Everybody loves her. Almost.
A "Girl Next Door" is a character who, it is implied, an "ordinary guy" male protagonist might have known when growing up, and who he might like without feeling intimidated. She may literally be from the same neighborhood as the hero, or she may just remind him of girls he knew back home. She embodies an average
and "wholesome" femininity. She is neither butch nor overly feminine; she isn't usually promiscuous, and she might act as a foil
to a woman who is, such as the "downtown girl" in Town Girls
grouping. She is typically pretty in an accessible way
. However, since the trope is essentially about her personality, some Girls Next Door are considered knock-outs
. In that case, though, they're probably the local beauty in a neighborhood or small town, rather then being famous for their looks in a wider context — to start with, anyway, though they may advance to fame or stardom in the course of the story.
As the kind of girl that male protagonist might have been friends with all his life, the Girl Next Door is easy to talk to, like a tomboy
, but she doesn't force her presence on anybody; she may keep to herself, like a Naïve Everygirl
, while not rejecting social interaction. Equally, she may well be a bad boy's fantasy or target, because he finds her "good girl" image a challenge
. She has the goodness of the light feminine in Light Feminine and Dark Feminine
; she is good and attractive but not vain or arrogant about it. She certainly doesn't give the impression that she's spicy
— at least not obviously so, though she may have hidden depths of some sort. Nothing says that she has to be incapable of passion; she's just unlikely to be extrovert about it.
Often when a Girl Next Door is involved, the story has one of three types of plot: she's the Unlucky Childhood Friend
to the male lead (usually a jock
); she has
a male Unlucky Childhood Friend that is chasing after her; or she is the Betty in a Betty and Veronica Love Triangle
. Occasionally, all three combine in a huge mess
. (This set-up was used, more or less, in several movies by John Hughes
.) Possibly she is with the main character as a childhood
, college, or high school sweetheart
, but this isn't
always the case.
The Spear Counterpart
, Boy Next Door
, is pretty much the same only, you know, male. Compare Tomboy
and contrast with Femme Fatale
and Peerless Love Interest
. Also compare The All-American Boy
, who might well be her High School Sweetheart
For the 2004 film, see The Girl Next Door
. For Numbuh 3 and Numbuh 5, see Codename: Kids Next Door
. Also not to be mistaken for Crystal Bernard's album, The Girl Next Door
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Anime and Manga
- There is an unusual example in Welcome to the N.H.K.. Misaki Nakahara is a literal Girl Next Door whose innocence and rather plain beauty is, at first, an integral part of her relationship with Satou, combining this trope with Manic Pixie Dream Girl. However, both tropes become subverted when she is slowly revealed to exhibit nearly every symptom of a textbook case of Borderline Personality Disorder, including extreme self-esteem issues, self-harm, skewed social perspective, and an unhealthy (suicidally so) obsession with Satou.
- Variable Geo: Satomi Yajima looks the part due to working two jobs, while barely earning enough to support herself and her brother, Daisuke. Even so, she's still pretty cute and fairly athletic, since she's a combat waitress.
- Kosaki Onodera in Nisekoi. While the rest of the haremettes are gangsters and the daughter of the police chief, Kosaki is just an ordinary girl who works in her family's bakery.
- Highschool of the Dead: Rei is the one whose appearance and mannerism is presented as being down-to-earth, while the other three female leads are designed to cater to different fetishes. So while she's certainly attractive, the crux of her character lies in being Takashi's childhood friend and ex, who wants to rekindle what they once had. Except she has to compete with Saeko for his affections.
- Bleach has Tatsuki Arisawa, who's another Childhood Friend example, having known Ichigo from their days growing up as classmates and sparring partners. She gets mistaken for a boy sometimes, since her hair is short, but she's most definitely a girl. Chizuru even said she'd probably hit on Tatsuki, IF she weren't such a tomboy.
- School Rumble: Mikoto's a looker, but she's basically one of the guys. So her attractiveness stems more from her chest, since most guys are intimidated by her height and athleticism. Asou was one of the few to not be put-off by it and briefly dated hernote . And, in School Rumble Z, it's revealed that she eventually married Hanai.
- Captain America. He's wholesome, humble, a gentleman and as American as apple pie. He's both progressive enough to not have any prejudice towards anyone and old-fashioned enough to have very set morals and a sense of justice.
