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Playing Cyrano
aka: The Cyrano
Constable Odo: The next time you call me, it'd better be to report a crime.
Garak: Now that you mention it, I've just witnessed a crime: Letting Aroya walk out of here without arranging a date. You should be locked away for that.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Broken Link"

When someone is too shy or inarticulate to pursue his dream girl, he has a friend (the Cyrano) supply his words for him. Like most Simple Plans, this naturally never works. In modern works, it's often done via Earpiece Conversation.

The plot generally plays out with the dream girl discovering the true author of the poetic courtship, and being more attracted to him than to the guy he was speaking through. Whether he's interested in her or not.

If there is a Cyrano on each side, hilarity may ensue. In such a double-Cyrano, Pair the Spares may be invoked.

The Trope Codifier is Edmund Rostand's classic play Cyrano de Bergerac. The story may include a direct reference to the play, which will often make it very clear that the character making the reference (possibly the writer as well, possibly not) has only a very passing knowledge of the play.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted by the two female "Cyranos" in School Days, due to the Matchmaker Crush situation. The first one, Sekai Saionji, ends up becoming the "mistress" of Makoto Itou, the boy she was trying to hook up with Kotonoha Katsura. The other, Setsuna Kiyoura, tries to force Makoto to break up with Kotonoha and stay with Sekai.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia: In the famous Valentine's day strip, Austria gives Germany advice on his confused feelings towards Italy.
  • Kyou in CLANNAD acts like this towards her twin Ryou, trying to hook her with Tomoya. This either ends in success (her bad endnote  in the game), both of them give up about pursuing Tomoya for the sake of Nagisa (anime), or her being outed on having liked Tomoya for a long time with lots of nasty love triangle drama for everyone involved. In the end... Ryou realizes that clinging to Tomoya just isn't going to work and makes a plan with Kyou. Kyou cuts her hair to look more like her sister and Tomoya breaks up with 'Ryou' while confessing that he actually likes her sister.
  • In early parts of Hayate the Combat Butler we have Hinagiku acting as the Cyrano for Ayumu Nishizawa. Eventually, Hinagiku falls in love with Hayate or at least stops denying she has been for quite some time, after which the pair agrees to a fair competition of sorts.
  • Used recursively in Zoids: New Century. The Ditzy Genius Steve Toros was asked to be the Cyrano by his friend Leyon — but Toros didn't feel up to the job himself, so he asked their mutual friend Oscar to be the Cyrano to his Cyrano. Unfortunately for Leyon, Oscar accidentally signed the resulting love letter as Toros, causing the girl to fall in love with Toros instead of Leyon.
  • Subverted in Date A Live where the entire Ratataskor organization plays "Cyrano" for Shido, generally with Kotori or Reine on the other end of his earpiece. The romantic subtext between "Cyrano" and the target is absent. Interestingly, neither side is all that good at it(they are both right about 50% of the time), but the combination tends to muddle through mostly.

    Fan Fic 

  • Occurs in the Evangelion fic Once More With Feeling, with Kaji playing Shinji's Cyrano. Unlike most examples, it goes off more or less without a hitch: Kaji is in no danger of loving Asuka as anything other than a daughter surrogate (and is already in love with Misato), Shinji repeats his given lines to himself to the point where he can quote them perfectly, and Asuka is genuinely interested in Shinji. Plus...with Ryouji Kaji as your Cyrano, how could you possibly lose?

