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Tragic Bromance

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"Oh, how the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies dead on the hills.
How I weep for you, Jonathan my brother!
Oh how much I loved you!
For your love for me was deep
Deeper than the love of women."

This trope refers to a specific plot that is Older Than Dirt. In it, two heroes are intensely close friends. Unfortunately, one of them (usually the one who's not the main character) dies during the course of the story. The death has a profound effect on the remaining hero, and changes them forever.

It's important to note that:

  1. The two cannot just be mere friends or acquaintances. They have to be REALLY close; and
  2. The character's death needs to be a huge turning point in the story.

See also Dead Sidekick, where the death of a hero's helper friend (regardless of their genders) motivates the hero, and Dead Partner, for when a character's partner dies in the line of duty.

As a Death Trope, many if not all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Roy Mustang and Maes Hughes were friends ever since the Academy times, survived the cruel Ishbalan war, discussed the mental wounds left by the horrible shit they witnessed there, and decided to do their best to keep Amestris peaceful. Then Hughes was murdered after he learned the villains' plans and Roy was deeply affected by that...
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Simon and Kamina. They consider each other brothers, despite not being blood related, and Kamina's death in battle almost breaks Simon's mind. While he eventually recovers, he never forgets Kamina's huge influence in his life.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes has two of these, both of epic proportions:
    • Reinhard and Kircheis. They were childhood friends, and Kircheis became Reinhard's first follower, his closest (only, in fact) friend, trusted confidant and right hand man (being quite brilliant on his own right), providing good advice and overall having a tempering effect on Reinhard. His murder that takes place in front of Reinhard's eyes (as Kircheis is shielding him from an attack) is such a blow to Reinhard that he never completely gets over it, and Kircheis' loss is felt keenly through the rest of the story. To hammer the point home, Kircheis' first name is "Siegfried", and Reinhard is associated with "Brunhild" (the name of his flagship that he always uses to travel).
    • Reuenthal and Mittermeier. They were unlikely friends who nevertheless became very close, and very loyal and attached to each other; eventually their friendship and military prowess earned them the nickname "The Twin Stars of the Empire". As the years went by and Reuenthal's already dark psyche became even darker and more conflicted, Mittermeier became the only one anchoring him and keeping him in line as much as possible. In the end due to circumstances and Reuenthal's darker thoughts getting the better of him, he betrays Reinhard, and in a cruel twist Mittermeier is ordered to subdue him, breaking his heart. To further twist the knife, Reuenthal was always associated with Tristan (the name of his flagship), and his death has Tristan and Iseult parallels as he's clinging on to life hoping to see Mittermeier one last time. Their Tragic Bromance ends on a bittersweet note: Mittermeier adopts Reuenthal's orphaned infant son, giving him the loving family that his friend never had.)
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Gender Flipped with Homura and Madoka in the original timeline. Madoka dying prompts Homura to contract, wishing to be able to go back and protect her. This has the unintended side-effect of making Madoka increasingly important to causality, making Kyubey try even harder to contract her and setting off the entire plot of the series.
  • Code Geass: They put each other through absolute hell first, but Lelouch and Suzaku's reconciliation at the end implies they've come to an understanding of each other. Lelouch's Thanatos Gambit at the end of the series changes the course of Suzaku's life forever (and, ironically, gives him a reason to keep living)as well as the world.
  • Bungou Stray Dogs has Dazai Osamu and Oda Sakunosuke. Oda is the first and only one who truly understands Dazai, yet he dies shortly after he has his last photo taken with Buraiha as friends. His last words lead to Dazai's betrayal of the mafia and gradual turn into a somewhat better person (that says, still far from "good").
  • 7 Seeds has Aramaki Takahiro and Saejima Fubuki. Both are part of Team Winter and, before being drafted for the project, they were on different baseball teams but knew of each other and really wanted to meet each other. When they finally do, they immediately strike up a friendship and become as close as brothers. Unfortunately, Fubuki dies shortly after they become friends and Aramaki named one of the two puppies that accompany him after Fubuki.
  • Death Note features a bizarre example: Light and L are, on many levels, the only people capable of understanding one another, and spend several months literally attached to each other twenty-four/seven; ultimately, though, Light kills L for the sake of his 'new world'. This is a definite turning point of the story; from that point onward, Light's mental instability reaches a whole new level of horrific. Had they met under different circumstances, their bromance would've been a lot less tragic.
  • In Heat Guy J, Clair's Elite Mook and friend Ian is killed after a fact-finding mission gone wrong, and just hours later Mitchal blows himself up (ostensibly to allow Giovanni and Clair to make a getaway from their enemies, though part of it may have been so he and Ian could be Together in Death). All Clair has left of them are Mitchal's "lucky" dice and Ian's Phi Beta Kappa ring. This (coupled with losing his Vampire status and his home, plus the Daddy Issues he had from the start) sends him into an Angst Coma.
  • In 07-Ghost, Mikage is the only friend that Teito has. Mikage likewise is very attached to Teito and fiercely protective of him. After a few plot events, Ayanami hijacks Mikage's body and irreparably destroys his soul. Frau is forced to kill him to save Teito's life. It's worse, in that Mikage dies smiling in Teito's arms before dissolving into feathers. It's made better/worse, depending on the viewer, when Mikage's soul is reincarnated into the cutest bunny-dragon you ever did see.
  • Attack on Titan has Jean and Marco, who become close friends during their three years in training together. Both dream of joining the Military Police Brigade, but for very different reasons and are opposites in terms of demeanor. However, Marco recognizes and encourages Jean's potential as The Leader, seeing in him someone capable of much more than he's willing to believe. During the gruesome cleanup of Trost in the aftermath of the battle there, Jean discovers what remains of Marco. The meaningless and lonely death of his best friend prompts Jean to abandon his selfish ideals, and enlist in the Survey Corps where he quickly establishes himself as a capable young leader. When the others joke wondering what happened to the Jean they all knew, he states his intention to not disappoint those charred bones he saw.
