Implied Love Interest

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Who knows?

Our hero certainly spends a lot of time rescuing that princess, so he must really care about her. And it's a safe bet that she really cares about him, so it's only natural to assume they're more than Just Friends, right? But wait… had anyone actually said that the two of them are together, or are you just assuming? Is the character denying the truth or stating it when he says "She Is Not My Girlfriend"? Is it Not What It Looks Like—or is it? We could ask questions all day.

The Implied Love Interest is when one character fills the role of a Love Interest to another character in the narrative, or otherwise has a lot of tropes related to being a Love Interest surrounding them, but nothing explicit in the narrative or from the creators is ever stated on the matter. One reason for this trope is in a serial work, it allows the author to gently cover their bums when it comes to either Ship Sinking ("Hey, the ship never set sail in the first place.") or Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends ("The potential was there from the start."). The writer may state that they Hooked Up Afterwards, or leave it to the reader's imagination. Expect there to be at least some fans who pair the couple up regardless.

Naturally, this goes hand-in-handnote  with Ship Tease. If the relationship is left ambiguous because the characters are of the same gender, it's Hide Your Lesbians.

Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Axis Powers Hetalia is a confusing case. While there are undoubtedly several potential pairings who get enough Ship Tease to justify calling it this, some characters are involved in more than one of these pairings, which leaves a situation where a character can have numerous other characters where a hook-up would have received enough subtext to not come as a surprise.
  • The Big O: All but outright stated in Roger and R. Dorothy's case. It isn't long before their friends and even their enemies become aware that there's something between them. Further lampshaded by the lyrics of "And Forever", which plays during the end credits of each episode.
  • Romance between Tai and Sora of Digimon Adventure was taken for granted back in the early days, however the show itself treated them as very close friends, and one of the OVAs that had them as dating also had them as squabbling over something incredibly petty, and none of that was ever mentioned again. So when the second season pairs her with another character, with Tai's full support, screen canon wasn't broken but the world's headcanon was. The rage still hasn't died over that one.
    • The shipping wars have exploded with new ferocity thanks to Digimon Adventure tri. basically reversing Matt and Sora's Last Minute Hookup and having all three pairings (Taiora, Sorato and Taito)being teased. Just in case things weren't confusing enough.
    • In Digimon Tamers, Riley and Yamaki seem to be more than just workmates, as evidenced by their numerous scenes together (unlike her fellow operator, Tally), though the show never explicitly states how close they are.
  • Suzuna and Sena of Eyeshield 21. The two have a meet cute introduction to each other, people often think they're a couple, and Suzuna states that she doesn't view Sena as a little brother (unlike Mamori). Sena's feelings for Suzuna are left rather ambiguous as well, other then the fact that he's rather protective of her.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Natsu/Lisanna initially, though later Lucy throws it to the ground. Lucy's the first girl introduced; she's the main heroine next to the main hero; they have several openings and closings that straight up imply at least Lucy's got a thing for him; the list goes on. Natsu/Lisanna shippers remain ever faithful but the amount of Natsu/Lucy shipping in the series is heavily outweighs the probably 3 or 4 times after Lisanna's been reintroduced. Even Lisanna pretty much admits that they make a cute couple during the Grand Magic Games. There's been like 3 scenes showing symbolism where Natsu/Lisanna has been replaced by Natsu/Lucy.
    • Gray/Juvia. In due time.
    • Lyon/Sherry, though this was later busted for Lyon falling for Juvia and Sherry for Ren.
    • Gajeel and Levi, especially in later arcs. Almost constantly together, invested in each other's well being, etc. Gajeel remaining Oblivious to Love is much more played up.
  • Unlike in the manga/Brotherhood anime (where he is exclusively into Winry from the start), Edward does not have a clear love interest in the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist. He has Ship Tease with both Winry and Rose. On Winry's side, there is clear tease in early episodes; however, by the middle their relationship is more subdued to the point where it's ambiguous if it's meant to be romantic or familial; official art loves shipping them, though. A dubiously canon OVA featuring Edward's grandchildren includes a girl who looks exactly like Winry, although that could also imply Alphonse/Winry or even either one marrying Winry's alter instead of the "actual" Winry. Rose clearly likes Edward, but whether he likes her back is ambiguous. He does blush when they dance together, though.
