Foe Romance Subtext
aka: Foe Romantic Subtext

"Venom... I've been all over this city looking for you! You never call, you never write... It's like I'm the only one interested in making this relationship work..."

The implications of sexual tension between arch-enemies. Just as Ho Yay is about the situation of implying romance where even the characters' canonical sexual orientations make it implausible, this trope intentionally creates an even deeper paradox by subtextually implying love in a relationship that is, textually, the opposite of love.

This trope is much more likely to come into play if one is The Rival and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, or a Rival Turned Evil, and is especially likely if one is an Evil Former Friend. If enemies have to work together, it can give the impression that adversity makes strange bedfellows. Other times, this trope can be invoked by a villain who seems to be too eager and persistent about trying to convince or force the hero to rule the world together, and eventually appear as a one-sided Villainous Crush. Terms of Endangerment often feature, and watch out for the Take-That Kiss. Dark Magical Girls are often depicted as understanding their Magical Girl counterpart far more than anyone else, and after inevitable redemption at the very least become Heterosexual Life-Partners, if not more.

Since most heroes and their villains tend to be the same gender, this results in most examples of Foe Yay overlapping with Ho Yay, but different gender foes qualify too. When it ultimately goes from subtext to text, and the two admit that they love each other, it is called Dating Catwoman. Contrast with Defecting for Love. For the villain who really is sexually obsessed with The Hero, see Stalker with a Crush, Mind Game Ship, In Love with Your Carnage, and Villainous Crush. See also Destructo-Nookie, when they actually do go the whole nine yards.

See also Foe Yay Shipping, for the subjective audience reaction of insisting that after a certain number of such scenes, the two should become a couple (this appeal often lies in the forbidden nature of the relationship, a staple of the shipper diet). Please move non-objective examples to that page. Not to be confused with Faux Yay.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • The fight between Ladd Russo and Chane Laforet atop the Flying Pussyfoot in Baccano! is punctuated with this, as Ladd repeatedly declares his love for Chane and monologues about how she loves him back. Even while he's trying to blow her to bits with a shotgun. It's implied that Ladd's just trying to mess with her, but when he starts to caress her cheek and play with her hair, one can't help but wonder.
    Ladd: I'll take it. I accept this love from you, young lady! But you have to accept my love, too...
  • The attraction that Slan, the female member of the Godhand, has to Guts from Berserk. Given that she's a sadistic demonic god, she basically derives a lot of pleasure from all the suffering she and the other God Hands can put him through. And it's not exactly helped by the fact that Slan is Too Kinky to Torture — the only thing Guts succeeds in doing by impaling and blowing off half of Slan's torso with his Arm Cannon during his battle with her in the Qliphoth is giving her an orgasm.
  • Busou Renkin: Papillon's obsession with Kazuki. Magnified by how there's already a lot of subtext around Papillon with his flamboyant outfit including speedos and a distinctive butterfly mask.
  • Chrono Crusade has Aion/Chrono. In the manga, Aion is really Chrono's twin brother, unknown to him, and actually cares quite a bit for Chrono. The anime adaptation included a scene where Aion holds Chrono's face in his hands and leans so close while speaking to him that their lips are almost touching. He also has a bit of In Love with Your Carnage for Chrono in both versions.
  • Clover has Barus and Kazuhiko's innuendo-laden dialogue. Barus is especially fond of Kazuhiko, and likes to call him his "prince." And snuggle with his severed hand at night.
  • Death Note has Serial Killer Light and Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist L, who (willingly, at least on one side) become handcuffed together for an indeterminate amount of time. Light's girlfriend Misa immediately protests by saying "Light is mine and I don't want to share him with you!" There was also that time when L gave Light a foot massage.
  • Gunsmith Cats:
    • This defines the relationship between Rally Vincent and the Big Bad Goldie Musou in the manga, even though it's decidedly one-sided, with Goldie's desire to possess Rally, body and soul is the main reason for their conflict. There's also some Foe Yay between Rally and the Jerk with a Heart of Gold rival/enemy/ally Bean Bandit.
    • To a lesser degree, the relationship between Goldie and Rally's junior sidekick Misty Brown. In one scene Misty drugged senseless in her underwear, in the next Misty in leather bondage gear, crying. And in the last book of the series the two end up in a consensual relationship! Seriously!
