Irene: Ryu, what is the payment you already received?A character in a story who, despite being presented as the One True Love of a central character, doesn't seem to have much of a relationship with said character at all. The catalyst for the relationship appeared off-screen before the series began, and save for maybe an occasional over-the-top gesture, never really appears to manifest. This isn't a matter of their love being subtle — it's more like they just kind of know each other but since he's a dude and she's a chick, they must have some sort of romantic attachment to each other because it's a law of the universe that opposite-sex-characters are always involved in romantic entanglements. Ultimately, this is a romance of necessity, not in the literal sense, but because of the assumption that the story needs a romantic plot or sub-plot to move forward. Other characters will usually acknowledge these relationships, but not say much else about them. Sometimes one may wonder What Does She See in Him?, though this is relatively rare. There's usually some sort of plot or setting-related reason why a character needs a significant other at this point in time, and it would be bad form for a character to openly question what they even have in common. A Shipper on Deck will have no issues with getting people together despite lack of any real logic behind it, and in extremes cases entire casts may get on this bandwagon. This trope most commonly appears in action-adventure stories where the writer, having little experience writing actual romances, doesn't have any idea how to do it subtly. Alternately, he may just not want to since romantic Character Development drastically cuts down on the time available for random explosions. Compare and contrast Strangled by the Red String, where the relationship goes beyond "plot convenience" to "acknowledge this as being true love dammit!" Contrast Satellite Love Interest, in which the character is all about being the love interest and nothing else, rather than having characterization that doesn't fit being a love interest. Also contrast Romantic Plot Tumor, where a romantic subplot is given too much screentime when it doesn't really affect the main plot enough to warrant it. Any of the above can be symptoms of a Token Romance. Oh, and of note. Please don't use this trope as an excuse to bash characters whom you dislike for X/Y/Z motives. Being a love interest doesn't immediately equal to this trope, and many accusations fit less in this trope and more in Die for Our Ship.
Ryu: She's right in front of me.
[Big Damn Kiss]
Ryu: I don't even know your name.
Ryu: She's right in front of me.
[Big Damn Kiss]
Ryu: I don't even know your name.
— Ninja Gaiden (NES version)
open/close all folders
- Rumiko Takahashi, author of Ranma ˝, InuYasha, and Urusei Yatsura, is especially guilty of introducing characters just to pair up with other characters, and then forgetting about them. Usually, they make a token appearance and then are never heard from again, or perhaps two or three times at best. Her justifications have driven away many former fans; she has stated on multiples occasions that she only creates some characters to attempt to deter fans from inventing pairings she didn't intend.
- Ranma ˝:
- First of all, there's Akari Unryu; apparently, the demand for Ryoga to get a happy ending led to the creation of this girl, who is so perfect for Ryoga, and shows up so few times in her subsequent appearances that she has been derided as a canon relationship sue.
- Mousse got some major attempts at redeeming his character, which can actually come off as rather jarring due to the fact he spent the early series trying to kill Ranma; and once boasted along the lines that he would gladly break any rules and forsake any honor to get Shampoo, though Shampoo never changed her opinion of him- while she did occasionally show him some "soft" moments, she spent most of the series outright abusing him and, on one occasion, was perfectly willing to go and play videogames while abandoning him to what she believed would be certain death at the hands of a life-sapping demon.
- Ukyo got an (attempted) and very literal Last Minute Hookup in the form of an effeminate transvestite ninja master, who appeared less than Akari did.
- Urusei Yatsura is a case where this might actually be the happy ending; initially, Shinobu, the Tsundere with Super Strength, seems to be the Unlucky Childhood Friend, though she legitimately falls out of love with Ataru Moroboshi due to recognizing that he is an apparently irredeemable Lovable Sex Maniac... her next choice of crushes? Handsome Lech and Royal Brat Shuutaro Mendo, who's not only just as bad as Ataru in terms of lustfulness, but is also chasing after Cute Monster Girl Lum. Meanwhile, she's being pursued by the gonkiest character in the series, a hulking, repulsive moron who repeatedly tries to ambush her. Finally, she earns the attention of Inaba, a shy and clumsy, but sweet, innocent and genuinely romantic character, whom she grows quite fond of. And then he only shows up in about one story...
