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Fair-Weather Friend

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Friendship n. A ship big enough to carry two in good weather, but only one in foul.

Someone who's your buddy when things are going well, but isn't when things go poorly.

Friends are good, especially when they are True Companions who will stick with you through thick and thin. But not all of your "friends" are reliable people. Some of them are fickle sorts who will abandon you the moment you get into trouble and actually need a friend to help. That's a Fair Weather Friend.

Sometimes a Fair Weather Friend will bookend a story, palling around with the protagonist at the beginning, disappearing when difficulties arise, then coming back as though nothing had happened when the trouble is over, attempting to regain their place.

Often a part of an Ineffectual Loner's backstory. Compare this to a False Friend. A False Friend is someone who is never actually your friend, but pretends to be because it will work to their advantage. A Fair Weather Friend is a genuine friend to you at first, but they'll abandon you as soon as it puts them at a disadvantage. Inverse of Power of Friendship. Contrast A Friend in Need. Do not confuse with Social Circle Filler, who are friends that drop out of the story because the main character got better, more plot-relevant ones (which would make the main character an unspoken one of these).

Sister Trope to Fair-Weather Foe. Compare this to With Friends Like These... and I Fight for the Strongest Side!, which often overlap with this trope. Contrast Financial Test of Friendship. See also Fair-Weather Mentor, for when it's a teacher who takes this attitude.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ange's intramural teammates from Cross Ange turn on her after she is revealed to be a Norma, all of one day after she makes a heartwarming speech about teamwork.
  • Haruo from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, a fair weather friend with an ever-present arrogant smirk on his face who enjoys getting Kenichi into trouble...
    • He and Kenichi have even dubbed each other their "bad friends".
  • Rebuild World: Due to the survival of the fittest environment in the Wrong Side of the Tracks they both grew up in, both Akira and Sheryl divide most of the world into two categories, enemies, and this. Something Akira gradually makes exceptions for as a Defrosting Ice King. Nonetheless, Sheryl's Gang they both run, full of Street Urchin from the slums, has a cyclical exodus of members who are fair weather friends whenever Akira stirs up enough trouble, something that doesn't bother them too much since it fits their expectations.
  • Nanami's Girl Posse from Revolutionary Girl Utena is revealed to be this to one another in Episode 21 after Keiko is punished by Nanami for being caught sharing an umbrella with her brother, Touga, by banning her from all clubs and associations. When Keiko turns to Aiko and Yuuko for help, they simply look at her blankly before asking each other aloud if they had just heard something and then leave her behind. By the end of the episode though, after Keiko manages to make up with Nanami, the three are back together again on apparent good terms.
  • In A Silent Voice when Shouya Ishida is scapegoated for all the horrible bullying of Shouko Nishimiya (he was the ringleader and the worst of them, but all the blame is placed on him) all of his friends abandon him, even Ueno, the girl who had a crush on him and largely bullied Shouko out of jealousy of the attention Shouya paid to her. His supposed best friends Shimada and Hirose even join the rest of the class in bullying Shouya in turn, suggesting they never really liked him in the first place and mainly hung around with him because he was cool.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Team Gurren starts out with composed of Kamina, Simon and a few other nameless teenage boys. The latter few end up surrendering to the village chief so they won't be withheld food like Kamina. Kamina quickly disowns them as his "blood brothers" after this, leaving Simon as the only other member.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: Leon's group of fellow Impoverished Patrician nobles in the Royal Academy present themselves as True Companions, only to look out for number one at the first sign of adversity, buckling under pressure to vandalize Leon's room (though at least Daniel and Raymond apologize). Leon works around this by using blackmail to push them to actually work together and help him, which results in their plight easing even if they complain.
  • In the soundtrack for season 1 of Yu-Gi-Oh!, the song "I'm Back", which plays during the show, has the lines "Now I see those close to me/They were just fair-weather friends". This is how Kaiba views anyone that claims to be loyal to him in the show as well.

    Comic Strips 
  • Peanuts:
    • Referenced in this strip.
      Linus: "It's fair weather today, Charlie Brown."
      Charlie Brown: "So where are all my friends?"
    • In this one Snoopy bemoans the loss of his snowman to a bright, sunny (if cold) day. "There's one thing for sure...he was no 'fair weather friend.'"
    • In the book I Need All the Friends I can Get Charlie Brown says "I need all the friends I can get. I'd even settle for a fair-weather friend."

