You've all seen it. It's the Alternate Universe episode, there's a flashforward, or we're rejoining the characters after a sizable amount of time has passed. Two characters who were previously only dating, were just friends, or hadn't met yet are now happily settled. For one reason or another it's not enough to demonstrate that they're involved in a stable relationship; the fact needs to be established that they are married. This is almost always achieved through an awkward aside, which generally goes along the lines of "That's why I / you married you / me", "You shouldn't have married me", etc. Very occasionally used without dialogue by including an otherwise gratuitous shot of a wedding photo.
Compare Victorious Childhood Friend
This is a spoiler-heavy trope. Expect unmarked spoilers ahead.
Anime & Manga
- Part of the point of the story Until Death Do Us Part is that the heroine, who is precognizant, saw a future where she was married to our main Anti-Hero, and she really wants that to come true.
- In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the Anti-Spiral traps Team Dai-Gurren in a Lotus-Eater Machine called the "Alternate Space Labyrinth," in which they live out their hearts' inner desires (for example, Simon's fantasy is getting to tag along with with the already-dead Kamina much like they did in the beginning of the series, whereas Viral gets to realize his dream of having a family, which is impossible due to him being effectively immortal and Beastmen can't reproduce). One of these what-if scenarios (shown on a TV screen in this case) depicts Yoko and Kittan on their wedding day. What makes this so poignant is that, by that time in the series, Kittan had just died one episode ago after giving a Last Kiss to Yoko. The implication is that, had Kittan not knowingly sacrificed himself to help the group escape from the Sea of Despair and things turned out differently in the battle against the Anti-Spiral, they might have become a couple for real.
- At one point, Layla Miller and Jamie Madrox had a conversation in which Layla (who is, more or less, a Seer) offhandedly said that they would be married in the future. Keep in mind that, at this point, Layla was eleven years old. Jamie laughed it off as a joke, but later, when Jamie visits the future...
- It's later confirmed, when a grown-up Layla returns from the future, begins a romance with Jamie, and sure enough, they elope in Vegas.
- The Legion of Super Heroes had an infamous "Adult Legion" story in 1967 showing that some characters were married in the future. The first pair married for real in 1974 and the second in 1978.
- In Avengers Academy, a version of Reptyl travels back from a future where he and Finesse are married and have a daughter.
- In "Days of Future Past", Wolverine and Storm are a married couple.
- In "The End", Beast and Cecilia Reyes are a married couple. So are Sam Guthrie and Lila Cheney.
- In the final issue of the Extant saga in Justice Society of America, the narration is provided by a future Stargirl who implies she has married with Atom Smasher.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog. In the "25 Years Later" arc, Tails is married to Mina Mongoose, Sonic is married to Sally Acorn, and Knuckles is unofficially married to Julie-Su. Other characters like Espio and Vector are shown with children, but the mothers are never mentioned.
- Although Empath and Smurfette in the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel get married in the epilogue that takes place ten years later, Empath in "Days Of Future Smurfed" sees during a time when the marriage has yet to take place that they will become parents, though the rest of what Empath sees are mostly tragedies, such as the future death of his wife Smurfette.
- Back to the Future Part II has Doc taking Marty and Jennifer into the future where she sees their future home and kids, but everything else sucks. In Part III, however, Marty manages to avert the event that led to that timeline.
- The Kid 2000: Shown to happen with Russ and Amy in the future.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- In the future portion of "All Good Things" it's revealed that at some point in the subsequent fifteen years, Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher resolved their Unresolved Sexual Tension by getting married... only to ultimately end up Amicably Divorced.
- When Worf visited an alternate universe he discovered that he had formed a relationship with Deanna there. When he returned to his universe he decided to pursue it.
- One episode has the cast thrown into an alternate universe, where Henry finds himself married to a woman he only knew for 3 minutes in the original universe,. Inverted, sort of, with Jo Lupo, who was engaged to Zane in the original universe, but now completely uninvolved with him.
- There was another instance where a future Eureka was threatened by Henry's actions in the past (yay Time Travel Tense Trouble) and Jack had to go back and fix it. In the future, he was married to Allison. Thanks to the fix, it now never happened.
- Stargate Universe features an alternate universe video log where multiple characters find out who they marry and have kids with.
