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Red String of Fate

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Now available in a three way version, for when one destined love interest just isn't enough.

"Take the guesswork out of love."

More than Love at First Sight, more than simply two Soulmates destined to be together, the Red String of Fate is some perceptible clue that identifies your destined One True Love.

The trope namer is an East Asian belief originating from Chinese Mythology called yīnyuán hóngxiàn (姻緣紅線/姻缘红线) also known as the Red String of Fate or Red Thread of Marriage. Frequently found in Japanese works, where it's referred to as akai ito or unmei no akai ito (運命の赤い糸). The concept is that two people who are destined to be together are attached by an invisible red string tied by the Yuè Xià Lǎorén (月下老人, "the Old Man Under the Moon"), the old lunar matchmaker god. In the Chinese mythos, the string is tied around both parties' ankles. In the Japanese mythos, it's traditionally bound from a man's thumb to a woman's pinky finger, but it's more common these days to show both parties attached at the pinky.

The Red String of Fate need not be a literal red string. It could be a timer counting down to alert you at the exact moment that you meet the perfect person for you. It could even be an unusually meaningful birthmark showing your destined’s name in their own handwriting. Whether magic or Magitek, whether you’re born with it or have to have it installed, whether it actively pulls you together or serves only as a passive identifier, the match it suggests for you is your True Love Because Destiny Says So.