  • While possibly not the case with their counterparts in GoLion, Keith and Princess Allura in Voltron are widely considered the show's Official Couple, but their feelings for each other are never stated to go beyond friendship. It's possible that they are in love with each other and just don't realize it, but aside from a ton of Ship Tease the show doesn't really portray them as a couple.
    • As mentioned before, comic adaptations and the successor Voltron Force are rather blatant that they are.
  • InuYasha: Rin's observations and Kagura's thoughts imply that Kagura's in love with Sesshoumaru. Mouryoumaru's comments and Toutousai's observations confirm that Sesshoumaru's got feelings for Kagura but Rumiko Takahashi leaves the nature of their relationship open to interpretation.
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Sayaka were the Trope Codifier for Belligerent Sexual Tension, spending most of the time together and were very close at each other, and after the Final Battle they traveled to America together, but they never became a couple. The anime makes Sayaka's feelings very explicit, but downplays Kouji's ones and showing him getting pervy about other women, but both manga versions (especially Go Nagai's original story) are more explicit about them wanting to pursue a relationship. They never quite reach the Official Couple status, but most fans take that status for granted. In other continuities they did become Official Couple on panel, though.
    • Great Mazinger: Tetsuya and Jun did not get together on panel, but there were tons of Ship Tease throughout the series. Jun spent the whole series chasing Tetsuya as he was Oblivious to Love, and he got jealousy when Jun got some suitor or he thought she would leave him.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: Duke and Hikaru clearly cared for each other and loved spending time together, but it was never explicitly stated they were together.
  • Setsuna F. Seiei of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Bridge Bunny Feldt Grace, especially in the movie. Setsuna and Marina are more like Platonic Life Partners.
  • Patlabor: The Mobile Police: The exact status of Noa and Asuma's relationship is difficult determine because the writers were so ambiguous about it, that fans have continued to debate the subject over 20 years later. In-series, their squadmates are convinced that their partnership goes deeper than "just friends" and even Hana noticed it, during her brief stint with the SVU2. Several episodes even show them going out while off-duty and the last 2-3 episodes imply that the nature of their relationship may be changing, if it hasn't already.
  • Pokémon
    • In several adaptations Misty was this for Red's counterpartnote  though the games themselves have Red and Misty being buddy-buddy in at least one official art.
      • It's a point of controversy in the anime: the original writers stated that the two are too young to recognize their feelings, and some of the dialogue implying attraction in the Japanese version could also be interpretated as leaning more towards Platonic Life Partners than romance. The English dub promoted her to All Love Is Unrequited — a few instances of dialogue were rewritten in an attempt to push the couple, and more notoriously, Misty's farewell sequence had the scenes depicted in the flashback completely changed (the original focused less on her as a Love Interest, and more on her as a trainer and as a friend).
      • The first 4koma had Red drooling over Misty a few times.
      • Satoshi in Pokémon Zensho is implied to be attracted to her, even using a heart when he talks to her a few times.
      • The Electric Tale of Pikachu rather famously heightened the UST between Ash and Misty far more than the anime ever did, giving them more blatant Ship Tease scenes. It even went as far as to give them a Maybe Ever After.
      • Pokémon Special gave Red two in the form of Misty and a new character named Yellow.
    • Jessie and James in the anime. There have actually been a few hints that James does have feelings for Jessie and vice versa, but the nature of their relationship is vague enough for fans to go either way and changes Depending on the Writer.note 
  • In every Yu-Gi-Oh! series, the main group has exactly one female character the protagonist's age, and there are occasional hints of feeling between her and the main protagonist, but the show emphasis on The Power of Friendship means it has never been confirmed as canon. Examples include Anzu from the original, Asuka from GX (later seasons add Yubel as well), Aki from 5D's, Kotori from ZEXAL, and Yuzu from ARC-V. Yuzu is the least ambiguous example.
    • Also from the original, Jonouchi/Joey and Mai, which is more famous than Yugi and Anzu in some circles.
    • Jack and Carly. Carly canonically has feelings for Jack, and Jack has something for her. However, very little of their relationship after the Dark Signers arc either confirms or denies Jack's feelings for her. It eventually came out that Carly's arc was changed because, as odd as it sounds, her original voice actress was fired after she was found to be a member of a cult.
