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A Shared Suffering

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"You're an echo, that's all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge, a code, a shared history, a shared suffering."

It's hard being the only one of your kind. Therefore, if a character finds that There Is Another, they tend to cling to the few members of their species/group/type left. They can be surrounded by friends, but that can't compare to having someone who can really understand what they're going through. Most of the time this other person is someone they don't even like—occasionally even an enemy—but their shared history, or shared condition gives them a connection. A bond—maybe not friendship, but at least a sort of grudging respect.

Subtrope of Commonality Connection.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bokurano, Kanji and Ushiro met while visiting their respective mothers' graves. Although Ushiro's mother is actually not dead.
  • Ai Haibara in Case Closed admits early on that the reason she can handle being stuck the size of a six-year old is because she has Conan around to share the same situation.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, trying the best they can to protect the only little sister they have, Tanjiro and Gyutaro share this base trait despite their drastically different personalities and opposing sides of an ongoing struggle between humans and demons; Gyutaro being the blatantly malicious demon that he is only wasted time to talk to Tanjiro, rather than just kill him when he had the chance, because he was curious about the relationship he had with Nezuko, his demon younger sister; after a tirade of berating comments over Tanjiro being too weak to protect Nezuko in his eyes, Gyutaro actually offered Tanjiro the chance to become a demon, so they could be big brother "buddies"; naturally Tanjiro refuses and their battle resume. The anime even expanded the narrative where Tanjiro sees himself in Gyutaro, as a possible bad turn of events where he and Nezuko had become terrible demons only looking out for themselves.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Vegeta and Goku are the last of the Saiyans, so Goku asks Krillin to spare Vegeta's life. If Goku could change, so could Veggie, right?
  • Naruto:
  • In Natsume's Book of Friends, Natsume finally meets someone else who can see youkai as well... But turns out he's an exorcist, who does not hesitate to kill youkai. Still, they become friends.
  • One Piece: The Straw Hat Pirates becomes such staunchly True Companions partly because they all have suffered in the past one way or another, and partly because of Fire-Forged Friendship.
  • In Slam Dunk, Hanamichi Sakuragi and Ryota Miyagi, despite having a rocky start (they got into a fistfight over a misunderstanding), only need one night to bond with one another over their shared bad luck in love (a sizeable number of rejections for each of them, and suffering of Unrequited Love with Haruko and Ayako respectively). The next day, they shock everyone else in the team having become the best of friends overnight.
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Maki recognizes what's going on with Iino, before any of the girl's friends or even Iino herself does, because she's in the same position.
  • Soul Hunter: Nataku becomes friendly towards Ko Tensho after hearing that he recently lost his mother. Since Nataku, in spite of his emotionless status, is extremely fond of his mother, he sympathize with the young Tensho and with time he becomes a surrogate big brother for him.