  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim: Lampshaded by The Hero Daba Myroad in chapter 15, as seen in the quote above. Unknown Rival Gablet's became so driven and so obsessive with defeating Daba that sometimes it sounded like if he had a crush on him.
  • Kemono no Souja Erin: Damiya becomes suddenly very touchy-feely with Erin, when it turns out that she can control the beast lords. During their first meeting one-on-one he grabs her hand, gets very close with her and compliments her eyes. Unsurprisingly, when they are interrupted by his aunt, she assumes that he tries to force himself on her. He also seems to be impressed when Erin doesnít buy his sweet talk and is overly fascinated by her ability, even comparing her to Je, when she rides on Lilan to rescue the queen.
  • Loveless:
    • Soubi with two of the main villains, one being Ritsu-sensei in which they actually were sort of in a relationship (Ritsu took his ears) and Soubi was upset when Ritsu gave him to Semei. But they're both just sort of neutral to each other now. And, of course, Semei, with Soubi's obsession to obey the man's every word, despite how he purposefully abandoned him and replaced him with his real Beloved fighter Nisei. However, Soubi's obsession could be because of the way he was trained and nothing more.
    • Ritsuka and Semei. Though Semei doesn't see Ritsuka as his enemy, Ritsuka is kind of torn on what Semei is, exactly, due to what people have told him about him and many unanswered questions. Such as why he faked his death.
  • Inspector Zenigata, who chases after Gentleman Thief Lupin III, is rumoured to be married. To a lady. Huh. Could've fooled everyone. (It's actually rather sweet how his life falls apart whenever he's taken off the Lupin case.) This is even Lampshaded in Lupin III (Blue Jacket). When Zenigata tries to crash Lupin's wedding, Rebecca assumes that he's Lupin's jealous ex-boyfriend.
  • Michiko Malandro and Atsuko Jackson in Michiko & Hatchin. Michiko even flat out implies that Atsuko used to get aroused whenever Michiko would beat her up or overpower her when they were younger.
  • In Mother Keeper, Turkes has one on Ricalna; even Adam who didn't see what happened between them could tell. Turkes makes comments about wanting to make Ricalna his man at least twice, willingly gives him whatever information he has and has No Sense of Personal Space when it comes to Ricalna.
  • Naruto: It's been stated that the sharingan awakens with the loss of a loved one. Madara Uchiha awoke his sharingan when he ended his friendship with Hashirama Senju, who would eventually become (though reluctantly) his Arch-Enemy. Even into the modern day, after both men have long passed, when Madara is revived he starts bashing on the Five Kage for not being as good as Hashirama, and is obsessed with having a rematch when he senses his enemy's chakra. Hashirama, for his part, is perhaps the character most sympathetic to Madara, speculating that all of Madara's actions are ultimately him lashing out in grief after his brother Izuna's death.
  • Tabool in Now and Then, Here and There is unhealthily obsessed with garnering any attention whatsoever from his best-friend-turned-rival, Nabuca, to the point that he gets jealous of a freaking six-year-old. Long story short: Nabuca continues to reject Tabool and it does not end well.
  • Phi Brain: Puzzle of God gives us Rook and Kaito. The two were childhood friends. Unfortunately, Rook was taken away as a child and eventually became a Tyke Bomb who determined that Kaito was the perfect candidate for Phi Brain, a program filled with Death Trap puzzles, the ultimate goal of which is to create the perfect puzzle solver. It Makes Sense in Context. As Kaito solves puzzles, Rook gushes over how beautiful he is when doing so. He even concocts a plan to convince Kaito that the best thing to do is to leave his True Companions behind and join him. It doesn't work. He gets very angry when Kaito's Love Interest, Nonoha, displays how close she and Kaito are. When Kaito finally makes it clear that he will never join POG, the conglomerate Rook works for, Rook goes into a mad rage, screaming that Kaito is his and that he has to join him. Rook's personal Dragon needs to hold him back from making a grab at Kaito himself.
  • In one episode of Sonic X, during a fighting tournament, Rouge fights Tails and beats him... by kissing him. A few episodes earlier, she essentially flirts with Knuckles. The latter relationship is canon.
