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Off-Screen Breakup
Last time we saw Alice and Bob, they were dating. Things seemed to be going fine, and they're happily in love. Now we see Bob flirting with Carol. Someone brings up the fact that he was dating Alice, and Bob will respond with "We broke up", or "Things didn't work out".

This is more than a little jarring because it is just freeing up Bob to be in a new relationship (or to be single), without actually showing how the last one ended. Often done to prevent Shipping Bed Death, or because the writers simply don't want to deal with writing out the mundaneness of an actual relationship.

Compare to Downtime Downgrade. Subtrope of Status Quo Is God.


Examples

Anime
  • Blue Seed: Koume Sawaguchi and Yoshiki Yaegashi break up between the end of the series and the 2 year OAV Time Skip. When prompted by Momiji as to why, Koume explains that she panicked when she and Yaegashi began talking about getting married and having kids and broke things off. Momiji tells Koume that she shouldn't worry if they love each other and at the end of the second episode of the OAV Koume agrees to marry Yaegashi.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Dearka Elsman and Miriallia Haww seem to be headed vaguely in the direction of becoming a couple, and apparently do so following the end of the series - only to have broken up before the beginning of sequel series Gundam SEED Destiny.
    • Ditto for Amuro and Sayla in the end of the original series and the beginning of Zeta. And then again for Amuro and Beltorchika in between Zeta and Chars Counterattack.
    • Gundam Wing sequel novel Frozen Teardrop reveals that Duo and Hilde got married and divorced in the 30-year Time Skip between Endless Waltz and the novel.
  • The Devil May Cry anime shows that Dante and Trish have parted ways sometime after the end of the first game.
  • Bulma and Yamcha broke up between the Freeza and Cell Sagas in Dragon Ball, clearing the road for Bulma's relationship with Vegeta.

Fanworks

Film
  • This exact same thing happens with the direct to video An American Tail movies. Tony Toponi had his Love at First Sight moment with Bridget in the first movie and they seemed like soul mates. Come the third movie, not only is the second movie now All Just a Dream but Bridget is gone for some reason and Tony is flirting with someone else.
  • In the Die Hard series, John McClane makes up with ex-wife Holly in the first two films, but he's single again at the start of the third.
  • Streets of Fire: Tom Cody and Ellen Aim do this when Tom leaves town for some sort of war for 2 years.
  • Indiana Jones: Indy and Marion between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade.
  • The Librarian: Flynn breaks with Nicole at some point after the first movie, before the second one...
  • Men In Black. Linda Fiorentino is (kinda) Will Smith's love interest; come the next movie, she's outta there! (Because she apparently wanted to go back to normal life...)
    • It's also implied that Will Smith has been doing it to all of his partners since Kay left in order to prevent them dedicating their lives to the job.
  • Ben and Abigail between the two National Treasure movies.
  • Pocahontas and John Smith between the two Disney Pocahontas movies, which does not truly apply due to Canon Discontinuity.
  • Professor Klump does get the girl in Eddie Murphy's version of The Nutty Professor. He's lost her again by the beginning of its sequel. We can guess why it happened this time, but the implied reason itself is a Shocking Swerve.
  • James Bond. All part of the formula.
    • Subverted in the Austin Powers series, where Austin and love interest Vanessa get married in the first movie. At the beginning of the second movie, Vanessa is revealed to be a kamikaze exploding fembot sent by Dr. Evil, thus making room for Felicity Shagwell.
  • The Karate Kid Part II used this to explain the disappearance of the first film's love interest character. It was even in a needlessly cruel way; not only did she unceremoniously dump him, but she wrecked his car. One really has to wonder if the actress pissed some people off.
  • In Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Sam's previous girlfriend from the first two films, Mikaela Banes is given a simple mention early on, that she broke up with Sam at some point between the second and third film.
  • At the end of the live action Inspector Gadget movie, Gadget has hooked up with Hot Scientist Brenda. When the second movie rolls around, not only is the Inspector single again, but a new scientist called Baxter takes Brenda's techie role, and a new Love Interest in the form of G2 appears.

Literature
  • In Dinotopia: The World Beneath Arthur had a friend in his traveling companion Orianna. While it's never outright stated if they hooked up, it was strongly implied by certain scenes. At the very least, they became extremely close. Come Dinotopia: Journey to Chandra, Arthur decides to go traveling some more and Orianna has the briefest of cameos, basically telling him to have fun. She's not mentioned for the rest of the book.
  • Ron and Lavender from Harry Potter, in the sixth book. It's not seen, but he mentions it to Harry when he notices Lavender's bitterness on a particular day.

