Created By: KJMackley on July 10, 2012

Social Nucleus

The Circle of Friends has a Central Point

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Trope
As a group of friends come together and grow, often this is due to the influence of one particular person. Everyone seems to gravitate around them and rely on their charisma and influence when they have activities.

This isn't just the Character-Magnetic Team where the main character is the leader, this is where if you make a diagram of the social relationships of a group one specific character tends to be centralized ie not everyone is friends with each other but everyone is friends with that one person. They often end up the Team Dad.

Examples:
  • Named for a line from The Big Bang Theory. Everyone in the group was basically friends with Leonard first and got to know each other through him. Sheldon once thought HE was the center of the group, only to realize the truth when the group ignored his strict schedule and followed Leonard around for changes in the regular pattern. Amy eventually explained that Leonard was the social nucleus. As the cast has grown and a female social group developed this has become less prevalent.
  • Ted from How I Met Your Mother. Barney is obsessed with being considered Ted's best friend, while Marshall has been his best friend since college. It's been reinforced several times that it was his influence that brought Robin into the group, thus even as she became best friends with Lily he seems to be the central point.
  • Earl from My Name Is Earl. Early in the second season they were trying to help Joy with some legal problems and everyone was relying on Earl to solve everything, except for Catalina who hated Joy. As Earl started stressing out because everyone was demanding so much from him Catalina realized she was being selfish by not helping out her friend, so while she hated Joy she was willing to help Earl.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 10, 2012
    randomsurfer
    On Bones Brennan posits that in every community there is a keystone or lynchpin personality, "a member of the group who otherwise might seem invisible but, when she leaves, the group disintegrates." Brennan assumes that she is the lynchpin of their group, but at the end of the episode she realizes it's Miss Julian, a minor recurring character.
  • July 11, 2012
    Arivne
    Sometimes a Team Mom as well.

    Anime and Manga
    • Bleach. Ichigo Kurosaki is this for his Nakama. All of the others knew him before they met the others, and everything tends to center around him.
  • July 11, 2012
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of The Simpsons Principal Skinner, while trying to give directions to someone else over the phone, says, "I'll just tell you how to get here from the Simpson's house." Everything revolves around the Simpsons.
  • September 6, 2012
    KJMackley
    I got to thinking that Penny from The Big Bang Theory has become this for the female half of the show. Given that Leonard and Penny are the Official Couple, that is actually quite ingenious.

    In most incarnations of Justice League Of America this role is either Superman or J'onn J'onz. Superman for being the most morally untouchable (and capable of forcing most any other hero to get in line) and J'onn is the strongest outsider view who can offer a more balanced and logical opinion. Although, in The Batman it shows Batman as being the driving force of the league.
  • September 6, 2012
    acrobox
  • September 6, 2012
    acrobox
    In Real Life this will often apply to the host of any sort of party, wedding or event. They invite their families, friends, and neighbors, some of which are complete strangers to each other.
  • September 6, 2012
    Rognik
    ^^^I would agree that Penny is the nucleus for the female subgroup in the show, but it's just not big enough to have this impact, at least not yet. Bernadette and Penny were friend and co-workers at Bernie's intro, and Amy joined the girls on their girlish adventures by talking directly to Penny (and has since developed an If Its You Its OK crush on her). The trouble is that it's only a group of 3, and we haven't been able to tell how Bernadette and Amy would get on if left alone together without Penny to bridge them.
  • September 6, 2012
    acrobox
    Goku is this for Dragon Ball. while he's gone on at least one adventure or had one duel with every character, some have very little interaction with each other. Such as Vegeta and Tien, or Mr. Buu and Krillin. The only exception to this is Android 18 who only had fleeting interactions with Goku during the Buu Saga. Him still thinking she was a villain when they first met.
  • September 6, 2012
    acrobox
    Korra for The Legend Of Korra. In contrast to the original series where, for the exception of maybe Toph and Zuko, everyone in the main cast was familiar with each other, Korra is part of several different factions over the course of the first season that don't really start to overlap until towards the end. She's part of The Fire Ferrets / Tenzins Family-Lin / Tarrlok's Task Force
  • September 6, 2012
    Koveras
    Isn't this The Heart?
  • September 6, 2012
    Damr1990
    not necesarily, the way i see it the difference between heart and social nucleus is that the the heart also acts as The Conscience and/or Morality Chain/Pet, while the social nucleus it's the only(at first) link between various individuals or groups of people
  • September 6, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I thought in the big bang theory the group knew eachother cause of sheldon, but hung out together because of Leonard.
  • September 6, 2012
    KJMackley
    The key thing to understand about this trope is that the defining characteristic is that if this person is no longer around you can see the group disbanding, everyone else isn't close enough on their own to keep the group together. Sometimes that is a role of the leader, other times it is the role of the Hypercompetent Sidekick. Sometimes that the role of The Heart, other times they may even be the Token Evil Teammate.

    As for The Big Bang Theory, Raj and Howard were friends with Leonard and only stick around with Sheldon because of being roommate with Leonard (and Leonard owes Sheldon for saving his butt multiple ways with regards to a rocket fuel mishap). As such Leonard ends up being the one to keep Sheldon and everyone else from killing each other. But when it comes to social advice Penny is the one EVERYONE goes to, including Sheldon.
  • September 7, 2012
    acrobox
    by that definition Tai from Digimon Adventure counts, as the team actually did disband after he left. Once he came back he had to re-recruit everybody, making the jump from being the de fact leader to the de jure leader of the team.
  • September 7, 2012
    acrobox
    Also the main lord of every Fire Emblem game might count as by far they have they more recruiting conversations with neutral and enemy units. Taken further in the Tellius series where they also had Info conversations with every new member regardless of how they joined. Other units only know the people they came in with and the people they have Support compatibility with. Radiant Dawn took it to the logical extreme when Ike became the commander of the allied nations because he was the only general everyone both knew and respected, even among other veterans and sovereigns of nations.
  • September 7, 2012
    Koveras
    The disbanding part (if it happens) is covered under We Were Your Team, btw.
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