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- In Bitter Virgin, female lead Aikawa Hinako cannot believe that anyone could love her. Following years of sexual abuse, permanently marked with a large C-section scar, and dealing with multiple issues including severe androphobia, she can't believe that anyone would like her if they really knew her. In fact, initially her belief that Suwa Daisuke especially could never be attracted to her is what made him safe enough to befriend. This is part of the reason it comes as such a huge shock when he confesses. It's also a two-way street since Daisuke couldn't ever imagine Hinako actually loving him (since she only accepted him because he was completely off-limits).
- This is pretty much Machi Kuragi's reaction when she learns of Yuki Sohma's feelings for her in Fruits Basket.
- Kakeru's girlfriend apparently felt this way when she found out that he liked her (she had a crush on him but didn't know he returned the feelings).
- Gender inverted with Kyo and Tohru, where he can't understand why she loves him.
- In The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya this is pretty much Alternate!Yuki's reaction to Kyon suddenly (from her viewpoint) taking any interest in her.
- Natsu from 7 Seeds has such low self-esteem and is so socially awkward that when any guy shows any kind of interest in her, even if it's simply being nice, she wonders how this could happen.
- A gender-flipped version of this with Mark and Maria from the Ryugu Shelter arc. Mark is a little-light ventriloquist who has an obvious crush on super famous idol singer Maria. When Maria shows some real interest in him, Mark is so stunned that he can barely speak coherently anymore.
- In Kannazuki no Miko, Himeko is positively puzzled about what Chikane sees in an "ordinary girl" like her. The answer Chikane eventually gives is "If I am the moon, then you are my sun: I may be beautiful and mysterious but I can only shine with your reflected light." Bonus points for this explanation being entirely consistent with the metaphysical laws of their universe. The reader can also see that Himeko is far less...obsessive than most of Chikane's admirers, and her presence helps Chikane not to brood so much.
- Ako and Natsumi, two self-proclaimed "Average middle school students" hit this trope hard in Mahou Sensei Negima!, regarding Negi's "cousin Nagi" and Kotaro, respectively.
- Battle Royale
Shuya: ... me. You watch... me?Noriko: * Blush* Uh-huh.Shuya: Me. You watch me. One of the prettiest girls in school...
- Shuya had this kind of reaction when he found that Noriko had always harbored a crush on him, and had always been watching him. He acts completely shocked, despite how it's later revealed that pretty much half the girls in class harbored crushes on him.
- Yuuchiro's crush on Mitsuko Soma may count as well, seeing how he admits "having been admiring her from afar for quite some time..."
- This is pretty much how Sawako from Kimi ni Todoke acts all the time.
- Hayate the Combat Butler plays this from both sides simultaneously with a side helping of Cannot Spit It Out. Hayate continuously argues with others that Hinagiku can't possibly like him. Hinagiku doesn't believe he's interested in her traits. It's made clear through other characters that they are the only ones who can't see the mutual crush.
- Despite them being practically married, Keiichi from Ah! My Goddess has this reaction whenever Belldandy shows him affection. Early on, this showed how thoroughly his self-esteem and confidence has been trashed. Later on, he develops strong self-esteem and confidence, but still cannot get over this. After all he and Belldandy have gone through, this mental block comes off as Ping-Pong Naďveté.
- An interesting case occurs in Future Diary. Yuno looks over at Yukiteru during class, and he brushes it off thinking "Nah, couldn't be,". She later admits to flat-out stalking him later that same episode, and has apparently been doing so for a year, and he's actually surprised she knows his name. However, while he does think she's pretty, she actually wasn't his school crush, and his reaction to finding out about the whole stalking thing was fear rather than pleasure.
- Happens to Mei in Say I Love You. She is a social outcast with no friends, and yet attracts the attention of Yamato, the most popular guy at their school. She is hesitant at first, due to wondering if she was just one of Yamato's latest conquests, but over time he proves that he does genuinely like her.
- In My Love Story!! this is gender-flipped. The reason Takeo is so oblivious to love is due to having all the girls he liked prefer his best friend Suna. So he thinks the same of Yamato when it's otherwise clear she wants to be with Takeo.
