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Plot Parallel

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Ron: Senor Señor sounds like a certain soccer coach I know.
Kim: Oh, does he have too much Kimness now, too?
Ron: Not exactly. He's just a control freak; you're... Well, yeah, you are like... That's weird.
Kim Possible, "Coach Possible"

Essentially, the A-plot is repeated in miniature in the B-plot. By looking at the results of one, the main character or audience gains a greater understanding of the other. This is a fairly common variation on Two Lines, No Waiting, as it gives the story layers and depth while remaining concise. It allows you to more fully explore each story — they prop one another up.

For example, suppose the A-plot has the heroine trying to get a pair of rare birds to mate. The subplot is the heroine is in denial about being in love with her best friend. By getting the birds together, she realizes she is in love with her friend. Another example: A lawyer defends a client who is accused of incompetence because of his age. The B-plot shows the lawyer worried that he's too old for the job. In defending his client, the lawyer realizes he's not ready to retire yet.

Often results in a Double Aesop, but not always; not all examples have characters learning a lesson. For example, the main plot of King Lear (Lear banishing faithful Cordelia and being betrayed by his other daughters) is mirrored in the Gloucester subplot, where Gloucester disowns faithful Edgar and is betrayed by his illegitimate son Edmund. The two stories are obvious parallels, but nobody learns anything from them (except the audience, who learn to be horribly depressed).

Sometimes this is the plot purpose of the Beta Couple. A Plot Parallel specifically in the form of a Show Within a Show is Crystal-Ball Scheduling.

For characters that reflect each other, see Mirror Character. Compare History Repeats.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Exaggerated in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. For the first two episodes, you'll be wondering where Deconstruction comes into play. And then every other episode has some horrifying revelation. Madoka, however, has not become a Magical Girl, and is essentially The Load. However, Madoka became a Magical Girl and saved every other girl from a Fate Worse than Death. Episode 10, however, is something entirely similar: Homura is attempting to save Madoka from a Fate Worse than Death by looping back in time, but she is indirectly causing the deaths of her comrades due to Reset Button diverging from the original. When Episode 9 comes around, everyone except her and Madoka is already dead, and we haven't even seen Walpurgisnacht yet.
  • Pluto: Gesicht kills a human being through hatred to avenge his murdered son. Pluto kills the seven greatest robots on Earth through hatred to avenge his ruined country. Gesicht dies but not before realising how futile hatred is. This inadvertently leads to Pluto to sacrifice himself but not before realising how futile hatred is.

  • Sistine Chapel: The point of displaying the Stories of Moses and the Stories of Jesus across from each other is to demonstrate the similarities between the two and the continuity from Moses's teachings to Jesus's.

    Comic Books 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In Season 9, Buffy destroying the seed is compared to Theo destroying Tincan.
      Theo: No one's going to understand why I destroyed what I worked so hard to build.
      Buffy: You're right. They won't. You're going to get blamed for being selfish. For doing this to save your own life. To fix the mistakes you made. You're going to lose friends. But at the end of the day, you're doing it for the right reasons.
    • The Season 9 comic "Daddy Issues" is also about this, with Drusilla and Faith dealing with their respective issues with their fathers. Though Drusilla's issues have to do with her sire, Angel.
  • Watchmen is chock full of parallelism, but probably the most obvious example is the fake comic "Tales of the Black Freighter;" the sailor's desperate and violent struggle to save his family from the Black Freighter (which ends in him killing an innocent man and joining the Freighter's crew) is an allusion to Ozymandias, who commits murder and mass murder in his attempt to restore "peace" to the Cold War world.
  • Also by Alan Moore, the plot of The Killing Joke is paralleled by the joke at the end. How the parallel works can be interpreted many ways.
  • In Adventures of Superman #510, part of the "Bizarro's World!" storyline, the main story is that Bizarro has kidnapped Lois Lane and is keeping her in a warehouse decked out like a funhouse Metropolis, where he continually exposes her to danger so he can "save" her like Superman. At the same time, a long-running subplot of Galaxy Broadcasting boss Vinnie Edge hitting on Cat Grant reaches a climax when she announces at the end of a live news report that she's filing harrassment charges.
    Cat: I'd like to add — women no longer have to endure the twisted games of powerful men acting like childish monsters. We won't live in that world any more.

