Well Dick, maybe it's the office, you know. Maybe you're destined to fall in love with whoever you share the office with. Dick:
That's ridiculous. If love worked that way, there'd be office romances all over the place. Businessmen having affairs with their secretaries, please
Very often fiction that features characters in a work environment will have at least one instance of on the job romance. Sometimes it's within the rules, however, it may be against the policy. Characters can get called on it or even get fired. If the pairing fails, there can be a lot of awkwardness in the aftermath.
It can be Truth in Television
, although the hot for supervisor version is often forbidden in job rules to avoid ethics problems. If this does occur, one character may wind up changing shifts or departments or quitting the job. Some companies allow dating between colleagues of equal standing, although Hollywood likes to push things further with jobs like police work, where a romantic pairing would likely be a problem unless one partner changes departments.
This trope may be played differently in different cultures. Sometimes it may be even expected to happen. Some companies are aware that people want to show their best and most efficient side in front of a love interest.
Compare with Forbidden Fruit
Examples from Fan Works
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Anime & Manga
- Kurogane Pukapuka Tai is about lesbian warship sailors.
- Simoun has lesbian fighter pilots.
- Most of Yuri mangas that don't involve Schoolgirl Lesbians involve some sort of Office Romance instead.
- Ame-iro Kouchakan Kandan features romance between a tea house owner and her assistant.
- Otomeiro Stay Tune is about a radio hostess who is in love with her colleague.
- Strawberry Shake Sweet is about two Teen Idols working for the same company. And it's not just them: everybody in the manga is crushing after someone they work or have worked with.
- Manga no Tsukurikata is about two yuri manga artists. This one goes meta.
- Ebisu-san and Hotei-san is about two Office Ladies.
- In Tramps Like Us Hatsumi and Sumire work in the same office, and date.
- Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi: Takano and Onodera are a boss and an employee. Much of the plot revolves around getting Ondera to admit he loves Takano
- The Weatherman Is My Lover features an office romance between a stoic newscaster and his eccentric weatherman on an early bird tv program.
- ...Virgin Love and its sequels follow the romance between two salarymen who have an anonymous one-night stand, only to discover a few weeks later they are now long-term business partners.
- In Future Lovers, Kento gets drunk after his girlfriend rejects his proposal, and gets picked up by Akira at a bar. Not long after, Akira is brought in as a substitute teacher at Kento's school, and they start to develop a serious relationship.
- Ewon gets strong-armed into working for loan-shark Mookyul in Totally Captivated as penance for cheating on his boyfriend (now Mookyul's lover) Jiho. After months of slave-labour and Belligerent Sexual Tension that everyone can see, Ewon and Mookyul fall for each other.
- In Yellow, Taki and Goh are drug snatchers who work undercover and live together as a result. Goh, who is something of a Loveable Sex Maniac, eventually starts to put the moves on Taki, and after a lot of persistence, succeeds.
- In Hyakujitsu No Bara, Taki is the head of his division and miles above his personal knight, Klaus, in rank. As if the difference in rank weren't forbidden enough, there's the matter of Taki's chastity and purity being somewhat sacrosanct making their relationship even more troubled, and total secrecy from the rest of the army vital.
- The Proposal: Margaret asks her employee to marry her quite out of the blue, so that she can stay in America. After some time, he agrees.
- The Russian film Office Romance: A man seduces his director to get a promotion, then it becomes real love before he even notices.
- Lee, a young, mentally unstable and fragile woman, is hired to work as a secretary for Edward, a successful and demanding lawyer. They slowly develop a sadomasochistic relationship. Both are somewhat uncomfortable with their sexuality, but they find a way to work things out.
- It's implied that Edward had a similar relationship with his previous secretary who had been fired before Lee was hired. There might have been more of them.
- On Selfie, main character Eliza has slept with at least two of her co-workers, one of whom was married, and then another one the next episode (though its implied some time has passed). Henry frowns on this, and worries her coworkers will think Eliza is a slut.
- Sara and Grissom. Sara changed shifts after their romance became known to Ecklie. It was a bit more complicated relationship since Gil was Sara's supervisor and that's what necessitated the changing of shifts. Evolved into a Long Distance Relationship, then ran into problems, so its future is uncertain.
- Catherine and Vartaan. He was a cop and she was a CSI fall into a rather uncomplicated category, and their relationship did not last forever.
