A couple who have drifted apart for various reasons (not necessarily Star-Crossed Lovers
), only to discover they still have feelings for each other when they get together a lot later. The key part of this trope is that the feelings (even if one-sided) persist after their reunion.
Subtropes include New Old Flame
(the old flame minus any sort of foreshadowing) and Old Flame Fizzle
(the old flames reunite but there's no "spark"). Contrast Working with the Ex
, wherein no romantic feelings remain long before the reunion. If the character never appears in the work, it's probably The One That Got Away
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Anime and Manga
- The entire plot of Ao Haru Ride revolves around this trope. Futaba and Kou both liked each other in middle school, but since Futaba accidentally hurt Kou's feelings and Kou moved away before she could apologize, nothing came out of it. When Kou moves back, he insists that even if they did like each other, it was all in the past and they've changed too much to return to their previous relationship. However, both of them still have feelings for each other, leading to lots of Unresolved Sexual Tension.
- In The Firesign Theatre's "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", Betty Jo Bialosky ("Nancy") went to college with Nick, and they even dated, but when he proposed, she turned him down, and couldn't tell him why. He hadn't seen her since, until she suddenly reappears, asking for his help. "Suddenly, it all came rushing back to me, like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist!"
- Scrooge McDuck and Goldie O'Gilt from the Disney Ducks Comic Universe. Between Scrooge leaving the Klondike and their reunion in the Carl Barks story Back to the Klondike they haven't seen each other for decades! (According to Don Rosa, Scrooge was circa 32 at the end of his Klondike years, and older than 80 years in stories taking place in the "present".)
- In Red, Victoria and Ivan are each other's old flames. They were assassins on opposite sides of the Cold War, and she was assigned to kill him. He wears the scar in his chest proudly because he knows if she hadn't loved him, she would've shot him in the head instead. He gets to get her out of a jam, and treats it like a great romantic moment.
- In Hopscotch, Isobel von Schoenenberg and Miles Kendig were two spies who drifted apart because of their careers. After Miles is forced into retirement he gets back together with Isobel (now a widower). They then proceed to go at it as if they'd never stopped. Their efforts to keep Miles ahead of both the KGB and CIA when he decides to write his memoirs are quite heartwarming.
- Elaine and Harry from The Dresden Files. Harry, at least, still feels something for her.
- Lampshaded in an Erast Fandorin short story Tea in Bristol, wherein the victim's old flame actually goes by the surname "Flame" (and is well in her fifties).
- In Agatha Christie's The Hollow, John Angkatell leaves both his wife and his mistress for an old girlfriend who dumped him because he wouldn't sacrifice his career for her. As a result, he gets murdered. By his possessively-loving wife.
- The Helmsman Saga has Margot Effer'wyck, Wilf Brim's love, who seems to take this Up to Eleven. She got married to other men twice (and had a kid), was presumed dead, had a drug addiction which forced her to betray Wilf, he finds other women every book and believed more than once that he truly left her and his feelings behind... Somehow, she always manages to pop back. The (currently) last book leaves an open ending on the matter.
- In Tim Powers' The Drawing of the Dark: Epiphany Hallstadt, née Vogel, who Duffy once thought he was going to marry. She now works at the Zimmerman Inn, where Duffy has just been hired as a bouncer.
- Love the One You're With by Emily Giffen runs on this trope. The main character, Ellen, is Happily Married to Andy, but one day she runs into her ex-boyfriend Leo, who left her heartbroken with no explanation and whom she could never quite forget. The plot revolves around whether she'll stay with Andy, who brings out the best in her, or choose to be with Leo, the man she never got over. The tagline demonstrates this quite well:
- In Vampire Academy, Aaron was Lissa's boyfriend before she ran away from St. Vladimir's Academy. She still had feelings for her. He pursued her romantically following her return. They briefly got back together, but his love was unrequited.
Live Action TV
- Highlander did one in 'Glory Days', Joe was worried his high school flame that stopped in to visit would think him damaged due to losing his legs, but once she found out, it seemed for a bit that things were okay-until she confessed she was married and couldn't stay.
- CSI is hinting around at this since the arrival of Julie Finn. It's known that D.B. never cheated on his wife, thanks to Word of God, but it's been implied they had something before D.B. met his wife. Possibly another high school scenario, since D.B. and his wife met there too.
- As Time Goes By is about a pair who were lovers as youth; then they meet again after both have lost their respective spouses, and renew their romance as seniors.
- The M*A*S*H episode "The More I See You" has a pair of new nurses assigned to the 4077th. One of whom is Hawkeye's old med-school girlfriend. Who's now married. Which doesn't keep them from resuming their relationship for a spell.
- Complicated by a Sibling Triangle where one of the sides is a Technically Living Plague Zombie in Helix
- Double Subverted for CDC team lead Alan. Though initially standoffish at the prospect of Working With, his ex-wife and fellow CDC scientist Julia, then outright combative as he bickers, he later confesses that its become Anger Born of Worry, and he can't stop feeling protective of her.
- For Julia, this is Subverted with her relationship with ex-husband Alan. Though she appreciates Alan's concern, she not only doesn't reciprocate, but the sight of his brother Peter, Patient Zero in an outbreak of The Virus, brings back memories of her unhappy relationship with Alan, and the reasons she turned to Peter for comfort.
- However, for both Peter and Julia, this is Played Straight, as an infected Peter, though acting on his viral programming, first attempts a tender kiss before resorting to a Deadly Lunge, and Julia later admits to herself that she still has feelings for Peter, in spite of the fact they haven't spoken since Alan caught them cheating.
- The Yuktobanian recon Major Nastasya Obertas for Captain Bartlett in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War.
- Mass Effect: Adm. David Anderson and Lt. Kahlee Sanders (one of the main characters of the novel tie-ins) each consider the other this. They never got together due mainly to the demands of their respective jobs in the Alliance, but in Mass Effect 3 there's signs that they want to try again if they both survive the war. Anderson dies on the Citadel in the endgame; no word on Sanders.
- In the backstory of X: Beyond the Frontier, Major Kyle Brennan and Lieutenant Elena Kho became very close during their time serving together in the United Space Command, to the point where their coworkers jokingly nicknamed them "the lovebirds." They did have a brief love affair but ended it by mutual agreement; however they each wondered for a very long time if such had been the right decision. By the time they start working together in the games, though, it's unclear if any feelings remain.
- In UC,Jacob is introduced as this to Nicodemus fairly early in the comic. There is no mention of why they broke up, but if Iku's reaction is anything to go by Jacob was the instigator. Nicodemus is very much not over him.