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"Life is so crazy And love is unkind Because she came first, darling Will she hang on your mind?"
— Gladys Knight & The Pips, "If I Were Your Woman"
In works featuring a male protagonist, the first girl introduced — either overall or as a potential love interest — has a very good chance of ending up with him.
There are all sorts of explanations as to why this is. Things ending up the same place they started is a very old narrative technique. The First Girl "winning" has a Because Destiny Says So kind of appeal — she metaphorically "called dibs" on The Protagonist and tied a string to his heart. This might actually strike a chord with readers because of its Truth in Television overtones; psychological studies suggest that the first people someone meets in a new or unfamiliar social situation have a greater chance at becoming their close friends later on.
From a Doylist point of view, the Law of Conservation of Detail suggests introducing the Love Interest early. An early introduction allows you to get the audience interested in her and rooting for her, gives you space for Character Development, and give her relationship with her (eventual) partner the most time to develop organically. And with all that said, it's such a common device that in all likelihood, it sometimes gets played for its own sake. It telegraphs, "Lookie here, serious contender for Love Interest." From this perspective, it's not so much that the First Girl wins because she comes first; rather, she comes first because she's going to win.
As weird as it may sound, sometimes it isn't that obvious which girl is the First. Is it the first girl the protagonist meets according to In-Universe chronology, even if we first see her halfway through the show's run? The first one to show romantic feelings? The first new girl the protagonist meets? If we have different adaptations, by which of them are we going? If you're suspecting some girl is supposed to be the First Girl, a good idea would be to take a look at how the writer has played her up. Is she a major character? Is her "first" interaction led up to, emphasized, treated as a big deal? All other things being equal, is she a strong contender for being the protagonist's Love Interest? These things may be the difference between the First Girl and a girl who happened to be first. Most writers will take care to put some effort into building a would-be triumphant First Girl as a romantic option in her own right, so as to avoid Strangled by the Red String.
The First Girl will rarely be the first one to confess her feelings, admit them, or sometimes even develop them. In fact, she's much likelier to be the one who does it last- maybe near the end of the series when she and the main character become the Official Couple. The logic behind this is that she's the one who the main character loves (even if he doesn't want to admit it or doesn't realize it himself); if she showed him romantic affection, then he would immediately choose her. That's tantamount to throwing the Romance Arc (or in some genres, the whole plot) out the window, and we can't have that.
Of course, a writer can't outright admit that's what they're doing, which is why you can expect an in-universe justification for how these two people met so early and took so long to figure out they belong together. Their first impression of each other may be immense dislike or possibly indifference. Complications will abound, Romantic False Leads will show up, misunderstandings will arise between them, pride and denial will keep them apart. In extreme cases, it may turn out her apparent lack of interest in him was a major turn-on. Paradoxically enough, nothing screams "major romance incoming" like this sort of thing. A more subtle tactic is to get the First Girl "off the radar" somehow—Demoted to Extra, Put on a Bus and similar tactics—but this adds the additional challenge of bringing her out of exile in a believable way.
Inevitably, most shippers will already have their own idea of who the "right" girl is, so if she might conceivably have any sort of claim to being the First Girl they will gleefully reach out to put this feather in their Ship's cap. Given the above ambiguity of what exactly it means for a girl to be the "First", it's not a surprise that the question of which girl was first tends to become yet another front of Ship-to-Ship Combat.
Be warned before you proceed. "Winning", in this sense, tends to be very spoilerific.
See also Victorious Childhood Friend. Contrast Second Love and Last Girl Wins.
Be wary of adding Beta Couple examples. Their lack of screen-time means the "introduce the relationship early to get space for development" consideration becomes crucial, and as a result meeting "first" is all but a staple of the Beta Couple. They will sometimes have obvious C-List FodderRomantic False Leads in orbit that we're not supposed to take seriously, but that's pretty much it. For those, list aversions, or instances where more than one possible relationship involving a cast regular gets seriously played up but the "first" one ends up winning anyway.
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Anime and Manga
In Ai Kora, Sakurako is the first girl introduced as Maeda comes to Tokyo, and they are arguably the closest couple. Though, Maeda actually wants all the girls (for a special reason) and quite a few of the other girls want him too. In the end, Sakurako is the one he falls for.
Like its sister manga, Ayashi no Ceres does this with Aya and Tooya: Tooya is the first guy Aya kisses, and Aya in turn is the first girl Tooya meets. Yup, even in childhood.
Captain Tsubasa loved to play around with this at the beginning. The first girl shown is NOT the female lead Sanae but Tsubasa's old friend Yayoi Aoba, who's seen when he is moving to Shizuoka and she barely manages to say goodbye to him. This is brought up later when Yayoi reappears with a crush on Tsubasa, much to Sanae's despair... but several years later, Yayoi hangs out more with Jun Misugi than Tsubasa himself. He later comes to aknowledge and return Sanae's feelings for him.
Subverted in Code Geass when Shirley reveals that she has feelings for Lelouch (to Rolo), and is promptly killed.
Miyako from ef - a tale of memories may not technically be the first girl Hiro meets, but she is the first girl introduced to him in the anime.
In Elfen Lied, the first main character shown is Lucy (aka. Nyu), who Kohta does not actually end up with. He instead ends up with the first one he meets - his cousin Yuka (Note that's NOT as Squick in Japan as it is in many other parts of the world). Although Yuka's insecurity and paranoia could lead her to believe otherwise, the other girls who boarded with them (Mayu, Nana and Nozomi) never really had a chance in the Unwanted Harem, and most of them simply didn't really like Kohta in that way.
In the anime the outcome is different. Kohta briefly reciprocates Yuka's feelings with a kiss, but almost immediately after forgets he ever kissed and it's never mentioned again. At the end of the anime he appears to have gotten with no one, but it is hinted Lucy returns to him.
