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"In the untalented, excellence generates a sense of wonder and amazement. In the merely talented, on the other hand, genius creates burning hatred and jealousy."

Sometimes, the hero's many strengths and talents will inspire due awe and respect... and envy. No matter how amazing and lovable the protagonist is, these traits will invariably manage to rub someone the wrong way, sometimes prompting people into doing horrible things just to get the hero out of their sight.

A sub-trope of Green-Eyed Monster, Driven By Envy is a trope that deals specifically with a character acting on his envy. It is related to Always Second Best. For those instances where love, rather than envy, is the impetus for the misdeeds, see If I Can't Have You and Murder the Hypotenuse.

Compare The Resenter. Super-Trope of Fairest of Them All.

Examples of Driven by Envy include:


Anime and Manga

  • Mello of Death Note wants to defeat Kira simply to satisfy his own inferiority complex. While he hates Near for surpassing him, Near hardly tales notice of this.
  • Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist. In the first anime, it's envy towards the Elric brothers, because they received the love of their father Hohenheim while Envy (the failed resurrection of Hohenheim's firstborn son) was abandoned and thought of as a monster. In the manga and Brotherhood, it's envy towards the entirety of humanity because they're able to feel things he, as an Artificial Human, cannot.
  • Jagi in Fist of the North Star.
    • Yuda is an even better example, as is Shin.
  • Danglars in Gankutsuou.
  • Dr. Mikamura in G Gundam
  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, Princess Shoukei from Hou had a playmate who was very pretty and graceful. Shoukei's mom, Queen Kakai, was so upset by the girl being "better" than her little girl... that she falsely accused her mother (one of her own handmaidens) of accepting bribes, which led to both mother and daughter being executed. After King Chuutatsu is overthrown and killed, the Rebel Leader Gekkei captures Kakai and Shoukei, and harshly calls the queen out for killing the two maids before he beheaded her as punishment.
  • Tohsaka in Mahou Sensei Negima, who resents Negi for being the protagonist, while he himself is, in his own words, just a "side-character".
    • He actually has real reasons to be jealous of Negi, and he points them out himself. He was an orphan from a fallen country, thus an arena slave, while Negi had, compared to his, a happy life (excluding the Doomed Hometown). Tohsaka had to fight twenty years to earn his freedom (and even after obtaining his own freedom, he stuck arround to help his companions), while Negi will buy his students and friends' freedom within two months of fighting. Also, despite all of his training, Tohsaka is still not above par for the Magic World, whilst Negi could very well fit in the same category that houses monstruous powerhouses like Rakan.
      • Still doesn't justify blackmailing Negi into becoming his slave out of pure envy. Thank God Ako went Take Me Instead!, which let Tohsaka realize he was going off the deep end and show that he actually was much less of a jerk than we thought.
  • This trope pretty much drives the story of Ga-Rei and its Prequel Ga-Rei Zero. In the prequel at least, Mei's Heel Face Turn is fueled by her envy toward Yomi and then Yomi's Heel Face Turn is caused by her envy toward Kagura. It didn't end well for everyone involved.
  • Black Rock Shooter: Yomi (no relation to the above) turns into Dead Master out of envy toward Yuu, who (from her POV) is taking Mato from her.
  • Hell Girl has a lot but the most notable is probably the theatre episode.
  • Aki Honda from Narutaru is really envious of Hiroko's grades. The end results are not pretty for either of them.
  • Gundam Seed's Muruta Azrael is a genocidal madman who's out to exterminate every Coordinator. He claims it's because they are a threat to humanity, but his flashbacks and some of the things that he says suggest that what he's really angry about is that they dare to be better than him.


