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Our heroes are a force of nature. United, there is nothing in this world that can stand against them. Divided...well...things aren't going so well.

Whether due to a plot device, a scheme by the villain, or simple internal strife, the heroes are separated. They may be scattered all over the world, they may just go their separate ways, but the point is they are no longer a team. It may take multiple story arcs to get them back together, or they may never get back together. Even if they do get back together, their separate adventures and tribulations will have caused them to change and drift apart in ways they could not have foreseen.

When this happens, expect it to be the Belly of the Whale, even the Darkest Hour. No group would ever do this willingly, because you Never Split the Party. Expect the episode where this happens to be a Wham! Episode. If they meet again, they might have a few episodes of Putting the Band Back Together. If they don't... Nothing Is the Same Anymore.

Note: For it to count as this trope, it should be a whole arc, not just one or two episodes. If just one character leaves, or it lasts for a very short time, it falls under other tropes.

Compare Let's Split Up, Gang!, where they split up, but intend to find each other again later, Party Scattering, where they are split up involuntarily and sent on Solo Sequences by an external force, and The Fellowship Has Ended, where the split-up becomes permanent.

Examples of Breaking the Fellowship include:


Anime

  • One Piece, the Straw Hat pirates, following Bartholomew Kuma's attack, are scattered to the four winds. Two years later, they get back together, and they have changed dramatically.
  • Following the defeat of Etemon in Digimon Adventure, the Digidestined separated and scattered throughout the Digital World. When Tai returns, he has to spend a whole arc finding them and getting them back together.
    • They actually went through this a couple of times. The first was when they first encountered Devimon, who split them up. Then there's the aforementioned Etemon example. While searching for the eighth child back at home, some of Myotismon's forces kept them divided for a short time. Finally, in the Dark Masters arc Matt went off on his own, Joe and Mimi went off another way, and the group doesn't properly reunite until just before the very of end of the series.
  • In Slayers Try, the group is divided for a few episodes when Valgaav's plan to summon the Dark Lord Darkstar goes awry.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Ala Alba was split up for a while soon after entering the Magic World.
  • In Twentieth Century Boys most of the main characters are split up after the first major Wham! Episode, which ends with a 15 year Time Skip that sees the main character dead, another in prison, two presumed dead and the rest scattered.A lot of the series sees them trying to reunite.
  • In Ronin Warriors, this happens to the Five-Man Band after their first confrontation with the villain, who scatters them across the countryside and places them in prisons based on their Powered Armor's elements. It's up to The Chick and the Bratty Half-Pint to find and reunite the team.
  • In Zoids: Chaotic Century, after Prozen and the Death Saurer are defeated, Van and his friends go their separate ways. Van joins the Republic military for formal Zoid pilot training, Fiona accompanies Dr. D in pursuit of the Zoid Eve, and Irvine and Moonbay return to their mercenary and trading ways, respectively. They all reunite 2 years later in Guardian Force, however.
  • Villains they may be (at least they want to be), Pokémon's Team Rocket is also a very good example of True Companions. However, there are still times that they couldn't tolerate each other, resulting in a breakup (temporary, anyway, they barely last an episode). "The Ole' Berate and Switch" and "Noodles: Roamin' Off" are notable examples.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Mustang has a very close-knit group of five hand-selected subordinates, who are unquestionably loyal to him and to each other, and are working feverishly to help him with his long-term goals. To disrupt his plans, the villains break up his team and send them to where they can't help him. Three of the men are sent to distant outposts; one, recently paralyzed in the line of duty, is discharged from the hospital and sent back to his family's home; and the fifth, the lone female, is forced to become the personal assistant of one of the villains in order to hold her hostage for Mustang's good behavior. Of course, it doesn't really stick.
  • In Saint Beast, the formerly inseparable Saint Beasts are drawn apart after four of them betray the other two as a result of being Brainwashed and Crazy and Judas and Luca get sent to hell. Then, after shaking off the brainwashing and plotting to save their friends the other four are are betrayed in turn by the goddess, separated and Taken for Granite.


Comics

  • In Negation, after months eluding the Negation forces and having many of their number die, Kaine still wants to lead the band of fugitives back to their home universe, but the others decide to hide out on a world and make the best of it there, since they're tired of running and fighting. Only Zaida, Memi and Lizard Lady stick with Kaine.
  • In DC Comics' Infinite Crisis, it is the deep divisions that have grown between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman that create the power vaccuum the villains seek to exploit.

Live Action TV

  • Happened to House, twice. Once at the end of Season 3, and again in season 4. It wasn't until midway through season 6 that he got most of both teams back, but given his personality it is probably only a matter of time before it happens again.
  • Lost. The last time "the whole gang" (minus everyone who's died along the way) is gathered has to be 4.01, "The Beginning of the End". A very fundamental split in ideology occurs in that episode, and although that particular disagreement no longer carries any weight, as of the conclusion of season 5 there hasn't been a single episode to feature all (or even a vast majority) of the characters in the same setting.
    • Following Hurley, Jack and Sun's surrender to Team Flocke, all the remaining Oceanic 815 survivors minus Jin have been gathered again.
  • The Farscape gang went their separate ways at one point, only to find that the bounties on their heads made splitting up too dangerous.
  • Robin Hood: At the end of the second season, Will Scarlett and Djaq opt to stay in the Holy Land instead of returning to England with their comrades. A sad example, considering the writers completely forget about their existence, and they're never seen or heard from again.
  • A famous example comes from Blakes Seven which saw most of the cast being split up after the loss of their Cool Ship and the main title character departing the series (only to return and get killed in the last episode.
  • NCIS splits up Gibbs' team after Leon Vance takes over. They all eventually come back together.
  • Merlin; The Four-Temperament Ensemble composed of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana and Guinevere slowly falls apart throughout the course of season two due to Morgana's increasing isolation, and sundered forever at the end of the season when she's taken away by her half-sister. In the wake of her absence, the remaining three become a tight Power Trio, and at the end of season three there's a brand new Fellowship in the form of the Knights of the Round Table.
  • One season of CSI saw the usual ensemble split up between night and swing shifts.

