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This article is about the trope. For other uses, see Soulmate (disambiguation).

Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Soulmates, Soulmate AU
Related: Soulbond, Mates, Alternate Universe
See Also: Mates (trope)
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Soulmates are people who are fated to be together, usually romantically, sometimes through multiple lives[note 1] and/or into the afterlife.

Based on actual folklore and spiritual beliefs common to many world cultures, soulmates have been a common trope in mainstream fiction, romantic and otherwise, as well as fanfic, for decades. The concept is actually canon for some fandoms.

Soulmates can be very similar to soulbonding (a mystic or psychic bond between two or more people), but soulbonding can happen through mystical means later in life, as opposed to soulmates who are always meant to be together.


Soulmates have been a trope in folklore and spiritual beliefs common to many world cultures. Some couples are considered soulmates within their canon, giving the ship extra validity among fans. Fans may consider their OTP to be soulmates – such views can be used to oppose multi-shipping.

This article or section needs expansion.

In the 2010s, fandoms use of the soulmate trope shifted strongly toward Soulmate Marks, leading to the development of specific subtropes. Amateur and professional authors have written of such a "mark" signifying soulmates for centuries without referring to it specifically as a "soulmark".

See Soulmate Marks for more.

TiMER, a 2009 sci-fi romantic comedy movie, is likely a cause of the rise of soulmate-identifying marks in fanfiction. In the film individuals are able to get a TiMER, a wrist implant that counts down to the day when the user will meet their soulmate. From soulmate timers, the trope evolved into Soulmate Names, a tattoo-like mark showing the name of one's soulmate, usually on the hand or wrist and in the soulmate's handwriting. In fan fiction, stories with this concept are documented as appearing in about 2011.

There seems have been a surge of Soulmate and Soulmate mark works in 2012/2013. The Soulmate-Identifying Marks tag on AO3 was created on January 11 2013, after the "Soulmate AU" tag was created on September 18 2012. The next evolution of the trope was First Words. This subtrope may have started with a viral Tumblr post by kenzie-no-mc (kenezbian) in April 2014. As of July 2017, the tumblr post had over 730k notes.

soulmate AU where you wake up on your 18th birthday with the first words your soulmate will say to you tattooed on your body so you’ll know them when you meet them[1]

Canon Soulmate Couples

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.



This article or section needs expansion.

A classic soulmates concept is that a couple are destined to be together not just in one life, but for eternity. Regardless of the individuals' experiences in their lives, the core essence of souls do not change and are always drawn to one another. Esoteric and Theosophical folklore such as C.W. Leadbeater's The Lives of Alcyone or the writings of Alice Bailey promote the idea that one must have every possible relationship with one's soulmate -- friends, family, co-workers, lovers, antagonists -- through numerous lives. These ideas were popularized in the romantic fantasy novels of Marie Corelli, including the extremely popular A Romance of Two Worlds. Her follow-up novel The Life Everlasting went into even more specific detail about the souls' journeys through various reincarnations, in which they are purified and refined to perfection, finally ascending together into heaven.

Physical Connection

See also Soulbond

The idea that soulmates can be identified through a certain physical "mark" is as old as the soulmate concept itself. Romantic tales have soulmates bearing identical birthmarks or having exactly the same eye colour and shape. Soulmates may look like twins, or look completely opposite to one another, symbolizing a complementary union.

In anime series, soulmates may even communicate by writing on their own skin, knowing the message will appear on their partner in the same place. The sharing of injuries, bruises, pain, or otherwise is a more angsty variation of this subtrope and is also used in sf/fantasy and weird tales about twins.[3]

Soulmates can also be revealed through touch[4][5] or through a literal change in the way they view the world, such as black-and-white vision going full colour upon meeting one's soulmate(s).[6][7][8]

Other Signs

A February 2017 tumblr post in the Check Please fandom instigated this subtrope: "soulmate au where one person finds a goose who leads them to the other person. the difficulty comes in not being mauled by a goose"[9] The earliest fanwork in the AO3 tag is OMG, Goose Please! by Boxstorm (2017-02-22). As of February 2019, approximately 40 works on the AO3 feature soulmate geese.