    Comic Books 
  • Without getting into the specifics, Batman tries to reach out to The Joker in The Killing Joke. For a brief moment, it works.
    Joker: All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: The founding members of the original version all bond, partly by sheer necessity, from being survivors of the Badoon conquest of mankind, and all being the Last of His Kind (well, Major Victory's is more technical. Humanity as a whole survives, but he's a thousand years out of time). A few of the early stories show it wasn't always easy, as could be imagined, but they get there in the end.
  • Mighty Avengers (2013): The team uses this trope in their fight against an enemy, with individual shots of each member who lost their family, whether to villains or accidents.
    Kaluu: We share our pain, in our darkest hour. And it brings us together.
  • Superman is sometimes like this when Supergirl arrives, depending on the continuity and dimension. Just look at him being so grateful that he's not the only surviving Kryptonian! The pre-Crisis stories took it ever further when Superman rescued the bottle Kryptonian city of Kandor and for years had a whole community of Kryptonians to visit on occasion.
    • Similarly, in the DCAU continuity, Supes is happy to meet Brainiac, feeling him to be a shared survivor of Krypton... until he gets the full story. Fortunately, Supergirl never gives him that kind of let-down.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Kung Fu Panda story The Eyes of the Wolverine, after Jo confided in his soon-to-be love interest Jada that he was put in foster care because his parents were abusive drug dealers, she confesses that her mother walked out on the family after seeing another man. She had previously told Jo that her mother was simply “travelling.”
  • A factor in the powerful bond between the Heralds of Andraste, in the Twice Upon an Age series, is the fact that they are the Heralds of Andraste. They each have the Anchor upon their hands and, whether they're willing to be or not, are hailed as representatives of the Maker and His Prophet. It's especially difficult for Mahanon, who is a Dalish elf and doesn't even believe in the Maker and His Prophet, but at least neither of them has to go through it alone.
  • Subverted in A Force of Four. Superman and Power Girl bonded over their "last survivors" status, but not fully because Kal tried to be a father to Kara, who was an adult woman and didn't want a parental substitute.
  • Buffy meets Star Trek opens with Data being possessed by an ancient demonic spirit that uses him to summon a demon army that sets out to attack Earth and open a Hellmouth in the Star Trek universe. At the conclusion of the crisis, Data is left traumatised by what he endured, until Captain Picard helps to remind him that others have gone through similar experiences by reminding Data of his own history with the Borg, assuring Data that they can eventually draw a line between acknowledging the sins they committed while "possessed" and recognising that they literally couldn't have stopped themselves without help.
  • Infinity Crisis:
    • Every Earth in the multiverse has lost people, and hence all the heroes have lost people they love.
    • In a lighter version, Tomorrow's Guardians has Black Siren and Nebula bonding on how they're each the only sane person on a ship of nutjob idiots.
  • Shinji stating he lost his mother when he was a little kid in Once More with Feeling is all it takes for Asuka to regard him under a new light.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Kara and her boyfriend Dev-Em have a few conversations about how they are two Kryptonian survivors who don't quite fit in between present-day Earth people.
  • In Advice and Trust, Shinji blurts out that his father sent him away after his mother's death. Asuka replies she also was abandoned by her father after her mother's death. A little exchange later, they realize they understand each other perfectly and become a couple.
  • Of the Dragon, of the Stars: Akera and Turino first begin to trust one another because they find solidarity in each other. Ketara and Horned Tail establish a bond for a similar reason.
  • In Kara of Rokyn's backstory, Kal and Kara bonded over the fact that they are survivors of an extinction event as well as orphans.
  • Scar Tissue: Part of the reason that Shinji and Asuka would never, ever, think of leaving each other, no matter how unhealthy their relationship may get, is the deep conviction that no one else in the world can understand their pain.
  • In crossover fanfic Displaced (TheMountainJew), Batman doesn't let it on, but he empathizes better with Spider-Man after being told that Spidey's father figure was gunned down by a crook.
  • In The Things That Don't Break Us, Rey and Hux forms a connection after they both survive a shipwreck that leaves him crippled and her losing her Force powers. Their bond is deepened when Rey gets her powers back, has a Power Incontinence, and accidentally causes the pair to swap memories and experience the other's Dark and Troubled Past (one suffering from Parental Abandonment, the other from Abusive Parents).

  • Murder on the Orient Express (2017): The eleven killers are portrayed as being quite loyal to each-other in this adaptation. They all come from a variety of different backgrounds and social classes and they all met or knew the Armstrongs under different circumstances, yet their shared intention to exact their own brand of justice on Ratchett for the Armstrongs has brought them all together.
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home has this crop up in the lead-up to the film's climax: Peter has just lost his Aunt May to the Green Goblin. Now at his Despair Event Horizon, believing May's death to be his fault, he is approached by two other Spider-Men who got dragged into his universe by the multiversal mishap in the film's beginning. One of them still grieves for his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, whom he was unable to save, and whose death caused him to become bitter and harsh. The other lost his Uncle Ben when he was murdered by a criminal in a carjacking incident, and after carrying out his revenge against the one he thought was responsible, was still haunted by the fact that Ben's death could've been averted had he not been so arrogant as to let the carjacker go earlier. All three learned a valuable lesson from their lost loved ones: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

