Norbert: It makes too much sense to stick together.
When a group of people, faced with a problem to solve or a place to explore, decides to split up and have everyone tackle it individually.
It's commonly seen as a Horror Trope, and a sign of severe Genre Blindness at that. It's named after Fred's Catchphrase from Scooby-Doo, which shows about how seriously works tend to take this trope. The obvious problem is that if everyone is out there alone (whether they want to be or not), they don't have anyone to help out when the scary creature eventually gets them — which tended to happen all the time to Scooby Doo. In a straighter horror story, this allows the party to get picked off one by one. In fact, this trope tends to be defied quite a bit more often than played straight, leading to its opposite, Never Split the Party.
There's one major advantage to splitting the party, though — if The Millstone knows that the party is willing to let the monster catch the slowest member and let everyone else go, having the party split up forces all of them to deal with the threat on an equal basis.
It's also seen in RPGs, where the game splits up the party and has different characters do different things. This is typically a test to make sure that you've been training all the characters, and not just the ones you lean on all the time. If you're not prepared for it, you'll often find yourself scrambling to find enough equipment to supply everybody (but you can work around this with Leaked Experience and the Bag of Sharing).
Compare Party Scattering, when the party splits up involuntarily, Breaking the Fellowship, where the party splits up for an extended period of time, and The Fellowship Has Ended, when the team permanently splits up after fulfilling their mission. These splits tend to last longer and allow the writers to maintain multiple plotlines at once. When just one person suddenly leaves the party without warning, it's a Sneaky Departure.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Stardust Crusaders: With having little options once the sun sets in Egypt and DIO is now pursuing them, the heroes decide to split off with Joseph and Kakyoin fending DIO off and trying to figure out the real ability of his Stand while Jotaro and Polnareff follow behind.
- Diamond is Unbreakable: To anticipate Otoishi while he's waiting for his target to arrive Morioh's port, Josuke and Koichi stay by the docks to be on the lookout, Jotaro and Okuyasu head for the arriving Speedwagon boat to guard it.
- Golden Wind: Upon arriving in Rome, Giorno and the others are ambushed by Cioccolata, who unleashes a deadly mold all over the city. Realizing they have no time to waste before the mold reaches their contact at the colosseum, Giorno and Mista head off to take down Cioccolata as Bucciarati takes on the Mad Doctor's partner, Secco.
- Stone Ocean: In the midst of the team's prison break, they escape into two groups to take different routes in order to meet up at Cape Canaveral. Jolyne brings Ermes and Emporio along with her, while Weather Report and Anasui escape together.
- One Piece:
- This happens very frequently, usually when the Straw Hats are breaking into their destination. In the Alabasta arc, the crew splits up to act as decoys to engage the Baroque Works Officer Agents so that Vivi can stop the rebellion. In the Skypiea arc, they split into two groups- one to find the gold and one to get the Merry to a place where the gold team can meet it to escape, but as a result of a variety of happenings related to the Survival Game (like Eneru attacking the Merry and a snake causing the gold team to get separated), this doesn't work out as they expect and the crew ends up separated until the climax. In the Enies Lobby arc, the crew is forced to split up to fight the CP9 agents who hold the keys to Robin's handcuffs. In the Sabaody Archipelago Arc, Luffy has his crew split up when the enemies that arrive prove too strong for them, but after Kizaru cuts off their escape, Kuma appears and sends all the Straw Hats to separate islands.
- Happens especially repeatedly in the Dressrosa arc due to several circumstances. Originally Law, Robin and Usopp would go to Green Bit to give back Caesar Clown to Doflamingo. Nami, Chopper, Momonosuke and Brook would guard the ship. The Monster Trio, Franky and Kin'emon will destroy the Smile factory. Then Luffy joined the tournament, Robin and Usopp get separated from Law and end up meeting the dwarves and coincidentally Zoro and Franky wind up there too. Sanji reunites with Nami's group while Kin'emon gets ambushed by Doflamingo's men. Finally, Zoro and Kin'emon wait outside the Colosseum for Luffy. Franky, Usopp and Robin head out with the dwarves to destroy the factory. Law gets captured by Doflamingo and Luffy chases after him. Luffy orders the group on Sunny to head to the next island because one of Big Mom's ships came after them.
- Also happens at the end of the Zou arc, though this time as planned, where the newly-formed Ninja-Pirate-Mink-Samurai Alliance splits into four groups to accomplish various goals: Luffy, Nami, Chopper, Brook, and three Minks (Carrot, Pedro, and Pekoms) head to Whole Cake Island to get Sanji back from Big Mom; Zoro, Usopp, Robin, Franky, Law and the Heart Pirates, and the three adult samurai head to Wano to prepare for the war against Kaido; Cat Viper and some subordinates leave to look for Marco and the remnants of the Whitebeard Pirates; and Dogstorm, Momonosuke, and the rest of the Minks remain on Zou until the time comes for everyone to reunite.
- This continues in the Whole Cake Island arc: Brook and Pedro split up from the rest of the group to steal a copy of Big Mom's Poneglyph, as they'll never get a better shot at it.
- The Wano arc naturally has it happen again, since the raid on Kaido's island involves a massive army attacking a place with only two relatively small entrances. Though Law's short-range teleportation allows splitting up a third way. Law and Kin'emon also recognize that since the Straw Hats (especially Luffy) are really back at sticking to plans and would probably do their own thing anyway, plus their sort-of ally Eustass Kid is just out for revenge rather than caring about the plan. So they specifically plan on simply using the ruckus caused by the Straw Hats and Kid Pirates as a distraction for their own group's main assault.
- Anime episode #150 (Season 7, Hueco Mundo Sneak Entry). Ichigo, Rukia, Ishida, Chad and Renji are in Las Noches and facing five doors that might lead to Orihime. Rukia suggests that each member of the party go through a separate door, and they do, much to the dismay of Ichigo of all people, who suggests staying together to increase their chances of survival and success (Renji and Rukia retorting with "a true warrior does not fear death" does not help). Ishida ends up finding Renji and getting involved in his battle agains Szayelaporro, while Ichigo ends up being the one to find Orihime. Ichigo turns out to be right because this split is a blunder that nearly gets them all killed.
- The New Captain Shūsuke Amagai arc (season 9). Suggested by Ichigo while hunting for assassins in Karakura Town.
- In season 2 of Digimon Adventure 02, they go around the world in this manner, dealing with the global outbreak of Digimon appearances. (Subverted somewhat in that each group teams up with regional Digidestined.)
- Fullmetal Alchemist: In Episode 19 of Brotherhood, Mustang splits the group at a junction to make finding Barry the Chopper easier. It doesn't turn out too well.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: In Episode 3, after finding an evolving grief seed, Sayaka and Kyubey stay behind to keep watch over while Madoka quickly gets Mami.
- Puella Magi Kazumi Magica has one in chapter 3 where the Pleiades have to search for their missing teammates.
- Puella Magi Suzune Magica also has an instance where a team of magical girls split up to hunt witches. It ends badly.
- In HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, the team splits up, dealing with a different threat (Cure Marine against Kumojacky, Cure Sunshine against Cobraja and Cure Moonlight against Dark Precure), to allow Cure Blossom to rescue her grandmother.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, the group splits up to deal with the fiendish five dragons in episodes 9 and 10. They soon join back together when it's apparent the dragons can't be beaten alone.
- In the second half of Sakura Wars: The Movie, the Flower Division uses Kohran Li's boat, the Katsuryu-maru, to infiltrate the Great Imperial Theater, the group decides to split up. Sakura Shinguji, Ratchet Altair, Iris Châteaubriand, and Kohran return to the koubus with Sakura and Ratchet taking down a few guards. Meanwhile, Sumire Kanzaki, Kanna Kirishima, and Leni Milchstraße rescue Kaede Fujieda and the Wind Division.
- The Black Bulls in Black Clover are spread out throughout the continent right after the six month time skip. Asta and Finral leave the others in the Heart Kingdom to join up with the Black Bulls who're near the border of the Spade Kingdom, where they encounter Dante. Noelle, Luck, Charmy, and Nero are in the Heart Kingdom and fight Vanica and her Dark Disciples. Gordon is studying Curse Magic under his father, and Magna and Zora are off traveling.
- In The Heroic Legend of Arslan, it happens to Arslan's group on their journey to Peshwar, though not all by choice. Upon being chased, Daryun stays behind to buy the group more time to escape. The remaining group was intending to stay together but were soon separated due to a combination of the forest being set on fire and Lusitanian soldiers. Gieve ran into Arslan and Elam while trying to find Farangis. Farangis managed to find Daryun. Narsus escaped alone but would eventually meet Alfarid.
- In Chapter 46 of Tales of Wedding Rings, the protagonists, knowing that it's only a matter of time until the Abyss King recovers from his injuries and goes back on the offensive, decide to split up to handle two objectives at once. Hime, Nefritis, and Granart travel with Morion to the Sorcerer's Spire so they can receive some much-needed training in the use of their newly awakened magical powers. Meanwhile, Satou, Saphir, Amber, and Alabaster remain in the Giseras Empire's capital so they can sneak into the imperial mythology storehouse and obtain the sword of the first Ring King.
- Referenced in New X-Men:
Colossus: Should I take Blackbird II and reconnoiter with Scott and the others?
Kitty: You mean split up? I gotta sit you down in front of some good horror movies, babe.
- In Supergirl story arc Red Daughter of Krypton, Guy Gardner decides to split up his team when they arrive on planet Primeem and are trying to find the newest Red Lantern. Later on, he admits that it was not a good idea when they were attacked.
- Happens in W.I.T.C.H. during the end of the "New Power" arc, to near-disastrous consequences.
- In Abraxas (Hrodvitnon), the G-Team and Team Mauzer do this during their first joint expedition into a dark Elaborate Underground Base, with either team going a separate way to the other. Lampshaded by Tejada when she aims to defy this trope in a later chapter.