    Films Animation 
  • Brave: Mor'du's backstory mirrors the one of Merida and her mother only that he did not choose as wisely and ended up locked in his bear form.
  • In Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is repeated a lot. We eventually get a dream sequence with the main character traveling with a pack of wolves while chasing the woman he's been spending time with in red clothing. It's also foreshadowing.
  • Sita Sings the Blues: The author of the movie learns how to cope with her divorce by reading the Ramayana and eventually making it into this movie.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut has a parallel arc with Kyle and Satan learning to stand up to Sheila and Sadam respectively.

    Films Live-Action 
  • In The Best Offer, the hero's job as an antiques dealer it to tell a forgery from an original. This parallels the main story which is about him failing to see the forgery in Claire's feelings for him.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: while the film explicitly draws attention to the fact that the 5 victims don't naturally fit the archetypes they've been cast into, it is much more subtle about the fact that the 5 staff members of the facility match perfectly:
    • Hadley: constant joking, is the Fool
    • Sitterson: knowledgeable of history, procedures, and even how to hot wires an explosion, is the Scholar
    • Truman: from security and armed to the teeth, is the Athlete
    • The Director: stays out of the control room and so has no blood on her hands (ie purity is intact) is The Virgin
    • Lin: while her lab coat and primness do not convey sexuality, shows awareness of her compromised morality in the face of Truman's disapproval at her betting and drinking. And what word does the Director use to describe the Whore? "Compromised"
    • variation: It's possible that Truman is the Virgin, this being his first time around, and the Director is the Athlete, being the most powerful in terms of authority. This interpretation would make the staff's deaths invert the sacrificial pattern, with Truman the Virgin dying first
  • In the 2003 Korean film The Classic, the love situation that the daughter Ji-hye goes through has several parallels to her mother Joo-hee's situation when she was younger, which is told through flashbacks as the daughter reads her mother's old letters and diary. Both fall in love with a boy (Sang-min/Joo-haa respectively) and end up in a Love Triangle. Joo-haa's friend helped their relationship while Ji-hye had a friend who interfered with their relationship. Whereas Joo-hee's situation eventually ended badly, Ji-hye's situation ended on a much happier note.
  • Played creepily in A Double Life: the protagonist is an actor performing in Othello, and as production drags on and his sanity degrades, his real life more and more resembles the play's plot. Complete with murdering his mistress and committing suicide out of guilt.
  • In The Fall, the fairytale that Roy tells Alexandria have many parallels with past and present events in the lives of the two main characters.
  • In Harm's Way is an A, B and C. It follows three couples falling in love: Admiral and Nurse; Ensign and Ensign, and Lieutenant and wife, during World War 2.
  • K2: Siren of the Himalayas: The modern climbers are shown interspersed with accounts from an expedition a hundred years before, as they have some of the exact same experiences, up to having to turn back before summiting.
  • MonsterVerse:
    • Godzilla (2014): In the final act, Ford Brody entering San Francisco to combat the threat of apocalyptic destruction by the military's nuclear warhead is paralleled by Godzilla entering San Fran to combat the threat of apocalyptic destruction by the MUTOs, and Ford's efforts and his post-victory collapse are juxtaposed with Godzilla's own during the climax. Tellingly, this isn't the only time in the film that Godzilla and Ford are in the same location while Godzilla fights the MUTOs. The film hints that just as Ford fights to defend his family and also people like Akio; Godzilla, in his own way, fights to defend the world's balance.
    • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019):
      • Godzilla and Mothra coming to humanity's aid when we need them most despite our species' alienated feelings toward the Titans we once worshipped, and Mothra giving her life against King Ghidorah to that end; parallels Mark and Emma Russell coming to save their daughter when she needs them most despite her alienated feelings towards her once-happy parents, and Emma giving her life to help stop Ghidorah to that end.
      • Dr. Serizawa's brief, tentative direct interaction with Godzilla during his Heroic Sacrifice can be construed as Japan symbolically coming to terms with atomic weapons after being traumatized and haunted by the WWII atomic bombings for years. Just minutes later, Mark finally comes to terms with Godzilla and the death of his son after being traumatized and haunted by them for years.
  • Revenge of the Sith:
    • Grievous is partly removed from a mechanical suit and set on fire. Anakin is set on fire and put into a mechanical suit.
    • Anakin kills Dooku at Palpatine's behest on the grounds that he's too dangerous to be left alive. Later, Mace Windu tries to do the same thing to Palpatine.
    • The critical scene where Anakin's fall to the Dark Side hinges upon a Sadistic Choice is also a Call-Forward to the finale of Return of the Jedi: here, Anakin agonizes as he watches Windu kill the man he believes can save Padmé, and must decide who to help as the victim pleads with him to be saved; in Return of the Jedi, he has to do the same thing when watching the Emperor try to kill his own son.
    • Deleted Scenes show that there was going to be a subplot of Padmé getting involved with a group of senators that quietly opposed Palpatine and would eventually go on to form the Rebel Alliance, and this would be juxtaposed with Anakin's alienation from the Jedi Council, growing mistrust on the rest of the senate and him becoming more dependent on Palpatine's advices.
  • Signs, where the "miraculous" defeat of the aliens helps the protagonist to overcome his crisis of faith.