Flame of Recca: Sakoshita Yanagi and Kirisawa Fuuko both like Hanabishi Recca, but Yanagi is guaranteed to win since she is introduced first. However, as the story goes on, Fuuko's interest shifts from Recca to Ishijima Domon, giving her a happier end than most later-introduced love interests.
Fruits Basket has the trope and a Gender Flipped subversion: The main female character, Honda Tohru, meets Sohma Yuki before Sohma Kyo but develops mutual romantic feelings for Kyo. Later, Yuki starts a relationship with the first student council girl introduced, Kuragi Machi.
Played with, however, in the manga: when discussing the various Zodiac signs, Tohru makes reference to the Cat first, which turns out to be the animal Kyo is cursed with. In the flashback which introduces the story, Tohru's mother tells her the story of the zodiac and how the Cat was tricked by the Rat; Tohru insists that from that moment on, she is going to "be" a Cat. It also may be relevant that Tohru's Mom knew Kyo well before Tohru did.
Fullmetal Alchemist manga and second anime: Winry wins. It probably helps that Ed really has more important things to do than be in a relationship, and he seems to be Winry-Sexual.
In Full Metal Panic!, although Sousuke knew Tessa before Kaname, the first girl who is introduced is Kaname. She's also the first girl to show (at least to the audience - obviously, Tessa had already been romantically interested in him offscreen) romantic interest in Sousuke. And she's also one of the last girls to admit her feelings for him. This makes Tessa something of a sort of Unlucky Childhood Friend (although she didn't know him since childhood - just much earlier than Kaname did). Interestingly enough, it's been speculated by quite a few fans that if he had actually met Nami (from the novels) before Kaname, he would have fallen for her (seeing as how, after spending a little time with her, and even after having already fallen in love with Kaname, he started developing feelings for her and even considered settling down with her).
Gender Flipped on Fushigi Yuugi: Hotohori, Tamahome, Nuriko (maybe) and Tasuki all like Yuuki Miaka. Tamahome was the first guy introduced. Draw your own conclusions.
Fushigi Yuugi plays this straight and subverts it with Miaka (first girl introduced in the series) and Tamahome (first Seishi whom Miaka meets). And no, we're not counting the fact that Yui and Tamahome met at the same time.
In GUN×SWORD, the first girl Van encounters in series is Wendy. The first girl he met chronologically would be Elena, assuming that dead women count. His devotion to Elena keeps him a Celibate Hero throughout the series, but the finale hints that Van and Wendy will end up as a couple, albeit after a delay of a few years.
Subverted in season 1. While Mariel "won", the first girl Taro met was Sango, who was also his first kiss, and by the end of the first episode she and her sisters had all slept with him.
Played straight in La Verite. Taro met Mariel first and fell in love with her.
Played with in Heavy Metal L Gaim: Amu is the first girl that shows up in the show, and Daba eventually aceepts her feelings about Leccee's. However, it turns out that Daba met his sister Olibee as part of the show's backstory and he chooses to become her caretaker after the war ends.
Gender-flipped in Howl's Moving Castle, where the first guy Sophie met was Howl. Howl on the other hand has met several other women.
InuYasha: Inuyasha and Kikyou had vowed to marry before being torn apart by Naraku. Kagome heals Inuyasha's heart, but their romance is complicated by the resurrection of Kikyou by dark magic. Being officially obliged to both women, Inuyasha cannot give up either, a situation only resolved when Kikyou is able to rest in peace, allowing him to move on with Kagome. However, while Kagome and Kikyou are two different women, Kagome is Kikyou's reincarnated soul. This results in a strange combination of First Girl Wins and Second Love at the same time.
In the first Kara no Kyoukai movie, Shiki invokes this during her second fight with Fujyou about Mikiya.
Subverted in the manga of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl. In the anime she wins at first, but this gets "corrected" in the OVA—in a way most fans found quite contrived.
A couple of days max. Now Madoka meeting Kyosuke.. time travel is fun!
In Koko Ni Iru Yo!, it's played with, as both contenders are "first guys." Hinata was the first person who "noticed" Hikage, the first to confess to her, and the first love interest introduced. But Black Rabbit — revealed to be Teru — is Hikage's first friend, the first to support her, and knew her first. And while Hinata was introduced before Black Rabbit, Hinata and Teru were introduced into the series at the same time. In the end, Hikage chooses to be with Hinata instead of Teru.
Love Hina: Naru Narusegawa is the first girl introduced, and despite Aoyama Motoko, Maehara Shinobu, Otohime Mutsumi and even his adopted sister Kanakoalso liking Urashima Keitaro, the pairing of Naru and Keitaro is inevitable. Additionally, Keitaro met Naru long before any of the others (except Mutsumi) as a child. She is the girl he made the Tokyo U promise with long ago.
Macross Zero is yet another case in Macross. Shin met Sara first, if only by thirty seconds.
Mahou Sensei Negima!: There are three, count 'em, three "First Girls." Chronologically, Anya is the very first, being a childhood friend and appearing in the first page of the manga—but she then disappeared for a hundred chapters. Then we've got Asuna, a standard Tsundere type who seems like the traditional love interest. However, from the beginning, its unclear whether she cares for Negi as a brother-type figure or something else. And finally Nodoka (the Covert Pervert bookworm). She is the first girl to show an interest in Negi. She's also the first to confess to Negi. However, at the end this trope is subverted since it seems that none of them "win". Negi tells Asuna the girl he likes and it isn't her (not that she cares), Anya wasn't around when Asuna told Negi to confess to the girl he liked right away, and the epilogue explicitly states that it wasn't Nodoka.
Mazinger Z: Sayaka was the first girl introduced in the series, and Love Interest of The Hero Kouji Kabuto. In the anime she was the second female character introduced, though, but she was the first girl introduced that was a potential couple for Kouji (unlike Rumi who was an adult woman and was, well, dead).