In poorly-done examples, may be Strangled by the Red String. May be related to the Pinky Swear. Usually involved in Reincarnation Romance. See also Fate Drives Us Together and Forgotten First Meeting. Compare Love Before First Sight and Mindlink Mates. Soulmate AU Fics use a form of this. Has nothing at all to do with String-on-Finger Reminder, which is about a character tying a string around their finger to help them remember something important.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The 100 Girlfriends Who Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Love You: Two people who are destined to be soulmates will feel a sudden ZING!! when they see each other's eyes, i.e. Love at First Sight. They know it means something - that the other person's special somehow - even if they don't know the exact details. What happens next is up to them, but if they fail to fall in love and stay together, then they'll die of bad luck shortly afterwards, their good luck having gone into having a soulmate. To date, Rentarou's the only human in the cast who knows the full picture, including the consequences of failure, having been told by the God of Love who accidentally gave him 100 soulmates in the first place
  • Ai Yori Aoshi:
    • A Red String is used as an unseen force that binds Aoi and Kaoru together. It was part of the premise that their relationship is so unshakable that neither Kaoru's Harem nor Aoi's old fashioned and powerful family can pull them apart. It was featured in the opening sequence and referred to as Enishi ("the bonds that tie") in a conversation between Aoi and Kaoru in the second season.
    • Also, when Mayu first sees Kaoru again, she talks about them being bound by the red string of fate, as she's been nursing a crush since their first meeting years earlier. Alas, The Masquerade prevents Kaoru from telling her his string is already tied.
  • Vanessa Enoteca from Black Clover manifests a spell called the Red Thread of Fate, forming a red cat familiar named Rouge made of her magical threads. Instead of it being romantic love as is usual for the trope, the magic is based on familial love. Her spell only protects the Black Bulls, whom she deeply loves and acknowledges as her true family over her abusive mother the Witch Queen. Rouge's presence near the Black Bull changes fate in their favor, making them avoid attacks so long as it's nearby.
  • Bleach:
    • In Bleach: Fade to Black, Ichigo and Rukia's red spirit threads are linked to one another, allowing Ichigo to find Rukia when she went missing during the events of the movie — though this is of non-romantic love like Philia (friendship).
    • A flashback reveals that Urahara connected Isshin and Masaki together with a red spirit thread so that Isshin's influence would prevent her from Hollowfying.
  • Essentially the basis of Bound Beauty, only that the characters can see the other strings of fate (White, Blue, Yellow, and Black, in addition to Red). Leads to some very surreal battle scenes.
  • Case Closed: The Time-Bombed Skyscraper concludes with Ran selecting which color wire on a bomb to cut; the bomber had designed the bomb to go off if the red wire were cut, having overheard that red was her favorite color, but Ran couldn't bring herself to cut it, seeing it as the red string of fate between her and Shinichi.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Index speculates that the reason why nearly any girl who meets Touma falls in love with him is that his Anti-Magic right hand, Imagine Breaker, negates the Red String of Fate for other people.
  • In an episode of Chou Kuse ni Narisou, a gay teacher who mistakenly develops a crush on Nagisa suggests to her that there's a Red String of Fate connecting them. Nagisa can actually see the string, and yells at the teacher to cut it out...
  • CLAMP's romances pretty much run on this trope. Every character in the multiverse has a destined person who — as we learn in Tsubasa — they will meet in every dimension they exist in. Which, in some cases, sucks terribly because they can't help loving that person no matter what the hell they do to them. Some poor bastards come out of that — looking at you, Sumeragi Subaru.
  • A Condition Called Love begins when Hinase Hotaru, a girl who's never fallen in love before, gets confessed to by Hananoi-kun, the class pretty boy whose love comes on too strong. She starts going out with him in order to find out what love's about, and the title page of chapter 2 shows them tied together by a string of fate around their pinky fingers: Hananoi-kun holds up his pinky while looking affectionately at Hotaru, who is examining her end of the string with wide-eyed curiosity.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden's opening features the two heroines tied by a red string. It appears in the show itself in the form of Himeko's bloodied bandage which twirl around the arms of both females as the gods take Chikane away in the last episode.
  • Weaponized by Ijuna from EDENS ZERO — her Ether Gear, Red Destiny, allows her to control and manipulate a series of red strings. If the binds two people together with them, they will forcibly fall in love with each other... but if the string is cut, they will feel endless hatred instead.
  • Excel♡Saga:
    • In Episode 5, "The Interesting Giant Tower", Watanabe is surprised (and annoyed) to find his roommates applying for jobs at the same office building he's gone to, and Iwata quips, "We must be joined together by the invisible red string of destiny!" Watanabe flips and hits him, declaring, "The red string is for boys and girls only!"
    • Later in Episode 5, Watanabe finds that Hyatt, his love interest, is at the same place selling refreshments. She gives him a drink for free, and as she walks away, Watanabe muses, "...the red string!" Sumiyoshi looks at the drink and remarks, "It's green."
    • Spiritual Successor OVA Puni Puni☆Poemi parodies this with Poemi, who's attached to her friend Futaba. At that moment, Futaba and her sisters are being taken hostage by incredibly horny aliens, and as they get dragged away in a net, Poemi is forcibly dragged to them herself. Poemi then follows the red string tied to her finger to find her friend.
  • In the Full Metal Panic! manga, Gauron implies that this is what fatefully keeps bringing him and Sousuke together. Sousuke does not react well to the suggestion.
  • In the manga's 139.5 omake of Gakuen Alice, the hands of baby Mikan and Natsume are seen as connected by a (likely red) string.
  • Used literally in Gan Kon: the protagonist and his goddess girlfriend have a physical red string connecting them, which they use as a weapon against enemies. The stronger their relationship at the moment, the stronger the string becomes.
  • While not actually shown in the anime, one of the DVD covers for Happy Lesson has each one of the male lead's fingers tied with a red string and all the strings being connected to all his mothers' pinkies. He is not amused.
  • The red string of fate has a much darker purpose in Hell Girl, where each client of Enma Ai seals the contract with her by untying a red string. This sends the object of their vengeance to hell — and damns the client to go there too, after death. So it's still a destiny bond, but a very different kind...
  • Used in an official Higurashi art, for Mion and Shion drawn by the Watangashi/Meakashi manga artist. Make what you will of this.
  • Parodied in Hoshin Engi, after Tou Sengyoku improbably falls for Dokoson. The second time she meets him (he was trying to sneak on her while she was sleeping to kidnap her) she invokes this trope... except that it's not a red string wrapped around the finger but a massive red cable with huge shackles at the ends tying his neck to her arm. Dokoson isn't amused.
  • Inuyasha:
    • The trope is name-dropped in Inuyasha when Kikyou tells Inuyasha that the red string of fate, once cut, can't be restored.
    • The final shot in the first ED sequence for Inuyasha: The Final Act shows a literal red string tied to Inuyasha and Kagome's fingers.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable it's stated that Stand users are subconsciously drawn to one another in a similar manner to the titular string shortly before the yandere Villain of the Week Yukako Yamagishi shows up and starts stalking Koichi.
  • In the first ending theme of the anime adaptation of Kekkaishi, there is a line which roughly translates to "there is a red string which connects two people", in apparent reference to Yoshimori's feelings for Tokine.
  • Kimagure Orange Road:
    • As Yukari sings "Like a salvia flower" onstage, she takes a long red ribbon and playfully wraps a part of it around Madoka, throwing the other extreme to Kyouske. Here is the video.
    • Even before that, there is the infamous red straw hat that Madoka gives Kasuga in the very first episode.
  • Used literally in Koi Cupid; red strings are seen connecting people together. If necessary, the strings can be cut with magic scissors.
  • Mamotte Shugogetten has an episode with mystic threads that bind the fingers of the first two people to pick it up. Although they don't behave much like the threads of the legend, the reference is clear, as the first one to be used is red.
  • In The Miko's Words and the Witch's Incantations, Letty ties an invisible, magical thread to both her pinky and Tsumugi's so they won't get separated. Naturally, it's red, and Tsumugi cheerfully mentions its Japanese significance to Letty and how it probably makes them lovers.