Comic Books

  • Flintheart Glomgold from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe is made of this trope; his entire motivation is that he's the Second Richest Duck in the World.
  • Superman's 1990s enemy Conduit.
    • This is also a facet of both the Master Jailer's hatred of Superman and that of Lex Luthor himself. In Lex's case, he hates Superman because he's the only person alive who is simply better than him, and he knows if Superman wasn't around he would be humanity's greatest hero instead. In Blackest Night, Wonder Woman used her lasso to make Lex admit that he wanted to be Superman.
  • Ocean Master/Orm was indeed this trope in the Silver Age comics, where he grew up as Aquaman's non-superpowered half-brother and tried competing at things like swimming but he's had a different backstory since the first big Crisis Crossover Re Boot.
  • Captain America villain Flag-Smasher didn't start out this way, but from his second appearance onwards admitted to hating Cap for simply being so much better physically and morally.
  • The primary and secret reason for newspaper publisher J. Jonah Jameson's hatred of Spider-Man and why he uses the Daily Bugle to public denounce him. It is revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #10 that Jameson is envious of Spidey's altruistic heroism. Jameson admits to himself he needs to tear down Spider-Man because he can't be as good a man as him.
  • Although he'll never admit it, the reason Doctor Doom hates Reed Richards as passionately as he does is because he can't stand the fact that Reed is smarter, better, and more admired than him, and always manages to foil his schemes through superior intelligence.
  • One of the reasons Loki's relationship with his brother Thor was so conflicted was because Loki envied Thor for being Odin's favored son. Of course, Loki's constant scheming against Thor (though Thor was far from being Loki's only target) in his efforts to one-up him gave Odin and the rest of Asgard more and more reasons to hate Loki, to the point that now every Asgardian except Thor and (maybe) the Warriors Three wants to kill Loki even after he was reincarnated as a relatively innocent and powerless child with no memories of his past self.
  • The Amazon Alcyone frequently tried to kill Wonder Woman, claiming that she was an abomination who would bring doom to Themyscira. After one defeat, Diana forced her to reveal the real reason: Alcyone envied Hippolyta because Hippolyta got to have a child while Alcyone couldn't. Deep down, she wished Diana was her daughter.

Fairy Tales

Fanfic

  • The Takotsuboya K-ON Trilogy is often compared to Amadeus, with Yui taking on the Mozart role and Mio becoming the Salieri. This being the kind of story it is, things end well for neither of them.
  • In Naruto Veangance Revelaitons, Naruto is jealous of Ronan for among other things, being stronger than he is, having sex with Sakura on a regular basis, and eventually becoming king of the Ninjas. He eventually commits suicide over this and comes back on the enemy side, before Ronan defeats him.
    • I am deeply curious whether Naruto came back on the enemy side after the whole Edo Tensei thing rendered 'sentient zombie resurrections of dead characters' the actual vanguard of Akatsuki's army, or whether it was just typical badfic nonsensicalness intersecting the actual plot.


Film

Literature

  • Joseph's brothers, also in Genesis.
  • Satan from Paradise Lost
  • Danglars from The Count of Monte Cristo, who goes as far as to frame Edmond for treason.
    • From the same author, Isaac Boxtel of The Black Tulip, who, jealous of the hero's talent at horticulture and success at creating a black tulip, frames him and tries to steal the tulip's discovery for himself.
  • Snape from Harry Potter, though subverted in many ways. He still regularly bullies small children, though, whatever his redeeming characteristics.
  • In the Myth Adventures book, Little Myth Marker, small-time magicians jealous of Skeeve's success hire a "character assassin" to sabotage his career and destroy his reputation.
  • Zhou Yu, of Three Kingdoms quasi-fame manages to envy himself to death when confronted again and again (and, crushingly, again) with Zhuge Liang's downright unfair genius.
  • The entire deal behind the Judgement of Paris.
  • In The Wheel of Time, at least three of the Forsaken - Sammael, Be'lal and most especially Demandred - have hatred and envy of Lews Therin Telamon as their primary motivation for turning to the Shadow.
  • In Zora Neale Hurston's Moses Man of the Mountain, Moses's uncle Ta-Phar plots against him because Moses upstaged him with his tactical genius.
  • In The Silmarillion, Morgoth's main motivation for trying to destroy reality is that he is envious of Eru's ability to create. This later morphs into envy for all his creations: the Valar, Elves, Men and Middle-Earth itself.

Live Action TV

  • An entire episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is devoted to the plots of another witch Amy the former rat setting up traps for Willow out of sheer jealousy for Willow's talent at magic. Villain even rants about how she had to work and work and work to be half as powerful as Willow was without even trying.
  • On Merlin, this seems to be Morgana's main motivating factor in her vendetta against Guinevere, considering Gwen has more or less taken what Morgana considers to be her rightful place in Camelot and is destined to be its Queen.