- Ryuunosuke has a similar case happen to her at the end of the manga. Towards the end of the manga, she gets betrothed by her father to Nagisa, the cross-dressing son of her father's friend. Nagisa however, only appears in two two-part storylines in the manga, and an OVA, and the big manga finale.
- Ranma ˝:
- Usagi and Mamoru in Sailor Moon's animated adaptation. During one of The Movies, Usagi is slightly depressed that she has no idea what Mamoru is like, can't have a conversation with him, and doesn't even understand his interests. Their later failures to really interact with each other may have to do with the television writers not finding him very interesting, aside from a character for her to emote at — which is really his fundamental purpose, after all.
- While Cain of Count Cain flirts with (and presumably sleeps with) as many women as possible throughout the series, when he finally gets paired up with Meridiana it feels ridiculous, since she's just as vapid as any other woman he's met and slept with. She has nothing to distinguish her; she is the least unique character in the entire series. Even the author admitted that the fans didn't like her; she seemed surprised.
- Emily Almonde from Mobile Suit Gundam AGE seems to exist sorely to bleed the second generation's hero by the story's stand point. While she loves the protagonist Flit Asuno, the boy shows no romantic relationship with her because he's too busy fighting UE and building a relationship with a doomed Mysterious Waif Yurin L'Ciel. Even at the end of the arc, it stays as it is — a one-side love with no development. Then comes the second generation, where she gets married to Flit, has two children, and departs on a bus.
- Dragon Ball Z:
- Bulma and Vegeta basically got together because "a kid from the future said so." They had exactly two on-screen interactions before the three-year time skip when for some unknown reason Bulma dumped her previous love interest in favor of having a baby with the guy who'd once tried to massacre the planet. The implication seems to be that she simply had sex with him once, and that any actual romance between them didn't come until after another time skip...but even then no explanation is given for why she hooked up with him on any sort of permanent basis.
- Krillin rather suddenly decided that he was in love with Android 18 - because she kissed him on the cheek after briefly taunting him. What makes this moment even sillier is that Krillin fully knew she intended to kill his best friend, and had just witnessed her and her brother beat Vegeta, Piccolo, and Tenshinhan within an inch of their lives.
- Dragon Ball Super: The relationships between Present Trunks and Mai and Future Trunks and Future Mai can both come across as this, in some sort of attempt at a destined romance-type plot.
- Present Trunks, whose exact age is hard to pinpoint given vague timeline and animation designs, only claims that Mai is his girlfriend to impress Goten in the Battle of Gods movie; the sub-plot is not mentioned in the anime retelling, which makes it very jarring when Mai and the Pilaf Gang turn up in Trunks' house a few sagas later without explanation about the relationship except that they seem to like each other. Also jarring in the manga equivalent. Furthermore, it's given shades of Squick since Mai is chronologically older than Bulma and clearly has the mind of an adult woman in a child's body.
- Meanwhile, in the alternate future, there was no indication throughout Dragon Ball Z or supplementary material that the Pilaf Gang had survived the Android apocalypse before Future Mai randomly turns up as his ally and designated love interest. Like Present Mai, she has been de-aged and is chronologically older than Bulma, as shown in the manga one-shot. She's also apparently much more competent than she originally was, and never mentions her former friends as Future Trunks doesn't know a thing about them. Whilst not as squick, given Trunks is an adult, the fact that it seems Mai has not old him the truth is a tad off-putting. A new character could have been invented and fulfilled the same purpose to the same effect.
- The relationship between Max and Milia in Super Dimension Fortress Macross — as well as their Americanized counterparts in Robotech — was hardly romance at its best. This is somewhat deconstructed in Macross 7, where is showed that Max and Milia's marriage is mainly unstable and troubled.
- In Noein, the relationship between Haruka and Yuu seems to have been invoked purely for plot convenience, since they are not shown to have all that much chemistry, even considering their age.
- Umi Monogatari has Kojima, with whom Kanon doesn't even have a fraction of the chemistry she has with Marin.
- In Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, Yotaro is simplemindedly head-over-heels for Konatsu, who is cold to him, but not in a Tsundere kind of way; she never once says or does anything romantic towards him, or have any romantic thoughts about him even after they get married. This creates the very strange situation of Yotaro having a "wife" who treats him as a close friend at best and a "son" who isn't even his actual child.
