Yeah, I know that seems off topic, but the never-ending comparison between Nex and Riven popped up in the comment a few times. Here’s a quote:
As for the Riven vs Nex thing… As someone who loves Riven with all my heart, I don’t think Nex and him are too similar, but I understand why there’s so much comparison. I saw your blog post on the subject of their constant comparison, but I feel like you just took what Rainbow claims as their personality traits and weighed them on a scale like it was math. I’m not criticizing, but I wouldn’t prefer that. I think it was how the introduction of both characters was so similar, people assumed Nex would turn out the way Riven did. Clearly, they didn’t end up too alike, but if you introduce a character with the same introduction as a previous one, obviously people are going to think of them as the same.
Sigh. Okay, let’s try a less mathematical approach. I’ll compare Nex and Riven’s introductions to Winx Club episode by episode. How similar were they? Let’s find out.
Riven debuted in the very first episode of Winx Club, “An Unexpected Event”, after Stella called for backup against Knut and the hunting troll. (Fun fact: in the 4Kids dub, Knut was voiced by Nex’s voice actor Marc Thompson.) Nex debuted in “The Flying School” (Winx season 6, episode 3) with his best friend Thoren. Like the Specialists, they came to Lynphea College for special training from the guru.
Riven Growls at Girls
We learned little about Riven in this episode. He lassoed the troll, and while Sky, Brandon, and Timmy wanted to call it a day, he wanted to…beat it up. “Don’t you wanna have a little fun first?”
Fine. It had it coming, anyway. But he didn’t have time to because it yanked him off his feet and dropped him between Bloom and Stella.
You know how I said in his “Nex vs. Riven” post he’s canonically a misogynist? I didn’t remember how right I was. The two fairies started cooing over him (because…he’s a boy), but he wanted nothing to do with them. He stood up and growled, “Girls!” They stared at each other as he cleaved through ghouls before Knut knocked him down.
Nex Rings Out His Rival
Nex’s first line in the series told us two things about him: he’s flirty, and he thinks he’s unbeatable:
Hey, ladies! When it’s my turn, I’ll give this guys a run for their money!
Anyway, Roy thought Nex was hitting on Aisha (he wasn’t), so he challenged him to a match. Nex started roughhousing and finished him by blastinghim out of the ring with his Halberd of the Wind. Aisha and the guru scolded him for it:
GURU: Easy! This is a civilized training session, not a cage fight! AISHA: Looks like you two need to cool off a bit. This course is a chance to learn from each other and perfect new skills, but the only skill you’ve perfected so far is how to get a big head. [Walks away] NEX: Wow! She’s no joke!
Did Nex and Riven Have The Same Introduction?
That’s it. So did those introductions seem similar to you? Not to me. ?♀️
The comment says Nex and Riven “were both introduced as bad boys who played rough”, and “they both were pretty cocky”. Nex is cocky, and he did play rough in his first episode. That’s why Aisha and the guru scolded him, after all.
But cocky + plays rough = Riven? Isn’t that a low threshold to be considered a copy of another character? Are those Riven’s defining traits in the first place? I wouldn’t even say he “played rough” in his first episode. It was a standard monster fight. And even the comment admits that Brandon is cocky, too:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against cockiness (have you seen Brandon?)…
Also, Nex isn’t a bad boy. You’ll see some reasons later on, and I’ll talk about it more in another post.
If you think this is enough to make Nex and Riven the same, you might change your mind by the end of this post. We’re about to see a lot of differences between these boys.
We’ve already seen a major one: their feelings about girls. Riven wanted nothing to do with them, but Nex fancies himself a ladies’ man.
“Womaniz—” Ahem!Proof, please. One flirty line doesn’t make you a player.
Anyway, the comment glosses over this difference, but misogyny was a big part of Riven’s character in season one. You might be surprised how rude he was to the Winx.
Sounds like we need more info before we can judge if Rainbow introduced Nex and Riven the same way. Let’s compare the first 10 episodes of these seasons. That’ll give a better sense of how these boys acted early on.
Disruption and Redemption
Nex’s next episode was “Bloomix Power” (Winx season 6, episode 4). He showed up at Aisha’s gym for training with Thoren and the Specialists. Riven went to the annual back-to-school mixer in “Alfea College For Fairies” (Winx season 1, episode 3), but he didn’t do or say anything in that episode. So I’m skipping ahead to the next episode: “The Black-Mud Swamp”.
So, we’re on episode four for both guys. Just a coincidence, of course.
Riven Hurls Insults and Wrecks the Team’s Morale
While the Specialists were transporting the hunting troll to a new location, something (or someone) attacked their ship. They crash-landed in the Black-Mud Swamp, where the Winx were conveniently having class. The five fairies checked on them.
FLORA: You guys okay? RIVEN: [Looks back at Sky] Isn’t it rather obvious?
Through a series of clues — a hole in the ship, discarded handcuffs, footprints — the gang realized that the troll had escaped. Riven tried to shoo the Winx away before they got involved:
RIVEN: [Then] get back to your assignment, and don’t worry about a thing. Leave it to the Specialists! STELLA: The Specialists are gonna be here? When? RIVEN: [Growls] We’re right here, you silly little girl! BRANDON: What Riven means is perhaps it would be best for you to go back to Alfea while we try to capture that animal. RIVEN: We don’t need your editorial comments, Your Highness!
