Our heroes are a force of nature. United, there is nothing in this world that can stand against them. Divided is another story.
Whether due to a plot device, a scheme by the villain, or internal strife, the heroes separate. They may be scattered all over the world, they may just go their separate ways, but the point is they are no longer a team
. It may take multiple story arcs to get them back together.
They may never get back together
and even if they do their separate adventures and tribulations will have caused them to change and drift apart in ways they could not have foreseen.
When this happens, expect it to be the Belly of the Whale
, even the Darkest Hour
. No group would ever do this willingly because you Never Split the Party
. Expect the episode where this happens to be a Wham Episode
Note: For it to count as this trope, it should be a whole arc, not just one or two episodes. If just one character leaves, or it lasts for a very short time, it falls under other tropes.
Compare Let's Split Up, Gang
, where they split up, but intend to find each other again later, Party Scattering
, where they are split up involuntarily and sent on Solo Sequences
by an external force, and The Fellowship Has Ended
, where the split-up becomes permanent.
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- In One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates, following Bartholomew Kuma's attack, are scattered to the four winds. Two years later, they get back together, and they have changed dramatically.
- Also happens in the sixth movie Baron Omatsuri And The Secret Island. As the games progress, the Straw Hats' friendly and tight-knit relationship becomes strained and they start to fight amongst each other more and more. It got bad enough that at one point, they all split off to find their missing crewmates. This was intentionally done by the Baron who wishes to break any pirate crew's spirit before feeding them to Lily.
- When Jinbe became a Warlord of the Sea, Arlong detested the idea of becoming a dog of the World Government so he and the original Arlong Pirates left, followed by Macro and his gang.
- Following the defeat of Etemon in Digimon Adventure, the Digidestined separated and scattered throughout the Digital World. When Tai returns, he has to spend a whole arc finding them and getting them back together.
- They actually went through this a couple of times. The first was when they first encountered Devimon, who split them up. Then there's the aforementioned Etemon example. While searching for the eighth child back at home, some of Myotismon's forces kept them divided for a short time. Finally, in the Dark Masters arc Matt went off on his own, Joe and Mimi went off another way, and the group doesn't properly reunite until just before the very of end of the series.
- In Slayers Try, the group is divided for a few episodes when Valgaav's plan to summon the Dark Lord Darkstar goes awry.
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Ala Alba was split up for a while soon after entering the Magic World.
- In 20th Century Boys most of the main characters are split up after the first major Wham Episode, which ends with a 15 year Time Skip that sees the main character dead, another in prison, two presumed dead and the rest scattered.A lot of the series sees them trying to reunite.
- In Ronin Warriors, this happens to the Five-Man Band after their first confrontation with the villain, who scatters them across the countryside and places them in prisons based on their Powered Armor's elements. It's up to The Chick and the Bratty Half-Pint to find and reunite the team.
- In Zoids: Chaotic Century, after Prozen and the Death Saurer are defeated, Van and his friends go their separate ways. Van joins the Republic military for formal Zoid pilot training, Fiona accompanies Dr. D in pursuit of the Zoid Eve, and Irvine and Moonbay return to their mercenary and trading ways, respectively. They all reunite 2 years later in Guardian Force, however.
- Villains they may be (at least they want to be), Pokémon's Team Rocket is also a very good example of True Companions. However, there are still times that they couldn't tolerate each other, resulting in a breakup (temporary, anyway, they barely last an episode). "The Ole' Berate and Switch" and "Noodles: Roamin' Off" are notable examples.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Colonel Mustang has a very close-knit group of five hand-selected subordinates, who are unquestionably loyal to him and to each other, and are working feverishly to help him with his long-term goals. To disrupt his plans, the villains break up his team and send them to where they can't help him. Three of the men are sent to distant outposts; one, recently paralyzed in the line of duty, is discharged from the hospital and sent back to his family's home; and the fifth, the lone female, is forced to become the personal assistant of one of the villains in order to hold her hostage for Mustang's good behavior. Of course, it doesn't really stick.
- In Saint Beast, the formerly inseparable Saint Beasts are drawn apart after four of them betray the other two as a result of being Brainwashed and Crazy and Judas and Luca get sent to hell. Then, after shaking off the brainwashing and plotting to save their friends the other four are are betrayed in turn by the goddess, separated and Taken for Granite.
- Berserk: After Guts defeats Griffith and earns his freedom from the Band of the Hawk, everything begins to take a turn for the worse. Griffith suffers from an emotional breakdown and gets his ass landed in the Tower of Rebirth for a year after an indiscretion with Princess Charlotte. The King then declares the rest of the Hawks outlaw, to be hunted down without mercy. During this time, many of the Hawks are either killed or just abandon the group, leaving only a small amount of dedicated followers. A year later, Guts returns, bringing back a small glimmer of hope when the Hawks, under the leadership of Casca, reveal to Guts that they are about to execute Operation: Rescue Griffith with the hopes of restoring Griffith to his former glory and bringing the Hawks back together. Unfortunately, a year of horrible torture has taken its toll on Griffith, effectively quashing everybody's hopes. And then things go From Bad to Worse as Griffith himself loses all hope and a certain Artifact of Doom returns to him just in time for the Eclipse...
