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Split at Birth

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A Speculative Fiction variant of Separated at Birth: Our hero meets a character who appears at first to be his long-lost twin - until it is revealed that they are, in fact, the same person split in infancy by Applied Phlebotinum.

Often the "twins" are characterized as inverses (either Polar Opposite Twins or Evil Twin) since the original's personality traits were divided unevenly between them (e.g. one "twin" got all the confidence, leaving the other timid and introverted). Note, however, that the "twin" is not necessarily evil or even antagonistic; he may simply be an alternate version of the character.

See also: Shadow Archetype and Literal Split Personality.

See Separated at Birth if the character is a real twin.


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    Anime and Manga  
  • In Shaman King, the Messianic Archetype Yoh Asakura and Big Bad Hao (Zeke in the dub) are both reincarnations of the original Hao Asakura.
  • The title character of Gokudo-kun Mannyuki finds out that an evil sorcerer king killed his infant son, who was then resurrected as the mostly good half with the power of light (The Prince) and a mostly bad half that eventually got the power of fire (him).
  • Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- / ×××HOLiC. The character of "Watanuki", presumed real name Tsubasa is an, er, time travel duplicate/clone/alternate universe version/Ret-Gone replacement for "Syaoran", confirmed real name Tsubasa. They split at about age ten, possibly, when the original made a wish to turn back time a few years. This fucked the time-space continuum up so much that another him, who looked completely different, appeared in his place back home, and nobody there remembered that he had existed. The terminology involved is somewhat difficult to discern.
  • In This Ugly Yet Beautiful World, the characters Hikari and Akari are 'born' from the same stream of light after it flew about a mile into the air, then split in opposite directions.
  • There's a crazy, yet strangely logical theory bouncing around the Yu-Gi-Oh! fandom that Atem and Yugi are something like this taken to extremes. They weren't just split at birth, they were separated on a physical and spiritual level several thousand years ago. The theory evokes Egyptian theology about the soul after death being split into several parts, the two major being the Ka and Ba (the body and the spirit). Apparently, when Yami (Ba?) was sealed within the puzzle, his Ka was not, instead it remained outside, weak and formless, until eventually, after several thousand reincarnations, it had the strength to survive as an individual being: namely, Yugi. With this in mind, their separation at the end of the series is all the more final - Ka and Ba have separated yet again, thus making it even more of a Downer Ending than it already was. Just a theory? Yes, but very much implied by canon.

    Comic Books  
  • In the reboot (but not third boot) Legion of Super-Heroes comics, Phantom Girl's father was from a planet where the people have the ability to split into three and rejoin. Phantom Girl split once and her other two selves were taken away, one to become the 20th Century hero Phase. Before the reboot, this character was Phantom Girl sent through time (and briefly was her previously unknown cousin instead); LSH at this point was a classic example of Continuity Snarl, thanks to the decision to excise Superboy from history but only Hand Wave the Legion's resulting history after Crisis on Infinite Earths, followed by the decision to reboot the Legion and basically nothing else after Zero Hour.
  • The Marvel Comics supervillain Stryfe was a clone of the infant Cable, kidnapped and raised by the evil Apocalypse.
  • One Superman story (featured in Superman #137) focused on a twin of this kind. Enroute to Earth, Kal-El's rocket had been hit by a duplicator ray from an alien ship. Upon landing on the planet, the force manifestation of Kal-El was raised as "Super-Brat", met Superboy as "Super-Bully", and eventually grew into "Super-Menace". Due to the nature of his origin, Super-Menace does not have the Kryptonite Factor, and uses the lack of such as an advantage to nearly kill Superman. Of course, once he learns his true nature (coupled with the fact that the criminals who raised him never loved him at all), he converts himself into pure energy, ending his existence.

    Fan Works  
  • Pokémon Master: In this Pokémon Dark Fic Misty has a long lost blonde-haired twin called Valdera, who turned out to be this: they were a single person was split in two.
  • Eunomie and Europie from This Platinum Crown DEFINITELY qualify as this. It's said that their mother saw a witch doctor to split her single child in the womb, though the character who believes this was not alive at the time.
  • In Hybrid Theory, herbalists Pink and Link turn out to be grown-up versions of a child cursed into two people by Jyusenkyou spring water.

