Like Brother and Sister

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"She loves me. She's like the big sister I never had. Only, you know...short."

Sometimes, two characters of the opposite sex are very close - so close that you might expect them to be dating. Except they're not. They admit that they matter a great deal to each other, that they would die for each other, that they can't imagine life without each other. They aren't just any pair of friends. They're as close as family. They're Like Brother and Sister!

Often, other people don't believe them. They assume that the couple must be dating—or at least that they secretly wish they were. The couple is at pains to explain that this isn't the case. They love each other, like a brother and sister love each other, but they're not in love. They really are "just" friends. Other characters will waste no time in pointing out the one tiny but debilitating flaw with this theory: They are not brother and sister.

This doesn't change the fact that their love is completely platonic with no sexual attraction on either side. No matter how other people view them, they can't see each other in that light.

The Greek word for this love is storge, as explained in detail in CS Lewis' book specifically on the subject, The Four Loves. The fact that this doesn't stop everybody is a whole other can of worms all together. Relative Error would be somewhat the inverse of, but definitely comparable to, this trope.

Platonic Life Partners is a sub-trope, in which the characters are not only close, but form each others' primary relationship. If you can imagine the characters as members of the same sex and having them as Heterosexual Life Partners, then they belong under Platonic Life Partners. Of course, almost all instances of Platonic Life Partners fall under this trope, but to avoid redundancy they should not be listed on this page.

Simply being friends doesn't make a pair and example nor does just being True Companions. Because most childhood relationships are inherently platonic, friendships between children do not qualify unless they continue into adulthood and remain platonic. Contrast Just Friends for when this does actually blossom into romance. Not to be confused with Unlucky Childhood Friend in which one side does have feelings for the other.

Examples of Like Brother and Sister include:

Anime and Manga

  • Bleach: Toshiro Hitsugaya and Momo Hinamori are this. Justified because they were raised together by the same old woman they refer to as "grandmother" (a custom in the Rukongai is for strangers to form family groups since it's nearly impossible to find blood relatives).
  • Tsubaki and Black☆Star from Soul Eater could also count. Tsubaki is pretty much like Black☆Star's older sister, without the romance implications; Black☆Star is the irritating little kid Tsubaki adores and detests at the same time.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima, Asuna sees Negi as a little brother she must protect. In reality, he's probably actually her nephew. Great-Grandnephew anyway, with the number of greats unknown. Point is, she is almost certainly the sibling of one of his direct ancestors.
  • The main theme of Gunslinger Girl is the relationship between each team of cyborg girl assassin and their handler, referred to as "fratello" (Italian for "brother"). Also seen in terrorist couple Franco and Flanca.
  • In 6-OVA Animated Prequel to the Japanese monster movies, Zeriam, known as "Iria: Zeiram the Animation", the title character Iria is shown as an apprentice to her 'older brother' Guren, whom is later believed to be killed by Zeriam, yet hinted at possibly still being alive. During one scene, the orphan Kei asks Fujikuro, "Isn't he her brother, though?" To which, Fujikuro replies, "Yeah, I guess you could say they're like brother and sister." However, the story never really develops further on this comment.
  • Hungary and Poland in Axis Powers Hetalia are hinted to be this. Makes sense considering the traditional friendship between the countries in Real Life.
    • Can also apply to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
  • Although it initially appears that there's romantic tension between Erin and Melan in Brigadoon Marin and Melan, she later reveals that he is like a brother to her.
  • At first it looked like Bulma and Yamcha from Dragon Ball fame would become an Official Couple, but their relationship amounted to this in the end. With surprisingly no bad feelings. Yamcha tried to fight for her affections for a while, and he was a bit bummed out that he lost for a time. But in the end it looks as if everybody's happy with how things turned out.
  • Shizuo and Celty of Durarara!!.
  • Ban and Himiko from GetBackers. After spending almost 95% of the series like this, the 37th volume reveals that they might not be completely unrelated after all -- but the exact nature of their blood relationship is not specified.
  • This is how Flit feels about Emily in Gundam AGE, but he eventually marries her to make her happy after the girl he really wanted to be with is killed in battle.