- Fairly common in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, where, aside from Gappy and Yasuho and maybe Jonathan and Erina, most romances seem to happen to justify the Joestar bloodline continuing. Joseph and Johnny had almost all their interactions with their wives happen offscreen, and Jotaro's wife isn't even named. Outside of this, Yukako and Koichi get together rather quickly considering her prior interaction with him was trying to murder him for love. Jolyne is a particularly odd example, in that she doesn't get together with Annasui, and spends the entire story viewing him as a creep... but her alternate-self reincarnation double gets together with Annasui's, with no explanation other than that it's true in the new world.
- Played straight in Brand New Day Spider-Man with Carlie Cooper. Everyone, including Mary Jane, is trying to get her together with Peter and gushing about how perfect and wonderful for him she is. Too bad she hasn't really done much to live up to that hype, and the major problem that started with the pairing is that each writer seemed to have their own take on who should end up with Pete in Brand New Day. Dan Slott was in the Carlie Cooper camp, Mark Waid focused on Pete and Michelle, and Joe Kelly always had Peter and Norah. The latter two actually went through lengths actually showing the chemistry while Slott spent more time simply presenting Carlie as the perfect match. When Carlie hooked up with Peter it looked like this trope would stick. And just to add some Squick: Joe Quesada invented Carlie Cooper solely so he could sink the Peter/Mary Jane ship. Who did he base Cooper on? His own daughter! Luckily Spider-Island put an end to all of that, and the finale of Superior Spider-Man put the final nails in the coffin.
- The Page Sisters from Jack Of Fables . Despite showing no interest in the main character and outright despising him, all three ended up sleeping with him more than once. It got especially bad when Robin, who had spent the previous issues hating Jack with a passion, had no problem with the idea of a foursome. It then becomes outright horrifying when it's revealed that they're his half sisters.
- Discussed in Sendai. Ranma and Akane both admit at the start of the fic that while they both care about each other a lot, perhaps to the point of love, they've had very little time to get to know one another, and so it doesn't seem fair to admit to loving each other.
- The romance in Underworld. There is never any indication that Selene feels any real emotion toward her intended hookup; they have yet to actually have any sort of conversation with each other about anything apart from vampires and werewolves and they have known each other for a total of about two days. Word of God says this was the way it was supposed to be- special features on the Underworld DVD reveal that the two characters were not supposed to actually be "in love," but rather attracted to each other based on lust, confused feelings and being forced together.
- Avatar. The romance between Jake Sully and Neytiri is given almost no real buildup and no reason beyond, "Hey, they've been spending a lot of time together and Jake needs a way to get into that culture. Let's hook them up because that is What Those Types of Characters Do."
- Alone in the Dark (2005). The Love Interest never added anything of value to begin with, and the romance itself comes completely out of the blue. Sadly, by the end the Romantic Plot Tumor is the only thing keeping the plot moving forward.
- Averted in Hot Fuzz. Early drafts of the script had a love interest for Nick called Victoria. Because she was boring, slowed down the plot and had nothing much to do by the finale they instead cut her out and gave a fair bit of her dialogue, often unedited, to Nick's burgeoning Heterosexual Life Partner Danny.
- The Breakfast Club: The end of the movie hookups between Andy and Allison and Bender and Claire. While the characters have clear moments of bonding and all of them growing closer to each other is the whole point of the movie, it's still made a little tough to believe, especially due to how much of the film they all spend being horrible to each other.
- The Little Mermaid. The relationship of Ariel and Eric obviously needs to exist because it happens in the original fairy-tale and it gives Ariel her main motivation to want to become human. However, the whole thing is complicated because they really only know each other for three days, and she's unable to speak for almost that entire time. Of course, the original fairy-tale has a major Downer Ending, where the prince never loves the mermaid and on his wedding day she dies and becomes an air spirit. But in the Disney version, they get a Happily Ever After ending that can feel slightly forced unless you cling to an "it's a fairy-tale" mindset.
- Enchanted lampshades the prevalence of this trope; Giselle and Edward start out madly in love with each other without any actual reason for why. It's just how things work in the fairytale land of Andalasia. When you think about it, this helps explain why Nancy managed to pair herself up with Edward in the end, by eloping back to Andalasia. Even at the end of the story, this applies to the official couple.