(Reminder: Everyone still thought Sky was “Brandon” and Brandon was “Sky”.)
Amaryl and her friends cut in and told Riven not to tell them or the Winx what to do. He gave up and said, “You do what you like to,” and the Specialists left to find the troll. Of course, the Winx couldn’t leave them alone, so they started their own investigation.
After a few minutes…hours…of searching, they ran into the boys again who had been captured by a plant called a Quietus Carnivorous. (Sounds like a 4Kids name, but I watched the RAI English dub.) Flora coaxed it into freeing its prey. Once the group got away from it, Bloom suggested they all look for the troll together. Riven still wasn’t on board:
RIVEN: I refuse to team up with fairies! BRANDON: You’re on your own then, buddy. And you find the troll, just give us a shout.
In the next scene, the gang started to cross a lake. When Timmy missed his jump and fell on his butt, everyone laughed…except Riven:
RIVEN: First, we’ve got the fairies to look after, and now we’ve got clumsy Timmy as well. SKY: Grrr! Riven, you’ve gone too far! RIVEN: You’re just Prince Sky’s yes-man, Brandon. Why don’t you go clean up his stables? SKY: You’re insulting, Riven! RIVEN: So? What are you gonna do about it?
Well, since “Brandon” wasn’t the leader, he couldn’t do anything. But “Prince Sky” could. “You’re off the team, buddy! Is that clear?”
Everyone stared at Riven, waiting for his response. He shrugged and said, “Alright, let’s go find that troll.”
The Troll and The Truce
Turning their attention back to the lake, the gang hopped across the patches of land that swirled around a whirlpool. Everyone made it safely to the other bank…except Riven. Tecna grabbed his hands. She couldn’t pull him out on her own, of course, so Bloom, Sky, and Timmy helped her.
Did Riven thank them for saving his life? Nope. “C’mon, guys. Let’s go. We’ve got a troll to catch. We’ve lost too much time already.”
Sky just looked at Timmy and shrugged.
Shortly after, they found the troll threatening Amaryl and her friends. Brandon came up with a plan. The Winx would distract the beast, Sky and Timmy would grab him, and he and Riven would slap the handcuffs on him.
It didn’t work. The troll tossed Brandon and Riven off of him like juggling rings, and somehow, Timmy ended up in the handcuffs. To add insult to injury, the fairies they saved laughed at them. “So,” said Amaryl, “you guys are the Specialists, huh? Specialists in what? Botchery?” (I know that’s mean, but it’s a funny line.)
As the gang rested, Sky told Bloom that Amaryl wasn’t far off. “We’re not the Specialists. We’re a bunch of rookies. The only thing we do really well together…is argue.”
Cue the argument between Riven and Brandon over who shackled Timmy. The nerd himself broke it up (which impressed Tecna) and reminded them they needed to work together to find the troll. This led to one of the few pleasant Riven moments in this episode:
BRANDON: He’s right. We’ve gotta work together. If not, we’re never gonna succeed. [Looking at Riven] Should we try again? RIVEN: Haha! Alright. BRANDON: Gotcha!
Sky came over to them as they shook hands.
BRANDON: Riven and I have called a truce. SKY: I’d have preferred everlasting peace, but I can live with that.
Nex Sabotages His Rival — Then Almost Dies For Him
Yep, it’s the gym episode again. I summarized it in the third post, but I’ll look at from a different angle in a moment.
The Specialists and Paladins came to Aisha’s gym to train for the mission to save Lynphea College. Nex and Roy competed for her attention, and when she complimented Roy on his run on the obstacle course, Nex got jealous. He kicked the last hoop away while Roy was in mid-air. It looked like he caused him to miss the last platform, but as we established in the third post, Roy jumped too short in the first place.
But Nex still cheated, so Aisha yelled at him:
What was that little stunt? If this is your idea of helping, Nex, we don’t need it!
Just as they were about to leave for Lynphea College without him, he told them he still wanted to go on the mission.
Fast forward several minutes. (Yeah, this is a rough summary.) Selina summoned basilisks from the Legendarium World. One of them turned Roy to stone and charged at him and Aisha. Seeing this, Nex rushed in the front of the beast to protect them, but he got petrified, too.
The Paths Diverge
Even if you thought Nex and Riven started out the same, this is where Rainbow took their characters in different directions:
Riven insultedhis teammates, complained, and started arguments. Based on what Sky said, this was an ongoing problem with him. His behavior got worse after this episode.
Nex sabotaged an ally’s training session, but he immediately redeemed himself by risking his life for that ally. His behavior got better after this episode.
The Overlooked Theme of “Bloomix Power”?
While writing this post, I noticed something I’m surprised I missed before. The prevailing idea about the gym scene is that Nex made Roy miss the final platform on the obstacle course. But watching the scene again makes it clear he was gonna miss it, anyway.
Nex still cheated, though. He kicked the final hoop away, so even if Roy had stuck the landing, he couldn’t have finished the course. That’s why Aisha and the others got angry, right?
Maybe not. I think we missed the theme of this episode, even though Rainbow practically gave it away. What was it? “Helping.” Nex didn’t help someone when they needed it.
When he and the other guys entered the gym, he said they wanted to help the Winx save Lynphea College:
The Trix’s magic is beyond extreme. We’re here to help!
