Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends
aka: Tying Up Romantic Loose Ends
If you can't be with the one you love
Honey, love the one you're with
— Stephen Stills, "Love the One You're With"
Bob, Charlie, Dave etc. have been chasing
Alice. Now it's time for Alice to choose Bob as her one and only.
What a happy couple (hopefully). The audience should also feel happy for them, even though this very act has crushed the hearts of Charlie and Dave.
This is awkward, especially if Alice was being foolish in stretching this situation for most of the series. The audience is supposed to support the final couple completely, but this is difficult if the pairing has "casualties" (or competition that's still floating around). This is especially problematic if the writers had too much fun with too much Ship Tease
earlier in the series, which can lead to a fandom rife with Shipping
Wars, where you're likely to end up with at least part of the fandom unhappy. It's especially bad if the writer-preferred pairing feels rushed and underdone
when other possible partners have a better history, better communication, or just more sparks.
So, the writers tend to quickly whip up some contrivances to deal with this. Given the romantic resolution occurs late in the series, this has to be applied rather quickly, as there isn't much time left. This can create a subset of moderate shippers, who aren't bothered so much at being unfulfilled as it being done in a silly manner.
Common variations have former competitors:
Often the fate
of Schoolgirl Lesbians
. As a type of backlash
, sympathetic fanfic
will often get rid of the heterosexual competition in this fashion as well. Often the fate of the "second" father when First Father Wins
Some ways of making it so that cleaning up loose ends doesn't have to happen are for all characters to be paired up from the very beginning
or reach a mutual Marry Them All
solution. Or, of course, simply accepting that they lost and moving on with their life
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Anime & Manga
- Marmalade Boy is the number one example. The anime spends so much time doing this sort of thing after Miki and Yuu pair off early in the series, it's almost impossible to take it seriously. Enter boy C who wants Miki, and girl D who wants Yuu. They team up, agreeing to work together to make Miki and Yuu break up. They fail, but it's okay — because they fall in love in the process and get together! Repeat twenty times, and you have Marmalade Boy. The word "marmalade" has become a standard name for this plot device in the vocabulary of shoujo anime fans.
- It was a lot less complicated in the manga because there were far less characters in it compared to the anime as well as the author herself not wanting to pair all the characters up since she thought it was unrealistic. She actually has commented on how she was slightly annoyed that virtually all the characters did seem to get paired up in the anime.
- Digimon Adventure 02 played this trope straight as an arrow. The writers decided which pairings to make official at the end of the series at complete random, with the only limits being that pairs had to be heterosexual and only 3 couples could be made official.
- Only two couples were official in the epilogue of the series: Ken/Miyako and Yamato/Sora. The last had foreshadowing, as Yamato and Sora were dating in the last quarter of the series; the former did not.
- She was drooling over the guy for most of the series... and she punched him once. That's practically true love on its own.
- She had a crush on him until she found out that he was the Kaiser. After that, anything else is up for debate. He also never seemed the least bit interested in her.
- Kimagure Orange Road had Character C rather quickly turned down once they got to the end, with her taking it bizarrely well that the main character lead her on for so long "in order to not hurt her feelings." A later OAV subverts this, however, and touches more on the emotional ramifications.'
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, we find out that Syaoran's, and to some extent Sakura's, romantic feelings for Yukito were not simply crushes but in fact caused by magical attraction.
- Tomoyo from the same series is the archetypal I Want My Beloved to Be Happy-character. Unusual in that Tomoyo acknowledges Sakura is a little dense with subtly, and decides to explain more fully when they're older. It doesn't really come up again once Syaoran enters the picture; Tomoyo was both a Muggle and largely defined by her relation to Sakura, so it was a pretty serious Road Cone.
- Likewise Mei-Ling drops herself out of the race by annulling her engagement to Syaoran now that she sees he has found someone he loves more; this completes her promise she made to him when they were younger. As an aside, Mei-Ling tells Tomoyo later that night that she cannot hate Sakura for it as it is not her fault.
- In the anime, M─R, this is a common interpretation of the ending. Ginta chooses to resolve his tension with Dorothy by not choosing her and instead returning to Earth to be with Snow/Koyuki.
