The 23 Most Compelling Arch Nemesis Pairings in Fiction

by Mombloglife

The hero-villain pairing resulting in an arch-nemesis duo is a tried and true fictional trope, offering viewers a sense of security in knowing who the good guy is, who the bad guy is, and who will eventually come out on top.

What Is an Arch Nemesis?

The arch nemesis duo usually follows the good guy vs. bad guy storyline, but it doesn’t have to. 

Batman and Joker

Batman and the Joker showcase one of fiction’s most popular arch-nemesis pairs. The chaotic evil Joker taunts Batman with his pandemonium, compelling our hero to break laws in pursuit of the ultimate villain.

Superman and Lex Luther

The quintessential lawful hero, Superman, constantly thwarts Lex Luther’s evil plans for world domination. Luther wants to control the world, and Superman, with his strong morality and adherence to humanity’s law, is the only one who can stop him. 

Wonder Woman and Cheetah

Throughout the ages, Wonder Woman’s arch nemesis morphed from an insecure debutante jealous of Wonder Woman’s ability to a powerful villain on a mission from her own evil gods. 

Robin Hood and The Sherrif of Nottingham

Robin Hood embodies the spirit of chaotic good. His constant lawlessness stands at odds against the gruff Sherrif, but his ultimate goal is to help the people fight against a corrupt, unjust government, which the Sherrif gleefully takes part in. 

A fun aspect of the arch-nemesis trope is how it morphs in varying stories as we age. Children see simplified examples of good vs. evil in He-Man vs. Skeletor, while adults enjoy complex narratives where friends like Angel and Spike act as arch enemies or good guys fight on the same side but become rivals in matters of love.