  • At the end of The Dark Crystal, it is revealed in the end that the sage-like urRu's and the villainous Skeksis were in-fact one and the same, beings that separated from a group of celestial aliens named the urSkeks.
  • Because of the revelation of Pinhead's humanity at the end of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Pinhead becomes split into two different entities: his humanity manifesting as the ghostly form of his former human self Elliot Spencer, while his corrupted half became the more overtly evil agent of chaos Pinhead Unbound. They remain separated until the very end of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth where they merge back together in order to save Joey.
  • Ring 0: Birthday reveals that Sadako Yamamura had a "twin", who was less of a twin and more of a duplicate created thanks to her psychic powers. Each Sadako was based off of her parent; the Sadako we've been following throughout the film resembled her mortal mother and was relatively harmless, while the hidden Sadako resembled her divine father and was much more malevolent. When the mortal Sadako was beaten to death by the troupe, the divine Sadako merged with her, creating the terrifying Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl we all know and fear.
  • In Southland Tales, Roland and Ronald, both played by Seann William Scott, are told they are brothers, but are in fact different instances of each other existing concurrently because of a time travel accident.

  • Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys did this, though the given characters weren't split at birth, but more somewhere around age 7-8. Nevertheless, the story's adult protagonist couldn't remember the occurrence and had a difficult time believing that his father was a god until his magical twin showed up. (Though it turns out Spider isn't the magical twin — Charlie just Forgot About His Powers. Discovering Spider used to be part of him actually inspired him to remember again.) The procedure is compared to cutting a starfish in half—because each twin has grown into a complete person, they can't be fused again.
  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, it turns out that Lobsang Ludd and Jeremy Clockson are the son (singular) of the Anthropomorphic Personification of Time and Wen the Eternally Surprised, founder of the History Monks. He/they, though a single child, was born twice due to the oddities of Time going through labor. Subsequently, the "twins" were sent to live separate lives, unaware of each other. They are rejoined in the end, and although the combined form has both sets of memories he identifies as Lobsang due to that being the life he actually enjoyed.
    • Miss Level in A Hat Full of Sky has two bodies and one mind that goes with them. Neither half was separated from the other, and traits are most shared between the two bodies. It is considered to be a mark of her magical power, especially since she continues to use her other body after it gets blown up, basically gaining telekinesis.
      "They thought I was twins. Then they thought I was evil."
  • In the novel The Lion Tamer's Daughter by Peter Dickinson, the hero, having just moved to a new town, meets a girl who is the exact mirror-image of the best friend he just left behind. Given what page this example is on, I think you can guess the rest.
  • Robert Sheckley's The Alchemical Marriage of Alistair Crompton.
  • In the Doppelgänger series by Marie Brennan, a witch child is split in two when the channel for magical power is created in her as an infant. One half gets the channel for power, while the other gets lightning-fast reflexes and large doses of badass. This practice is the source of much personal and political strife throughout the story.
  • In the YA book Angela and Diabola, a couple who were supposed to have one baby end up with twins: one daughter who contains all the good of a human being, and one who contains all the evil of a human being. As children, among other things, they eventually develop superpowers; part of it seems to come from being two halves of the same person, like the Twin Telepathy, and another part of it seems to come from the sheer purity of their good and evil natures, like the ability to heal people or make them drop dead respectively. They're also respectively so charming and so intimidating that they have incredible powers of persuasion. At the end of the book, Angela kills Diabola, mostly by accident, and in doing so reunites the two halves. She's usually good but sometimes does bad things, like most people; she develops a mismatched eye that matches Diabola's; and she doesn't have either half-person's powers.

    Live Action Television 
  • A possible explanation for Eddie and Harry in Jekyll, given some of the behavior they exhibit near the end.
  • Cmdr. Will Riker and Lt. Tom Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation, though this didn't happen at birth, but instead due to a malfunction of the transporter that got one Riker on board and left the other on the surface. Lt. Tom was later found to have gone slightly mad from his long isolation.
  • Also Capt. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series episode "the Enemy Within"—again, via a transporter accident. One got his intellect, his compassion, and most of his 'good' qualities, the other got his anger, lust, greed, and cruelty. However, the 'nice' Kirk was also a total wimp.

