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Two Lines, No Waiting

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Grandson: Grandpa, is this the same story?
Klaus: No, this is a little side-story. I'm using it to break up the main story so you don't get bored.
Grandson: Are we part of the story?
Klaus: Oh, no. We are a Framing Device.

Two narrative threads—or more—are woven together; two cases are prosecuted, two murders investigated, and so on. This allows a simple narrative structure to feel as if it has more variety. It gives the audience a break from one line and something to do in terms of recalling the events of the alternate line. The two stories may be about similar subjects, or one may be the usual fare (investigations, prosecutions) interleaved with character development that gives a sense of a Story Arc. Crime shows or films often feature parallel stories whose heroes turn out to be Working the Same Case.

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Juggling two stories is common enough that writers frequently refer to the "A Story" and the "B Story". Three or more is quite a bit less common, at least in purely-episodic or limited-continuity shows.

If the B Story is clearly subservient to the A Story, it will usually be described as the "subplot". A common pattern on many series—sitcoms in particular—is that the same sets of characters will usually be segregated into "main plot" and "subplot" every week.

In arc-heavy fare, two or three recurring storylines may be hit along with one or two minor "breather" plotlines all at once. This just means less screen time for each plotline, which mean they all go on for more episodes, which means the viewers keep watching. This is common in Soaps, long-form dramas, and some Sci-Fi series.

If the A Story and B Story aren't juggled simultaneously, but are instead handled separately and tied together with an incredible chain of events, it's Halfway Plot Switch. If said chain of events is split over two time periods, it's Meanwhile, in the Future… or Flashback B-Plot. Often uses Plot Parallels to set up a Double Aesop.

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A lighter version involves the protagonist's investigation running parallel to something more innocent. While the detective mom investigates the grisly subway killings, her kids investigate the mystery of the missing pizza slice. This allows for a freeze-framed laugh at the end when it's discovered the dog did it.note 

For a Soap Opera variation see Soap Wheel and Four Lines, All Waiting. Contrast Offstage Waiting Room. If one of the storylines seems utterly inconsequential compared to the other, you may have a case of Trapped by Mountain Lions. When a battle is starting in one storyline and the camera switches to another storyline, this is an example of a Charge-into-Combat Cut. See also Simultaneous Arcs, when the entirety of one arc is told before the next one gets told, but each one happens at the same time.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • .hack. In SIGN, there are a few characters who genuinely stick to a certain group. Sora and BT, Subaru and Silver Knight, and Mimiru and Bear (and later Tsukasa). The episode will shift focus between these groups, with some of the less trustworthy characters linking the stories.
  • Assassination Classroom: The main plot line of training and attempting to assassinate Koro-sensei is interwoven with the students dealing with various problems in their school and personal lives.
    • Korosensei himself, aside from the whole "destroy the planet in a year" thing, does not kill or significantly injure anyone, at least onscreen. Other assassins have no such restrictions, so they often take advantage of Korosensei's inability to retaliate by mercilessly abusing his desire to protect his students.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Asteroid in Love's Ishigaki arc is structured as this. On one hand, Mira and Ao participate at the Shiny Star Challenge on Ishigaki island, while the rest of the Earth Science Club plus its alumni goes to the club's annual summer camp, this time also at Tsukuba.
  • Baccano!: There are three main stories, each taking place a year apart (1930, 1931, 1932), as well as one in the 1700s. The clips from each of these are then mixed together throughout each episode, and you don't get to see the end of any of them until you finish the series. It's slightly less confusing than it sounds, as the clips usually begin by stating the year in which they occur. Usually. And those aren't even counting the flashbacks.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • The novel has Touma, Accelerator, and Shiage having their own crazy adventures in Academy City and later Russia. Volume 1 of "New Testament" is the first time all three of them meet at the same time.
    • Volume 5 of has its first half being about Accelerator meeting and later saving Last Order, at the cost of most of his own power, and the other half being about Touma facing two different Magic side villains in one day, while also trying to finish his homework in time. Volumes 17-19 also does the same, With 17 and 18 being about Touma in Great Britain and 19 being about Accelerator and Hamazura Shiage. And then there are Volumes 20-22, which cover the last day of World War III, with the focus being split between Touma, Shiage and Accelerator.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is widely praised for this. Usually Ed and Al are followed in one plotline while Roy and his troops are followed in the second, but there are also tertiary plotlines about Scar, Winry and others.
  • The fourth and fifth episodes of Laid-Back Camp (corresponding with chapters six to eight of the manga) sees Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club camping at different locations. They keep in touch by means of text messages and share their experiences with one another.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes switches rapidly between two interplanetary superpowers and how individuals from both interact and how those interactions influence other interactions and so on.
  • The plot in Log Horizon eventually split into two stories, with the "A Story" focusing mainly on Shiroe and his dealings with the macro aspects of the setting and the "B Story" focusing on the beginner players and the micro aspects of the setting.
  • Often done in Lupin III. While a handful of TV episodes across all six series get these plots, the majority go to the TV movies due to their longer running times, where Lupin will be involved with one main heist while another of the main characters will be involved in a secondary B-plot that ultimately coincides with his plans. It's often Fujiko being involved in a scheme of her own, but secondary plots involving figures from Jigen's hitman past, Goemon honing his Implausible Fencing Powers, or Inspector Zenigata attempting to catch Lupin for good are also common.
  • MÄR's anime tried breaking up the War Game (read: Tournament Arc) with various filler. The problem is, most of this was right after Snow's kidnapping so it just ended up annoyingly prolonging both the tournament and her rescue.
  • For a good chunk of the series, Madlax's journey through the war in the Southeast-Asian (fictional) country of Gazth-Sonika (and later, bonding with Vanessa) is depicted as its own separate story, alternating with the other protagonist Margaret, accompanied by her maid Eleanor, in her search through the European (also fictional) country of Nafrece for her father and the meaning behind a strange book she has. Connections between the two different protagonists, countries, and plot lines start appearing as the show goes on, but it's not until the eighteenth and nineteenth episodes (in a 26 episode series) that the four characters finally meet each other and the two plots truly become one. And then The Reveal is that the two protagonists are a Literal Split Personality.
  • Naruto has an odd variation of this. It started as one plot, but when Sasuke jumps ship, the plot diverges into two main streams (with a third one that's mostly disconnected until recently when they've decided to taper back into one.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Best Wishes anime series has done this, with the Team Rocket trio occasionally stopping their usual pursuit of Ash's group and instead operating a long-term mission elsewhere. Their plotline progresses while Ash's does, and eventually the two merge together for a finish.
    • Ash doesn't meet Dawn and Serena right away in the Sinnoh and Kalos arcs respectively. The first few episodes of each partially focus on the start of the girls' journeys.
  • Seigi no Mikata is the story of two sisters. The younger, Youko, is constantly tormented by the elder, Makiko, whose actions have been preventing Youko from hooking up with the boy she has a crush on. But then it turns out that all of Makiko's actions affect those around her in unexpected ways, which we see in detail, and all of which are far more interesting.
  • The first half of Transformers Cybertron deftly juggled three plot threads at once, varying the focus each one received. The first introduced was the search for the Omega Lock on Earth. After a few episodes, they discovered the location of the first Cyber Planet Key on Velocitron, which led to a secondary thread about Hot Shot and Red Alert competing in a series of races to try and win it. Some time later, a third thread was introduced when the second Key was traced to Jungle Planet, and Overhaul was sent to retrieve it from Scourge. Meanwhile, the Omega Lock was found, the race was won, and finally Scourge defeated, leading up to the more linear but still exciting second half of the series.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:

    Comic Books 
  • 52 was an enormous critical and financial success as it utilized at least seven lines with no waiting. Featuring several different "main" characters, each character had their own plot throughout the series which would occasionally cross over into other characters' plot-lines. These stories ranged from personal, character-driven issues (such as Ralph Dibny's personal quest to bring his wife back from the dead) to large-scale, grandiose events (like Black Adam's alliance with, and then struggle against, superpowered groups throughout the world), and some were not connected to the other stories in any way (like Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange struggling to get back to Earth from across the galaxy). One of the points credited to 52's success was its ability to make all these unconnected stories mesh together and complement one another, avoiding Four Lines, All Waiting.
  • A Finnish comic novel named "OM" did this in a decidedly Mind Screwy way. The A Story (or at least the one it opened on), being the adventures of the eponymous samurai rabbit, was interrupted abruptly by the B-story of the surreal Just for Pun adventures of "li'l Piggybear". The B-story, in turn, was ostensibly the dreams of one of the characters in the C Story, a real-world relationship drama. The connection (if any) between the stories was never in any adequate way explained, giving the comic an overarching "what the... ?" -kind of feel. Ostensibly, the C Story, which was introduced last, could be seen as the "main" story, but that is all open to interpretation... It could just as well have been All Just a Dream of the samurai protagonist who was, if memory serves correctly, mortally wounded at the time.
  • Infinity follows both an Enemy Mine alliance including the bulk of the Avengers fighting off an invasion by the multidimensional Builders, and the remaining heroes defending Earth and the Infinity Gems from Thanos.
  • The Batman storyline "Leaves of Grass" has an A-plot about Batman trying to stop Floronic Man from getting everybody in Gotham high on super-marijuana (also Poison Ivy's there). The B-plot follows Tim Drake, the current Robin, as he tries to keep a friend of his from smoking marijuana and dealing with the fallout when his friend doesn't listen.
  • In Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Shattered Grid, the storyline expertly uses both Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (Boom! Studios) and Go Go Power Rangers to use this trope as Mighty Morphin' deals with the Rangers dealing with Lord Drakkon's multiversal invasion of Ranger eras and the fallout of Tommy Oliver's death while Go Go deals with the Rangers of an earlier point in history dealing with Ranger Slayer while learning more of her backstory.
    • Similarly, the Unlimited Power sequel has Mighty Morphin (2020) follow the Power Rangers on Earth as they deal with the return of Lord Zedd, while Power Rangers (2020) concurrently focuses on the Omega Rangers and their unlikely alliance with Lord Drakkon out in space. Both series provide hints and flashbacks focusing on Zordon's past and how the Empyreals came to be, before culminating in the Eltarian War crossover.