  • Look to Windward has a lot of parallelism. Every major event and character is reflected by another. The war that motivates Quinlan? There's another one. Quinlan's desire? Masaq' wants the same thing. Masaq's decision to retire? Two people do that for similar reasons. Kabe's discovery that he's been absorbed by The Culture when he meant to study it? A secondary character is physically absorbed into the hive mind of a creature he studies.
  • This trope meets up with Real Life Writes the Plot in Peter Pays Tribute. The main character is writing a novel that mirrors his own life. Except in a fantasy world where his dad is an omnipotent god.
  • The Empirium Trilogy: Much of Rielle and Eliana's plots parallel each other, from the broader strokes- becoming one of the two prophesied Queens- to some minor details- such as each of them having a wraith ally.
  • In the novel The English Patient, the love story of Kip and Hana provides several parallels to that of Almasy and Katherine, and points up some of the novel's major themes, particularly that of man-made divisions (geography, racial discrimination) being the source of many of the world's troubles. The movie, by diminishing the Kip/Hana story and altering its resolution, doesn't really embody this trope the way the novel does.
  • In Rodrigo y el libro sin final (Rodrigo and the unfinished book), the titular character, a nine-year-old boy, helps a novelist suffering from writer's block to find an ending for a book he borrowed from the library. In the process, the writer discovers that some events in the book can be put in parallel with his own life: he and the pirate whose adventures he narrated left their girlfriends to live their dreams; both of them are now old men; both of them feel guilty when the past reappears and have to make a decision. The ending is open: we never know whether author and character make the same decision or take different routes.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the book begins with the main character waking up to see that his house is being demolished without proper notice. The demolisher then states that he did have proper notice, but it is revealed that there was no way he could have actually known about, or seen the notice. Then, spaceships appear all over the earth and it is revealed that the earth is scheduled for demolition and that they were given "proper notice..." Luckily, the main character survives.
  • Done frequently in the young adult Magic Attic Club series, which involves a group of preteen girls who use a magic mirror in their neighbor's attic to go on adventures. More than a few books follow a formula where one of the girls is having a problem in her life, has an attic adventure that in some way mirrors the real-life conflict (sometimes directly, other times in a loose way like learning to stand up to bullies), and then comes back and uses the skills she learned to resolve whatever the initial problem was.
  • Aldous Huxley lampshades this in Point Counter Point. It's never a straight-up A-Plot parallel, as there is no clear A-Plot, but one of the characters is an aspiring author using elements in his life to create his book. At one point, Huxley goes so far as to step out of the narrative and speak directly to the reader, explaining this and a number of other plot decisions he made, mocking other types of novels in the process.
  • In the Dorothy L. Sayers mystery novel Unnatural Death, a minor sub-plot involves Lord Peter Wimsey pestering his pathologist friend for a Perfect Poison (It's for a Book, actually) then realizing the murderer is using something similar.
  • Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency features this as an important plot point; the ghost of an alien engineer wants to travel back in time and prevent a disaster that killed his people. Richard, a human computer programmer, behaves strangely by climbing through the window of his girlfriend's flat to retrieve a message he left. And a man named Michael desires to take back control of his magazine that he lost through mismanagement. All three wish to go back and undo the mistakes of the past. And all are related; the ghost is attempting to possess the other two in the hopes of finding a compatible mind who is not opposed to taking extreme actions to correct a mistake. Richard comes to his senses and won't go through with it, but the ghost finds an ideal host in Michael who is even willing to kill to get back what he thinks he's entitled to - and if the ghost succeeds all of humanity will be Ret-Gone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Better Off Ted played this for laughs in the episode "The Lawyer, the Lemur & the Little Listener". Linda is writing a children's book about a lemur who wants to go off and seek his fortune. However, the lemur decides to stay at his tree with all his friends. Ironically, Linda wants to use the profit from her story to leave Veridian Dynamics and abandon her friends.
  • Alexis Castle and her problems normally parallel some aspect of the case her father and Beckett are working, or some aspect of their budding relationship. Leads to many a "Eureka!" Moment.
