"Take the guesswork out of love."More than Love at First Sight, more than simply two Soulmates destined to be together, the Red String of Fate is some perceivable clue that identifies your destined True Love. The trope namer is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend called yīnyuán hóngxiàn or the Red String of Fate. Frequently found in Japanese works, where it's referred to as akai ito or unmei no akai ito, the concept is that two people who are destined to be together are attached by an invisible red string by the gods. In Chinese mythos, it's around both parties' ankles, while in Japanese, it's bound from a male's thumb to a female's pinky finger (though it's become more common to show both parties attached at the pinky). The Red String of Fate need not be a literal red string. It could be a timer counting down to alert you at the exact moment that you meet the perfect person for you. It could even be an unusually meaningful birthmark showing your destined’s name in their own handwriting. Whether magic or Magitek, whether you’re born with it or have to have it installed, whether it actively pulls you together or serves only as a passive identifier, the match it suggests for you is your True Love Because Destiny Says So. Warning: Choking Hazard. May be related to the Pinky Swear. Usually involved in Reincarnation Romance. See also Fate Drives Us Together and Forgotten First Meeting. Compare Love Before First Sight and Mindlink Mates.
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Anime and Manga
- Used literally in Gan Kon: the protagonist and her goddess girlfriend have a physical red string connecting them, which they use as a weapon against enemies. The stronger their relationship at the moment, the stronger the string becomes.
- The concept is used for comedic effect in the Tenchi Muyo! series Tenchi in Tokyo, where Tenchi is connected by red strings to just about every major character. For the unlearned, that's around 7 strings total. There's a reason Marry Them All used to be named after him.
- Ranma ˝:
- In one episode, Shampoo attempts to use a literal magical red string to bind Ranma to her romantically.
- Another variation occurs in a late manga story revolving around the Tanabata, where Ranma and Akane will supposedly be destined to marry if two leaves with their names on them remain intact and bound together, but they will never be if either one is destroyed. Cue Ranma having to go through hell, including Tatewaki Kuno suddenly coming out of nowhere with a steel-bladed katana, to ensure that the leaves aren't destroyed or tied to the leaves of other people.
- In the song "November Rain" from one of the albums (which is basically an angsty subversion of the Umbrella of Togetherness trope), the lyrics strongly imply that Ranma and Akane are bound together by the Red String of Fate, even though it is currently, as Ranma puts it, "loose."
- Toward the end of the Urusei Yatsura movie "Remember My Love", notorious lech Ataru is shown to have multiple red strings attached to every one of his fingers. It's implied that he might like to be faithful to Lum, but...
- In episode 5 of Excel Saga, "The Interesting Giant Tower", Watanabe is surprised (and annoyed) to find his roommates applying for jobs at the same office building he's gone to, and Iwata quips "We must be joined together by the invisible red string of destiny!" Watanabe flips and hits him, declaring, "The red string is for boys and girls only!"
- In the same episode, Watanabe finds that Hyatt, his love interest, is at the same place selling refreshments. She gives him a drink for free, and as she walks away, Watanabe muses, "...the red string!" Sumiyoshi looks at the drink and remarks, "It's green."
- Spiritual Successor OVA Puni Puni Poemi parodies this with Poemi, who's attached to her friend Futaba. At that moment, Futaba and her sisters are being taken hostage by incredibly horny aliens, and as they get dragged away in a net, Poemi is forcibly dragged to them herself. Poemi then follows the red string tied to her finger to find her friend.
- A Red String appears in a flashback of Juri's recollections of her time spent with Shiori and an unnamed male character in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
- In an episode of Chou Kuse ni Narisou, a gay teacher who mistakenly develops a crush on Nagisa suggests to her that there's a Red String of Fate connecting them. Nagisa can actually see the string, and yells at the teacher to cut it out....
- A Red String is used as an unseen force in Ai Yori Aoshi that binds Aoi and Kaoru together. It was part of the premise that their relationship is so unshakable that neither Kaoru's Harem nor Aoi's old fashioned and powerful family can pull them apart. It was featured in the opening sequence and referred to as Enishi (The bonds that tie) in a conversation between Aoi and Kaoru in the second season.
- Also, when Mayu first sees Kaoru again, she talks about them being bound by the red string of fate (she's been nursing a crush since their first meeting years earlier). Alas, The Masquerade prevents Kaoru from telling her his string is already tied.