UFO Robo Grendizer: The trope gets complicated with this series: Hikaru was the first girl that showed up in the series, and Duke was pretty smitten with her. However, later we found out that long ago the beginning of the show he had been engaged with Rubina, Big Bad's daughter, and he was still in love with her. However, Rubina died and Duke left Earth after the Final Battle.
Sailor Moon: Mamoru and Usagi take the trope to the extreme, as they met in their previous life.
In Martian Successor Nadesico, after Akito both ran into Yurika before anyone else and later bring up their shared childhood on Mars, all of the other girls lost right there and then.
In Midori Days, although Seiji had asked out another girl earlier, the first girl who was properly introduced was Midori, who of course (as this trope goes) wins out against the various other girls introduced later. Midori also had the advantage of being the title character.
In 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 Distant Finale it's Hinata who got to be with the hero, but in The Last: Naruto The Movie we learn that she met him at the very beginning of their Academy days, making Hinata the First Girl After All.
At least three possible interpretations in Omamori Himari - Kuesu was the first girl Yuuto kissed (when they were children), Rinko was the first girl Yuuto met when he moved out to live on his own, and Himari was the first girl to appear in the series. Right now it seems that the series is going in the direction of having Yuuto and Himari be the Official Couple.
Please Teacher!: Kazami Mizuho is introduced to the audience before Herikawa Koishi is, leading to her inevitable romantic pairing with Kusanagi Kei.
Onegai Twins: Miyafuji Miina meets the main male character, Kamishiro Maiku, before Onodera Karen does, and Miina also shows up at Maiku's house before Karen. Then, in the end, it turns out that Karen is Maiku's twin sister while Miina is unrelated to them, thus allowing her to end up in a romantic relationship with Maiku.
It does take her nearly the entire length of the manga to realize it though...
Averted in the manga Outlanders (the much-abriged OVA manages to avoid the subject altogether by paring down the cast and storyline considerably). The first girl that we're introduced to is Aki Okizawa, the coworker and boss of protagonist Tetsuya Wakatsuki, but he winds up marrying alien princess Kham—who tries to kill him when first they meet, later kidnaps him, and is finally won over by him...before being brainwashed into trying to once again kill him, by the most overprotective father in the universe. But even then Tetsuya remains faithful to her, rather than turning to another, less abusive member of his modestly-sized harem.
Akane is the first fiancee introduced in the series (although she is the last Tendo girl seen), serves as the primary love interest, is considered the feminine half of the Official Couple, and takes up the most screentime of any of the fiancee brigade. But she's the very last of the three official fiancées that Ranma meets.
Ukyo, while introduced to Ranma first in the series timeline-wise, shows up dead last of the three fiancées story-wise, and is relegated to being the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
Shampoo shows up earlier in the backstory than Akane, making her the second of his fiancées that Ranma me, she is the second fiancee to appear in the series, but she winds up acting more like a Stalker with a Crush than an actual fiancée.
In Pokémon Special, Misty is the first girl Red meets on his journey and the first girl who develops a crush on him. Unfortunately, this trope is subverted as she never gets the chance to properly confess to him.
While there's no real confirmation of this in the show itself, it sure seems as though Lime wins out at the end of Saber Marionette J, given that she seems to get the most attention from Otaru. Now... J to X, that's another story.
Played with in School Days. The first girl the audience sees is Kotonoha Katsura (better said, her photo in Makoto's cellphone), Sekai Saionji is the first girl we see him interact with, and Otome Katou is the first of all his possible love interests that he ever met (during junior high times; he only met the others in highschool).
Well Katsura ends up 'with' the guy in the end. Assuming cuddling the decapitated head of the protagonist while drifting off into the sunset on a nice boat counts as 'with'.
School Rumble: By the end, it's obvious that Tenma's endless devotion to Karasuma has paid off, even if he lost his memories.
In Sorcerer Hunters, Carrot met both Misu sisters at the same time, but Tira was the first sister introduced in the manga and the one Carrot marries at the end. This doesn't stop Chocolat, as she can be seen having snuck into their bed to be with Carrot after the marriage since she wants him to live up to his promise to let her bear his first child.
Steel Angel Kurumi: both Kurumi and Karinka like Kagura Nakaito, but Kurumi is introduced first (and has the extra advantage of being the title character).
Played straight in the Tenchi Universe continuity: Ryoko does "win" this time around. She's strongly hinted to be the one to end up with him near the series' climax, and does concretely end up with him by the end of Tenchi Forever.
Toradora! is another prominent example for this trope as it seems obvious from the beginning that the main characters Ryuuji and Taiga, who are are introduced simultaneously in the first scenes of the show, later become a couple. Nevertheless, the way to that outcome is executed in such a wonderful and lovely manner that the show still won't be boring for anyone who does see it coming.
True Tears has the main character choosing Hiromi at the end, who is the first girl introduced and the first girl he crosses paths with.
Umi no Misaki, by the same mangaka as Ai Yori Aoshi, is still up in the air as to who "wins," and is doing its best to manipulate this trope for all it's worth. Each girl can count as a different "first" for Nagi: Shizuku is the first girl he meets, Karin is the first who realizes and confesses her feelings to him, and Soyogi is his First Kiss (not counting Shizuku giving him CPR) as well as the first to make further overtures towards gaining his "favor" in the same night. Each girl has roughly equal potential to win, at this point.
This was lampshaded when Karin and Soyogi realize that Shizuku may have had a leg up on them because he met her first.
In Urusei Yatsura, the first girl introduced is Shinobu, but Ataru ends up with Lum, which seems like a subversion... but Lum's popularity took the author by surprise and at the start of the series Shinobu was intended to be the girl Ataru ended up with.
Not necessarily a subversion since Ataru and Lum's first meeting occurs during the Pilot and Ataru first met Shinobu before the series started.
