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One Degree of Separation

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Love (and other relationships) actually is all around.note 

"Wanting connections, we found connections — always, everywhere, and between everything. The world exploded in a whirling network of kinships, where everything pointed to everything else, everything explained everything else..."

Say one day you meet a girl and fall in love. Nothing wrong with that. However, on your wedding day, when you meet her father, you remember that he's the guy who failed you in biology in the twelfth grade. Okay, odd, but not inconceivable. But wait, isn't her mother the one who sat next to you at a bus station five years ago and gave you great life advice? And her cousin looks familiar, too. Hold on, it seems you've met her entire family at one point or another throughout your entire life.

And then she comes up to you and reveals that she's met your whole family before as well. In fact, you are her father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. It seems there's only One Degree of Separation.

This is where every character is tangentially connected to almost every other character. It doesn't matter if it's an Easter Egg or important to the Myth Arc. Everyone's connected. This trope does manage to somewhat be Truth in Television: in the 1960s, American social psychologist Stanley Milgram's "small-world experiment" found that the average connection between any person in the United States as being around three friendships. While more recent studies on global links between any random person are more inconclusive, games such as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon show that the "six degrees" concept is at least true when restricted to people within the same professional field, such as actors or musicians.

A Super-Trope to Already Met Everyone, Everyone Is Related and Everyone Went to School Together. Often part of a Jigsaw Puzzle Plot or a Hyperlink Story. Sometimes just a lot of Contrived Coincidence. See also Generation Xerox. Gets much more complicated when you have a large cast who all seem to know each other. Or if they don't they quickly do thanks to You ALL Share My Story. Can be seriously aggravated by the presence of Immortals, also prevalent in Generation Xerox. Subtrope of Connected All Along.

Not to be confused with Six Degrees of Separation, which does nonetheless use a version of this trope.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the third series of Astro Boy several important antagonists have a connection with Dr. Tenma, who is ascended into the role of Big Bad. In the original manga, they are completely unrelated characters starred in each independent episodes, but in this series they are all parts of Tenma's greater scheme involving Astro.
  • In Bakuman。, most of the characters have heard of Nobuhiro "Taro Kawaguchi" Mashiro, the mangaka uncle of the main character and some of the editors have worked with him (Editor in Chief Sasaki, for example, was the one who told him Shonen Jump wouldn't renew his contract). In a later arc of the series, Azuma, an out-of-work mangaka, happens to be Nobuhiro's assistant. Outside of the manga industry, Kaya's father was friends with Nobuhiro in school, and the woman Nobuhiro loved happens to be the mother of the girl Moritaka loves.
  • The Black Jack anime suffers from this. Kumiko is the daughter of Jack's mentor Dr. Honma, and she works for a man named Tetsu who was a pickpocket until he lost his fingers and then had them sewn back on by Jack. In the manga none of these characters are related.
  • In Bloom Into You, most of the main cast is closely connected. Yuu shares a class with her two closest friends, Koyomi and Akari. Yuu also works for the student council, with her literature teacher, Riko Hakozaki as the club advisor, and Koyomi helps out by writing a play for them. Some of the characters in both groups hang out at a local café, the manager of which is in a relationship with Riko. Riko's colleague from her theater troupe comes to help coach the student council, and turns out to have known Touko's older sister while they were in high school. The theatre troupe also ends up recruiting Touko after the play. Riko in particular has ties with virtually every named character outside of Yuu and Touko's families.
  • Case Closed is a long-running mystery series where backstories are usually key revelations—but most of the time, good and bad guys alike are secretly intimately connected to a ridiculous degree, often by complete coincidence. For example, here are instances of this trope regarding only the odd connections of Kudou Shinichi, the main protagonist: Early in the series, Shinichi finds a rival in Kaitou KID, a thief he'd never heard of prior to encountering him during a "joke" heist, and whose true identity he still does not know. But despite their meeting being completely coincidental, with neither having any knowledge of any personal connections, KID's father was Shinichi's mother's mentor and Shinichi's father's rival, and in the thief's own series' manga/anime adaptation, Shinichi's surrogate uncle, Agasa, is heavily implied to be the long-time friend of Jii, KID's surrogate grandfather, as well as the unwitting supplier of the gear Jii gives KID to help with his heists. Further, despite Shinichi's encounter with the Black Organization being pure bad luck, ex-member Haibara's seeking him out for protection being completely unrelated to who Shinichi actually is, and the Black Org having no idea Kudo Shinichi is even still alive to be involved in any of this, the assassin sent after Haibara is the best friend of Shinichi's mother, a friendship she made during her mentorship under Kaito's father. Not only that, but it's the same assassin whose life Shinichi and Ran completely coincidentally encountered and saved while said assassin was undercover as an alleged serial killer, completely ignorant of her real appearance or identity, ties to Shinichi's family, or the Black Org. And after saving that "serial killer," they encounter Akai Shuichi, the FBI agent who would later partner with Shinichi after Shinichi, again entirely by coincidence, gets himself involved with the Black Org. As it turns out, Shinichi randomly met the entire Akai family (sans the father) when he was on a family beach trip as a child before any of this happened, and became Akai Shuichi's little sister's inspiration to be a detective. This just covers a few connections with the main character. The extended cast's connections are just as crazy.
  • Almost all of the main characters in Chrono Crusade are connected to Chrono in some way, and through him to each other. Chrono met Rosette and her brother, Joshua, when they woke him up from a long sleep in a tomb. Joshua was then kidnapped by Aion, Chrono's former friend. Chrono and Rosette join the Magdalan Order to try to find Joshua based on advice from Father Remington, a man who was trying to convince Joshua to join the Order because of his powers. Remington was also Mary Magdalene's guard in the Order when Chrono kidnapped her back in 1870. The Elder was her foster father of sorts. During their search for Joshua, Chrono and Rosette run into Azmaria, who has powers startlingly similar to Joshua because they're both Apostles. They all start to look for Joshua together, and run into a "jewel witch" named Satella. Satella is searching for a missing family member, and finds out that her sister, Florette, has become Fiore, Joshua's maid and a servant of Aion. The only characters that don't have a strong connection to Chrono, Rosette or Aion are Sister Kate (Rosette's commander in the Order) and Father Gilliam, an ally of Chrono and Rosette's in the order.
  • The anime Code Geass, about a disowned prince rebelling against an empire, despite its incredibly large cast, features a great degree of connectedness. The protagonist, Lelouch, has more half siblings than he can count (since his father is an emperor with 108 wives), at least five of which are important to the plot. His father is the primary villain of the series. He and his sister spent time, as children, in the Kururugi household, giving him a personal relationship with his rival, an important businessman, a legendary general, and a girl who will later become an enthusiastic fan of his alter ego. The president of the student council at his school is from a noble family that were supporters of his mother. A military officer he disgraces turns out to have formerly been a guard at his mansion. A Japanese citizen who becomes an important supporter of his rebellion turns out to have been his maid, and also a ninja.
    • Lelouch and Suzaku's relationship is central to the series, not just a coincidence (check how the beginning and ending revolve around their relationship), and both are royalty — Lelouch literally, Suzaku more or less - so it's no surprise that they're well-connected. Anya and Jeremiah are where they are due to the same thing that connects them to Lelouch - Anya gets the piloting ability to be a Knight of the Rounds because she's possessed by Marianne, and Jeremiah and everyone else who cared about Marianne, or Lelouch and Nunnally, came to Area 11 specifically because Lelouch and Nunnally had supposedly died there - including Clovis, as revealed in an audio drama. Lloyd gets engaged to Milly because the Ashford family has Marianne's knightmares, which they have because they were connected to her, which is also the reason they took in Lelouch and Nunnally. Legitimate coincidences include Euphie meeting Suzaku unless she planned it that way, Lloyd meeting Suzaku, Villetta - Jeremiah's second - getting her Knightmare stolen, and then being rescued by Ohgi, Lelouch's classmate Nina has a crush on Euphie and being the one to invent Britannia's superweapon, and a few others - plenty of Diabolus ex Machina to go around for both protagonists. But the level of connectedness in general is pretty typical of monarchies, making it a Trope.
  • Comic Girls has three recurring adults: the Four-Girl Ensemble's landlady, teacher and editor (as they are also Sequential Artists). It turns out they were high school classmates, and joined the same Japanese School Club. When Miharu finds out that some of studentsnote , she's surprised, and a bit annoyed with Ririka for not telling her earlier.
  • Many of the new characters in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School are somehow connected to the old cast(s). Yukizome was the Cool Teacher of the Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair cast, Kizakura was Jin Kirigiri's best friend, Sakakura was the head of security at Hope's Peak and inadvertently helped motivate Hinata to become Izuru Kamukura, Andou, Izayoi and Kimura were expelled thanks to Komaeda's efforts to get the school exams cancelled, and Mitarai was not only a member of Class 77-B, but a close friend of the Imposter and Tsumiki as well as Junko Enoshima's unwilling accomplice. Even Hinata, who was the least connected to Class 77-B, gains a few extra connections by having him not only become friends with Natsumi Fuyuhiko the day before she died, but also with Chiaki before she dies in real life as well. And every character, in all the games, has either attended Hope's Peak at some point or is directly related to someone who did.
    • Even the spinoffs aren't immune: in Killer Killer, Hijirihara and the rest of Division 6 run into former Hope's Peak accolade Juzo during a underground colosseum bust, and both Hijirihara and the main villain got their love of killing from seeing Mukuro slaughter their school.
  • All over the place in Den-noh Coil. The grandfather of protagonist Okonogi Yuko "Yasako" was the doctor of Asazawa Yuko "Isako" and also created the Den-noh Coil and 4-4-2-3 based off Isako's brother, which gave Yasako and Isako their nicknames. Yasako's grandmother Megabaa (wife of the grandfather) set up the Coil Detective Agency whose membership includes that of Yasako's father (Megabaa's son), who also works for the Megamass Corp. and is the boss of fellow Agency member Tamako, whose immediate superior is Agency member Nekome and is the aunt of Agency member Haraken, who was friends with Kanna, who died in a car accident partly because of Isako's "encoding", who copied her techniques from former "encoder" Tamako who is now trying to stop Isako's "encoding" along with Nekome, who is actually a Double Agent and is really Isako's partner in crime and whose brother Takeru became friends with Yasako.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02, it turns out that the Big Bad Yukio Oikawa had been a friend of Cody Hida's Disappeared Dad (a police officer killed in the line of duty), also knew Ken's father, and briefly worked with the mother of T.K. and Matt.
  • It seems that in ef - a fairy tale of the two., everyone is tied to each other through their past and present. Episode 10 of a tale of melodies best emphasizes this, as nearly the entire cast comes up in name or on screen.
  • At the beginning of Elfen Lied, Lucy escapes imprisonment but is shot and falls into the ocean. She happens to wash up on shore at the same town she lived in as a child, right when the boy she had a deep and ultimately tragic friendship with has moved back to town. And he just so happens to be taking a walk on the same stretch of beach at that very moment.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), a large degree of the characters are tightly interconnected, in part due to a massive difference in how Homunculi are "born." Among a number of examples, Roy has a connection with Winry, Lust and Scar are in-laws, Wrath is related to Izumi, and Ed and Al have a connection with at least one Homunculi. Even characters who should have nothing to do with each other due to one of them dying, i.e., Nina and Elicia, are connected by the sheer coincidence of her being invited to Ed's birthday party!
  • In Himouto! Umaru-chan, Umaru's friends Kirie and Sylphin have big brothers too; they all work for the same company, are friends with Umaru's brother Taihei, and they eventually befriend Umaru themselves without any influence from their sisters. The odd one out is Umaru's friend Ebina, whose older brother ran away from home when she was little — but he turns up in one story arc where Taihei has a business trip and they end up working at the same restaurant.
  • In Ichinensei Ni Nacchattara, the main character Iori just happens to have his life saved by the sister of his oblivious crush, at the cost of being turned into a seven-year-old girl, which causes him to be sent to the same school as the kid whom he risked his life to save. By pure coincidence, his younger sister attends that school as well. He winds up living with his crush (who happens to bear a strong resemblance to the woman Iori's father cheated on his mother with) and her sister, and after their house blows up his real family takes them in out of the goodness of their hearts, still completely oblivious to Iori's true identity. Also, a minor character that Iori and his friends encountered once lives in the same apartment complex.
  • It's established very early on in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War that there was only a single student in Japan to have scored higher than Shirogane on the national mock exams, a boy by the name of Mikado Shijo. It's later revealed that Mikado is the twin brother of Shirogane's classmate (and later friend) Maki, which also means that he's the cousin of Shirogane's crush Kaguya. It's also turns out that the reason why Shirogane's family is so poor is because his father's company was stolen by Kaguya's family.
  • In Love Live! Sunshine!!, it turns everyone in Aqours besides Riko know each other from the past, thanks to the abundance of Childhood Friends. Chika, You, and Kanan are one set of childhood friends, and Hanamaru has been friends with Ruby since middle school and was friends with Yoshiko back in kindergarten. A reveal is that Kanan was also childhood friends with Ruby's older sister and student council president Dia and the school's director Mari. It is justified in this case, as the cast all live in a small beachside town. To clarify:
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Kobayashi's boss is an old friend of Tohru's father, and his son Shouta ends up summoning Tohru's friend Lucoa as a Familiar. Taken even further in the anime, when it turns out that Shouta attends the same elementary school as Kanna and Saikawa.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED: In the first episode, Kira finds himself opposing Athrun, his best friend from the colonies. But before that, he runs into an unknown girl who later joins the crew of the Archangel — Cagalli. And she turns out to be his sister. Later on, the Archangel comes across an escape pod from a destroyed ZAFT vessel, containing none other than Lacus Clyne, Athrun's fiancee. By the end of the first season, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny be damned, Kira is romantically attached to Lacus, and Athrun to Cagalli. And their Ace Pilot, Mwu la Fllaga, has an ongoing feud with Athrun's commanding officer, Rau le Creuset, who turns out to be Mwu's father's clone. And the guy who ran the project? The one who eventually genetically modified Kira to be the Ultimate Coordinator.
    • Some even theorize that the guy who ran the project (and is thus Kira and Cagalli's dad), Dr. Hibiki, may have used Al da Flaga's DNA in the Ultimate Coordinator project, adding yet another attachment.
  • In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, most of the main cast all go to the same high school, so this isn't that unlikely. However, Nozaki's neighbor and fellow mangaka Miyako is college friends with Seo's brother Ryousuke. Nozaki remains oblivious to the fact that he's related to Seo and also knows her friends Sakura and Kashima (and Sakura in return is unaware that Ryousuke's familiar with Nozaki and Miyako).
  • In Naruto, the ninja community, particularly at the higher levels of skill, is pretty small. That, and data gathering and dissemination through "bingo books" so ninja don't get taken unawares by their enemies, means that every high level ninja has likely at least heard of every other one. As for personal connections, there are many. For example, the titular character is mentored by Kakashi Hatake whose father Sakumo killed the parents of Sasori. Sasori would go on to join the terrorist organization Akatsuki, who's numbers include Itachi Uchiha, the brother of one of Kakashi's other students, Sasuke. Sasori's previous partner in Akatsuki was Orochimaru, the former teammate of Jiraiya, who mentored both Akatsuki's founders and Minato Namikaze, who would himself mentor Kakashi. And Jiraiya later mentors Naruto himself, just like he did his father Minato.
  • Almost all the main cast in Nuko Duke has some connection to each other. Everyone in the city (including animals) know who Yuuya is due to his constant job-changing and his habit of sleeping wherever he wants. Whenever a new character is introduced, it's always someone he already knows, such as Yamato (his best friend), Haruki (his younger brother), Kana (his pet's twin sister), Inori (his girlfriend) and Kana's owners (Inori's father and cousin).
  • Nearly every main character in One Piece has a connection to others.
    • The Pirate King Gol D. Roger left his mark everywhere. Even twenty years after his death his influence still seems to reach every corner of the world. Just among the Straw Hat crew, Luffy (unknowingly) wears the hat Roger wore in his youth, his hero Shanks served on Roger's ship, his grandfather was Roger's greatest rival, he was trained by Roger's first mate during the Time Skip, and his adoptive brother Ace is Roger's biological son. Shortly before the main story began, Jimbei had befriended Ace when they stalemated after a five-day battle. Franky's sensei was the one who built Roger's ship, the Oro Jackson. Brook had befriended the man who would become the Pirate King's onboard doctor, Crocus. Usopp's father serves as the sharpshooter in Shanks' crew. The first real pirate antagonist the crew encountered, Buggy the Clown, also apprenticed on Roger's ship alongside Shanks. Robin's goal to discover the "true" history of the world and learn about the events of the "Void Century" has already been completely uncovered by Roger and his crew years ago. The connections just go on and on.
    • While Luffy meets all of his crewmembers for the first time during the events of the story, in his childhood, he heard stories about Usopp from Yasopp, his aforementioned father, who he knew because of his connection with the Red Hair Pirates. Due to this, Luffy is able to immediately identify Usopp as Yasopp's son after meeting him and hearing his name.
    • This is especially evident in the Dressrosa arc, where many of the participants in the Tournament for Ace's devil fruit have a connection to characters that connect them to Luffy: Bartolomeo became a fan of Luffy after witnessing Buggy's failed attempt at executing him in Loguetown, Chinjao has a vendetta against Garp, and Hajrudin wishes to revive the Giant Warrior Pirates.
    • Speaking of Hajrudin, the Whole Cake Island arc reveals he was acquainted with Big Mom when she was banished from Elbaf. He was also friends with Stansen (the giant slave from Sabaody Archipelago), who after the Time Skip has become Hajrudin's crewmate as his shipwright.
    • Also in the Dressrosa arc, we learn that Law's Parental Substitute Donquixote Rosinante doesn't only connect him to Doflamingo, but also to Sengoku, as Rosinante was Sengoku's adopted son. This in turn connects Law to Luffy, as Sengoku and Garp are friends.
      • Incidentally, the only reason Law was able to escape Doflamingo's clutches in Minion Island 13 years ago is because the Marines happened to find X Drake as he ran from Doflamingo's Birdcage. Doflamingo also killed Drake's father that day, but Drake never held a grudge against him for it because Barrels was an abusive father.
    • Reverie arc:
      • Many people whom the Straw Hat met throughout their journey meet up with each other discussing about their common friend. This ranges from Vivi, the Neptune Family, Riku Family, Coby, the Straw Hat Grand Fleet, Dalton and Doctor Kureha.
      • Remember Saint Mjosgard, from the Fishman Island flashbacks? His full name is Donquixote Mjosgard.
      • Here, as well as during the subsequent Wano arc, the existence of a near-mythical crew "Rocks Pirates" is brought up - and what do you know, virtually every present-day character that was a pirate in those days was either a part of the crew (Whitebeard, Kaido, Big Mom, Shiki, John, Bakkin supposedly, Shakky perhaps), or in opposition of them (Gold Roger and - presumably - his own crew). Many of the modern-day big names, such as Shanks and Blackbeard, were then directly connected to one of the afore-mentioned people. It really seemed like the focal point of the entire recent One Piece history.
    • Wano Country arc:
      • During his travels, Kozuki Oden travelled with both the Whitebeard Pirates and the Roger Pirates, the latter of which took him to Laugh Tale. He also met Franky once and offered to let him join the Roger Pirates, but Franky refused.
      • The blacksmith who forged Enma, one of Oden's swords, was an old man who lived in Zoro's home village. Coincidentally, said old man also forged Wado Ichimonji, Kuina's sword which was bequeathed to Zoro after her death. Zoro was acquainted with the old man, but it's not until the Wano Country arc that he makes the connection.
      • Oh, and Zoro is also a direct descendant of Ryuma.
    • Egghead arc:
      • As it turns out, Dragon is personally acquainted with Vegapunk, and both were friends with professor Clover. Vegapunk, for his part, used to work with Caesar Clown, Vinsmoke Judge and Queen before he worked for the World Government, and has enough clout with the giants of Elbaf that they freely allowed him access to the books that they salvaged from Ohara.
      • And Shanks is friends with Dorry and Brogy.
      • A flashback reveals that yes, Bakkin was part of the Rocks Pirates, but it wasn't Shakky who was part of the crew... it was Gloriosa. As in, Elder Nyon, who was the Empress of Amazon Lily from three generations ago. Meanwhile, in the present, it is confirmed that Shakky was the Empress from two generations ago.
      • Bonney makes her return to the plot, and she doesn't take long to reveal that she's the adoptive daughter of Bartholomew Kuma, one of the former Seven Warlords and ex-Revolutionary Commander. Through him, she's also personally acquainted with Vegapunk, Sentomaru and Admiral Kizaru.
  • Paranoia Agent has this for the first few of Shonen Bat's victims. The copycat victim Shougo is running against the third victim (Yuuichi) for student council president. Yuuichi is being tutored by the fourth victim (Harumi), who has an alter ego Maria that works as a prostitute, and one of her clients is the second copycat victim Hirukawa. Hirukawa's daughter Taeka is the fifth victim.
  • In Recovery of an MMO Junkie Yuta Sakurai becomes best friends with Moriko Morioka in an MMO. It turns out he has a friend at work who used to talk to Moriko on the phone a lot for business reasons. Yuta was very impressed by a personnel manual Moriko wrote back then. He runs into her by accident in a convenience store, where they both want the last piece of chicken. Much later, they collide by a street corner where he accidentally knocks her unconscious with his elbow. His friend from work ALSO has a chance encounter with Moriko, recognizes her voice from back then and asks her out. And ... it just so happens that Yuta and Moriko used to be best friends in another MMO, many years back. And the student behind the counter in the convenience store? He's Yuta's and Moriko's guild leader in the game. This in a country of 127 million people.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, the eponymous penal crew fought beside each other for years before they found out how deeply they were connected. It turns out that King was a childhood friend of Diane who brainwashed her to forget him, and the brother of Ban's lover. Also, Meliodas used to be close friends with Gowther's father, and Gowther himself had a thing like 40 years ago with the aunt of Meliodas' girlfriend, who ''also' had a childhood friend way back that Escanor inherited his powers from. Also, Meliodas is the only man Merlin has ever loved. But none of these connections have anything to do with why they were arrested by the same tiny kingdom or why they were placed on a team with each other.
  • The Summer You Were There has this with Kaori, although there are only four major characters outside of Shizuku and Kaori's families. It turns out early on that Kaori not only went to the same elementary school as Shizuku and the two had a Forgotten First Meeting while there, but also befriended Ruri, the girl Shizuku bullied, by virtue of going to the same hospital as her, and by extension, befriended Ruri's best friend Seri. As a result of this, and hitting it off exceptionally well with Shizuku's mother and sister, Kaori is tied to every single character in the cast.
  • Yuuto from Tonari no Kashiwagi-san ended having a connection with the Kashiwagi family even before he becomes friends with Kotone. For one thing, Kotone is secretly his favorite online artist Sayane. For another, Kotone's older sister Kotori is the boss at his new job. Also, Tina's boyfriend turns out to have been the boy that caused Kotone to become a Closet Geek.
  • Why the Hell Are You Here, Teacher!?: The Rotating Protagonists are all connected through a net of relationships that gets more and more implausible as the series goes. The first set of protagonists Satou and Kojima are friends with the second set of protagonists, Rin and Mayu, respectively. Those two then go to another school to work in a combo event, and the teacher-student pair they meet there – Hikari and Takashi – also get romantically involved with each other. Then the series introduces Kou, the former student council president of Takashi's school who went to the same junior high school as Satou and Rin, and who also gets in a relationship with his teacher Chizuru, who happens to be friends with Hikari. And after all that, a former Child Prodigy becomes a teacher in the first school, is introduced to the students by Kojima, and gets involved in a Love Triangle between herself, Mayu's younger sister Saya, and another student called Yorito, with all three of them being Childhood Friends. It continues on from there, with each new couple being connected to a character from the previous volumes in some way or another.