    Film 
  • The made-for-TV movie Kiss My Act starring Camryn Manheim was a variation on the Cyrano story set in a comedy club.
  • In Blades of Glory, we do get two Cyranos, but the characters having the conversation both stop listening at the right time.
  • Another two women example: The Truth About Cats and Dogs, where Janeane Garofalo uses Uma Thurman as her unwitting Cyrano (let's just say that the first time we see Uma Thurman, a speaker stack is involved).
  • Roxanne is a modern retelling of the original play, in which small-town fire chief C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) helping Chris, a hunky yet dimwitted newcomer to the department, woo the titular beauty (Daryl Hannah). The insult fight in the bar is a classic lesson in How To Bring The Funny.
  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly acts as a Cyrano for his teenaged father George with the inevitable result that his teenaged mother Lorraine becomes even more attracted to Marty than before.
  • In Whatever It Takes, Shane West and James Franco are Cyranos for each other. The nerdy accordion player (West) helps the school jock (Franco) woo his nerdy (but hot) best friend, by making him seem intelligent and sensitive. As a quid pro quo, the jock helps the nerd get the popular girl by showing him how to be a total jerk to her. In the end, the nerdy main characters end up with each other.
  • In Short Circuit 2, Number 5 the sentient robot, who has scanned through a library's worth of novels, suggests being The Cyrano for his nerdy scientist friend. During the latter's date, Number 5 hacks into an electronic billboard's system and flashes the lines the friend is supposed to tell the girl. The hacking goes wrong, resulting in the nerdy scientist saying nonsense, but he turns a potentially embarrassing situation around by admitting the ruse to the girl, who thinks it's sweet.
  • Somewhat inverted in The Ugly Truth, in which Gerard Butler's character instructs Katharine Heigl's on how to ensnare and hold on to the handsome, and comparatively charming doctor of her dreams. Instead of being interested in the Roxane of the scenario, however, Butler's Cyrano ends up falling for Heigl's Christian.
  • What's New Pussycat? - Dr. Fassbender (Peter Sellers) gets patient Michael James (Peter O'Toole) to speak for him to the woman he's infatuated with outside her apartment, late at night, while they're both raging drunk. She can't make out what they're saying; at one point Michael yells "I said your face is like the pale autumn MOON, are you DEAF??"
  • In Disney's The Three Musketeers, D'Artagnan tries to woo a bar wench using words Athos had previous used. When he messed up twice in the first few lines, he abandons all attempts and favors Porthos's approach
  • A non-romantic version happens in Sneakers: Bishop is caught by the target's girlfriend and has to come up with an excuse for being in the man's office with Mission Control guiding him the whole way. Of course, if Cyrano starts trying to mess with you...
    Mission Control: And give him head whenever he wants
  • A non-romantic example: In The Flintstones movie, Barney switches test scores with Fred so he gets the promotion instead.
  • In The Double, James does this for Simon. It doesn't really work (which may be what he intended all along) and ends with James taking Simon's place and winning her over.

    Literature 
  • M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbets uses the "double-Cyrano" variant with text-messaging. There's a slight twist: both of the Cyranos involved are gay, but the girl did not realize that the boy she was after was also using a Cyrano and so thought he was gay and in love with her Cyrano, with hilarity ensuing when she tries to test this in the most ridiculous ways possible after seeing "symptoms."
  • In Unseen Academicals, Nutt pens a poetic love letter on behalf of his friend Trev, whose romantic compositional skills are limited to "I think you are really fit, want to go out?". Subverted in that, while Juliet is impressed by all those fancy words, she doesn't really understand their meaning, so her friend Glenda summarizes its message as "I think you are really fit, want to go out?". Bonus points for the poem as written doubling as one from Nutt to Glenda.
  • A Marca de uma Lágrima (The Trace of a Tear Drop) is the teenager version of Cyrano de Bergerac, where a girl with no confidence helps her best friend to get the guys she's in love with by writing poems.
  • Only In The Movies has main character Jake's unattractive female friend Vanni acting as his Cyrano, while he pursues the very attractive Alba. She even has the big nose. It doesn't work, and Alba falls for another guy, and asks Jake to be her Cyrano, leading to a situation where Jake is standing behind a curtain, whispering lines to Alba, while Vanni stands behind another curtain whispering lines to him. In the end, Alba ends up alone while Jake ends up with Vanni.
  • This trope is combined with Gold Digger in Exile's Valor, when Prince Karathanelan of Rethwellan successfully courts Queen Selenay of Valdemar due to coaching by both an experienced rake and someone with considerable inside information about the young monarch's insecurities.
  • In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe is asked to help the wealthy Maer Alveron court Lady Meluan Lackless. He succeeds and they get married, but afterward he's quietly sent away when Meluan learns that Kvothe is an Edema Ruh. Of course, she hates Ruh because her sister ran off with one, and it's no stretch to conclude her sister is Kvothe's mother.

