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Social Circle Filler

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An Ordinary High-School Student is shown associating with a small, presumably tight knit circle of like-minded friends. But of course, the Call to Adventure arrives in all its glory, and our intrepid hero is plucked from normalcy and told that he's The Chosen One. Cool.

A couple training montages and plot twists later, the hero finds himself fighting against all odds and wanting for allies. Now would be a great time to call upon those friends that trust and like him enough to believe that the Statue of Liberty is actually a giant evil robot. Too bad those friends have ceased to exist within the plot. They are Social Circle Filler.

These characters are used to avoid presenting the protagonist as a friendless loner before falling victim to Conservation of Detail. Despite the appearance of close friendship with the protagonist, they promptly lose relevance after the hero is drawn into the Masquerade and introduced to new friends that aren't Locked Out of the Loop.

Contrast Friendless Background. Compare Forgotten Fallen Friend, where the death of a friend is used to set off the plot before being forgotten, and 24-Hour Party People, where hitherto-unseen "friends" appear to make a party seem more lively. Don't confuse with Those Two Guys, as they have a higher chance of coming back despite occasionally filling the same niche. See also The Friends Who Never Hang, where specific characters in a friend group rarely interact.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Blood+: Kaori Kinjo is a Nice Girl introduced as Saya's closest friend at the start of the series. After episode two, when the main plot kicks in she vanishes from the series without comment. This at least is somewhat justified by the series leaving Okinawa behind after the first arc and Kaori does return in episode 14 when Saya briefly returns to Okinawa and later in the final episode when Kai returns to Okinawa for good.
  • Averted in Blue Flag. Though childhood friends Taichi and Touma reconnect in their final year of high school while also befriending Futaba, the three still frequently hang out with their other circles of friends. And in the final chapter, Taichi is unable to come to Futaba's wedding because one of his friends from high school was getting married on the same day.
  • In Code Geass Rivalz Cardemonde is supposedly Lelouch's best friend at the start of the series. Once the plot kicks off, he has zero relevance to the main plot and the narrative puts more emphasis on Suzaku as Lelouch's best friend. He at least gets more focus than most cases of this trope, showing up in the Ashford Academy subplots, at least before R2 leaves the school behind. Lampshaded in one of the final episodes, where he bemoans how he's been left behind by everybody.
  • In the early chapters of Death Note, Light Yagami hangs out with two friends, one named Yamamoto, who all but vanish afterwards. Tellingly, the anime doesn't even include them.
  • Downplayed in Fruits Basket with Uotani and Hanajima, who are introduced as Tohru's two closest friends who she spends the most time with at school before she becomes friends with Yuki and Kyo Sohma. While Tohru ends up spending more time with the Sohma family after discovering the secret of their Hereditary Curse (to the point that Hanajima even feels jealous of the Sohmas for taking Tohru away from her), they never completely fade in importance and they even get full backstories later on.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: Josuke is introduced with a trio of female classmates who are crushing on him. They are never seen or mentionned again, and Josuke is never portrayed a Chick Magnet again, since he's only shown hanging out with fellow Stand users Okuyasu and Koichi. This example is notable since Diamond is Unbreakable contains more slice of life moments compared to other Parts.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Itadori's friends in the Occult Club, Sasaki and Iguchi, are only relevant in the first episode. After Itadori comes in contact with Sukuna's finger and Gojo takes him under his wing, he moves to Tokyo and doesn't see them anymore (though they do appear briefly in the Culling Game arc).
  • A Place Further than the Universe zig-zags this trope with Megumi, Mari's best friend, who quickly fades into the background as Mari prepares for the trip to Antarctica with the other main girls. Desperate not to lose her friend, Megumi tries spreading malicious rumors in an attempt to keep Mari home. This fails, so she decides to formally end their friendship, only for Mari to rebuff that as well before leaving on the trip. Upon returning to Japan at the end of the series, one of the first things Mari does is to check up on Megumi, only to learn that Megumi has now left her behind to go on her own journey to the Arctic.
  • Psyren In the beginning, Ageha is seen with two friends in class, which he seems to be on good terms with. Once he gets roped in with Amamiya into the world of Psyren, we pretty much never see them again. Instead, Amamiya and Hiryu become his closest friends.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructs this kind of character with Utena's friend Wakaba Shinohara. At a glance, Wakaba is a classic example since she isn't involved in the Student Council and is only peripherally involved in the main story, and in the first arc she mainly serves to provide exposition about who the major characters are. But she receives Character Development and a pair of focus episodes in the Black Rose arc, and works to keep Utena grounded between duels. Moreover, Wakaba herself seems aware of this trope to the point that she fears becoming irrelevant, and strongly resents that she isn't "special" like Utena or the Student Council members (despite Utena clearly valuing their friendship, to the point where she refuses to duel Wakaba when the latter is brainwashed into becoming a Black Rose Duelist).
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Naru/Molly is Usagi's best friend until she meets Ami and Rei, spends much of the first season as the Designated Victim of monster attacks, and then as even more Senshi get introduced, proceeds to diminish in relevancy to the point of showing up in all of one episode in the third and fourth seasons each. At least she gets a few lines that lampshade the whole thing, as well as a small character arc throughout the show; her manga incarnation doesn't even get the dignity of either.
    • Even better examples are Yumiko and Kuri, two token female classmates who talk with Usagi for a few episodes until the actual main supporting cast is introduced — at least Naru showed up again. Not to mention the poor girl who never got a name and, due to being chubby, is only known as "Usagi's fat friend" by fans.
    • In the anime, it is difficult to take the Senshi's comments on how lonely they are without Usagi around when there are so many filler episodes dedicated to a senshi making friends with someone. But those friends never show up again...
  • Exaggerated in SSSS.GRIDMAN. Aside from Hass and Namiko, Rikka was friends with Toiko and Tonkawa among other members of the girls volleyball team. Akane's first Kaiju rampage pretty much kills everyone in her circle but the first two girls off, meaning everyone aside the Gridman Alliance essentially treats them like this in-universe and forgets about them the next day. Rikka herself Subverts this, as she continually keeps in touch with everyone who's still alive while keeping her forgotten friends' deaths in her memory.
  • Tokyo Mew Mew: Ichigo's friends Moe and Miwa appear in the first episode, and then once or twice afterwards, before vanishing completely.