    • ARC-V gives Yuya and Yuzu at least three Identical Strangers from three different dimensions, and at least two of the three pairs are this trope. Yuto with Ruri, and less ambiguous with Yugo and Rin. The relationship between Yuri and Serena however is unknown as of now.

    Comic Books 
  • The Harvey Comics Casper the Friendly Ghost series has Casper and Wendy, when the two cross over, as inseparable best friends who have been so since time out of mind. The two are both good members of races that the world thinks are Always Chaotic Evil (in this comic, Our Ghosts Are Different makes ghosts just one more of the Enchanted Forest's fantasy races, not dead humans or dead anything. Witches are also a Witch Species, though magic must also be learned. Usually, ghosts scare people and witches play magical pranks and both treat this as their job in life — yes, 'life' applying to ghosts too in this case.) Of course, we never get confirmed non-platonic-ness.
  • In the Modesty Blaise strip (also adapted in novels and movies) many people assume that the titular character and her sidekick Willie Garvin are an item, though in fact their relationship is strictly platonic. Lampshaded in the fact that many of Willie's real girlfriends are often portrayed as being jealous of his feelings towards Modesty.

    Film - Animated 
  • Mulan and Captain Li Shang in Mulan. They blush around each other and Mulan asks the captain to stay for dinner, but no one outright says that they are a couple. Subverted in the second movie when they get married.
  • Judy and Nick in Zootopia. Whether they are in love, or Just Friends is an endless source of debate within the fandom. Even the writers, producers, and voice actors can't agree. One of the directors, in particular, doesn't get tired of hinting there's something between them and maybe they will become a thing in future works.

    Film - Live Action 
  • Fred Ayres and Honey Hale in Flying Down to Rio. They're in each other's company a lot, they dance together (naturally), and the last shot is of them drinking champagne together. They seem like a Beta Couple except that they don't do anything overtly romantic onscreen.
  • Zach and Magenta in Sky High. They're frequently together in scenes, both like to snark at the rest of the cast, dance together at Homecoming (after snarking about how stupid school dances are), and he even compliments her legswhile she's in guinea pig form.
  • Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope. The original advertising even said that she and Luke were "in love", which, given how that worked out, is now Hilarious in Hindsight. Even today, people who haven't seen all the Star Wars movies tend to assume that she is Luke's girlfriend.
  • The Force Awakens seems to kind of be heading in the Rey/Finn direction, but there's very little concrete evidence to point to; it could all be read as platonic too. And who knows what the deal is with Poe!
  • Pacific Rim: Mako Mori and Raleigh Becket, as it's unclear whether they are this, Like Brother and Sister, or Just Friends. The ending leaves it ambiguous when they share a Headbutt of Love instead of the expected Big Damn Kiss.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • The relationship between Magneto and Mystique is a little vague.
      • Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost; his term of endearment for her is "love," and he calls her "the most exquisite thing I've ever seen in my life." There's also this line:
        Emma Frost: If that telepath gets inside your head, he won't be as much fun as I am.
      • Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert may have developed a romance while he was recovering from his injury because he kisses her at the end.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
    • Much like X-Men: The Last Stand, it's left rather vague whether or not Bobby and Kitty had anything going on. The Rogue Cut makes it explicit because they kiss twice. Come Cosmic Retcon, Bobby is back to being in a relationship with Rogue. Kitty and Colossus co-teaching a class may mean something between them as well.
    • Erik and Raven. When she's holding a spike to his throat, he just quips, "It's been a while since we were this close." There is also a hint when Charles asks Erik for the second time, "How is she [Raven]?", and Charles' facial expression when he hears the answer reads, "Oh, god, he has slept with my sister."
      Erik: She was… we were… I could see why she meant so much to you.
      • In the "Double Take: Xavier & Magneto" featurette on the Blu-Ray release, Michael Fassbender mentions that his character is "…very close to Mystique, he has very strong feelings for her." On one of the commentaries of The Rogue Cut, Bryan Singer states matter-of-factly that Erik was Mystique's lover.

    Literature 
  • In the ColSec Trilogy, there's nothing to unequivocally establish Cord and Samella as an Official Couple. That said, it's pretty clear by the end of the trilogy that Cord is in love with Samella, and there are hints that Samella probably reciprocates.
