Relationship Writing Fumble

" cleaned his tonsils with your tongue! That's not a very 'motherly' thing to do!!"
Amanda Winn Lee on Shinji and Misato's relationship in Neon Genesis Evangelion

Most people, after reading enough fiction, begin to have an idea of how relationships begin to fit together, and can spot a budding romance a mile off. Sometimes, though, the writers break away from these conceptions and do something entirely unexpected. Normally, the writers figure out what the relationship between two people should be in a series, then they take the stock derivatives and toss in cues to clue the viewer into how things are between those two people. When this trope crops up, however, it's usually the result of a writer breaking from the established relationship types and attempting to forge unusual bonds. To do this, they need to either re-use existing cues (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions) or create new ones (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions). Although sometimes a writer will pull it off, it more often leaves people with the completely wrong impression.

This trope isn't about writers fumbling the treatment of some relationship they meant to put in canon—making it more sympathetic or less sympathetic than they intended (in nine times out of ten, the trope you get in that case is Fan-Preferred Couple). This is about a writer fumbling their treatment of something that wasn't supposed to be a relationship at all, so fans look at it and go "huh, seems like there's something there." Perhaps they accidentally made the protagonist and antagonist a bit too chummy, or put too much Belligerent Sexual Tension into Sibling Rivalry, or even slipped off the tightrope of Heterosexual Life-Partners. Regardless of how it happened, they managed to pull off a Relationship Writing Fumble and now the writers are stuck dealing with the consequences. In minor cases, it will just be popular Fanon, but sometimes you'll have entire fanbases assuming that's what the writer "really" intended.

The best ways to spot these fall into two groups—Word of God meddling and series dissonance:

This is highly subjective, of course. What may seem like obvious subtext to you might not be the case to another (in particular, a lot of plain old Sibling Rivalry commonly gets interpreted as Belligerent Sexual Tension). See also: Ho Yay, Foe Yay, No Yay, Incest Subtext, Hide Your Gays, and The Not-Love Interest.


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  • This remake of an 80's Folger's commercial has a reunion between a guy who came back from for Christmas to his younger sister. In the original this is innocent Big Brother Worship due to her young age, but the remake ages her up and makes her actions seems rather flirtatous.
  • A series of Renault Clio ads in the UK featured a pair of French people, a beautiful young woman named Nicole and a handsome old man—the viewer assumes from their ridiculous UST and the old stereotypes about French men that they're lovers, until The Reveal when the woman addresses him as "Papa". This doesn't dispel the sexual tension, though, and they just look like an incestuous pair. When Peter Capaldi was asked about his role in Series 8 of Doctor Who, he reportedly was adamant that his relationship with the companion Clara had no sexual tension or flirting at all, requesting "no Papa-Nicole moments".

    Anime & Manga 
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight, particularly the anime adaption, writes the brother and sister protagonists, Shugo and Rena, in a way that came across as incestuous to a lot of viewers.
  • Ho Yay example in 07-Ghost: Teito and Mikage. Mikage tells Teito that he considers him to be as important as his own family (possibly meaning he considers Teito "family") before declaring "I love you, Teito." There's other suspect hints pointing to Ho Yay as well. Such as Mikage's running glomp upon meeting Teito again (complete with sparkles) and sleeping in the same bed together in the first episode.
  • Black Butler: Ciel and Sebastian have so much Ho Yay that it's easy to forget they're only using one another for their personal goals (Ciel using Sebastian for revenge and Sebastian only helping him so he can eat his soul later). There are no real hints that indicate they care about each other as friends, or even fellow individuals, but their constant physical intimacy and dialogue has lead to fans shipping them together more than Ciel and his actual fiancee.
  • Bleach:
  • Word of God reveals that this trope occurred between CLAMP members in the early chapters of Cardcaptor Sakura. The artist thought that Tomoyo had a crush on main character Sakura's older brother Touya, while the story writer actually meant for her to be in love with Sakura herself. When the artist found out her mistake, they quickly retconned the instances of Tomoyo blushing around Touya to be due to Touya (specifically, Touya's ears) reminding her of Sakura. CLAMP had a good laugh about this in a post-series interview.
  • Code Geass:
    • After the series ended, the staff used post-series materials to pretty much answer the Ship-to-Ship Combat between the fans of Kallen and C.C. by saying that Lelouch viewed C.C. as an equal. The problem came when they implied that C.C. essentially used Lelouch for her own emotional satisfaction, which blatantly contradicts her actions throughout the series, especially late in the series but especially in the final episode, where she's shown crying as he's murdered, and happily speaking to his spirit in the final scene.
    • Kallen with Gino; A few scenes throughout the show seemed to establish a relatively friendly rivalry between them, which could have served as the starting point for an eventual relationship, but they just didn't interact enough to properly develop it. The overall result looked more like Gino went from viewing Kallen as a Worthy Opponent to having a crush on her, but Kallen herself never visibly reciprocated. Considering that Kallen's focal relationship was supposed to be between Lelouch and herself, then Gino's advances falling short might be intentional.
    • Rolo claims he sees Lelouch as his older brother, but in some scenes it seems more like he's in love with him. This is to the point where some viewers saw his killing Shirley as a case of Murder the Hypotenuse when in fact it was because he wanted to murder Lelouch's real sibling Nunnally, and Shirley, who remembered Nunnally's existence and wanted to reunite Lelouch and her, was a threat to that happening.
