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Girl Next Door
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 or fiery — 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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Naruto, Tsunade describes Naruto's mother with several "Girl Next Door" traits.
  • Naruko "Anaru" Anjou from anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day is a beautifully well-rounded character of this type.
  • Shirley Fenette of Code Geass.
  • 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.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Film 
  • 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.
  • Instead of being another macho-brute Super Soldier, Captain America: The First Avenger is an sweet-tempered, adorable, well-mannered and kind-hearted Boy Next Door.
  • 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.

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments.
  • 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 Dawsons 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.

    Music 

    Theater 
  • 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.

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • The protagonist of Take A Lemon is rather upset when a college physics experiment turns her into a classic Girl Next Door overnight. Especially since He used to be a bit of rock guitar playing lech.

    Western Animation 

    Other 
  • 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.


The Generic GuyNormal PeopleGive Him a Normal Life
Gadgeteer GeniusStock CharactersGirly Girl
First Girl WinsLove InterestsGirl of My Dreams
Girliness UpgradeTomboyHot Scientist
Girl in the TowerAlways FemaleGirl of the Week
Girl GroupWe Are Not Alone IndexGirly Girl

alternative title(s): Boy Next Door; The Girl Next Door
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