- In Nana, Reira writes a song about her seedy relationship with Shin by describing it as taking the red string off someone's finger.
- Tachikawa Megumi's one-shot manga Music Box of Spring used the Red String concept; in the end, the characters' hands are cut and bleeding, and the main character's perspective shifts, seeing the blood as the red string.
- Mamotte Shugogetten has an episode with mystic threads that bind the fingers of the first two people to pick it up. Although they don't behave much like the threads of the legend, the reference is clear, as the first one to be used is red.
- In the manga's 139.5 omake of Alice Academy, the hands of baby Mikan and Natsume are seen as connected by a (likely red) string.
- Detective Conan: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper concludes with Ran selecting which color wire on a bomb to cut; the bomber had designed the bomb to go off if the red wire were cut, having overheard that red was her favorite color, but Ran couldn't bring herself to cut it, seeing it as the red string of fate between her and Shinichi.
- Reversed in Noir, as Mireille (a Corsican) muses on the connection between herself and Kirika.
"The thread that binds you and I is the color black, of this I am sure. Blacker than pitch...blacker than night...blacker than the darkness itself."
- YuYu Hakusho: Kuwabara claimed that the way he found his love interest, Yukina, was simply by following the red string tied to their fingers. The anime provides a visual; in reality, he probably just sensed her spirit energy.
- In an episode of the "alien arc" of Sailor Moon R Usagi states to her love rival En/An/Ann (urgh, transliteration problems) alias Natsumi Ginga that she is connected to Mamoru by the red string of destiny. Which appears on screen, only to have Natsumi cut it.
- Kannazuki no Miko's opening features the two heroines tied by a red string. It appears in the show itself in the form of Himeko's bloodied bandage which twirl around the arms of both females as the gods take Chikane away in the last episode.
- The opening of Potemayo has Mikan wearing a literal red string that supposedly attaches to Sunao, and she makes it clear during the series that she believes she and Sunao are "tied" to each other.
- In Kimagure Orange Road, as Yukari sings Like a salvia flower onstage she takes a long red ribbon and playfully wraps a part of it around Madoka, throwing the other extreme to Kyouske. Here is the video
- In the first ending theme of the anime adaptation of Kekkaishi there is a line which roughly translates to "there is a red string which connects two people", in apparent reference to Yoshimori's feelings for Tokine.
- Mononoke contains a variation involving a red cloth between an unborn child and their parents. A much more traditional example appears in the OP, with a red string tied to the pinky finger.
- The first ending to Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei contains lyrics mentioning this, in their usual depressing way:
I could see the red strings connecting everyone to you... I was a blue thread.
- In the manga Wish, when the main character Shuichiro confesses to his adoptive mother that he loves her, she tells him that she is not the one meant for him and that he needs to find the person on the other end of the string on his finger.
- Essentially the basis of Bound Beauty, only that the characters can see the other strings of fate (White, Blue, Yellow, and Black, in addition to Red). Leads to some very surreal battle scenes.
- In Toradora!, the class' Professional Wrestling show for the School Festival (don't ask) involves them threatening to cut their Christmas Cake homeroom teacher's red string of fate to threaten the heroine. The teacher is naturally upset at witnessing this and tries to attack the play. The audience assumes it's All Part of the Show as the stage hands carry her off.
- In The Miko's Words and the Witch's Incantations, Letty ties an invisible, magical thread to both her pinky and Tsumugi's so they won't get separated. Naturally, it's red, and Tsumugi cheerfully mentions its Japanese significance to Letty and how it probably makes them lovers.
- This becomes a plot-point in Mahou Sensei Negima!'s summer OVA when Yue (an Inept Mage at the time) uses this on Nodoka and Negi, creating a physical red string tying the two together by their pinkies for a day.
- The trope is name-dropped in Inuyasha when Kikyou tells Inuyasha that the red string of fate, once cut, can't be restored.
- The final shot in the first ED sequence for Inuyasha: The Final Act shows a literal red string tied to Inuyasha and Kagome's fingers.
- While not actually shown in the anime, one of the DVD covers for Happy Lesson has each one of the male lead's fingers tied with a red string and all the strings being connected to all his mothers' pinkies. He is not amused.
