A pair of twins
are introduced. They are portrayed as being sufficiently alike
that even people who have known them for a long time have trouble telling them apart. Often they serve as comic relief, enjoying the confusion they might cause
just as much as the audience. It is highly likely that one twin, and only one, will be killed off. Why?
- Since the twins are alike, less is lost to the story than if a different character is lost.
- If the character is being played by the same actor, its a great opportunity to do a death scene and yet continue essentially the same role with character development, without Flanderizing a 'serious drama' into Death Is Cheap territory.
- It provides an opportunity to create angst, sorrow, anger, etc. into the character of the surviving twin. The surviving twin may even go from a character who never takes anything seriously to a genuine Action Hero.
In Backup Twin
, a character is introduced and later killed off. Only after their death is it revealed they had a Backup Twin
, who carries on in the deceased character's place as if nothing had happened. The original twin is often never mentioned again once the new twin explains that he is a twin (or clone, if science fiction) and not the original character brought back to life.
In this trope, either the twins are introduced at the same time or close to it, or else the surviving twin is introduced first, and the dead twin is then introduced in a flashback. The death of the twin must have a profound or at least significant effect on the survivor for it to be this trope. The victim doesn't always have to be an identical twin, provided they play that role.
This being a Death Trope, there be spoilers.
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Anime & Manga
- Averted at the end of the Trigun Maximum manga in that we don't know if Knives is actually dead and never get to know how Vash feels about it, but from his creepy look when Knives is mentioned it's safe to assume part of him is relieved (if) he's dead. Can't blame him either. Knives, on the other hand, would probably have gone even crazier and angstier if Vash had died.
- Sometimes this happens in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, what with Alternate Universes. Sometimes it gets completely averted (failing to even mention the twin) and some of the unluckier times, well...
- Vampire Knight turns this into a legend requiring one of the twins of hunters to "eat" the other. Usually, vampire hunter twins compete for nourishment in the womb and one is absorbed by the other, but in the rare occurrence that both are born, one will be fated to take the other's life and somehow absorb his energy. That's difficult to imagine until you take into consideration that Zero becomes a vampire in the story...and Ichiru does not.
- In Mars, Rei is introduced as a lively Delinquent Badass Biker wasting his youth chasing girls and racing bikes. After he has a panic attack in response to a person committing suicide in a public place, the series spends the much of its plot revealing that his identical twin Sei jumped to his death from the roof of a school, leaving Rei staring at a body that looked exactly like himself.
- Suboshi in Fushigi Yuugi, who is sufficiently broken by his twin's (perceived) death that he crosses the Moral Event Horizon in a big way to retaliate against the Suzaku warriors.
- And in a fairly horrible bit of irony, Amiboshi not only wasn't really dead, he was the only one of the Seiryuu seven who survived to the end of the series.
- Mrs Skeener, of The Dreaming was the only student at Merriweathers Finishing School for Young Ladies (Greenwich's old name) that wasn't kidnapped by Quinkans. Her twin sister Mary, on the other hand...
- Tatsuya Uesugi in Touch
- Rai's death in Jyu-Oh-Sei basically drives the entire plot because of the angst it causes his twin Thor.
- Though not an actual twin, Shiki Ryogi in Kara no Kyoukai goes through something like this after she loses "the other Shiki" after a car accident. "The other Shiki" is in fact a male Split Personality, and in his memory she begins using his masculine manner of speech.
- In Chaos;Head, Yua Kusunoki's twin sister Mia died in the "Group Dive," the first First Gen incident. Yua then launches her own investigation into Mia's death. She suspects Takumi Nishijou is involved in the First Gen murders, and attempts to gain his trust by acting as a girl otaku. When Takumi finds out her true intentions, Yua ... doesn't take it well. Turns out that it was actually Yua who died and not Mia. Mia essentially _became_ Yua after her twin's death.
- In AR∀GO: City of London Police's Special Crimes Investigator, Ewan dies within the first few chapters. Arago ends up replacing him as a detective.
- Inochi by Reiko Momochi invokes this trope as an important base for its plot, as early as within the first two chapters. It is given that the twins, Nobara and Kotori, are identical to the point where not even their mother can tell apart their Twin Switch moments; unfortunately for Nobara, their last switch ends up getting Kotori kidnapped, killed, and posthumously raped. As a result, Nobara, due to circumstances, must continue to pretend to act as Kotori without getting found out. Cue angst.