- Betty Cooper in the Archie comics, as opposed to her Uptown Girl rival for Archie's affections, Veronica. For his part, humble everyteen Archie is this in comparison to the wealthier and more athletic Reggie Mantle or the goofy comic relief Jughead.
- Played with in regard to Gwen Stacy of Spider-Man. As portrayed in the comics, Gwen was more of an exotic flower whom Peter only met after he left Forest Hill and "went out into the world", i.e. Manhattan and college. She came from an upper-class background, her first boyfriend, Harry, was the son of a millionaire and in her first appearance she was introduced as a high-school beauty queen. However, as she became the Betty to Mary Jane's Veronica, she moved into this category. MJ herself became literally this Trope in the Ultimate universe, having lived next door to the Parkers since she was a little girl and, before their Relationship Upgrade, was the geeky best friend of an equally-as-geeky Peter.
- Shellie from Sin City is sassy but meek enough to qualify.
- Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man Trilogy movies is an example, arguably due to her being a Composite Character with Liz Allan, who in the comics attended Midtown High together with Peter Parker and Flash Thompson, and Gwen Stacy who was (or rather, became) the girl-next-door type girlfriend to Peter.
- Captain America: The First Avenger:
- This was played with like many other tropes in Not Another Teen Movie
- The film The Girl Next Door clearly subverts this trope, as said girl is a porn actress played by Elisha Cuthbert.
- Layla from Sky High is Will's Granola Girl best friend.
- Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember is a believer in God who doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
- Lori Laughlin plays one in Secret Admirer
- Selena Gomez's character, Mary Santiago, in Another Cinderella Story.
- Andy from The Devil Wears Prada was meant to be the kind of girl you could run into on the subway.
- From The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Shy and beautiful Lena and Carmen, the writer.
- He's Just Not That Into You has three: Gigi Phillips is like a basset hound. They're kinda pathetic - so you want to cheer them up. Beth Murphy wants a good man and a husband. Mary is a romantic who has been hiding behind technology.
- Boof from Teen Wolf
- Stéphanie is the girl across the hall in The Science of Sleep. Zoé lives there as well but she isn't one of these.
- Casey Carlyle from Ice Princess is a Cool Loser and physics geek.
- Julie from Flipped is such a friendly neighbor that she regularly gives Bryce her chicken's eggs for his family.
- Maggie (Marla Sokoloff) from the movie Whatever It Takes. She eventually ends up with her boy next door.
- Rosie from Bran Nue Dae
- Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) lives across the street from her boyfriend Glen. Wes Craven noted he cast the actress specifically because of her accessible, wholesome appeal.
- Denise in Hot Rod.
- Mary, the protagonist of the movie Saved, is played as one of these; more importantly, she doesn't lose the general demeanor even after becoming pregnant. This is meant to show Mary as genuinely filled with the Christian spirit of compassion, in order to contrast Mary with her Alpha Bitch rival, who attends the same Christian school environment as her but is hypocritical about being "filled with Christ's love".
- Maria Posada from The Book of Life, to her childhood friends, Manolo and Joaquin.
- Bella's hometown acquaintance Jacob from Twilight.
- Sweet, shy, and sensible Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is this to neighbor Charles Bingley.
- Kristy and Mary Anne from The Babysitters Club.
- For Cassie from Animorphs, high fashion is socks that actually match for once. She's also gentle in being the team's moral center and doing what she must but hating the need to fight.
- Jack Weyland's 1990 book tells the story of teenage best friends Michelle & Debra where Michelle chooses to be the good, obedient, religious girl while Debra strays.
- In Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, Delia is this to Eric, the Victorious Childhood Friend, and Fitz, the Unlucky Childhood Friend. by the end of the book the tables have turned and Eric is the unlucky one.
- Sunshine has the titular character the vampire-slaying, magic-wielding version.
- Julie Sims in 1632 is a Girl Next Door with a rifle. She's described as being pretty, but not much more, and aside from occasional bouts of angst is fairly level-headed.
- Ruby, Ralph's girlfriend in Urn Burial has lived in the house next door to him since they were born, and whilst not drop dead gorgeous is plenty attractive enough for being familiar and not having any pretensions.
- Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelito in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman is the rare Native American version. She is a pretty, cheerful, down-to-earth fellow Navajo cop who is contrasted to Chee's previous love interest, the beautiful, sophisticated, half-white lawyer Janet Pete from Washington, D.C.