  • In Thieves Like Us, the exact relationship between Con and Motti is difficult to pinpoint. While the two mostly interact as friends and co-workers, there is one part in the first book where Motti looks after Con while she has a Heroic B.S.O.D. and admits he feels something for her, but suspects she wouldn't reciprocate. When she wakes up, she tells him she heard some of what was going on around her, and adds that he is the sort of guy she could be with. Even after this though, the two never actually share romantic scenes and show no indication that they might do so.
  • In Speak, there's a vague implication regarding the relationship of David Patrakis and the protagonist Melinda Sordino. David and Melinda share several classes, are lab partners in one. He is one of her only true friends (her being an outcast in school), Melinda even refers to him as "her hero", and they seem a bit protective of each other. It's more prominent in the book, with a few cute moments on Valentine's Day and mention that David watches her when he thinks she doesn't notice. For rather understandable reasons, though, it never really goes anywhere.
  • Ciaphas Cain keeps the exact nature of the relationship between Cain and Amberly Vail deliberately ambiguous, what with Cain writing the stories and Vail editing them. The attraction is definitely there, and it's heavily implied they have a sexual relationship on the odd occasions they meet up, but anything more than that is in the realm of speculation. The closest it ever gets to confirmation is when a Slaaneshi sorceress projects a Glamour that makes Cain see her as Vail, while the others with him see someone different, and afterwards he concludes that the glamour made the target see someone they care about.
  • In Vampire Academy, Janine Hathaway and Ibrahim "Abe" Mazur have very close interactions by the end of the series. Rose suspects that they are having Sex with the Ex and that she might get a "surprise sibling" of her own. Her suspicions remain unconfirmed.
  • Jerry and Penny for most of the Penny Parker series.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Generally assumed for most 1960s man/woman companion pairs — Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, Ben Jackson and Polly Wright, and Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield. The first two of these were eventually made canon by a throwaway line in The Sarah Jane Adventures, which revealed that Ian and Barbara had married and that Ben and Polly were a 'couple'. Jamie and Victoria got very Ship Teasey and then thoroughly sunk when Victoria decides to stay in the 1960s. Steven and Dodo were mostly immune, but the Expanded Universe goes into some heavy UST with Steven and Sara.
    • Despite being No Hugging, No Kissing the original series has several of the Doctor/companion relationships possessing a romantic tinge, namely Three/Jo, Four/Sarah Jane, and especially Four/Romana. Four/Sarah Jane was finally made canon after thirty years in the New-Who episode "School Reunion", in which the Tenth Doctor told Sarah Jane that his Fourth incarnation had loved her but chosen not to pursue the relationship for various reasons.
    • The Doctor and the Master are widely assumed to have either a highly dysfunctional relationship or a romance that went sour. Not at all hurt by the new series laying on Ship Tease so thick it could be cut with a chainsaw.
    • The Second Doctor and Jamie, mostly because the actors both thought it would be fun to play them like this. Keep in mind that this was in the 1960s, when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain (although by that point barely ever prosecuted).
  • In an alternate future of Star Trek: Enterprise, the now elderly Captain Jonathan Archer is being cared for by T'Pol. However, an injury prevents him from remembering all that's happened since he was last on the Enterprise. T'Pol says to him that she fully understands that he might consider all this to be an illusion or an elaborate deception. To alleviate his fears she tells him the story of an old girlfriend he wanted to marry back on Earth. The stunned Archer wants to know just what kind of 'relationship' he and T'Pol have that he'd ever tell her the story. She'll only say their relationship has "evolved".
  • Blake's 7 did this to various degrees for Blake/Jenna, Avon/Cally, Tarrant/Dayna, and Avon/Soolin.
  • Key West only managed to last 12 episodes, but in those 12, Seamus O'Neill and Savannah Sumner would flirt with each other in every single scene they were in together. And this was way above and beyond the normal flirtatious manner that Savannah had due to her being the show's resident Hooker with a Heart of Gold. Fans of the show assumed they'd eventually hook up. The show was cancelled before anything concrete happened unfortunately.

    Music 
  • Jim Stafford's song "My Girl Bill", despite its name, uses Exact Words to imply that the (male) singer is in a relationship with a man named Bill, who he is calling "My Girl Bill." At the end, it turns out that he and Bill are competing over the same woman; the singer has been saying "Don't get between me and my girl, Bill."