  • Digimon Adventure 02:
    • An episode had Miyako and Mimi growing really close, and Miyako even has a random Shoujo-styled Imagine Spot of herself and Mimi in Pimped Out Dresses looking deeply into each other's eyes. The implication was supposed to be that Miyako saw Mimi as a Cool Big Sis, but some fans saw it differently. Not helping is that the scene is animated a la Revolutionary Girl Utena.
    • Daisuke also has gotten quite a bit of Ho Yay with Ken, especially as Daisuke becomes the main support of Ken.
    • This trope plays a rather big part in why the series' Distant Finale (where Yamato and Sora were revealed to be married) was controversial for many fans. Hiroyuki Kakudou states that he always intended for Taichi and Sora to be just friends, and for Sora to fall in love with Yamato as a way of subverting the usual pattern of the main boy and girl ending up with each other. This was also the plan for 02 until Our War Game! complicated this, because writer Mamoru Hosoda was unaware of the intended Official Couple and implied that Sora had a crush on Taichi in the movie. When Sora began dating Yamato in 02, many people were confused at the sudden change in love interest. Even the voice actors expressed surprise at this. In the English dub, the Relationship Upgrade between Sora and Yamato seemed even more random and out-of-nowhere. Apparently, Jeff Nimoy, who was in charge of the English dub, shipped Taichi with Sora, and thus the script changes made the dialogue look like Tai had a longtime crush on Sora while making the friendly conversations between Yamato and Sora rather awkward and even hostile at times.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • Mamori and Sena are supposed to be platonic friends, but apart from various references to Mamori's feelings for him being practically maternal, some moments can be misinterpreted as Ship Tease. Apparently they were supposed to be romantic at one time, but they eventually wrote that out and made them Just Friends.
    • Agon's jerkass behavior towards his brother is limited to teasing and noogies while his brother, Unsui, wants nothing more then for Agon to live up to his full potential. In the anime this is flanderized into Agon being almost violently abusive to his brother and Unsui declaring that his sole reason for existence is to serve his brother. So a relationship that was meant to be fairly normal (Agon being a jerkass and Unsui being a bit of a prude), ended up having parallels to an abusive relationship.
  • Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor: This trope is probably the reason why the Kazuki/Soushi pairing is so popular among the fandom.
    • At this point, in the middle of sequel Exodus and after over a decade since the original series, it is questionable wether it was this trope or intentional Ship Tease. Kazuki is still as oblivious as ever and the series has not let up on the undertones. In fact, now they only look pretty darn domestic.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist and its movie, Conqueror of Shamballa, is rife with this. Probably the most unfortunate case is with Ed and Al, who seem a lot more devoted to and obsessed with each other than merely brotherly affection would suggest. The Movie arguably had some of this with Roy and Ed as well; Roy has basically withdrawn from the military and his master plan to become Führer, and it's only seeing Ed return to Amestris that lifts him out of his funk. And then they fight alongside each other, completely ignoring Riza and Winry. There's also the intense fixation that Alfons Heiderich—Al's Alternate Universe counterpart—has with Ed. On the girls side, Winry and Sheska spend a lot of vaguely romantic moments together and Winry isn't Ed's love interest like in the manga.
  • Another Ho Yay example: Game X Rush, big time. It doesn't help that there are almost no major characters besides the two main guys, who spend the first volume in a platonic Slap-Slap-Kiss states and the second volume having Deep Emotional Confrontations and Meaningful Looks and Intimate (not that intimate!) Physical Contact.
  • Gundam:
    • Masashi Ikeda, the director of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, said in an interview that he didn't intend a romantic relationship between main characters Heero Yuy and Relena Peacecraft, considering the political and symbolic relationship between the two to be much more important than a romantic relationship. Yaoi Fangirls love to hold this interview up as "proof" that Heero is gay to support their shipping him with Duo Maxwell. However, they completely ignore a few other things Ikeda said, like the fact that he considered all romance in the series ancillary to the overall plot, that he considers himself horrible at writing male-female relationships, and, most importantly, because Heero and Relena are not romantically involved in the series doesn't mean that they never will be; Ikeda even admitted that he could see it happening, after things have settled down. This is further aided by the fact that every official sidestory has a strong emphasis on Heero and Relena's romantic attraction to one another, and that most of the cast (including Duo himself) tries to get them to admit their feelings for each other.
    • Likewise Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, where the writers intended a romance between protagonist Shinn Asuka and teammate Lunamaria Hawke. Unfortunately, Luna only ever acted as a sort of sister figure to Shinn while openly crush on returning character Athrun Zala. In fact, they never hook up until Athrun (and Luna's sister Meyrin) are apparently killed (by Shinn!), the whole thing coming off more like survivor's guilt. And then in post-series interviews, the director called Shinn and Luna's relationship the only "pure" one in the whole show. The directors' claim could come from the films' compilations which expanded the relationship between Shinn and Luna making them the only couple that starts in the series. Meanwhile, most of publications by Sunrise state that Athrun was just Luna's idol and there was not love.