  • It's understated, but this forms part of Harry's bond with Ginny in the Harry Potter series — she is the only other person (he knows) who understands how it feels to have been possessed by Voldemort.
  • Arthur and Trillian in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are the only two humans left - for a while at least.
  • In Thief of Time, Susan Sto Heilt (Death's granddaughter) is indirectly goaded into action when Death tells her there is another like her (half-human and half-not).
  • A blood variant in Warrior Cats. Brambleclaw is the son of Tigerstar, who terrorized the Clans when he was alive. Because of this, the other cats hate and distrust Brambleclaw; he grows up feeling lonely and uncomfortable around them. (Brambleclaw had a sister, but she left the Clan to get away from this treatment.) When he finds out that Tigerstar had another son- Hawkfrost- he's overjoyed, and the two strike up a fast friendship because of this trope. However, while they share the same memories of prejudice, they deal with it in different ways: Brambleclaw tries desperately to impress his Clanmates and be the best warrior he can be, while Hawkfrost tries to overthrow the Clans and make himself deputy. Unfortunately, when other cats try to warn Brambleclaw of Hawkfrost's bloodthirsty ambitions, he considers it a sign of the same discrimination that he endured, and refuses to listen.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel and Spike in Season 5 of Angel - they have a shared history as well as being the only two vampires with souls in the world.
    • Played for Laughs when first Faith, then Faith and Fred are hounded by Giles' aunts about keeping up appearances and acting all lady like. When Faith brings up getting her own place Fred begs the Slayer to take her as well.
  • A scene in one episode of Babylon 5 has Vir and Lennier commiserating over being put-upon ambassadorial flunkies, with the implication it's a regular event for the two.
  • Buffy and Kendra/ Buffy and Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer have a few conversations about how they're the only ones who understand what it's like to be the Slayer (at least before "Chosen").
    • Nicely subverted when Faith figures that the reason for her and Buffy's Epic Disagreements is because there was never meant to be two of them.
  • In Doctor Who:
    • This is the rationale the Doctor has for not killing the Master in "Last of the Time Lords".
    • He also tends to connect with other long-lived characters, notably the Face of Boe. He also attempts to connect with, and clue Doctor Lazarus into, the woes of a long life in "The Lazarus Experiment", both having memories of the Blitz.
    • "The Doctor's Daughter" is the Trope Namer, when he's telling Jenny why he doesn't consider her a Time Lady.
    • "The Beast Below": Oddly enough, he doesn't spot the connection with the Star Whale, but luckily Amy did:
      Amy Pond: Very old and very kind and the very very last of his kind. Sound a bit familiar?
  • Game of Thrones
    • In Season 3, Tyrion and Cersei Lannister have their power stripped away by their domineering father Lord Tywin, who forces them into unwanted marriages for political reasons while making it clear just how much he despises them both. Despite having ample reason to hate each other, this does lead to moments where Tyrion and Cersei interact like siblings instead of enemies.
    • Sansa and Theon in season 5: Both of them experience horrific abuse under Ramsay, with Theon having been transformed into Reek through the torture Ramsay inflicted on him and Sansa becoming Ramsay's Sex Slave. It gets bad enough that Sansa and Theon make a run for it. When they finally escape Ramsay, both of them embrace each other in relief.
  • In Kamen Rider Wizard, Haruto and Koyomi are the only known survivors of the Sabbath, the event that gave rise to the Phantoms. Made even more poingant in Wizard's portion of The Fateful Sengoku Movie Battle, where the villain makes an Evil Doppelgänger of Koyomi and Haruto talks it down by citing this trope and saying that her presence is what allowed him to keep going no matter how dark things got.
  • Kyle and Jessi from Kyle XY are like this due to both being born in the same lab and having similar abilities. It helps that their genetic donors were once lovers.
  • Lister and Rimmer in Red Dwarf (series 1-7) are the only two left who remember Red Dwarf before the accident. And Lister and Kochanski in series 7 are the only two humans.
  • On Robin Hood Guy of Gisborne tries this tactic on Allan-a-Dale, telling him that they're the ones that "make their supposed betters look good", both being in service to the Sheriff and Robin respectively. That (and a bout of torture) is enough to convince him to spy on the outlaws for him.
  • In Smallville, season nine, Zod may not be the nicest person but on his good days, Clark admits that he almost feels a brotherly bond with him.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, invoked by Ronon Dex after he learns that some of his former military unit from Sateda have survived the Wraith culling, only to have been turned and become Wraith worshipers. He spares the only one who doesn't openly attack him and tells them to run, but makes it clear he won't hesitate to kill them next time he sees them.
  • Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is sort of like this, yearning to find his people, until he does and learns they're dicks (although this doesn't stop him wishing he could rejoin them). This trope is also used as the basis for the bond that ends up forming between him and Garak who, as the only Cardassian on the station, also yearns to be rejoined with his people. His separation from his people is entirely different to Odo's (for a start it possibly may be his own fault he's in exile) but the knowledge that they'd both do almost anything to rejoin their people and that there's a line they can't bring themselves to cross (no-one is more surprised to learn Garak has one of these lines than Garak himself) in pursuit of this desire which keeps them separated from their kin culminates in a stunning scene that should have driven them apart forever but which instead is the basis out of which their friendship forms. The look on Garak's face when he finally gets Odo to confess his deep secret about the Founders ("HOME! I want to go HOME!") says it all, followed shortly thereafter by a What Have I Done expression when he realizes how similar they are (and that he too, can't go home without crossing the Moral Event Horizon).