- Magic Knight Rayearth resolves the love triangle between Hikaru, Lantis and Eagle by nobly killing Eagle off. (Which does not occur in the manga, where Hikaru does not feel a pressing need to choose just one...)
- SHUFFLE! does this twice to the main obstacle of the final pairing, both by having her go nuts, and then having a two-second implication that she falls in love with another of the girls in the ending credits.
- Schoolgirl Lesbian Shizuru from Mai-HiME has had two of these occur. In the anime itself, she goes insane, though a combination of her popularity and the Reset Button nature of the ending save her in the end. The video game based on this, which is aimed at a different demographic, has her committing suicide if the main character chooses to be with Natsuki.
- In the manga, this is averted, as while Natsuki continues having feelings for Yuuichi after he has essentially chosen Mai, Shizuru does not go insane, kill herself, get together with anyone else or even seem affected at all by Natsuki's pursuit of Yuuichi.
- In the last episode of Speed Grapher, Ginza's long-time obsessive crush on Saiga is abruptly pushed aside by a sudden change of heart, after she hears him tell Kagura that he loves her. Later, we hear other characters saying how surprising it was that she decided to hook up with Ryougoku, another character on the show whom she hardly knew—presumably so that Saiga and Kagura can be happy together after Kagura comes back.
- And then there's Fruits Basket where it turns out that Yuki wasn't really in love with Tohru, he has been only looking for his mother in her; then he is quickly paired off with another girl. Seeing that this happened after fourteen volumes of pining and a confession of love, many fans found it less than convincing, and many people regard it as only an excuse to get rid of Yuki so Tohru and Kyo can be together. Your mileage may vary as to how believable Yuki and Machi's subsequent relationship is.
- A more extreme version happens at the end of the manga: nearly EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER who ever appeared is paired off with another, even characters who had never met before.
- Almost averted in Love Hina. Even the day before the wedding of Keitaro and Naru, Suu and Shinobu both admit they still have it bad for the former... and when Motoko chides them for their fixation, Shinobu pulls out Motoko's latest bodice ripper manuscript which involves a swordswoman cutting down the bride at a wedding and ordering the groom to "Take me now!" Fortunately, they all are willing to let the happy couple be.
- On the other hand, "Character C" Mutsumi goes the "wanting Character A to be happy" route - in a way - earlier in the series (Chapter 82 and 83)... by revealing that she's equally in love with Keitarou and Naru, and wants to make them both happy by helping them get together, thus stepping aside from her own interests to play matchmaker for them instead, ultimately lumping her in with the rest of the group's mutual satisfaction for the happy couple.
- By the end of the manga of Ranma Ż, when Ranma and Akane look set to finally marry each other when Akane's dad blackmails Ranma into marrying Akane, Akane's three major competitors have been paired off, with varying degrees of success: Ryoga has chosen to stand aside while he pursues a relationship with Akari. Ukyo had a suitor in the form of Konatsu. Shampoo has Mousse as a suitor. However, only the Ryoga instance is in any way successful, as they went on to summarily ignore their "consolation prizes" and Shampoo outright attacked the bride at her own wedding though Ranma got in the way entirely by accident and Ukyo may have been attacking Ranma not Akane. Even Ranma and Akane don't get anywhere romantically; not only does Akane never explicitly admit, even to herself, to being in love with Ranma, Ranma denies it when Akane asks if she heard him declare that he loved her, at that time (Ranma has accidentally told her that earlier in the manga when he didn't know it was her and the manga is unclear as to whether or not he did say it in the last arc, it looks more like he was thinking it while yelling Akane).
- Ranma blows chances to do this quite often. He refuses to throw a fight to Mousse to get rid of Shampoo and in another storyline goes out of his way to ruin Kuno's chance with the one girl that actually liked him. What an Idiot.
- Neither of those would have really changed the status quo if he had gone along with it. Shampoo only declared she would go on a date with Mousse if Ranma lost to him, not that she would marry him or something like that; having never thought of him as a love interest in the first place, she would have put up with having to go out with him once and then gone right back to chasing Ranma, with the only difference being that Mousse would be even more pissed off by it than usual. And Kuno never was interested in Mariko in the first place... and she got over him without the slightest effort after seeing him beaten and, evidently, realizing what a lustful idiot he is.