  • Akagi and Uozumi have this in Slam Dunk. It's been mentioned that Uozumi talks about defeating Akagi everyday and from what we've seen, this is probably not an exaggeration. He almost instantly took an interest in Akagi when he first saw him, cheered him on during the Kainan game, and his rivalry with him is his main motivation for improving. Even after quitting basketball he still travels all the way to Hiroshima just to see Akagi play and even gives him advice in the middle of a game. On Akagi's side he considers Uozumi the better player (despite what everyone else says) and has a great deal of respect for him. This is even mocked at times, such as when they hug and cry on each other's shoulder.
  • Ayeka and Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo!. Depending on which Alternate Continuity you choose, they are old childhood acquaintances or mortal enemies, but they always fight — and not just over Tenchi's affections. In at least one alternate world glimpsed during an Alternate Universe episode of the television series, though, they are clearly in a relationship with each other, though outside forces were involved.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Eto varies in one chapter between getting close to Kaneki to lick his face, reveal her fondness for him and how they're Not So Different, and declaring her love for him as he's tossing her off the building. Further subtext can be read into the fact that he eats her kakuja after defeating her.
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, there's the Big Bad Haguro Dou, who is the young son of a powerful Yakuza boss, and who becomes completely obsessed with protagonist (and werewolf) Inugami. He initially doesn't care about or even think twice about Inugami... until he pushes Inugami too far, which results in Inugami showing him his true form and scaring the shit out of Haguro. Haguro goes insane from it, and stalks Inugami after that, cutting himself all over his arm and carving the word "Inu" onto his hand. Haguro has been shown after that to, while having sex with his girlfriend Ryuuko (who also lusts after Inugami and thinks about him while having sex with Haguro), think only about Inugami, and screams his name while imagining him. Later, Haguro ends up raping his male subordinate to death, while again thinking of Inugami. And after Inugami decides he's had enough of this shit and tries to move away, Haguro, being the stalker he is, tries desperately to do stuff to piss Inugami off so that he'll come back.
  • The Familiar of Zero: In the fourth season's OP, Louise gets licked on her face by a new, evil purple-haired girl named Janette and the girl hugs Louise close to her with a blushing Louise struggling to get away. And in episode two Janette tricks Louise by pretending to be a plebeian, gets close to her face, and licks her again. She also touches her face and says that if things had worked out different they could have been friends. She also calls Louise "cute and innocent".
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi's Chick Magnet powers work even on his arch-nemesis Fate, their encounters becoming more and more romantically charged each time they meet. Eventually it reaches the point where Negi's other rivals for his affection worry about the extra competition.
  • The end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion transforms what was regular Homoerotic Subtext into this, as Homura becomes the devil of the new world, imprisoning Madoka against her will, all to make her happy.

     Comic Books 
  • Made explicit in Mark Waid's Irredeemable, in which the genius supervillain Modeus (a clear Lex Luthor expy) explicitly confesses a very disturbing obsession with the Plutonian (himself an expy of Superman).
  • The Joker often makes comments toward Batman of this nature, talking about their relationship as though it were romantic and making flirtatious advances. It's not clear if this is out of some actual attraction or simply to make Batman uncomfortable. To say nothing of how in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth he slaps Batman's ass.
    • This aspect of his criminal activity is expanded on in The Dark Knight Returns from the very first scene, as he sees Batman's return to active crime-fighting reported on the news and segues from dis-interested catatonia to his old grin and the quiet declaration, "Darling." He goes on to mention how he never keeps count but loves Batman for doing it for him and outright flirts as they try to finish each other (each in his own way) in the Tunnel of Love, of all places.
  • in Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , a flirtatious relationship gradually develops between the American ninja John Doe and the Soviet KGB leader Colonel Novikova... to the consternation of their subordinates and comrades.
  • Superman and Lex Luthor clearly have something going on, even if Lex is more recalcitrant about it than the Joker is with Batman. It is genuinely explicit that jealousy of Superman is a major motivating force for Lex; the exact nature of that jealousy, however, can vary quite a bit from the usual platonic state.