    Fan Works 
  • Comic Book SNAFU has two plots: one about Hawkeye and Batman battling Hawkeye's Arch-Enemy Crossfire and his team of villains, and another about Aki Izayoi and Gajeel Redfox on the run from the 'World Counter-Terrorism Agency'.
  • With Strings Attached tells two parallel stories: that of the four and their adventures on a variety of worlds, and that of the Fans who put them in this situation and who are watching/commenting on/empowering/manipulating them. The two lines are semi-separate (the Fans are aware of the four, but not vice-versa) until the end of the Second Movement, when the Fans speak directly to the four for the first time. The threads intersect a few more times in the book but mostly remain separate. There are also several chapters, notably the New Zork chapter, where the four get split up and have individual adventures, or which focus on only one of the four.
  • Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate alternates between an Odd Couple story in our world and a Slice of Life story in Ponyville. In fact, it's confirmed to be a Shout-Out to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World with different narratives using The same protagonist and having different narratives. This way, it gives the impression of Nickel Steel mentally reliving the events of his "Pink Personal Hell."
  • The third My Hostage, Not Yours story is split pretty evenly between Zim and Gaz's efforts to conquer Earth, and Dib (and later Tak)'s efforts to stop them.
  • Crystal Robot's Invader Zim fanfiction starts off with a simple Love Triangle plot surrounding Zim, Dib, and Casie (Zim's OC sister). The plots split when Dib becomes pregnant by Zim, and Casie becomes the Yandere. At that point, the major ark revolves around a bunch of OC's (and Gaz) trying to defeat Casie and a group of evil Doppelgangers, while the the ark surrounding Dib's pregnancy and his developing relationship with Zim plays in the background.
  • Guilty Sparks is a Halo/Mass Effect crossover split between the Normandy crew getting involved in the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, while a major B plot involves Liara investigating Covenant infiltration of the Mass Effect universe.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan fiction Our True Colors uses this technique to simultaneously tell the story of Scootaloo's present and Pinkie Pie's past.
  • The Captain America: The Winter Soldier fanfic Out of the Dead Land intertwines the psychological drama of the Winter Soldier/Bucky's identity issues and relationship with Steve with the action/mystery drama of evil robot duplicates attempting to hijack the Avengers' identities, with a lot of thematic overlap between the two.
  • RainbowDoubleDash describes his work Magic Tutor as having an "A" plot (Trixie's attempts to teach the foals of Ponyville magic) and an "E" plot (Twilight beginning her community service), which partway through merge into an AE plot (Twilight helps Trixie with the magic tutoring).
  • Zootopia: Death Becomes You: The story uses this device as its sole plot mechanic to flash back and forth between past and present timelines while throwing in a healthy dose of random timeline events to shake things up. This helps keep some light-heartedness intact within the story while still building the tension and suspense that leads up to the grim circumstances we find Zootopia at the end of chapter 1. It utilizes this style well to hold back on important plot twists and reveals until just the right moment in the story where it makes the most impact on both timelines.
  • The PreDespair Kids: There are a lot of story arcs going on at the same time, ranging from personal quests to investigations to just people goofing around. While there are times where they can feel like three or four lines, or just end abruptly note , the author, Mod J, is fortunately pretty good about keeping things moving and answering questions at the same time without everything devolving into a Kudzu Plot.
  • Child of the Storm does this during the Bloody Hell arc of the sequel, Ghosts of the Past. It is evenly split between this verse's take on the Dresden Files book Dead Beat (which sees Voldemort, Selene, Magneto and Wanda Maximoff getting involved in the fight for control of the Darkhallow), and another plot line focused on Harry and a group of allies trying to stop Dracula and his Grey Court from ritually draining Carol's blood in order to become immune to sunlight.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan comic Age (In)appropriate has two plots. One follows Spike's actions and the other one revolves around Luna trying to keep Twilight "busy".
  • Of State, a Crossover between How to Train Your Dragon and Frozen, alternates between telling two different stories that are happening simultaneously. Most of the chapters are split in half, with one half focusing on characters from HTTYD and the other half focusing on Frozen's characters:
    • Plot A is a dramatic Dark/War Fic focusing on Hiccup as he establishes his new Viking kingdom and defeats the remnants of Drago's army. The storyline also focuses on Hiccup's inner struggles caused by the deaths of Astrid and his father.
    • Plot B is a comparatively lighthearted Slice of Life which focuses on the day-to-day lives of Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff as Arendelle prepares for a possible war with the Vikings.
  • A New World on her Shoulders is divided into two stories, each one taking up half a chapter. The first half of each chapter is always centered on Atlas and team SCRP, while the second half focuses on Beacon and team VYBA.
  • In Spark to Spark, Dust to Dust, each chapter switches between Yang working with the Autobots and Team Rainbow (RWB+JNPR) investigating on their own.
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Chloe's adventures throughout the Infinity Train are swapped with her friends and family worried about her sudden disappearance.
  • After the Animorphs split up in What Tomorrow Brings, the various point-of-view characters have their own subplots that eventually converge with each other.

