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Separated at Birth

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A plot in which two siblings (usually identical twins) who were separated at birth now meet up as youngsters or adults. Usually the twins are mistaken for one another by family/friends and Hilarity Ensues. Often the two characters were previously unhappy with their lots in life, but after having walked a mile in somebody else's shoes, they gain a new appreciation for what they have. Notice that Separated at Birth doesn't have to apply literally — their parents might have divorced, and each parent took one kid and neither kid was told of the other's existence, but before that they were one family for some time. But Separated At Birth, especially if combined with Death by Childbirth, can make for so much drama.

A plot which sometimes rises from this is Twincest. This is also a good way to drop an Evil Twin on your doorstep, though that variant is a Dead Horse Trope by now. It is a common cause of Rich Sibling, Poor Sibling.

A Speculative Fiction variant is Split at Birth. Sub-trope of Long-Lost Relative. Compare Switched at Birth, where one baby is swapped for another. Also compare One Twin Must Die, in which the separation is forever. For twins literally separated at birth, see Conjoined Twins. Not to be confused with Separated-at-Birth Casting, where multiple unrelated actors prevent the need of Acting for Two. Encountering this trope is like meeting your Identical Stranger; except that if it were that trope, you would get the extreme similarity in appearance without the justification that it's because the identical stranger is a long-lost identical twin.


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  • State Farm insurance has a series of ads depicting insurance agent Cliff Paul, the long-lost twin of NBA star Chris Paul. Naturally, Cliff is just a character played by Chris. In one ad, the two meet as adults, and to Chris' surprise, Cliff's life is every bit as exciting as his own.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Mei Misaki and Misaki Fujioka from the anime Another. Mei was adopted by their aunt Yukiyo after she had a miscarriage that left her very emotionally unstable, but when they learn the family secret, they spend all their time together despite Yukiyo's objections, until Misaki's death of illness.
  • Momiji and Kaede of Blue Seed are an unusual example of this trope in that they are fraternal twins. No one would mistake one for the other but the fact that they are twins (and Kaede is the eldest, if only by minutes) has serious supernatural consequences over the course of the story since it dilutes their hereditary magical powers.
  • In the Code Geass spinoff manga Nightmare of Nunnally, Lelouch Lamperouge and Rolo vi Brittiana are examples. Though they could both fit the criteria for Evil Twin, it's Rolo who defiantly wins the part of the Even More Evil Twin.
  • Part of a subplot in Digimon Frontier, where two boys named Kouichi and Kouji discover they are twin brothers, and one of them is lured to the dark side. It takes a lot for his brother to make him pull a Heel–Face Turn. And then, they discover that in the real world, the first twin is dead and only his subconscious remains in the Digital World. A bit of Time Travel (as in, returning to Earth almost at the same time the dead twin has the accident that eventually killed him) was needed to save the kid's life.
  • Goku and Raditz in Dragon Ball Z. It's a non-twin case. It's apparantly common for Saiyans to send babies to planets with weak people to kill off the population. It was later Retconned later, the flashback that introduced their mother shows that Goku was at least a toddler before being sent away in order to avoid his demise along with the rest of the planet. Then, Goku fell on his head and thus invoking this trope.
  • Gundam
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, due to the fact that Kira and Cagalli, despite being twins separated at birth and raised by different parents since the twins's biological father, Ulen Hibiki, was a Mad Scientist who experimented on baby!Kira via having him taken out earlier despite his wife/partner Via's pleas, then 'raised' in an artificial womb until he was properly born. It should also be noted that other materials state that Kira's adoptive mom Caridad Yamato is, in fact, his and Cagalli's maternal aunt (the younger sister of the aforementioned Via Hibiki) who took the babies in right after their parents were murdered. This is a Homage to Star Wars anyway...
    • Subverted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00. After the death of their family when they're teenagers, the twins Neil and Lyle Dylandy consciously decide to stay out of each other's lives since they weren't able to properly deal with their own problems and Neil wasn't very into the idea of having Lyle learn about his involvement with terrorists either. Ironically, more than a decade later Lyle would take up Neil's place as "Lockon Stratos" in Celestial Being and deconstruct the idea of being a Back Up Twin for him.