    Live Action TV 
  • Newman is Kramer's Cyrano on Seinfeld when the latter pursues Jerry's girlfriend, revealing a rarely seen poetic side. The scheme nearly derails when she mentions junk mail, and, fed by Newman, Kramer launches into a rant that so-called junk mail takes as just manpower to deliver as "precious little greeting cards."
  • Deconstructed—oh, God, is it ever deconstructed—in Bones. The victim of the week ghostwrote love letters for the romantically shy, generating complications and love triangles so tricky she ended up dead.
  • In an episode of Picket Fences, when the girl realizes what's gone on, she accuses those involved of rape.
  • Greg is Peter's Cyrano on The Brady Bunch.
  • in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf trains Quark in how to woo Klingon matriarch Grilka, the Ferengi's one-time wife. (Worf is infatuated with her himself, but he is an exile, disgraced in the eyes of Klingon culture.)
  • Brian is Jordan's Cyrano in the last episode of My So-Called Life.
  • Blackadder is the Prince Regent's Cyrano in Blackadder the Third. He ends up having to speak for the Prince as well when the Prince starts screwing it up.
    Amy: What about Georgey-Porgey's lovely poems that won my hearty-wearty?
    Blackadder: All writteny-witteny by me-ee we-ee, I'm afraidy-waidy.
  • In an episode of Lizzie McGuire,"The Courtship Of Miranda Sanchez", Lizzie is Miranda's Cyrano.
  • This happens in an episode of Will & Grace, in which Will is Jack's Cyrano and tells him what to say to an attractive customer at the department store where Jack is working, using the headsets worn by the staff there. Jack is intimidated because the guy is a lot more smart and cultured than he is, though the guy ends up giving Will his number once he realizes what's going on.
  • Done in Friends, where Ross trains Joey up for Charlie.
  • Charmed has Coop helping a man court Phoebe. He realizes he loves her as he is feeding the lines.
  • This happened twice in Family Ties, with Alex P. Keaton. The first is where he gives very unhelpful (and sexist) advice to Mallory's French tutor, Jeff. He's a little more helpful with Skippy, until he himself falls for Skippy's love interest.
  • Subverted in Yo soy Betty, la fea: After Mario Calderón and Armando Mendoza decided that the only way of ensuring the safety of the company they screwed was seducing and romancing Betty, the person who they left in the financial control of everything, Mario assumes the role of planning and writing a lot of little notes, cards and letters destined to melt the woman's heart. He does that because Armando was too repulsed by Betty to do it himself, and although Mario neither likes her, at least has a cooler head and some level of "professionalism" in womanizing issues. In a tragic turn, Armando falls in love with Betty genuinely, and when he realizes that he ditches Mario's "help" and began to write himself notes with his true feelings, hoping to stop the scam and win her or real before she realized even that something was wrong. Unfortunately, when Betty (who was in love with Armando before all the scheme was even planned, and had no intention to keep the company, for begin with) eventually discovers their plan and realizes the whole ruse both men put her into, she becomes understandably enraged, and convinces herself that the "real" letters by Armando were also written by Mario. That wound lasted a lot to heal, to say the least.
  • It happens in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody with Maddie acting as the Cyrano for London via hidden microphones and headsets. This is because the guy London is trying to woo (played by Zac Efron) is intelligent and London is... well... not. Falls apart when the guy says something that upsets Maddie (he's a conservative, she's a liberal) and yells so loud as to uncover the ruse. Which leads to a Slap-Slap-Kiss between he and Maddie.
  • Subverted in Thirty Rock, when Tracy and Jack meet C.C. on the Clinton campaign headquarters. Jack tries to talk to her, and Tracy, mimicking Cyrano, spouts Non Sequiturs from under the balcony.
  • Heroes has Hiro do this in an attempt to get his childhood hero together with the Princess. She sees right through it and falls for Hiro, making the childhood hero quite upset.
  • Smallville plays with this: Clark, who is implied to have feelings for Lois, reads Jimmy's wedding vows aloud to her. However he wasn't trying to win Lois over or pass Jimmy's words off as his own, which she realizes only as she sees the vows in his hands. Lois's next line provides the Shout-Out to the trope, when she refers to Jimmy as "a regular Cyrano".
  • Boy Meets World has an episode NAMED "Cyrano", in which Cory and Shawn are forced to help Frankie in his "wooing" of Harley's girlfriend. They succeed, and Harley ultimately decides to be a better man and let his girlfriend have what she wants, which is Frankie (the girl naturally goes on to never be seen again). In the ending when Cory and Shawn brag about having played Cyrano for Frankie, Mr. Turner lampshades the misinterpretation of the phrase as they had not had feelings for the girl themselves.