- Wendy and Hodges were going back and forth for a while, but Wendy left.
- Hodges was kind of dancing around Morgan too, but he later gets engaged to an Italian girl.
- CSI NY:
- Danny and Lindsay. In real life, someone would probably have to change departments to avoid conflict of interest, but they still work together, though they rarely work on the same case. Danny was on the team from the start and Lindsay joined after Aiden was fired. There was a lot of Will They or Won't They? Unresolved Sexual Tension beteween them, and finally, they got married.
- Mac and Peyton, though Peyton worked in the ME's office and was not an employee of Mac's.
- Flack and Angell, then Flack and Levato. Flack dated Angell and got serious with her, and then she died. In season 9, Flack started going out a little with the new recurring detective, Jamie Levato.
- CSI: Miami:
- Delko and Calleigh. They have a lots of Will They or Won't They? dynamics, it's not fully resolved and unclear whether romance will ensue.
- Natalia Boa Vista dated one of the CSIs guys for a while.
- Brennan and Hacker. Technically, they aren't in the same agency. He's FBI and she's a scientist with the Jeffersonian, but it was established once that agents and consultants couldn't date.
- Booth and Brennan. Booth is an FBI agent and Brennan his consultant. They worked a lot of cases together, Brennan got pregnant and after that they started living together.
- Hodgins and Angela. They both work in the Jeffersonian scientifc institute, so their relationship might be less (or more) complicated than the FBI/consultant cases.
- Cam and Arastoo, she's the supervisor and he's one of the interns.
- Angel had two pairs who worked together at Angel Investigations, though Angel probably did not mind anyone getting together romantically.
- Fred and Gunn, who dated for most of season 3 and then broke up in season 4 when Fred killed her former professor for sending her to Pylea.
- Fred and Wes. Wes wanted her from the start, but lost out to Gunn after his exile from the group, but later, in season 5, they got close again, and started dating only to have Fred die just a day later from Illyria.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Giles and Jenny, who both worked at Sunnydale High as a librarian and as a teacher, and they were both involved in the supernatural stuff as well. Buffy once caught them kissing in the library. The relationship ended when Jenny died.
- Highlander had a backstory variant with Joe and another Watcher; it was a brief fling, and though she got pregnant, he didn't want to ruin her marriage, so he let her and her husband think they were the parents, only telling the girl, Amy, when she was an adult.
- The American version of The Office.
- Jim and Pam. They end up getting married.
- Jim dated Karen before he got involved with Pam.
- Before Pam got together with Jim, she was paired with Roy.
- Grey's Anatomy: Nearly every character is dating one of the other surgeon character.
- The Mentalist: Van Pelt and Rigsby. Forbidden inter-office romance gets mentioned and lends most of the drama. After two seasons of Will They or Won't They?, and the occasional bit of meddling from a Shipper on Deck Jane, fellow officers Rigsby and Grace finally decided to go for it and made it official. However, it didn't last.
- Ally McBeal:
- Ally once said she'd never date a fellow lawyer, but she was not completely over her colleague Billy, her ex-boyfriend and high-school/collage sweetheart. Billy and Ally have a lot of sexual chemistry and love tension between them.
- Billy and his wife Georgia both worked for the same law firm Cage&Fish.
- Ling dates Richard Fish, one of the two bosses. She was at first their regular client and later got hired to work with them as a lawyer. It has the implied power tension, but there was never serious ethical drama explored. Ling however makes it clear several times that she would like to be treated as the queen of the office because she dates the company's king.
- John Cage is one of the two senior partners and he has a relationship with their newly-hired litigator Nelle Porter. They lasted quite long but ultimately they broke up. It was a case of Pitbull Dates Puppy, Nelle being a tough, icy woman and John an adorkable sweet man.
- Newsradio, news director Dave and reporter Lisa. They tell their boss Jimmy, who says he is happy for them - and asks them which one is quitting. Office Romances aren't allowed. Jimmy then gives them a chance to take back telling him about it.
- Cheers: Bar owner Sam dated his employee, a waitress named Diane.
- NYPD Blue:
- Detective John Kelly starts secretly dating officer Janice Licalsi. She is secretly working for the Big Bad, who is Blackmailing her because of her father, and wants her to kill Kelly. She kills the Big Bad instead.
