A stock visual metaphor, if you will. Some people (usually a man and woman pair) are separated by a wall, window, or other barrier. The wall is obviously an obstacle, but not the whole of the obstacle; the couple are prevented from uniting by some other means which the wall represents, either a physical cage or cell of some sort, or some form of emotional separation, like a relationship problem.
In order to make the best of this image, the couple will often press their heads against the same spot of the wall, on opposite ends, and the camera will move around the set to show that they are physically very near to each other, but still incapable of touching. If the couple is lucky, they will have a small hole or window
to communicate through.
Not to be confused with any variation of the Fourth Wall
See Closed Door Rapport
for when one party tries to talk to the other after being shut out. See also Window Love
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Anime and Manga
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, clone!Sakura and Syaoran are trapped in the same container but have a glass wall separating them. It was the price they paid to save their son, to be imprisoned and unable to touch each other.
- There's one scene in the second arc of PokÚmon Special. Red has just shown up, and Yellow and his Pika, who have been searching for him, frantically beat at the strange, one-way mirror wall hoping to get his attention. They don't.
- Dragonaut deserves mention here, during the episode in which Toa has gotten briefly captured by Prince Asim Jamar and Jin goes to rescue her.
- In one chapter of Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka goes into the home of a student whose parents are having trouble with their marriage, and proceeds to knock down the wall between the student's room and her parents' room to make a point.
- In episode 5 of anime Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, Kaito has a meeting with the mermaid Lucia (who he doesn't recognize) when she was in an aquarium and he on the outside. She begs him to find her soon since she cannot tell him who she is unless he figures out himself. Then they kiss with their lips and hands touching the glass.
- In Raven Child's The Smurfette Village's third story "How Things Smurf", Hefty, Brainy, Baby, the Smurflings, and the Smurfettes who were with them are trapped outside the village by a magical force field Papa Smurf erected to keep a dangerous Smurf-infecting disease from spreading. Through the barrier, the Smurfs on the outside talk to the few Smurfs that are still barely alive to find out what had happened.
- In the 1978 film Midnight Express, Susan presses herself against the glass separating her from Billy.
- Pyramus and Thisbe, who can only communicate through the literal wall separating their parent's properties. It comes from The Metamorphoses by the Roman writer Ovid, making this trope Older Than Feudalism.
- In a nod to Pyramus & Thisbe there is something similar going on in the Astrid Lindgren book Ronja the Robber's Daughter although no one dies, and the kids aren't exactly romantically involved.
- In The Count of Monte Cristo, Maximilien and Valentine, another pair of star-crossed lovers also have to communicate through a hole in the wall; the chapter is titled "Pyramus and Thisbe".
- A married couple in Everything Is Illuminated sleep in separate rooms after the husband becomes prone to violent outburst following a head injury. From then on, the couple only communicate through a hole in the wall... although they "communicate" a few children through it, too. Um...
- Jayfeather and Half Moon from Warrior Cats. Several hundred cat years apart, plus one stinking prophecy. Need we say anymore?
- Let the Right One In: Eli and Oskar live in neighboring apartments and communicate through the wall using Morse code. The Film of the Book uses the visual motif for other things like the door to Eli's apartment and them watching each other through windows.
- The Perilous Gard: Fellow prisoners Kate and Christopher start out as bickering foils, but get to know each other extremely well while talking through a cell wall in total darkness.
- In the season 2 finale of Doctor Who, the Doctor and Rose press themselves against the same wall, which unfortunately happens to be in different universes for each of them. So they manage to occupy the same spot while still being unable to communicate or connect.
- Pushing Daisies does this with Ned and Chuck, representative of the fact that they are unable to touch each other. He's lying on the couch in the living room and she's in the bedroom around the corner.
- Jack and Kate do this on LOST when they are captives of the Others and being held separately, after she is brought in to see him while he is being held in a room with a glass wall.
- In the Stargate SG-1 season 4 episode "Upgrades", Carter and O'Neill are stuck on opposite sides of a force field when the bracelets giving them superpowers fail and the place is about to explode. This sets up everything in "Divide and Conquer".
- In Fresh Meat Howard's and Josie's rooms are separated by a thin plaster board. A little bonus, there's a glory hole through which they sometimes talk through. Howard even does a piece of interpretive drama about this predicament entitled "Wall Man".