- The red string of fate has a much darker purpose in Hell Girl, where each client of Enma Ai seals the contract with her by untying a red string. This sends the object of their vengeance to hell — and damns the client to go there too, after death. So it's still a destiny bond, but a very different kind...
- The end theme of Tsuyokiss shows each of the girls naked (it's a fanservice show) with a red string tied to one finger.
- Parodied in Yuria 100 Shiki. The titular Sexbot fantasizes about one of these on her finger . . . connecting to Shunsuke's crotch. (The narration remarks that all of her fantasies end up there eventually.)
- In the Full Metal Panic! manga, Gauron implies that this is what fatefully keeps bringing him and Sousuke together. Sousuke does not react well to the suggestion.
- Used in an official Higurashi art, for Mion and Shion◊ drawn by the Watangashi/Meakashi manga artist. Make what you will of this.
- In Pokémon Adventures, it happened to Red and Yellow twice. Of course, said string (a Caterpie's String Shot and Yellow's fishing line) wasn't actually red...but yes, pinkies and shipping symbolism were still there.
- In Nabari no Ou, Miharu is shown with a red string on his finger after erasing Yoite.
- Used literally in Koi Cupid; red strings are seen connecting people together. If necessary, the strings can be cut with magic scissors.
- We have a literal example. The titular character meets the spirit of his mother, who tells him that the reason she fell in love with his father was because, during an incident when she was kidnapped, he was the only rescuer who noticed that she had been leaving a trail of red hair. She commented that her red hair was her "personal red thread of fate", leading her to her soulmate.
- In The Last: Naruto the Movie, Hinata has always wanted to give a homemade scarf to Naruto since they were children. She eventually gives him the red one that he wears in the poster of the movie, as a Call Back and Meaningful Echo to his own mother's soulmate story. In the film proper, he sets his mother's old scarf aside in favor of Hinata's as part of his Character Development, symbolizing his decision to finally let go of his painful past and look to a happier future, with Hinata by his side.
- At the end of Mobile Suit Gundam 00's first season, Graham Akre claims that he and protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei are connected by this — the fate to face each other in battle. Though he's a Westerner, Graham is a massive Japanese culture Otaku and would likely understand the reference.
- Shibariya Komachi is pretty much based on this trope, although it uses 5 different colours of thread that connect a variety of things. Protagonist Chiyako can initially see other people's red strings and takes advantage of this to make money, but ends up with the white string that binds body and soul.
- In A Certain Magical Index, Index speculates that the reason why nearly any girl who meets Touma falls in love with him is that his Anti-Magic right hand, Imagine Breaker, negates the Red String of Fate for other people.
- Wedding Peach: Played with. Momoko knits a muffler as a present to Yanagiba and Imagine Spots them wearing it together. In the next frame a thread leads offscreen, and reveals that Yosuke somehow invaded the Imagine Spot and is also wearing it, much to her displeasure.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- Madoka giving her red hair ribbons to Homura before Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence can be considered a reference to this trope. After Madoka's disappearance, her hair ribbons are the only thing Homura has left of her and the only trace that she ever existed. note
- In the third movie, Homura's suppression of Madoka's divinity is symbolized by her seizing Madoka and tying the ribbons back into her hair. She then declares, in an explicit rejection of their love, that someday she and Madoka will be enemies.
- In Bleach Fade To Black, Ichigo and Rukia's red spirit threads are linked to one another, allowing Ichigo to find Rukia when she went missing during the events of the movie.
- A flashback reveals that Urahara connected Isshin and Masaki together with a red spirit thread so that Isshin's influence would prevent her from Hollowfying.
- CLAMP's romances pretty much run on this trope. Every character in the multiverse has a destined person who - as we learn in Tsubasa - they will meet in every dimension they exist in. Which, in some cases, sucks terribly because they can't help loving that person no matter what the hell they do to them. Some poor bastards come out of that. *cough*looking at you Sumeragi Subaru*cough*
- Done literally in Mysterious Girlfriend X in the non-manga OVA story.
- Onegai My Melody states that beings from Mari Land and their destined human partners are connected by a rainbow-colored string. The King of Mari Land also talks about the traditional red string that connects himself and his wife.
