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Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.
Even a beautiful scenery, even a beautiful flower is meaningless when you see it alone...
—Misao's Song, Magical Project S
I Just Want To Have Friends, like The Four Loves, is a form of Wish Fulfillment answering to the desire that some members of the audience have to form many close friendships. A probable reason this is so common in fictional media is the fact that a high amount of people consider themselves to have very few or no friends at all. As this is not limited to real life however, many fictional shy people and those with few or no friends look for the same fulfillment as the reader, leading to two variants of this trope:
While "doing something really cool" is the focus of most fantasies, they also tend to focus on the friendships the characters have. These fantasies often provide "idealized" friends that the audience presumably doesn’t have. While in Real Life a true friendship needs time and investment, in this kind of fantasy setting often the protagonist will obtain tailor-made deep bonds and friendships with little to no time or effort at all.
This also happens in Real Life online, where e-relationships eliminate most of the usual hardships of making friends and they help shy people to open themselves and show how they really are without worrying about their self image.
Sometimes fictional characters do not so easily get friends handed to them with the plot. They are lonely from the start and desperately looking to make and keep friends. The reasons for their loneliness may vary but in the end a character who really wants friends may either try to go about it in the wrong way, make friends with the wrong people, or secretly angst about it behind a diffident facade. If they end up successful more often than not these fictional characters will turn out to have been sociable all along, especially for Shrinking Violets, Hollywood Nerds, Cool Losers etc.
See also Wish Fulfillment, I Just Want to Be Beautiful, The Four Loves, I Just Want to Be Normal, I Just Want to Be Special, Friendless Background, You Are Not Alone, Et Tu, Brute?, False Friend, Imaginary Friend.
Type A Examples
Anime and Manga
- Gohan in Dragonball Z. He spent much of his childhood being home-schooled, and mostly interacted with people his parents knew. In his first day of high school, he got friends very easily and some dates.
- This is the wish Yugi Mutou made on the Millennium Puzzle.
- Usagi Tsukino from Sailor Moon as the ease she developed her relationships, plus all the attention in her True Companions is always towards her.
- Naruto could be a mix of both type A and B. When he was a little boy, the parents scornfully avoided him because of the nine-tails demon fox within him, told their children to stay away from him while he himself suffered loneliness as a result. Eventually upon having Iruka's encouragement and joining team 7 under Kakashi, he starts to make friends around him. Though, he doesn't make any friends quickly, but instead gains their respect and acceptance over time through his actions. Except for Hinata.
- Many characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion (in fact, the moral of the show is arguably that the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE falls into this category), but particularly the emotionally troubled, socially awkward and manically depressed protagonist Shinji Ikari.
- The very plot of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and as the title name suggests, all the characters in the story have trouble making friends, so the female lead Yozora Mikazuki started a club for these kind of people.
- Mirai Nikki: Yukiteru Amano can be seen as a deconstruction of this trope. He didn't have any friends until he was 14 because he was scared of getting hurt and being pulled into the death battle gives him a serious wake-up call. Unfortunately, this desperate desire for friendship turns him into a Horrible Judge of Character who ends up getting screwed over by several of the people he attempts to get close to. And that's not even getting into the fact that he has a Yandere girlfriend who is very against letting anyone other than her get too close to him. Harsh as it sounds, Yuki would have saved himself a lot of grief if he had just decided Yuno was enough.
- Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia. Himaruya's new profile on him points out that he truly wants to have new friends
- This is stated to be Ayumu Nishizawa's original intention in confessing to Hayate in Hayate the Combat Butler. It seemed to have evolved into true affection for him by the second time, resolving back to simple friendship later as she realized that Hinagiku really loves him, and the acceptance that both Hinagiku, the rest of the Baka Trio and Nagi have accepted her and she no longer needs to fear being left behind by him.
- In opposition to the style of the trope type, it did appear that there is lots of work and effort being put into building and strengthing these friendships, since she's not the main character, it's not been focused on though.
- Fullmetal Alchemist- For all his gloating about how greedy he is for everything in the world, it turns out that all Greed really wanted were True Companions.
- The main motivation for Nano, the Ridiculously Human Robot Girl from Nichijou, to want to be normal is this.
- There are probably too many fanfics to list that appeal to this wish. The appeal of the Black Hole Sue and The Purity Sue are arguably derived from this wish (as well as the specific desire to have certain characters as friends, including characters that in canon are normally distrustful).