- Subverted along with most of the wholesome ideas of The Fifties in Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
- Sophie Prentice and Grella from The Last Dragon Chronicles.
- A golden years example occurs between Ralph Roberts and Lois Chasse in Stephen King's Insomnia. He's a retired widower; she's been a widow for a while now, and they've been good friends and neighbors for some years. Eventually they tie the knot.
Live Action TV
- The titular character from iCarly, Carly Shay. Cute and feminine but not overtly sexual, Freddie's known her for a long time, and they have the Childhood Friend Romance and Just Friends thing going on. Carly is popular at school and with her webshow without being the Alpha Bitch, and will rebel against authority if she perceives unfairness in the treatment of her friends. Carly does have enough aspects of the Genki Girl to qualify her for that as well, but there Ain't No Rule that says she can't be The Genki Girl Next Door. See The Chick and Tomboy and Girly Girl.
- Joey from Dawson's Creek is one of the more attractive examples
- Elena and Bonnie from The Vampire Diaries. Matt is a male version of this.
- Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years is a good tv example. Actress Danica McKellar is also a Hot Scientist.
- Samantha Thompson in Ace Lightning before she got Put on a Bus.
- Amanda takes the Betty position with Kyle who also has the wholesome traits to apply.
- Also Andy and Josh have a very easy time becoming boyfriend and girlfriend because they're each like a typical teenage boy.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend Chloe Sullivan and Lana Lang, who has an Unlucky Childhood Friend in Clark in Smallville.
- Sabrina and each of her friends from Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls is straight up while her mother Lorelai knows how to put an outfit together, host a fun party and is a role model to Rory making her a double subversion. Rory's first boyfriend Dean was the male version until he Took a Level in Jerkass.
- From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow is straight up this, while Buffy's toughness mixed with her femininity make her character average out.
- The first 2 seasons, Buffy is very much this trope, befriending underdogs, having quick come-backs and being especially peppy. She's also naive & somewhat awkward around guys she likes, and Zander is her male Unlucky Childhood Friend. Over time, however, a lot of "break the cutie" occurs, turning her into a 99% Crusader. Willow (who has a lot of the Librarian traits) also turns into a Crusader by the end, having lost her naive innocence along with Buffy.
- Topanga from Boy Meets World
- Haley James Scott from One Tree Hill.
- Maggie in How I Met Your Mother is explicitly described as this, which attracted many guys to her. She eventually ends up with her literal boy next door. There's even a montage of them being shown at different ages, from when they first met as children to them growing old together.
- Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island
- Monica Geller from Friends is a bossier and sexier version that most, but is down to earth, maternal, and The Heart of the group. She lives across the hall from Joey (who was originally going to be her love interest) and Chandler (her eventual boyfriend and husband).
- Donna Pinciotti in That '70s Show is an excellent example of the Tomboy version of the trope.
- From Degrassi The Next Generation there's Liberty, Emma who foils provocative Manny, and Terri who foils queen bee Paige and top dog Ashley.
- Sarah in My Babysitter's a Vampire. It is the theme song after all.
- Mary from 7th Heaven starts going out with a neighbor guy who she used to play basketball with. After she breaks up with him he says that playing a game together will help him feel more like they're friends again.
- Pam from the U.S. version of The Office.
- Penny from The Big Bang Theory. She moves into the apartment across the hall in the first episode and that alone gave Leonard some hope that she might become interested in him. She is consistently portrayed as a fairly down-to-earth and friendly girl who helps fill in the gaps in the guys' social skills. Still, as she and Leonard start dating, it's made fairly clear that if they weren't neighbors he wouldn't have had much of a shot with her.
- Patrice in Thirteen. Subverted in that Evan has not known her his whole life, rather he has just moved there and she is the first friend he makes.
- Kate Monster in Avenue Q, particularly for Princeton, for whom she carries a torch.
- To some extent, Alyx from Half-Life 2. Only debatable thing is that when she was living in Black Mesa, she was only a baby. But then came the Combine occupation and she became a rather hot tomboy by the time Gordon returned two decades later. Since then, they've been together for most of the time.