    Films — Animated 
  • Kaa accuses Mowgli's friends of this in the Disney version of The Jungle Book.
  • Derek in Monsters vs. Aliens breaks up with Susan when he thinks she'll overshadow him due to her transformation, but then tries to hook up with her again when the public opinion of her skyrockets and being her husband would give him extra fame.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Battle Royale, two female students, Kaori and Mizuho, forced into the titular game give tearful goodbyes to each other before they're forced to enter the battlefield out on the island they've been put on. Later on, we see a shot of their dead bodies impaled with either a harpoon or spear and you see a lifesaver between them. And because they fought over who gets to escape the island as a matter of survival regarding the dangers of the ocean such as freezing temperatures, strong currents, etc. this is about as literal as this trope can get.
  • Taken to the nth degree in Brazil, where Michael Palin's character is willing to perform Cold-Blooded Torture on longtime friend Sam when circumstances turn against Sam.
  • Crash: Employed in one of this film's subplots as part of the anti-racism aesop. Sandra Bullock's character, a lonely woman married to a wealthy but frequently absent husband, has previously shown hostility to a Mexican repairman. Later on, she takes a fall in her home that leaves her unable to walk and she calls one of her white upper-class lady friends for help. Her "friend" ignores her plea, but her Mexican maid does come to her aid.
  • Creed II The Russian elites are shown as this to Ivan Drago. In Rocky IV They praise Ivan as their champion, but after his loss at Rocky's hands, they abandon him, exile him to Ukraine and his wife Ludmilla abandons him and their son to remarry a wealthy man. His son Viktor even calls him out on this, upset he was desperate to earn the approval of the same people who threw him aside when he needed them most.
  • The Dark Crystal: When skekSil the Chamberlain makes his move to take the throne, many of the other Skeksis whisper that they're all with him. After losing the trial by stone, they all gleefully turn on skekSil on skekZok's command.
  • Defied in John Wick: Chapter 4. Even with the High Table gunning for John, Shimazu doesn't think twice about providing him shelter. When John apologizes for the trouble he's caused, Shimazu shrugs it off: "Friendship means little when it's convenient."
  • In San Andreas, it's more of "Fair Geology Friends" where the protagonist's daughter and her boyfriend part ways as soon as an earthquake hits and debris is trapping the girl in a parking garage while the boyfriend bolts for his own safety, refusing to go through another near-death experience.
  • In Trading Places when Winthorpe is framed for drug use and being with a hooker, he instantly is turned on by all his friends. He doesn't grasp it until he comes to the club to ask them to be character witnesses at his upcoming trial only to be coldly told by all of them (including his ex-fiance) that they want nothing to do with him anymore and just leave.
  • Dylan Gould in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. He at first seemed like a cool person to work for to the film's human protagonists Sam and Carly, but when the Decepticons take over, Dylan reveals that he defected to them out of cowardice. Dylan then sells out Sam to Soundwave, and kidnaps Carly to be his wife (or sex slave, if you'd call it).