Bunny Drop: Daikichi ends up marrying Rin in the end. Yes, that Rin. The 6 year old he adopts at the beginning of the series.
In Mai-HiME, this is played straight for Mai, as Yuuichi s the first boy she meets in the series besides her brother. In the manga, in which Yuuichi is the main character instead, he meets Mai first, although he has known Shiho in the past (who averts this trope).
Asuna is the first of Kirito's love interests he meets in Sword Art Online. They end up Happily Married after Kirito is nearly killed. Unlike most examples of this trope, this happens relatively early on; episode 10 in the anime, and chapter 16 in the light novels.
While the true situation is slightly complicated in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, in the eyes of Nozomu, the titular sensei, the First Girl (Fuura Kafuka, the first student of his he met) did Win. The truth is Kafuka was Dead All Along, and her organs were transplanted into twelve of Nozomu's students, causing the students and Nozomu to see Kafuka in the place of any one student at a time. In Nozomu's eyes, he married Kafuka and Kafuka alone, making it this trope. On paper it's an endless cycle of marriage and divorce between Nozomu and the twelve students. To outsiders, though, it looks like Marry Them All. For what it's worth, all the girls have children by him...that look eerily like Kafuka.
The Patterson children in For Better or for Worse all seem destined to end up with the first person of the opposite sex they met in pre-school, which is a more extreme example of this trope. All but April. She gets a line or two in the finale strip that says she ends up with some nameless guy she meets when she moves far, far away from the rest of the family.
Played straight in Captain Atom: Plastique appears in the second issue, before Cap meets Nightshade, Catherine Cobert, or the Crimson Fox.
Played straight in Nexus, since Horatio meets Sundra first; it didn't hurt that her only real competition, Ursula, is one of the villains. Also sort of averted though, in a manner similar to what happened with Superman, since it was revealed in Nexus: Liberator that Horatio had had another love interest, Juyl, before he met Sundra.
Spider-Man: Played straight in the Ultimate comics where Peter and Mary Jane are childhood friends and fellow book worms.
In Archie Betty was intended to be this, but usually on a day to day basis Veronica is his girlfriend and Betty just wants to be, and the days when Betty was Archie's sole love interest and Veronica hadn't yet come to town are unknown to modern readerships.
Tales of the Frog Princess fanfiction Confessions of a Vampire Prince. Garrid's two best friends are Andrea ("Andy") and Ben. Ben dates a girl named Miranda, oblivious to Andy's love for him. In the second-to-last chapter, Miranda dumps him. Guess who he ends up with.
Gender-inverted example in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf, where Hefty is the first Smurf that Smurfette meets (back before she was a real Smurf). However, in the normal timeline, she never ends up falling in love with or marrying Hefty, which makes him upset at first, but he ultimately decides to resolve matters with his rival Empath before the marriage. It's only in the alternate timeline where Empath ends up going back to Psychelia and becoming the next Psyche Master where Smurfette falls in love with and marries Hefty.
Evangelion 303: Asuka is the first girl that shows up in the history, and the first girl that Shinji meets when he arrives to the base. They got together.
In the movie adaptation of Spider-Man, Peter has a crush on Mary Jane since long before boys are even supposed to like girls, and only ever looks at any other girl when he suddenly had the urge to hurt her (and even then only when he's been corrupted by an alien).
In Unicorn City Marsha is quite obvious from her first interaction with Voss.
Indiana Jones - Jones has just managed this, also with a childhood friend. Well, anyway he knew her before we meet her.
In Disney's Hercules the first girl he meets after becoming a hero will be his love interest. Bonus points for a Meet Cute. Pretty much every Disney movie is this way.
Averted in Scaramouche, where Andre Moreau ends up married to the woman he met half an hour into the movie over the woman he was engaged to at the beginning. Interestingly, in the book the woman he married was a childhood friend while he was engaged to the other one for about six chapters (in a 50+ chapter work) somewhere in the middle.
This trope is a staple of teen movies where the main character will spend the whole movie going after one girl because All Guys Want Cheerleaders, but ends up realizing his Hollywood Homely best friend is the girl for him. There are too many examples to list here.
In The New Guy, at the end the main character and his female friend have a close moment, complete with poetic music... Then she reaches over and snogs another of their group instead. Then the cheerleader comes back to him.
Subverted several times in the James Bond franchise. The major love interest can sometimes be the first woman (besides Miss Moneypenny or Judi Dench's "M") that Bond meets in the film, but because James is a such a womanizer, the first girl he meets will often be either a quick fling, or a quick fling that ends in the woman's untimely and bizarre death, ala Casino Royale, Golden Eye, Tomorrow Never Dies, You Only Live Twice'', and so on.
In fact, this happens often enough that one might say that the Bond films tend to follow the Last Girl Wins trope rather faithfully.
Only in the context of a single movie. By the next one he'll be with another girl, so it's either No Girl Wins (if the goal is to be Bond's stable long term love interest) or Every (Hot) Girl Wins (if the goal is just to get to have sex with him).
Notably, the only women Bond ever loved were not the First Girls of his chronological life, though one was the first girl of that particular film / novel.
In Definitely, Maybe, the mother of Maya is Emily, getting together again with Will after spending years apart. Subverted in that the two of them are divorced in the present.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Daisy is the first girl that Benjamin meets outside the old folks' home. Although he has a relationship with Elizabeth and a couple of flings along the way, it is Daisy who is his one true love. It turns out he's actually Caroline's birth father. This trope is actually subverted with Daisy herself though. Benjamin leaves her to allow Caroline to have a normal life and Daisy ends up Happily Married to another man.
Arguably, this is a convention of just about any story which revolves around romance. During the opening chapter, the first character of preferred gender our protagonist meets and is attracted to is almost guaranteed to be the character s/he ends up with. (This might be First Boy Wins if the viewpoint character is female, not straight, etc.)