But when his rival needed help, Nex did nothing. He even laughed at him. The “camera” held on Sky pulling Roy up for several seconds, while Nex just…stood there. That’s not how a hero should behave.
Look at what Aisha said to him again: “If this is your idea of helping, Nex, we don’t need it!”
She used his own words against him. Did he really wanna help? Could the Winx and the Specialists trust him? Was he really a hero like them?
Just before the gang left for Lynphea College, Aisha hesitated. “Wait, is this everybody?”
What a weird thing to ask — unless you consider the theme. Nex said he wanted to help. After being ostracized by the group, did he still wanna join the mission? Did he care more about himself or the students of Lynphea College?
He stepped forward and said, “I’m in.”
During the mission, Rainbow dropped another reference to the theme. After Stella backflipped over a basilisk (don’t think about it), Nex ran into the middle of the group and yelled:
Hurry! The other Lynphea fairies still need our help!
There it is again: “help”.
But the moment of truth was when the basilisk turned Roy to stone and stomped towards him and Aisha. This time, Nex wasn’t gonna stand there and watch. His ally needed help.
Nex proved he is a hero — someone who helps people in need, no matter who they are. So how did he become “the biggest jerk of all jerks” (to quote Moonlit Maiden) in the fandom’s eyes? I know I’ve said this before, but I think they forgot or ignored his redemption scene. One reason could be…because they started comparing him to Riven and expecting a trek back to “goodness”.
What if we treated “The Flying School” and “Bloomix Power” as a standalone arc? After all, they both revolved around Lynphea College. Two-episode arcs are also common in Winx Club, even in the early seasons.
So the story goes like this: the Winx and the Specialists met a Paladin named Nex at Lynphea College. He seemed like a flirty, roughhousing jerk at first, and they didn’t know if they could trust him. But he made up for his bad first impression and showed that he’s helpful, selfless, and brave.
The end…of the arc, of course. We still have the love triangle. Ugh.
As for Riven, he showed a lot more of his flaws in “The Black-Mud Swamp”. He was grumpy, unfriendly, and uncooperative, and he didn’t say thank you, even when his friends saved his life. We already knew he hated fairies (i.e. girls), but he ramped up the misogyny when he said he refused to work with the Winx.
Finally, he insulted at least three characters:
Stella: He called her a “silly little girl”.
Timmy: He called him “clumsy”.
Sky: He made fun of his supposed social status, calling him a “yes-man” and telling him to “go clean ‘Prince Sky’s’ (Brandon) stables”.
I’ll at least say he’s willing to risk his life for other people. He helped the gang save Amaryl and her friends, who ironically didn’t say thank you for it. Also, he made up with Brandon, so he can put differences aside sometimes.
But we know what’s coming. Rainbow was building up to his mid-season Face-Heel Turn where he teamed up with the Trix. So as a future antagonist, he couldn’t redeem himself yet.
One more thing: Rainbow started dropping hints that Musa had a crush on him (or at least thought he was cute). It felt awkward, though, because even she got annoyed with his constant rudeness. Plus, he did something awful to her a few episodes later, but she still liked him afterward!
Why, Musa? Just…why? ?
Deeper Darkness and Hidden Light
Nex appeared in “The Golden Auditorium” (Winx season 6, episode 5), but he did nothing but…get unpetrified. So his next notable episode was “The Lost Library” (Winx season 6, episode 7).
Riven’s next episode was “Date With Disaster” (Winx season 1, episode 5), but all he did was say something dumb about “Sky” while the Winx were asking him about the letter he supposedly gave Stella:
BRANDON: Hey, I didn’t write that! RIVEN: Sure didn’t. Didn’t you girls know that Sky can’t write? [Laughs] BLOOM: Very funny, Riven. I just can’t stop laughing. RIVEN: Bye, sweeties! [Laughs and exits stage right]
I guess the truce was over.
This doesn’t tell us anything new or add anything to his story, so let’s skip ahead to “Friends in Need” (Winx season 1, episode 7). Yep, it’s the same episode number again. Still a coincidence.
Riven Has the Heart of the Devil
In episode six, the Winx got detention for sneaking into Cloud Tower. Faragonda took their powers away for a day, but that wasn’t severe enough for Griselda. We opened episode seven with her assigning them to clean the entire school, while the rest of Alfea, including the staff, went to a concert.
The Winx invited the Specialists over. After they helped them clean, they could have a dance party! Sky, Brandon, and Timmy agreed to it, but Riven leaned against the wall and glared at everyone. (In his defense, I wouldn’t have joined in on the “wash, rinse, dry” dance, either.)
During the party, Tecna and Timmy got closer through their mutual social awkwardness. (Don’t worry. I love them. ❤️) But Riven ruined the moment:
TIMMY: Don’t you wanna dance, Tecna? TECNA: No, I don’t like to. It makes me feel kinda awkward. TIMMY: Well, that makes two of us. I don’t like it, either. I feel ridiculous. RIVEN: Timmy, you’re ridiculous even when you’re not doing anything!
Musa moonwalked over to him and showed off her moves. Sky noticed that Riven didn’t take his eyes off of her.
SKY: She’s not bad, huh? RIVEN: Better than some others here.
Meanwhile, the Trix were sneaking around Alfea to find the source of the Dragon Flame. They summoned a Minotaur-like creature called the Whip as a distraction. When the Winx and the Specialists felt the school shake from its movements, they headed to the first floor to find broken beams and claw marks on the walls.