  • Jewelpet
    • Jewelpet Twinkle☆: Half-Identical Twins Yuuma and Alma are the progeny of a Jewel Landian woman and a man from the human world. They had to be separated for two reasons: one is that Alma inherited her mother's magic and as such couldn't stay in the human world, while Yuuma didn't and the opposite is true for him; the other is that their bodies encase a key that unlocks the source of all evil, so it's better that they are kept separate for the sake of both worlds. What's more tragic is that they do remember each other, and their dead mother, and this informs their personalities for better or for worse.
    • Jewelpet Sunshine: Kanon and Mikage. They were separated because Kanon was born with an odd mark. Her grandmother demanded that she be, uh, disposed of, because she thought it was a sign that Kanon would bring disaster, so her parents gave her away to another family. This all ends in Surprise Incest because Kanon and Mikage date for most of the second half of the show.
  • Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill, are later revealed to be sisters. However it was revealed that after Ryuko was casually discarded by their Mother and was later rescued by their father Soichiro Kiryuin, who then took on the fake identity of Dr. Isshin Matoi to protect himself and Ryuuko and build La Résistance against Ragyo. They are later reunited as enemies years later until The Reveal of Ryuko's parentage was revealed.
  • The trope is played for horrible tragedy in the Saint Seiya filler Asgard Saga: the Asgard Warriors, Mizar Syd and Mizar Bud, were twin brothers who had to be separated since Asgardian traditions look down on twins. The older twin Syd was raised by his noble family while the younger Bud was raised by a lumberjack; after finding out the truth on his own, Bud started to loathe Syd and specially after they were designated as the Mizar Saints, which meant Bud would forever be in Syd's shadow. But in reality, Syd always knew that Bud was his brother and longed to be properly reunited with him... but he died before being able to reconcile with him.
  • In the Saiyuki manga, Hakkai and his twin sister were placed in different orphanages shortly after birth, but met and fell in love. Even after learning their identities as brother and sister, they continued the affair.
  • Another fraternal twins example, this is the case with Fujisaki "Bossun" Yuusuke and Tsubaki Sasuke in SKET Dance. Both of their parents died in the same day of their birth, and the doctor adopted Sasuke as his son (at their mother's last request) while giving Yuusuke to Akane, without telling her about Sasuke. Their relationship is foreshadowed via a lot of Not So Different Remarks.
  • Toriko and Starjun from Toriko. Starjun discovers this when eating ANOTHER awakens his Food Memory of suckling his thumb while sharing the womb with Toriko. He chooses to keep this to himself, so his brother remains in the dark.
  • Hiei and Yukina of YuYu Hakusho are this. Well, it varies, depending on the translation, or if you believe what Hiei has to say in the dubs. The generally accepted belief is that they're twins separated at birth; Hiei was cast off the Koorime Island for being born male in their female-only race, while Yukina was allowed to stay with their mother. While they do meet in the series and are often in each other's company, Hiei is the only one of the two definitely aware of their relationship while it was never made clear if Yukina was aware herself.

    Comic Books 
  • Northstar and Aurora of Alpha Flight were separated as infants when their parents died. They quickly developed a very... intense sibling relationship, despite not having been raised together.
  • Batman villains the Trigger Twins think this is what happened to them. They don't know for sure, but there aren't a lot of other explanations for two complete strangers who look exactly identical to one another. One of them even mentions something he saw on TV about separated twins leading unusually like lives as adults... and the Trigger Twins met when they tried to rob the same bank.
    • Subverted with the Trigger Triplet; a woman who claims to be a third sibling, but who is lying to manipulate them.
  • The Mark Waid run of The Flash introduced Malcolm Thawne, Barry Allen's identical twin who was Switched at Birth. However, while an earlier encounter was retconned in, their biological relationship didn't come out until after Barry was dead.
  • In Young Avengers, with a twist. Wiccan and Speed are from different biological parents, but have the souls of the twin sons of the Scarlet Witch. They therefore treat each other like brothers, especially Speed showing a lot of Big Brother Instinct towards Wiccan.
  • Shazam!: The original Fawcett background had this history for Billy and Mary Batson. DC changed it.
  • Wonder Woman used to have a twin sister named Nubia who was stolen at birth. Post-Crisis in Wonder Woman (1987) they rebooted her to be unrelated to Diana. In the New 52, it seems that DC likes that because in this arc we were introduced to Jason, who was separated from his twin sister Diana for two reasons: for Hippolyta to escape Hera's fury and because men are not allowed in Themiscyra.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm: Revealed to be the origin of Maddie Pryor a.k.a. Rachel Grey, where she's Jean Grey's twin sister, stolen mere hours after birth. As it is, very few people initially knew and she thought that she was an Artificial Human, created to be a Living Weapon and was more or less at peace with the idea (though not without a few doubts) because she'd been indoctrinated from birth. Unsurprisingly, she has a significant breakdown after the truth comes out.
