Wherein two characters interact and work together, and are designed to emphasize each other's positive qualities. Similar to a Morality Pet
, except the boost is directed to the character's cuteness rather than their morals.
This can mirror, but not usually replicate, what could be a romantic pairing. Actual romantic stories tend to involve a lot of drama and seeing characters at their weakest and most awkward, occasionally becoming Plot Tumors
if they become the sole definition of any given character
. Sufficiently cynical fans are always wary of Character Derailment
and Shipping Bed Death
, while other fans are just very possessive of their beloved characters; they do not even want the potential
to reach the Die for Our Ship
stage. The problem is fans like the idea
of the situation, but not the procedure and are worried that the hypothetical payoff is not worth it. The main differences between Romantic Couples™
and Moe Couplets™
are as follows:
- RC relationships bring conflict. MC relationships bring harmony and balance.
- RCs can bring out negative aspects of personalities. MCs bring out only positive ones.
- RCs are often 'conventional' relationships where the amount of intimacy is explicit. MCs usually are not consistent, even between episodes, by nature of the unusual individuals involved.
- Explicit RC information means the audience tends to settle onto an agreed 'canon'. and writers typically adjust their writing to appeal to this. MC audiences are not able to, giving writers maximum flexibility.
- RCs are usually designed to appeal to two different types of audience members. MCs are designed to appeal to the same one.
- RCs may consist of a new character who threatens to impede the established character's personality. New characters in MCs are usually nonthreatening and much more easily maintain the Status Quo.
Interestingly, the Moe Couplet often exists alongside an Official Couple
, with the danger that if either overlaps, the audience might prefer one over the other
. Occasionally, later installments featuring them might be hit with Character Exaggeration
and actually gain
official romantic overtones. Other times a show may be made up exclusively of Moe Couplets so Everyone Is Single
In practice, only one of the characters really needs be designed like this, often a younger one whom the audience finds 'safe' and non-threatening. They are extremely popular in yuri
works, due to the natural maximization of Moe Moe
in the audience, but it's also present in other genres (particularly slice of life works that lack romance
). The Wholesome Crossdresser
(who is usually implicitly gay) has this relationship with shoujo
leads. In shounen
, a (usually unattached) female co-lead has this relationship with the male lead if he gets his official girlfriend outside his circle of friends. Couplets are also common gimmicks in designing an Economy Cast
. See also The Not-Love Interest
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Anime & Manga
- Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are occasionally treated like this by the fandom, partly due to their team-up being one of genuine friendship, a way of emphasizing strong female characters, and diffuses much of their underlying creepiness (Harley seeming more comedic than actually crazy, and Ivy being less misanthropic, etc.)
- The genesis of the Harry/Hermione shippers may be this. Hermione is a magical genius, except when it comes to dealing with actual dark wizards, which is Harry's specialty (his life is basically a long series of fighting dark wizards). When it comes to personality, Harry is selfless to an annoying degree even when personal friends are not involved, while Hermione focuses on immediate gain and loss to her close friends (especially when it comes to grades!). While these traits alone would get kind of annoying, together they play off each other quite well, even without going into Shipping territory.
- Imriel and Alais in the Kushiels Legacy series. From childhood on each of the cousins see each other as an actual person, not a product of their parentage. It gets to the point where Imriel's interactions with Alais are the most consistently happy moments in his life.
Live Action TV
- iCarly: Carly and Freddie. Pretty much everything they do as a couple is cute to the extreme.
- Odo and Kira from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who tend to soften considerably when they're around each other and generally bring out each other's good sides.
- This was part of the logic for including Archie Kennedy as a recurring character in the Horatio Hornblower TV series. Horatio tends to keep a lot to himself, and having a more expressive friend of his own rank and age gives Horatio someone he can open up to in a way that he can't with his superior officers or subordinates, and Archie's sarcastic tendencies make a good contrast with Horatio's more serious demeanor. The fact that Archie is a Woobie also gives the normally stoic Horatio a chance to express his deredere side through his concern for his friend.
- BioWare's Mass Effect games feature this, though by nature of being an RPG, it's up to the player to truly fulfill this trope. Regardless, Ken and Gabby in Mass Effect 2 have this kind of relationship. As for the optional, player-driven ones: Liara, Garrus, and Tali are the most obvious.
- So your job is to exterminate a bunch of little demon brainsuckers, and you've killed all but one egg, but then the egg hatches and thinks you are its mommy. Do you a) kill it anyway or b) become its adoptive parent (at least temporarily)? Samus chose option b.
- Of course, if she had killed it, she'd be dead, since it ate the unbreakable blocks that blocked her escape.
- Also, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, there's Samus and Pikachu. In the adventure mode, Samus is trying to find her Powered Armor, and she finds poor little Pikachu being used to power a generator, so she breaks the cage. Later, after Samus gets her Powered Armor back, Ridley nearly kills her, but Pikachu saves her.
- Snake and Otacon. Otacon warms Snake up and restrains him from going over the edge, while Snake helped Otacon out of his shell and grounded him. The fact that all of their interactions from Metal Gear Solid 2 on are a barrel of cuteness hovering somewhere between Happily Married and Like an Old Married Couple doesn't hurt.