- This is the biggest reason why Naruto was unable to notice Hinata's feelings for him, in a Gender Inverted example. Naruto's depressing childhood instilled in him a lack of self-worth that he hid behind bravado and arrogance when he was younger. He never thought someone as beautiful and kind as Hinata would ever notice him. It also prevented him from noticing his own feelings for her — when he finally does understand in The Last, is when this trope is exemplified full force.
- In My Monster Secret, part of the reason it takes so long for Youko to confess her feelings for Asahi is because she's convinced herself that he doesn't reciprocate and thinks she's a pain in the neck (due to being her Secret Keeper) but is far too nice to openly admit it. She actually gets called out on this in the chapter after they become a couple:
Akane: Just to make sure, I hope you're not stupidly wondering whether you're good enough for Kuromine or something.
- A Crown of Stars:
Asuka: ‘He can’t be for real… this can’t be true. This couldn’t possibly happen to me…’ “Shinji, I…”
- In chapter 54 Shinji expresses how absolutely devoted he is to Asuka and how he wants to become a hero for her. Asuka wonders whether it may be possible that someone like him loves her:
- Advice and Trust: Asuka thinks she is worthless and no one would ever love her, so she can not believe Shinji, someone who is just like her, loves her back.
- Evangelion 303: By the chapter 12 Asuka regards herself like a worthless failure and a nutcase. So that when Shinji proposes her, she says:
Asuka: I can't see why you would want to throw away your LIFE on someone like me...
Films — Animated
- The Princess and the Frog has this line from Ma Belle Evangeline as sung by Raymond the Firefly.
That someone as beautiful as she / could love someone like me
- The Peanuts Movie: Charlie Brown spends the entire movie trying to reinvent himself in order to get the attention of the Little Red-Haired Girl, but all his efforts are derailed repeatedly by either his own sense of morality or his perpetual streak of bad luck. When she volunteers to be his summer pen-pal, he is convinced that it's only out of pity that she would do so, and that she sees him as a "wishy-washy, insecure failure". When he finally gets the courage to talk to her and ask why she volunteered, her response is basically what Linus told him minutes before: that he's a good person and she genuinely likes him.
- Storks: Tulip is very surprised that someone as popular as Junior is actually talking to an outcast like her. This makes firing her more difficult for Junior.
Films — Live-Action
- The Battle Royale movie subverts this horribly. Sugimura spends all of his screentime looking for a girl he never had the courage to confess his love to. When he finally finds her, she panicks and sends several bullets in his chest, something she wouldn't have done if he had confessed his feelings earlier... He still has the time to express his feelings in his agony, however. To quote Kotohiki's reaction, "what the hell am I supposed to do now ?"
- The Saint - Emma says something to this effect to Thomas More [Simon in disguise] before he takes her to bed.
- Carrie - The phrase itself is not used, but Carrie's reaction to being asked out by Tommy Ross is pretty much identical to the reactions of the people who do use the phrase. This ends disastrously because of the Alpha Bitch playing a cruel trick that made Carrie think Tommy was in on it. (What makes it more tragic is that the book explicitly shows he was starting to genuinely love her, albeit in a non-romantic way.)
- Hell, the themesong to Carrie and Tommie's dance sequence is even explicitly titled "I never dreamed someone like you could love someone like me" not exactly catchy but...
- This is also true for The Rage: Carrie 2. The boy in question is part of a football team of Jerk Jocks which results in Rachel having a meltdown when she thinks he is in cahoots with them.
- Sixteen Candles - Jake Ryan, the coolest guy in school whom Samantha has had a crush on for the whole movie (without thinking he ever noticed her), shows up at the church after Sam's sister's wedding. He waves at Sam, she looks around and points to herself ("Me?"), and he smiles — "Yeah, you."
- Hilariously, that is the only point he's been able to reach her. Jake spends the entire movie wanting to confess his love to Samantha, but is prevented by a crazy party, his drunk (soon to be dumped) girlfriend, and Samantha's eccentric relatives.