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, the forty or so kids who are granted superpowers form a bond with each other because of it. Even characters who previously didn't like each other are willing to put it aside to focus on the bigger picture, or otherwise are able to reconcile their past differences.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • This is a large component of Garlot and Leon's friendship in Blaze Union, and also contributes to Gulcasa and Nessiah's relationship, though the former isn't exactly aware of the nature of the shared suffering in that case.
  • This is essentially the reason for Alistair's Undying Loyalty to the player character in Dragon Age: Origins. They are the only two surviving Grey Wardens left in Ferelden, having narrowly escaped the massacre of their fellows; for Alistair, the Grey Wardens were his true family, and the player is all he has left.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: The nature of being branded as L'Cie is what ultimately binds Lightning, Snow, Fang, Hope, Sazh, and Vanille together. The shared trauma is what makes them Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords has most of the Player Party members deal with and bond over the emotional fallout of the same event that made Jedi Exile what she is (an exile from the Jedi Order and a living hole in the Force): the tragedy/atrocity at Malachor V. Not just that, but the Relationship Values are eventually revealed to be a gameplay manifestation of the Exile drawing on her companions' shared trauma to bind them to herself.
  • In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, it's revealed that Jack has adopted a biotic varren from an abused animal shelter and she's been slowly teaching it to trust people again, leading it to become something of a big softy as a result. One of the dialogue options has Shepard start to lampshade the parallels to how Jack was when they first met (a convict experimented on as a child), but tactfully decides to drop it.
  • This is essentially the Central Theme of Planescape: Torment. While the members of your party aren't immortal beings with memory problems like the Nameless One, all of them are drawn to him by their respective personal torments, and many of said torments are ultimately revealed to be offshoots of his own original torment in the first place!
  • The Phantom Thieves of Persona 5 joined forces and bonded with one another over a shared experience in being victims of those in positions of power who abused their influence:
    • The Hero was arrested on trumped-up charges from a drunken politician. Said politician was attempting to sexually assault a woman, and the protagonist was simply trying to help her. To make matters worse, said politician forced his victim to testify against him. As a result, he was placed on probation and forced to transfer schools.
    • Ryuji Sakamoto is a victim of his school's gym teacher and volleyball coach. When said coach made fun of Ryuji's home situation, he lashed out, only to have his leg broken. As if having his aspirations of being a track star destroyed wasn't bad enough, the coach also leveled his influence to have the track team disbanded, turning Ryuji into a pariah at school.
    • Ann Takamaki is also a victim of the volleyball coach, who would regularly make sexual advances toward her. After rebuffing his advances for long enough, the coach turned his attentions towards her best friend, who later attempted suicide.
    • Yusuke Kitagawa was adopted by a famous artist, who proceeded to plagiarize his works for profit. To make matters even worse, his mother was also a protege of said artist, who died as a result of a seizure. The artist did nothing to help her and allowed her to die so he could claim her magnum opus as his own work.
    • Makoto Niijima is being forced by the principal of her school to look into the phantom thieves' activities as part of The Conspiracy. She is later victimized by an influential criminal who blackmails her.
    • Futaba Sakura was gaslighted by The Conspiracy into believing that her mother Driven to Suicide, and that the reason her mother died was because she resented her. As a result, she became a suicidally depressed shut-in.
    • Haru Okumura is the daughter of a fast food magnate who wishes to pursue a new career as a politician. To that end, he is trying to arrange a marriage between her and the son of another government official, regardless of her own wishes.
    • The last thief to join the gang, Goro Akechi, is the bastard son of the man leading The Conspiracy and a prostitute who was shamed into suicide, forcing him to become a ward of the state. He joined the Phantom Thieves as a means to not only destroy them from the inside, but also part of his own plan for revenge against his father.
    • In the game's climax, it is revealed that the suffering the Phantom Thieves suffered was more interconnected than initially thought, as The Conspiracy was very far-reaching. The drunkard that had The Hero arrested is actually the leader of the conspiracy. Principal Kobayakawa was in on the conspiracy and knowingly allowed the perverted and corrupt volleyball coach to get away with his transgressions. Yusuke's mentor and the gangster that tried to blackmail Makoto helped bankroll the conspiracy. Haru's father used the services of the group's assassin (Goro Akechi) to eliminate his political rivals while also supporting the conspiracy's leader. All this on top of Futaba's gaslighting. And the conspiracy was ultimately put into motion by the game's Greater-Scope Villain as a (heavily rigged) social experiment.
    • In the Royal re-release, "Kasumi" Yoshizawa is living under the identity of her twin sister, who died saving her from being hit by a car after a nasty argument. The surviving sister, whose real name is Sumire, became depressed and suicidal, blaming herself for Kasumi's death. Her counselor used his research on manipulating cognition to brainwash her into thinking she was Kasumi.
  • The common thread between the heroes of Yakuza: Like a Dragon is that they have all hit "rock-bottom" and are struggling to get back on their feet after circumstances have pulled the rug out from under them:
    • Ichiban Kasuga took the heat for his boss's lieutenant for murder as a means of repaying his patriarch for taking him in. After serving his sentence and returning to society, however, he finds that the clan he was part of is no more and that his boss has turned traitor. Confronting his boss leaves him with a bullet in his chest and himself dumped in Yokohama.
    • Yu Nanba was a successful nurse, until he got caught running a side hustle selling hospital meds for profit. He lost his job and eventually found himself homeless. He is also searching for his younger brother, who mysteriously vanished while investigating Ijincho's seedy underbelly.
    • Koichi Adachi was a detective who was just about to retire and collect a nice pension, but his desire to see a corrupt police chief get his due winds up biting him in the ass: he is unceremoniously demoted to traffic cop, then later fired.
    • Saeko Mukouda was a hostess club barmaid who worked a comfortable job, until her boss — the same man who gave jobs to Kasuga, Nanba, and Adachi — was murdered, leaving her out of a job.
    • Joon-gi Han joins later in the story when his gang, the Geomijul, is crippled following a raid that forces them to burn their lucrative counterfeiting business and their extensive surveillance network to the ground. He is also actually a Body Double for a Korean mob boss who died in Yakuza 6.
    • Tianyou Zhao joins after he is ousted as the boss of the Yokohama Liumang, following a coup de'tat by his right-hand man.
    • Optional Party Member Eri Kamataki can be recruited after Kasuga takes the reigns of her business, a family-owned-and-operated confection shop that is on the verge of closure thanks to unscrupulous business rivals.
  • Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous: Tiefling (fiend-descended humanoid) party member Woljif Jefto is quick to try to bond with a tiefling Player Character over their (not-unreasonably assumed by the game) shared experiences of the widespread Fantastic Racism against tieflings. He's also baffled if a Good-aligned tiefling PC tells him they're fighting in the Crusade because it's the right thing to do, automatically assuming they're vainly hoping to be accepted in society by doing so.