    Films 
  • 2:37: The events of the school day—leading up to the suicide at 2:37 p.m.—are shown from the viewpoint of six different students, whose stories overlap and intersect fairly often.
  • Woody Allen has done these a few times in two of his highest regarded movies. Crimes and Misdemeanors has a straight example with the two storylines being distinct and only crossing paths rarely, while Hannah and Her Sisters follows several character arcs with a lot of interaction between them.
  • Cloud Atlas has six lines, across different eras in the past, present, and future.
  • Digimon: The Movie. In Japan, it was two short OVAs about the original cast and one longer movie about the season two newcomers. To make it a theatrical feature after the first season and an introduction to said newcomers, a bit of narration was used for Arc Welding, and Diaboromon and Kokomon were said to be affected by the same virus, and given the same voice actor and a couple catchphrases in common. ("Don't interfere!" "Go back to the beginning..") Connecting Diaboromon to the Willis thing actually made Diaboromon a much more sympathetic character than the original Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, but the longer Digimon Adventure 02 really loses a great deal of plot.
  • The Face of Another has an A-story in which a man dons a Latex Perfection mask after is face is destroyed in an industrial accident, and a B-story in which a nurse suffers from loneliness and isolation due to a terrible scar on her face. The two stories never intersect. In the source novel, the nurse's story was a movie which the faceless man went to see.
  • The Forgotten Battle has three protagonists — a British soldier, a Dutch collaborator, and a Dutchwoman becoming involved with the Resistance — as they move through the events of the Battle of the Scheldt, only occasionally and briefly interacting.
  • Gangs of New York: Plot "A" is the whole bunch of Hamlet-esque shenanigans involving Amsterdam Vallon and William Cutting, and the path to them getting in a climactic gang fight for the power of the Five Points and revenge. Plot "B" are the increasing societal disturbances involving the Civil War, Union Army drafting, and the haves stepping on the have-nots (mostly because the "haves" can dodge the draft). The climax is Plot "B" erupting in the 1863 New York Draft Riots and devastating a good chunk of the city while the gangs go to war finally... and the "B" Plot pretty much overtakes the "A" Plot because the Army starts massacring people to try to placate the riot, including the aforementioned gangs. Amsterdam manages to get his revenge, but it is by giving Bill a Mercy Kill (because he's been fatally wounded by the aforementioned massacring), which leaves him feeling pretty empty.
  • The first two thirds of G.I. Joe: Retaliation consists of two separate plots — Snake-Eyes and Jinx pursuing Storm Shadow, and the surviving Joes' attempt to figure out the circumstances of their ambush.
  • The Godfather Part II does this by jumping between Vito Corleone fleeing Italy and building his empire in America in the past and his son Michael Corleone managing his Las Vegas empire in the present. However, this is subverted in the made-for-TV Godfather Saga, which simply showed all the scenes from both The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in chronological order.
  • 2006's The Holiday stands out because either of the two plots could have stood alone as a mildly-amusing single-story film.
  • The Ice Age movies typically feature two plotlines: the main plot starring Sid, Manny, Diego, and their friends, and the secondary plot featuring the squirrel Scrat's endless pursuit of the acorn. Scrat's plotline is typically more lighthearted and outlandish than the main story (as well as being entirely action-based without dialogue), and Scrat interacts less and less with the main characters as the sequels go on.
  • Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds actually follows two storylines, Shosanna Dreyfus staging a massacre at her movie theater hoping to kill the nazi leader, and the Basterd's efforts in trying to assassinate Hitler. the third act involves the Basterds attending said event and killing the nazi's before the bombs go off.
  • The Killer That Stalked New York, a 1950 film Very Loosely Based on the 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak. The main plot focuses on the smallpox outbreak in New York City and the authorities trying to contain it, with a subplot focusing on (fictional) Patient Zero Sheila Bennet's personal life, with diamond smuggling, infidelity, and revenge.
  • Most of Kingsman: The Secret Service is divided between the training for the next Lancelot and Harry's investigation on Valentine. The two storylines merge for the climax.
  • The second and third movies in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The original books involve two storylines in the first half of each volume, Peter Jackson merges them, not always keeping time with when each happens in relation to the other.
  • The Nut Job has two plot threads: Surly the squirrel's attempts to steal from a nut store, and several human characters' attempts to break into a bank.
  • Pan's Labyrinth had the "Ofelia's Tasks" plot and the "Resistance Against Fascists" plot, which intersected towards the end because the head of said fascists is Ofelia's step-father.
  • Requiem for a Dream does this. The four stories are initially linked as the girlfriend, friend, and mother of Harry Goldfarb, although they all eventually branch off into their own, primarily unrelated tales. They are still somewhat linked, but for the most part they've gone their own ways.
  • All of the Saw installments after the first movie fit this plot structure. The A-storyline tends to focus on the plot (including the aftermath of most of the games featured), while the B one is usually centered around the movie's main game. The movie jumps to Line A whenever something Gorntastic happens in Line B, and to Line B after some plot development happens in Line A. Some of the movies spend more time in Line A (V, 3D and Spiral), and others spend more in Line B (II, III, IV, VI and Jigsaw), which often relates to how gory a given installment is. Most of these plots meet up in some fashion at the end.Details 
  • For most of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, the film follows two separate storylines, one devoted to Luke learning the ways of the Jedi from Yoda and the other devoted to Han and Leia's attempts to evade the Empire. Attack of the Clones, the second installment of the prequel trilogy, also followed this structure, focusing on Obi Wan in his search for the bounty hunter that hired an assassin to kill Amidala, as well as Anakin's mission to keep Amidala safe. Finally, The Last Jedi followed Rey being trained in the ways of the Force by Luke Skywalker, while Poe, Finn, and newcomer Rose decide to go against the orders of the Resistance's seemingly Obstructive Bureaucrat by trying to defeat the First Order's fleet from the inside.
  • Steam: All three of the protagonist's stories are alternately shown, with the only connection as their meeting in a steam room, where they talk.
  • Buster Keaton did this with his first feature-length film Three Ages, using three stories set in prehistoric times, during the Roman Empire, and in 1920s America, so in case it flopped as a feature, it could be edited into three short subjects.

