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School Forced Us Together

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A common problem in fiction is to get a group of people with differing backgrounds and contrasting personalities together. When writing characters who are children or teenagers, there's a simple solution: Have the school system force them together in some way. They could be placed in the same class or have to do a group project. Perhaps they could all have detention at the same time. Maybe they bond over their mutual hatred of the school system or enjoyment of school. This trope doesn't work all the time - for instance, children from rich families might be sent to private schools and won't have the same opportunity to interact with poorer kids. Kids who grow up in different neighborhoods may go to different schools. However, in general, schools can be used as a way to get characters from different backgrounds to form friendships. If these bonds last into adulthood, this becomes Everyone Went to School Together.

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Super-Trope to The Breakfast Plot. May lead to a Bully Turned Buddy scenario. See also Odd Friendship, Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits, and Interclass Friendship. Compare with Recruit Teenagers with Attitude, Bully and Wimp Pairing, and Absurdly Divided School.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Digimon Adventure 02, where adversaries Davis and Ken, who keep at a distance when in the Digital World and live some distance away from each other in different parts of Tokyo, end up meeting face-to-face because of their respective commitments the soccer clubs they both signed up for. It leads to Ken's identity as the Digimon Emperor being revealed at the end of the same episode.
  • My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected reunited three students: Hachiman Hikigaya, Yukino Yukinoshita and Yui Yuigahama (a lesser member of the Girl Posse), to work together as a team in the Service Club. They eventually become Fire-Forged Friends with the time and ultimately, an unwanted Love Triangle.
  • Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! establishes this as being how Asakusa and Kanamori first met. Both of them lacked a partner for a two-person activity in middle school gym class, and the coach, against the Shrinking Violet Asakusa's wishes, paired her and the stonefaced, thuggish Kanamori together. Despite the rough meeting, the two eventually managed to form an Odd Friendship, with Asakusa describing Kanamori as her "comrade" in a conversation with Mizusaki.
  • Miko and Onodera from Kaguya-sama: Love is War end up becoming friends due to their time together on the Culture Festival committee (Onodera had joined voluntarily while Miko was there as a representative of the Student Council). While the two were already in the same class, it's clear that they never would have interacted otherwise due to just how different their personalities and social circles were.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Breakfast Club gets together a jock, a geek, the rich girl, a strange goth, and the troublemaker — who had never interacted (and by their own admission, would not, save for perhaps making fun of each other) outside of Detention.
  • Only two of the main characters in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle already knew each other. They all meet serving detention clearing the school basement, where they find the game console that kicks off the plot.
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    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Community: The main characters come together to form a study group in order to get through Spanish. Due to their differing personalities, it's unlikely they would have become friends otherwise. For instance, while Annie and Troy went to the same high school, the two were in separate social groups (Annie being more focused on studying and Troy being a jock).
  • Glee: When he takes over as head of the Glee club, Mr. Schuester tries to recruit popular kids, thinking it will encourage more people to join. He's initially unsuccessful as they think the Glee club is uncool. He ends up planting weed on Finn, the football team's quarterback. When he confronts Finn, he offers to not turn him in if he joins the Glee club.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • In one episode, Malcolm is literally forced to join the Booster club by Mr. Herkable (he oversees the booster club and gets a bonus if another student joins) who threatens to withhold Malcolm's letter of recommendation. Malcolm doesn't get along with the other members of the booster club, finding them too cheery and thinking their ideas to raise money are stupid. When he tries to leave, Mr. Herkable uses Reverse Psychology to get Malcolm to not only stay, but to put more effort into raising money.
    • Another episode had the Krelboynes (gifted class) split up after an unauthorized experiment resulted in the Krelboyne room needing to be decontaminated. All of the Krelboynes end up joining separate cliques and bonding with different students when they're dispersed among the general student body; one falls in with the Goths after he quotes from Dante's Inferno, another one joins the jocks after removing a splinter from a jock's finger during a woodshop class, Stevie (who's in a wheelchair) joins the skater/BMX clique, and so on.
  • Victorious: In one episode, the normally hostile Jade and Tori must portray a couple in a School Play. Their teacher doesn't find their onscreen chemistry convincing. He suggests the two go on a playdate together in order for them to build a stronger relationship.
  • Power Rangers Dino Thunder starts with Conner, Ethan, and Kira getting stuck in detention. And frankly, the teacher Dr. Oliver is as stuck as they are since he had other plans that afternoon. So he brings the students along on his errand, and the three end up stumbling across some Power Crystals...
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The first season, our titular heroine meets all of the main cast, including her Watcher, when she transfers into dear old Sunnydale High. Except this one cute-but-mysterious guy she only sees at night....
  • Mostly averted on Head of the Class, since the show revolves around a class of gifted students who largely have a fair bit in common. Played straight with a few examples, however, such as later addition T.J., who had a reputation for being a troublemaker until it was realized that she was just bored and needed the extra push that the gifted class could give her.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Transhuman Space: The supplement Personnel Files 5 offers an example player-character group built round this trope. The English language school in the free city of Königsberg-Kaliningrad is small enough that a small group of teens of somewhat varying ages and backgrounds are obliged to hang out together, potentially pushing them into Kid Detective and similar plots; they include an apparent fashion victim who's actually fascinated by the theory of pop culture, a photography geek, a policeman's son/wannabe detective, a nervous slightly younger kid with an excellent robot dog sidekick, and a slightly arrogant leader type.

