Heroes are typically portrayed as coming from average beginnings and being relatively anonymous before the plot happens. That, or they're specifically shown to be poor, downtrodden or outcasts. So what better way to distinguish The Rival right off the bat than by having them be just the opposite? Depending on genre, they can be anywhere from royalty/nobility, to having otherwise noteworthy parents, to just plain being loaded—with all the advantages that implies. Of course, this also makes said rival more of a challenge for the hero, which in turn makes the victory that much sweeter.
More common when protagonists are younger, because what your parents do reflects more on your personal story at that point. This trope also allows the rival to start off privileged and grow from looking down on to respecting the hero as he climbs up the ladder himself.
Anime and Manga
- Naruto: Sasuke, while also an orphan, is from the Uchiha Clan, and is noteworthy for his bloodline. Naruto on the other hand knows nothing of his parentage and is looked down upon by everyone.
- This relationship gets a lot more complicated in Shippudden however
- Yu-Gi-Oh! : Kaiba is the CEO of Kaiba Corp and is self-made.
- Dragonball Z : Vegeta Prince of all Saiyans to Goku a low class soldier, or a circus clown.
- Gundam Wing : Zechs is later revealed to be the missing heir of the Peacecraft name.
- Kentaro Sakata from Love Hina starts as this in contrast with the poor Keitaro, however he rapidily lost all of his money on her pursuit of Naru and ended becoming just a background character.
- Vali Lucifer in High School DxD is this for Issei. The former is a descendant of the original Lucifer so that gives him a high amount of magical reserves, is capable of using Juggernaut Drive without any defects whatsoever for a few minutes, and is capable of learning spells just by reading them. The latter however comes from an ordinary background with normal parents, and just used Boosted Gear for only six months. They also have different tastes in their fetish where the former loves the female buttocks, while the latter loves female breasts.
- Ashita no Joe : Toru Rikiishi is this to protagonist Joe Yabuki. The former is more collected and cultured and a better-functioning member of society, with much more experience in professional boxing. Joe is an orphan who has spent his entire life in the streets, is an absolute jerk and his bratty and impulsive behavior induces fear and irritation whereas Rikiishi's induces admiration and respect. Besides, Joe trains in a hovel under a bridge while Rikiishi has a gym built just for him by a rich family.
- John Hughes' Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful were both movies where there was one rich kid and one poor kid vying for the heroine's affections.
- Gattaca: Since the film takes place in a world where people where having good genes means success, Anton is this to Vincent despite them being raised by the same family.
- Deryni Rising has Kelson (young, inexperienced, labouring under a religious and social system that persecutes Deryni) facing Charissa, who's about a decade older, highly trained in arcana, wealthy and related to the royal family of the neighbouring kingdom that has no such history of persecution.
- Harry Potter: Harry's rival Draco Malfoy is from another powerful magic family. His father is shown to have the ear of the Minster for Magic Cornelius Fudge.
- A Wizard of Earthsea. When Ged arrives at Roke Island, he gains a rival named Jasper, who's the son of the Lord of the Domain of Eolg on the Isle of Havnor. Ged is just the son of a smith, and is rubbed the wrong way by Jasper's extremely polite but condescending manners.
- Veronica Mars: Most of the villains are villainous because they have the money to bribe, cheat, and scam their way through the court system which effectively kneecaps the only thing Veronica can do (sleuth, get evidence, get them in court).
- Parks and Recreation just gave us Leslie's opponent to the City Council seat, uber-privileged and oblivious Bobby Newport, heir to the Sweetums empire.
- In Round the Twist, the Twist kids' nemesis is the rich kid James Gribble, whose dad eventually ends up mayor of their town.
- Ryu and Ken of Street Fighter fame. Ryu is an orphan adopted by Gouken, Ken is the son of a rich hotel tycoon. In order to make sure Ken didn't become a Spoiled Brat and learned discipline, Mr. Masters sent a young Ken (approx. twelve years old) to Japan to study under the watchful eye of his best friend. Ryu and Ken grew up together, and remain best friends and friendly rivals to this day.
- These two even have their own Distaff Counterparts in the form of Sakura Kasugano and Karin Kanzuki, who even resemble female versions of Ryu and Ken (the only difference being that Karin uses her own self-taught style of martial arts, Kanzuki-ryuu kakutojutsu). Sakura (happy-go-lucky gal who imitates Ryu's style in the hopes that she can meet him one day and train under him) defeats Karin (heiress of the ultra-wealthy Kanzuki Corporation and a Rich Bitch in general), so Karin declares Sakura her rival and hounds her for a rematch. Eventually, Karin mellows out after realizing her win against Sakura in A3 was a fluke, deciding that (as Ken told her previously) winning and losing isn't as important as the match itself. There are implications in later games (such as Namco X Capcom) that the two became friends and enjoy a friendly rivalry not unlike like Ryu and Ken.
- Tekken has Asuka Kazama and Emilie "Lili" de Rochefort, who can be seen as Alternate Company Equivalents of the aforementioned Sakura and Karin. Asuka is a scrappy street fighter and ordinary schoolgirl; Lili is the daughter of a wealthy oil magnate from Monaco. Lili loses to Asuka in 5: Dark Resurrection and, driven by revenge, spends the next tournament trying to challenge Asuka to a rematch. In her ending, Lili's butler Sebastian comments that fighting is how Lili makes friends, so make of that what you will.
- The Pokémon Series had this in every generation until Gen V
- Blue/Green/Gary is grandson of Professor Oak, leading researcher worldwide
- Silver is son of Giovanni Boss of Team Rocket
- May/Brendan is the daughter/son of Prof Birch, leading local researcher. Inverted later when the player is the son/daughter of Norman the Gym leader and the humble Wally becomes the real rival.
- Pearl/Barry is the son of Palmer a Frontier Brain
- Fairly Oddparents : Timmy's only rival that also has a Fairy God Parent is named Remy Buxaplenty for obvious reasons.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko, prince of the Fire Nation is this to Aang, an orphan raised by monks.
- Amusingly, Zuko also has Azula as his Privileged Rival. Azula has all the ove from their father that Zuko never did, and in Season 2 we have the contrast of penniless, hunted, surviving in a kingdom of his enemies Zuko vs Azula, who has all the wealth, resources, and influence of the Fire Nation behind her.
- Penelope to Atomic Betty in civilian mode.
- The Smythe-Higgins family from Hey Arnold!, Arnold's family's intergenerational rivals, are shown to be of the upper-class.