    Mythology and Religion  
  • In the Abrahamic story of Genesis, it is said that God removed one of Adam's ribs and then used it to create Eve.
  • In Greco-Roman Mythology, it is said that when Cronus/Saturn castrated his father Uranus/Caelus before imprisoning him, the dismembered...uh... parts then became the, er, sea-foam out of which Aphrodite/Venus emerged.

    Video Games  
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep is similar to Anansi Boys in that the characters Ventus, one of the three main characters, and Vanitas, his Enemy Without weren't separated at birth, but when the former was about eleven.
  • In SaGa Frontier, Blue and his his 'twin brother' Rouge are actually one person who was separated into two shortly after birth. This was done so they could master (almost) every form of magic.
  • Ryu and Fou-Lu in Breath of Fire IV. Fou-Lu is aware of the split from the start, and Ryu becomes aware of it about halfway through the game.
    • It gets worse. The split was from the Vestigial Empire predecessor of the Fou Empire using essentially a knock-off summoning formula. Half the god made it (Fou-lu). The other half ended up across the world and displaced six hundred years in the future (Ryu). And this was by far the most successful of the attempts of the Fou Empire and its predecessors to call a god to the world.
  • The third video game based on the anime/manga Get Backers has the Mikado Twins, Daisuke and Kyousuke, who are revealed to be the same person: one is the physical body who is mostly mindless and only does what he is ordered to do, and the other is the soul. This was done to keep the original from becoming too powerful and dangerous.
  • Morrigan and Lilith of Darkstalkers fame are a similar case. Morrigan's father split off a portion of her power, which became Lilith, because he was afraid that she'd otherwise be so uncontrollably powerful that she'd suffer a Super-Power Meltdown.
  • Nei and Neifirst from Phantasy Star II are a variation wherein one splits off from the other voluntarily because she couldn't stand the pain and anger in the mind of the shared body. This means she may actually be Neifirst's good side, and that may mean 'First has gotten even nastier since her creation...
  • This is a major plot point in the first and third installments of Silent Hill. Alessa Gillespie was split apart when she was immolated as part of the ritual to summon God. One half remained in Silent Hill, while the other half was reincarnated into a baby girl adopted by Harry Mason as Cheryl. At the end of the first game, Cheryl and Alessa merge to become a new baby, whom Harry adopts as Heather Mason, the protagonist of the third game.
  • According to the backstory, Colonel & Iris from Mega Man X4 series were originally a prototype of an ultimate AI based off of X, but its logical side & emotional side couldn't function properly together, so it was split up & placed in separate bodies. In Zero's story, after Zero kills Colonel, Iris in grief and anger merges with her brother's core and combat data and attacks him to avenge her brother, but the stress of both the fight and absorbing said data is too much for her systems to handle, leading her to die in Zero's arms while he holds her in grief.
  • MapleStory has the Zero class, who plays as a Tag Team warrior duo. They were originally one child born from the tears of a goddess, but knowing this child would inherit her powers, the villains split them into two people to make it easier to limit them: The girl was sealed away indefinitely in a temple, while the boy was raised as a soldier and had his memories erased any time he got too close to the truth. The two of them meet and escape together, naming themselves Beta and Alpha respectively and beginning an adventure to unlock their full power and free themselves from the pocket dimension they're trapped in.

  • A Modest Destiny has this happen to the protagonist Maxim, who meets a man who looks just like him except with different colored hair. It turns out that Maxim himself was formed from a magical artifact that duplicated the young prince but was unable to duplicate his soul, and thus stole it. Without a soul, the prince grew up to be the Big Bad.
    • He stole something worse: The Chosen One destiny. Without that destiny, Gilbert devolved into a psychopath blaming everyone and planning revenge. And the Big Bad says that the artifact has done this multiple times.

    Western Animation  
  • ReBoot's Hexadecimal and Megabyte are two halves of the same virus, which spilt upon entering Mainframe. One has the power, the other the drive to use the power. One is fragile, the other can endure anything. One is a melodramatic prima donna Mood-Swinger with the attention span of a goldfish, the other a tactical mastermind who never loses his cool.


Video Example(s):


Megabyte and Hexadecimal

In the portal accident that destroyed Mainframe's sister-city, Gigabyte was split into Megabyte and Hexadecimal.

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