insane; the Paragon romance arc involves calmly and patiently listening to her issues and generally being nice.
    • Morrigan in Dragon Age is a survivalist in the extreme who believes love is a weakness; she does, however, approve of some of the Warden's behavior that is rather contrary to her stated doctrine.
    • Garrus in Mass Effect 2 has trouble with the rules, but is just as likely to fall for Female!Shepard if she calls him out on it and points out that the rules are there for good reasons as if she goes along with his ends justify the means ideas.
    • Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic is attracted to the male player character no matter what, so if you are a silly rule-bending sort or an Ax Crazy maniac your very straight-laced and overly serious companion will still fall for you.
  • Persona 2: Tatsuya Suou and Maya Amano. Tatsuya is an aloof teenage loner while Maya is a perky, outgoing young woman. For an added bonus, they're the two main protagonists of Innocent Sin and Eternal Punishment, respectively.
  • In Fire Emblem Elibe we have Fiora (serious, motherly Pegasus Knight) and Sain (Chivalrous Pervert who mouths off to authority). And if you max out their supports, they get married.
    • Also Fiora's Tsundere and Hot-Blooded middle sister Farina and Sain's partner Kent. Yup, they can get hitched at A support level too. They even hang a huge lampshade on this:
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 Farina: “This is probably someone else's doing... Like Marcus, or Oswin... You know, Merlinus might try something like this, too...”

Kent: “I don't think it is a conspiracy... I mean, what would anyone have to gain from making us fight together?”

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  • The Forerunners Didact and Librarian from Halo. The Librarian is a Friend to All Living Things whose favorite species was humanity. The Didact is a Four-Star Badass in a society of pacifists, who was responsible for destroying humanity's empire and sending us back to earth as cavemen. Everyone lampshades how odd this match is; however, they both love each other fiercely.
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 Bornstellar: Your relationship with the Lifeshaper does not seem ideal

Didact: You don't know the half of it.

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Web Comics


Web Original

  • Mille and Iriana of Ilivais X. Iriana is a Broken Bird Creepy Child who acts like an Emotionless Girl to avoid her Drive Core pushing her towards being a hyper Love Freak, and is highly logical and cynical, yet becomes surprisingly impassioned and devoted when those she cares about are in danger. Mille is essentially a blank slate Phonos Weapon in the form of a cheerful, lively, and outgoing Ethical Slut who's a little on the ditzy side and erratically emotional, but take Iriana from her and she becomes dark and sullen. They couldn't be more opposite, and they couldn't be crazier about each other.


Western Animation


Real Life

  • Actual science tends to show that the best predictor of compatibility is in fact similar background, interests, and attitudes. A likely reason is that we tend to only notice the ways a couple are different (since it's not that surprising when two partners are alike), at which point we feel the need to form a theory to explain why all the couples we see are so different (when they are, in fact, Not So Different). The grain of truth in it is that a partner who's exactly like you in every way would probably cause all sorts of problems, so we do seek our opposites, after a fashion--just not our total opposites.
  • SPC Kate Norley, an activist representing Vets For Freedom, a group whose "mission is to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in [Iraq and Afghanistan]," and still an occasional guest commentator on Fox News, while attending the 2008 RNC convention to show her support for John McCain, as part of a campaign that earned her praise from right-wing bloggers up to and including Michelle Malkin, apparently fell in love with one of the correspondents there. They're now engaged, and they expect to marry sometime 2011. His name? John Oliver.
  • Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. For example, Roger Ebert hated Mars Attacks (Film) because Tim Burton "seemed to like the aliens more than the humans" (paraphrasing); Gene Siskel loved it for the exact same reason. Even in watching old At the Movies episodes, you can tell that Siskel is more carefree and cheery, while Roger Ebert is ever-sarcastic and snarky.
    • The biggest case of this is perhaps their disparate views on Blue Velvet. Ebert notoriously hated it and found the scene with Isabella Rosselini standing naked on Kyle Mac Lachlan's lawn to be misogynstic, while Gene Siskel loved it and compared it to Psycho.
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