    Music 
  • "Anthrax" by Gang of Four has Jon King singing the song in the left channel while Andy Gill talks about writing love songs in the right.
  • "Spoiler Alert" by They Might Be Giants tells two stories, one sung by Flansburgh, playing a truck driver who, in a fit of exhausted delirium, believes his truck can drive itself, and one sung by Linnell, playing a writer distracted with writing a story who thinks he has more hands than he does. Presumably, they collide at the end.
  • The music video for R.E.M.'s "Imitation of Life" is set at an outdoor party with dozens of smaller events taking place, some of which aren't apparent in the very first viewing.

    Pinball 
  • In Bally's Creature from the Black Lagoon, the main game is about taking your girlfriend to a Drive-In Theater to see the titular movie. Once multiball starts, however, you are placed into the movie, and must rescue Kay from the Creature.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • In ECW in 1995, Taz had suffered a broken neck due to Dean Malenko and 2 Cold Scorpio botching a spike piledriver in a match against Taz and Eddie Guerrero, which put him on the shelf for a time. The Sandman defeated ECW World Heavyweight Champion Shane Douglas for the title at ECW Hostile City Showdown on April 15. Douglas felt that there was a problem with the officiatingnote  and was determined to do something about it. At ECW Enter Sandman, May 13th, he introduced Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission referee Bill Alfonso, who would enforce the rules, in a promotion that prided itself on its lack of rules. Fonzie quickly became the most hated guy in ECW history. What do these two storylines have to do with each other? The answer came at ECW November to Remember 95 on November 18th. Right before the match between Konnan and Jason "The Sexiest Man On Earth", Taz walked down to the ring in a referee shirt. Taz explained to Joey Styles, who was doing the in-ring introductions, that ECW would not let him wrestle that night because they considered him an insurance risk. Jason gets in Taz's face as Taz asks if both guys are ready. Taz then decked Jason and Konnan powerbombed and pinned him in about 14 seconds. Later that night, there was a match, such as it was, between Alfonso and ECW Commissioner Tod Gordon, with Beulah McGillicutty, then a Heel as Raven's girlfriend, as the special referee. Fonzie attacked her and threw her out of the match. They sort-of brawl for a while, complete with Fonzie blading, with no referee. Taz comes down while Tod is attempting a pin, starts to count, then stops, beats up Tod, puts Alfonso on top and counts the pin, thus turning himself heel. The crowd is shocked, and Taz explains that he did it because none of the fans called or wrote or made any attempt to contact him after his injury and that Alfonso was the only person who seemed to care about him. He also rips on the fans for being happy to see Sabu, who had returned earlier that night after seven months in self-imposed exile in WCW, New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the indies,note , ECW booker Paul E. Dangerously and whatever and whoever else comes to mind, finally saying to the fans, "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU!"

