The Animated Series
The 1983 animated series' strategy for writing romance was two-fold: 1) the Official Couple followed a strict policy of show-don't-tell, with their feelings for each other expressed solely through things like touching, embracing, saving or shielding each other from danger, and background shots of them Sleeping Cute, rather than by anyone talking about it; 2) 3 of the 6 main characters had an episode where they found a love interest outside their group, and all 3 episodes followed the exact same pattern (meeting someone in danger whom they discover they have a lot in common with, and the two of them bonding as the heroes work to rescue or protect them). Which is all well and good, but there was one noticeable side-effect: interaction between members of the same sex often followed the same rules/pattern. The result? See below. (Also, like with other animated shows, you might notice a certain trend here...) Hank/Eric
- It's no exaggeration or hyperbole to say that the two are constantly seen touching, and moreso than other members of the team are, from gripping the other's shoulder in support or warning, to pulling the other from danger.
- At the end of "Eye of the Beholder," after Eric rushes in and saves their allies from Venger, despite the fact that he was furious a few seconds ago over having to give up a chance to get home, he smiles broadly when Hank touches his shoulder and tells him, "Nice work, pal."
- In "Prison Without Walls," Hank's the one who tries to pull Eric free from the giant toadstool that grabs him.
- After the giant swamp creature saves them from the toadstools, Hank doesn't think it's their enemy, but he still shoots it when Eric tells him to.
- At the end, Eric's flipping out over losing yet another chance to get home, not calming down until Hank puts his hand on his shoulder.
- Despite two of the main cast receiving marriage proposals therein, "The Garden of Zinn" doesn't follow the pattern of the Love Interest Episodes. Eric, for one, only accepts Queen Zinn's offer for her money, not showing one bit of attraction in her herself. When he does accept, Hank's the only one who asks if him if he's sure about what he's doing (despite that Eric changing his mind could have made getting the cure they need for Bobby a lot more difficult) and, later, the only one who shows any concern for him after they learn the truth about Zinn. And no, Hank's not shown reacting at all (neither is anyone else) to Sir Lawrence's proposal to Sheila in the same episode.
- In "The Box," when Eric's surprised by a gang of bullywugs sneaking up on him, he literally runs right into Hank's arms, and the two stand there for a second with their arms loosely around each other.
- When Eric trips and falls while running from the giant in "P-R-E-S-T-O Spells Disaster," Hank runs back to help him up, and Eric promptly throws his arms around his waist when the giant's pet starts coming for them.
- At the end of "The Traitor," Eric's the only one (besides Sheila) seen apologizing to Hank, in a strained voice full of so much pain and shame that he can't even bear to look at him.
- Hank's rage in "The Dragons' Graveyard" makes him take on a sudden resemblance to the headstrong Eric, helped by the fact that Eric's ranting about Venger is what inspired him to hunt down and kill their enemy in the first place. The cavalier has clearly been rubbing off on him.
- The brief exchange that kicks off the conflict in "The Dungeon at the Heart of Dawn," where Eric wants Hank's permission to open the box and Hank tells him he couldn't care less, makes the two look Like an Old Married Couple. The fact that Eric, who normally treats everyone like they're beneath him, respects Hank as "the leader" (his words) enough to ask in the first place speaks volumes.
- The climax of "Cave of the Fairie Dragons" shows just how smoothly the two work together. With no preamble, discussion, announcement, or instructions whatsoever, Hank turns the Magic Mirror around by shooting it with his arrow, and Eric, without asking any questions or complaining about how they were planning just seconds ago to use the mirror to get home, smashes it with his shield.
- Where to start with the "The Winds of Darkness"?
- After Hank's injured by the Darkling's fog, he still tries to get up and fight, while all his friends are struggling with the fog and calling for help. Eric's the one screaming for help when Hank rushes into the fray; when Hank is finally swallowed by the fog and disappears, he's standing right in front of Eric's shield, as if he made a Heroic Sacrifice for him.
- After Hank's taken by the fog, Eric completely loses it. None of his petty complaints to Dungeon Master throughout the series approach his Rage Against the Mentor in this episode:
Dungeon Master: ... there is nothing I can do.Eric: "Nothing?!" What do you mean, "nothing?!!" You're the one who sent us into this horrible forest! ... Listen, you Master of Nothing! (slams Hank's bow on the ground) Hank's gone, and you've got some explaining to do! (no response) Look at him. It's pitiful — he hasn't even got a poor excuse!Diana: Eric! That's not helping! Can't you do anything, Dungeon Master?Dungeon Master: Against the Darkling's magic? No.Eric: That's it! Gimme me that bow! Let's go look for someone who can help us! We're not letting this Darkling creep get away with taking Hank!