    Theatre 
  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has Olive and William. They're the last two spellers left in the competition by the end and their rivalry throughout the show quickly turns to mutual respect and companionship; in fact, their subplots are the only two that interact with each other, with the other characters being concerned with winning the Bee for their own reason. At one point, Olive shyly tells William her name is an anagram of "I love." Despite all this, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue simply calls them "friends."

    Video Games 
  • Yellow Thirteen and Yellow Four in Ace Combat 04. It's heavily implied after Yellow Four is shot down by you.
  • Edge in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is obsessed with Blaze (that's you, bub) and at the end she has a child. The obvious indication is Edge was with Blaze, assuming the player is male.
  • Beyond Good & Evil fans, thanks to the continued non-existence of the sequel to confirm or deny their theories, are still debating what Double H means to Jade. On one hand, he's extremely devoted to her, treats her with chivalrous kindness, and even gets to kiss her once. On Jade's side, she gets in a He Is Not My Boyfriend moment. One could interpret certain parts of the ending as him moving in with her. On the other hand, he's more than a decade her senior, and while they do grow very close, the lack of any real statements on the nature of their relationship (Battle Couple, or just Fire-Forged Friends?) will leave fans debating until the sequel actually (if ever) arrives.
  • Celica A. Mercury of Blazblue is one for Ragna the Bloodedge. In the (non-canon) Chronophantasma gag reel where the Spectacles of Eros are used to make every single female character in the game fall madly in love with him, Celica appears to be mysteriously immune, leading Rachel to speculate that Celica acts like the same amount of love the magical Spectacles would normally generate… all the time. When questioned directly, Celica cheerfully admits to liking him, causing the tough, rebellious Ragna to fluster his words. Even in the canon story, it's practically obvious from her interactions with him that she has a crush on him… well, obvious to everyone except Ragna, of course.
    • Jin Kisaragi, Ragna's younger brother, also has one in Tsubaki Yayoi. They're Childhood Friends and she has an extremely obvious attraction to him, to the point where her closest friends play Shipper on Deck for the two. Considering how much of an asshole he is to virtually everyone else, the fact that Jin treats Tsubaki with genuine kindness only reinforces this.
  • Done very well in Cave Story, where the protagonist and his female counterpart Curly Brace are almost never seen in particularly romantic situations, but it's still clear that they care about each other in some way.
  • Kasumi and Ryu Hayabusa in the Dead or Alive series. Ever since Dead or Alive 2 came out plenty of fans deemed them to be the Official Couple of the series due to their interactions in the game forgetting about Ryu's original Love Interest Irene Lew. (Back then Irene was basically all but forgotten about at the time, aside from a brief mention in the first game.) However after when Irene became an Ascended Extra in DOA Dimensions and Ninja Gaiden 3 she regains her position as Ryu's Love Interest.
  • Disgaea has a few of these, the most telling is the ambiguous relationship between Laharl and Flonne. While Laharl repeatedly claims to not like her, his actions in the game suggest otherwise, going as far as to attempt a Heroic Sacrifice. At the time, she was Not Quite Dead in the canon ending while in the normal ending he really does go through with it.
  • Bianca Whitaker from Dragon Quest V. Most official media features her more heavily than the other girls (to the point that she's become an unofficial mascot character of the entire Dragon Quest franchise), and use her son and daughter for the promotional artwork. Even the official cover art has Bianca and the children sharing her hair color. The story itself also nudges to player into choosing her as the bride as well.
  • EarthBound has this with Ness and Paula, despite what most people will tell you. Plenty of NPCs are shippers on deck of them, and of course there's the time where Paula is implied to decide against a love confession (she claims to have "forgotten").
  • Final Fantasy
    • Final Fantasy X does this with Lulu and Wakka. She previously dated his brother Chappu who died in battle. Tidus simply suggests to her that she get with Wakka instead at one point. She does share a tender moment with him in the middle of the game but it's left vague. The sequel is two years later and they're suddenly married with a baby on the way.
      • Final Fantasy X-2 also gives Rikku one as well. A lot of the scenes with Gippal are optional and if you miss some of them, it's this trope. If you get all of them (for 100% Completion) then it results in a Maybe Ever After.
    • All of the player characters in Final Fantasy XII. Vaan and Penelo have grown up together and they're certainly quite close. They are implied to be together by the end of the game. Balthier and Fran have also been partners (as in sky pirates) for years and there are obvious signs of flirting — as well as a handful of tender moments between them. Ashe and Basch do have an interesting relationship and this line from Penelo "I know Ashe misses Basch" implies some kind of romantic connection.
