Playing With / Red String of Fate

Basic Trope: Character knows another character is their soulmate because a plot device connects to them. (Invisible red string, birthmarks, and timers are popular.)
  • Straight: Bob follows his invisible red string to Alice. They fall in love and live happily ever after.
  • Exaggerated: Bob has invisible red strings connected not just to Alice, but to Carol, Dan, Eve, Fred, and Ginny too. They are all his soulmates.
  • Downplayed: Bob loved Alice long before he knew their soulmate indentifier marks referred to each other and they would have married anyways.
  • Justified: Cupid appears as a character in universe and actually goes around tying red strings between fingers, programming timers, or painting names on wrists.
  • Inverted:
    • Everyone is born with another person’s name on their wrist but this is just an accident of bizarre biology and doesn’t indicate any potential relationship.
    • Padma, who thinks of Raj as her brother, ties a symbolic red string around Raj’s wrist to represent their affectionate but non-romantic bond.
  • Subverted: Bob was born with the name Alice on his wrist in mauve script and he meets and dates an Alice who was born with the name Bob on her wrist in mauve too but after a series of spectacular fights, they agree they aren’t right for each other and break up.
  • Double Subverted: …Only for circumstances to force them together again whereby they fall in love and end up getting married.
  • Parodied: Bob and Alice are secret agents and nationalist zealots of two rival countries sent to kill each other only to have their soul mate-identitfing timers go off at the last minute. They are horrified, but then their eyes meet and they know they can't fight fate so they head for the nearest wedding chapel, then live happily ever after (but not without casual attempts at assassination like poisoned tea and spring-loaded knives in the furniture).
  • Zig Zagged: Bob follows his red string to find Alice, his soulmate, only to realize their families are long-time enemies leading them to promptly try to kill each other. But while laid up in the hospital recovering from their wounds, they decide they are Star-Crossed Lovers and run straight for the nearest wedding chapel… Only to learn they do not get along when not handcuffed to distant hospital beds so they ask for a divorce.
  • Averted:
    • There is no helpful hint to point out your soulmate to you.
    • There is no such thing as soulmates.
  • Enforced: Bob and Alice have been bitter rivals for the first seven seasons of Tropeville until a zealous Bob/Alice shipper joins the staff and season 8 opens with references to mysterious birthmarks Bob and Alice have had all along that, when revealed, convince Bob and Alice they are soulmates and must give love a chance.
  • Lampshaded: When Bob and Alice cross paths in the street one day by chance, their Magitek soulmate detectors go off. Recognizing the significance, they stop to speak with one another and Bob remarks “Isn’t it a good thing we had these detectors, or we would have walked right by and never known we were perfect for each other.”
  • Invoked: Bob really wants a date with Alice so attempts to convince her that there is an invisible Red String of Fate connecting them together.
  • Exploited:
    • A poor charcoal burner knows that soulmates in his universe have matching mysterious birthmarks to help them find each other so when he rescues a child in the forest and wins a boon from her fairy godmother, he asks for a birthmark to match the Crown Prince’s.
    • Bob really wants a date with Luddite Alice, so he puts on a convincing fake of the timers that many people (but not Alice) wear to alert them when they’ve met their soulmate and sets it to go off when he knows he’s going to run into her at the coffee shop so Alice will believe she is really his soulmate.
  • Defied: Bob is a deeply-flawed Anti-Hero who has wondered about his soulmate since the picture of a wolf eating the sun appeared on his wrist as a child, but when he discovers his archenemy, Alice, has, without knowledge of Bob’s mark, taken this as her personal emblem and therefore must be his soulmate, Bob decides he will continue to work to destroy her.
  • Discussed: Bob is set up on a blind date with Alice and when they get to talking, they realize they have the nearly identical birthmarks. Bob jokingly asks if this makes them soulmates.
  • Conversed: In an episode of Tropeville, Alice is seen sobbing into a handkerchief while reading a romance novel. When Bob asks her what’s wrong, she cries, “Carol just met her soulmate by following their Red String of Fate right to his doorstep and now they’re going to live happily ever after. Why can’t my life be like that?”
  • Deconstructed: In a world where everyone has a soulmate identified by their matching soulmate marks, the main characters question whether it is right to allow the marks to dictate their lives and loves. The cultural implication of soulmarks are explored with emphasis on the repressive nature of not being allowed to pick who you marry or if you will marry.
  • Reconstructed: The entity that assigns red strings of fate can identify what kind of person would be an ideal partner - in essence, they choose who the person would have chosen to be with anyway. This speeds up the process and helps to cut down on relationship angst.

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