  • Twisted in Home and Away, where Romeo encourages (the fully literate) Jai to write love poems to Annie. Annie believes Romeo is the source of the poems, although whether or not Romeo is fully honest has yet to be properly revealed.
  • In Flight of the Conchords, Brett receives conflicting and humorously terrible instructions from his friends while trying to woo a pet store clerk.
  • An episode of Roseanne had Jackie as the female lead in a production of the trope naming play, but she had gotten ill and hadn't had time to memorize the lines, so Roseanne shows up at the last minute and starts feeding her the lines. Immediately lampshaded when, after Jackie tells her they can't do that, she points at that Cyrano is doing it for Christian.
  • In the Glee episode "Hairography," Kurt, who is in love with Finn, pretends to help rival Rachel get Finn's attention by encouraging her to dress sexier. However, the episode subverts the trope: far from helping her, Kurt is actually trying to sabotage Rachel's chances with Finn, knowing that he prefers girls who dress more modestly and will be turned off by Rachel's new wardrobe.
  • On Stargate Atlantis, Lt. Cadman plays Cyrano for Dr. McKay from inside his own head.
  • A sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look revolved around Cyrano himself popping up to help a man woo a woman in the modern day. However, the man in question is a sensitive, good-nature fellow and the woman is crass and rude. Cyrano's advice is to be brash and offensive, and downright insulting, which the man in question takes only grudgingly. As the scene progresses, he realizes that he has absolutely no interest in going out with this unpleasant woman, and her responsiveness to his abrasive come-ons indicate that she has some real self-confidence issues and should probably seek help with her self-loathing, but Cyrano convinces him to go on anyway, since at least he can sleep with her tonight. Eventually the man refuses to continue, but Cyrano keeps shouting out the advice anyway and actually jams a small packet of cocaine into his hands, which the girl mistake for his continued efforts and she drags him inside.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Barney asks Robin to play Cyrano when Nora finally calls him, afraid of messing things up again. Robin agrees to this, but what Barney is not aware of is that she has a Matchmaker Crush on him, and instead of exactly playing Cyrano, she's expressing her own feelings for him. Unfortunately for Robin, it works on Nora.
    • Another episode has Barney trying to vicariously perform "plays" on women through Ted, feeding him lines through an earpiece. Barney, being, well, Barney feeds Ted some awful lines.
  • White Collar has a brief but strange example. Peter finds himself needing to flirt with a woman in order to get access to the building where she works. His wife Elizabeth thinks this is hilarious ("you hate flirting!") and ends up feeding him a bunch of lines when he calls the woman to arrange the rendezvous.
  • When Lilly and Oliver of Hannah Montana find their relationship on the rocks, Rico finds that Oliver's moping is bad for business. In order to shut him up and bring the customers back, Rico helps mend their relationship by sending Lilly a love letter in Oliver's name.
  • Referenced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as she and Xander give unsolicited advice to Giles on how to ask Miss Calendar out on a date. Rather than the real Cyrano de Bergerac's eloquence, this naturally involves the use of Buffy Speak:
    Buffy: Yeah, you just tell her "Hey, I've got a thing, you've got a thing, maybe we can have a thing!"
    Giles: Oh, thank you, Cyrano.
  • In Smart Guy, T.J.'s older brother starts swapping love letters with his girlfriend but he can't think of anything great to say so he has T.J. (a child genius) to write them for him. His girlfriend, so overwhelmed by how amazing the letters are, starts worrying about how badly her letters would be and asks T.J. to write them for her. So T.J. spends most of the episode writing love letters to himself.
  • In Degrassi, both Tristan and Maya had crushes on Campbell, leading Tristan to chat with him using Maya's Facerange profile to chat with him.
  • An episode of Muppets Tonight had Rizzo acting as Cyrano to Bobo the Bear, feeding him lines through an earpeice to say to guest star Cindy Crawford. It all went horribly wrong when one of Rizzo's young relatives passed on the way back from the fairground, and Rizzo asks if he could play with the balloons.
  • Drake & Josh: In "Smart Girl", Josh uses a headset to help Drake talk to a smart girl he likes and compete in an academic contest so he can impress her.
  • Discussed in Parks and Recreation when Leslie asks Ann to help her on a date and she thinks that Ann is going to suggest this, but remarks that it would never work.
  • The main character in Colombian minseries/short soap Cartas de Amor, Cupido López, is a professional love letter writer, who travels from town to town offering his matchmaking and counselor services. In a truly spectacular case of The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes, his letters and advice to others works spectacularly well (at least until the other main character starts interfering with it), but his own love (and life) problems are a bit more difficult to solve.