    Comic Books 
  • Nova: Since Nova was initially modeled on Spider-Man, he had a supporting cast with friends such as "Caps" Cooper and Ginger Jaye, who appeared fairly frequently when he had his own title. Once he moved to the New Warriors, and later outer space, they disappeared, and Nova's close friends nowadays are generally shown to be fellow members of the New Warriors, or other cosmic heroes.
  • Robin: While some of Tim's school friends manage to avoid this (mostly just Ives and Zo, the rest disappear over time to never be seen or spoken of again) Kevin Hudman was hit so hard that later writers forgot about him so thoroughly that he was unknowingly merged with Hudson.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Later writers seemed to forget that Wonder Girl Cassie had friends outside of the superhero community, most notably her best friend, Secret-Keeper and fellow androgynous tomboy George Redmond. First her last name was forgotten and then she never appeared or was spoken about again in any book despite Cassie appearing all over the DCU. Like Kevin mentioned above she was a Black and Nerdy teen friend of a teen hero from the '90s who disappeared without a trace, though in her case it likely happened because Cassie's personality was given a swift and shallow makeover in Teen Titans.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 10 Things I Hate About You: Patrick is seen at the start of the film to hang around with a bald biker guy, who he smokes with and is his lab partner. As Patrick gets further involved with Kat, the character disappears altogether. When Patrick needs anyone to talk to later on, he goes to Cameron.
  • Dom's crew in the first film in The Fast and the Furious series included Leon. He had no notable character traits and served no purpose beyond making Dom's gang look a little bigger. Notably, he is one of the few of the hero's associates not to return or get any real mention after his introductory film in this long running film series. (And this is a series where even Hector, a minor character and friend of the first film's team, but not an actual member himself, was brought back for a cameo in a later film.)
  • Early in I Love You, Man we see Peter has several female co-workers who he seems to get on perfectly fine with; strangely, they are never mentioned again even though the plot revolves around Peter's lack of a close (male) friend to act as best man. The possibility of one of his female friends from work acting as his best man is never raised, even as an option to be rejected.
  • Spider-Man: Mary Jane Watson is flanked by a Girl Posse for the first half of film one. However, they quickly disappear and do not reappear for the rest of that film after she graduates high school and despite seemingly being quite close, do not appear at her wedding for the second movie.
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: John Connor spends his introductory scene with a friend/partner-in-crime named Tim, who gives John someone to talk to before meeting the T-800 and reuniting with his mother, then never appears again.
  • Sam Witwicky has a best friend names Miles for the scene where he tries to go to a party, early in the first Transformers movie. The only other time we see him is when he blows Sam off when he calls to tell him his car is alive. Miles is then never seen or mentioned ever again.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: Miles Morales is shown heavily wrestling with loneliness due to the absence of all the various Spider people he connected with. However, at the start of the previous film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles was shown to be incredibly popular and socially outgoing in his home neighborhood, with his loneliness in that movie coming from moving to a different environment. While one can infer that Miles, after gaining his spider powers, simply feels that he can't be himself around them, he has also been shown to willingly befriend his roommate, Ganke. Nevertheless in the sequel, Miles is shown to have a near-empty social circle, which raises the question of what happened to his relationship with the other teenagers in his home neighborhood whom he was shown to be extremely friendly with at the start of the first film. Even when Jefferson and Rio inquire about Miles' social circle, the latter has trouble naming even one friend that he can connect with in his neighborhood. This is in stark contrast to the socially outgoing and charismatic person that Miles was shown being during his character introduction. While the neighborhood kids may not have been anything more than casual acquaintances, Miles isn't even shown participating in any sort of activity with them, which seems unlikely based on his interactions with them in the first movie. One would be forgiven for questioning just why the seemingly extroverted and outgoing young man from the first film would have nobody to at least play video games with. As such, it's easy to view it as a subtle retcon of how Miles was portrayed in the first movie.

