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I can't hear it...I can't hear my other heartbeat anymore!
Jr./Rubedo, Xenosaga II.

A pair of twins are introduced. They are portrayed as being sufficiently alike that even people who have known them for a long time have trouble telling them apart. Often they serve as comic relief, enjoying the confusion they might cause just as much as the audience. It is highly likely that one twin, and only one, will be killed off. Why?

  1. Since the twins are alike, less is lost to the story than if a different character is lost.
  2. If the character is being played by the same actor, its a great opportunity to do a death scene and yet continue essentially the same role with character development, without Flanderizing a 'serious drama' into Death Is Cheap territory.
  3. It provides an opportunity to create angst, sorrow, anger, etc. into the character of the surviving twin. The surviving twin may even go from a character who never takes anything seriously to genuine Action Hero.

In Backup Twin, a character is introduced and later killed off. Only after their death is it revealed they had a Backup Twin, who carries on in the deceased character's place as if nothing had happened. The original twin is often never mentioned again once the new twin explains that he is a twin (or clone, if science fiction) and not the original character brought back to life.

In this trope, either the twins are introduced at the same time or close to it, or else the surviving twin is introduced first, and the dead twin is then introduced in a flashback. The death of the twin must have a profound or at least significant effect on the survivor for it to be this trope. The victim doesn't always have to be an identical twin, provided they play that role.

This being a Death Trope, there be spoilers.

Examples of Angsty Surviving Twin include:


Anime & Manga

  • Averted at the end of the Trigun Maximum manga in that we don't know if Knives is actually dead and never get to know how Vash feels about it, but from his creepy look when Knives is mentioned it's safe to assume part of him is relieved (if) he's dead. Can't blame him either. Knives, on the other hand, would probably have gone even crazier and angstier if Vash had died.
  • Sometimes this happens in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, what with Alternate Universes. Sometimes it gets completely averted (failing to even mention the twin) and some of the unluckier times, well...
  • Vampire Knight turns this into a legend requiring one of the twins of hunters to "eat" the other. Usually, vampire hunter twins compete for nourishment in the womb and one is absorbed by the other, but in the rare occurrence that both are born, one will be fated to take the other's life and somehow absorb his energy. That's difficult to imagine until you take into consideration that Zero becomes a vampire in the story...and Ichiru does not.
  • In Mars, Rei is introduced as a lively Delinquent Badass Biker wasting his youth chasing girls and racing bikes. After he has a panic attack in response to a person committing suicide in a public place, the series spends the much of its plot revealing that his identical twin Sei jumped to his death from the roof of a school, leaving Rei staring at a body that looked exactly like himself.
  • Suboshi in Fushigi Yuugi, who is sufficiently broken by his twin's (perceived) death that with some push of the Big Bad, he crosses the Moral Event Horizon in a big way to retaliate against the Suzaku warriors. And in a fairly horrible bit of irony, Amiboshi not only wasn't really dead -- after Suboshi own death in battle, he's the only one of the Seiryuu seven who survived to the end of the series.
  • Mrs Skeener, of The Dreaming was the only student at Merriweathers Finishing School for Young Ladies (Greenwich's old name) that wasn't kidnapped by Quinkans. Her twin sister Mary, on the other hand...
  • One of the biggest story drives in Mitsuru Adachi's Touch is centered about Katsuya Uesugi's death in an accident and how the surviving twin and main character, Tatsuya Uesugi, deals with the loss.
  • Rai's death in Jyu-Oh-Sei basically drives the entire plot because of the angst it causes his twin Thor.
  • Though not an actual twin, Shiki Ryogi in Kara no Kyoukai goes through something like this after she loses "the other Shiki" after a car accident. "The other Shiki" is in fact a male Split Personality, and in his memory she begins using his masculine manner of speech.
  • In Chaos;Head, Yua Kusunoki's twin sister Mia died in the "Group Dive," the first First Gen incident. Yua then launches her own investigation into Mia's death. She suspects Takumi Nishijou is involved in the First Gen murders, and attempts to gain his trust by acting as a girl otaku. When Takumi finds out her true intentions, Yua ... doesn't take it well. Turns out that it was actually Yua who died and not Mia. Mia essentially _became_ Yua after her twin's death.
  • In ARAGO, Ewan dies within the first few chapters. Arago ends up replacing him as a detective.
  • Inochi by Reiko Momochi invokes this trope as an important base for its plot, as early as within the first two chapters.The twin Nobara and Kotori Suzuki are identical to the point where not even their mother, Natsuko, can tell apart their Twin Switch moments... but unfortunately for the girls, what was supposed to be their last switch ever ends up with poor Kotori kidnapped, strangled to death, and posthumously raped. So Nobara must continue to pretend to act as Kotori without getting found out, as everyone believes Nobara is the girl who died. Cue massive and very understandable Angst.
  • Hiashi for his brother Hizashi in Naruto. After Hiashi killed the Cloud Village emissary when he tried to kidnap Hinata, he offered himself as the murderer, but the clan elders decided to have Hizashi stand in for him, so that his Cursed Seal would protect the Byakugan; and when Hiashi questioned this, Hizashi said he'd go through it anyway to both choose how to live his life and death AND to protect his brother. Seeing Hizashi's son Neji's skill and resentment toward the head family deeply affects Hiashi, and leads him to tell Neji the truth about his father's death.
  • In the Magic Knight Rayearth anime, Presea was killed off early in the story. To fix the plothole coming from her being still alive in the manga, the story introduced her younger twin Sierra, who makes herself pass as Presea at Clef's request. She does so gladly to help Cephiro, but deep down she's saddened and depressed over having to hide her true identity and not being able to properly mourn for her beloved dead sister.
  • It's not 100% clear whether Takashi and Ryou Shirogane from GoLion were twins or not, but their ages and appearances are close enough and the surviving brother's anger and angst after he finds out about his beloved bro's murder fit in the trope perfectly.
  • Given one HECK of a spin in the manga of Black Butler. The main protagonist, whom everyone (readers included) knew as Earl Ciel Phantomhive, is actually this. The older of the Phantomhive twins, the Real Ciel, was gangraped and then gruesomely murdered in the ritual to summon Sebastian; his younger and once-frailer younger twin, whose name has not been revealed, survived all of this, contracted with Sebastian and later posed as the Real Ciel for the last three-four years, which took a huge toll on his mind and soul. And then, Real Ciel returned...