    Comic Books 
  • Jenny Sparks from The Authority was the spirit of the 20th Century, and as a result is somehow connected to every mover and shaker of the century, both good and bad — from being raised by Einstein to persuading Hitler to give up painting, and met or worked with every superhero on the planet. Her successor, Jenny Quantum, will presumably be the same for the 21st century.
  • Originally, the Fantastic Four were this for Marvel. They are called the "First Family" of Marvel because the first 100+ issues ultimately became the building block for the entire Marvel Universe. Titles like Black Panther and The Inhumans spun-off the pages of this comic, and Namor was reintroduced from the Timely Era to the Marvel universe as its major anti-hero and anti-villain on these pages. Fantastic Four villains like Doctor Doom and Galactus became Marvel-wide villains, and the FF were also a major part of Spider-Man's early era, showing up on Issue 1 and then recurring later, with Peter even tussling with Dr. Doom and for the longest time counting Johnny Storm as his best friend in the superhero community.
  • The Marvel Comics universe includes a concept called the "Nexus-Being" or some such, which describes the person who is the focus of their universe. That role is filled by the Scarlet Witch: her father's a mutant supervillain (sometimes he's her adoptive father rather than her biological father, Depending on the Writer), her ex-husband is a robot superhero, her brother married into the royal family of a secret city that was Touched by Vorlons, her sister (or half-sister, or her sister by adoption, or both, Depending on the Writer) is dating a member of the Summers' famously Tangled Family Tree, one of her sons married into an extraterrestrial imperial family, and she herself got inbuilt magic powers from a Chaos demon.
  • Seems to happen to most of the mortal side characters in The Sandman (1989), even excluding circumstances directly caused by Morpheus' influence.
  • A central conceit of Seven Soldiers is that each of the seven leads is accidentally setting up the others to defeat the Sheeda without ever quite meeting.
  • There is a part of Sin City where almost every protagonist is in a strip club, dancing or watching the dancing.
    • Which is more of a Continuity Nod, since the same scene is shown from different character viewpoints in different stories where they all happen to converge on this one time and place in Kadie's Bar. Sin City is full of similar scenes connecting two or more stories at the same time/place but different perspectives.
  • Utilised in one storyline of The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, as part of a flashback. Several members of the cast (Chromedome, Drift, Ratchet, Skids and Whirl) turn out to be in one way or another connected to each other as part of a story involving a faked terrorist plot and a heist. Through the story, there are several other cameos and connections to other major characters, chief among them Orion Pax, Prowl and Shockwave.
  • Marvel's Ultimate Origins mini series appears to be their attempt at doing this for the Ultimate Marvel Universe.
    • In this case it makes no logical sense whatsoever. For example: Hulk is revealed to have killed Peter Parker's parents even though canonically Spiderman was already a superhero in the UMU when Banner became the Hulk.
      • Quite frankly, anything and everything Bendis established in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up was either retconned away or blatantly ignored almost as soon as the series was published. Even Bendis himself ignored everything.
  • During the second story arc of W.I.T.C.H., Will learned that Halinor and Kadma, of the previous generation of Guardians, were keeping tabs on her and the others, with Kadma plainly admitting they were also the mentors to Will's mentors before she moved to Heatherfield. The previous generation pulls double duty when you remember that Hay Lin's grandmother Yan Lin was also one of the previous team (in fact there's the chance Hay Lin did meet Kadma and Halinor), and was keeping tabs on the future Guardians through her fellow former Guardians.

    Comic Strips 
  • Lampshaded in this Doonesbury strip, where one character recognizes another character's girlfriend as his college roommate's daughter.
  • In Peanuts, Snoopy attempts to tie together all of the characters in his novel "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" in this fashion:
    Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates?
Linus then asks "What about the king?" and gets beaned with a typewriter.