- Final Fantasy VII: Tifa was originally an aversion of the trope, as her in-game cg character model had Gag Boobs, long dolphin-shaped hair, a skin-tight leather miniskirt, and legs like you wouldn't believe. Square Enix redesigned her appearance for Advent Children, by shortening her hair to about shoulder-length, reducing her bust size, and gave her a more realistically proportioned figure along with a much more conservative outfit. Which was done because Nomura wanted her to have the look of a modern working-class woman. In short: he deliberately invoked the trope by making her seem more approachable.
- Refia from Final Fantasy III. Pretty, but not sexy? Check. Features that make her plain? Check. Endearing adorable somehow? Double Check.
- Both Yuna and Rikku fit into this, both being sweet, caring, down to earth girls (albeit ones who can summon and befriend◊ massive magical monsters and create explosive bombs to kill things with).
- The Legend of Zelda series features numerous females, several of whom, fall under this category:
- Ocarina of Time had Link's best friend, Saria, who was the most popular girl in Kokiri Village. Though her looks are best described as childlike, since the Kokiri don't age beyond their early adolescent years. Which is why she physically resembles a 13-14 year old girl, despite possibly being much older.
- Malon is another example from the same game. As a ranch-hand, she's presented as having a natural, rustic beauty, whose appearance is that of a simple farm girl.
- Twilight Princess has Ilia, who's Link's childhood friend. Despite being the Mayor's daughter, she has the look of a farm girl instead - from her short blonde hair, to her habit of going barefoot.
- Skies of Arcadia: Legends: Aika is both a literal and figurative example:
- Her house was actually next-door to the Dyne family's, back on Pirate Isle. Later, when Vyse establishes their new HQ on Crescent Isle, her flat is directly across from his, on the villa's second floor.
- In terms of attractiveness, she has a tomboyish charm about her that's been noted as being reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking. While her hips and legs are said to be the most notable aspects of her figure.
- Fire Emblem gets a few, though they can be HEAVILY disputed. Counting by appearance, there's Caeda/Sheeda, Lilina, and Tana. Note that all three of these girls are royalty (more or less; Lycia's not a monarchy but Lilina's father is nevertheless the head of a country). Then again, the same is true of their love interests, so it's all relative.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, if Chrom doesn't have enough supports or love points with any of his prospect girlfriends before Chapter 11, he's slated to marry and have Lucina with a girl from an Ylissean village, only known as the Village Maiden. In her first and only apparition, she fits in here to a T: she's sweet, soft-spoken, and she and Chrom seem to be pretty Happily Married.
- Two of his other love interest would arguably qualify too: Sumia is a shy and clumsy girl who, among other things, bakes him pies both to get closer to him and to support his cause, while Sully is his Childhood Friend whom he feels at ease with.
- In The Fairly OddParents, Tootie is a geeky girl who lives near Timmy and quite obviously loves him. Although Timmy doesn't return her affections at first, he sympathizes with her since they both have to deal with Tootie's meaner older sister and Timmy's babysitter, Vicky. According to the live action movie, many years later, Tootie returns to town a transformed woman, and Timmy falls in love with her.
- In American Dragon Jake Long, Rose, at start of the series, has a lot of this trait.
- The Legend of Korra: The eponymous heroine is portrayed as a down-to-earth tomboy type, who's the amazonian daughter of Chief Tonraq. She's also a natural beauty, though she prides herself on her bending ability and her role as the world's Avatar instead.
- As a male example, Jeremy to Candace in Phineas and Ferb. There's also Isabella for Phineas, who hasn't noticed her feelings yet.
- Like Buffy, Kim Possible is a double subversion because she's insecure about boys, dating, and the social order, and has very few close friends; however, she's admired by her peers, involved in every school activity, and is an international kung-fu-fighting pro-bono action heroine.
- For another male example, see Gil Nexdor in relation to Susan and Mary Test in Johnny Test.
- The fashion industry is forever caught between the ideal of maximum glamour and idealised beauty, and the need to sell stuff to, well, real people. One solution is to employ models with (allegedly) "Girl Next Door" looks; it's said that this becomes more widespread during economic recessions, when the industry is less inclined to take chances. Of course, these tend to be unusually slim, poised Girls Next Door, with perfect complexions.
- American TV commercials have had a whole recent trend of "Girl Next Door customer service rep deals humorously with wacky customers" ads. It started with Flo from Progressive Insurance, and she's been joined by Jan from Toyota and Lily from AT&T.