- In-story of Watchmen, this was practically Laurie's job, being Dr Manhattan's lover. And he likely only loved her because he could see himself doing that in the future. Also, during production of the movie someone tried to write in a non-canonical love interest for Rorschach. It was changed when people realized how utterly out of character that would be.
- Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter. Harry and Ginny barely interact, sharing the screen for about seven minutes combined in the last three movies. Whenever they are on screen together, they barely talk, instead just sharing a kiss and an awkward look before Harry rushes off to do something and Ginny sits down to be irrelevant to the plot. This is probably a result of Adaptation Decay, since they did have significantly more build-up in the books.
- In the 2010 Clash of the Titans, Io is the Love Interest... just because. Amusingly, the original script had Andromeda as the official love interest (as per the myth), yet the women are so interchangeable that they switched to Io with virtually no changes made to the storyline in any way. And to make this even more amusing, by the time the sequel rolls around, Io is dead and Andromeda steps up to fulfill the role that was originally going to be hers anyway. She fits the trope just as well, being more or less ignored by the hero until the very end when he kisses her out of nowhere.
- The main male and female character in Stealth are supposed to be military personnel, and seem to be interacting as such throughout the entire movie. There is banter between them, but nothing that particularly points towards sexual chemistry. In spite of the film tradition of Dedicated Love Interests, it can come as a shock when they suddenly kiss after the action is over, even without considering the army 'fraternization' laws which are never mentioned by any character.
- A criticism of the Spider-Man Trilogy movies was that Peter and MJ had no real romantic chemistry (your mileage may vary). The third film certainly spends more time showing them fighting to keep their relationship afloat than actually doing things together and being a couple.
- Oddly, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 kind of does this to Flint and Sam. An Immediate Sequel, the movie opens at the end of their Big Damn Kiss from the first film, and they're shown as a couple again in the Creative Closing Credits, but that's about it. Flint even refers to her as a "friend" rather than "girlfriend" one or two times, probably to emphasize The Power of Friendship as the main Aesop.
- Johnnie Goodboy Tyler and Chrissy in Battlefield Earth. They have only a few scenes together, and don't even talk to each other in some of them. Johnnie has much more chemistry with one of the guys he's planning the rebellion with. It feels like she's only there because everyone knows The Hero has to have a love interest. The book is a little better, though the relationship is still pretty flat there, too.
- The romance between Reed and Sue in Fantastic Four (2015). It seems to only be there because Reed and Sue are married in the comics.
- RedLetterMedia refers to this as "a case of the not-gays", when a character has an incredibly offhand romance or romantic partner for no other reason than to reassure the audience that they're heterosexual. Specifically cited is the example of Star Trek, where all the protagonists and the main villain all show or mention an interest in a woman, of which maaaybe one is developed or significant to any degree. He also jokingly pointed out that it even happens in dog movies, where the dog will usually get together with a female dog (usually with pink bows tied to them) for no reason and with no development - though to be fair, it's hard to give a non-sentient dog romantic development.
- House of Stairs defies this in the end. The last two protagonists get out of the building, and they're walking together and holding hands. The male lead then spends a paragraph lecturing the reader on how not all inter-gender relationships are sexual. Anvilicious, perhaps, but probably necessary given how common this trope is.
- Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings - justified somewhat as the story is primarily told from the Hobbits' point of view, and they weren't around when the two met and fell in love years earlier; the story is only concisely dealt with in one of the appendices. This has led to quite a number of readers favouring Éowyn's hopeless love for Aragorn.
- Word of God is Eowyn was originally intended to be Aragorn's queen but Tolkien had second thoughts, deciding he was too old and too grim for her.
- Les Misérables gives us Marius and Cosette. Seen each other from afar and are madly in love with each other (at least after Marius noticed Cosette being grown up. Make of that what you will). They do get time to groom their relationship... with Cosette listening to Marius' political views. Well, we have to count in the Values Dissonance here too. But still...
- The relationship between Ivy and Mr. Quent in The Magicians And Mrs Quent. The first half of the book is entirely filler and sets up a relationship between Ivy and Mr. Rafferdy, and shows they have chemistry; however, they break up because Mr. Rafferdy is a noble and Ivy isn't. A few pages after meeting Mr. Quent and with negligible interaction between them, Ivy marries Mr. Quent. Ivy is constantly thinking afterwards whenever she sees Mr. Rafferdy that she likes him, but he's not as right for her as Mr. Quent is; but, because she and Mr. Quent hardly ever interact and she and Mr. Rafferdy interacted quite a bit, there's absolutely zero evidence for this.