- Lee Adama and Kara Thrace end up sitting back-to-back against a firing-range barrier in Battlestar Galactica in a scene which ends with him telling her he loves her.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One of the more romantic scenes in the otherwise Destructive Romance between Buffy and Spike in Season 6 is when Buffy, patrolling the cemetery, is drawn to Spike's crypt. Spike's vampire Spider-Sense tips him to her presence and he touches the stone door, anticipating her entry, as Buffy does the same thing from the opposite side. But when Spike pulls open the door Buffy has already fled.
- On The Borgias, one of Cesare's early meetings with Ursula (the main image) is in a Confessional during which much is made of the wall between them.
- On The Vampire Diaries, in season four, Stefan and Elena are locked in separate prison cells after being captured by vampire hunters. A wall separates Stefan and Elena from being able to see each other. Stefan and Elena start to confess how much they love each other and Elena that she had chosen Stefan before she had drowned and died. Elena then tells Stefan that "she really wishes she could see him right now" while placing her hand on the wall as a form of communication with Stefan, suggesting that she is desperate to see him. Stefan then tells Elena through the cell wall: "I'm smiling".
- Pink Floyd's The Wall, obviously.
- The cover◊ to George Harrison's album Wonderwall Music. (Note the hole in the wall).
- According to some, David Bowie's "Heroes" has two lovers separated by the Berlin Wall, which is fine as far as it goes. However, Bowie himself would tell you that it's actually an aversion; the Wall isn't separating the lovers, but rather serves as a meeting place for them.
- In detail: his actual inspiration (as it turns out) was his (American) producer Tony Visconti embracing his (West German) mistress Antonia Maa▀ in front of the Wall (both safely living on the Western side, thank you very much). This (it seems) they regarded as quasi-heroic: love next to a symbol of oppression, how romantic! Bowie wasn't impressed (the lyrics are actually quite ironic when you think about it, particularly when you consider the scare quotes around the title), not least because the studio in question was the famous Hansa-by-the-Wall, which was exactly what it said it was: right next to the Wall. In other words: (1) Dude, you're cheating on your wife and (2) you pretend it's all heroic and crap because you're doing it next to the Berlin Wall...but you work next to the Berlin Wall. Stop fooling yourself.
- The video for the Marillion song "Kayleigh," on the other hand, definitely plays this straight, again with the Berlin Wall.
- Featured in the "Walking After You" video by the Foo Fighters
- Parodied with Pyramus and Thisbe from A Midsummer Night's Dream, star-crossed lovers who have only a hole in the wall to talk (and indirectly kiss) through. It should be noted that the wall is a speaking part.
- The entire first act of The Fantasticks, in which two lovers are prevented from seeing each other due to their parents wishes.
- A crucial scene between Alexander and Cassima in King's Quest VI happens this way, down to the two-shot.
- In The Second Reproduction, one of Lezette's CGs features him and Christina communicating through the church's wall.
- Draw With Me is a textbook example of this, but they find a way to communicate anyways.
- Billy and Penny in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Though it's worth noting that they're actually leaning against different walls, but camera tricks make it appear like just one wall.
- An old, 90's era CGI short film had a globe/universe divided into sky and ocean by a solid crystal barrier. A school of fish swam beneath and a flock of birds flew above. When one fish and bird see each other, they become friends/fall in love, but are frustrated by the crystal separating them. The bird flies to the highest reaches of the sphere and dives down, crashing through the crystal and allowing all the other birds and fish to mingle. The fish who fell in love nudges the prone body, hoping for life, when thankfully the bird perks up and they both embrace face to face.
- That scene in The Simpsons Movie count when the family escapes from the dome Springfield has been put in and Lisa is separated from her love interest (although they could still see each other).
- The scene in Dumbo when he goes to visit his mother at the cage. She can't go far enough to see him through the window, but they can touch trunks and she even manages to cradle him. sniff
- In The Smurfs episode "Unsound Smurfs", the Smurflings and Puppy are trapped outside the village when Brainy casts a spell that casts an unbreakable soundproof barrier around the village. Fortunately, because the Smurfs obtained the Chekhov's Skill of sign language from Laconia, they were able to communicate with each other in order to tell the Smurflings what they must do to break the barrier.
- In the vein of David Bowie's song further up the page, this tended to happen a lot when the Berlin Wall was up. In a History Channel documentary covering this time period and people who tried to get across, about half (at least) of the stories were the Zany Schemes couples came up with to get one or the other to West Berlin.