- Also considering that Tatewaki actively pursues both Ranma and Akane another girl would in no way have resolved things. Ranma also sees it as being dishonorable to throw a duel (that arc and a few later ones like the one with Gosunkugi wearing battle armor clearly show this to be the case).
- Also from Rumiko Takahashi, Maison Ikkoku presented a long-running, but less complex Love Dodecahedron. Protagonist (and dropout) Godai is in love with Kyoko, who is actively pursued by suave tennis coach Mitaka, while Godai reluctantly dates Kozue. All this, while Kyoko pines for her dead and perfect husband. Eventually, Mitaka discovers an engagement with a girl who loves dogs (his crippling phobia) and soon warms up to her. For her part, Kozue outgrows her infatuation with Godai and breaks up with him.
- Don't forget Godai's third "relationship," Yagami. He was continually appalled at her advances, but it was a romantic complication nonetheless.
- The Love Triangle in Inuyasha is resolved for good when Kikyo dies and her soul ascends to heaven, enabling Inuyasha to finally get over her and focus on Kagome.
- Don't forget Koga finally leaving Kagome alone in the same book as well.
- The Love Dodecahedron of FAKE is sorted out in the epilogue "Like Like Love". First, there's the obvious flagship couple of Dee and Ryo. Bikky and Carol's relationship is solidified (we get to see them talking about college). Berkeley finally realizes how important Diana is to him. Finally, JJ is paired off with his partner Drake as consolation for his one-sided crush on Dee. These pairings seem to be sticking in the second season, but a new Love Dodecahedron is promised to form as new characters enter.
- The extremely melodramatic love triangle in the Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl anime gets resolved when Hazumu finally chooses Yasuna over Tomari - even though she is the girl who turned her down first when she still was a boy. This doesn't bode well for their relationship and Yasuna decides to break Hazumu's heart again by dumping her several months later - which enables Hazumu to go after Tomari in the OVA meant to "fix" the earlier Gecko Ending. With Yasuna helping things along (and remaining friends with the couple).
- Yasuna originally rejected Hazumu not because of any of Hazumu's qualities that carried over through the change, but simply because Hazumu was, at the time, a boy, which, due to her odd affliction, made things a no-go. The later breakup was unrelated.
- Also, it was rather less complicated in the manga, where Hazumu chose Tomari from the start, because she was the one who didn't hesitate to save Hazumu's life. She loved him/her in both genders, choosing to change her own sexuality just to be with Hazumu.
- Creed from the Black Cat anime, after realizing that Train will never return his feelings (or anyone else's, for that matter), does a Heel-Face Turn and ends up with Echidna.This never happens in the manga.
- The way Toradora! was going to end was incredibly obvious, but they took such a long time getting there that while Taiga was believable enough, Ryuuji just seemed to randomly decide he loved her and wanted to elope, after spending practically the whole series pining for Minori. Where did THAT come from?
- There is at least a bit more foreshadowing in both the manga and the light novel, since they let you in on Ryuuji's thought process. He is always thinking about Taiga and how pretty she is, among other things.
- Yaoi mangas that put the main pairing into a love triangle will sometimes give the loser his own chapter or manga that shows him finding love.
- Seems to be happening in the last two volumes of Ai Kora, with Tsubame finding a boyfriend, Ayame developing feelings for Haiji, and Kirino becoming an idol singer and moving out of the dorm, with the final volume dedicated to untangling the Love Triangle involving Maeda, Sakurako, and Yukari.
- Avoided at the end. Except for Tsubame, the girls never gave up on him, and somehow Maeda gathered an even bigger harem with girls all over the world.
- The author of Naruto stated that the first post-script movie, Naruto: The Last, is the story of how the main character chose between the two significant girls in his life - how he outgrew his feelings for one, "parting ways" with her, and how he fell in love with the other.