      • Speaking of Athrun, we've got his train wreck of a relationship with Cagalli. Thanks to Aesop Amnesia he rejoins ZAFT and ends up having to fight Kira (again). When he finally pulls his head out of his ass, it looks like Cagalli has forgive him, but by the series end both are giving off very mixed signals. The movie may have been meant to correct this, but at this rate they won't finish it until G.R.R. Martin finishes A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • Gundam0083 has a notorious example of this. The whole series develops a relationship between protagonist Kou Uraki and Wrench Wench Nina Purpleton, and it does this well enough. But then in the penultimate episode, Nina reveals that she's in love with The Rival Anavel Gato completely out of the blue (and does so by shooting Kou, who's trying to prevent a Colony Drop). The only foreshadowing viewers are given is an extremely brief scene in the first episode where Nina seems to recognize Gato, but it could easily be written off as her just having an Oh, Crap! moment. This moment, combined with her early abrasiveness and seemingly valuing machines over people, has made Nina one of Gundam's biggest Scrappies. The manga adaptation handles this much better by having a Flashback that shows how Nina and Gato first met and develops their relationship a bit before the betrayal.
    • And while we're at it, let's talk about Amuro Ray, the original Gundam hero. In Mobile Suit Gundam he has a vague romance with Sayla Mass which is thrown off when he meets his apparent soulmate Lalah Sune (who he then kills accidentally). In the sequel Zeta Gundam, he got a new love interest, Hot Scoop Beltorchika Irma. Unfortunately, she became a Clingy Jealous Girl in record time, so much so that fans ignore other characters (including Amuro) calling her on it, or her later Character Development. Then in Char's Counterattack, Amuro got a Disposable Woman, Chein Agi, whose relevance to the plot was basically nil. A good bit of this was Real Life Writes the Plot since Sayla's actress was unable to return for Zeta, and was ultimately only able a small cameo in Gundam ZZ (the series in which Amuro doesn't appear) before the actress died.
    • Yoshiyuki Tomino averted this somewhat in his novelizations, having Amuro and Sayla hook up in the original series novels, but the relationship is screwed up because Sayla is fixated on protecting the family name and begs Amuro to kill her brother right after they finish having sex. He wrote an alternate version of Char's Counterattack where Beltorchika is still around and is in fact pregnant with Amuro's child, but this was a novel based on the anime based on his first novel.
  • Tezuka's Lost World originally had a plant woman and Kenichi as the Official Couple, but Executive Meddling made him have to portray them as Like Brother and Sister. It doesn't work because of how the story invokes the Adam and Eve Plot at the end, and the art and body language still make it obvious they're supposed to be falling in love romantically.
  • Did Mawaru-Penguindrum fumble in revealing that Himari and Shouma are soulmates? Or was the entire show a precisely choreographed web of relationship fumbles? Depends on how you interpret it, much like the whole series.
  • In-Universe in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. In the Fictional Video Game Conversations with 12 Girls/Girl Princess within a Two Gamers on a Couch chapter, the NPC Tomoda is supposed to be the male friend of the protagonist that acts as Mr. Exposition. However, he is being overly helpful for the protagonist, making the cast wonder if such dedication is, in fact, an In-Universe Ho Yay in a Dating Sim with 12 female options.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto and Sasuke share an Accidental Kiss in the third episode, have what can be interpreted as UST pre-Time Skip, and Naruto seems to have a "broken heart" thing going on after Sasuke leaves. Their "bromance" gets played up for all it's worth in their final battle, with elaborate declarations of friendship along with emotional confessions and apologies after beating the crap out of each other. It's all very, very easy to interpret as Slap-Slap-Kiss or perhaps a fight and reconciliation between two former lovers.
    • Although Sasuke and Itachi are brothers some fans find them to be closer siblings than the norm given their No Sense of Personal Space around each other, their confessions of brotherly love to one another, Itachi's Headbutt of Love to Sasuke, the Konoha School AU omake where Sakura calls Itachi and Sasuke's relationship "naughty", Sasuke's obsession towards Itachi including his insistence that Itachi is perfect and his Sanity Slippage when Itachi dies. He becomes sane again when Itachi is brought back from the dead briefly, and acts almost jealous when Itachi pays more attention to capturing Naruto than fighting him in Part I. Also, Itachi is revealed to have killed the entire Uchiha clan and his lover for Konoha and kept his brother alive.
    • Many fans assumed Shikamaru and Ino, and to a lesser extent Chouji and Ino, were supposed to have something going on. The Distant Finale makes it clear that their friendship was never meant to be romantic. It is simply custom in their families for their clans to be good friends.
    • And finally, this was deliberately invoked and exploited with the relationship between Naruto and Sakura mostly in anime adaptation where they were implied to have a closer relationship than it was intended in the manga. Word of God has even gone on record saying that them being close as teammates through the series was a deliberate mislead.
  • While Neon Genesis Evangelion is used in the quote above, that sort of thing was very much intended to add to the weirdness of the show and the psychological problems of the cast.
  • Even though One Piece is a strictly No Hugging, No Kissing series as stated by the creator, Eiichiro Oda, himself, fans (especially certain ones) were quick to notice a few... interesting facts. Luffy, a Chaste Hero by default, nosebleeds after having seen a naked Nami, but he is not affected at all by witnessing the much more buxom Boa Hancock in that same state of undress (who is also nothing short of head over heels in love with him!). Oda's explanation for this? Something along the lines of "Luffy only acts this way around Usopp, who is a bad influence". That is not a very convincing reasoning.