Harry Potter: Despite Harry's notable Just Friends relationship with Hermione, his crush on and disastrous date with Cho Chang, his other disastrous not-date with Parvati Patil, and a school full of devoted fangirls, fans will note that GinnyWeasley, whom he ultimately fell in love with in The Half-Blood Prince,and married, according to Deathly Hallows, was the first Wizarding girl Harry ever crossed paths with in the series.
Similarly, the first girl we see Ron meet outside his family is Hermione, and by the end, in spite of Ron's misconceptions about her and Harry's aforementioned Just Friends relationship, they're married, too.
For a different type of "first", Hannah Abbott is the first girl on the register and she ends up also Happily Married to Neville.
In Robin Hobb's Assassin cycle, Fitz and Molly, though only after the Fools trilogy, not after the initial three books.
In Anahita's Woven Riddle, the prince Arash is established as the first of Anahita's potential suitors even before he and Anahita actually meet. Schoolteacher Reza and Unlucky Childhood Friend Dariyoush have no chance because their introductions come after Arash's (Dariyoush may have known Anahita for a long time, but we don't hear about him until after Arash's introductory chapter), not to mention that it's obviously Love at First Sight for Arash when he does meet Anahita.
Gender-flipped in Song of the Lioness, George is the first boy Alanna meets when she reaches Corus.
In Daughter of the Lioness, Nawat is the first boy Aly meets who's her own age while she's in the Copper Isles. And when we say boy, we mean crow who can turn into a boy.
Another male example in Jane Gardam's Bilgewater, although this is toyed with. You're led to believe that Terrapin will get together with the heroine, since he's the first boy her age to have a meaningful encounter with her and displays elements of Beautiful All Along... but a careful reader would see the first boy mentioned by name is Boakes, who she ends up marrying.
He first marries Sidana, daughter of the Mearan Pretender and a human, in an effort to resolve the conflict with the Mearan sepratists. The effort fails, and her brother kills her at the altar.
Later, Kelson meets Rothana nur Hallaj, a Deryni princess who is also a novice at a convent sacked by Mearans. Rothana is the first Deryni woman of his own age he's ever met, and she shares a rape victim's memory with him, which, as Morgan points out afterward, is an intensely intimate experience. Morgan and others suggest to both of them that they would make a suitable couple, and they make plans to wed, but Kelson and Dhugal are washed away in a mudslide and presumed dead. Kelson's cousin Conall plays upon Rothana's sense of duty and her sympathies, persuading her to marry him instead shortly before Kelson and Dhugal return.
Although Rothana is free to marry after Conall's execution, she plays Cupid for Kelson and his cousin Araxie Haldane, and we learn that Kelson had met Araxie and played with her when they were children. Thus, Araxie is the First Girl all along.
In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Annabeth is the first demigod female that Percy comes into contact with and they eventually get together at the end of the fifth book, after a long Just Friends relationship.
Ranger's Apprentice — Will and Alyss grew up alongside each other in the ward, and were, in fact, the first two children in there in their age group, and they end up married in the end.
Pretty much the expected in The Edge Chronicles. Granted, Maris and Quint were a Late-Arrival Spoiler thanks to the first trilogy, but there's also Sinew Tatum (slaughterer girl Twig meets early in Beyond the Deepwoods), Madga Burlix (Chosen with Rook and Stob in The Last of the Sky Pirates), and Eudoxia Prade (the daughter of the man who owns the phraxmine Nate worked in in The Immortals)
Played with in A Brother's Price. The first woman Jerin meets who he's not related to is the Princess Odelia. The woman he falls in love with is her sister Princess Ren. However, because in this world a man marries every sister in a family, he marries Ren and Odelia (and three other sisters of age, and several younger ones he's expected to care for until they're older), and he finds himself falling in love with Odelia, too. It's also mentioned that he was once in love with his teacher, since she was the first and for a long time only non-related woman he had close contact with, but that crush has passed.
At the end of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, the widowed Henry rediscovers his lost childhood friend Keiko in New York, herself now a widowed parent.
In The Hunger Games, an early flashback reveals that Katniss met her future love interest and husband Peeta when he saved her from starving to death before she met Gale while hunting in the woods.
Technically she and Peeta met at the age of five on the first day of school but they never interacted until they were eleven.
Elend Venture in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy was the first boy Vin's own age to really talk to her. She eventually ends up marrying him, despite some nasty obstacles on the way.
In a science fiction example from The Lost Fleet, one of the first women "Black Jack" sees when is woken from cryosleep is Captain Tanya Desanji, his future wife (and flag captain). While it is not noted if she is the ONLY woman there, she is the only one specifically mentioned.
Live Action TV
Averted in Smallville, as everyone knows Clark ends up with Lois, not for either Chloe or Lana. However, Chloe has his first kiss and first date, but later Lana and Clark lose their virginity to each other.
On a much smaller scale, it also happened with Dr Cox: the first woman he's seen with is his ex-wife, then he dates another one and a crush on Carla's revealed, but at the end (although it's still very early in the series) he picks Jordan (even though she was pregnant and he thought the kid wasn't his).
A Season 5 Thanksgiving flashback to two Thanksgivings ten years before hand reveal that Chandler and Monica first met when Ross brought Chandler back from college for Thanksgiving two years in a row. Monica was immediately attracted to Chandler, but her attraction was killed when she overheard him calling her fat. She spent a year losing weight in a plan to get him back for calling her fat. The next year, he's completely bowled over by her new look, but her attempt to gain revenge for the previous year's insult results in a kitchen accident that leads to the loss of one of Chandler's toes and the death of his attraction to her. Unlike Ross and Rachel, however, once their interest in each other is rekindled in season 5, they become a much more stable beta couple than the alpha couple.
Ephram and Amy in Everwood. Also Andy and Nina for some extent, although at first there was no clear sign of UST between them.