- Macross II: In the first act, Hibiki and Sylvie Gena are clearly antagonistic, and when Ishtar ends up in Hibiki's custody, the OVA drops A TON of hints that Hibiki and Ishtar are falling in love (even outright saying it at some points). However, so they can end with the Marduk taking off into space somewhere, at the end Ishtar feels somehow inspired by Hibiki falling in love with Sylvie out of absolutely nowhere, and they stick in a subplot about Ishtar's second, Feff, falling in love with her so that the two main leads are paired.
- Towards the end of Brian K. Vaughan's run on Runaways, Nico and Victor suddenly become a couple, despite not having much previous chemistry. This is heavily lampshaded; they're both grieving Gert, and Nico's usual way of coping with trauma is to throw herself at the nearest available body. Nico is well aware that it's neither psychologically healthy for her or fair to Victor, but Victor becomes infatuated with her and she can't bring herself to let him go. This was inverted hard when Joss Whedon took over and had Victor cheat on Nico, at which point Nico promptly dumped him. Neither of them have been canonically paired with anyone since.
- In White Devil of the Moon, after Nanoha and Fate get together, in an omake, it is implied that Sailor Mars sees this as the perfect opportunity to get together with Mamoru/Endymion, with the main romantic rival removed.
- At the start of the Merlin fanfic A Very Hairy Situation, Arthur's engaged to Gwen, Merlin's pining after Arthur, and Arthur's in unrequited love with Gwaine. Yet somehow the final couples turn out to be Merlin and Arthur and... Gwaine and Gwen.
Film - Animated
- Played with hilariously in The Princess and the Frog. Tiana and Naveen fall in love and are married, but this leaves Charlotte as the only "good guy" who doesn't hook up with anyone or achieve her dream of meeting a prince. In the final song of the movie, we see Charlotte dancing happily with Naveen's younger brother - who is six and half! While she shrugs and says "I waited this long", they technically don't hook up.
Film - Live Action
- An egregious use of the trope was in the film Pretty in Pink. Originally the heroine was supposed to end up romantically with her offbeat platonic buddy, but the test audiences insisted that she end up in the arms of the superficial rich pretty-boy instead. Thus was the ending of the film changed, with poor old Ducky going for some girl who merely winks at him from the dance floor, despite his stalker-like fixation with the heroine throughout the entire damn film. It's speculated that this is why the writer created the film Some Kind of Wonderful the next year with the exact same story (save for the genders switched) with the "original" ending.
- The ending was changed because the test audiences pointed out that the original ending creates a hell of a Broken Aesop about not crossing class lines. Ducky going with another girl at a single dance just showed that he was able to move on (contrasting with the girl's father, who let his life fall apart because he never did).
- The deleted scenes on the Special Edition DVDs of Return of the King pair ╔owyn, who couldn't win Aragorn from Arwen, with Faramir. Granted, this was in the books, but the films emphasized the Love Triangle far more, making the trope more obvious as a side effect.
- The trope is hardly present in the books: Arwen and Aragorn are set to marry from the first book, but the reader only gets glimpses of their relationship, while Faramir and ╔owyn's is given a lot more importance.
- Resolved quite nicely in the final words of the original Star Wars trilogy: "It's not like that at all. He's my brother."
- In the first movie and the novel it's based on, there's no inkling that Leia is in any way related to Luke (or Vader, for that matter). It's obvious that George Lucas invented it for the later movies because it was the only way to justify the hero not getting the girl.
- In Enchanted, Edward and Nancy hook up through an out of nowhere Cinderella moment after their respective significant others hook up with each other.
- This is an Aesop breaker for the movie, but a deleted scene tries to justify it by establishing Nancy as a former romantic who gave up on meeting a prince to sweep her off her feet.
- It isn't like they get married immediately, there is enough time for two of the sidekick characters to get books published and Giselle to establish a successful business. So they were together for at least six months, more likely a year, first. But they aren't the main characters, so it's not like they can spend the extra time to show those two falling in love as well.
- After inadvertently causing the end of the world, the heroes and their Soviet counterparts from Spies Like Us decide to at least die happy: Chevy Chase pairs up with the gorgeous Donna Dixon, while the two older Soviet techs hook up together. Since there are two male techs and one female left, it seems that Dan Ackroyd's character and one of the other guys will be left out of the fun. Then it turns out the other two guys are gay, leaving Ackroyd to pair up with the very hot Vanessa Angel; win freakin' win. Oh, and the end of the world part? It gets better.