Riven kept being…Riven, but Tecna replied with a comeback that only she could pull off.
TIMMY: What kind of creature could do this kind of damage? TECNA: A big, heavy creature. RIVEN: Oh, golly! I never would have guessed! TECNA: It’s two and a half meters tall and weighs close to a ton. Its fur is bristly. It has horns and multiple clawed limbs. It also has a musky odor. Now, is that better? STELLA: Haha! Way to go, Tec!
Another quake interrupted Stella’s laughter. The Specialists drew their weapons and prepared to hunt the monster down. The Winx wanted to help, but Riven tried to turn them away again. “Stay where you are, little fairies. This isn’t a job for you.”
The Winx ignored him and raced off in the other direction. They ran into the Whip before the Specialists did, but they couldn’t do much without their powers. It chased them down the hallway. When it targeted Musa, she pulled a Matrix jump off the walls and hopped over it — what is P.E. like at Alfea? — but as she descended, it punched her and sent her flying right into Riven’s arms.
Darcy Find Darkness in Riven
Riven set Musa down and drew his sword. “Girls, you can sit back and relax. We’ll put him through the wringer! Now, this is my kind of party!”
He lunged at the Whip, but he only got a few swipes at it before he had to dodge its meaty arm slamming down at him. The other Specialists came to back him up, but he didn’t want their help:
SKY: Let’s take him on together! RIVEN: Just worry about your prince, page boy! BRANDON: Idiot! C’mon, guys! Attack! SKY: Specialists, attack! RIVEN: This is my attack!
Of course, he couldn’t beat it on his own. It knocked him through a window into the next room. The Trix floated in and found him on the ground, unconscious. Darcy sensed something interesting about him:
This boy has a very strong negative force. He’s on a level with the Prince of Darkness.
There’s no character called the Prince of Darkness in Winx Club, so Darcy must have meant that prince of darkness: Beelzebub himself. “This boy is on a level with the Devil.” That’s what she said about him, guys.
Nex Shows His Sensitive Side
Aisha’s suitors came to say goodbye to her before she went to Egypt, but Nex pushed past Roy to get to her. Once he reached her, he tripped on his tongue:
NEX: Aisha! Well…I… AISHA: Yes?
Roy cut in and said, “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” As it dawned on her that Nex had a crush on her, Roy handed her a pair of rollerblades as a gift. He then shot Nex a look that said, “I win this round.”
The Paladin gave up. “Have a good trip, Aisha,” he said with a small wave. On his way back to the Owl, he paused for a moment and looked back at her.
What’s Deep Inside Nex and Riven?
Until “Friends in Need”, it seemed like Riven was just cocky and irritable. But Darcy’s discovery revealed he was wresting with dark emotions that corrupted his heart, to where he gave off the aura of the Devil. Even if you think I’m exaggerating, it’s a troubling sign when a witch, an expert in dark magic, thinks you’re giving off bad vibes.
As for Nex, “The Lost Library” showed us the opposite about him: he may be hiding his light! His feelings for Aisha broke through his tough-guy facade and brought out a more sensitive side of him for a moment.
That’s right, Winx fans. “Macho Nex” — what the fandom sees as “Jerk Nex” — is the facade, not “Nice Nex”. They think he only acts nice when Aisha is watching, but she wasn’t watching him as he walked away. No one was watching him except us, the audience. So the broken-hearted boy we saw but the other characters didn’t was the real Nex.
As I said in the third post, we saw a better example of Nex’s hidden soft side in “Winx Trapped!” (Winx season 7, episode 10). But that’s not part of this season, so I won’t go into detail.
What about how he shoved past Roy? To reference the third post again, Rainbow punished him for it. He stammered in front of Aisha, who got annoyed with him, and Roy got to talk to her, anyway. That’s what happened whenever Nex acted out. Things didn’t go the way he wanted.
You could say the same about Riven — for example whenever he got knocked out might have counted. But unlike Nex’s karmic moments, those scenes didn’t help balance his character because he rarely did anything positive afterwards. I’ll talk more about that later.
“But Riven wasn’t as mean as he seemed, either,” you say. “He was just hurting because his mother abandoned him.” ?
Sigh. In one draft of this post, I went on a tangent about that excuse. But I decided to save my thoughts for the “Bad Boy” post. Look for it sometime in the future.
I’ll say this for now: we didn’t know this detail about Riven yet. The only explanation we had at this point was his dark heart, and his backstory doesn’t negate that problem. To quote Timmy again in “The Crystal Labyrinth” (Winx season 3, episode 22): “Everyone has a dark side to their character.” But not everyone gives into their darkness.
Breaking Apart and Coming Together
Aisha greeted Nex after the guys’ workout in “The Secret Greenhouse” (Winx season 6, episode 10). As for Riven, his next episode was called “A Friendship Sundered” (Winx season 1, episode 8). Enough said.
(Fun fact: if you know the meaning of Riven’s name, the episode title acts as a pun. “Riven” is the past participle of “rive”, which means “to tear apart”, and “sunder” is a synonym meaning “to separate” or “to sever”. Just another reason name meanings matter.)
Riven Quits Sky’s Squad and Teams Up With the Trix
Not even the festive air of the Day of the Rose was enough to lift Riven’s mood:
BRANDON: A lot of people, huh? RIVEN: Too many for my taste. What are they all doing out here in the streets, anyway? SKY: What you should be doing: relaxing and enjoying themselves.