    • Then there are Eren and Armin, whose relationship was far closer and more intense in the manga than in the anime. Armin, brilliant but physically weak, often doubted his self-worth in his Doomed Hometown and in the physically-demanding soldier training he and Eren both went through. Eren saw his friend for the genius he was, and constantly put himself in harm's way to protect Armin - to the point of jumping into a Titan's mouth to save Armin, sacrificing his life in the process. Of course, he got better, but that moment where he watched helplessly as his best friend died for him changed Armin forever. From then on, he started volunteering to come up with crazy strategies that had a habit of working; he saved the world far more effectively than even Eren did, just by trusting in his own strength like Eren had. But the truly tragic part of this friendship happens much later in the manga, when Armin (briefly) gives up his own life so that Eren can defeat the Colossal Titan. He just saved the world, changing everyone's lives irrevocably...but the look on Eren's face shows just how shocked and heartbroken he is to lose his oldest and closest friend. It becomes even more tragic after the four year Time Skip, with Eren’s more radical and extremist actions conflicting with Armin’s desire for a peaceful resolution, eventually leading to Eren brutally beating Armin after an attempt at conversation. When Eren finally reveals his intent to completely destroy the outside world, Armin comes to accept the fact that killing him may be the only way to stop him. The last interaction the two ever have in the series is them in Colossal Titan forms, fighting for the fate of the outside world.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion: The third installment is a big Trauma Conga Line for Shinji, but what finally breaks him is the death of Kaworu, the only person in the film who was genuinely nice to him.
    • Their relationship counts in the original anime and its manga adaptation as well. The details differ in each continuity, but all three incarnations involve an intense relationship between the two which ends in Kaworu's death, driving Shinji deeper into despair.
  • Waver and his Servant Rider from Fate/Zero, despite only knowing each other for a few weeks, forge an intense friendship which culminates in Waver pledging his Undying Loyalty to Rider shortly before the latter is killed by Gilgamesh (whose own tragic bromance with Enkidu is alluded to afterwards). Waver undergoes tremendous Character Development due to his friendship with Rider and is deeply influenced by his Servant's ideals for the rest of his life. Considering Rider is the Alexander the Great, this isn't surprising.
    • Saber and Lancer comes across like this, despite being opposite genders. The two of them share the same code of ethics in a conflict which doesn't have a place for their knightly chivalry, and while they are enemies for the most part, they connect more strongly to each other than to anyone else. Lancer's death is a pivotal moment in her character arc, and without him there is no one who truly understands and respects her.
  • Gundam really loves this, mostly to show that War Is Hell.
    • Played a lot in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The series mainly revolves around Childhood Friends Kira Yamato and Athrun Zala having to reluctantly fight each other due to ending at two warring factions. Then came the time when Kira kills a close friend and comrade of Athrun in combat, who in turn becomes furious and retaliates by killing one of Kira's True Companions. Said killings resulted with the two former friends having a battle to the death which Athrun won, but said victory is more like a Pyrrhic Victory as he becomes emotionally damaged as a result. However, Kira survives their encounter. Not only that, but Athrun's fiancee also helped him steal one of their faction's top mobile suits. Once he learns this, he was ordered to reclaim or destroy the stolen unit by piloting another one of those top MS. By this time, Athrun has become very aware that War Is Hell and pulls a Heel–Face Turn and reunites and reconciled with his friend and join/create a third faction to stop it.
      • The original planned ending of the series had Kira dying, with Athrun losing an arm and being emotionally damaged.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, the series' second protagonist (it's a Generational Saga) Asemu Asuno eventually have to fight his best friend Zeheart Galette, who is The Mole of the other faction. Obviously, both guys have a hard time dealing with having to fight each other, especially Asemu. Ultimately, Asemu ended up having to kill Zeheart, but not long before having a final heartfelt conversation. Their friendship is much more emphasized in the show's Special Edition.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency: Although they start out as bitter rivals, Joseph Joestar and Caesar Zepelli quickly become fast friends and comrades while studying under Lisa Lisa, which ends tragically when Caesar is killed by Wammu.
  • K has the something like a domino example:
    • The founding trio of HOMRA: Izumo, Mikoto and Tatara - particularly the last two. They became good friends in their teenage years, and after Mikoto became the Red King, the other two became his first Clansmen, and Tatara helped him deal with his nearly uncontrollable powers. Tatara is murdered, and it very obviously effects Mikoto's psychological state. He becomes a Death Seeker whose only goal is fiery, violent revenge on the killer, despite the fact that his own powers are going haywire - which he knows will cause large-scale destruction if that's allowed to happen, and the only way to stop it is for someone to kill him. Debatable as to whether Mikoto and Totsuka's relationship was only a bromance, though, and the series leaves it ambiguous.
    • Mikoto and Reisi have this dynamic as well. Though the two fight constantly, it's clear that they care about each other, and Reisi spends the first season trying to find a way to prevent Mikoto's powers from destroying the city and himself. Mikoto chooses Reisi to be the one to kill him to prevent the aforementioned Super-Power Meltdown, potentially causing Reisi to lose control of his powers in the same way. Reisi spends the second season grieving for Mikoto while dealing with that possibility.
  • My Hero Academia: Vigilantes gives us a flashback to Aizawa's and Present Mic's past friendship with another UA student named Shirakumo. Despite Aizawa's gloomy demeanor and lack of confidence in his "boring" Quirk, Shirakumo was a bright, cheerful influence on him. But in the middle of a fight with a huge, powerful villain, the other heroes are knocked out of commission or so busy protecting civilians that Aizawa is the only one left. Thanks to words of inspiration from Shirakumo, Aizawa finds the confidence to figure out how to defeat the villain... but not really. After the fight is over, he finds out that Shirakumo died protecting others from falling rubble, and the voice he heard was just in his own mind. From this moment on, Aizawa becomes more driven and focused on perfecting the skills he needs to be the pro hero Eraser Head, but to the exclusion of almost everything else in his life.
