When the writers make it clear that there will be no romance between any of the lead characters. There are a few ways around this, such as giving the characters offscreen
significant others, or make the characters a figurative
or literal family group
, but on-screen romance still remains non-existent.
Another trick is to ratchet the age of the characters
down so it's realistic for them to not be thinking about such things. Particularly common in children's entertainment.
Doesn't stop Shipping in any way
, or form
. In some occasions, the writers change their mind along the way and decide to reward fans with an intimate relationship
, even if only at the very last second
One way to show some romantic ability from the characters without actually putting love in the story is if All Love Is Unrequited
. Can lead to tons of Star Boarding
. Can be used to avoid any Romantic Plot Tumors
Compare and contrast Ship Sinking
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Anime and Manga
- Tintin has this in spades, no major characters have shown any interest in romance whatsoever. The only exception is Professor Calculus, who has an innocent crush on Bianca Castafiore. According to the book "Tintin: Herge & His Creation", Snowy would have been a female human and love interest for Tintin, but that idea was discarded.
- To quote the summary of Advent Crossover Crisis directly; "Rated T for swearing and violence, but relax, there's no kissing!" Indeed, romance is effectively non-existent in the story - a single ship between two featured characters is alluded to in the vaguest possible terms, and the two members of same never actually meet.
- Imperfect Metamorphosis spreads around oodles of Ship Tease, especially between Marisa and Alice, Kaguya and Mokou in a side story, and whatever is going on between Rumia and Rin Satsuki, but never makes any relationships or attractions explicit. Even Yuuka's depravations are only implied.
- In the film adaptations of both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, the romantic subplots between Langdon and Sophie and between Langdon and Victoria are scrapped altogether (it was stated that this would make the film less realistic). Langdon does give Sophie a friendly peck on the forehead, but that's about it.
- The Mothman Prophecies, apparently to its detriment:
This is a film too bad to be good & too good to be so bad it’s good. DULL is the watchword, unless watching Richard Gere’s Shatnerian reactions to a phone ringing is your idea of edge-of-the-seat horror. That Mothman never makes an appearance would be fine if the film gave us something else, or kept a mystery worth keeping- but nada. & this is perhaps the only ‘action’ film I can recall where a gratuitous love story
would have improved the tale. Laura Linney’s Connie is the only character developed to any emotional or deep extent, or which induces any concern. She radiates a down-home sensuality, yet John never makes a move, even after saving her. Not even a peck on the cheek. Loser!
- Played straight—actually is an essential part of the plot—in The Remains of the Day.
- In contrast to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, there's almost zero romance in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The closest it gets is some slight Ship Tease between Flint and Lady Jaye.
- Guillermo del Toro says that this trope, coupled with the Downer Ending, is what is making studios hesitant to back his proposed adaptation of "At the Mountains of Madness".
- In The Numbers Station, there is no romance between the male and female leads, who are a radio operator and a spook who have only recently met. The two operators on the other shift, however, are hugging and kissing at the very least, but this isn't their story.
- HP Lovecraft's stories do not focus on even the slightest bits of romance or affection. Even when the protagonist mentions a wife, it is usually in a rather offhand manner. The story The Thing On The Doorstep involved a marriage as a plot point but it wasn't the marriage of the protagonist, but that of a friend. Even then, no acts of romantic affection between said friend and his love interest are ever described, and, said marriage was actually just a way for an Eldritch Abomination inhabiting the woman to keep the husband close at hand since said Eldritch Abomination wants to eventually take control of said husband's body. Even friendships are subject to this since Lovecraftian protagonists often describe friendships in a detached manner, Any mention of sexual activity in Lovecraft is not only off-screen, but depicted as grotesque and produces abominable things that should not be. (The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Over Innsmouth)
- R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books often assign the protagonist a best friend of the opposite sex. No one ever seems to address the topic of romance between the two; in fact, there's virtually no difference between male and female characters at all. Differences between the sexes are only important when the characters are teenagers, just as said differences tend to be in real life. This is most likely because the books are aimed at prepubescent kids, and he wants both genders to be able to relate to it. There is one aversion, "How I Learned To Fly," in which the male protagonist actively wants his relationship with his female friend to be romantic.
- Daisy Miller: The 19th century European aristocracy strongly adhered to this rule. Americans did not so much, however, and Daisy refuses to change her ways and (literally) do as the Romans do when in Rome. She finally becomes an outcast among her fellow American tourists when she commits the unforgiveable crime of strolling down the street on the arms of two men! Deliciously inverted in The Ambassadors.
- Several novels by Isaac Asimov. Asimov himself openly acknowledged his (at least perceived) inability to write interpersonal relationships, let alone romance, and on several occasions lampooned himself for it. There are married couples in his books, but their relationship seldom plays a large role in the narrative. With the ironic exception of The Gods Themselves, written in part as a response to criticism that his books didn't have enough aliens or sex, which featured alien energy beings having the least titillating (to a human audience) threesomes in history. Which are absolutely essential to the plot.