Beverly Hills 90210 subverted it most of the time: Dylan picked Kelly over Brenda (several times), Brandon never actually got together with Andrea, neither Steve nor David ended up with Kelly (both, especially the latter, became a brother figure to her in later seasons).
ER with Doug and Carol... sort of. Subverted with Mark and Susan when she left the show, and when she came back he'd moved on and married.
Gilmore Girls also has a "first boy wins" situation with Luke and Lorelai. But it's averted with Rory, Lane and Paris, as neither Dean nor Dave nor Tristan stick to the end.
Both of the Fisher sons in Six Feet Under eventually end up with the partners they are shown with in the pilot 'til death do they part. The Fisher women, not so much: Claire and Ruth both end up in relationships with men not introduced until much later in the series.
Played with in Glee. Will's first girlfriend was his wife Terri. However, it isn't portrayed as a good thing, as they are in an unhappy marriage. However, Emma was the first romantic interest of Will seen.
LOST this can be seen to an extent with Kate/Jack, he ended up with her in the sense that they embraced death together. They were portrayed as soulmates. However, this is subverted when Juliet is proven to be Sawyer's soulmate.
Played with in Hollyoaks: Craig was John Paul's first love, but not his first boyfriend. But after a break-up, a long period apart, and a fiance who got a bridge dropped on him, they ended up together.
In Sabrina the Teenage Witch, it's a First Boy Wins — despite dating other guys, literally creating room in her heart for her fiance, and nearly getting married, Sabrina winds up with Harvey, her first love.
In Farscape, Aeryn Sun is the first Human-like female that John Crichton meets after his travel through the wormhole in the premiere. Naturally, they end up together.
Marshall and Lily in How I Met Your Mother. They are each other's first and only sexual partner (may be a technicality for Lily), a point of pride for the couple. However, it was seemingly averted with Robin and Ted until the final episode.
Also averted in the case of Barney and Robin who dated several people before it was revealed in a flash forward that they will be married.
In the series finale, it is implied Ted and his first love interest on the show, Robin, do end up together following Barney and Robin's divorce and the tragic death of the mother of Ted's children
A rather interesting gender-flipped subversion occurred in the Filipino series My Binondo Girl. Onyx, the protagonist Jade's childhood friend, was the first to be introduced. Word of God also stated that the original plan was indeed to have them end together. However, as the actor playing Onyx was sidelined by sickness, the writers chose to focus instead on the Jade-Andy (the second guy to be introduced) pairing. Eventually, the Jade-Andy pairing was declared as the Official Couple, and Onyx was turned into the Unlucky Childhood Friend and dies in the end.
A slightly altered version in DoctorWho: The first companion in "New Who" was Rose Tyler, who was the first companion (arguably) whom the Doctor was shown to have clearly romantic feelings for. It was heavily implied at the end of the second season that he simply Cannot Spit It Out that he loves her, including an aborted Love Confession when the walls between realities close. But in "Journey's End," Rose does end up with the Doctor's half-human clone, who shares his memories and emotions but not his lifespan.Word of God says that the metacrisis Doctor whispered "I love you" in her ear.
Averted in Wizards of Waverly Place, in that Harper never seems to catch a break in terms of landing Justin. They do, however, find out that they do make excellent friends - but things revert back, because Status Quo Is God. And now she's not interested anymore.
Chuck and Blair on Gossip Girl. She's the first girl he ever had romantic feelings for and he never stops loving her, marrying her at the end of the series.
Dan's first love was Serena and the show ends with them getting married. Noted for being squicky rather than romantic since it turns out Dan is Gossip Girl and has been stalking and berating her online for years.
Although any specific examples would probably best be left to Troper Tales, most roleplaying communities tend to fall to this for different reasons. Players are excited to get their characters involved in as many ways as possible, so they tend to fall for the first reasonably aged, unattached person of the opposite (or in some cases same) gender they see. Since breakups rarely happen in these games unless preplanned, they tend to last the long haul.
Taken to an extreme in The Tempest: Ferdinand is the first male (not counting the monster Caliban or her father) Miranda has ever seen. She instantly falls madly in love with him.
In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus ends up returning to his first love Julia, after having spent most of the play pursuing Sylvia.
Fire Emblem Jugdral: Lewyn only has three potential wives whose children can bring his holy weapon into the next generation: Ferry, Sylvia, and Tailto. Sylvia can be this since she's the first one seen in the game, but Ferry plays the trope straight as she knew Levin long before the others did. This is made canon in Thracia 776.
Additionally, Florina is First Girl for Hector and Ninian (whom he rescued from the Black Fang before meeting Lyn) is First Girl for Eliwood, whereas Serra is First Girl for Erk, Wil is First Guy for Rebecca and Jaffar is First Guy for Nino.
Played with Eirika's love interests. Seth the Silver Knight is the first of Eirika's love interests we see, but technically she has known Prince Innes since they were kids, so both can be seen as First Guy. Of course, she can also end up with the mage Saleh and that would be a Last Guy Wins situation.
Out of Lute's love interests, Artur is first boy since they're childhood friends. In Amelia's case, Franz is one of the characters who can recruit her for your side, so he is her first boy. And finally, Natasha is the first girl for Joshua.
This is the case if a male Avatar marries Lissa or if a female Avatar marries Chrom. A rather extreme example: Chrom and Lissa are literally the first thing your character sees as they wake up.
Actually, that's from a gameplay perspective. Story-wise, Chrom's First Girls can be either Sully or Maribelle (both of them his childhood friends, though we don't know which one he met first), while Lissa's First Guy can either be Frederick (explicitely mentioned to have been her First Love), Vaike (Vitriolic Best Buds with Chrom since childhood) or Ricken (whom Chrom is a Big Brother Mentor to).
