Better as Friends

There are a lot of tropes for platonic relationships between men and women.

This trope is for when it happens once and won't happen ever again.

Two people date for a while, realize they're Better As Friends, and use that as their excuse when asked. Sometimes this leads to a UST plotline, but not always.

Note that this isn't just people who stay on good terms after a break-up, but who really do remain good friends to the point where the plot uses them as an Odd Couple at times.


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    Comic Books 


  • Alanna and Jonathan in Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, due to intentional Ship Sinking by the author after she realized the relationship didn't work. Alanna becomes Jonathan's King's Champion and they both marry other people.
  • Zeb and Maggie from Robert A. Heinlein's Literature/Revolt in 2100. The hero sort of wants to pursue a relationship with her but doesn't want to get in the way, at which point he's told laughingly that by now they're great friends but that their personalities are far too aggressive to ever be stable together.
  • Jo feels this way about Laurie in Little Women. She says that the two of them are too much alike ever to pursue a romantic relationship successfully. Laurie disagrees until he marries Amy, after which he tells Jo he's happy to love her as his sister. As the Like Brother and Sister analogy was used to describe both his relationships with Jo and Amy, this has done nothing to convince shippers from the 1860s onwards that they are not better as friends.
  • The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue to Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble has this as the fate of Jenny and Matt, after her mother and his father getting married makes them feel a bit Like Brother and Sister.
  • Happens several times in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, most notably to Kris and Talia of the "Queen's Own" trilogy and Daren and Kerowyn of "By the Sword." They all go on to relationships with other people, and very happily so, without losing their friendships. Except for Kris, who gets killed.
    • Subverted with Talia and Skif, who fall comfortably into this trope without ever getting into an actual physical relationship (they try, but various bits of serendipity get in the way). Amusingly, their peers assume the trope played out straight.
  • One of Gerald Morris's Arthurian novels, The Ballad of Sir Dinadan, has the hero end the book by going to find his female companion, who is currently training to be a nun. He proposes to her. When the Mother Superior comes out and realizes what has happened, she prepares to go pack her pupil's bags.
    Dinadan: Yes, I asked her. And she's made me the happiest man on earth.
    Mother Priscilla: Ah, she has, has she?
    Brangienne: Yes, I have. I turned him down.
  • What Dex and Emma initially decided on in One Day.
  • In Keeping You a Secret, Holland realizes two things: that she's a lesbian, and that starting a sexual relationship with her childhood friend Seth had been a big mistake that ruined their friendship. She tries to tell Seth this when she breaks up with him, but he doesn't understand and is furious.
  • Though only mentioned as backstory, Nathan and Cynthia are this in The Memory Wars, having dated briefly in college, but remained close friends.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • How Rose thinks of Mason. In Frostbite, she eventually agrees to date him (in an attempt to get over Dimitri) but she's never truly attracted to him.
    • Ultimately, Rose and Adrian too.

    Live Action TV 
  • Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine. One UST episode that doesn't actually seem to be canon. It's Played for Laughs in the last episode as they seem on the edge of a Dying Declaration of Love during a plane crash, only to quickly backpedal once they survive (Elaine claims she was about to say "I've always loved U...nited Airlines").
  • Willow and Xander in Buffy, whose Unlucky Childhood Friend and Oblivious to Love statuses only give way to romance when they're both in other relationships. Willow chooses her relationship with Oz (and then, after they break up, discovers she's a lesbian) and she and Xander remain best friends.
    • Also Cordelia and Wesley, whose smoldering UST when they met in Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to a head with their first kiss — which quickly became their very awkward and physically uncomfortable last kiss. Their friendship continued to grow in Angel, but they aren't above playfully making fun of each other over which one's the worse kisser when recounting the story for others.
  • On Criminal Minds, JJ and Reid go on one date . . . and end up close friends, and nothing more.
  • Harry and Christine in Night Court (lampshaded later where, after Christine turns down an invitation from Harry, Harry responds giddily "Isn't it great? We can say 'no' again!")
  • Frasier Crane and Roz Doyle in Frasier.
    Roz: You've always been just like a brother to me. Which is weird, I know, because we slept together and...
  • Ted and Robin from How I Met Your Mother. Although they hooked up in Slapsgiving and Benefits.
  • Nate and Blair on Gossip Girl.
  • Margaret and Rain in Naturally Sadie.
  • On Bones we have Booth and Cam. Dated before the show started, broke up, hooked up briefly after she joined the cast, broke up again, and seem determined not to mention it ever again. Since he's obviously in love with Brennan, the fans are mostly willing to accept this.
  • George and Izzie from Grey's Anatomy.
  • Boy Meets World has Jack and Rachel becoming this after briefly dating each other.
  • Bernard and Fran on Black Books.
    Bernard: Well, I did [remember what happened] for a while. I think so. Then she made me block it out. That's it - she remembers, and I'm not allowed to.
  • iCarly had Sam and Freddie date for 5 episodes. It was pretty horrible, constant fighting, hurting each other and so on. In the 5th episode they mutually break up because they were forcing a platonic friendship into something more. Freddie says he loves Sam, but it's clearly as a friend.
  • ER has Doctor Kovac and Nurse Sam after they dated and decided to remain friends. Likewise with Abby and Carter. Even earlier, with Elizabeth and Peter, when she finally realizes that their personalities are far too different and that he'll never get over his discomfort with their interracial relationship.
  • The Wonder Years ends like this for Kevin and Winnie.
    Still we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other once a week for the next eight years. I was there to meet her when she came home...with my wife, and my first son, eight months old.
  • Noah's Arc: Ricky and Noah, despite Ricky admitting he is deeply in love with Noah.
  • On Smallville, Chloe lusted after Clark Kent in the earlier seasonsnote , and it initially looked like her status was going to be as the Romantic Runner-Up and Unlucky Childhood Friend, but ultimately she got over her infatuation and moved on with her life; and she and Clark ultimately decided that they were Better as Friends and developed a Like Brother and Sister relationship.
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete tried to pull this with Big Pete and Ellen, though the show's reluctance to bother with continuity meant it didn't stick and Big Pete was back to pining for Ellen a mere seven episodes later.
  • In Community, Jeff Winger and Britta Perry have zigzagged between just good friends and Friends with Benefits. It was revealed in the latter half of season two that they'd been hooking up on occasion, but since then it appears they've just settled into a purely platonic friends dynamic.
    • Between season three and four, Troy and Britta start a relationship, but near the end of the season, they decide to going back to just being friends.
  • This is the case with Matt Donovan and Elena Gilbert of The Vampire Diaries. In both the TV show and the book series, Elena and Matt dated before the series beginning, with Elena (in the show) describing it as those friends who've known each other forever deciding to give a relationship a shot. It's revealed later in the series that the death of Elena's parents was the final nail in the coffin of her romantic relationship with him, and while he still has feelings for her through most of the series, they remain good friends.
    • Also seems to be the case with Bonnie and Jeremy—they still seem to care about each other, but there has been no indication that they intend to resume their relationship.
    • Ditto Caroline and Matt. They broke up after Matt realized Caroline was a vampire, and while he eventually got over it, she moved on to Tyler.
  • In Clarissa Explains It All, Clarissa and Sam try dating in one episode, but they eventually decide on this.
  • The L Word. Played for Laughs when Jenny takes home another girl after her first lesbian crush, only to find that their awkward fumblings lack chemistry. At the end the two girls blurt out simultaneously, "Let's just be friends."
  • In My Mad Fat Diary, Rae and Archie quickly come to this conclusion after Archie discovers that he's actually gay.
    • Finn and Chloe seem to have a similar fate after Rae and Chloe reconcile.
  • Friends: Rachel and Joey.
  • After a (very) brief marriage John Sheridan and Elizabeth Locksley realize they have made a horrible mistake and that this trope definitely applies to their relationship. Despite years of separation and being on opposite sides in the war they still have implicit trust in each other and an excellent working relationship. They prefer not to tell people they are exes though, they may draw the wrong conclusions.