- The first three The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy books, aside from Arthur's brief crush on Trillian. Then came So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, which devoted a majority of the book to Arthur and Fenchurch's relationship. Douglas Adams, being himself, took the opportunity to mock those who kept asking him about Arthur's sex life and those who prefer this trope.
Live Action TV
- Power Rangers had three on-screen kisses in seventeen years (all done by the same couple, Kimberly and Tommy), often taking Will They or Won't They? to painful levels. According to SPD executive producer Greg Aranowitz, higher ups demanded as-low-as-possible levels of romance in the series, since it's targeted at little boys (he only said that about SPD, naturally, but who knows what goes through the minds of Disney). According to Dan Ewing, a kiss between Dillon and Summer was scripted for "Belly of the Beast", but was vetoed (we got the closest thing to it instead).
- Its parent show Super Sentai, and its sister show, Kamen Rider, tend to only sparingly feature relationships, and both almost never have on-screen kisses. Even at weddings.
- Doctor Who
- The original series did have some romance here and there, but it was so rare, almost never involved main characters, when it did it rarely affected the plot, and was more often than not two characters arbitrarily smushed together. The Doctor himself didn't have any interest in romance and often mocked it altogether if it did come up, largely written as asexual (except for a clearly romantic subplot with a guest character in "The Aztecs", in a prime example of the series' Early Installment Weirdness). This is one of the main complaints that older fans have with the new series, which focuses very heavily on romance and turned the Doctor into an outright Chick Magnet.
- At one point (particularly in the Davison era), there was a No Hugging, No Kissing, No Touching (for example, a comforting hand on the shoulder was a no-no) between the Doctor and his female companions, to dispel the notion of "hanky-panky" going on in the TARDIS. There were a few exceptions, like when Nyssa leaves. She gives the Doctor a kiss on the cheek.
- This became a bit of a Chekhov's Gun in Moffat's run of the new series, since the Doctor still firmly believed that "no hanky-panky in the TARDIS" was still effective. He gave his companions bunk beds and everything. Amy and Rory didn't listen at all, and discovered that hanky-panky in the TARDIS while it's in the Time Vortex can result in some very unexpected side effects. The Doctor's face when he realises that they shagged in his TARDIS is absolutely priceless.
- While Corner Gas isn't completely devoid of romance, the level is incredibly low for a show about six single, middle aged characters (and Oscar and Emma), and the few episodes do deal with romance bring up pairings just to dismiss them.
- Big Finish Doctor Who has fun with this. There's no longer any radar to slip things by and they can get away with things the old series never could, but the cast are still aware there's some kind of rule preventing classic Doctors from getting too close to people. Five's awkwardness makes Turlough wonder how he managed to have grandchildren, Six convinces someone he's not the Doctor by passionately kissing a woman, and Seven showing interest in a woman is a warning sign he's been drugged. Eight, the first Doctor to break the trend, is a Chick Magnet with a lot of painful consequences.
- Warhammer 40,000 and all of its spinoffs, including the role-playing games, tend to gloss over or completely avoid the subject of romance and love, bar that love and desire feed one of the Gods of Chaos. It's understandable, given the settings' all-encompassing emphasis on war and mayhem, but even in the books, offhand references at best are the rule, with exceptions few and far between. Said exceptions are either mild (Ciaphas Cain, where it's mostly implied) or to show why this trope is a good idea (Ravenor, where it all ends horribly).
- Warhammer, likewise, gives virtually no attention to romance or romantic/sexual relationships, thanks to being focused almost entirely on warfare and battles. Such things are touched on briefly in a couple of the novels, but always in passing and never as a major plot device or focus. The game materials themselves leave the romantic status of most characters almost entirely unmentioned. Exceptions include the vampires Vlad and Isabella von Carstein (who are married and deeply devoted to each other), the High Elf Prince Tyrion (who is the consort of Alarielle the Everqueen, though the precise nature of their feelings are not mentioned), the Wood Elf King and Queen Orion and Ariel (likewise a couple, but left at that) and perhaps Malekith the Witch King (who is rumoured to be disturbingly and unnaturally close to his mother Morathi...).
- An example of Executive Meddling. There were hints of romance in the early flash animations and online games, but these were decanonized when the Lego Company decided to eliminate romance on the grounds that the core demographic (5-12 year olds) would find it "icky." Greg Farshtey, the lead story writer for Bionicle, also refuses to explain how new beings come into existence. To paraphrase Farshtey:
- And then one of the movies went ahead and had an Unholy Matrimony plot. Farshtey had to handwave that one as merely a kind of political alliance, the same way kings would have their children married to strengthen bonds between royal houses (which to be fair is very much Truth in Television).
