First Girl After All
Alto: "You were that girl..."
Sheryl: "You just realized?"First Girl After All is a narrative technique of concealing a character's first Love Interest for as long as possible until the moment when it's most dramatically shocking to the audience, usually at or near the climax of the plot. This is accomplished either by never making it clear who the First Girl is, or by misleading the audience into believing that another character is the First Girl. After much of the story, we approach The Reveal, the Final Battle, the Grand Finale, or some other tense moment, and it seems like the "Second Girl" in the Love Triangle (or Last Girl in the Love Dodecahedron) is going to win. But something suddenly "clicks", and the story reveals that they first met when they were children! But wait! This could only have possibly happened BEFORE he met the First Girl. This can only mean that the girl everyone thought was the Second Girl is the First Girl After All. Most likely a subversion of Last Girl Wins and Double Subversion of First Girl Wins, used to embrace it without giving the romantic resolution away to a Genre Savvy audience. In a romance plot, this can be considered a Plot Twist if this happens before a romantic resolution is reached. The trope can also be used as a Continuity Nod if this is revealed after they get together, such as bumping shoulders in a hallway during a flashback that was on screen for a completely different reason, an encounter which can have the byproduct of being this trope. Related tropes include Love Triangle, Love Dodecahedron, First Girl Wins, Forgotten Childhood Friend, and Childhood Friend Romance, any of which may be involved, as well as either a Flashback or a Prequel. As this is generally only revealed toward the very end, the example list is generally filled with spoilers and potentially ending spoilers. Read at your own risk.
- Macross Frontier: The Wings Of Goodbye
- Macross Frontier pulls this in the movie version. Almost immediately in the first part we find out that Alto and Ranka already know each other and Sheryl was only just arriving on the fleet for the first time. It seemed pretty clear that Ranka was the first girl, but then near the end of the second part Alto has a flashback to his childhood when he was still in Kabuki, when he met and inspired a young and unknown preteen singer named Sheryl Nome, establishing that she was the first girl all along.
- Sheryl implied she knew him in the first movie (she was coy about it in their date: more details were out in the novelization before the second movie was aired where she and Grace discussed they met him long ago in Galaxy), plus Alto fell for Sheryl long before he realized it was that girl who gave him the sky.
- RahXephon is an extremely odd example of this. Haruka was Ayato's first love, before they were separated as Tokyo-Jupiter is formed. When they met again, Haruka was 12 years older but Ayato was still 16 just like the day they were torn apart, so he couldn't recognize her until much, much later.
- Naruto: Sakura Haruno is introduced to readers as Love Interest of the titular character in Chapter 3. The other potential love interest, Hinata Hyuuga, wasn't introduced to the series until the manga's second arc. In the end it was Hinata who ended up with Naruto, but in The Last: Naruto The Movie her love tale with Naruto is fully explained, and we learn that she met him at the very beginning of their Academy days, making Hinata this trope.
- Martian Successor Nadesico has this within series continuity with Inez Fressange, aka cute prologue girl Ai displaced in time by 20 years, give or take a few millennia. However, she's still not the first girl if you count Akito's backstory, and still doesn't win. And the first girl? Yeah, still Yurika.
- About a third of the way through Psychic Academy we find out that the girl Ai met on that beach was Mew, not Orina.
- The series isn't even nearly done, but in the fifth volume of Tsuki Tsuki!, Ouka "Sakura-chan" Minami, Shinobu's classmate who somehow is clingy of him very early on the series, turns out to be his Childhood Friend. Kind of justified for him to forget all about her considering he had a Laser-Guided Amnesia after making a Deal with the Devil to save his little sister from a car crash after being that desperate.
- Subverted in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. It looked like Yozora Mikazuki was the first girl in Kodaka Hasegawa's life, as she was the "Sora" kid that Kodaka made a promise with years ago. And in fact, Yozora put lots of her romantic hopes on the fact that she was the First Girl in Kodaka's life. Then it turned out that Kodaka actually knew and was Childhood Friends with Sena Kashiwazaki long before Yozora even entered the picture, which made her the First Girl instead. Understandably, poor Yozora doesn't take the discovery well.
- Love Hina teases whether or not Naru was the girl Keitaro met and promised to meet again when they both got into Tokyo University, while also suggesting it might have actually been Mutsumi. In the end it turns out it was both — Keitaro met both of them pretty much at the same time and his memory merged them into one person, but Naru still ends up with him at the end.