    • And for extra tragedy, the main series revealed soon afterward that Shirakumo's body had been taken and experimented on by All For One, twisting his body, Quirk, and what remained of his mind into the villainous Teleportation user, Kurogiri.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics
    • Booster Gold and Ted Kord's Blue Beetle, though in some continuities, Jaime Reyes' Beetle serves as Replacement Goldfish. Beetle's death makes Booster go from an egotistical, fame-seeking buffoon to someone seriously wanting to be a genuinely heroic hero who contributes something.
    • Though he got better, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner's death in the Blackest Night story arc caused his close friend and colleague, Guy Gardner, to break down in tears for a moment before entirely giving in to his maddened rage and becoming a Red Lantern.
    • Robin (1993): While there was something of a cumulative effect going on given just how many of Tim Drake's loved ones died that year his best friend Kon-El's death was the tipping point at which his character changed his costume and irrevocably turned more violent, serious and broody. Kon did return a couple years later and while they remained best friends Tim never returned to the more carefree personality he'd had before.
  • Marvel Comics
    • Captain America: Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes. The Cap seemed broken when Bucky died back in the war and at present, he found out the hard way that Bucky is still alive except he's Winter Soldier who is brainwashed by HYDRA. And when Steve died after the end of Civil War (2006), Bucky takes it hard and tries to find those responsible for his assassination. Later on, Bucky takes the shield and the name of Captain America as a way to continue his best friend's legacy.
    • Captain America and Tony Stark. Their friendship was destroyed no thanks to a certain Super Registration Act which sends them and the rest of the superheroes as a ruthless battle between those who support and those who are against the act. In the end, the Cap surrenders and the pro-regs win but with a price: HYDRA took this opportunity to kill the Cap which they succeeded. As a result, Tony mourns the death of his once close friend and couldn't give a proper farewell speech during his funeral, letting the Falcon do the honors.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Forrest Gump, Forrest and Bubba. After Bubba's death, Forrest fulfills his friend's lifelong dream by buying a shrimping boat.
  • Brian's Song: Brian Piccolo and Gayle Sayers, due to Brian's death from cancer. Doubles as a Real Life example.
  • An epic womance: the two female scientists from Volcano. The remaining scientist (Anne Heche) is that much more determined to convince FEMA that there's really a volcano starting in Los Angeles because her best friend died to prove it.
  • Similarly, the death of her close friend and fellow CIA agent in the line of duty causes the main character of Zero Dark Thirty to adopt an It's Personal stance on the search for Bin Laden.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker share this fate throughout the Star Wars saga, though their tragedy isn't either one's literal death, but that Anakin is "killed by Darth Vader" (and eventually kills Obi-Wan).
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is the center of an arc between Steve Rogers and James "Bucky" Barnes. Buck's (apparent) death in First Avenger shakes up Steve, and they can't fully go back to their previous relationship because of his bloody past as the Winter Soldier, which is either brought up or exploited by the antagonists when relevant. Ultimately, he decides to put himself on ice at the end of Captain America: Civil War until his brainwashing is completely flushed out. While they do finally fight together near the end of the Infinity Saga, Steve chooses to go back to the 1940s, leaving Bucky alone in the present day.
  • Dead Poets Society has Neil and Todd who are roommates and best friends at 'Hellton'. Throughout the movie, they support each other's fight against their controlling parents. Eventually, Neil is cowed by his father and commits suicide, leaving Todd openly distraught and heartbroken.
  • In Star Trek II, Kirk has to watch his friend Spock die. Of course, in the next movie Spock gets better, but at the time it was intended to stick.
  • A variation of this happens in X-Men: First Class; Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier form a close friendship, but ultimately part because of a major difference in ideals. Notably, neither is killed, although Professor X does sustain a permanent injury that leads to Magneto cradling his cripple.
  • In Top Gun the death of Maverick's Guy in Back and volleyball partner Goose is a major turning point in the character's life.
  • Happens to Thor and Loki in Thor when Loki commits suicide, since although he doesn't actually die, Thor doesn't know that.
  • Midnight Cowboy: Ratso dies after he and Joe Buck spend the film becoming Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • In the Watchmen movie, Nite Owl II sees Rorschach's death and it visibly crushed him, which ultimately caused him to lash out at the person directly responsible for it.
  • Beasts of No Nation: Strika becomes Agu's only friend while serving as child soldiers in the NDF. When Strika dies, there's nothing holding Agu to the NDF anymore.
  • The Living Wake is all about K. Roth's last twelve hours to live, and his best friend Mills helping him arrange his own funeral. The two are impossibly close friends (and, indeed, each other's only friends), and Mills' sunny disposition only cracks twice: when he's delivering his eulogy for K. Roth to K. Roth, and when K. Roth finally dies at the end of the film. Mills' despair is heartbreaking.
  • In A Christmas Carol: The Musical, Scrooge and Jacob Marley are portrayed as having been genuinely good friends, not just business partners. The first thing Marley's ghost does upon appearing is burst into tears and hug Scrooge, and later, Scrooge is distraught at having to relive Marley's death in the Past sequence. Ruthless though he already was beforehand, we get the sense that Marley's death was the last straw that fully hardened Scrooge's heart.
  • Tombstone has Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, the latter finally dying of his Incurable Cough of Death near the end of the film.
  • Wings (1927), the very first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, revolves around two small-town rivals, Jack and David, who ultimately become best friends while serving together in World War 1. Tragically, David seemingly dies when his plane is shot down, and to avenge him Jack shoots down a German biplane, but that biplane is actually piloted by David, who survived his crash and stole it; thus Jack becomes responsible for his friend's real death, and can only hold him (and kiss him) in his last moments.