    • In the Silver Age, Superboy kept a trophy room of mementos of Luthor before he turned evil, including some of his lost hair. Note that before he turned evil, Lex likewise had a Superboy room.
    • When Superman died, Lex immediately arranged for him to be cloned - with the clone having genes added in from Lex himself, making the new Superboy for all intents and purposes the biological son of Superman and Lex Luthor.
    • In the nineties, Lex had an ongoing affair with Supergirl, who, in that version, was a shape-shifter, and there was at least one scene where she used her shape-shifting to flirt with him. You have to wonder how often he asked her to wear her costume to bed.

  • In America 3000, the women of Frisco and Kansos in Colorado have an entire mythology built up around hating the men and wanting to exterminate them, and the free men Korvis leads in his compound at Camp Reagan have generally adopted a similarly hostile attitude toward the women. So why does the young Vena smirk and take a good long look when her mother cuts off young Korvis' loincloth near the beginning? Why, when Korvis and his men later raid Frisco, does he get distracted and linger over the sleeping form of the newly-crowned Tiara Vena in her shelter? Because of perfectly natural desires, and because they're going to get it together with each other later, that's why.
  • James Bond:
    • There was more than a bit of homoeroticism between Bond and Alec in Golden Eye.
    Alec: James and I used to share everything... absolutely everything.
    • Bond/Le Chiffre from Casino Royale (2006). When your naked torture scene begins with the villain eyeing Bond up and saying "You've taken good care of your body"... This is more explicit in the novel where Le Chiffre addresses Bond as "dear boy" during the scene, and Fleming based him on the bisexual Alastair Crowley.
    • Skyfall throws "implications" right out the window with Silva's opening scene, where Bond is tied to a chair and Silva unbuttons his shirt to touch a scar on Bond's shoulder, continues to caress his throat, and strokes Bond's thighs. Bond responds to Silva's quiet snark, "Well... first time for everything, yes?" with "What makes you think this is my first time?"
  • Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight ("You complete me!") One reviewer described the delivery of that line as "like a bride to a groom". The Joker also pretty clearly enjoys Batman beating him. This particular bit of subtext goes back a long way, and has become more or less canon in the comics.
  • While Xerxes, as portrayed in 300, appears to be into everything, and his feelings were not reciprocated, his interest in Leonidas certainly appeared to be more than political. The director felt that the teenage boy demographic would find Xerxes scarier if he was presented as a Depraved Homosexual intent on molesting the protagonist. Unfortunate Implications ahoy!
  • Roxy/Velma from Chicago. Even besides the whole Girls Behind Bars aspect of it, Roxy and Velma do spend a lot of time glaring at each other while wearing nothing but skimpy underwear. And during the last number they seem... a lot more friendly.
  • Dirty Harry. Scorpio's reaction to seeing Inspector Callahan's .44 Magnum revolver for the first time. "My, that's a big one." Reportedly actor Andrew Robinson ad-libbed that line, which made the crew laugh. One of many allusions to Scorpio's stereotypical "gayness", along with the hair and the whiny, murderous hissy fits.
  • There is a strong albeit disturbed vibe from Hannibal Lector towards Will Graham in Red Dragon.
    "Clever boy. I think I'll eat your heart."
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, The Dragon Peter Drak makes a point of repeatedly referring to protagonist David Kellum as a "pretty boy", "Davie", and commenting on his "pretty eyes".
  • Fight Club. Aside from the fact that they're basically the same person, there's a large amount of subtext between The Narrator and Tyler, as Tyler is the epitome of everything the Narrator wishes he were, compared to the Narrator's docile, repressed sexuality. The movie opens with Tyler shoving the barrel of a gun down the Narrator's throat, they live together, bathe together, spend their nights beating each other to a pulp while shirtless and covered in sweat, and let's not forget the chemical burn scene, in which Tyler kisses the Narrator's hand and holds him down while he burns him, and Marla's almost jealous reaction when she sees the scar ("Who did that to you? Guy or girl?"). There's also the Narrator's jealousy and subsequent brutal beat-down of the pretty blond guy who started to seem like Tyler's new favorite.