The gang watched as some drivers got ready for the annual Race of the Rose. Riven sneered at them:
RIVEN: Poor fools. Little do they know they’re totally wasting their time. SKY: Yeah? I’ll be racing. RIVEN: Hey, I wasn’t talking about me. BLOOM: What’s that’s supposed to mean? RIVEN: It means that in a little bit, I’ll be the one crossing the finish line first, that’s all! And you’ll be all standing there watching me win! SKY: Riven, Sky, and I are taking part in the race this year. RIVEN: Whatever. I’m just telling you the race is mine!
Brandon pointed out later that Riven didn’t have a cheerleader:
BRANDON: Stella’s cheering for me, Bloom’s cheering for Brandon, but you don’t have anyone. RIVEN: I can have any girl I want! Wanna bet?
(Side note: First, Sky and Brandon’s name swap got on my nerves as I watching this. Second, no, Musa wasn’t with them. That’s not why I brought this line up, though. I’ll talk about it later.)
Riven’s bet was that if he won the race, he got to take one guy’s “fairy friend” (as he called them) to the Rose Ball that evening. Sky didn’t like this idea, so Riven picked Bloom. Of course, he forgot to, you know…clear it with her:
BLOOM: Maybe you should ask me first! RIVEN: Yeah, but… BLOOM: No buts! Who do you think you are? Just so you know, I choose who I go out with, and I wouldn’t go out with you if you were the last guy on Earth! You’re just a ridiculous, arrogant, pathetic windbag! Go ahead! Win the race, but I’m warning you don’t you come near me!
Bloom delivering burns without her Dragon Flame.
Riven grabbed her chin and pulled her face up to his. “Oh, do you really mean what you just said? I think deep down, you like me.”
Is this when people started shipping them? ?♀️ Well, Bloom herself wasn’t a fan. “Hey, hands off! Don’t be cheeky with me, Riven! You should show people a little more respect!”
With a flourish of her finger, she whisked a nearby flower pot into the air and tipped it over above him. The others laughed as he stood there, hunched over, dripping wet. But the fire fairy regretted her actions immediately when he glared at her:
BLOOM: I-I didn’t mean to! Riven, I’m sorry! RIVEN: Go away! SKY: Calm down, Riven. RIVEN: Get lost, Brandon! Get lost, all of you!
With that, he ran into the city. As he wandered down the street, he cursed the happy couples and ogling girls he passed by. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Girls! Humph! Who needs them? I sure don’t! I-I don’t need anybody! I don’t need this stupid party!
The Trix, who’d been spying on the gang, took advantage of their falling out. Icy turned Knut into Timmy and sent him to give Bloom a cursed helmet as a peace offering for Riven. The fairy had gotten separated from her friends. When she found them, the Specialists were preparing for the race.
BLOOM: Riven… RIVEN: What do you want? Make this quick! You’re wasting my time! BLOOM: I just wanted to give you this. It’s a present…for you. I wanted to apologize for…
Riven seemed touched, but he didn’t change his behavior:
RIVEN: Give it to me! [Snatches it out of her hands] Thank you. Was there anything else? BLOOM: …Good luck in the race.
Bloom joined Stella in the audience and explained what happened. The sun fairy told her the guy she ran into couldn’t have been Timmy because he went home for the Day of the Rose. (Her exact words were, “He’s nowhere near Magix”, which means he’s not from Magix. Didn’t some book say he is? Where is he from, then? I guess we’ll never know. ?)
Realizing she’d been tricked, she looked up and saw the Trix watching from atop a nearby building. If they were here, trouble couldn’t be far behind. She transformed and chased Riven down the track to try to get the helmet back before it was too late.
Meanwhile, Darcy secretly entered the race and sabotaged the other riders’ bikes with her magic, so that Riven could take the lead. As he neared the finish line, Icy made the helmet malfunction. He lost control of his bike, flew off, and landed on Darcy’s. She laid him down and “healed” him — I don’t know what she really did — then helped him up.
Bloom tried to explain that the Trix tricked her, but Riven didn’t believe her. He saw her behind him during the race, and he believed she activated the helmet to help Sky win. Sky, of course, took her side. That was the last straw:
I’ve had it! I’m through with you all! Tonight, I’m gonna ask to be transferred to another squad of Specialists!
He walked away with Darcy on his arm.
In the next episode, “Betrayed!” (“Riven’s Betrayal” in Italian), Darcy met him at a pub and tempted him with an offer of power:
DARCY: You’re a very special person, Riven. It’s too bad, though. RIVEN: What’s too bad? DARCY: The fact that your talent, your energy, your ambition and courage should be wasted at Redfountain. You could be so much more! If you were one of us, you could be even more powerful! RIVEN: Go on…
She took his hand and cast a spell that gave them a psychic link. Now he could communicate with her at any time. (Sorry, Riven fans. She didn’t brainwash him. That was only in the 4Kids dub.)
Icy and Stormy caught Musa spying on Darcy and Riven’s “date”. After she slapped Icy, the witch rallied a group of fellow Cloud Tower students to “teach this little Winx a lesson”. They chased the Fairy of Music all around Magix City, hurling lightning at her as she pleaded with them to leave her alone.
