Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario

"We fight, we break up
We kiss, we make up"
Katy Perry, "Hot 'n' Cold"

The heroes share an incredible adventure that helps them develop strong feelings, as friends, lovers, or family. Then, there is a breaking point, a moment where they split. It may be an argument, a misunderstanding, a choice one of them makes... whatever the reason, their relation seems to be broken forever.

But we all know what’s going to happen next, don’t we?

Yes, they meet again, make up, reconcile, apologise and forgive, and forget about everything. The point of a Break Up Make Up Scenario is to test the strength of the heroes' feelings, and to make the audience wonder whether they’ll come back together and have a Happy Ending.

Here's the classic story:
  1. About three quarters of the way through the story, the couple leave each other after a dramatic scene (usually an argument).
  2. They spend a time away from each other, even though they miss the other’s company.
  3. Some events or simply fate brings them back together, and they reconcile, admit their feelings, and share a happy end.

When done well, the breakup is an effective Tear Jerker, so the makeup will be a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Problem is, this scenario is used so often in fiction that it would be easy to expect it whenever a story focuses on the relation of the couple. Over years, it went from a major plot twist to a convention, or even a cliché.

This trope applies not only to love stories (in which case it ends on a Last Minute Hookup), but also to buddy movies. One of the main issues is that, since the breakup usually happens some time before the end, the time the heroes spend apart is therefore very short, and the makeup is fast to come. In long-running series, this can be avoided by making the split last several episodes, to let you wonder if the characters stay apart. Most of the time, however, it is used for one episode only. In this case, it is a Feud Episode, which centers around a Break Up Make Up Scenario. This trope is very common in Soap Opera.

Compare Will They or Won't They? when the audience is left in doubt on whether a couple will form or not. Contrast No Romantic Resolution. The Second-Act Breakup is this trope applied to a movie or a play.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In Berserk, when Guts leaves Griffith and the Band of the Hawk and then returns a year later to find Griffith gone and Casca in command. While Guts eventually gets back together with the Hawks and even takes his relationship with Casca to the next level, things do not end well for him and Griffith, mainly thanks to Griffith having been tortured for a year and being a broken shell of the man he once was by the time Guts and the Hawks rescue him, growing to hate Guts over time and hitting the Despair Event Horizon upon learning that Guts and Casca are in a relationship together and are discussing leaving him behind, and when he finds the Behelit and triggers the Eclipse, it all goes to hell for everyone in the Hawks.
  • One Piece:
    • Robin runs away from the crew, and does everything to dissuade them to come after her, even yelling at Luffy to let her die. Then they prove their friendship to her by declaring war to the whole world, and give her the will to live.
    • Earlier in the CP9 arc, Usopp leaves the crew when he fights Luffy over what should be done with the crippled Merry Go. It was a brutal fight with Usopp losing. Later at the end of the arc, after spending much of the time fighting with the crew under a pseudonym, he hopes to be Easily Forgiven with him saying nothing about his actions, but Zoro puts his foot down to stop it as unlike what Robin went through, it was his choice. Until he apologizes, he shouldn't be allowed back in the crew.
  • Naruto: Sasuke and Itachi may quite possibly break the record for the longest breakup/makeup scenario ever. In-universe, it was nine years before they reconciled. In actual time, it took over twelve years (retroactively—the series began with Sasuke hating Itachi, but flashbacks showed that they were closer than almost any other characters in the series). Far more dramatic than most examples, considering that Sasuke made it his lifelong obsession to kill Itachi. And succeeded.
  • Happens to Isla and Tsukasa in episode 10 of Plastic Memories. They are forcibly separated by their supervisor, Kazuki. Later, she asks Isla what she really wants to do with her short time left, and tells her about how she regrets her decision of ending their partnership and essentially destroying Isla's emotions. Isla thinks it over for a while, then gives Tsukasa an Anguished Declaration of Love, stating she wants to spend what little time she has left with him, rather than away, and leaving him only bitter memories of their time together.
  • Wandering Son:
    • Anna breaks up with Nitori near the end of middle school after it really hits her that Nitori is transgender (after Nitori tries to go to school in a girl's uniform) instead of a Wholesome Crossdresser, and she ends up confused. They have Unresolved Sexual Tension for several chapters but eventually end up together again and stay together post-high school.
    • Takatsuki and Saori become close friends over the first few volumes but that started souring when Saori became jealous of Takatsuki's friendship with Nitori. Due to a love triangle (Saori likes Nitori, Nitori likes Takatsuki, Takatsuki likes no one) and messy love confessions, Saori breaks her friendship with both Nitori and Takatsuki. Over the course of middle school they slowly make up. Takatsuki and Nitori go to the same high school but Nitori goes to a different one, which causes a rift in Nitori's and Takatsuki's friendship. Saori and Takatsuki become closer than ever though.
  • Early into Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse begins worrying that his memories are fake and that he was never human. Due to Poor Communication Kills, he thinks that Edward is gonna tell him that Al was essentially a robot all long. He ends up running away from his brother for several episodes but eventually returns and reconciles with Ed. Subverted in manga, where Winry just call Al out to snap him out of his anxiety.

