10 Best Friendship Tropes in Fiction
I think it’s time to talk about something uplifting and positive, like friendship! A while back, I broke down my 10 least favorite friendship tropes in fiction, and today I'm flipping the script! We're talking about my 10 all-time favorite fictional friendship tropes. I'm talking about the pairings, conflicts, and shenanigans that I love to read about.
These are the tropes that cure my depression, water my crops, and clear my skin, because they're so, so amazing! Let’s get into it!
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Number 1: Betrayal
Betrayal, especially in fictional friendships, is so fucking good because it's so fucking bad! Getting betrayed by someone you consider a close friend is such a low blow, and I think everyone can connect to it. That's why it's so effective in fiction. If your main character is betrayed by their friend, you feel that gut punch. It's relatable. It's visceral. It's extremely realistic, and from a writer's perspective, it opens up the story to tons of potential conflict. Not only does your character have the complications of the betrayal to deal with, they also have to deal with the pain of losing a friend. This is a trope I utilize in my own writing, and I love to see it in the books I read because it gets me angry and invested every time!
Number 2: Found Family
If this one isn't on your personal list of favorite friendship tropes, I'm judging you. Hard.
Found family is not only one of the best friendship tropes, it's one of the best tropes period. One, it gives writers the opportunity to bring together different, unique characters, which creates a lot more depth and originality in the story. Two, it's entertaining as hell because of all the different personality types thrust together. And three, it's a sweet message. Not everyone is born into a family that loves and accepts them unconditionally. The found family trope gives people hope that they can find and create their own family–one who will care for them as they are. This trope is tried and true, and I will probably never get tired of reading about it.
The found family trope gives people hope that they can find and create their own family–one who will care for them as they are.
Number 3: Rivals-to-Friends
Similar to enemies-to-lovers, it can be really gratifying to see two rivals become friends by the end of the book. I think the reason this trope is so effective is because these two characters instantly have something in common: they are both equally passionate about the same goal. This creates very obvious tension, but it also creates an opportunity for deep and meaningful bonding. We may see the characters compete with one another at the start, but over time, they can connect with each other over how much they love whatever they're doing or the annoyances of whatever they're competing for.
I like this trope because it's layered. As a writer, it gives you lots of chances to show different sides of your character's personality. Plus, it often creates really entertaining and fulfilling character arcs, and as a character-driven writer and reader, that is exactly what I'm looking for.
Number 4: The Bromance
All I want is some heartfelt, open, platonic affection between men.
I'm not asking for much, here. I think the reason the bromance is popular in fiction is pretty obvious: the goddamn patriarchy. Men are often discouraged from being soft or vulnerable in any way, so when I see men breaking through the mold and saying, “Fuck you, I'm gonna hug who I want!” I get all fuzzy inside. You embrace your inner marshmallow! I support you!
I just think it's sweet and endearing. It's fun to read, and I want more of it!
Number 5: The Slumber Party
It doesn't have to be a literal slumber party, but I love it when books feature some kind of overnight with friends. Sometimes it's an overnight stakeout. Sometimes it's camping. Sometimes they're going into hiding. I don't know, I don't care, I love it all!
I love these situations in fiction because they provide so many opportunities for hilarity to ensue! Someone snores or talks in their sleep. Someone wants to cuddle their friend and their friend is totally not into it. Hell, maybe someone sleeps naked! It's even better if they're drunk, or high, or under some kind of substance that makes them extra stupid. If they're not being complete idiots or ruining each other's lives, they are bonding and sharing stories and being extra adorable! Give me more slumber parties! They are the perfect opportunity to make the reader laugh and smile.
Number 6: Strictly Platonic
I am so sick of friends-to-lovers. I would much rather see two characters of the opposite gender just be friends. It's possible, I promise! Everyone automatically ships characters with opposite genitalia, so long as they look at each other or share a laugh. I remember readers shipping Delphi with Tobias in the scene where she literally talks about being a lesbian.
I love a good platonic friendship. No sexual tension, no unrequited love. Just friends! For starters, it normalizes it, which is kind of sad that it needs to be normalized in the first place. Plus, at this point in time, it's an anomaly. It's bold and unusual to let a man and a woman be friends in a book and nothing more. So I say, writers, be bold! Please. I'm begging you!
Number 7: The Wingman
Friends who want their friends to fall in love or get some action are my kind of crack! I think I enjoy this trope because my personal experience with friendship–at least in the past–was very different from this. Growing up, I had friends who would get jealous if I was dating or didn't want me to meet a guy. Hell, I had friends who ghosted me as soon as I got a boyfriend! It wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I developed friendships with people who were excited to see me in love and happy. Thus, I think it's a really adorable feature in fictional friendships.
For starters, it's just plain healthy. A good friend should want their friend to be happy, and if a romantic relationship makes them happy, they should support that. On top of this, it sets the stage for hilarious, awkward, and adorable shenanigans. A friend who's fighting like mad to get their bestie a boo is gonna cause all sorts of trouble, and I want a front row seat!
Number 8: The Odd Couple
We see this a lot in fiction. Two people who seemingly have nothing in common, yet they're best buds. I, for one, am a fan.
Now, there are exceptions to the rule. In a lot of books, particularly young adult books, you'll see a friendship where one person is popular and the other is a dork or a nerd. I don't like this version of the odd couple because there's usually the implication that the popular kid ignores their best bud at school and only hangs out with them when no one else is around. That's some shameful bullshit, and I don't like it!
But give me a satanic goth and a peppy cheerleader, and I'm all for it! Give me a bookworm and a bad boy, and I'll eat it up! My personal favorite is when one friend is huge and the other is teeny tiny.
Number 9: The ‘Ew, Don't Touch Me’ Friend
I personally love this fictional friend because I can relate to them. I don't want to be touched, either. People are gross.
This person doesn't want a hug. They don't express verbal affection. Hell, they probably won't acknowledge the friendship in any manner whatsoever. But they're probably gonna bend over backwards and do something supremely considerate or generous when their friend isn't looking, or they're gonna risk their ass defending that person even if it means throwing themselves into the line of fire. Then after all this, they're gonna act like it never happened.
“Nothing to see here! Move along! I don't have feelings, you have feelings! Pfft, loser…”
Again, this is a trope I personally relate to, so I really appreciate seeing it in fiction. Some people are shit at expressing love through verbal or body language but are great at expressing it through action, and it's really refreshing to see this kind of love language in media.
Number 10: The Ride or Die Bitch
Fair weather friends are the fucking worst, and while I absolutely think reality–both the good and the bad–should be reflected in fiction, I am obsessed with the ride or die friendship trope. The friend who has your back no matter what. The friend you can fight with, but they will still be by your side when shit hits the fan. Emotional maturity for the win!
It's just so heartwarming to see this kind of friendship! Plus, it creates lots of opportunities for conflict and subplots. Maybe the ride or die bestie gets kidnapped in the act of riding or dying. Maybe they disagree on something pivotal to the plot, and you think this is gonna create a wedge between them. But goddamn it, they just can't quit each other! Besties who are here for the long haul make for great, solid reading material, and I want more of it… right now!
So that's all I've got for you today!
These friendship tropes are some of my favorites to read and I wish we could see more of them in fiction! The world needs more BrOTPs, people. I’m just sayin’…
What are your favorite friendship tropes? Lemme hear ‘em!
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