Comic Books

  • Hulk and She Hulk, although they are cousins, and were partially raised together.
  • Wonder Woman and Superman: they've been shipped together for years (both in-universe and out, to a lesser degree), and are frequently paired up in Elseworlds and Alternate Universes, but they've never been anything more than close friends in the main continuity.
  • Dick Grayson and Donna Troy from the New Teen Titans. They really act like brother and sister and shared leadership of the team. Which is surprising given that he is the Chick Magnet and she looks like a younger version of Wonder Woman.
    • Fridge Brilliance: They have the same blue eyes and blue-black hair, have known each other since their early teens, and when George Perez was drawing them, they also looked similar enough to pass for a pair of fraternal twins. It's past the traditional Westermark cutoff, but on a subconscious level, they might think of themselves as siblings.
      • Also, he really prefers redheads.
    • On the other hand, their siblings with near identical features have no problem with hooking up. Jason with Donna, Tim with Cass. Then there is Bruce and Diana. Should they get together, Dick and Donna would actually be related.
  • Dwight and Miho from Sin City have this relationship.

Fan Works

  • DC Nation takes the Troia and Nightwing dynamic and cranks it to eleven. One of the alternate universe plotlines even implied that they may have been brother and sister in several of Donna's other "short and unhappy lives."
    • In the same universe, Connor Hawke will say his feelings for Mia (Speedy) are like this... the truth is a bit more complex.
  • In Titans and the Lost Boy, Starfire apparently decides that Ryouga is similar to a Tamaranian. This leads to her growing closer to him, which eventually leads to this kind of relationship. Said relationship persists throughout the sequel, Dark Titans, and the sequel/crossover with The Road to Cydonia, Reflections Lost on a Dark Road.
  • In the Subroutine Fan Verse (Tron: Legacy / Tron 2.0 Patchwork Fic), Jet and Quorra fall into this pattern.
  • In A Study in Regret, Inspector Lestrade and Mary Watson develop this relationship in the story's Rescue Arc.
  • There are three girls whom the protagonist of Isekai by Moonlight trusts and loves, but the one who he never thinks of as a romantic interest is Sailor Moon. She returns the feeling, and he has had to explain their relationship to her fiancée.


  • Xavier and Mystique in X-Men: First Class, although there are subtle hints that Mystique's feelings might be a bit stronger.


  • In Little Women, old childhood friends and neighbors Jo and Laurie ultimately decided to just love each other like brother and sister... which was an obvious choice, since Laurie had just married Jo's sister, Amy... while grieving and contemplating suicide after Jo turned him down.
  • Harry Potter: Harry assures Ron in the seventh book that he only loves Hermione like a sister, after... well, that would be telling.
    • This was presumably what was in the head of whatever fandom wit started the rumor that the sixth book was going to be called Harry Potter and the Pillar of Storge.
  • Egwene uses this line in The Wheel of Time to make it perfectly clear to Rand that he has no attachments (He agreed, though she thought, incorrectly, that he was mostly putting up a brave face at the time). Followed by her best friend Elayne getting into a relationship with Rand that is most definintely not so.
    • Perrin also says it in an attempt to let Min down easy, before realizing that he needn't because it's not him she's after.
  • Princess Andromeda does this deliberately in Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms. She and her rescuer swear blood-siblinghood to prevent the story from forcing her to fall in love with him. It turns out it wasn't as needed as it seemed, as they actually ended up swearing sisterhood.
  • In the Arrows Of The Queen trilogy, Herald trainees Skif and Talia try for an adolescent romance but continually find circumstances conspiring against them. Eventually they give up and swear blood brotherhood instead. The inevitable shipping is sunk once and for all when she ends up lifebonding to Dirk.
  • In the Circle of Magic series, this is the explanation for why none of the main characters are sexually interested in each other. They call each other foster siblings.
  • At the beginning of Mansfield Park, Sir Thomas Bertram is reluctant to adopt his niece for fear of Kissing Cousins. His meddling sister-in-law Mrs. Norris believes raising them like brother and sister will actually be their greatest protection against that trope. She's wrong.
  • It's amazing—you can actually hear Mr. Knightley's heart break when Emma uses these words when they're about to dance in Emma.[1]
  • In Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson novels, Mercy's love triangle with Samuel and Adam is resolved when Samuel, a werewolf, is forced to admit that his wolf side sees Mercy this way, not as a potential mate.
  • There's a bizarre, amusing variant mentioned in the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures novel EarthWorld: Anji considers the Doctor to be like a sister to her. No, he hasn't regenerated into a woman, but he's the Eighth, who's just shy of Camp Bisexual, at least in the novels. She considers him to be quite nice to look at but not her type, and he very rarely seems to fancy anyone. He does kiss her on the lips later in the book, but that's because he acts as if he had No Social Skills and has No Sense of Personal Space. And he opens up to her emotionally perhaps a bit more than he does to his Also-Not-Exactly-Heterosexual Life Partner, Fitz.
  • In Hell's Children, the Damned are this way.
  • The queen of Eddis has this type of relationship with her cousin, Eugenides. They find it funny when others imagine them in love.
  • Betsy and Tony by the end of Heaven to Betsy.
  • Horance and Alyss and Will and Evanlyn from Ranger's Apprentice.
  • Victor and Ginny have this sort of relationship in Honor Harrington although it's complicated somewhat by the fact that they frequently go Undercover As Lovers.
  • In PG Wodehouse's Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie has to spend a good deal of time insisting that he and Pauline Stoker are this trope. No one buys it because they used to be engaged, even though Pauline is now in love with Bertie's friend Chuffy and Bertie is actively trying to set them up.
  • Matteo and Eliza in Someone Elses War.
  • In Chronicles of Chaos, Amelia, who has been in love with Victor since day one, has her hopes crushed when he curtly tells Colin to "stop molesting his sister." Victor is actually tacitly warning Colin to back off.