  • Pandora Hearts: According to the author, Oz and Alice aren't supposed to be a romantic couple, claiming their relationship is "on another level" and therefore they can't fall in love with each other. Of course, it's difficult to see that when one of their first interactions has them kissing to form a contract. Also when you see Oz's utter devotion and Yandere tendencies towards Alice, Alice's Tsundere antics and the way she keeps fighting with Oz's servant Gilbert over Oz's attention, yeah, it's practically impossible to not see Oz and Alice in a romantic light.
  • Pokémon:
    • Word of God said that Misty and Ash were not supposed to be a couple. Their relationship does often come off as romantic though, be it unrequited on Misty's side or not. They have a Slap-Slap-Kiss type friendship throughout the Original Series and Misty has shown jealousy towards girls behavior around Ash. This was not at all helped by a music CD released in America after the show started picking up popularity. The CD features a song sung from Misty's perspective that flat-out says she loves Ash, but Cannot Spit It Out. The American-produced Pokémon Live! musical also featured a romance between them.
    • In later seasons, Zoey and Dawn had a noticeable fumble early on. Zoey constantly appears to be flirting with Dawn (especially in the Japanese version), Dawn's reactions don't help (especially the blush), and neither does the "Prince and Princess" motif of their Contest clothing. Numerous fans thought that they were intentionally writing in a Girls Love pairing, or at least a heavy Hide Your Lesbians slash Romantic Two-Girl Friendship case. They eventually toned it down though.
    • Possibly Ash and both his companions in Best Wishes, Iris and Cilan. The former, mostly from their rivalry and from their Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure episode coming off like two lovers with broken hearts, and another episode involving them going on a day out on the town without Cilan, doing things together that don't involve Pokemon. Cilan and Ash's Pokemon pushing Ash to get back with her makes them all seem like they ship it. Ash and Cilan get this with Cilan's very campy nature and Hero Worship of Ash, which often comes off as obsessive or romantic. The three were actually a popular OT3.
    • There's a reason why non-shippers often joke that Pikachu is the only person Ash could ever love. Their friendship is incredibly strong and the focal point of a lot of the series. It doesn't help that more than a few Pokemon canonically like Ash.
    • Jessie's and James's relationship may count. They're very, very good friends (even if they don't always get along), with multiple episodes themed abut their relationship. James' childhood crush and fiance is an Identical Stranger to Jessie, they fit the Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy cliche, and they're also very touchy. Despite this, in the twenty years the anime has been running there hasn't been an undeniable Ship Tease for them, besides Jessie blushing when James was on top of her in "Training Daze" (and that happened early in their friendship so you can argue she lost any attraction over time).
  • Ranma ˝: The fandom believed Ryoga and Ukyo were shaping up to become an Official Couple, due to all the Ship Tease; particularly in the animenote , due to scenes like these. Rumiko tried to sink the pairing with the "Tunnel of Lost Love" story, then officially paired Ryoga with Akari. While Ukyo was given another would-be suitor, Konatsu. You can guess how well that didn't work.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the Cloverway English dub of the original anime, the translators tried to hide lesbian couple Haruka and Michiru by making them "cousins." Unfortunately, they didn't think they needed to remove any of the obvious subtext between the two, which was clear enough to be picked up on even by children who barely had a concept of homosexuality to begin with. So all they effectively did was to turn a lesbian couple into a furtively incestuous lesbian couple.
    • In a late act of the original manga, Venus and Mars have a discussion about how they can't seem to hold down normal romantic relationships. After the foe of the day is vanquished, they realize that with their duties to the princess, they will never truly have the freedom to be devoted to someone romantically. Mars makes the comment "We don't need men. We have each other."
  • Seraph of the End: It's hard to see Mika and Yuu as just childhood friends/family the way they claim to be when you see the extent they're willing to go to for each other and their No Sense of Personal Space and other moments with each other. In fact you'd be more inclined to believe Shinoa's statement of Mika being Yuu's girlfriend or Ferid commenting that Yuu is the "precious princess" that Mika wants to save.
  • One Sket Dance chapter, called "Siblings" focuses on the sibling relationship between Bossun's adoptive sister, Rumi, and his estranged biological brother, Tsubaki, but the way the chapter is set up, it looks more like an Unresolved Sexual Tension. It begins with Rumi overhearing Tsubaki telling Bossun that he does not consider Rumi as his little sister, leaving her in a bad mood. In an attempt to get them "bond", Bossun had them watch a movie together, after which they proceeded to follow a typical dating sequence. It ends with them clearing up their misunderstandings, and they got along much better (to which Bossun remarked that "their relationship improved too quickly").
  • Soul Eater: Word of God says in an interview in the "How to make a deathscythe" guidebook that he doesn't plan to take any of the main characters' male-female relationships beyond "normal" trusting relationships. Never mind that the way they're written, many fans are convinced that Maka and Soul (for example) are already well beyond that point. A girl hugging a boy is a little tease-y, but overall innocuous. A girl hugging a boy while both are naked? It's purely platonic, of course. Strictly between friends. Nothing romantic whatsoever.There is also an arc involving the characters getting genderbent into the opposite sex. The basis for their appearances is their subconscious image of the ideal romantic/sexual partner. Soul looks an awful lot like Maka during this period, and is lampshaded as such. Black*Star and Tsubaki also look a lot like each other. Way to stick to it, Okubo.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Arima and Sasaki/Kaneki confess they love each other in a familial sense. The amount of detail their relationship gets, and how Arima makes it quite clear that he "owns" Sasaki in addition to Kaneki calling Arima beautiful when they first met makes it hard to see their relationship as just familial.