Other signs used in fanfic that two characters are soulmates include soul eyes and red strings. Soul eyes are eyes that take on the color of your soulmate's eyes.[note 2]

The red string, usually found in anime and manga, comes from an East Asian belief originating from Chinese legend called yīnyuán hóngxiàn or the Red String of Fate. Frequently found in Japanese works, where it's referred to as akai ito or unmei no akai ito, the concept is that two people who are destined to be together are attached at the ankles by an invisible red string by the gods. In Japanese and Korean culture, it is thought to be tied around the little finger.[10][11] In fan fiction, red strings are almost always wrapped around one's little finger to direct the wearer to a soulmate, only joining together when the soulmate is found.

Trope Subversion

As with all tropes, there also exist a number of fanworks which explore its unintended consequences or try and go against the usual course of the soulmates narrative, for example focusing on characters who are platonic soulmates, who *don't* have soulmates in a world where everyone is expected to have one, who have several simultaneous or consecutive soulmates, whose soulmates are already deceased, whose marks don't match up in a conventional way, or who chose to be with someone other than their marked soulmate. This is no different from the speculations popular in Theosophy and other New Age lore.

This allows creators to explore themes such as marginalisation, asexuality, polyamory, diversity and choice/free will vs fate/predestination.[12]

The concept of a soulmate pair can also be subverted by individuals having more than one soulmate.[note 3] This can be explored as a soulmate having more than one romantic partner, or as having a single romantic partner and another platonic or otherwise.

Fanwork Examples

  • Fighting Instinct by Lunavere, "Soul mate is a term coined by our kind to describe the natural attraction between two weres, at least one of them being born into lycanthropy. It’s unknown what decides who is whose soul mate, but it is on a chemical and biological level." (Sherlock/John)


  • The "Home" Series by Nan Smith; An immortal Clark Kent courts and eventually marries the next incarnation of Lois Lane.
  • The Falcon (Multiple authors); "The Falcon" takes us to Italy during the Renaissance, where a bookish young nobleman and his beautiful wife struggle to triumph over evil in 1507. (First of a series chronicling the souls of Lois and Clark in different eras)

Sense Changes

  • Bellarke AU Soulmates (The 100) gifspam by bellamyblakc, "The world is black and white until you meet your soulmate. Maybe the world turns to color the first time you see them. Maybe it’s the first or hundredth time you touch them. Or maybe it’s after years of knowing them and the world turns to color slowly and everything falls into place."

Physical Connection

  • Orange-Violet Blooms (Harry Potter) by Graziana, a Harry/Hermione fic, She can't look for long - her own fear starts to win. So, instead - adrenaline pounding - she screws her eyes shut, presses her smile into Harry's jumper and watches the glorious night sky through his eyes instead.

Trope Subversion

Communities and Websites

See Also

  • Soulmate article on Wikipedia
  • Soul Mates XKCD what-if discussion of some practical issues related to soulmates
  • Soulmate AU Fic at TVTropes, brief overview of the Soulmates AU in fanfiction and fanfiction examples from various fandoms.


  1. ^ An example of soulmates through multiple lives is the Star Trek: Voyager Janeway/Seven fic Le Coeur de Lion.
  2. ^ In esoteric folklore, twin souls may have eyes the same color or other distinguishing features that show their relationship.
  3. ^ An example of a soulmate trio is this untitled commentfic in the Sherlock BBC Prompting Meme on livejournal, posted 5 January 2012.


  1. ^ soulmate AU by kenzie-no-mc, 22 April 2014.
  2. ^ For more information on the Were-Hunter Soulmates/Mating, see Were-Hunter: Mating section at the Dark-Hunter Wiki
  3. ^ For example, L.P. Davies' Paper Dolls has telepathic quadruplet boys separated at birth, who feel each other's pain and can adopt each other's talents.
  4. ^ The Sherlock (BBC) prompt (and fic fill) that's "Set in a world where people can identify their soulmate through touch."
  5. ^ The Suits fic Imprimatur by Closer is set in a world where people recognize their soulmate(s) through touch; "find your soulmate" handshaking events are mentioned.
  6. ^ apharthurkirklands starts a new Soulmate AU
  7. ^ Colour Soulmate AU tag on Tumblr
  8. ^ [query=colour+soulmates Results of the "colour" + "soulmates" search on AO3 bringing more than 180 results as of Jan 16, 2016.
  9. ^ AU suggestion, Archived version, tumblr post by shitty-check-please-aus, Feb 11th, 2017.
  10. ^ Red thread of fate at Wikipedia.
  11. ^ Red String of Fate on TvTropes.
  12. ^ it's you i find like a ghost in my mind by magneticwave, locked to AO3 users, a One Direction story where characters defy their marks to chose someone else.