  • Gamzee and Feferi are a variation in Hivefled; they are quite possibly the first case of trolls actually knowing who their siblings are, as their biological parents never raise them. Feferi doesn't know as of yet, but Gamzee does.
  • The protagonists of Hunters of Death are two Shepard twins who went through this. The hospital they were born in was attacked by Kaiju, and Jane was presumed killed. As such, her background in Earthborn while John is a Spacer.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes the Movie: Misery Loves Company: This is the case with Beezy and his long-lost fraternal twin Belphy. Their mother Maggie gave birth to them shortly after she left Lucius, but chose to leave Beezy in his father's care as a Door Stop Baby due to Belphy's Prophet Eyes worrying her.
  • Through various circumstances, Huey, Dewey, and Louie in Scattered to the Winds are split up and taken in by three separate guardians before they even hatch after Donald and Scrooge are accidentally blasted off into space alongside Della: Huey is taken in by Launchpad (who, being The Ditz, forgot that there were two other eggs) and taken to Cape Suzette so that the latter can find work with Don Karnage, and is eventually adopted by Meg. Dewey is taken in by Gyro Gearloose, who desperately works to find the other children. And Louie is taken in by Goldie O'Gilt, who did it in a fit on consciousness after being guilt-tripped by a portrait of Scrooge.
  • Yes, My Lady, a crossover of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Black Butler, includes a subplot involving a pair of twin sisters who were conceived via a one-night-stand and separated at birth, with one raised by the father and his new wife and the other being raised by the mother. The father was later incapacitated; luckily, he'd arranged a living will that returned custody of his daughter to her birth mother should something happen to him (though neither sister was given the full story at the time, and they still don't know as of its end). The sisters are Apple Bloom and Diamond Tiara, and their birth parents are Applejack and Filthy Rich, making this also a case of Related in the Adaptation (for Diamond and the Apple family, and Apple Bloom and the Rich family) and Family Relationship Switcheroo (for Apple Bloom and Applejack, since the latter raised Apple Bloom as her sister).
  • A very popular Fandom-Specific Plot for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is for the turtles to be separated at their mutation and raised by various other characters. One such example for Rise is Severed Brotherhood, which sees Mikey still raised by Splinter, Leo by Hypno-Potamus, Donnie by Baron Draxum, and Raph by Big Mama.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Austin and his twin Dr. Evil are separated in Austin Powers, with one being raised by a negligent spy father and the other raised by a cruel Belgian man and his French whore girlfriend.
  • The film Bad Company (2002) uses this for Chris Rock, as his character is 'recruited' by the CIA to replace his twin brother, who recently died during a crucial assignment; it is explained that their mother died giving birth to them and Rock's character had a serious lung infection as an infant that prompted the hospital to let his brother be adopted separately from him as they assumed he wouldn't survive.
  • The entire plot of Big Business — times TWO (it's a 1980s update of The Comedy of Errors).
  • Brothers Five: The five titular brothers are from a righteous family who lose their parents to an evil warlord. Separated and raised in different parts of the city, they are eventually reunited when a swordswoman seeking to overthrow said warlord seeks all five of the brothers and convince them to work together. They recognize each other as siblings thanks to a single scar that runs through the back of their hands, which they received as babies.
  • Class Of Nuke Em High Part III The Good The Bad And The Subhumanoid: Near the start of the movie, when Victoria is in labour with the twins, everyone is called away, allowing Dr. Slag Ph.D and his cronies to steal one of the babies right out of Victoria's womb. They all come back in time to witness the birth of the second one, and the strain of it all kills her. As a result, no one ever finds out about them being twins.
  • Enemy: Discussed as one possibility for Adam and Anthony's being doubles. Both Adam and Anthony's mother deny it, however (they also possess the same scar, something identical twins would not have, unless synchronization is in play).
  • Late in The Loss Of Sexual Innocence, two orphan twin girls cared for by Italian nuns are separated when one of them is adopted by an English family, so that one grows up Italian and the other English. As adult women (played by the beautiful Saffron Burrows), they meet face to face by chance and stand transfixed for a while, staring at each other in wonder. But then they go their separate ways without even having spoken to each other.