  • In Transformers Armada, the relationship between Starscream and Alexis was interpreted as an Interspecies Romance by many, and was a major factor in this version of Starscream becoming one of the franchise's premiere Dracos in Leather Pants. For reference, Starscream is a millennia-old, building-sized robot from outer space, and Alexis is a 12-year-old human girl.
  • Wandering Son:
    • Momoko acts like a Clingy Jealous Girl and Satellite Love Interest to her best friend, Chizuru, but she doesn't get much character development apart from this ambiguously gay behavior. Nothing comes of it, however, and in later chapters it is implied that she likes Oka, of all people.
    • Saori and Takatsuki suffer heavily from this. They become friends over the first several dozen chapters but due to a love triangle their friendship bitterly breaks. All this does is create a lot of Foe Yay between them. Later when their friendship starts mending Saori tells Takatsuki to grow out her hair because it would look nice on her, they seem to know each other's favorite drinks, and when Saori dresses up the usually masculine Takatsuki for a school event she begins to fawn in a similar way she does to effeminate males. Later on Saori begins dating Fumiya but that doesn't nothing to deter their close friendship. Most of their high school appearances involve Takatsuki and Saori being together and they're even mistaken for boyfriend and girlfriend. It doesn't help that Saori and her boyfriend suffered Shipping Bed Death and she goes to a romance-related get together without him, making their relationship seem very dubious. Despite this, nothing ever happens and Takatsuki realizes she loves Nitori despite them barely interacting anymore.
  • WORKING!!:
    • Takanashi and Poplar, Poplar is completely Takanashi's kind of girl and he shows a great deal of caring for her, and Poplar likewise seems to like him as well, though to be fair Poplar likes everyone, but she still seems to hold him dear a little more. This is even more noticeable when compared with Takanashi's Official Couple Inami, which feels like an abusive relationship in which he gets Strangled by the Red String to justify just why he's with a girl that is everything he doesn't like and punches him all the time.
    • This also goes for Inami, whose Romantic False Lead Kirio loves her lots and seems like the perfect match for her as he's the only guy able to block her punches, and in fact his love comes from her trying to punch him. She doesn't seem to dislike him either, but they don't get anything going on just because.
  • Your Lie in April: Kaori states very clearly that she's in love with Kousei's friend, and that Kousei is "Friend B". Despite this Kaori spends most of her time around Kousei (supposedly due to her crush always being late or not showing up), barely interacts with Watari, and has more Ship Tease with Kousei. This becomes more obvious as the series goes on, as Kaori becomes quite sick and she begins to spend most of her important moments with her best friend Kousei. This is intentional foreshadowing to a final episode reveal. Kaori reveals in her posthumous letter that she had been in love with Kousei the entire time and used Watari as an excuse to get close to him. The titular "lie in April" was her lying about her feelings.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Jounouchi and Mai are "Just Friends." Right. note  Probably because of this exact dynamic and being (relatively) popular characters, they earned the title "the only het pairing anyone likes" despite the large amount of Ho Yay in the series and the fact that Jounouchi will be paired with any other male in the franchise you can think of.
  • Hiei and Kurama from YuYu Hakusho. Their relationship is depicted as very close. Inevitably, of course, people take it farther than that. The evidence for them liking girls (or at least not liking one another) are put out there, but are extremely thin. It also didn't help that the producers of the anime seemed to like playing up the idea of them being together (probably for the Ho Yay). The author said he never intended them to be a couple, but when fans asked him about it, he speculated that maybe he should have made them one. In the end, he said it's up to fans to decide.
  • Jamie Marchi was accused of this when writing the dub script for Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Early in the show, the titular Miss Kobayashi responds to her maid's advances with "I'm a woman, though." The dub took this at face value and changed it to "I'm not into women," fearing that the original was homophobic for taking it as a given that being the same gender should shut down attraction in general. The problem was that, as Yuri Fans who protested the change know, "But we're both girls" is a Stock Phrase in the Yuri Genre, at least in the Coming-Out Story part of it, and changing it to literally convey Incompatible Orientation because the script writer honestly believed the way it was worded makes Touru out to be disrespectful and selfish at best, predatory at worst.
  • When Marnie Was There is pretty infamous for this. It's a film about two girls who become very close. There's a lot of hugging, holding hands, cute dancing, rowboating, and emotion flowing around the two—and it doesn't help that Studio Ghibli is quite well-known for writing romance. Everything points towards a cute, bittersweet Puppy Love scenario among two girls but it isn't even meant to be a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Marnie was Dead All Along and is Anna's grandmother. Anna and Marnie's bond fails to seem familial to a large number of viewers.

    Comic Books 
  • The fan community of the Marvel Universe has long had rumblings of accusations that twins Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were more than a little too close to be "just" siblings. This become canon in the Darker and Edgier Ultimate Universe.
  • Iron Man and Captain America have a tendency to go on about each others eyes, risk life and limb for each other, do "buddy breathing", and that's not even touching on the time Cap rescued Tony from a burning building and the cover made it look like a romance novel, or Tony's speech to Steve's dead body in Civil War: Confessions. In an Alternate Continuity, Captain America married a female version of Tony Stark. Not only that, but Civil War never happened because they were together, and the world was actually a better place with their combined awesome.
