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She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirtsShe's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers
—Taylor Swift, "You Belong With Me"
One of the most common types of Love Triangle, named after characters from Archie Comics, wherein the main character ("Archie") is caught between two love interests with drastically different personalities. "Betty" is the sweet, reliable, everyday Girl Next Door type (if done wrong, this can mean: 'kinda dull'), whilst "Veronica" is more alluring, exotic and edgy, but has a more 'troublesome' or 'dangerous' personality (which could translate to 'a bit mean'). This translates to their physical appearances; "Betty" will usually be more plain (or at least as close as Hollywood gets), whilst "Veronica" will be Ms. Fanservice in all her glory. As a rule, one will be blond and the other dark or red haired.
The usual dynamic is that "Betty", often the hero's best friend, is herself deeply in love with "Archie" (who might see them as Just Friends or being Like Brother and Sister, hence his obliviousness to her feelings), whilst "Veronica" is the sultry Ms. Unattainable who, despite attracting the hero's attention, barely notices his existence. "Betty" will want the hero to be happy and thus suppress her own desire to help the hero in his quest to win over "Veronica". Another possibility is that "Archie" and "Betty" are already in a relationship, but then "Veronica" starts batting her eyelashes, causing friction between the couple. Historically, "Betty" is the parents' choice, and "Veronica" rejected.
If the two love interests are male instead of female, they are often characterized as the kind-hearted, polite Nice Guy and the hunky 'Bad Boy'. It's not unusual for the main character to fall for the prince-like good guy who's probably rich but not in touch emotionally, and only later fall for the Tall, Dark and Handsome romantic rebel.
Whom the hero will end up with varies according to media, story, and values of the time period and culture where the story was made. Traditionally, "Betty" stood a better chance because she conformed to more 'acceptable' moral norms, whilst choosing "Veronica" would only lead the poor sap into ruin. Usually, the hero would spend the story chasing "Veronica" only to realize that "Betty" was The One -- complete with a convenient 'appreciate what you've got' or True Beauty Is on the Inside Aesop. However, as attitudes to what is 'appropriate' sexual conduct have liberalized, it's more accepted for "Veronica" to have a chance at winning a happy ending too, and she may even win a few "Betty" traits in her path to romantic happiness. Movies have traditionally favoured "Betty", but video games, comics and TV shows (especially long runners) have played this trope for all it's worth.
Comfortable and safe, Betty does not shake up your world. Picking Betty means you are happy with your life options and don't want to change things too much. Veronica is completely different from what you are used to. Veronica opens your mind to new possibilities and changes your world. Choosing Veronica suggests you are dissatisfied with the options life has given you and you want something else (even if you don't know what the "else" is).
In case this wasn't complicated enough, sometimes a Third Option Love Interest makes their presence known to shake things up even further. And in others, Betty and Veronica turn out to be more complex than it seems, or have traits of both types: in that case, it's a Betty and Veronica Switch.
Do be aware that fans like to exaggerate potential relationships; Shipping would not exist without it. As a result there are likely to be multiple instances of an Official Couple (vindicated by Word of God) that has some sort of Fanon-based "romantic rival" mirroring this trope. Even shows without such romantic entanglements in-universe can inspire Betty/Veronica debates amongst the Fandom; hence, Mary Ann/Ginger, Bailey/Jennifer, Janet/Chrissy, Velma/Daphne, etc.
Esoteric Card Games
- Card VI "The Lovers" of the Tarot has, in many versions, the imagery of an Archie who needs to choose between a Bettie and a Veronica. It's meant to represent the choice between sense and sensibility, etc.
- This dynamic is perfectly captured with the lyric "your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want"
- In an odd contrast to this lyric, Veronica was actually a big-city debutante in her initial introduction in the 1940s, in order to contrast with small-town Betty.
- Dolly Parton's famous song Jolene paints the picture of this variety of love triangle. Jolene (with her "beauty beyond compare") is the Veronica, and the singer (who "cannot compete with you, Jolene") is the Betty. The song consists of "Betty" begging Jolene not to steal her man.
- Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" features a love triangle between blonde Girl Next Door Taylor Swift and a dark-haired cheerleader rival.
- It's interesting to note that in one of her lesser-known songs (The Way I Loved You) Taylor Swift takes the role of Archie choosing between her current boyfriend (Betty) who she describes as 'sensible' and who 'calls exactly when he says he will' and her 'wild and crazy' ex who is 'just so frustrating, intoxicating, complicated', who fills the role of Veronica. In the end, she chooses her ex.
- A Brazilian
countrysertanejo song called "O Grafino e o Caipira" that tells the story of a rich city guy (the Veronica) and a hick (the Betty) fighting over a pretty girl. In the end, she gets tired of their fighting and goes for the cowboy
- "The Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica. While this isn't explicit in the song itself, if you look at the ladies' individual musical styles, Brandy is more a sweet girl-next-door while Monica has more of a street edge.
- The video clip of Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend depicts Avril (as the Veronica) convincing the Archie to leave his uptight Betty girlfriend for her more interesting, more bullying self. Veronica wins.
- Paul and Storm's "More Than Two" mentions the Trope Namers and Takes A Third Option
- Bryan Adams's "Run To You." The Archie sings about cheating on his Betty-esque girlfriend with his Veronica.
"She's got a heart of gold, she'd never let me down/ But you're the woman who always turns me on, you keep me comin' 'round."
- The Statler Brothers' 1972 country hit "Do You Remember These" has a quick line, "Veronica and Betty" toward the end of songs, part of a longer list of 1950s nostalgia.
- In Wicked, Fiyero and Glinda initially bond over their self absorption and love of living it large. They start going steady. Elphaba realises she loves Fiyero the day they rescue the lion cub, he starts to realise he has feelings for her ... It sorts itself out for the best eventually.
- In Georges Bizet's Opera, Carmen, Micaëla and Carmen are, respectively, a Betty and Veronica for Don José.
- In Lady in the Dark, Liza Elliott, editor of Allure magazine, is unable to make up her mind between Kendall Nesbitt, the publisher who started the magazine for her, and hunky Hollywood actor Randy Curtis. She finally decides to reject both and Take a Third Option.
- The Rainmaker has File (a Betty-type) and Starbuck (a Veronica-type) as rival love interests for Lizzie (same goes for The Musical version 110 in the Shade).
- Thirteen has Brett in a Love Triangle with Kendra (Betty) and Lucy (Veronica). Meanwhile there's a friendship version of the trope where Evan has to decide between being friends with Brett and the cool kids (Veronica) or with the losers Patrice and Archie (Betty). Then there's a subtle one of Kendra liking Brett (Veronica) while being oblivious to Archie (Betty).
- The Wildhorn musical adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde has the aristocratic Emma Carew as the Betty and prostitute Lucy as the Veronica. Several screen adaptations of the story have also used the trope, with Jekyll's fiancee (usually the daughter of Sir Danvers Carew) as the Betty and a prostitute/bar girl that Hyde picks up as the Veronica.
- The musical Anything Goes has Hope Harcourt (Betty) and Reno Sweeney (Veronica) for Billy Crocker. Coincidentally, the actress who originally played Hope was named Bettina Hall; the original Reno, of course, was Ethel Merman.
- The musical Girl Crazy (now best remembered for being Ethel Merman's stage debut as well as introducing the song I Got Rhythm) centers around a Betty and Veronica: Danny is stuck between simple mail carrier Molly (Betty, played by Ginger Rogers) and the saloon owner's glamorous daughter Kate (Veronica, played by Merman).
- The musical Avenue Q has Princeton (Archie) going out with Kate Monster (Betty) before leaving her for Lucy T. Slut (Veronica). Don't worry; in the end he goes back to Kate.
- The Phantom of the Opera has Christine choose between her childhood sweetheart and general Knight in Shining Armor Raoul (Betty) and the insane, brooding but more passionate Phantom. Subverted, as although Word of God says that Christine loves The Phantom the most, in the end she chooses the Safe Option, Raoul.