  • My Twentieth Century: Two twin sisters, who grew up separately, Dóra, a pseudo-aristocrat, and Lili, an anarchist bomber, are reunited through Z, a mysterious traveller of the luxurious Orient-Express.
  • The Parent Trap (1961) and The Parent Trap (1998) each revolve around the reunion of twins who were separated very young when their parents split up and ultimately decided to keep one daughter each.
  • Raymond and Charlie from Rain Man.
    • Likewas not twins. Raymond was older and he was institutionalized when Charlie was a baby.
  • Shaolin Prince tells the story of two princes who got separated at birth when an usurper of the throne massacres the palace and kills the Emperor. The titular character ends up being raised in the Shaolin Temple, where he discover his true lineage after a chance encounter with his brother, adopted by another royal family.
  • Start the Revolution Without Me has a similar situation as Big Business: two sets of identical twins (one noble, and one peasant) are born at the same time and placed on the same bed. Since nobody could figure out which set of twins belonged to which set of parents they decided to re-combine the pairs since that guaranteed they'd be "half right".
  • Luke and Leia in Star Wars were separated at birth to hide them from their father.
  • In Tom And Thomas, the boys were left on a hospital doorstep, but before the staff knew they were there, Tom was taken away by a woman and ended up in an orphanage. Thomas was taken in by the staff and was later adopted by a kind father (played by Sean Bean), who, at the end, adopted Tom, as well.
  • The Jackie Chan film, Twin Dragons, where Chan plays the titular twins who got separated the day they are born. The two Chans have different lifestyles, one growing up into a musician while the other a street racer and fighter.
  • This trope was subverted in Twins (1988) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as the twins, who cannot be mistaken for each other.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme loves this trope.
    • In Double Impact, he played two separated twins in Hong Kong, but one of them grew up to be a martial arts master and the other a street thug.
    • In Maximum Risk, one of the twins dies before the start of the movie but not before finding out all about his long-lost brother, and forcing the brother to pose as him to uncover who killed him.
    • In Replicant as well, but here the twin is actually the clone of a serial killer. Still the plot of the movie pretty much sets him up as a separated at birth, good, twin to the originals evil twin (complete with Twin Telepathy).

  • Acorna Series: In Acorna's Children: Second Wave, Khorii's twin Arriin was telekinetically kidnapped from their mother's womb.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy has Cor (Shasta) and Corin.
  • Subverted in The Big Four, in which Hercule Poirot pretends to have a twin brother called "Achille Poirot" and that they haven't seen each other in years, implying that they were separated at birth. This is later revealed a plan in order to fool the organization since he has no twin brother whatsoever and did this in order to pretend that he had died, while Achille Poirot, his twin brother, was alive.
  • In Billy and Howard, one of the title characters is left to live among normals for a decade, to give perspective to his controlling twin when they are reunited. He is able to confront his creator in the second book about this. He is not pleased.
  • Amoret and Belphoebe in The Faerie Queene.
  • In Elise Title's The Face in the Mirror model Joanna Clark was taken from her birth mother by the obstetrician, whose own wife was childless and upset about it. Then she was drafted by the government to impersonate her research scientist twin, who'd mysteriously disappeared...
  • In A Hole in the Fence, Grisón and Prune turn out to be siblings. On the same night that she left baby Grisón in Flammèche's care, Saura visited Marguerite Rousselot and asked her to take care of her baby daughter for some few years.
  • In The Girl from the Miracles District, it eventually turns out that Nikita and Ture are twins, whose parents separated them when they went opposite ways.
  • Gone: Sam and Caine. Take a long look at Caine's name, and you have the nature of their relationship.
  • An example of this occurs with a pair of twins in the In Death series. The two boys met in the army, went through everything together: spec ops, evil paramilitary organizations, serial killing... you know, brother stuff.
  • In the German novel Das doppelte Lottchen (translated as Lottie and Lisa) by Erich Kästner, the twins were separated when they were still very little and they don't remember each other.
  • Lisa Scottoline's Bennie and Alice in Mistaken Identity, Dead Ringer and Think Twice.
  • The title character of the Sabina Kane series was told by her vampire grandmother that her mage father's family wanted nothing to do with her. She discovers partway through the first book that not only is that not true, but that she has a twin sister who is the incumbent leader of the mages' ruling body, the Hekate Council.
  • Samaria: In The Alleluia Files, Tamar and Lucinda.