      • Ashe and Balthier could be read as this, particularly from their scene together in the sequel.
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII:
  • Fire Emblem has many examples, though in most games the player can arrange for a wide variety of hook-ups other than the ones that are implied to be "correct."
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • It is implied Riku has feelings for Kairi. Nevertheless, he lets Sora and Kairi be together.
    • Even Sora and Kairi are just this. Plenty of Ship Tease, but nothing happens in a No Hugging, No Kissing series.
    • Roxas and Naminé first cross paths in the prologue to Kingdom Hearts II, and though they only interact a few times, the pair quickly build up a strong bond, with Naminé vowing that they will meet again one day, even if they initially aren't able to recognize each other. This is, of course, because they're the Nobodies of Sora and Kairi. There's even a scene before the final battle with Xemnas where, prior to their complete merger, Kairi has Sora promise they'll spend every day together when Naminé expresses joy over the prospect of being reunited with Roxas.
    • In an inversion to the official status of the Cloud, Tifa, Aerith situation, in Kingdom Hearts, Aerith is implied to be Cloud's love interest, while Tifa is the manifestation of his inner light.
  • Ribbon from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the closest thing to a love interest in the Kirby series. If you get the good ending, which requires 100% Completion, Ribbon will give Kirby a kiss, making him blush. It depends on whether you interpret the kiss as a romantic one or just a simple "Thank you" kiss. This is probably why Ribbon is so popular despite only being in one game.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Liara T'Soni in Mass Effect. In Mass Effect she was the only character who could be romanced by both genders, and by later games she gets upgraded to being "Shepard's closest companion" regardless of how you actually treated her in conversations. Most damning enough is that, before the extended cut of Mass Effect 3, she was always the player's final thoughts as Shepard dies unless they romanced Ashley or Kaidan. Regardless, it's a contentious subject amongst the Bioware fanbase.
  • Persona 3 is rather heavy with one of the potential love interests, Aigis. She's a full-blown Stalker with a Crush, justified that she sealed Death into the protagonist but doesn't remember it consciously for most of the game. Aside from the protagonist's suggested attraction upon first seeing Aigis and a few scenes in which they hold hands, the most notable implication is the ending of the game, in which he dies after falling asleep in her lap. Since the game's Social Links officially give the player the final choice in the matter, this has caused a lot of debate in the fandom. Later installments in the series like Persona Q and even the movie adaptation also put more emphasis on their relationship.
    • Before Aigis' introduction, Yukari is given some ship tease with the Protagonist. Although their scenes are comparatively less explicit and more player-driven (the only physical interaction being an optional hug) and end once her Social Link opens, this intensified the debate. Given that early in development, Yukari was planned as the canon Love Interest, these scenes may be a holdover from the change.
  • Persona 4 manages to avert this for the most part. While one of the companions, Rise, has a blatant crush on the protagonist, and is seen calling out an anguished love confession during the ending movie as the protagonist rides the train out of Inaba, no one character is given more in-game moments than another. That was until the Updated Re-release, Persona 4 Golden, introduced Marie. She holds a connection to the protagonist that none of his other friends do, she's frequently placed into She's Not My Girlfriend moments, she's one of the few love interests to actually kiss the player character and the climax of her story carries a lot of romantic undertones regardless of whether or not you actually pursue a romance with her.
  • Pokémon
  • While the Dating Sim aspects of Sakura Wars allows the player to chose which girl the main character ends up with, franchise poster girl Sakura Shinguji seems to be the main one for Ichiro Ogami, given her obvious attraction to him.
    • In Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, Gemini Sunrise is this for Shinjiro Taiga; she's the first member of the team to befriend him (despite being the last to actually join), has faith in his abilities right from the start, and even her crossover appearances explicitly spell out how much she loves him.
