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Commonality Connection
Discovering a commonality connects two characters.


(permanent link) added: 2012-06-10 05:48:08 sponsor: Goldfritha (last reply: 2012-09-16 19:46:40)

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Once in a hotel dining-room, I said, rather too loudly, "I loathe prunes."
"So do I," came an unexpected six-year-old voice from another table.
Sympathy was instantaneous. Neither of us thought it funny. We both knew that prunes are far too nasty to be funny. That is the proper meeting between man and child as independent personalities.
-- C. S. Lewis, "On Three Ways of Writing For Children"

Two characters, strangers or hostile to each other, accidentally discover a common thing. It can be an interest, or a past experience, or a background, but it foments friendship between them. For dramatic purposes, this is often between extremely different characters.

It can also mark the deepening of an existing relationship.

Lies can sometimes backfire when another character thinks it's trope; see I Am One of Those Too.

Compare Fire-Forged Friends; note that merely finding they were both soldiers or the like is this, though if they fought in some of the same battles, it may shade into that. Also compare Lonely Together.

Contrast Not So Different. Supertrope of Bonding Over Missing Parents. The lack of this drives Joins to Fit In.

Examples

Film
  • The Sting. While the con men are planning to pull a scam on Doyle Lonnegan, J.J. Singleton mentions that Lonnegan came from a place called Five Points. Later on, when Lonnegan asks Hooker where he's from, he says that he came from Five Points in the hope that it will cause Lonnegan to trust him.
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel appeals to the thugs of the Snuggly Duckling -- haven't they ever had a dream? They reveal a lot of dreams -- mostly Real Men Wear Pink -- and even held her and Flynn escape.
    I've got a dream
    She's got a dream
    He's got a dream
    They've got a dream
    We've got a dream
    So our differences ain't really that extreme

Literature
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Uneasy Money, Elizabeth is reconciled to Bill as a house guest when he turns out to know how to handle bees, and is positively interested when he explains how he, like she, wants to live the Arcadian life.
  • In John C. Wright's The Phoenix Ascendent, Phaethon is arguing with Atkins when he realizes that Atkins calls his ship "she." (Earlier, Phaethon had rejected an offer to avoid exile when he told a man calling it "it" that ships are called "she.")
  • In a Discworld story, Cohen the Barbarian goes to fight a troll. They end up talking about young people today because they find a common disgruntlement.
  • In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, this is how friendship arises.
    Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, "What? You too? I thought I was the only one."
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Dragonsinger, when Menolly is caught in a fight during a fair, another girl, jumping to join her side, calls for a boy to join in because Menolly comes from a sea hold. It works. Robison rebukes him because his father had sent him to be fostered where he was to broaden his mind.
  • In Andre Norton's Dragon Magic, four boys each find a jigsaw puzzle, make one corner -- and so one dragon -- of it, and get shifted to an ancient era to experience something related to it. This, and their attempts to research the facts, draw them together at the end.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, when Caliban says that he always knew that Miranda was an angel, Theo says he did, too, and they shared a brotherly smile.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Cohen the Barbarian goes to fight a troll. They end up grumbling about Young People Today together instead.
    • Angua, Cherie, and Sally, despite being a werewolf, a dwarf, and a vampire and the complicated history between those races, find enough in being all women to bond over. They even connect with Tawneee on the same grounds in Thud!

Live-Action TV
  • Attempted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation epsisode "Lower Decks." Ensign Sam Lavelle tries to ingratiate himself with Riker in order to secure a promotion. Ben (the 10-Forward waiter, a lower deck version of Guinan) suggests that Sam find something in common with Riker and mentions that Riker is Canadian. Sam's grandfather was Canadian, so he tries to use that. Turns out, Riker is Alaskan.
  • This gets is played with in an episode of NCIS. Gibbs is trying to prove that a Medal of Honor recipient did not murder a another soldier during the battle of Iwo Jima during World War 2. However, the man's memory is failing and he no longer remembers what actually happened. All the other soldiers from the unit are dead so a desperate Gibbs brings in a Japanese war veteran who fought on the opposite side of the battle. Despite the fact that 60 years ago they were mortal enemies, their common connection is just what is needed to help the man remember how his buddy really died. This is then subverted when we find out that the Japanese man was never on Iwo Jima and is just a chef at a restaurant Gibbs eats at. Then it gets double subverted when he reveals that he actually fought on Guadalcanal where the American also served during the war.
  • In Bones, Sweets and Daisy are in a Friends with Benefits situation but Sweets doesn't want Casual Sex; he insists that if they're going to be together they should be together. But they can't find anything to bond over: She likes Indian food, he only went there because she likes it. She loves dogs, he's allergic. They finally find a commonality: they both have issues with the final season of Saved by the Bell.

Theater
  • In Rent, Roger and Mimi's romance is cemented when they realize they both are HIV-Positive.

Video Games
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Balbanes Beoulve was fond of teaching his children how to turn a piece of grass into a reed flute, and those children taught it to their friends in order to kill time when they were bored. After the Lion War is in full swing and nobody can trust anybody, you'd be surprised who you find playing a piece of grass like a flute...

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Another attempt: on The Simpsons when Ralph Wiggum develops a crush on Lisa, he tries to get a conversation about mutual intrests going. "So, do you like...stuff?"

Real Life
  • C. S. Lewis recounts in Surprised By Joy when he went to visit a sick neighbor when he was a boy. He didn't even remember why, but when he was there, the other boy had a book of Norse Mythology. When Lewis exclaimed What, you like that too, they spent the rest of the visit pouring over the book and forming a steadfast friendship.
  • Psychologist found that in a experiment where people could punish their partners for errors, if you told the people that the (invisible) partner had a thumbprint that was classified in the same group as them, they would punish this partner less. Even if the person doing the punishing was a clinicial narcissist.

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