Created By: SonicLover on July 18, 2012 Last Edited By: Elbruno on February 28, 2014
Troped

Two Halves Make A Plot (Launch soon)

Two characters wind up with the two halves of an important object.

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Trope
Formely Your Half My Half. Seen It a Million Times. Rolling Updates.

You may know the scene. The hero has half of something, like a letter, a Treasure Map detailing the MacGuffin's location, or a MacGuffin proper; but without the other half it's useless or indecipherable. Eventually they casually mention this to a friend or a rival... who then double-takes and pulls out the other half.

The details of this scenario can vary. Usually both characters wind up with the halves independently, having been aiming towards the same goal the entire time. The discovery of the other half can lead them to either quickly start working togheter (a convinient excuse for a Rivals Team Up), or start fighting each other for the other half. Another variation has the characters recieving the halves at the same time, but due to the passage of time or other circumstances, they are not aware anymore of who has the other half; at least until said owner reveals it.

It doesn't have to be a map, letter, or MacGuffin; it can be any important clue that's divided in pieces and worthless if not whole. It also isn't restricted to just two halves; it can be several pieces in the hands of several characters.

This trope does not refer to an object simply being separated and handed over to different people in full knowledge of who the owners are. There has to be a certain element of surprise, or at least a lack of willingness on who gets each half if the separation is forced.

Related to Dismantled MacGuffin, which can be a good source for these situations.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Secret of Twilight Gemini's plot centers around the search for both halves of the eponymous diamond. Lupin receives the first half from his old mob boss Dalune, who tasks him with finding the other half. Which is eventually revealed to be held by Lara, Dalune's granddaughter.
  • In Kill la Kill, the main character Ryuko Matoi transfers to the main setting, Honnouji Academy, armed with one half of a sword-sized pair of scissors. She is in search of her father's killer, who stole the other half of the blade from him.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, Judai receives half a pendant from the Gravekeeper's Chief, and is told the other half was taken by another duelist long ago. Judai finds out this is Asuka's brother Fubuki, the leader of the Shadow Riders. When he defeats Fubuki and claims the other half, he forms an amulet that protects him from the shadow powers of the subsequent Riders.

Fan Works
  • Turnabout Storm: Phoenix and Twilight Sparkle independently discover the two halves to Sonata's letter of resignation, which once togheter give Phoenix an important lead for his side of the investigation.

Film
  • In The Parent Trap Annie and Haley both have half of the same picture and its the only picture they have of their Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom. This is what makes them realize they are twins, even though they hate each other at this point. This kicks off the main plot, with them trying to get to know their respective missing parent.
  • In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Professor Brown has one half of the book that mentions the Substitutiary Locomotion spell, which appears to cut off just as it is about to mention the magic words that activate it. A bookseller has the other half, and has been looking for Brown's half, thinking it has the spell. It turns out neither half has it.
  • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Tuco is just about to kill his old partner Blondie, but then ends up hearing one half of a dying man's testimony about hidden treasure and its location, before getting distracted and Blondie hearing the other half. Tuco learns the name of the graveyard it's in, Blondie learns the name on the grave it's buried in.

Literature
  • In the second Dinotopia book, Arthur Denison finds a strange key with a spiral pattern on the base. He tries it on a door in the World Beneath but it doesn't work, and it's determined that it's only half a key. The other half is in the possession of a woman named Oriana, who enabled Arthur to continue his expedition, and eventually becomes a Love Interest.
  • In Bearskin, the youngest daughter of the family agrees to marry Bearskin in exchange for the financial help he gave to their father, and Bearskin gives her half of an engagement ring, and then leaves, keeping the other half for himself. Some time afterward, he returns cleaned up and handsome, and proves his identity by producing the other half of the ring.
  • In Legend of Earthsea each of the protagonists unknowingly hold onto a half of the Amulet of Peace, the MacGuffin necessary to literally close the door on a realm full of unspeakable evil.

Live Action TV
  • An episode of Xena: Warrior Princess included the search for a large, hidden treasure with a treasure map that had been ripped into several pieces. The different people looking for the map were forced to work together as they had memorized their portions of the map and then destroyed them.
  • Bones: In one episode the Victim of the Week is a man that Cam used to live with. She wants to adopt his now teenage daughter, who was about 10 when Cam left. At the time Cam gave her half of a hugging kitties salt-and-pepper shaker set, keeping the other half and saying that whenever the girl looked at it and thought of Cam, Cam would be looking at hers and thinking of her. In the present day the girl claims not to remember Cam, but when Cam pulls out her half the girl runs upstairs to bring out hers too.

