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, 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 protagonists 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 protagonists. 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 
  • I present to you, Inuyasha: the über-abuser of this trope (obviously with Inuyasha and Kagome).
  • In Berserk, when Gutts leave the Hawk Band, and comes back a long time later.
  • In 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.
  • Love Hina
  • Some episodes in Ranma ½, mostly when Ranma truly hurts Akane.
  • 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.



     Films, live-action 


     Live-Action TV 
  • The Sam/Diane arc in Cheers is one of the quintessential examples for television.
  • Friends: Rachel and Ross go through sooooooooooooo many...
  • In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Sabrina and Harvey go through two Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: first when Harvey sees her kissing Josh, then when he learns permanently that she is a witch. Surprisingly, each breakup lasted for more than one episode.
  • Six Feet Under: David and Keith, Rico and Vanessa, Nate and Brenda, Claire and Ruth. Other breakups have a much less Happy Ending.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily left Marshall for months to stabilize her life, and it took them time to go back together.
    • Ted, Robin and Barney go through this several times, whether together or with their respective lovers (when the break up isn’t permanent).
  • My Wife and Kids
  • LOST: Charlie and Claire.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Bernadette almost called of 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 repetitively split and come back together.
  • Breaking Bad, with Walt and Jessie, also Walt and Skyler. The first times, that is…
  • 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 on 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.
  • 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 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.

     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 episode focusing on Homer and Marge’s relationship, or with their children.
    • The Simpsons Movie uses this also.
      • In one episode, Kirk Van Houten tries to get back together with his ex-wife. Subverted when she flatly turns him down.
  • 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"
  • Sixteen: Between Caitlin and Nikki in the episode "Fish and Make Up."