- Amicable Exes: They were in a relationship, but despite the breakup are still on good terms.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: When Just Friends crosses over into willful stupidity.
- I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship: They're Just Friends, and worried about losing that if they try to become something more.
- Fan-Preferred Couple: It won't happen even though some people are rooting for it.
- Just Friends: Denial's not a river in Egypt. They are totally Just Friends. Until they aren't.
- Like Brother and Sister: It won't happen because it would be too squicky for them.
- Platonic Life Partners: It just won't happen. Ever.
- Romantic Runner-Up: The unlucky third wheel of a Love Triangle.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Yes, she is. Or, at least, she will be.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Someone realizes that a relationship wouldn't work out and stays away so that the other person can find happiness elsewhere.
- Friends with Benefits: The duo is friendly with one another and has some good sex, but they are not currently an Official Couple.
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Anime and Manga
- Michiru and Aso from Zombie Loan, after one date. He kept affectionately rubbing her head, like how a parent would do to a child, and she even referred to him as a "father" once.
- In Doraemon the protagonist's love rival Dekisugi describes himself as this toward Shizuka when the story explores the main characters' future, which partly explains why she and Nobita become a couple despite the episode initially suggested otherwise.
- In Phil Foglio's Angel and the Ape miniseries, sentient gorilla Sam Simeon is turned human by a superpowerful cosmic thingy (long story) and shares a long kiss with his partner Angel O'Day...then backs off; he feels that their relationship as friends is too important to mess with. She agrees, a touch wistfully.
- Joe Quesada is trying to set up Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson as this, after they spent multiple decades as the Official Couple and Happily Married. Needless to say, fans aren't buying it (both literally and figuratively).
- In the Archie Comics spinoff Jughead, Jughead befriends Pop Tate's hamburger mascot girl (it's a bit of a challenge since he doesn't like girls, but he warms up to her over time; also, she's constantly dressed as a hamburger, which he loves). When she springs a date on him, he tries to go along, but the unfamiliar territory (and getting poor advice from Archie and friends) make him uncomfortable and the date ends disastrously. After a day of wacky revenge hijinks (did we mention that the girl in question is Sabrina the Teenage Witch?), they have a heart-to-heart talk, when he admits he's not interested in dating at all but is okay with being friends. It ends on a happy note.
- The conclusion of Annie Hall.
- Subverted in When Harry Met Sally....
- In Badly Drawn Roy, Roy and his girlfriend Ruth eventually break up since they couldn't take the relationship to the next level, but they remained friends.
- This is what Shaggy and Velma decide after they kiss at the end of Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster.
- 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 If This Goes Onó. 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.
- In Hope and Red, things are briefly awkward after Nettles breaks up with Red, but they eventually settle into this.
Nettles: Look, I wanted a fun, easy toss. You wanted romance. I'm sorry we couldn't give each other what we wanted. But whatever else we were or are, I will always be there to pull you out of a bind.
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, after two and a half book of UST, Red Knight and Amicia finally agree that this isn't going anywhere and they're better off as friends.
Live Action TV
- Game of Thrones: Ser Jorah Mormont's Fan Nickname is Ser Friendzone. Arya gets totally m'lady-zoned in "Kissed By Fire".
- 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, and eventually, amid much fandom backlash, got back together in the series finale.
- 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 and even share a kiss, 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.
- Jonathan and Maddy in Jonathan Creek. After having loads of UST and sharing a few kisses under non-traditional circumstances in the first two seasons, they eventually end up having sex, only to agree that it was too weird and they should never do it again. The UST never entirely disappears, but that seems to be mostly unintentional.
- The point of Gwen Stefani's "Cool":
And after all the obstaclesIt's good to see you now with someone elseAnd it's such a miracle thatYou and me are still good friendsAfter all that we've been throughI know we're cool
- 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 one thinks Kurloz's Mind Control is a bit more extensive than it's been 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 both of them being quite strongly dominant in their sexual desires, which they learned through hard experience was not a compatible mix.
- Girls with Slingshots: Hazel and Zach in the webcomic's final strip.
- Galaxion: Fusella and Darvin are perfectly Amicable Exes, to the point where she tries to set him up with her Best Friend (neither Darvin or the friend are averse to this).
- After some drama, Sara and Daphne of Penny and Aggie have a Relationship Upgrade and date for awhile. However, Sara eventually breaks up with Daphne, who is bitter about it for some time. The epilogue eventually shows Daphne in a relationship with another woman (with Sara's girlfriend existing but not being present), and reveals that Sara and Daphne came to the conclusion that they worked better as this.
- 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.
- Trixie and Spud from American Dragon: Jake Long.
- This is one-sided in Danny Phantom when Valerie gives Danny the It's Not You, It's My Enemies speech and declares they should just be friends. Danny is visibly upset for a time, but gets over it by Season Three.
- In El Tigre, despite the romantic persistence of Manny's father Rodolfo, his ex-wife Maria keeps insisting that they should remain Just Friends.
- Nelson Muntz and Lisa Simpson in The Simpsons.
- Jen and Alex from MTV's Downtown skirt very close to sleeping together in one episode, but decide that it makes more sense for them to remain friends than romantic partners.
- In Code Lyoko Yumi and Ulrich try this, but it is clear to both their friends and the viewers that it is only causing more tension from their UST.
- In The Legend of Korra, Korra and Asami each dated Mako at some point. By season three, Mako and Korra agree that they won't work out as a couple but are awesome as friends, and the same goes to him and Asami. Which, as of the Grand Finale, paves the way for the girls dating each other.
- Clarence and Ashley.
- Regular Show: Mordecai and Margaret. They dated for a while, went through an awkward patch where they weren't sure what they felt for each other, then finally made peace when they realized neither of them was ready for a serious relationship.
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, when Peter breaks up with Liz, he admits that she's been a really great girlfriend, but he feels they'd be better off as friends. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't take it well, as she'd been genuinely in love with him.
- 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.
- It's said that this is more or less how the relationship between Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary and his wife Elisabeth of Wittelsbach aka Sissi evolved towards the end of the latter's life.
- Henry VIII of England certainly wasn't happy about his political marriage to the German princess Anne of Cleaves, and there are good reasons to think the feeling was mutual. Nonetheless, after their divorce they actually became close friends, with Henry sincerely calling Anne his "beloved sister".