- Twilight fulfills this wish. Despite not lifting a finger to gain friends, Bella being the audience avatar gets friends in high school remarkably easy. Even when she forgets her Muggle friends for Edward Cullen or Jacob Black (ignoring them for months in New Moon) these friends are always there for her regardless.
- Foundation and Empire: The Mule goes through childhood and adolescence without anyone ever liking him "naturally" (as opposed to being forced to do so by his psychic powers). Not until he's well into his twenties does he meet Bayta Darell, who has genuine affection for him (possibly because he's The Woobie--Yes, a Woobie who is also the Big Bad is an unusual combination). He's so overwhelmed by the feeling of just being liked that he inadvertantly, carelessly, lets her ruin his plans for conquering the Second Foundation.
- On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is a main driving point behind Faith's actions. She really wants to be friends with Buffy but it never really happens. Then they do start becoming friends and she accidentally kills a man and pretends not to care, destroying the friendship they had been building. The comics touch on this, with her angsting over how she pushes away anyone who is the least bit decent to her.
- In Smallville, Clark himself fulfills this wish as he easily befriends "exotic" people all the time. Not only are his close friends loyal to him but also their lives are also centered towards him (Cloe Sullivan, Pete Ross, Lana Lang, etc.).
- In ICarly, Freddie and Sam's lives are centered towards Carly. Without Carly there wouldn't be a friendship between them because Sam and Freddie dislike each other. However, neither of the two will hesitate to please her.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place while Alex Russo might not be the most popular person, her friend Harper is a loyal best friend.
- The Sims
- World of Warcraft
- Second Life
- RPGs are in general designed in part to fulfill this desire as more often than not Because Destiny Says So the hero will be the leader and part of a group of True Companions.
- Mass Effect 2 doesn't throw out destiny. You have to fight to earn your crew's trust, and to build your team's capabilities and the coherence of the group to a point where they will follow you through hell and back.
- Subverted by most First Person Shooters as you almost always end as a One-Man Army Lone Wolf. 90% of the time you do have people helping you, they're generic soldiers that die just as easily as your enemies.
- Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible is both Type A and B, in that he wants to be popular. However, though he doesn't have many friends, the ones he has are very close.
- Actually, as 'So The Drama' pointed out at the end, both Kim and Ron have a lot of friends - as the crowd at the dance broke out in cheers for them when Bonnie tries to embarrass them by announcing that they're a couple.
- Phineas and Ferb
- The fireside girls are this to Isabella Garcia Shapiro, as they more often than not bend towards her desires (despite most of them being centered towards Phineas)
- Phineas is easily the most popular kid on the show, even being friends with the bully.
- The "bully" himself is this. He's not very good at relating to people, which makes him lonely and bored, both of which cause him to act like a fairly stereotypical bully. And no, not in the sense that he's "jealous of you." Some episodes make it clear that he's actually a subversion, though.
- In Winx Club, Bloom fulfils this desire because at the beginning of the show she was not very popular until she suddenly found she was actually a Magical Girl and quickly became the leader and center of attention of her True Companions.
Type B examples
Anime and Manga
- Misao Amano from Magical Project S is very timid, though she desires to be more social like her friend Sasami and tried in the 1st episode to befriend a boy. She was ultimately very shy to even say hello but at the end of the series she got more confident.
- Sailor Mercury and Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon were both very timid and people (wrongfully) avoided them (Mercury because people thought she was arrogant, and Jupiter for being tall and strong) until they got deep true friends in their True Companions.
- The R movie puts all the inner senshi in this position. Rei didn't have friends because she was regarded as creepy, Minako had become an outsider because she didn't have time to spend with her classmates.
- Starrk and Lilynette from Bleach. That was their only reason for joining the Espada in the first place. Even more, it was the reason they split into two separate beings.
- Shizuo Heiwajima from Durarara admits that he craves any sort of social interaction, but is terrified of exposing innocent people to his Hair-Trigger Temper and hurting them. Things start looking up for him from volume 4 onwards when he starts getting some control over his rage issues (he manages get through a small party without losing his temper, develop a couple Intergenerational Friendships, and go on something resembling a normal date with a girl — even if said girl is a bit Axe Crazy, In Love With His Carnage, and secretly plotting his murder), but he still has a long way to go.
- The very plot of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and as the title name suggests, all the characters in the story have trouble making friends, so the heroine Yozora started a club for these kind of people.