  • Seymour and Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. In its first Villain Song "Feed Me", Audrey II (who is named after the woman Seymour loves, by the way) seduces more than convinces Seymour to aid him. Audrey II sings to him "feed me all night long", puts one of its roots up Seymour's shirt, and forces Seymour into a chair before bringing him uncomfortably close to his face. Audrey later pulls Seymour's pants down (to punch him in the scrotum, but still). And in his later Villain Song "Mean Green Mother From Outerspace", in a brief part Audrey says: "I got garden style, major moves, nasty thoughts, and I'm using them."
  • X-Men: First Class: Erik with Charles, to the point where Television Without Pity gave them the "Best Couple" award. Also present in the original X-Men trilogy. It's supported both by James McAvoy (who plays Xavier in First Class) and Ian McKellen (who plays Magneto in the other films). A bit of a variation on this trope in that they're actually friends despite their opposing goals and the subtext comes from the friendship rather than hostility.
  • Deliberately inferred in the original The Hitcher, to the point where it creeps out the cops to watch the lead characters interact in the interrogation room.
  • L.A. Confidential: Half the characters are convinced there's something more to detectives Bud White and Ed Exley's rivalry than just hatred.
    Jack: [to Ed] Bud White's gonna fuck you for this if it takes him the rest of his life.
    Lynn:: [also to Ed] Fucking me and fucking Bud aren't the same thing.
  • Lupin III: Dead or Alive: While Zenigata is leading a captured Lupin (or rather, the local bartender Lupin disguised as himself) to their helicopter pickup, the good inspector is speaking boastfully of the peaceful life he will lead after turning Lupin's trial and finally going home. He discusses two names he discarded; War (because he didn't want to upset his female readers) and Love and and War (because he didn't want people to get the wrong idea about the two of them).
  • The Force Awakens: Kylo Ren with Rey, to the extent that even Time Magazine's review of the film mentions it. The interrogation scene is particularly infamous, with Ren directing more than one ambiguously lewd remark at Rey. He also swoops her up into a bridal carry, watches her sleep, takes off his mask for her and offers to become her teacher.

  • Hrathen towards Sarene, in Elantris. Later turns from subtext to Love Epiphany, although the latter character remains totally oblivious to any of this.
  • In Loyal Enemies, Veres (the monster hunter) and Shelena (a werewolf) has a lot of going on between them, although the "foe" part becomes less and less relevant as the two are forced to team up. In the end, the latter has a Love Epiphany. Veres might've had it earlier, but we don't see his thoughts as we do Shelena's.
  • Cold Days: In between Mab's attempts to kill Harry Dresden, she gets very touchy-feely with him. The subtext is heightened by their plot-related sex in the previous book.
    Mab moved very slowly, very gracefully. There was something serpentine about the way she slithered up my body and lay with her chest against mine. (...) [She] made a low, hungry sound in her throat as she leaned down, until her lips were almost touching my ear.
    "I have no use for weakness, wizard." She shivered in a kind of slow, alien ecstasy.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and Voldemort. They share a mental link with Voldemort continually trying to possess Harry, disregard his personal space, and infiltrate his mind. Also, Harry Potter and Tom Riddle with Harry referring to Tom in flattering terms multiple times, and some fans have read much into their interactions with Tom telling Harry he "can be very persuasive" and there are slash fics with Harry befriending Tom in the diary and developing feelings for him.
    • Ginny Weasely and Tom Riddle, with Tom Riddle's diary in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The diary she befriended turned out to be a Soul Jar for a piece of Voldemort's soul, who brainwashed her with the intent of stealing her life to bring himself back to life, taking advantage of how she was feeling lonely due to her difficulty to make any friends in her first year at Hogwarts.
  • Violet Baudelaire and Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events. He mentions numerous times how pretty she is, caresses her hair, rubs her thigh with a knife under a table, plans to marry her to get her fortune and later says he wants to "consummate" his relationship with her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Spike and Angel are half this, half regular Homoerotic Subtext, depending on how antagonistic Spike is in the specific episode.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angelus relentlessly flirts with Buffy and considers his murdering his way through her friends to be foreplay, while Buffy is continually reluctant to kill him because of her feelings towards Angel. That said, the series wavers back and forth on whether Angel and Angelus are separate people or two sides of the same person.