- In HunterXHunter, the main characters have parted ways twice for very long periods of time, with Gon and Killua continuing to travel together while Leorio and Kurapica go off on their own individually. The first time this happened was after the Zoldyck Family arc, and the true companions eventually met up again in the York Shin Arc. The second time, it takes much longer for Gon and Killua to meet up with Leorio, and even then, Kurapica's whereabouts are unknown. Only time will tell what he's up to...
- Happens three times in Rurouni Kenshin:
- First, Kenshin decides to leave for Kyoto himself, triggering a Heroic BSOD in Love Interest Kaoru.
- Then, Kenshin gets a Heroic BSOD when Kaoru is apparently murdered.
- Finally, by the end of the series, Sano is a fugitive, Megumi has gone back to her hometown, Aoshi and Misao returned to Kyoto, and it's implied that one day Yahiko will set out to blaze his own path. They still do meet up for reunions, though.
- In Naruto, Sasuke's betrayal of Konoha caused a seemingly permanent example of this for the original Team 7. Partially subverted in that the remaining members (Naruto, Sakura, and their sensei Kakashi) reunite after the Time Skip, and Sasuke is replaced with Sai.
- In Negation, after months eluding the Negation forces and having many of their number die, Kaine still wants to lead the band of fugitives back to their home universe, but the others decide to hide out on a world and make the best of it there, since they're tired of running and fighting. Only Zaida, Memi and Lizard Lady stick with Kaine.
- In DC Comics' Infinite Crisis, it is the deep divisions that have grown between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman that create the power vacuum the villains seek to exploit.
- Supposedly this is what happened to The Avengers due to the Scarlet Witch going insane and blowing up the mansion and killing several long term members. What this was was an excuse for Brian Michael Bendis to get some of his Creator Pets on the roster and calling them the New Avengers.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog series has had the Freedom Fighters break up a number of times during its Dork Age. The first two times they were broken up, it was King Max Acorn-mandated - he preferred Geoffery St. John's Secret Service over them. Despite the fact that Robotnik was still around in some form. The most recent time was because Sally was turned into a robot, Bunnie was Brought Down to Normal and Antoine was nearly killed.
- The Changelings do this to the Mane Six in issue #2 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), and Queen Chrysalis even Lampshades this in issue #3 but by the end of issue #3, though, they're back together. Chrysalis claims that this helps her in the long run.]]
- A Growing Affection: Not the main fellowship, but Team Hizashi (Anko, Iruka, and Yugao) split up after Hizashi's death, with extremely hurt feelings. They make up and partially reunite thirteen some years later.
- The Powers Of Harmony: After Cetus and Eclipse defeat the Mane Six and their allies, the only way Luna is able to save them is to teleport them to different places around the world. While they survive, they're scattered, with no means of communication, while the villains are still in a power position.
- The Conversion Bureau Conquer The Stars: Between the events of the prequel Not Alone and the start of this, Fluttershy has stopped seeing Equestria's ideals eye to eye anymore. To prevent against any retaliation, she hasd abandoned her Ponyville residence and gone into hiding along with her animal friends. Considering she wields one of the Elements of Harmony and Equestria has just been effectively banished to an alien Death World to escape total annihilation, it goes without saying that this is downright catastrophic for the ponies.
- In Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, first Luke, then Han, are split from the party; they don't get back together until the next film.
- On The Land Before Time, Cera and Littlefoot fight over which is the right way to the Great Valley. The others end up following Cera, because her route seems easier, leaving Littlefoot alone. Cera's way, however, leads them into danger, and Littlefoot has to rescue them.
- In The Avengers, this was part of Loki's Evil Plan early in the film to cause Bruce Banner to Hulk out and help break the Avengers apart so they would be out of his way when he summons the Chitauri to Earth. It nearly worked.
- Lord of the Rings is the Trope Namer here. They never do all meet again, since one of them dies and one is irrevocably transformed in the interim. They manage 8 of the original 9.
- David Eddings' Belgariad: Towards the end of the novel the main party splits off to protect the ones they love, so to speak. Happens again in the Mallorean too.
- The protagonist Stark family (including bastard son Jon Snow) of A Song of Ice and Fire is separated early on in the first novel, and further separates from there. As of the fifth book, two of them are dead, one is undead, one is possibly dead, one is a glorified captive of a sociopathic manipulator with a creepy sexual interest in her, one is learning to abandon her entire identity, one is becoming a tree, and one is living on an island of cannibals. The outlook of a happy reunion seems bleak.
