This trope refers to a specific plot
that is Older than Dirt
. In it, two heroes
are intensely close friends
. Unfortunately, one of them (usually the one who's not the main character
) dies during the course of the story. The death has a profound effect on the remaining hero, and changes them forever.
It's important to note that
- The two cannot just be friends or acquaintances. They have to be REALLY close, and
- The character's death needs to be a huge turning point in the story.
As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime & Manga
- In Forrest Gump, Forrest and Bubba. After Bubba's death, Forrest fulfills his friend's lifelong dream by buying a shrimping boat.
- Several John Woo films
- Brian's Song: Brian Piccolo and Gayle Sayers (yes, he's male).
- An epic womance: the two female scientists from Volcano. The remaining scientist (Anne Heche) is that much more determined to convince FEMA that there's really a volcano starting in Los Angeles because her best friend died to prove it.
- Similarly, the death of her close friend and fellow CIA agent in the line of duty causes the main character of Zero Dark Thirty to adopt an It's Personal stance on the search for Bin Laden.
- Obi-wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker share this fate throughout the Star Wars saga.
- In Captain America: The First Avenger, this is the fate of James "Bucky" Barnes. This also follows the comics, though in the film Bucky and Steve are the same age, while in the comics Steve is older.
- Dead Poets Society has Neil and Todd who are roomates and best friends at 'Hellton'. Throughout the movie they support each other's fight against their controlling parents. Eventually Neil is cowed by his father and committs suicide, leaving Todd openly distraught and heartbroken.
- Happens due to KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN! in Star Trek II to Kirk, who has to watch as Spock dies. Of course, in the next movie Spock gets better, but at the time it was intended to stick.
- A version of this happens in X-Men: First Class, in which Magneto and Professor X form a close friendship, but ultimately part because of a major difference in ideals. Notably, neither is killed, though Xavier does sustain a permanent injury that leads to Magneto cradling his cripple.
- In Top Gun the death of Maverick's co-pilot and volleyball partner Goose is a major turning point in the characters life.
- Inverted in The Wind That Shakes The Barley with Damien and Teddy O'Donovan.
Live Action TV
- Sam and Dean Winchester manage to do this to one another multiple times. Dean is the ruling champion, but if it weren't for Sam's first major death the whole plot from the beginning of season three onward would not exist in any recognizable form.
- Getting him out of it caused Dean to die at the end of season three, which caused Sam to have a major character shift in the four months between then and when Dean got better again at the start of season four; and the combination of what the two of them did while Dean was dead set up the need for Sam to die at the end of season five. Dean followed Sam's "last request" to try and live a normal life, but was pissed when Sam shows up again and reveals he's been back for a while without telling him. Then it turned out Sam's soul was still stuck in Hell...
- Dean's 101 deaths during one season three episode hit Sam pretty hard, too, especially the one that last six months before the bastard undid it. And hence the title of reigning champion. Also the fact that he stayed dead the longest.
- Dean and Castiel over the course of seasons six and seven. After Cas's power-trip and ensuing "sacrifice", Dean spends half a season going through the motions like season-six-Buffy, unable to really care about himself or the state of the world, and only starting to recover after Castiel reappears.
"You know, I used to be able to just shake this stuff off. You know, whatever it was. It might take me some time, but... I always could. What Cas did... I just can't – I don't know why."
- Although Buffy gets better by the end of Season 6, Buffy and Willow between the season 5 finale and the season 6 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer totally fits this trope. Buffy's death causes Willow to go into a spiral of desperation and bargaining that eventually leads her into extremely morally ambiguous territory in her effort to resurrect her best friend, leads to her sliding into Drunk with Power, and emotionally sets her up for a Despair Event Horizon after her unrelated romantic tragedy one season later.
- Shut Up Flower Boy Band has one of the members of the titular band die in a tragic fashion. Being teenagers, the rest of the band doesn't take his death too well.
- Horatio and Archie's friendship in the Horatio Hornblower miniseries was extremely deep. They were together in purgatory (Horatio's first ship Justinian where they both got bullied and tormented by a sadistic midshipman), got separated and met again in hell, a Spanish prison when they both got tortured in a Punishment Box and Archie tried to starve himself. Horatio saved Archie's life when he nursed him back into health, and Archie saved Horatio's when he dragged him from an exploding bridge during a doomed mission in France. In "Retribution", Horatio is shattered by Archie's slow and painful death and his Heroic Sacrifice. However, the emotional fallout after Archie's death isn't explored overtly in the subsequent series, but Hornblower is obviously a man who is bitter and surly, without a pal who could make him show his more cheerful and pleasant side. note
- Merlin ends with Arthur dying in Merlin's arms and Merlin believing that he's failed in his destiny to protect him. Scant comfort is derived from his very close friendship with Guinevere Arthur's widow and the sole ruler of Camelot and the Great Dragon's promise that one day Arthur will return in the time of Britain's greatest need. A Flash Forward shows Merlin as a hobo in modern times, still waiting for Arthur's return.
