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Forbidden Friendship

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A character wants, very badly, to be friends with someone specific. But sadly, the rules of family or society look down upon the friendship, and won't allow it. There's a number of possible reasons for this:

  • Prejudice. Whether it's class differences, racism, or any other difference, an entire group of people is declared "evil" and must be avoided if one is to be socially accepted.
  • Personal vendetta. Sometimes one family hates another, and won't allow their own to hang out with the other family. Not everyone in the family shares that dislike, however, and they might become friends anyway.
  • Safety. Sometimes the society or family has a fear of a specific individual, whether warranted or not. And who wants to see their friend hanging around someone who might kill them?
  • Bad influence. Sometimes the specific individual isn't so much a threat to the character, as to society's value system. Friends who do drugs, get into trouble, and so on, might be disallowed as company for the main character.

Sadly Truth in Television for people who live in bigoted families or communities, but who don't share their bigotry. In really awful cases, expect Honor-Related Abuse to ensue.

Compare Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders. If their relationship is or becomes romantic, they may be Forbidden Love.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Code Geass uses this early on, with Suzaku trying to hide his friendship with Lelouch and Nunnally because he doesn't want them getting in trouble for being friends with an Eleven. However, after Suzaku keeps Lelouch from falling off a clocktower in full view of the school, people start treating him nicer (and it's subtly implied that Lelouch engineered the incident for that exact reason).
  • The basis of the story in One Stormy Night, where Gabu, a wolf, and Mei, a goat, find shelter in the same abandoned barn during a heavy thunder storm. They assume the other is their own species and end up finding out the truth the next day when they agree to have lunch together in broad daylight. Not wanting to back down from their friendship, they have to hide their pact from their respective family and clan.

    Comic Books 
  • In Post-Crisis Superman comics, young Perry White's parents told him to stay away from the orphanage kids. However, they approved of his friendship with that nice Luthor boy.
  • Green Lantern: Sodam Yat's friendship with an alien named Tessog who crashlanded on Daxam was forbidden since Daxam was a violently xenophobic world, and Sodam's parents were especially bad in this regard. When they found out, they murdered Tessog and brainwashed their own son into forgetting him. Sodam's memories returned when he saw Tessog's stuffed and preserved corpse in a museum. He was so enraged that he spent years repairing Tessog's ship so he could leave Daxam forever, figuring that whatever was out in space couldn't be worse than life on Daxam. This show of determination and courage drew the Green Lantern Ring to him.
  • Bunty had the comic story "Once Upon a Time", where the heroine and her friend are forced to continue their friendship in secret after their mothers fall out over a book.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon Reset Bloodlines, Professor Oak and Professor Hastings met in Alola when they were kids, and quickly became friends with each other. However, since their respective nations are at war with each other, should it become public both could end up being executed for treason. That doesn't prevent them from working with each other in secret, while also trying to find a way to bring their nations to peace with each other.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Arrietty, Sho wants to be friends with Arrietty, who had grown up with the beliefs that humans are dangerous and will cause her and her family harm.
  • The Fox and the Hound is a Disney Film starring two talking animals (no points for guessing their species). The Fox is orphaned and some old lady adopts it as a pet. A man who lives nearby is a hunter that just got a puppy he is training to be a hunting dog. The two animals meet each other and form a friendship, in spite of the fact that the man is training the puppy to hunt (among other things) foxes.
  • How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Hiccup and Toothless form a friendship despite the fact Toothless is a dragon and Hiccup is a viking meant to slay dragons. Their bond eventually leads to the ending of the "war" between vikings and dragons, and the dragons becoming the companions of the vikings, so the friendship doesn't stay forbidden. There's actually a song on the OST with the trope name.
  • Chomper the Sharptooth in the The Land Before Time sequels; his friendship with the gang is not accepted nor by the herbivores nor by his Tyrannosaurus rex parents.
  • The Lion King:

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lawn Dogs has one that's forbidden on multiple levels. Upper-middle-class 10-year-old Devon is friends with lower-class 21-year-old working stiff Trent, who lives in a trailer and works for the people in the upper-middle-class town.
  • In the first Back to the Future movie, Principal Strickland warns Marty McFly to stay away from Doc Emmett Brown, as Strickland views the doctor as a nutcase. It's most likely due to the bad influence factor mentioned above. Some fan theories however suggest Strickland and Doc may have been friends at one time and perhaps ended their friendship on a sour note. Then again, a (seemingly) mad scientist who builds a wall-sized amplifier to encourage a teenage boy to come visit him would seem pretty suspicious to most high school principals. After all, Strickland doesn't know that Doc Brown needs to make sure Marty is around to close the time loop Marty created in 1955 by giving the Doc a letter telling him how he was supposed to die in 1985.
  • Hairspray: Link Larkin spends time with the black kids in the school and the body-positive Tracy Turnblad, which is pretty taboo for someone of his social class.
  • There are several films about forbidden friendships and romances between Jewish and Muslims, some examples:
    • French film Monsieur Ibrahim Et Les Fleurs Du Coran is about the friendship between Momo, a Jewish boy and a Mr. Ibrahim, a Turkish Muslim oldman. Mr. Ibrahim at some point adopts Momo (as he's orphan) but wasn't easy.
    • Beyond The Walls is about the friendship and camaraderie between two inmates (one Arab and the other Jew) in an Israeli maximum security prison.
    • David and Fatima is about the secret love between a Jewish man and a Palestinian woman, essentially Romeo and Juliet in the Middle East.
    • Lemon Tree, a movie about a Palestinian woman trying to keep her lemon grove after the fictional Israeli Minister of Defense moves at her side and has to be cut for security reasons. She develops an odd friendship with the Minister’s wife.
    • The Kite is about an Israeli Druze soldier that falls in love with a Lebanese girl in the wrong (an enemy) side of the border. Adam's Wall with the same actress Flavia Bechara is about a Canadian Muslim girl in love with a Jewish boy against both families wishes.
  • Rey and Kylo Ren slowly form this kind of friendship over the course of The Last Jedi, with a good dose of Ship Tease and Foe Romance Subtext added as well, communicating via their Force bond. They don't start out wanting to be friends and Rey especially is initially quite hostile towards him, but they gradually come to realize they're similar. They both keep the bond a secret - Rey in particular pointedly lies about it to Luke Skywalker - and they end up confiding in each other about some deeply personal matters. When Luke finds out, he doesn't take it well, fearing that Rey will be corrupted by the Dark Side or killed. However, she is convinced she can turn Kylo back to the Light Side and gets herself Captured on Purpose to help him. It then turns out that Snoke actually knew all along and even claims to have created the Force bond, all with the intention of using Rey and Kylo's feelings for each other to lure Rey into a trap. However, Kylo chooses Rey over Snoke, killing him and helping her fight off his guards. Unfortunately, their budding friendship is marred by the fact that Kylo is unwilling to join the Resistance, instead wanting Rey to rule the galaxy at his side, which Rey isn't remotely interested in, and they reluctantly go back to being enemies.