  • Degrassi did this a lot, especially in the earlier seasons. The English teacher would have them read a story in which the plot was strikingly similarly to the episode's events.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "An Unearthly Child" parallels the leadership struggles between two cavemen — Za, an older established leader in way over his head and willing to resort to brutality to keep his leadership, and Kal, a young outsider trying to sow dissent and usurp Za — with the struggles between the Doctor, an old time traveller in way over his head and willing to resort to brutality to survive, and Ian, a young outsider trying to save Susan and Barbara from the Doctor and take control of the situation.
    • "The Evil of the Daleks" parallels the alchemist Maxtible's obsession with turning lead into gold with the Daleks' obsession with turning Daleks into humanlike beings. (Note that Maxtible is not interested in turning lead into gold for the money — he already has a very lucrative money-making scam involving time travel abuse but because it would allow him to know the secret of spiritual purification.)
    • "Robot" has an A-plot about an insane, childlike, potentially dangerous but by nature benevolent robot being forced to kill its creator and go against its basic peaceful, humanitarian nature by a rigorous, militaristic unit obsessed with science and reason, which drives it Axe-Crazy and leaves it convinced it needs to kill all of humanity apart from Sarah Jane. The B-plot is about the Doctor, who has recently regenerated into an insane, childlike, potentially dangerous but by nature benevolent personality, who attempts to abandon his friend Sarah in his confusion, and is forced to go against his basic freedom-loving nature by the rigorous, militaristic unit who use him as a scientific advisor. The Doctor happily (if a bit flakily) helps defeat the robot, but in the Script Wank scene at the end he convinces Sarah that he won't, won't, won't behave like the refined and social person UNIT needs him to be and it's time for he and she to run off and explore the universe.
    • 50th anniversary special "The Day of the Doctor" leads up to a thwarted nuclear countdown which would destroy a Zygon infiltration, but at the cost of blowing up London. This is then mirrored by the Doctor, who realises that using the Moment to end the Time War at the cost of destroying Gallifrey was a mistake, so he (they) Tricked Out Time so that Gallifrey's destruction never actually happened. The trope is played with somewhat in that within the episode itself the Zygon plotline actually takes up far more screen time than the Time War plot line, though ultimately the former is rather inconsequential and the latter has huge consequences for the future of the series.
    • "Orphan 55" seems to be one to what "Spyfall" sets up as the main Story Arc of Series 12: The Doctor and company discover that Orphan 55 is actually a devastated future Earth, while the conflict between estranged mother and daughter Kane and Bella is born from Bella's desire to destroy the sins of the past. At the end, the Doctor says that Orphan 55 does not have to be Earth's final fate. All this ties in with the reveals in "Spyfall" that the Master has ravaged Gallifrey because of an Awful Truth he discovered relating to the Time Lords' existence involving the "Timeless Child", as, following that same line of thinking, that doesn't have to be the final fate of Gallifrey if the Doctor does her best.
  • Fringe starts doing this very effectively in the second and third seasons where the case-of-the-week symbolically parallels the developments in the Myth Arc.
  • In Happy!, Mr. Blue presides over a sprawling New York criminal empire that is responsible for countless deaths, and Raspberry and Blue's son turns out to similarly be slowly genociding the city's many abandoned, vulnerable Not So Imaginary Friends.
  • House does this all the time. Pretty much whenever House is shown doing regular clinic check-ups, you can bet that something that happens in the clinic will be co-incidentally be the key to him figuring out how to save that episode's main patient.
  • House of the Dragon: Early on in Season 1, Ser Criston is the most qualified knight for the Kingsguard (being the only one with real combat experience), and is the candidate whom Rhaenyra personally likes the most. Alicent is the most practical potential wife (being old enough to start having children right away), and is the prospect Viserys personally likes the most. In both cases, they're advised to pick someone better connected for political reasons, but brush that aside and pick the one they want.
  • Huge: The troubled romance/sexual tension between Amber and one of the counselors is paralleled by the Twilight expy Phantasma, which the girls of the camp have been fangirling over. The forbidden love comparison becomes even more apparent when scenes of Amber and the counselor are shown between scenes of the Phantasma movie.