Tabletop Games
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Terror from the Stars, adventure "The Temple of the Moon". The Player Characters and two independent villains each receive 1/3 of the Tablet of the Moon, a piece of gold jewelry that allows the user to find the location of a treasure on a map. The players must either defeat one or both villains and take their pieces or team up with them.

Theatre
  • In Annie, her Orphan's Plot Trinket is a half-locket left by her parents, who she assumes have the other half, so they can claim her when they find her again.

Video Games
  • Final Fantasy V, each of the two parallel worlds has one half of an ancient book. When the worlds merge, the two halves do likewise.
  • In the Devil May Cry series, twins Dante and Vergil own two halves of an amulet that, when brought together, can open a portal to the demon world or unlock the true power of their father's heirloom sword, the Force Edge.
  • In Spartan Ops, the secondary campaign of Halo 4, the Librarian gives Dr. Halsey an artifact called the Janus Key, which records the location of every Forerunner relic in the galaxy. The device is activated by connecting the two halves, and in the scuffle after Jul 'Mdama gets one half while Spartan Thorne gets the other.

Visual Novels
  • Case 1-5 of Ace Attorney has this in the form of the Evidence List/Ema's picture. Phoenix finds one half, Edgeworth has the other.

Web Original
  • In the Angry Video Game Nerd's crossover episode with Pat The NES Punk, AVGN has a golden copy of Nintendo World Championships, obtained from a Nintendo Power magazine prize giveaway, while Pat has a grey copy obtained from a Powerfest event. They both want each other's cartridge, as they would complete that rare game's collection, and compete for it by playing the game on a reproduction cartridge. After finding out that NWC contained content recycled from Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris, AVGN destroyed the cartridges in a fit of rage (In reality, he only destroyed replicas and left the originals unharmed).

Western Animation
  • In the Invader Zim episode "Tak The hideous New girl", when Dib's Sister Gaz found files containing Tak's plan we get this exchange.
    Zim: I'm the only one with the technology to decode those files!
    Dib: And we're the only ones with the files to be decoded!
  • The Simpsons episode "The Way We Weren't" has a younger Marge breaking in half a heart-shaped rock the boy who turned out to be Homer after he apparently skipped out on a date with her. Homer found the other half after Marge had left. The two put the rock back together years later.
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "I Have No Son" had Ed Bighead and his son Ralph keeping both sides of an old donut related to the event that damaged their relationship.
  • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade took a liking to a boy named Seymour, even giving him a half necklace pendant while she wore the other half. Unfortunately, Seymour turned out to be the sky demon Hsi Wu, who was befriending her to regain another half left behind: his own tail, accidentally severed and kept in Uncle's shop.
  • Shazzan: Chuck and Nancy each wear half of a magic ring. When the two halves are reunited, it summons the mighty genie Shazzan.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants special "Atlantis Squarepantis", Spongebob and Patrick find half of an amulet and bring it to a museum, where the other half coincidentally resides.

Community Feedback Replies: 56
  • July 19, 2012
    piscula
    • In The Parent Trap Annie and Haley both have half of the same picture and its the only picture they have of their Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom. This is what makes them realize they are twins, even though they hate each other at this point, and once they realize this the plot of the movie kicks off, with them trying to get to know their respective missing parent.
  • July 19, 2012
    donald
  • July 20, 2012
    Arivne
    This is mentioned on Treasure Map (but they're not the same trope, obviously).

    "If they're really unlucky, it'll have been cut up into pieces, each held by a different group of treasure hunters; the heroes will have to collect all the pieces before they can even start looking for the treasure."

    The Xena Warrior Princess example on that page fits this trope as well.