- In Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragonlance Chronicles, the main party is forced to separate early in the second book when the city of Tarsis is under attack. The groups mostly reassemble before the end, except that two died and another seemingly switched sides.
- In Dune Thufir Hawat and Gurney Halleck are separated from Paul and Jessica in the wake of the Harkonnens' attack, and Duncan Idaho is killed. They're finally able to get together again at the end of the book.
- In Warrior Cats, the chosen cats from The New Prophecy have to split back to their Clans after the Great Journey.
- In Septimus Heap, whenever this happens...things start getting wrong. For example, in Darke, between Septimus and Jenna splitting up at the Palace gates and meetign again in the Dragon Field the Castle is overrun by a Darke Domaine and their mother Sarah Heap is trapped inside of it.
- In The Hereward Trilogy, the breakup of Wild Edric's Wish Hounds foreshadows the eventual fate of Hereward's own gang. There's a failed attempt to regroup the former, and the latter do regroup (those of them still alive) - but not for long.
Live Action TV
- A famous example comes from Blake's 7 which saw most of the cast being split up after the loss of their Cool Ship and the main title character departing the series (only to return and get killed in the last episode.
- One season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation saw the usual ensemble split up between night and swing shifts.
- The Farscape gang went their separate ways at one point, only to find that the bounties on their heads made splitting up too dangerous.
- Happened to House, twice. Once at the end of Season 3, and again in season 4. It wasn't until midway through season 6 that he got most of both teams back, but given his personality it is probably only a matter of time before it happens again.
- LOST. The last time "the whole gang" (minus everyone who's died along the way) is gathered has to be 4.01, "The Beginning of the End". A very fundamental split in ideology occurs in that episode, and although that particular disagreement no longer carries any weight, as of the conclusion of season 5 there hasn't been a single episode to feature all (or even a vast majority) of the characters in the same setting.
- Following Hurley, Jack and Sun's surrender to Team Flocke, all the remaining Oceanic 815 survivors minus Jin have been gathered again.
- Merlin; The Four Temperament Ensemble composed of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana and Guinevere slowly falls apart throughout the course of season two due to Morgana's increasing isolation, and sundered forever at the end of the season when she's taken away by her half-sister. In the wake of her absence, the remaining three become a tight Power Trio, and at the end of season three there's a brand new Fellowship in the form of the Knights of the Round Table.
- NCIS splits up Gibbs' team after Leon Vance takes over. They all eventually come back together.
- In the Tenth season finale, the team resigns in a show of support for Gibbs when a congressional witch hunt threatens his career.
- Robin Hood: At the end of the second season, Will Scarlett and Djaq opt to stay in the Holy Land instead of returning to England with their comrades. A sad example, considering the writers completely forget about their existence, and they're never seen or heard from again.
- The latter half of the fourth season of Babylon 5 had the human crewmembers split up between Babylon 5, Mars, and in between fighting in the Earth Alliance civil war. A number of the alien characters also got involved in this plotline when they weren't tied up in their own homeworlds' problems.
- In the fifth season finale of Bones, Brennan and Daisy join an excavation in Maluku, Booth becomes a military adviser in Afghanistan and newlyweds Angela and Hodgins go to Paris for an extended honeymoon. During the following season premiere when Cam's position as director of the Jeffersonian is in jeopardy, Judge Caroline sends word to the others, Putting the Band Back Together
- Gorillaz did this twice, all detailed in their autobiography.
- In Mass Effect 2, the team from the first game has scattered after Shepard's death. You get a couple of them back, but the others refuse to come back for various reasons (can't leave their work, won't work with Cerberus even for you). In Mass Effect 3, all of the surviving squad members from the first game (with the likely exception of one who seems set to nonetheless be an important ally) end up back with you.
- Of course, if you secured the team's loyalty in Mass Effect 2, then this is in full effect for them in Mass Effect 3, bordering on The Fellowship Has Ended. You can bring a few minor crewmembers back onto your team permanently, but most of the others are either tied up in their own quests, if not outright back with their own people trying to fight the Reapers. It doesn't help that most of them are considered outlaws in Alliance space, and Shepard is back with the Alliance Navy.
- Final Fantasy VI: The entire second half revolves around tracking down each member of your old party and rallying back into the fight. The final dungeon is available very early on, but until you've glued your fellowship back together you won't stand much of a chance where Marathon Level and Boss Rush join forces to beat you up.
- Vandal Hearts
- In Vandal Hearts the party is split at the end of Chapter II. This is because The Magic Stone sends Ash, Grog and Sara into a pocket dimension that exists outside of time. The rest of the party is variously arrested, off joining the rebellion or in Kira's case, going back to the Big Bad after having betrayed the team.
