->''"Hey, the movie's called ''Back in Action'', not ''Back in Love''!"''
-->-- '''DaffyDuck''' commenting on some deleted scenes from ''Film/LooneyTunesBackInAction''

When a romantic subplot is tacked onto a work with little relation to the overall story. Especially blatant when the setting or premise of the plot leaves little room for romance, such as [[AfterTheEnd after the Apocalypse]] or in the [[ActionSeries land of racing cars and guns]].

The reasons behind this are understandable: love is often quoted to be universal, and directors and producers want to cater to the [[MultipleDemographicAppeal largest demographic possible]]. What better to draw females to theaters than with a few tender scenes inserted here and there in an action or disaster movie? Or to [[TheissTitillationTheory titillate]] the males in the audience with a GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe hanging around the hero? Or vice versa?

Unfortunately, the romance subplot itself tends to be shallow and underdeveloped, existing only because [[AManIsNotAVirgin the audience expects the hero to have a healthy love life]]. In fact, if the TokenRomance was removed entirely, it would barely leave a ripple in the overall plot quality. The love interest is nothing more than a bland, forgettable SatelliteCharacter, and may even be ignored or replaced by another love interest in a sequel.

Sometimes a TokenRomance works, but even then, it'll still have "obligatory romance" stamped on it because the mere presence of a lone hero with the [[TheChick token female]] is enough for the audience to anticipate sexual tension.

Not to be confused with TokenMinorityCouple. Can become a RomanticPlotTumor if it threatens to [[PlotTumor overwhelm the main plot]]. Often added in an adaptation by making a minor character PromotedToLoveInterest. Contrast HookedUpAfterwards.

