"We are all connected" isn't just hippie-dippie jargon; in Fictionland it's a universal constant like gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. In a narrative with Loads and Loads of Characters
(or even as few as two), these will invariably be drawn together
no matter how far away or distinct the characters and their troubles are. They probably won't stick together as strongly as the Character Magnetic Team
, but what ends up happening is that everyone meets at least once and they build at least a working relationship. Essentially, every character works on a different aspect of the plot; while one tracks down the mysterious Woman in White
, another fights the killer after her, and a third is trying to find out where the killer gets his orders from.
This can culminate in Season Finales
where the characters (either by their own plans or serendipity) come together to beat the Big Bad
. Otherwise, expect to see a lot of Right Hand Versus Left Hand
struggles as the decentralized cast often struggles against each other as much as with the villains.
The series might justify this with these characters having an interwoven "fate", or their alikeness (super powers, being supernaturals, street fighters, card duelists or what have you) naturally draw them to each other. Now, if it turns out they're all significant to each other before
the story starts, you're looking at One Degree of Separation
. If they all stick together after meeting, then they form a Character Magnetic Team
Related to the Law of Conservation of Detail
and the Anthropic Principle
— if they weren't part of a coherent story the author wanted to tell, they wouldn't have been included in the work.
Sometimes occurs because Everyone Is Related
, other times everyone shared a Mass Super-Empowering Event
. See also Hyperlink Story
, Debut Queue
, and Connected All Along
Compare Fate Drives Us Together
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Anime and Manga
- Similarly Baccano!. which is written by the same author but set in prohibition-era America. Most of the characters are or are at least connected to gangsters though.
- In Chobits Hideki's landlady was apparently one of the creators of Chii. Fridge Logic maybe she purposefully placed Chii in his path?
- In Ranma Ĺ there certainly are times when Ryoga clearly arrives in Nerima by accident. However, there are definitely other times when he appears at a coincidentally perfect time to take part in the adventure. Please consider his appearance in the cave special. Ukyo has about ten seconds to find a guy to go in with other than Ranma, cue Ryoga entering in that exact time span.
- The cast of Get Backers is an assortment of freelancers who retrieve things, transport things, find things out, etc. for a living, plus some of their friends and enemies. Most storylines involve the Get Backers themselves, Ban and Ginji, taking a job and coincidentally running into at least two other main characters (fellow retriever Shido, information-seeker Kazuki, transporters Himiko and Akabane), plus any other sidekick, friend or associate that might accompany them (third transporter Maguruma, Kazuki's friends Juubei and Toshiki, Shido's friend Emishi). The vast majority of these characters have met at least once, on a particularly dangerous job to retrieve a component of a nuclear bomb or the job to rescue Shido's girlfriend. Maybe half of them are former members of Ginji's street gang, Volts, and all of the main six, plus current New Volts leader Makubex, have some kind of link to the series' Myth Arc.
- Madlax has several storylines gradually converging into one by episode 18 or so, and it suddenly turns out that all the seemingly unrelated main characters are connected to Margaret in some way.
- Grant Morrison plays with this in his Seven Soldiers: Each of the titular seven protagonists' stories brings them against the same foe, even though the characters themselvesnote never meet.
- The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic from IDW uses this heavily. April O'Neil is an intern at Baxter Stockman's company, where Splinter and the turtles are created. Stockman is working for Krang, and one of the scientists under him is a double agent for the Shredder, most of which is established in the first issue, which also brings Casey Jones into the mix. And it extends from there, but there's pretty much no character or plot element that doesn't tie back to at least three others.
- Star Wars. Oh, Star Wars... If you're not a Jedi, a Jedi's close friend, or take orders from a Jedi, you're welcome to live a normal, unremarkable life. If you are one of those things, you will be dragged into an intergalactic war with the Sith. Eventually you will be packed into a small area for the final bit of Rising Action before the Climactic Fight Scene with every other named character who fits this description. This will play out the same way regardless of any qualifications any of you may or may not have about fighting evil robots and space ninjas. The only thing more powerful than the Force in a galaxy far, far away is coincidence. (Although considering that The Force flows through everything, they may be one and the same.)