  • The School for Good and Evil has Agatha and Sophie, separated at birth because the mother only wanted the one who looked just like the father, and abandoned the "ugly" Agatha to the midwife. This came as a bit of a surprise to readers who had previously shipped the two.
  • In Spectrum, the main character believes it's the case when a girl he had only recently seen die a horrible death is discovered alive and well on another planet. However, he's wrong: these are copies of the same girl as a technical failure of the interplanetary transportation got her replicated seven times.
  • Split Heirs: Played for laughs. Not only are robust 14 year old shepherd boy Dunwin and brilliant young wizard Wulfrith impossible to tell apart despite the latter being sold off at age 2, but the royal-reared sister the two triplets were in fact separated from as newborns could pass for either of them with little effort when she wears male attirenote .
  • The Lois Duncan book Stranger with My Face is based entirely on this trope. The main character was adopted at birth, but her parents decided not to take her twin sister because they could sense her evil. The other twin grows up to come and ruin the heroine's life, using, of all things, astral projection. This becomes rather perplexing when the main character and her family are described. They're all blond, pale, and white, while she's half Native American.
  • Twin sisters Cam and Alex from T*Witches were separated at birth and adopted by different families. They met each other when they were 14, and found out they were witches.
  • In Warrior Cats, Fireheart was born as a house cat, so he and his siblings were split up and all given to new owners when they were still kits. After living in the forest Clans for a few moons, he is patrolling the edge of his territory one day and spots his sister. She doesn't recognize him at first, but they quickly become friends again and he continues to visit her for the rest of the series.
  • In A Wolf in the Soul, minor characters the Crowe twins were separated at birth, or so they claim.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction had a segment titled "Positive I.D.," where a reporter is arrested for armed robbery after a surveillance tape showed him robbing a liquor store. When the guilty man is arrested, the reporter finds out that they are twins, and after their mother gave them up after birth, the reporter was adopted and raised in a happy, stable home, while his brother drifted from foster home to foster home, suffering abuse until he aged out of the system.
  • An episode of Bones ("The Gunk in the Garage") saw the team investigate the murder of a man that was eventually determined to actually be an attempt to kill the man's identical twin, with the two separated at birth so that they never knew the other existed; at one point the team psychologist talks with the surviving twin to determine some ideas about how his dead brother might have lived his life.
  • In the Mexican children series Cómplices al rescate plot is this. Silvana and Mariana were separated from birth, but are reunited eleven years later.
  • Criminal Minds: "The Inspired" involves a pair of identical twins being reunited after one is mistaken for the other and was arrested for his crimes, though they were slightly older when their mother put one up for adoption. After Walter — the twin she kept — developed psychological problems, she decided she made a mistake; when Jessie — the twin she gave up — unsealed his adoption and made contact, she masterminded a plan to get Jessie to kill Walter so that she'd get to be the mother of a successful lawyer, not an insane cook. Then Walter turned into a serial killer and Jessie took it as inspiration, and the family dynamic continued breaking down from there.
  • A tragic example is the episode "Happenstance" on CSI, where the victims were identical twins murdered on the same night who were separated at birth and had no knowledge of each other's existence - though examing their effects reveals they would have met a week later when one attended a photography class being taught by the other Both were killed by the same person; the first to die was killed because the killer thought she was her sister and they used the same laundromat; the second died when she arrived home to find the killer searching for her laptop at home and he, panicking, killed her "again".
  • The twinned X5 Super Soldiers in Dark Angel were separated even before birth; cooked up as embryos in the same test tubes, they were implanted in different surrogate mothers and then raised in different units at Project Manticore. Alec never meets his brother Ben, who dies in Season 1 before Alec becomes a recurring character in Season 2. Both are Jensen Ackles. Max meets her sister Sam in the episode "She Aint' Heavy" (as in "she ain't heavy, she's my sister"). Both are Jessica Alba.
  • In the re-imagined Flash Gordon series, Aura and Terek are twins, but Terek was supposed to have been killed for being a Deviant (a mutant). They almost have a Twincest moment, but Flash manages to stop them, revealing the truth. Later, it is revealed that the Deviant DNA came from the father, a Deviant-hater.
  • After Neighbours brought Dee Bliss Back from the Dead (for real this time), it was retconned that Andrea Somers, the Identical Stranger con-artist who impersonated her two years ago, had been her actual sister all along: Heather Schilling had given birth to twins, but one had been illegally adopted out and named Dione.