  • At the end of Mobile Suit Gundam 00's first season, Graham Akre claims that he and protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei are connected by this — the fate to face each other in battle. Though he's a Westerner, Graham is a massive Japanese culture Otaku and would likely understand the reference. Setsuna, on the other hand, despite his Japanese Code Name, is actually Kurdish and probably doesn't understand the reference at all.
  • Mononoke contains a variation involving a red cloth between an unborn child and their parents. A much more traditional example appears in the OP, with a red string tied to the pinky finger.
  • In Moriarty the Patriot, Sherlock Holmes says he can see a "scarlet thread of destiny" (subtle, Sherlock) connecting him to the Lord of Crime/William James Moriarty on more than one occasion, and he sought to uncover it so he could see where it led. They even kept the imagery on the anime promo art for the soundtracks.
  • The opening credits of Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood sees its pseudo-romantic leads with their hands bound together with a red ribbon.
  • Tachikawa Megumi's one-shot manga Music Box of Spring used the Red String concept; in the end, the characters' hands are cut and bleeding, and the main character's perspective shifts, seeing the blood as the red string.
  • In Nabari no Ou, Miharu is shown with a red string on his finger after erasing Yoite.
  • In Nana, Reira writes a song about her seedy relationship with Shin by describing it as taking the red string off someone's finger.
  • Naruto:
  • This becomes a plot-point in Negima! Magister Negi Magi's summer OVA when Yue (an Inept Mage at the time) uses this on Nodoka and Negi, creating a physical red string tying the two together by their pinkies for a day.
  • Reversed in Noir, as Mireille (a Corsican) muses on the connection between herself and Kirika.
    "The thread that binds you and I is the color black, of this I am sure. Blacker than pitch...blacker than night... blacker than the darkness itself."
  • In Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, Nyarko claims that she and Mahiro are connected by the red tentacle of fate. Given that it's Nyarko saying it, the truth of this is... questionable.
  • Onegai My Melody states that beings from Mari Land and their destined human partners are connected by a rainbow-colored string. The King of Mari Land also talks about the traditional red string that connects himself and his wife.
  • In Pokémon Adventures, it happened to Red and Yellow twice. Of course, said string (a Caterpie's String Shot and Yellow's fishing line) wasn't actually red... but yes, pinkies and shipping symbolism were still there.
  • The opening of Potemayo has Mikan wearing a literal red string that supposedly attaches to Sunao, and she makes it clear during the series that she believes she and Sunao are "tied" to each other.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • Madoka giving her red hair ribbons to Homura before Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence can be considered a reference to this trope. After Madoka's disappearance, her hair ribbons are the only thing Homura has left of her and the only trace that she ever existed.note 
    • In the third movie, Homura's suppression of Madoka's divinity is symbolized by her seizing Madoka and tying the ribbons back into her hair. She then declares, in an explicit rejection of their love, that someday she and Madoka will be enemies.
  • Ranma ½:
    • In one episode, Shampoo attempts to use a literal magical red string to bind Ranma to her romantically.
    • Another variation occurs in a late manga story revolving around the Tanabata, where Ranma and Akane will supposedly be destined to marry if two leaves with their names on them remain intact and bound together, but they will never be if either one is destroyed. Cue Ranma having to go through hell, including Tatewaki Kuno suddenly coming out of nowhere with a steel-bladed katana, to ensure that the leaves aren't destroyed or tied to the leaves of other people.
    • In the song "November Rain" from one of the albums (which is basically an angsty subversion of the Umbrella of Togetherness trope), the lyrics strongly imply that Ranma and Akane are bound together by the Red String of Fate, even though it is currently, as Ranma puts it, "loose."
  • A Red String appears in a flashback of Juri's recollections of her time spent with Shiori and an unnamed male character in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
  • In an episode of the "alien arc" of Sailor Moon R, Usagi states to her love rival En/An/Ann (urgh, transliteration problems) alias Natsumi Ginga that she is connected to Mamoru by the red string of destiny... which appears on screen, only to have Natsumi cut it.
  • Shibariya Komachi is pretty much based on this trope, although it uses 5 different colours of thread that connect a variety of things. Protagonist Chiyako can initially see other people's red strings and takes advantage of this to make money, but ends up with the white string that binds body and soul.
  • In Sound! Euphonium, Kumiko and Reina are connected by one in the season one ED. They end up friends in a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship.
  • Space Patrol Luluco: In Episode 7, Nova tells Luluco that they're connected by the red string of fate, and she finds that a glowing red string is tied to her finger, causing her to blush at the implication that their love is meant to be; Then she realizes that he is not the real Nova, but Kill ** Killian, who is using life fibers tied to his fingers to feed on the energy of the crowd of people who see him as the illusion of their heart's desire.
  • Tenchi Muyo!:
    • The concept is used for comedic effect in the 1997 series Tenchi in Tokyo, where Tenchi is connected by red strings to just about every major character. For the unlearned, that's around 7 strings total; there's a reason Marry Them All used to be named after him.
    • In the canon spin-off Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar, Chiaia accidentally breaks Kenshi's necklace. When she can't repair the chain, she replaces it with a red cord that she wove herself, which he likes. When Lashara's Old Retainer tells her about an old custom about red strings symbolizing love, she gets really embarrassed and unsuccessfully tries to get the cord back. Later, she sees the necklace and finally realizes she has feelings for him.
  • Eto in Tokyo Ghoul is mainly nude and wrapped in bandages. In a Volume 5 cover, Eto wraps her bandages around Kaneki's neck, and they're initially colored red, evoking this symbolism.
  • In Toradora!, the class' Professional Wrestling show for the School Festival (don't ask) involves them threatening to cut their Old Maid homeroom teacher's red string of fate to threaten the heroine. The teacher is naturally upset at witnessing this and tries to attack the play. The audience assumes it's All Part of the Show as the stage hands carry her off.
  • The end theme of Tsuyokiss shows each of the girls naked (it's a fanservice show) with a red string tied to one finger.
  • The third Urusei Yatsura Non-Serial Movie "Remember My Love" opens with Shinobu Miyaki telling the story of the red string to Lum, who finds it very romantic. Towards the movie's end, Ataru is literally reminded that she exists, countering the spell woven by the movie's antagonist, when he cuts his finger on a Coca-Cola can and the streamer of blood running down his finger makes him remember Lum talking about the red string. At the movie's climax, Lum literally finds herself in a misty void and is guided to Ataru by following a red thread tied around her left pinky, which is similarly tied to his. Their reunion takes a sour note when a scared and possibly ashamed Ataru reluctantly reveals his right hand has similar threads wrapped around all his fingers. Lum promptly zaps Ataru, proclaiming herself ashamed of him, and then gently calls him an idiot when she's done. This creates some very interesting implications about Ataru's Harem Seeker antics.
  • Wedding Peach: Played with. Momoko knits a muffler as a present to Yanagiba and Imagine Spots them wearing it together. In the next frame a thread leads off-screen, and reveals that Yosuke somehow invaded the Imagine Spot and is also wearing it, much to her displeasure.
  • In the manga Wish, when the main character Shuichiro confesses to his adoptive mother that he loves her, she tells him that she is not the one meant for him and that he needs to find the person on the other end of the string on his finger.
  • Parodied in Yuria 100 Shiki. The titular Sexbot fantasizes about one of these on her finger... connecting to Shunsuke's crotch. The narration remarks that all of her fantasies end up there eventually.
  • YuYu Hakusho: Kuwabara claimed that the way he found his love interest, Yukina, was simply by following the red string tied to their fingers. The anime provides a visual; in reality, he probably just sensed her spirit energy.
  • The first ending to Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei contains lyrics mentioning this, in their usual depressing way:
    I could see the red strings connecting everyone to you... I was a blue thread.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Flower Angel, there exists a magic pen that can be used to create a red string of fate connecting two people. You simply use the pen to draw rings around the pinky fingers of the people you want tied together, and presto, they'll never forget each other no matter what happens. Xia An'an and Kukuru tie themselves together with this pen in Season 2; befitting the trope's romantic connotations, they become a canonical couple in Season 3.

