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Pen Pals

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Two characters who grow close to each other through written correspondence.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
ginsengaddict on Dec 30th 2017 at 3:42:43 PM
Last Edited By:
ginsengaddict on Jan 8th 2018 at 12:22:31 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/writing_on_paper_e1412114462112.jpg
Sincerely Yours...

"Letter writing can be seen as a gift because someone has taken his/her time to write and think and express love"
-Hon. Soraya Diase Coffelt

Writing is one of the oldest forms of long distance communication. And unlike the oral tradition form of communication which came before it, writing is not ephemeral; words on a page or tablet or screen don't fade from memory as easily as spoken words. Written words are eternal. As such, there is something deeply intimate or personal about writing letters back and forth.

This is even applicable to modern forms of written communication, such as email and text messages.

See also Epistolary Novel.

Not to be confused with the Sharon Dennis Wyeth series or the Star Trek: TNG episode of the same name.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • Nanoha and Fate sent each other video letters for the six months between the first and second seasons of Lyrical Nanoha since Fate wasn't allowed to contact anyone in real time until her trial concluded.

    Comics 
  • Peanuts: Charlie Brown often wrote letters to his "pencil pal". It is unknown whether the pencil pal ever wrote back.
  • Pugad Baboy has Kules Sungcal who writes with penpals who claim to be attractive women, but are comedically not. When he switches to e-mail, he told his colleague 'Adre about "email pals" or "e-pals" about it, by which 'Adre replies "epal", which is a Filipino term for Attention Whore; Kules softens it to "e-mail buddies" instead.

     Fan Fiction 

    Film - Live Action 
  • A Cinderella Story: The two leads, despite being from different social circles, fall in love with each other via anonymous text messages.
  • The Lake House: A woman and a man send letters to each other using a mailbox in front of their homes. The twist: they live in the same home, but they're separated in time by two years: the man lived in the house two years before the woman moved in.
  • The Shop Around the Corner: James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are coworkers in a leather goods store who snipe at each other, neither knowing that they are falling in love as anonymous pen pals.
  • You've Got M@il: The two leads, despite being adversaries in real life, fall in love with each other via anonymous email. A modern remake the above Shop Around the Corner.

    Literature 
  • Artemis: Jazz's Earthbound childhood friend and smuggling business partner, Kelso (sic?), is only ever shown by the letters he and Jazz send back and forth.

    Theatre 
  • She Loves Me has a similar case as with You've Got M@il, where the characters anonymously fall in love by exchanging letters without knowing who each other are.

    Video Games 
  • In Life Is Strange, Max fell out of contact with her best friend Chloe until she moved back to their hometown because of the strain Chloe's dad's death (who Max was also close to) put on her. In episode 4, one of the more noticable differences that comes about from her Time Travel is the alternate version of her in the timeline where Chloe's father didn't die not only stayed in contact, but wrote letters on "fancy parchment paper".
  • The prequel Life Is Strange: Before the Storm reveals that Chloe tried to become this with Max after she moved away, but she couldn't bring herself to send the letter when Max stopped answering her texts, and started writing letters to an imaginary Max in her journal instead. The final entry in said journal is that she's moving on with her life and focusing on her friendship/relationship with Rachel, which only serves to make the events of the original game more heartbreaking.

    Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: In "Carl Wheezer, Boy Genius", Carl's European penpal comes to visit, leading him and Jimmy to try to pass himself off as a genius because he claimed Jimmy's many adventures as his own in his letters.
  • Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi: In "Pen Pal", Ami gets a visit from her penpal from Paris. Paris, Idaho, to be exact.
  • The Legend of Korra: Although they had known each other in person for quite some time, the only person Korra sent reply letters to during her sabbatical was Asami. Fitting, that they would later become a couple.
  • The Simpsons: In "YOLO", Marge invites Homer's childhood penpal, Eduardo, over to help him fulfill his bucket list.