  • Flynn and Isabeau in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Flynn is the player-controlled Heroic Mime, but Isabeau displays a fairly transparent crush on him. Since she's the hero representing the Neutral alignment, she only remains Flynn's teammate if the player ends up siding with her (in fact, she dies on the other two alignment paths), but the Neutral path in a given Shin Megami Tensei game is usually assumed canon, and considerably more pieces of merchandise and official art portray Flynn with Isabeau rather than her respective Law and Chaos counterparts Jonathan and Walter. There are also a few hints that Stephen is trying to nudge them together.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The games themselves generally avoid the subject of romance, despite Amy's unrequited crush on Sonic. Though Sonic X changed it by adding bits of subtext so it wouldn't seem as one-sided. Sonic X also added Belligerent Sexual Tension between Knuckles and Rouge, largely due to the latter being portrayed as a tease. The show was rather (in)famous among the shipping community for a reason.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The best example in video games would have to be Mario and Princess Peach, and it may extend to Princess Daisy from Super Mario Land. No romantic connection has ever been made explicit, yet everyone assumes. Lampshaded by Luvbi in Super Paper Mario, and it's shown that the other characters seem to be just as clueless about whatever's going on between Mario and Peach, which leads Luvbi to think it is an unrequited crush. The Paper Mario game before that seem to have NPCs throw out plenty of Ship Teases, and the things Peach says while in captivity seem to imply that she thinks of Mario as a lot more than a friend, however the interaction with Luvbi is probably the only time where Mario and Peach's relationship is explored beyond the two knowing each other, unless you count Bowser accusing Mario of "trying to get between he and Peach". The various games and other sources seem to go back and forth with how "official" Mario/Peach is; some outright confirm their relationship, others only imply it.
    • Luigi and Princess Daisy are also implied to be a couple, or strongly believed to be one. In addition to various bits of Ship Tease between games, Daisy's SSBM Trophy mentions that gamers believe her to be "Luigi's answer to Mario's Peach". While in Mario Power Tennis, if Daisy wins the trophy, Luigi will be the one who presents it to her — to which she says: "Thank you, sweetie!" They also act as each other's caddies in the Mario Golf series, further suggesting they may be a pair. And there's also this from Daisy Circuit in Mario Kart Wii.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has two such pairings:
    • According to the Official Guide, Fayt begins the game having the highest affection points toward Sophia; making her the easiest of the girls for him to end up with. Yet several of the game's cutscenes imply that they're only friends. Even if you do get the paired ending with Sophia, it still seems that's as far as it goes.
    • Nel and Clair are also implied to possibly be a pair. In-game, Clair is always concerned for Nel's safety and, when she returns from rescuing Tynave and Farleen, they share a prolonged embrace (seen at 4:00-4:20). The manga version plays up the scene by having Fayt and Cliff stare uncomfortably, as Nel and Clair gaze into each other's eyes, until Cliff finally has to clear his throat to break them up.
  • Possibly Harold and Judas in Tales of Destiny 2. While the other party members are paired up in quite obvious fashions, these two get Ship Tease moments (Including a scene where Judas is specifically called out on only insulting Harold because he misses her) but no romantic resolution either way... Not helped by Harold getting sent back to the past with no memory of their journey and Judas possibly getting erased from time.
  • While Colette is the official Love Interest in Tales of Symphonia, it's easy to bungle Lloyd's relationship with her and any of the characters can be paired with Lloyd in the end due to Multiple Endings and Relationship Values, with Sheena, Zelos, and Genis getting the most Ship Tease throughout the game.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, several characters get Ship Tease moments with each other, including Yuri/Estelle, Yuri/Judith, Flynn/Estelle, Yuri/Flynn, and Rita/Estelle (to the point that they raise a baby together in a sidequest), that the reason no characters were officially paired off was likely not to irritate any shippers preferring another ship.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Viridi is this to Pit. It's worth noting that she goes all Tsundere for him eventually, on top of one of Pit's weapons, the Viridi Palm, apparently only being usable by beings completely devoted to her (and it's design being her face surrounded by weaponized hearts).

    Webcomics 
  • Sollux and Aradia from Homestuck. It's implied that they dated in the past, with Vriska outright referring to Sollux as Aradia's boyfriend immediately before mind-controlling him into killing her, but even that's relatively ambiguous (especially since trolls have four forms of romance). As it is, there's a lot of Ship Tease between the two and the occasional implication of an actual relationship, but nothing concrete either way.
  • Tower of God: Baam chooses to follow Rachel where ever she may go, even if that includes fighting sea monsters even though he had to be taught why people would use violence at all few months prior. Many note that this has a romantic notion to it and the author (of course) hasn't said a thing about their relationship status. She could be a mother figure, big sister, best friend or love interest.