    Comic Books 
  • Referenced in DC Comics Bombshells, with Batwoman likening the red string of fate to the red stitching on the baseballs she uses. This turns out to be foreshadowing, as at the end of the series, she marries Maggie Sawyer, a girl she met back when they played together on the same baseball team.
  • A rare Western example appears in Snotgirl, where Charlene realizes she's in love with Lottie while wrapping her fingers around a red string on her investigation board.

    Fan Works 


  • In general, a Soulmate AU Fic will usually feature this in some way. Common strings include
    • Soulmate identifying marks is probably the most common. Somewhere on your body (usually not somewhere awkward), there's a mark resembling a tattoo that identifies your soulmate. It can be the first (or last if you feel like tragedy) words your soulmate tell you, your soulmate's name, where they'll touch you first, some symbol that represents them, a shared symbol, etc.
    • You feel your soulmate's [X] is another common variation, where you can feel [X] whenever your soulmate feels the same. Usually pain, emotional and/or physical. Must be a pain.
    • You see your soulmate in your dreams is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • In some fics, there's a literal red string. How the hell that works is Depending on the Writer.
    • In Greyscale stories, the world is literally grey until you meet your soulmate; in less extreme cases, it might just be a specific color you can't see, like your soulmate's eye color.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Quite a few fanarts of America and Canada show a red string attached around their hands. Could be to represent their relationship which, in real life, is one of the closest and most productive international relationships in the world. Or it's to play up the Ho Yay.
    • The red string of fate has also been referenced in quite a few fanworks that pair Japan with someone. It's most common in Japan/China fanworks, probably because of the concept's origins in China and the tendency for the pairing to be portrayed as a tragic one, but appears in some Japan/Taiwan and Japan/Greece fanworks too.
  • This trope shows up in straight form in a huge number of Miraculous Ladybug fics, using every imaginable variant from literal strings to timers to shared injuries. Marinette and Adrien are always soulmates, except in Salt Fics that tend to demonize Adrien, and usually so are Alya and Nino, and sometimes other combinations.

