Created By: Qaianna on July 22, 2011 Last Edited By: Qaianna on November 17, 2011

Party Split

External plot factors split a party up among opposing factions.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Alice and Bob are on their way to Alphaville on the Alphaville Express, enjoying the scenery and thinking of all the Alphas they'll meet there. Bob heads to the baggage car since he forgot something ... just in time for the Beta Tribe to attack and make off with it. And Bob!

A despondent Alice arrives in Alphaville to tell the story, and is informed that the Beta Tribe is the sworn enemy of Alphaville. Alice, friends with the Alphas, goes through a Lock and Load Montage and charges forth to save Bob. She breaks through the Beta Tribe perimeter ...

... and finds Bob in an ill-fitting borrowed Beta Tribe uniform, on his way to spy on Alphaville. Seems that the Beta Tribe has a few concerns about what Alphaville's doing.

This is a Party Split. A party of heroes is separated (usually forcibly, but not always), and the story's focus stays on the principal--here, Alice--as that portion of the team meets one faction, and learns of the enmity with the other. Meanwhile, the separated sidekicks--here, just Bob--are persuaded (not 'persuaded', persuaded) to help the second faction.

For this to be in effect, it's best that the split is not the actual objective of the second faction. Even if they take a sidekick or two as prisoner/hostage, it's not a kidnap/abduct mission, merely a side effect of the primary issue. (And why would the horrible evil Beta Tribe take a prisoner when all they want to do is murder everyone not of their own?) Also, it could be some other device that separates the groups. Just as long as it's not intended.

Another note is that the factions need not be actually evil, just opposed; still, it helps if at least one is genuinely sympathetic.

Finally, due to the nature of this trope ('Wait, those guys are good!'), spoilers are likely to be unmarked. Viewer beware.

Examples:
  • A Darkwing Duck episode, 'Apes of Wrath'. Darkwing meets Col. Trenchrot on his plantation while tracking down a missing scientist and is told of evil gorilla thieves, who then accidentally kidnap Gosalyn. The gorillas are allies of the scientist; Trenchrot is the actual villain of the piece.
  • A Doctor Who episode, 'The Doctor's Daughter'. The Doctor meets humans fighting a war, when the Hath attack; during the attack, they take Martha Jones prisoner. (Remember the earlier caveat: they weren't trying to kidnap her, she just was taken prisoner as a side effect of the whole war thing.) The Doctor learns of the evil Hath from the humans; the Hath, however, 'tell' Martha of their side of the war. Neither are villainous themselves, and once the war is revealed as a HUGE mistake, (almost) all of them are more than happy to call it quits.
  • A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode, 'Over a Barrel'. Twilight Sparkle is on the train with the rest of the cast, on their way to deliver a tree to the residents of Appleoosa; en route, Spike is with the tree when it's stolen by an attack from buffalo. Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie then break off to get Spike and the tree back ... and are told by the buffalo how they really need the land Appleoosa is on. Note here that the party splits into three: first Spike is separated and convinced, who then helps convince Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie when they arrive, and then all three help convince the rest of the cast. Again, neither faction are villainous as such.
  • Occurred in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle at some point when the gang got transported to different parts of the same world. In Shara country, Sakura and Syaoran end up with a group of female performers who worship Ashura (I think) while Fay and Kurogane end up with some. . . male priests (I think) who worship Yasha.
    • When they get transported back in time, they end up fighting on different sides of the war between the original Ashura and Yasha.
  • In one episode of Supernatural Sam & Dean get separated and fall in with two separate bands of survivors, each of which thinks the other group is a bunch of demons.
  • In Slayers NEXT, Lina and her group split up because they can't decide what to have for lunch. As a result Lina and Gourry go to a roast beef place while Amelia and Zelgadis go have hot pot. It is then both groups are recruited by two candidates for the leadership of the local magic guild. Both candidates are fearful that the other are going to play dirty tricks in securing the spot. It just be noted, it isn't about any ideals or whatever, but they only only work for the canadidates for some money. The two side do kinda still go to blows when they find out who's working with who... but a third party enters the picture, the previous head of the guild who was expelled by the two candidates for delving into immortality research.
  • "The Lords of Quarmall", a Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser novella, has Fafhrd and the Mouser going their own ways temporarily, and each accepting a job offer from one of the opposing claimants to the throne of Quarmall.
Community Feedback Replies: 30
  • July 22, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
  • July 22, 2011
    Loyal2NES
    This needs a better name. I thought this was Lets Split Up Gang when I read the title and I'm sure many others would as well.
  • July 22, 2011
    Qaianna
    I'm open to better. I went with this name primarily because I think I heard of it in politics, where a party would split with itself on something. I'd say this might be a subtrope of Lets Split Up Gang, what with the involuntary component.
  • July 22, 2011
    Acebrock
    In Dragon Age: Origins Awakening some of your party members may attack you depending on whether or not you side with the architect, based on their personal stake in the events of the game.
  • July 23, 2011
    terrafox
    I suggest the title be changed to House Divided.
  • July 23, 2011
    Koveras
    Nah, no good, we already have A House Divided.

    • Dragon Age II will do this to you, too, depending on your final choice of loyalty in the end. The only way to avoid that is maxing out the Friendship/Rivalry with and completing the personal sidequest of each of the dissenting characters beforehand (though some can be converted back with a Persuade check later on).
  • July 23, 2011
    Stratadrake
    House Divided sounds good. "Party Split" sounds too much like Rocks Fall Party Splits.
  • July 23, 2011
    Koveras
    ^ We already have A House Divided.
  • July 23, 2011
    Qaianna
    To Stratadrake ... I didn't know of Rocks Fall Party Splits. I checked it out (and A House Divided), and while both may be similar, with this one it's the theme that the party splits up involuntarily (not just by the environment, although that could do it) and ends up befriending opposite factions in a conflict, not starting one against itself (so this isn't just A House Divided).