- Bobby Simone and Diane Russel are both detectives in the squad, but they aren't partners. They go out together and eventually get married.
- Detective Andy Sipowitz starts out with an antagonistic relationship with ADA Sylvia Costas, but they eventually fall in love and get married. She bears him a son, and then gets caught in the crossfire when a man tries to kill his daughter's murderer.
- Andy later falls in love with Connie McDowell, a female detective, after she starts babysitting his son by Syliva. They get married, and shortly after that she gets written out of the show.
- Detective Greg Medevoy has an affair with Donna Abandando, a civilian aide at the squad, which ruins his marriage (but it was on the rocks to begin with).
- After Abandando leaves, her replacement and Medavoy's partner James Martinez go out a few times; he knocks her up and then marries her.
- Detective Baldwin Jones has an on-and-off relationship with ADA Valerie Heywood. He gets quite upset when, during the course of an investigation into an abortion clinic bombing, he discovers that she was a client there while they were going out.
- Parks and Recreation:
- April and Andy go through their entire Will They or Won't They? / Ship Tease at City Hall.
- Leslie and Ben engage in a Secret Relationship, which needs to be kept on the down-low because of City Manager Chris Traeger's policy against superiors dating subordinates.
- During the Valentine Day episode, Leslie finds out that that Anne might be on a date with Chris. Considering how much grief Chris gave Leslie and Ben over their Secret Relationship, Leslie is furious over the hypocrisy. It turns out that Anne is on a date with Tom
- Firefly: In "War Stories", it's revealed Mal was very much against Zoe marrying Wash, for the possibility of after-breakup awkwardness. Frankly, on-the-job romance is the only kind of romance available aboard Serenity.
- Doctors Cameron and Chase, members of House's team. They slept together once when Cameron was high on drugs, and later decided to start a Friends with Benefits relationship. Chase later fell in love with her and wanted to go steady which she refused and ended their casual relationship. When they left House's team, they got serious though, and later even got married, still both working at Plainsborough Hospital. However, they did not last and Cameron filed for divorce.
- Thirteen and Foreman were two members of House's team involved romantically. Their on the job romance later came into direct conflict.
- House himself and Cuddy, his boss, started a relationship. She's a director at Plainsborough Hospital and House's direct superior.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- In season one, Robin refuses to date Sandy, stating that it's because he's a co-worker. Sandy actually tenders his resignation as part of an attempt to convince Robin to date him.
- Robin ended up in a relationship with Don for a while, despite him being a co-worker. There was never a problem with it. She was crushed when he was offered a better job and decided to relocate. She was offered the job before him, but refused because of him.
- When Ted romantically pursues Stella, his dermatologist, his friends try to convince him that it is a bad idea to date somebody who you see all the time, because it makes things awkward when it doesn't work out. Robin, an anchor, describes her affair with their TV station's sports guy. She enjoyed her dates with him but was casual about it. However, he was very clingy and perceived them as a super serious couple.
- It's revealed in season 2 that Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta had an affair with Sergeant Doakes when they used to be partners and a pair of detectives. They broke up but stayed close friends.
- Abgel Battista from Homicide dates one detective from Vice. They're OK because it's allowed to see people from other departments. When they broke up, one Battista's colleague says to Angel that office romances never work out, but asks whether he can ask her out.
- Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta, a boss of Homicide, and Sergeant Angel Battista start a sexual affair in season 4. Their superior Captain Matthews wants them to either break up or have Angel transferred to another department. They decide to marry and the pro-family politics allows them to stay together and both at Homicide department. Season 6 begins with them being Amicably Divorced.
- Deb Morgan and Detective Quinn. They started as Friends with Benefits, but later became a regular couple. Debra's promotion to Lieutenant and the new head of Homicide of Miami Metro PD essentially ends their relationship, although Debra never saw them as something super serious in the first place.
- There is a very brief romantic flirting between Masuka, a forensics expert, and Ryan, his sexy blonde of an intern. They also had the forbidden teacher/student dynamics. She screwed him over, stealing The Ice Truck Killer's prosthetic hand from the evidence room. He ended their relationship and he fired her as well.
- Scrubs: Sacred Heart Hospiatl apparently has no policy whatsoever on this matter. Several people from their medical staff date each other and have steady relationships.