- Hiashi for his brother Hizashi in Naruto. After Hiashi killed the Cloud Village emissary when he tried to kidnap Hinata, he offered himself as the murderer, but the clan elders and Hizashi decided to have Hizashi stand in for him, so that his Cursed Seal would protect the Byakugan. Seeing Hizashi's son Neji's skill and resentment toward the head family deeply affects Hiashi, and leads him to tell Neji the truth about his father's death.
- Sagi, the daimyo of the Land of Birds, assumed the persona of a ghostly warrior so he could hunt down the person who poisoned his twin sister. Ultimately it's revealed that the Big Bad had actually poisoned Sagi, and his sister Toki assumed her brother's identity to avoid succession issues.
- Works by CLAMP:
- Fay D Flourite from Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. All of his motivations stem from the death of his twin, by that name, which he adopts in his brother's memory. His real name is Yuui.
- Subaru Sumeragi in X1999 after the death of his twin sister Hokuto.
- In the Magic Knight Rayearth TV series, there's Presea's twin younger sister Sierra.
- Double-subverted in Angel Beats! with Ayato Naoi. His twin brother, a pottery prodigy, died; his father forced the surviving twin to become a Replacement Goldfish. But he got over it eventually, and was starting to like his new life...until his father got a terminal illness, and they had to shut down said pottery business. This gave him enough angst to quality for the "ruined childhood afterlife" and turned him into a psychotic hypnotist who thinks he's God.
- Played with in CLANNAD. Kyou and Ryou are non-obviously identical twins, differentiated by Only Six Faces and their vastly different hairstyles. There's a literal Bus Crash, and everyone thinks Ryou might have died, but it turns out she didn't take the bus that day at all. Kyou only panics momentarily. It's Kotomi—purple-haired girl #3—who experiences a Freak Out; she takes one look at the flipped bus and jumps to the conclusion that Ryou is dead and it's her fault, probably because she still wrongly blames herself for causing her parents' deaths and destroying their life's work.
- Happens very briefly in Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, when Xia Yu Lan is killed and her corpse is used to goad her younger twin sister Xia Yu Fan into rage to attack their employer (who quickly offs her, too).
- Kate Kane, the post-Crisis Batwoman, lost her twin sister Beth and her mother in a terrorist attack when she was 12 years old. Or so she thought, since her first major villain, Alice, turned out be Beth, who was heavily implied to have undergone some serious Mind Rape.
- Pre-reboot Lady Shiva. She and her twin sister Carolyn were excellent martial artists, which drew the attention of David Cain. Cain was looking for the perfect mother to bear a child whom he could mold into the ultimate assassin. He noticed that Shiva and her sister would always hold back against each other to avoid really hurting each other whenever they sparred. David then murdered Carolyn so nothing would hold back Shiva anymore. Years later, Lady Shiva would admit to her daughter Cassandra that she misses Carolyn every day.
- In the Star Wars franchise:
- Star Wars: Clone Wars, since every clone with character development is potentially one of these.
- In Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, Queen Amidala's lookalike handmaiden Corde.
- In Constantine twin sisters Angela and Isabelle had the powers to see angels and demons. Angela denied her gift while Isabelle accepted it - Angela became a successful police officer while Isabelle ended up in an asylum, eventually killing herself and thus kicking off the plot.
- Hedy in Single White Female is revealed to be this, both from the story she tells Allie—that her twin was stillborn—and from waht we learn really happened—she drowned when they were seven and the guilt-ridden and lonely Hedy has been searching for a replacement ever since, hence her mimicking Allie's style and appearance.
- In Among Others by Jo Walton, Mori's twin dies shortly after the start of the book and she spends most of the book coping with her death. Then she sees her twin's  ghost who tries to get her to commit suicide so they can be together.
- In David Eddings's Belgariad, the sorceress Polgara is this.
Belgarath: "To this very day, if you're impolite enough to ask Polgara how old she is, she'll probably say something like, 'We're about three thousand- or so.' Beldaran's been gone for a long time, but she still looms very large in Polgara's conception of the world."
- Either one of the surviving twins in his other novel, Regina's Song gets this. Very, very badly.
- The Power of Five: Scott dies and Jamie lives.