Specific fics

  • In the Avengers fic But Loving Him is Red, Steve and Tony wake up after a fight to find themselves connected by a piece of magic red string. Later, they find out it signifies the fact that they're soulmates.
  • This Hetalia: Axis Powers oneshot, titled Color, where Italy is the only person who can see the strings connecting individuals indicating their relationships and bonds. But it has more colors representing more types of relationships.
    The strings had the same basic colors to represent the bonds, Italy realized after a while. Green represented strong friendship. Blue represented loyalty, whether from subject to leader or just two friends. Yellow represented family love. Pink represented crushes or young love. Orange represented unrequited love. White represented acquaintance. Indigo represented fear of someone. Black represented hate. Red represented strong love.
    This didn't mean the colors were limited to that. Sometimes they were faded, weak colors; other times, they were strong and vibrant, even through death. Many relationships had one base color and flecks of other colors. Every color varied slightly in shade, brilliance, and tone.
  • The Lemony Narrator of The Darkest Hours briefly references this trope when discussing how Mal and Ben fell in love with each other, with her wording implying she views it as Strangled by the Red String.
    Honestly, it was like someone had taken a double-ended red noose and throttled the both of them with it.
  • Deconstructed in Dread String of Fate, where Marinette's end of the string is wrapped around her neck, putting her in a Morton's Fork situation - when she tries to get closer to Adrien or build a stronger relationship with him it keeps her from making progress and ensures she's humiliated, but if she tries to give up on it since every effort she makes fails also becomes impeded.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: Invoked by Asuka after her mother said she and Shinji played together when they were babies and their mothers thought they seemed incredibly cute together.
    Asuka: How about that, eh? The red string of fate bound us together even then. Kind of depressing, now that I think about it.
    Shinji: [laughter]
  • In Gold Poisons, while it's not in the fic, there's a red string of fate tying the Venerated Triad's hands together.
  • In the Voltron: Legendary Defender fic In I'll be your knight (in shining armor), Lance has the unique ability to see the Red String of Fate and learns that Lotor is Allura's soulmate... or so he thinks. Mutual pining ensues between the Galran prince and the sharpshooter.
  • In the Naruto fanfic One Small Step, a young Naruto can't find a partner to play Cat's Cradle — a game that involves using string to create complex patterns between the fingers (the game also functions as an exercise to prepare students for ninja handsigns). After searching for someone to play the game with him, he finds Hinata and asks for her help. The two end up tying each other's hands together (with red string, naturally), which leads to them becoming childhood friends and starting to develop feelings for each other.
  • In the Fairy Tail fic One Word to Change the World, Bickslow's ability to see souls allows him to see these strings connecting people, though he hasn't told anyone . The strings vary from people having multiple potential love interests (Natsu, Lucy, and Cana), having multiple destined partners (the trio of Erza, Jellal, and Simon), to having a single destined pair (Alzack and Bisca, Elfman and Evergreen, Levy and Gajeel). The one string that baffles him is the string that connecting his pinkie to Lisanna, which is not only still intact after her death but pointing up to the sky. Of course, at that point, he isn't aware that Lisanna is not only alive but in another dimension.
  • This is a running theme in the vocaloid fanfic Rotting Camellias. Miku visits a circus and meets with a fortune-teller who tells her that her red string is getting shorter. It makes a number of other appearances after this.
  • Averted in the Inuyasha fanfic Sever the Red Cord. In the story, Inuyasha chooses to be with Kikyo, rather than Kagome. Brokenhearted, Kagome returns to her era and becomes a shrine priestess. A few years later, Inuyasha appears, having lived out the centuries to her era. To Kagome's dismay, her soul is linked to Inuyasha's by the red string, due to her being Kikyo's reincarnation. Having no desire to be bound to the man who broke her heart, and refusing to be a replacement for Kikyo, Kagome unties the string from her finger, separating her soul from Inuyasha's forever.
  • In The Shrine, a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fic, Madoka's ribbons are pink instead of red. This is the main hint that they (and the person wearing them) are much Older Than They Look.
  • To the Stars: Homura leaves one of Madoka's ribbons with her fellow magical girls, who consider it a religious relic and place it in the Church of Hope. The protagonist, a distant relative of Madoka, has a plot-relevant vision upon touching it.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fic Trouble in White, Master Fu references this trope while pacifying a Brainwashed and Crazy Adrien, convincing him to follow his soulmate's example.
  • Alluded to in the RWBY Fanfic Various Vytal Ventures features this during the nightmare sequence in 'Hide and Seek' but ultimately zig-zagged, as red strings bind Ruby to ALL of her friends. It is interesting to note, however, that her pinkies were linked to Weiss and Jaune, two of her most prominent potential Love Interests in the series. Word of God is that the author was indeed referencing the Japanese Myth with the imagery, but did not wish to commit to a particular pairing.
  • War Craft III: The Legendary Girl of Legend in the WarCraft III shrine invokes this trope immediately before separating from Benamin by summoning a literal red string that connects them. She informs Benamin that the string will stretch and tangle as they separate, but it will never break, thus binding them together throughout all space and time. When they reunite later in the shrine, she summons it again as a way to show her identity.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Secret of NIMH, in what may or may not be an intentional usage: when Mrs. Brisby first meets Jeremy, he is tangled in red string which he is retrieving to build a "love nest" for his future Ms. Right. The end of the film has Jeremy and his love interest flying and holding the two ends of the string.
  • In Your Name, the girl wears a red string as a hair ribbon and the boy wears a red string bracelet. It's actually the same string.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Kamen Rider: The First, a partially-suicidal Haruhiko runs away from the hospital to a field where he can grieve alone, only to realize that a red string had somehow caught on his clothes. Behind him walks up Miyoko, his love interest, and the string was a thread from the red sweater she was wearing which had caught and began unraveling as he ran. She directly quotes the concept, and he proceeds to hug her for all he's worth. Unfortunately, since they were both terminally ill, things don't turn out very well.
  • In TiMER, Magitek timers installed on the wrist by a friendly MegaCorp countdown to the day you’ll meet your True Love and beep when you finally set eyes on each other. Angst Alert: you could get your timer and find out you have decades to wait until you’ll meet Mr or Ms Right or it could remain blank because your True Love is a Luddite without a timer of their own.