  • In Dragon Bones, Ward has to kill Oreg, whom he loves like a brother, in order to enable an Heroic Sacrifice. When he feels Oreg's last breath on his cheek, he thinks that it feels warm, but he will never feel warmth again, ever.
  • Earth's Children features one between Jondalar and Thonolan in The Valley of Horses. The two brothers are very close and go through many trials and adventures together, that is until Thonolan falls into a deep depression following his mate's death in childbirth and is later killed by a cave lion due to recklessness. Jondalar is utterly distraught and never fully gets over it, though he does gain some closure over it in the fifth book.
  • Harry Potter gives us James Potter and Sirius Black. They were a part of a four-person group of friends at Hogwarts called the Marauders, but they were described as being the Fred and George Weasley of their time. When James dies at the hands of Voldemort, Sirius was ready to relinquish his rebellious lifestyle to look after James' son Harry, but when Hagrid mentioned that Dumbledore already had a plan in place, Sirius unsuccessfully went after the man responsible for allowing Voldemort to kill his friend, which got him wrongly imprisoned. After both James' death and his imprisonment in Azkaban, he isn't nearly as cheerful or light-hearted as he is presented in flashbacks or in a little side-story, though he does briefly revert to his old self when he comes into possession of his old house.
  • Landen Parke-Laine and Anton Next in the Thursday Next series. Especially tragic because Landon's (truthful) testimony in the investigation of the events that killed Anton turned Anton's name to mud for all history.
  • Sherlock Holmes and Watson, when Holmes apparently dies in The Final Problem. Luckily, he was just hiding.
  • The Silmarillion: Turin and Beleg, immortalized in-universe by the "Song of the Great Bow." The tragedy is made even worse by the fact that Turin was the cause of Beleg's death!
    • Maedhros and Fingon as well. Fingon was willing to risk Angband in order to save his friend, even though he didn't know Maedhros hadn't betrayed him at Losgar. Later, Fingon's death in the disaster of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad becomes a turning point for Maedhros, who is more willing to act ruthlessly in pursuit of his Oath after.
  • Dragon Lance: Raistlin's ascension to the tower of high sorcery leaves Caramon a drunken wreck for years. Without his brother, he felt completely unneeded. It is only after Raistlin actually dies that he is able to move on with his life.
  • While Robert is no longer a main character by the third book in The Emigrants suite him and Arvid still fit this trope. Arvid's death on their way to California has a deep impact on Robert and he never recovers.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Lord Jon Connington and the late Prince Rhaegar in A Dance with Dragons. Connington is particularly ashamed of losing a crucial battle against Robert Baratheon, who would go on to kill Rhaegar, take the throne, and exile Connington.
    • Jenny of Oldstones and the Ghost of High Heart are a rare female version. They were best friends back during the reign of King Aegon V, and Jenny even brought the Ghost to royal court with her when she married Prince Duncan the Small. Its unknown how or when Jenny died, but the Ghost long outlived her and is still very torn up about it. In exchange for telling people about her prophetic visions, the Ghost demands to be sung the song that was written about Jenny.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen:
    • In the last volume of the series, former prankster Silchas Ruin and war veteran Kagamandra Tulas Shorn are revealed to have been very close friends before the civil war. Politics saw them end up on opposing sides, but when Tulas inexplicably disappeared, presumed dead, Silchas Ruin was so devastated even his Warrior Prince brother Anomander Rake took out some time from trying to save the realm to help Silchas Ruin look for Tulas' corpse — although later Silchas comes to the conclusion that his brother was the one to kill Tulas to begin with. Eventually, the series' final volume sees a tearful — and manly snarky — reunion, with Tulas, now undead, having escaped the Realm of the Dead, and they fulfill their hearts' wish to fight side by side in the series' final battle, where Tulas dies a second and final time at Silchas Ruin's side.
    • Icarium Lifestealer and Mappo Runt have been Heterosexual Life-Partners for centuries, wandering the world together, and are close enough to openly speak about their deep feelings of friendship. Even though Mappo was originally meant as a guardian and minder for Icarium, Icarium's generous and noble nature makes Mappo cherish him. Despite having severe problems with memories, Icarium can by the feeling of familiarity alone tell that Mappo is indeed the friend he claims to be. When they are attacked and separated, Mappo crosses half the world to find Icarium again, only to die mere metres away from his closest friend. However, it is heavily implied that this is the turning point for Icarium and the latter finally regains at least some of his memories, enabling him to take his life back into his own hands.
    • Zig-zagged with Trull Sengar and Ahlrada Ahn. They are set up for a bromance alright. Both are able warriors who have trained together and opposed the Unification Wars and, by Trull's admission, really ought to be close friends. But Ahlrada is a mole and deathly afraid of being found out, while Trull is no good at reading social cues. He spends most of the fifth book wondering why Ahlrada hates him so much, while Ahlrada comes to worship Trull's courage. Eventually, Ahlrada goes as far as being involved in Trull's imprisonment and banishment, then spends most of the sixths book wracked by guilt over it. When they do meet again, it's in the middle of a battle on opposing sides and Ahlrada promptly deserts his command and begs Trull's forgiveness, only to be cut down and to die in Trull's arms, leaving Trull to wonder what the heck just happened. Neither ever finds out how close they were without ever being able to call each other friend.
  • In Codex Alera before the series starts, beloved Princeps Septimus dies in a brutal battle against the Marat. His death has ripple effects far and wide as he is the sole heir to the First Lord. More importantly, his death affects his friends and True Companions.
    • Araris Valerian, who is believed to have died with Septimus in battle, survived the fight because he was protecting Septimus' wife, sister-in-law, and Septimus' unborn child on Septimus' orders. Nearly twenty years later, having branded his face with the mark of a coward was more than just a way to disguise himself, but his deep feelings of guilt over his friend dying and, worse in his view, is that he too deeply loves Septimus' wife and hates himself for that betrayal too.
    • Aquitainus Attis is Septimus' closest friend outside of the man's bodyguards. He flew to join Septimus in battle and failed to arrive in time to save him. He saw through the deception and knew it wasn't Marat who killed Septimus, but a cadre of his fellow Alerans who killed his friend. And Septimus' father Gaius failed to protect his own son. For these actions, Attis decides to seek out these men and take revenge, with him aiming to usurp Gaius from the throne.
  • The Alicization arc of Sword Art Online features this between the protagonist Kirito and his Childhood Friend in Underworld, Eugeo. The pair is inseparable, fighting and adventuring together for most of the first half of the arc, but it all comes crashing down when Eugeo is seduced by Quinella and later killed in battle. A lot of Kirito's behavior following the incident is fueled by his guilt and mourning over the boy.
  • A female example between two children occurs in Jane Eyre, with the friendship between young Jane and her saintly schoolmate and Big Sister Mentor figure Helen Burns. Helen ultimately dies of tuberculosis as she and Jane sleep in each other's arms.
  • The Sunne in Splendour has more than one, between both friends and actual brothers.
    • Richard III and Francis Lovell are this, to a T. Richard befriends the lonely and isolated Lancastrian Francis when they are boys in the Earl of Warwick's Yorkist household. Richard wins Francis's loyalty, and they remain devoted friends, bound by chivalry and honor. It is Francis who encourages Richard to claim his birthright, in the face of evidence that Edward IV's marriage was invalid, and it is Francis who absolutely refuses to save himself and his wealth and position by swearing fealty to the man who defeats Richard, Henry Tudor.