There's also Aversa, who is the Avatar's adopted sister and potentially romance-able, who knew each other as kids. This isn't as obvious due to the fact that the Avatar has amnesia and she joins in a Gaiden chapter.
In Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer, the love interest for male characters is the first NPC to show up on screen. The main campaign has the 'first girl' die and deleted the romance arc with the second, leaving the third female party member as the only romance for male characters.
Jade Empire, if a male character sticks with Dawn Star.
Harvest Moon - The first potential love interest in most games, the one that lives closest to your ranch, is usually the easiest to win over. They're relatively low-maintenance and will accept most inexpensive gifts from you.
The one exception to this rule so far is Rune Factory Oceans, in which neither player character has amnesia and there's no one main heroine (instead, having three "main heroines"; none of them are the First Girl, and there's no Official Couple). Sonja, the female protagonist, is the first girl Aden meets and the first girl the audience sees, and that they both get jealous when the other starts forming a relationship with other candidates (along with the trope's prevalence in the series) makes it seem as though this was the intended outcome.
Final Fantasy VII - You see Aerith first, but Cloud knew Tifa long before this. Tifa also joins your team first. Word of God has confirmed in the meantime that Tifa is the official love interest.
Aerith is herself officially paired with her first boy, Zack. He just happens to already be dead when the game starts. In fact, she confesses at on the Gondola Ride that the attraction between her and Cloud initially was largely based on his (unintentional and unaware) mimicry of Zack's personality and demeanor.
Final Fantasy IX - Zidane is a notorious womaniser and skirt chaser, flirting with nearly every female character in the game. Yet Princess Garnet is the first one we see him interact with as well as being the first character we're introduced to.
Uncharted: Nate and Elena at the end of Among Thieves.
Dragon Age: Origins: Alistair and Morrigan, the gender-exclusive love interests with the most amount of content for the Player Character, are both the first companions encountered.
Averted in Dragon Age II, in which the potential Love Interests are the last four party members you meet, after your siblings, Aveline, and Varric. Though it might still apply as the order in which you recruit potential Love Interests is flexible, so you could go to Sundermount before anything else and then pursue a relationship with Merrill, for instance.
Tsundere Becky Fox of MLB Power Pros is the first girl introduced in the Success Mode. Although the possibility to woo her is based on luck, she's still the easiest girl to win if you play as a pitcher and are good at it.
In Overlord, Rose is the first mistress that the Overlord gets to "liberate". While the game allows you to eventually dump her for her "saucy" sister Velvet, the sequel proceeds as if you had stuck with Rose, for she becomes the mother of the Fourth Overlord.
In the Shadow Broker DLC of Mass Effect 2, Liara T'Soni can be this for Shepard, depending on the player's choices during Mass Effect 1 and 2.
Ashley can also be this for Shepard assuming you carry the romance through the 3 games, as Ashley was the first female character introduced in ME1 that isn't the middle aged non-love-interest doctor, or Shepard herself if you're playing Femshep.
Kaidan Alenko is the first potential love interest that you meet in ME1, having been on the Normandy already before Shepard became XO and before even meeting Ashley on Eden Prime. You can play this trope straight with Femshep or become celibate as Broshep until the third game where you can have a Relationship Upgrade with him.
In the Dark Parables games, Prince James (a.k.a. The Frog Prince) is immortal, and marries five princesses. But Princess Ivy, his first wife, remains his very obvious favorite.
In Persona 3, the player invokes this by completing the Lovers arcana Social Link — aka choosing Yukari Takeba.
In the PSP version with a Female Player Character, this will take place if she gets together with the Fortune Social Link aka Ryoji Mochizuki, as he is the grown-up version of this Pharos kid who gives either Protagonist the Velvet Room contract. But again, there is Aigis...
Similarly, in Persona 4, the player can invoke it by choosing to make the Chariot arcana Social Link romantic — aka choosing Chie Satonaka.
While in The Legend of Zelda, Link and Zelda's relationship is not always necessarily romantic, when it is at least implied, Zelda is usually the first suitable female character that is met. The exceptions to Zelda being the first girl met are usually the game where a different first girl is the love interest—like Ilia from Twilight Princess. Interestingly, the non-canon spinoff Hyrule Warriors actually makes this explicit. At one point, two characters in love with Link talk about how it is impossible to win in a lifetime where Link has already met Zelda (even, in this case, if they've barely spoken to each other).
In Fate/stay night, there are three potential winners, each of whom can be seen as the First Girl. Sakura is the first girl introduced in the main storyline and also the first girl to show obvious interest in Shirou (who is, of course, completely oblivious to it), Rin is the first female character introduced and the first we get to see interact with Shirou because the prologue is from her point of view, and Saber is the first girl seen on-screen and heard as the second image in the Novel is of her.
Sakura is the girl Shirou first met as well (in the backstory). She's also the one Nasu always supported as his main love interest (even if Saber is more popular).
Kanon: Nayuki, the Unlucky Childhood Friend and cousin, seems to be the first girl introduced, because she's the first girl that Yuuichi meets upon his return. But if you remember the beginning of the series, with the first "dream" prologue... It had a narrator. (In the 2006 version, though, the prologue is moved, making it Last Girl Wins instead.)
Key Visual Arts did the same thing in AIR, except the first girl Yukito meets does turn out to be the same girl that the prologue talks about. (Not the narrator, though, considering she's a) his mother, b) the reincarnation of his ancestor, c) dead.)
It's quite ironic to talk about "winning" in this case though, considering how the story unfolds.
Tsukihime: Quite a few female characters could possibly qualify as the "first girl" by some definition, but this title officially goes to Arcueid, who is the first girl whose story you see and Shiki meeting her starts the first plot.
In Frozen Essence, the first attainable character Mina meets is Rune, whose path is the only one that has a possible "True End", so he appears to fit this trope as well as a Dating Sim character can. ...Unless you remember that Mina actually met the Oracle before Rune, and find out how to unlock his path which reveals that he's actually Mina's childhood friend who met her long before any other character in the game did.