  • In Paulo Coelho's Brida, the titular girl is informed that Witches can recognize who their destined soulmate is because they can see a special twinkle in the eyes, while Mages do so by seeing a star over the shoulder of their destined. Brida, who becomes an aspiring Witch, recognizes the twinkle in her actual boyfriend's eyes and is pleased; but the Mage she initially consulted has seen the star over Brida's shoulder, and is conflicted. This is carried to a long scene where the Mage finally decides to confess his visions and feelings and use the star to try to find Brida in a crowd... and then he finds Brida's boyfriend, who also has the damn star over his shoulder. This being a No Bisexuals setting, the Mage steps out and lets the happy couple be.
  • Fox Demon Cultivation Manual: Qinyu uses one as a weapon to defeat Zhu Yun. Once the red string is fastened to his finger he can't attack her without feeling extreme pain, and pain is the one thing he's afraid of.
  • Given: Dragons can tell by scent when they finally encounter their Given soulmate, whether they be human or dragon. Weysh, however, doesn't make a good impression on Yenni during their first meeting because he doesn't know that she comes from a land where there are no dragons and is thus unaware of any of this.
  • Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu sees Hua Cheng literally tying a red string between himself and Xie Lian, and giving it enough power that no matter how far apart they are or how much is in the way, it will always still be there as long as they both exist. Although all it actually does is reassure them that the other is alive, every other character who sees it clearly believes it's this trope. Xie Lian eventually admits that it is, once he accepts that Hua Cheng is in love with him.
  • Incarnations of Immortality: In On a Pale Horse, Zane is offered a Lovestone, a magic stone which will lead him to his true love. He borrows the stone and follows its glow. The good news is he finds her. The bad news the proprietor of the store bought the encounter, in exchange for the Wealthstone, so HE gets the lovely and extremely wealthy girl. The results of this encounter start the main plot.
  • In Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester has this to say: " is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly."
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric states that there is one of these between his teammates, Tiza and Nolien. After acquiring an Enlightenment Superpower during Looming Shadow, he says "I can see it! The connection is red and strong and" Tiza shoved a biscuit into his mouth to cut off the rest. She doesn't want to acknowledge their UST.
  • The protagonist (one of them, anyway) accidentally discovers this during the events of Kiln People. At the end of the novel, he's dropped his job as a Private Detective and is advertising an agency to link people with their soulmates.
  • In L.J. Smith's Night World series, soulmates who are destined to be together often describe a silver thread connecting the two of them together.
  • The picture book The Red Thread by the children's author and illustrator Grace Lin uses this trope to tell a fairy tale about adoption, of all things. In this case, it connects the adoptive parents and their child; magic glasses which enable the parents to see it allow them to find her. It's pretty sweet if you don't read this article first and end up thinking, "Wait, isn't that the thing that they use to justify idiotic relationships in anime?"
  • Red Thread Sisters: The story is half-titled after the myth, with Auntie Lan Lan saying that there is an invisible, unbreakable red thread connecting those who are destined to meet, like an orphan and their adoptive family.
  • In Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, the 'Silver Thread' is something that wolpertings can actually perceive through smell, and it leads to their soulmate. Unfortunately for the protagonist, he's also hopelessly uninformed about relationships, and didn't even know that girls existed until he came to Wolperting, meaning it isn't all that much use.
  • In Joss Stirling's Soulfinder Series, all savants have a "soulfinder", which is another savant of the opposite gender who was conceived at the same time. Soulfinders can recognize each other instantly when they first communicate telepathically. However, there's no guarantee that a savant will find their soulfinder, because they could have been born anywhere on the planet. There is a mention of one couple who met via a savant dating service, and there are also rare savants called "soulseekers" who have the power to help people find their soulfinders.
  • Also in L.J. Smith's The Vampire Diaries, Elena remembers stories of "the souls of true lovers" being connected by "a silver string from heart to heart or a red cord from pinky to pinky", but it's the first one that she's able to find (and follow). Stefan and Elena are bound together by the silver cord from soul to soul, implying that they are destined soulmates.
    • Continuing with L.J. Smith, in The Secret Circle, Adam and Cassie are bound together by a silver cord, like Stefan and Elena.

    Live-Action TV 
  • It's a Chinese fantasy series, so red strings appear repeatedly in Ashes of Love.
    • Jin Mi and Xu Feng were tied together by the the Red String of Fate when they underwent their trial together and fell in love.
    • The Red Strings control the love lives of mortals and not deities, but Run Yu remains devoted to Jin Mi, the one woman from whom he accepted the Red Strings.
  • In FlashForward (2009), three characters (Bryce, Keiko, and Olivia) see themselves in love with someone they haven't met yet in their flash forwards leading to two of them (Bryce and Keiko) on a quest to find each other and a third to doing everything she can to avoid her apparently-fated love interest. The recurring question of fate versus free will is never really resolved and it is heavily suggested that Olivia avoiding her match with Lloyd might actually doom the entire world.
  • My Roommate is a Gumiho: A plot point. A mountain spirit ties a red string between Dam and Sun-woo, linking their destinies together and solidifying the Love Triangle, since Dam now has feelings for him and not just Woo-yeo. After her confrontation with the mountain spirit in the show's final act, the thread between them is severed, and the show's final shot is a red thread seen between the hands of Dam and Woo-yeo, her real love interest.
  • In Penny Dreadful, the protagonists eventually figure out that an ancient prophecy referring to Lucifer and Dracula's nefarious plans for Vanessa includes a figure destined to protect her from them, Lupus Dei (Latin for "wolf of god"). Her main love interest in the series, Ethan, turns out to be a Werewolf. In the very first episode of the series, the two also do a tarot card reading together and he picks The Lovers card.
  • The last scene of The Penthouse: War in Life has Shim Su-ryeon and Logan Lee walking together with a red string wrapped between their fingers upon their reunion in the afterlife, as they enter the great beyond.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Haven", the guest star of the week, Troi's arranged fiance, has been having dreams of a beautiful woman. When the Enterprise meets with a plague-infested ship, he finds that the woman is there and has been having dreams of him, and created portraits of him. He decides to go with them to help them treat the plague.
  • In Teen Wolf, Stiles ties a red string around Lydia's finger during Season 3, while the two happen to be investigating Japanese mythology. The two are also referred to as each other's "emotional tethers". Whether the show ends up playing the trope straight is up in the air though.
  • Touch (2012), in which a young boy appears to be able to sense patterns in the larger world through numbers, specifically calls out to the Chinese legend, though implies connections beyond just love (a person saving someone's life, a person having an object another person desires but wouldn't have met otherwise, etc.).