- In the documentary American Teen, artsy outsider Hannah says a version of this when she's pursued by the school heartthrob, Mitch: "I mean, there are so many girls in this school who would give their left boob to be with him"
- Seemingly the entire premise of She's Out of My League.
- The independent movie Ten Inch Hero does this heartbreakingly with the character of Jen. Played by Clea Duvall, Jen is the plain Jane of the workers in the store, who befriends a man online named "Fuzzy 22." They decide to meet in real life, and when Jen finds out that he's gorgeous, she runs out of the building crying, saying no guy like him could want her. For the Record, in the end, he does want her.
- In the movie Love Actually, the character Sam races after the girl he loves in order to confess to her before she gets on her plane. He finally catches up to her and says her name. She turns around and says HIS name. Stunned, he mutters, "I thought you didn't know my name." She replies with a sweet smile, "Of course I do."
- Rachel says this almost verbatim in Something Borrowed.
- The Hurog duology, a woman Ward has met once, for a short time, comes to him for help. He is surprised that she remembers him, even though he has been nurturing a crush on her ever since they met. Subverted in that she actually just remembered one thing about him, namely that he's a capable fighter, and his castle is in a good strategical position to be protected from her enemies. Played straight when they eventually do become a couple.
- In Ellen Conford's Seven Days to a Brand-New Me, Maddy is floored when she learns that her crush Adam has liked her all along, even before she underwent a makeover to get him to notice her. Adam, however, is the one who actually says a variation of this trope sentence out loud despite being the one who looks like a "Greek God" (in Maddy's words), mainly because of his painful shyness caused by a stuttering problem.
- This is possibly one of the most annoying parts of the Twilight Saga. Not three chapters can go by without Bella saying something along these lines, apparently just so that Edward can remind her (and the reader) of her good qualities. She even goes on like this when they're married. Although Jake also gets this a bit in Breaking Dawn, when he can't believe that Bella would be friendly with him when she was happily married to Edward.
- Referred to as "Jerk Syndrome" in the Discworld novel Thud!. Nobby's new girlfriend Tawneee is so incredibly attractive that most men don't even consider asking her out, because there's no way a girl like that would go for him. So the only guys who ask her out are either jerks who aren't afraid of rejection, or losers (like Nobby) who are so used to rejection it doesn't scare them.
- Howl's Moving Castle, both the movie and the book. Sophie doesn't believe that she's beautiful (and doesn't believe Howl, when he says so the first time, in the movie) and doesn't see any reason for Howl to pay any special attention to her. The fact that, for most of the book/movie, she looks like a withered old crone does not help matters.
- Mindstar Rising by Peter F. Hamilton. Heiress Julia Evans is convinced she's unattractive because she spent most of her teenage years in the company of her absolutely gorgeous best friend Kat. When she finally suceeds in getting the handsome doctor (Kat's former boyfriend) that she'd been pining over, he says the line — an indication that a not-unattractive teenager who's just inherited a multi-billion dollar Mega Corp. is a lot more desirable than she thinks.
- Played with in the The 39 Clues. Amy always found Ian to be very good-looking. But she never guessed that he would start flirting with HER. But, then again, this IS the clue hunt...
- In The Princess Diaries first book, Mia has had a long-time crush on Josh, the popular jock. Once she is exposed as being a princess, he asks her out. Cue reaction. Of course, he only did it to get 15 seconds of fame as Mia's boyfriend, and Mia realises this and breaks up with him.
- In The Schwa Was Here Calvin Schwa can't believe that Antsy, the main character, literally noticed him. It comes as a surprise because The Schwa is "functionally invisible."
- Jem Carstairs to Tessa Gray in The Infernal Devices, after she accepts his proposal.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In "Once More, With Feeling" with the "I'm Under Your Spell" song:
Tara (singing to her girlfriend Willow): I'm under your spell! How else could it be / anyone would notice me?