- Played straight twice in Detective Conan, but also toyed with:
- The first couple that fits in here is Detective Shiratori and Kobayashi-sensei: Shiratori had always been in love with a girl he befriended when young, and after thinking for some time that she had grown to become Detective Sato (leading to the Love Triangle with Detective Takagi), it turned out "the girl" was Kobayashi-sensei, who to be fair looks a lot like Satou.
- The second one is Heiji Hattori and Kazuha Touyama, if one considers the Crossroads in the Old Capital movie to be canon. A subplot in it had Heiji looking for the Kyoto girl who was his First Love, and it turns out said girl was a Kazuha who had been momentarily dolled-up by her relatives. Therefore, Heiji didn't recognize her until he heard Kazuha sing a song that the "mystery girl" was singing when Heiji saw her.
- The "playing with" situation happens regarding Shinichi, Ran and Asami Uchida. Asami appears and claims that she is Shinichi's First Love, but it turns out her own love for Shinichi was unrequited. In reality Ran has always been Shinichi's first and probably only love, ever since they were little children (long before Asami entered the picture), and Asami herself knew it since Shinichi pretty much told her when he turned down her Love Confession.
- When Mary Jane Watson's origin was finally written in the mid-1980s, it was revealed in Amazing Spider-Man #259 that though they did not meet face to face before their first date in ASM #42, Mary Jane had been aware of Peter for years before, having observed him raking leaves through the window of her aunt's house and even feeling a bit attracted to him while in her early teens. Later the graphic novel Parallel Lives revealed that she even had figured out that he was Spider-Man in the night Uncle Ben was murdered, thus making her a Secret Secret Keeper for a good part of their relationship until the early-to-mid-80's.
- In Babylon 5, we go the entire series believing Lennier came first in the Sheridan-Delenn-Lennier Love Triangle, as Lennier appeared in the first season, while Sheridan was not introduced until season two. The Prequel movie though has a scene where Sheridan and Delenn actually did meet, very briefly and without introduction (or seeing each other, but they did exchange a few lines), during the Earth-Minbari War, ten years before Delenn met Lennier.
- Coupling sort of has this. The episode "Remember This" shows how Patrick met, and was interested in, his final love interest Sally before he started with Susan. Before this point, it was assumed that Patrick had only been with Susan before breaking up in the first episode and taking an interest in Sally.
- Played with in King of Queens: a priest that worked at Camp Unity, the summer camp where Carrie and Doug attended as kids recalls seeing the two meeting, which they don't recall. Carrie latches on to the memory, which she interprets as a sign of fate. Hoever, Doug later talks to his mother who reveals that he never attended Camp Unity at all: his parents sent him to "fat camp" claiming it was Camp Unity. The kid Carrie met turns out to be Danny. Doug then agonizes as to whether he should tell Carrie the truth.
- In the original Total Recall (1990), we're first introduced to Melina during an opening dream sequence, but the First Girl seems to be Quaid's wife Lori. Later in the film, we find out that not only is his marriage a Fake Memory, but he knew Melina years before the story proper began. Assuming it wasn't all "just a dream", of course.
- Araxie Haldane in King Kelson's Bride. After events conspire against Kelson's first two attempts at matrimony, he decides to propose to his cousin, and we learn he and his other cousins played with her (and her sister) when they were children. Kelson hadn't seen her since then, and there's no portrait of her among the other portraits collected for his consideration, so he spends a lot of time wondering what she looks like before they meet again.
- Persona 3: The first female characters that The Protagonist meets are Yukari and Mitsuru, party members and potential Love Interests whom the character will see far more often than any other girl in the game. They are later joined by Fuuka, and later yet by Robot Girl Aigis. However, after The Reveal, we learn that Aigis actually "met" the Protagonist 10 years ago, when he was a child. In fact, she is the one responsible for all of the events of the game because of that meeting. Except in the Portable version of the game, she is also the one whom is last seen with the Protagonist.
- A later episode of The Simpsons reveals that Homer Simpson and Marge Bouvier met as kids (and were even each other's first kiss), but didn't recognize the other one when they met again years later as teens because they each had some other distinctive physical trait at the time: in Homer's case an eyepatch from an accident, in Marge's case brown hair because of a failed attempt to style it that left it burnt.