- In Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar, Chiaia accidentally breaks Kenshi's necklace. When she can't repair the chain, she replaces it with a red cord that she wove herself, which he likes. When Lashara's Old Retainer tells her about an old custom about red strings symbolizing love, she gets really embarrassed and unsuccessfully tries to get the cord back. Later, she sees the necklace and finally realizes she has feelings for him.
- Eto in Tokyo Ghoul is mainly nude wrapped in bandages. In a volume 5 cover Eto wraps her bandages around Kaneki's neck, and they're initially colored red.
- Space Patrol Luluco:
- In episode 7, Nova tells Luluco that they're connected by the red string of fate, and she finds that a glowing red string is tied to her finger, causing her to blush at the implication that their love is meant to be; [[spoiler:Then she realizes that he is not the real Nova, but Kill
- Killian, who is using life fibers tied to his fingers to feed on the energy of the crowd of people who see him as the illusion of their heart's desire]].
- In Sound! Euphonium, Kumiko and Reina are connected by one in the season one ED.
- In the Naruto fanfic "One Small Step", a young Naruto can't find a partner to play Cat's Cradle - a game that involves using string to create complex patterns between the fingers- (the game also functions as an exercise to prepare students for ninja handsigns). After searching for someone to play the game with him, he finds Hinata and asks for her help. The two end up tying each other's hands together (with red string, naturally), which leads to them becoming childhood friends and starting to develop feelings for each other.
- Axis Powers Hetalia:
- Quite a few fanarts of America and Canada show a red string attached around their hands. Could be to represent their relationship which in real life is one of the closest and most productive international relationships in the world. Or it's to play up the Ho Yay.
- The red string of fate has also been referenced in quite a few fanworks that pair Japan with someone. It's most common in Japan/China fanworks, probably because of the concept's origins in China and the tendency for the pairing to be portrayed as a tragic one, but appears in some Japan/Taiwan and Japan/Greece fanworks too.
- This cute little oneshot. But it has more colors representing more types of relationships.
- In the Sherlock fic "With Your Crooked Heart”, most people (except those supposedly incapable of love) have words on their forearm which appear as if by magic at some point in their lives, usually during childhood. The words are in the handwriting of your True Love and may be a name, address, or cryptic clue like a poem or obscure reference. When the clue is obvious, like an address, you can hurry fate along by turning up on their doorstep, but if its as vague as a line of poetry, you may have to get to know your True Love before the clue begins to make sense.
- In the TiMER-inspired Sherlock fic “Blue Veins”, everyone has a magical configuration of veins near the surface on the inside of the wrist that count down to the moment you meet your True Love.
- In the Sherlock fic “Put a Smile in Your Name”, everyone is born with the first name of their True Love in their True Love’s handwriting on their palm. Databases of this information exist and, for a fee, matchmaking companies will check for any matches between your name and the name on your palm.
- In the Sherlock fic "Finding John”, everyone is born with the first name of their True Love like a tattoo on the inside of one finger. With only a limited number of first names, it’s usually not enough information (unless you’re The British Government) to lead you to a person but once you meet your True Love, they’ll have your name too and the particular color and shade of your names will match.
- This trope is defied in the Sherlock fic, "To the Limits of Your Choice" when Sherlock chooses not to care, or perhaps not to accept the consequences of acknowledging the person symbolized by the soulmate mark on his wrist. When John finds his soulmate, Sherlock asks John to choose between camaraderie with him and romance with her and John also defies this trope, choosing to continue adventuring with Sherlock.
- In The Shrine, a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic, Madoka's ribbons are pink instead of red. This is the main hint that they (and the person wearing them) are much Older Than They Look.
- To the Stars: Homura leaves one of Madoka's ribbons with her fellow magical girls, who consider it a religious relic and place it in the Church of Hope. The protagonist, a distant relative of Madoka, has a plot-relevant vision upon touching it.
- Alluded to in the RWBY Fanfic Various Vytal Ventures features this during the nightmare sequence in 'Hide and Seek' but ultimately zig-zagged, as red strings bind Ruby to ALL of her friends. It is interesting to note, however, that her pinkies were linked to Weiss and Jaune, two of her most prominent potential Love Interests in the series. Word of God is that the author was indeed referencing the Japanese Myth with the imagery, but did not wish to commit to a particular pairing.