In Katawa Shoujo, you can make cases for both Shizune and Hanako as this for Hisao. On one hand, Shizune is the first of the five choose-able girls that addresses you directly (sorta, she's deaf/mute). On the other, when Hisao comes into the classroom, the first of the girls that he pays attention to is Hanako, due to the scars on her body.
On the other other hand, the very first girl, Iwanako, is a subversion. Hisao liked her at one point, she liked him back, but they never come close to getting together...except for the part where her Love Confession gives Hisao a literal heart attack and leads to them drifting apart. All of the actual heroines are technically Second Love candidates.
Coga Suro: Yeah, Steve and Jane end up married with kids. Who saw that coming?
Dan Shive of El Goonish Shive is rather fond of this; he initially intended all the relationships to be like this, although it didn't work out that way:
Tedd and Grace have never had any love interests except each other.
Averted with Elliot, as following a Ship Tease with Susan, Eliot is now dating a new character called Ashley. Whether this is permanent remains to be seen, but he's realised he sees his relationship with Sarah (first girl introduced) as more Like Brother and Sister, so that's definitely off the table, as is Nanase (first love interest) due to Incompatible Orientation.
On the other hand, you could argue that Ellen and Nanase qualify since Ellen was the first girl suggested as a potential love interest for Nanase, and Nanase was introduced as the love interest of the character Ellen is an Opposite-Sex Clone of.
Used twice in MegaTokyo: the first major female character introduced is Erika, who Largotries to grope to find out if her boobs are real and gets another broken arm in return. The second, Kimiko, almost immediately accidentally hits Piro in the head with a coffee pot. Insert joke about winning girls injuring their future boyfriends here.
And then, Yuki went and fell onto Kobayashi-kun from the top of a power pole, leaving him in hospital with concussion and fractured ribs. I guess it goes to show - the quickest way to a man's heart is through his ribcage.
Kevin & Kell: Fiona and Rudy knew each other when they went to the same day care, but never got along. Then Fiona moved away, then back, and then they fell in love. Note that they didn't even remember being in the same day care until a former teacher told them about it.
In General Protection Fault, Nick, who has never been in a relationship before, meets Ki early on in his time at GPF, and they get married in spite of Trudy's attempts to get Nick for himself (and the fact that he seriously considers her for a time).
Subverted—probably intentionally, given Jeph Jacques' anime and manga fandom—in Questionable Content. Marten sees Faye in the third strip of the comic, actually talks to her in the fourth, and they've moved in together by strip 22 (not like that; she burned her apartment down making toast). 500 strips of wacky hijinks later, everyone (including the audience) is getting annoyed at how Marten and Faye haven't gotten together despite the obvious attraction. Faye then has a talk with Marten about why. She watched her father kill himself with a gunshot to the head and has yet to recover from the trauma.
Stefan 'Twoflower' Gagne's "Unreal Estate" uses this: the first girl's house falls on him while he's still on Grunwald. Nevertheless, possibly to obfuscate the first girl winning, the main character manages to run into each of the girls before finding himself in the 'harem', a la Ai Kora. Though it's technically not a harem comdedy towards the end.
Can be played straight or subverted in Memory Days. The first of her three potential love interests the protagonist meets in the prologue is Haru, but the trope is only played straight if she gets together with him in the end. It can be subverted in that she can also end up with Daichi, Kai, or even Sakka.
Throughout the series, Kim Possible and her sidekick Ron date or crush on a few other people, but in the end choose their oldest friend and partner in villain-fighting. It also works in relation to their backstory: (they were each other's first friend in pre-school) and the series itself (Kim tears into school and Ron is the first person she stops to talk to).
Suki is virtually the first non-related girl of a correct age Sokka ever meets, and they eventually end up together, even though he also has a brief romance with Princess Yue (who dies and becomes the Moon Spirit) and Ty Lee from the Quirky Miniboss Squad has a crush on him.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Mai used to be friends since they were children, and despite Zuko's one date with one another girl while in exile, they become a couple again as soon as he's un-exiled, are separated when Mai gets herself imprisoned for treason while saving Zuko's life, and happily reunite in the series finale.
And then of course there's the two main characters Aang and Katara. She had never met a boy her own age before who wasn't her brother, while her face was actually the first thing he saw after being frozen for a century, and they likewise hook up by the end of the show.
Also there's the fact that he probably never met a girl other than the older Air nuns back 100 years ago.
The trend continues in The Legend of Korra, with Mako ultimately realizing that he was in love with Korra, who he met first in episode two, rather than Asami, who he met and started dating in episode four. Averted with Korra herself, however; she meets Mako's brother Bolin first, but never returns his romantic interest. Once he got over his initial heartbreak, he seemed to handle it fairly well. ... And then, at the end of the second season, Mako and Korra break up and decide to be Just Friends.
It was revealed by the creator of Hey Arnold! that, had the planned second movie (The Jungle Movie) been made, Arnold would have finally recognized his feelings for Helga and they would have dated for years before he moved away in the also-planned Spin-OffThe Patakis. It's worth noting that Helga was the first girl from their class that Arnold met when they were 3 years old. (During the series, he crushed on Ruth, then Lila and Summer. He lost his crushes on all three sometime during the course of the series.)
In Futurama, Leela is the first girl Fry meets after defrosting in the future.
Iginio Straffi appears to have moved Heaven and Earth in order to assure people that Bloom isn't just some temperamental jerk barging into an established relationship and randomly hating the other victim of her dishonest love interest's spinelessness. He accomplished this by revealing that Diaspro was simply a Plan B put in place because it was generally believed that the original future Queen of Eraklyon had been murdered by the Ancestral Witches when in fact she was hidden on the obscure T-shirt producing planet called Earth.