    • Edward IV and Will Hastings have quite a tragic bromance as well, with a good dose of mutual Toxic Friend Influence. The two share a love of carousing and wenching and the only thing that ever threatens to come between them is their mutual love for Jane Shore. When Edward dies prematurely, Will is distraught and simply can't transfer his loyalties to Edward's younger brother.
    • Edward IV and his younger brother Edmund are this as well. As boys, the thoughtful and noble Edmund served as a grounding force for the more hedonistic Edward, and he knows it. He laments his younger brother's murder years into his kingship, knowing things would have been different had Edmund lived.
    • Richard and Edward also qualify, with Richard idolizing his older brother, despite not approving of Edward's debauchery. Richard is wrecked by Edward's death in more ways than one, since he was happy ruling the north on behalf of Edward and had no desire to be king. Only after Edward dies and the depths of his depravity are revealed to Richard, does Richard move to seize the throne. Unfortunately, seizing the throne proves to be the beginning of the end for Richard.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural: The two leads Sam and Dean Winchester manage to do this to one another multiple times. Dean is the ruling champion, but if it weren't for Sam's first major death the whole plot from the beginning of season three onward would not exist in any recognizable form.
    • Getting him out of it caused Dean to die at the end of season three, which caused Sam to have a major character shift in the four months between then and when Dean got better again at the start of season four; and the combination of what the two of them did while Dean was dead set up the need for Sam to die at the end of season five. Dean followed Sam's "last request" to try and live a normal life, but was pissed when Sam shows up again and reveals he's been back for a while without telling him. Then it turned out Sam's soul was still stuck in Hell...
    • Dean's 101 deaths during one season three episode hit Sam pretty hard, too, especially the one that last six months before the bastard undid it. And hence the title of reigning champion. Also the fact that he stayed dead the longest.
    • Dean and Castiel over the course of seasons six and seven. After Cas's power-trip and ensuing "sacrifice", Dean spends half a season going through the motions like season-six-Buffy, unable to really care about himself or the state of the world, and only starting to recover after Castiel reappears.
    "You know, I used to be able to just shake this stuff off. You know, whatever it was. It might take me some time, but... I always could. What Cas did... I just can't – I don't know why."
    • Dean really can't catch a break from this trope. If it isn't Sam, it's Cas. If it isn't Cas, it's Benny.
  • Although Buffy gets better by the end of Season 6, Buffy and Willow between the season 5 finale and the season 6 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer totally fits this trope. Buffy's death causes Willow to go into a spiral of desperation and bargaining that eventually leads her into extremely morally ambiguous territory in her effort to resurrect her best friend, leads to her sliding into Drunk with Power, and emotionally sets her up for a Despair Event Horizon after her unrelated romantic tragedy one season later. By the time of season 8, Willow is trying to keep Kennedy isolated from Buffy because she believes that, had she not resurrected Buffy, Tara would still be alive. However, during the Angel & Faith arc "Family Reunion," Willow tells Angel that, despite all of the pain and angst that the Scoobies went through as a result, she has never regretted bringing Buffy back to life for a second.
  • Shut Up Flower Boy Band has one of the members of the titular band die in a tragic fashion. Being teenagers, the rest of the band doesn't take his death too well.
  • Horatio and Archie's friendship in the Horatio Hornblower miniseries was extremely deep. They were together in purgatory (Horatio's first ship Justinian where they both got bullied and tormented by a sadistic midshipman), got separated and met again in hell, a Spanish prison when they both got tortured in a Punishment Box and Archie tried to starve himself. Horatio saved Archie's life when he nursed him back into health, and Archie saved Horatio's when he dragged him from an exploding bridge during a doomed mission in France. In "Retribution", Horatio is shattered by Archie's slow and painful death and his Heroic Sacrifice. However, the emotional fallout after Archie's death isn't explored overtly in the subsequent series, but Hornblower is obviously a man who is bitter and surly, without a pal who could make him show his more cheerful and pleasant side. note 
  • Merlin ends with Arthur dying in Merlin's arms and Merlin believing that he's failed in his destiny to protect him. Scant comfort is derived from his very close friendship with Guinevere Arthur's widow and the sole ruler of Camelot and the Great Dragon's promise that one day Arthur will return in the time of Britain's greatest need. A Flash Forward shows Merlin as a hobo in modern times, still waiting for Arthur's return.
  • This seems to be a thing that happens towards the finale of many a Heisei-era Kamen Rider show between the protagonist and the deuteragonist.
    • Kamen Rider Ryuki: In the second to last episode, Shinji/Ryuki is dealt a fatal wound by a group of Monsters and his death prompts Ren/Knight to attempt to become the Final Rider.
      • The roles are reversed in the 13 Riders and Rider Time Ryuki specials. It appears that Ren and Kido can't even be friends without one of them dying tragically.
    • Kamen Rider Blade: Kenzaki/Blade sacrifices his humanity to become a Joker Undead in the finale, but as a result, must separate himself from Hajime/Chalice.
      • In The Movie, the roles are reversed with Hajime sacrificing himself in place of Kenzaki.
    • Kamen Rider Double: Philip disappears at the conclusion of the second to last episode, leaving Shotaro to protect Futo as Kamen Rider Joker. Fortunately, Philip is revived in the final episode.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: Ankh's Core Medal is cracked by Maki, but decides to help Eiji/OOO defeat the latter. After defeating Maki, Ankh dies, although his spirit is seen to follow Eiji.
    • Kamen Rider Build: Gentoku was deeply hurt by Kazumi's death and it, among other things, catalyzed his Death Seeker mindset to the point of Heroic Sacrifice. Averted with Sento and Ryuga as Ryuga tried to go the same way to protect Sento from having to soon after and Sento was so sick of people dying on him that he decided he is not letting him go as long as he has any life left.
  • Smash: Kyle is the only person Jimmy seems to genuinely love, but he's a jerk to him too. Then Kyle is killed in a hit-and-run, and Jimmy cleans up his act, dedicates himself to their musical, sobs when Kyle wins a posthumous Tony, and fesses up to a past crime and does time so he can start fresh.
  • Sons of Anarchy: Opie's death, which was a combination of Suicide by Prison Gang and Heroic Sacrifice was the final straw for Jax Teller. After four seasons of contemplating leaving the club, he throws himself full on into the dirty dealings, and onto the Protagonist Journey to Villain path.
  • The Walking Dead: Due to Shane being Spared by the Adaptation, his Love Triangle with his best friend Rick and the latter's wife Lori is fully utilized. Rick and Shane are the best of friends since high school up until the day they became cops. On one mission, Rick is shot and was put in a coma. During this time, the Zombie Apocalypse happened and Shane had to take care of Lori and her and Rick's son Carl. Thinking that Rick is dead, Shane and Lori began a relationship. Once Rick returns to the scene, Lori obviously abandons Shane. Shane, while initially happy to see Rick alive, gradually becomes resentful towards him and comes to believe that he is a better husband and father than him. The second season shows the dissolution of their friendship, with Rick ultimately having to kill Shane because he has gone to the deep end by that point. Having to kill Shane made a huge impact on Rick's Character Development in later seasons.
  • This occurs between Daenerys Targaryen and Missandei of Naath in the final season of Game of Thrones. Since season 3, Missandei had been one of Daenerys' closest friends and confidants, not to mention the only woman near her own age that she could talk to about things other than war and politics (like cute boys, for instance). In the fourth episode of season 8, however, Missandei gets captured and publicly executed by Cersei Lannister, crying out Daenerys' Catchphrase "Dracarys!" with her dying breath. Missandei's murder, among other things, fuels Daenerys' descent into madness and she goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the next episode.