- Avengers: Infinite Wars
- In Chapter 44, the Guardians of the Galaxy- currently working as bounty hunters in the Star Wars galaxy during the Clone Wars- split up to deal with two contracts at once, with Quill, Rocket, Gamora and HK-47 departing to defend a farming colony while Groot, Drax, Kraglin and Mantis work with Fenn Shysa's Protectors on another contract.
- Chapter 45 reveals that the Avengers, in their capacity as a semi-independent force aiding the Republic, have taken to dividing their resources whenever they assist the republic on an assignment, with around half the team remaining on Coruscant at all times in case reports come in that may lead to the discovery of another of the missing Avengers.
- Played Straight in Bleach (S) Abridged, over Chad's protests, because Ichigo wants to give Uryu and Chad, the two weakest party members, the opportunity to escape.
- In Buffy meets Star Trek, as the Enterprise crew recruit the aid of the USS Rutherford to track the demonically-possessed Data, the Scoobies send Xander and Anya to brief the Rutherford on the nature of the threat they're currently facing (although Xander feels as though he was only given this job because he and Anya were useless on the Enterprise as Buffy, Giles and Willow are needed to find a spell to defeat the current threat and obviously they couldn't trust Spike to do this job).
- Examples from the Calvinverse:
- The protagonists split up into pairs in Chapter 13 of Retro Chill, taking one invention with them.
- Done frequently in Calvin & Hobbes: The Series
- Calvin and Hobbes do it in "Full Moon: Full Baloney!" unintentionally out of fright.
- Played straighter in "The Great Halloween Heist".
- Also done in "Camp Blues".
- Double subverted in Dragon Ball Z Abridged, when the group needs to find Dr. Gero's hideout:
Piccolo: Lot of ground to cover.
Krillin: Please don't say what I think you're going to say...
Piccolo: We should probably—
Krillin: Here it comes...
Piccolo: —stick together for safety.
Krillin; Oh, thank our green god in the Lookout!
Tenshinhan: I don't know. Probably cover more ground if we split up.
Krillin: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!
Piccolo: No, he's got a good point.
Krillin: Ah, green goddammit!
- In Fate Revelation Online Griselda's guild is on a horror-themed quest and need to locate an NPC in a small town. Schmitt protests mildly when they decide to split up as it feels like asking for trouble.
- Inverted in The First Saniwa: Three teams sent on the mission station at different places: one at Seimei's house, one inside the city and one in the Minamoto estate. The events taking place later make them all have to meet up at the last place on that list as it's become the base of operation of the enemies.
- In Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars, this has happened two times so far: When the Courier first engages the Blue Suns, a Centurion splits away from the remaining group to deal with him. Justified, as they don’t know his skills yet and Centurions are Elite Mooks in the game. Justified again in the third chapter, where only one Blue Suns hovercar out of five is sent to investigate the car left behind by the team and where Courier is lurking: they don’t expect him to stick around near the facility and so the rest are searching for him on the outskirts.
- Megami no Hanabira: The girls split up in groups of two to help the Flock clear out a demon nest. It's Justified in that a demon nest contains tons of haywire cell phones that spit out demons at regular intervals: the primary concern is finding them and thinning their numbers before the demons overrun them. Not to mention that even after splitting up, each floor has a group of four or five Tamers and/or Flock members working it.
- The Warden and her companions do this a number of times during the various missions in Shadow and Rose. Because the story is a retelling of Dragon Age: Origins from a different point of view, this is actually an attempt by the author to recreate the fact that only three companions can fight alongside the player character at any given time while having the reduced number still make sense from a narrative point of view.
- In Sonic Generations: Friendship Is Timeless , the group frequently splits up when locating a portal. The group comes back together again when said portal is found.
- In chapter 19 of Wrong Road to the Right Place, the team has three separate tasks they have to accomplish all at once. So they decide to split up, with each taking a different task: Oliver rescues Walter, Diggle destroys the Makarov device, and Laurel and Ted protect the Moore family from the Rasmus assassin. It works perfectly.
- In What Tomorrow Brings, the group splits up after the Ellimist's visit. Ax and Tobias look for Elfangor, Jake and Cassie spy on the EGS tower, and Marco and Tom contact a spy for the Yeerks. After they fail to find Elfangor, Tobias goes off to make out with Rachel, while Ax and Cassie go to The Gardens to get morphs.
- Happens five times in The Avengers (1998):
- When Steed and Mrs. Peel first go to Sir August's estate, Mrs. Peel distracts him while Steed snoops around the grounds.
- While Steed and Mrs. Peel are pursuing the two people dressed as bears in the Wonderland Weather building.
- As Steed, Mrs. Peel and Alice infiltrate Sir August's estate, Alice suggests that they split up while going through a maze. This allows Mrs. Peel to fall into a pit trap and be captured and Steed to be knocked out by Mrs. Peel's Evil Twin clone. Good idea, Alice!
- After Alice wakes up Steed in the maze, they split up again to find and rescue Mrs. Peel.
- In Sir August's underground lair, Mrs. Peel goes to disarm the weather control device while Steed seeks out and fights Sir August.
- In Avengers: Infinity War, after meeting Thor, the Guardians of the Galaxy go different ways: Rocket and Groot venture with Thor to Nidavellir to forge a new weapon for him, while the rest fly to Knowhere to check on the Collector and the Reality Stone in his possession.
- In The Cabin in the Woods, when the Main Characters start being hunted by monsters, their first instinct is to stick together no matter what. However, thanks to subliminal messages and intelligence-dampening drugs, the puppeteers behind the situation get the characters thinking they need to split up. The Only Sane Man in the group is completely befuddled by this.
- Clawed: The geology professor overseeing the field trip to Bear Claw Mountain tells his students that they only have three days before they have to leave the area, which isn't enough time to conduct their survey in. So he orders his students to split into teams to speed things along.
- A large part of the premise and conflict in the second act of the film Clue. Specifically they split into pairs. There's even a kind of logic to it, as Col. Mustard points out: if one half of a pair winds up dead, then the other half is probably the murderer.
- In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the two main characters split up: one goes to find the Big Bad while the other hides the MacGuffin. This is lampshaded in the commentary section of the DVD where one of the writers jokes that they made a classic horror-movie mistake.
- Fright Night (1985). While Charley Brewster and Peter Vincent are looking for the vampire's coffin in the basement they hear a noise. Charley tells Peter to continue looking for the coffin while he checks out the noise. This results in Charley confronting a vampire by himself and almost being killed.
- Ghostbusters. The title characters are looking for a ghost in a hotel.
Ray: I think we better split up.
Egon: Good idea.
Peter: Yeah, we can do more damage that way.
- In A Hard Day's Night, John, Paul and George do this to search for Ringo when the latter takes off in the middle of a TV gig.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: The Company are forced to split into two groups when being pursued by Smaug through the Lonely Mountain. Justified, since as big and powerful as Smaug is, there's only one of him and a dozen of the Company, so splitting up increases the odds that at least some of them might survive.
- In the sequel to House on Haunted Hill (1999), Desmond orders this when they get to the house, on the usual "we'll cover more ground" excuse. Kyle immediately points out this is a terrible idea, but is ignored.
Kyle: Wait. Did you really just suggest that we split up? In a haunted house?
- In A Lonely Place to Die, upon finding a kidnapped Serbian girl in the Scottish Highlands, a group decides to split up to get help quicker. Alas yet unsurprisingly, this doesn't quite work out as planned.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail. King Arthur and his knights split up in their search for the Holy Grail after failing in their assault on the French castle.
Historian: Defeat at the castle seems to have utterly disheartened King Arthur. The ferocity of the French taunting took him completely by surprise, and Arthur became convinced that a new strategy was required if the quest for the Holy Grail were to be brought to a successful conclusion. Arthur, having consulted his closest knights, decided that they should separate, and search for the Grail individually.
- Rio Lobo: A (somewhat) justified example. McNally and his pursuit force have to split up as the confederates their chasing split up, and then when the confederates reach a river and travel through the water to hide their tracks, to the point where McNally is alone, and easy to capture, once he finally finds them.
- Scary Movie 2 lampshades this trope, along with Black Dude Dies First.
Brenda: Uh uh uh uh uh uh uh uh UH! Now wait a minute, hold up! How come when anytime this scary shit happens, and we should stick together, you white people always say "let's split up"?
Theo: She's right, we should stick together.
Dwight: She's right. Okay.
[points to the white people in the group]
Dwight Hartman: You three, follow me!
[the three black people are left alone]
Shorty: Ain't that a bitch.
[the three of them begin to cry]
Brenda: We gonna die, y'all.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. While in Dr. Totenkopf's abandoned uranium mine, the title character says "We'll have to split up." Little does he know that Polly Perkins has already wandered off on her own.
- Starship Troopers: Rico gets a feeling that Carmen is down a separate tunnel than the one his platoon has been ordered to explore. Knowing the severe penalties for disobeying orders during a battle (what he's doing could be considered desertion, not to mention abandoning his command), he places the platoon under a subordinate's command, takes a small handful of volunteers (coincidentally the entire surviving main cast) and goes off on his rescue mission after Carmen.
- In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Yoda and Obi-Wan split up in order to kill the two evil Sith Lords. Ultimately, neither is successful, but come within a hair's breadth of being so.
- The novelization expands on this. Yoda points out that since Darth Sidious earlier killed 4 of the best Jedi the order has, even the two of them together won't be enough to beat him. But if they target each Sith separately, Sidious will be aware that his apprentice is in danger and that might distract him enough to allow them to beat him. They aren't teaming up against Anakin because he isn't enough of a threat.
- Defied in Danny Boyles' Sunshine
Mace: We should split up.
Harvey: I'm not sure that's such a good idea...
Mace: You're probably right. We might get picked off one at a time by aliens.
- Tank Girl. After Tank Girl and Jet Girl enter the sex club Liquid Silver in order to find Sam, they split up.
