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Connected All Along

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Most works, especially the more populous ones, feature many recurring characters who interact with the protagonists under different circumstances, and who thus wouldn't be expected to know each other. Or, if they do know each other, you wouldn't expect them to have a history together apart from what you see.

Sometimes, though, these characters turn out to have been Connected All Along: they actually have met or crossed paths at some point, or share some other sort of unexpected connection.

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It's likely the characters themselves won't remember the encounter, making The Reveal as much of a surprise to them as it is to the audience.

This is a Super Trope to One Degree of Separation, Long-Lost Relative, You All Share My Story, Already Met Everyone, Luke, I Am Your Father, and Luke, You Are My Father.

Sister trope to Chekhov's Gunman, which most of the examples here will also be examples of, and Forgotten First Meeting.

A secret connection between two characters is usually a surprise, so Spoilers Ahoy! There will be unmarked spoilers on here.


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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • This happens in the first two seasons of Digimon. In the first season, the DigiDestined learned that they all used to live in the same apartment complex, and witnessed a battle between Greymon and Parrotmon before moving away. In the second season, we learn that all of the new kids were partly recruited because the Digital World touched their lives in a big way.
  • In Durarara!!, Mikado was the secret leader of the Dollars all along. The Naritaverse is well-known for its cameos and interlocking background, which is fitting since they all take place at different times and places, within the same world. Celty of Durarara!! is friends with the demon Ronny Schiatto who gave the alchemists of Baccano! their Grand Panacea and Isaac & Miria make guest appearances as members of the Dollars. A pair of succubi from "Vamp!" encounter Shizuo Heiwajima of Durarara!!. Shinra and Celty are in some way involved with a political scandal in the construction of Etsusa Bridge Much of this is only found in supplemental material or brief Shout Outs.
  • In Pokémon Adventures', it turns out that Ruby and Sapphire had met once before, but even they aren't aware, because they were so young that they don't remember each other's faces.
  • Project A-ko: A-Ko and C-Ko act like they've been lifelong friends. Then B-Ko reveals that C-Ko used to be her friend...
  • One of the big twists in the final episode/chapter of Your Lie in April is that Kaori was the little girl sitting next to young Emi when Kousei first played piano, meaning Kousei's first meeting with her isn't actually her first time meeting him.
  • While the two of them never learn it during the story, the accident that caused the male lead in RaButa to become Gonk is the same one that killed his girlfriend's parents.
  • Supplementary material in Lyrical Nanoha heavily implies that Signum was Agito's original lord, but nothing is ever confirmed one way or the other.
  • In My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, it's eventually revealed that the main characters all had some brush with each other before the story began. Hachiman saved a dog from being hit by a car, getting injured in the process. Turns out, Yui was the dog's owner, and Yukino was riding in the car's backseat.
  • In Attack on Titan it turns out that Eren, Mikasa and Armin were in the same refugee center as Annie, Reiner and Bertolt after the fall of Wall Maria. Although the latter three were the ones responsible for the whole event. This unknown crossing of paths is depicted on the cover of volume 24.
  • In Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Moriko and Sakurai were actually very close friends and confidants in another MMORPG some six months or so before the beginning of the story. They do figure out their connection after Moriko creates an alt character in their current game that looks like an aged-up version of her previous character, which makes Sakurai wonder and leads to his asking her point-blank during a phone conversation.
  • In chapter 98 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, it's revealed that Kaguya and Maki are actually distant relatives (more specifically, they're second cousins twice removed).

    Comic Books 
  • In GI Joe A Real American Hero, it's established that Snake-Eyes' family was killed when their car was hit head-on by a drunk driver (who also died). It was later revealed the drunk driver was the brother of the man who would become Cobra Commander.
  • Zig-zagged in one of the possible endings of Meanwhile. Jimmy goes back in time and lives as all of the characters in the story: the ice cream man who gave Jimmy ice cream, the scientist, and Jimmy's own father. He raises his child self as his son.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Flushed Away, it's revealed near the end of the movie that Rita knows Sid, much to Roddy's dismay.
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    Films — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it's revealed that Snape was in love with Lily, and that they were actually friends as Hogwarts students. And while Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix had revealed that Dumbledore had a brother named Aberforth, Deathly Hallows revealed that he was the unnamed owner of the Hog's Head.
  • In The Curse of Chalion, protagonist Cazaril had saved a young slave boy from being raped, at the cost of being beaten almost to death. Near the end of the book, when he's sent to a neighboring country to negotiate an alliance, its prince excitedly demands Cazaril display his scars, then embraces him as the one who saved him when he was enslaved. Diplomatic matters are rather swiftly resolved.
  • It is revealed pretty late in Wolf in Shadow by David Gemmell that outlaw gang leader Daniel Cade is the hero Jon Shannow's brother, and that Jon Shed the Family Name.
  • In Question Quest, the backstory of Good Magician Humfery is revealed, including his connections to several characters. One of them was Crombie, a supporting character from the first trilogy, who it turns out was Humfrey's estranged son. This retroactively connected him to the protagonists of Ogre, Ogre (which featured Crombie's daughter, Tandy) and Vale of The Vole (starring Tandy's son, Esk).
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford Prefect is introducing Arthur Dent to his semicousin, Zaphod Beeblebrox, when Arthur reveals that they met once at a party, surprising the hell out of Ford. It was at that same party that Arthur met Zaphod's companion, Trillian, whom he knew as Tricia McMillan.