    Fan Works 
  • The 10 Doctors: Though, by nature, this story brings many unlikely Doctor Who characters together, there is a special non-Time Travel example. San Franciscan doctor Grace Holloway, some years after her encounter with the Seventh/Eighth Doctors, is in London mentoring a young medical student by the name of Martha Jones, who will soon meet then join the Tenth Doctor as a companion.
  • The Altered Destinies Fan Verse is an Exaggerated Trope because each story in it is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover, so Depending on the Writer or even a specific universe in The Multiverse this trope could be bigger or smaller then normal. In the Baderverse for example Tenchi and Usagi are Ranma’’s cousins, Ukyo is Makoto’s Sempai, Cologne is not only Yosho’s daughter (making her either Ranma’s aunt or great aunt depending on the universe), but Ryoga’s great aunt, and that’s not even scratching the surface of just how much the characters are connected.
  • In Batman: Melody for a Mockingbird, Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze were chosen by the Big Bad Thomas Elliot to be his Co-Dragons only marginally for what they could contribute to the Evil Plan. Mostly, it was because he was already familiar with them: Crane and Elliot were classmates in university, and Elliot had worked under Fries as a hospital intern.
  • In Because Being Together is Enough, Kurt was friends with an American-exchanged student named Stephan. The next time Kurt sees him was when Stephan was accompanying his sister Amanda (and also Kurt's girlfriend) to check upon him.
  • The fact that Bethany Hawke has this with several characters in the Dragon Age franchise is illustrated in Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, in which she's the Inquisitor. Among other things, she knows Cullen and Samson from her years in Kirkwall's Circle of Magi and she was acquainted with Leliana as a child in Lothering.
  • In A Case Study in the Sturdiness of the Rookie 9, Kakashi tasks Team 7 (Sakura, Choji, and Shino) with a "mission" to get close to Genma and prank him because of a Lost Food Grievance. Choji invokes this trope by bringing up how Genma's teacher was Choji's father, saying how cool it would be if Genma taught his teacher's son and his teammates.
  • Child of the Storm takes this approach, but it's not actually natural, but created by Doctor Strange, an immensely powerful seer and time-traveller/manipulator, to weave a united front against Thanos. Harry is the stand-out example. To take just a few, his maternal grandparents were crack SHIELD Agents who mentored Nick Fury. Doctor Strange was his paediatrician. Wanda Maximoff is his godmother. Jean Grey is his maternal second cousin. It only gets stronger and much, much stranger from there.
  • Mass Effect Fanfic Crucible has Herz, Trebia's mortal form, was the original ancestor of the 5 clans (one of which was the Vakarian). Kadisa, who married into the clan was a friend of Deathl, who manipulated his daughter Jane to become what she was today to be the one who push Trebia's plans into actions. Jane later married Garrus, Kadisa's grandson. Their son Gaius's best friend Tiberius was the son of Victus and Miranda. Tib's lost love Emi was daughter of Jack, who designed Shepard's nanites. Also, Gaius married Amata, daughter of Jane's first crush. And Jane's father died from saving a young Anderson's life.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Dynasty:
    • The father of the Nameless Namekian (who would split into Kami and King Piccolo after arriving on Earth) was a fellow grand Elder of Namek alongside Guru and Slug.
    • Turles, the inventor of the Power Ball, is Bardock's twin brother.
    • In chapter 138, Gohan finds out that the lawyer that his classmate Erasa has been shadowing is Lazuli Lazarus, who he knows better as Android 18.
  • In the Love Live! fanfic The Ginger Devil, Honoka Kousaka is captured by human trafficking and is purchased by the mafioso don Alessandro Ricci, who hires her as one of his enforcers and later his daughter Michelle's bodyguard in exchange for her freedom in the future. Michelle is the cousin of Mari Ohara from Love Live! Sunshine!!, and one of Mari's lovers, Dia, is close friends with Eli Ayase, one of Honoka's idol mates from µ.
  • I'm Nobody: Roxas is the Nobody of Sora and has his memories. Sora is friends with Donald, and Roxas meets Donald's sister Della, who also knew Ventus, who Roxas is an Identical Stranger to. And Roxas' best friend Axel and their Team Pet / mascot Stitch also knew Ventus. Oh yeah, and Sora's best friend Riku is friends with Mickey, who also knew Ventus.
    • At one point in the fic, Sephiroth asks Roxas if he knows Cloud. While Roxas has never met the guy, he knows that Sora has, and his visible reaction to the name clues in Sephiroth that Roxas knows Cloud in some form.
  • JoJo New Universe: The main characters of JoJo New Universe: Steel Ball Run are all connected to other characters in the universe. The protagonist Sadao Kujo is Jotaro Kujo's father. The Big Good and The Team Benefactor Funny Valentine is not only the Good Counterpart of his canon self but also Narciso Anasui's uncle. Official Couple Asahi "Sunset Shimmer" Nichibotsu and Ryusei Ito were Noriaki Kakyoin's former classmates, while Sunset is cousin to Himari "Fluttershy" Utsukushicho. James Brown is the son of politician Smokey Brown. Radames Avdol is the merchant brother to fortune-teller and future crusader Muhammad Avdol. Antoinette Dupont is the late Sherry Polnareff's best friend and was trained to fight by Sherry's brother Jean-Piere. Amnesiac Hero Rudy was a close friend of Iggy the Boston Terrier. And Sanji Matsumoto is the flesh-out adaption of the man that saved Josuke and Tomoko Higashikata from a snowstorm.
  • In the Persona 5 fanfic Murder, Arson and Jaywalking..., Sae Nijima meets with a bartender named Emi, who she ends strikes up a friendship and later a romance. Emi turns out to Emi Sakamoto, the mother of Ryuji Sakamoto, who is the teammate (and later love interest) of Makoto, Sae's little sister.
  • Ranma's former instructor in Ranma Saotome, Chi Master is revealed to be Cologne's daughter-in-law and the many-greats grandmother of Shampoo's grandfather.
  • In the Friday the 13th fic "The Strange Good Girl", the titular character, Lisa Watkins, has previous knowledge of Jason Voorhees because her mother Janet was a nurse at Camp Crystal Lake before Jason originally drowned, to the extent that Janet Watkins is the only other person Jason recalls being kind to him apart from Pamela.
  • Oni Ga Shiku Series: The amount of connections in this fic is kind of ridiculous. For example the Knight of Cerebus who kidnaps Izuku's mom used to go to school with Izuku's art history teacher, whom Izuku met while he was on a job from his boss to help the cousin of a woman who used to work for Izuku's uncle; the cousin is another former classmate of the history teacher. Said kidnapper used to share a prison cell with the former owner of Izuku's Dragon Quest III copy, which was given to him by Izuku's boss. Said kidnapper also used to be in the Omi Alliance before going to jail. Who else used to be a member? Izuku's grandfather. Which is how Goro Majima met the family and why he's Izuku's Honorary Uncle now. A third chain of connections is how Majima, by taking on a construction contract for UA, accidentally ruined the financial status of one of his nephew's future classmates for over ten years after the fact. And the random connections just keep on going. Everyone knows everyone in Musutafu and Kamurocho.
  • This Bites!:
    • Captain T-Bone was a Marine soldier in the West Blue who was ordered on the sea-wide pursuit of Nico Robin. When he and his men protested against the unreasonable amount of force, they were sold out by Vergo and the entire division massacred by Akainu. T-Bone barely survived.
      • And when she hears about Vergo, Hina, who served with him under Tsuru, is suitably shell-shocked.
    • Vice Admiral Jonathan trained together with Bell-mère.
    • Lily Carnation is the monster that chased Buggy out of the Grand Line and into the safety of the East Blue.
    • Mr. 13 and Ms. Friday are from Kuraigana Island.
    • Don Accino's Hot-Hot Fruit is one of six Devil Fruits passed through Alabasta's Royal Guardians for generations, until several were lost or stolen (one of which is the Sand-Sand Fruit).
    • Garp spars with Boss's teacher and role model Sifu Dugong on a yearly basis.
  • In To Hell and Back (Arrowverse), Arc III reveals that Robert Queen's ex-lover Isabel Rochev is a former classmate and rival of Samantha Arias, mother of Clark Kent's schoolmate Ruby.
  • Weightless: Shepard used to live in an orphanage where the nephew of one of the caretaker was Kaidan, then she was bailed out from there by Ghost/ Kai Leng. Later, after her rape, she was rescued by Nihlus, who then was spared by Samara because without him Shepard would die. And now, apparently, Jack looked familiar to her, too.

    Films — Animated 
  • Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. This is what solves the eponymous mystery. Batman has two suspects for Batwoman's Secret Identity—Mafia Princess Kathy Duquesne and Wayne Tech scientist Roxanne "Rocky" Ballantine, but each of them have an alibi. He then suspects the two women of working together, but can't find any connection. It's then he realises there must be a third party who knew both and introduced them, GCPD Detective Sonia Alcana. It's then everything becomes clear—Batwoman is actually three women sharing a Collective Identity.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Amores Perros (or Love's A Bitch) has three different stories with the characters tied together by a car crash and a dog.
  • Auf der anderen Seite/The Edge of Heaven by Fatih Akin did this with three parent/child pairs. All six characters were connected in some way.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War, Thor becomes the bridge between the magical, the cosmic, and the earth-centered spheres of the Universe. He knew Tony, Steve, Bruce, Natasha, Clint from The Avengers (2012), then met Vision and Wanda in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and in Thor: Ragnarok, he became the first superhero who met and interacted with Doctor Strange. In Infinity War, he meets the Guardians of the Galaxy. This becomes clear during the initial skirmish between Tony's faction and Star-Lord's group on Titan, where the fighting stops as soon as both groups realize that they all know Thor. Later, Thor personally introduces Groot and Rocket to Steve Rogers.
  • In Babel, connections are pretty one-way, and flimsy, but they're there, dammit, and it's meaningful. Oscar, please.
  • Lampshaded by the Audience Surrogate trying to piece all the characters' conflicting motivations together in Burn After Reading:
    "They all seem to be sleeping with each other."
  • Clue uses this, with characters turning out to be increasingly connected as the plot unfolds; the precise nature of some of these connections, however, depends on which ending you go with.
  • Crash, being a Hyperlink Story with an explicitly stated theme of people's unnoticed interconnections.
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love: Nearly every character with some kind of plot relevance is connected to each other. Cal and Emily are married, and Emily had a one-night stand with her co-worker David. Jessica is Cal's children's babysitter, and her father is friends with Cal. Jacob becomes Cal's friend, and his girlfriend Hannah is revealed to be Cal and Emily's daughter. Even the random woman from the bar that Cal slept with turns out to be his son's teacher.
  • Do You Believe?: Similar to Crash, many characters are connected from the beginning by a hospital at which they either work or are patients.
  • Gosford Park — it's the motive for the murder. Robert Parks is acting as the valet for a guest of Sir William's. He's actually the illegitimate son of both Sir William and the current housekeeper Mrs. Wilson, who is also the sister of the cook Mrs. Croft.
  • Parodied in a scene in Hot Shots!, where it turns out everyone in the barracks is related in some way.
    • Topper's father is why Kent's father died.
    • Kent's father was mistaken for a deer and eaten by Dead Meat's family (complete with his head mounted on the wall with the "antlers" still attached to the helmet).
    • Dead Meat turns out to be a cousin of Kowalski, and they used to vacation on the banks of Eagle River.
      Entire Platoon: Eagle River?!
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux:
    • Parodied when Topper is sent on a special mission to Iraq where his contact happens to be his former love interest Ramada (who was a psychologist in the previous movie) and one of the prisoners they're there to save is her husband. Also, while Topper's new love interest being on the mission doesn't fit this trope as this is how they met, her having been Ramada's college roommate does.
    • Also parodied in the revealed background between Saddam Hussein and President Benson. Given Benson's military background and involvement in the Iraq operation of the previous movie, its not inconceivable that they could have met, but when they whipped out lightsabers and began dueling, it left no doubt that they were parodying this trope again.
  • Love Actually does this with a very large cast.
    • To be exact, Jamie and Sarah are friends of Juliet and Peter, appearing at their wedding. During their reception, Colin has several failed attempts to flirt with women, including Mia. Peter's best man is Mark who knows Mia. Mia is the new secretary for Harry who is married to Karen. Sarah also works for Harry. Karen is the sister of the new Prime Minister David and is also close friends with Daniel. Daniel's son goes to the same school as Natalie's cousins. We also find out that Mia is neighbors with Natalie's family. Even the salesman Rufus, who had earlier wrapped a gift for Harry, manages to help Daniel and his son at the airport.
    • The only ones that don't directly interact with the others are Billy and his manager. However, his antics and his music video inspire Daniel's son as to how to get his crush's attention.
  • Love at First Sight (2023): Hadley is able to find Oliver after losing his contact information because she overhears some of her father's wedding guests saying they need to attend Oliver's mother's memorial at Peckham House. The Ludicrous Precision-loving narrator lampshades that the odds of their families having mutual friends is 0.2%.
  • In Madame Web (2024), after their first encounter with Ezekiel, Julia Cornwall, Mattie Franklin, and Anya Corazon all realize that they all recognize Cassie Webb: Julia knows her as the paramedic from the hospital who saved her stepmother, Mattie was almost run over by her ambulance while on a skateboard, and Anya lives in the same apartment building as her. When they say how weird it is how they're connected, Cassie states it's the least weird thing to happen to her recently.
  • In Playing by Heart, this is The Reveal — except for some Arc Words, there's no hint of any connections other than the obvious ones, until the end.
  • Quiz Lady: It turns out that Ron's charades partner is ex-CIA, and is in fact a coworker of Jenny's oft-mentioned ex-boyfriend. Even lampshaded by the text: "Small world!"
  • Saw:
    • In the first film, two apparent strangers, Adam Stanheight and Dr. Lawrence Gordon, are trapped in a dilapidated bathroom together. It turns out, however, that Adam was hired by a detective to spy on Lawrence, who was suspected of being Jigsaw, whose identity is in turn revealed to be that of John Kramer, a patient of Lawrence's with terminal cancer. This was all part of Jigsaw's plan, but Adam and Lawrence didn't know that when they found out.
    • Later films show that many of John's victims were patients at the drug recovery clinic ran by his ex-wife Jill Tuck, or people he knew beforehand. Those who aren't are likely to be connected to one of the various Jigsaw apprentices instead.
    • While the cast of Spiral has no connections with most of the previous films' characters, the plot progressively establishes most of them to either have different relationships with each other or that they've met each other at least once, including the Spiral killer themselves towards Zeke and Pete.
  • Top Secret!:
    Nick Rivers: Listen to me, Hillary. I'm not the first guy who fell in love with a woman that he met at a restaurant who turned out to be the daughter of a kidnapped scientist, only to lose her to her childhood lover who she last saw on a deserted island, who then turned out fifteen years later to be the leader of the French underground.
  • The View Askewniverse, often with Jay and Silent Bob being in the center of the Venn Diagram of character connections. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is built off of all the characters from the previous films.

