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Make Up or Break Up
Break up to make up
That's all we do
First you love me
Then you hate me
That's a game for fools.
— The Stylistics, Break up to make up

There are probably only so many things a story can examine about a romantic relationship. This is one of the big ones.

Will They or Won't They? has gone by.

They Do.

Now, something — infidelity, voting for the wrong political party, or even slurping soup in a really irritating way — has happened and one party has to decide if they can bear it for all time.

The cause of the breach is presented here as both serious and silly (Because, brother, that soup thing is just nasty!), to highlight that the instigation is not the thing. The story will examine how the offended party comes to grips with it. Sometimes the decision will come down on the Make Up side, and sometimes it will not.

Also see Feud Episode. Frequently used to reassert Status Quo Is God, or as a way to Retcon a relationship (in that case, they will not only break up, but the relationship will quickly be forgotten as if it never happened.) Compare Toilet Seat Divorce.


Live-Action TV
  • Scrubs is fond of this trope, with Dr. Cox and Jordan, as well as Turk and Carla, and possibly JD and Elliot as examples.
  • Seinfeld had fun with Elaine and David Puddy, as well as George with Susan.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Lily and Marshall at the end of season 1.
    • Happens to Ted and his paramours as well.
  • Bones: Angela and Hodgins during season 4. Back to Will They or Won't They? for a bit, before getting married and having a kid.
    • With the longstanding UST between Booth and Bones finally resolved (also with a kid, from their first time together no less), they have shifted to this trope when they need some conflict between the main pair.
      • It's even invoked by the recurring villain intentionally in the season 8 finale. After Bones proposes to Booth, the villain (who can't stand not being the focus of their attention, forces Booth to turn her down by threatening to murder random civilians if he doesn't (and he can't tell anyone why either). The two are still together, but after finally letting down her last wall and getting rejected, Bones is obviously crushed
  • Friends: Ross and Rachel.
  • Cody and Bailey of The Suite Life on Deck didn't so much end their relationship as put it out of its misery.
  • Naomily's story for 75% of the fourth season of Skins.
  • On Boy Meets World, every couple in the show, except for Happily Married Alan and Amy, go through this arc, often more than once.
  • Most couples on The Drew Carey Show end up in a situation like this but it happened between Drew and Kate the most.

  • Examined in several ABBA songs. One man, one woman ends in makeup, while When all is said and done is on the breakup side.

Web Original
  • In Tales of MU, four of the main characters are in a polyamourous relationship, with the lead character Mack and the lone man, Ian, considering themselves a couple. However, the various shenanigans Mack finds herself getting into (both of a carnal nature and not) take an increasing toll on Ian, and it comes to a head after Mack and the elven "queen" Glory sleep together, a situation no one else in their group was pleased about possibly happening. They don't completely break up, but Ian does give Mack the "I need some space so I can figure things out" decision.

Western Animation
  • This happens more or less once per season between Marge and Homer on The Simpsons.

Downtime DowngradeRomance ArcThe Masochism Tango
Make the Bear Angry AgainPlotsThe Makeover
Make-Out KidsLove TropesMarry Them All
M.D. EnvySublime RhymeMellow Fellow

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