Comic Books

  • Kate Kane, the post-Crisis Batwoman, lost her twin sister Beth and her mother in a terrorist attack when she was 12 years old. Or so she thought, since her first major villain, Alice, turned out be Beth, who was heavily implied to have undergone some serious Mind Rape.
  • In Sin City, Goldie's twin sister Wendy is very unhappy when Goldie is murdered, and teams up with Marv to search for her killers.


Film

  • In the Star Wars franchise:
    • Star Wars: Clone Wars, since every clone with character development is potentially one of these.
    • in Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones, Queen Amidala's lookalike handmaiden Corde.


Literature

  • In the Belgariad the sorceress Polgara is this. "To this very day, if you're impolite enough to ask Polgara how old she is, she'll probably say something like, 'We're about three thousand- or so.' Beldaran's been gone for a long time, but she still looms very large in Polgara's conception of the world."
  • In Iain M. Banks' Culture novel Look to Windward, this is the Backstory for the AI Mind of the Masaq Orbital, formerly the GSV Lasting Damage, which had been reunited with its Backup Twin and then lost it during the Idirian War. Culture Minds are titanic. Big mind, big angst.
  • In SF novel La Horde du Contrevent by Alain Damasio, one of the Dubka brothers dies and the other angsts about it until he is replicated and the copy instantly assumes the identity of the dead brother, for reasons explained in the book.
  • Lightning by Dean Koontz. The heroine meets a pair of identical twin orphans, Thelma and Ruth. Later on Ruth is killed accidentally when another orphan commits suicide, causing Thelma tremendous grief. She ends up helping the heroine in her adventures.
  • Nine Lives, a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin takes this to an extreme when one of ten clones is the only survivor.
  • This provides perhaps the most heart-wrenching scene in Frank McCourt's memoir Angela'sAshes, when one of the young twins dies and the other one keeps pathetically saying his name, etc.
  • Subverted in Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard. Crawford's wife Julia - who was murdered very early on in the book - was survived by her twin sister Josephine. When Josephine was first introduced to Crawford before the wedding, it is clear that there is some physical similarity between the twins, but they are not confused with each other. In fact, Julia makes a point of mentioning that as a child, Josephine (The Unfavorite) often pretended to be Julia, and that Julia eventually confronted and humiliated Josephine publicly to make her stop. After Julia's murder, Crawford is Mistaken for Murderer and Josephine tracks him down.
  • Both played straight and subverted in Harry Potter. George, the surviving Weasley twin, goes on with Fred to become super successful at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, which was the dream the twins had pursued together. On the other hand he married Fred's ex girlfriend Angelina, he named his own son Fred, and Word of God says that he never fully got over Fred's death.
    • In the movies, the look on George's face when he saw Fred's dead body shows just how deeply it affected him.
  • In Blade of Fire (the second volume of Stuart Hill's Icemark Chronicles) Thirrin's son, Cerdic, is killed in battle, prompting his twin brother, Eodred, to enter a period of protracted mourning. In the end, it takes the insistance of his sister, Cressida, that he get on with life and his new-found friendship with a young werewolf to help Eodred recover.
  • Jonah in Natalie Standiford's book How to Say Goodbye in Robot. Jonah's father actually lied to him about his twin's death in a car accident. He actually had him institutionalized because he didn't want to look after him..