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits has this happen, and eventually, both the narratives become one.
  • Disk 3 of Lost Odyssey has the party forced to split up. The plot then follows: Cooke and Mack as they attempt to follow the Aurora Borealis, Kaim and Sarah as they try to stop the kids from getting in too much trouble, Seth and Tolten being warped to Uhra and meeting up with Sed, Jansen and Ming stuck on a train that's becoming an icy coffin. Despite being split four ways, the story doesn't suffer. Every party member gets their moment in the limelight. They are all reunited at the end of Disk 3.
  • Bayonetta 2 starts off with a plot To Hell and Back for the titular character in order to reclaim the soul of her friend, Jeanne, but gets sidetracked by a secondary plot involving a Tagalong Kid named Loki who just so happens to have amnesia about who he is, other than he just to happens to be trying to get to the same holy mountain as Bayonetta. The plots clash more than a few time, but end up being more intertwined once the Big Bad Loptr/Aesir is revealed, since he was the one who caused Jeanne's soul to be sent to hell, and also happens to be Loki's evil half.
  • In the bonus chapter of Cadenza 4: Fame, Theft and Murder Michael is turned into a statue and Martha and Big Jim split up to find the halves of an artifact which can reverse the curse. The chapter switches between them at several points.
  • The newer Call of Duty games have this, with the game switching between the viewpoint of two main characters (and occasionally a third character for a single mission).
    • In the Modern Warfare games, the American character is usually engaging in some big urban battle while the British character is doing some kind of special ops raid, more or less at the same time. Though the American plotline usually finishes up partway through the game while the British one goes all the way up to the end.
    • In World at War, however, there is no connection between the two characters, one in the Eastern Front from the siege of Stalingrad to the Soviets taking over Berlin and one in the Pacific Front as the Marines push closer to Japan; the plot just switches between them every few missions presumably for a change of pace.
    • Black Ops does this with Hudson and Mason's roles in the story, Hudson having adventures in other locations from Kowloon to Russia while Mason is focused on Vietnam, and even once going through the same level from different starting points, Mason sneaking into a Soviet island base to kill Steiner, Hudson and a group of American soldiers loudly shooting their way into the facility from another direction to rescue Steiner. The two plots join up in the end, the final cutscene of both being the same scene from different points of view, which is also the final clue that Reznov isn't there; in Mason's portion, once he reaches Steiner, Reznov appears to punch him out a few times before drawing a pistol, declaring "My name is Viktor Reznov!", and shooting him dead - then, in Hudson's portion, Reznov isn't there and Mason is declaring himself to be Viktor Reznov before killing Steiner.
  • Dragon Quest IV has five chapters. Chapter 1 follows Ragnar, a knight trying to find missing children. Chapter 2 follows Alena, a Rebellious Princess who wants to fight in a tournament, and her advisers Clift (the healer) and Brey (the wizard). Chapter 3 follows a merchant named Torneko who wants to start his own shop in the kingdom of Endor. Chapter 4 follows Manya and Minea, two magical sisters (a Glass Cannon and a healer) trying to avenge their father's death. Finally, chapter 5 follows you, the hero, and you get the entire party together, but you can only control yourself directly. In the new DS version, there's a sixth chapter where the Big Bad joins your party.
  • Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was originally planned to have three full-weight storylines, one for each main character, however, only Zoe's actually counts as such. April's line is limited to two significant events (Chamber of Dreams and talk with the Guardian), while Kian's consists effectively of a single dialogue and its consequences. Nevertheless, the lines are there.
  • Dreamfall Chapters does a lot better, with narrative time split near equally between Zoe in Stark and Kian in Arcadia, both poking at the same interdimensional conspiracy that they didn't quite unravel in the first game.
  • Fahrenheit had two interwoven plotlines: one about Lucas trying to find explanation for what's happening to him and evade the police, and the other about Carla and Tyler trying to catch up with Lucas and understand what's going on.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • At one point in Final Fantasy VI, the characters split up into three groups, and the player plays through each of their stories in turn, before they all reunite in Narshe.
    • In Final Fantasy IX, the party members split up halfway through Disk 1 to comply with the game's Arbitrary Headcount Limit, and the story shifts back and forth between them until they reunite halfway through Disk 2.
    • Final Fantasy XIII does this for most of the game - it's only 25 hours in where you finally get all six party members together.
    • Final Fantasy Tactics follows the story of Ramza as he is forced into conflict with the manipulative church and aristocracy, while the B Plot is Delita trying to become King, and a third plot is the extended flashback that explains their connection. Their stories occasionally interact, but most of the time, Ramza is unaware of what Delita is doing. Not so much in reverse. There are also occasional small plots such as what happens to the leader of the rebellion from the flashback chapter.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years begins with mostly optional stories that involve just one or two of the main cast of characters before they each unite later on.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Lucina's arc happens simultaneously along with the other 3, shifting in and out of focus as the events of the Bad Future they come from become relevant.
  • Front Mission shows this through 2 and 4.
    • In Front Mission 2, the story begins under the eyes of Ash Faruk, an OCU corporal belonging to the Muddy Otters battalion in Alordesh. Shortly after the coup outbreak in the country, the story switches focus to Thomas Norland, an OCU captain from the Dull Stags battalion. After doing some operations with Thomas, the story switches to a third party - the OCU military intelligence through officer Lisa Stanley's eyes. The three groups take their turns in the spotlight and even when they merge late in the game, the focus equally distributed among them.
    • In Front Mission 4, the story begins under the eyes of former French Army pilot Elsa Eliane, who now is in the employ of the multinational research organization known as Durandal. Several missions after the Durandal are sent to investigate an attack on a German base, the story switches to USN sergeant Darril Traubel in Venezuela. Both of these stories interact with each other explicitly only once and never directly merge at any point in the game.
  • Gemini Rue jumps back and forth between two seemingly-unconnected plotlines, one about a Hardboiled Detective searching for his brother and the other about a hapless prisoner escaping a strange rehabilitation facility. The twist is it is actually a subversion; you are not playing two disparate storylines, you're playing one story in Anachronic Order. The prisoner segments are actually the detective's flashbacks to his Dark and Troubled Past, and the aforementioned prisoner is his younger self.
  • The mission system from the Grand Theft Auto series is a version of this. The missions come in multiple chains, with certain bottleneck events that bring threads together that must have all their prerequisites met. There's an internal mini-story to each line, but they are for the most part order-independent.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 does this with the Master Chief and the Arbiter.
    • Halo 5: Guardians does this with Master Chief's Blue Team and Jameson Locke's Fireteam Osiris.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
  • King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride had the player alternate each chapter between playing as Valanice and playing as Rosella, each trying to find each other. This was the only King's Quest game with two playable characters (and oddly enough, the only one where King Graham makes no appearance).
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie has three separate plot arcs that ultimately converge together in the final chapter. Lloyd's route has him trying to win Crossbell's freedom, Rean's route has him cleaning up the mess left behind by the world war in the previous game, and new character "C"'s route has him going undercover of why there's a Rosenburg doll sent to him. The routes do meet up with one another and at one point, the players can fight characters in the other route with the players actually controlling both teams with the perspectives switched mid fight.
  • Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work frequently switches between two protagonists at certain points: Larry as he scouts for models for "America's Sexiest Home Videos'' and Patti trying to find backmasked pro-pornography messages in music from des Revers Records and K-RAP Studios. Both plots get concluded at the ending.
  • Live A Live at first appears to just have 7 stories which don't have any direct relation to each other, until the player figures out that each chapter's main antagonist is a variant on "Odio", suggesting a connection. Then after the completion of the secret Middle Ages chapter, a Time Crash occurs, bringing all 7 main protagonists together to discover that they were fighting incarnations of the Demon King Odio.
  • Lyrica's story arcs shift between the historical drama of Li Bai and Du Fu—renown poets from the Tang Dynasty as they try to make their voices heard over the rampant corruption and ever-growing state of chaos that plagued their kingdom; and the modern tale of Chun and Yang, a pair of music prodigies who wants to pursue their dreams of sharing their music to the world.
  • Pillars of Dust: The game features two protagonists, Carlton and Gregg, who start their journey at around the same time, but in different locations. Their paths will occasionally intersect, but they won't team up until the final chapter.
  • Saints Row and Saints Row 2 have the separate gang storylines entirely independent, which lead to characters involved in them only appearing in one of the three, as they frequently get injured or even killed and the game has no way to determine in which order you've completed missions up until the final stretch. The Third changed this around a bit, where missions overall follow one plotline, and most times where you have a choice of two or more missions they're just one of your lieutenants asking you to play an activity, while also typically restricting you from continuing to the "proper" next mission until you've done them all.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Done twice in Sonic Chronicles. First, Chapter 5 has Sonic, Knuckles, and two other characters make their way to Angel Island, while simultaneously Tails and Eggman head up another team trying to gather pieces to build a weapon. Chapter 10 has Sonic and Tails lead a team after one of Ix's dragons while Knuckles and Shade go after the other.
    • Sonic Adventure 2 has two (three if you count Knuckles' subplot) intertwining stories, and Sonic Adventure has six (seven if you count Tikal's subplot), that all come together in the end.
  • Suikoden III makes use of this trope through the Trinity Site System, allowing the player to tackle the story of three to five different protagonists that happen roughly at the same time. Up until you finish chapter 3 with the original three, at which point one must be chosen to become the true protagonist and their stories converge from there. Originally there was going to be a sixth storyline included, but the developers decided it would have revealed information they wanted to keep secret.
  • The first act of Syphon Filter 2 alternates control between Gabe and Lian at the same point in time. Likewise for Dark Mirror. The bonus missions in The Omega Strain have you play as major characters at the same time that Cobra is undertaking his/her missions.
  • Tales from the Borderlands entire story unfolds this way, switching between the two main protagonists Rhys and Fiona as both tell their sides of the story to a captor, often to humorous effect.
  • WinBack 2 has you play each mission from the POV of two different operatives.
  • Yakuza 0 regularly flips between Kiryu and Majima. Despite both plots centering on Makoto, the two have entirely separate stories and never meet until post-credits.