- Dick and Mary on 3rd Rock from the Sun. When a three-episode arc had a character played by Laurie Metcalf take Mary's place in the office, Dick started to fall for her.
Harry: Well Dick, maybe it's the office, you know. Maybe you're destined to fall in love with whoever you share the office with.
Dick: That's ridiculous. If love worked that way, there'd be office romances all over the place. Businessmen having affairs with their secretaries, please!
- Ross dates an extremely hot woman who is pursuing a doctorate at Ross's department in the museum. The relationship doesn't work out because she is a disgustingly dirty hoarder and her apartment is one big pile of garbage.
- When Rachel starts working in the fashion industry, her boyfriend Ross is extremely and unreasonably jealous of Mark, her colleague who got Rachel the position. Ross does all he can to defy Office Romance. It's later revealed that Mark indeed does find Rachel attractive and they have a date, but Mark already started to work elsewhere.
- When Ross starts teaching at the university, he once asked a linguist to be his plus one at a wedding. He's a palaeontologist so they work at different departments and there wouldn't be any tension. However, this relationship never went anywhere beyond that asking her out.
- Zig-Zagged. When Rachel works for Ralph Lauren, she starts a rumour that a woman was kissing with Ralph, the big man himself. It was her friend Phoebe (not working there, jsut using a xerox machine) and she actually kissed a copy guy who had lied to her. Rachel's boss is interested in the gossip but concludes that the kisser must have been Rachel herself and that she tries to advance her career, and hisses at Rachel that she better not try to steal her job. They then encounter Lauren in the elevator: twice. Lauren never speaks besides greeting them, and Rachel's boss interprets the silence first as sexual tension and then, luckily for Rachel, as lack of interest. Rachel's boss later admits she herself had an office romance that ended badly — with the copy guy.
- Zig-Zagged with Rachel and Tag's relationship. Rachel was promoted and supposed to hire an assistant. She chose Tag who wasn't very suitable for the job but Rachel saw it as opportunity to spend time with him. She fretted because she couldn't date him, being his superior, but did all she could to prevent him from dating anybody else. For instance, she told him that all the women he had flirted with were gay. She invited him as a friend for their Thanksgiving dinner and blabbed that she liked him, but tried to take it back and say that it's just physical and doesn't want to pursue it. Tag, however, liked her too, and they started a secret office romance. They broke up when Rachel realized he's not mature enough and too young for her.
- Joey, an soap opera star playing Dr Drake Remoray, who Really Gets Around, sleeps with all the attractive extras of his show. When they all reveal it one by one when shooting one scene, he sheepishly suggests they need to hire new actresses.
- When Rachel returns to her job after her maternity leave, her new colleague Gavin constantly teases and mocks her. It's because he kind of likes her, but Rachel and Ross's on again off again thing prevents them dating or starting a relationship.
- In last seasons, Ross has a crush on his gorgeous colleague Charlie who is also a palaeontologist and works at the same department. She first dated his friend Joey which also complicated things.
- Ross and Charlie's relationship is ultimately ended when she returns to her ex who is suddenly the head of their department. He was evaluating applications for grants and Ross was seriously mistreated. The boss says he will get the grant if he lets Charlie go. Charlie somehow finds it romantic and decides to dump Ross and take her ex back.
- Barney Miller: Wojohowicz and recurring female detective Wentworth realize they are attracted to each other. Barney is OK with it, but just as long as it doesn't show up on the job nor affect their work. It gets "resolved" by Wentworth's character being dropped for no in-universe reason.
- Bud Roberts falls in love with co-worker Harriet Sims, gets married, and are allowed to work in the same office because Harriet is, courtesy of Admiral Chegwidden, "temporarily assigned" to the office for several years...
- The Will They or Won't They? arc for nine seasons between Harm and Mac who are a pair of legal investigators of the US Navy.
- Monday Mornings is a medical drama create by David E. Kelley, and medical issues are brilliantly combined with legal matters. Chelsea General saw some relationships among the doctors, and one is potentially very dangerous for the hospital.
- Dr. Sydney Napur starts dating Dr. John Lieberman in the very first episode. They are from different departments, so there should be no conflict. It causes some tension between them because they see each other all the time, and Dr. Napur never stops working or thinking about medicine, and she meddles in Dr Lieberman's cases.