  • Robert A. Heinlein's short story —All You Zombies—: The various characters are connected by zero degrees of separation.
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. Seriously, what are the odds? Markos happens to be a good friend of Nabi's, and helps him pass on the letter to Pari informing her of her true parenthood. Idris and Timur both live in the same city in the United States as Abdullah and end up meeting Nabi, his uncle. Adel becomes friends with Gholam, who is the son of Abdullah's half-brother Idris, and Adel's father owns the same ancestral plot of land as Abdullah and Idris did, and... Yeah, it's confusing.
  • All six main characters in Animorphs have a familial or friendship connection with at least one other Animorph. Even Aximili, the resident alien, is Tobias's biological uncle.
  • Epithet Erased: Prison of Plastic: In the second chapter, we learn that Giovanni, Molly's Big Brother Mentor, is cousins with one of Molly's best friends, Trixie. Neither one of them knew that the other had met Molly before the former bursts into the speech class, and the latter is shocked to learn that the man that Molly has been cryptically and respectfully referring to as "Boss" is the family's dorky weakling.
    Giovanni wasn't a bad guy, per se, but he was basically the world's biggest goober. She couldn't believe Molly thought he was cool.
  • Also happens in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Victor Hugo liked this trope!
  • Les Misérables. Would you believe it, Cosette, we just happened upon the same convent of which I had saved the gardener's life? And your boyfriend, what a coincidence, feels obliged to fulfill a debt owed to the same family that abused and starved you for three years! And that same family produced that gamin on the streets who's taking care of his brothers who were supposed to go live with your boyfriend's grandfather and mon dieu let's talk about the Parisian sewers.
    • And then the barricades, where every surviving character fit for battle (and a few who aren't, like Valjean (seventy-two going on eighty) and Eponine (starving, lovesick, homeless and female) shows up either during the battle or in the sewers.
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles has this going on; this trope was very popular around Hardy's time period.
  • Collaborations between Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle:
  • The Wheel of Time books: Elayne and Gawyn are introduced as siblings, Galad as their half-brother. Their father, Taringail Damodred, is a relative of Moiraine Damodred (whose cousin, Caraline Damodred, also appears in the series). Galad's mother, Tigraine Mantear, is also the mother of the main character, Rand al'Thor. Meanwhile, the mother of Elayne and Gawyn had an affair with Thom Merrilin, her court-bard-turned-wandering-gleeman, who likely killed Taringail. Gawyn is now (sort of) romantically involved with Egwene al'Vere, who was Rand's love interest back in the first three books, while Rand is now involved with Elayne.
    • That's just scratching the surface. In this series, They All Share The Story. The mariner Bayle Domon, for example, helped Rand and Mat escape monsters in book one, helped Elayne and Nynaeve hunt the Black Ajah in book four, and traveled with Mat in books eight through 12 or so. None of their meetings were planned, and were barely even voluntary. The Mole who threatened Moiraine in book two also spied on Elayne and Nynaeve in later books. Verin mentored Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene, Mat, Perrin and Rand, but each in different ways and for different reasons. Character histories like that are completely typical in this series.
  • Happens in Incarnations of Immortality, by the end of the series. Greatly assisted by the presence of several "temporary immortals" (the longest-lived being Parry) and a literal Fate playing a centuries-long chess game against the Devil. Niobe (Lachesis, the middle Aspect of the incarnation of Fate, formerly Clotho (another Aspect)) is the mother of Orb (Gaia, Incarnation of Nature, from Niobe's second marriage) who's married to Parry (Satan, Incarnation of Evil). Orb's child with Mym (Mars, Incarnation of War), is Orlene (God(dess), Incarnation of Good). Orlene once dated Norton (Chronos, Incarnation of Time), and bore a child (who later died). Niobe's granddaughter, Luna (via Niobe's son from her first marriage), is dating Zane (Thanatos, Incarnation of Death). Kerena (Nox, Incarnation of Night) is a distant ancestor of Orlene's dead husband, and accidentally introduced into her line the curse that would kill Orlene's child. Parry's demon ex-lover, Lilith, is a concubine of Mym. Another Aspect of Fate, Nicolai (Atropos), is a friend of Orb and helped find an adoptive family for Orlene. There's also a very strong hint on the first page of Under a Velvet Cloak that Kerena's sister Katherine is a distant ancestor of Niobe, thus also of Orb, Luna, and Orlene.
  • The focus of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, hence the "holistic" in the title — everyone is connected through the main character Richard. Which only goes to prove that Dirk's ideas about the interconnectedness of all things are not crackpot theories, despite the cynical use he makes of them.
  • Near the beginning of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Ford and Arthur end up on the Heart of Gold and meet Trillian and Zaphod. Despite being, respectively, the only three survivors of the Earth's vaporization and the President of the Galaxy, they all know each other already: Ford and Zaphod are old friends from the same star system, Trillian (originally Trisha) recently dumped Arthur for Zaphod at a party, and Ford knew about Trillian through Arthur.
    Zaphod: Is this going to happen every time we use the Improbability Drive?
    Trillian: Very probably, I'm afraid.
  • Every single case of The Hardy Boys would somehow turn out to be connected to the one their father was investigating. This was dropped entirely for later series.
  • Gravity's Rainbow has a cast of several hundred characters, and at least for the 40 or so main ones it seems they are all interconnected in multiple ways. (Mapping it all out can be pretty difficult).
  • This was standard operating procedure for Charles Dickens.
    • Great Expectations. Magwitch, the convict who Pip meets at the beginning, is Estella's father, and Compeyson, the other convict, is the former lover of Miss Havisham (who adopted Estella). The lawyer Jaggers' housekeeper is Estella's real mother and the boy Pip fought with as a child turns out to be Herbert Pocket, who, as a young man, teaches Pip how to be a gentleman.
    • Oliver Twist is saved from going to prison by the man who turns out to be a friend of Oliver's real father and an admirer of Oliver's mother, who died giving birth to him, though in the musical they simplified it and made him Oliver's grandfather.
    • A Tale of Two Cities had every major character directly connected to either the Marquis St. Evrémonde or the Doctor he had imprisoned for no real reason.
  • Lampshaded in The Kite Runner. Amir is not surprised at all to discover that a random beggar on the street knew his mother. Apparently, in Kabul, every single person is related to everyone else somehow or other.
  • Sarah Dessen is known for this. All of her books seem to take place in one town, or in the beach town next door to it, and it must be a small area because in any one of her books (aside from the first) there will invariably be references to the others. Examples include: Truth Squad (and Remy) from This Lullaby cameo in Just Listen; Jamie getting Owen from Just Listen to help him with Cora's birthday present in Lock and Key as well as Rogerson from Dreamland appearing (while briefly); Annabel and Owen from Just Listen seeing Macy and Wes from The Truth About Forever at the World of Waffles; and Cora from Lock and Key inviting Remy's mom from This Lullaby to her Christmas party. In Along for the Ride, Heidi is friends with Isabel and Morgan from Keeping the Moon and used to work at Last Chance Cafe.
  • Murder on the Orient Express. Almost everybody on the train knew each other by working together, but it's not a coincidence; it's been very carefully set up.
  • The girl, Kendra, that Vince falls in love with in Gordon Korman's Son of the Mob just happens to be the daughter of the federal agent investigating Vince's Mob boss of a father.
  • Christopher Brookmyre novels have lots of subtle nods. Maybe one of the subtlest: the photographer in Not The End of The World is implied to have shot Simon Darcourt's band for their one single.
  • In the Liaden Universe series, as a result of the Korval clan's Weirdness Magnet and Coincidence Magnet nature, many non-Korval characters find their paths crossing Korval's repeatedly in improbable ways. It sometimes seems as if every minor character in the entire universe is related to Korval in ways that just haven't been revealed yet.
  • The Brief History of the Dead: Pretty much the entire plot of the book. The entire population of The City is made up of people who are remembered by Laura Bird before they and everyone else on Earth except Laura died.
  • Xanth: To ridiculous degrees, if you haven't gone on a quest with someone, you've gone on a quest with a relative of theirs.
  • In Finally where Rory meets and helps several minor characters before it's revealed by the end of the book that they're all related. Then again, 'Aunt' Angelina links all the protagonists of the series together by 13 Gifts. Or maybe everyone in Willow Falls just knows each other.
  • Used extensively in Meg Cabot's Boy series. Each book has (mostly) different characters, but they all seem to have known each other, some for reasons (a lot of them do work at the same company, after all), but others through completely random coincidence. Notable examples include Stacy Trent turning out to be Mitch Hertzog's sister, or Amy Jenkins, annoying HR rep to Mel and later evil boss to Kate just happening to have somehow screwed Jane over in the past as well. Also, Nadine's fiance Tony from the first book just happens to show up and hire Ida Lopez to work in his restaurant in the second, and apparently Aaron Spender and Cal Langdon both slept with Barbara Bellerieve.
  • The Jeżycjada series by Małgorzata Musierowicz has many characters, and they all seem to have met at one point or another. Being a Long Runner, this leads to situations like Gabriela's stepdaughter marrying the son of the surgeon who saved Gabriela's mother's life several books prior.
  • As Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe lengthened, every protagonist developed close relationships with every other. Basically: Alanna note  serves King Jonathan, whose queen establishes an elite combat unit taught by Onua, whose friend Numair used to be friends with the Emperor of Carthak. The Emperor later employs Dainenote  to heal his pet birds, and while doing so, Daine befriends the Emperor's son, whose future personal physician travels to the Copper Isles and falls in love with Sarai, whose maid/spymaster Alynote  is the daughter of Alanna and George, who is a very distant descendant of Beka.note  Alanna is secretly the patron of Keladry,note  who has admired her since childhood.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry’s wand contains a feather from the pet phoenix of Harry's future mentor, whose ex was later murdered by Voldemort, who would become Harry's nemesis because Harry's mom cast a spell which sorta-kinda-killed him. Voldemort's wand, in turn, contains another feather from the same phoenix (which becomes a major plot point starting in book 4)
    • Bathilda Bagshot, the magical historian, is tangentially related to a whole host of characters. She was Dumbledore’s neighbor as a kid and a friend of his mother’s and privy to the family’s many secrets. She was Gellert Grindelwald’s great-aunt who offered him a place to stay where he eventually met Dumbledore. She also was a neighbor of Harry’s as a baby and Lily Potter mentions to Sirius in a letter that Harry finds she was the one person they saw regularly in hiding.
  • Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett refers to a theory that "there are only about five hundred real people on any given planet, which is why they keep unexpectedly running into one another all the time." Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman says this theory is "true as far as it goes", but it's not that the other millions of people are "unreal", just that they're in different stories.
  • In Rule 34 by Charles Stross, the three main characters are Liz, a police officer who is called off her investigation of where unlicensed 3D printers are getting their feedstock to investigate the murder of Michael Blair; The Toymaker, the local head of an international 3D-printer-based crime organisation who is in Edinburgh to recruit Blair; and Anwar, an ex-con (previously arrested by Liz) who has become honorary consul to a tiny Ruritania which mostly involves doling out "bread mix" to people who just happen to be legmen in the Toymaker's organisation. In addition, Anwar's mother-in-law turns out to be Blair's housekeeper (and his cousin is a later victim), and the Toymaker propositions Liz's casual girlfriend (who, as a financial investigator, is also Working the Same Case). And the German policeman who liaises with the case due to a similarity to other murders across the EU has previously worked with Liz. It reaches the point where the characters themselves are trying to figure out what's going on, because it can't all be a coincidence. And it turns out it's not — everyone involved is being manipulated by an AI designed to use behavioural psychology and the internet to "nudge" people into not breaking the law, but which decided it would be more efficient to use behavioural psychology and the internet to kill lawbreakers.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Saxonberg, Mrs. Frankweiler's long-time lawyer (and the addressee of her novel-length letter), is also Claudia and Jamie's grandfather.
  • Most of the main characters of Station Eleven are all connected to Arthur Leander, a famous actor who died of a heart attack onstage on the eve of the global pandemic:
    • Kirsten was a child actor in his production of King Lear, and watched him die.
    • Jeevan is simultaneously the paparazzo who began rumors of his first divorce, the journalist who interviewed him about his second, and the paramedic who unsuccessfully attempted CPR on him.
    • Clark is his oldest friend.
    • Miranda is his first wife.
    • The Prophet is his only son, Tyler.
  • Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation: Mo Dao Zu Shi: Pretty much every plot-relevant character is directly connected to each other by blood, marriage, sworn brotherhood or adoption. Somewhat justified, as the story revolves around the five most notable clans, akin to nobility in the cultivation world, and it is common for nobles to be all related to each other.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes novel The Three Locks by Bonnie MacBird, Homes has two cases, one of which involves a woman who designs magic tricks and the rivalry between her husband and her ex, both tall, dark, dramatic types. She mentions to Holmes that she is planning to leave her husband for a scientist who has ideas to improve her illusions. The other case is in Cambridge, where one of the suspects is a physics student who happens to have a tall, dark, dramatic lab partner...
  • Light novel author, Ryohgo Narita loves this trope:
    • Baccano!: It all started in a ship, in which that ship made some humans immortal. One of those immortals eventually became a member of a Camorra group in which his closest allies eventually become immortal as well thanks to an old, immortal man from the ship, a man from another crime family, as well as two thieves. Those two thieves would later on go to a train ride where they befriend a young-looking boy who is also one of the immortals from the ship; and a young gang leader who happens to be under the radar of a hitman from another crime family, whose plans in the train ride get hijacked by a terrorist group led by one of the immortals from the ship. Said immortal's daughter happens to get the attention of a young conductor who is actually a serial killer and has been killing several people in the train and fights with the hitman. Not to mention he's the adoptive brother of the Camorra group's closest allies. His adoptive brothers then confront the sister of the man partially responsible for making the Camorra group and their allies immortal and later on, also takes in the young gang leader and his gang, as well the immortal's daughter from the train who joins said gang. At one point, she also came across the two thieves. Confused yet? Because that's just what the first few volumes (and the anime) have covered.
    • Durarara!!: Everyone—no, really, everyone—knows Mikado somehow. Leader of the Yellow Scarves? his best friend. The Demon Sword and chat room troll Saika? possesses the girl he has a crush on. Urban legend Dullahan on a motorcycle? one of his chat room friends; the other is Orihara Izaya. And Harima Mika, the girl made to look like Celty's head, sits behind him in class.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, despite Kyon being completely, explicitly unconnected to any of the weirdness going on, his Childhood Friend turns out to be the previous holder of an incredible unique power whose next inheritor Kyon would befriend, solely by chance, several years later. Most other examples of the trope are in that they result from Haruhi being God and unconsciously warping the universe to be more fantastical, but this example she has absolutely nothing to do with. It's just how the dice fell.
  • The Westing Game: On the surface, the sixteen heirs of Sam Westing (whom he claims as nieces and nephews) seem to have been randomly chosen and have no connection at all to him, but as the story progresses all those connections are revealed: the Wexlers really are blood kin through Grace (except her husband Jake, obviously), Theo and Chris's dad used to date Westing's daughter Violet, Flora Baumbauch made Violet's wedding dress, Mr. Hoo was a competitor who accused Westing of stealing an invention of his, Judge Ford's family used to work for him and he funded her schooling, Crow is his wife, Otis Amber is the private investigator he hired, and Sandy McSouthers used to work for Westing and is actually one of Westing's aliases. The one exception is Sydelle Pulaski, who was a case of Mistaken Identity: Otis was supposed to find a Sybil Pulaski, a friend of Crow's.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers: As in Super Sentai and its sister tokusatsu series, the various team-ups from one team of Rangers to another have established a network of connections.
  • Game of Thrones: Normally, as the relatively small size of the noble class in Westeros means most families will have met or at least heard of each other.
    • Played straight with Arya's experiences wandering among the much more populous small folk: Out of all the people she could have bonded with between Kings Landing and Winterfell, her closest/only friend is naturally the son of her father's best friend. note  (On other occasions she ends up serving her family's Arch-Enemy and travelling with her sister's former protector.)
    • Tyrion travels the world from the Wall to King's Landing, to Pentos and to Meereen, and becomes the first of the main cast to interact with every major character and faction, making him the linchpin of the series. He has met Jon Snow and the Night's Watch, Robb and Bran Stark at Winterfell, Catelyn Stark and Lysa Arryn at the Vale, King's Landing and the Decadent Court (Lannisters, Littlefinger, Varys, Joffrey, Tyrells, Martells). Once in Essos, he meets Daenerys and Jorah Mormont, and he's the one who breaks the news to Jorah about his late father. This becomes clear when he reunites with Theon Greyjoy in Season 6 and brings back their last meeting at Winterfell and it becomes even more obvious when in Season 7, he serves as the common friend for both Daenerys and Jon Snow, being the only man who knows both of them.
  • Lost is the epitome of this trope. To give just one example:
    • Charlie played guitar outside the offices where Desmond had a job interview, who in turn once met Jack while jogging in a stadium, and Jack's father, Christian Shephard, is also Claire's father, met Ana Lucia in an airport bar and hired her, got drunk with Sawyer, and that's all before he died. Word of God says that these are not Easter eggs, but rather a part of the larger mythology.
    • All the character connections are shown on this page, with this rather impressive graphic.
    • In Seasons 1-3 such connections only occurred every other few episodes. By the time of Season Six all pretenses are dropped and each episode features cross-character connection at a rate of about once every 15 minutes in the Flash Sideways.
      • Well, by the end of season 3, they'd stopped doing flashbacks at all. They didn't dip back into the past, so it makes sense that the rest of the show would feature the main characters encountering each other. And the Flash Sideways was some sort of mystical alternate dimension engineered specifically to create this sort of thing.
  • Once Upon a Time uses this trope in the first season when showing events in the Enchanted Forest. But then it wholly embraces it in the second season after we find out that the majority of the main cast are all related in some way. Unsurprising, since it's written by the same team that did "Lost".
  • In How I Met Your Mother, during the last season, The Mother makes her appearance; but as it turns out, Ted is the last one of his group to meet her. She first meets Barney, and convinces him to go after Robin, then befriends Lily on a train, then Marshall by giving him a ride, then Robin, by stopping her from running away on her wedding day, and lastly, she meets Ted after Barney tries to introduce him to her. When he reveals to them he met her, Lily and Marshall even state how great she is.
  • Heroes is a user of this trope as well, though to a lesser extent than Lost, with even some characters saying, "We're all connected."
    • Though considering that many of the characters are the children of the founders of The Company or were manipulated by it, this doesn't seem too implausible.
    • And the writers of doing a pretty good job of remembering that not everyone has met everyone. For example, it took two full seasons for Matt and Hiro to meet:
      (Nathan and Matt arrive at Primatech Paper)
      Hiro: (seeing Nathan) Flying man!
      Matt: Who is this kid?
      • The same thing happens with Claire and Hiro, and they have a whole episode centering around it with lampshading of how they never met each other.
      • Technically, they have met. However, how was Hiro supposed to recognize a toddler he probably didn't even look up to see (he was buried in a handheld video game) when he was little?
    • Though they sometimes slip up-like how Nathan in early season 2 seemed to have forgotten meeting almost everyone, even people he met before the events of the finale.
    • On a related note, the fact that new Petrellis keep cropping up certainly implies this.
    • Charles Deveaux is never actually seen doing anything while he's alive. He's shown unconscious a couple of times, once in Peter's dream, and then he's dead. He seems to be unimportant; just a plot mechanism to connect Simone and Isaac to the Petrellis. But after his death Charles become increasingly important, until by Volume 4 it's revealed that he was the leading founder of the Company.
      • Ditto Linderman to an extent. Initially he just seems to be a powerful mobster who has very generic interests. While there are a few hints that there is more to his character while he's alive, we don't really begin to find out about him until after he dies.
  • Manifest has a plane taking off in 2013 but when it lands, the passengers are stunned to find it's now 2018. As they handle the changes to the world and their lives, it becomes clear odd connections are happening to link them together.
    • Saanvi was young doctor who was working on a breakthrough leukemia treatment. She discovers the treatment is now implemented and working great on of whom is Cal, a young boy who was on the plane and would have died in 2013 but now can be cured.
    • Ben helps fellow passenger Radd when the latter's son is arrested for robbery. Ben is checking out a storage locker of mementos owned by a man who was dating Ben's "widow" Grace. While there, Ben runs into the son of the owner of the store outside a locker filled with the stolen goods. The guy had robbed the place himself and set up Radd's son and was planning to sell the stuff off when Ben found him.
    • Michela listens to a "voice" that tells her to free a lost dog. It turns out that the owner happens to have abducted two young girls.
    • Michela investigates the murder of a passenger who had a necklace stolen. Later, Michela saves the mother of a late friend from being hit by a car. When Michela checks on the driver, she recognizes her as that passenger's maid with the necklace right in plain sight and realizes she's the killer.
    • While working different cases, Michela and Saanvi manage to come together to aid a flight attendant from the plane in finding a lost stowaway.
    • It's openly addressed by the characters that this all goes beyond Contrived Coincidence and instead indicates some sort of design is at work.
  • Community did this in the episode "Heroic Origins" as a parody of this trope's prevalence in works like LOST and Heroes. Turns out and Jeff helped break up Shirley's marriage, Abed got Annie arrested for her pill addiction, Shirley accidentally got Dean Pelton to embrace his Creepy Crossdresser and Camp Gay tendencies, etc.
    • Specifically, Abed is shown to be the one character who had a hand in bringing everyone together. He compares himself to the villain of their superhero origin story. Then it turns out Chang, of all people, helped out as well.
  • Spaced has two flashbacks to childhood showing Tim being chased by a pack of dogs, (giving him a fear of them) and Daisy chasing after them. They don't make the connection. On the DVD Commentary, they mention plans to have all four main characters in the same park as children (with the fifth, Marsha, as a young mother) without meeting, but never did it.
  • Caprica: Joseph Adama, father of the future military leader of the surviving human race, knew Daniel Graystone, the inventor of the Caprican Cylons.
  • The Class did this. A group of eight adults who were in the same third grade class spontaneously be re-involved with each other lives, both intimately and in passing.
  • Six Degrees did the same with a more serious tone.
  • Misfits got hit with a boatload of this in the time-travel episode. Every character happened to have been at the same club on the same night, and several of them had brief encounters that they had presumably forgotten about the next time they met. This includes their social worker and his girlfriend, who became his fiancee that night, but he didn't have an engagement ring because Kelly and her boyfriend just so happened to break into their car and steal it.
  • Mad About You discussed this when Jamie got pregnant - they wanted to tell everybody in Thanksgiving, Paul pointed out it would be leaked and spread before the date because people they know usually know each other, using the Bacon numbers as a reference. And in the end of the episode, one person appears to congratulate on the pregnancy... Kevin Bacon himself!
  • Friends:
    • Chandler's connection to the group started off simply as "Monica's neighbour", but the writers later added that he had also been Ross college roommate, met Monica and Rachel several times and spent regular Thanksgivings with the Geller family. He only became Monica's neighbour because she tipped him off about the available apartment next to hers.
    • Phoebe, who first met the group through being Monica's roommate, also mugged Ross when they were teenagers. This is lampshaded:
      Phoebe: I'm so, so sorry, Ross, I'm sorry, but, y'know, if you think about it, it's kinda neat. I mean, well, it's just that I've always felt kinda like an outsider, y'know, the rest of you have these connections that go way back. And now you and I have a great one!
      Ross: It's not the best!
    • After Ross sleeps with Chloe the girl from the Xerox place, Chandler and Joey advise him to work out "the Trail" of people who know what he's done and could potentially tell Rachel before he can do it himself. They work out that Chloe works with Isaac whose sister, Jasmine, works with Phoebe. Ross begs Jasmine not to tell Phoebe, only for her to reveal that her roommate is Gunther, the manager of Central Perk, who has an unrequited crush on Rachel. By the time Ross gets to the coffee shop, Gunther has already told Rachel everything.
  • Most of the main characters in Only Fools and Horses (Del, Rodney, Trig, Denzil and Boycie) grew up together in Peckham. That makes sense. What strains credibility somewhat is when Raquel - who didn't grow up in Peckham - learns her ex-husband is in town and he turns out to be Recurring Character, Dirty Cop Slater the Slag ... who was also at school with the main characters.
  • In Waterloo Road, Esther and Lula happen to frequent the same animal rights chatroom... and realise who each other are.
  • Subverted in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: When Coulson asks a previously-unknown Asgardian if he knows Thor, he sarcastically replies "Oh, yeah, I used to pal around with the future King of Asgard all the time — no I don't know Thor!"
    • Later played straight when it turns out both Skye and Matt Murdock spent part of their childhoods at Saint Agnes Orphanage in New York. The jury is still out on whether they were there at the same time.
  • This has happened a couple times on Survivor. On Island of the Idols, Dean Kowalski's ex-girl friend whom he dated for six years is one of Kellee Kim's really good friends and classmates at Wharton's business school. In Gabon, Crystal Cox's cousin is one of Marcus Lehman's really close friends. The most noteworthy example, however, is probably in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers where Ali Elliott and Patrick Bolton were part of the same friend group at Auburn during college. Patrick even helped Ali move her stuff into her apartment, and they happened to get cast on the same tribe together (unintentionally on casting's part).
  • This is a major recurring element in Touch (2012), which is unsurprising, given that it has the same creator as Heroes. Seemingly unconnected or disparate characters will often turn out to be connected in some way, which fits with the show's themes of fate and divine providence.
  • Downplayed in Modern Love. The series is set in the densely populated New York City, but in the first season finale many of the characters pass each other on the street, each at different points in their stories.
  • Dash & Lily: Dash and Lily are strangers who fall in love through a notebook that gets passed around New York City, but they are closer than they think — Lily and Boomer meeting early on aside, Lily reconnects with her middle school classmate Edgar Thibaud, who goes to school with Dash. Lampshaded.
    Sofia: The city is not that big.
  • Station Eleven:
    • Clark is shocked to learn that Kirsten, the actress he's heard so much about, was briefly a protege of his frenemy Arthur Leander. This association is also how Kirsten knows of Elizabeth and Tyler, Arthur's ex-wife and son.
    • It's implied that Kirsten's first guardian Jeevan delivered Alex, who grows up as Kirsten's surrogate sister in the Traveling Symphony.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Galadriel's best friend, Elrond happens to be the twin brother of the founder of Númenor, Elros. Elendil points out how fitting this is. Elrond also has strong ties with the Dwarves and can arrange diplomatic meetings between Elves and them. He even gets to meet Sauron, though he has no idea.
  • Will & Grace: After Will and Grace broke up, Will had a one-night Last Het Romance with a woman named Diane just to be completely sure that he was gay. Many years later Grace marries Leo and eventually learns that he and Diane dated for a while. Once everyone realises the connection, Grace is more upset about Diane and Will's past than she is about Diane and Leo's.