  • X-Men characters Juggernaut and Black Tom practically lived in Ho Yay territory. Their concern for each other was unusual for villains and went beyond concern for a friend. Cain was so frantic when Tom's powers went haywire that he went to the X-Men for help, and Wolverine even called him out for caring more about his "boyfriend" than his own stepbrother. When he slept with She-Hulk (later Retconned into an alternate Jennifer), the way he said "Sometimes women are just plain better" sounded like he actually tried both.
  • Carl Barks was apparently stunned by the Unfortunate Implications the censors found in Back to the Klondike, wondering how he could have missed it all. In the original, Scrooge kidnapped Goldie and made her work in his gold claim for a month to pay off a debt. As the censors rightfully questioned, what did they do at night? Watch television?
  • Batman and Robin have literally decades of this trope behind them. Jokes about Robin's short-shorts aside, for most of the time the two are the most important people in each others' lives.
  • Batman and Superman aren't as prolific, but they have their fair share of Fumbling. There is an Elseworlds set in medieval-ish Japan where "Superman" made out with a female "Batman".
  • Lenore and Ragamuffin from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl. Ragamuffin is portrayed as a monster at first, a vampire who massacres and eats people alive. He also wants to kill Lenore in the very first episode in which he appears, even though he doesn't succeed because he's trapped in a rag doll. In the later volumes, he cares for her so much that he becomes overprotective and focused only on defending her when she gets in reckless situations. Even when he returns to his old vampire self, he remains by her side and puts himself in danger for her.
  • Marv Wolfman sunk the Cyborg/Sarah Simms relationship in Teen Titans; Wolfman eventually hooked Cyborg up with black scientist Sarah Charles instead (at least for a while).
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Donald is supposed to be in a relationship with Daisy, as always. However, Xadhoom is a tsundere for him and most of their dialogue come off as flirting (she is the biggest offender, but he does return it and never seems to mind) and she straight up kisses him on one occasion. His only complaint is her high body temperature.
  • Spider-Man and Black Cat had a fling in the 80s up until Peter realized that she wasn't interested in having a normal relationship. Sounds simple enough, but even after getting Happily Married to Mary Jane, Peter still had baggage over the fact that Felicia liked Spider-Man more then him, leaving the implication that he wasn't as over her as he kept implying. Kevin Smith even cast a lampshade over it in his Black Cat mini series.
  • A-Force managed to do this twice. During the Secret Wars miniseries, Lady Loki and America Chavez's relationship came off as way too friendly to pass for a mother-daughter relationship, and in the ANAD continuity, Singularity is supposed to come off as a little-sister figure to Nico, but was so chummy that one letter asked if they were going to become an official couple.
  • When Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog had a Continuity Reboot, one of the changes the writer and Sega decided to make was getting rid of the Sonic/Sally romance, since everyone had been getting sick of the Romantic Plot Tumors and shipping wars distracting from the plot. However with Sally and Sonic as Just Friends, fans began to see Sally as instead having some sort of budding romance with her supposedly platonic best friend Nicole. The two characters had some Les Yay in the old continuity, but Sally had always been with Sonic so it was clear that the shippers were just wearing Shipping Goggles. Now Sally's available, and since her friendship with Nicole is also played up a lot more post-reboot, some readers thought that writer Ian Flynn was trying to set them up as a new Official Couple.

  • Deserving manages to do this with two toddlers.
  • Hogwarts Exposed
    • Caitlin and Emily are basically sisters through adoption. They are constantly enjoying each other's company, sleeping in the same bed, and engaging in oral sex with each other. Word of God is that the oral sex is meant to be seen as a sign of the strength of their bond as sisters. A sporker of the series honestly couldn't tell if it was a joke or not when the girls declared themselves to be dating.
    • The Card-Carrying Villain school bully Dick Bancroft's interest in Jamie (who we're told he hates, and even tried to kill once) can easily be interpreted as romantic infatuation. Again, this hasn't been lost on sporkers.
  • Child of the Storm seems to have had this develop between Carol and Harry, who were intended to be Just Friends and Platonic Life Partners. Despite that, there's some quite obvious chemistry between the two and Word of God has admitted that Harry, for his part, is potentially interested in a Relationship Upgrade, but more than happy for things to remain as they are, making it an Anchored Ship. It has also been hinted that they will get together at some point in the future, but it probably won't last. As it is, though, they're still young teens, so it's not going anywhere. Yet.

    Films - Animation 
  • Some fans assumed that BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn was setting up Berix and Kiina as a "Tiny Guy, Huge Girl" couple - they hate each other at first, continuously bicker, spend some time together after getting captured, make each other laugh, and after the final fight, Kiina's so glad that Berix is okay that she almost crushes him with her hug. But the writer of the books and comics (who only worked on the movie as a consultant) said no. Kiina was just worried for Berix's wellbeing because she's one of the good guys, but other than that, can't stand him. And they also belong to different species—not that that kept Kiina from falling for Mata Nui, who was technically an artificial being, in the sequel novel.
  • Bolt has the titular character and Mittens. Between some of their conversations, the way they are written together versus with other characters, and their body language around one another, it draws a fine line between a close sibling-like relationship and Interspecies Romance.
  • Periwinkle and Tinkerbell from Disney Fairies are drawn to each other and instantly connect after meeting. They're compared to a pair of Starcrossed Lovers and their film revolves around them trying to be together despite the dangers and barriers... They're also long-lost twin sisters.