- In The Thing (1982) and its prequel, this is even more of a bad idea than usual, given that the alien can take over and copy humans. Even when the protagonists have finally worked out who's an alien and who isn't, events serve to split them up again, so when that person reappears, so do the old suspicions.
- In the New Testament, the original Apostles split up after Jesus' ascension to carry his teachings into different countries. Canonically, except for the Council of Jerusalem, they never meet up again in Real Life, but according to the Word of Dante (literally), they all eventually come together again in Heaven.
- In Starship Troopers, while exploring a Bug Hive, the narrator mentions that the prescribed MI battle doctrine is to leave 10% of your force behind to cover any forks in the tunnel, rather than splitting your force up in two to explore the tunnels separately, with the added bonus of them making sure the bugs don't sneak up behind you. Rico decides that this would be an excellent way to end up with him at the deepest part of the tunnel with a very small handful of troopers, and instead decides to leave only two troopers to cover each junction, giving him a bigger force to use in the deeper, more dangerous parts of the tunnels.
- Happens during the Quarter Quell in Catching Fire. It does not end well.
- Played with in The Good, the Bad and the Mediochre. While searching a dragon's lair in order to return said dragon's egg, the protagonists encounter a fork. Mediochre has them split up, and even though Charlotte remembers how this always went in Scooby-Doo episodes, she goes along with the idea. It turns out that Mediochre had worked out which tunnel was most likely to be the safest, and deliberately sent his friends down that one, leaving himself to explore the more dangerous one alone. It also turns out that he was wrong.
- Played absolutely straight in Ghost Story by Peter Straub. Heroes enter evil house, decide they need to split up for very minor reasons, and things go badly. A tiny lampshade is hung, but it's still idiotic.
- The Ghostbusters (1984) example above is parodied in The Intercontinental Union of Disgusting Characters:
Wierd Dough: Great, they've split up.
Everybody else: Oh no! They can do more damage that way!
- In book 9 of Paradise Lost, newly created Eve decides she wants to go exploring on her own, despite Adam's protestations that Satan broke out of Hell and is aiming vengeance on them. It doesn't end well for the whole of the human race.
- Averted in Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids where Scooby Gang expies investigating real monsters 13 years later emphatically decide that splitting up was always a stupid idea that did more harm than good and make a point of always staying together throughout the novel.
- Discussed in The Hate U Give, when Starr and her friends ask Chris (the only white person present) why white people always insist on doing this, pointing out how stupid it is. Chris agrees that it's stupid, but claims that it only happens in movies — never in real life. It becomes a Brick Joke awhile later, when Seven's car breaks down, and Chris begins to suggest that two people walk to the gas station while the others stay with the car, before suddenly stopping mid-sentence and asking, "This is what you were talking about, isn't it?" Starr and the others confirm that it is.
- Podkayne of Mars. After escaping from kidnappers, Podkayne and Clark agree to go in different directions in case a missing member of the gang returns and pursues them. It backfires as Clark gets lost, while Podkayne returns to the place they were being held to save a Venusian baby from an atomic explosion and gets caught in the blast zone.
- Subverted in the season 5 premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Coulson suggests splitting up to investigate the mysterious station the team has been transported to, only for Mack to immediately shoot it down.
Mack: Oh hell, no! No, no! We are sticking together 100%! Haven't you ever seen an Alien movie?!
Daisy: Mack, it’s the best way to cover the most ground.
Mack: Ya’see, that’s exactly what they say before getting picked off one by one. And you know who the first one will be.
- In Boy Meets World's Slasher Movie episode, "And Then There Was Shawn", when the gang tries to hide from the killer in the library:
Shawn: "All right, everybody, as much as this goes against my horror movie instincts, I think we should split up, that way, the killer can't get to us all at once."
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Resisted by Anya at the beginning of season 6 ("No — bad idea!"), but the gang splits up anyway.
- Lampshaded by Willow in the season 1 episode "Nightmares":
Xander: Probably faster if we split up to look for her.
Giles: Good idea.
[he and Xander go off in opposite directions]
Willow: Oh, uh, faster, but... not really safer.
- In "Anne":
Buffy: This'll probably go faster if we split up.
Anne: Can I come with you?
Buffy: ...OK, where did I lose you on the whole splitting up thing?
- In one of the more commonly cited episodes of Criminal Minds, "The Big Game", Reid becomes excited about an epiphany he's had and tells JJ, who he's with, that they should split up. She weakly protests but complies anyway, and it all goes to hell from there. The stupidity of their actions is lampshaded in a later episode when JJ says to Reid, "No matter what happens this time, we don't split up, clear?"
- Destination Fear: A defining part of their investigation, where they split up and sleep in the most active areas of the location.
- Done in a unique way in Season 3 by having Dakota/Chelsea and Alex/Tanner be split up between two different locations believed to be related to the Villisca Axe Murders, due to a theory that the Malvern Manor, while still in operation as a hotel, was used as a night stop by the murderer at Villisca, due to being connected by the train tracks to both locations.
- Doctor Who has numerous examples over the years, which have led to "companions wandering off and getting in trouble" being firmly established as a Running Gag:
- "The Daleks", the second serial of the original run, had this in the first episode, "The Dead Planet":
Ian: Why don't we separate and go different ways and meet back here in, say, ten minutes, alright?
Barbara: Alright, I'll go this way.
[Barbara goes down one corridor, Ian another and the Doctor and Susan take the third. Less than five minutes later, the angriest pepperpots in the entire history of time and space make their television debut.]
- In the Second Doctor story "The Faceless Ones", the Doctor and has three companions arrive on the tarmac at Gatwick Airport. When it looks like they're about the be apprehended by authorities, the Doctor's reaction is to call out, "Scatter!" And they do, and his companions all go off and very nearly get killed... in different, equally perilous situations.
- "Flesh and Stone" twists this in a dark way: It looks like the clerics guarding Amy are doing this, even though she begs them not to, but it turns out the two who left have been retgoned, and the remaining pair don't remember them or think anything's wrong with approaching the big glowing light.
- "The Daleks", the second serial of the original run, had this in the first episode, "The Dead Planet":
- Happens in Heroes during the volume 3 finale episode "Dual". Sylar locks Claire, Meredith, Angela, and HRG in with him at Primatech because he's a bit pissed off about Angela lying to him and saying that she's his mother. Sylar also had some good reasons to be pissed at HRG too, such as HRG and Elle helping to make him into the monster that he is now. Everyone decided that the best way to deal with the over-powered serial killer is to split up. Needless to say, it didn't end well, at least not for Meredith and those two Level Five guys.
- Lampshaded in Malcolm in the Middle when Malcolm, Reese, Dewey, and Stevie end up alone at an abandoned carnival after dark:
Malcolm: [to the camera] This is like the beginning of every horror movie I've ever seen.
Reese: We should split up.
[Malcolm gives an incredulous look to the camera]
- This happens on Misfits when the group are trying to track down a malevolent shapeshifter - a pretty foolish decision given that she can, y'know, shapeshift to resemble any of them. To their credit, they did devise a password so they could identify each other, and the plan might have been effective had Nathan not screwed things up quite so royally.
- In New Kids on the Rock episode 4, there is a lovely exchange on this subject.
Kevin: Let's split up.
Ryan: I agree with Kevin.
Kevin: Thank you, Ryan. [he wanders off]
Ryan: Let's not split up. Kevin is filled with terrible ideas.
- Person of Interest. In "If-Then-Else", Team Machine is trapped and the Machine is running thousands of simulations to find a way of them accomplishing their mission and get out alive. We're shown two scenarios in which the team is split, with one group to carry out the mission while the other secures the escape route, that result in them getting killed or captured. Only the third scenario shown, in which Team Machine stays together to give mutual aid and protection, has a chance of success.
- In Power Rangers Operation Overdrive, when the Rangers do this, Dax says that this is just like the part in a horror movie where everyone splits up and gets picked off one by one. Nobody listens to him. (They don't get picked off one by one, but one Ranger does get kidnapped.)
- Smallville: In "Supergirl", when Clark and Kara enter the S&M club Clark suggests splitting up so they can cover more ground.
- Lampshaded by Rimmer (natch) in the Red Dwarf episode "DNA":
Lister: Okay, look, let's split up.
Rimmer: Why? Why should we split up?
Lister: Well, we'll do the search quicker.
Rimmer: What's the hurry? Have you got some major luncheon appointment you have to rush off to?
- Lampshaded by Daniel Jackson in the Stargate SG-1 episode "The Tomb":
Maj. Vallarin: Wait here.
Jackson: Yes, you go down the dark hallway, alone, and I'll wait here in a dark room, alone.
- Star Trek: Voyager.
- Subverted in "Twisted". Tuvok and Chakotay try this on a ship whose decks have been rearranged by a Negative Space Wedgie. They decide they need to split up to map the changing conditions, walk off in opposite directions...only to end up facing each other.
- In "Scorpion (Part 1)", a three man Away Team investigates an alien bioship, so there's no-one to watch Ensign Kim's back when the other two go to investigate the vessel while Kim downloads information from a data node. Suddenly Kim starts to hear creepy alien roars as the bioship's pilot becomes aware of their presence. In a subversion however Kim isn't attacked until the Away Team joins up again, so this trope was only used to build up the suspense.
- Star Trek: Picard: In "Nepenthe", the heroes have been split into three groups: Picard and Soji use the Sikarian spatial trajector to travel to Nepenthe, Elnor and Hugh stay behind on the Artifact to ensure that the Romulans can't follow Picard and Soji, and Rios, Raffi and Jurati are on La Sirena with instructions to rendez-vous with Picard and Soji at Nepenthe, which is a few days away at maximum warp.
- Supernatural: Sam and Dean do this several times when they're hunting something supernatural at an ominous location. A notable case is when they're pursuing a shapeshifter in the sewers in Season 1.
- The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "Elegy". After the three astronauts land on the unexplored asteroid and find the eerie area to be filled with deserted buildings and mannequins, they decide to split up and search the place, which is a really bad idea that trained astronauts should never have even considered.