  • Anne of Green Gables has a very brief instance of this; after Anne accidentally gets Diana drunk on currant wine that she mistook for raspberry cordial, Diana's mother forbids her daughter to associate with Anne. Fortunately she relents eventually. It helps that Anne saved Diana's younger sister from a bad bout of croup when the parents were away and it took awhile to fetch a doctor (the closer doctors were away at a political convention).
  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Huck befriends an escaped slave in the Deep South.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas involves a gentile child who befriends a Jewish child in a concentration camp during Nazi-era Germany.
  • One exists between Pendarynn and Lorelei in Eludoran. it does not end well for them
  • The Family Tree Series has Abby and Orrin; her bigoted father doesn't want her spending time with because Orrin's half Catholic. He also doesn't want her to be friends with Marie because she's French Canadian.
  • Ludie's Song: Black and white friendship in The Deep South.
  • In one of The Lion King spin off books, Simba's son Kopa befriends a hyena around his age named Asante. Hyenas are the enemies of the lions and the only species banned from entering the pride lands due to their evil nature, but she is different. Their friendship is a secret until the end, when she goes to meet his parents.
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy: Is another black/white friendship but was apparently well written enough to win a Newbery Honor.
  • In The Pillars of Reality, members of the Mages' and Mechanics' guilds aren't even supposed to interact with each other, let alone be friends. When Alain (a Mage) and Mari (a Mechanic) have to work together as the sole survivors of a bandit attack, they're both essentially told that they should have left the other to die. As such, the fact that they continue their friendship in secret is decidedly dangerous for them.
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God: Janie (wealthy, mayor's widow, in 40s) runs off with Tea Cake (poor working-class young man) despite the fact that the entirety of Eatonville thinks that Tea Cake is only after Janie's money, and because of the 15-year age difference.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, the Clans aren't that fond of inter-Clan friendships, but they allow it. However in the first book, ThunderClan looked down on the hero talking with his house-cat friend Smudge because of Clan bias. They got over it eventually.
  • Weedflower: Japanese American girl and Mohave boy. The internment camp Sumiko is in is on the Mohave reservation, but they're not allowed to interact.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Supernatural
    • The friendship between Dean and Castiel starts out this way. Castiel comes to respect and care for Dean, but Heaven notices his interest and disciplines him for it, as there's concern that an emotional connection could impair Castiel's judgment. In a rather brutal example of this trope, Castiel eventually chooses to warn Dean about a plot Heaven is behind, and is promptly discovered, dragged back home, and tortured until he concedes the friendship. On the flipside, while none of the human characters are particularly rude or violent about Dean's interest in Castiel, it is unusual, and Dean himself initially mistrusts Castiel and has little respect for him, due both to his general dislike of being ordered around by anyone not his dad, and the fact that he was raised to hunt and kill anything supernatural. Ultimately, the friendship lasts, even if it means Castiel rebelling against Heaven and everyone taking on the Apocalypse together.
    • The friendship/romance between Sam and Ruby is also forbidden, in that she's a demon - one of the very creatures Sam is supposed to be killing or exorcising as part of his job. Dean is ferociously against their relationship, which drives a wedge between the brothers for over a season. As it turns out, Ruby is in fact, patently evil, and is manipulating Sam into freeing Lucifer. Sam takes this badly.
    • Sam and Dean also each end up with competing "monster" friendships in seasons 7 and 8. Sam is friends with a Kitsune named Amy, whom Dean disapproves of, and Dean is friends with a vampire named Benny, whom Sam disapproves of. Dean ends up killing both of them, Amy because he sees her as a danger to innocent humans, and Benny because he needed to send him back to Purgatory on a rescue mission, which Benny was okay with. Sam calls Dean a hypocite for killing Amy, but then eventually agrees that Dean made the right choice.
  • In Alphas, Gary befriends a girl named Anna. They get along very well until he finds out that she's actually one of the Big Bads. Later, it is revealed that they'd been contacting each other regularly since they first met. He's not shy about the relationship, and it is, strangely, a completely innocent friendship. No one is happy about the friendship but due to the strength she has in her community and his Alpha ability, there's pretty much nothing anyone can do to stop them.
  • In Grimm Monroe is a member of a wesen race called the Blutbaden, essentially the Big Bad Wolves from fairy tales. Nick is a Grimm, a member of a clan of special humans whose task is to hunt down any wesen that hurt humans or otherwise cause trouble. When wesen mothers want to scare their children they tell them that the big bad Grimm will come and cut off their heads. However, Nick was never told about what he is and he enlists Monroe's help to guide him through the lore and conventions of the wesen world. Monroe is initially reluctant to help a Grimm but over time he and Nick become friends and allies.
  • An episode of the Brit Com 2point4 Children had mother Bill Porter warning her daughter, "No hanging around with the Rat Pack after school!" This particular snippet was used in some PBS spots promoting the program's airing in the USA.
  • Downton Abbey: The relationship between Lady Sybil and her working-class chauffeur Tom starts off like this. During Season 1 they bond over politics and championing rights for women and the poor, but have to hide it from her aristocratic parents and at one point their misadventures almost get Tom fired. By Season 2 they're moving into Star-Crossed Lovers territory.
  • In El Chavo del ocho Doña Florinda clearly do not approves of her son Quico’s friendship with the other kids in Vecindad (mainly Chavo and Chilindrina) as her catchphrase says: No te juntes con esta chusma (don’t get along with this rabble).
  • Lex Luthor's friendship with Clark in Smallville did not make Jonahtan Kent happy as he distrust Luthor and thought he was a bad influence, he actively tried to ended it.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Jazz friendship with Will and Carlton wasn’t exactly something that made Uncle Phil very happy, as he clearly sees him as a bad influence (he sees Will as a bad influence on his children too, at least at first, but to a much lesser extend). The consequence for this is the running gag of Uncle Phil throwing Jazz out of his house literally.
  • Nog and Jake's friendship in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is said to be the only known case of a friendship between a human and a Ferengi, much to disdain of both their parents that actively tried to end it, due to a mutual case of Fantastic Racism.
  • Good Omens (2019): Aziraphale and Crowley have been best friends for over six millennia despite being an angel and a demon who are supposed to be (im)mortal enemies. The forbidden nature of their friendship was present in the original book too, but the show places greater emphasis on just how much trouble they would get in if their bosses ever found out about their friendship with Aziraphale openly worrying about how Hell would destroy Crowley if they learned that he was making arrangements with an angel.
  • Kamen Rider Outsiders: Ren Akamichi/Kamen Rider Kenzan and the Megid Desast have been long rivals since they first met and eventually became friends once they reunite in the anthology, only to find themselves under scrutiny between the Outsiders and Zein's faction, with both sides agreeing that both heroic and villainous (no matter how evil they are) Riders forbid the idea of reconciliation. This forces both of them to go their separate ways without having the other getting roped into the conflict.

