As great a group of friends as you are, if a situation is particularly dire for the group, and/or if something has a strongly negative effect on a particular character, that same group of True Companions might not be able to stick together anymore. If you want the story to become Darker and Edgier, have a main character drive the others apart. Have that character drive a wedge between the protagonists, dividing the Five-Man Band to a near-irreparable state.
This brings a great tragedy for a Five-Man Band, as well. For any group of True Companions, actually. Circumstances develop so badly that one character simply had enough, choosing a Face–Heel Turn so devastating that the rest of the group won't be able to function from the shock. In other cases, The Resenter might take a few jabs at The Hero, on account of the former being Always Second Best. If they can't resolve the feud peacefully, friends of both are forced to take sides. Maybe the one that brought them together starts facing problems with their friends' personality flaws or psychological hang-ups; peer pressure kicks in, and The Hearts' attempts to resolve their friends' issues leads to more problems (maybe even more psychological distress on the part of The Heart) and broken bonds because of those problems.
Maybe the one that keeps them together starts hating his/her designated role as the Damsel in Distress or The Load, and their resentment leads to A House Divided, or they decide to leave the Five-Man Band, which falls apart because the one balancing them isn't there. In another scenario, The Hero Dies, and the rest of the characters fight over whether or not to revive him, despite the great risks involving such an act. In another scenario, the Implied Love Interest goes through so much Unresolved Sexual Tension, or Belligerent Sexual Tension, that they turn into the Yandere and take every step needed to keep the rest of their friends from influencing their love interest.
Whatever the case, good luck trying to bring the group back together after these depressing turn of events.
- This is what happens in Naruto after Sasuke meets again his long lost and hated big brother Itachi, whom he swore to kill after the latter slaughtered every single member of their clan, save for Sasuke. The meeting can be resumed as No-Holds-Barred Beatdown meets Mind Rape. When he recovers (physically), Sasuke becomes obsessed with revenge while reporting his frustration upon Naruto (because of the latter's progress). Meanwhile Sakura cannot do much but witness this. Sasuke leaves the Leaf not long after, to be taught by the current Big Bad. Bringing him back becomes his former True Companions' goal for the second part of the tale.
- One Piece:
- This was threatening to happen to the Straw Hat Pirates in the Water 7 Saga of One Piece. Robin disappeared for reasons unknown to any of her crewmates, and Usopp had a falling out with Luffy and left on his own accord. The rest of the time he was there, Luffy was trying his hardest not to let the rest of the crew disband. Averted in that he succeeded in keeping the crew together and eventually got Robin and Usopp back too, which were the main driving forces of that part of the series.
- This also forms part of the plot of the sixth movie. The bad guys manipulate the crew members into distrusting each other and eventually absorbs all of them except Luffy.
- In Air Gear, the old Sleeping Forest was shattered when Kilik and Sora had a falling out over the Sky Regalia. Since then, Kilik severed all contact with his former teammates with the exception of the only one who remained neutral, and the rest of the team members scattered: Spitfire decided to reclaim his title, Rika retired, Sora was crippled, Falco became a recluse, Black Burn became a drunk and never involved himself with A-Ts without a disguise, and Dauntless seems to have disappeared.
- What It Takes: Sara's supposed death on the Gambit is this for the Lance family, according to Laurel. That's when the family completely fell apart, and even Sara coming back the first time didn't really bring them back together, as proven when Sara died for real. When Sara comes Back from the Dead again and tries to fix things between Laurel and Quentin, Laurel lets her go but sadly and correctly notes that her sister isn't going to succeed: their family is permanently broken, and it doesn't matter how many times Sara comes back — nothing is ever going to fix it.
- Us, Withering Under The Sun: Woo-jin moves away, first to Seoul, and then to the United States, after he is outed and horribly bullied. From the trauma of this, he cuts himself off from all of his friends, who stood by him, only rarely speaking with Joon-yeong. The rest of the friend group remained good friends, but they missed him very much and felt his absence greatly.
- In Bratz: The Movie, head girl Meredith is set upon driving the Bratz girls apart; after two years, she has succeeded in making them part of her pre-defined cliques, and they can barely speak to each other anymore.
- Such a case could be argued for Andrew Detmer in Chronicle, though the fault also lies on his father for Andrew's Start of Darkness.
- It's very common for animated films to have this happen shortly before the climax, particularly the works of Pixar and DreamWorks. Either the personality conflicts that drove the tension earlier in the film will be reignited, or a lie one of the characters had told the other will be revealed, making them go their separate ways. Of course, the protagonists will always remember the value of their friendship in time to reunite and stop the Big Bad.
- In EQUESTRIA GIRLS, the reason the human counterparts of Twilight's friends hate each other when they used to be friends is that Sunset Shimmer drove them apart.