As she turned a corner, she ran into Riven. She thought she might be safe with him…but she was wrong:
MUSA: Oh, Riven! Help me, please! RIVEN: [Stares at her for a moment] Why should I?
So she kept running. Thankfully, the other Winx and Specialists came to her rescue, but they had to fight the Trix, the bullies…and Riven.
Finally, in “Bloom Tested!” (Winx season 1, episode 10), Riven spied on Bloom and Sky’s date and learned she was gonna have a test in the Simulation Chamber. He reported this telepathically to Darcy. The Trix used the info to hatch a plan: sabotage the test, hoping to provoke her into using her Dragon Flame like she did in the previous fight.
Nex Talks to His Future Girlfriend
The Specialists and Paladins wrapped up a workout in Aisha’s gym and decided to say hi to the Winx as a “reward”. (Cute how that’s a reward to them.) As Nex’s Windrider landed in the Alfea courtyard, Aisha walked towards him. We glimpsed him talking to her, which was confirmed when she was standing in front of him when Selina showed up.
Yep, that’s it.
Hints of Similarity?
Oh, no! Bragging about winning, hitting on girls! Have we found proof that Nex is a copy of Riven, after all? ?
No. We know Riven was bluffing when he said, “I can have any girl I want!” He didn’t want any girl; he just wanted to prove something to Brandon. (To be fair, Nex might have actually believed this. After all, he thinks the ladies love him — but he doesn’t flirt anymore now that he’s dating Aisha.)
As for the bragging, that’s nothing new. Again, cocky = Riven is too low a standard for comparison, especially if other characters are cocky, too.
How about how the guys treated their future girlfriends at this point? One of them got the chance to talk to his crush, and they got a bonding moment in the next episode. The other left her to fend for herself against a gang of bullies, then teamed up with said bullies.
What else can I say? If it isn’t clear by now that Nex and Riven have distinct personalities and roles in the story, I don’t know how else to prove it.
Why Nex Didn’t Turn Out Like Riven
Let’s bring the “math” back in. The reason I cite Nex and Riven’s character descriptions isn’t to say, “This is Word of God. End of discussion.” It’s because they help explain how and why Rainbow wrote these characters the way they did.
Riven was meant to be a character who wrestled with his inner demons. His jealousy and anger hardened his heart and drove him to seek revenge. In hindsight, we should have seen it coming. The ending sequence hinted at his wickedness and eventual betrayal:
The unsettling color scheme, rain, Riven walking alone in darkness. If that’s not foreshadowing, I don’t know what is.
To build up to that moment, Rainbow highlighted his flaws and negative behavior in every episode. We rarely saw positive moments with him. When we did, they didn’t last long, and he often followed them up with more rudeness. For example, remember when he seemed touched by Bloom’s gift? He ruined the sweetness by snatching the helmet out of her hands.
This skew towards the negative is also reflected in his character description. It’s full of red flags about his personality — loner, surly, wary, touchy, daredevil — and about how he views other people — likes to act according to his own rules, doesn’t trust girls, and hates his own mother. He’s a textbook bad boy, a rebel without a cause.
In contrast, we didn’t see hints of a darker side to Nex. He also showed personality traits that suggested he’s more emotionally stable than Riven.
The key difference in how Rainbow wrote Nex is that they tried to balance his character. Whenever he did or said something negative, he usually followed it up with something positive. The biggest example, of course, is in “Bloomix Power”. After his “little stunt” on the obstacle course, he redeemed himself in the second half of the episode.
His character description reflects this, too. It tells us his flaws and annoying behaviors — likes to tease the Specialists, wants to prove he’s the best at everything, thinks all girls are bound to fall in love with him, challenges anyone without fear (I’d say that’s neutral) — yet right off the bat, it says he’s “outgoing and friendly”, adjectives we’ll never see on a profile for Riven. So despite these other traits, we’re told the core of Nex’s personality is positive.
These two traits, condensed to “sociable” in the 2019 book Winx Club: Guida al Mondo Magico (Guide to the Magical World), are also significant because they mean Nex has a different view of other people than Riven does. As an extrovert, Nex gravitates towards them. He wants people to like him, even though he tries to gain approval the wrong way sometimes. But he wants it because he values connections with others.
His sociability keeps him “good”. (It’s not the only thing, but I think you know what I mean.) We saw this in how he could still be cooperative and caring despite his flaws, while Riven undermined the group’s goals and refused help from his teammates. Bad boys tend to be loners, after all.
Because of these differences, Nex and Riven didn’t need the same kind or amount of character development. The primary trait keeping Nex from being his ideal self is his arrogance. So what does he need? Something — or someone — to humble him. That’s it. ?♀️ Aisha, someone he sees as an equal and who’s willing to call him out on his cockiness, has gotten that process started.
On the flip side, arrogance was the least of Riven’s flaws. He needed a moral transformation. Blinded by his desire for revenge, he helped the Trix gain power. Their conquest of Magix and their attacks on Alfea, Cloud Tower, and Redfountain were partially his fault.
To redeem himself, he needed to:
Overcome the darkness poisoning his heart (his anger, hatred, and mistrustfulness)
Mend the bridges he burned with his friends
Help destroy the monsters the Trix unleashed on Magix
Nex and Riven’s Similarities
Just because Nex isn’t a copy of Riven doesn’t mean they have nothing in common. The comment throws out a few possibilities. How do they line up with what we’ve talked about so far?