- Between seasons two and three of Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), the narrative skips a year, and we return to find that the complex Love Dodecahedron of seasons past has resolved itself into four marriages: Tyrol and Cally, Lee and Dualla, Kara and Sam, and Helo and Sharon. Only one makes it through two more seasons to the series finale.
- Doctor Who
- In a rather inexplicable example, the Doctor uses the final moments before his regeneration to visit various past companions, and finds Martha and Mickey years after their travels with the Doctor, fighting a Sontaran together - and married. This came across to some viewers as an uncomfortable instance of Pair the Spares, since Martha and Mickey were the only two dark-skinned companions in the revived series, and had never shown any noticeable interest in one another before. It is especially strange considering the fact that Martha had been established as having a fiancÚ in one of her earlier appearances, and his disappearance from the narrative is never explained.
- Amy and Rory are married in the fictional future of "Amy's Choice", several episodes before they get married for real.
- River Song makes a comment like this about herself and the Doctor. Unlike most examples, we later actually see the wedding.
- In the episode, "Hide", the Doctor meets a scientist and a psychic who are investigating a haunting, and discovers the "ghost" to actually be a time traveler stuck in a pocket universe. They rescue the girl, and at the end of the episode, the Doctor reveals the time traveler to be one of the scientist and psychic's descendants, even though they aren't married yet.
- In an alternate timeline in one episode, Bobby is married to the long-dead Ellen. They're cute together.
- "The French Mistake" uses the "wedding photo" method to demonstrate that Jared Padalecki is married to Genevieve Cortese, the actress who played Ruby 2.0
- Peter Bishop spends a week in the future, where he is married to his long-time Love Interest Olivia Dunham. It does not end well for Olivia, unfortunately. Come to think of it, it doesn't end well for anyone.
- In the penultimate hour, when Olivia makes one last trip to the red-verse after being ambered for over 20 years and not aging, she reunites with Bolivia and Lincoln, who have aged normally and are now middle-aged, married, and have a son, going by their wedding rings and the family picture glimpsed on Bolivia's desk.
- A Christmas-themed episode in Power Rangers Zeo, "A Season to Remember", involved a flash forward showing Tommy and Kat being married. Some shippers were not accepting of this development and tend to ignore it, although Word of God states that the event does happen. In fact, Catherine Sutherland (Kat's actor) has verified that she was in talks to appear in both Wild Force's "Forever Red" and Dino Thunder as Mrs. Oliver (the former was scrapped during rewrites while the latter fell through due to Sutherand's pregnancy at the time).
- Charmed. In a Season 2 episode, the sisters travel ten years into the future where they discover that Piper and Leo had been married, had a daughter together, and then divorced during the ten intervening years. After returning to their own time, Piper and Leo do get married in Season 3, but the divorce never happens, and the daughter doesn't happen quite the same way. Instead, they have two sons during the series run, the daughter some time after the end of the series (which would have made her much younger than she appeared in the time travel episode), and are shown to still be happily married 30-40 years later in the Distant Finale.
- In one of the futures that Peter Petrelli visits he finds Syler & Elle have hooked up & started a family. And Syler's a good guy.
- Matt Parkman learns that in the future he and Daphne have gotten married, so he starts to pursue a relationship with her when he returns to the present for no other reason than he saw them together in the future.
- Stargate SG-1. In "There But For the Grace of God" and "Point of View", Alt!Jack and Alt!Sam are engaged and married respectively. In "The Road Not Taken", Alt!Sam married Rodney McKay at one point but they got divorced. In another episode, which was supposed to take place ten years in the future, Sam is married to Ambassador Joseph Faxon, who she hadn't even met in the current series.
- An episode of Star Trek: Voyager had Kes witness a future where she and Tom Paris were married and had children following "The Year of Hell" but ultimately it didn't happen this way partly because Kes retained her knowledge of the future and was able to warn the crew. By the time the "Year of Hell" actually happened Kes had left the ship and Tom later ended up marring B'Elanna who had been killed in the original timeline.
- In How I Met Your Mother ("Single Stamina"), Barney's brother James announces he's going to marry his boyfriend Tom. There's a flashforward to the future where the wedding takes place. In this flashforward, Marshall refers to Lily as to his wife, revealing to the viewers that they got married. (Not a big surprise, though.)