Film

  • In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, first Luke, then Han, are split from the party; they don't get back together until the next film.
    • Only for Luke to go off on his own again.
  • On The Land Before Time, Cera and Littlefoot fight over which is the right way to the Great Valley. The others end up following Cera, because her route seems easier, leaving Littlefoot alone. Cera's way, however, leads them into danger, and Littlefoot has to rescue them.

Literature

  • Lord of the Rings is the Trope Namer here. They never do all meet again, since one of them dies and one is irrevocably transformed in the interim.
    • Well, 8 out of 9 did meet again.
  • David Eddings' Belgariad: Towards the end of the novel the main party splits off to protect the ones they love, so to speak. Happens again in the Mallorean too.
  • In Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles, the main party is forced to separate early in the second book when the city of Tarsis is under attack. The groups mostly reassemble before the end, except that two died and another seemingly switched sides.
  • In Dune Thufir Hawat and Gurney Halleck are separated from Paul and Jessica in the wake of the Harkonnens' attack, and Duncan Idaho is killed. They're finally able to get together again at the end of the book.
  • In Warrior Cats, the chosen cats from The New Prophecy have to split back to their Clans after the Great Journey.
  • In Septimus Heap, whenever this happens...things start getting wrong. For example, in Darke, between Septimus and Jenna splitting up at the Palace gates and meetign again in the Dragon Field the Castle is overrun by a Darke Domaine and their mother Sarah Heap is trapped inside of it.

Music

  • Gorillaz did this twice, all detailed in their autobiography.

Video Games

  • In Mass Effect 2, the team from the first game has scattered after Shepard's death. You get a couple of them back, but the others refuse to come back for various reasons (can't leave their work, won't work with Cerberus even for you). In Mass Effect 3, all of the surviving squad members from the first game (with the likely exception of one who seems set to nonetheless be an important ally) end up back with you.
  • Final Fantasy VI: The entire second half revolves around tracking down each member of your old party and rallying back into the fight. The final dungeon is available very early on, but until you've glued your fellowship back together you won't stand much of a chance where Marathon Level and Boss Rush join forces to beat you up.
  • Vandal Hearts
    • In Vandal Hearts the party is split at the end of Chapter II. This is because The Magic Stone sends Ash, Grog and Sara into a pocket dimension that exists outside of time. The rest of the party is variously arrested, off joining the rebellion or in Kira's case, going back to the Big Bad after having betrayed the team.
  • In Vandal Hearts II at the end of the prologue, the five main characters split up and never join up again. Joshua becomes a noble brigand who goes on to play a vital part in the founding of Central Natra and then become its top Knight, one childhood friend joins the priesthood, one goes to a big city to protect Joshua's step-sister who works as a prostitute, one carries on her life as a noblewoman and becomes a political tool and the last succeeds in forging an army to try to seize the crown, but becomes a drunken washout. The player's actions within the game affects the final fates of these characters.
  • In Baldur's Gate 2, two of your canonical party members from the first game are killed offscreen, and you lose another one at the end of the prologue dungeon. The first two are Deader Than Dead, but you can get the third one back much later.
  • Dragon Age 2 ends like this, with all surviving party members going their separate ways after Hawke disappears (except for Hawke's Love Interest, who went with him/her).
  • In the Gundam RPG MS Saga a New Dawn, your team is separated after one leaves due to feeling inadequate and the rest are separated from you after the bad guy's base is destroyed, killing one of your allies in the process. They get back together soon after and the guy who leaves comes back after Taking a Level In Badass.

Web Comics

  • In Drowtales, this happens to Alpha Bitch(Chrys'tel)'s Five-Man Band; later Ariel's group splits over an internal disagreement, only to find each other via Big Damn Heroes. They later split up again on much more amicable terms to pursue different goals.
  • Happened in Order of the Stick following the battle of Azure City. Eventually they got back together, but with all party members having gone through a lot of Character Development. The arc was even titled "Don't Split The Party".
    • Also happened in the backstory to the "Order of the Scribble," the Order of the Stick's predecessors in confronting the dangers of the Snarl. They never reunited and, at least in the case of Girard Draketooth, hated the others Soon Kim beyond rational thought.
  • In Juathuur, Faevv's group splits relatively fast. When they reunite, they act slightly hostile. "A lot happened after you left" is a sentence that gets used a lot.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court had the group formerly containing Surma, Anthony, Eglamore, Anja, Donald and (presumably) Brinnie. By the time the comic starts, the group has been broken -- Anja, Donald and James remained in the Court as teachers, Brinnie's whereabouts are unknown (appeared only in flashback) and Surma and Anthony in Good Hope Hospital, with Surma as a patient and Anthony as the doctor. Surma ended up with Carver instead of Eglamore and the Court's three lost contact with Brinnie and didn't know where Surma and Anthony were (Anja apparently discovered that Surma died only when Annie was transferred to the Court). Why they broke up on such bad terms is yet unknown. The only plausible apple of discord revealed so far was Reynardine possession incident.

Web Original

Western Animation

Other

  • Bionicle: after being transformed by Energized Protodermis and sparring with each other, the Toa Nuva team disbands so each would be off protecting their villages. Then the Bohrok-Kal show up and nearly kill them, forcing them to band back together.
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