This page is not "Complaining about love subplots that you don't like". Please do not treat that way.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* There is some of this in ''Anime/WindyTales'' with the relationship between Miki and Jun. They are declared a couple out of the blue, even though they don't do anything which indicates that they are (Miki sure isn't always that nice toward Jun, for instance). Sure, there is Miki's contrived fit of jealousy in one episode which is solved by [[spoiler:one make-up kiss]], but that's about it.
* ''Manga/TheEnigmaOfAmigaraFault'' has a tacked-on romance between Owaki and Yoshida, seemingly just to offer a HopeSpot before things [[FromBadToWorse gets worse]].
* ''Manhua/CyberWeaponZ'' feature a quite blatant example between Park Iro and Anling, since their rather contrived feelings and budding relationship don't really have any use for the plot other than demonstrating Iro's attractiveness or just to...er... give Anling more bearing to the story??
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The most contrived BackStory in ''ComicBook/XMen'' history[[note]]The majority of Storm's blood family in Africa didn't let her know they existed because they were afraid of the patriarch -- a dictator Storm could've gotten rid of in all of two seconds without even calling in the rest of the X-Men[[/note]] was created so that Storm could leave the X-Men, go to Wakanda, and marry the Black Panther. This was a case of ExecutiveMeddling, as the ComicBook/BlackPanther title was written by the owner of BET, and it was his opinion that the two most powerful and high profile black characters in Franchise/MarvelComics should become [[TokenMinorityCouple the Flagship Pairing for black characters]]. The fans did not receive it terribly well, so Marvel had their marriage annulled during ''ComicBook/AvengersVsXMen''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/PearlHarbor''. Most of the reviews said the action sequences were well made, but the romance didn't seem to have any bearing on the story ''at all''. Even with it being copied from ''{{Titanic}}'', at least that film made the tragedy influence the romance. Here the actual Pearl Harbor story is just a backdrop to give it some flavor.
* ''Film/TheMatrix'': Neo and Trinity is a plot point. The Oracle said that Trinity's true love would be The One. However, their relationship is never really explored or given time to develop; it's simply [[ShowDontTell stated]] in a short scene near the end that they love each other. The sequels give their romance more screen time, which isn't necessarily an improvement.
%%* Many a movie based on an action-adventure book with few or no female characters has a Token Romance tacked onto it:
%%** ''War of the Worlds'' (1953)
%%** ''Literature/KingSolomonsMines'' (all movie versions)
%%** ''JourneyToTheCenterOfTheEarth'' (1959)
%%** ''The Lost World'' (more than one version)
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'':
** While Arwen and Aragorn are originally in the book, the spotlight was highly tweaked to feature more Arwen than the narrative could support just because she was one of the only significant female in the book.
** The films don't lay the foundation for Éowyn/Faramir.
* In the [[ContinuityReboot rebooted]]'' Film/StarTrek'' film, Spock and Uhura's romance could be removed and its loss wouldn't affect the plot at all.
* Averted in ''{{Titanic}}'': The love story is the core of the film and the disaster frames and completes it instead of distracting from it. One could state that ''{{Titanic}}'' is a ''inversion'' of the trope: a Romance Movie with a Token Disaster.
%%* Disney's ''{{Newsies}}''.
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheTempleOfDoom''. Not only do Willie Scott and Indy (along with the audience) seem to actively loathe each other, there is absolutely no plot reason for her to even ''exist'' in the movie.
* Most ''Film/JamesBond'' films. There's a reason the term "Bond Girl" was termed. In every movie there's a new woman that Bond falls in love with but has little bearing on the plot and won't be seen again.
** ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'', ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', ''Film/TheLivingDaylights'', ''Film/LiveAndLetDie'', ''Film/GoldenEye'', ''Film/CasinoRoyale'', and ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'' avert this. ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'' and ''Film/CasinoRoyale'' dedicate great amounts of time to develop their story's romances, while ''Film/QuantumOfSolace'' averts it entirely as Bond doesn't get together with the girl in the end.
* Likewise, Bond's parody in the AustinPowers. For instance, Foxxy Cleopatra drops into the main plot about Austin and his father Nigel.
* TheMovie of ''TheChroniclesOfNarnia: Prince Caspian'' throws in a love subplot between Susan Pevensie and the title character, giving Susan more to do than she had in the book. Audience reactions were mixed.
* TheMovie of ''Film/TheHitchhikersGuideToTheGalaxy''. We do not see much of Arthur and Trillian together; we do not see much chemistry between them. She [[{{Weenalized}} wasn't even supposed to be his love interest anyway]], but in the end, he is supposed to love her enough that he would give up his place on Earth for her. Despite the negative reaction a lot of fans had, it's worth noting that DouglasAdams penned their romance himself before he died; he was one of the writers for the script and it was his idea to include it. Adams was also fond of changing the details of the story for each adaptation, so it was only a matter of time before he decided to make them love interests.
