Riven is a surly loner who doesn’t trust people easily (especially girls) and wrestles with negative emotions that almost led him down the path to villainy. He wants to become a hero to himself: a man who can support and protect the people he loves.
Before we move on to Nex, let’s talk about what he and Riven have in common. Yes, they have similarities, but not as many as the Winx fandom thinks.
Just two sentences in, we’ve already found a huge difference between Nex and Riven. Riven is a surly loner. He’s usually in a bad mood, and he likes to be alone.
But Nex is a friendly extrovert. You know what an extrovert is, but let’s define it just to be clear. ScienceOfPeople.com says an extrovert is someone who:
Is outgoing, social, and expressive
Enjoys spending time with others
Prefers to work on teams
Also, remember when I said Nex is too positive to be drawn to the powers of darkness? That’s because extroverts “tend to be more optimistic [and] cheerful”. Darkness is tied to negative emotions like sadness and hatred, but extroverts don’t give into those feelings as easily. It might help that they like to talk out their problems with others, instead of isolating themselves.
Doesn’t Nex sound very unlike Riven? Riven likes to be alone; Nex likes to be with other people. Riven prefers to work by himself; Nex prefers to work in a team. Rainbow described Riven as “surly” (unfriendly), but they described Nex as “friendly”.
How the heck is Nex a Riven rip-off if he’s the polar opposite of him?
Nex and Riven’s Differences in Action
Are their differences canon? Yes. They’ve been there since Nex’s debut.
In “The Flying School” (Winx season 6, episode 3), he swaggers up to the Winx and says, “Hey, ladies!” Riven would never do this. Ever. Besides the fact that he’s a loner, which means he’s not the type to approach people, he also doesn’t trust girls. Why would he flirt with a bunch of them?
He doesn’t react well to being flirted with, either. In The Secret of the Lost Kingdom, he sees three Alfea students ogling him before the Winx’s graduation ceremony. What does he do? He scowls at them and almost scares them away.
Then Helia slings his arm over Riven’s shoulder and tries to have a bro moment with him. He’s not feeling it. Coincidentally, Helia does the same gesture to Nex in “Acheron” (Winx season 6, episode 25). Nex is an extrovert — outgoing, friendly — so he’s comfortable with it and even reciprocates.
These two screenshots say it all:
Friendly or Arrogant? Both.
I can hear the naysayers yelling, “Friendly? Nex is friendly? Yeah, right! He’s a cocky a-hole!”
Hey, I didn’t create Nex, and I didn’t write his character description. Rainbow did. They know better than anyone what his personality is supposed to be.
Need more proof? After all these years, I finally have another official source with a profile for Nex: the newly-released book Winx Club: Guida al Mondo Magico (Winx Club: Guide to the Magical World). It contains information about all the major characters in this series, from season one until now.
Here’s Nex’s entry in the book. (I won’t say who I gave me this because I don’t want anyone to bother them.)
Under “Temperamento” (temperament/personality), Rainbow describes him as “socievole”, which means what it looks like in English: “sociable”. According to MacMillan Dictionary, a sociable person “is friendly and enjoys being with other people”.
There you go. Nex is supposed to be the type of guy who is approachable and loves to chat. Whatever the male equivalent of a social butterfly is, that’s him.
That doesn’t make sense. How can someone be arrogant and friendly?
Exactly. I think we’ve discovered what Nex’s journey is about.
“Nothing But a Braggart?”
If Nex is a friendly extrovert — a sociable person — he craves social interaction. His personality compels him to seek out and spend time with other people. The problem? He has a big ego, and it turns people off.
What do you call someone who’s arrogant, thinks he’s the best at everything, and loves to be around other people? A show-off, someone who brags about himself to everyone. King Teredor even calls him a “braggart” (sbruffone) in comic #131: “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test).
Let’s think about this for a second. Why do people show off?
One reason is they’re insecure. As author Hanan Parvez put it on his site Psych Mechanics: “Showing off is just your mind’s attempt to improve your image, and you will only try to improve your image if you think there’s something wrong with it!”
But everything I’ve read about Nex, including his profile in Guida al Mondo Magico, calls him “confident/sure of himself” (sicuro di sé). That doesn’t mean he has no insecurities, but his image may not be one of them.
If he’s not insecure, maybe there’s a simpler reason he shows off: because he wants people to like him. In both the show and the comics, being hated — or believing he’s hated — by someone who wants to impress is his kryptonite. He immediately tries to make amends and regain the person’s trust.
For example, in “La Prova di Nex”, after Nex botches his cake-slicing trick, he complains to Aisha that her father hates him now. She tells Nex not to beat himself up about it and that her father will love him once he gets to know him better.
Pause for a second. We know that Nex is arrogant, yet Aisha is describing him as a lovable person — once you get to know him. Doesn’t that seem contradictory? Yes — until you remember the core of his personality: the friendly extrovert. His arrogance obscures his true self.
Nex’s True Self
In their book The Negative Trait Thesaurus, writers Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman define a “flaw” as:
a self-focused trait that does not take into account the well-being of others, damages or minimizes relationships, and holds the character back in some way (denying self-growth).
It damages his reputation and pushes people away, which compels him to gain or regain their favor
If he thinks he’s the best, he can’t grow as a person because he doesn’t think he needs to
I think his journey is about overcoming his arrogance. When he lets his ego control him, that’s when we see the rude, cocky side that the Winx fandom thinks is the real Nex. But when he focuses on something or someone other than himself, that’s when his true self — the friendly extrovert — shines through.
A recent example is the Sirenix arc in Winx season eight. The Andros Foundation Festival has nothing to do with him, yet he’s so excited for Aisha, he can barely contain himself. He sends her supportive texts, he buys her flowers, and he cheers her up after she flubs her speech.
This is his friendly extrovert side in its full glory. It’s who he is when his ego is in check.
How Nex’s Name Relates to His Character
If Nex is a friendly guy, why the heck does his name mean “death”? Death is a cruel, merciless monster that rips away the people we love. A character with that name must be a horrible person.
Yet Rainbow gave a hero that name. Interesting…. (That could fill a post by itself.)
I’ve always said Nex’s name is meant to contrast with Aisha’s, which means “life” or “alive” in Arabic. But how might his name relate to his own character, separate from being her boyfriend? When I think about pride or arrogance being his flaw, I can’t help but think of John Donne’s famous sonnet “Death, Be Not Proud”:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so
Throughout the text, the speaker lists reasons why Death, personified, isn’t as tough as he thinks he is. Could Nex’s flaw be a reference to this sonnet? Who knows? I have no proof. (It’d be nice if Rainbow would share more behind-the-scenes details.)
According to Nex’s character description, he only has a couple traits in common with Riven: being good at sports and being competitive.
Rainbow describes Nex as “extroverted” (estroverso), “friendly” (amichevole), and “sociable” (socievole). Extroverts are outgoing, love spending time with others, and prefer to work in teams. Riven is described as “surly” (grouchy). He likes to be alone, and he prefers to work on his own. How is Nex a rip-off of him if his personality is the polar opposite?
If Nex is an extrovert — a sociable person — he craves social interaction. His personality compels him to seek out and spend time with other people. The problem? He has a big ego, and it turns people off.
Even though it’s counter-intuitive, Nex may show off because he wants people to like him.
Nex’s journey may be about overcoming his arrogance. When he focuses on something or someone other than himself, that’s when his true nature — the friendly extrovert — shines through.
Because his name means “death”, Nex could have the flaw of arrogance as a reference to John Donne’s sonnet “Death, Be Not Proud”.