Nex vs. Riven, Pt. II: Who is Nex?

In the first post, we answered the question: “Who is Riven?”

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.

Nex's character description from Winx season 6, taken from
Nex’s character description from Winx season 6

Here’s Nex’s character description from (circa 2014). If we compare it to Riven’s description, we find out the boys are both:

Yep, that’s it. But if that alone proved that Nex isn’t a Riven rip-off, why would I write these posts? Let’s dive deeper into Nex’s character.

Who is Nex?

Rainbow describes him as:

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.

Aisha and Nex celebrate at the Andros Fondation Festival in “The Light of Gorgol” (Winx season 8, episode 9)
Aisha and Nex celebrate at the Andros Fondation Festival in “The Light of Gorgol” (Winx season 8, episode 9)

But Nex is a friendly extrovert. You know what an extrovert is, but let’s define it just to be clear. 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

Nex approaches the Winx in "The Flying School" (Winx season 6, episode 3)
Nex approaches the Winx in “The Flying School” (Winx season 6, episode 3)

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:

Helia's bro moments with Riven (Winx Club - Secret of the Lost Kingdom) and Nex (Winx Club Season 6)
Helia’s bro moments with Riven in “The Secret of the Lost Kingdom” movie and “Acheron” (Winx season 6, episode 25)

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.)

Winx Guida al Mondo Magico - Nex's Profile
Nex’s profile in the book Winx Club: Guide to the Magical World

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.

But what does the rest of his profile say? Under “Punto Debole” (weakness/flaw), it says he “sometimes thinks he’s the best at everything” (talvolta crede di essere il piu in gamba di tutti). That matches a line from his season six character description: he “likes to prove he’s the best at everything” (vuole sempre dimostrare di essere il migliore in tutto).

Another way to put it: he’s arrogant sometimes.

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?”

Nex gesturing to the Specialists in “The Flying School”

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.

Nex talking to Aisha about her father in comic #131: “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test). Translated by WinxComics.
Nex talking to Aisha about her father in comic #131: “La Prova di Nex” (Nex’s Test). Translated by WinxComics.

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).

Nex’s arrogance checks all the boxes:

  • It’s literally self-focused
  • 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.

Nex gives Aisha flowers in “Into the Depths of Andros” (Winx season 8, episode 8)
Nex gives Aisha flowers in “Into the Depths of Andros” (Winx season 8, episode 8)

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”.
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NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
July 31, 2019 8:12 am

*insert all of the clapping emoji* Everything about this. Yes. Good

Honestly, the Sirenix arc is so good at letting Nex’s true nature shine through. He’s so into the Andros celebration, it’s adorable. He just wants others and himself to be happy together.

Also, it’s so weird that that sonnet exists and fits perfectly into this. Sometimes I wonder how much of this was intended by Rainbow and how much just…ended up working. It reminds me of that thing you found a while ago that talked about red and white symbolizing death in Rome (or something like that idk). Everything just keeps falling into place.

Will N.
Will N.
July 31, 2019 8:59 am

Nice. Also I see that Character card still says Paladin. I’m starting to think Specialist is just what Sky calls his squad since that’s how Rainbow has always treated it…and called them knights in the s1-2 trailer and Griffin called them wizards in season 1.

I mean it makes sense. The girls call themselves Winx to have a catchy name like the Trix, so the guys call themselves Specialist and have a different specialty. We just see the Knight variety more because that’s what most Winx dream of. “The Knight in Shining Armor” or spiky armor in the case of he who causes Musa pain. Aisha & Flora are the only two who have somewhat different types of love interests. Sure Aisha’s friends with the “Knight in shining armor” but she was unimpressed. Paladin might be the winged equivalent for males (though if that were true why would Nex need a retractable jet pack? Unless he doesn’t have his wings yet.) since they seem to be more advanced than the specialists yet Nex is also called a specialist. Nabu was a wizard, but also considered a specialist during his time. Helia overlaps between wizard and knight…that probably means that Specialist was always intended to soley refer to “Sky’s squad”.

Will N.
Will N.
Reply to  Tori
July 31, 2019 1:43 pm

Magix Experts would make more sense than Specialist in terms of a class. I prefer Specialist as the name of Sky’s group. At least 4kids (as confusing as that can be) had a better definition by calling them heroes.

August 1, 2019 8:12 am

In that way Nex is more like Stella. The fairy of the sun can be arrogant and selfish too sometimes, but from her we know she doesn’t mean it to hurt her friends. When she accidantly hurts them, she shows deep concern and does everything to make it right again.

Like, you mentioned, Nex always is concerned what people think about him. He’s gets upset when people get him wrong. Again, like Stella. In World of Winx it’s explained why Stella is so vunerable to other people’s opinions. She was bullied when she was young.

This makes me wonder if Nex got abused or bullied in his yought aswell. He’s shown to be a people pleaser, which most of the time is caused by toxic or unhealthy household. Maybe in his yought he was always learned to please his parents, and never got to think about himself for a moment.

Reply to  Tori
August 1, 2019 2:27 pm

He basically wants to proof he’s not a loser.

Reply to  Tori
August 1, 2019 2:26 pm

That also explains why he always want to be the best, and better than others.
I think when he got bulied as a kid, he was always and outcast
and seen as the loser. He was never good enough. And i sympathize,
because i got bullied like that aswell.

August 4, 2019 11:45 am

It’s a wonderful post!! The details and everything is just so perfect! Very well explained! I agree soooo much! A big round of applause for you!

September 13, 2019 10:36 am

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[…] and belonging — being part of the flock. I want to emphasize his sociability, something that differentiates him not only from Riven (since he unfortunately needs it) but also from Aisha. It’ll show how Nex complements […]