- Lampshaded in Star Trek, with Spock's mention of the "Hands of fate" that led the Enterprise crew to completion.
- Valentine's Day had this as their main gimmick, but it manages to play off as a bit more realistic than at first glance, due to not all "connections" being particularly plot important or advertised.
- In Whats Up Doc, all of the owners of the four handbags, plus their various friends, associates, and loved ones, find themselves staying at exactly the same hotel. This leads to what is possibly the best chase scene in cinema history.
- In Final Destination 2, five of the characters realise that they have previously cheated death by accident, and each case was the result of one of the deaths in the first film - the reason why they have been targeted this time.
- In Transformers, the three separate subplots involving Lennox's team, the NSA hackers, and Sam and Mikaela (as well as the main plot about, y'know, the giant robots) all converge when everyone is assembled at the Hoover Dam for the final battle.
- Parodied in a scene from Hot Shots: Turns out pretty much all the trainee pilots are connected in some way, due to an incident involving Hartman's father being mistaken for a deer.
- Lampshaded and played straight during Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time: Rand al'Thor tends to bring in other ta'veren (an in-world term for people around whom destiny works). Destiny exists in the world, but so do free will and random chance, and the way it's possible for all three to be real is that destiny doesn't actively push anything around unless a ta'veren is nearby, at which point people will make crazily impulsive major decisions out of the blue and freakishly lucky (or unlucky) flukes of chance will happen regularly. Three of the main characters are ta'veren. The book begins in their home village, along with two of their peers (special in another way) and a visiting magic-user. Those six people get broken up partway through the first book and reunited near the end in a justified way (the magic-user was looking for the rest), then broken up again early in the second book and reunited in a very You ALL Share My Story way at the end of the third. Only two of them at most have been together at any time since early in the fourth book. It's now on book 12 and there are hundreds of characters, most of whom have met two or three of the main characters even if they don't know it.
- Charles Dickens loves this trope. Bleak House is the crowning example: there are over eighty characters, all of whom turn out to be essential to the denouement. Oliver Twist, Little Dorrit, etc. also heavily participate in this structure.
- Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, lampshades this in Moving Pictures:
Reality is a quality that things possess in the same way they possess, say, weight. Some people are more real than others, for example. It has been estimated that there are only 500 real people on any given planet, which is why they keep unexpectedly running into one another all the time.
- His friend Neil Gaiman elaborated on this in Anansi Boys:
It is a small world.You donít have to live in it particularly long to learn that for yourself. There is a theory that in the whole world there are only 500 real people—the cast, as it were. All the rest of the people, the theory suggests, are extras. And what is more, they all know each other. And itís true. Or true as far as it goes. In reality the world is made of thousands upon thousands groups of about 500 people, all of whom will spend their lives bumping into each other, trying to avoid each other, and discovering each other in the same unlikely teashop in Vancouver. There is an unavoidability to this process. It is not even a coincidence. Itís just the way the world works, with no regard for individuals or for propriety.
- It's a major tenet of the fictional religion Bokononism in Cat's Cradle, called a karass. Lampshaded by the narrator at one point when a near-stranger shows him a collection of photos; he reflects later that they were all part of his karass, their fate being to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
- Effectively averted (so far) in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire - there will often be two or more viewpoint characters sharing a few scenes (particularly at major gatherings like weddings and tournaments), but characters wander away from one another just as often as they meet up, and there hasn't yet been a single gathering of all (or even most) if the main characters.
- Didn't the opening chapters of Game of Thrones have pretty much every POV character (in that book) except Dany in Winterfell?
- Justified, since they were all related by blood or marriage to Eddard Stark or Robert Baratheon, who in turn were old friends and fought together during Robert's ascension. Also, a fair portion (Jon, Bran, Arya, Sansa) are still children and would be expected to be living with their parents. While they might all have been conspicuously in the same place, at least there are reasons for it.