- Somewhat averted in the Inuyasha fanfic, "Sever the Red Cord". In the story, Inuyasha chooses to be with Kikyo, rather than Kagome. Brokenhearted, Kagome returns to her era and becomes a shrine priestess. A few years later, Inuyasha appears, having lived out the centuries to her era. To Kagome's dismay, her soul is linked to Inuyasha's by the red string, due to her being Kikyo's reincarnation. Having no desire to be bound to the man who broke her heart, and refusing to be a replacement for Kikyo, Kagome unties the string from her finger, separating her soul from Inuyasha's forever.
- In the Avengers fic "But Loving Him is Red", Steve and Tony wake up after a fight to find themselves connected by a piece of magic red string. Later, they find out it signfies the fact that they're soulmates.
- This is a running theme in the vocaloid fanfic Rotting Camellias. Miku visits a circus and meets with a fortune-teller who tells her that her red string is getting shorter. It makes a number of other appearances after this.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug fic Trouble in White, Master Fu references this trope while pacifying a Brainwashed and Crazy Adrien, convincing him to follow his soulmate's example.
- Ghosts of Evangelion: Invoked by Asuka after her mother said she and Shinji played together when they were babies and their mothers thought they seemed incredibly cute together.
Asuka: How about that, eh? The red string of fate bound us together even then. Kind of depressing, now that I think about it.
Film — Animation
- In The Secret of NIMH, in what may or may not be an intentional usage: when Mrs. Brisby first meets Jeremy, he is tangled in red string which he is retrieving to build a "love nest" for his future Ms. Right. The end of the film has Jeremy and his love interest flying and holding the two ends of the string.
Film — Live-Action
- In Kamen Rider: The First, a partially-suicidal Haruhiko runs away from the hospital to a field where he can grieve alone, only to realize that a red string had somehow caught on his clothes. Behind him walks up Miyoko, his love interest, and the string was a thread from the red sweater she was wearing which had caught and began unraveling as he ran. She directly quotes the concept, and he proceeds to hug her for all he's worth. Unfortunately, since they were both terminally ill, things don't turn out very well.
- In TiMER, Magitek timers installed on the wrist by a friendly Mega Corp. countdown to the day you’ll meet your True Love and beep when you finally set eyes on each other. Angst Alert: you could get your timer and find out you have decades to wait until you’ll meet Mr or Ms Right or it could remain blank because your True Love is a Luddite without a timer of their own.
- In Paulo Coelho's Brida, the titular girl is informed that Witches can recognize who their destined soulmate is because they can see a special twinkle in the eyes, while Mages do so by seeing a star over the shoulder of their destined. Brida, who becomes an aspiring Witch, recognizes the twinkle in her actual boyfriend's eyes and is pleased; but the Mage she initially consulted has seen the star over Brida's shoulder, and is conflicted. This is carried to a long scene where the Mage finally decides to confess his visions and feelings and use the star to try to find Brida in a crowd... and then he finds Brida's boyfriend, who also has the damn star over his shoulder. This being a No Bisexuals setting, the Mage steps out and lets the happy couple be.
- Incarnations of Immortality: In On a Pale Horse, Zane is offered a Lovestone, a magic stone which will lead him to his true love. He borrows the stone and follows its glow. The good news is he finds her. The bad news the proprietor of the store bought the encounter, in exchange for the Wealthstone, so HE gets the lovely and extremely wealthy girl. The results of this encounter start the main plot.
- In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester has this to say: "...it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly."
- Journey to Chaos: Eric states that there is one of these between his teammates, Tiza and Nolien. After acquiring an Enlightenment Superpower during Looming Shadow, he says "I can see it! The connection is red and strong and" Tiza shoved a biscuit into his mouth to cut off the rest. She doesn't want to acknowledge their UST.
- The protagonist (one of them anyway) accidentally discovers this during the events of Kiln People. At the end of the novel, he's dropped his job as a Private Eye and is advertising an agency to link people with their soulmates.
- In L.J. Smith's Night World series, soulmates who are destined to be together often describe a silver thread connecting the two of them together.
- In Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, the 'Silver Thread' is something that wolpertings can actually perceive through smell, and it leads to their soulmate. Unfortunately for the protagonist, he's also hopelessly uninformed about relationships, and didn't even know that girls existed until he came to Wolperting, meaning it isn't all that much use.