- The loss of their leader makes the rest of the team too despondent to act, but Eric's fired up and out for blood. The others follow him without question for the rest of the episode as he leads their quest either to save Hank or to get revenge: "Dungeon Master may have given up, but we won't! We'll find this Darkling. And make him pay for taking Hank!" Nothing dampens his resolve, from their new ally Martha's warning about the danger ("We don't want to be safe" — something you would think Eric would never say!) to Martha abandoning them ("Well, just because Martha's given up, we're not going to!"). He just keeps exhorting and urging the team on, determined to find Hank if it's the last thing he does.
- It's both touching and interesting that Eric's the one who holds onto Hank's bow for the entire episode. Until they storm the Darkling's fortress, when he gives it to Sheila in case she finds him.
- The abrupt way Eric puts his Jerkass Fašade back up as soon as they find Hank comes across as both comical and sweet. It makes the effect the loss of his friend had on him all the more staggering.
- It looks like Sheila filled Hank in on who's responsible for saving him. What are the first words the two say to each other when they're reunited?
Eric: 'Bout time you showed up! I don't know how you put up with these guys!Hank: (as if he didn't hear that) Thanks, Eric. Thanks, everybody.
- These two are the ones most frequently seen pairing up in battle (not just for either of them but for all the characters), usually with Eric fending off attackers with his shield while yelling at Presto to pull something out of his hat to save them.
- The two also often end up together whenever the group gets split up, such as in "Quest of the Skeleton Warrior", and end up arguing, protecting each other, or (usually) both.
- Eric's the one who suggests that he and Presto stay behind in "The Box" to guard the magic box while the others go inside to search for Zandora.
- At one point in "The Treasure of Tardos," Eric leaps into Presto's arms, bridal-style.
- The kids ride Ramoud's giant mounts twice in "City at the Edge of Midnight"; both times, Eric and Presto ride together (just like Hank and Sheila).
- The two share a blanket when the group goes to sleep for the night in "The Traitor."
- At the beginning of "The Time Lost," Presto is giving Eric a haircut.
- Eric and Lorne (a rogue orphan whom Dungeon Master later claims has been lonely for a long time) Meet Cute via Crash-Into Hello while the kids are being chased by a herd of predators and Lorne by an angry mob. Once the threats are abated, the two of them instantly start snapping at each other Belligerent Sexual Tension-style.
- Bobby asks Eric, "Who's your new friend?" — emphasis his, in the same tone characters in media normally use when teasing someone about their "boyfriend" or "girlfriend".
- After Lorne joins the group, it quickly becomes clear to everyone that he and Eric are thoroughly enjoying their constant bickering, that the banter and insults are all in good fun. For the record, Eric's friends are all pleasantly amused by it.
Hank: (grinning) Here we go again...Presto: I don't believe last night — six straight hours of put-downs.
- The next morning, despite there being plenty of room in the clearing where the group made camp, Eric and Lorne are seen sleeping right next to each other. With Lorne wrapped in Eric's cape. And using his shield as a pillow. When Eric wakes up, he acts annoyed by this but not the least bit surprised or confused! If Eric wasn't surprised, then he gave them both to Lorne before they went to sleep, which would not only be unusually generous of him but an odd request to make of someone you just met. If he was supposed to be surprised and the animators just failed to show it, then Lorne stripped Eric's shield and cape off him while he was sleeping. Pick which scenario is more eyebrow-raising.
Eric: (after taking his stuff back) Well, hel-lo, Sleeping Beauty! It's nice to know somebody kept warm last night!Lorne: Morning! Thanks for the loan of the cape, fancy pants.
- After some observations by the others about how they're Not So Different, Eric puts his arm around Lorne as he tells him, "Listen, Lorne, old buddy, I hate to tell you this, but if my parents even suspected I was like you, they'd disinherit both of us."
- When Dungeon Master appears later to warn them that Lorne's talisman is a dangerous Artifact of Doom and that the kids either have to get rid of it or stay away from him for their own safety, Eric puts his arm around Lorne again as he vehemently insists, "Lorne's the best thing to come along since... since... since... since we got stuck in this stupid realm!"
- After their next battle turns into a fiasco with Lorne's talisman nearly killing them all, Hank and the others warn Lorne he'd better get rid of it, but it quickly turns into a one-on-one quarrel between him and Eric, which quickly turns into a violent break-up scene:
Eric: If we need any help, we'll remember not to call you.Lorne: Oh, yeah? Well, if you ever need any help, I'll remember not to know you!Eric: Hey, suits me fine, kiddo! Why don't you just run along and try facing the Realm on your own?Lorne: I've been doing just that all my life, Eric, until I got this weapon! It's mine, and I'm keeping it! I don't have to run from anybody anymore, and I don't need anybody, either, including YOU!Eric: Is that so? Well, then, get lost, pal!
- Later, Hank and the girls, seeing how depressed Eric is over losing Lorne, even though the danger posed by the talisman hasn't changed, convince him to go after him and bring him back, as if the situation with Lorne is solely Eric's business and not theirs.
- The reunion between the boys and their attempts to get back to the others consist, as usual, of a lot of touching, laughing, and teasing until they're captured, when Lorne finally hands over the talisman to save the others (including Eric).