  • The Irish band the Frames have a song called "Red Chord" on their album Fitzcarraldo that is based around this idea.
  • The Civil Wars' song "Tip of My Tongue" references this.
    You're a red string
    Tied to my finger
    A little love letter
    I carry with me...
  • "Are You Still Waiting" by Hee Young. She has a red string tied around her pinky at the start, and walks around the block to find the guy gone and the other end of the string on the ground.
  • The flash PV of IOSYS's "Make Us Your Brides" plays with the imagery by tying Marisa and Reimu to Suika.
  • The cellist and singer Kanon Wakeshima, has the song named "L'espoir ~Mahô no Akai Ito~" ("The Hope, Magical Red String") the song talks about a girl trying to get a guy to love her and talks about the Red String as a trap for her love, the song opens with this verse:
    This trap that I tended to you
    This cherry-colored thread
    Fall inside, slave of my love
    You won't be able to escape
  • The Red String of Fate is shown in the video for "Brilliant Star" by Nana Mizuki.
  • This video, using "Makka Na Ito" by Plastic Tree, which is about a couple joined by a red string who aren't together anymore, possibly implying that one of them is dead.
  • Root Five's video for "Love Doctor" shows the members tangled in red strings.
  • Taylor Swift has a song named "Invisible String" on her eighth studio album, Folklore. The song talks about a girl singing about how the person she's with is someone she's meant to be with.
    All along there was some
    Invisible string
    Tying you to me?
    One single thread of gold tied me to you
  • Thievery Corporation's video for "That Time We Lost Our Way" has LouLou Ooldouz Ghelichkhani singing while following one, with Rob & Eric playing bongos & a squeezebox nearby.
  • Vocaloid:
    • Mentioned in the lyrics of "Envy Cat Walk" by Hatsune Miku.
      Pay me
      Dance, my anxious Twinkle Venus, dance with the bewitching flow
      Buy up the last night
      I test you with the thread of fate, again...
    • In the song "Adolescence" by Vocaloids Kagamine Rin and Len, a mention is made about how it seems Rin and Len's hands are tied together with a thread.
  • "Just Be Friends" by Vocaloid Megurine Luka. Most of the pictures have her and another boy tied together with a red string. Which just adds to the whole sadness of the video and the song...

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Mirielle can see strings that are a physical representation of the relationships between people. There's a variety of colours that symbolise different connections, but red, of course, means soulmates. Her first sighting of one goes between her lovey-dovey parents.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In 7th Sea, when a Fate Witch sees red strands between people with her sorte magic, those represent conflict (Swords). Blue actually represents romance (Cups).
  • Changeling: The Lost:
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the long-dead Apis shifters served as Gaia's matchmakers. One power of theirs let them see the red threads that bound people with a common destiny — though they couldn't tell whether it would be good or bad.

    Video Games 
  • Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly uses a non-romantic variety for the Twin Shrine maidens and wardens. During the ritual, they have a thick, red cord as a sash that is tying the two twins together. It's meant to symbolize how they were originally one person, born as two during birth, and are about to 'become one' again. Flashbacks to Sae's ritual and herself show her being made to go through the ritual with her red cord torn, since Yae was not there. In the Promise ending, where Yae's spirit finally joins Sae's to complete the ritual, the red cord fuses itself back together.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Ghirahim appears again to tell Link that the reason they keep bumping into each other is because they are bound by a red thread of fate; in the Japanese script, he is talking about this exact trope. He also gets behind Link, invading his personal space again, and whispers in his ear. He tells Link to come to him after licking his lips and says they're bound by that red thread of fate, that they're destined to fight. He also says that the thread of fate will be soaked crimson with Link's blood.
    • Hyrule Warriors takes Ghirahim's mention of the red string and makes it a gameplay mechanic: his strong attack conjures a glowing red thread between himself and a nearby enemy, which powers up some of his moves when attacking the foe he's tied to.
  • In the anime-based fighting game Naruto: Narutimate Hero Accel 2, the character of Chiyo has an Ougi where her attack puppets (Mother and Father, which are actually modified exhumed corpses) are joined by a literal red string, which is then used to viciously lacerate the opponent.
  • The Pokémon games have a red ball of string as an item (called "Destiny Knot" in the English version). Appropriately, if the monster holding this item becomes infatuated, the foe that it "loves" will be infatuated as well.
  • The Puyo Puyo series references this by way of a Stealth Pun. Feli, who specializes in predicting the future and believes she is fated to be with her love interest Lemres, wears a red-colored ribbon on her head.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Gepetto's weapons are strings, which he uses to move his puppet, and his ultimate weapon is "Crimson Thread", which is said to "link fates". It's acquired in his sidequest, where it's revealed that the puppet contains the soul of Gepetto's late daughter, and she saves him from a demon. The string signifies their mutual love as parent and child.
  • Tears to Tiara's Honest John's Dealership Epona has a mysterious red string worth 99999 gold for sale at her shop. It turns out that she was using it as Schmuck Bait to get the Player Character to buy it, as it has a Love Potion effect on the people it attaches. Yes, it's that kind of game.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has a Red Thread as an accessory, which increases the range of Affinity between the holder and their Blade (which, incidentally, is represented by a glowing line connecting the two).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 uses the motif in the designs of the two main protagonists. Noah has a red string tying his ponytail, and Mio has a red ribbon tying her braid.
  • In Yandere Simulator, if Yandere-chan uses Yandere-vision, she can see a red string linking Senpai to the rival of the week.
  • Deconstructed in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. Yui and Haru end up being bound together by a (literal) red string, symbolizing their unbreakable bond. This turns out to mean bad things for Haru, as Yui's malevolent spirit is trying to attack her, and Haru literally can't break free, as the string grows back every time it is cut. It is only when Mr. Kotowari cuts off Haru's hand that the red string is severed, and Yui's spirit is at last put to rest.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • hololive: IRyS and Bae joke that they're romantically connected by identical moles on their feet which are specifically likened to the red string of fate.