    Opera 

    Theater 
  • In the A. A. Milne play The Ugly Duckling, a prince and princess, both regarded as rather plain, each hire a Cyrano to impersonate them during the marriage negotiations. At the wedding, the prince plans to wear full armor with the visor down, while the princess wears a face-obscuring veil.
  • Played at in Much Ado About Nothing when the Prince woos Hero for his friend Claudio.
  • Shakespeare has a field day with this in Twelfth Night, when the "Cyrano" Orsino sends is a girl disguised as a boy who's actually in love with him.

    Video Games 
  • In the video game Baldur's Gate II, the character Garrick recurs from the first game, aided by a gnome named, unsubtly, Cyrando, trying (and failing) to woo a noblewoman who ends up marrying the gnome instead.
  • In Fable, a quest requires you to deliver a poem across most of the main continent. On its own, this wouldn't qualify, but you can claim to be the Cyrano.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, you can be the Cyrano to your party's resident drunk dwarf. It succeeds... kind of.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan, Guybrush has to play this for a giant manatee to help him conquer an even bigger female manatee, who is very angry and would eat him if something went wrong.
  • In Skyrim there is a sidequest called The Book of Love, where you must reconcile people's love problems. The second part of the quest involves commissioning a bard/mercenary to rewrite (ghostrewrite?) an old poem of his for a several-centuries-old Altmer to woo his (human) Redguard love interest.
    • This example is played too straight for comfort, in that Faleen falls for it and Calcelmo has no qualms about claiming to have written the poem that he didn't even get a chance to read before it was delivered.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Little Busters!, minor character Suginami is so shy she can't bring herself to confess to her crush, Riki. Eventually, her friends overcome this for her by writing a love note for Riki and arranging for them to meet. Except in this case, Suginami had no idea her friends were doing this, leading to an awkward moment where she confesses she didn't write the note and Riki is relieved, only for Suginami to continue that she does actually like him, though.

