"Oh, wait, wait, wait! Wait, everybody! Let me see if I've got this straight. All the lust coursing through this lodge tonight, all the hormones virtually ricocheting off the walls, and no one... was chasing me?"
Frasier Crane in Frasier
Season 5 Episode 14, "The Ski Lodge"
Sometimes a work contains so many ship teases that most of the protagonists end up involved in a tangled web of angst, heartbreak and relationship issues. The author often includes a Shipper on Deck
to muddy the waters, and the end result is usually Played for Laughs
while also giving dramatic impetus to the plot. However, at the climax, someone
is going to get their heart broken because there are too many potential ships going on for them ever to be resolved to all the characters' complete satisfaction.
This trope requires:
- At least one Ship Tease
- Characters with unspoken feelings for each other
- A love triangle (or any similar complication that means at least one character will be left single if it's resolved)
- Evidence offered to suggest that Alice is attracted to both Bob and Charlie, and possibly Dick (and, in extreme cases, Jane).
For Bonus Points
- A break up and/or a temporary estrangement
- A Shipper on Deck, who is unknowingly trying to get the wrong people together
- A scenario where the characters think Bob and Alice have feelings for each other, but they don't (or only one of them does)
- A scenario where everyone (the audience and the characters) think Anne likes Billy. Even Billy thinks this. But at the climax it's revealed that she doesn't.
Allow to simmer and then bring all the characters together for the climax. There will be a reconciliation, a violent bout of Ship Sinking
and the unveiling of the Official Couples
. Any evidence for other relationships that has been offered throughout the story will be explained away. One major character will be left Alone Among the Couples
, either because no-one is attracted to them or because they nobly step aside to let their more worthy friend date their love. For Bonus Points
include a couple of extras who were in relationships with major characters but whose ships get sunk.
For extra Bonus Points
, include a scene after the climax showing all the happy couples, giving any single extras new relationships and offering your single protagonist hope for the future or a relationship.
Then all you have to do is start Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends
Related Tropes: Ship Tease
, Relationship Upgrade
, Official Couple
, Ship Sinking
, Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends
, Alone Among the Couples
Fascinating as your social lives undoubtedly are
... No Real Life Examples
[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
- Marmalade Boy, at least two characters seem to have no romantic options by the end. This might be because the series (especially the anime) is a horribly tangled mess of romantic polygons.
- The The Magic School Bus Fan Fic Popular Mechanics For Lovers contains an archetypal, immensely complicated, version of this trope that ends up involving twelve people, including all of the protagonists. The story begins with Tim and Arnold in love with Phoebe, the girls believing that Carlos loves D.A. and Ralphie loves Keesha, and someone (the girls reckon Carlos) sending D.A. anonymous notes asking her to got to the end of year dance with them. They joke about Phoebe secretly loving D.A., eliciting a Suspiciously Specific Denial from Phoebe. Janet pesters Ralphie into dating her, and D.A. works out that Keesha and Wanda both like him. The latter two conspire to break up the relationship, although Keesha tells D.A. that she's planning on using Wanda to help her break up Ralphie and Janet and then outsmarting her friend to take Ralphie for herself. Meanwhile, Phoebe agrees to go on one date each with Tim and Arnold to shut them up: her date with Tim isn't great but she ends up in bed with Arnold. When she tells the girls about this, she insists that she doesn't love him, but her behavior towards him indicates otherwise. However, any chance of a relationship between them seems to have been ruined when Phoebe overhears Arnold and Tim talking about their dates with her, and Arnold boasting about sleeping with her. Then the reader finds out that Phoebe's in love with Mikey, Carlos' little brother. Wanda decides that, although she loves Ralphie, the evidence suggests that he loves Keesha and therefore she'll stand aside for her friend if they succeed in breaking up the relationship. Ralphie dumps Janet of his own accord, and Tim and Arnold declare a 'truce' and set out to find and apologise to Phoebe. At the climax, everyone arrives at Carlos' house for various reasons: Phoebe is helping Mikey with his homework in the kitchen, Carlos is watching sport in the living room with Ralphie (who is hiding out from Janet), Wanda and Keesha