    Theatre 
  • In Wicked, bookish Elphaba was supposed to have her disabled sister, Nessarose, as her college roommate so that she could take care of her. She was placed with preppy blonde G(a)linda instead. They start off hating each other, but gradually become friends.

    Visual Novels 
  • The trope is invoked in Danganronpa Most of the killing games involve classes of students being forced to kill each other within a school setting. In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, this is heavily exploited by the mastermind. None of the students knew each other prior to waking up in the school and all have drastically different personalities and backgrounds. Nonetheless, they form relationships with each other during their stay. After The Reveal, it turns out the characters were originally fans who auditioned to be on the killing game reality show Danganronpa, and had their personalities and memories fabricated to satisfy the audience.
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    Video Games 
  • In Deltarune, the protagonists, Kris and Susie, are put together in a group for a project. The story starts after they are both sent to retrieve chalk.
  • This forms the set-up of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, where Class VII is an attempt to integrate students from various social classes, ranging from varying levels of nobility, middle class (including ones from wealthy backgrounds) and even war orphans and foreigners as part of the prince's plan to solve the class division that plagues the nation. While they naturally start off on rocky footing, through their various adventures they forge an unbreakable bond and consider each other as close as family.

    Web Animation 
  • This happens in RWBY, where Huntress teams are essentially formed at random and spend their entire school career together. Weiss never would have had anything to do with Ruby or Blake if she had any choice. In fact, during their introductory trial run, Weiss actually tried to walk away from Ruby, but seeing that her only other option was Jaune, she reluctantly joined Ruby.

    Western Animation 
  • School is what brought the group together in Recess; otherwise, a group consisting of a nerd, a tomboy, a jock, an artist, a schemer with a conscience, and the new kid would probably have never formed. In addition, there have been some episodes involving one of the group being transferred to another school, with the others being concerned that this would break up the group.
  • The Simpsons: Despite being brother and sister, Bart and Lisa typically don't hang out at school due to their age difference. This changes in "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade", where the students of Springfield Elementary must take a standardized test. Lisa does so well she's allowed to skip to the third grade, while Bart does so poorly that he must retake the third grade. Both are placed in the same classroom. On top of this, their teacher makes the two buddies when the class goes on a field trip.
  • The people who make up the Extreme Ghostbusters team were the four students (a mechanical genius, a wheelchair-bound Lovable Jock, a slacker, and a Gloomy Goth) who signed up for Egon's class at community college and were pressed into service when a supernatural crisis occurred. Despite the initial friction due to their different backgrounds, they soon became an effective team of 'busters.
  • Played with in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with Gallus, Ocellus, Sandbar, Silverstream, Smolder, and Yona. They met at the School of Friendship, but then it was closed indefinitely by the EEA. It was them hanging out outside of school and becoming friends on their own that convinced Twilight Sparkle to say Screw the Rules, I Make Them! and reopen the school. In other words Us Forced the School Together.
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