  • Homestuck:
    • Trolls believe that everyone has a fated soulmate that they are destined to be with, and view romantic life mainly as a series of attempts to find that person. However, since troll romance is not just one type, but four, each troll is viewed as having four destined mates — a red string, a pale string, a black string, and an ashen string.
    • Near the end of Act 6, a sprite half-version of Dave kisses Jade. She awakens to a note by Dave attached to her finger by a red string, with the note "missed ya." She goes to Dave and tells him he's a good kisser.

    Web Original 
  • Implied in Empires SMP. In Season 1, the first prophecy in "The Book Of Prophecies, Past & Future" states, "Kindred spirits will find each other and unite once more in this world, as they do in every other world." While who these "kindred spirits" are aren't identified in any of the source material, given the recurring trend for the characters to explain past series as reincarnation, and the real-life friendships of the content creators leading to frequent collaborations, it hints at an eternal cycle of Reincarnation Friendships across the seasons for the Empires server-members, typically with their names, appearances, and voices as a Reincarnation-Identifying Trait.
  • In Ilivais X, Iriana created a Blood Oath bond with Mille, making the string out of each other's blood in a kind of haphazard transfusion. Since every cell of Iriana is designed to return to her, this essentially means Mille will always innately know where she is and be drawn to that location.
  • Life SMP: The main gimmick of Season 3, Double Life, is that each player's health-bar is linked to another, if one takes damage so will the other, and if one dies, the other does as well. The official series description refers to these duos as "soulmates". Since the game doesn't directly tell people who their soulmate is, most of Day 1 was spent with everyone running around punching each other to find their partner. (And in Jimmy and Tango's case, they didn't find out until the latter lost his first life.) This is eventually Played for Drama once a couple of the players decide to Screw Destiny when they find their designated soulmates have run off without looking for them first-thing, leading to some one- or two-sided Abandonment-Induced Animosity.note  The season's logo even evokes this symbolism with two half-hearts connected with a red string, and fanart often depicts the soulmate bonds as normally-invisible red strings (or at-times yellow or green to reflect each soulmate pair's life-count).
  • Invoked Trope in Takotsubo: The story of a superhero. In a flashback, the Japanese-American Roland proposes to his Chinese-American boyfriend Cord using a red string. Cord's talking about it in a psych ward, after Roland's death in a carjacking. When he finishes the story, the male nurse Thad falls in love with him.
  • This (mainly Furry Fandom) Multi-Animator Project animatic, set to "Two Birds" by Regina Spektor, uses the red string to depict how the various character's lives are tied together.

    Western Animation 
  • The Owl House episode "Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Hooty's Door" has Eda and the Owl Beast both shown bound at the ankle by a red string in their shared mindscape. Although it's more akin to a symbolic Chained Heat rather than a sign of the two being in love.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil has the Blood Moon, which raises once every 667 years. Also referred to as "the moon of lovers", any couples caught under its light once the moon reaches its peak have their souls eternally bound. Star and Marco are linked by the Blood Moon in the first season, after Star's then ex-boyfriend Tom attempted to use it to get back together with her. In the final season, Tom reminds the characters of this event when Marco admits to being in love with Star despite not wanting to be, revealing that the bonding is a curse that prevents the afflicted from making their own romantic choices. The duo gets their souls severed and their memory of the dance erased to resolve the situation, though they briefly muse on just how much of their feeling were because of the curse. Just prior to the series finale, Marco admits to Star that his feelings didn't change at all after severing their souls, and that he'd already loved her prior to their original dance under the Blood Moon, though he didn't realize it at the time. Star admits that she feels the same way, and a Relationship Upgrade ensues.

    Real Life 
  • In contrast, a red string in India is usually a Rakhi and is a physical demonstration of a bond between a brother and sister. It can be tied to any boy a girl considers to be like her brother and is usually used effectively to kill unwanted romantic/love interests. The ramifications of an Indian girl trying this with a Japanese boy have yet to be explored.
  • The Red String belief is so well known in Japan that this trope is invoked through linguistic gestures: holding up the thumb is used as shorthand for girlfriend and holding a pinky up would indicate a boyfriend.