  • This is Prince Charming's backstory in Once Upon a Time: he was one of twins born to a poor shepherding family, but his brother James was taken by the king and raised as his heir. James turns out to be a Prince Charmless, and when he gets himself killed, the king turns to the Backup Twin, who agrees to protect his family. They don't actually meet until Season 5, when the main cast visit the underworld.
  • This trope served as a plot on the soap opera One Life to Live in the mid-90s. Maggie Carpenter and her long-lost twin brother Ian were separated by their parents, who were each married to someone else; the twins had been the result of their adulterous affair. The father raised the daughter and the mother raised the son. The twins met as adults, but fortunately did not develop an attraction to each other.
  • On Orphan Black, Sarah and Helena were separated to protect them from the people who designed their line of clones. Sarah was given to the government foster system, Helena to the church.
  • Princess Silver: Wu You and Fu Chou are fraternal twin brothers. They discover their relation years later, after they've become enemies.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • Parodied when Sabrina's magic typewriter brings her characters to life. Including one that was based on Mrs. Quick (played by the same actress). When the real Mrs. Quick sees her with Sabrina, she remarks "The psychic was right! I was separated at birth."
    • This is actually the case for all the Spellman witches. Each Spellman witch is born with an identical twin, but they don't get to meet said twin until they qualify for their Witch's License. They must then take a test to determine which is the Evil Twin and therefore can't live in the Mortal Realm.
  • Australian TV classic series/Sonsand Daughters was based on this very idea. Born twins — separated at birth — beginning a story of intrigue, romance and adventure! Twenty years after their secret birth, John and Angela meet. Fiery romantic emotions develop between them which finally unlock the secret of their birth. This starts a chain of events that shakes both the families to their foundations and dramatically changes the lives of everyone involved. It lasted for five and a half years on the Seven Network and inspired six international adaptations.
  • The series 2, where the main character's evil twin, separated at birth and non-existent in official documents, sets out to destroy the main character's life, at first killing his family, making him flee the authorities. A common element in this show was that the bad guy deliberately got caught on tape to frame his brother. Of course, neither of them appear at once in the same scene.


    Sequential Art 
  • One Charles Addams cartoon has two men sitting side by side in the waiting room of a patent office, identical in appearance and dress, and bearing exact duplicates of the same complex-looking device. The caption reads "The Mallifert twins, separated at birth, meet accidentally."

  • The plot of Blood Brothers. The boys meet as children and become friends into adulthood... it doesn't end well.
  • This trope forms the basis for The Comedy of Errors, which was itself cribbed from Plautus's Menaechmi, making it Older Than Feudalism. In the Comedy, two sets of twins are split in twain during a storm at sea. One twin from each set is saved by fishermen from Ephesus along with Emilia, while another is left to return to Syracuse with Aegon. Everyone from Syracuse is aware of this situation, but since the fishermen separated Emilia and the kids with her, the characters from Ephesus have no idea about their respective twins.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest deals with a man who was lost by his governess a few weeks after birth. He eventually meets up with his younger brother while pretending to be a fictional version of said brother, and they both end up getting married. Oh, and the name 'Earnest' comes into play more than once, used by both brothers....

    Video Games 
  • In Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, the fraternal twin sons of a human woman and a Deimos man were separated when they were being pursued by Deimos who were revolted by the mixed marriage and wanted to kill them. The mother was holding one son while the father was holding another. Then the mother and the child she was holding were blasted off a cliff to their apparent doom. Miraculously, they both survived. She never had a chance to reunite with her husband and was left raising one of their sons while he (believing his wife and son were dead) struggled to raise their other son. The boys are of course Kharg and Darc the Dueling Player Characters. They are only reunited after both of their parents have already died, and in a time of terrible human-Deimos relations. It takes nearly the entire game for them to accept each other.
  • In the PopCap Games title AstroPop, Vector and Sprocket turn out to be fraternal twins.
  • Ninja Jago and Fair Cop Black Orchid aren't necessarily twins, but find out they're long siblings orphaned and separated shortly after Jago's birth at the end of the first Killer Instinct game.
  • League of Legends: Vi's background states that she has a sister she was separated from when young. It is very heavily implied to be Jinx. Arcane would later confirm it.
  • In Valis II, Queen Valia reveals on her deathbed that Yuko and Valna were her twin daughters, with Yuko sent to Reality to avoid a Succession Crisis.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The Elementalists: Eli and his twin Atlas were separated when they were still babies. Eli was sent to a reality where (apparently) there is no magic while Atlas remained in his home reality. The reason they were separated is so they weren't murdered by Raife Highmore who only targeted twins who were born the same day.