    • Buffy and Faith repeat the same dynamic she had with Angel/us, only with more emotional baggage, complete with Take-That Kiss from Faith and both of them acting like spurned girlfriends every time they cross paths. Fast forward to season 7, and the First says everything Faith did was so Buffy would love her.
    • Buffy and Spike had so much of this that eventually, the subtext became text.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor and the Master had some of this in discreet 1970s style right from the start, and the twenty-first century show responded to social changes by dumping the "sub" altogether.
  • Just as in Red Dragon, there's quite a bit of this between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham on Hannibal.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: James Gillies, the criminal mastermind on the show, kisses Detective William Murdoch on the mouth for a full three seconds towards the end of "Midnight Train to Kingston."
    Gillies: For the last time, this is it for us. Doesn't that make you just... a little bit sad?
    Murdoch: No.
    Gillies: Not even a teensy bit?
    Murdoch: [shakes his head]
    Gillies: Come now, Detective. You and I share something, something... special. I'll miss you, you know that. [grabs Murdoch by the collar and kisses him]
  • Sherlock: Jim Moriarty (who Sherlock deduces to be gay at first sight) just loves flirting with Sherlock. It begins from the first message Moriarty sends to Sherlock; Moriarty's very opening words are "Hello, Sexy". They later meet in person when Jim is masquerading as Molly Hooper's boyfriend, and even in disguise Jim overtly flirts with Sherlock, giving him his phone number just like you would to a romantic prospect. Moriarty (as his true self) later talks about this like he's a jilted date:
    Moriarty: I gave you my number. I thought you might call.
  • Smallville :
    • Lex Luthor and Clark Kent go above and beyond the already high bar for homoerotic subtext set by their comic book source material. Just like in the comics via genetic engineering, they basically have a son together. Unlike the comics, there is a Maiden Name Debate of sorts for said son, Alexander Luthor/Conner Kent.
    • Clark has it with both incarnations of Zod. It didn't help that the first was borrowing Lex's body for their final battle.
    • Lois Lane and Tess Mercer. Exhibit A:
    Lois: What is it with you and physical violence?
    Tess: The last time you and I saw each other, things did get a little... physical, didn't they? [wiggles her shoulders suggestively]
    Lois: And then what happened, Tess? Inquiring minds want to know.
    Tess: You don't remember?
    Lois: Well, a three-week concussion can do that to you. But I think that you bonked me on the head and then held me somewhere.
    Tess: Held you? That's wishful thinking, Lane. When I came to, you were already gone. We never did get to finish what we started, though. Little rematch?
    • Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor. This one is canonical (from Lionel's end, anyway; they actually had an Almost Kiss, but Lionel was in Clark's body), at least according to Word Of God, since John Glover, the actor who played Lionel, actually said he was putting attraction to Chloe into his portrayal of the character. You can see for yourself here.
  • In Intelligence Mei Chen, a rogue Chinese Intelligence operative into whom Dr. Cassidy implanted a chip under duress, gets very flirty when she encounters Gabriel, likewise a chipped operative. Among other things she compares him to Adam (to her Eve). He is not interested, though he does fake it at one point to lure her in so the team can remotely delete some classified data from her chip.
  • Spoofed in Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible where the Yellow Peril Diabolical Mastermind and the Gentleman Adventurer Guile Hero are noted in the commentary track to have played it "like they used to be lovers", although it wasn't in the original script and mostly conveyed through the acting. Mark Gatiss explained in the commentary that the relationship between hero and villain is inherently a romantic one, as heroes need villains in order to express their glory and villains need heroes in order to have someone to defeat.
  • Babylon 5: Londo and G'Kar start off as fierce rivals, with Londo revealing in the first regular episode ("Midnight on the Firing Line") that he'd had a prophetic dream about his death, where the two of them would choke each other to death some twenty years in the futurenote . As the series progressed, the rivalry waxed and waned (with others often commenting about the two ambassadors' unique relationship), with the two settling into a sort of bickering Friendly Rivalry/Vitriolic Best Buds situation by the end of season four, with the two would often arguing Like an Old Married Couple.

  • Jonathan Coulton's Nemeses is this trope, and unrequited obsession, and Unknown Rival. An earlier version of the song made it more clear.
