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Heart Symbol
All of Sonic's Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplay and chillidog fantasies have finally come true!

El Lambeda: We love our brother! Our brotherly love is so great, the love pours out of us! See how these little hearts emanate from me! That is how much love I have! For my brother!
El Mariacho: And look! There is a big heart coming out of my head right now! It's kind of painful, actually, but I shall endure the pain... for my brother!
Girly

The client: How much does this pink ass cost?
The saleswoman: Mister, that's a heart.
The client: Madame, I've been working as a cardiac surgeon for twenty years; how much does this pink ass cost?

The stylized heart shape, (or <3 as an emoticon), is a classic visual metaphor. It has long been used in Western animation and comics to symbolize a romantic crush. Or anything health-related in Video Games.

A Heart Symbol is typically drawn floating near a character's head, or on Wingding Eyes, or nearly bursting out of a character's chest where the actual organ should be. Possibly a Discredited Trope, as subversions, deconstructions and parodies seem more common than playing it straight these days.

Traditionally pronounced "love," as in "I love New York" for "I NY," though recent convention has been to actually pronounce the symbol as "heart" - for example, the film I ♥ Huckabees. This is turn has led to the Internet meme of typing "I less-than-three X," in reference to the mathematical meaning of "<3".

Something of note: According to The Other Wiki, the exact origin of the symbol remains controversial; however, its existence as a stylized symbol seems to go back at least to medieval Europe, or maybe ancient Roman North Africa.

Compare Love Bubbles for the Manga Effects equivalent. For the specific equation of the Heart Symbol with love, please see Cardiovascular Love; for its equation with health, see Hearts Are Health. See also Say It with Hearts, Cherry Blossoms. If the symbol appears in someone's eyes, they've got Wingding Eyes.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Heart symbols emanating from Kitsuburami's Wingding Eyes in episode 5 of FLCL. This may be due to what she is looking at (reflected in Canti's screen). Despite what it looks like, it's a giant hand in a trench coat. Really.
  • Every other line during the steamy portions of Hentai manga will end with one (or more) of these.
  • Hachiko in NANA has them floating out of her whenever she gets a new love interest (she goes through a lot).
  • In Persona 4: The Animation when Naoto tells the group she was scared, Kanji gets these floating around him.
  • Lucia from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch uses them as an attack after she finishes a song in the anime.
  • In Naruto, when Rock Lee meets Sakura for the first time, he blows a physical heart symbol at her. She even manages to dodge it and it splats sadly on the pillar behind her.
    • In fanart, the kanji symbol on Gaara's forehead (which means "love") is often replaced by a .
  • Ah! My Goddess played with it. Hild blows a kiss at Keiichi. Belldandy counters it with a kiss, sending the two symbols ricocheting all over the room until they're caught by their mutual owners. Good thing she did, since kisses are apparently destructive.
  • Naturally, in a show starring a self-proclaimed warrior of love and justice, Sailor Moon has a lot of them. Even as weapons.
  • Copiously used in a completely unstraight way by Subaru when she reunites with Teana in StrikerS Sound Stage X of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.
  • In Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei Itoshiki is once given a chocolate heart as present, but it's not very well-made and looks ugly, so the perfectionist Chiri gives him an anatomically correct chocolate heart instead, freaking everybody out.
  • In Durarara!!, the smoke from Celty's neck periodically formed a heart while Shinra defended her and their recently upgraded relationship from his father's criticisms.