- In Iain M. Banks's Culture novel Look to Windward, this is the backstory for the AI Mind of the Masaq Orbital, formerly the GSV Lasting Damage, which had been reunited with its Backup Twin and then lost it during the Idirian War. Culture Minds are titanic. Big mind, big angst.
- In the SF novel La Horde du Contrevent by Alain Damasio, one of the Dubka brothers dies and the other angsts about it until he is replicated and the copy instantly assumes the identity of the dead brother, for reasons explained in the book.
- Lightning by Dean Koontz. The heroine meets a pair of identical twin orphans, Thelma and Ruth. Later on Ruth is killed accidentally when another orphan commits suicide, causing Thelma tremendous grief. She ends up helping the heroine in her adventures.
- "Nine Lives", a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, takes this to an extreme when one of ten clones is the only survivor.
- This provides perhaps the most heart-wrenching scene in Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes, when one of the young twins dies and the other one keeps pathetically saying his name, etc.
- Subverted in Tim Powers' The Stress of Her Regard. Crawford's wife Julia - who was murdered very early on in the book - was survived by her twin sister Josephine. When Josephine was first introduced to Crawford before the wedding, it is clear that there is some physical similarity between the twins, but they are not confused with each other. In fact, Julia makes a point of mentioning that as a child, Josephine (The Unfavorite) often pretended to be Julia, and that Julia eventually confronted and humiliated Josephine publicly to make her stop. After Julia's murder, Crawford is Mistaken for Murderer and Josephine tracks him down.
- Both played straight and subverted in Harry Potter. George, the surviving Weasley twin, goes on without Fred to become super successful at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, which was the dream the twins had pursued together. On the other hand he married Fred's ex girlfriend Angelina, he named his own son Fred, and Wordof God says that he never fully got over Fred's death.
- The look on George's face when he saw Fred's dead body shows just how deeply it affected him.
- In Blade of Fire (the second volume of Stuart Hill's The Icemark Chronicles) Thirrin's son, Cerdic, is killed in battle, prompting his twin brother, Eodred, to enter a period of protracted mourning. In the end, it takes the insistance of his sister, Cressida, that he get on with life and his new-found friendship with a young werewolf to help Eodred recover.
- Jonah in Natalie Standiford's book How to Say Goodbye in Robot: Jonah's father actually lied to him about his twin's death in a car accident. He actually had him institutionalized because he didn't want to look after him.
- Alema Rar loses her twin sister to the Yuuzhan Vong in a particularly agonising and gruesome way; it sends her into a dangerous spiral of grief and vengeance that culminates in her falling to the Dark Side, becoming steadily more insane and disfigured by injuries, and eventually dying.
- Digby Geste from Beau Geste plays a bit with this; though he survives his twin Michael and even helps in making a funeral pyre for him, he feels a lack due to his twin's more dominant personality and he dies on the way back to Lagos.
- Galax-Arena: Mariam, after Istar dies in the arena.
- This is the premise of Twelfth Night, where Viola is devastated by the loss of her brother. However, as it turns out, Sebastian isn't dead — and he's as heartbroken as Viola is.
- Charlie in the novel of Lemonade Mouth (but not the movie) - his twin choked on his umbilical cord and was stillborn. The family's visited his grave on every birthday.
- The Redwall story Marlfox has a pair of otter twins that are part of the Sensational Wandering Noonvale Companions Troupe. One of the brothers, Elachim, dies in the first battle of the story, while his brother survives to the end.
- Gilead Lothain, the dispossessed elf protagonist of the Black Library novel Gilead's Blood (and the forthcoming Gilead's Curse), owes his grim, tragic and thoroughly disillusioned character to the death of his identical twin brother Galeth. Gilead and Galeth were often described as one soul in two bodies, such was the strength of their bond (extending to a kind of mild telepathic link), and Gilead speculates that their bond somehow survives Galeth's death, making him effectively two souls in one body. It is because of what happened to Galeth that Gilead lost all interest in his lands and noble birthright and became the shadowy wandering vigilante he is in the books.
- Thomas Didymus, after the crucifixion of Christ in Dirge for Prester John.
- Isadora and Duncan Quagmire are Surviving Triplets in A Seriesof Unfortunate Events. They insist on being referred to as triplets, not twins, because they were not born twins. Later subverted when it turns out that Quigley survived.
- Type 3 is turned up to eleven in The Stranger House when one of the interchangeable Gowder twins dies in an accident and the survivor goes 100% Axe Crazy.