- Many characters from Neon Genesis Evangelion (in fact, the moral of the show is arguably that the ENTIRE HUMAN RACE falls into this category), but particularly emotionally troubled, socially awkward and manically depressed protagonist Shinji Ikari.
- Russia from Axis Powers Hetalia is a Psychopathic Manchild version. He's scary, mean, childish... and really wants to have new friends, according to his profile and his Lighter and Fluffier portrayal in the latest strips.
- To a lesser extent, England. It's what motivated the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in the first place.
- Greed from Fullmetal Alchemist, not that he would admit it out loud.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- "I'm not afraid of anything anymo-" *CHOMP* The line was said by Tomoe Mami, a Magical Girl who have been fighting witches alone for years. When she finally found a friend in Madoka, she was so happy that she dropped her guard in fighting a sandworm-like Witch, which then proceeded to chomp her head. Well, considering that according to a CD drama, She has teamed up with Kyouko, but they had a nasty fallout afterwards, which led to her fighting witches all by herself, which makes it sadder that she probably had trust issues with people, too.
Akemi Homura: "I'll repeat it. I'll continue to repeat it over and over. Visiting the same time again and again, searching for the single exit out. Searching for the path to save you from a fate of despair." "Madoka... my one and Only Friend. If it's... If it's for you, I have no problem being trapped eternally in this maze."
- Eddie Bloomberg aka Kid Devil had very few friends his age throughout his early history, the closest people being his aunt Marla and the hero Blue Devil. His later efforts to gain super powers and joining the Teen Titans were partly from I Just Want to Be Special, but also because he desperately needed some kind of family unit. When he fears he's losing his friends, he ends up inviting fans of his over to the tower, which ends up in disaster and causes him to become even more alienated. This is used against Eddie by Clock King when he brainwashes him into a violent monster, and Miss Martian has to remind him that he does have friends in order to bring him back to sanity.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Tsuruya used to be one of these.
- Toby from the film Shorts wants friends so badly he makes a wish on a wishing stone for friends "as interesting and unique as I am" and gets a bunch of extraterrestrials for friends.
- The eponymous main character from the horror movie May is a strange girl who doesn't have any friends, but ends up making one...
- It is suggested by The Social Network that Mark Zuckerberg (the character as well as the real-life person) falls into this category, and is hardly subtle in demonstrating the irony of a man (or man-boy) creating a revolutionary tool for connecting friends and in the process driving away his own.
- At the beginning of the 2000 remake of Bedazzled, Elliot's blatant desire for friends is made painfully obvious, to the point where everyone actively avoids his ham-fisted efforts.
- Kane from Citizen Kane is an example very similar to The Social Network. He ultimately drives away all his friends with his egotistical personality and self-centeredness, becoming Lonely At the Top.
- Chip Douglas from The Cable Guy is a villainous twist on this trope, as his desperate attempts to become the main character's friend gradually shift from mere social awkwardness to obsessive stalking.
- The King in The Little Prince is implied to be this. Note how desperately he tries to get the Little Prince to stay.
- In Harry Potter:
- Remus Lupin comes off a bit like this. There are more than a few instances where he goes against his own better judgement because he really likes to have people like him, partly due to his ostracism over being a werewolf.
- Luna Lovegood painted the main gang as her friends in a wall. This demonstrates how lonely she must have been before meeting them, considering her and the gang weren't particularly close. By the time she painted Harry & Co., it's arguable that she actually was that close to at least some of them. She often supports Harry when no one else will, and she seems to spend a lot of time with Ginny. The evidence placing her in this trope comes sooner than this, in Half-Blood Prince when she says of the DA meetings, "It was like having friends".
- According to Word of God, Snape hung out with the Death Eater Jr. gang and went on to join Voldemort with them partly because of this trope.
- Likewise, Ginny and Hermione started off this way. Ginny was very shy and meek and didn't have many friends, and the guy she had a crush on was way out of her league (she thinks). Hermione was an Insufferable Genius for two solid months, before she chilled out and became friends with Harry and Ron. because of her status as the Insufferable Genius, nobody wanted to be her friend, nobody liked her much.
- In Still Life with Crows, the real Serial Killer is a Psychopathic Manchild, hideously deformed from a broken back when he was little, monstrously strong thanks to a lifetime spent climbing a cave network. Since his only contact with the outside world was with his mother, all he wanted are some friends — even if that included "playing" with them with lethal results.