    Live Action TV
    • An episode of Xena Warrior Princess included the search for a large, hidden treasure with a treasure map that had been ripped into several pieces. The different people looking for the map were forced to work together as they had memorized their portions of the map and then destroyed them.
  • July 20, 2012
    TonyG
    In Bedknobs And Broomsticks, Professor Brown has one half of the book that mentions the Substitutiary Locomotion spell, which appears to cut off just as it is about to mention the magic words that activate it. A bookseller has the other half, and has been looking for Brown's half, thinking it has the spell. It turns out neither half has it.
  • July 20, 2012
    DrakeClawfang
    Final Fantasy V, each of the two parallel worlds has one half of an ancient book. When the worlds merge, the two halves do likewise.
  • July 20, 2012
    Jir
    • In Invader Zim episode "Tak The hideous New girl" When Dib's Sister Gaz found files containing Tak's plan we get this exchange.
      Zim: "I'm the only one with the technology to decode those files!"
      Dib: "And we're the only ones with the files to be decoded!"
  • July 21, 2012
    NimmerStill
  • July 21, 2012
    SonicLover
    ^ Never seen it. Believe me, I'd like a better name, but I don't have a lot of ideas.
  • July 21, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    Film
    • The Good The Bad And The Ugly: Tuco is just about to kill his old partner Blondie, but then ends up hearing one half of a dying man's testimony about hidden treasure and its location, before getting distracted and Blondie hearing the other half. Tuco learns the name of the graveyard it's in, Blondie learns the name on the grave it's buried in.

    Western Animation
    • In the George Shrinks episode "The More Things Change", George's senior neighbor Russell and his childhood friend Edna set out to find treasure they buried as kids. Each has one half of the treasure map.
  • July 21, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^^Sorry, it's the standard stock dividing of a shared house or rooom into two halves because the housemates/roommates are fighting.

    Maybe something explicitly referencing its role in mysteries and clues, such as "Divided Clue"; I'll see if I can think of others.
  • July 21, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^You're thinking of This Is My Side (which may happen to an Odd Couple), which yes this sounds like. But it needs a "non-dialog" name even if it didn't sound like that. Two Halves Make A Whole? Two Halves Make A Plot? Something like that??

    Do These Count?
    • In an episode of Batman Catwoman steals two solid gold cat statues, each of which has half a map to some buried treasure. Oddly, nobody ever noticed the maps other than her.
    • Real Life: In some ancient societies (before copiers, carbon paper, etc.) a contract was written out with two or more copies on the same sheet of paper. Each party signed all copies. The paper was then torn jaggedly in two (or however many copies there were), and each party to the contract got one of them. The way the copies' tears fit together proved that they were legit.
  • July 23, 2012
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Call Of Cthulhu supplement Terror from the Stars, adventure "The Temple of the Moon". The PCs and two independent villains each receive 1/3 of the Tablet of the Moon, a piece of gold jewelry that allows the user to find the location of a treasure on a map. The PCs must either defeat one or both villains and take their pieces or team up with them.
  • July 23, 2012
    SonicLover
    ^^ Those don't count. The first because the two pieces were together the whole time, and the second because there's no piece of information that both pieces are necessary for.
  • February 6, 2014
    Elbruno
    Considering this hasn't beeen touched since 2012, I think I will take care of it. I tweaked the description a bit and added the examples that fit the trope.
  • February 6, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
  • February 6, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^That's related to this, could maybe be a sister trope. Dismantled Mac Guffin does not deal with the halves being on different people's hands, and this trope does not only covers Mac Guffins.
  • February 6, 2014
    Astaroth
    • In the Devil May Cry series, twins Dante and Vergil own two halves of an amulet that, when brought together, can open a portal to the demon world or unlock the true power of their father's heirloom sword, the Force Edge.
  • February 6, 2014
    Generality
    Title could be confused with This Is My Side.

    • In Monkey Island 2 Le Chucks Revenge, the crew who originally found the treasure of Big Whoop hid it on a certain island, then divided the map indicating that island into four pieces, each taking one. A major part of the game is concerned with finding all the pieces.
  • February 6, 2014
    DennisDunjinman
    • Jedi Master Evett Piell gained strategic intelligence about hyperspace lanes in Star Wars The Clone Wars. When he and his crew were taken into the Citadel to be tortured by Seperatists into giving up this information, Piell memorized one half and told his second in command Tarkin to memorize the other, knowing they wouldn't mean anything separately in case one of them cracked.
  • February 6, 2014
    Larkmarn
    This doesn't seem sufficiently distinct from Dismantled Mac Guffin.
  • February 6, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ The thing doesn't have to be a Mac Guffin here...