- In the little-known book Shackleton's Stowaway, the main character, Perce, fantasizes (no, not like THAT...well, okay, maybe), about a young woman back home named Anna, who he believes he's in love with. However, we only hear about Anna twice, and then she's totally forgotten by the end as if she didn't exist at all, and seemed to serve just so that he could have a love interest. She may also double as a Relationship Sue, due to her overly perfect beauty as constantly described by the author.
- In De skandalösa by Simona Ahrnstedt, Ossian and Beata suddenly become a couple in the end. As far as we know, they had never interacted with each other before only a few chapters remained of the story. Maybe we can assume that something has happened off screen, but still, it just feels like it comes out of the blue. As if they just had to end up together because they both were single up until that point.
Live Action TV
- Glee: Tina dumps Artie for Mike between the first and second seasons, after she spends the summer working with Mike at "Asian camp," despite the fact that goth Tina and jock/preppy Mike had little in common beyond Glee club. This overlaps with Token Minority Couple, since their both being Asian was milked for all it was worth and then some.
- Heroes: Almost every relationship, especially in the second season. Notably Peter/Simone, Maya/Sylar, Peter/Caitlin, Hiro/Yaeko, and Claire/West. Luckily, they seem to have given up. Played extremely straight with Matt/Daphne, in which a psychic vision convinces one character he's "supposed" to be with another. Unsurprisingly his "love" is skeptical and although she plays along she frequently points out how this is not any sort of basis for a real relationship.
- Merlin: Lancelot and Guinevere. It's an inevitable pairing, but it moves like a runaway train. She fits him for a suit of armour and he kisses her hand. That's the last time they interact for a year, and then their paths cross again whilst Guinevere is held captive in a warlord's castle. Lancelot helps her escape, during which he tells her (and others): "I would die for you ten thousand times over," "She means more to me than you will ever understand" and "tell her that she's changed me forever." All this on the basis of two short conversations. Still, some say that the chemistry of the actors makes up for it...
- "Nate" saved Charlie's life once, and yet is seen as a heavily implied Star-Crossed Lovers situation in progress. Aside from that one instance in the pilot of saving her (which only really made sense if taken from a certain angle), he didn't show any real compassion for her for the most part aside from what even Tom Neville realizes is a crush...which sort of makes Charlie qualify as well.
- Ditto in both directions. Though Nate/Jason ends up turning this into a Subverted Trope, especially when in "Soul Train", he is revealed to be Tom Neville's son.
- Robin Hood: Kate was introduced into the show as a Replacement Scrappy for Marian, a Replacement Love Interest for Robin, and the Designated Victim to the outlaws. She has little in the way of personality, does virtually nothing but pursue Robin, and is utterly superfluous to the plot. At the end of the series Robin is killed off to be reunited with Marian and the writers immediately start pushing Kate toward Robin's Replacement Scrappy, his half-brother Archer. Oy.
- Stargate Atlantis:
- Rodney McKay, repeatedly, in the last two seasons. The first major girlfriend, Katie Brown, was a drippy botanist with whom he had nothing in common whatsoever, and the second was Jennifer Keller, who had previously seemed to have a nice thing going on with Ronon. This may have had something to do with the fact that the most popular ship in the entire fandom was McKay/Sheppard. In the episode The Shrine, after all of one episode of any serious interaction, he's declaring his love for Keller in a video recording.
- Keller and Ronon also had shades of this, though. One of the few times they spent any time together (First Contact/The Lost Tribe), they spend the whole time demonstrating that they have absolutely nothing in common and don't really understand each other. Ronon still asks her out at the end of the episode, though, but she turns him down for Rodney.
- White Collar: Kate in season one. It would have been nice to see the one woman who made Neal Caffrey want to commit; unfortunately, Kate is not given a personality, motivation, or even charm. With no material to work with, the role was also tragically miscast with an actress who seems too sweet. In short, she's far too bland to pull off the unforgettable Woman in White or One True Love that Neal keeps saying she is. We finally get to see them together in the season two Flashback Episode "Forging Bonds"; whether this made the relationship more convincing is up to the individual viewer.