- Romeo and Juliet - Juliet's decision between her two suitors. Paris courts her in the 'proper' way, by asking her father's permission. Romeo falls in love with her, marries her in secret and even kills a beloved family member.
- Fate/stay night has a very subtle application in either Rin (brunette, rich, adored-by-the-male-school-populace "Veronica") and Saber (blonde, simple, virtuous "Betty") inadvertently and unconsciously vying for Shiro's (redhead "Archie") affections; or Rin and Sakura (though not blonde, is the simpler, much more well-mannered parent-friendly choice).
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc we have Sayaka Maizono as the cheerful Betty whom Makoto has known since junior high, and Kyouko Kirigiri as the coolminded Veronica whom he's just met. Sayaka becomes the murder game's first casuality, however, leaving Kyoko to survive the whole game (unless one gets the bad ending, which is triggered by her execution).
- In Fans!, Rikk is the subject of a Love Triangle between Rumy, the quiet, shy but centered and focused Betty, and Alisin, the hedonistic, outgoing but self-loathing and unpredictable Veronica, both of whom are equally devoted to and passionately in love with him. Over most of the series, Alisin had the upper hand, which led Rumy to channel her feelings into ensuring that Rikk was happy with Alisin instead. Somewhat uniquely, everyone in the Love Triangle become so close that they eventually decide to form a three-way romantic relationship.
- Pibgorn: Pibgorn (Betty) and Drusilla (Veronica) both love Geoffrey, but when he chooses Pib, Drusilla goes along with it. Unusual in that Dru is a succubus.
- Rip and Teri: The 'Betty' is Teri, a meek and somewhat nerdy English teacher. The 'Veronica' is Tatyana, a glamourous and gorgeous ex-super spy and TV station CEO. However, whilst Tatyana thinks that the hero still has a thing for her, he's actually madly in love with Teri. It kind of helps that, in their brief romance, Tatyana manipulated and betrayed him, however.
- Cindy (Betty) and Dusk (Veronica) in Faux Pas. They're both vixens, but Dusk's fur is darker.
- College Roomies from Hell: While Dave seems to have chosen Veronica (rich-girl-with-issues Blue) over Betty (survivalist-psycho-chick Margaret), Dave remains close to (and admittedly emotionally attached to) Margaret.
- Oddly enough, Margaret, the so-called Betty, was the one that barely knew Dave existed at the start of the comic, whereas Blue, the Veronica, was in love with him off the bat.
- Arthur, King of Time and Space: In the "space arc", Arthur has to choose between the outspoken but basically nice Action Girl Guenevere (Betty) and the ambitious and amoral enchantress Morgan La Fay (Veronica). The First Girl Wins, although only after the Second Girl is disqualified.
- Megatokyo: Piro (Archie)'s current girlfriend, Kimiko, is an emotionally insecure struggling actress (Betty), whereas Miho, his ex, is a very dark and enigmatic Veronica.
- Inversely, Erika's former fiance was a close friend from high school (Betty), while her current beau, an insane American hacker genius / zombie slayer, is most certainly the male equivalent of the Veronica.
- In Scary Go Round, sensible Erin Winters (Betty) and Perky Goth Dark Esther (Veronica) competed for The Boy's affection. Esther won.
- A more recent love triangle involves Esther's friend Sarah, with Ryan Beckwith as the independent, older Veronica. Carrot would be a safer Betty here if his chances of success weren't those of the Isle of Wight trying to invade China.
- Jean Poule and Princess Voluptua in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob.
- Girl Genius has Klaus as Veronica, Bill as Betty and Lucrezia Mongfish as Archie. Interestingly, the friendship between Klaus and Bill is stronger than either, and Klaus is determined to protect the naive Bill from the untrustworthy Lucrezia. He fails, bigtime.
- Then there's the current generation of Sparks, with Klaus's son as Betty, the son of Lucrezia's most fervent supporter (besides the spider-riding people who worship her as a goddess...) as Veronica, and Bill and Lucrezia's little girl as Archie.
- Played with/deconstructed/ripped apart/critically examined (it's the way of their tribe) in this strip of Xkcd.