- In Joss Stirling's Soulfinder Series, all savants have a "soulfinder", which is another savant of the opposite gender who was conceived at the same time. Soulfinders can recognize each other instantly when they first communicate telepathically. However, there's no guarantee that a savant will find their soulfinder, because they could have been born anywhere on the planet. There is a mention of one couple who met via a savant dating service, and there are also rare savants called "soulseekers" who have the power to help people find their soulfinders.
- Also in L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries, Elena remembers stories of "the souls of true lovers" being connected by "a silver string from heart to heart or a red cord from pinky to pinky", but it's the first one that she's able to find (and follow). Stefan and Elena are bound together by the silver cord from soul to soul, implying that they are destined soul mates.
- Continuing with L.J. Smith, in The Secret Circle, Adam and Cassie are bound together by a silver cord, like Stefan and Elena.
Live Action TV
- In FlashForward (2009), three characters (Bryce, Keiko, and Olivia) see themselves in love with someone they haven't met yet in their flash forwards leading to two of them (Bryce and Keiko) on a quest to find each other and a third to doing everything she can to avoid her apparently-fated love interest. The recurring question of fate versus free will is never really resolved and it is heavily suggested that Olivia avoiding her match with Lloyd might actually doom the entire world.
- In an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an Enterprise crew member starts having dreams of a beautiful woman. When the Enterprise meets with a plague-infested ship, he finds the woman is there and has been having dreams of him, and created portraits of him. He decides to go with them to help them treat the plague.
- In TeenWolf, Stiles ties a red string around Lydia's finger during Season 3, while the two happen to be investigating Japanese mythology. The two are also referred to as each other's "emotional tethers". Whether the show ends up playing the trope straight is up in the air though.
- The 2012 series Touch, in which a young boy appears to be able to sense patterns in the larger world through numbers, specifically calls out to the Chinese legend, though implies connections beyond just love (a person saving someone's life, a person having an object another person desires but wouldn't have met otherwise, etc.)
- The Irish band the Frames have a song called "Red Chord" on their album "Fitzcarraldo" that is based around this idea.
- The Civil Wars' song "Tip of My Tongue" references this.
You're a red stringTied to my fingerA little love letterI carry with me...
- The cellist and singer Kanon Wakeshima, has the song named: L'espoir ~Mahô no Akai Ito~ (The Hope, Magical Red String) the song talks about a girl trying to get a guy to love her and talks about the Red String as a trap for her love, the song opens with this verse:
This trap that I tended to youThis cherry colored threadFall inside, slave of my loveYou won't be able to escape
- The Red String of Fate is shown in the video for "Brilliant Star" by Nana Mizuki.
- The flash PV of IOSYS's Make Us Your Brides plays with the imagery by tying Marisa and Reimu to Suika.
- In the song "Adolescence" by the Vocaloids Kagamine Rin and Len, a mention is made about how it seems Rin and Len's hands are tied together with a thread.
- "Just Be Friends" by Vocaloid Megurine Luka. Most of the pictures have her and another boy tied together with a red string. Which just adds to the whole sadness of the video and the song...
- This video, using "Makka Na Ito" by Plastic Tree, which is about a couple joined by a red string who aren't together anymore, possibly implying that one of them is dead.
- Thievery Corporation's video for "That Time We Lost Our Way" has Lou Lou Ooldouz Ghelichkhani singing while following one, with Rob & Eric playing bongos & a squeezebox nearby.
- Root Five's video for "Love Doctor" shows the members tangled in red strings.
- "Are You Still Waiting" by Hee Young. She has a red string tied around her pinky at the start, and walks around the block to find the guy gone and the other end of the string on the ground.
- The picture book The Red Thread by the children's author and illustrator Grace Lin uses this trope to tell a fairy tale about adoption, of all things. In this case, it connects the adoptive parents and their child; magic glasses which enable the parents to see it allow them to find her. It's pretty sweet if you don't read this article first and end up thinking "Wait, isn't that the thing that they use to justify idiotic relationships in anime?"
- In 7th Sea, when a Fate Witch sees red strands between people with her sorte magic, those represent conflict (Swords). Blue actually represents romance (Cups).