Tabletop RPG

  • In Promethean: The Created, this is how disquiet manifersts for the Galatea. Being around them causes people to feel intense envy. At first a thought that they can't quite get out of their heads but gradually becomes an obsession as the guilt of feeling attracted to this person leads them to commit evil acts that eventually turn towards attacking the Galatean.

Theater

  • Salieri again. This time in the play that inspired the better known movie Amadeus.
  • Iago from Othello - subverted, as his priority is not Cassio, but Othello (although he might envy the latter's relationship with Desdemona).
    • Alternate Character Interpretations by Shakespeare scholars also suggest the possibility that Iago was in love with Othello himself, so the entire play was really a ploy to remove those people closest to Othello so Iago could either have him all to himself, or so he could make Othello suffer for marrying Desdemona and promoting Cassio.

Mythology

  • Athena, who hated losing a weaving contest so much that she turned the winner into a spider.
  • Aphrodite did not take people claiming that Psyche was more beautiful than her very well at all. In Aphrodite's case, she ordered her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly man, which backfired when Eros fell in love with Psyche and married her making her an in-law.
  • Apollo, who hated losing the first round of a music contest so much that he changed the rules of the second round making it impossible for his competitor to win, then skinned the other guy alive and cursed the judge who ruled against him in round one to have donkey ears.

Video Games

  • Sticky Fingaz in Def Jam: Fight For NY. His resentment of the player character's greater skills leads to him switching sides and trying to murder the hero and his girlfriend.
  • Erik of Laus in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword in regards to Hector and Eliwood.
    • Also, what drives a good part of the conflict between Trabant of Thracia and Cuan of Lenster in Fire Emblem Seisen no Keifu. Thracia is a montainous land that borders on Crapsack World, while Lester is more peaceful and fertile; this drives Trabant to desire at first for the well-being for his people, and then to cruelly murder Cuan and his wife Ethlin and take their daughter Altenna hostage so his land will have the upper hand.
  • The backstory of the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Dead Money has singer Dean Domino envious of businessman Francis Sinclair's happiness, which he saw as self-absorbed pretentiousness. Because of this, he planned to rob the vault of his casino, the Sierra Madre with the help of Vera Keyes, an old fling. The plan failed due to a combination of Vera getting cold feet and the nuclear holocaust happening moments afterwards, though Dean (now a ghoul) stuck around trying to rob the vault. By the end of the DLC, Dean either gets killed by the Courier or survives and helps the Courier into the vault, where in the epilogue he learns Sinclair and Keyes' side of the story, goes through a Heel Realization and leaves the Sierra Madre for the world outside.

Western Animation

  • Orm from Batman the Brave And The Bold.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, this seems to have been an underlying factor for Eddie Brock/Venom--in this continuity their parents were friends and died in the same plane crash, but Eddie seems angry that he apparently had no one to take him in while Peter got Happily Adopted by his aunt and uncle.
    • While the series was Left Hanging before he could make the full turn to supervillainy, Harry Osborn as well. Peter seems to be better than him at school and sports, Harry's father obviously prefers him, and at the end of the series, he accidentally overhears Peter and his girlfriend, Gwen, planning to get together as soon as she can break up with Harry.
  • Shown in the page image is Princess Morbucks from The Powerpuff Girls. Her penchant for evil is entirely driven by her desire to be better than the Powerpuff Girls.
    • Or rather that the girls won't let her be one and with good reason. She's a glory hog, has no powers of her own and almost got herself killed when she tried to make her debut. In a nice bit of irony, once she gets an upgraded suit it never strikes her that she could strike out on her own. Instead wasting it on fighting the PPG.
    • Morbucks even attacks the Powerpuff Girls' new friend Robin because she can't understand why the girls would want to be friends with Robin and not her.

Real Life

  • Ethan Hawke admitted that he felt "Salieri" levels of envy of his friend and Explorers co-star, the late River Phoenix, when he got so much acclaim and attention for his work in movies like Stand by Me.
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