* Parodied in ''Film/WaynesWorld''. At the end of the first movie, as the [[spoiler:whole cast gets their happy ending in Hollywood fashion]], Garth wins the love of his dream girl. She was an earlier throw-away joke... in fact, the audience was not sure whether she really existed or was just a dream.
* In ''Film/{{Tombstone}}'', Wyatt's thing with the actress serves little more than to illustrate his inner conflict [[spoiler:and to provide a happy ending]]. In this case [[TruthInTelevision it actually happened.]]
* ''Film/RomeoMustDie'' with Jet Li and Aaliyah felt more like a generic kung fu flick than an adaptation of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''. The two leads had no intimate scenes (not even kissing), and felt more like PlatonicLifePartners. In fact, Aaliyah herself added nothing to the story besides being [[SassyBlackWoman sassy]] and helping Jet Li [[WouldntHitAGirl take out a female goon]] in an admittedly-cool fight scene. However, Jet Li's films generally lack romance, which he says is because of his marriage. It's a strange excuse for an ''actor''.
* ''Film/PumaMan'' has the romance between Tony the Puma Man and Jane Dobson. Its bearing on the plot was minimal at best.
* ''Film/VerticalLimit'' is about an expedition to rescue stranded climbers on K2, the second highest mountain in the world. It ends with a kiss between the male lead and a female nurse after a movie whose only hints of sexual or romantic tension were between [[BrotherSisterIncest the lead and his sister]] and [[HoYay a pair of brothers]].
%%* ''Film/NationalTreasure'''s "romance"
* The Brian De Palma adaptation of ''Film/{{Carrie|1976}}''. It creates a scene where Tommy dances with Carrie at the prom and kisses her, implying he has fallen for her, despite this being a pity date. The remake averts this by having the same scene but then revealing Carrie had just gone into an elaborate day dream. In a bit of irony, the remake shows that Carrie does have a crush on Tommy while the original just had the kiss come out of the blue.
* ''Film/{{Dragonheart}}'' has this between Bowen and Kara who HookedUpAfterwards. It's biggest contribution to the plot is [[VillainousCrush to make Einon creepier]].
* Kelly and Jason in ''Film/MysteryTeam''. Granted, Kelly was essential to Jason's character development, but it's still a fine line.
* ''{{Oldboy}}'': Dae-su's relationship with Mi-do initially appears to be an essentially irrelevant sub-plot, [[spoiler: [[SubvertedTrope but instead turns out to be the whole point]] of the villain's revenge scheme]].
* The romantic subplot of ''Film/TheSorcerersApprentice'' would, on its own, have made a decent RomanticComedy about a music buff falling for a physics nerd. As a subplot to a modern fantasy film, it felt like it was duct-taped on.
* The romance between Sam and Mikaela/Carly in the Film/{{Transformers}} movies is one of the main attractions of the movies that doesn't involve Giant Robots and Explosions. When Mikaela is PutOnABus in the third movie it has little impact on Sam as a character or the plot.
* During the early stages of the ''Film/{{Watchmen}}'' adaptation, one exec purportedly tried to crowbar in a love interest for ''Rorschach''. It didn't take long for that to be shot down. Rorschach is enough of a mess that he can barely accept having friends, much less anyone more intimate - ''and'' he's disgusted by sex.
* In ''Film/ScoobyDoo,'' every human gets a LoveInterest. Fred and Daphne hook up at the end, and while fans sort of expect them to, it's not hinted beforehand. Shaggy gets a LoveInterest named Mary Jane and their romance is unnecessary, but she at least takes some part of the plot. Velma is the strangest: she has a short conversation with a random guy halfway through the movie, mostly for exposition, and winds up with him at the end.
* ''KingKong'' has an in-universe example of this as Denham's justification for hiring Anne for his movie:
-->I go out there and I sweat blood to make an ideal picture, and then the critics say "If this picture had a love interest, it would gross twice as much."
* ''TheRaid'' proves that TropesAreTools. The heroic Officer Rama has a pregnant wife who appears briefly at the beginning and then is gone from the rest of the movie. Knowing this makes us care more about what happens to him and a later scene has him drawing the strength he needs to keep fighting from his love for her.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Parodied in the ''Literature/CiaphasCain'' novel ''Death or Glory,''. A footnote describes a popular holodrama called 'Cain's Heroes' that was made out of Cain's adventures and explains that Cain himself [[note]] THE HERO OF THE IMPERIUM [[/note]] loathed the production largely because of a "wholly invented subplot in which one of the militia recruits has a clandestine love affair with him".
* Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures novel ''Lucifer Rising'' describes a holodrama based on the events of the TV story "The Seeds of Death". This has grafted on a romance between Professor Eldred (who has become thirty years younger) and Gia (TheSpock).
%%* The romance between Jonathan and Shannon in ''A Skeleton in God's Closet''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Charmed}}'': Starting in season 7 Phoebe would have three different boyfriends, each lasting five or six episodes, [[OutOfFocus just to give her character something to do]]. An episode of season 8 rectified this.
%%* The romance that develops between Mick and Roe in "Series/TheLastTrain" is unnecessary and if removed would not affect the plot in any way.