- As of A Feast for Crows, Samwell Tarly, close friend of Heroic Bastard Jon Snow, has met Jon's younger brother Bran, whom he knew of, and his younger sister Arya, though neither knew who the other was. And, as of A Dance with Dragons, several POV characters are set to meet up in pursuit of Daenerys Targaryen.
- Many characters in The Father Luke Wolfe Trilogy who Father Wolfe encounters are either his own former students, or the parents of former or present students.
- The many different plot threads in Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained all follow different characters who, through one way or another, end up working against the Big Bad.
- Many of the characters in A Confederacy of Dunces are completely unrelated until a comical convergence of events at the end.
- Cloud Atlas presents an unusual example. There are six stories, taking place at different times in the same history. Each stories makes a cameo in the next segment, but otherwise they are only related to each other through symbolism and parallelism.
- And possibly through the protagonist in each story (not always the Point-of-View character) being the same soul, reincarnated over and over.
- The film takes this even further, with many of the actors playing side characters reappearing in each time period as different characters with different relationships to each other and the main characters.
Live Action TV
- The first season of Heroes had this as a major theme, with all the divergent characters slowly coming together over the course of the story, culminating with all the characters' paths lead them to converge at Kirby Plaza for the final showdown to save the world from Sylar. Unfortunately, the later seasons seem to be trying way too hard to resist this trope, with increasingly illogical results. After coming together through S1, by S2 they're all scattered and many of them seem to have forgotten they know each other (literally in Peter's case) and from there on in they're always encountering problems they could solve if they just called in someone they know, and nine times out of ten they don't.
- In Season 1, Mohinder (and Future!Hiro) both hypothesized that this is an implied side effect of having a superpower.
- This doesn't even mention that virtually the entire cast is either a Petrelli or otherwise a relative of a Company member.
- Love Soup's premise is based on the exact opposite. We have Alice and Gil, two Londoners who would be perfect for each other - if they knew they other existed. In the final episode you can see them sitting in the same theater without noticing each other - even though they are the only ones not laughing.
- Doctor Who: Lampshaded by the Doctor in "The End Of Time Part 1"; he has just realised that The Master has come Back from the Dead and is amazed that Wilf has been able to find him in the space of a day, where some people can spend years searching for him. Also happens with Donna in "Partners in Crime", so that the Doctor suspects that the Noble family have a very important role to play in events to come.
- Once Upon a Time does this with story book characters. Snow White's story intersects with Red Riding Hood's, King Midas's daughter was supposed to marry Prince Charming, Charming and Snow are friends with Cinderella and her prince, Hansel and Gretel retrieved the poison apple for the Evil Queen, Belle helps Grumpy, Mulan fights alongside Prince Phillip, Rumplestiltskin is just everywhere...
- Averted on True Blood due to the Loads and Loads of Characters and multiple sub-plots. Seasons 2 and 4 came the closest to involving all the main characters, but even then, there were a couple missing (Eric and Pam had nothing to do with Maryanne in Season 2; Sam had nothing to do with Marnie in Season 4).
- Final Fantasy VIII, where it's revealed that Squall, Selphie, Seifer, Quistis, Irvine, and Zell were at the same orphanage when they were little kids and have all forgotten about it. Well, except Irvine—that's how they figured it out in the first place.
- While Rinoa wasn't from the orphanage, but she did have a relationship with Seifer. She is also the daughter of of Julia, who was Squall's father's crush, and another man born after Laguna, Squall's father, was presumed dead.
- And in Final Fantasy XIII, as everyone is drawn to the same place (the Pulse Fal'Cie Anima) through half a dozen different motivations: Lightning and Snow want to save Serah, who was abducted by Anima; Hope wants to kill Snow for leading his mother to her death in the clashes against the police during the Purge; Vanille hopes to find Fang, from whom she was separated soon after their awakening from crystal stasis by Anima; Sazh just tags along with Lightning because he has no real drive in life ever since his son was turned into a l'Cie by a Cocoon Fal'Cie as its defense mechanism against the intruding Pulse l'Cie—namely, Vanille and Fang. Lastly, Fang makes an Early-Bird Cameo in flashback cutscenes, interacting with Lightning and Snow before the Purge, and is basically driven by the desire to reunite with her fellow Pulse l'Cie Vanille, though she enlists the help of the military opposed to the Purge.