    Comics 
  • MAD's early parody "Starchie" got facetious with them:
    "Don't be silly, Bottleneck!... Just because you see those hearts floating around her head it doesn't mean she's got a crush on me!... In cartoon language, those hearts could mean platonic friendship!"
  • Another parodied the "I ♥ NY" bumper sticker with a sticker responding: "So did I until someone ♣'d me and stole my ♦s".
  • Parodied in Zits, where Jeremy has a bumper sticker saying "I [Stomach Symbol] My Parents"
  • A Godzilla-related The Far Side comic has "I 8 NY".
    • Another Far Side comic features a surgeon in love. But, being a surgeon, instead of a heart symbol it is represented by an anatomically correct heart.
  • In a Doonesbury strip, Mr. Butts, the spokescigarette for the tobacco lobby, has little hearts appear around him as he deceitfully claims he loves children. A fellow lobbyist calls this "the heart thingy."
  • The title character of Liō once applied a defibrillator to one of these after being turned down for a date.
  • In Sherman's Lagoon, when Hawthorne hermit crab arranged a meeting between Sherman's shark human enemy, Captain Quigly and another woman. Sherman thinks it's working because he can see the "cartoony love hearts". Hawthorne corrects him by telling him that they're flies.
  • Lampshaded in FoxTrot as a Medium Awareness gag here.

    Films — Animation 
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit: while watching Eddie and Dolores making out, Roger not only has heart pupils, he also forms a heart-shape with his ears.
  • In Badly Drawn Roy, the heart-pounding-out-of-the-chest variation occurs when Roy first sees Ruth, along with Wingding Eyes. She found it to be very sweet.
  • In Interstella5555, Daft Punk have a brief cameo, losing to the main characters in a music contest. One of the two members has LEDs on his helmet forming a broken heart symbol.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • I ♥ Huckabees had this in its title. The director insists it's pronounced "heart."
  • In Inspector Gadget, Gadget's hat incorporates a scrolling marquee that normally displays such things as Miranda Rights. Heart symbols go sliding across it during an intimate moment.
  • In The Mask, the living-cartoon title character has his heart-symbol pounding out of his chest when watching Cameron Diaz's character sing at a nightclub.

    Literature 
  • In Conor Kostic's novel Saga, a heart (always shown as a ♥ in the text) is the main character, Ghost's, symbol.
  • As illustrated by Paul Kidby, Twoflower's Agatean Tourist gear in the first two Discworld novels includes a hat proclaiming "I ♥ A-M".

    Live-Action TV 
  • On the lam in his bathrobe, Hurley buys an "I Shih-Tzus" shirt in the LOST episode "The Lie". The cashier is puzzled. "I like shih-tzus," Hurley explains. "It looks like you heart them," the cashier answers.
  • Inversion: when Moby was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 2002, he was embroiled in a feud with Eminem. He appeared in a sketch and wore a T-shirt that read "I heart eminem" given to him by a fan.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In a scene laden with Les Yay subtext, Faith entices Buffy out of a chemistry test for some vampire slaying by breathing on the window, then drawing a love heart with a stake through it.
  • The Supernatural episode "Hunteri Heroici" opens with the chest-bursting variety, followed by a literal chest-bursting that leaves an equally anatomically-incorrect Impact Silhouette.

    Music 
  • Naturally, the became the band logo of Seattle-based rock group Heart, at least in their original Seventies incarnation as soft-rock country/folk band fronted by hippie chicks. The became synonymous with sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, who fronted the group and wrote most of its material. The symbol was downgraded a little after their make-over as 1980's big-haired rock chicks performing stadium rock.
  • Hello! Project loves to use these in song titles... Koisuru♡Angel♡Heart, ♡Momoiro Kataomoi♡, Icha♡Icha Summer, Honki Mekimeki♡Toki Mekimeki, Hare Ame Nochi Suki♡, Zettai Tokeru Mondai X = ♡, Renai♥Rider, Ona no Ko no Torishirabe Time♥...
    • Then there's the group Odoru♡11.
  • The song "Hey Soul Sister" by Train, where the singer is in love with a woman.
    I'm so obsessed, my heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest

    Pinball 
  • Data East's The Who's Tommy whows Sally Simpson riding a scooter to go see Tommy, with a flock of heart symbols floating around her head.
  • Gottlieb's Tee'd Off shows a lovestruck golfer with heart symbols floating around his head while he gazes at his girl.