    Visual Novels 
  • Infinity series:
    • Ever17 does this during the prologue of the game, switching between Takeshi and The Kid. It drops this shortly into the game, at which point the player is locked into one of the two characters. This trope returns during Coco's path, which begins switching back and forth between the two characters again
    • Remember 11 has its prologue set up the same way, with Kokoro and Satoru being the viewpoint characters. While this game does force the player into one of the two characters after the prologue finishes, it continues to use this trope throughout its entirety during the personality transfer phenomena, resulting in part of each story being seen no matter which character the player is.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja #6, #7, and #8, the doctor is searching for Dracula in the A Story while his sidekick and family train and fight a ghost wizard in the B-story. Eventually it's revealed that the ghost wizard is a slave of Dracula, who grants the wizard a deadly new power when the Doctor pisses him off too much.
  • Each chapter of MegaTokyo (with the exception of Chapter 0) usually follows three plots, with the A Story focusing on Piro and Kimiko, the B-story focusing on Largo and Erika and the C Story featuring Miho, Yuki, Ping, or any combination thereof; although they nearly always intersect.
  • Questionable Content usually juggles several storylines, with new ones picking up and old ones ending fairly regularly, along with occasional one-off gags unrelated to any of them.
  • The basic MS Paint Adventures structure is to start with something very simplistic, then introducing more and more characters, each with their own different storylines and plots, and becoming incredibly convoluted and ridiculous, then slowly but surely dragging those plots together and suddenly, before the reader even knows it, it's all one story.
  • Captain SNES: The Game Masta has several storylines all running semi-simultaneously, which are hinted to tie together in the end. Between the length spent on any given storyline and the Schedule Slip problems, threads can be dropped and picked up again quite literally years later.
  • Rumors of War begins its first Story Arc with the cast assembling, then follows two characters as they go about separate, unrelated activities. The first is an information-gathering trip that gets hijacked by a mystery and the other is a recruitment plot in the style of a con.
  • Bob and George habitually cut between storylines.
  • Irregular Webcomic! has no main plot, except for crossover between plots, so at any given moment there's seventeen different stories going on simultaneously (plus the Miscellaneous theme, which doesn't have a coherent plot or characters), although of late the primary ones are Steve & Terry, Fantasy, Space, and Cliffhangers, with secondary (but still important!) ones being MythBusters and Scientific Revolution. And something's happening with the Shakespeare theme, and the Nigerian Finance Minister and Pirates are still out there somewhere, and so on. With so many themes, there are frequent crossovers; at one time, fourteen of the different themes converged for the destruction of the universe (not included were Miscellaneous, which doesn't have a storyline; Supers and Espionage, which exist in a totally separate continuity). Oddly enough, the Me theme was originally self-contained, dealing with the author living his life, producing the webcomic, or making very meta gags. That was, until he kills himself off and finds himself actually involved with the characters themselves (mainly the Deaths and the Scientific Revolution characters).
  • Used in Our Little Adventure. Julie and her group's adventures to collect the Magicant and solve their world's problems is the A Plot. Zaedalkaah/Umbria's release, meeting with Trevoricus and Jason and joining with Angelo's kids as part of her quest to get her body back is the B Plot.
  • In American Barbarian, Two Tank Omen's advance and Yoosamon's talking with the king parallel in every strip for a while.
  • Tides Of Change switches between Tides of Change set in the past and The Dragon Rider, set several thousand years later in the present. Only recently in the story have connections between the two started appearing in the stories.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Yokoka and Mao are protagonist and deuteragonist, who the comics follow separately aside from when their paths occasionally intersect.

