Created By: lakingsif on January 5, 2014 Last Edited By: lakingsif on January 14, 2014

Never Shared A Scene

There's a few main characters who never actually are in a scene/ interact together.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
This is more common than you think, oddly enough. If we say "main characters" are constituted by their accreditation not singularly with the generic credits (e.g. In a show's Title Sequence), that is. Being main characters, and therefore vitally important, you'd expect them to be required to spend time together. There are a few reasons why this doesn't actually happen:

1. Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two equally important, separate, stories going on that mirror each other in order to give more angles on the moral/point of the story.

2. Composite Piece: There are too many characters for them all to directly cross paths, usually because of time constraints and inventive/realistic ways to do so.

3. The Friends Who Never Hang: The writers believe they wouldn't work well together, though they may occasionally hang with their gang.

4. Two Aliases, One Character: When two characters are never seen together because, really, they're the same one.

5. Doing Something Different: Still part of the main/only plot, but spends a lot of time progressing the story in a different location with different people.

6. Trapped by Mountain Lions: Exists in solidarity, going off on their own adventures because they can't be written into anyone else's.

7. Based on an Advice Book: An advice book often outlines the different situations, so the creators will obviously need to demonstrate them all. May also be a Composite Piece or Two Lines, No Waiting.

8. Four Lines, All Waiting: When there are multiple stories going on, all as main plots with equal focus, and each with their own Cast Herd, commonly seen on soaps.

9. Phone-A-Friend: This character is somewhere else, so we're going to make you call them every time you need them for the purpose of highlighting your vulnerability or because they were Put on a Bus. Or, in film, their actor was rarely available. Will appear in a Split-Screen Phone Call, or the more modern video call.

10. He Who Must Not Be Seen: Whether they be The Voice, a member of the Omniscient Council of Vagueness, the Emperor, they're never in a scene with anyone else and aren't actually seen.

11. Loads and Loads of Characters: There are so many characters that, though they'd often all easily interact given another creator, with this creator it means they simply can't all meet each other.

Causes Ships That Pass in the Night.

Of course, if it's caused by Development Hell, expect an In-Universe Hand Wave or barely plausible excuse like "X and Y don't get along".

Compare Missed Him by That Much, when the two characters who want to meet each other somehow fail each time; compare/contrast Talking to Himself, where one person plays enough characters that they may end up alone in scenes playing a good portion of the main cast, so technically not alone.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • In Legend of Galactic Heroes the two main leads, Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire and Yang-Wen Li of the Free Planets Alliance, meet face-to-face only once in the entire series (which is 110 episodes long, not counting gaidens) in a short meeting in the mid-point of the series, and before and after that they only indirectly communicated with each other through official messages as commanders of their respective forces.

Film
  • The first time Loki and Jane of the Marvel Cinematic Universe share a scene is in Thor: The Dark World, and the first thing she does is whack him about the face.
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting and Pitch Perfect
    • Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks were in both films, but did not share any scenes.
    • In What to Expect When You're Expecting, Rebel Wilson's scenes are all with Banks whilst in Pitch Perfect they're all with Kendrick (i.e. never in a scene without them, and so doesn't have a scene with the other in each film).
  • New York, I Love You had the characters stay in their pairs and never interact: Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman are both in it, but don't reunite.
  • Love Actually
    • Mostly averted when they all arrive at either Juliet's wedding, Heathrow Airport, or the every-primary-school-in-London Nativity play due to the One Degree of Separation between them all.
    • Colin spends most of his scenes in Wisconsin and Jamie on the Continent.
  • He's Just Not That Into You has Scarlett Johansson talk to literally two of the rest of the cast.
  • Would You Rather
    • Dr Barden has a storyline all of his own. Starring exactly him staking out the manor. He does make appearances in Iris' (the main) plot, but only shares scenes with her and Lambrick.
    • Raleigh is only ever in scenes with Iris, but everyone talks about him and he is the main cause of plot development.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan while Kirk and Khan do communicate by subspace radio, they are never physically in the same place. Khan only interacts directly with Chekov of the entire Enterprise crew.
  • This influenced Caddyshack, though not in the finished film. Partway through filming, the makers realized that their two funniest actors—Bill Murray and Chevy Chase—didn't have any scenes together. They felt this was too good an opportunity to waste, so they threw together a scene with their characters meeting at night, smoking, and talking about nothing in particular.
  • In The Fifth Element, the protagonist (Bruce Willis' character) and villain (Gary Oldman) somehow never share a scene together.
  • In Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter, the characters played by Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins get locked in their hotel room and never interact with the rest of the Loads and Loads of Characters.
  • Played with in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:
    • The audience is made to think that Stacey will only interact with everyone else by text or phone call, then she arrives at the park to lecture Scott and we think that's her contribution, then she meets a majority of the starting cast at the first Battle of the Bands. Her boyfriend sticks around afterwards, though, and gets to meet a lot more of the characters.
    • We never actually see Gideon with any of the other exes, nor (besides the twins) any of the rest of the League together.
  • In Hot Fuzz the police never interact with the citizens, except for Nick and Danny.