Live-Action TV
  • Happens three times in Sherlock. John ends season one still attached to his girlfriend Sarah, but the first episode of the second season furnishes him with new girlfriend and makes it clear that he’s had several since Sarah, so they obviously broke up, and Sarah is never seen again. Likewise, Molly stated that she dumped Jim offscreen after only a few dates, which was fortunate, given that he turned out to be Moriarty, and has now apparently split up with her fiancé between episodes.
  • From The Big Bang Theory: Leonard and Pryia and Leonard and Dr. Stephanie.
    • Also, Bernadette and Howard.
      • Although it's worth noting The Bus Came Back and as of the season five finale they're married.
  • The second season of Da Capo subverts this: The protagonist of the first season is constantly minded by his haremettes and there are hints that his first season love interest either broke up with him or died... Only it turns out she just moved away for a bit and comes back at around the halfway point of the series.
  • NCIS: We get hints that Abby and McGee's relationship is in trouble during early seasons, but we never get to see them actually break up.
  • Fourth season of Dexter: First time we see Angel he's romancing Laguerta. When asked about the girlfriend he had last season, he mentions that it didn't work out.
    • And again in the sixth season when he and Laguerta had a divorce between seasons.
  • Andy and Erin in The Office.
  • Power Rangers: the break-up by letter for Tommy/Kimberly. Shippers for that fandom still have trouble accepting that one.
  • Omar and Dante from The Wire end season three still together, but with a noticable strain on their relationship, and at the beginning of season four, Omar is already living with someone else (Renaldo). Fans typically assume this is because Dante gave up Omar's location under torture, unlike his previous boyfriend Brandon who refused to talk even on pain of death.
  • Smash and Waverly, and Lyla and the Christian guy she was dating, on Friday Night Lights. Actually, a lot of the relationships on this show, because they don't show too many episodes that take place when football season isn't going on.
  • Puck and Quinn in Glee.
    • And Santana and Sam sometime after she realizes she is a lesbian.
    • Between the fourth season and the third season finale, Tina and Mike. She mentions on an interview with Jacob Ben Israel that a long distance relationship didn't work out for them.
  • Ashes to Ashes: Chris and Shaz between seasons two and three.
  • Zoey and Charlie in The West Wing, some time before she starts dating Jean-Paul.
    • Also happened with Leo and Jordan. Arguably with Josh and Amy as well (the first time they break up).
  • Happens in House of Anubis to Patricia and Eddie. As such a beloved couple, the fans were outraged and confused when they broke up over the summer with no given explanation. It's speculated that Patricia broke up with him because the relationship was moving too fast, but it was still jarring to the fans.
    • There are also some breakups that might not have even happened at all. The characters just moved on to other people without actually splitting.
  • Josh Safran, Gossip Girl showrunner for the second half of season four and for season five, wanted to do this with Chuck and Blair in the season three premiere in order to make his own favorite ship Dan/Blair happen. Given that the entirety of season two was devoted to a Will They Wont They between Chuck and Blair, the two of them not getting together until the last scene of season two and them being by far the most popular ship of the show such a development would have been strange to say the least.
  • Eureka Jack is dating Callie and the relationship is progressing nicely by the end of Season 2. Season 3 starts and Callie is never seen or mentioned again, and Jack is single.

Video Game

Web Comic
  • Dominic Deegan: Hansi.
  • In Something Positive, Davan and that girl who liked to strangle him, though in that case it was explicitly a non-romantic relationship just for sex.
  • Homestuck gives us two odd examples, in the form of Davesprite and Jade, and Vriska and a doomed timeline John. What makes them unusual is that due to the Time Skip, the same conversations that establishes they broke up also reveals they were in relationships to begin with, simultaneously inverting and playing this trope straight at once.
    • Everyone in Homestuck ends up doing this. Besides the aforementioned, there is also, at various points of the three-year timeskip, Karkat and Terezi, Dave and Terezi, Gamzee and Terezi, Karkat and Gamzee, and Jake and Dirk. Just about the only couple that is still together is Rose and Kanaya.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Jay being single in the Webisodes following The Critic Season 2 was explained with one of the first lines:
    "What happened to your self-respect?"
    "I lost it in the second divorce settlement."
  • King of the Hill had a season finale where Khan's mother moved in with him and began dating Bill. At the start of the next season she was gone and Bill had gone back to his losery loneliness.
  • In the second season premiere of Young Justice, Superboy and Miss Martian broke up during the five year Time Skip.
    • In "Depths", we find out why. Though she's with somebody else now, it's clear that the two still have feelings for each other.
  • Some time after the first Prep and Landing special, Magee and Tiny broke up.
Nothing Is ScarierThis Index Happened Off ScreenOffscreen Crash
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Official Couple Ordeal SyndromeLove TropesOld-Fashioned Rowboat Date

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