     Films - Animation 
  • This happens in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, between Manny and Ellie. Two times, actually. Each time, life-threatening circumstances lead to them forgiving each other.
  • Many Pixar films follow this trope:
    • A Bug's Life: Flick is banished by Atta for lying, but that doesn’t stop him from opposing Hopper, and he gets together with Atta at the end.
    • In all Toy Story films, Woody has an argument and subsequent reconciliation with other toys (Buzz and Jessie), though the second movie is the only where it happens near the climax.
    • In Monsters, Inc., Mike lets Sully go alone, blaming him for ruining his life, but changes his mind. Also, Boo becomes afraid of Sully after he accidentally roars at her, but comes to like him again when he and Mike come to rescue her.
    • In Finding Nemo, Marlin believes Nemo to be dead, and leaves Dory to mourn his son alone, even though she begs him to not let her forget their adventure. The rift is healed when Dory finds the newly escaped Nemo and helps him reunite with his dad.
    • In Up, Carl's determination to go the falls leads him to abandon Kevin, which makes Russell feel betrayed. However, Carl eventually makes amends when Kevin's life is in danger by helping save him, leading Russell to forgive him.
    • In Ratatouille, Linguini loses all his cooks after telling the truth about Remy. Colette is the only one to come back.
  • In Disney films:
    • Beauty and the Beast:
      • The Beast yells at Belle to leave, then saves her from wolves, leading to them becoming friends.
      • Later, the Beast lets Belle leave the castle so she can save her father, but is heartbroken because he believes she will never even think of coming back. She does.
    • Tarzan: A non-romantic version happens with Tarzan after his rejection by Kerchak, his adoptive father. After Tarzan returns to save the apes from Clayton, Kerchak accepts him as his son before dying.
    • Tangled: Mother Gothel manipulates events to successfully convince Rapunzel that Flynn betrayed and abandoned her. Unfortunately for her, Flynn escapes her set-up and immediately races back to Rapunzel, resulting in their reconciliation and Gothel's defeat.
    • Mulan: Mulan is abandoned by Shang when her gender is revealed. He later defends her after the battle.
    • In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy convinces Ralph to destroy Vanellope's racecar and stop her from fulfilling her dream of racing. This of course shatters their friendship. After seeing evidence that King Candy lied to him, Ralph returns with backup to fix the car, ensure she gets to race, and stay behind to protect her when she cannot leave the game to escape the Cy-bugs.
    • The Jungle Book:
      • Mowgli is angry at Baloo for trying to take him to the village, but forgives him when he saves Mowgli from Shere Khan, almost dying in the process.
      • In the sequel, he hurts Shanti who came to look for him, but she eventually forgives him.
    • The Lion King: This happens between Simba and Nala, when Simba refuses to return to Pride Rock at first. However, when he does go back, Nala joins him along with Timon, Pumbaa and Rafiki to help defeat Scar.
  • DreamWorks Animation has a good share:
    • How to Train Your Dragon: A non-romantic version happens between Hiccup and his father Stoick, when Stoick find out that Hiccup befriended a dragon. However, Hiccup is almost killed in the battle with the Red Death, causing Stoick to regret his actions, and he hails his son as a hero.
    • In the sequel, another non-romantic version happens, this time between Hiccup and Toothless when Toothless kills Stoick. Later, they reunite when Hiccup's love for Toothless is stronger than the Big Bad's mind control.

