Created By: Dragonmouth on May 4, 2013 Last Edited By: Dragonmouth on May 2, 2015

Closest Thing To A Friend

A character has no friends but has one person who's closer than everyone else.

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Some people have only one friend. Others don't even have that.

While the Only Friend is genuinely a friend, the Closest Thing To A Friend genuinely isn't a friend. The reasons for a character having the former are often similar to the latter. Maybe the character lacks social skills or is otherwise unlikable. Maybe he's too emotionally or mentally damaged to form proper friendships. Maybe his chosen profession or lifestyle keeps him from making friends.

In some works, this character may graduate to another character's Only Friend.

Examples:

Film
  • In Catch Me If You Can, Frank calls Hanratty, the FBI agent who's chasing him, on Christmas because he has no one else to talk to.
  • In Watchmen, the Comedian says that his archnemesis Moloch is the closest thing to a friend he has.

Live Action TV
Community Feedback Replies: 22
  • May 4, 2013
    Stratadrake
    With a title like that I was expecting to see a claim at some arbitrary Trope Namer. Glad not to find one, but we definitely need better.
  • May 4, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Fiction
    • In Seanan Mc Guire's October Daye books, the Luideag was calling Toby once a week to ask when she would ask her final question (thus freeing the Luideag to kill her with a clear slate). Toby finally worked out that she was lonely and started visiting.
  • May 4, 2013
    randomsurfer
    One time on Star Trek Deep Space Nine when Odo is accused of murder Quark of all people stands up for him.
    Quark: He's an ill-tempered, overbearing, cross-patch. But he was no Cardassian collaborator, and he's no killer.
    Zayra: I can't believe you're defending him, Quark. You're his worst enemy.
    Quark: I guess that's the closest thing he has in this world to a friend.
  • May 5, 2013
    Nazetrime
    Given the pattern of some of the examples, Friendly Enemy would be a good adition to the "Do not confuse" list.
  • May 5, 2013
    Arivne
    Unfortunately, The Closest Thing To A Friend I Have sounds like a line of dialogue and is thus illegal under No New Stock Phrases.

    The Closest Thing To A Friend He Has would be legal, if not concise.

    This trope often expressed as another line of dialogue: "I'm the closest thing to a friend you've got."

    I just did a quick check on Google and this line appears in The Obsidian Trilogy Book 1 The Outstretched Shadow as well as several Fan Fics. See the search here.
  • May 5, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Some variation of "I'm the closest thing to a friend you've got" (or "I'm the only friend you've got") is also something a "good cop" in a Good Cop Bad Cop scenario might say in an interrogation.
  • May 5, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    It's been awhile since I watched Babylon 5, but isn't this basically the relationship between Londo and G'Kar?
  • May 5, 2013
    Stratadrake
    You mean Londo and Vir. Vir is Londo's legal subordinate and gofer (as the Centauri ambassador on the station), but when he gets involved in palace affairs in Season 4, he calls Vir up because he needs someone he can trust and nobody around the palace will do. he even admits that Vir is as close to a friend as he has.
  • May 5, 2013
    Koveras
    Why not just Closest Thing To A Friend for the title?
  • May 5, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    ^^ That. And Londo pretty much ends up feeling that way toward anyone on Babylon 5 who's still going to give him the time of day, after all the bridges he's burned working with the Shadows. I think without using the words, he also felt that toward Sheridan and Delenn, when he released them from Centauri Prime ("War Without End" flash forward, and the Centauri Trilogy) on the pain of his own certain death--they were his best chance at helping his people at that point, something that, for all his faults, he always cared about above his own life.

    And Londo and G'Kar... were friends, eventually--certainly by the time they made their mutual Heroic Sacrifice. Vir was his friend too--although Londo didn't always appreciate that, but he did acknowledge to him he was the closest thing anyway.
  • May 5, 2013
    Bisected8
    What about De Facto Best Friend (or just De Facto Friend)?
  • May 6, 2013
    Arivne
  • May 6, 2013
    Melkior
  • May 6, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film Animated
    • Pixar's Monsters Inc. has the toddler Boo cross into Monsteropolis, where everyone except James P Sullivan regards her as a contaminated abomination.
  • May 6, 2013
    Stratadrake
  • May 6, 2013
    DunDun
    Normally, snowclones are evil, but Only Friend is when a character cannot easily make friends and so has only one friend; I think Almost Friend would denote when a character cannot make even an Only Friend.

    I just think Closest Thing To A Friend is unnecessarily wordy.
  • May 6, 2013
    Topazan
    Problem with that is I wouldn't really describe an enemy as an "almost friend". I prefer Closest Thing To A Friend, it's not that wordy.
  • May 2, 2015
    Nazetrime
    While reading a strip from The Order Of The Stick, I saw a quote that may sum up this trope quite well. For context, when she was in the thieve's guild, Haley was the type to not trust anyone outside of family and hence be honest with anyone, but also had a bitter rivalry with another member. This is what she says about her rival:
    Haley: I look back at my life in the guild and I realize you were the only person I was ever honest with. I never had to hide how much I hated you, or pretend we were friends. When no one else knew the real me, at least there was always one person who knew what a total bastard I could be sometimes. It's messed up, but I kind of appreciated that about us.
  • May 2, 2015
    DAN004
    In the end, this is no different from Only Friend.

    MTD.
  • This could be related to and/or also possibly lead to Vitriolic Best Buds, and it could also be related to another YKTTW which I believe is titled Friendship Revelation, or something like that, where one or the other learns that the other also considered them the closest thing to a friend as well, so the feeling is mutual.

  • May 2, 2015
    StarryEyed
    ^^I think this is distinct from Only Friend. While the friendship in Only Friend may be vitrolic or longsuffering, it is a genuine friendship and at least one of the characters will call it that. In this trope, they are not friends, but they have some other connection. While this trope may easily become the other through Character Development, there are plenty of examples that stay firmly in one category throughout the work.

    This is often the explanation behind an Antagonist In Mourning
  • May 2, 2015
    DAN004
    So I guess this would be close to The Not Love Interest, only that this is "The Not-Friend"?
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