- In the spin-off series Angel, Doyle encourages the titular vampire to strike up a conversation with the Damsel in Distress. When Angel questions why she'd be interested in talking to a stranger, Doyle asks if he's looked at himself in the mirror lately, before realizing that's a bit difficult for a vampire. note
- Played with on Lost: Hurley thinks Libby liking him is proof that the island, and everything that has happened, is just his hallucination.
- 30 Rock: Liz Lemon says something this to "The Hair," the better looking of a pair of guys that she and Jenna like, after he makes a pass at her. Turns out they are (fourth) cousins. Oops.
- Boy Meets World has an incredibly sweet gender-flipped version with Mr. Feeny and Dean Lila Bolander.
Mr. Feeny: "I can't imagine anyone being interested in us. I'm surprised she's interested in us."Dean Bolander: "Oh, George!"Mr. Feeny: "Oh, Lila..."
- In early Smallville, Clark Kent was usually baffled whenever a girl expressed interest in him, because his self-esteem was so low that he was oblivious to the fact that even without superpowers, he's still very attractive and buff.
- Chloe Sullivan also has an unfortunately brief period in late season one when she is dating Clark.
- Take a look at Odo's face after he finally gets his girl. I guarantee you this line will be written all over his face whenever he so much as looks at her.
- Adrian Monk sometimes says he can't believe his Trudy ever chose him among all.
- Friends: It's hinted Chandler feels this way about Monica. He struggles with women and relationships, his friends joke she's a lot hotter than him, he's very insecure about her ex boyfriend Richard and on several occasions thinks she's going to break up with him. Luckiy she's very good at building up his confidence so this fades as their relationship develops.
- In Dollhouse, when Bennett meets Topher, it is very obvious that Bennett has a massive crush on him. Meanwhile, Topher is too much in shock that Bennett, who he knew of by reputation as a brilliant programmer, is a beautiful girl, and he is too tactful and embarrassed to really express his own attraction to her. It doesn't come out until later, when Topher, on a hunch, uses his Doll-disrupting device on Bennett, suspecting she isn't in her real body but rather a Doll's. Bennett isn't, and she is initially confused as to why Topher would think that, because Dolls are supposed to be beautiful...and when she makes the mental leap that Topher thought she was a Doll because of her beauty, this trope is written all over her face.
- Glee: More or less Artie's reaction when Brittany reveals she likes him back. Rachel also seemingly reacts this way with Jesse and Finn (to a lesser extent).
- Another "written all over his face" example from Farscape: John Crichton, as played by Ben Browder, has an absolutely astonishing talent for looking at Aeryn Sun like she's his Earth, moon and stars all at once. Cue swooning fangirls - and swooning Aeryn.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. Sally goes through a period thinking she's ugly, and believes her far-less-attractive boyfriend is a saint for even noticing her.
- Despite his incredible arrogance, Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis gets a little of this with Keller. When he discovers that Ronon Dex is also interested in Jennifer, he continues pursuing her, but seems quite surprised when she reciprocates.
- Josh, the protagonist of Please Like Me, is surprised that super-hot Geoffrey is into him, considering Josh himself looks "like a fifty-year-old baby".
- Star Trek: Voyager. Inverted when Q offers to mate with Captain Janeway.
Q: I know that you're probably asking yourself, why would a brilliant, handsome, dashingly omnipotent being like Q want to mate with a scrawny little bipedal specimen like me?
Janeway: Let me guess. No one else in the universe will have you.
- Wheatus' Teenage Dirtbag.
She's walking over to me,This must be fake.My lip starts to shake.How does she know who I am?And why does she give a damn about me?
- Stephen Speaks' Out of My League:
Cause I love her with all that I amAnd my voice shakes along with my handsAnd she's all that I see and she's all that I needAnd I'm out of my league once again...
- Do You Want Me- Hilary Duff
And I feel, you don't even know I'm alive...
- Gender Flipped with Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step":
"And as a matter of fact it blows my mind
You would even talk to me
Because a girl like you is like a dream come true
A real life fantasy"
- Deconstructed in Tal Bachman's "She's So High". It's about how amazing the singer's crush is, and the idea that the singer couldn't really offer her anything. And then she asks him out...and the singer declines, because of his low self-esteem.