  • The formation of The Traveling Wilburys musical supergroup would likely have been dismissed as being a Contrived Coincidence if it didn't actually happen. The story goes: George Harrison and producer Jeff Lynne met up with Roy Orbison for dinner one night. (Roy had known George for years, since Roy and The Beatles toured together in the 1960s; Roy had also been recording tracks for an album with Jeff as producer. Jeff and Goerge had worked on George's album Cloud Nine, which had been issued several months previously.) Over dinner, George revealed he had been requested by his record company to provide a new track to go on a B-side of a UK single — a throwaway song would be fine, as long as it was new and previously unreleased. So George, Jeff and Roy vaguely agreed to head into a studio and bash something out for Goerge at some point in the near future, if the opportunity presented itself. But when they finished dinner, Harrison realised that he'd left his guitar at Tom Petty's house and went to collect it. While they were there, Petty heard about the track George needed to record and suggested that he use Bob Dylan's home recording studio, since it was available and Harrison's own home studio was back in England. Petty tagged along with all the others to Dylan's house, and all the assembled musicians decided that since they already were hanging out together, they might as well jam together. The product of that session was "Handle With Care", which the record company immediately declared too good to be wasted as a B-side. The record company and the musicians decided it was so good that it could go on its own album, and since the qunitet had so much fun together...
  • The instrumental rock scene of the 1960s might count. Many of the surf musicians in Southern California knew each other. The Ventures and The Fabulous Wailers both came from the Seattle area and knew each other, even releasing a joint album in 2009. The Ventures had also collaborated with instrumental rock guitarist Duane Eddy. Over in Europe, two of the most popular instrumental rock groups, The Shadows and The Spotnicks, had met and even had a jam session. The Ventures' rhythm guitarist Don Wilson has met The Shadows' Bruce Welch. The late Ventures guitarist Nokie Edwards held a joint concert with Sponticks lead guitarist Bo Winberg. The Ventures also know Yuzo Kayama and Takeshi Terauchi, two of the most popular instrumental rock guitarists of the 1960s, with Yuzo Kayama having several joint concerts with The Ventures, Takeshi Terauchi joining The Ventures tour briefly when rhythm guitarist Don Wilson had a death in his family. Takeshi Terauchi also knows Nobuhiro Mine, who was the lead guitarist in another famous Japanese instrumental rock group of the 1960s, Munetaka Inoue & Sharp Five.
  • Most musicians are within six degrees of either Black Sabbath (developed in 2010) or Vince Gill (developed in 2016).