    Could it be that you and me
    Are always meant to be together
    Promise me you'll let me be
    The one, the best of your arch enemies
  • The Megas, a Mega Man fan band, have the song "Blue Like You" about Flash Man feeling this for Mega Man.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon. Chris spent nearly all of the Attitude Era insulting Stephanie as much as he could and alluding to her being extremely promiscuous. At one point, he even insinuated that she had slept with everyone on the planet. Everyone, however, did not mean Jericho, which led to a lot of Foe Yay Belligerent Sexual Tension that had numerous fans begging for them to have the planet-cracking hate sex already. At one point, they were even supposed to have an affair to spite Stephanie's then-husband Hunter (who would later on become her real life husband), but the idea was nixed. The tension was so thick that even today, after over a decade of minimal interaction, fans still strongly support the pairing.
  • Kevin Steen and El Generico. They were obsessed with each other. Steen's constant claims about how Generico is an "infection"/"disease" that he needed to get rid of and his fixation on Generico's mask and desire to remove it and show Generico's face to the world, the constant mind games — it all reads as Steen being attracted and/or madly in love with Generico and just sublimating it through intense violence. It was eventually acknowledged onscreen when Steen kissed Generico on the lips during their grudge match at Final Battle 2010.

  • Played for Laughs in the fifth and final season of Bleak Expectations, where it becomes increasingly obvious to Ripely that her husband and the evil Mr Benevolent do have a romantic relationship.
    Ripely: Oh, look. It's your boyfriend.

     Video Games 
  • Dota 2 between, of all people, Tidehunter and Kunkka. They are established in their backstories as hating each other - Tidehunter's hatred for Kunkka is never explained though, but out of that hatred he sunk his beloved ship. Those are some of the responses they have to each other:
    Kunkka: I never tire of hearing my name on your lips.
    Kunkka: Ah, nobody hated me like Tidehunter. He made me feel appreciated.
    Kunkka: Ah, Tidehunter, you cared enough to hate me. You can't buy that sort of love.
  • Darksiders: A creepy one-sided version of the Watcher towards War. They're magically chained together, with the Watcher imbued with the Charred Council's favor to supervise War. The Watcher's every other line reminds War that he's his bitch, and some of his lines sound a bit less-than-chaste.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Knuckles and Rouge, particularly in Sonic Adventure 2. The two spend the better part of the game at each other's throats, mainly because they both want to restore the Master Emerald after it as broken earlier, albeit for different reasons, noble and selfish respectively. However, in their final confrontation when Rouge was in trouble, Knuckles saved her and the two gazed in each other's eyes while holding hands for a good few seconds before Rouge pulled away in disgust. Knuckles calls her out on her ungrateful attitude, but then Rouge teases that he just wanted to hold her hand. Rouge decides to just give up her pieces and leaves it at that, Knuckles apologizes if he hurt her in their previous fight and Rouge gives a small smile in his direction before departing. Sonic X all but states they're a couple.
  • League of Legends: Garen and Katarina, both paragons of diametrically opposed city states. They received high compatibility ratings under Blitzcrank's matchmaking service but aren't an official couple. During the game, Garen has unique jokes specifically toward Katarina, which are somewhat flirty.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has Phosphora and Pit, the former going on several times about how cute the latter is, much to his embarrassment. Palutena has to remind Pit that Phosphora is an enemy.
  • Portal drops several hints that GLaDOS's fixation on Chell goes beyond the usual Kill All Humans motivation, with lines such as "Despite your violent behavior, the only thing you've managed to break so far... is my heart." It could be unintentional... but then Portal 2 ramps it up further, giving GLaDOS every Psycho Lesbian trope in the book, and she frequently tries to guilt trip Chell using language common to abusive partners. This culminates in "Want You Gone", a break-up song in everything but name.

     Web Comics 

     Western Animation 
  • TRON: Uprising: Beck/Paige. Paige is a Type IV Anti-Villain (not evil, but fighting for the wrong side, Tessler killed her friends, framed the Isos for it, and made it look like he saved her life so he could have her as a dragon). Beck? Well, he's trying to start a revolt to overthrow her boss.