Literature
  • Common in A Song of Ice and Fire and consequently on it's TV adaptation, Game of Thrones, due to the huge cast and many different locations.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, as well as the film:
    • Frodo and Sam don't interact with any main characters outside of Gollum and the main Fellowship (seven characters) until Return Of The King.
    • Gollum interacts with Frodo, Sam, and Faramir, and, in the back story, with Gandalf, Aragorn, and (presumably) Legolas. Other than that none of the major characters gets to meet him. Incidentally, he never meets any of the dwarves from The Hobbit, either.
    • Frodo and Sam never get to meet Denethor or Theoden.
    • While Boromir and Faramir obviously know each other, they don't actually meet during the story — except for one dream-like encounter after Boromir's death.
    • Denethor and Aragorn are never seen together, since the former commits suicide before the latter's arrival at Minas Tirith. They did know each other years earlier, since Aragorn served under Denethor's father Ecthelion.

Live-Action TV
  • In Breaking Bad, Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) were both regulars for the entire run of the series, and they only shared one scene together. Paul never shared a scene with R.J. Mitte, who played Walter Jr.
  • After Season 1 of Dani's Castle, Dani moves out of the castle and to Hollywood. She's still in every episode having a video chat with, usually, Kate, meaning she's never shared a scene with the four new main characters that replaced her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In Blink, the Doctor leaves a video message for Sally.
    • In Monsters and Aliens the Doctor is only seen at the very end, missing most of L.I.N.D.A. (as a result, they die).

Theatre

Western Animation
  • In Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, the two main characters, Heathcliff and Riff Raff, are never seen together. Heathcliff interacts with Riff Raff's gang, so they live in the same universe, but never with Riff Raff himself.


Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • January 5, 2014
    Koveras
    Compare/contrast Talking To Himself.
  • January 5, 2014
    Exxolon
    In Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan while Kirk & Khan communicate by subspace radio, they are never physically in the same place. Khan only interacts directly with Chekov of the entire Enterprise crew.
  • January 5, 2014
    gallium
    In Breaking Bad, Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) were both regulars for the entire run of the series, and they only shared one scene together. Paul never shared a scene with R.J. Mitte, who played Walter Jr.
  • January 5, 2014
    Shinr
    Anime and Manga
    • In Legend Of Galactic Heroes the two main leads, Reinhard von Lohengramm of the Galactic Empire and Yang-Wen Li of the Free Planets Alliance, meet face-to-face only once in the entire series (which is 110 episodes long, not counting gaidens) in a short meeting in the mid-point of the series, and before and after that they only indirectly communicated with each other through official messages as commanders of their respective forces.
  • January 5, 2014
    Sligh_Br
    Common in A Song Of Ice And Fire and consequently on it's TV adaptation, Game Of Thrones, duo to the huge cast and many different locations.
  • January 5, 2014
    DAN004
    Sorry, disregard
  • January 5, 2014
    randomsurfer
    We Have This I Swear - I recently saw it, but searching for the one example I remember reading on that page hasn't been fruitful yet.
  • January 6, 2014
    AP
    There's a trope about main characters who rarely speak but otherwise, I don't think we have this one.
  • January 6, 2014
    AP
    Also...

    In The Lord Of The Rings, as well as the film, Frodo and Sam don't interact with any main characters outside of Gollum and the main Fellowship (seven characters) throughout the entire series due to being on their own quest for the majority of the story.
  • January 6, 2014
    Synchronicity
    Compare The Friends Who Never Hang — imo, it's a too-narrow subtrope that would probably be better expanded.