She comes to speak to me
I freeze immediately
'Cause what she says sounds so unreal...
- The protagonist of "End Up Here" (by 5 Seconds Of Summer) shares his friends' surprise when a beautiful girl seeks him out at a party. In fact, the entire song consists of him wondering why.
Call me lucky 'cause in the end
I'm a six and she's a ten
She's so fit, I'm insecure
But she keeps coming back for more
How did we end up talking in the first place?''
- The aptly titled "Out of My League" by Fitz & the Tantrums:
From time to time I pinch myself
Because I think my girl mistakes me for somebody else
And every time she takes my hand
All the wonders that remain become a simple fact.
- This occurs in Zanna, Don't! during the song "I Think We Got Love."
Steve: I never thought that someone like you would go for someone like me!Mike: Ditto!
Elphaba: My wildest dreaming could not foresee/Lying beside you, with you wanting me.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Deconstructed (and gender-flipped) : Cyrano is a self-loathing Jerkass Woobie who fails to notice any of his own redeeming qualities. He cannot believe smart and beautiful Roxane will ever love him, so he distrust her and never speaks clear to her, he only implies his feeling to Roxane… who only sees Cyrano as a brother. At Act II Scene VI, Cyrano says this Stock Phrase and is clear it’s implication… to everyone except Roxane, who only wants to thank Cyrano for defeating De Valvert and ask a favor from him to really put any attention Cyrano says.
Cyrano: Blessed be the moment when you condescend —Remembering that humbly I exist —To come to meet me, and to say... to tell?...
- ''Mass Effect
- Mass Effect 2 has this with returning squadmate Tali'Zorah vas Neema/vas Normandy, mostly because she and Commander Shepard are of entirely different species, and Tali's species cannot survive outside of their environmental suits for long due to a weakened immune system. Garrus also has elements of this, being notably surprised that Shepard would be attracted to a man with scars, especially one who's a different species than her. Thane has elements of this due to his thinking that Shepard deserves better than a repentant assassin who's busy dying of an incurable disease. Jack is genuinely shocked that Shepard has romantic, rather than sexual intentions and flatly refuses to believe it for a long time.
- In Mass Effect 3, Kaidan has this attitude towards male Shepard or a female Shepard who didn't romanced him during the first game, neatly explaining why he wasn't a romance option in the first game; it didn't even occur to him to think of the possibility until Shepard let Ashley die to save Kaidan's life, but circumstances such as Kaidan's Survivor's Guilt, Shepard's Married to the Job and their divide in regards to Shepard working with Cerberus after seemingly faking his death during the events of the second game.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Alistar has this kind of reaction if the PC begins a romance with him. He basically says that he's thrilled he has an amazing, beautiful woman as his girlfriend and can't believe his luck. Though still has no qualms about dumping her, if he becomes King at the end.
- One of the player's possible responses when Leliana suggests becoming more than friends is this.
- In Dragon Age II, Fenris, Merrill, and Anders all have this reaction if Hawke expresses interest in them. All three of them are quite attractive in various ways, but have severe self-image issues thanks to being, respectively, an amnesiac ex-slave, an outcast blood mage, and a rebellious Humanoid Abomination (that elves and mages are both oppressed minorities in the setting doesn't help anything either). Isabela is a variation; she's not surprised if you romance her, but she is surprised that you would want to be friends with her, especially once it comes to light that she's responsible for the Qunari Crisis and you become the Champion of Kirkwall in ending it.
- In Rune Factory 4, both Xiao Pai and Dylas are a bit surprised if the player asks them out. The former because she's incredibly clumsy and there are so many other pretty girls in town, and the later because he's bad at communicating and tends to act like an idiot without thinking.
- In Persona 3 Portable, both Shinjiro Aragaki and Ken Amada think that the Female Protagonist should spend time with other people and express surprise if she returns their feelings. Both of them have pretty good reasons behind it, though. Ken, being Just a Kid is naturally surprised to find that his Precocious Crush is mutual, while Shinjiro knows that he doesn't have long to live and knows it would only hurt her, but can be persuaded if you're persistent. Ken, on the other hand, remains justifiably nervous.
