your team, Commander. With the Normandy destroyed and you gone, there wasn't much keeping us together."
A team falls apart after the heart
or their magnetic hero dies
, or ascends to a higher plane of existence
. Without his or her unifying influence, there isn't much holding them together anymore, so they drift apart to pursue their own endeavors.
We Cannot Go On Without You
is a video game-specific
subtrope, where the protagonist's death ends the game even if companions are still alive. Presumably they drift apart immediately
, without even stopping to use a Phoenix Down
If the hero comes back from the dead
, expect putting the band back together
. Compare the fellowship has ended
, when the team was held together by a unifying purpose rather than a particular member, and losing the team spirit
Be warned, this is often a death trope.
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Anime & Manga
- When Taichi was dragged back to the real world in Digimon Adventure, the time inconsistency meant that the remaining Chosen slowly split apart over the course of a month or so, partially of their own devices and partially because of the influence of PicoDevimon, to the point that Takeru and Tokomon, formerly very close, even got mad at and left each other. When he makes his way back, much of the next arc is him (and Sora, acting as a Mysterious Protector) trying to regroup the Chosen even as PicoDevimon continues trying to tear them apart.
- Pretty much the entire plot of Ano Hana The Flower We Saw That Day. A group of childhood friends drifted apart when they were young because one of them died, and now are slowly getting together after the appearance of the ghost of their dead friend.
- This, combined with other incidents, is what leads to most of Tenchi's gathering of girls to go off halfway through Tenchi in Tokyo. Once Washu figures out what's going on and Tenchi and Sasami end up in trouble, they start to return.
- In One Piece, the Sun pirates were a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits under Fisher Tiger who managed to keep different factions like the Arlong pirates and the Macro pirates under his control despite a precarious A House Divided situation. After Tiger's death, Jinbe became a new captain who was able to gain command of the crew for a while, but eventually the Sun pirates were disbanded.
- In Kingdom Come, it was Superman's retirement (after the death of Lois Lane, and the public favoring the Anti-Hero Magog over him) that caused most other heroes to also retire. Similarly his return years later inspires them to come back.
- In the "Breakdowns" arc of Justice League International, it was the ultimately unsuccessful assassination attempt on Maxwell Lord, which nevertheless left him in a coma, that broke up the team. The apparentnote death of Captain Atom, the field commander of the JLE, probably didn't help either. An interesting case, because neither man was particularly beloved by the team, but they were the ones who could impose some discipline and organization on a gang super-powered egomaniacs.
- Quite a few One Piece ones had the Straw Hats disbanding once their captain Luffy was gone.
- Also happens to a number of Sailor Moon fanfics that have Usagi gone or killed off.
- In Fallen King, Yugi kept his friends together. Tea points out at the end that if he were there, he wouldn't have let them split apart.
- In Herman Hesse's The Journey to the East, the tight-knit group H.H. is traveling with completely falls apart after their servant, Leo, disappears in Morbio Inferiore. H.H. later finds out that Leo was actually the League president all along, traveling with them in disguise. His disappearance was a Secret Test of Character which everyone in the group failed miserably.
Religion and Mythology
- In the New Testament, after Jesus is arrested and crucified, his disciples are scattered across Jerusalem, not knowing what to do next. Peter even denies ever knowing him (three times). However, then Jesus comes back and rounds them all up again. After his ascension, they once again split up to carry out his will and convert other countries.
- In Mass Effect 2, Commander Shepard's sheer magnetism kept the very mixed Normandy crew together even after the Saren crisis. When s/he was killed, however, they fell apart... See Joker's quote on that above. Shepard's return eventually draws almost all of them back together, aside from those who have other obligations like Wrex reforming the Krogan or Liara being the Shadow Broker. The bulk of Shepard's crew and whichever squadmate you chose to save on Virmire however left on other Alliance business and invoke What the Hell, Hero? for Shepard working for Cerberus.
- This is lampshaded late in the game, when Miranda points out that Shepard must have a magnetic personality and gobs of charisma to get so many people not just working together, but working together well, despite their misgivings about each other. In short, Shepard's superpower is their ability to engender trust and rally people.
- Happens again in Mass Effect 3, albeit for different reasons. After the events of the Arrival, Shepard turned themselves and the Normandy over to the Alliance and spent the next six months under house-arrest on Earth awaiting trial for causing the destruction of the Bahak System. The survivors of the Suicide Mission have again been scattered across the galaxy, with only Garrus, the Virmire Survivor, Liara and Tali able to rejoin your squad, while everyone else appears during side-quests or as playing important roles in the conflict at large.
- This happens to the Warden's companions in Dragon Age: Origins if s/he dies in the Final Battle. Of course, they still leave even if s/he survives.
- In Dragon Age II, after the events at the Gallows, Hawke and their companions are forced to flee Kirkwall and go their separate ways, with the exception of Hawke's Love Interest who joins them on the run.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, after the Player Character ventures alone into Unknown Space after the events of the game, the Ebon Hawk crew likewise falls apart, with only a few reappearing in the sequel.
- They didn't just fall apart; they were assigned to different tasks. Canderous was assigned to reform the Mandelorians, Carth is rebuilding the Republic military, and Bastila (and possibly the other Jedi) are rebuilding the shattered Jedi order in secret.
- In Persona 3: FES, the SEES members admit they've fallen apart, despite being dorm mates, after the events of the main campaign in which the main character died.
- Subverted with Persona 4. The group of heroes all stay together in spite of the protagonist leaving the town for awhile at the end of the game. And when he returns in Arena, and in The Golden's epilogue they all fall in as if he'd never left.
- This can happen in Football Manager and whilst it may seem like a weird example all the rules of this trope apply. If you resign or leave your club for whatever reason and you have built a good rapport with your staff then they may leave alongside you.
- In The Godfather 2 Michael Corleone discusses this, saying that Aldo Trapani was the only one holding the New York mob together. Sure enough, with his death, breakaway splinter groups have started to form.
- In Sid Meierís Alpha Centauri, Captain Garland was charismatic and magnetic enough to keep the incredibly diverse folk of the Unity together. When he dies before the game starts, all the factions fall apart.
- Several of the party members that the Nameless One can recruit in Planescape: Torment turn out to have accompanied at least one of his previous incarnations. Over the course of the game, they are drawn to him once again.
- This is what happen to the Teen Titans in the episode "How Long Is Forever" after Starfire disappears.
- In the one episode of Justice League, when it seems that Superman has been killed, the League briefly considers disbandment. Subverted twice: in the original timeline, they recruit Aquaman and stick around (but don't last long before being wiped out); and when Vandal Savage fixes the timeline, and Superman returns to his time, the League proceeds like they did before.
- In Spiderman The Animated Series, the Six Forgotten Heroes were implied to have been like this - after Captain America did a Heroic Sacrifice, they each went their separate ways, and most of them gave up superheroism eventually. Although the team is put back together by Spiderman, not Captain America.
- Done in an... interesting way in My Little Pony Equestria Girls. In the show proper, while it's implied that the rest of the Mane 6 knew each other prior to Twilight Sparkle's arrival, they didn't really get to know each other and become friends until Twilight pulled them all together. When Twilight enters the High School AU in Equestria Girls, she finds out that the human versions of the Mane 5 were friends until Alpha Bitch Sunset Shimmer manipulated them into breaking apart. Not two days after Twilight's arrival, the Humane 5 are once again friends.
- When the family head, usually the grandparents, die, very often the rest of the family will drift apart without the patriarch/matriarch keeping them together.