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Nick Drew abandons his friends when the going gets tough.
  • In Debt of Honor, China, who had earlier formed a secret alliance with Japan as part of their plot to seize the Northern Resource Area, are quick to throw Japan under the bus once Yamata's plan starts unraveling.
  • Oscar Wilde's The Devoted Friend: Hugh Miller visits Hans during the spring, summer, and autumn, but not during the winter when Hans is left to endure the cold weather. Lampshaded by Hugh:
    Hugh: There is no good in my going to see little Hans as long as the snow lasts, for when people are in trouble, they should be left alone, and not be bothered by visitors.
  • The Diabolic: Gladdic wants to have good relations with Sidonia (she says she expected them to marry eventually), but he's a coward who quickly buckles when someone more powerful is around. Notably, in his first appearance he tries to warn Nemesis that she's going to get date-raped... but shuts up because Elantra glares at him. Nemesis quickly decides he is not worthy of Sidonia.
  • In Harriet the Spy, the titular character's inner thoughts are shared with her classmates when her diary is taken from her. Her close friends, offended by her unflattering (yet not intentionally harmful) thoughts, join a club devoted to ruining her life. (Unlike some other examples here, they learn better by the end.)
  • Dragon Jousters: Alluded to in the Joust. After a new Jouster screws up big time, Ari comments that the Jouster's noble friends won't be hanging around to console him.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Many students follow public opinion when it comes to Harry, being friendly when he's popular and cold when he's unpopular. This is highlighted in the fifth and sixth books. During the fifth book, the Ministry of Magic actively attempt to discredit Harry, pressuring the wizard newspapers to portray him as a lunatic, causing many students to shun him. In the sixth book, the Ministry and newspapers portray Harry as some sort of hero and the only one able to defeat Voldemort. This resulted in Harry being swarmed by fangirls, one of whom even tried to poison him with love potion.
    • Peter Pettigrew is this very much, only befriending those he can get the most out of. In his youth, he was friends with James, Sirius and Lupin, the former two being among the most popular students of the school. When Voldemort starts his first reign of terror, Peter is quick to align himself with the dark wizard, as staying befriended with his schoolmates, who all actively fight against Voldemort, would almost certainly result in trouble.
    • Inverted with Ron and Hermione in the last few books. After Harry realizes he has a long and dangerous quest ahead of him to defeat Voldemort, he almost begs Ron and Hermione to leave his side, not wanting to drag them along with his troubles and endangering their lives. Both of them make perfectly clear Harry is stuck with them during his quest.
  • The Lord of Bembibre: The Count of Lemos joined Queen María during the preceding Castilian civil war, was rewarded with lands for his support, and abandoned her to join her enemies when he realized who was obviously going to win the war.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gimli expresses a dislike for these sorts of people during the Council of Elrond.
    "Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens"
  • In the book The Man in the Ceiling, the main character abandons his friends who need his help when the most popular boy in school takes an interest in him. He claims that all of them, being outcasts, would have done the same thing in his place.
  • In Jan Guillou's Ondskan, the protagonist Erik Ponti is at the start of the story running several fairly successful rackets at school, one of which includes stealing records from record stores with the aid of his friends. Erik is clever enough to lay down two rules for his gang: they rotate which stores they hit next so as to minimize suspicion, and if caught they will admit to nothing so as to minimize their punishment and not get each other in trouble. Unfortunately for Erik, while he's busy with something else his friends decide to target the same store several times, resulting in them getting caught, and they immediately blame Erik for making them go through with it in order to save their own hides.
  • A recurring motif in Olivia Goldsmith's books will be a character hitting low and quickly realizing who their real friends are.
    • The First Wives Club has each of the wives realizing how fast their society pals can turn on them once their husbands divorce them.
    • Marrying Mom reveals that the supposed con man who had been a Riches to Rags type is actually still very wealthy. It seems when he lost his money the first time, he quickly discovered how his wife and others were willing to desert him. Thus, he keeps his new wealth secret to know how folks truly feel about him.
    • In Young Wives, Michelle's husband is arrested for drug dealing. It takes Michelle a while to grasp how she's now a pariah at the PTA and other neighborhood events despite how she knew nothing of what her husband was up to.
  • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): Adolin is disturbed to find that all his friends want nothing to do with him now that his family's political future is uncertain. Part of this is Adolin's fault, as he was friendly with pretty much everyone but didn't try to forge meaningful relationships with anyone besides his brother. Mostly, it's a sign of how shallow and corrupt the Alethi elite have become.

    Live-Action TV 
  • ER's Kerry Weaver repeatedly proved herself to be this the moment she realized that supporting someone would be detrimental to her—she screwed over Mark Greene to become ER chief, she ditched her girlfriend when the latter was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and she allowed her protegé to take the sole blame for a patient's death so that she herself would incur no punishment.
    • Mark himself had a bad habit of being unable to support anyone who needed it.
  • In the Season 6 finale of Game of Thrones, Lady Lyanna Mormont gives a dress-down of all her fellow northern lords assembled, all adult men, for being this to House Stark, and then reaffirms her own Undying Loyalty by becoming Jon Snow's kingmaker. The lords of the three strongest remaining houses contritely admit she's right. They all swear fealty again, joining Lady Mormont in declaring Jon the King In The North.
    • Jon's younger sister and regent Sansa Stark hangs a lampshade on the flip-flop nature of the Northern lords:
      Sansa Stark: Yes, they turned their backs on Jon when it was time to retake Winterfell, and then they named him their King, and now they're ready to turn their backs on him again. How far would you trust men like that? They're all bloody wind vanes.
  • On Mork & Mindy, Mindy's high school "friend" Susan Taylor (played by Morgan Fairchild) would show up occasionally. During the single Christmas show, Susan wangled an invitation to Mindy's, since her boyfriend insisted on spending the holiday with his wife. When she found out that the gift she thought was a picture was actually a thousand-dollar bill, she immediately abandoned the McConnells and rushed out to leave a present in her boyfriend's mailbox.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Sometimes, when the going gets tough, Walter Denton gets going, i.e. "Trial By Jury".
  • On a first-season episode of The West Wing, while dealing with the public fallout of his alcoholism and pill addiction coming to light, Leo invites Simon Blye, whom he regards as a friend, to meet with him at the White House. President Bartlet considers Simon a fair weather friend, and unfortunately for Leo, is proven right, as Simon basically tells Leo he needs to resign.
  • Young Sheldon: Pastor Jeff and all of Mary's friends prove to be these as they abandon her after finding out about Georgie impregnating Mandy, and the former also fires her from her job and kicks the entire family out of the church (he tries to rationalize it as "taking time off to reflect" but both he and Mary know that's a lie).