- A major subplot in Alexander Nevsky has two warriors, Gavrilo and Vassili, as rivals for the hand of Olga Danilova, declaring that whoever is bravest in battle will win her. It ends with Vasili yielding place to Gavrilo, as he has fallen hard for Vasilissa of Pskov (Vasili claims that she was the bravest of all, and Gavrilo was second).
- After winningly declaring her independence from Henry Higgins, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady returns to Higgins after all give the audience a so called romantic happy ending, deviating from the source material, Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw, who strongly felt that the characters should not end up together.
- L.A. Story. Harris K. Telemacher falls in love with a younger woman, but his loyalty to his girlfriend prevents him from going any further. Luckily, he discovers that his girlfriend is cheating on him with another man, so he can proceed with his new romance.
- Kelsi and Jason at the end of the first High School Musical movie: Kelsi, who seemed to have a bit of a crush on Troy, is randomly paired up with his only friend, (with actual lines,) Jason, that doesn't have a crush/girlfriend/whatever, despite the fact that they never interacted before in the movie and they have nothing in common.
- Dan's brother and Dan's date in Dan in Real Life
- This seemed less like Dan's brother was just part of a plot cleanup, but more part of his character going out with the other lady out of spite toward Dan.
- This trope appears to be Nora Ephron's bread and butter. In Sleepless In Seattle, Annie Reed and Walter come a mutual agreement that they are not all that in love and part amicably, leaving Annie free to hook up with Sam later that very night. Meanwhile, in You've Got Mail, Joe gives the boot to his shrill and unlikable girlfriend Patricia after being trapped in an elevator with her. Kathleen and Frank mutually agree that they are not all that in love and break off their engagement, leaving Kathleen free to hook up with Joe within a few weeks.
- Sky High... dear lord Sky High. At the climax of the film, pseudo-antagonist Warren Peace randomly hooks up with a girl who has ice powers and appears onscreen for exactly ten seconds prior, where she demonstrates said powers on two other students. Zero interaction between the two before this but hey, apparently the bad boys need love too. Plus, fire and ice? What a twist!
- Kick-Ass 2 pushed the hints of a Kick-Ass/Hit-Girl romance and had a temporary new love interest in the meantime for both. What about Kick-Ass's main love interest from the first film, whom he spent the whole film pursing and ended the film in a loving relationship? Well she has a grand total of one scene in the sequel, in which she is derailed from a Girl Next Door to a bitch that cheats on him before dumping him.note
- In Team America: World Police, Carson in his Dying Speech tells Lisa to find someone else to love.
- In The Palm Beach Story, Gerry and Tom revive their love but in the process they leave behind a flabbergasted Hackensacker and his Princess sister. Time to bring in the twin brother/sister plot for everyone to be Happily Ever After.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs' Gods of Mars and Warlord of Mars, Thuvia falls in love with John Carter. At the end, when he is reunited with his wife, they get to watch as Thuvia and their son are flirting (though they get a book of their own before they actually get to marry).
- At the end of The Chessmen of Mars, Tara learns, greatly to her relief, that her betrothed, believing her dead, had fallen in love and married, thus freeing her from her word and letting her marry the hero.
- The romantic tension in the Twilight series between Edward, Bella, and Jacob is resolved when Bella marries Edward, and Jacob "imprints" (the werewolf version of discovering a soulmate) on Bella and Edward's newborn daughter Renesmee. It's okay because while Renesmee's going to appear 17 when she's 7, mentally she'll be an adult.
- Additionally, Breaking Dawn also sees Kate and Garret hooking up with only a few sentences of them spending time together and implies that Charlie and Sue are in the process of hooking up (after, erm...Sue cooks meals for Charlie, it seems). In the first story, Bella casually plays matchmaker for her friends, with no real mention of how well the friends get along before that. In fact, almost all of the protagonists are hooked up with someone, and the characters who are meant to be unsympathetic are left single.