  • Finding Nemo: Word of God is that Dory was supposed to be a child substitute for Marlin. Fans however have a tendency to mistake their relationship for romantic. Dory came off as an Implied Love Interest playing up the "quirky woman, serious man" cliche. It's pretty hard to find fanworks (especially Moe Personification art) that depicts them as platonic. Finding Dory makes it a bit clearer that they're platonic however some still mistake Dory being Marlin's "family" to meaning that she is his mate.
  • In Frozen Anna is interested in both Hans and Kristoff, with varied conclusions, but both fall into Strangled by the Red String in different ways and Anna ultimately has way more romantic subtext with her sister Elsa than either of them. The coronation scene where Anna tries to compliment Elsa comes off more as flirty than romantic, as does her reaction to Elsa's new appearance when they reunite. It doesn't hurt that the Act of True Love that saves the day is between the two of them; in context it's sisterly love, but given Disney has spent almost a century showing True Love as romance and only romance, it's quite a mixed message.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls did establish a canon love interest for Twilight Sparkle in Flash Sentry. The sequel however has Flash Demoted to Extra and, apart from a couple of Ship Tease moments, Twilight shares far more scenes with Sunset Shimmer. The film climaxes with the two of them sharing a duet in the final music number—and they're shown writing to each other at the end. This is already after the colossal ton of Foe Yay between them in the first film.
    • If that wasn't enough, in the final post-Rainbow Rocks short 'Friendship Through the Ages', Twilight plays a piano with Sunset sitting on it. The latter then extends her hand to dance, but instead, Twilight gently strokes Sunset's arm. There's also classical music playing in the back, which gives this a romantic undertone.
    • In a deleted scene of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, Sunset is pouring out her emotions to Twilight about keeping the magic under control when she hasn't done so with the other five and is in despair. What does Twilight do? She places her hands on Sunset's while smiling at her and telling her she is free to come to Equestria whenever she feels like it. And, in the actual movie, Sunset is constantly thinking about Twilight, as if one's partner wasn't responding to calls.
    • The Human Twilight and Sunset aren't free from this either. Among other things, in the climax Daydream Shimmer manages to snap Midnight Sparkle out of her evil stage by talking her down and taking her hand.. A much sharper contrast to stop foes then what we've seen before.
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure While they were siblings in the original book series, which started in 1918, the 1941 cartoon retconned them into lovers for the first time. Every subsequent adaptation tends to be ambiguous about it; the 1977 feature film has their duet, 'Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers', comes off as heavily romantic, with Andy stroking her hand, hugging her from behind, and a weird segment where he's hidden under her apron(!).
  • A lot of Toy Story fans mistook Woody and Jessie for having Ship Tease in the second film. They're so similar, have an ambiguous relationship, and develop a close friendship over the course of the film. Toy Story 3 utterly killed the concept by having Jessie return Buzz's affections.
  • Judy and Nick from Zootopia are supposed to only end up as friends. However, the way they are written together, their deep emotional bonding, and their body language around one another have made their relationship come off as a budding Interspecies Romance in the eyes of many. It doesn't help that one of the movie's directors, Rich Moore, approves the shipping, in which Nick's voice actor, Jason Bateman, seems to be an enthusiastic member off.

    Films - Live Action 
  • The Mad Hatter and Alice are a bit on the edge in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). It's some weird crossbreed between platonic affection for a savior and romantic affection for someone Hatter is confusedly attracted to. Actually, it was a full-blown romance in the original draft of the screenplay.
  • The Avengers:
    • Like their comic counterpart, there's Cap and Tony. They spend most of their time bickering, Tony rants about him behind his back, Cap challenges him to 'go a few rounds', but when shit hits the fan, those two go together to fix the engine and work together surprisingly well. Basically, it feels like Slap-Slap-Kiss kind of relationship more than a pseudo sibling rivalry like intended.
    • Tony and Bruce, though possibly intended. Tony is the only one who doesn't treat Bruce like a timebomb, even playfully teasing him and trying to get him to open up, gushes about how awesome the Hulk is, while Banner seems to listen to him and is the only person who isn't annoyed by his antics, then later saves his life as the Hulk.
    • Clint and Natasha. Natasha is unendingly loyal to Clint and wants to save him from Loki so much she at one point offers to free him in exchange for freeing Clint, while he seems to know more about her than anyone else. There wasn't anything explicitly romantic about them, but they're depicted as so close that they're the most popular Het couple in the fandom. Oddly, it's partly because Natasha never flirts with him that they seemed like they could be romantic. Until you find out they're Like Brother and Sister, especially when Clint's wife is introduced.
  • In the 2017 film version of Before I Fall, lead character Samantha Kingston's love interest is supposed to be her awkward admirer Kent McFuller. However, she has a lot more chemistry with her best friend and the local Alpha Bitch, Lindsay Edgecome, who sniffs her hair, calls her "bae," and even kisses her deeply enough to leave a lipstick marking, which Sam seems to enjoy. On the final cycle of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, Sam's confrontation with Lindsay is also far more emotional than the one with Kent.
  • Carrie
    • The Brian DePalma version has Tommy kiss Carrie out of nowhere at the prom. In the book it's made clear that Tommy only saw Carrie as a friend and was taking her to the prom as a favor to Sue. The film doesn't really explain why he's kissing Carrie - since he's basically cheating on Sue. This is probably why both remakes go out of their way to say that Tommy only sees Carrie as a friend.