- The main cast of Final Fantasy XII: Ashe; a princess who lost her kingdom to invaders, Basch; the man who took the fall for the invasion, Balthier; outlaw Sky Pirate and son of one of the architects of the invasion, Penelo; a young girl who lost her entire family to the war, Vaan; who lost his older brother to the invasion and Fran, Balthier's partner who remains level headed and reminds the rest that the world is a lot bigger than their petty squabbles.
- The five playable characters of Odin Sphere (plus one very important NPC) run into each other all the time, and all wind up fighting to prevent Armageddon by the end of the game, though said NPC winds up becoming the first member of the Armageddon book's Boss Rush. Also, they all end up being related in some way or other (Gwendolyn and Velvet are sisters, Cornelius and Oswald are cousins, etc.)
- During the first part of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link helps a number of characters of various races in their homelands. Seven years later, the majority of them discover that they are actually the sages of various elements. While exceptions exist, the pattern is sufficiently established that, when Link goes back to his youth and meets Nabooru, the player can easily guess that the same thing will happen to her.
- Hotel Dusk: Room 215: Every single person checked into the hotel has SOME connection to Kyle's search for Bradley. Every. Last. One. Well, Room 215 is called the wish room...
- The majority of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, particularly Sonic Adventures 1 and 2, had Sonic and the other playable characters take separate routes, each relating to their respective arcs, only for all of them to intersect in an unlockable final-storyline.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep had the three friends, including Terra, Ventus, and Aqua all take seperate routes that intersect with each other. However, their stories would also intersect with Sora's, as it's revealed in the unlockable Blank Points ending that Sora would be the one to save Terra from Xehanort's control, Ventus from his comatose-state, and Aqua from the Realm of Darkness.
- While Mass Effect 2 only takes place through Shepard's perspective, much like the original, that doesn't excuse the fact that the sequel was actually an anthology of ten-to-twelve character-stories, with each story relating to one of Shepard's teammates and their respective backstories. These stories are told through recruitment-missions, conversations with them on the Normandy SR-2, and most of all, the loyalty-missions, which increases Shepard's team's odds of surviving the final suicide-mission.
- Really, throughout the Mass Effect saga, Shepard has been collecting, through happenstance and manipulation, an army of people who all basically share his/her story: with very few exceptions, they all were born into relatively unassuming circumstances, grew to a relative amount of fame in their chosen domains, and were then swept up in the plotline through no real fault of their own. It's not so surprising, really, given how the universe works; the same peaks of evolution, the same valleys of dissolution....
- The first two Golden Sun games for the Game Boy Advance told the same story through two characters' perspectives, one per game. The first Golden Sun was about Isaac, as he quested to stop Felix from restoring alchemy to the land of Weyard. Meanwhile, the second game, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, was about Felix, as he quested to restore alchemy to Weyard before Isaac could stop him.
- This is the culmination of four games worth of metaplot in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. The ending reveals for the first time precisely how AltaÔr ibn La-Ahad, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, and Desmond Miles are related: a single shared moment when the three Assassins bridge the gap between the 13th, 16th, and 21st centuries and thereby allow Those Who Came Before to communicate across time to share their secret message.
- In Ghost Trick, every single character is somehow connected to the backstory. The two strange inmates? They were manipulated by Yomiel. The lady detective's young roommate? Her father was indirectly the cause of Yomiel being made immortal. In some cases it's justified, as Yomiel is using that night as his last chance to get revenge on everyone.
- Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn invokes this. Part one features Micaiah and the Dawn Brigade as they seek to emancipate Daein from Begnion repression. Part two features Queen Elincia of Crimea dealing with a rebellion in her country, and part three focuses on the hero Ike and the war between Begnion and the Laguz Alliance. All their paths converge for the final part, as all groups join to fight the Goddess Ashera and restore the world.