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This happens in wrestling by default, as a lot of wrestlers that worked together in the indies often find themselves working together and/or connected to other wrestlers when they move up to a bigger promotion such as the WWE.
  • Today, the feud between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins is one of the personal rivalries in The New '10s for the WWE, and one that dates back all the way to their days in the developmental territory FCW. This trope comes into play when you consider their history together in the indies — or, to be more specific, lack of. Jon Moxley and Tyler Black had wrestled and/or tagged with a lot of the same people. The most obvious connection would be Jimmy Jacobs, one of Mox's perennial rivals, a feud so brutal that it ended in an "I Quit" match, and Black's best friend/partner in the Age of the Fall up until the relationship soured thanks to Austin Aries (who has also wrestled Mox in one of his last matches before leaving for the WWE). In spite of all that, Mox and Black would never cross paths in any capacity in the indies and wouldn't meet until FCW. The irony in all this is that when they did finally wrestle each other, the chemistry between them was absolutely amazing and led to some of the best matches in the history of FCW.
  • A lot of wrestlers will get introduced as the friends or family members of an existing roster member - only for this to quietly disappear as they settle into their character. It's especially common among the female stars - Beth Phoenix debuting as a former friend of Mickie James, Natalya debuting as Victoria's "best friend", Michelle McCool as Rob Van Dam's personal trainer etc.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Built right into character creation in Spirit of the Century and inherited by multiple later Fate-based games. Player characters are assumed to be created as a group by default, and coming up with backstories (and aspects to go with them) is a five-step process of which the last two steps specifically involve explaining how each character happens to already know two of the other PCs from previous encounters, thus tying the whole group together.
  • In Exalted, players can take the 'Destiny' background, which (among other things) means they'll frequently interact with other characters who have the background.
  • Monster of the Week goes so far as to have a list of "how is X connected to Y?" questions during character creation, so your "destined monster-slayer" character might be cousins with a top-secret monster-hunting government agent and be online friends with a weird conspiracy theorist that said government agent used to date in high school.

  • Charley's Aunt: Jack is Sir Francis' son, Kitty's suitor, and Charley and Babbs' friend. Charley is Amy's suitor, Dona Lucia's nephew, and Jack and Babbs' friend. Babbs is Jack and Charley's friend, and turns out to be the young man who deliberately lost money to Ela's father playing cards when he was penniless and dying, and who loved and was loved by Ela. Sir Francis (Jack's father) turns out to also be Donna Lucia's old suitor. Donna Lucia is Charley's (real) aunt, and Ela's guardian. Kitty is Sir Spettigue's niece; she and Amy are both under his legal guardianship, and are best friends. Sir Spettique wants to marry Donna Lucia. The only character who isn't related to, or in love with,note  at least one of the others is Brassett, Jack's valet.
  • Played straight, but almost to the point of parody in The Importance of Being Earnest: Algernon and Jack are friends from the city, Jack wants to marry Gwendolen, who is Algernon's cousin and the daughter of Lady Bracknell. That's all well and fine, but Jack has no biological parents (high society no-no), having been abandoned at a train station as a baby. It turns out that Jack's ward Cecily, who is Algernon's love interest, is being taught German by Ms. Prism, the former employee of Lady Bracknell and also the woman who accidentally abandoned Jack as a baby. It's then revealed that therefore Jack is Lady Bracknell's nephew, Gwendolen's cousin and Algernon's brother. Ironically, this is one of the few times where characters turning out to be related actually leads to a happy ending; it not only gives Jack a respectable background, but since he's the son of her beloved sister, Lady Bracknell can't very well object to him. Even better, Jack finally learns his father's name, and thus his own name, just happens to be the only name Gwendolen well accept in a husband: Ernest.
  • Played straight in Wicked where every single character of relevance in the play can be tied to Elphaba. Not unreasonably so since she's the Wicked Witch, but let's sum up. Her teacher is the Wizard's Dragon, her sister is the Wicked Witch of the East, her manservant is a school chum, she saved the Cowardly Lion, she transformed the Tin Man, the Scarecrow is her transformed boyfriend (which isn't the case in the source novel), the Wizard is her father, and so on and so forth.