  • PS238: Julie and Tyler. They spend a significant amount of time together, she keeps finding excuses to hug him (despite the fact that she's super strong and he's not), he gives her some confidence-building advice, she saves his life with a blood transfusion, and when they go to an alien planet he's even named as her consort. The only reason this is implied rather than actual is because they're both ten years old, and clearly haven't thought about anything like that yet.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time deconstructs this with Finn and Princess Bubblegum. Sure, Finn has a Precocious Crush on PB and he frequently rescues her, but she only thinks of him as a close friend at most. They come very close to confirming their ship when she is de-aged, but it's thoroughly nixed when she returns to her original age. One episode involved him singing a song about how confusing it was ("What am I to you? Am I a joke, your knight, or your brother?") that also includes his sentiment that it doesn't really matter as long as they are at least friends and get to hang out. He eventually gets over the romantic aspects when he meets Flame Princess, although he makes a few attempts to re-kindle something with PB after that relationship ends.
  • Rudy and Penny of ChalkZone.
  • Mac and Goo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Admittedly Goo's first appearance was filled with She Is Not My Girlfriend and a few bits of Mac accidentally Ship Teasing himself with her, but throughout the rest of the series their relationship seems to be completely platonic. Though this dynamic could be justified by them being all of 8.
  • In Gravity Falls, Pacifica is this with Dipper if only by process of elimination. She's literally the only female character in the whole show who hasn't either been stated to not get with Dipper, taken, or related to him. There's a whole episode devoted to their relationship and how they've grown close. At the end of the show, Dipper Did Not Get the Girl leaving the whole thing open for interpretation. There's also the fact that the final episode, possibly, implied a Maybe Ever After situation between Dipper and Wendy.
  • Did anyone ever watch Handy Manny and not assume he and Kelly had a thing for each other, despite no real evidence?
  • Hey Arnold!:
    • Gerald and Phoebe, the respective sidekicks of Official Couple Arnold and Helga, have a strongly implied mutual crush.
    • There are repeated hints of an attraction between slovenly Harold and pampered Rhonda but nothing is ever stated explicitly stated and in other episodes Harold is shown to be interested in PS-118's resident Brawn Hilda, Patti.
  • Fred and Daphne in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon may very well be the Western Animation Ur-Example. In the original series, none of the characters were romantically linked. The closest the series came to outright Ship Tease was occasionally having the pair dance together. This was enough for the general audience to assume they were a couple. It's become so synonymous with the franchise that many many future adaptations have taken the subtext and run with it.
  • Spongebob and Sandy from Spongebob Squarepants. It's occasionally implied SpongeBob has a crush on her, but nothing has been confirmed in the series itself (licensed products have confirmed it).
  • Star Wars Rebels: Kanan and Hera act Like an Old Married Couple, serve as a pair of Parental Substitutes for the younger members of the crew, and have a few moments where it looks like they're about to kiss, only to pull back so the kids don't have to see it. The prequel novelization A New Dawn depicts a romantic tension between them, though one-sided on Kanan's part; while Hera likes him too, she's Married to the Job. It's implied that while Kanan outgrew this infatuation to focus on commitments in Wartime, his feelings still linger.
  • Steven Universe sets up a lot of romantic tropes around Steven and Connie, including Steven working up the courage to talk to her followed by a Crash-Into Hello, but it isn't clear whether or not their relationship itself is actually a romantic one or "merely" friendly. Of course, the fact that they're children (and therefore probably do not understand things like romantic love) might have something to do with it. Later in the series, their relationship becomes more clearly romantic in nature. However, even later episodes change things again, with the reveal that Stephen doesn't age normaly, and may stay young forever, to which Connie is okay with, as long as they remain friends.
  • Aerrow and Piper on Storm Hawks are close friends and have several intimate moments throughout the series. Their relationship never goes into anything explicitly romantic, but you could hardly be faulted for assuming it was intended to be. Then again, they could just be Platonic Life Partners.
  • Rai/Kim from Xiaolin Showdown is a very popular ship on FF.net, and while there are indications that they might like each other in the series (Rai dreaming about being on a date with Kim, Rai being the only one of the guys that Kim kisses on the cheek, the third season episode "Dreamstalker" confirming Rai's side), it is never outright stated whether Kimiko reciprocates or not.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ImpliedLoveInterest