A Shared Suffering

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"You're an echo, that's all. A Time Lord is so much more. A sum of knowledge, a code, a shared history, a shared suffering."
The Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Daughter"

It's hard being the only one of your kind. Therefore, if a character finds that There Is Another, they tend to cling to the few members of their species/group/type left. They can be surrounded by friends, but that can't compare to having someone who can really understand what they're going through. Most of the time this other person is someone they don't even like - occasionally even an enemy - but their shared history, or shared condition gives them a connection. A bond - maybe not friendship, but at least a sort of grudging respect.

Examples of A Shared Suffering include:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books

  • Superman is sometimes like this when Supergirl arrives, depending on the continuity and dimension. Just look at him being so grateful that he's not the only surviving Kryptonian!
    • Similarly, in the DCAU continuity, Supes is happy to meet Brainiac feeling him to be a shared survivor of Krypton... until he gets the full story. Fortunately, Supergirl later never gave him that kind of letdown.


  • Arthur and Trillian in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy are the only two humans left - for a while at least.
  • It's somewhat understated, but this forms part of Harry's bond with Ginny in the Harry Potter series—she is the only other person he knows who understands how it feels to have been possessed by Voldemort.

Live Action TV

  • In Doctor Who, this is the rationale the Doctor has for not killing The Master in "Last Of The Time Lords".
    • He also tends to connect with other long-lived characters, notably the Face of Boe. He also attempts to connect with an clue Doctor Lazarus in to the woes of a long life in "The Lazarus Experiment", both having memories of the Blitz.
      • Oddly enough, he doesn't spot the connection with the Star Whale in The Beast Below, but luckily Amy did:

Amy Pond: Very old and very kind and the very very last of his kind. Sound a bit familiar?

  • Buffy and Kendra/ Buffy and Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer have a few conversations about how they're the only ones who understand what it's like to be the Slayer (at least before "Chosen").
    • Nicely subverted when Faith figures that the reason for her and Buffys Epic Disagreements is because there was never meant to be two of them.
  • Angel and Spike in Season 5 of Angel - they have a shared history as well as being the only two vampires with souls in the world.
  • Lister and Rimmer in Red Dwarf (series 1-7) are the only two left who remember Red Dwarf before the accident. And Lister and Kochanski in series 7 are the only two humans.
  • Odo from Deep Space Nine is sort of like this, yearning to find his people, until he does and learns they're dicks (although this doesn't stop him wishing he could rejoin them). This trope is also used as the basis for the bond that ends up forming between him and Garak who, as the only Cardassian on the station, also yearns to be rejoined with his people. His separation from his people is entirely different to Odo's (for a start it possibly may be his own fault he's in exile) but the knowledge that they'd both do almost anything to rejoin their people and that there's a line they can't bring themselves to cross (no-one is more surprised to learn Garak has one of these lines than Garak himself) in pursuit of this desire which keeps them separated from their kin culminates in a stunning scene that should have driven them apart forever but which instead is the basis out of which their friendship forms. The look on Garak's face when he finally gets Odo to confess his deep secret about the Founders ("HOME! I want to go HOME!") says it all, followed shortly thereafter by a What Have I Done expression when he realizes how similar they are (and that he too, can't go home without crossing the Moral Event Horizon).
  • Kyle and Jessi from Kyle XY are like this due to both being born in the same lab and having similar abilities. It helps that their genetic donors were once lovers.
  • A scene in one episode of Babylon 5 has Vir and Lennier commiserating over being put-upon ambassadorial flunkies.

Video Games

  • Planescape: Torment uses this trope. While the members of your party aren't immortal beings with memory problems like you, they are bound to you by their personal torments.
  • This is a large component of Garlot and Leon's friendship in Blaze Union, and also contributes to Gulcasa and Nessiah's relationship, though the former isn't exactly aware of the nature of the shared suffering in that case.

Web Comics

  • In Sluggy Freelance Aylee thought she had one of these relationships with Leono and the others of her species in a different dimension. However, it turns out Leono's a quasi-Omnicidal Maniac, while the rest of her kind are barely even sentient, so she leaves them behind to return to the main Sluggy universe.

Web Original

  • The members of Team Kimba bond together on their first day at Whateley Academy because of this: they're more than just mutants. They are all transgendered in one way or another.
  • In the Paradise setting, an unknown force is randomly, permanently turning humans into Funny Animals (and sometimes changing their gender) in a way that is Invisible to Normals. Changed, especially from the early waves where they are few and far between, often fear they're alone or outright going crazy. After spending weeks, months, or even years alone, they are so relieved to find out there are others like them that they might break down and cry.
  • The Golden Marvel and Ultra-Man from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe are close friends who often dine together to remember life during the Great Depression, the Spanish Influenza epidemic, World War II, and other events of the first four decades of the 20th Century.
    • Most of the true immortals in the Global Guardians Universe, like Abyss, Master Mist, Black Angel, and Ishmael, tend to treat each other as competitive rivals rather than as true enemies (if they were, in fact, enemies in the first place), because they all know that the only person a truly immortal being can talk to about how hard it is to be a true immortal is another true immortal.

Western Animation

  • This is subverted in Futurama when Leela supposedly meets the last remaining member of her species, and therefore feels obligated to marry him even though he is rude, dirty, and misogynist and they have nothing in common. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it turns out that he's not really a member of her species, but a shapeshifter who "collects wives" of odd species to do housekeeping for him.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, both Timmy and Tootie are harassed by Vicky the most, and several spin-off children's books and episodes hint to Timmy feeling sympathy for Tootie and her having to live with a mean sister.