- Common legend has it that during Puccini's writing of Turandot, he supposedly abandoned it before the end because he was unable to justify Calaf being in love with the psychotic, man-hating ice queen Turandot when the pure-hearted slave girl, Liu, had remained loyal to him for so long. He had apparently wanted Calaf to fall in love with and marry Liu, whereas the libretto (as well as the story the libretto was based on) had Liu tortured to suicide, after which Calaf then marries Turandot. After his death, the opera was eventually completed by composer Franco Alfano. However, this is demonstrably false, as the real reason it was never finished was that Puccini had laryngeal cancer and died before he could finish. That this legend lives on shows how most people think of the story's couple, and it has been famously criticized by scholars for the rushed attempt to pair Calaf and Turandot.
- Lampshaded by Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet as Romeo falling for Juliet to the point of wanting to marry her so soon after breaking up with Rosaline. "Young men's love lies not in their hearts but in their eyes."
- Averted in Pygmalion and called out by George Bernard Shaw in his Ship Sinking epilogue:
The rest of the story need not be shown in action, and indeed, would hardly need telling if our imaginations were not so enfeebled by their lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of "happy endings" to misfit all stories. Now, the history of Eliza Doolittle, though called a romance because of the transfiguration it records seems exceedingly improbable, is common enough. Such transfigurations have been achieved by hundreds of resolutely ambitious young women since Nell Gwynne set them the example by playing queens and fascinating kings in the theatre in which she began by selling oranges. Nevertheless, people in all directions have assumed, for no other reason than that she became the heroine of a romance, that she must have married the hero of it. This is unbearable, not only because her little drama, if acted on such a thoughtless assumption, must be spoiled, but because the true sequel is patent to anyone with a sense of human nature in general, and of feminine instinct in particular.
- At the end of Measure for Measure, the Duke announced that he was going to marry Isabella. Not only did they never show any interest in each other before that point, but Isabella's dearest wish was to become a nun. Also, for most of the play she thought he was a Friar and thus sworn to celibacy.
- Serge and Kid of Chrono Cross. The player can have Serge treat Kid like crap, ignore her at every turn, leave her to die a slow death by poison, stab her in the chest, apparently use and manipulate her and then kill her again, and finally leave her in a coma reliving the single most traumatic day of her life, and she'll still be in love with a man she barely knows who already has a girlfriend. Her only mandatory interactions with Serge come from the manipulations of another character. Yet even after the ending of the game apparently presses the Reset Button on the entire series of events, she's apparently so in love with Serge that she will promise to find him and the game completely ignores the fact that, again, he already has a girlfriend. The game treats this as a cherished romance and there's even concept art depicting a married Serge and Kid. Bet there's going to be some really awkward stories to tell the children...
- Polka and Allegretto of Eternal Sonata have very little chemistry together. Over the course of the game, Polka spends more time (and has more chemistry) with Chopin. But since he's a) old enough to be her father, and b) dying, they shove her together with Allegretto at the end.
- Asbel and Cheria in Tales of Graces. Other characters constantly tell you that they'd make a really cute couple (to which they get the usual reaction), but Asbel and Cheria don't actually get along that well. They're childhood friends, but due to being apart for seven years, they've grown distant. Cheria regularly tells Asbel that she doesn't like him, which visibly upsets him. When Asbel tells Cheria that this hurts him, she blows up at him again and refuses to apologize. Their entire relationship is a string of failed communications, and they only get together because other characters (especially Sophie and Malik) play matchmaker for them. It doesn't help that most of their few genuine Ship Tease moments are optional sidequests.
- Similarly, Dragon Quest V gives you the choice of two heroines, three on the DS remake, but the game greatly favors Bianca. That said, the other girls aren't that much more developed either, but at least the game doesn't shove them on your face.
- Matilda's husband, Valentin, in Last Scenario doesn't do or say a whole lot, and not much effort is given to develop his personality or build any chemistry between him and Matilda. He seems to exist mainly to prematurely sink any ships involving Matilda (like Thorve or Drakovic).