Live-Action TV

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy and Xander, at least after Season Two. For the first two seasons it's a bit one-sided (Xander's in love with Buffy during this time).
    • Xander and Willow also end up like this. They start off more like Platonic Life Partners, but as the series progresses they drift apart a bit, and form close relationships with other people. They remain good friends, though, not to mention part of the same group of True Companions.
  • On Angel, Cordelia and Wesley bicker and taunt each other mercilessly, but they are good friends, and are always there to defend each other in times of danger. If it wasn't for the accent difference, they could almost be brother and sister.
    • Cordelia and Angel were also like this for the first two seasons of Angel, which led to some viewers being displeased when their relationship changed to a romantic one from partway through the third.
  • On NCIS, Ziva tells Ray that Tony and her are like brother and sister. He's visibly stunned.
  • C.J. and Toby on The West Wing are this, rather blatantly, since they're in a group of True Companions that is closely modeled on a nuclear family. How they actually got to be friends (years before the show started) is frustratingly never mentioned, just like Josh and Sam, or Jed and Leo.
  • Annie and Augie on Covert Affairs
  • Frasier Crane and Roz Doyle

Roz: You've always been just like a brother to me. Which is weird, I know, because we slept together...

  • Firefly
    • Mal and Zoe. They appear to have been Platonic Life Partners until Zoe married Wash, but since Zoe unflinchingly chooses Wash over Mal in War Stories, it's safe to assume that, much like Xander and Willow above, Mal and Zoe's relationship has been demoted. After Wash dies in Serenity, it's quite possible that Zoe and Mal's relationship will return to Platonic Life Partners status.
    • Also, Mal and Kaylee, and their actors in real life. Leading to this exchange in the Big Damn Movie (though it's somewhat jarring, as both of them have seen each other naked):

Kaylee: Goin' on a year now, I ain't had nothin' twixt my nethers weren't run on batteries!
Jayne: I could stand to hear a little more.