    Video Games 
  • Drakengard 3: In the backstory, Zero's boyfriend tried to be as nice as possible until she came down with an incurable illness. Then he tried to sell her into slavery. Hence the homicidal insanity.
  • Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition is be by far the hardest companion to maintain positive approval with, due to her Hair-Trigger Temper, her Fantastic Racism towards mages and the Dalish, and having very few opportunities to raise her approval outside her romance.
    • Said romantic approval is also much harder to raise and much easier to lose for an Elven Inquisitor due to Sera's many issues with elven culture and Dalish elves. Many of the same flirts that earn high approval for other Inquisitors earn small approval for an Elf, and making any elf-positive statements and actions upsets her far more than doing so as a non-elf. This culminates after the Temple of Mythal, where Sera will break up with an Elven Inquisitor unless they say they agree with her that the elven religion/culture is fake/worthless, but she'll agree to disagree with every other Inquisitor.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the trope is called by name and defied. Following the legionnaire Hadvar out of the bedlam of the Helgen attack all the way to Riverwood leads to meeting his Uncle Alvor, the village smith, and his family. Like his nephew, Alvor is pro-Empire and says that true Nords aren't just fair-weather friends to the beleaguered Empire.
  • Otter Island: Jeremy gets along with the other two just fine, but when he learns about the monster, he refuses to help Zachary search for Connor out of fear for his own life and presses him to escape without Connor. Interestingly, Zachary doesn't hold it against him, saying he understands his fear. To Jeremy's credit, he also doesn't abandon Zachary if he chooses to stay and continue looking for Connor after the boat is set up.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, Tenko accuses Angie of this during the second trial, as Angie is the first person to point out that Himiko is suspicious because the Ryoma's body was discovered during her magic show, while failing to acknowledge that said show was her idea. Angie retorts that they have to question Himiko or they might end up getting killed, but Tenko's criticism still isn't exactly wrong - Angie is very quick to turn on the Blackened after Shuichi figures out who did it, asking if they were just pretending to be friends to gain everyone's trust, which is ironically something Angie does in the third chapter when she decides to set up a "Student Council" that answers to Atua, which conveniently means that she is in charge.
  • The protagonist of Double Homework was previously a fair weather boyfriend to Rachel when they previously dated. He bonded with her over their shared love of skiing, but broke up with her when she was upset about her family troubles. Somewhat deconstructed, with the protagonist exploring the reasons for his behavior and working to be a better person. And Rachel notices.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Hisao has this opinion of his old friends and would-be girlfriend Iwanako. After he suffers his heart attack in the opening scene and is diagnosed with arrhythmia, his class initially visits him, but after a while, only his friends come, then only Iwanako, and finally, even she stops visiting him. However, in Shizune's route, he realizes that his gloomy demeanor pushed his friends away, and concludes that he is at least partially at fault.
  • Depending on the route, Makoto is this in Song of Memories. They can end up as either selfless, selfish but harmless, malicious, or downright reprehensible depending on who you romance.


