"All of our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone that makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope. All the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there's someone perfect who might be searching for us."The most indomitable of story telling romantics is the idea of one utter perfect specimen who is your ultimate match. Perhaps they will have everything in common with you and share your dreams. Perhaps they will be your Foil because True Love Is Exceptional. A third possibility is Mindlink Mates leading the two of them to understand each other better than anyone else. Often Love at First Sight occurs when someone spots or otherwise realizes that this person is their true love. Because Destiny Says So or The Power of Love are often invoked to explain why that person is the way they are or how you met them. Not to be confused with One True Pairing, which is what the fans want to happen. This only applies to examples where it's made clear and deliberate in the work, regardless of what the editor happens to ship and regardless of how convinced you are.
— Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years
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Anime & Manga
- CLAMP are very fond of this trope, and use it frequently in their manga. Most evident in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, which ties together all their various stories into one multiverse (along with alternate universes thereof), and when counterparts of established romantic couples pop up, they will invariably still be in a relationship regardless of how their circumstances differ in the various worlds.
- Sadistically Deconstructed at the end of Codename: Sailor V: Minako and Ace share this, but Minako will always put her mission over love and Ace, knowing this, became Danburite so that she'd understand it by killing him. Needless to say, by the time she debuts in Sailor Moon Minako has some serious issues, even if she does everything in her power so nobody will notice.
- Fairy Tail: Zeref Dragneel and Mavis Vermilion — they are undoubtedly the love of each other's lives, but constant misfortune has kept them apart. As the only two existing bearers of the Curse of Contraditions, they are the only two people that could ever hope to fully understand and empathize with each other. This fact caused them to fall in love with each other, but as the curse's purpose is to deny its bearer happiness, Mavis "died", separating them for over a century before Mavis was revived. Denied a chance to be with love of his life and the only person to have ever made him truly happy, Zeref fell into greater despair than ever before until he finally snapped and dedicated himself to being as evil as the world declared him to be. Mavis, now an Astral Projection only visible to members of Fairy Tail, stayed close to Zeref and was forced to watch as the man she loved begin his true Start of Darkness, all the while being unable to comfort him and stop him in his tracks. In the present storyline, despite everything that has happened, they are still deeply in love with each other — Mavis all but begs Zeref not to destroy the world because it was the world where they met, while Zeref's only regret about his plan is that in the new world he wishes to create, he and Mavis will never meet. The sheer tragedy of their relationship is only highlighted when fans are shown in an omake that in least one other world, they managed to find happiness together.
- Edward and Winry in Fullmetal Alchemist may take the long route to get around to admitting their feelings to each other, but Ed is shown to have wanted to marry her since they were small children, and never displays interest in being with anyone else; once Winry realizes how she feels about him, she never looks back. The series ends with a photograph of them as a married couple with kids.
- Inuyasha: A bit of a complicated example because Inuyasha's One True Love is Kikyou's soul. Inuyasha and Kikyou were deeply in love and were very close to living out their ideal married life, but this ended tragically when Naraku tricked the two into hating each other. Naraku fatally wounded Kikyou while disguised as Inuyasha, and expected Kikyou to take Inuyasha's life while using the jewel to heal herself. She could not bring herself to do either out of love for Inuyasha, and instead used her remaining strength to shoot a single sealing arrow to pin him to the Goshinboku tree. Kikyou was full of both bitter hatred and very strong love towards Inuyasha at the time of her death. The Shikon Jewel became corrupted in response to her hatred while the love granted her a wish to see Iuyasha again. Naraku planned to use the tainted Jewel but Kikyou ordered Kaede to burn it with her body just before her death. Inuyasha and Kikyo's love transcended time and space as the desire to see Inuyasha again was the wish that the Shikon Jewel used to reincarnate Kikyou as Kagome and therefore reconstitute itself despite Kikyo's conscious decision to destroy the jewel with herself. Kagome becomes Kikyou's successor, and although Kikyou was the woman Inuyasha "loved most in all the world", Inuyasha comes to realise that he is destined to be with Kagome (though they are different people, they are also one and the same). Inuyasha and Kikyou (as Kagome) finally get to live out their happily married lives together in the end like they had first planned those many years ago.
- Rumiko Takahashi stated that she chose Kikyou's name basing on the language of flowers, as the Chinese Bellflower's meaning is "unchanging love."