- If you entered the Max Payne series at 2, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had missed out on an epic love story between Max and Mona. In 2, the game immediately makes a big deal out of revealing that she's still alive after taking a bullet meant for Max. Max reflects on how he thought she was yet another lost love, but he now has a second chance with her. She's a main (even briefly playable) character throughout the rest of the game, with lots of characterisation and legitimate chemistry between she and Max, and with the two taking considerable risks to help one another. But if you go back and play the original, you'll find that she's a fugitive that Max meets exactly once, and then remains fixated on until she inexplicably shows up at the end for the aforementioned Heroic Sacrifice, which comes completely out of nowhere.
- Ninja Gaiden:
- In the NES version, the page quote comes from the very last scene. The only onscreen interaction between Ryu and Irene goes like this: she shoots him with a tranquilizer in the first mission, frees him and gives him the MacGuffin in the second level, and gets kidnapped offscreen at some point before the fifth level, forcing Ryu to choose to save her life during a Sadistic Choice. And... that's it. The quote above is the first time any romantic affection or the prospect of a relationship is ever brought up.
- The Ancient Ship of Doom and The Dark Sword of Chaos are a little bit better about fleshing out their relationship, but then Irene disappears for a long time, with only a small mention in Ryu's Dead or Alive profile (as "Aileen") confirming that they're Happily Married.
- Dead or Alive: Dimensions and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge retroactively reveal that Sonia from Ninja Gaiden II of the Team Ninja series is another alias for Irene and even then, the nature of their relationship is kept deliberately vague despite Hayate and Ayane believing something to be going on between them.
- The Rune Factory series, despite every game having multiple potential marriage candidates, seems to invoke this as something (usually the intro video) shows the protagonist with the first female character you could meet in the game more often than any other. Rune Factory 4 is the only real exception.
- While most couples in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations are clearly shown to care for each other, Mia and Diego is an exception. Diego being Mia's boyfriend is literally the first thing we learn about him and it provides Mia with motivation to hunt Dahlia and for Diego (as Godot) to hate Phoenix for being unable to save her two games earlier, but when we see them actually interacting with each other they don't seem any closer than co-workers, aside from Diego using an Affectionate Nickname.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Ilia. As she is something of a combination of Saria and Malon from Ocarina of Time, she is stated to have a close relationship with Link, and many characters take note of their closeness (though no one outright states that they are romantically involved). In spite of this, Ilia and Link's romantic interactions are limited to one moment prior to one of the last dungeons where Link finally restores her memories after she gets inflicted with Easy Amnesia. During the prologue, which is otherwise meant to show Link's domestic life, Ilia seems to care more for Link's horse Epona rather than Link himself. The aforementioned Malon ultimately has more chemistry with her Link than Ilia with hers, despite the former being a minor character.
- Castle Vania III Draculas Curse: This game introduced the ability to recruit and switch between Trevor Belmont and three other characters: Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, and Alucard. None of the characters share any dialogue except normal greetings when being recruited, and said recruitment is optional. When recruited, Sypha is misgendered as "him" (in the English version), which led to a lot of head-scratching confusion when Sypha is revealed as a woman at the end and Trevor places a romantic arm around her. There is absolutely nothing in the game that suggested they were a couple.
- The Talia-Batman romance of Batman: Arkham City suffers from this. Their past together is not elaborated upon, the only mention being that they spent one night together years ago. They are constantly at odds with each other, neither can stand the way the other deals with criminals, and they don't even interact with each other that much... yet her death is shown to be a major Despair Event Horizon for Batman, and Joker's ghost and/or Batman's subconcious brings it up several times in the sequel. It can be argued that Batman has a better romance arc with Joker than with Talia who is meant to be his one true love.
- Beth and Fisk from Better Days fall into this. Never do we see the characters discussing their hopes, dreams, or fears together. They become sex friends about a day after they meet with little provocation. Then while Fisk is serving his time in the military, Beth somehow falls deeper in love with him during his absence. Even though she is actively dating two other men who are more financially secure, physically and emotionally available to her than Fisk is. If they aren't having sex then they are talking to each other in bed right after sex but it's never about anything important. Sans one time when Beth desperately wants Fisk to live with her, these two characters never express how much they supposedly mean to each other and the reader is supposed to assume that their relationship is deeper than just their sex drive. She does eventually give up on him and settled down with her boyfriend Aron instead, so this could arguably be a deconstruction of the whole concept.