  • There was a song at the turn of the century, "Stay In Your Own Back Yard," in which an old granny cautions her child not to try to play with the white children; deprived of friendship, the child pines away and dies.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Frog and the Snake, an African fairy tale. Frog Child and Snake Child meet one day and teach each other to crawl on their belly and hop. When they come home and show their respective mothers what they've learnt from their new friends, they're told: "No, no! You can never be friends with that family!" Snake Child is told to eat Frog Child the next time he sees him, and Frog Child is likewise warned that Snake Child will eat him. So they avoid each other the next time they see each other, and think about the fun time they had.

  • West Side Story as well. This time it's gang wars making the friendship difficult.

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Atlas initially feels pretty awkward around Celica because she's a priestess and princess while he's a commoner. Celica encourages him to act more normally towards her.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Bernadetta wants to make friends with her fellow students, even those who aren't of noble birth like her. Her father forbade her from making friends with anyone who was a commoner since her commoner friend Yuri had attempted to assassinate her when they were young and he was beaten to within an inch of his life when her father found him. When Bernadetta explains all this to Dorothea, the latter angrily explains that if Bernadetta's father tried to beat her up, she'd repay the favor in kind.
  • Misha from Octopath Traveler II is genuinely grateful to Alrond for giving him a job, but his in-game profile states that he tries to keep things as formal as possible because he's a formerly-poor butler while Alrond is his absurdly wealthy boss.

    Western Animation 
  • The Sushi Pack episode "Deep Freeze" deals with this, with Maguro striking up a friendship with Mochi Mochiato, a member of The Legion of Low Tide. The rest of the Pack is split on whether they condone the friendship, but the entire rest of the Legion is against it. There's even a Shout-Out to West Side Story, when the two groups decide to rumble over the friendship.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, when his enemy Prince Zuko saves Aang from certain imprisonment due to his own selfishness in capturing the Avatar and actually make a good team, Aang asks Zuko if this was possible between them. Zuko shoots a fireball towards him and seemingly immediately regrets it. As the series progresses, this forbidden friendship actually happens as Zuko betrays his father and nation to help Aang bring balance to the world. In The Legend of Korra it is directly stated that they were lifelong best friends.
  • Occurs in Catscratch when Waffle and Chumpy Chump brother Lunk become friends.
  • Recess: Gus and Cornchip girl in 'The Army-Navy game.
  • Downplayed in the 1984 Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids episode "Busted"; Rudy's mother warns her son about Larry being a bad influence rather than outright forbidding him to associate with Larry. Rudy brushes off her warning however...and ends up paying for it later when he and the gang join Larry in a stolen car.
  • In The Smurfs (1981) Sassett's friendship with little witch Denisa is presented like this, as Denisa is Gargamel's niece and Balthazar's grand-niece whilst Sassette is a smurf, and of course, smurfs and warlocks are enemies.
  • The Raccoons: Cedric Sneer's friendship with the Raccoons is not something that his father Cyril, the main villain, accepts. Probably due to class difference as the Sneers are very wealthy and of course because the Raccoons often foil his evil plans.
  • Fievel and Tyger's friendship turns controversial in Fievel's American Tails as Fievel is a mouse and Tyger a cat, for obvious reasons.
  • Casper (a ghost) and Wendy (a witch) friendship is disliked by their respective guardians in Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • Episode "Return to Ursalia" of Adventures of the Gummi Bears has this, once the feuding between two Gummi Bear tribes: the warrior-like Barbaric Bears and the pacifist Gummi Glen Bears starts over their conflictive views once the Barbaric express their desire to Kill All Humans. Sunni (from the Glens) and Buddy (from the Barbarics) are friends but their friendship is forbidden, especially when the literal fight begins. Naturally the episode ends with both sides working together once they have to save both kids from Duke Igthorn.
  • An episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers had two young boys whose villages in the desert are at war with each other (complicated even more because their fathers are also the villages' respective leaders). The two have to step up to save the Planeteers as well as show their fathers that they're being both played by Looten Plunder, who sells the weapons to both sides.
  • The Owl House: Amity and Willow were best friends as children, something that the former's parents strongly disapproved of. So much so that they blackmailed Amity into ending the friendship by threatening to ruin Willow's chances at getting into Hexside.