    Video Games 
  • BlazBlue. Ragna and Jin/Hakumen, member of the Six Heroes are brothers. Nu, Lambda and Noel/Mu are clones of Ragna and Jin's sister Saya. Saya herself is the vessel of Hades Izanami, Imperator of the NOL. Tsubaki (Jin's love interest) and Makoto are Noel's friends from the Military Academy. Ragna, Jin and Saya were raised by Celica A. Mercury, who is the sister of one of the Six Heroes, Nine. Nine and Jubei (another one of the Six Heroes) are the parents of Kokonoe. Litchi, Roy (who later became Arakune) and Relius worked together with Kokonoe at some point. Relius is Carl's father and part of the Big Bad Duumvirate along with Yuuki Terumi of the Six Heroes. Other members of the Six Heroes are Valkenhayn R. Hellsing (Rachel's butler) and Trinity Glassfille (whose soul now occupies Platinum's body). Additionally, Kagura and Makoto are heavily implied to have been Friends with Benefits at some point, and Kagura, Jin, Tsubaki and Mai are all part of a Duodecim family (the Mutsuki, Kisaragi, Yayoi and Hazuki families, respectively). Meanwhile, Bang has a grudge against Jin for killing his master, and Taokaka is friends with Litchi, as well as a member of a species created by attempting to clone Jubei.
  • All over the place in Dislyte, involving the Esper Union members, the Shadow Decree members, and the unaffiliated Espers/locales who/which are usually the ones bringing the gaps between the two heroic and villainous factions. For example, Esper Union member Helena is friends with the wanderer Chloe, who works at a hair salon that happens to have Shadow Decree members Freddy (whom she personally treats) and Sander visit it regularly for hair treatment. Then there is the Gyrate arcade where Mona regularly sets high scores at her favorite video game which Leon and Hall play at in secret from their Shadow Decree coworkers.
  • Final Fantasy VIII: It turns out that Squall, Zell, Quistis, Irvine, Selphie, and Seifer all resided in the same orphanage...with Edea as its headmistress. And all those flashbacks Squall was having to Laguna were facilitated by another child at the orphanage...who turns out to be his adopted sister... and Laguna turns out to be his father.
    • And it doesn't even end there: the singer Laguna fell head over heels for in the past, Julia Heartilly, ends up marrying another man when Laguna vanishes during the war. In the present day, Julia's daughter, Rinoa, falls head over heels for Squall.
  • Fire Emblem. Holy cow there is a ton in every game, mostly revealed through optional conversations. Pretty much every game has had several pairs separated relatives or friends who both happen to join the same army and find each other.
    • From a series-wide perspective, Fire Emblem: Awakening brings back playable characters from every previous game in the series, so that every playable character from the series is separated by no more than four degrees.
  • Jade Empire, also of Bioware, had several characters openly expressing their disbelief in the number of connections encountered. As it turned out, Master Li was really Sun Li, brother to the Emperor. Sagacious Zu had saved Li's daughter and ended up unknowingly leaving her with Li who also didn't know about the connection. This also means that Dawn Star is the cousin of Silk Fox, who is also daughter of the Emperor and niece of Li. And both daughters have fathers who are the main Big Bads. And Death's Hand is the emperor's other brother's spirit, bound to Li's old armor. Gah!
  • Kingdom Hearts loves to connect people with other people, as per its central theme that "All worlds share the same sky".
    • Sora, Riku, and Kairi, who were raised in Destiny Islands and want to explore other worlds. Sora is accompanied by Donald and Goofy, assistants and friends of King Mickey, who later helps Riku overcome darkness and becomes his friend. Late to I, it is revealed that Kairi was originally from a place called Hollow Bastion, the homeworld of most Final Fantasy characters, but also the game's main villain, Ansem, who briefly possesses Riku.
    • II reveals that the "Ansem" Sora defeated was not really Ansem, but was merely the Heartless of an impostor called Xehanort, who studied under the real Ansem, who is friends with Mickey. Xehanort's Nobody, Xemnas, is the leader of Organization XIII, whose members Sora battles one by one in Chain of Memories and II. Six other members of the Organization are also Nobodies of Ansem's apprentices. One of them, Axel, is part of another trio with the Organization's two latest members: Roxas, Sora's Nobody; and Xion, Roxas' replica who looks like Kairi. Another Kairi lookalike is her Nobody, Naminé, who was born in Castle Oblivion, one of the Organization's bases.
    • Roxas himself looks like another person, Ventus, a Keyblade wielder from a decade ago. As revealed in Birth by Sleep, Ventus, a friend of Lea, Axel's human form, is the light counterpart of Vanitas, the source of the Unversed. Ventus' heart healed itself after the disastrous birth of Vanitas by merging with Sora (in the process giving Sora the ability to wield Keyblade) and that's why Vanitas looks like Sora and Roxas like Ventus. Said merging was under the watchful eyes of Master Xehanort, whom Ventus studied under. This Xehanort was not exactly the same as the current one; he was old and only gained his current form by possessing Ventus' friend, Terra. Terra once met Sora and Riku and was the person who granted Riku the ability to wield Keyblade. Terra and Ventus, by the way, are part of a third trio. The third member is Aqua, who created Castle Oblivion, granted Kairi the ability to wield Keyblade and a means to escape Hollow Bastion should it faced danger (hence why she ended up in Destiny Islands) and also met Sora and Riku; in particular, she gave Sora motivation to save his friends, kickstarting his adventurous personality. The amigos trained under Master Eraqus, Xehanort's blood brother. Coming full circle, Xehanort's homeworld is revealed to be Destiny Islands and the tale of his journey to become a Keyblade Master inspired Riku, leading him to suggest Sora and Kairi to leave the islands.
    • Since, the story of χ takes place hundreds of years before the main series, you'd expect them to have nothing to do with the present, right? Nope! Turns out Ventus came from this distant past and, as a Dandelion, was transported to the present day by the Foretellers so the arts of Keyblade would not be lost after the Keyblade War. The Nobodies of two other Dandelions, Lauriam and Elrena, later became a part of the Organization (as Marluxia and Larxene, respectively). One of the Foretellers, Luxu, possessed a Keyblade that, after generations, eventually ended up in the hands of Master Xehanort. Luxu himself is also present in the current time under the disguise of Braig, Xehanort's Number Two.
    • Hilariously lampshaded by Axel/Lea in III in an extended Self-Deprecation rant, complaining that everyone Already Met Everyone and that spells an insane amount to get memorized.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Revan, Big Bad Malak's former master, was also HK-47's original owner, the Jedi who inspired Juhani to join the Order, and the one who led the fight against the Mandalorians (including Canderous). The former Dark Lord of the Sith died in a capture mission led by Bastila. Revan got better, however, because s/he's also the player character. When this all comes out Mission actually points out how ludicrously unlikely it is, only for Canderous to point out that The Force means this kind of thing happens all the time.
    • And in the sequel, The Exile commanded the Handmaiden's mother and Bao-Dur at Malachor V, a battle Atton was also involved in and Canderous fought in on the other side, and they ended it by using the Mass Shadow Generator, killing Mira's adoptive family, inadvertently creating Visas' master, and inspiring Revan to commission HK-47 so they wouldn't need such overkill in the future. The Exile was also the Disciple's intended master before s/he ran off, so s/he's not only a dominant influence in the lives of everyone on that ship, s/he's also responsible for all their significant neuroses. Furthermore, the Exile was a general for Revan during the Mandalorian Wars.
  • By the time of Mass Effect 3, every major hero of the war against the Reapers has served on the Normandy at some point. Except Admiral Hackett.
  • The freeware RPG Last Scenario absolutely loves this trope, gradually revealing connections to a certain flashback of seemingly mild importance. At first we simply learn that Thorve grew up with Felgorn and a guy named Wolfram, the latter of whom was killed by a child in a burned-down village. Then we meet Randolph, who was Wolfram's father. Okay, given their current situations, they were bound to meet up again. But then we find out that amnesiac party member Ethan was the boy who stabbed Wolfram, trying to protect his older brother from the soldiers. Oh, and that older brother is now the Big Bad. And the random soldier who chased Thorve and Felgorn off after Wolfram was stabbed is Zawu.
  • The Reveal near the end of Overlord I invoked this. As it turned out the player character was formerly a companion of all the fallen heroes you have spent the game killing, except you had amnesia. The former Overlord, the ultimate Big Bad, has possessed the final hero(one-half degree of separation?) and is also the father of your two potential Mistresses.
  • Since Brock Samson (see Western Animation) is in Poker Night 2, the game continues the show's tradition of this. It turns out Cave Johnson used to work with Dr. Jonas Venture, and Ash Williams unintentionally ended up becoming one of Brock's ancestors in the 14th century. The second one shocks both Brock and Ash when they find out.
  • The Nancy Drew character Sonny Joon has been mentioned in almost every game. At this point, he's worked in a Mayan museum (that would be stolen from), for a Parisian fashion designer (whose work would be sabotaged), witnessed an Italian cat burglar escaping, tamed monkeys near a Bahaman resort, and stayed in a 'haunted' Japanese inn...yet Nancy never actually meets him until The Shattered Medallion, despite seeing marks of his presence in near every case she investigates.
  • In Planescape: Torment, you come across a rather staggering array of people with one degree of separation from one or another of The Nameless One before he got amnesia, including all your party members except Nordom and Fall-From-Grace. {{|Trope}} because not only is the game about a personal quest for identity and therefore you will logically be hunting down people with a prior connection to you, but you actually have a supernatural ability to bind people to yourself, connecting their torment to your own.
  • All the new characters in the Updated Re-release of The Caligula Effect, including the NPCs Kouki and Himari, are very closely related whether or not some of them realize it. The focal point of this is Himari's death. Kouki assaulted her live on stage. Ayana was right with her when it happened. Eiji was Kouki's lawyer, so Ayana knows of him from that trial. Kuchinashi's parents were involved with Eiji in an unrelated case (where they got evidence on him embezzling from them), but later were killed in an arson (started by Kouki, who was blackmailed into it by Eiji). Finally, Stork, a policeman at the time, happened to notice the arsonist and unsuccessfully tried to stop him.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Ryder sure runs into a lot of people with some connection to Shepard's exploits a lot. Their father knew Garrus' dad, and was an e-mail buddy with Liara before the trilogy. The Tempest's science officer is implied to have nearly been picked up for Project Lazarus. The leader of the Nexus A.P.E.X. strike teams is Nyreen Kandros' cousin. One quest has Ryder run into two ex-Cerberus scientists who were fired by the Illusive Man, and another quest found not far from them has them run into someone with ties to Project: Overlord. A quest at the krogan colony has Ryder trying to save some of Warlord Okeer's research, and Ryder can even run into Conrad Verner's sister, and Saren's former protégé.
  • Seen repeatedly throughout the Dark Parables series, in which virtually every fairy tale character is connected to every other character in some way. The Frog Prince is perhaps the biggest source of this, since the series curses him with a form of the Cartwright Curse and he outlives most of his wives, giving him connections to multiple stories besides his own. For example, his first wife Ivy (the princess from his original story) was the younger sister of Sleeping Beauty, who is acquainted with Rapunzel, who is engaged to Prince Ross Red, who is the twin brother of Snow White, who is also the Snow Queen, who was the Frog Prince's fifth wife, whose son once rescued Thumbelina. The series practically requires a flow chart.
  • Despite Half-Life 2 taking place 20 years after the first in some unspecified Eastern European country, not only are all the major characters from the first game (which took place in Black Mesa, New Mexico) there, but several new characters (all but a few of whom supposedly worked at the Black Mesa Complex) are there as well without any in universe explanation.
  • Octopath Traveler: A lot of the NPCs from the 8 stories are related to one another or the Player Characters in many ways.
    • Noa from Tressa's tale, and Cordelia from Therion's, are friends and penpals.
    • Odette, Cyrus' colleague, is a pupil of Geoffrey Azelhart, Primrose's dad. She's also a friend of Revello, from Primrose's path.
    • Graham Crossford ties Ogen and Alfyn together, is the author of Tressa's book, and Kit's father as well as having traveled on Leon Bastralle's ship. He's also the monster Redeye from H'aanit's tale.
    • Barham, from Therion's chapter 2, does business with Mick and Mack from Tressa's chapter 1.
    • Captain Bale, from Olberic's tale, is friends with Bishop Donovan, from Ophilia's.
    • Susanna, from H'aanit's tale, is the author of the book that Cyrus quotes at the end of his story.
  • Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage! has its characters sorted into five units - Leo/need, MORE MORE JUMP!, Vivid BAD SQUAD, Wonderlands×Showtime, and Nightcord at 25:00. Every unit has members who are friends or associates with another unit, and the event stories gradually have them introducing their teammates to each other.
    • Inter-unit relationships start with a downplayed Everyone Went to School Together, with all the characters being of school age and attending one of two schools.
      • At Miyamasazuka Girls Academy, MMJ's Minori is classmates with L/n's Shiho and VBS' Kohane; W×S's Emu is classmates with L/n's Honami; L/n's Saki and Ichika are classmates of MMJ's Haruka, and MMJ's Shizuku and Airi are classmates. N25's Mafuyu also goes to this school, and is in the archery club with Shizuku.
      • At Kamiyama High School, VBS' An is classsmates with N25's Mizukinote , and W×S's Nene is classmates with VBS's Toya. VBS's Akito and W×S's Tsukasa and Rui also attend this school; Rui and Mizuki are both "outcasts" who met when they happened to hide on the roof at the same time. Ena attends night classes here.
      • N25's Kanade is homeschooled.
    • From there, things dive into Contrived Coincidence...
      • Saki and Tsukasa are siblings, Shizuku and Shiho are sisters, and Akito and Ena are siblings.
      • Tsukasa and Toya were childhood friends; Tsukasa was the driving factor behind Toya abandoning his father's designs on a family of classical musicians.
      • Honami works for a housekeeping agency, and was hired to attend to Kanade's place by the latter's grandmother.
      • An and Haruka were childhood friends before the latter became an idol, as were Ena and Airi.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney uses this to an extreme in the third and fourth games, particularly the third. By the end of the third game's last case, protagonist Phoenix Wright is pretty much the only relevant character who is not either related to the Feys, wasn't directly screwed over in a way by the events of DL-6, or both. And even then they indirectly had huge influence on his life by setting up 90 of the 100 reasons he decided to become a defense attorney.
    • It gets equally crazy in the fifth game. To (kind of) explain: Apollo knows both the victim and the defendant in case four (his childhood best friend and sort-of father figure respectively), both of whom work at the space center where Athena's dead mother, Metis Cykes, used to work and Athena herself used to live. In addition to this, the main prosecutor of this game, Simon Blackquill, was Metis' student in psychology and the brother of Metis' lab partner, Aura Blackquill. Simon was also falsely accused of Metis' murder. And to a lesser degree, Athena knows the defendant in case 1 and 3 (her best friend who has a crush on Apollo) and Trucy knows the daughter of the defendant in case 2.
  • Infinity series:
    • In Ever17, while nobody except Sara and You seem to have known each other beforehand, it turns out that Sara and Hokuto are the children of Tsugumi and Takeshi, You and Coco's fathers designed Sora and Lemu. And You is actually two different people. As you can see from the majorly spoilery bit there, it's... complicated. In fact, this is no coincidence at all, and these people were gathered together specifically as part of a massive Gambit Roulette.
    • In Remember11, Satoru, the person with whom Kokoro begins to swap minds just happens to be where she was planning on going before her plane crashed. Yomogi (from where Kokoro is) is married to Utsumi (from Satoru's location), Lin (Kokoro's location) used to date Satoru, and Keiko (Satoru's location), is the person who Kokoro was planning on meeting, as well as being the person who killed Yomogi and Utsumi's son. Additionally, Satoru is a student of Kyumeikan University Graduate School, while Kokoro goes to Kyumeikan Women's University. Utsumi gave birth to her twins in a "hospital" (actually a lab of some sort) overseen by (the original) Satoru, leading to those twins being involved in the space-time transfer loops along with Kokoro/Satoru and Keiko/Hotori and providing an important clue to the existence of the third area. Even Yuni, who initially seems to have no prior connection to anyone else, turns out to be the key to the whole Stable Time Loop that ultimately results in the shelter cabin refugees being saved, and as part of his efforts to preserve history might have been somehow involved with Satoru during part of 2011, despite his dislike (according to his TIPS bio) of Leiblich.
    • In Never 7, all four members of the "seminar group", including protagonist Makoto, attend the same university. Yuka, the chosen leader of the group, went to middle school with Saki, who has a summer house on the island. Although the two Morino sisters, Izumi and Kurumi, don't seem connected at first, Haruka (of the seminar group) eventually turns out to be a clone of Kurumi. Even later, Izumi is revealed as the mastermind behind the seminar, whose real purpose was to scientifically test a strange phenomenon by attempting to make Makoto manifest it.
  • In Hotel Dusk: Room 215, the main character (an ex-NYPD detective) stays at a dingy hotel in the middle of nowhere for one night. By morning, he's discovered that every single guest staying there that night is connected to either his former partner Bradley or to another guest in the hotel (and frequently both). This also goes for staff members.
  • In The Letter, Isabella, Rebecca, Ashton and Zachary are friends. Isabella meets Marianne, Hannah and Luke at the open house of the Ermengarde Mansion. Zach then meets Hannah later as the photographer for a home magazine about their new house and later meets Kylie. Kylie is Luke's goddaughter, Rebecca's student, and a friend of Takako (the ghost). Hannah realizes that Rebecca is a childhood acquaintance. Finally Luke turns out to be the person Ash is currently investigating, as Luke caused the death of the wife of Professor Andrew, Ash's mentor.
  • Zero Time Dilemma has 9 protagonists and only four preexisting relationships in that group. However, once time travel gets involved, things get more complex: Phi is actually the daughter of Diana and Sigma, and the latter is an employee of Akane, who is Junpei's Childhood Friend. One of Junpei's teammates in the first game got injured investigating Free the Soul, a cult which is led by minor character Delta, who is Phi's twin brother. Delta created an A.I (Q (Sean), who is one of the main 9) and based the A.I's thought patterns off of the original Sean who died from an illness that he could have survived, if the surgeon who was supposed to operate on him hadn't hired a taxi which would then get in a fatal car crash. Now, the surgeon was only able to hire that taxi in particular because someone else- Akane's father- had called it to their neighbourhood for his own use, but was arrested before he could enter the taxi. That man was arrested because the police wrongfully blamed him for the murder of Eric's mother, which was really perpetrated by Mira. Much later, Mira worked with Delta (alongside Q!Sean), and started dating Eric. Hilariously, Zero (Delta) actually retroactively explains most of these connections in his anecdote at the start of the game.
    • Every character in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors was either directly involved with, or knew somebody who was involved with, the Nonary Game that took place 9 years ago. Snake, Santa, June/Akane and Clover were forced to participate (in fact, June and Santa both organized the current Nonary Game,) Seven was investigating the kidnappings leading up to it which eventually led to him crashing and disrupting said game, Lotus' daughters were both kidnapped and forced to participate, Junpei is childhood friends with June, and Ace and the Ninth Man - as well as the two corpses the players find, were all the organizers of the game.
  • Fate/stay night ends up revealing several relationships over the course of the three routes. Shirou's partner and Servant Saber was the Servant of Shirou's adopted father Kiritsugu in the previous Grail war. Kiritsugu is also the birth father of Illyasviel von Einzbern, making her and Shirou siblings. He also fought Kirei Kotomine during the last grail war, who partnered with Gilgamesh after killing his previous master, Rin's father. We also learn that Sakura Matou, Shirou's close friend who has a crush on him, is actually Sakura Tohsaka, Rin's younger sister who was handed to the Matou family to learn magecraft, only to suffer from their abuse instead. Between servants, Berserker and Caster who are Heracles and Medea respectively, were both members of the Argonauts in Ancient Greece.
  • Kindred Spirits on the Roof involves a few lesbian couples at protagonist Yuna Toomi's school, and while Yuna knows about them through "the kindred spirits," she's linked to them through her Childhood Friend Hina Komano and her newer friend Fuji Ano. For Seina Maki and Miki Aihara, Hina is classmates with Seina and Yuna briefly interacted with Miki before the start of the game. For the broadcasting trio- Umi Ichiki, Sasa Futano and Nena Miyama- Ano is friends with Nena. For Kiri Tsurugimine and Tsukuyo Sonou, Ano is friends with Kiri, while Yuna and Ano are in Tsukuyo's class. For Youka Koba and Aki Ariu, Yuna was classmates with Youka during middle school. Lastly, the track-team couple- captain Matsuri Amishima and vice-captain Miyu Inamoto- are teammates with Hina, and are already quite close with Hina by the time Yuna learns about them.

  • Nearly everyone and everything in Homestuck is connected to some degree. Overlaps with Everyone Is Related and Tangled Family Tree.
  • In Questionable Content, Marigold, the owner of one of Pintsize's robot friends, who repairs Pintsize when he overloads himself, is the roommate of Angus, the guy who's always in Coffee of Doom trying to get insulted by Faye.
    • There was another case in which a girl asked Marten out (after he'd gotten with Dora), was declined, and went to Dora's coffee shop, where she found out. Dora goes Clingy Jealous Girl on Marten for not mentioning that he got asked out, and they argue about it, reconcile, and go out to dinner, where the girl is their waitress. A few strips later, Steve has an unrelated chance run-in with the same girl, and winds up trying to track her down before realizing what he was doing could constitute stalking; leaving the building he's in when he realizes that, he runs into her again. They're now dating.
    • Lampshaded when Yay tries to present themself as a "harmless weirdo" (which they're already so bad at that they immediately say "We are not harmless") to his friend Auriela's daughter (Claire) and is completely unprepared for said daughter's boyfriend (Marten) to be connected to Faye and immediately remember being told about their first appearance in the strip.
  • Sluggy Freelance has way too many characters for them all to be connected, but there are many examples of completely random connections, especially between the different alternative realities. This is partly in that the dimensions are indeed parallel and often have many similarities, but only partly. Often it's more that the reader can notice the coincidences, not so much the characters, because different people meet different people.
    • The story "Oceans Unmoving" featuring Bun-bun but none of the other main characters features several characters who have been blasted out of time itself, mostly by failed Time Travel devices. A later story shows how one of them got there in the first place and refers to another having got there the same way. Some other main characters see this, but they have no idea Bun-bun has encountered these people, and he himself isn't present at this time to notice the connection (and might not anyway).
    • At the end of the second volume the strip had a flowchart describing all the major characters and how they all interacted with each other, with Torg at the center. Everyone was one degree of separation from Torg.
  • In the Ciem Webcomic Series, we have Candi. Her sister Miriam is the notorious Sniperbadger, who is being targeted by Captain Aardwulf. Meanwhile, her boyfriend Donte McArthur has a half-brother whose wife has a sister who is married to Musaran. Milp got inside Candi's head and tormented her for years, but was defeated by Angie, Candi's daughter with Denny. And Milp also had an affair with Duke Arfaas, who has put the hit on Candi. Speaking of Denny, Candi has to rescue him from Gunner Soorfelt, who works for Duke Arfaas and who also is Erin's murderer.
  • In El Goonish Shive Elliot was one degree of separation away from almost all of the main cast before the story began. Tedd is his best friend, Sarah is probably his oldest childhood friend, Nanase was his girlfriend at the beginning of the story, Justin was saved from bullies by him, and Ellen is his Opposite-Sex Clone. Only Grace and Susan were not initially linked to Elliot; Grace never met any of the main characters before and Susan was initially planned as a supporting character with direct links only to Sarah and Nanase. Several other connections between main cast members before the story started were that: Susan and Nanase became magic users together, Nanase is Tedd's cousin, Sarah and Susan are in the same school club, Justin and Nanase became friends shortly after Elliot saved Justin, Susan taught Sarah how to use Hyperspace Mallets, and Tedd had transformed Sarah before.
  • Ménage à 3 features three flatmates, Gary, Zii, and DiDi, with no obvious connections. Except that Zii turns out to have been at school with Gary's favorite porn star, Amber, and Gary's former flatmate, Dillon, ends up working and then sharing an apartment with Amber when she gets into straight acting, while Dillon's bisexual boyfriend Matt turns out to be having an affair with DiDi's workmate Sandra. Rather later, Matt also meets another character with a connection to the main cast, Kiley, at a ranch that may or may not belong to Zii's former boyfriend's family... And that's just the central set of coincidences; there are more, some of them even less likely, such as Gary bumping into Sandra completely at random in a videogames shop in France.
  • Rain (2010): Where should we start? Rain, back when she was Ryan, and Gavin attended the same elementary school and were best friends. After she moves to a new town with her Aunt Fara and starts attending a new school, she runs into Gavin once again. In that time, Gavin befriended Rudy, who dates Rain for a while despite being a gay man, and became The Beard for Rudy's sister Maria, who is a lesbian. They eventually break up and Maria starts dating Chanel. Emily, the school's Lovable Alpha Bitch, used to date a much older guy named Chase. Chase is revealed to be both Rain's older sister Kellen's ex-fiance and the father of Emily's child, while Emily also used to date Maria and later becomes good friends with Rain before they start dating as well. Meanwhile, Rain's older brother Aiken was engaged to Jessica, whose therapist, Vincent, is revealed to be Fara's ex from years ago, back when Vincent was Vivian. Jessica later stays with Rain and Fara, befriending their downstairs neighbor Heather, whose younger sibling Ky is another member of Rain's friend group. Later on, Drew, who goes to the same school as Rain and Gavin, falls for Ky.
  • In General Protection Fault, Mike Morrison, The Ghost who was GPF's first employee but left before Nick joined (but left his legacy in the spaghetti code Nick has to attempt to make sense of), finally appears in the story "A Closet Full of Skeletons" where he turns out to be Mark, the guy Patty left at the altar in as-yet undisclosed circumstances. (In family circles he went by his middle name, because his dad was also called Mike.)
  • Multilayered in Girl Genius:
    • Agatha's father Bill was best friends with Klaus, the dictator ruling the continent, from before he became a dictator. Her mother Lucrezia also had an affair with Klaus when she was engaged to Bill, and she at least flirted with this one prince named Aaronev Wilhelm at some point.
    • Both Klaus and Aaronev had sons (though not with Lucrezia) named Gil and Tarvek who went to grade school with each other, and later had a rivalry when they went to the same university. They both met Agatha at different points and both fell in love with her before they had to part ways. Then the two both snuck into a broken castle where they met both each other and Agatha again. Agatha didn't know Gil and Tarvek knew each other until this point.
    • In said castle, there was a girl named Zola who was trying to impersonate Agatha. Zola was not only Agatha's cousin on their mothers' sides, but was also an actress at a place that Gil visited when he was in university.
    • Klaus had a janitor named Dimitri, who used to be an evil Mad Scientist who taught other Mad Scientists in the ways of evil. Dimitri was fraternity brothers with Agatha's paternal grandfather, and was also a close friend with her mother Lucrezia's family. On top of that, he was the teacher of Tarvek's cousin Martellus, and he also created the talking animal that Agatha made friends with when staying at Klaus' place.
  • One xkcd strip shows the dead rising... and Cueball and several other mathematicians immediately rush to the grave of Paul Erdos (see the Real Life section) to ask him to sign their papers. The Alt Text also mentions trying to shoot a movie with Kevin Bacon.
  • Used in this comic strip, which currently provides the page image for both All Love Is Unrequited and Precocious Crush. The pink-dressed girl has a crush on the resident bad boy, the boy with glasses has a crush on the pink-dressed girl, the girl with pigtails has a crush on the boy with glasses, a little boy has a crush on the girl with pigtails, and the last panel reveals that the little boy is the younger brother of the bad boy.