- Naruto has been searching for the one person who would love him unconditionally. However, he was unable to reconcile this with the romantic implications of such a relationship, thanks to his emotionally-stunted childhood, which was deprived of such affection due to his status as the village pariah. He wanted it to be Sakura, because he saw her love for Sasuke, and being Sasuke's rival, sought that love for himself. However, The Last: Naruto the Movie makes it clear that the person he's really been searching for is Hinata, the girl who loved him from afar since childhood, but was always too shy to get close to him. Naruto was never able to notice her rather unsubtle feelings for him because he has never been able to truly understand the concept of romantic love. However, as the events of the movie progress and he finally understands, he realizes who the person he's meant to be with is, as he also understands the true nature of his own feelings for her.
- As Word of God said at NYCC very beautifully:
Masashi Kishimoto: "I think what made me realize it was partly because, if you really look back and think about it, Hinata always supported and acknowledged Naruto, even before Master Iruka. She had the ability to see beyond his reputation and see the true person inside. I think I started realizing that they were meant to be."
- As Word of God said at NYCC very beautifully:
- Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: Arc-V plays with this trope like it does with everything. We are led to believe that this is the case for Yuya and Yuzu as each of their counterparts like them have a romantic relationship with Yuri and Serena being the odd man out. Then it's revealed it's a subversion as Ray, Yuzu and her counterpart's original form, sent her counterparts to be friends with Zarc's, Yuya and his counterpart's original form so Zarc doesn't revive and destroy reality. But despite this they all fell in love and by the end it's implied that each pair ends up together.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Jaden and Yubel. In a past life, as children, he promised to love her and only her forever. His feelings for her were so strong, they carried over through his reincarnation and memory loss: it only takes him a few minutes after remembering to reaffirm the vow and fuse their souls together for eternity. On Yubel's end, she loved him so much she voluntarily underwent a Painful Transformation into a monster just so she could protect him, and apparently waited thousands of years for him to be reincarnated. Her love was so strong it drove her to insanity, damned and redeemed her in succession.
- Apollo and Midnighter of The Authority and Stormwatch. The peculiarities of their comics-verse means that we've seen a great many alternate universe versions of them (Palette Swap versions, kid heroes, samurais, a golly-gee parody of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold...), and all of them are joined at the hip. They take it for granted to the point where Midnighter is disturbed and upset to meet an alternate universe version of them that broke up.
- Batman, despite his numerous relationships in both personas, has only ever loved two women: Catwoman and Talia al Ghul. Of those two women, the one that can be described as the love of his life is Catwoman — but because True Love Is Boring, they have never managed to settle down in a lasting relationship with each other.
- In 30 Kisses, 30 Ways Asuka and Shinji, the premise is each chapter shows a different alternate reality, and in all of them Shinji and Asuka get together.
- The Big Bad of The Bug Princess mockingly uses this exact term for the relationship between the leads. He's trying to rattle BJ's cage, but at the same time, he's right.
- Children of Time: Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade. Interestingly, despite the series involving more couples, it's only to the Holmeses that the trope applies. The Doctor is explicitly stated to have had other loves before Rose (including his wife, the mother of his children), and Watson had Mary before Sally. It is heartbreakingly easy, however, to see that Sherlock and Beth are the only lovers each other will ever have.
- Reconciliation: Shinji and Asuka are this for each other. For a good chunk of the fic we find several alternate versions of Shinji and Asuka. The versions may be wildly different, but they are always in love with each other. Always.
- In chapter 11 Asuka becomes aware of it:
A dream-scape formed around them. A physical realm in which their imagined forms manifested. Simply from the will of a girl who had lived infinite lives, time and time again, with only one constant. Her lover was always there. For her. It's time she was there for him.
- And in chapter 12, Lilith calls Asuka Shinji's life mate.
- In chapter 11 Asuka becomes aware of it:
- RE-TAKE: Asuka told that after Third Impact countless alternate realities were born, all of them different and unique... and the single only unifying element was that Shinji and her always met and fell in love.
- Scar Tissue: Rei visited thousands of realities during Instrumentality. Not matter what reality she visited or what world she went to, Shinji and Asuka were always together, always bonded by destiny. They were one.
Film — Live-Action
- Captain America: The First Avenger: It's implied that Steve believes in this to a certain extent, which is why he has such a hard time with women — he's not looking for a fling to have some fun with, he's looking for someone to spend the rest of his life with. He thought he found that with Peggy Carter, but as we all know, fate denied them a chance at a happy life together. While he's thrown himself back into the fight so he doesn't dwell on what he's lost, The Winter Soldier and Civil War suggest he might have a second chance at happiness with Sharon Carter.
Steve: "Figured I'd wait."Peggy: "For what?"Steve: "The right partner."
- In The Constant Nymph, Tessa tells Lewis that they were made for each other, that she was always going to be with him; fate made her a few years late in finding him, but young or old, they were meant to be together. It helps to know that she's only 14 and he's at least in his 30s.