- Less when there's a few lines about how Beth and Fisk broke up because she 'wouldn't accept his job'. Except....that wasn't what happened at all. Beth asked Fisk to make their relationship more than sex, a huge risk for her, and he decided to accept his much-hated assassination job. Beth never said she didn't accept the job, or indicated she knew what the job actually was at all, only that the guy who said he'd live with her suddenly said he wouldn't to go do a job he had no desire to do a week before.
- Kevin & Kell featured longtime character Rhonda getting Put on a Bus by marrying her online boyfriend, who was first mentioned and introduced in the strip merely days before this event took place. Up until that point, Rhonda had been dating Edgar since high school and the previous year had even featured a story arc where Edgar humiliated himself trying to learn how to hunt to show that he cared more about Rhonda's acceptance than his own species'. The previous plotline had taken several weeks to resolve, while Rhonda's marriage and subsequent disappearance from the strip happened over only one week. On top of that, this led to another plotline with Edgar learning how to hunt to get Rhonda back.
- Name a pairing from Sonichu. Virtually everyone in the series paired off with very little reasoning. Sonichu fell in love with Rosechu after meeting for a few seconds. Bubbles fell for Blake for some unknown reason. Everyone else? Paired off in mandatory dating classes!
- Gwen and Kevin in Ben 10: Alien Force — The ship is dropped on the viewer with absolutely no set-up, no basis, no rationality in the very first episode. Kevin almost wrecking his precious car to tell Ben not to be rude to Gwen could be attributed to his Badass Decay, but "I'll follow you anywhere"? Were the writers afraid that if they took the time for some actual development, the show might be canceled before their new favorite couple actually got together?
- Made worse by Kevin's previous characterization. When last we'd seen him, he considered the fact that his plans would have a massive body count a fringe benefit. Him having any interest in a girl (beyond wanting to enjoy the sweet, sweet sound of her dying screams, perhaps; just how freaking evil the old Kevin was is why people have a problem with it to this day, years later) seems wildly out of character, and even if you accept that a person can change a lot after years in the Phantom Zone, the idea of Gwen, who last saw Kevin working with Vilgax to try and kill her and Ben, having any affection for him is pretty farfetched. As time and Character Development has passed, they make it more believable, but their Love at First Sight upon being reunited was jarring.
- Ben's relationship with the new character Julie is hardly any better, though at least it's handled better (we meet her as a Girl of the Week sorta crush for Ben. She's just a Girl of the Week who came back).
- From Gargoyles, Elisa and Goliath could be considered this in season three. The build-up went well for two seasons, culminating in a kiss in the second season finale and a date in the third season premiere (well, a planned date that got aborted by attempted murder, anyway). After that any overt romance disappears, save for an All Just a Dream episode where they're married. In this case the problem was Executive Meddling—the creator, Greg Weisman, had been booted from the show, and as a result every episode after the premiere is Canon Discontinuity; the comic book Post-Script Season that replaces it does, in fact, deal with the implications of their hook-up.
- In Batman Beyond, Dana was Terry's girlfriend from before the series started and is continuously Terry's girlfriend for the entire run of the series. However, the audience doesn't really get to see much onscreen romance between the two due to the series's focus on superhero action and Dana's lack of screentime. Most of the time their romance is shown either by being arm-in-arm when together, or when Terry has to break a date. In the later episodes, Dana gets Demoted to Extra as Max fills her role of a normal person that Terry talks to.
- Some of the Young Justice romances fell into this trope.
- Aqualad and Rocket were the most obvious victims, and their relationship didn't even get far beyond her kissing him on the cheek at the end of season 1.
- Tim Drake and Cassie Sandsmark didn't even get that. They barely interact with each other, but by the end of the second season, they're a couple.
- Also, Lagoon Boy and Miss Martian. They get together in the time skip, but we never really see anything beyond her kissing him a few times. The relationship mostly exists to cause tension between the two and Superboy.
- One episode of Dinosaucers had Teryx admit her feelings to Ichy. However, she'd never shown any interest in him previously, Ichy didn't seem at all interested in her, when she was kidnapped by Genghis Rex to force her to marry him, Ichy was not the one who rescued her, and the relationship was barely even touched upon afterwards. Although, a lot of that may be blamed on Status Quo Is God.