- Namco X Capcom separates the franchises whose characters are involved in the crossover into five shared realms (as opposed to each franchise having its own world like the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games generally imply), and everyone within each realm seems to already know or at least know of each other beforehand.
- The cast of Dept Heaven Apocrypha has developed a tendency to become either distantly or directly involved in each others problems. Characters whose plots haven't fully begun yet like Monica and Meria are especially prone to this.
- In Noob, a One Degree of Separation pocket existed between the Noob guild and FantŲm's team before Gaea joined the former, making their members running into each other quite frequent. Over the course of the story, pre-existing (or formed early) connections of a given group frequently end up having some kind of influence on the story of a member of the other.
- Guru Pathik of Avatar: The Last Airbender says that "Separation is an illusion" and that everything/everyone is connected.
- Done in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", where Rainbow Dash's first successful Sonic Rainboom is revealed to be indirectly responsible for all of her future friends (and herself) getting their cutie marks. They wouldn't realize this until they all met years later.
- Technically, the only reason Rainbow Dash performed the Sonic Rainboom is because Fluttershy was getting picked on by some bullies. So, it was Fluttershy all along.
- To clarify for non-fans of the show:
- Rainbow Dash: Performs the Sonic Rainboom in a race to shut up the school bullies, revealing her special talent to be high-speed flying.
- Rarity: Her magic drags her out to the middle of nowhere, stopping in front of a giant rock. The shockwave from the Sonic Rainboom cracks open the rock, revealing the gems inside. She reaizes that this, plus her previous attempts at seamstressing, must be fate. Unicorn magic doesn't just come alive on its own and drag the unicorn somewhere, after all. This is confirmed as her Cutie Mark (jewelcrafting) appears.
- Applejack: Depressed with her new, high-class life with her wealthy aunt and uncle, she is gazing off into the distance when a sudden flash of color in the sky (the Sonic Rainboom) causes her to look up...and see her hometown, Ponyville, in the distance. She decides that the socialite life is not for her, and realizes that the family farm is where she belongs.
- Fluttershy: Having fallen from Cloudsdale to a strange and foreboding place (the Everfree Forest), she is initially terrified. But the surrounding animals, spooked by the sudden noise from the Sonic Rainboom, are even more afraid. Fluttershy takes it upon herself to soothe the frightened animals, and in doing so, realizes she has a certain knack for this, as shown by her newly-appearing Cutie Mark.
- Twilight: She is attempting to hatch a dragon egg using magic, which is the entrance exam to Princess Celestia's School For Gifted Unicorns. Due to her anxiety, she chokes, and can't seem to use any magic at all. The sudden BOOM of the Sonic Rainboom causes her to panic, subconsciously opening the floodgates to her magic, not only hatching the egg and causing the dragon inside to grow huge, but turning her parents into potted plants and nearly destroying the Academy due to Power Incontinence. Princess Celestia intervenes, and noticing that Twiight has incredible magical potential, takes her on as her personal student.
- Pinkie Pie: Having worked on a depressingly gray and dreary rock farm all her life, Pinkie wishes there was...something more. Something to brighten the day, just for a little bit. The Sonic Rainboom, with its sudden rush of color and sound, snaps Pinkie out of her depression, causing her to smile, really smile for the very first time. This inspires her to spread this newfound cheer wherever she can. The first thing she can think of is to throw a party, which leads to her Cutie Mark!
- Phineas and Ferb basically runs on this. The lives of titular step-brothers, Perry the Platypus, and Dr. Doofenshmirtz, are constantly interwoven, often affecting each other without fail. The only character out of the four mentioned that is involved with all of the other three is Perry, Pet to Phineas and Ferb, Nemesis to Dr. D, and is basically in the middle of all the mayhem. Phineas and Ferb don't even meet Doofenshmirtz until The Movie, and even then they get their memories erased of the whole thing.