- Done all the time in VR Troopers, since all three Troopers came from different Japanese shows edited together, meaning the only time all three actually fought together was in US-exclusive footage, which there wasn't a lot of outside the Battle Grid, which was incredibly cheap looking.
- In the Gorillaz' "Staurnz Barz" video, Russell suggests splitting up to look around the Haunted House, which they do.
- Done in Golden Logres; after reuniting the twelve Knights of the Round Table, the player must divide them between Land's End and the kingdom of the Fisher King to complete their individual quests.
- In the Cool Kids Table game ''Creepy Town’’, the night of the killing starts with the cast split into several different rooms in the haunted house, and as things go on continue to split up. Somewhat justified because everything's happening really quickly and they're all scared teenagers.
- In Burgle Bros. a common strategy is to move each character to a different floor as soon as possible, since a guard moves once for each character on that guard's floor.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- 1st Edition module I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill. While the PCs are at the Weathermay estate, the NPCs there will offer to help them. If any of the NPCs have been transposessed by an undead, they will suggest splitting up the PC party and NPCs to search the grounds more quickly. If the PCs are foolish enough to agree they can expect to be subject of a Total Party Kill at the hands of the numerous undead and other monsters swarming around.
- Dungeon magazine #28 adventure "Night of Fear". Lyons, one of the NPCs trapped in Crellar's Trading Post with the doppelganger, will suggest splitting up and searching in small groups. This will make it easier for the doppelganger to carry out his plan, which is to Kill and Replace Crellar, the owner of the trading post.
- In the board game Betrayal at House on the Hill, even though you're all investigating a Haunted House, the only way to actually get anything done for the first half of the game is by splitting up. For the second half of the game... most of the time you want to get back together as quickly as possible.
- The tabletop RPG Dragon Strike comes with a video demonstrating a game. One player asks if she can split off from the party, and the dungeon master says "Of course! At your own risk." Later, everyone does end up splitting up. The MSTing of the video at The Spoony Experiment comments "I told you not to split the party! This always happens!" Another player gets the idea as well. But by the time he says it, everyone has split off.
- Lampshaded in the Mansions of Madness rulebook. In the section on player strategy, it advises against spreading out too much while noting how following this trope rarely ends well.
- After the first battle scene in Men in Black: Alien Attack at Universal Studios, Zed insists that the two ride vehicles split up.
- Anachronox only allows you to control a maximum of three characters at a time, forcing you to swap characters at a bar where the currently unused characters presumably wait around getting plastered until you come back. At the end of the game, however, all seven characters must enter the Big Bad's fortress at once. To avoid having to rewrite the interface, the game creates THREE separate parties, two each of three characters, and one of one, between which the player may swap at will. All three parties must act in concert to reach the Final Boss.
- Near the end of Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, all 4 characters go different ways and each have to solve a puzzle (except Balthios, he fights Expies of characters from other games).
- Banjo-Tooie: One of the most important moves learned in the game is how to split up Banjo and Kazooie, allowing them to explore the levels individually and, gradually, learn moves that they wouldn't be able to perform if they were together. The separation can be done with the Split-Up Pads, which perform the split when Banjo positions onto the blue pad, making it so Kazooie lands onto the red one.
- Batman: Arkham Series:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum does this with the mooks. After you take down a mook such that the others all run over to see it, they will inevitably go back to patrolling with "Now split up and find that Bat!"
- Batman: Arkham Knight does this sometimes, but it's a lot more realistic in nature. The Arkham Knight will specifically order his men not to split up, as it makes them easy prey for Batman, and they do their best to follow these orders. Given time, though, they'll start to separate as they get distracted by various things, i.e. a teammate's unconscious body, or are lured away by tricks in Batman's arsenal.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of Black Sigil requires splitting up into two parties to open up the path. At this point, you have at least 6 characters, and only 3 can take part in a battle at a time.
- In Breath of Fire II, players who refused to use Sten and/or Jean got the unpleasant shock of their lives when they had to use those characters alone in certain important stages. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
- In Clock Tower 2, there's an unusual subversion of this, a case where choosing it actually saves a life. In Helen's Scenario 3, the entire group is split up after an attack from Scissorman, but Helen can slowly find people as she explores. When she finds Beth in the crumbled room on the first floor of the castle, Beth will insist on going with Helen in a refusal to be left by herself again. Walking out of the room with her will immediately get Beth killed.
- In the original Corpse Party (PC-98), the protagonists split up voluntarily in order to explore the Eldritch Location they've been transported to. The remake changes it to them being split up against their will.
- Splitting up is an actual strategy for survivors in Dead by Daylight. There's little to no benefit in staying in a group during regular play, as it only makes the killer's job of incapacitating and hooking the survivors easier, so having only one survivor being chased to stall for time while others split up to perform other tasks, such as unhooking their fellows or repairing generators, puts the killer under severe pressure. A skilled and well-coordinated team can finish two out of five generators in one single chase, or in rarer cases, even three. The sole exception is when rescuing a survivor from a hook at the final part of a match once the gates are open,* as healthy survivors can bodyblock for the rescuee so they're not incapacitated on the way to the exit.
- Chapter 2 of Deltarune has this happen just before you enter the Cyber City. Regardless of which option you choose, Susie will decide to go with Ralsei and leave Kris on their own for a little while until they find Noelle, who becomes a party member until you meet back up with Susie and Ralsei (how this happens differs depending on which route you're playing).
- The mid-nineties LucasArts adventure game The Dig uses this trope, after Maggie decides to split up from Brink and explore Cocytus after Brink's death, rationalizing that staying together would mean certain death to them as well, and Cocytus is just as alien to both of them. It works out at the start, after Maggie manages to discover an alien library (through an accident that might have gotten Brink killed had he followed along), but the splitup backfires when Maggie gets abducted by a giant spider.
- Dino Crisis: Regina is always working alone while Gail and Rick go off to do less dangerous work.
- In Dragon Ball Z The Legacy Of Goku II, the final fight against Cell is waged by Goku and Gohan, but halfway through, your other three characters get Cell Juniors thrown at them. This is a nasty surprise for some players — but they have no excuse for not seeing it coming, as it's exactly what's supposed to happen story-wise.
- Drakengard 3 has a villainous example. Combined, the Intoners can easily fend off Mikhail's attacks. But they go and live in different regions so they can rule the continent more efficiently... and because they hate each other.
- Eternal Sonata does this for a large part of the middle of the game.
- In Evolva, you're forced to split your four-men party several times. Level 5 forces you to split it into two groups, as at least one of your Genohunters (and it's recommend two) has to stay watching over a tunnel entrance. In level 6, two Genohunters are initially apart from the others, and in levels 9 and 11 each Genohunter starts on his own.
- From the Final Fantasy series:
- A somewhat odd occurrence happens in Final Fantasy V. There's a tower level requiring two teams, but there's no spare party members waiting around in this game. This means not having to deal with underlevelled characters that one can't equip, but gives you a pair of parties that are only half-manned instead. Oh yes, and one half of the tower forbids you from casting magic while the other half has enemies only vulnerable to magic.
- Several times in Final Fantasy VI. The first time they split up involuntarily and you play through each group's scenario as they try to rendezvous at their intended destination and encounter all sorts of trouble along the way (but fortunately also pick up some new party members to fill out their numbers). The final dungeon in fact requires three teams to get through. The ability to switch between them at any time lets you park one group on a save spot and lets you save at any time as the other party moves up.
- In Final Fantasy VII after escaping Midgar, Cloud suggests splitting the team into two traveling groups and then meeting at Kalm later. This is an amusing subversion in that the expected two plotline trip just ends up being a tutorial for party switching and nothing more.
- On the other hand, the final dungeon in Final Fantasy VII does require splitting up your party, and even the penultimate boss can be fought with multiple parties.
- Storywise the party does travel in separate groups until you acquire the Highwind midway through Disc 2. Until then the entire party showing up in a location is a hint that something big is about to go down soon.
- It happens at points in Final Fantasy VIII, where, for some, the main worry was having enough GFs to junction the entire team. For example, the final dungeon requires two teams of three to act independently to solve many puzzles.
- Final Fantasy IX simply let you choose three party members to go with Zidane on one quest, and then take control of the other four as they battle through a dungeon. The next time you split up into four pairs only in the story sense, as you only control Zidane/Quina. The entire first third or so of the game is like this, with all the party members together, then splitting up on their own individual sidequests, before they finally reunite in Disk 2. At that point, however, some of the characters are Put on a Bus, leaving enough room for the last party members to meet the Arbitrary Headcount Limit. When the whole party reunites at the start of Disk 3, they never split up again, except for the previously mentioned example.
- Happens once in Final Fantasy X. When the party is sentenced to death in the Via Purifico, Tidus, Wakka, and Rikku end up in the water (rather conveniently, as they are the three party members that can fight underwater) which leads up to a hilariously easy redux of the game's That One Boss, while the rest of your party has to navigate a land-based labyrinth.
- Final Fantasy XIII does it for the first half of the game. At first, the five original party members are split up. They come together for a while, just in time to receive their magic powers together. A short walk later, one stays back to protect his girlfriend. The other four manage one Boss Battle together before going their separate ways over a difference in opinion over their Focus. The guy who stayed back is then met by the sixth party member, who meet up with one of the pairs, only to switch partners but remain split up. When they finally manage to get together, they then go to rescue the last pair who got captured. Control bounces around the groups so you get to play all of them. Basically, as a result of this, you can't actually pick your party members until roughly 3/4 of the way through chapter 9 (of 13).
- Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light: The eponymous four heroes split into two groups after a staggering, ooh, one battle together, with half staying together to figure out the source of the curse on Horne, the others going to Liberte. Then they split further, with heroes blundering off alone due to impatience, guilt, or good old-fashioned stupidity. One character gets left behind by someone skulking out of the inn early in the morning, two towns in a row.
- Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance had at least one or two occasions where the main character is separated from the rest of his party, forcing him to fight alone in a one on one fight, and usually their opponent was absurdly strong.
- In fact, the first time this happens, Ramza is paired off against Gafgarion, who you will recall, has strong long range attacks. The only feasible way to beat him (barring excessive Level Grinding before the battle) is to reunite with the party on the other end of the board by raising the portcullis on the city gate. That, and/or you can have mages from the other side support Ramza if he and Gafgarion are close enough to the wall.
- Though if Ramza has a high enough jump stat (possible via the Lancer/Dragoon class), he can jump over the 20-foot wall to escape from Gafgarion. Alternatively, sacrifice a slot on the other side of the gate for a Black Chocobo.
- Much easier method: use Break/Rend Weapon. Gafgarion is useless without a weapon, only able to punch weakly.
- In Advance and A2, "dispatch" missions involve sending off a character to do a mission, and their statistics determine their chance of success. It's possible to send off several members at once on dispatch missions while your main group does missions of its own (which are sometimes necessary to progress the dispatch missions).
- In fact, the first time this happens, Ramza is paired off against Gafgarion, who you will recall, has strong long range attacks. The only feasible way to beat him (barring excessive Level Grinding before the battle) is to reunite with the party on the other end of the board by raising the portcullis on the city gate. That, and/or you can have mages from the other side support Ramza if he and Gafgarion are close enough to the wall.
- In the Fire Emblem series:
- Early into Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, the party splits into two groups while trying to sneak past enemy lines, a tactic that the characters almost immediately realize is a mistake (thanks a lot, Soren). There's no opportunity to rearrange items in advance, and the splitters take their gear with them; and with no shops available to you for several chapters, you better not have given your sole heal staff to the wrong unit.
- Happens in the final part of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, but because the game split up the characters in the previous parts already, there is little concern about having enough units to go around.
- In Fire Emblem Warriors, this occurs after Chapter 5 when the Aytolisian and Ylissean forces learn of the Hoshidan and Nohrian forces fighting. Rowan takes Chrom, Frederick, Lucina, and Robin to parley with the Hoshidans in chapters 6-8 while Lianna takes Cordelia, Lissa, Darios, and Owain to parley with the Nohrians in chapters 9-11.
- Gears of War did this. The let's split up sections were some of the hardest in the game when playing co-op on higher difficulties. Many players played co-op to get through the game on Insane, and the difficulty was reduced by the fact that your human partner could revive you after being killed, unlike your AI teammates. When you were forced to split up, there were no revives, and a single screwup by you or your partner would send you both back to the last checkpoint. This was the only time when it was easier to play without a human teammate, as the AI would never screw up when it wasn't in a position to actually fight near you.
- Some of the split-ups were completely arbitrary, also. There was a section where you had to either choose between a hall filled with lasers or a hall filled with buttons that turned off said lasers. But the doorway at the end of the latter was wide open. There was nothing stopping the player from walking away and leaving the other player to die.
- Half-Life 2: Episode 2: Alyx: "Okay Gordon, me and the superpowered Vortigaunt will sit here and watch you climb through the toxic pit while fighting zombies. Hurry up!" Well, she had been recently impaled and saved with Alternate Dimension Alien Magic, and Gordon is basically the Messiah. Made more forgivable by the fact that she assists you with a sniper rifle for the second half of the segment.
- In ICO, any time Ico leaves Yorda alone, Shadow Men may show up to drag Yorda away and cause a Game Over. Nevertheless, a few puzzles can only be completed by the two separating briefly.
- In Ikemen Sengoku, every route has Nobunaga Oda order the other Azuchi warlords to split up into two teams to deal with the Takeda-Uesugi alliance and Kennyo's behind-the-scenes manipulations separately. The main character, who time-traveled from modern-day Japan and has no personal experience with real-life battles, thinks to herself in one of these routes that "splitting up is what gets everyone killed in a horror movie", but also that the seasoned warlords know better than her how to handle situations like this.
- Most main dungeons and some overworld parts in Infinite Undiscovery have these. The game even has several characters who can only be used when the party splits, because they are arbitrarily forbidden from being in the same group as the Player Character.
- Early on in Insanity, the group splits up to explore the Murai mansion; it's justified here because as far they know, the house is abandoned and they're not in danger. Later, when they get locked in and Ryouji is attacked, Keisuke and Kenta set out in their own to find an exit while leaving Yuuki and the girls to look after Ryouji.
- While not developed by BioWare, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords had this in spades.
- In one instance, one path is taken by the player and two mandatory party members, and the other by three party members of the player's choice. At another point, the main character gets kidnapped and must be rescued by two party members of the player's choice. Then there are at least three moments when one predefined party member must win a fight without assistance from the rest of the party; more were planned, but those were cut due to time constraints.
- The longest is a mission where you have to launch an assault on a palace and a Sith temple at the same time. The player character and Kreia go to the palace while the B-team take on the temple. The temple mission can either be challenging or a cake walk depending on whether you're sending three schmucks or high-levelled multi-class Jedi.
- The Laxius Power/Laxius Force RPGs are very fond of this, under the pretext that some Applied Phlebotinums must be activated at the same time.
- The Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors: After Cia brings forth the multiple areas from different eras to the main world, the Hyrulean Forces split up into three armies to deal with the problem on three separate fronts. Impa and Sheik head to the era of the Hero of Time, Lana heads to the era of Twilight, and Link heads to the era of the Sky.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age has this. Late in the game, your party splits to defend a certain City. The division couldn't be worse: on one team you have the party leader with immunity to fear, huge combo attacks and tons of Hit Points; the devistating Squishy Wizard and the blasty, buffing dwarf. On the other team you have the rogue with no armor and half as many HP as everyone else, the Ranger who does piercing damage which made him useful against goblins and no one else, and the guy with the spear who actually gives enemies Mana when he hits them and has a few permanent buffs that are usually dispelled by enemy casters in the first round. Also, since the latter three are so lame, you probably won't use them any longer that you have to, so they're a good five levels behind everyone else, too.
- Further clarification: On one team, you had a warrior with ridiculous combo attacks and party-leadership skills, an elf who was the only one with decent healing, since items either healed half of what she could heal in one go, or were rare, and, to top it off, a Magic Knight of a dwarf who could use insanely powerful fire spells in addition to ridiculously strong defensive buffs and powerful melee attacks. On the other, you had a ranger who had a bunch of debuffing attacks, but low damage, a rogue who had an entire skill tree revolving around stealing stuff (Mana, health, items), weak attacks, low hp, and pathetic equipment (Out of all the characters, she was the least likely get items dropped for), and, finally, the guy with a spear who tries to be a Magic Knight but fails: his melee attacks are typically single-attack with effects that usually help the enemy and magic attacks that only support... and ONLY support (Dispel, deplete enemy mana, transfer mana/health to/from others). Basically, you had a team that ripped open enemies and a team that could barely defeat a group of enemies from 10 levels ago.
- In Lost Home, the player simultaneously controls an armadillo and a snake. Once per world, the two will split up at the end of a certain level, leading to a pair of different levels in which the player controls each one alone. Only one of these solo levels needs to be cleared per world, but the game does award the player achievements for clearing all of them.
- In Lost Odyssey, your party spends almost the entirety of the third disc split up. At the end of the section, you have to fight a boss that reflects all magical attacks. Your party at this point consists entirely of Squishy Wizards.
- The Magic Candle lets you make arbitrary subparties. This is mainly a convenience, provided so individual members can work or train while the others explore. But eventually you have to raise a sunken island by pulling three levers at once — in different places around the world. If you've been relying on one or two fighters to carry your team, this is where you'll regret it.
- Mario & Luigi:
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the brothers are often forced to split up, particularly in Joke's End, in which they spend most of the dungeon on separate paths.
- Similarly, in the sequel, Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Baby Mario and Luigi are often separated from their adult selves.
- Mario and Luigi stick together more in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. Once Mario finds Luigi, they only ever split up when Mario briefly gets kidnapped. However, that game adds Bowser as a third playable character, and he always travels alone (well, sorta).
- On the other hand, there is an Escort Mission with Princess Peach in Superstar Saga. Let her wander offscreen and she gets kidnapped instantly.
- Mega Mari has the two heroes split up before the third stage of Patchouli's castle/library. There's no apparent reason for this, however.
- After the first game in the Mental Series, the three characters split up and find themselves in their own predicaments. Given that the authorities would be looking for a group and if one of them was recaptured, the others wouldn't suffer the same fate, this may be justified.
- Most post-Neverwinter Nights games by BioWare do this at one point or another.
- The original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic had a sequence in which you must choose a party member to go rescue the main character and his/her two potential love interests, and Jade Empire features several such sequences, mostly during the end game.
- Dragon Age: Origins:
- There's a minor instance during the Final Battle, when the Warden and three party members go after the Archdemon, the rest stay behind to Hold the Line. When the Warden approaches Fort Drakon, the control suddenly shifts to the party members you left behind and you have to repel a wave of Darkspawn at the city gates (it is also notable for being the last instance when you see Morrigan).
- There's another part were the protagonist is captured, and you're presented with two options: Break out yourself, or select two companions to control and break you out in The Infiltration. Choosing the latter will lead to several of the funniest moments in the game, like Oghren and Sten's circus act, as well as every other bluffing attempt.
- Mass Effect would appear to be the exception. You're never limited in your choice of party if they're still alive, and at least one will be dead by the end of the game and they stick to you like glue up to and including the final showdown with the Big Bad.
- Mass Effect 2, on the other hand, makes extensive use of this trope. During the final mission, you split into three groups (two strike teams plus a tech specialist), meet up halfway through, split up again (diversion team, strike team with a biotic specialist, and possibly one person escorting the civilians), then reunite and split up again so your crew can Hold the Line while you and two other fight the Final Boss. And it can either go horribly wrong as per the stereotype, or turn out brilliantly, depending on who you choose for each task. Also, earlier in the game, you are forced to load every crew member who can fight onto a shuttle to go on some ill-defined mission, leaving Joker to fend for himself as the rest of the crew are abducted by the Collectors.