  • In Sluggy Freelance Aylee thought she had one of these relationships with Leono and the others of her species in a different dimension. However, it turns out Leono's a quasi-Omnicidal Maniac, while the rest of her kind are barely even sentient, so she leaves them behind to return to the main Sluggy universe.

    Web Original 
  • In the Paradise setting, an unknown force is randomly, permanently turning humans into Funny Animals (and sometimes changing their gender) in a way that is Invisible to Normals. Changed, especially from the early waves where they are few and far between, often fear they're alone or outright going crazy. After spending weeks, months, or even years alone, they are so relieved to find out there are others like them that they might break down and cry.
  • The members of Team Kimba bond together on their first day at Whateley Academy because of this: they're more than just mutants. They are all transgender in one way or another.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Beast Wars episode "Transmutate", Rampage seeks out and befriends the malformed Transformer, believing he has found a kindred spirit in Transmutate's tortured existence. When Transmutate is destroyed while trying to stop Rampage and Silverbolt's battle having befriended them both, Rampage wails in anguish. Silverbolt makes the other Maximals leave him alone in his grief, declaring that for this moment they are brothers.
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, both Timmy and Tootie are harassed by Vicky the most, and several spin-off children's books and episodes hint to Timmy feeling sympathy for Tootie and her having to live with a mean sister.
  • Final Space: In Episode 8, Little Cato, who 2 episodes earlier lost his father, learns that Gary also lost his father as a child. Thus, he immediately sympathizes with Gary, who had just been forced to relive the day his dad died through a Pensieve Flashback.
  • This is subverted in Futurama when Leela supposedly meets the last remaining member of her species, and therefore feels obligated to marry him even though he is rude, dirty, and misogynist and they have nothing in common. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it turns out that he's not really a member of her species, but a shapeshifter who "collects wives" of odd species to do housekeeping for him.