- The rule officially only existed within the Matoran Universe (story years 2001-2008) where No Biological Sex strictly applied. Outside that, romance does exist, but is only touched upon twice: In the final novel, Kiina confesses her feelings toward Mata Nui by hugging him, and riding away in tears... and she was a feisty Action Girl who barely displayed any deep emotions like this up to that point. The only other example was the marriage between Sahmad and his deceased wife, as part of Sahmad's backstory.
- Betrayal at Krondor has no romance, Disregarding Owyn's crush on Gamina or references to James's one-night-stands. This is facilitated by all six of the main characters being male.
- The relationships in the Super Mario Bros. games seem entirely platonic, with Mario and Luigi only receiving kisses on the cheek for the reward to each rescue. Surprisingly, Luigi is asked about Mario and Peach's relationship in Super Paper Mario, and he admits that it is confusing but they seem to be just friends. Additionally, Super Mario RPG employed joke kisses (where Bowser and Booster could accidentally wind up kissing Mario on the cheek or each other on the lips while trying to steal a kiss from Peach). Aside from that, the series just teases potential pairings such as Luigi/Daisy and Yoshi/Birdo.
- Freelancer makes it very clear that Trent and Juni start out as brothers at arms to end up as close friends, but nothing more.
- Touhou has no romance whatsoever. Strangely this managed to help the massive shipping fanbase, as they could pair anyone with anyone else without any Ship-to-Ship Combat or conflict with canon.
- Dynasty Warriors was pretty bad with this, despite the canon couples such as Liu Bei and Sun Shang Xiang, then Sima Zhao and Wang Yuanji, most notably on the latter, which has both of them act like close friends instead of being a couple, at least. The closest to averting this trope is Wu's ending on DW7, with Sun Quan carrying Lian Shi (both are an example similar to Zhao and Yuanji).
- As mentioned in the anime, there's little romance in Pokémon other than implications and subtext.
- Wild ARMs 3 has no romance subplot at all whatsoever.
- Love and sex are never mentioned in Dark Souls. The only marriage ever mentioned is off screen and neither character involved is personally encountered. However, it's heavily implied through Ciaran's dialogue that she was in a relationship with the Knight Artorias, even going so far as to say this as she dies, should the player kill her:
- Persona 4 Arena is a very odd example. In the original game, the Silent Protagonist could pick from one of several girls from optional Romance Sidequests. Since Arena is a direct sequel, story wise, whether or not the hero (now named Yu Narukami) entered into a relationship with a girl, or who the girl would be is never discussed in order to keep it open and prevent Ship-to-Ship Combat. It's merely hinted at by some characters that he is a Chick Magnet.
- Between the well-developed romance subplots of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy V had only a single Stupid Sexy Faris moment.
- Unusually for a Tales Series game, Tales of Vesperia manages to play this trope straight, or the most part. No romance seems to develop between any of the characters. However, it's not without its Dirty Old Man trope, wherein Raven often hits on the female characters. Estelle seems clueless, Judith doesn't care, and Rita gets violent.
- Resident Evil has about a half-dozen battle couples, but since every every game is about narrowly averting a Zombie Apocalypse, they're always a little too busy for romance, barring the occasional flirty character. The closest exception is Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong, who have a ton of UST between them. They're the only ones to share an onscreen kiss.
- Free Spirit cartoonist Peter Paltridge has no plans to make Winnie Goodwin and Thomas Harper a couple. While the show that inspired the comic created romantic tension between them, Peter fears that hooking them up would require Winnie to out herself as a witch to Thomas. The pilots of both the show and the comic had Winnie clearly state that the terms of her staying with mortals forbid Thomas from finding out about her magical abilities.
- The closest thing to romance in Invader Zim is Gretchen's implied crush on Dib, Tak's brief and incredibly violent "relationship" with Zim (motivated by revenge and SCIENCE!, respectively), and GIR's very obvious interest in Gaz. Word of God clearly established that "liking each other is not the point" and that Zim does not love anyone. Even the Valentine's Day Special itself, when such episodes are usually about romance, was as far from romantic as one show can get.
- The first two seasons of ReBoot, strangled mercilessly by Executive Meddling, made sure to ruthlessly stifle any impression that Bob and Dot were romantically linked, or were at all interested in each other in that way. Needless to say, once cut free, the creators quite happily rectified that.
- Despite the many love songs and possible Incest Subtext in The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, the lives of Mr. Chan and his children were decidedly romance-free (on camera, anyway). The only romantic subplot ever was between the family dog and a one-episode canine character.
- Craig McCracken seems to prefer this rule for The Powerpuff Girls, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, and Wander over Yonder, with the closest exceptions being one-sided (e.g. Berry in Foster's) or ending badly (e.g. The Professor and Ms Keane in PPG). He supposedly made the "teenage Powerpuff Girls" sequence from "The City of Clipsville" based off bad fanfiction cliches, which the shippers wholeheartedly embraced.
- My Little Pony in general tends to not have any on-screen romance.