  • In Ever17 fraternal twins Kid and Sara were anonymously placed in an orphanage by their mother, who was on the run from an Evil Corporation and hoped to keep them safe. Unfortunately the corporation managed to track them down and kidnap them both, ending up separating the two twins to really put the boot in.
  • In Zero Time Dilemma, it's revealed that Phi from the previous game, Virtue's Last Reward, is this with Delta, also known as Zero II. Specifically, they were separated when their parents sent them back in time to 1904, and the German scientists researching the time machine at that point then sent Phi ahead by herself to 2008 as part of their experiments. However, since the time machine only transmits data and makes a copy at the other end, a Phi still remained in 1904, so at least one Phi got to grow up with her brother (and eventually became the adoptive mother of the 2008 Phi).

  • Addictive Science: Celia, manic transformation trigger-happy mad scientist; and Catherine, timid demon. Though they are a little hard to tell apart in dragon form.
  • El Goonish Shive heavily implies that Susan and Diane are identical twins separated at birth, since they're physically identical aside from hair color (and one dyes her hair) and were born 20 minutes apart on the same day. This trope is also used as the cover story for Elliot's Opposite-Sex Clone Ellen when she suddenly appears, claiming that the two are fraternal twins but Ellen was raised by a foster family until they were teenagers.
  • In Girl Genius, Gil and Zeetha are unknowing fraternal twins according to Word of God. A lot of the interactions between the two take on a whole new subtext you never notice before once you learn of this. It was all but explicitly stated to be such after the Foglios released a sketch of what Chump, Zeetha's unseen father, looked like, and he bore an uncanny resemblance to someone we had already seen...
  • Homestuck: John and Jade are the twin ectobiological children of Nanna Egbert and Grandpa Harley, while Dave and Rose are the twin ectobiological children of Dave's Bro and Ms. Lalonde. All eight of these people were born at the same time. God bless Time Travel.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: Although artificial creature Molly and her identical "sister'' Golly were born in different places a few months apart, most aspects of this trope still apply. They had radically different upbringings giving them very different personalities, they only met after they were both fully-grown, Golly was initially mistaken for Molly, and each regards the other as an object lesson in what they might have become under other circumstances (the story title is "There But For the Grace," as in, "There but for the grace of God go I.")
  • Walky and Sal, in It's Walky!, though it's hard to see why they didn't figure it out sooner. In this case, Sal was switched with another child (Beef) to generate the impression she was more important and needed hiding when the more important one was actually Walky. Sal herself, and for a long time the reader, is fooled too. Tragically, their reunion ultimately triggers Beef's Face–Heel Turn.
  • Elan of The Order of the Stick and his Evil Twin, Nale.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in a Show Within a Show for Arthur, where the local Superman and Batman expies Bionic Bunny and Dark Bunny are revealed to be brothers, both abducted separately at birth. One was abducted by a witch and the other by a robot.
  • The cartoon version of Double Dragon (1993) pulled this with Billy and Jimmy Lee, with Billy being raised by the benevolent "Eldest Dragon" to become the Dragon Master, while Jimmy was raised by the evil Shadow Master to become his second-in-command, the Shadow Boss. Eventually Jimmy does a Heel–Face Turn when the Shadow Master betrays him and teams up with his brother for the rest of the series.
  • Prince Adam and Princess Adora, the secret identities of He-Man and She-Ra in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and its Spin-Off She-Ra: Princess of Power, were separated at birth, unintentionally. Hordak, the Big Bad of the She-Ra series, intended to abduct both of the infant twins but had only managed to pick up Adora before he was interrupted by the palace guards, taking the little girl away and raising her as a Tyke Bomb. Sorceress had to give everyone in the kingdom (except the royal family, of course) Laser-Guided Amnesia to cover the incident up, and Adam/He-Man himself had to help Adora/She-Ra recover her identity in the She-Ra pilot.
  • In Mysticons, Arkayna’s twin sister, Zarya, was kidnapped soon after her birth in order to prevent a dangerous prophecy from being fulfilled.
  • In The Princess Twins of Legendale, Princess Eve is separated from her twin sister, Dawn, by Queen Dume, who keeps her as a slave for several years. The twins are later reunited once Dume captures Dawn and throws them into the same prison cell.