- Changeling: The Lost uses red bands in a person's aura as a signifier of a pledge. When people who've made a pledge are near each other, the bands are connected with red threads.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the long-dead Apis shifters served as Gaia's matchmakers. One power of theirs let them see the red threads that bound people with a common destiny - though they couldn't tell whether it would be good or bad.
- The Pokémon games have a red ball of string as an item (called "Destiny Knot" in the English version). Appropriately, if the monster holding this item becomes infatuated, the foe that it "loves" will be infatuated as well.
- In the Anime based fighting game Naruto: Narutimate Hero Accel 2, the character of Chiyo has an Ougi where her attack puppets (Mother and Father, which are actually modified exhumed corpses) are joined by a literal red string, which is then used to viciously lacerate the opponent.
- Fatal Frame II uses a non-romantic variety for the Twin Shrine maidens and wardens. During the ritual, they have a thick, red cord as a sash that is tying the two twins together. It's meant to symbolize how they were originally one person, born as two during birth, and are about to 'become one' again. Flashbacks to Sae's ritual and herself show her being made to go through the ritual with her red cord torn, since Yae was not there.
- Tears to Tiara's Honest John's Dealership Epona has a mysterious red string worth 99999 gold for sale at her shop. It turns out that she was using it as Schmuck Bait to get the Player Character to buy it, as it has a Love Potion effect on the people it attaches. Yes, it's that kind of game.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. In an interesting bit of Foe Yay during their second battle, Ghirahim appears again to tell Link that the reason they keep bumping into each other is because they are bound by a red thread of fate; in the Japanese script, he is talking about this exact trope. He also gets behind Link, invading his personal space again, and whispers in his ear. He tells Link to come to him after licking his lips and says they're bound by that red thread of fate, that they're destined to fight. He also says that the thread of fate will be soaked crimson with Link's blood.
- Hyrule Warriors takes Ghirahim's mention of the red string and makes it a gameplay mechanic: his strong attack conjures a glowing red thread between himself and a nearby enemy, which powers up some of his moves when attacking the foe he's tied to.
- Gepetto from the Shadow Hearts series uses this literally as his ultimate weapon. It's acquired after his sidequest, where it's revealed that his dead daughter's soul lies within his puppet, saving him from a demon. The string manifests as their filial love; Her devotion to her father, and his to his daughter (For reference, he attacks with the puppet, and puppet strings are the weapons, adding attack power and the like)
- In the Yuri Genre Visual Novel Akai Ito, this is the literal translation of the title. In-game, when someone take Kei's blood (with her consent), there is a short FMV showing two blood-red sinusoidal wave synchronizing with each others into a straight line, showing adjoining of destiny. This even become a running gag in Yumei route!
- More gruesome literal example: When Uzuki accidentally slash Kei with her sword, the golden-scabbard katana Ito.
- The webcomic named, appropriately, Red String.
- Trolls think this. However, since troll romance is not just one type, but 4, there could a red string, a pale string, a black string, or an ashen string.
- Near the end of Act 6, a sprite half-version of Dave kisses Jade. She awakens to a note by Dave attached to her finger by a red string, with the note "missed ya." She goes to Dave and tells him he's a good kisser.
- In Ilivais X, Iriana created a Blood Oath bond with Mille, making the string out of each other’s blood in a kind of haphazard transfusion. Since every cell of Iriana is designed to return to her, this essentially means Mille will always innately know where she is and be drawn to that location.
- This lovely piece of art here. Perhaps not a traditional example, but it's there, and it's most likely romantic.
- Invoked Trope in Takotsubo: The story of a superhero. In a flashback, the Japanese-American Roland proposes to his Chinese-American boyfriend Cord using a red string. Cord's talking about it in a psych ward, after Roland's death in a carjacking. When he finishes the story, the male nurse Thad falls in love with him.
- This (mainly Furry Fandom) fan-animation set to "Two Birds" by Regina Spektor uses the red string to depict how the various character's lives are tied together.
- In contrast, a red string in India is usually a Rakhi and is a physical demonstration of a bond between a brother and sister. It can be tied to any boy a girl considers to be like her brother and is usually used effectively to kill unwanted romantic/love interests. The ramifications of an Indian girl trying this with a Japanese boy have yet to be explored.
- The Red String belief is so well known in Japan that this trope is invoked through linguistic gestures: holding up the thumb is used as shorthand for girlfriend and holding a pinky up would indicate a boyfriend.