  • iCarly and its five episode Sam/Freddie romance arc ended with one of these. In the A-Plot, Sam and Freddie were trying to become closer. In the B-Plot, Spencer and the girl who used to babysit him when he was 10 years old (she was 15 at the time) entered a relationship that got creepy as she started acting like his babysitter again and bossing him around. Carly ends the B-Plot by telling Spencer and the babysitter that their relationship is creepy and weird, and that they were forcing a romantic connection out of their previous relationship. Sam and Freddie overhear this, and both realize that even though Carly wasn't talking about them, her words matched their dysfunctional relationship. They discuss it, then break up.
  • JAG: In "Into the Breech", the A-plot is some navy cadets are holding a mock trial for a sailor who was badly hazed and involved in a Love Triangle with one of his bullies; the B-plot is the same, except it's between the cadets holding the mock trial.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: In the first season, Both Galadriel and Nori befriend two mysterious strangers who are both the biggest candidates to be Sauron in disguise. They spend the rest of the season getting closer only to find in the last episode their mysterious strangers are not what they seem. Galadriel learns that her Implied Love Interest is Sauron himself, and Nori learns that the Meteor Man is one of the Istari.
  • Lost: This happens in almost every episode, with the flashbacks/sideways paralleling what is happening on the island. For instance, in one season six episode focusing on Ben, in the flashsideways Ben has to make a choice between power and Alex. In the main story, he is forced to deal with the consequences of having already made that choice.
  • Once Upon a Time does this nearly every episode, with events taking place in the past mirroring those in the present.
  • Just about every episode of any incarnation of Power Rangers inevitably follows this. The episodes start with a Ranger being faced with a character flaw, a villain specifically based on exploiting that flaw shows up, and the Ranger must learn to deal with their personal problems in order to save the day (almost certainly in a giant robot battle).
  • Scrubs, along with Double Aesop, virtually Once an Episode, and lampshaded about Once a Season.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise. A poorly-done example is in the episode "Silent Enemy". The A plot is a strong, tense plot where the Enterprise is being attacked by Inscrutable Aliens in a superior spacecraft to Enterprise, so much of the action focusses on Security Officer Malcolm Reed. The B plot is centered around Hoshi trying to find out what Reed's favorite food is. In doing so she finds out a lot about their Stuffy Brit Security Officer, but in the midst of the crisis it looks like Skewed Priorities and only serves to undermine the A plot.
  • Supernatural:
    • In "Metamorphosis", the Monster of the Week trying to resist his monstrous nature parallels the season's overarching plot of Sam's demon blood powers and the question of whether he will turn to The Dark Side. Several details foreshadow what will happen around the season finale: Jack turns into a monster in order to save his wife, Sam becomes a demon blood junkie while trying to save the world. Jack goes feral while murdering the attacker, and Sam hits a low point when he drinks a demon's blood in an eerily similar manner. Jack's horrified wife leaves him, and Sam's actions cause massive, long-lasting damage to the brothers' bond.
    • In "Thinman", the two Ghostfacers' damaged relationship and parting of the ways parallels Sam and Dean's brotherly relationship troubles in this season.
  • The West Wing also did it frequently. At the end of one episode where the A-plot is Sam finding out shocking, identity-threatening truths about people he cares about, he tells Donna, "It's just that there are certain things you're sure of, like longitude and latitude." Funny he should put it like that considering one of the B-plots was C.J. and Josh learning about the inaccuracy of common map projections and how the world isn't what they thought it was. (To be fair, Donna does Lampshade this.)
  • Wishbone plots parallel the classic stories the title character reads.
  • Word of Honor:
    • Both Wen Kexing and Gu Xiang struggle with hiding their identity as Ghosts from their significant other.
    • Du Yuqian breaks his zither when his Zhījǐ are dead, Wen Kexing breaks his flute when he learns about Zhou Zishu's inevitable death.
    • Cao Weining and Zhou Zishu would protect Gu Xiang and Wen Kexing whenever someone wants to kill them for their identity as Ghosts.
  • Wonderfalls did this every episode. The bird example comes from "Safety Canary": A pair of rare birds refuse to mate (A-plot), and Jaye is having love problems with Eric (B-plot). After spending the episode using the birds to avoid interacting with Eric, Jaye realizes she can't give him up just because she's scared of commitment.