    Live Action TV 
  • On Community, it's revealed in one episode that Shirley once bullied Jeff as a child.
  • In Dog with a Blog, both of the parents actually met before when their kids' toy cars bumped into each others', and both had a quarrel. Of course, in the show they never find out.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, the entire reason Ted starts the story 8 years before he met Tracy is because of this. The seemingly random events, even stuff we thought got settled all those years ago, it all informs the story of that last weekend and everyone's lives. That's why the story had such long scope.
    • It's revealed throughout the course of the show that Ted and Tracy crossed paths numerous times throughout the series: Ted accidentally taught the wrong college class once, and Tracy was in it; Tracy was at a St. Patrick's Day party that Ted attended; etc.
    • It's also revealed that Lily, Marshall, Barney, and Robin all met Tracy before Ted did.
    • Downplayed with Barney and Robin. They find out they have the same cousin Mitch shortly before their wedding, and they panic, but they then find out that Robin isn't blood-related to Mitch.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, when Howard sees Raj's date Emily, he realizes that he and she have met before in a very bad way. Later in the episode, it's revealed that he once went to her apartment after a blind date with her, clogged the toilet, and went out through the bathroom window.

    Podcasts 
  • Plumbing the Death Star identifies the "idiot detective", a phenomenon where movie-goers will experience a brief rush of satisfaction upon seeing a previously established character, even if the character has no reason to appear or any connection to the relevant characters. This is the best answer they have for the question "Why Does Your Snoke Theory Suck?", referring to theories that the new Star Wars villain was an alien rabbit, Darth Vader's butler, or Samuel L. Jackson.
  • The Adventure Zone: Balance, at the end of Reunion Tour, reveals that Tres Horny Boys have known each other far longer than their previously established first meeting, when they regain their lost memories of a vast period of their backstory. The truth is that they, along with Lucretia, Barry Bluejeans, and Davenport, were actually interplanar astronauts. Magnus, Merle, Taako, Barry, and Davenport had a whole century of their memories blocked out by Lucretia to make it harder for the Hunger to hunt them down. The Reveal also revealed that Taako had had a twin sister named Lup who perished on their journey and so all memory of her had been blocked from their minds as well.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • When assaulting Telestrian Industries in Shadowrun Returns, you can hack personal files that reveal its CEO is the half-brother of local alcoholic Sam Watts.
  • In Final Fantasy VIII, most of the main cast discover that they grew up in the same orphanage and knew each other as kids (but they forgot it due to phlebotinum-related amnesia). It is also heavily implied that a major secondary character is the protagonist's estranged father.
  • Happens repeatedly in the Dark Parables series, since each new installment has a tendency to reveal new details about characters or situations encountered in previous games. To give the earliest example: the very first game, Curse of Briar Rose, pretty much only resolved the story of Sleeping Beauty. Since then, the player has learned that Briar Rose had a sister named Ivy, who was the wife of The Frog Prince; that Briar Rose is one of the specially selected Handmaidens of the nature goddess Flora, blessed with immortality and magical control over briar plants; and that she's a member of a warrior society called the Red Riding Hood Sisters.
  • Ace Attorney:
    • In the first game's fourth case we encounter Phoenix's friend Larry, who was the defendant in the first case. When it's mentioned that the defendant in this case is Miles Edgeworth, Phoenix's rival prosecutor, it turns out Edgeworth and Larry are actually good friends (Phoenix knew that, the audience didn't).
    • Iris from the last case of the third game turns out to be the daughter of Morgan Fey, the culprit from the second case of the second game. Also her connection to Phoenix is a Double Subversion. When she knows who he is before he introduces himself, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that "Iris" is an alias of Dahlia Hawthorne, Phoenix's ex-girlfriend, who tried to kill him. Wrong, Iris was Dahlia's twin sister. This in turn leads to the conclusion that Iris doesn't have a direct connection to Phoenix after all, only knowing him through Dahlia. Wrong again, Iris was Phoenix's girlfriend at that time, not Dahlia (it was still Dahlia who tried to kill him).
  • In Persona 2: Innocent Sin, it's eventually revealed that the party members (sans Yukino) all knew each other briefly when they were kids. Major villain Joker was also a member of this group, and remembers their last day together very differently to how the party remembers it.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II, it turns out that Rean and Alisa have met each other as kids when Alisa got lost at Ymir and Rean gave her a present and helped her get back to her parents.
  • During Chiaki Nanami’s Free Time Events in Super Danganronpa 2, she mentions that her father was a genius programmer and later says that she gets her personality from her father and older brother. The sixth trial later reveals her father and older brother are actually Chihiro Fujisaki and Alter Ego, as she was an AI created by Chihiro.

