Created By: xie323 on May 25, 2013 Last Edited By: NightShade96 on September 20, 2017

Real Life Sank The Ship

Real life complications destroys a fictional pairing

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Hooray! It's the season finale and they finally got together and became the Official Couple! After the viewers watched them Meet Cute, shrugged at the arrival of the Romantic False Lead, sat through seasons and seasons of Will They or Won't They?, shouted hurray at their Now or Never Kiss and this is the moment we've all been waiting for! And for good reason, because next season...

They break up or their relationship ends in some horrible, horrible way possibly for good....since one of them is being written off and will most likely not be coming back. But why? Can't we just see them together happily for ones? Well no, next season either one of them leaves on a Long Bus Trip and the other receives a "Dear John" Letter because hey, since they will mst likely no longer see each other again and hey, Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder. That or one of them gets Killed Off for Real. But why?

Well, what you've most likely seen is an example of Real Life Sank The Ship, one of the most common forms of Ship Sinking in entertainment. As you see, actors are fickle people, and may lose interest, or simply get bored in what their role is and not sign up for another season. That or, there is a contract dispute between the actor and the director of a Tv show or movie that the actor was in resuting in said actor getting written out. Or it many be that the actor had a tight schedule and can't focus on the show anymore, or he/she dies and it becomes a case of Author Existence Failure. Anyways, once this happens, the ship is sunk, possibly for good, and the chances of them getting back together is almost nil, unless the actor/actress somehow gets back into the show, and even then possible guest appearances could deal with the two moving on and struggling against their feelings for one another, and ultimately or grudgingly succeeding.

Compare with Real Life Writes the Plot, see also Watsonian Versus Doylist (this trope fall under Doylist)

NOTE: Has nothing to do with actual disasters and ship sinking at sea.

Examples of this include:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Through their relationship never got beyond some Ship Tease in the original Mobile Suit Gundam, there was speculation, giving what was seen in the novel, that Tomino wanted Amuro Ray and Sayla Mass to get romantically involved with each other at one point. However, as Sayla's voice actress was busy, being on a safari when Zeta Gundam was airing, she couldn't be around to portray her character in Zeta Gundam and was Demoted to Extra, having only one scene in Zeta Gundam and a cameo in Gundam ZZ. It has been speculated that the character of Beltorchika Irma was supposed to fill the role originally intended for Sayla in the anime. And with the death of the actress by cancer in 2003, this may never be explored. However, this might have happened to some degree in canon as implied in one of the earlier Zeta Gundam episodes, where Fraw Bow makes an offhand remark about Amuro "mooning about Sayla".


     Live Action TV 
  • In the Power Rangers fandom, some people speculate that the reason for Kimberly's "Dear John" Letter to Tommy was because the actress didn't want anything to do with the show anymore so they couldn't portray their relationship as a long-distance one.
  • In House of Anubis, this was the ultimate fate of the relationship between Nina and Fabian, after spending 2 seasons trying to get together and then breaking up, and getting back together again, they apprently broke up for the final time in Season 3, with Nina sending Fabian a "Dear John" Letter saying that she can't come back because if she does "terrible things will happen", and it drove Fabian nuts. The reason for all of this in real life is because Natalia Ramos, the actress who portrayed Nina, chose to focus on her studies instead of signing up for season 3. And with the possibility that the movie, if there IS a Season 4 will end the current story arc, the fact that Nina is very likely not appearing in the movie as Natalia is rumored to not be in it and the next season if it gets renewed would most likely focus on a new generation, don't expect them to get back together any time soon.
  • On Cheers Sam & Diane's on-again-off-again relationship culminated in them getting married - except Diane leaves Sam at the altar to go off and write her novel. She promises to come back in six months, but since Shelley Long (Diane) was leaving the show nobody expected her to do so.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • May 25, 2013
    • 1 Can we have a name that doesn't invoke the Titanic disaster immediately?
    • 2 Is it even possible in fictional works?
  • May 25, 2013

    1. Like what? Any ideas? How about Real Life Sank The Pairing or Real Life Wrote Off The Ship

    2. A lot of pairings, both official and fan-preferred have actually been sunk this way.
  • May 25, 2013
    Do we need another shipping trope? This one seems to be a strange mix of trivia and ymmv. I'm not sure it's well-defined -- there's too much speculation, no? I am personally not convinced. But I know lots of people here take shipping and trivia bits more seriously than I do, so perhaps others will have different opinions.

    Anyway, Killed Off For Real should go away from the description at any rate as it's not just any Character Death but death in sci-fi, fantasy or comics setting where Death Is Cheap. (KOFR is now in Trope Repair Shop for misuse and the clean-up is in progress.)
  • May 25, 2013
    Please note that this usually applies to movies and TV, and to some extent anime/any form of animation.

    And honestly, I myself am not sure if we need another shipping trope, just found this a common recurrence in fiction not becasue I'm a shipper or anything(in fact, many shippers actually annoy me). Can't think of any other examples of this at the moment off the top of my head...
  • May 25, 2013
    New shipping tropes tend to get shot down rather quickly.
  • May 26, 2013
    On Cheers Sam & Diane's on-again-off-again relationship culminated in them getting married - except Diane leaves Sam at the altar to go off and write her novel. She promises to come back in six months, but since Shelley Long (Diane) was leaving the show nobody expected her to do so.
  • May 26, 2013
  • May 26, 2013
    I don't think this is a common enough case of Real Life Writes The Plot like to warrant a subtrope.

    Also, like X Filo said, this feels like a weird mix of YMMV and trivia. Add to that the fact that some shipping tropes (especially the punny ones) are being sinked at the time, and we've got outselves a recipe for discarding.
  • May 26, 2013
    see also Watsonian Versus Doylist (this trope fall under Doylist)
  • May 26, 2013
    The only possible explanation for Mikaela breaking up with Sam Witwicky between movies in the Transformers franchise is that Megan Fox compared Michael Bay to Hitler. Since producer Steven Speilberg is a Jew...
  • August 16, 2013
  • August 16, 2013
    Can be better if you remove the Example As A Thesis
  • August 16, 2013
    Sorry it took so long to remember, but I misspelled "Spielberg". Somehow, even the best of us can forget about the whole "I before E except after C" thing sometimes.
  • August 17, 2013
  • August 17, 2013
    Corrected Long Bus Ride to Long Bus Trip, Namespaced and italicized work names.
  • August 18, 2013
    What about Rachel/Finn on Glee, which isn't going to happen anymore with the actor's death? That seems like an example.
  • August 18, 2013
    As seen in this article on (I've never seen the show myself, so I can't vouch for that) :

    • While working on Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron's became a born-again Christian and demanded the studio to fire Julie Mc Cullough, who played his character's fiancee, because she once appeared in Playboy. As a result, his character was stood up at the altar.
  • September 20, 2017
    Comic Books

    • Incredible Hulk: Writer Peter David wrote the comic for over 10 years, even reuniting Bruce with his long-time Love Interest Betty Ross and marrying them. At the time, David himself was Happily Married and his wife's favorite character was Betty, so he swore that he'd never break her and Bruce up or kill her off. In the last legs his run, David's marriage came to a very bitter end and he was suffering a terrible Creator Breakdown. As a Take That aimed specifically at his wife, he killed of Betty by stating that her marriage to the radioactive Hulk gave her cancer. In an interview years later, a much more stable David regretted his decision and realized how it'd hurt fans of the couple.
  • September 20, 2017
    Real Life Writes The Plot already covers this, not enough examples for subtrope.