    The only other thing that comes to mind is 'Over a Barrel'. Curse you, ponies!
  • July 23, 2011
    SmashingMelons42
    Occurred in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle at some point when the gang got transported to different parts of the same world. In Shara country, Sakura and Syaoran end up with a group of female performers who worship Ashura (I think) while Fay and Kurogane end up with some. . . male priests (I think) who worship Yasha.
  • July 24, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In one episode of Supernatural Sam & Dean get separated and fall in with two separate bands of survivors, each of which thinks the other group is a bunch of demons.
  • July 24, 2011
    whereismytea
    ^^ As an addendum to the Tsubasa example.

    When they get transported back in time, they end up fighting on different sides of the war between the original Ashura and Yasha.
  • July 24, 2011
    GoldenDarkness
    In Slayers NEXT, Lina and her group split up because they can't decide what to have for lunch. As a result Lina and Gourry go to a roast beef place while Amelia and Zelgadis go have hot pot. It is then both groups are recruited by two candidates for the leadership of the local magic guild. Both candidates are fearful that the other are going to play dirty tricks in securing the spot. It just be noted, it isn't about any ideals or whatever, but they only only work for the canadidates for some money. The two side do kinda still go to blows when they find out who's working with who... but a third party enters the picture, the previous head of the guild who was expelled by the two candidates for delving into immortality research.
  • July 24, 2011
    Koveras
    How exactly is this trope different from the already-existing A House Divided?
  • July 24, 2011
    terrafox
    A House Divided is about a cast of characters pissing each other off and turning against each other. This is about characters--through plot twists/contrivances/whatever--ending up on opposing sides of a larger conflict. It doesn't have to do with how the characters feel about each other and the characters may still like each other; they just wound up in opposing camps through no fault of their own.
  • July 24, 2011
    PaulA
    • "The Lords of Quarmall", a Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser novella, has Fafhrd and the Mouser going their own ways temporarily, and each accepting a job offer from one of the opposing claimants to the throne of Quarmall.
  • July 24, 2011
    Speedball
    Does Breaking Of The Fellowship cover this?
  • July 24, 2011
    PaulA
    ^ No, Breaking The Fellowship doesn't cover this. Often, this doesn't even involve breaking the Fellowship at all, just the Fellowship being temporarily separated from each other.
  • July 25, 2011
    Qaianna
    OK, I updated with all examples prior to here, except the Dragon Age ones and the Avatar ones. The reason I left those three out was that the Dragon Age ones seemed to fall under normal intra-party conflict, while the Avatar example was intentional. I've also tried to add that distinction to the trope text itself; correct me if I'm wrong, but intentionally splitting and picking both sides is more hedging your bets and/or just thoroughly researching rather than anything else.
  • July 25, 2011
    Acebrock
  • July 25, 2011
    Stratadrake
    @Qaianna: It's not a crime to "not know" about other tropes -- but we need a title that won't get confused for other tropes at a glance. House Divided (or Party Divided) work well for this purpose.
  • July 25, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Sorry, correction to the Supernatural example. It was Ellen and Jo, a mother-daughter pair of hunters, who got split between the two camps. Sam & Dean meet the group Ellen is in and are told that Jo was turned into a demon along with the rest of her group. Meanwhile the group Jo is with thinks that the group her mother is in are all demons, including Sam & Dean. Sam is captured by Jo's group, which is when he discovers the truth - both sides are human and are being played by War.
  • July 25, 2011
    terrafox
    Koveras has a good point re House Divided. Ergo, I second the name Party Divided, unless a more clever title gets thrown out there.
  • July 26, 2011
    Qaianna
    Little worried on using Party Divided, given that we have A House Divided (and I'm surprised House Divided doesn't already link there). Personally, Terrafox's 24 Jul comment is the best short version (just too long for a 'laconic' entry) that I've seen. I'm not married to the name, of course. Just that if we nix Party Split since it resembles one trope title ...

    Thanks for the feedback, though. Good to know I've got something here to work with, just needs some more polishing.
  • July 26, 2011
    Koveras
    @Qaianna: I still think that the DA 2 example counts because the "final choice" you make there is picking sides in the war between Mages and Templars that has just erupted. Some party members will naturally support the Mages, others, the Templars (unless you can persuade them otherwise) so it's not about their personal conflicts but picking their sides in an external one.

    I still think that as a title, Party Divided is too similar to A House Divided to avoid confusion. How about Split By The Barricades? I think the word "barricade" brings about the right associations (it was invented in Paris during the French Revolution, after all).
  • July 27, 2011
    Koveras
    Also, I think this should go under Team Shuffle Tropes index as a subtrope of Breaking The Fellowship.
  • July 27, 2011
    terrafox
    For a Laconic, try: "External plot factors split a party up among opposing factions."
  • August 1, 2011
    Qaianna
    Hm..I like that Laconic entry better, I'll use it. Thanks, Terrafox. And I didn't know we had a Team Shuffle Tropes section, either. Then again, I didn't know we had a pool.
  • November 17, 2011
    Caveat
    Why don't we expand the Team Shuffle Tropes page into a full supertrope page similar to the one we have to Mac Guffin?
  • November 17, 2011
    Koveras
    ^ I think the format used in Romance Arc would be more appropriate.

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