- In Persona 4 Golden, Chie Satonaka makes a short but heartfelt speech on how it still amazes her that someone like the protagonist would ever love a girl, especially when he could have been dating the likes of Yukiko Amagi, Rise Kujikawa or Naoto Shirogane instead. Even before then, she repeatedly expresses surprise that a boy would like a girl who is as tomboyish as she is, and she herself considers the far more feminine Yukiko to be more of a womanly ideal.
- Fire Emblem Fates allows the player to customize the main character (or Avatar) and marry another character. One such option, for a male avatar, is Felicia, a klutzy and accident-prone maid. In the S-Rank Support conversation with her, Felicia will admit that she loves the Avatar, but would never expect him to feel the same way because he grew up as a Nohrian Prince and royalty just wouldn't feel that way about one of their own maids. She's very surprised and very happy when the Avatar says he loves her, too.
- Ordinary High-School Student Makoto Naegi of Dangan Ronpa is understandably stunned when his classmate Sayaka Maizono, a successful Idol Singer and generally glamorous person, remembers and adores him. And the disbelief is justified, as she was faking it in order to frame him for a murder, though Kirigiri suggests that she DID care about him.
- Inverted in Girl Genius when it's said by a male character to a female one.
- Extremely justified in that he's just a common cheesemaker's-apprentice-turned-actor, and she turns out to be a noble who's also the daughter of one of the most famous heroes on the entire continent.
- Megatokyo: A major stumbling block in Piro and Kimiko's relationship, for both of them. Piro can't believe that a pretty girl like Kimiko would ever notice him, while Kimiko is bewildered that Piro isn't turned off by her quirks and hectic work life. To top it off, both of them are majorly Oblivious to Love. It takes the combined force of nearly the entire cast to get them together.
- Played with: Appears to be happening in Questionable Content with Marigold towards Angus, but subverted in the end for a different trope.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Bob has told Jean that he's "amazed" that she loves him, too, and he doesn't want to do anything to mess it up. He says he's also shocked that Voluptua showed any interest in him, but he makes plain that he doesn't want to betray Jean by pursuing anything with Volly.
- Slightly Damned hits up a rare inversion here.
- In PHD, Cecilia recalls how, back in her high school days, she used to harbour a crush on Scott, one of the most popular guy in her class. However, being the shy and nerdy bookworm, she never had the courage to even speak to him. In their high school reunion, Scott reveals that he actually likes Cecilia for being the hardworking overachiever, and the two hook-up shortly afterwards.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka with Yue.
Sokka: "No, no, see, that's the thing. I think I do understand now. You're a princess, and I'm just a southern peasant."
- Technically, since Sokka is the son of the chief to the Southern Water Tribe, he is actually a prince himself, but the Southern tribe is considerably smaller and poorer than the Northern so he doesn't get any prestige out of it.
- In Danny Phantom, upon discovering her crush Danny Phantom is the unpopular Danny Fenton, Rich Bitch Paulina declares him "hot" and the two date. Then the episode reveals she's really being possessed by a ghost.
- Ron Stoppable, to Kim Possible. Not that she's never noticed him, with his being her sidekick and a fair amount of mutual S/he Is Not My Girl/Boyfriend going on, but he still felt like this in the (first) Grand Finale. lampshaded in the Uncanceled final season. Kim's nerdy cousin Larry gets kidnapped by Dementor because he directed his henchmen to grab "a young man with Kim Possible who doesn't look like he belongs with Kim Possible".
- Doyle in Galaxy High pulls the bait-and-switch version on Aimee in the pilot episode. It bites him on the ass later, including (but not limited to) Aimee doing the same thing to him.
- Candace spends an entire episode of Phineas and Ferb trying to find out why her boyfriend, Jeremy, likes her. He keeps trying to tell her, but is interrupted before he does, including during the song. She finally finds out why at the end, but we, the audience, don't, because the image cuts off to a football game before Jeremy says anything.