A large-scale version of Not So Different.
The Federation has been at war with The Empire for decades. At some point, the heroes are called upon to infiltrate the forces of the Empire to gather intelligence or perform some act of sabotage. But during their mission, they discover that the enemy aren't the baby-eating monsters that Federation propaganda has always said the enemy was. The longer the heroes interact with the enemy, the more they come to realize that the enemy is just like them. The possibility of friendship, and even possibly romance, starts becoming more and more evident. The heroes might even find they have counterparts... likeable counterparts, among the enemy troops.
This trope also happens when the objective camera starts spending more time with the enemy than in the past. Often, in the end, the heroes will find they must fight those enemies they've come to like and respect.
- Martian Successor Nadesico, to a great extent.
- The Land Before Time:
"We're a family and you're one of us now!"
- In the second movie, the gang raises a young sharptooth. True to form, they have a song about it.
- Most of Land Before Time has something like this, thanks to Cera's dad's bigotry. He comes around by the end of the story, but reverts as soon as new danger shows up.
- In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride:
Kiara: A wise king once told me, we are one. I didn't understand him then. Now I do.Simba: But they...Kiara: Them? Us. Look at them, they are us. What differences do you see?
- This trope makes up most of the plot of Enemy Mine.
- Star Trek:
- One of the Aesops of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Balance of Terror" is that the Romulans aren't all that different from the Federation. This Aesop was, of course, ignored later.
- Also touched open and ultimately ignored in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "The Chase" when it was discovered humans, Cardassians, Klingons, and Romulans all have a common ancestry. Picard and a Romulan captain remark on how they're Not So Different after all, but nothing comes of it.
- During the first half of Battlestar Galactica's third season, the point of view was frequently with the Cylons just as often as with the Colonials. As such, many ended up becoming sympathetic characters.
- Fringe. While the alternate universe was initially portrayed as an unspecified threat, the end of the second season gave us the (rather understandable) reasons why and showed that "our" side wasn't so good after all. And finally, according to producers/actors, the whole point of season 3 was to make the alternate characters sympathetic to us.
- In Doonesbury, B.D. becomes friends with Viet Cong member Phred. This comes as quite a shock to his fellow Americans, since B.D. was violently anti-Communist and had actually volunteered to fight in Vietnam (albeit just get out of having to take a test).
- The Argentinian Political Strip Boogie el aceitoso inverts this trope, when a Jewish soldier tells Boogie that when they were children, his best friend, a Palestinian boy, swore friendship forever, so when the trenches were calm, they talked -screamed- about their lives, each one of them occult at his line. This was echoed by a lot of soldiers in both camps. However, the years passed, and the young soldiers did not have the chance to know each other, so they didn't talked to the enemy. The conclusion is that a long war dehumanizes people.
- Done, kind of, in the PS3 game Lair in which the hero ends up joining his once-enemies mostly out of necessity, only to see that they are not the monsters his old kingdom made them out as.
- Vanguard Bandits with its multiple branches can have Bastion learn that there's good people in the Empire which he's been raised to despise since birth.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, some of the members of the Grand Alliance have realized that the Crimson Coalition, the army they've been fighting against, might not be quite as bad as they originally thought. Many others in the Alliance refuse to see it that way, however, and point out the atrocities committed by the Coalition. However, it's eventually the Alliance member Jono Renfield who realizes that the Alliance's methods can be just as cruel and he points out that the two armies might not be so different after all.
Jono Renfield: And I thought I was surrounded by black-hearted demons in the heart of Yamato. But here I find myself in Vanna, among ye honored personages of the Alliance and the Sultanate, shoulder to shoulder with simpering monsters willing to compromise morality for any edge in their damn war. The Vulfsatz, they're a death squad, soldiers. This sort of thing comes with the job. But in spite of his heritage, and your pants-wetting frights over him turning into the next Sydney or Arawn one day, Hannibal is a child. Separated from his mother. And you're willing to hand him to her enemy, have his life threatened in some cowardly attempt to cow her assault...and then what when she doesn't give in? Slit his throat? Move on to Plan B? If this is what the Grand Alliance has turned itself into in these many years...I'd rather go deal with the demons again. At least they don't fancy themselves heroes while bathing in the entrails of their enemies.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Aang attended a Fire Nation school, and in the process learned that the Fire Nation isn't completely evil, contrary to the impressions he was given by traveling through lands that the Fire Nation was invading.
- Zuko discovered the same in his journey through the Earth Kingdom, first hunting Aang and then as a fugitive. He'd bought into the propoganda that the purpose of the war was to share the Fire Nation's glory with the rest of the world. This discovery is part of what prompts his HeelFace Turn.
- My Life as a Teenage Robot, when Jenny was trapped on the Cluster homeworld.
- Happened on Teen Titans, when Cyborg was infiltrating Brother Blood's academy (of EVIL)... he actually liked it there, made some friends, had a brief romance with Jinx (She's got pink hair, though, so that's understandable), and actually looked like he was going to become the mask for a while...
- During World War I, Franco-British and German soldiers resisted a return to combat operations after fraternizing with each other during a Christmas cease-fire. Only for the event to be expressly denied in the contemporary French media. Much later it was dramatised in the rather excellent film Joyeux Noël.
- During all modern, industrialized wars, the apparent accuracy of soldiers in combat is far lower than their training would predict. It was found that when soldiers were close enough to see their enemies as human beings, they find it very hard to aim at them. (In WWII 10,000 bullets were expended for every death. In the US-Iraq war, it was closer to 250,000)
- Sadly there is not a whole of evidence they aren't just shooting worse under combat stress.
- Or indeed laying down suppressing fire, which isn't intended to hit anything in the first place.
- This discounts the myriad other ways in which one can die in modern warfare - as the 20th century dragged on, (vehicle-mounted) artillery and eventually air-strikes became increasingly important ways of killing people and/or enabling infantry to kill them.