  • Horslips' retelling of Irish primal mythology, The Tain, has the ballad Cuchulain's Lament in which the hero comes out of a battle-frenzy to realise he's just slain his BFF. Cuchulain and Ferdia were lifelong inseparable friends who, when Ireland went to war with itself, found each other on opposing sides in a battle. Narrative causality meant the inevitable happened...
  • In Tom Paxton's song "Ramblin' Boy," the singer pays tribute to his only friend, the "ramblin' boy" of the title, and how they traveled and struggled together until his friend eventually fell ill and died in a jungle camp.

  • In Irish mythology, The Cattle Raid of Cooley, the tragedy of a war that divided Ireland against itself, the tragic bromance is that of Cu Chullain and Ferdia note , inseparable friends and closer than brothers who inevitably find themselves on opposing sides in a battle. And fight each other to the death.
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh: After the godlike Gilgamesh and his best friend Enkidu spend the first half of the epic wreaking havoc, Enkidu is suddenly stricken down with illness. Gilgamesh, terrified, takes on his next quest — eternal life — with gusto as a reaction to Enkidu's death, only to walk away with the story's Central Theme instead: everybody dies.
  • Greek Mythology
    • The Iliad: It's Patroclus' death that motivates Achilles to get out of his tent and kick some Trojan ass.
    • Apollo and Hyacinth, who was an even bigger Pretty Boy than Apollo. Zephyrus was jealous that someone so beautiful was spending all his time with someone other than him, so he made the discus that Apollo had thrown slam into his head and kill him.
  • The Saga of Arrow-Odd: Over the course of his life, Odd loses several of his numerous blood-brothers, each death being a great crisis for him: Asmund, who grew up with Odd, is killed on a raid in Ireland; Thord Prow-Gleam is murdered by Odd's arch-enemy Ogmund, causing Odd to swear vengeance on Ogmund; Hjalmar is killed in single-combat with Angantyr; Gardar is killed at Geirrodsgard when Odd tries to avenge Thord. After the death of Gardar, Odd decides to travel alone, for fear of losing yet more blood-brothers, but ultimately he cannot prevent the death of his last blood-brother Sirnir in battle with Ogmund.