- Babylon 5. Sheridan's temporal flash-forward in the season 3 two-part episode "War Without End" shows that, 17 years later, Sheridan had been married to Delenn, and they had a son named David. At the end of season 4 (about a year later), the two do get married.
- Bones has Brennen and Booth as married nightclub owners in the Alternate Reality of the Season 4 finale. The episode has ALL of the characters from the show in vastly different roles from the norm.
- Seth and Summer in the four or five-year flash forward in The O.C.. We get to see their wedding, with Ryan as the best man.
- On Phil of the Future, Phil uses a future gadget to look up Keely's future as a journalist, after they fail a huge test in school and take a re-test. In the first future, Keely is a Crazy Cat Lady who is convinced one of her cats was abducted by a UFO. In the second future, she's a reporter...and (as the young Keely notices) she's wearing a wedding ring. It's never revealed who her husband is in the future and Keely stated that she'd rather wait for the surprise than use the gadget to look it up. But given the massive amount of Ship Tease in the series as a whole, it's heavily implied that it's Phil.
- Super Sentai:
- In Rival Schools, if you play through the ending where Roy becomes President of the USA, Tiffany is his future First Lady.
- Frequently in the epilogues of Fire Emblem games if you manage to get the highest support level between two characters.
- Futurama had an episode where Fry and Leela were married in an alternate universe.
- In "Time Keeps on Slippin'" due to an accident with Chronitons causing random time skips in the universe, Fry and Leela got married during one skip, but didn't retain any of the memories of the event. Leela quickly divorced him, believing that he'd tricked her into it.
- In "The Late Phillip J. Fry", Leela and Cubert got married and divorced several years after Fry went missing in time, due to the Professor's time machine only being able to go forwards. This happened again in the next universe, but was changed when Fry and company returned to the third iteration of the universe.
- In the Justice League, Hawkgirl and John Stewart briefly date and break up in the season 2 finale. Later, however, John travels into the future to discover that he and Hawkgirl apparently will have had a son, Rex "Warhawk" Steward (previously seen in Batman Beyond).
- In a episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen travel to a Bad Future where Libby becomes a tyrannical despot and rules over all of the world due to Carl accidentally giving her a megalomania-inducing perfume developed by Jimmy as a present for her birthday party. In this era, they meet an older Jimmy who is a Future Loser and married to Cindy, who doesn't seem all too thrilled by this and pretty much treats her hubby as harshly as she did in the past. Although Jimmy has his fair share of (depending on the episode) Ship Tease, Slap-Slap-Kiss, Belligerent Sexual Tension, and Unresolved Sexual Tension with Cindy, he does not take this development well. Eventually, the two hook up for real in the present, during the series finale.
- Played with when the kids from Phineas and Ferb travel to the future, where Candace's daughter refers to Isabella as "Aunt Isabella." Isabella takes this to mean she marries Phineas (her long-time crush) in the future... until it's mentioned that she also could have married Ferb.
- While we never actually see them married, in one episode of Captain Planet and the Planeteers that involved Time Travel, Wheeler notes that some of the future planeteers look an awful lot like him and Linka. Linka is quick to pick up on the implication and dismisses it as impossible.
- Once in DuckTales when Magicka deSpell sent Scrooge into the future he encountered a shapely Webigale and a slimmed down Doofus who tell him they've gotten married. When he gets back to his own time, he tells Doofus to take care of Webby, which causes her to have a disgusted reaction.
- The Arthur PBS series sometimes shows glimpses into the future where it's hinted certain characters may be married. Arthur is shown being married to Francine. Then again, as the future hasn't happened yet, this could be speculation.
- In an Imagine Spot on The Simpsons Lisa, despondent over the "Simpson gene" which will make her stupid, imagines herself in the future as trailer trash married to Ralph Wiggum.
- In an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks, Simon uses a video time machine to see what the outcome would be if Alvin accepts either a cash prize, or a mystery prize; in both sequences, each of The Chipmunks and their respective Chipette counterpart are married. In fact, Alvin and Brittany are also shown having two sons, both of whom are named, Alvin, Jr.