    Web Video 
  • In Caper, all four heroes turn out to have a huge personal stake in the contents of the vault they're planning to steal beyond money (see Chapter 8)

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, it's revealed that the Ice King (prior to his descent into madness) acted as a father figure to Marceline when she was a child, as her mother died in the fallout of The Great Mushroom War and her demon father was a Jerkass who barely cared.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "The Cutie Mark Chronicles," the Mane Six discover they all got their cutie marks due to the exact same event, that being Rainbow Dash's first Sonic Rainboom as a filly.
    • Season 5's "Slice of Life" reveals that Steven Magnet, a sea serpent seen in the series premiere, is close friends with recurring supporting character Cranky Doodle Donkey.
    • Throughout Season 7, there were three separate episodes that told stories of five legendaries heroes from across Equestria. The season finale "Shadow Play" revealed that these five heroes, plus Star Swirl the Beard (another legendary figure established since Season 2), traveled Equestria together fighting evil.
    • Also in Season 7, Starlight bumps into Pinkie's sister Maud in "Rock Solid Friendship", and Starlight recognizes her much to Pinkie's shock. It turns out that, back in her villain days before her Heel–Face Turn, Starlight ran across Maud once and Maud unknowingly gave her advice that led to her forming her Evil Plan. Pinkie awkwardly laughs that Maud might want to keep this particular connection quiet.
  • Gravity Falls:
    • It's revealed that Manly Dan, the local lumberjack, is Wendy's dad.
    • In "Blendin's Game", Robbie is revealed to have gone to Soos's 12th birthday party when he was 5.
    • In "Society of the Blind Eye", the members of the eponymous society include the man who married a woodpecker in "Irrational Treasure", Toby Determined, Bud Gleeful, Farmer Sprott from "The Time Traveler's Pig" and the bouncer from "Headhunters". The episode also revealed Old Man McGucket and the Author collaborated on the journals 30 years ago. A freak accident involving an experimental interdimensional portal led him to create the Society of the Blind Eye and subsequently go insane from trying to erase his memories of the strange and terrible things he saw working with the Author.
    • The ending to "Northwest Mansion Mystery" implies that the Northwest family might have some kind of connection to Bill Cipher, but nothing came of this outside of Preston Northwest offering to become The Quisling in "Weirdmageddon".
    • "Not What He Seems" was one of the biggest bombshells in the series when it first came out, because it revealed the Author of the Journals was Grunkle Stan's long-lost twin brother, stranded in the multiverse for thirty years.
  • In SpongeBob SquarePants, it turns out that Spongebob and Patrick do panty raids at Mr. Krabs' mother's house all the time. They take Mr. Krabs along for a panty raid at her house, without telling him whose house it is. Unfortunately for Mr. Krabs, his mother turns on the light and sees all 3 of them. Mr. Krabs asks them why they didn't tell him, and Spongebob answers, "You didn't ask.".
  • On Kim Possible, it turns out Dr. Drakken and Motor Ed (both voiced by John DiMaggio) are cousins.
    • Similarly, Dr. Drakken and Mr. Dr. Possible went to college together, though this was revealed pretty early.
  • The Simpsons: In "Curse of the Flying Hellfish", Grandpa Simpson turns out to have been Mr. Burns' superior officer in World War II.
  • Futurama:
    • In "Lethal Inspection", Hermes is revealed to have worked at Mom's Friendly Robot Company and was Bender's quality control inspector.
    • Before that, we find out Zoidberg had met The Professor when they worked together on a yeti hunt for Mom. Before that, Igner found out The Professor was his father. And before that, The Professor and Mom were revealed to be in an on-again off-again relationship.
  • In Steven Universe episode "Onion Friend," it's revealed that Vidalia is the mother of both Onion and Sour Cream, who up until this point were not confirmed to be related; Vidalia is also an old friend of Amethyst and Greg. A later episode confirms that Marty is Sour Cream's biological father. "Horror Club" reveals that Lars and Ronaldo were childhood friends who had a nasty falling out. "Sadie's Song" reveals that the mailwoman, Barb is Sadie's mom.
  • South Park:
    • Henrietta of the Goth Kids and Bradley, who had pretty much been a Living Prop until the "Coon and Friends Trilogy," turn out to be siblings. Bradley was apparently adopted, since he's actually a Human Alien.
    • Season 19 has a Running Gag of PC Principal shouting at a student named Leslie for talking during his assemblies, but the ending to "Naughty Ninjas" shows a picture of PC pushing Leslie on a swing, implying a larger connection. After that, "Sponsored Content" reveals that they're both living advertisements.

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