  • In Animorphs, Jake is supposed to be a Big Man on Campus type of guy, so occasionally another character will mention that he's interacting with unnamed "other friends." Rachel is also pretty popular, but this manifests as a string of one-off guys who ask her out and get rejected.
  • Justified in Brandon Mulls novel The Beyonders : A World Without Heroes, which starts off with a lot of interaction between main character Jason and his friends, the girl he likes, etc. They all become pretty irrelevant once he falls through into another world and discovers he has no way back, or even to send a message. His friends and family's reaction to his disappearance is unknown, although Jason does think about it. Since Jason ends up back on Earth at the end, we'll have to see if the trope ends up being averted in the sequel.
  • Kayla is this in the The House of Night series. She appears briefly in the beginning of Marked and briefly again near the end. After that she's pretty much forgotten in favour of the Five-Man Band.
  • Early in Twilight, Bella Swan quickly makes a bunch of friends at her new school, including Jessica, Angela, Mike, Ben, Eric...and Lauren, who instantly hates her. They provide exposition to both Bella and the reader on who the Cullen family are and then swiftly become irrelevant to the story outside of a few moments, which mostly serve as stepping stones for Bella to further develop relationships with Edward Cullen or Jacob Black. Bella herself increasingly tends to hang out with the Cullens or Jacob more than her school friends and seems to find half of them irritating (especially given the implication a lot of her male friends want to date her, even when they're dating other girls in the same friend group). It's partly justified by the fact Bella can't talk to them about vampires or werewolves, to avoid breaking The Masquerade.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Before Frodo Baggins' journey, he has friends in the Shire aside from Merry and Pippin—friends who who tend to get cut in adaptations. Fredegar "Fatty" Bolger isn't quite filler, as the main hobbits reunite with him in The Return of the King. (Fatty had led the first resistance against Sharky and his ruffians, until he was captured. He's rescued from the dungeons during the Scouring of the Shire.) But Folco Boffin absolutely is filler. He shows up to some of Frodo's birthday celebrations, then helps Frodo pack his belongings to move out of Bag End... then is never mentioned again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Cordelia's fellow cheerleaders or Oz's band.
    • Actually averted in the first case. One of Cordelia's background "Cordettes", Harmony, appeared as part of the ensemble across three seasons, and became a recurring character in her own right and was given her own stories. The rest, however, play it painfully straight, as they were almost always different unnamed extras.
    • Retroactively, this also applies to Buffy's very forgettable Girl Posse (Cassandra, Jennifer, Kimberley and Nicole note ) and her ex-boyfriend Jeffrey from Hemery High in The Movie and its canon comic adaptation The Origin who are only referenced in a brief flashback in "Becoming, Part 1". Heck, her love interrest Pike all but vanishes with Angel being retconned as her first love. This is partly justified because Buffy moved out to Sunnydale and it's also implied that her Slayer duties took a toll on her social life. Funnily though, Billy Fordham, Buffy's only high school friend who shows up in "Lie To Me", was not in the prequel.
  • In Flash Gordon, Flash's Token Black Friend Nick appears in only 4 out of 21 episodes, one of them being the pilot.
  • Game of Thrones: Sansa Stark's best friend Jeyne Poole (never actually named onscreen) only appears brifely in the pilot at the feast and in the sewing lesson. While it's logical that Sansa stopped hanging with her after her family moved to King's Landing, Jeyne all but ceases to exist barring a brief mention in "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things".
  • Glee : In the penultimate episode, "2009", we meet Bex and Lysander, whom we've never seen before, despite it being a Call-Back / Origins Episode to the Pilot.
  • How I Met Your Mother: Robin in the very first episode is shown to laughing and joking with a few girls who are presumably her friends or co-workers. Once Ted is in her life and she joins the main cast, no mention of who they were is ever given.
    • An episode towards the end of the series even has a B-plot about her inability to get along with other women, except for Lily.
  • IZombie : Liv starts the series with a mother and a younger brother, but one might get the impression that she's a siblingless orphan.
  • Scrubs: Dr Cox is implied to actually have a circle of friends outside of the Hospital in season one. Shown in one episode, they are not used again and later episodes establish him as friendless and lonely.