- Jane Eyre. Jane is so desperate for love and affection that she tells Helen Burns she'd happily let herself be kicked in the chest by a horse if it meant Helen and the Headmistress would care for her. Helen then shushes Jane and tells her to put more faith in God than in human companions.
- Another Charlotte Brontë example: Lucy Snowe in Villette is overjoyed to be spending so much time with Dr. John despite the fact that he is a pretty big Jerkass to her because she has felt so alone all her life.
- The main for characters of The Circle Of Magic series, although three of them would probably hate to admit it. They all come from a Friendless Background. Sandry is very cheerful and friendly, but her family constantly traveling made it difficult to form permanent relationships. Then almost all of her family was killed in a plague. Daja also probably had friends on her trader ship, but then everyone died in a storm and she was made an outcast from her society for being bad luck. Tris is naturally cranky and a jerk, and magical powers which made her seem like a possessed demon didn't help her. Finally, Briar Moss was a street rat who didn't seem to have very close friends. When they're all forced into a house together they do not get along very well, and only Sandry tries tries to make peace. Eventually through months of Character Development they become True Companions. (Although, Sandry magically tying their magic together so they became psychically linked probably helped, too.)
- In Smallville while Lex Luthor genuinely wants to trust people, his position in power plus the fact that he tends to be overprotective leads to him losing the few friends he has, making him fall into this. Tess Mercer too , according to her actress Cassidy Fremman: http://www.kryptonsite.com/season10-cassidyfreeman.htm
- Ned from Ned's Declassified Survival Guide wants to be a popular kid and manages to be in the popular table, but at the end he realizes that the popular table is where his friends are. Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Michael Scott from the American version of The Office exemplifies this trope. Episode after episode is based around the principle that he desperately wants to be loved by everyone, especially his employees, and that he's really rather lonely outside of the office. This is, in fact, the justification for most of his outlandish behavior—he's trying to be a crowd-pleaser.
- The Doctor from Doctor Who has elements of this trope. Hundreds of years old, a genius, the last of his race- all of this makes him very isolated. Even when he does get friends, it's inevitable that he'll lose them eventually, either from old age, death, alternate dimensions, mind-wiping or just moving on with their lives or falling in love.
- The fact that he was shown to plead with his arch-nemesis not to leave him probably shows just how lonely the Doctor really is.
- In Glee Rachel Berry, mostly in the second half of season one onwards. And each attempt goes horribly, horribly wrong. Improves in the second half of season two with her friendship with Kurt, Mercedes, and Blaine.
- Barney from How I Met Your Mother.
- In the Community episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" this is Dean Pelton's reason for conspiring with anyone who offers.
- "You Light Up My Life". Probably the theme song for all the lonely people out there. http://www.romantic-lyrics.com/ly6.shtml
- Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical: "You think killing people might make them like you, but it doesn't. It just makes people dead."
- Ill Girl Marion from Dragon Quest IX is like this.
- In the Puyo Puyo series, Seriri the Siren desperately want friends, but her paranoia that people may want to eat her flesh so they become immortal prevents her from achieving her wish.
- The fact that Arle and the rest of the cast do little to convince her that her paranoia isn't entirely justified—on occasion, Arle seems legitimately interested in eating her, less for immortality than because she's technically fish—certainly doesn't help.
- The new Water-type starter Oshawott from the upcoming 5th Generation Pokémon games has been the target of this (though it's starting to turn around) on a certain Image Board, with pictures ranging from the other two starters trolling him into thinking he's unliked to him being the last one to be picked (a fairly long time after the others)... by a trainer who likes and wears blue as well and asks him to be his friend.
- Kingdom Hearts has Namine, who was not only born alone, but was captured and locked away by the villainous Organization the moment she came into existence. Her desperate longing for a friend is what fuels most of her actions throughout the series, particularly Chain of Memories.
- Okamiden has Kurow. In fact, it's one of the reasons for his Face Heel Turn.
- In the Visual Novel Katawa Shoujo This is revealed to be major motivation for Shizune late in her path. Due to a combination of her deafness and her upbringing, she found it very hard hard to make friends and form relationships with others, resulting in her becoming a Lonely Rich Kid. When she came to Yamaku, she turned her efforts towards making other people happy in the hopes that would make them like her, which is the main reason why she joined the Student Council. However her drive combined with her competitiveness eventually caused her to drive nearly everyone else in the Council away accept for her only friend and interpretor, Misha.