    Web Comics 
  • In Cheer, the spinoff of The Wotch, when a character tries this, the girl easily notices the Cyrano behind the bushes and asks her date, "Max, why is Xander hiding in a bush giving you bad advice?" Max, being The Voiceless, doesn't answer (or repeat any of Xander's lame lines).
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Paz has Bobby the robot write a love letter to Kat, who at first thinks he wrote it on his own accord. No trouble ensues as Paz sets her straight soon.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Rudy once acts as his uncle's Cyrano while his girlfriend Fiona is her mother's. Both feel guilty of starting to fall in love with "that other person", but everything works out well when they learn the truth.
    • And just in case one didn't get the reference the cafe where the two they were writing for meet in person has a waiter named Cyrano.
  • Menage A 3 ran a joke high-tech version of the trope in which the phallophobic and unstable Yuki found herself locked in a formal sexual contest with Sonya for access to Gary, giving her overconfident Hollywood Psych therapist Kiley a month to "fix her brain". Kiley did what she could, but come the, ahem, climactic night of the contest, Yuki asked Kiley to provide support and advice by smartphone. This gave Kiley a close view of the ensuing disaster.
  • Oglaf has an one-off strip where a guy wooing a young woman seeks advice on what to say from his friend. It ends in... a unique fashion (Warning: like most of the stuff from Oglaf, NSFW).
  • Subverted in this strip of Two Guys and Guy.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?". Zoidberg returns to his home planet to spawn and must convince Edna, a childhood friend, to receive his genetic material.
    Fry: Start with a compliment. Tell her she looks thin.
    Dr. Zoidberg: [calling to Edna] You seem malnourished. Are you suffering from internal parasites?
    Edna: [pleased] Why, yes. Thanks for noticing.
  • From The Simpsons, when Homer is supplying Principal Skinner with the lines to win Edna Krabappel back:
    Skinner: So you'll be my Cyrano?
    Homer: Hey, if this thing works out, I won't have to.
  • A variation of this occurs in The Little Mermaid with Ursula tricking Ariel into giving her her voice.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "The World Can Wait", the Brain falls in love with a female lab mouse, but she has trouble understanding his usual mode of speech. So Pinky becomes his Cyrano.
  • In Yogi Bear, Yogi once played The Cyrano for Boo-Boo. He even made Boo-Boo dress up like in Cyrano De Bergerac, though Yogi should've been the one wearing the big fake nose.
  • The Gravedale High episode "Cleo's Pen Pal" inverts this by having Cleofatra ask Duzer to pose as her on a date with werewolf actor Billy Headstone, who Cleo has a crush on. But Duzer loves the idea of dating Billy, much to the ire of Cleo.
  • Spoofed in a cutaway gag on Family Guy, where "woo" quickly becomes "antisemitism."
  • Played with in an episode of Muppet Babies, in which Gonzo woos Piggy with the help of the actual Cyrano De Bergerac. And Steve Martin.
  • On Total Drama Island, Cody seemed to think he needed to play this role for Trent. He really didn't.
  • In the South Park episode "Erection Day" Cartman helps Jimmy woo a girl on a date using this method. Subverted in that it actually works, until Jimmy messes it up by being too forward and deviating from Cartman's plan.
  • Top Cat: Top Cat does it for Choo choo. As usual with this plan, it does not end well.
  • Done in 101 Dalmatians: The Series, with Cadpig giving Rolly the words. However, Rolly mishears her, causing him to throw insults at the object of his affections.
  • Done in the All Dogs Go to Heaven TV series, with Charlie giving Itchy cues via an earpiece. It all goes wrong when Charlie starts playing poker, and Itchy starts repeating his game talk.
  • On Adventure Time, both Jake and Marceline try to help Finn ask Princess Bubblegum to go see a movie. Jake's idea is to dress up in a silly costume and play the lute. Marceline's idea is to release wolves into Bubblegum's room. In an interesting twist, the episode ends with Finn realizing that he has more in common with Marceline and asking her out on a platonic date instead.
  • Performed in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "Trading Places", with Penny talking to Zoe's crush for her (due to Zoe having a large blemish on her nose at the time).
  • Subverted on The Cleveland Show, when Rallo offers to play Cyrano for Junior:
    Junior: Hasn't this bit been done to death?
    Rallo: [tossing earpiece aside] Yeah, you're right.

    Real Life 

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alternative title(s): The Cyrano
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