  • Shadowhunters has Maureen, a mundane close friend of Clary and Simon, who pins on the latter but unceremoniously vanishes halfway season 1. Aftewards, Clary and Simon exclusively hang out with their supernatural friends.
  • Sherlock: Mike Stamford is introduced at the start of the first episode as an old friend of John and one of the only people who can stand Sherlock for any length of time. He kicks off the plot by setting Sherlock and John up as flatmates, and is never seen again onscreen. However, he does receive occasional slight references in later episodes and is a frequent commentator on John's Character Blog.
  • Teen Wolf: Rebecca "Harley" Harlowe shows up in the pilot as a friend of Scott and Stiles (who otherwise only have each others as friends). She briefly returns in briefs cameos in episode 3 and the season 2 premiere before vanishing entirely.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Yume Miru Kusuri, Takeshi and Misaki are the main character Kohei's better friends. But once one of the three routes have been picked, they are completely forgotten.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY:
    • On Ruby's first day at Beacon Academy, her sister Yang encourages her to make friends of her own (so she doesn't have to hang out with Yang all the time) before running off with a nondescript group of friends. Said friends are never seen or mentioned again, though the comics did attempt an Author's Saving Throw to explain why the titular team immediately became Yang's main social circle instead.
    • For her part, later in that same episode, Ruby writes a letter to her friends at her old school, who are also never brought up again.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: In the episode "Earth Mover," Dana is shown to be close friends with a girl named Jackie, close enough that both she and Terry spent the evening studying at her house and and hung out repeatedly over the course of the episode. Then Jackie promptly disappeared, not even getting any background appearances in episodes like "Revenant," "Eggbaby," or "Terry's Friend Dates a Robot" despite those episodes showing many school characters.
  • Kim Possible: Kim and Bonnie's many fellow cheerleaders get along with both girls but rarely do anything more notable than practice cheering with them (as a reminder of the Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World premise of the show) or occasionally show up at other school functions or local restaurants.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Early on, Apple Bloom was shown to be friends with a filly named Twist. Once the Cutie Mark Crusaders were formed, Twist was Demoted to Extra, and Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle seem to be Apple Bloom's only friends. Enforced by real-life events: the character's voice actress, Alexandra Carter, left Vancouver for Philadelphia during production and became unavailable to record any further dialogue.
    • Deconstructed with the episode "Amending Fences", as Twilight Sparkle is reminded of her old friends from the pilot episode and their birthday party for Moondancer which she had skipped in order to study more about the Mare in the Moon. Most of the Social Circle Filler accept her back without much trouble, but the birthday pony has become a bitter recluse; the event was put together as her big chance to overcome her own social difficulties and open up around others, and Twilight's absence deeply hurt her feelings. The episode centers on Twilight's efforts to apologize and make up for her past actions.
  • The Simpsons: Originally, Bart was friends with Milhouse, Lewis, and Richard. Around Season 2, Lewis and Richard began to drift away as Milhouse was cemented as Bart's best (and often only) friend. Nowadays, Lewis and Richard are Living Props.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Marco's friends Alonzo and Ferguson were written because the executives wanted Marco to have friends besides Star. They were seen in the pilot as well as earlier episodes in the series, but by the second season they're only mentioned once (in a joke pointing out their absence), and Janna, Jackie, and Marco's martial arts instructor basically take over their role as "Marco's other friend(s)" (until Janna, and for a while, Jackie, take on even more relevance). They (and most of the show's Earth characters) are given a proper sendoff when Marco leaves for Mewni early in Season 3.

    Real Life 
  • This is a common issue with the biographies of historical figures and famous people. The world at large is mostly interested in the impressive things they have done, or the roles they have played in notable events, so superfluous details like friends or family are often downplayed or left out of the narratives entirely. This, in turn, can give a skewed picture of what the person was actually like and who/what they were interested in.