- In Vandal Hearts II at the end of the prologue, the five main characters split up and never join up again. Joshua becomes a noble brigand who goes on to play a vital part in the founding of Central Natra and then become its top Knight, one childhood friend joins the priesthood, one goes to a big city to protect Joshua's step-sister who works as a prostitute, one carries on her life as a noblewoman and becomes a political tool and the last succeeds in forging an army to try to seize the crown, but becomes a drunken washout. The player's actions within the game affects the final fates of these characters.
- In Baldur's Gate 2, two of your canonical party members from the first game are killed offscreen, and you lose another one at the end of the prologue dungeon. The first two are Deader Than Dead, but you can get the third one back much later.
- Dragon Age II ends like this, with all surviving party members going their separate ways after Hawke disappears (except for Hawke's Love Interest, who went with him/her).
- In the Gundam RPG MS Saga: A New Dawn, your team is separated after one leaves due to feeling inadequate and the rest are separated from you after the bad guy's base is destroyed, killing one of your allies in the process. They get back together soon after and the guy who leaves comes back after Taking A Level In Badass.
- In Shin Megami Tensei I Chaos Hero will leave the party after fusing himself with a demon and killing Ozawa, stating that the other characters will only slow him down or get themselves killed.
- Happens to an extent in the beginning of the final volume of .hack GU. Despite building up a team of 7 of the 8 Avatar users and a bunch of others, Yata is promptly fired by CC Corp, forcing him to abandon the team in despair. Pi leaves as well to try to talk sense into him, while Endrance seemingly betrays you and Sakubo (who never liked Haseo anyway) going with him. With the non Avatar users still locked out of the loop, that leaves only Atoli and Kuhn as the only people Haseo can rely on to stop Sakaki. Endrance was pulling a Fake Defector though and Yata eventually comes to his senses and returns.
- In Drowtales, this happens to Alpha Bitch(Chrys'tel)'s Five-Man Band; later Ariel's group splits over an internal disagreement, only to find each other via Big Damn Heroes. They later split up again on much more amicable terms to pursue different goals.
- Happened in The Order of the Stick following the battle of Azure City. Eventually they got back together, but with all party members having gone through a lot of Character Development. The arc was even titled "Don't Split The Party".
- Also happened in the backstory to the "Order of the Scribble," the Order of the Stick's predecessors in confronting the dangers of the Snarl. They never reunited and, at least in the case of Girard Draketooth, hated
the others Soon Kim beyond rational thought.
- In Juathuur, Faevv's group splits relatively fast. When they reunite, they act slightly hostile. "A lot happened after you left" is a sentence that gets used a lot.
- Gunnerkrigg Court had the group formerly containing Surma, Anthony, Eglamore, Anja, Donald and (presumably) Brinnie. By the time the comic starts, the group has been broken — Anja, Donald and James remained in the Court as teachers, Brinnie's whereabouts are unknown (appeared only in flashback) and Surma and Anthony in Good Hope Hospital, with Surma as a patient and Anthony as the doctor. Surma ended up with Carver instead of Eglamore and the Court's three lost contact with Brinnie and didn't know where Surma and Anthony were (Anja apparently discovered that Surma died only when Annie was transferred to the Court). Why they broke up on such bad terms is yet unknown. The only plausible apple of discord revealed so far was Reynardine possession incident.
- Suburban Knights starts off on the adventure by splitting the group in two. It makes sense here, though; the map they're using has two distinct paths and there's still nine people in each group.
- Done throughout Seasons 2 & 3 of We're Alive. First Lizzy gets kicked out of the Tower in Chapter 20, then Saul, Victor, Burt and Lizzy get left behind in Chapter 24, finally Pegs, Kelly, Datu, and Hope get sent to Boulder in Chapter 29. The group finally comes back together in Chapter 36.
- The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes: In "Who Can You Trust?", news of a Skrull among the Avengers causes everyone to lose trust in one another, and three Avengers quit because of this distrust. Iron Man even renounces his leadership position, which gets taken by the Skrull, Captain America.
- The Skrull uses his position beforehand as well, and sows discord in the group. The Hulk gets locked up because of a doppelganger, and Thor went off world an hour or two before the Skrull arrived, so eventually at one point the team shot in the beginning of the theme is just three members, while the song blares triumphantly "Forever fight as one..!"
- Kim Possible: In "A Sitch in Time", part of Shego's plan is splitting up Kim and Ron by having Ron's mother transferred to Scandinavia.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: "Mystery Inc. is dead."
- BIONICLE: after being transformed by Energized Protodermis and sparring with each other, the Toa Nuva team disbands so each would be off protecting their villages. Then the Bohrok-Kal show up and nearly kill them, forcing them to band back together.