One of my favorite tropes in storytelling is when two characters who couldn’t be more unalike in their personalities, backgrounds, convictions, philosophies, what have you, turn out to be on the same wavelength in some unexpected way.
One of the most famous examples I can think of is 30 Rock. It’s hinted quite early on that Jack and Tracy think more alike than you’d expect, most notably in the “mind grapes” moments in “Tracy Does Conan.” But there are other examples from early on: In the previous episode “Jack Meets Dennis,” when Tracy tells Jack his face tattoo is fake, Jack immediately understands what he’s doing. “Street cred. He’s a genius.” Heck, in the first episode, Jack is explaining to Liz why TGS needs Tracy, using the GE trivection oven as a metaphor– Tracy is the “third heat” the show is missing. At the end of the episode, after Tracy fills two minutes on the show after a sketch goes awry, he shouts over the crowd’s applause, “I AM THE THIRD HEAT!”
And Tracy, for his part, seems to get what Jack is trying to impart to him rather quickly; see “The C Word,” where Tracy starts acting out after he realizes he’s Jack’s Token Black Entertainer Friend on an executive retreat, before deciding to play the game to get ahead and revealing himself to be quite cunning at it. (“Yeah… I don’t have a daughter.”)
Another example I thought of akin to the “mind grapes” moment is from NewsRadio. Jimmy is very protective of Beth like he might be with a daughter, but they have their moments that reveal they think oddly similarly. In “Office Feud,” Jimmy is disgusted that the upstairs office has been occupied by a non-profit, saying the very word is “an oxymoron, like Swiss cheese.” Dave exasperatedly and to no avail tries to explain to him that “Swiss cheese” is not an oxymoron. Later in the episode, Jimmy corrects Beth that “rain on your wedding day” is not irony, but an oxymoron (obviously, it’s neither). Beth: “Oh, you mean like Swiss cheese?” Jimmy: “Exactly.”
Perhaps the most notable and long-running example is from Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Larry David and Leon Black. There’s really no reason Larry should be friends with Leon, let alone let him stay at his home, and yet, the two seem to have a connection and shared understanding that goes beyond Larry simply finding him entertaining or wanting to have a cool Black friend. Leon gets Larry’s weird social fussiness; Larry gets Leon’s schemes and rules for living. And the two both have a gift for coining a turn of phrase, and invariably the other immediately understands it. Despite their far different backgrounds and experiences, the two’s worldviews are in sync.
What are some of your favorite examples of character pairings like this and the moments between them that reveal it?