- The Sweet Valley High book The Wakefields of Sweet Valley includes the story of Jessamyn, the great-great grandmother of the twins featured in the main series, who never really got over the death of her own twin Elisabeth in a riding accident. To a lesser extent, Amanda (the Wakefield's great-great-aunt who's twin Samantha dies in childbirth) and Sarah (the great-great-grandmother on the other side of the family whose twin brother James dies of pneumonia) might also qualify.
- Elizabeth herself, during a nightmare that she has in which Jessica is killed in a car accident following an argument in which Elizabeth has finally gotten fed up with Jessica's selfish behavior and outright told her "I wish I didn't HAVE a sister".
- The Cat Who Sniffed Glue features David Fitch who has to deal with not only the murder of his twin brother Harvey, but also their mother's fatal stroke and their father's suicide, both indirectly caused by the murder. His friends are all worried he may follow his father's example. Subverted when we find out that David was Dead All Along and the surviving twin is actually Harvey, who killed David in order to take his place.
- In The Secret Life Of Bees, one of the Boatwright sisters, May, had a twin sister named April who died. According to sisters June and August, May was never the same after that, and will become upset and emotional over the littlest things.
- Carrie after Cory is killed by poison in Flowers in the Attic.
- This is the subject of "After Iris", by Natasha Farrant - a video diary by a preteen girl set three years after her twin sister was killed in a traffic accident.
- The book "I Miss You I Miss You" opens with the character Tina telling the audience that her identical twin Cilla will soon die in a car accident and that this is not meant to be a surprising twist because the story is about Tina dealing with the loss of her sister.
- While the characters in the book are fictional they are based on real life twins Kinna and Jenny Gieth. Kinna, a teenager at the time, co-wrote the book with author Peter Pohl as a way of coping with the death of her twin.
Live Action TV
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Vortex" featured a pair of twins from a species in which twins are always born with a telepathic link. One twin died. The other twin went mad for revenge.
- The species in question are the Miradorn, who also appear in the novel continuity - one story in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers series is set on their homeworld. This story features another angsty surviving twin.
- This is Justine's prime motivation in Angel. Her twin sister Julia was killed by vampires.
- Patsy Parisi from The Sopranos. He angsts about it often enough to make the rest of the cast frustrated, and when he finds out that Tony had his brother killed for trash-talking him, Patsy gets drunk and pees in Tony's pool.
- Surviving twin Stephanie "Steffy" Forrester onThe Bold and the Beautiful grown to become angsty. She dated her dead twin sister Phoebe's incestuous boyfriend Rick (who caused the car accident that killed Phoebe) and now for some reason she is going after Rick's mom, Brooke and her family the Logan's. Possibly because of Phoebe's death, though the show fails to recognize it.
- To add to this trope, Steffy is now going after married man Bill "Dollar Bill" Spencer, who is married to Brooke's sister, Katie.
- Lily experienced this on As the World Turns after twin sister Rose was fatally poisoned, going so far as to assume Rose's identity in an effort to keep her alive.
- Farscape: The death of Talyn!John is very much played this way. The immediate expectation is that Moya!John would shrug it off pretty easily, especially since neither Crichton wanted the other around in the first place. To be fair, though, most of the surviving John's angst was because Aeryn wouldn't let him get close to her due to her angst over Talyn!Crichton's death.
- Cami from The Originals moved to New Orleans prior to the pilot to research on the death of her twin brother Sean, who massacred everyone on the church he worked for before commiting suicide (later revealed to be because he was hypnotized into doing that by Agnes).
- An episode of Baywatch featured one of these, a woman who would act as both her her gorgeous, glamorous sister Maddie and her "plain" sister Gwen. (Maddie drowned when the two were little girls and the guilt-ridden Gwen not only assumed her identity in order to cope, she constantly verbally abused herself as punishment)
- In the Evil series of Vocaloid songs, it takes the sacrifice and death of Len, Rin's twin brother and the one person who truly loved her, for Rin to finally realize (and tear jerkingly regret) her tyranny as a queen and the unforgivable atrocities she had once committed.
- The song "Run For Your Life" by The Fray is about a girl whose twin sister has died; the singer tries to convince her not to give up on life afterward.
- Mother 3 has Lucas, who loses his mother and twin brother, Claus, within a day of each other in the game's first chapter. Almost all of his screentime after that point is of him grieving. His Silent Protagonist status after the timeskip leaves much to interpretation, but if nothing else he's melancholic and not particularly talkative.