  • In the Books of Samuel in The Bible, David and Jonathan. David comes to prominence after he slays the giant Goliath, and immediately, Jonathan becomes one of his most steadfast friends, even defying his father over Saul's command to kill David. But they inevitably must part ways so that David can be kept safe from Saul, even though they meet again a few times over the remainder of the book. Eventually, however, Jonathan, along with his brothers and father, is slain by the Philistine army, causing David to mourn heavily for the loss of his friend and devote all of his efforts into making peace with Saul's family by reaching out to Jonathan's son Mephibosheth. After Jonathan's death, David even laments "Your love to me was more wonderful than the love of women."

  • Romeo and Juliet: Romeo and Mercutio. The former's murderous rage over the latter's death is what sets the entire final tragedy in motion. See also their equivalents in West Side Story, Tony and Riff.
  • Kristina från Duvemåla: Robert and Arvid. Robert's song about Arvid's death, "Gold Can Turn To Sand", is probably the saddest song in a musical that's filled to the brim with sad songs. Especially poignant in the original Swedish where Robert emphasizes Arvid's death as the exact moment when gold turned to sand (can be found about twenty seconds into this video with English subtitles that aren't entirely accurate (for instance mistranslating the last line as "oh Kristina", and not "and, Kristina"), but close enough that you get the idea).
  • Female version in Wicked with Elphaba and Glinda. Although Elphaba doesn't actually die, Glinda thinks she's dead in the end, and it's implied that thanks to having known, learned from and lost her, Glinda will finally become the good, wise leader that the people of Oz believe she is. "Who can say if I've been changed for the better/but because I knew you, I have been changed for good."
  • Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens in Hamilton. Happened in real life too.