  • "Bad Guy" from The Marshall Mathers LP 2 ends with Eminem dying, explained by his killer Matthew (brother of the title character of "Stan") as the consequences of his music catching up to him. The very next track, "Parking Lot", picks up from an interlude in "Criminal" from the first LP where he seems to literally get away with murder, but he is quickly abandoned by his partner in crime, gets caught by the police, and shoots himself.

    Puppet shows 
  • Done frequently in Fraggle Rock, where the A-plot with the Fraggles is sometimes reflected in the various B-plots featuring the Gorgs, the Doozers, Doc and Sprocket, and Uncle Travelling Matt. Thus, each episode has a single theme, often with different characters in different settings experiencing the same problems.

  • This is long established in literary criticism, and most of Shakespeare's plays follow it in one form or another.
    • The aforementioned King Lear
    • The Tempest, the story of Caliban becoming a servant of two sailors mirrors the relationship between Prospero and Ariel.
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream has three plots running side by side with play-within-a-play, the relationship between Titania, Oberon and Bottom as well as the central love quadrangle.
    • The framing device of The Taming of the Shrew mentions a man who doesn't want to go home because he can't control his wife. The main plot of the play...
  • Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has the A-plot of Faustus selling his soul for power. His servant Wagner uses Faustus's books to learn how to do the same, and then his newly-found servant Robin does the same thing. Then Robin takes on his friend Dick as his own servant...
  • Oklahoma!'s subplot is a comic version of the A-story's Love Triangle, with the Beta Couple having the same issues as the main couple.
  • Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci: Canio, a Commedia dell'arte actor who plays a cuckolded fool on stage, finds himself cuckolded — but he refuses to be the fool.