- In Golden Axe, the dwarf Gilius Thunderhead was planning to avenge his twin brother by defeating Death Adder, then committing suicide to join him in death. And whine and be angsty about it.
- In Xenosaga, even though Jr. (Rubedo) has spent the better part of two games trying to kill his Axe Crazy twin Albedo, he can't stop himself from breaking down crying after he finally goes through with it.
- He never really seemed to want to kill Albedo. Even before the last fight, he was talking like he planned on stopping him without killing him. Which only makes it worse, since it wasn't even the outcome he was looking for.
- Orlha in Chrono Cross.
- Aegina in Blaze Union, during her route.
- Itsuki in Fatal Frame II definately counts, to the point where he helps Yae and Sae escape so as to not suffer his and his brother's fate, and then commits suicide once he thinks they've escaped.
- Mona Sax in Max Payne, whose identical twin sister Lisa was murdered during the events of the first game. In the seconed game, Max waxes all poetical about how it must have been for Mona in his voice-over narration.
- In the Halo series, Hunters tend to come as identical twin brothers, as the worm colony that makes up a Hunter will split into two when it grows too large. These twins have an extremely close bond and when you kill one the other will go absolutely apeshit on you.
- As shown in the above picture, in NieR after Devola is killed midway through the boss battle, Popola goes through a massive Villainous Breakdown where she's driven mad by grief. She rejects Nier's plea to give up, screaming at him that No One Stops.
- In Heavy Rain, Scott Shelby never gets over his twin's death.
- We don't really see Viola DeWinter angsting over the death of her twin sister Kiki's death in Saints Row: The Third, but she is obviously shaken to the core by it in that scene, and runs over to the Saints almost immediately, abandoning her old gang to avenge Kiki.
- See Chaos;Head in the "Manga and Anime" folder above.
- As mentioned above this sometimes happens to Shion and Mion in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.
- In SHUFFLE!!, Lisianthus had a twin named Kikyou who died before childbirth. As a result, Sia made a pact with Kikyou and ends up hosting her spirit within her body, giving her a Split Personality. In Sia's route, this is a major plot point.
- In Da Capo II Plus Communication, Akane had a twin named Ai who died before the main storyline began. In her grief, she made a wish on the sakura tree to revive Ai, which ended up with her sharing her body with Ai's spirit. When the sakura tree gets withered, the wish is cancelled.
- Itsuki, from Suika. But not really. She was Dead All Along and her sister was in coma, making Sayo the true example, though she doesn't angst much.
- In Drowtales, the ruling Sharen clan has an odd tradition of "hiring" (purchasing) infants of lowly birth as "protector twins" so their own children can know the experience of having a twin. Perhaps not surprisingly, the life expectancy of a protector twin is often relatively short, as the two usually end up in conflict that leaves one of them dead. Which is how it usually goes for other drow twins as well.
- In the Red vs. Blue mini-series "Recovery One", Agent South is introduced as one of these, with her brother North having died just as we meet her. It turns out that she
killed him put him in a position to be killed, showing her to be angsty from the get go.
- In Lovers Oath, Bevel is shown to be one of these, though... He doesn't realize his twin is still alive. The twin doesn't know Bevel's alive either.
- In Transformers Prime, after Skyquake gets killed by the Autobots, his twin Dreadwing comes to Earth to get revenge. Everything else comes second, including his loyalty to Megatron and the Decepticons.
- June Gibbons (of the notorious arsonist-novelist Silent Twins of Wales) subverts this all to heck. In interviews, she misses Jennifer, who died the day they were released from prison, but seems cheerful enough.
- More than that: it's said the twins felt that one of them had to die in order for the other other to be free and that Jennifer agreed to be the sacrifice so that June could have a happy life.
- Elvis Presley and Philip K. Dick both had twin siblings (a brother, Jesse, in Elvis' case; a sister, Jane, in Dick's) who died as infants.
- Michael Jackson had twin brothers Marlon and Brandon, the latter of whom died shortly after birth. Upon Michael's death, Marlon asked Michael to give Brandon a hug.
- There are a number of support groups and resources for "twinless twins," as this is definitely a truth in television for many.
- Among the many new specials trotted out for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was a feature on the 46 people who lost their twin in the disaster.