  • The point of Gwen Stefani's "Cool":
    And after all the obstacles
    It's good to see you now with someone else
    And it's such a miracle that
    You and me are still good friends
    After all that we've been through
    I know we're cool

    Web Comics 
  • Miriam and Clayton in Out There. Although Miriam being Miriam, one never knows for sure about the "never happening again" part. Also, Miriam and Rod.
  • Bowler and Creepknight in Voodoo Walrus. Its been eluded to that long ago there was something more romantic about there relationship. But that's most definitely not the case now.
    • Honestly they seem to have more of sibling relationship than anything else.
  • Homestuck: Meulin and Kurloz dated for a while and were pretty happy together, but after a disturbing and painful incident for the both of them, they broke up. However, they are clearly still very good friends. Unless you think Kurloz's Mind Control is a bit more extensive than what we've seen so far, anyway.
  • Subverted in El Goonish Shive. Justin and Melissa were childhood friends who decide to have a Relationship Upgrade... but it's this very thing that makes Justin realize he's gay. They decide to remain friends... but here's where things get sour. Melissa was so distraught by this revelation that she confides in her sister... who is a huge gossip. Soon, everyone at their school knows, and Justin's parents even learn it by overhearing it at the grocery store. It also leads to lots of bullying aimed at poor Justin, who came very close to committing suicide over the whole ordeal. Justin blames Melissa for all this, which leads to the end of their friendship.
    • A happier example comes from Elliot and Sarah, who start dating early in the comic. Much later, they both, around the same time but independently, come to the conclusion that the relationship isn't really working out, and (very amicably) break up, going back to their old Childhood Friend dynamic.
  • Ally and Alan from Sunstone had an incredibly political relationship back in collage, which is in extreme contrast to how laid back their strong friendship is now. This was due to their sexual desires not being compatible.
  • Girls with Slingshots: Hazel and Zach in the webcomic's final strip.

    Web Original 
  • Bree and Daniel from lonelygirl15, after much arguing, much Will They or Won't They?, and a fair amount of Wangst.
  • This is the theme in Luka Megurine's song "Just be friends". The man in the song (from whose viewpoint it's sung) is still in love with the girl and wishes he could get back to the past to begin again, but also recognizes that the relationship now is going nowhere and prefers to split and save whatever remains of friendship can be salvaged.
  • Thalia and Hephaestus in Thalia's Musings. Hardly anyone remembers that they used to date. Hephaestus is in love with Aphrodite in spite of her constant cuckolding, and Thalia is totally not in love with Apollo.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Lou and Peter Berryman, who met in college, started performing and writing wacky songs together, got married, got divorced, married other people, all the while (and still) writing and performing together.
  • Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo were a couple for a few years in the mid-Nineties, but continued to work together after they broke up. They even wrote a book about it, as a parody of celebrity self-help books.
  • The french philosophers Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir met in their early 20s and became a couple. Though de Beauvoir declined Sartre's offer to get married, they never moved in together, and both had all kinds of other lovers, they stayed together for the next 50 years until their deaths and are even buried together. Better as friends, though friends with benefits.
  • This is the main reason Hillary Duff and Mike Cormie have separated.