    Web Original 
  • A Creepypasta story called "An Egg" follows a man who dies and meets God in the afterlife. God prepares him for reincarnation, and tells him that in his next life he will be a Chinese girl in the year 540 AD. The man is surprised that he is going to be reincarnated in the past and asks if this means that if two or more incarnations of the same person have ever existed at the same time, and if so, whether or not they've interacted with each other. God tells him that of course they have, because everybody is a different incarnation of the same person.
  • Happens in Helluva Boss with Chaz Thurman, a Shark Demon who worked for Moxxies' father Crimson back when Moxxie was an aspiring Mafioso until a robbery-gone-wrong resulted in Moxxie landing in the clink. Later on, it's revealed that Chaz ended up starting a relationship with Millie until it went sour. By the time the three of them meet up again years later, Moxxie and Millie have been Happily Married to each-other. Lampshaded by their boss Blitzo.
    Blitzo: ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?! There's someone who's fucked BOTH OF YOU?!

    Web Video 
  • Friday the 13th: Vengeance reveals that the Jarvis family have more connections to Jason Voorhees than Tommy Jarvis being the one to kill him; Tommy’s grandmother Abigail was the lifeguard who snuck off to have sex when Jason originally drowned.

    Western Animation 
  • Season Two of Avatar: The Last Airbender functioned like this. You had the Gaang, Appa, Zuko and Iroh, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee, Jet and his freedom fighters, Suki and the Kiyoshi warriors, Master Yu and Xin Fu and The Dai Li all near each other, going to the same places at different times and influencing each other's stories the whole season while occasionally interacting with each other. But at no point in the season were they ever all together at the same time, some of them didn't even meet and only the audience ever knew the full extent of what was going on.
    • Three of them even have separate encounters with the Rough Rhinos.
  • Kim Possible's Arch-Enemy Dr. Drakken was a college friend of her father. Tasked with finding dates for their friends, he built crude robot girls instead. The resulting mockery led to his Start of Darkness, storing up trouble for Dr. Possible's future daughter.
  • Phineas and Ferb... Perry's arch-nemesis is Professor Heinz Doofenshmirtz, formerly married to Charlene Doofenshmirtz, who goes to the same cooking class as Linda Flynn, Phineas and Candace's mother. Doofenshmirtz's daughter, wife, and himself have also met Phineas and Ferb (and Candace, besides Doofenshmirtz note ) but Doofenshmirtz is still not aware that they are the owners of Perry (He actually became aware in the movie but his memory of this was erased - In fact, that was Clark Kenting taken to a new extreme: knowing their pet platypus was named Perry and could fight weren't enough clues for him - Perry still needed the hat to be recognized by Doofenshmirtz). Doofenshmirtz also at one point dated Linda Flynn, and in one episode, he states that he wants to see her again.
    • And now, as of 'Fireside Girl Jamboree', Doofenshmirtz and Candace have met, as she delivered his cupcakes. Also, Doofenshmirtz's daughter Vanessa seems to be friends with Candace, and Ferb has a crush on her.
    • Doofenshmirtz once took music lessons from Jeremy (Candace's boyfriend) and in another occasion hired Buford (The Bully who occasionally joins Phineas and Ferb) to bully people for him. In both cases, Perry waited until they left before stopping Doofenshmirtz.
  • This occurs throughout Robotech as a way of tying together the different groups of characters in the different (and originally often unrelated) sub-series. Max Sterling and Miriya Parina, of the Macross cycle, eventually have two daughers: Dana and Maia Sterling, who star in the Robotech Masters cycle and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles movie, respectively. Likewise, Claudia Grant of Macross is eventually revealed to have a brother, Vince Grant, who is one of the stars of The Sentinels and who appears in The Shadow Chronicles along with his wife, and whose son, Bowie Grant, stars in the Robotech Masters cycle. Marcus Rush, another of the stars of The Shadow Chronicles, is the younger brother of Marlene Rush, a bit character in the New Generation cycle.
  • Several in The Venture Brothers. Rusty Venture, the Monarch, Baron Underbeiht, Pete White, Brock Samson and Mike Sorayama all went to the same college at the same time. We later discover that Brock and Hunter Garthers sent Billy Quizboy to spy on Professor Fantomas which resulted in the professor being turned into Phantom Limb. While at the college Dr. Girlfriend was one of Phamtom Limb's student. Richard Impossible was also a teacher at the college.
    • Another example is that the Monarch and Henchman 24 used to be a henchmen for Phantom Limb.
      • Another example is that Dermott the only kid that Hank ever befriends is his and Dean's half-brother.
  • The Wild Thornberrys provides an In-Universe example: when the family learns that Donnie's biological parents were primatologists killed by poachers, Nigel and Marianne actually recognize their photo, having met them once years before. They take this as a sign that they were meant to be the ones to find Donnie and adopt him.

    Real Life 
  • The Roman Empire in the first century (CE or BCE). Rome and I, Claudius get this down to a T. Not only are the entire aristocracy of Rome related six different ways, but they know, grew up with, nearly married, killed the brothers of (etc.) the rest of the important people in the ancient world.
  • May be Truth in Television, just because over the course of anyone's lifetime, they'll have plenty of these odd run-ins. Not quite as extreme as everyone being related to everyone else somehow. As they say, it's a small world.
    • By extension, the likelihood of such odd run-ins may be increased depending on the area. A city like London is not only very populous, but it also has a large number of tourists visiting each day. If you're from another area of the UK, there may well be other people from your hometown visiting (or even permanently residing in) London at the same time you choose to visit.
  • Braddock's expedition (French and Indian/Seven Years War 1755). In a force of a bit less than 2,000 men we have: The leader of the coming revolution and the next two ranking generals (George Washington, Horatio Gates, and Charles Lee, the latter two in the British army at this time), the military govenor under whom the revolution blows up (Thomas Gage the vanguard commander). AND in the baggage train we have another future general (Daniel Morgan), and a future famous explorer (Daniel Boone) driving wagons. How has this not been made into a movie?
  • Try playing the handshake game - pick a person, and work out how many people whose hand you have shaken, or had similar interactions with, that it would take to connect you to that person. It's usually not a great deal more than six.
  • Brett Tjeren, a computer science researcher at the University of Virginia, worked out that the average degrees connecting any two Hollywood stars is 2.87. For some it's higher; others, it's lower. The lowest? Rod Steiger, who can be connected to anyone else in Hollywood by an average of 2.11 degrees.
    • This, of course, led to games like 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon and 6 Degrees of Hitler (where you pick a random Wikipedia page and follow page links until you get to Hitler's page).
  • The professional sports version of this is a Sillinger number, after journeyman ice hockey player Mike Sillinger. No player in the National Hockey League's more than 90-year history is more than six degrees from Sillinger, and at one point in the 2007-08 season, every single player in the then-30-team league had either played with Sillinger or had a teammate who had played with Sillinger. In case you're wondering, you can connect Sillinger to Kevin Bacon in four steps: Bacon was in Sleepers with Ron Eldard, who was in Mystery, Alaska with Tie Domi, who was on the Toronto Maple Leafs with Eric Lindros in 2005-06, and Lindros played with Sillinger on the Philadelphia Flyers from 1997-99.
  • Another possible professional sports version, though it can't be worked out rigorously, was posited by veteran sportscaster Bob Costas in a 2016 ESPN piece on Vin Scully, who at the time of publication was less than two weeks away from retiring from the Los Angeles Dodgers broadcast team... after having called Dodgers games since 1950, when the team was still in Brooklyn.
    Six degrees of Kevin Bacon? It's probably two, and no more than three, degrees of Vin Scully — to connect you in some way to everything in baseball history. Everything. He had to have known somebody ... who knew Cy Young.note  He had to have known somebody who probably met Ty Cobb.note  Ty Cobb lived until 1961. If he didn't know Walter Johnson, he sure as hell talked to somebody who batted against Walter Johnson.note  ... So there is no significant baseball personage that Vin Scully either didn't know or potentially knew someone who knew them.
  • In mathematics, the equivalent to the Bacon number is the Erdos number. Paul Erdős has Erdős number 0. Everyone else has an Erdős number one greater than the minimum Erdős number among the people with whom they've published a paper. So Erdős's coauthors have number 1, their coauthors have number 2, etc.
    • For those who have both published academic papers and appeared in film (a larger group than you might think), there's the Erdős-Bacon number, which is exactly what it sounds like. The lowest known value is 3.
  • If you are in a career with a small enough population of occupants, especially one where they often get shuffled around to different locations (say, if you are a specialist in a small enough career field in the armed forces), you quickly find that everybody seems to know everybody else. Alternatively, if you have a job where you get to know a wide range of people (like, for example, a church minister, who often also works in multiple places over the years) you often run into people you know, or who know people you know, especially if you often do things that have some connection to your job in your free time.
  • Michael Caine claims that everyone he knew as a struggling actor in London during the Sixties ended up becoming famous like him:
    I was friends with Stan Getz, and Lionel Bart, who wrote Oliver! The painter Francis Bacon lived next door. He always tried to get me into his studio to paint me, but he was very gay and I thought, “I’m not going up there.” An actor called David Baron said he was going to write a play, and I said I’d act in it. He called it The Room and he did it under his real name, Harold Pinter. In the sixties, everyone you knew became famous. My flatmate was Terence Stamp. My barber was Vidal Sassoon. David Hockney did the menu in a restaurant I went to. I didn’t know anyone unknown who didn’t become famous.
  • This happened to Alex and Donna Voutsinas, which they discovered after they got engaged and she was showing him family pictures.
  • In talking to just about anyone born before around 1970 who's been involved in the boxing/fighting community in New York's Capital Region you might get the impression that everyone knew Mike Tyson before he was famous in one way or another. Ask around any gym in the area and there's a good chance someone trained with, promoted, interviewed, or fought Tyson before he was a household name.
  • In the corporate world, government service or the miltary, a low ranking employee or soldier may be only a few people away from the CEO, president, prime minister etc.
  • Horst Rippert, the brother of German singer Ivan Rebroff, claimed he shot down Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's plane during Saint-Exupéry's fatal last mission (both were pilots in World War Two: Rippert in the Luftwaffe, Saint-Exupéry in the Free France Air Force); there's no factual element to support this claim, though.
  • The McDonald's Monopoly game scam was exposed when the FBI got a tip to look at the relationships between the various top prize winners. The agents soon discovered that most of the big winners were either related to each other or knew other winners. The odds of this happening naturally were astronomical. The masterminds behind the scam usually used people who were related by marriage and thus had different last names. This fooled the corporate executives running the promotion but was quickly exposed by the FBI investigation.
  • This is, essentially, how Jewish Geography works. Since Ashkenazi Jewry started from a very small population base, and traditionally married within the group, it isn’t uncommon for two people to suddenly discover (how) they’re related, or had family who lived in the same town.
  • Actors James Marsden and Jason Marsden are not related in any way, but their wives are lifelong best friends.


Video Example(s):



The married Imps Moxxie and Millie both meet their former Ex: Chaz.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / OneDegreeOfSeparation

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