    Web Original 
  • The Brave New World Universe has this in almost every story.
    • The original Brave New World has this for nearly every character, which resulted in a lot of Switching P.O.V.. Later in the story, it tended to focus mainly on Charlie's story.
    • In Tech Adventures, Sasha and Tech's storylines dance together throughout the overall plot.
    • Swarm Rising has this to such a degree that Bladedancer and Swarm's stories might as well have been split into different stories.
  • Kickassia splits into two plot threads after the group takes over Molossia; the first focuses on the Nostalgia Critic's attempts to reign over the country and the second focuses on the other contributors trying to figure out how to overthrow him.
  • Red vs. Blue employs it often. First, it was Red Team and Blue Team. Season 3, after a brief fragmentation, eventually split between the Reds and Blues and villain O'Malley. Season 4 returns to Reds and Blues (though there, for a short while a Blue was actually in the Red plot), and it remains that way until the mostly single plot Season 6. Season 7 started with Reds and Blues, but then split into those who went to the desert and those who stayed. Season 8 went for protagonists\antagonists once those that travelled returned. The Project Freelancer Saga had flashbacks with Project Freelancer sharing time with the Epsilon recreation of the Reds and Blues (season 9) and the present day events (season 10). Season 11 started with Reds\Blues again, merged them in the final episodes, and Season 12 started with a single plot that got more fragmented as time went on.
  • Survival of the Fittest. One for every. Last. Character. Of course, there are intersections, but essentially every character has their own story. Some of the time, these stories are part of another character's story.
  • We're Alive usually confines its storylines into separate chapters. But occasionally it will show two storylines within the same chapter or the same episode. For instance in chapters 17 and 18: Michael, Pegs and Kelly travelling to The Colony was split with Angel and Kalani going to the Army Reserve base to secure MREs.

Alternative Title(s): B Story

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