    Video Games 
  • Both Another Code installments pair Ashley with someone whose plight mirrors her own.
    • In the first game, Ashley's goal is to find out about her family's history and how it lead to their current situation, while D's goal is to find out more about his family's past and use it to regain his own memories.
    • For the second game, Ashley is learning about what happened to her mother while Matthew is trying to find out what happened to his father.
  • In Deus Ex: Invisible War, there's a minor B-Plot about two rival coffee companies, and their desire to wipe each other out. It turns out the two chains are run by the same company. Later on, the player discovers that two factions in the A-Plot are doing the same thing.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Fairly early in the game, we discover that Red XIII, who previously appeared to be an ancient and mysterious being of alien intelligence, is actually a confused teenage boy putting on an act to impress the others. Later, we discover that he's worried he's a Sephiroth Clone, but it turns out he isn't. Later still, we're told that Cloud is a Sephiroth Clone with none of his own free will, and it turns out he isn't, but instead of being a mysterious ex-military badass, Cloud is a confused young man who acts like he is to cope with trauma and leftover teenage baggage.
      • In the Temple of the Ancients, the party realizes they can't get the Black Materia, which Sephiroth needs to summon Meteor, without killing one of the party members. Cait Sith, being 'a toy' controlled remotely by a Shinra spy, agrees to sacrifice himself to keep Sephiroth from getting it, but is sorrowful about his death, asking the party not to forget him. He's immediately replaced by the identical "Cait Sith no. 2", with all memories intact. Later, Aeris disappears and is killed in the City of the Ancients, and she is not replaced, leaving an empty spot in the party. At the end, it's revealed that her sacrifice allows the Planet to repeal Meteor, first by unleashing Aeris's Holy spell and then by unleashing the Lifestream.
      • Very early in the game, AVALANCHE are forced to jump off a train they're on because an automated security lockdown detects a problem with the group. It turns out the problem is Cloud's fake ID card - Jessie, who made it, says she tried to make it 'special' to impress Cloud, but messed up. This is all dealt with very quickly. Much later in the game and much more seriously, the group is forced to abandon its quest because Cloud's identity is falsely special, with the alibi handed to him by a woman who was trying to impress him.
    • In Lateral Biography TURKS: The Kids Are Alright, Evan is a brooding child of a single mother who projects an image of toughness to hide his inner weakness, and Kyrie is a manipulative, flirty girl who grew up in the slums claiming to have magical powers who finds herself in constant trouble with the Turks, like Cloud and Aeris from the original game. Reno and Rude remark to one another that they knew someone who put on a persona like Evan, and that Kyrie reminds them of Aeris. To add to the irony, Kyrie knew Aeris as a child and found her (real) powers creepy, and when Evan meets Cloud he hates him on sight.
    • Final Fantasy VIII: The game has an A-plot about the villain trying to freeze time forever and a B-plot where the characters get sent to the past and live out the life of a side character. The A-plot, although criticized for being underdeveloped, serves mainly as a thematic capstone on the B-plot's messages about letting go of the past.
  • Metal Gear is so built on this sort of storytelling that virtually nothing happens only once.
  • Persona 3: Yukari's father died before the events of the game to save humanity from the Fall, but from his family's point of view, he died in an accident that left more questions than answers. Yukari's mother fell apart emotionally, and went on to neglect her daughter in favor of other men, causing more issues for Yukari herself. This gets resolved through her Social Link, where Yukari opens up about this to the protagonist, admitting that she now understands why her mother acted the way she did as a Love Confession of sorts. Then, the protagonist dies to stop the Fall the second time it happens, and the Playable Epilogue reveals that from Yukari's point of view, he died just as unexpectedly as her father did, and left her with just as much answers, causing her to fall apart just like her mother did (minus the other men part).