- Mass Effect: Andromeda: In the first Vault Ryder finds while exploring a massive underground structure on Eos, Peebee (who hasn't officially joined the party at that point) suggests that you split up to cover more ground and decides she's going to go off on her own. Ryder has the option of suggesting that she doesn't watch enough horror movies, and should Liam be in the party, he'll quip "ten credits says she ends up in a pit full of spikes." She doesn't.
- Mother 3: When the group need to search for a jar of pickles, they go to separate spots in the immediate area.
- In NEO: The World Ends with You, Nagi suggests splitting up during the second Scramble Slam in order to keep the pressure up on the other teams. If Rindo accepts the idea, there will be less fights to take care of, but only half the pin slots to work with.
- In the One Piece action game for the Game Boy Advance, Luffy's crew runs ahead of him every time a level starts, just so he's forced to search for them. It's also a form of Bag of Spilling because they're used for special attacks.
- You can issue this command to your teammates in Persona 3, emphasizing exploration (that is, finding exits) over fighting Shadows, or vice versa. It's not very advisable to do this, as every single Shadow in the game tends to be a Demonic Spider and can kill lone teammates easily, there's a fair chance that they'll run into the Reaper, and they'll keep all the money they find in treasure chests (they do give up any consumable items they recover.) At least, you can still heal them via the menu screen as long as they're in the same room as the main character, and you can join in their battles at any point.
- Said feature is useful, but only for quickly clearing dungeon sections that are already beneath you in level (which, given the way the game's waypoint system works, is occasionally necessary.) On any level with enemies close to your level, such a strategy is suicide.
- Also enforces the Arbitrary Headcount Limit during the final boss fight by requiring any team members that aren't part of your standard four-member party to stay behind to hold off the encroaching mass of Shadows.
- You can order your Pikmin to split into groups sorted by colour. A more fitting version of this trope is that they can, and will, split up to fight or perform tasks based on the proximity of said tasks and enemies, but only when idle and not following a captain.
- Pikmin 2: The two captains can split up to beat certain obstacles/perform multiple tasks. With the number of captains upped to three in Pikmin 3 it's shown that this is more-or-less the point of the game.
- The last portion of Popful Mail has the heroes doing this when fighting the Overlord and his henchmen. Gaw takes on Morgal, while Tatto fights Necros and Mail deals with the Overlord himself.
- In Rainbow Six, the team is split up in the last four missions; one team goes to Sydney to prevent a bio-terrorism attack on the Olympics, while the other goes to Brazil to capture the people responsible.
- The original Resident Evil (and 2002's Remake) has a prime example of this in Jill's scenario. Not content with having Chris and Wesker disappear within the first 5 minutes, Jill and Barry decide it's a great idea to split up, despite being stuck in a mansion in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, just after having seen a zombie eating another team-mate.
- But then again, remember: Wesker was the one who suggested everyone split up, and he doesn't want his teammates to survive or get in the way of his agenda.
- And, of course, Resident Evil 2's A and B games are based entirely upon this trope — when you complete Leon or Claire's A game, you're given a save file which allows you to experience the other's side of the same events as his or her B game, thereby granting you the "true" ending. Averted -partly- in that explosions kept keeping Claire and Leon apart, but this was not always the case.
- Lampshaded constantly in-game, with poor Leon growing more and more exasperated that Ada and Claire insist on ditching him when he thinks they should just be working together. This is understandable for Ada who is a spy anyway, but since Claire is constantly harping on Sherry to stay with her, it gets weird when she leaves Leon half-informed most of the time.
- Lampshaded in the novel version of the Resident Evil Zero video game. Rebecca, the main star, keeps wondering why the tarnation she keeps sending her allies off.
- In The Sand Man 2014, Previous Player-Character Cameo David keeps telling Sophie they should stick together. However, she insists on splitting up, such as saying he can't come check Loren Catholic with her because it's an all-girls academy or that they'll cover more ground if they're exploring different areas.
- Septerra Core splits your 9 characters into 3 teams in the final dungeon, without letting you choose team members. Conveniently, the characters that hate each other are together, which can make combats much more difficult due to in-fighting (unless the player completed sidequests that help them get along). This is also the only time in the game where you can have a party without the main character, Maya.
- Shadow Hearts series:
- Shadow Hearts 1: In Temple Ruins dungeon you have to split your team in two, with the added twist of each path locking some of your abilities. Men's team (Yuri and Zhuzhen) has to go through the path without using items, and then without items and special abilities, while women's team (Alice and Margarete) must go through their path without special abilities.
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant: The party splits to go through Battleship Mikasa with only two security keys. However, at this point the group is already twice the size of Arbitrary Headcount Limit, meaning that you have two full parties, and the split makes the dungeon only marginally more difficult.
- In Skies of Arcadia, a forced party split with no more party members than the usual number results in half-manned duos trudging through different sections of the same dungeon. The game makes it harder by not giving you the choice of who to send where, meaning the physical attackers are in one pair, with the magic-casters in the other.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Happens a few times in Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Depending on which bit of the story it is, some characters are locked into particular parties.
- Sonic Adventure 2 has this implied in the Final Story with each character doing something to open a pathway for Sonic to make the final journey to where the Core is and stop the descent of ARK.
- In the Star Trek Online mission "Sphere of Influence", the player character and the group exploring an Iconian base come across three doors, each with something in it. Worf bemoans the idea of doing this as they're stranded who knows where but suggests splitting up into three teams. The player character hangs around Worf and the two must save everyone else when they get captured by the automations inside.
- Star Wars: Republic Commando makes use of this at least once per mission, allowing the player the chance to be a One-Man Army without your squadmates either doing all the work for you or getting in your way.
- Used in Suikoden II for the battle against Luca Blight (the three parties fight him in sequence) and in Suikoden V for the final dungeon. Given that you need to recruit 108 characters in each game, being able to use 18 of them instead of the usual 6 is kind of welcome.
- In Summoner, there is a part of the plot which requires Flece to act alone. Then it's Flece and Joseph, then Flece, Joseph and Rosalind, then the whole party again. Later there's a point where Jekhar and Rosalind have to fight alone; as they're typically the least leveled, it's suggested you use the opportunity to level grind them.
- In Summoner 2, there are a couple of plotlines which require you to split up the party. You need to split up into pairs to activate switches at one point, and in the final dungeon the party splits up into pre-ordained groups to follow different enemies.
- In Super Lesbian Animal RPG the party attemtps to rush back to town to warn the Paladin Brigade after fighting their way through a dungeon in the Celestial Wasteland and learning of the villain's plan. Unfortunately for them, the teleporter they took to get there in the first place has been smashed leaving them stranded. Another teleporter is left undamaged in a mysterious ancient control room, and they set off to activate it. The four switches to activate the second teleporter are located in separate paths through a mechanical complex, and must be triggered at the same time, so the party must split up. It doesn't end well for Melody, who ends up being attacked by robots, getting lost in a strange self repeating room, and meeting Harmony for the first time, who is a sentient manifestation of her own negative thoughts. Harmony proceeds to harass Melody until she has a panic attack and nearly passes out from mana poisoning due to a gaseous mana leak deep in the facility. Fortunately, her friends manage to save her in time.
- The Super Robot Wars series often has Route Splits: missions where the group has to split up to deal with simultaneous crises, or where a part of the group has a separate mission, and usually ends up picking up a number of new party members along the way. The player, playing the part of an Original Generation character, will always get the choice of which group they want to join up with. This helps to add replay value to the game, as you can make one choice the first time you play through, then try out the other choice the second time around.
- Super Robot Wars Z gives a unique twist on this. After splitting up, one half of your party winds up allying with a rogue faction and viewing the other half as enemies. As a result, the next time they encounter each other, they wind up battling them. The main character selected at the beginning of the game decides which side the player is on; the more rebellious Rand will go with the rogues, while the meeker and more obedient Setsuko will stay will the initial group.
- On another note, while most games have their splits use different combinations of entries for varied interactions, Super Robot Wars X is notable for using the exact same distribution every time.
- The game Sweet Home (1989) more or less enforces this as a game mechanic. You have five playable characters who can either work independently of one another or team up, but even then the largest team size is three. While it is usually possible (if a little tedious) to keep everyone together, there are going to be times when splitting up will be required to get through certain areas.
- Happens in Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis, and given the nature of the game it is definitely meant to strike a blow against the players who didn't bother to train multiple characters.
- Happens multiple times in Tales of Symphonia. You, the player character, actually choose who goes with whom, and your decisions affect your Relationship Values with your party members. In the Tower of Mana, half of the party is left on the switches in the lobby that unlock the door the rest go through. In the Palmacosta Ranch, the player forms two parties, as a result of needing to deactivate the security at the end of the ranch where the prisoners are being kept to reach Kvar. In the Iselia ranch, the player forms two groups- one to rescue the prisoners and one to stop the reactor, because they are short on time due to the Great Seed going out of control, and the player does not control the party that frees the prisoners.
- Also in Tales of Vesperia. In this game, you could pretty much count on splitting up each and every time you entered a town to advance the plot. Occasionally done to force you to have a quick chat with each party member before the plot actually went anywhere, as a form of Character Development.
- Happens once voluntarily in Tales of the Abyss, at which time you get to choose which characters to take (for plot reasons, Jade has to go to Engeve and Natalia to Kaitzur at the same time, and you get to pick where the others go), and once involuntarily, in which case the pairings are chosen for you by the plot.
- Two examples of this in Tokyo Xanadu:
- In the final dungeon of Chapter 7, the party splits into two groups of four, with Kou and Gorou leading one group and Asuka or Mitsuki leading the other one.
- In The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, there are four paths that lead through the dungeon, leading the party to divide into four pairs. Kou and Asuka are the pair that go through the final leg of the area, but the rest can be paired up in any way.