  • Kurt Hummel and Mercedes Jones in Glee. Although the interest in them being a couple is completely gone by episode 3 when Kurt comes out of the Transparent Closet...they remain the closest (platonic) friendship in the show.
  • Donna and the Doctor from Doctor Who, although they were often mistaken as a couple. One of the first companions in the revival not to view the Doctor as a romantic interest, these two characters had a very close platonic friendship.
  • Guinevere and Merlin became this on Merlin. They probably have the healthiest relationship on the show, and both were prepared to die for the other within the first four episodes of the show.
    • Arthur and Morgana sort of have this, but it's debatable and their relationship evolves over the series. Considering that Morgana is Arthur's father's ward, she's essentially his foster sister. Actually, shes his half sister, so a literal application of this trope.
      • Luckily Mordred already exists in season one, is probably about half Arthur's age at that time, and means there will be no need for either Morgana or Morgause to seduce Arthur and bear his child for the sake of the plot.
  • Luke and Rani on The Sarah Jane Adventures are, of course, very close friends, but there's not a hint of attraction from either side between them. Also, Luke is still pining after Maria and Rani has rather intense Unresolved Sexual Tension with Clyde.
  • Ted and Lily from How I Met Your Mother. Notable in that, since Lily's been Marshall's girlfriend since the day he and Ted became roommates, and Ted and Marshall have been Heterosexual Life Partners for almost as long, Ted and Lily have been basically brother- and sister-in-law since college.
  • On Leverage this plays out between Eliot and Parker with Eliot playing the role of a protective big brother. They even manage to have interesting conversations while on the job:

Parker: What's sexting?
Eliot: I am not having this conversation with you Parker.

  • John Sheridan and Susan Ivanova have walked through fire together and told each other things they haven't told anyone else. There's also not a hint of romantic interest in each other on either side.
  • After a brief Ship Tease, Hercules and Xena decide they're Better as Friends and become this.


  • Subverted by French singer Jean-Jacques Goldman in Elle a fait un bébé toute seule: "I'm like her big brother... A little incestuous when she wants to".

Video Games

  • Tidus and Rikku from Final Fantasy X. Rikku is the first person Tidus is able to talk to in Spira and they form a really close bond over the course of their journey. Yuna and Wakka also as they grew up together on Besaid. She actually says that she and Wakka (as well as Lulu) are brother and sister.
    • Tidus and Lulu in a way become this as well. Lulu is initially cynical towards Tidus when he joins the group but she is always the one who tells him about Spira and she has definitely warmed to him by the time they get to Guadosalam.
  • Miles Edgeworth and Franziska Von Karma from the Ace Attorney series. This one is quite blatant in that they were raised together as brother and sister, under a family name, not some cliche'd "Raised on the same orphanage" thing. Both parts acknowledge the other as a sibling figure, and Franziska has said Edgeworth was a Von Karma numerous times. This doesn't stop them from bickering, but that doesn't stop blood siblings either.

Franziska: "He's like my little brother."

    • This is also a good explanation for Phoenix and Maya. The way Phoenix acts around Maya is very much a big brother type of attitude. This is likely due to Phoenix taking after Mia, who was Maya's older sister. When they are interacting with each other, there is absolutely no hint of it being anything but that sort of relationship, though other characters (and a good amount of fans) seem to assume otherwise.
    • Apollo and Trucy seemed to fit into this trope perfectly... Until it was revealed that they, unbeknownst to them, actually were brother and sister. Half-siblings, but still...
  • Falco Lombardi and Katt Monroe from Star Fox. They're not related, but they've known each other for most of their lives. Their once-ambiguously-portrayed relationship turned out to be this once it became clear in Farewell, Beloved Falco that Falco isn't into girls, but they have a sibling-like loyalty to each other.
  • At the beginning of Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Jonathan Morris states that his childhood friend Charlotte Aulin is like his dear sister, much to her displeasure since she doesn't like to be treated like a child.
  • Though it's never outright stated, the male and female leads in Tales of Vesperia fall into this. Despite numerous Shipper on Deck moments from other companions in various skits, they never stray from being like brother and sister.
    • The same case can also apply with the main hero and heroine of Tales of Graces. Despite the traditional romantic feelings harboring between the Tales Of heroes, this time, the main character's love interest isn't the main heroine (who unfortunately is hit hard by some fans), so despite the numerous Ship Tease moments, nothing romantic ever occurs between the two of them. It doesn't help that the main heroine isn't even human. In the Lineage to the Future arc, Asbel explicitly calls Sophie like a sister (although in a skit, she refers to him like a father-figure as well - It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Corpse Party has Mayu Suzumoto and Sakutarou Morishige. Sakutarou does not take it well when he finds out that the mutilated corpse he's been obsessing over is Mayu's.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Tails and Amy act like this. Amy's Stalker with a Crush status can make things a bit tense, however.