- In General Protection Fault, there is initially a love triangle between Ki the Betty and Trudy the Veronica over Nick, who is torn between his feelings for the two of them and his lack of experience in dating and romance. He eventually goes with Ki.
- In Questionable Content, Dora being mentally healthy and straightforward would be the Betty to Marten's Archie. Distant, emotionally impaired and mysterious Faye would be the Veronica. Dora wins.
- Additionally, Angus has emerged as the Betty and Sven as the Veronica to Faye.
- And recently, we have Marigold (Betty) and Faye (Veronica) to Angus. Which even more recently appears to have been resolved by a pairing of Angus and Faye.
- Actually, calling any Questionable Content character other than Marten himself a "Betty" is quite a stretch.
- Additionally, Angus has emerged as the Betty and Sven as the Veronica to Faye.
- In Penny and Aggie, idealistic Aggie is the Betty, and cynical, venomous Karen the Veronica, to Marshall.
- Similarly, quiet, bookish Duane is the Betty, and rough-edged sk8er boi Rich the Veronica, to Penny.
- Also, theoretically, the original point of the comic is that Penny is Veronica and Aggie is Betty (or the other way 'round, arguably, as Aggie's goth-ness could make her seem dark and mysterious). Their animosity stems from this difference, though there's no Archie between them.
- In El Goonish Shive, Elliot happened to fall for both fellow (and stronger) martial artist Nanase and Sane Girl of the cast, Sarah. The triangle remains only for about five minutes after they all discover what's going on, though.
- Misfile: Emily (the sensible Betty) and Missi (the wilder Veronica) both like Ash.
- In The Dreamer, Bea finds herself trying choose between 21st century Ben and 18th century Alan, with Alan as the Veronica and Ben as the Betty. However, the twist is, that Ben is the "safe" one, but family-loving, apple farmer, puritan Alan probably has more Betty characteristics than Ben, so which is Betty and which is Veronica depends on your interpretation and the situation Bea is in.
- It is also worth noting that even in the 18th century segments of the comic there is still a Betty and Veronica dynamic with Alan (Betty) and a young Alexander Hamilton (Veronica). Although, it's pretty obvious which one Bea loves best/chooses.
- Gender-flipped in Goblins, with the cowardly Dies-Horribly and the Heroic Gremm both vying for the affections of Saves-A-Fox.
- Sandra and Larisa from Sandra and Woo as Betty resp. a particularly chaotic Veronica. In this case, the Archie (Cloud) seems to clearly prefer the Betty.
- In Our Little Adventure, Angelika, being the Veronica, trashes Emily as mousy.
- Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog gives us the male version, with Dr. Horrible (Villain Protagonist) as the Betty and Captain Hammer (Hero Antagonist) as the Veronica.
- The Gungan Council has Anara (Jedi) and Kith (Sith) being the love interests for Tantor.
- Real life Betty/Veronica tensions = brunette, cute Judy Garland vs. fast, "Sweater Girl" Lana Turner, both in love with bandleader Artie Shaw.
- More famously, Debbie Reynolds (Betty) vs. Elizabeth "Liz" Taylor (Veronica). After Liz's third husband Michael Todd suddenly died in a plane crash barely a year after their marriage, Reynold's husband Edwin "Eddie" Fisher (father to Carrie, and the best friend of the late Todd) left his family to be with Liz. The nation sided against Eddie and Liz, until Liz came down with a near fatal case of pneumonia.
- Blonde Jennifer Aniston as the Betty, brunette Angelina Jolie as the Veronica, Brad Pitt as... Archie? The tabloids had many, many field days with this, as did the broadsheets...
- The Notorious B.I.G. and his well-known triangle with Lil' Kim and Faith Evans. Which is Betty and which is Veronica is not as clear as it seems, as he and Kim were intimate for years before he met Faith.
- John Lennon (Archie)/Cynthia Lennon (Betty)/Yoko Ono (Veronica, in the "exotic and edgy" sense).
- ↑ though she eventually turned out to be more screwed-up than she appeared