- Depending on your decisions in Triangle Strategy, specifically if you're on the best ending route, your party (max. 30 characters) will need to split into 3 teams of up to 10 units each in order to deal with Aesfrost, decimate the Hyzante army, and liberate the Rosellan slaves at the same time. The one restriction is, as the leaders of the respective teams, Roland, Benedict, and Frederica can't be in the same party.
- Until Dawn practically lives on this idea.
- In the beginning, the group splits off for certain reasons. Mike and Jess went off to check the guest cabin for private time. Matt and Emily went back to the cable car to retrieve Emily's missing bag. The rest stay at the main lodge doing various tasks. Notably, once the group of 8 get separated, they never get back together, even if all of them survive.
- When Matt and Emily come across Chris and Ashley after the buzzsaw trap, Matt and Emily leave to find help while Chris and Ashley return to the lodge to find the others.
- After the remaining survivors find out about the Wendigos, the Stranger and Chris leave to retrieve Josh while the others stay at the lodge. Later, after the Stranger is killed, Mike also leaves to find Josh who has the cable car keys and the only means to escape the mountain.
- After Mike leaves, the others go after him to warn him about the Wendigos trapped in the sanatorium. Sam goes ahead, too anxious to wait for the others. Potentially Ashley and Chris can get separated from the remaining group during this time with possible dire consequences.
- After Sam and Mike find Josh, Sam decides to climb up a rocky outcrop while Mike and Josh decides to take the long way around back to the lodge due to Josh's injured leg preventing him from climbing.
- Warframe: Players are infamous for running off and leaving their teammates behind. In normal missions this is just an annoyance because one Tenno can usually complete the mission by themselves, but it becomes more of an issue in Sorties and other high-level missions. Then there are Spy missions, which require three separate terminals to be hacked, each of which is best handled solo in order to reduce the risk of alarms. Spy missions are the only missions where you are expected to split up (and told off if you bunch up, since you're just slowing down the mission).
- This is the core mechanic in We Know the Devil: each hour you choose which two characters to pair off, and whoever is excluded the most is possessed by the devil. In order to get the true ending you have to make sure everyone is excluded equally.
- There are several instances in the first Wild ARMs game where the party splits up into individual characters, sometimes to allow for Character Development.
- At the very end of Wild AR Ms 2, the player must split all their existing characters into 3 parties to fight the final 3 sub-bosses. The stand-out is that one party consists of only 1 member, so if you assign the wrong character to that party, their sub-boss is unbeatably hard, forcing you to restart the whole dungeon all over again.
- Wild AR Ms 3 also had this happen at one point, because the rest of the group had left Clive behind to get his shit together and then fell into a trap. Clive then plays the role of the Big Damn Hero and rescues them. However, they remain split-up for pretty much the rest of the dungeon, swapping between Clive and the party to solve switch puzzles.
- Some boss encounters in World of Warcraft enforce splitting the party or raid to deal with specific threats. Examples would be the Four Horsemen (which need to be separated) and a group of minibosses known as Twilight Drakes that periodically spawn a portal that most of the raid needs to go through to deal with the cause of potentially lethal problems. It's also a good idea to spread out widely in many encounters as to avoid several people getting hit with area-target effects.
- Another example would be the Ulduar encounter with Thorim; where some of the raid will have to go into a gauntlet and meet back up with the others to force the boss into the arena. Doing this quickly will initiate Hard Mode.
- In the fight with Beth'tilac, a few members must fight her on top of her web while the rest fight down below. However, it is possible to only send a tank and a healer up, and it is possible (albeit difficult) to send no one up at all.
- In World's End Club, the Go-Getters Club take up going separate routes after half of them decide on which way they're going by vote.
- In Xenosaga Episode I, the gang splits into two in the Encephalon. This comes as a major shock to players who have been neglecting certain characters.
- The people trapped by Zero in each of the Zero Escape games are repeatedly forced to split up to go down separate paths. Justified and enforced - only 3-5 people can go through a door at any one time, and those who can go through a door are governed by Digital Roots and their numeric bracelets. Also, if anyone passes through a door they didn't help open with their bracelets, or leave those who helped them open behind (as The 9th Man did), they will be killed by the detonators in their watches.
- Zero Punctuation. Pointed out comically by Yahtzee when he reviews Space Marine FPS number eleventy billion. The dangers of being a voiceless marine become apparent when you can't respond to your companion's suggestions of splitting up by saying 'That's a fucking stupid idea!' Complete with a decapitated head animation.
- Lampshaded in Season 13 of Red vs. Blue. The Blues are trying to find General Doyle, (who has the Sword of Plot Advancement) before the villains do.
Tucker: If we split up we can cover more ground.
Epsilon: Yeah, okay Scooby. Let's not make it too easy for the bad guys!
- Justified in RWBY. Team RNJR (Ruby and the remains of Team JNPR) are trying to get help for the dying Qrow and, at a fork in the road, Ruby suggests going through the ruins of Kuroyuri Village. However, this nearly sets off Ren, forcing Nora to calm him down and suggest they split up - Ruby and Jaune go through Kuroyuri with Qrow and Ren and Nora would go around. While Jaune attempts to suggest they should stick together, Nora points out they didn't have time to stick together with Qrow's life on the line. It's apparent that, whatever happened in Kuroyuri, it was going to trigger Ren badly.
- Dreamscape: Drake, Keedran, Dylan, and CHEN do this in episode 4 in order to avoid the Overlord of Evil's Sinister Surveillance.
- Minilife TV: In "Super Mini Bros.", when Ratzer takes Emery inside one of four magic paintings, Chris, Ian, Vince, and Zach decide to split up and look for them within each painting individually.
- Parodied in Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Dan takes the time to tell his friends why you should Never Split the Party, only to learn that they already did... Note also the strip title.
- The same thing happens to Lucca in this Captain SNES: The Game Masta Halloween special.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony left Kat in a pitch-black room. In spite of a brief scare, they both turn out okay.
- Tower of God: After Bam's apparent death, Khun decided that it would be best if he and Rachel separated from the group, while the rest would climb faster under the leadership of Shibisu. He does it because he realized that Rachel actually killed Bam, that it wasn't just her plan and that she was his only lead to the rest of the conspiracy. Splitting up also prevented the rest of the team from noticing that Rachel was faking her disability and disbanding.
- Done three separate times in the Workshop Battle Arc.
- The Order of the Stick had the title party get split up for a few months. There was much dancing in the streets when they were finally reunited.
- Appropriately, the fourth compilation book, which covers this storyline, is called Don't Split the Party.
- Yahtzee Takes on the World, calls it a stupid idea, especially when mentioned again.
- The players in Darths & Droids seem to be quite fond of splitting up. The DM usually lampshades the fact that their strategy makes little sense.
- Goblin Hollow has this.
- A little rant from Bite Me! here.
- In Impure Blood, Dara orders Elnor to deal with the guards while she and Roan go on. Justified in that Roan must be outside the gates by dawn, but there's no such need for Elnor.
- Played with in Necessary Monsters, when Gravehouse's team splits up to investigate the inside of a warehouse. Said team is made up of: a Jason Voorhees-type Serial Killer, a Freddy Krueger-style dream killer, a Bloody Mary-like murderous revenant, and an Eldritch Abomination in a human-shaped tux. They're the terrors here.
- In El Goonish Shive, Elliot suggests this when looking for the first Goo and goes through with it despite Tedd's claim that "going alone is suicide" when the Monster of the Week is out there.
- Sluggy Freelance
- In "Freelance Bums", Kiki suggests: "Now let's split up like they do in the movies!"
- In "Hate", Torg and Gwynn split up to examine an abandoned facility thought to contain something like an Artifact of Doom that creates monsters (although all of those are supposed to be outside). It's lampshaded at first, but turns into something like Reconstruction in the subsequent strips because, as Torg whose idea it was points out, the place is quiet enough that they can still hear each other perfectly well. He also suggests they stay on the same floor, but then he annoys her so much they don't.
- Trevor (2020): After Trevor kills Dr. Clay and Private Young, Enid yells at the medical team to split up, since Trevor can’t follow all of them separately.
- Two examples in A Heist with Markiplier:
- In "All Sneaky Like", the two security guards patrolling the sewer (played by Bob and Wade) decide to split up. When Bob suggests it, Wade responds, with complete sincerity, "That's a great idea! I love that idea!"
- In the Dark Tunnel section of the "All Sneaky Like" path, Mark advocates splitting up at every opportunity. It never ends well when you split up.
- In Ten Little Roosters, the nine remaining living "Roosters" scatter when the power blinks. Adam was originally with Gavin's clone (long story), but had to split when he heard the real deal's panic cry. Both Gavins end up dying. Adam later runs into Barbara, who suggests they team up, but he dismisses it using Gavin's death as a reasoning. He ends up dying because of this way of thinking. And, so far, everyone else before him has, too.
- In his Deconstructive Parody tutorial on making a horror film, Simon Minter notes that the group of characters has to split up, even though this will lead to them getting picked off one by one, and in some cases result in someone inadvertently becoming Alone with the Psycho if they have the great disservice of going with the killer.
- This is what Scott The Woz suggests everyone at the dinner party do in the episode "The Great Mysteries of Gaming", after the dinner host was killed.
"Listen, maybe the murderer isn't one of us. Maybe the murderer is hiding somewhere in the building. We should split up into groups - that way, we can't all get murdered!"
- Scooby-Doo, obviously. It's Fred Jones's catchphrase. Fred says it in every episode when they end up splitting up. Which almost always ends in Daphne getting kidnapped, Velma losing her glasses, and Shaggy and Scooby getting chased by the monster (usually through a hallway with lots of doors). And yet... they never learn. Considering they always end up finding the guilty party (and never get hurt), they may figure splitting the party works for them.
- And of course every Scooby-Doo imitator does the same: Josie and the Pussycats, Jabber Jaw, Speed Buggy, etc.