arrive to talk to Ralphie, with Arnold and Tim hot on their heels seeking Phoebe, and finally D.A. arrives to speak to Carlos. Everyone congregates in the kitchen and D.A. confronts Carlos about the notes, teling him he should admit to writing them, and asks him to go to the dance with her. He agrees, but it turns out Mikey wrote the notes - although he takes his blunt rejection with good grace, pointing out the unlikelihood of a hyper-intelligent, incredibly hot girl two years his senior ever returning his affections - and a heartbroken Phoebe locks herself in Carlos' bedroom. Carlos and Arnold go to try and talk her into coming out, and Arnold is so worried about her that he injures himself trying to break down the door. Meanwhile, Wanda and Keesha agree that, as things seem to be turning into some kind of soap, they will do the decent thing and avoid another feud by getting Ralphie to choose between them and accepting his decision as final. He chooses Wanda. Meanwhile, Phoebe has to drive Arnold to the hospital and they rekindle their relationship there. This climax is followed by a final chapter, set at the dance:
- Wanda goes with Ralphie
- Arnold goes with Phoebe
- Tim goes with Tiffany, who only appears in canon in one episode ("Wet All Over") and hadn't appeared in the fic at all before this point
- Keesha goes with some random member of Arnold's swimming team
- D.A. goes with Carlos
- Mikey goes with no-one. The poor guy doesn't get a mention
- Janet's reputation ensures she has guys queuing up to ask her to dance
- Jane Austen is probably the Trope Codifier, making it Older Than Radio. This happens in all of her novels, but most spectacularly in Emma, where her Shipper on Deck, protagonist Emma Woodehouse is a wannabe matchmaker who always tries to pair off the wrong couples and misses all the not-so-subtle clues that would tell her who the right partnerships were. In the end she almost gets her own heart broken and one of her friends does get her heart broken. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
- J.K. Rowling does this in the later Harry Potter books. Goblet Of Fire ships Ron/Hermione, Hermione/Krum, Ginny/Harry, Harry/Cho, Cho/Cedric and Ginny/Neville. Order Of The Phoenix keeps up the UST between Ron and Hermione, gives Harry a relationship with Cho and Ginny a relationship with Michael Corner, only for those ships to break up towards the end of the novel. Cho and Michael start going out, Harry is left single and Ginny dates Dean Thomas. Half Blood Prince sees Ron and Hermione almost get together, then gives Ron a relationship with Lavender Brown. Harry falls in love with Ginny, and she leaves Dean for him. At the end of the book, Ron has broken up with Lavender but failed to get together with Hermione, Luna and Neville get a slight ship and Harry breaks up with Ginny for her own safety. Deathly Hallows gives us a slight Luna/Dean ship, Ron and Hermione finally get together, Harry and Ginny get back together and Cho and Michael are still in a relationship. However, there's indications that Cho is still in love with Harry, and Word of God says that Luna and Cho married people who didn't appear in any of the books.
[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
- Merlin. Arthur/Morgana, Merlin/Morgana, Gwen/Lancelot, Merlin/Nimueh and Gwen/Merlin are teased. Then, you have to remember that the canonical ships are supposed to be Arthur/Gwen, Arthur/Morgana, , Gwen/Lancelot, Merlin/Morgana and Merlin/Nimueh.
- The Frasier episode "The Ski Lodge", as indicated by the page quote.
- The finale of Veronica Mars has all but the Shipper on Deck. Piz likes Veronica, Veronica kind of likes Piz and is trying to convince herself she feels nothing for her ex, Logan (who was also rebounding on another character), but when Logan punches out a well connected Russian mobster merely for insulting Veronica's honour, Veronica's convictions become less clear. Word of God implies that things didn't work out between her and Piz after the series end. This was after three (ish) break up and re-make ups between her and Logan, during one of which Piz sort of sat quietly in the background.
- Legend Of Korra: It's a real Love Dodecahedron. Korra likes Mako, Mako has his Crash-Into Hello girlfriend Asami, Bolin has feelings for Korra, and then it gets tangled in the end. There is even a Shipper on Deck. In the end, Korra and Mako get together.
- By the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the only main character not in a relationship is Toph. She had been crushing on Sokka, who ends up with the warrior-girl Suki. However, Toph isn't one to complain about something like that, refusing to draw attention to such a feminine part of her personality, and didn't have anything negative to say on the matter on screen. She went on to have a daughter, Lin, but it's still unknown who the father is.