    Video Games 
  • Floating hearts are the symbol for the Attraction status condition in Pokémon.
  • Kingdom of Loathing offers (real-world, not in-game) bumper stickers with "I Seals" on them, because of the Seal Clubber class.
    • They also have a "Less-than-three-shaped box", which is aptly named. It is shaped like a heart, and can hold up to 2 items.
  • When characters in The Sims fall in love, they emit hearts to indicate this.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the reunion of a yeti couple after a quick bout of possession results in a huge mass of hearts shooting out of their loving embrace. Since this is a Zelda game, the hearts are actually the series' long-standing recovery items, plus a health-boosting Heart Container.
    • Also, if you beat the STAR minigame in Castle Town, Link gains a posse of Fan Girls who have hearts pop up over their heads when you talk to them. Then you can collect them for a health boost.
  • In Cave Story, near the end of the game, one of the Mimigas mentions the great hero Arthur and all of them suddenly have hearts above their heads. As with the above example, the hearts can be grabbed for HP recovery.
  • Kingdom Hearts. Hearts are everywhere. They pop up in symbolism, menu icons, and whenever you kill most enemies. Hell, the freaking MOON is heart-shaped!
  • Heart symbols make numerous appearances in Loco Roco.
  • Disgaea uses them for the max level Dark Assembly members can like you... and just to show how wicked the Netherworld is.
    Great for chopping heads off♥
    — "Headhunter" axe description
  • In Nuts & Milk, Yogurt and Milk would hold a heart symbol between them at the end of every level. In the Bonus Stages, the heart would get bigger and a heart-shaped field of flowers would appear.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied on The Simpsons (season 11 episode "Saddlesore Galactica"): Moe meets a beautiful woman at a horse racing track, and his heart starts beating out of his chest like in the older, wackier Golden Age of Animation cartoons (particularly the Looney Tunes and MGM cartoons directed by Tex Avery). When he notices this, he identifies this as the symptom of a medical problem, and says he has to leave for the hospital. Also counts as something of a PG-rated Something Else Also Rises.
  • At the end of the Transformers episode "The Girl Who Loved Powerglide", in a bit of Interspecies Romance Powerglide reveals an LED heart, showing he does indeed have compassion. This made it into a toy of him... twenty odd years after the episode aired.
  • Deconstructed in The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack episode "Love Bugs". Flapjack meets a girl selling seashells and discovers that little hearts pop out of his head whenever he thinks of her. Peppermint Larry starts harvesting them and selling them to his customers as "sweethearts". Then it turns out that the hearts are actually heart-shaped parasites called "bloodgnats", which Flapjack got from the seashell the girl gave him.
  • Beavis And Butthead radiate hearts in the presence of Cool Guy Todd.
  • Danny Phantom
    • Seen in an episode where Danny is surrounded by them when he falls for Sam via a Love Guitar.
    • It shows up in another episode when Jack and Maddie hugs the enormous check given to them by the Guys in White.
  • In the Valentine's Day episode of All Grown Up!, Phil complains that hearts aren't even really shaped like that.
  • Played with in a Cow and Chicken episode, where the hearts that pop around the characters' heads are anatomically correct.
  • Used constantly on The Fairly OddParents whenever one character is swooning over another.
  • Used in Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Jez is actually swooning over Lucius for once.
  • In an episode of The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, Chu-Chu the dog has hearts coming out of his eyes for a magician's poodle assistant Fifi.
  • Doug and Patti.

    Real Life 
  • Parodied with Gallagher's "I My Wife."
    • And real-life bumper sticker "I My Pets."
    • And T-shirts saying "I Seals".
    • And "I (Godzilla) Tokyo."
    • And (back when he was alive) Apple fanboys and fangirls would carry signs with "I (Apple symbol) Steve Jobs" to Mac World keynote addresses.
    • There's a particularly offensive shirt online that says "I [Plane] NY".
    • The writer of Wondermark created one that says "I [Squiggle/Knot] Unparsable Symbols".
  • The seed of the extinct silphium is believed by some to be the origin of the symbol, namely due to its contraceptive properties.

Fire Breathing DinerStock Visual MetaphorsHearts Are Health
Hearts Are HealthShapes and Symbols TropesHigh-Tech Hexagons
Headless HorsemanWe Are Not Alone IndexHeaven
Fan DisserviceImageSource/Western AnimationWestern Animation

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