- A Pup Named Scooby-Doo liked to parody this by having Fred suggest it even when it made absolutely no sense. For example:
Fred: ...We'll be safer if we stick together, right?
Fred: ...So let's split up, gang!
- There is an episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? where Shaggy once says it. Fred looks stunned, saying "He said the thing I always say". And another episode has Fred deciding to "mix things up"; he goes with Shaggy and Scooby goes with the girls. One desultory conversation and several awkward silences later, Fred and Shaggy agree that from now on, they'll stick to the regular version. And then there's the episode where Fred decides everyone should stay together, though it turns out to just be a simulation.
- Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase parodied this, with Shaggy and Scooby walking off as soon as Fred suggests splitting up; when he says he didn't say who'd go with who, Shaggy counters with "Like, do we ever do it any other way?"
- In the series finale of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the Scooby Gang prepares to open a final gate and confront the evil entity that has corrupted their predecessors, taken the lives of their friends and turned Crystal Cove into a place of horror for centuries. They're not certain who among them should unlock the door, as even that act involves serious risk, but in the end they decide that they'll do it as a group.
No, we all go together.
No splitting up... never again.
- Shaggy complains about this in The Scooby-Doo Project
"Let's split up!" Like they're always saying that! Well I, for one, have just about had it with splitting up! And I always get paired up with Velma! Why are Fred and Daphne always heading off together, anyway?
- Straight Outta Nowhere: Scooby-Doo! meets Courage the Cowardly Dog: At the mayor's mansion, Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Muriel explore the museum wing to learn about the history of Nowhere, while Shaggy, Scooby, Courage and Eustace stay behind to raid the kitchen.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- In the second season finale, Aang had gone off to learn from a guru, Sokka went to meet the Water Tribe warriors, Toph went to meet her mother and gets captured by the bounty hunters her parents sent to bring her home and Katara stays in Ba Sing Se to help plan and organize the invasion of the Fire Nation. Meaning none of them are around to realize that Azula, Mai and Ty Lee have infiltrated the city, until Katara discovered it too late.
- In the series finale, Zuko and Katara head off to confront Azula, Aang goes to confront Firelord Ozai, and Sokka, Toph and Suki go to stop the Fire Nation airship fleet.
- The cartoon Johnny Bravo did a Scooby-Doo parody, which plays on the old joke that Freddy always said "Let's split up!" just so he and Daphne could make out while Scooby, Shaggy and Velma get chased by the monster-of-the-day. Even Johnny of all people points out how stupid this is:
Johnny: There's a monster out there and you want us to split up?
Freddy: Well... yeah.
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers:
- "Beast of the Temple" has the team looking for a firebreathing monster. Of course they split up. It takes Wheeler and Linka all of ten seconds to get distracted from the mission and move in for a kiss... which is when the monster shows up.
- In "Don't Drink the Water", the Planeteers split up, with Wheeler and Gi going to investigate Plunder's penthouse and the others trying to get a better idea of how the water's been polluted. Neither group has an easy time, but given what happens to both of them, they probably wouldn't have had it easier if they'd stuck together.
- In another episode, Verminous Skumm and Duke Nukem planted nukes in Israel, in Northern Ireland, and in South Africa... giving one controller to each side of every conflict. The Planeteers had to split up to fight them.
- Used in the South Park episode "Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery":
Jonathan: All right, gang, we have to split up and look for clues.
Stan: How should we split up?
Jonathan: I know! Let's have everyone who enjoys having obstacles in their life which they can overcome go this way, and everyone whose insecurities sabotage their potential to overcome those obstacles go that way.
- Made hilarious by the fact that everyone neatly separates into two groups without hesitation, and someone remarks "Well, that was easy!"
- The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, every episode. Usually the same teams but every now and then they mix it up.
- Subverted in the Jonny Quest episode "The Devil's Tower". While Jonny, Race and Hadji are searching for Dr. Quest, Hadji suggests splitting up but Race says that they should stick together.
- Defied in the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Perplexahedron" by Kevin.
Ben: Maybe we should split up, cover more ground.
Kevin: Great idea. That way, Aggregor can pick us off one at a time.
- In The Powerpuff Girls (1998) episode "Him Diddle Riddle", one of Him's riddles requires the girls to head for Chinatown and answer a ringing pay phone in a three-minute timeframe without flying. Blossom has the three split up and take the most convenient route to the phone with the first there to answer it. Blossom hitches a ride with an 18-wheeler, Bubbles takes a bus then a pony, and Buttercup takes the subway.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In Part 1 of "The Return of Harmony", the Main Six are separated by Discord when taking on the labyrinth in the Canterlot Sculpture Garden; when attempting to get to the middle and regroup, Discord corrupts them (except Twilight) into becoming the opposite of their Elements with his mind games.
- In the infamous "The Mean 6", the Evil Doppelgänger lookalikes of the mane characters decide to split up in an attempt to find the Tree of Harmony easier, while secretly plotting against Chrysalis. Meanwhile, the real mane cast have also separated, with Pinkie racing ahead of the group and Fluttershy being left behind, leaving AJ and Dash on one side and Rarity and Starlight on another to find Fluttershy, while Twilight herself tries to find Pinkie. This causes both real and fake groups to intertwine in various situations, making the real ponies hate each other for the episode.
- Many times on The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, the Ant Hill Mob will split up in an attempt to locate where the Hooded Claw has taken Penelope.
- In the Space Stars episode "The Shadow People", Space Ghost and friends team up with the superheroine Elektra. While exploring a seemingly abandoned city, Space Ghost suggests they split up to cover more ground. Jace immediately asks to go with Elektra, but Space Ghost says Elektra is powerful enough to go on her own, much to Jace's disappointment.
- The Galaxy Trio episode "Invasion of the Sporoids". The title heroes arrive at a planet where an outpost has just been destroyed and an observer almost killed by a gigantic monster. Gravity Girl suggests that they spread out and search the area. As a result the monster ambushes her and traps her inside a transparent membrane.
- Space Ghost episode "The Sandman". A number of people (including two French Foreign Legion members) have mysteriously disappeared in the same area. When Space Ghost, Jan, Jace and Blip arrive, Space Ghost tells the others to "spread out". This leads to all three of them being captured by the enemy.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) does this on occasion, sometimes without actually saying "Let's split up". Episodes include Sonic and Sally, where Sonic, Sally and Bunnie go in different directions to detonate a robot factory, and later on when Rotor and Bunnie take care of said factory while Sonic rescues Sally. In Ultra Sonic, where Sonic and Sally go one way to look for parts for a new project, and Rotor, Bunnie and Antoine go another, and later on when Rotor, Antoine and Sally go one way to get to a set of controls, while Sonic, Uncle Chuck and Bunnie go another way get to a different set.
- In the Ready Jet Go! special One Small Step, when Jet and Sunspot go missing, the gang splits up: Sean and Mindy go to look for Jet and Sunspot, and Sydney and Jet 2 stay behind to fix the saucer.
- Robot Chicken parodies Scooby Doo by pitting the gang against Jason, which plays out like one of his typical movies as he picks them off one by one, not falling for their usual tactics.
- "T: The Terrestrial" and "Murder on the Planet Express" establish the Planet Express buddy system in such instances as follows: Fry with Bender, Leela with Amy, and Hermes with Zoidberg (while Farnsworth remains at base). In the latter—in which a trust-building seminar in space is interrupted by a carnivorous alien shapeshifter—these happen to be the pairs who are experiencing the most trust issues between them. Which, naturally, is all part of the plan.
- And of course, it's Parodied in the Scooby-Doo spoof where the "split" consists of eight people sitting near a monster trap while Fry and Bender (the analogues for Shaggy and Scooby) go off to look for the monster.
- Wakfu: Yugo and Adamai decide to go their own way for some time, in episode 18. They return to the others by the end of episode 24.
- In Episode 5 of Marvel's What If?, while searching for a train at Grand Central Station, Okoye recommends the group split up to cover more ground. Spider-Man, being quite Genre Savvy, objects to this plan as he's seen enough horror films to know this is a bad idea. Considering they lost Happy Hogan and barely escaped on the train in time, Okoye agrees that splitting up WAS a bad idea.
- In the Boy Scouts, they have something called the Buddy System, whereby you never go anywhere alone (climb a mountain, hike into the woods, go swimming in a lake, wandering off to use the latrine), because if you get injured or lost while you're alone, nobody knows where you are to help you, or to even know you need help. Some camps, such as the Philmont Scout Ranch, take this a step farther, and require that you travel in groups of four. So if someone gets injured, one can stay with him, leaving another pair to travel together to get help. The whole "travel in groups of four while hiking" thing is taught in different cadet branches as pretty much standard logic. Because who'd want to be up a mountain by themselves?
- Not only should one never, ever scuba dive alone, but one of the quickest ways to never be allowed back on the dive boat is to surface with your buddy still below.
- Similar practices in the Armed Forces refer to the buddies as "Wingmen", "Shipmates", or "Battle Buddies".
- The trope is averted in schools that have young children. Children going missing is obviously terrible for all those involved. As such, they are typically never allowed to go anywhere by themselves except for the bathroom or if they have to give another teacher or faculty member something. It's even worse for school trips, which is why some children are paired up with another child before the trip starts.
- When a search for a person is underway by the police or a similar group, the search party tend to split up into smaller groups in order to cover more ground and increase the odds in finding the person they are looking for.
- When traveling through The City at night, it's a good idea to have friends with you who you can trust to have your back should something happen. Muggers, rapists and other assorted urban predators like attacking people who are by themselves in isolated places. If you have to go to a Wretched Hive to see a band, even walking in a group may not be enough to keep safe. It's better to call a taxi and get dropped off right at the venue. Leaving the venue, do the same, but make sure you call the taxi. A stranger who just drives up to you and offers a ride may be a fake taxi (a predator or conman with a used taxi sign stuck on the roof).note