  • Phineas and Ferb:
    • Perry the Platypus and Dr. Doofenshmirtz are at the very least the epitome of the Friendly Enemy, treating their adversity as a job more than any actual effort to harm one another. Doofenshmirtz owns a pair of boxers with Agent P's face on them. In another episode Doofenshmirtz is shown ordering home nemesis dolls (resembling blow up dolls) and receiving "yet another platypus". Then there's the episode "It's About Time", where Doofenshmirtz acquires a new nemesis, which is presented as him having an affair, culminating with them on a relationship talk show together. "Yeah, I've got a nemesis..."
    • It's heavily implied that this is the standard relationship for all nemeses. The aforementioned agent that was thwarting Doofenshmirtz without Perry's knowledge was Peter the Panda, and lo and behold, he too has a nemesis, called Dr. Mystery, who becomes jealous of Doofenshmirtz and proceeds to kidnap and attempt to kill him. Doofenshmirtz learns more of their relationship while in captivity, and finds out, much to his horror, that Mystery doesn't tell Peter his plans or his back stories (a staple of all Perry/Doofenshmirtz confrontations). This is quickly presented as a communication problem, and Doofenshmirtz finds himself giving Mystery relationship advice, all culminating in Peter appearing to thwart Mystery and save Doofenshmirtz with Perry in tow, the former of whom reacts in delight and begins asking what Doofenshmirtz gave Peter that he couldn't in between getting punched in the face.
  • Storm Hawks sets up a lot of Star-Crossed Lovers tropes with Piper and Master Cyclonis, especially in the episode "Best Friends", where they get very close very quickly before Cyclonis' sudden but inevitable betrayal. Then when Piper starts tapping into her Dark Magical Girl side, Cyclonis starts showing up in her dreams.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Magic Duel" has The Great And Powerful Trixie outright stating that defeating Twilight Sparkle became her highest priority after she (indirectly) humiliated her, and after her defeat Twilight focuses all of her attention into defeating Trixie in a re-match, complete with the gem "I can't stop thinking about Trixie!".
    • Discord spends "The Return of Harmony" creeping on all of the mane six, especially Twilight, what with frequently invading her personal space, picking her up and hugging her, and at one point he strokes her face. And while he exchanges maybe half a dozen lines with Celestia all of them are said in a playful, flirtatious manner, including "Did you miss me, Celestia? I missed you...".
      • "Keep Calm and Flutter On" has Discord up to his usual tricks, faking affection for Fluttershy so that he can convince her to not use her Element against him. It's over by the end of the episode though, what with his HeelĖFace Turn.
      • Even when he's reformed, Discord inflicts this on Twilight in the Season 4 episode "Three's A Crowd". If anything, it's even more pronounced than in his first appearance. Special mention goes to the part during Discord's song "Glass of Water" where the two dance together.
    • This is how the changelings operate, impersonating a loved one then draining the love they're provided by their unsuspecting enemy. Relatedly, much speculation arose around Shining Armor and Chrysalis, what with the latter impersonating Cadance for who knows how long.
    • Daring Do invokes it in "Daring Don't". Bonus for Rainbow Dash's reaction to it.
      Ahuizotl: The ring, Daring Do! Give it to me!
      Daring Do: Now, Ahuizotl, you know I love you, but I can't give you the ring till I've properly proposed.
  • Steven Universe sets up Jasper and Lapis Lazuli as a metaphor for an abusive relationship, with the former coercing the latter into fusing ("Come on. Just say yes."), then the latter trapping the both of them at the bottom of the ocean, literally holding each other down and both twisted into something much worse.
  • The Simpsons: Bart and Sideshow Bob to an extent. It gets to a point where Bob can't kill Bart in one episode because he's grown accustomed to his face, literally.
    • The Treehouse of Horror XXVI segment "Wanted: Dead, then Alive" has this in spades, where there is some (possibly romantic) subtext between Bob and Bart (Bob showing his "I ♥ Bart" tattoo on his back, taking Bart's body home after killing him and playing with him as if he were still alive, realizing that Victory Is Boring without Bart around and talking to his corpse). Bob even decides to revive Bart because it brought him some excitement in his life..
      Bob: "And now, Bart, let's bring the old spark back to our special relationship."

Alternative Title(s): Foe Romantic Subtext