You know what we don’t see a lot of in fiction anymore? True friendships. And I’m not talking about any of that bromance nonsense or the buddy cop formula. None of that, I mean real true friendships between two guys who pulled each other through troubled times knowing that standing together was the real way to win.
I think there’s a great difficulty in writing a bond between two men and them being able to stand against adversity. That especially holds true when you have to convey that they are friends from the outset and don’t simply develop a friendship in crisis. That isn’t as hard to sell to an audience member as a friendship that developed during a relatively peaceful time and only now has met a real test.
So in honor of well written friendships I’m going to write a list of my favourite friendships from various entertainment media and see what makes them work.
Frodo and Sam from The Lord of The Rings
“Sam, I don’t see a toilet anywhere.” “I know Mr. Frodo.”
You have to admit; in this particular friendship it was Sam who carried most of the load, especially into the third film. Samwise Gamgee really is the friend you wanted to come with you into a foxhole to remind you that better days were coming, that these moments of pain and strife and death were only a passing moment.
And Frodo, well, you know for all the ways he makes the mistake of listening to Gollum in the third film he actually does a lot of good in the first two, earning the trust of Smeagol and resisting the taint of the one ring. He even goes so far as to separate from the fellowship so they too cannot be tainted by the one ring. Only Sam can stand beside Frodo and not suffer the effects of the ring, even when he holds it.
Despite all of the pitfalls and moments of betrayal, in the very end the trust between the two is left when Frodo leaves Sam to finish the tale of one of the most pivotal historic moments in the history of Middle-Earth. Frodo hasn’t just trusted Sam on his adventure; he’s also trusted him long after the journey’s end showing that the last word belongs to the most stalwart companion.
Kain and Raziel from The Legacy of Kain
Regular buddy cop team-ups are for pussies!
This one might confuse you at first considering that these two spend the better part of three games entirely antagonistic towards one another. But, while we all enjoy friendships that survive over hardship, we learn a lot from those that completely fall apart.
Raziel and Kain’s relationship throughout the entire series is marred by Kain’s betrayal of Raziel and justifiably so. Raziel is wounded deeply that his master and creator has attempted to destroy him only to leave him in a shattered form; meanwhile Kain is forced into the sad destiny of betraying his favoured lieutenant.
While Soul Reaver shows the height of the antagonism between the two it’s clear that much of Raziel’s anger comes from the fact that Kain shows no remorse for his actions despite years as his faithful lieutenant while Kain simply accepts the evil of his deeds and knows that the danger at end of the journey is at a much higher stake.
Towards Soul Reaver 2’s climax the two become somewhat more amicable, with Kain convincing Raziel to accept that while Raziel’s reasons for killing Kain are justifiable, there are much more looming and dire concerns in the land of Nosgoth. Finally when Raziel is confronted with his true origin and his horrid destiny we see Kain enacting his plan to liberate Raziel and give him free will.
Defiance only reinforces the point that the only way for the two to succeed is to work in tandem which Raziel sunders during a fit of madness (caused by an extraneous power). It is only at the end, when Raziel has left himself with no remaining options does he realize that the only hope for the future is to at long last work with Kain at his side, even if his only option is the most disastrous one for himself. In that way we get to see just how strong these two are as a team.
And it’s just a bit sadder that they never could work together prior to that moment.
Ameterasu and Issun from Okami
“Hey Ammy! When are we going to go see some nice boobs?”
Okay let’s shift focus on some of the more happy friendships. One of my favourites is probably that between Ameterasu and Issun. Despite being a video game team there isn’t much in-game that Issun does. I mean, only in two areas, one of which locks out once you complete it, does Issun actually become a gameplay element. Most of the time he only highlights in-game objects for Ameterasu and even then he doesn’t act as a lock-on mechanism in combat like Navi.
So why do people hate her and love Issun? Well, probably because of the whole “Hey listen!” thing but also the fact that Issun just has so much personality! He’s energetic, he’s well-meaning, and he’s a pervert! More than that though, Issun is also the voice for Ammy in game and is how most characters interact with her via his dialogue. As such he adds commentary to most of the absurd situations in the game.
It also becomes clear at the end of the game that though the two might be separated forever, their friendship has not ended, in fact, it’s become even more essential as Ameterasu now protects the heavens and earth from evil while Issun must make sure she receives enough worship to stay strong.
Also, if you don’t cry during their parting or the final battle of the game you officially have no soul.
Ratchet and Clank from…. Ratchet and Clank
Some team-ups can be bad ass and adorable.
This is one of my favorite friendships because from the second game on you start to truly appreciate just how close they are. These are two heroes who fight side by side every time and it’s something that’s reflected in gameplay. As I said in an earlier entry all of Ratchet’s mobility is enhanced by Clank and Clank is protected by Ratchet.
It really shows in the Future Trilogy of the game franchise when the two are separated. There we see the lengths that they go to rejoin one another, crossing vast distances and cheating the laws of time. Even in the end, the parting cut scene Clank has rewound time to save the life of his best friend and then is given the choice to remain as the caretaker of time or travel with Ratchet.
I don’t think I need to tell you what he picked.
Doc and Marty from Back to The Future
“Doc, I think wherever that pig lands it’s going to be delicious.”
Ah yes, the friendship that actually stood the literal test of time. In fact, we could say that Doc and Marty aced the test, made valedictorian from the course and nailed the hot teacher for good measure.
No matter at what point in each other’s lives the two meet they’ve always trusted one another! Even before they first met! And it’s always such a great relief when each is happy to learn the other is okay.
I can’t even point to a specific moment when the two of them trusting each other defined the friendship since the entire trilogy is defined by it. It flows from Marty tirelessly trying to rewrite Doc’s death and following his council on handling historic events (most of the time) to Doc continually trusting Marty during critical moments despite the teen’s often reckless attitude.
So tell me, what are some of your favourite friendships? I’d be happy to see some more that can stand beside the ones I’ve listed here. Let’s see what kind of dialogue we can get going about what makes some of the greater friendships work.
So too does this work exist.