  • Alema Rar loses her twin sister to the Yuuzhan Vong in a particularly agonising and gruesome way; it sends her into a dangerous spiral of grief and vengeance that culminates in her falling to the Dark Side, becoming steadily more insane and disfigured by injuries, and eventually dying.
  • Digby Geste from Beau Geste plays a bit with this; though he survives his twin Michael and even helps in making a funeral pyre for him, he feels a lack due to his twin's more dominant personality and he dies on the way back to Lagos.
  • This is the premise of Twelfth Night, where Viola is devastated by the loss of her brother. However, as it turns out, Sebastian isn't dead -- and he's as heartbroken as Viola is.
  • Charlie in the novel of Lemonade Mouth (but not the movie) - his twin choked on his umbilical cord and was stillborn. The family's visited his grave on every birthday.
  • The Redwall story Marlfox has a pair of otter twins that are part of the Sensational Wandering Noonvale Companions Troupe. One of the brothers, Elachim, dies in the first battle of the story, while his brother survives to the end.
  • Gilead Lothain, the dispossessed elf protagonist of the Black Library novel Gilead's Blood (and the forthcoming Gilead's Curse), owes his grim, tragic and thoroughly disillusioned character to the death of his identical twin brother Galeth. Gilead and Galeth were often described as one soul in two bodies, such was the strength of their bond (extending to a kind of mild telepathic link), and Gilead speculates that their bond somehow survives Galeth's death, making him effectively two souls in one body. It is because of what happened to Galeth that Gilead lost all interest in his lands and noble birthright and became the shadowy wandering vigilante he is in the books.
  • Thomas Didymus, after the crucifixion of Christ in Dirge for Prester John.
  • In Sherlock Holmes' story The Speckled Band, the client is a lady named Helen Stoner whose twin sister Julia died recently. She's not only reeling heavily from losing her twin, but since Julia died in extremely strange circumstances, she visits Holmes and hires him to investigate... And that ultimately saved her life, since it turns out her and Julia's wicked stepfather Dr. Roylott killed Julia for Financial Abuse reasons, and was planning to do the same to Helen...

Live Action TV

  • An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured a pair of twins from a species in which twins are always born with a telepathic link. One twin died. The other twin went mad for revenge.
    • The species in question are the Miradorn, who also appear in the novel continuity - one story in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series is set on their homeworld. This story features another angsty surviving twin.
  • This is Justine's prime motivation in Angel. Her twin sister Julia was killed by vampires.
  • Patsy Parisi from The Sopranos. He angsts about it often enough to make the rest of the cast frustrated, and when he finds out that Tony had his brother killed for trash-talking him, Patsy gets drunk and pees in Tony's pool.
  • Surviving twin Stephanie "Steffy" Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful grown to become angsty. She dated her dead twin sister Phoebe's incestuous boyfriend Rick (who caused the car accident that killed Phoebe) and now for some reason she is going after Rick's mom, Brooke and her family the Logan's. Possibly because of Phoebe's death, though the show fails to recognize it.
    • To add to this trope, Steffy is now going after married man Bill "Dollar Bill" Spencer, who is married to Brooke's sister, Katie.