%%* ''Series/DancingOnTheEdge'' involves a love affair between band leader Louie and photographer Sarah. It doesn't add to the storyline.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Due to the unfinished nature of ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic II'', none of the four romances are at all developed or given any conclusion. Atton's consists of one conversation that is worded the exact same way for male and female characters, the Disciple's barely exists, the Handmaiden's barely mentions romance at all, and Visas' is barely different with male and female characters. They mostly consist of a few hints that Mira drops, and some cutscenes of one being jealous of the attention the other is given by the Exile.
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights''
** Al of the romances in could have been developed much further than they were, but Aribeth/player in the main campaign does not count as a TokenRomance because it is extremely plot-relevant. Aarin/player and the three possible pairings in Hordes of the Underdark qualify.
** There's the option of hitting on some of your teammates after you complete their third "find [item]" quest, which have no significance at all beyond one pickup line and are never brought up again.
** ''VideoGame/TheBastardOfKosigan'' has an extremely large number of [[OptionalSexualEncounter possibilities]]. However, all of the [=NPCs=] involved will either die a senseless death, disappear and never be encountered again, or never mention your encounter after they join up with you.
** ''ADanceWithRogues'' mostly averts this, though it has five romances, because the player's quest to find somewhere she belongs is a major part of the story and the romance partners help out.
* ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2'' has two of the original four, due to cut content.
%%* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'',
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' plays with this trope. The romances with [[BiTheWay Leliana]] and [[DepravedBisexual Zevran]] have no impact on the plot. However, Alistair's romance becomes extremely relevant when it becomes apparent that [[spoiler:one of you has to die to end the Blight]], not to mention that with the right Origin [[spoiler:you can become queen.]] Equally, Morrigan's romance ends with her desperately trying to deny her feelings for you [[spoiler:because she has to get you to impregnate her with baby-Cthulhu and then run away through the Eluvian to an entirely different plane of existence.]] Yeah, [[LoveHurts it doesn't end well.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', you can choose a spouse from a wide range of people (race and gender are irrelevant), and all it amounts to is them moving into your house and providing a few services. None are relevant to the main plot, and none come across as particularly romantic - it's just another feature for your home. {{Lampshaded}} and (maybe) {{justified}} in-story: it's stated that because Skyrim is a violent place where lifespans tend to be short, most people don't bother with lengthy courtships or a lot of romance.
* George and Nico get this by the back end of the first ''VideoGame/BrokenSword''. Up until the train to Scotland, the two spend their sparse moments of time together sniping at each other and Nico even shoots down George's attempts to probe into her relationship status by reminding him they were working together in a strictly business capacity. It's a little jarring to have George suddenly refer to Nico as "the woman I love" and even go so far as to kiss her while she's tied up (she's offended, but not by much). Roughly a day later, they're embracing and otherwise acting like a couple.
** The Director's Cut edition attempts to pad this out a little by having Nico's inner monologues during her segments say she's comforted by having George working with her, but since these segments are bolted on to the existing plot she still doesn't act any nicer to George during the bulk of the game.
* In [[VideoGame/ShiningForce Shining Force 2]] the main character receives the StandardHeroReward, while [[UnluckyChildhoodFriend Sarah]] gets paired with Kazin.
* ''Videogame/DragonsDogma'' features an Affinity system for almost every NPC in the game that rises when you either give them a gift or do sidequests for them. Unless you deliberately game the system, your character may end up with someone completely unintended such as shopkeepers or even child characters as their Beloved in the final quest.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Tony and Bridget's romance in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'' was a LoveAtFirstSight one, not that it distracted from the overall plot. They do make a cute couple and most fans aren't annoyed by the token romance; many are however, annoyed by Bridget's [[ChuckCunninghamSyndrome sudden disappearance in the later sequels]].
* Colin and Lisa from ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsonsMovie.'' Many fans liked it, admittedly, but Colin exists only for the movie, and he doesn't have any major influence on the plot; it seems that the writers just decided for some reason that Lisa should have a LoveInterest (perhaps [[OutOfFocus just so she had some sort of subplot at all]]), and they scrapped the idea of using [[DoggedNiceGuy Milhouse]] because they felt it would interfere with the main show. Colin also disappears for much of the second half.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyEquestriaGirls'': Flash Sentry is extremely tangential to the plot and has only a few interactions with Twilight, at most building a tentative friendship. [[spoiler:She leaves him behind in the end, and although there's a pony counterpart of him in Equestria, they have even less of a connection.]] Also, he does not appear in season 4 of WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic outside of a few minor cameos. This has not stopped fans from vilifying him even before seeing the movie.
[[/folder]]

----