    Western Animation 
  • Obsidian and Strika from Beast Machines say that they're loyal to Cybertron and its ideals above any one person. In practice, this means they devoutly serve Cybertron's current ruler, no matter who they are, only to ditch them the second things go south. When Megatron is seemingly defeated, they don't even last a day before trying to join the Maximals instead of trying to hold his empire together. Thrust calls them out on this, asking if they can really be loyal to anybody if they're loyal to everybody. His words strike a nerve and the two ultimately decide that he's right, standing with Megatron in the face of defeat.
  • Danny Phantom The A-Listers are shown to be willing to cut each other from their group without remorse.
    • In the Season 1 episode "10 Shades of Gray", when Valerie's father loses his job and her family becomes poor, Dash, Kwan, and Paulina are completely unfazed by the misfortune that befalls their friend and do not even pretend to care about what happened to her, just cutting her out for being poor when she need her friends' support.
      Valerie: Things are kinda tight now, ya' know?
      Dash: No.
      Paulina: Nuh-uh.
      Kwan: Not really.
    • In the Season 1 episode "Lucky in Love", when Danny temporarily becomes popular when he starts to date Paulina (who at the time was possessed by Kitty, who's using Danny to make Johnny jealous), he takes Kwan's place in the group, with Dash kicking Kwan out despite it appearing they are close friends.
  • DuckTales (1987): Referenced in the episode "Down and Out in Duckburg", when Scrooge loses his fortune. After the group walks out of the mansion, fed up with its new owner Fritter O'Way, the triplets propose that they should ask Launchpad or Gyro if they can stay with them. Scrooge refuses, saying that Launchpad and Gyro will treat him like he treated the regular citizens of Duckburg when he was wealthy. Of course, given either's characters, this trope is never demonstrated to have any basis in fact.
  • The Mighty B!: Penelope is Bessie's closest human friend, but will abandon her whenever that seems advantageous. Good thing Bessie's very tolerant.
  • In The New Scooby-Doo Movies, celebrity guest, Jerry Reed, accuses Shaggy and Scooby of this when they refuse to help him retrieve his guitar. Daphne and Velma join in as well.
  • On The Proud Family, Dijonay was frequently this towards Penny, though she did get called out on it at least once in the series' run, with Penny's takeaway at the end of one episode being that she can always trust Dijonay to be this trope.
    • For that matter, the rest of Penny's friends constantly ditch her when the going gets tough as well, just not as much as Dijonay. This is acknowledged in series, when Penny gets a new friend group in one episode and her grandmother remarks that these new people are "faker than [her] fake friends."
  • An somewhat odd example can be seen in the Rick and Morty episode, "Total Rickall." The Smith house has been invaded by alien parasites that tamper with everyone's memories, making Rick and his family believe that they're old friends of theirs. They multiply exponentially, overwhelming the Smiths, and even having them turn on each other. However, Morty eventually comes to the realization that their fake friends are only capable of creating good memories, while their real ones were there for the good and bad.
  • In The Simpsons' "Rear Window" Homage, Bart asks Milhouse to sign his leg cast after he's forced to stay inside due to his leg injury while the other kids play in the family's swimming pool, but he just writes "Milpool" and leaves for the pool.
    • In fact, throughout the series, Milhouse has been shown to be occasionally fickle towards Bart, as he often abandons him, sells him out to avoid trouble, or attacks whenever a dispute breaks out between them.
    • And this cuts both ways; when not friends with Milhouse, Bart is usually ignoring or outright bullying him. He once somehow got him set up as America's Most Wanted and turned him into a fugitive, seemingly all just for a cruel prank.
    • Bart of course isn't the only one with fickle friends: There is also Lisa's occasional one-off friend, Janey Powell, who is noted as "Lisa's fair-weather friend", and often laughs at her dilemmas.
      • Allison Taylor, who was Lisa's one-time friend, has also been reduced to this. Although she has no lines, she visibly does what Janey and other background children do.
    • In fact, the town of Springfield (consisting of all the major secondary and recurring characters) are like this to the Simpsons five, from Marge's gossiping acquaintances to Homer's beer buddies.
  • What If…? (2021): In the episode "What If…? S1E7 "What If… Thor Were an Only Child?"", with Odin in the Odinsleep and Frigga off visiting her sisters, Thor decides to go to Earth and throw a Wild Teen Party on a planetary-scale, inviting his "friends" from across the galaxy. Once his mother realizes he is on Earth though, instead of studying in his room, she announces she is coming to Earth to see if he is really doing a "cultural exchange class" with his "study group". When Thor tries to stop the party, everyone there begins to ditch him for being a "party pooper" and leave him to clean the mess up himself. They only stay to help once Thor announces that his mother is coming, with everyone wanting to avoid Frigga's wrath.