- Ken Follett's two Kingsbridge historical fiction novels both feature a main couple (Jack and Aliena and The Pillars of the Earth, Merthin and Caris in World Without End) who, for various plot contrivances, can't be together in a practical and/or legal (it's 12th or 14th century England) sense for very extended periods of time. As a result, various stopgap love interests are employed, but have to be disposed of when it's time for the main couple to possibly have a shot (which, particularly in World Without End, happens several times before they actually succeed). For example, after Caris is forced into becoming a nun, Merthin leaves for Florence, marries, and has a daughter; then the Black Death kills his wife, and he returns to England, has an affair with a barmaid, who also dies of the Black Death, gets back together with Caris for a while, but circumstances force another breakup, and he has an affair with Lady Philippa, his brother's wife (loveless forced marriage), but Philippa gets pregnant by him and has to pretend the child is his brother's, and her departure coincides with Caris finally getting out of the nunnery.
- Also seen in Follett's A Dangerous Fortune, where Romantic False Lead Nora takes a rather severe level in jerkass after her husband Hugh loses his fortune (though he's still comfortably middle class), abandoning him and their three kids. There was a bit of foreshadowing of this as Hugh's true love interest Maisie was suspicious from the start that she was a heartless golddigger, but it's still pretty jarring as there was a period where we were meant to sympathize with her being manipulated into causing a scene at a high society party, and root for her fixing the problem it caused.
- Íverenskommelser by Simona Ahrnstedt solves this by having the two Romantic False Leads hook up with each other.
Live Action TV
- Parodied on Friends. After Ross and Rachel get back together and Monica and Chandler announce they're dating, Joey asks Phoebe if they should get together, by the virtue of them being the only main characters left. Phoebe reveals that she has a long term-strategy for the two of them in which they make off with Chandler and Monica's money and Rachel's children, and kill Ross.
- All in all: Ross, Rachel and Chandler had all kissed each of the five characters. Monica never kissed Phoebe or Joey (except for an alternate universe in the latter case). Back to the trope, it can be seen with many details throughout the series: Joey introducing Phoebe to her husband (and being actually the one who would marry them later on), Joey and Rachel deciding they're better off as friends (after roughly two years of build-up for their relationship to finally take place), Janice finally getting over Chandler after "one last moment of weakness", Gunther being shot down by Rachel in the finale, hooking up Ross' ex Julie with Rachel's ex Russ, etc.
- Perhaps the most obvious Friends example of this trope: Ross's wedding to Emily. "I, Ross, take thee Rachel..."
- Gilmore Girls has Jess becoming a good boy, trying to rekindle his relationship with Rory but finally accepting she's in love with somebody else. It also has Christopher being OK with not being Lorelai's soulmate (after a lot of frustration over it).
- Jess actually averts this trope. Yes he reforms himself but he's still in love with Rory. His final line: "It is what it is. Me. You." is actually them realizing they love each other but their timing's never been right. Not that the ends are cleared up. Plus Rory eventually breaks up with the other guy and Word of God reveals had the series continued she and Jess would have got together. So definitely not this trope.
- The last few seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation gradually allowed the Official Couple Riker and Troi to drift apart, even having Troi date Worf with Riker's approval. Later appearances by Worf never acknowledged this plot arc, and Riker and Troi were married in one of The Movie sequels. Exactly how they patched things up is left to the viewer.
- Non-Canon explanation: Peter David's Fix Fic Triangle: Imzadi II. Let's just say it involved Lwaxana Troi, Thomas Riker, and Sela, and leave it at that.
- A deleted scene has Worf hung over on Romulan Ale. General consensus and possibly Word of God says it's because of this. Nevermind that Worf married another woman on another show.
- There was flirting between them in the previous movie (the Phlebotinum being a Fountain of Youth makes them more flirtatious, or something).
- Exception: At the end of Man About The House, the main character, poor Robin Tripp, gets ditched by both his love interest and other main character, Chrissy, who prefers Robin's brother Norman. Robin can only acknowledge his defeat, which isn't softened by any narrative gimmick. However, this is only a partial exception, as Robin quickly falls in love with someone else, in the series spin-off Robin's Nest.