    And this trope is about a plot/event, rather than a matter of fact.
  • February 7, 2014
    Elbruno
    @ Monkey Island's and The Clone Wars': Those'd fall under other tropes, as the characters end up with the pieces knowing the other one has them. For it to fit this trope, the characters have to get the halves independently, or at least without knowing the where the other one is despite having recieved them at the same time.

    Regarding that: Do Dante and Vergil in Devil May Cry know that the other half of the ammulet is with their twin?
  • February 7, 2014
    Astaroth
    ^ Yes, the two halves of the amulet were a gift from their mother, and the plot of the third game is about Vergil trying to steal Dante's amulet in order to unlock its potential.
  • February 7, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^ Hmm... then it may not fit the description as it is now. Maybe the description could use some further tweaking.

    Anyone have any ideas for a change to the description?
  • February 7, 2014
    Duncan
    • In Annie, her Orphans Plot Trinket is a half-locket left by her parents, who she assumes have the other half, so they can claim her when they find her again.
  • February 7, 2014
    HellKillUsAll
    • The Simpsons episode "The Way We Weren't" has a younger Marge breaking in half a heart-shaped rock the boy who turned out to be Homer after he apparently skipped out on a date with her. Homer found the other half after Marge had left. The two put the rock back together years later.
    • The Rockos Modern Life episode "I Have No Son" had Ed Bighead and his son Ralph keeping both sides of an old donut related to the event that damaged their relationship.
  • February 7, 2014
    Tuckerscreator
    • In one episode of Jackie Chan Adventures, Jade took a liking to a boy named Seymour, even giving him a half necklace pendant while she wore the other half. Unfortunately, Seymour turned out to be the sky demon Hsi Wu, who was befriending her to regain another half left behind: his own tail, accidentally severed and kept in Uncle's shop.
      • An earlier episode has the misplaced halves be Jackie Chan himself: specifically his good side and his evil side, split in half thanks to the Tiger Talisman.
    • In Spartan Ops, the secondary campaign of Halo 4, the Librarian gives Dr. Halsey an artifact called the Janus Key, which records the location of every Forerunner relic in the galaxy. The device is activated by connecting the two halves, and in the scuffle after Jul 'Mdama gets one half while Spartan Thorne gets the other.
  • February 17, 2014
    Elbruno
    Expanded the description to cover examples such as Devil May Cry's.

    Open to new title suggestions.
  • February 17, 2014
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Chuck and Nancy each wear half of a magic ring. When the two halves are reunited, it summons a mighty genie named Shazzan.
  • February 17, 2014
    DAN004
  • February 18, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ This. seconding this. Kinda rare to see a clever, non-shoehorned pun these days.
  • February 18, 2014
    Elbruno
    I also like Two Halves Make A Plot. Changing it.
  • February 18, 2014
    FlyingDuckManGenesis
    Here's a Web Original example:

  • February 18, 2014
    MiinU

    Anime

    • Secret of Twilight Gemini's plot centers around the search for both halves of the eponymous diamond. Lupin receives the first half from his old mob boss Dalune, who tasks him with finding the other half. Which is eventually revealed to be held by Lara, Dalune's granddaughter.
  • February 18, 2014
    randomsurfer
    Bones: In one episode the Victim Of The Week is a man that Cam used to live with. She wants to adopt his now teenage daughter, who was about 10 when Cam left. At the time Cam gave her half of a hugging kitties salt-and-pepper shaker set, keeping the other half and saying that whenever the girl looked at it and thought of Cam, Cam would be looking at hers and thinking of her. In the present day the girl claims not to remember Cam, but when Cam pulls out her half the girl runs upstairs to bring out hers too.
  • February 18, 2014
    Elbruno
    I'm not really sure about the AVGN example. They aren't exactly two halves of an object. Then again, they can be considered two halves of that game's complete collection, and Tropes Are Flexible.
  • February 18, 2014
    Stratadrake
    Not sure about Two Halves Make A Plot, personally ...
  • February 18, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ any problem with it?
  • February 20, 2014
    Piwah
    In Kill La Kill, the main character Ryuko Matoi, transfers to the main setting, Honnouji Academy, armed with one half of a sword-sized pair of scissors. She is in search of her father's killer, who stole the other half of the blade from him.
  • February 20, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^^^ I'll demonstrate why it's awesome using the DMC example.