Music

  • In the Evil series of Vocaloid songs, it takes the sacrifice and death of Len, Rin's twin brother and the one person who truly loved her, for Rin to finally realize (and tear jerkingly regret) her tyranny as a queen and the unforgivable atrocities she had once committed.
  • The song "Run For Your Life" by The Fray is about a girl whose twin sister has died; the singer tries to convince her not to give up on life afterward.


Video Games

  • That heartrending videogame, Mother 3. (But they Never Found the Body, so you know what that means...)
  • In Golden Axe, the dwarf Gilius Thunderhead was planning to avenge his twin brother by defeating Death Adder, then committing suicide to join him in death.
  • In Xenosaga, even though Jr. (Rubedo) has spent the better part of two games trying to kill his Axe Crazy twin Albedo, he can't stop himself from breaking down crying after he finally goes through with it.
  • Orlha in Chrono Cross.
  • Aegina in Blaze Union, during her route.
  • Itsuki in Fatal Frame II definately counts, to the point where he helps Yae and Sae escape so as to not suffer his and his brother's fate, and then commits suicide once he thinks they've escaped.
  • Mona Sax in Max Payne, whose identical twin sister Lisa was murdered during the events of the first game. In the seconed game, Max waxes all poetical about how it must have been for Mona in his voice-over narration.
  • In the Halo series, Hunters tend to come as identical twin brothers, as the worm colony that makes up a Hunter will split into two when it grows too large. These twins have an extremely close bond and when you kill one the other will go absolutely apeshit on you.
  • In Nie R, after Devola is killed midway through the boss battle, Popola goes through a massive Villainous Breakdown where she's driven mad by grief. She rejects Nier's plea to give up, screaming at him that No One Stops.

 "Now I know why the two of us were born together. For beings without souls... living alone... that would just be too sad.."

  • In Dragon Age II, one of Hawke's younger twin siblings will die depending on the clase s/he chooses. (If a rogue/warrior, Carver kicks it; if a mage, it's Bethany). The remaining twin will suffer quite a bit for this: Bethany is quiet but sorrowful about the loss of Carver, while Carver will initially blame Hawke if Bethany kicks it.

Visual Novels

  • See Chaos;Head in the "Manga and Anime" folder above.
  • In Shuffle, Lisianthus had a twin named Kikyou who died before childbirth. As a result, Sia made a pact with Kikyou and ends up hosting her spirit within her body, giving her a Split Personality. In Sia's route, this is a major plot point.
  • In Da Capo II Plus Communication, Akane had a twin named Ai who died before the main storyline began. In her grief, she made a wish on the sakura tree to revive Ai, which ended up with her sharing her body with Ai's spirit. When the sakura tree gets withered, the wish is cancelled.
  • Itsuki, from Suika. But not really. She was Dead All Along and her sister was in coma, making Sayo the true example, though she doesn't angst much.
  • In Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, the Player Character is one of these after her twin brother and fighting partner Kaname is murdered. From then on Saori makes herself pass as Kaname to avenge him and protect their village.
  • Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations has Iris and Dahlia. Dahlia was executed for various crimes, and Iris, who had been trying to help her sister change her ways, still mourns for her.

Webcomics

  • In Drowtales, the ruling Sharen clan has an odd tradition of "hiring" (purchasing) infants of lowly birth as "protector twins" so their own children can know the experience of having a twin. Perhaps not surprisingly, the life expectancy of a protector twin is often relatively short, as the two usually end up in conflict that leaves one of them dead. Which is how it usually goes for other drow twins as well.


Web Original

  • In the Red vs. Blue mini-series "Recovery One", Agent South is introduced as one of these, with her brother North having died just as we meet her. It turns out that she killed him put him in a position to be killed, showing her to be angsty from the get go.
  • In Lovers Oath, Bevel is shown to be one of these, though... He doesn't realize his twin is still alive. The twin doesn't know Bevel's alive either.


Real Life

  • June Gibbons (of the notorious arsonist-novelist Silent Twins of Wales) subverts this all to heck. In interviews, she misses Jennifer, who died the day they were released from prison, but seems cheerful enough.
  • Elvis Presley and Phillip K Dick both had twin siblings (a brother, Jesse, in Elvis' case; a sister, Jane, in Dick's) who died as infants.
  • Michael Jackson had twin brothers Marlon and Brandon, the latter of whom died shortly after birth. Upon Michael's death, Marlon asked Michael to give Brandon a hug.
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