Web Comics

  • Trigger and Layla in Far Out There are most emphatically in this sort of relationship.
  • In Something*Positive, Davan and Aubrey are like this, especially since they've known each other long enough for the Westermark Effect to be in place.
    • Davan and Pee-Jee are an almost as good example, although they didn't know each other nearly as long and Davan had a crush on her prior to the comic's beginning. Davan even refers to her as Mei-Mei (Chinese for "little sister") at one point.
  • Creepknight and Bowler certainly seem to reflect this in Voodoo Walrus. At very least, they argue like brother and sister.
  • The Order of the Stick: Roy and Haley. Also, assuming Vaarsuvius is a guy, him and Haley as well.

Web Original

  • Apollo and Calliope in Thalia's Musings, except on rare occasions when Calliope is drunk.
  • Aiden and Lake in Disventure Camp are rather close. Their relationship is justified due to Aiden being transsexual and Lake being a lesbian.
    • In addition to Aiden and Lake, there’s also Hunter and Tess. Hunter is in a relationship with Ally but the two are still close.

Western Animation

  • Flash and Hawkgirl in Justice League. Any flirting between these two can be entirely attributed to Flash's tendency to hit on anything in a skirt, and even that stops by the shift to Justice League Unlimited. He even describes her as being like his "big sister" in the final season of the series.
  • Also from DCAU, this is how Clark Kent seems to have come to view his ex Lana Lang, though she threatens to go back to Lex Luthor if he ever calls her that.
  • Lance and Illana from Sym-Bionic Titan poses as siblings in their high school. Gennedy Tartakovsky said before there was to be no romance between those two.
  • Terry (Batman) and Maxine in Batman Beyond have this, being really really close. Although many fans think they'd just be better off dating, neither charaters actually show any interest in the other that way.
  • Played with in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law:

Birdgirl: You realize there's absolutely no chance we'll be kissing, right?
Peanut: Yeah, d'uh, of course; you're like my sister. (pause) Which given a little thought could be a very hot concept.

  • The titular character and Ingrid Third in "Fillmore" are the Safety Patrol's best officers and friends.
  • Henry and June from KaBlam!, according to Word of God.
  • In the Brandy and Mr. Whiskers theme song, the eponymous duo are described as "like a dysfunctional brother and sister."

Real Life

  • This is quite common in real life amongst childhood friends. Studies show that children who know each other during their early childhood will rarely develop any romantic interest later in life. It's hypothesized that this is part of an instinctual mechanism designed to minimize the possibility of inbreeding. It's called Westermarck effect. But do Middle/High schoolers with those two friends who have known each other since preschool care? Nooooooo....
  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, having been very close friends after Titanic and collaborated again in Revolutionary Road and nothing more. Shippers disagree. Kate's kids call him "Uncle Leo", and for a kissing scene in Revolutionary Road, Leonardo stated that it felt slightly weird because kissing Kate was like kissing a family member.
  • Harry Potter actors Rupert Grint and Emma Watson said it was weird to kiss each other for the eighth and last movie because they had grown up together since the first one and thought of each other as brother and sister. Same when Emma had to kiss Daniel Radcliffe (though the relevant scene itself was already decidedly unpleasant in context).
  • Arguably the luckiest of King Henry VIII's wives was Anne of Cleves. Misled by flattering portraits on both ends and a need for a political alliance, they married. As soon as it was time to consumate things, the pair found out that there was absolutely zero attraction and Henry opted for an annullment. Lucky Anne, though, kept in good standing with Henry, and became known as the "King's beloved sister."
  • David Faustino denied that there was ever any romance between him and Christina Applegate on Married... with Children, instead defining their relationship as this trope.
  • Jennette McCurdy has specifically said that kissing Nathan Kress feels like kissing a brother, and it's part of the reason some fans see the relationship of Sam and Freddie in the 5th season of iCarly as being subject to Shipping Bed Death due to the lack romantic chemistry.
  • During an interview with Craig Ferguson, Jet Li literally stated that his fellow actress Michelle Yeoh, whom he had quite some history working with, is "Like a brother to me".