- Averted on Coupling, at first. Susan and Steve are together, as are Patrick and Sally... But Jeff can't get no girly action from Jane. Jeff and Jane get their own love interests, but neither lasts very long. In season 4, however, Oliver replaces Jeff and does end up with Jane.
- According to Word of God, Jane and Oliver never go any further than we actually saw on the show, but they did end up running his shop together.
- In Twin Peaks, the undeniable sexual tension between Agent Cooper and Audrey Horne is quickly defused by the introduction of two new characters: Purity Sue Annie Blackburne and male Relationship Sue John Justice Wheeler. This was supposedly done because Kyle MacLachlan didn't think it was proper for Cooper to pursue a relationship with a high-school-aged girl.
- In One Tree Hill real life chemistry tossed out Official Couple girl Peyton in favor of Brooke. Then real life divorce tossed out the previous three seasons of "Don't be so insecure, Brooke, I never loved Peyton" in favor of "Duh, it was Peyton all along." And then, in season 5, they threw in a Third-Option Love Interest for good measure. Brooke meanwhile, has been through a string of very hot rebounds.
- In Petticoat Junction Steve Elliot was introduced as a possible love interest for the Bradley girls, Billie Jo, Bobbi Jo, and Betty Jo. He and Billie Jo became a couple for several seasons. But then the actor playing Steve married the actress playing Betty Jo, so TPTB decided to have them get married on the show too. Out of the blue, Billie Jo mentions to her mother that she and Steve are "just friends." An episode or two later, Steve and Betty Jo declare their love, and Billie Jo doesn't mind at all. She wanted to focus more on her acting career, and wasn't ready to get married like she knew Steve was wanting. And Bobbi Jo, who'd had a crush on Steve all this time, doesn't mind either, because she didn't have that big of a crush on him anyway.
- In addition to the Presidential election, the last season of The West Wing seems dedicated to making sure no one ends up alone. Josh and Donna, C.J. and Danny, Leo and that blond girl, Will and that other blond girl. Possibly the only exceptions are Toby (divorced and, you know, that legal thing) and Charlie (young enough to have a life ahead of him even if he isn't married).
- Charlie is actually a subversion of this trope as his relationship with the President's daughter was a major plot point in seasons 1, 4 and 6, and at the end of season 6 he actually hinted that they might be considering marriage which would tie up the romantic loose ends of that long story, however in the last season there is not a single mention of whether he and Zoey were still dating let alone if they were planning to get married.
- A Midsummer Night's Dream: The fairies repair the damage caused by the Love Potion, and Demetrius sticks with Helena, whom he was "making love to" before his Arranged Marriage to Hermia. There is the question if Demetrius would still have loved Hermia if it hadn't been for the love juice. Couple this with the fact he was threatening to rape Helena in the woods near the beginning of the play, and it does not bode well. Then again, knowing Will, he probably cultivated the implications.
- Can't forget As You Like It. Four weddings at the end.
- The Merchant of Venice. After Bassanio successfully courts and marries the wealthy Portia, his friend Gratiano and Portia's handmaid Nerissa also decide to marry each other, apparently for the hell of it.
- This is done rather wonderfully in Stardust where Tristran gets home, finds the girl he went on the adventure for in the first place wants to marry someone else and promptly informs her his heart's desire is for her to have the happiest marriage anyone ever had before going to find his star.
- William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night ends with the good guys rewarded, the "bad" guys punished, and everyone happily paired up... except Antonio, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek. Antonio's constant devotion and implied love for Sebastian goes completely unacknowledged. At least one film version ends with him walking away from the castle all alone. And Aguecheek, well... despite being rather slow in the head, his ending is quite tragic, as he appears smitten with Olivia and, judging by his comment early on "I was adored once too", he's really not got any other existing prospects.
- El Goonish Shive avoids making a mess of this pretty nicely, with romantic loose ends cleaned up right after they appear early on (Nanase dumps Elliot, and Justin doesn't have a chance because he's a gay guy with a crush on a straight guy), but in ways that leave open potential for character development later on. (In one strip, Justin looks at Elliot's girlfriend Sarah and thinks, "How dare you be someone I can't dislike?")