Nex and Riven Both Had Rivals?
Nex’s competition was Roy, the good hero, and Riven’s competition was Sky, the good prince.
I talked about the “good hero” thing in the first post. Both Nex and Roy are “good heroes”. Just because one is more flawed than the other — since Rainbow forgot to give Roy flaws — doesn’t mean one of them is “good”, and the other is “bad”. Also, their rivalry had nothing to do with “goodness” or “badness”.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this argument, but if a character is like Riven just because they have a rivalry with someone, what about Bloom? She and Diaspro have been rivals since season one! They even fought each other in “Secrets Within Secrets” (Winx season 1, episode 17), and some fans might call Diaspro a “bad” princess — she tried to burn Bloom alive…over a guy — and Bloom a “good” princess.
So yeah, Bloom is like Riven, too.
Yeah, of course not. What the rivalry argument ignores is the reasons for the rivalries. Nex and Roy were love rivals like Bloom and Diaspro are (and shouldn’t be anymore, but whatever). That’s all there is to it. In fact, the show hinted that if not for the boys’ mutual interest in Aisha, they would have been friends!
Yeah, it’s true! After they saved each other from zombie pirates in “Zombie Invasion” (Winx season 6, episode 16), the Fairy of Waves said:
You know, you two make a pretty good team.
Sounds like she wished her two suitors could have gotten along. They never did, but who knows? Maybe one day, Rainbow will bring Roy back for one episode and have them smooth everything over. I’m sure he’d have a girlfriend by then, too. Jared, Musa’s rejected love interest from Winx season two, found love by the end of the season. So if Roy is such a wonderful guy, I’m sure he’s moved on and is seeing someone by now.
What about Riven and Sky’s rivalry? How did it start?
Who the heck knows!
Winx Club has never explained it. I don’t think there is an explanation. They’re like two alpha males fighting for dominance, especially in Winx season six when they dueled for control of the Specialist squad.
Their rivalry is more like what the comment is talking about (except without the “good” and “bad” part). They’re the classic protagonist/rival duo you see in a million shounen anime. Usually, the rival is an abrasive loner who strives to be the best at the theme of the show — martial arts, collecting monsters, a children’s card game, etc. — and they think they have to beat the protagonist to justify their existence.
To be fair, Riven and Sky are friends. But their rivalry is so embedded in their characters, they’re still gonna be rivals in Fate: The Winx Saga.
Nex and Riven Are Both Impulsive?
The comment also claims that both Nex and Riven “can be pretty rash, going into situations that they’re not always able to handle”. Well, Riven did that a lot. He often rushed into fights and got knocked out or outnumbered. And you can definitely say he didn’t think before he made a pact with Darcy.
But what about Nex? In the first 10 episodes of season six, the only example was when he threw himself in front of a basilisk to protect Aisha and Roy! We know that’s not what the comment means because that was a noble act.
I can only think of two more examples in his entire time in the series. One was in the comic “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test) when he agreed to slay the last Melusina to prove his love for Aisha. The other was in “Into the Depths of Andros” (Winx season 8, episode 8) when he entered Gorgol by himself and got knocked around by Obscurum. (Not a flattering moment.)
In general, though, Nex isn’t rash. I talked about that in my “Acting on Impulse” post. He reads the environment before he acts, especially on the battlefield. The only time he does become impulsive is when he feels like he has something to prove. His pride is the trigger for his impulsiveness, which is what those three examples had in common.
Otherwise, Nex is composed and doesn’t end up out of his element. That’s why he could stop Aisha from making rash decisions in “The Light of Gorgol” (Winx season 8, episode 9).
My List of Nex and Riven’s Similarities
So what do Nex and Riven have in common? Here’s what I’ve noticed.
1. They’re Cocky
We’ve already talked about this several times, so it’s a given. The comment makes it seem like Nex is the worst of the two boys — “Nex is downright arrogant” — and the fandom loves to say he’s “like Riven, but worse”. But I think this post flushed that belief down the toilet.
Regardless, both boys think too highly of themselves — or at least act like they do.
2. They’re Restless/They Love Action
Both boys have said that they can’t stand doing nothing and love action:
RIVEN, “Mitzi’s Present” (Winx season 4, episode 5): I’m so tired of not doing anything. I’m a Specialist. I want some action!
NEX, “The First Color of the Universe” (Winx season 7, episode 4): That’s what I like to hear: action!
NEX, same episode: And I can’t stand doing nothing!
I think Rainbow gave Nex this trait not because he’s a Riven clone, but because he’s Aisha’s boyfriend. She can’t sit still, either, and she’s the most action-prone Winx. Also, remember Helen Fisher’s personality test? They’re both Explorers, the most energetic type, and Explorers are most compatible with each other.
I think the fandom forgets to factor Nex’s role as her love interest into his character. Some of his similarities to Riven are coincidences because Aisha has some traits in common with Riven, too. So since Nex is meant to be like her, he also accidentally seems like Riven.
3. They Like to Tease People
Let me elaborate on this one. Nex makes fun of situations, like Timmy falling into the water in “Mystery of Calavera” (Winx season 6, episode 16) or Stella being late in “The First Color of the Universe”. But as for making fun of the people themselves — calling names, mocking their abilities, etc. — that’s not his style.