- Two brilliant and cocky neurosurgeons, Drs. Tina Ridgeway and Tyler Wilson, have a connection and lots of UST. She's married, though not very happily. Their supervisor often asks them about their personal lives, especially Dr. Ridgeway. He's worried that her almost-romance and marriage problems will affect her professional performance. She breaks up with her husband and the doctors later sleep together. Mark Ridgeway sues Dr. Wilson for breaking up his marriage. During their legal meeting, Dr. Wilson says that many doctors have love affairs and close relationships. The lawyer pricks up his ears and wants to hear more. Dr. Wilson's lawyer who also represents Chelsea General quickly ends up the meeting because he realizes that this could mean a major law suit and could harm the hospital.
- The X-Files:
- Mulder and Scully, the legendary pair of insanely attractive FBI agents. Their relationship was purely platonic for a long time, but in season 7, they started an intimate relationship. Technically, Mulder lead the X-Files division, and was Scully's superior, but they were more or less equals. In the series finale, one jerk tells Scully that she was basically whoring around with her partner in an attempt to ruin her credibility. What an insult to their deep relationship.
Kallenbrunner: Well, what I mean is, you have no proof to back up one word you just told us. Agent Scully, isn't it true that you and Mulder were lovers, and you got pregnant and had his love child?
- Doggett and Reyes, too, though the show was cancelled before we got to see the completion of their romance arc. They were definitely more proactive about their relationship than Mulder and Scully were.
- In "Aubrey", a female Detective has an affair with her Lieutenant who is married. She gets pregnant with him, but these are only minor problems. She starts channelling her grandfather who is a Serial Killer. She ended up suicidal and tried to abort her son. Lieutenant Tillman has petitioned to adopt the child (it's unknown whether his wife knew about the affair or if they even stayed together).
- On Peep Show, this is present from the pilot episode when Mark is pining after his coworker Sophie. They later date, get married (until she leaves him right after the wedding), and have a child together. It becomes more awkward when he is promoted to supervisor and is told to fire her on the day she told him she was pregnant.
- On Criminal Minds, there are fewer office romances than one would think, given the massive amounts of time the team spend together. Kevin and Garcia are the only ones for many seasons (until they break up), but it's implied that it gets around the fraternization rules because while they both work for the FBI, they aren't on the same team and rarely need to work together on the same case.
- In the last season, it's revealed that Rossi and Strauss were having an office romance.
- On NCIS this trope is done with a twist on the usual dynamic. There are no fraternization rules for NCIS; it's explicitly stated at least once that there is nothing stopping agents from dating each other—they can even be married. However, it is against Gibbs' rules, while he's usually pretty flexible around his team breaking the rules if they have a good reason to do so, but he does not like it when they break Rule 12 (never date a co-worker). He calls Tony out on it pretty harshly in season 8 when he has a fling with another team leader. In season 11, it's implied that Rule 12 was the major barrier for Tony and Ziva resolving their UST.
- In Alpha Protocol, it's possible to romance Mina Tang, one of the handlers and an analyst at Alpha Protocol. The perk you get for completing her Romance Sidequest is even called "Office Romance"
- In the backstory of X: Beyond the Frontier, Player Character Maj. Kyle Brennan and supporting character Maj. Elena Kho had a brief love affair during their eight years working together in the United Space Command.
- Office romance is the whole point of Office Secrets. The protagonist works for a high-end clothing manufacturer and is promoted into a newly-established department along with an assortment of attractive men, any one of whom she can end up in a relationship with. As workplace romances are against company policy, the couple is obligated to keep their relationship a secret once they get together, although in some cases it's implied that Everyone Can See It and they've simply chosen to turn a blind eye.
- Almost all of the romances in In Your Arms Tonight begin through the protagonist's work as an interior designer: her potential love interests are her immediate supervisor, a co-worker, several clients, and a supplier of ceramic artwork. Aside from a couple of instances of petty breakroom gossip, nobody really seems to consider it an issue - should the protagonist fall for her co-worker Shohei Aiba, their mutual supervisor encourages the relationship on the basis that it inspires Aiba to do better work.
- In Our Two Bedroom Story, circumstances lead the protagonist to begin sharing a house with one of her co-workers, leading to an office romance when they inevitably start to fall for each other.