- Enchanted: Prince Edward and Giselle believe they are each other's, but it's Robert's kiss that awakens Giselle thus proving that he is her true love.
- The Princess Bride: Buttercup and Westley are this for each other. The Big Bad, who wants Buttercup to marry him instead, knows he is doomed to failure as long as Westley is alive because of this trope.
- Sleepless in Seattle: Lampshaded by Annie in one scene, who says it is usually invoked as means of explaining all the romantic accidents. Played straight when she later goes along with the idea that Sam is the one anyway.
- When Harry Met Sally...: Mentioned by Sally who complains of a man she was interested in finding his perfect match. "He just met her... She's supposed to be his transitional person, she's not supposed to be the one."
- In The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams Deconstructs the trope, pointing out that the One True Love is always within driving distance, and of the preferred gender, age, and species. And if the relationship doesn't work, the person usually will find their "True" One True Love under the same circumstances.
- While The Hunger Games for the most part averts this trope, it is surprisingly brought up at the very end. Upon declaring her love for previously fake-boyfriend Peeta, Katniss states that the two of them ending up together "would have happened anyway", implying that she believes they would have fallen in love even if they hadn't been in the Hunger Games together.
- Played straight throughout the story with Katniss' parents.
- "Lifemates" in the Liaden Universe are rare but when they do happen, that 'verse's science of psionics can objectively verify it. (It is eventually revealed that this is due to genetic spiritual meddling by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in the past, and there's a damn good reason why it always seems to happen to the "dramliz" and not anyone else.)
- Condwiramurs and Parzival in Parzival — so much so that both of their names are written on the Holy Grail, allowing them to love each other.
- Bella and Edward in Twilight are repeatedly stated to be this, giving or attempting to sacrifice everything for the sake of each other. In their universe, it is deliberately invoked by the werewolves, who bond to a single soulmate for whom they always love.
- Arrow: On her deathbed, Laurel Lance admitted to Oliver Queen that he was the love of her life. While Oliver had seemingly moved on with Felicity Smoak at the time, Season Five makes it clear that he still loved Laurel even then, and would always love her, for as long as he lived. Hence, her death is the one the breaks him the most, as he never got the chance to admit this to her before she died. He is only really able to move on when he tells the "Laurel" produced by the Lotus-Eater Machine used by the Dominators during the "Invasion!" crossover all the things he couldn't say to his Laurel: that he loved her, that he wasn't the man she loved, and that she always deserved better than him. This along with the fact that it was Laurel, not Felicity, that was his ideal lover in this perfect fantasy, all but confirms that she was the love of his life, just like he was for hers.
- Babylon 5:
- John Sheridan and Delenn, despite the fact that she was his Second Love. The Power of Love between them has been enough for Sheridan to defy both death and torture and may in fact be responsible for winning two separate wars.
- Jeffrey Sinclair and Catherine Sakai, to the point where Love Transcends Spacetime.
- Battlestar Galactica (2003) has Laura Roslin and Bill Adama. Mary McDonnell, who played Roslin, explicitly stated that the two are soulmates:
McDonnell: I do think that the other thing [Ron] created is that there are soul mates in life, and I think that's true with this relationship—if you look at it from a soul-mate point of view, their destiny brought them together to serve a bigger cause, together, and in the process perhaps heal something very old and very familiar between themselves.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: While shippers will find it debatable, Buffy and Angel would probably consider themselves this, even when they aren't together. In the canon Season 8 comic continuation, Buffy and Angel are part of a cosmic destiny to create another universe with their love (or at least their sex). Disobeying destiny and leaving their new paradise universe has massive consequences, but it's the thought that counts.
- The Flash (2014): Barry Allen and Iris West. They're even married on an alternate earth. While both are capable of feeling genuine attraction to others and can even fall in love with other people (Eddie Thawne for Iris, Patty Spivot for Barry), it always comes back to them in the end. Barry fully admits that Iris is the love of his life, and though she has yet to voice it out loud, it's clear Iris feels the same way.
- Parodied in an episode of Friends: Phoebe asks Chandler if he believes in soul mates. He doesn't, he believes in falling in love, but not that there's one person who's perfect for you. She says "Good, because I just met Monica's!" The rest of the episode is him feeling increasingly threatened by this guy, until Monica explains she doesn't believe in One True Love either.
Monica: I don't think that you and I were destined to end up together. I think that we fell in love and work hard at our relationship. Some days we work really hard.