- This seems to be a thing that happens towards the finale of many a Heisei-era Kamen Rider show between the protagonist and the deuteragonist.
- Kamen Rider Ryuki: In the second to last episode, Shinji/Ryuki is dealt a fatal wound by a group of Monsters and his death prompts Ren/Knight to attempt to become the Final Rider.
- In the 13 Riders special, the roles are reversed.
- Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki/Blade sacrifices his humanity to become a Joker Undead in the finale, but as a result, must separate himself from Hajime/Chalice.
- In The Movie, the roles are reversed with Hajime sacrificing himself in place of Kenzaki.
- Kamen Rider Double: Philip disappears at the conclusion of the second to last episode, leaving Shotaro to protect Futo as Kamen Rider Joker. Fortunately, Philip is revived in the final episode.
- Kamen Rider OOO: Ankh's Core Medal is cracked by Maki, but decides to help Eiji/OOO defeat the latter. After defeating Maki, Ankh dies, although his spirit is seen to follow Eiji.
- The Bible: David and Jonathan
- The Iliad: Achilles and Patroclus
- A Separate Peace: Gene and Finny
- The Great Gatsby: Nick and Gatsby, certainly by the end of the book.
- Landon Parke-Laine and Anton Next in the Thursday Next series. Especially tragic because Landon's testimony in the investigation of the events that killed Anton turned Anton's name to mud for all history.
- Sherlock Holmes and Watson, when Holmes apparently dies in The Final Problem. Luckily, he was just hiding.
- The Silmarillion: Turin and Beleg, immortalized in-universe by the "Song of the Great Bow." The tragedy is made even worse by the fact that Turin was the cause of Beleg's death!
- Dragon Lance: Raistlin's ascension to the tower of high sorcery leaves Caramon a drunken wreck for years. Without his brother, he felt completely unneeded. It is only after Raistlin actually dies that he is able to move on with his life.
- While Robert is no longer a main character by the third book in The Emigrants suite him and Arvid still fit this trope. Arvid's death on their way to California has a deep impact on Robert and he never recovers.
- Greek Mythology has Achilles and Patroclus. It's Patroclus' death that motivates Achilles to get out of his tent and kick some Trojan ass.
- Also Apollo and Hyacinth, who was an even bigger Pretty Boy than Apollo. Zeus was jealous that someone so beautiful was spending all his time with someone other than him, so he made the discus that Apollo had thrown slam into his head and kill him.
- Norse Mythology has Örvar-Oddr and Hjalmar.
- The oldest known legend in the world, The Epic of Gilgamesh, is one such tale. The whole story after the first act is about Gilgamesh's quest for immortality, to which he is driven by the death of his close friend and comrade Enkidu.
- Romeo and Juliet: Romeo and Mercutio.
- West Side Story: Tony and Riff
- Kristina från Duvemåla: Robert and Arvid. Robert's song about Arvid's death, "Gold Can Turn To Sand", is probably the saddest song in a musical that's filled to the brim with sad songs. Especially poignant in the original Swedish where Robert emphasizes Arvid's death as the exact moment when gold turned to sand.
- Female version in Wicked with Elphaba and Glinda. "Who can say if I've been changed for the better/but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
- Final Fantasy VII: Cloud and Zack
- Only touched upon in flashbacks during the game, but elaborated in other entries of the franchise such as Last Order, Crisis Core, and Advent Children.
- Something of an inversion in the game in which it is most important, Crisis Core, as Zack is the main character. The rest of the series plays this straight, of course.
- Persona 3: Shinjiro's death, from Akihiko's point of view. Bonus Points for the allusion to Castor and Pollux (see Mythology).
- Solid Snake and Gray Fox in Metal Gear 2, but properly explored in Metal Gear Solid, where it's shown Fox's death has broken Snake's heart when Fox Comes Back Wrong as a cyborg desperate to fight Snake to the death so he can find some peace.
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Sigurd and Eltshan.
- The Legend of Dragoon: Dart and Lavitz and boy is it a real Tear Jerker
- In Mass Effect Garrus seems to take Shepard's death this way, especially if you influenced him to be more Renegade in the first game. Following the destruction of the Normandy, he heads back to the Citadel, either to rejoin C-Sec or try to become a Spectre. Either way, after seeing the Council bury evidence of the Reapers and discredit everything Shepard did he decides he's finally had enough of the Citadel's bureaucracy and heads to the galaxy's Wretched Hive to try and fight crime at its source. This is especially sad if you take him back to Omega after you've recruited him and he notes that despite everything he did, he never actually make a difference.
- Avatar The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku. It's a twisted version since Sozin intentionally left Roku to die, although he regrets doing so by the time of his death.
- Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, who actually compared themselves to Achilles and Patroclus on more than one occasion, even laying wreaths on their respective graves at Troy.
- Historical evidence suggests that the two were lovers. That's just a bit past bromantic.