- Naturally, when Venger arrives for the climax, there's a point where Eric protects Lorne with his shield.
- Even though all the kids are present when Lorne leaves with the villagers at the end, Eric's the only one showing saying good-bye to him (shaking hands, laughing, and teasing each other). Eric's also the only one who waves to Lorne as the wagon drives away.
Eric: I hate to admit it, but... I think I'm gonna miss that wise guy.Everyone Else: What?!Eric: Not a lot, just a little.
- Sheila finds Kareena in a Tailor-Made Prison behind a force field others can pass through but she can't without help from someone on the other side. She tells Sheila to try to push her hand through, which, with some effort, she does. Kareena's hand is pressed against the other side, so when Sheila breaks the spell, their hands touch and clasp with fingers interlaced. Kareena then throws her arms around Sheila, her eyes closed and her voice sounding like she's swooning in ecstasy when she says, "How can I ever thank you?"
- Without revealing her true identity, Kareena convinces Sheila to come help her retrieve her Ring of Power as well. When Sheila almost falls off the cliff on their way there, Kareena pulls her up and tells her, "You've got to be more careful. I need you."
- When they reach the eponymous Citadel, the two hug again.
Kareena: This could be very dangerous.Sheila: Don't try to talk me out of it. We're friends.Kareena: I was hoping you'd say that.
- It turns out the ring's protected by another force field targeted at Kareena. When it zaps her and throws her back, Sheila kneels besides her and holds her in her arms. Kareena then clasps Sheila's hand while she begs her to get the ring for her, like a classic damsel pleading with a Knight in Shining Armor for help.
- Once Sheila gets the ring, Kareena turns on her Mailer Daemon-style, gloating over how she tricked Sheila into believing they were friends.
Kareena: You have served your purpose.Sheila: What?!Kareena: I needed you to break the spell guarding my ring. Now that I have it, I don't need you any longer.
- The kids follow Kareena and Venger to Venger's castle to get the ring back. While the others are huddled up forming a plan, Sheila runs inside to face Kareena alone. Kareena's thrilled to see her ("You have found me. Welcome, Sheila."), as she plans to use her in a Hostage for MacGuffin trade to get the 2nd ring Hank has, but Sheila pulls her hood up, saying, "First, you'll have to catch me, Kareena!" The two play cat-and-invisible-mouse for a while until Kareena blasts a way out for Sheila, who grabs her ring right off her finger and runs off ("You don't mind if I borrow this? One friend to another?").
- Sheila's about to put the two rings together in a way that will get them home when the kids hear Venger return and can tell that he's about to kill Kareena. Sheila hesitates but finally says, "Hank, I can't let him destroy her!" before running back inside. She uses the rings to save Kareena from Venger but gets knocked out in the process. Kareena's stunned that Sheila came back for her, as if she can't believe what she saw. When she puts the ring back on, the others brace for an attack, but Kareena just kneels beside Sheila and tenderly touches her hair before she wakes up. As if a completely different person, Kareena's sorry she can't help them home without the other ring, but Sheila doesn't care.
Kareena: Anything else within my power, I grant you, Sheila. I owe you my life.Sheila: All I want is your friendship, Kareena.Kareena: What? That's all?
- Sheila makes it clear at the end that she believes saving Kareena was worth losing one of the rings: "Well, I lost us a chance to get home... but gained a friend."
- In "Quest of the Skeleton Warrior," although Venger threatens to turn all six of the kids into skeleton-zombies like Dekkion, Hank's the only one he actually does it to (fortunately, for only a few seconds).
- When the kids proposes an Enemy Mine with Venger in "The Treasure of Tardos," the Ranger's the only one he'll deal with and, outside of a threat to Presto not to brag about his magic, the only one he speaks directly to at all. When he lets them go at the end, his speech about how "We're even" is addressed only to Hank ("As for you, Ranger..."), as if the other kids aren't even there and nobody else was involved except the two of them.
- "The Traitor", in retrospect, looks like a basic outline for Teen Titans' "Apprentice" arc, with Venger blackmailing Hank into serving him. Notably, Venger uses the word "betray" twice when referring to Hank double-crossing him — not the most accurate word to use for an unwilling enemy you're forcing to work with you.
- In the infamous "The Dragons' Graveyard," until Venger enrages Bobby by hurting Uni, Hank's the only one angry enough to want to kill the guy. Both the plan and bloodlust are his only — the others just follow their leader out of habit or respect. The If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him conflict comes across only as Hank's; even Bobby's murderous rage is only used to help Hank see things more clearly. During the Final Battle, the other kids all battle Venger's skeleton mooks; the only opponents Hank and Venger fight are each other.
- During the Dwindling Party scenario in "The Dungeon at the Heart of Dawn," when it's Hank's turn to tell the current survivors to go on without him while he holds off the attackers, Venger sends his mooks after Dungeon Master and the others (despite the fact that the whole point of the chase is that Venger wanted to reach the goal before Dungeon Master) while he stays behind to fight Hank: "This one is MINE!"