- This is rather odd as in their wedding vows Monica explicitly called Chandler "my prince and my soulmate" and a previous episode had Chandler declaring they were "meant for each other". Many fans were irritated by the Continuity Snarl.
- Word of God views them as One True Love is this quote (referring to an alternate universe episode where their counter-parts still got together) is anything to go by:
Kevin Bright: What it says is that these two were destined to be together. That it doesn’t matter if they were skinny or large, or successful or not, that these two had something in fate that was meant to be.
- The entire premise of How I Met Your Mother is based around Ted's search for his future wife, who has been shown to have the exact characteristics that Ted is looking for.
- This trope played with at the end of the finale when it's revealed that the Mother had died several years before and Ted's kids encourage him to go after Robin since his story makes it clear that he still loves her.
- Arthur and Guinevere in Merlin. Merlin even says that Gwen and Arthur are destined to be together, even though this pairing is never explicitly mentioned in any of the prophecies featured on the show.
- One episode of Mysterious Ways focuses on the idea of soul mates and whether a person can have more than one. One character mentions that you will "never be able to shake" your soul mate once you find them; later in the episode, it's pointed out that Declan can't seem to "shake" Peggy OR Miranda.
- Once Upon a Time: Tinkerbell uses magic to help Regina find hers: Robin Hood. Unfortunately, thanks to Regina's issues and a streak of bad luck, their relationship is ground to a halt every time it tries to start up.
- Snow White and Charming are this, too. They are, according to Rumplestiltskin, the definition of true love, and will always find each other.'
- Played for Laughs for an entire series of Peep Show, where Once an Episode Mark has decided that each and every girl he meets is the perfect woman for him.
- An abundance of them in Princess Returning Pearl: Yong Qi and Xiao Yan Zi, Er Kang and Zi Wei, Han Xiang and Meng Dan...
- Raising Hope: Virginia and Burt have remained married for over 20 years, despite Maw Maw continually trying to break them up, because she wanted to boot out her freeloading family. Jimmy later narrates that "if two people are meant to be together, they will stay together no matter what tries to get in their way"—while deleting a text message on Sabrina's phone from her boyfriend, asking her to go to a restaurant, so he could take her out to eat instead.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The final episode of the series reveals "soul stones;" everyone has one on the North Star, and those that fit together are soul mates. Sabrina stops her wedding with Aaron after she finds that their soul stones don't fit, and walks away from the altar—only to run into Harvey. They kiss and ride off as their soul stones fall together and fit perfectly.
- Supernatural heavily implies Jessica to be this for Sam. He had had other love interests since her death, but none have continued to be mentioned for so long and none of them seemed to have close to the same level of impact on Sam. Azazel and Brady both mentioned that had she not died, she and Sam would have gotten married and lived happily ever after.
- Stefan and Elena from The Vampire Diaries fit this trope. The producers of the series, Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec, have said in so many words that Stefan and Elena's romance or relationship is the true epic love story of the show (despite the show or plot being about a love triangle), they are anchor of the series, they are soul mates and that Stefan and Elena are each other's one true love (much to the dismay of Damon and Elena fans).
- The Beatles episode "I Want To Hold Your Hand" has a scientist aboard a cruise ship, having captured an octopus whose unhappiness stems from being lovesick. The scientist lowers a diving bell into the ocean to gather some input on finding the octopus' true love. The Beatles have hidden inside the diving bell from their wild female fans, and under the sea they discover a similarly lovesick female octopus. Once back on ship, the boys buy the male octopus and throw him back into the ocean to be with the female octopus to live happily ever after.
- Justice League: John Stewart and Shayera Hol are implied to be this, as they were in love in a previous life. Though Shayera falls for for a male Hawk first, it's John she always ends up with in the end.
- Kim Possible: Word of God confirms that Kim and Ron are this. Both have dated other people and have had brief relationships, but as the show goes on, it becomes very clear to everyone except them — both in and out of universe — that the people they're meant to be with are each other. So the Drama implies that deep down, even they knew it, but refrained from taking the next step for their own reasons (for Ron, it was their long-standing friendship; for Kim, it was peer pressure and the level of Ron's maturity). It's only after Drakken interferes and tries to push them apart do they finally muster up the courage and act on what was between them.
- Miraculous Ladybug both plays it straight and inverts it. Marinette, who is the titular heroine Ladybug, has such a massive crush on Adrien Agreste that she has trouble speaking around him. Adrien, who is the super hero Chat Noir, is in love with Ladybug, and flirts with her consistently. Neither is aware of the other's identity, however, so they are unknowingly in love with each other. The only time they reciprocate their feelings are when Marinette, while in her identity of Ladybug, meets Adrien.