     Films - Live-Action 
  • Approximately the last half-hour of Woman of the Year, after Sam walks out on Tess. She comes to realize that she has neglected him for her career and tries to make it up to him by being ultra-domestic.
  • In some James Bond movies, the main Bond girl and 007 go through this because of their allegiance and the importance of their missions. Good examples include The Spy Who Loved Me, and GoldenEye.
  • Zombieland: The girls try to leave Tallahassee and Columbus, but the guys come to save them.
  • In the Tim Burton adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka is shown to have left his father to fulfill his dream. It takes several years and Charlie’s intervention to bring them back together.
  • Forrest Gump: After their first night together, Jenny leaves Forrest, but they find each other again five years later.
  • Midnight (1939) begins with our Cinderella, Eve Peabody, leaving her newly met Tibor, because she doesn't want to get involved. He then desperately searches Paris for her, finds her, they fight, have a fraudulent divorce, and once Tibor and Eve know they actually love each other, they decide to get married.
  • Jurassic World: Owen started out with a unique bond to the velociraptors, particularly Blue, with Owen as the "alpha" of the velociraptor pack. Then, the the Indominus rex took control of the pack, pitting Owen and the raptors against one another. In the end, Blue turned on the Indominus Rex to help Owen and was instrumental in defeating her.
  • Don Jon:
    • This is mentioned by Jon as being a standard trope for romantic movies.
    • Subverted in Jon's relationship with Barbara; after the Second-Act Breakup, they meet in the end just to conclude that they are not meant for each other and decide to part ways.

  • Harry Potter has two non-romantic examples with Ron and Harry:
    • First, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they argue after Harry is picked to participate in the Triwizard Tournament. They make up after Harry survives the first challenge, and Ron realizes that Harry didn't want to be in it.
    • Later, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Ron leaves after having an argument with Harry and Hermione, but returns to save Harry's life, leading Harry to forgive him. Hermione isn't quick to do so, however.

     Live-Action TV 
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily left Marshall for months to stabilize her life, and it took them time to go back together.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Bernadette almost called off the wedding after discovering Howard’s past, but they came back together when he proved through a speech how much he loves her and how much he changed thanks to her.
    • Leonard and Penny repeatedly split and come back together.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the sixth season, Willow and Tara end up broken up for much of the season, and reconcile just before the series finale. And then Tara is shot and killed by accident.
  • Doctor Who does this in "Asylum of the Daleks"; the story starts with Amy and Rory signing divorce papers and getting kidnapped by the Daleks before Rory could file the papers, finalizing the split. During the episode, Amy admits to Rory that she only instigated their break-up in an ill-advised case of I Want My Beloved to Be Happy (she was incapable of having the children she knew he wanted, and chose to leave him so he could find someone who could make him a father). By the end of the episode, Amy and Rory were together again, the divorce quietly forgotten.
    • Doctor Who fans do not agree on the notion of romance between the Doctor and his companions. Nonetheless, the scenario that plays out over the Series 8 episodes "Kill the Moon" and "Mummy on the Orient Express" follow the trope almost to a T (just the Big Damn Kiss is missing). Clara breaks off her friendship with the Doctor in the former because he places her in an impossible situation; in the next episode, she's agreed to go on one final adventure with him. Needless to say by the end, she's not only forgiven him but she creates a Love Triangle with her Earth-bound boyfriend by deciding to continue travelling with the Doctor in secret. The "non-platonic" argument is not helped by Word of God (actress Jenna Coleman) that Clara says "I love you" to the Doctor, not Danny, in this episode, and Clara and the Doctor sharing several unambiguously romantic moments, including a hallway nightcap scene - with alcoholic drinks, yet (remember this is Doctor Who) - that led the episode's writer to remark at a convention on the pair's "sizzling" chemistry.
  • In Supernatural, Sam and Dean have done this several times. They go their separate ways and realize they need each other an episode or two later. Dean and Castiel also had this sort of dynamic at the end of Season 7, when Dean tells Cas he'd rather have him cursed or not, even though their relationship had been rocky since Cas Jumped Off The Slippery Slope and became God.