  • The Simpsons,
    • This trope was given a passing mention with "Bleeding Gums" Murphy; when asked about his family, he mentions a little brother who became a doctor and "used to laugh at the most inappropriate times". Dr. Hibbert, meanwhile, makes reference to an older brother who's "a jazz musician or some such". The director of the Shelbyville orphanage also mentions he has a long lost brother — he is identical in looks to Dr Hibbert, but Homer is too interested in his own long lost brother Herb to point that out. In neither case are the siblings implied to be twins, however.
    • There was a Treehouse of Horror segment where Bart had an identical twin named Hugo who lived in the attic. They were separated because one of them was evil. Bart was revealed to be the evil one and switched places with Hugo. Bart and Hugo were also Siamese Conjoined Twins (separated by Doctor Hibbert.)
  • This happened to Sonic, Sonia, and Manic in Sonic Underground. Their mother, Queen Aleena, had to give them up to separate foster homes shortly after their birth in order to keep them safe from Robotnik. Fifteen years later, the Hedgehog triplets reunite to look for their long-lost Mother, become the Council of Four, and overthrow Robotnik. Sadly, they never find their Mother.
  • Savage Opress and Darth Maul from Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
  • Mischa and Jessa in Supernatural Academy: Jessa was raised in the Supernatural world, confident and popular. Mischa was raised in the human world, an offbeat outsider. Now they're about to be reunited at the Supernatural Academy, and neither one of them is thrilled about it. Learning you've got a secret sister is hard enough, but then they find out the true reason their parents separated them at birth: they're Dragon Marked, cursed to serve the evil Dragon King.
  • In Wat's Pig, Wat and his brother are separated as babies due to a botched kidnapping attempt. Wat is raised by a pig and becomes a peasant, while his brother grows up a spoiled prince. They don't meet again until Wat goes to rescue his pig from the dungeon after the first battle.

    Real Life 
  • Twins which are separated are often sought out for statistics based studies, as they have the advantage of having identical DNA but being raised in different environments (which makes it easier to study the genetic factors involved in various illnesses that they may have). These studies tend to be limited in scope and produce unreliable data, however, because of the small sample size and the fact that the twins would still have shared the same environment as they developed in the womb.
  • Happened in England in 2008. The twins had been adopted separately, met up, fell in love... Got married, found out because of this, and separated.
  • Happened in Poland. One of twins was accidentally exchanged for another girl in a hospital. It came out no sooner than about twenty years later, after a friend of one twin mistook the second for her. The whole trio has severe identity problems because of this.
  • On Oprah, there were 6 year old twins from China who had been separated in the orphanage and given to different parents.
    • Both twins were unknowingly given the same name (Mia).
    • This seems to be more common in China than in other countries; a recent National Geographic expose on identical twins told the story of two couples who sought to adopt children from China. The couples went together, and discovered that the children they wanted to adopt were twins. For some odd reason, the orphanage would not allow the girls to be adopted into the same family; the couples were told that either the girls were separated by them or they would find two other couples to do it. The couples feared that if the girls were adopted by others, they could be separated for life. So, each couple adopted one of the girls and since they live rather close to each other, the girls visit regularly.
  • Anais Bordier And Samantha Futerman, twins born in South Korea and given to foster families on different continents. They discovered each other through social media in 2013, at the age of 25.
  • The story of Chinese twin sisters, Mia and Alexandra, adopted by two different couples, one from California and another from Norway. It was only by chance that they met one another at the orphanage and a subsequent DNA test would confirm the parents' suspicions. In contrast, Mia became a City Mouse while Alexandra became a Country Mouse.
  • The 2018 film Three Identical Strangers explores the story of Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman — identical triplets separated at birth. Overlaps with angsty surviving triplets, as Eddy committed suicide in 1995.
    • Also overlaps with Rich Sibling,Poor Sibling: the triplets, as well as three sets of twins, were deliberately placed with families of differing socioeconomic classes although matched on some other characteristics (for example, each of the triplets was placed in a family in which he would have an older sister).
  • In one particularly interesting case, two sets of identical twins in Bogota had one twin switched at birth essentially meaning both sets grew up believing they were fraternal twins, only to later find out they were a jumbled set of identical twins.
  • In a non-twin example, Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu's parents gave up their second daughter for adoption at birth because she had a disability. They were so secretive about the process that Dominique, who was six when the child in question was born, was 26 and pregnant with her own first child before she learned that she had a sibling she had never met.