  • Persona 4: An entity arrives in the town of Inaba, and proceeds to try and give the townspeople what it thinks they want while being willfully ignorant of the harm it's causing. For most of the game, the department store Junes is that entity, driving most family owned stores out of business by being the more convenient option. In the endgame, the player discovers Izanami, the Greater-Scope Villain, was trying to discover what humanity wished for, and the events of the game made her conclude that what humans wanted was blissful ignorance. Thus, she spreads a supernatural fog across the town, and eventually the world, nearly turning all of humanity into shadows because she believed that they wanted a convenient lie rather than harsh reality. Interestingly enough, in the Updated Re-release Golden and the new epilogue, it's revealed that after the fog lifts, relations between Junes and the local merchants improve, with Junes carrying local products, while Marie takes Izanami's role with more genuinely benevolent intentions.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • In "The Great Divide", the B-plot is about Sokka and Katara, who are bickering about one being messy while the other is neat. The A-plot is that two tribes are bickering, because one is messy and the other is neat. This leads to a subversion of the Double Aesop, because although Sokka and Katara make up easily, the tribes don't.
    • In "Bitter Work", Aang has a hard time learning Earthbending in the main plot. Meanwhile, in the B-plot, his rival Zuko is learning a difficult Firebending technique, to control lightning. The parallel shows how the two characters deal with frustration, showing their contrasting personalities all while advancing the plot.
    • Most of the show's main storyline could be considered this, chronicling the parallel Coming of Age Stories of both Aang and Zuko.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: "Mean Seasons" is about a former model who was fired because she was too old and avenges herself by kidnapping her former employers; in the B-plot, Bruce is upset at losing an employee because he has hit the mandatory retirement age (Bruce is also feeling a bit sluggish, and starts checking himself for gray hairs). In the end, Bruce does away with mandatory retirement.
  • The Animaniacs segment "Bully For Skippy" has Skippy having to deal with a bully at school, while Slappy has to deal with bullies of her own.
  • Several Kim Possible episodes have such parallels between the "basic average girl" plot and the "here to save the world" plot. For instance, in "Coach Possible", which provides the current page quote, observing Señor Senior Senior's overly controlling attitude toward Junior helps Kim realize that she's being overly perfectionistic and demanding in coaching the soccer team.
  • In Disney's Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, Wayne is shown to be jealous of his younger and more popular brother Noel. The villain, a girl named Grace Goodwin, despises her baby brother for ripping apart her favorite doll. Grace sees the error of her ways when she sees Wayne and Noel make up after a big fight and learns to appreciate her brother more.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In "Bridle Gossip", the Mane Six are distrustful of the mysterious zebra Zecora, especially when it appears that she's cursed them, while Twilight tries to debunk their claims of witchcraft and brushes aside a book titled Supernaturals while searching Zecora's house. It eventually turns out that the "curses" were really the effects of the Poison Joke flower, and that the book, which is actually titled Super Naturals, contained herbal cures for their ailments. Therefore, everypony judged a book by its cover, Twilight literally and the others figuratively.
    • In "Forever Filly", Rarity tries to bond with Sweetie Belle by doing the sisterly things they used to do when they were younger, while the B-plot involves Zipporwhill trying to reconnect with her dog by getting him to play with his old puppy toys; in both cases, the older one learns that their younger charge has outgrown such childish things, but they finally manage to bond through different activities. Arguably, the former situation is one that many an adult can relate to, while the latter presents it in a way that a child in the target audience can understand.