    There are two halves of Eva's amulets. Daddy Spardy gives one of each to his twin sons.

    kids grow up far from each other, one became a Hunter Of His Own Kind, one becomes obsessed with power.

    cue their reunion, One wants the other half of the amulet FOR POWER, the other wants it because It Belongs In A Museum, and that's where the plot of them trying to get each other's halves come in.

    TWO. HALVES. MAKE. A. PLOT.
  • February 21, 2014
    polarbear2217
    In the Sponge Bob Squarepants special "Atlantis Squarepantis", Spongebob and Patrick find half of an amulet and bring it to a museum, where the other half coincidentally resides.

  • February 22, 2014
    Stratadrake
    @Dan: Nothing I can point out specifically. How would Two Halves Make A Whole Plot sound? It's a bit of a mouthful....
  • February 22, 2014
    DAN004
    ^ what do you think will be more concise, while staying clear?
  • February 22, 2014
    JamesPicard
    Toyed with in National Treasure. There's a secret map on the back of the Declaration of Independence that can only be read by special bifocals that Benjamin Franklin hid. There's a code on the back of the Declaration revealed by more mundane means that reveals where the glasses are, but the key to decoding it is in the original Silence Dogood letters. So instead of needing two halves, the heroes and villains need three pieces. However, neither of them actually take the letters, they just pay a kid to record the information, and then there are only two necessary Mac Guffins.
  • February 22, 2014
    DrakeClawfang
    Anime and Manga

    • In Yu Gi Oh GX, Judai receives half a pendant from the Gravekeeper's Chief, and is told the other half was taken by another duelist long ago. Judai finds out this is Asuka's brother Fubuki, the leader of the Shadow Riders. When he defeats Fubuki and claims the other half, he forms an amulet that protects him from the shadow powers of the subsequent Riders.

    Video Games

    • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, many dungeons have Dragon Claws used to unlock gates by pressing the claw into the gate. A dungeon in the Dragonborn DLC plays with this by having a claw split into two pieces, each of which opens one of two locks that open a single path when both claws are obtained.
  • February 23, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    Stratadrake

    Don't fix what ain't broken.
  • February 23, 2014
    Stratadrake
    ^ It strikes me more like "making an anomolous noise" than "obviously broken somewhere". I can't pin down why, either.
  • February 23, 2014
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ Serious question. So it's really giving you a Mind Screw or Brown Note?
  • February 23, 2014
    Stratadrake
    No. I just don't entirely like the sound of the name as-is (not that I'm heavily invested in the outcome of this YKTTW to begin with).
  • February 23, 2014
    Elbruno
    The core of this trope is that the halves are on different hands. So Skyrim's example is a no go, and National Treasure's would count if there's a point where one Mac Guffin is on the hands of the heroes and the other on the villain's.
  • February 23, 2014
    Hodor
    Not sure if either of these qualify:

    • In Bearskin, the youngest daughter of the family agrees to marry Bearskin in exchange for the financial help he gave to their father, and Bearskin gives her half of an engagement ring, and then leaves, keeping the other half for himself. Some time afterward, he returns cleaned up and handsome, and proves his identity by producing the other half of the ring.

    • Toward the end of Les Miserables, Thenardier tries to get money from Marius by producing evidence that his father-in-law, Valjean, is a former criminal and murderer. Thenardier had seen Valjean carrying the body of a young man, and produces as evidence a piece of fabric which had ripped off the young man's coat. At this point, Marius fetches the rest of the coat from the closet, realizing that far from being a murderer, Valjean had been the one who had saved his life.
  • February 23, 2014
    Tallens
    • In the second Dinotopia book, Arthur Denison finds a strange key with a spiral pattern on the base. He tries it on a door in the World Beneath but it doesn't work, and it's determined that it's only half a key. The other half is in the possession of a woman named Oriana, who enabled Arthur to continue his expedition, and eventually becomes a Love Interest.
  • February 26, 2014
    Elbruno
    ^^ Bearskin fits the trope well enough. Les Miserables on the other hand appears to be something else.
  • February 27, 2014
    ohnoesazombie
    In Legend Of Earthsea each of the protagonists unknowingly hold onto a half of the Amulet of Peace, the Mac Guffin necessary to literally close the door on a realm full of unspeakable evil.

  • February 27, 2014
    DAN004
    Launch plz.
  • February 27, 2014
    Elbruno
    I'm giving it a day before launching.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=vyz9xk6bcdfokvfepnwejm1a