    See also Cast Herd, which groups the Loads And Loads Of Characters into groups which keep them apart. (Although including Loads And Loads Of Characters as a requirement might be too chairs, as it's a corollary of that trope — to use A Song of Ice and Fire as an example, you really can't expect Daenerys Targaryen, far across the narrow sea, to interact with, say, Catelyn Stark in the Riverlands.)
  • January 6, 2014
    MetaFour
    • This influenced Caddyshack, though not in the finished film. Partway through filming, the makers realized that their two funniest actors—Bill Murray and Chevy Chase—didn't have any scenes together. They felt this was too good an opportunity to waste, so they threw together a scene with their characters meeting at night, smoking, and talking about nothing in particular.
  • January 7, 2014
    TooBah
    In the film The Fifth Element, the protagonist (Bruce Willis' character) and villain (Gary Oldman) never share a scene together. I think they may have one dialogue over a radio.
  • January 7, 2014
    Duncan
    In Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter, the characters played by Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins get locked in their hotel room and never interact with the rest of the Loads And Loads Of Characters.
  • January 7, 2014
    xanderiskander
    Well we have Two Aliases One Character, which is about two characters never being seen together being revealed to be same person. I honestly can't think of any other reason why this would be used. If this is just supposed to be a page about "characters never meeting for a long period of time" then that's not trope worthy at all in my opinion. It's just a coincidence.
  • January 7, 2014
    glassofwater9
    In Heathcliff And The Catillac Cats, the two main characters, Heathcliff and Riff Raff, are never seen together. Heathcliff interacts with Riff Raff's gang, so they live in the same universe, but never with Riff Raff himself.
  • January 7, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ That trope may be a reason why 2 characters never shared a scene. But I see your point: the title may be mistaken for the trope you proposed.
  • January 8, 2014
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized work titles, formatted the Examples section and sorted examples by media, de-Pot Holed two work titles as per How To Write An Example - State the source, and corrected two incorrect Example Indentations.
  • January 8, 2014
    kjnoren
    I think there are two different tropes here.

    The first is really a trivia one, a work where we have two characters who never meet up, despite having plenty of mutual contacts and so on.

    The second might be called relation at a remove, with two characters who never meet during the work but despite that have lots of interaction or grow to depend on each other. I imagine that one's most common in spy thrillers.
  • January 8, 2014
    Synchronicity
    Don't mind this reply, sorry.
  • January 8, 2014
    DAN004
    Compare Missed Him By That Much when the two characters who want to meet each other somehow fail each time.
  • January 8, 2014
    Kopaka28
    The Lord of the Rings example above does not really work for Frodo and Sam the few characters they don't meet to this tropers memory are Treebeard, Denethor, and the Rohan family, and not all of the surving fellowship members meet all of them.
  • January 8, 2014
    Alvin
    If this is about actors (and some of the above examples are), I read somewhere that in JFK Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon play characters who don't share a scene. Given JFK was not supposed to be a comedy. that may have been deliberate. Should this go under Trivia? ,
  • January 9, 2014
    randomsurfer
    ^Neither play major characters, they're in one scene each played by characters who AFAIK never met in real life. Lemmon is in one of the first scenes where he plays a private security guard who gets beaten up by his boss (who may have had a part in the JFK assassination). Matthau plays the senator who first sparks Garrison's interest in the case; IIRC by this time Lemmon's character has died.
  • January 14, 2014
    BlueIceTea
    The LotR example as currently written is wrong, since the description says the characters never interact. Frodo and Sam do interact with most of the other characters; it's just that it doesn't happen till near the end of The Return of the King.

    Some characters who truly never meet:
    • Gollum interacts with Frodo, Sam, and Faramir, and, in the back story, with Gandalf, Aragorn, and (presumably) Legolas. Other than that none of the major characters gets to meet him. Incidentally, he never meets any of the dwarves from The Hobbit, either.
    • Frodo and Sam never get to meet Denethor or Theoden.
    • While Boromir and Faramir obviously know each other, they don't actually meet during the story — except for one dream-like encounter after Boromir's death.
    • Denethor and Aragorn are never seen together, since the former commits suicide before the latter's arrival at Minas Tirith. They did know each other years earlier, since Aragorn served under Denethor's father Ecthelion.
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