- Nanase's part in this gets a very interesting solution: Justin suspected Nanase was a lesbian, and Nanase finds out he's right when Elliot's extremely-similar female copy, Ellen, is brought into play.
- Megatokyo's Yutaka Kobayashi seems to serve little purpose other than a potential love interest for Yuki, whose crush on Piro has negative zero chance of resulting in anything.
- Well, he's also Genre Savvy enough to serve as Mission Control for Yuki. At least he can recognize the symptoms of zombie infection.
- Yuki also seemed on her way to getting over her crush on Piro anyway.
- Fans! had a unique resolution to the Rikk/Alisin/Rumy triangle, after Rumy's attempts at I Want My Beloved to Be Happy didn't take: consensual polyamory. Lucky Rikk.
- Tales of the Questor had a different take on it when it is revealed that Quentyn's close friend, Kestrel, has a romantic interest in him, but decides not to reveal it. Since the strongest moment of temptation to do so is on the night before he left on his grand quest and de facto probable permanent exile outside the Raccoonan lands, she felt that it was too cruel to give him yet another thing to sacrifice and keeps the true depth of her feelings to herself. However, it doesn't end too badly since Quentyn, although unaware of Kestrel's feelings, insists that she join him for a dance at the harvest festival and they both have one last merry time together under the circumstances.
- Fans of Golden Sun have to wait until the 3rd game to confirm the romantic relationship between Isaac and Jenna.
- In Final Fantasy II, Scott asks Firion and friends to not tell Hilda about his death, as she deserves to fall in love again.
- Final Fantasy VI has a temporarily revived Rachel telling Locke to stop tormenting himself over her death and find someone to be happy with.
- In Mass Effect 3, if neither Garrus or Tali is romanced in Mass Effect and both survive, they'll end up at least hooking up by the end of the game.
- In Catherine, you get a different version depending on your ending:
- Should you choose Katherine, Catherine is written off as an "illusion" created by the Big Bad.
- Should you choose Catherine, Jonny reveals that he's always fancied her, and now that Vincent is out of the picture, his only reason to not be with her is gone.
- Should you choose neutrality, Vincent leaves to seek a new life elsewhere, and presumably both the above things happen.
- Subverted in Futurama, in an episode where Fry dates a digital copy of Lucy Liu. At the end, Fry deletes the copy after being asked by the real Liu, and hopes that he can get to know the real Liu. However, it turns out that Liu and Bender (who has been against human/robot relationships for the whole episode) have fallen in love. The heart fade-out shows Bender and Liu kissing... then turns to Fry, who is growling at them.
- In Bender's Big Score, the Lars/Leela/Fry triangle is sorted out when Lars turns out to be an older copy of Fry, then dies.
- In The Beast With A Billion Backs, Fry dates a polygamist, the tentacle monster Yivo dates the whole universe, and in the end, Yivo and the polygamist find what they really wanted in each other. (Also herpes)
- Into the Wild Green Yonder may be this trope, as a very minor Fry/Leela subplot provides fodder for the last scene when Fry and Leela declare their love for each other, to each other. Then they ride off into a
Sequel Hook wormhole holding hands and sharing a kiss.
- In Gargoyles, Brooklyn is the series' romantic Butt Monkey, falling for multiple femmes and being brushed off by all of them. Creator Greg Weisman to finally fixed that in the official comic book continuation where Brooklyn is whisked away for a 40 year journey where he finds his true love and raises a family before they all return to his clan at a time that is five minutes after the moment he disappeared. That journey was originally supposed to be depicted in a Spin-Off series called Timedancer. In addition, in the interim after the original TV series cancellation and before the SLG comic book continuation depicting the results of this, plenty of Brooklyn fans who were Fan Fic writers were happy to supply their own idea of the ideal true love for him.
- As seen in The Legend of Korra, a miniseries that spent a considerable time shipping during the second act only to realize that its substantially more relevant plotlines were getting less attention. In the span of less than 7 minutes, Korra's love interest nebulously breaks up with his current girlfriend to be with the Avatar.
- All loose ends are completely and happily swept under the rug by season 3 with only Mako being the one unable to move past the drama.