    Video Games 
  • City of Heroes starts off with the Bromance in question already in a really bad place. The Big Good - Statesman and Big Bad - Lord Recluse are former Heterosexual Life-Partners whose relationship soured due to moral differences after they got their powers. They still both platonically love each other, and their bitter rivalry comes from being unable to reignite the relationship. It reaches full Tragic Bromance level though in one of the late game Story-arcs “Who Will Die” - the answer is Statesman. His final thoughts as he dies is that he will not live to see the relationship restored but hopes Lord Recluse finds redemption without him. Upon finding out, Lord Recluse goes into an unstoppable sadistic rage directed squarely at Statesman’s killer. And we see exactly what a Heart Broken Badass can do when you take away his raison de’tra. Made all the more of a Player Punch by the fact the game played the relationship as ambiguous right up until the death.
  • In Yakuza 3, Rikiya's death deeply affects Kazuma, to the point he breaks his usually unflappable demeanor and breaks down crying.
    • Throughout the series, it also becomes increasingly clear that Kiryu took Nishiki's death hard. He has recurring nightmares about the event, frequently wonders what Nishiki would have done, and expresses hope that there is an afterlife so he can meet Nishiki again.
    • Majima, meanwhile, has structured his entire life around ensuring his sworn brother Taiga Saejima has something waiting for him when he gets out of prison, in spite of being sure that Saejima believes he is only in prison because Majima sold him out and will kill him the minute he sets foot outside the walls.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Cloud and Zack. note  They met in SOLDIER, became best friends, were part of the horrifying tragedy in Cloud's Doomed Hometown, were captured and experimented on, and after Zack managed to escape he took a comatose and traumatized Cloud with him. Zack died at the end of Crisis Core, right as Cloud wakes up from the coma, and his actions deeply mark Cloud for the rest of his life.
  • Persona 3: Akihiko Sanada and his friend, Shinjiro Aragaki, who were friends when they were still young in the orphanage. When Shinjiro died on October 4th, Akihiko was heavily affected by his death as his quest for power was coping over his weakness after the death of his sister yet he failed to protect the one person he cared most. It was his death that allowed Akihiko to move on and even gain his ultimate Persona, Caesar as the result. Their original Personas, Polydeuces and Castor, respectively, allude to the brotherhood with the two as Polydeuces was immortal while Castor wasn't and died.
  • Solid Snake and Gray Fox in Metal Gear 2, but properly explored in Metal Gear Solid, where it's shown Fox's death has broken Snake's heart when Fox Comes Back Wrong as a cyborg desperate to fight Snake to the death so he can find some peace.
  • Fire Emblem
    • In Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, Sigurd and Eldigan were best friends since their teen days, they remain close as adults, they trust each other like almost no one else... but then they're pit against each other, and Eldigan is ultimately executed.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening has Chrom and Robin, if Robin is male or a female not romancing Chrom. Chrom's tragic murder at Robin's (possessed) hands leads to The End of the World as We Know It and the Bad Future Lucina and the other children hail from.
    • Done in almost the exact same fashion in the backstory of Fire Emblem Fates, between Anankos and the unnamed Vallite king, who were best friends like their kids, Corrin and Azura, would be in the future. An increasingly unstable Anankos, in a fit of rage, accidentally murdered Azura's father, which was the final straw in his already-unstable mind snapping completely and him becoming the Big Bad. Even more tragically, the King was an All-Loving Hero and apparently tried to comfort Anankos as he died.
  • In Mass Effect Garrus seems to take Shepard's death this way, especially if you influenced him to be more Renegade in the first game. Following the destruction of the Normandy, he heads back to the Citadel, either to rejoin C-Sec or try to become a Spectre. Either way, after seeing the Council bury evidence of the Reapers and discredit everything Shepard did he decides he's finally had enough of the Citadel's bureaucracy and heads to the galaxy's Wretched Hive to try and fight crime at its source. This is especially sad if you take him back to Omega after you've recruited him and he notes that despite everything he did, he never actually make a difference.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Revan and Malak were best friends before their fall the dark-side, leading Malak to eventually betray his oldest friend. When confronted with an amnesiac Revan who has returned to the light-side, he only regrets betraying them from afar and mourns the loss of the "real" Revan.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Liu Bei took the deaths of his sworn brothers, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, very hard that it drove him into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to destroy Wu for their betrayal. If you really think about it, the deaths of Guan Yu and Zhang Fei not only caused Liu Bei to abandon his ideals and go on a revenge spree instead but it marked the beginning of Shu’s downfall when Liu Bei was unable to avenge their deaths and died, leaving the kingdom in his son’s hands who ended up surrendering Shu to Sima Zhao in the later years. As seen in Shu’s hypothetical route in DW 8, if the player followed Xu Shu’s strategy in Fan Castle, Guan Yu wouldn’t have died, Zhang Fei wouldn’t have been betrayed by his own men and Liu Bei would still continue his mission for a land of benevolence and defeat Cao Cao in the end.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail had a villainous version between Gaius and Cassius, The Empire's general and chief assassin, respectively. After Cassius went missing, Gaius refused to believe against all logic that he was dead, and, indeed, never stops calling Cassius' reincarnation by his old name. Both deeply care about each other, but they fight to the death because Gaius is incapable of feeling compassion for the victims of his genocide, as Cassius/Dust learned to.
  • Red Dead Redemption II has Arthur Morgan and John Marston. Both were raised at a young age by Dutch Van Der Linde and Hosea Matthews and consider themselves "brothers" in a way. At the beginning of Redemption 2 Arthur holds some animosity for John for abandoning his wife and child for a year. However by the end of the story as the gang they were raised in starts to fall apart and Dutch goes crazy, Arthur starts caring for John again, and even breaks him out of prison behind Dutch's back. Arthur's final acts in the main storyline are helping John escape from Dutch, Micah and the Pinkertons right before he dies of tuberculosis, so John can start a new life with his family. Arthur's sacrifice and subsequent death affect John to the point he can hardly speak about Arthur by the time of Red Dead Redemption, in which he is shown to be a better husband and father than he was in Redemption 2.

    Visual Novels 

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku. It's a twisted version since Sozin intentionally left Roku to die, although he regrets doing so by the time of his death.
  • In Final Space, Gary and Avocato. Also, in more than one timeline, Gary and Mooncake, the latter reacting to the death of the former with apocalypse-inducing wrath.

    Real Life 
  • Alexander the Great and Hephaestion, who actually compared themselves to Achilles and Patroclus on more than one occasion, even laying wreaths on their respective graves at Troy.
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam dealt with his emotions surrounding the death of his best friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of cerebral hemorrhaging at the age of 22 (and was, in fact, engaged to Tennyson's sister Emilia).
  • Richard III and his best friend Francis Lovell met when they were both fostered together under the famous Earl of Warwick and despite Richard being the youngest brother of the Yorkist king and Francis, who was from a Lancastrian family, being a Theon Greyjoy-like hostage, they became lifelong friends. When he became king, Richard showered Francis with honors including making him Lord Chamberlain, and Francis is thought to have given Richard a lavish Book of Hours as a coronation gift. When Richard died at Bosworth, Henry Tudor offered a pardon to the well-liked Lovell, who refused and mounted a failed rebellion. Nobody knows what happened to Francis, although it is most likely he died in battle, but he never betrayed his friend, even unto death.
  • Either this or Star-Crossed Lovers took place between Frederick the Great and Lieutenant Hans Hermann von Katte. They were friends for many years despite the age difference, Katte tried to help Frederick escape from Prussia to the UK, and when they were caught Katte was executed in front of Frederick...
  • In pro wrestling, there weren't two closer friends than Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit. And it's hard to find a more tragic story of friendship, either. Eddie's sudden death in 2005 completely shattered Benoit, and it's often agreed losing his best friend sent him down the dark spiral that ended with his double murder-suicide just 2 years later.


Doc Holliday's Death

Thanks for always being there, Doc.

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