     Web Comics 
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! - Bob and Jean have had some big fights over the years, but the one that came closest to ending their relationship was the Loch Ness Monster storyline featuring Jean's ex-boyfriend Slick. When they make up at the end, they finally get engaged.

     Web Original 
  • In Return of the Cartoon Man, Roy and Karen awkwardly part ways when Roy wishes to bow out of their investigation and go back to a normal life. Within a matter of hours, he races back to help her again when Simon resurfaces with a new threat. Happens again in the following movie, Journey of the Cartoon Man. While traveling through the Second Dimension, Roy and Valerie have a heated argument, and go their separate ways, but Roy almost immediately goes back to her after a Good Angel, Bad Angel debate convinces him it's the right thing to do.
  • This is the main storyline in all of Season 4 of The Most Popular Girls in School; Mackenzie and Brittany have a major fallout, until Trisha brings them back together again in the finale. WARNING: Homoerotic Subtext.

     Western Animation 
  • Many Disney shows have Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario in some episodes.
    • Darkwing Duck goes through some of these with his daughter Gosalyn and once his girlfriend Morgana.
    • In the first episode of TaleSpin, it happens between Baloo and Kit.
    • A few episodes of Aladdin center around arguments between Aladdin and Jasmine. There is also one in "Some Enchanted Genie" between Genie and Eden.
  • In Ed, Edd n Eddy's Big Picture Show, when Edd has enough of the travel and wants to leave, Eddy admits his mistakes for the first time. This is enough to make Edd stay.
  • In two episodes of Courage the Cowardly Dog, Eustace and Muriel have a serious argument and eventually make up, which are the few instances he shows love to her.
  • Some episodes of The Powerpuff Girls show them fighting with each other, then makeup. The best example is an episode where after arguing the whole time, Blossom and Buttercup unite to save Bubbles (after sharing a friendly smile).
  • The Simpsons: Many episodes focusing on Homer and Marge's relationship, or with their children.
  • Subverted in one episode of The Simpsons when Kirk Van Houten tries to get back together with his ex-wife. She flatly turns him down. It's played straight with Homer & Marge in that same episode, though, complete with a divorce followed by a remarriage.
  • Futurama with Fry, Leela and Bender.
  • Family Guy: occasionally with Peter and Lois, and also Brian.
  • American Dad!: Any episode focusing on Stan and Francine’s marriage.
  • Littlest Pet Shop (2012): Between Vinnie and Sunil in the episode "Sunil's Sick Day"
  • 6teen: Between Caitlin and Nikki in the episode "Fish and Make Up."
  • Happens only once for Beetlejuice and Lydia, when he breaks a promise and then refuses to apologize for getting her in trouble with her parents by doing so. She tells him she will never speak to him again until he does. Unfortunately for her, a heartsick Literal Genie can only make a bad situation worse, and it's through a series of somewhat bizarre circumstances that they reconcile.