- In book seven of the H.I.V.E. Series, the betrayal of Laura leads to the capture of Nigel, Laura, Tom, and Penny. The rest return to the H.I.V.E., but are split again when Otto is expelled. At the end, the main cast is within three groups: Nigel, Tom, Penny, and Laura at the Glasshouse, Otto, Raven, and H.I.V.E.mind out in the world, and Shelby, Franz, Wing, and Nero still on the island.
- A lot of the Horus Heresy consists of this happening to everyone from random line troops to Adepts of Mars to the eighteen remaining sons of a Physical God. Most notable is the Mournival, the Four-Temperament Ensemble Horus has as advisors, which breaks like fine china when everything goes to hell and leaves Garviel Loken and Tarik Torgaddon on one side and "Little Horus" Aximand and Ezekyle Abaddon on the other; they do not get back together, and in fact end up some of the most passionate enemies of the entire civil war, culminating in an entirely sincere effort to kill each other.
- Seth Rollins's betrayal of Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to join The Authority, causing the initial dissolution of The Shield. That very act left a scar on the team that never fully healed, despite the fact that all three honestly and genuinely do love each other. After Seth's Heel–Face Turn, they manage well-enough with reunions when it's all three of them together on the same show. But when they're not, things fall apart immediately: when Roman had to take a break from WWE to have his leukemia treated, Dean snapped that very same night and turned on Seth. Later, after Dean left the company, Roman and Seth gradually drifted apart, and their subsequent feud in 2022 revealed that despite acting otherwise for years, Roman never forgave Seth for what he did and explicitly hates him for it. It seems that no matter how much they try, no matter how much they truly care for each other, all three of them are always going to be at a distance because of what Seth did.
- Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story, Iroha and her Five-Man Band becomes a victim of this midway in the main story. Yachiyo's former friend drives a wedge between the group and was involved in brainwashing three of them to join the Magius While they didn't manage to do the same to Yachiyo, she caused her to revert back to her distant self from the beginning of the story.
- In The Answer for Persona 3, after the protagonist dies, Yukari grows adamant about reviving him/her by going back in time. This was so risky that it would've prevented the Big Bad from getting sealed, risking the entire world once again to another battle that the team wouldn't have won in any other way than if the protagonist hadn't died. Thankfully, it doesn't come to that, and Yukari gets better, but only after a fight with the rest of the team (Mitsuru sided with her, though).
- In Shin Megami Tensei IV, in the beginning, your party of 4 are True Companions. By the end, they all have drastically opposing views and at least 2 of them will be killed in the fighting.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, Bastila Shan gets tortured into serving the Big Bad, and she confronts you in the Ancient Temple on Lehon. If you choose to side with Bastila, Jolee, Juhani, Mission, and Zaalbar get killed, while Carth runs away into the Lehon Temple. The droids and Canderous are the only ones that remain with you, while Bastila becomes your apprentice. Contrast with the alternate path, in which all the above characters survive, and even Bastila can be redeemed if the player character is in a relationship with her or has high enough Persuasion. Note that Bastila isn't the Bond Breaker; it's you.
- Dragon Age II has Anders, who is gradually corrupted by the demon of Vengeance until he blows up the Kirkwall Chantry, triggering the events of the endgame and driving apart the True Companions who have been together for six years.
- Note that in the optimum ending, only two characters are mutually exclusive. Sebastian and Anders himself can NEVER be on the same side. Either Anders dies, or Sebastian threatens to raze Kirkwall.
- The Cooper Gang in the Sly Cooper franchise composed of Sly, Bentley, and Murray in the modern day, with the third game adding The Guru, Penelope, Panda King, and Dimitri to the gang. As it turned out, recruiting Penelope was the worst mistake the gang had ever done, as she turned out to be a sociopath who sold them all out (along with Sly's ancestors) to a rival faction because she was jealous, greedy, and had a lust for power. This directly leads to Sly being involuntarily separated from his friends at the end of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.
- Shows up in the backstory of The Order of the Stick. The Order of the Scribble, united mostly by their goal of closing down all of the rips that allowed the Scribble to enter the world, are able to stick together long enough to accomplish it. Unfortunately, pre-existing issues, the death of one of their own, and disagreements on how to best guard the gates lead to a VERY ugly argument, causing them to split up and watch over one of the gates individually. We see that for some of them, even years later, the feelings haven't died down and some of them would never be able to trust the others ever again.
- An impressively realistic example comes from the Teen Titans episode "How Long Is Forever". After Starfire goes through time while fighting the token villain of the week, she disappears from the rest of the Titans' lives. What was a few seconds for her, were twenty years for the rest of the team, and none of them handled her absence well, since she balanced them out.
- In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, Donatello was warped into an alternate future where he had disappeared for 20 years. The Turtles were disbanded, which led to the Shredder succeeding in world domination, and Michelangelo flat-out tells Don it's because he wasn't there to balance them out. Both this and the Teen Titans episode are also variations on It's a Wonderful Plot.