Feedback: 15 replies

Dec 30th 2017 at 3:48:01 PM

FTR, yes, I know Pen Pals is a thing. But "Pen Pals" is a widely accepted term for this concept, and probably the first thing people will search for when looking for it. So I don't think a title change is in order.

Dec 30th 2017 at 5:39:07 PM

She Loves Me has a similar case as with You've Got M@il, where the characters anonymously fall in love by exchanging letters without knowing who each other are.

Dec 30th 2017 at 9:31:51 PM

Western Animation

  • The Adventures Of Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius: In "Carl Wheezer, Boy Genius", Carl's European penpal comes to visit, leading him and Jimmy to try to pass himself off as a genius because he claimed Jimmy's many adventures as his own in his letters.
  • Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi: In "Pen Pal", Ami gets a visit from her penpal from Paris. Paris, Idaho, to be exact.
  • The Simpsons: In "YOLO", Marge invites Homer's childhood penpal, Eduardo, over to help him fulfill his bucket list.

Dec 30th 2017 at 9:53:06 PM

Youve Got Mail is a remake of a much much much better film called ''The Shop Around The Corner in which James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are coworkers in a leather goods store who snipe at each other, neither knowing that they are falling in love as anonymous pen pals.

Dec 31st 2017 at 6:27:16 AM

  • In Life Is Strange, Max fell out of contact with her best friend Chloe until she moved back to their hometown because of the strain Chloe's dad's death (who Max was also close to) put on her. In episode 4, one of the more noticable differences that comes about from her Time Travel is the alternate version of her in the timeline where Chloe's father didn't die not only stayed in contact, but wrote letters on "fancy parchment paper".
  • The prequal Life Is Strange Before The Storm reveals that Chloe tried to become this with Max after she moved away, but she couldn't bring herself to send the letter when Max stopped answering her texts, and started writing letters to an imaginary Max in her journal instead. The final entry in said journal is that she's moving on with her life and focusing on her friendship/relationship with Rachel, which only serves to make the events of the original game more heartbreaking.

Dec 31st 2017 at 6:50:06 AM

  • Examples section
    • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
    • Added media section titles as per Media Categories.

Jan 2nd 2018 at 4:26:53 PM

^ Thanks as always.

  • All suggested examples added

Jan 2nd 2018 at 6:06:38 PM

Anime & Manga

  • Nanoha and Fate sent each other video letters for the six months between the first and second seasons of Lyrical Nanoha since Fate wasn't allowed to contact anyone in real time until her trial concluded.

Fan Fiction

Jan 2nd 2018 at 10:52:41 PM

  • Pugad Baboy has Kules Sungcal who writes with penpals who claim to be attractive women, but are comedically not. When he switches to e-mail, he told his colleague 'Adre about "email pals" or "e-pals" about it, by which 'Adre replies "epal", which is a Filipino term for Attention Whore; Kules softens it to "e-mail buddies" instead.

Jan 3rd 2018 at 9:29:43 PM

So, question, is this trope:

>>a. Two people who communicate via written correspondance.

or...

>>b. Two people who gain affection, intimacy or camraderie through written correspondence.

?

Jan 5th 2018 at 11:51:36 AM

  • Switched example section to folders.
  • Added image placeholder
  • Added page quote (quote source)

Jan 6th 2018 at 4:15:03 PM

Not ready for launch. Need some compares and contrasts. Lay some on me.

Jan 7th 2018 at 7:30:48 AM

Film - Live Action

  • The Lake House. A woman (Sandra Bullock) and man (Keanu Reeves) send letters to each other using a mailbox in front of their homes. The twist: they live in the same home, but they're separated in time by two years: the man lived in the house two years before the woman moved in.

Jan 7th 2018 at 5:46:49 PM

  • Peanuts: Charlie Brown often wrote letters to his "pencil pal". It is unknown whether the pencil pal ever wrote back.

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