But it is Riven’s style, as we saw in this post. He called Timmy “clumsy” and “ridiculous”, he often brought up “Brandon” being “Sky’s” servant, and I’m sure that’s not it in season one. Later in the series, in “A Perfect Date” (Winx season 5, episode 21), he said Timmy looked “silly” in his date clothes.
So it’s more accurate to say Nex teases people, but Riven insults them.
Those are the main similarities. Of course, none of these are signature traits of either character. Brandon is also cocky and likes to tease people, and Aisha is restless, too. So you could just as easily say Nex is like them.
A New Theory For Why The Fandom Thinks Nex is a Riven Clone
Here’s how the comment describes Nex:
…Nex is downright arrogant. Always showing off, playing dirty, throwing insults. He’s just disrespectful…
The Winx fandom says things like this — and worse — about Nex all the time. (See “NEXX! vs. Nex, Pt. I” for examples.) But aside from “playing dirty” part, which is a reference to “Bloomix Power” (and something Nex hasn’t done again), doesn’t this sound more like Riven?
Here’s my crazy theory. What if the fandom remembers Riven’s horrible behavior in Winx season one, but they’re attributing it to Nex instead? They’ve literally mixed the two characters up. Their version of Nex is a cross between him and Riven.
I can think of a few ways this could happen. First, we have the obvious: they haven’t watched season one or season six in a while, so they’re judging the characters from memory only. Memories can often trick us.
Second, a lot of anti-Nex Winx fans love Riven, but they hate how he acted in the past. Why not use Nex as a scapegoat? Instead of criticizing Riven himself, they can condemn Nex for supposedly the same behavior.
These are the fans who say Aisha shouldn’t date Nex because he’s “a jerk like Riven”, but Musa and Riven are perfect for each other. Isn’t he a jerk, too, though? That’s what “a jerk like Riven” means. If Aisha shouldn’t date a jerk, why should Musa date one?
Wait…Riven’s not a jerk? And even if he was, being a jerk made him interesting? But Nex is boring?
So is being a jerk is a good thing? And if being a jerk makes a character interesting, but Nex is boring, doesn’t that mean he’s not a jerk? If he’s not a jerk, Aisha can date him, right?
No, because he is a jerk? Which is bad…unless it’s Riven? Except Riven’s not a jerk?
Confused? So was I. That was based on an actual conversation. ?
The Bad Boy Love Interest?
The Winx season six love triangle may also factor into why the fandom treats Nex as a Riven clone. They want him to fit the bad boy love interest role. You know what the standard love triangle is like. One guy is the gentle “nice guy” who’s gonna treat the girl right. The other is the rebellious jerk who treats her like crap, but she falls in love with him, anyway. Alas, “nice guys” finish last. *Sniff* ?
You’d think the fandom wouldn’t drag Riven into this because, again, they love him and think he’s a good boyfriend. Yet some Winx fans thought Aisha and Nex would end up like Musa and Riven — and they meant it in a bad way.
But we know that’s not what happened. Unlike a bad boy love interest, Nex is supportive, loving, and emotionally available. He takes Aisha and his relationship with her seriously, he doesn’t flirt with other girls, and he’s there for her when she needs him. Yet because they want him to be like Riven, the fandom insists he’s a bad boyfriend…while still claiming Riven is a good boyfriend. ?♀️
Jumping on the Bandwagon
Finally, I think groupthink played a role in this, too. A few people said Nex is a copy of Riven. The idea caught on, so everyone started saying it, and now no one questions it anymore. It’s the default way to interpret Nex’s character.
To borrow Professor Avalon’s words in “Professor Avalon’s Secret” (Winx season 2, episode 9), having everyone believe something is true is enough to make it true, even if it’s not. So because the fandom kept saying Nex is like Riven, he became like Riven, even though a simple rewatch of Winx Club proves he’s not. But why bother double-checking because the majority is always right. Right?
Nex and Riven didn’t have the same introduction in Winx Club. Rainbow introduced Riven as a grumpy, uncooperative loose cannon who insulted the Winx and the other Specialists constantly. His behavior got worse and worse, building up to his betrayal and his transformation into an antagonist. Nex was arrogant and overly competitive, but unlike Riven, he was a team player and didn’t treat the other characters like crap. His behavior got better after his redemption scene in “Bloomix Power”. Also, unlike Riven who’s a loner, Nex is a sociable guy. His desire to form and maintain connections with other people helps keep him away from the dark side. All this proves that Nex and Riven are not the same type of character, which is why they didn’t need the same character development.
Nex and Riven have a few similarities. They’re both cocky and competitive, they’re both restless, and they both like to tease people (although Riven prefers insults). But Brandon and Aisha have these traits, too, so you could just as easily say Nex is like them, especially since he’s Aisha’s love interest.
When you rewatch Winx Club, you’ll notice that Nex doesn’t show many of the flaws or behaviors the fandom attributes to him (insulting people, being a jerk to everyone, etc.). But Riven showed those flaws and behaviors in Winx season one. Was the fandom so convinced that Nex is a Riven clone, they mixed the two characters up?
That’s it. Next time someone says Nex is “like Riven”, a “copy of Riven”, “Riven, but worse”, etc., tell them they need to rewatch Winx season one. Or just point them to this post. ?
Well, this has been a long journey, hasn’t it? Thanks for sticking with me! I’ll take a break from posts like this and stick to shorter, more fun ones for a while. Also, expect more fan art commissions this year.