- In F.E.A.R. and its sequels, this is really the driving force behind everything the insane, apocalyptically powerful Alma does: she wants a family. In the first game, she's calling her long-lost sons to her, unaware that she'd kill them if she touched them, due to her overwhelming psychic power. In the second, she constantly pursues Beckett out of a desire to have a child with him, again unaware that he wouldn't survive contact with her. Throughout both games, she continually makes anguished cries, wondering why everyone, even those she loves, run from her and try to harm her.
- The eponymous character of Casper the Friendly Ghost desperately wants to have friends, something hard for him as everyone is scared of him because he is a ghost.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy has Jeff the Spider and Nergal.
- Starfire from Teen Titans was very lonely before joining the team, and still lonely even after she joined. When she thought she was being replaced by her sister Blackfire, it affected her deeply as she isn't very fond of losing friends.
- Raven also qualifies. Though very solitary and anti-social, she truly wants friends and is very protective of the Titans once she considers them such. Just because it's true doesn't mean she'll ease up on Beast Boy, though.
- Timmy Turner from The Fairly Odd Parents doesn't really have many friends (he has only two human friends). In one episode he pretended to be a cool rich kid to be accepted in Trixie Tang's social group, only to discover that he wasn't being loved for being himself but for the stuff he wished for.
- Randal from Recess had this coupled with a Heel Face Turn; though at the end he preferred being the teacher's pet, abandoned all his friends; and had a Face Heel Turn.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Toph. In her own words when she made her debut: "...I know you were just trying to protect me, but I'm twelve years old and I've never had a real friend."
- Aang himself had this, despite being among the most social member of the main cast. When Sokka and Katara were going to abandon him looking for their dad, Aang hid their map because he was scared of being alone. This may be due to every friend he's ever had and everyone he knows (other than Katara, Sokka, and Bumi) has been dead for a hundred years, and most of them were burned to death in a genocide that started the global-scale war Aang has been charged with ending.
- Azula thought she had friends, until "The Boiling Rock" where her "friends" betrayed her. To be fair they were never her friends, they were just scared of her. In the last episode, she went insane in part because she couldn't trust in anyone, because of that she became very paranoid.
- In Phineas and Ferb, Candace in one episode believed her friends are ignoring her and she falls into this trope, replacing them and becoming the queen of Mars — It Makes Sense in Context. At the end it turns out they weren't ignoring her, so she gets back with her friends.
- Mighty Max had Max having to work with a geeky kid who simply would not shut up. Turns out the kid's motivation was because he wanted friends, prompting Max to have to deliver a wake-up call for him.
- Danny Phantom
- Danny himself. Although he already has two best friends, he constantly has needs to fit in with the popular crowd. This becomes more apparent in the episode "Attack of the Killer Garage Sale". In "My Brother's Keeper", Jazz Lampshades this. He eventually gets better.
- Klemper who unlike Danny doesn't get better from this (since he's only a minor character) and constantly asks anyone to be his friend.
- In The Simpsons Nelson is revealed to have no friends at all. Due to this, he becomes obsessed with Bart Simpson.
- Surprising as it may seem, Eddy from Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy has this. Despite the fact he is a megalomaniac con-artist, it's actually a Jerkass Facade, as he thought if he acted like his older brother, people would like him, when it actually has the opposite effect, although he does eventually realise this.
- Princess Luna, in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. She just wants to make friends with other ponies and be as well liked as her sister, but her intimidating demeanor, creepy motifs, social awkwardness, and hair trigger temper leave her ostracized. It was so bad a thousand years ago, that she literally became a monster to deal with her feelings of loneliness and jealousy.
- Word of God is that she was just sort of jealous that everyone took one look at the night and went, "Well, I can't see a thing. Time to sleep," and spent all their time doing stuff during the day, but she could kind of deal with it at the end of the day, only then some evil power that conveniently hasn't been seen or mentioned since took advantage of that jealousy to barge in and wreck up the place.
- This has become Porky Pig's main character trait in The Looney Tunes Show—he's so lonely that he puts up with constant abuse from Daffy Duck just because Daffy calls him a "friend". He even untied Daffy, after Daffy had bankrupted him completely and bought a yacht with his money, simply because he was sweet-talked and promised a hug.
- In Questionable Content Hannelore's initial attempt to befriend Marten came across as awkward and forced due to her limited social skills (since she grew up on a space station), and took a bad turn when Marten found out she'd been stalking him for some time. It turned out fairly well in the end though, and she's genuinely glad to have friends (it helps her deal with her OCD).