The number 3 plays a big role in film; spiritually, it represents the idea of completeness, and in some cases, perfection. 3 is a powerful number, the perfect combination of brevity and rhythm, and when used effectively it can leverage a film into the award-winning bracket. Cinema, in itself, is a testament to the successful use of the number 3, whether it be through the rule of thirds, or, in particular, through the use of iconic character trios in film.
1. Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (Avengers: Endgame, 2019)
The MCU understood the assignment when it came to the careful crafting of this heroic trio; what's better than the God of Thunder, a literal genius, and America's first super soldier? Although their stories began at different points in time, in different parts of the universe, they smoothly and organically met at a lucrative point in time and space. This ultimately created the Holy Trinity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Together, these three Marvel heroes represent the very foundations in which the Avengers Initiative was meant to exist; to lead, to protect, and to inspire.
2. Harry Potter: Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 2001)
The Wizarding World is a place where peril lurks quietly in the shadows, and we could always leave it to Harry, Ron, and Hermione to find it. Together, they overcome the trials and tribulations of the Hogwarts School for Mystical Arts. They learn to navigate this new and peculiar world in a way that showcases their courage, intellect, and their innate ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong time—always. Nothing could stand in the way of their love and loyalty towards one another; not even the dark, evil forces that seek their ultimate demise.
3. Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, Leia Skywalker, and Han Solo (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1977)
Star Wars is no longer just a story, it is the embodiment of human imagination at maximum potential, and Luke, Leia, and Han Solo are right at the center of it. They are the heart of the Star Wars franchise as they approach each new adventure with action, wisdom, and heart. These characters and their stories were far beyond their time, and for that reason, they will forever live rent-free in the hearts and minds of every Star Wars fan. They will forever be on the iconic film and TV trio list.
4. Naruto Uzumaki, Sasuke Uchicha, and Sakura Haruno (Naruto, 2002)
Anime is home to some of the most savage fights in animation history, and Naruto is no exception. What I find to be most special about Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura is that their fighting styles reflect one another so perfectly. As the story progresses, their character development allows for them to become more in-tune with themselves and their capabilities. They push each other to new limits, and each plays a vital role in reaching their full potential as a unit.
5. Aaragorn, Legolas, and Gimli (The Lord of the Rings, 2001)
This is one of the most iconic of trios, not for what they offer each other, but rather what it represents. Nonetheless, seeing these three in battle alongside one another is absolutely breathtaking. For centuries, the worlds of Men, Elves, and Dwarves rarely collided, and when they did, it was a matter of war, not friendship. The fellowship created by these characters completely shatters that racial barrier. They came to the understanding that what is at stake is far beyond anything they could ever face on their own; this kind of awareness is where true power lies.
6.Doctor Who, Captain Jack Harkness, and Rose Tyler (Doctor Who, 1963)
Doctor Who is an enigma, to the fullest extent of the word. He has a tendency to drag unknowing civilians along on the roller coaster ride that is his life. Although he's been on a centuries worth of adventures, alongside a plethora of unlikely companions, there is nothing that tops the team-up between him, Captain Jack Harkness, and the one and only Rose Tyler. Not only are they the most iconic of all the Doctor Who trios, but they hold tremendous amounts of emotional power over us as the audience. They are an iconic movie and TV trio that could never be replicated in this series again—the prime Doctor Who era.
7. Percy Jackson, Grover Underwood, and Annabeth Chase (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, 2010)
To all the Greek mythology stans in the world, this one is for you. From the pages of a book to the big screen, there's never been a demigod of trios as iconic as this. Olympus would have been destroyed two, maybe three times over if not for these guys. Percy is more powerful than he could ever know, and with the help of Annabeth and Grover, he learns how to control it. Their actions determined the fate of the Gods on several occasions. They've gone up against some of the vilest creatures, and the evilest of evildoers. Even with the entire world of Greek mythology seeking their defeat, this trio knows how to rise above the ranks.
8. Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona (Shrek, 2001)
Shrek created a world that brought all the most iconic stories of knights, dragons, and mystical creatures to life. Who knew an ogre and a princess could foster a love for one another that completely changes the game on the standards for love? Not to mention Donkey as the comedic relief we all need in our lives. These three built what many believe is the best-loved animated film series in history; so you best believe that when they act together, anything is possible.
9. Ferris Bueller, Cameron Frye, and Sloane Peterson (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986)
This 80s classic boasts one of the greatest comedic trios of all time. The three play hooky for the day and take a drive into Chicago, and what ensues is pure comedy gold. As one of the most beloved films of its respective decade, the chemistry between this trio is irreplaceable. The film is an encapsulation of every high school student's dream—to skip school, at least for a day. Their friendship provides its viewers with great entertainment and creates a hearty experience.
10. The Plastics (Mean Girls, 2004)
Mean Girls is a movie lover's classic; we're all too familiar with this iconic trio of best friends. These ladies took over the early 2000s, best known for their cocky, stereotypical attitudes—and watch out for their famous death stare. They tend to bounce off of each other's energy, seeking validation from one another due to missing parent involvement. As a unit, they represent three of the most common themes in high school environments: popularity, feminism, and teenage culture.
The number three works wonders in the realm of cinema—it certainly did for these series and films. There is no such thing as the perfect trio, as each have their own unique functions and capabilities; and I could go on and on about the brilliance of other iconic movie and TV trios, but I would be here forever.