    • Also in the DePalma version, there's an awful lot of Les Yay between Carrie and Coach Collins, the only teacher who likes her. Collins' actress Betty Buckley stated she intended to portray her as a lesbian, but never specified whether she was supposed to be attracted to Carrie.
    • The 2002 TV version really amps up the amount of scenes between Carrie and Sue, to the point that it almost seems like Sue is interested in her. And Sue also makes a throwaway joke about her and Carrie having a lesbian affair.
  • Ender's Game: There is a ridiculous amount of apparent romantic subtext between Ender and his sister Valentine, to the point that she's appearing in his mind games as the princess that he has to rescue from a castle, and she's the one that Graff turns to in order to convince Ender to return to the Battle School after he suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D.. It's so prominent that the movie's attempts to hint at a romance between Ender and classmate Petra barely even register.
  • The infamous Fantastic Four (2015) barely took the time to set up Reed and Sue as the iconic couple from the comics. Instead, they dwelled on how Ben Grimm, friends with Reed since childhood, helped him reach the scholarship he'd always dreamed of, how Ben (and not Reed's parents) helped Reed move into the Baxter Foundation, how Reed could not consider deploying the teleporter without Ben there, the list goes on. The emotional peak of the movie is when Reed abandons Ben (specifically Ben) in a government facility to save himself from being experimented on...and Ben's reaction is not that unlike a scorned lover. Deleted drafts of the script had Ben consider enlisting in the army once he realizes Reed is moving on with his life and forgetting him. Uh...
  • Freaks: Hans and Frieda - a romantic couple - are played by brother and sister Harry and Daisy Earles. To prevent things from getting too freaky, their romance is very very much downplayed. There isn't even a kiss between them. We've got the Beta Couple for that.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
    • Yeah, Storm Shadow, you're killing the Baroness' husband on "Destro's orders." Sure... Doesn't help that they come off of as more of a Battle Couple than Scarlett and Snake-Eyes, the ORIGINAL pair of leading lady and badass ninja. The novelization seems to add considerable mutual witty banter and, yes, flirtation.
    • The Novelization also offers Ho Yay for Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, who seem to be matching Official Couple (sort-of) Duke and Ana/The Baroness flashback for flashback, meaningful look for meaningful look. (Bizarrely carries over to the Ninja Showdown kid's book.) Oddly out-of-place due to the gist of their past relationship being "We really, really don't like each other."
  • Gone with the Wind amps up Scarlet and Melanie's Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Since Ashley is off at war for most of Part 1, Melanie shares far more scenes with Scarlet. It's made quite clear that Melanie is utterly devoted to her. Even her husband won't get away with making Scarlet cry. Scarlet likewise shows far more distress over Melanie's death at the end than Rhett breaking it off with her.
  • In the film versions of Harry Potter , every film in which Luna appears, there's at least one scene between her and Harry that can be taken as Ship Tease, only one of which (him bringing her as his date to Slughorn's party) was in the books. Combine this with the fact that Harry and Ginny's courtship was seriously abbreviated from the books, and one gets the distinct impression the writers were only grudgingly admitting Ginny was the intended love interest. Interestingly, Luna was sorta-kinda paired up with Neville in the finale, which also wasn't in the books.
  • High School Musical:
    • Ryan and Sharpay Evans; maybe the writers should have thought first before creating a pair of twins who are always hanging on and around each other, make a habit of playing romantic partners in theater, and are even implicitly marketed in the franchise's posters and imagery as being a main couple. We're even told that "if Sharpay could play both Romeo and Juliet her brother would be out of a job".
    • The Disney Channel series Shake It Up deliberately invokes this trope in Gunther and Tinka - Word of God even states that this was done to poke fun at the relationship of Ryan and Sharpay as well as Gunther and Tinka's Expy status of those characters.
    • There's an incredibly good reason why this song was cut from the first movie. Go to 1:12 and tell me those characters are supposed to be brother and sister, especially a brother and sister who don't particularly have any strong emotional bond to justify it a little.
    • Ryan and Chad introduce a Ho Yay Relationship Fumble in the second movie.
  • The Hunger Games omits almost all of Katniss' internal monologue. As a result, the fact that she's faking attraction to Peeta for the benefit of the crowd and her own survival doesn't come through fully, and by the end of the movie it looks like a genuine romance between the two instead of the tragically one-sided relationship of the books. The love story is made to seem like between Katniss and Gale, with Peeta and her public fake-romance with him being an obstacle to overcome while in the books it's actually a love story between Katniss and Peeta, with Gale only in the mix for a triangle that never really kicks off and lasts only through the first half of the second book. And, most of all, for making the love story seem front and center when it's a side plot in the books. For the second film the filmmakers chose, presumably in order to milk more out of the love triangle concept and even things out between the boys, to add relationship bits between Katniss and one guy and remove a lot of relationship bits between her and the other guy. Resulting in most people who have only seen the films and not read the books, including several film critics, believing that Gale is Katniss' boyfriend when in actuality he's her male friend who feels unrequited love for her. To the point where there's a lot of criticism against both Katniss and Peeta over Katniss "cheating on" Gale.
  • In The Magnificent Seven (2016), Sam Chisolm and Emma Cullen have significantly more screentime and frankly more chemistry in their scenes then she does with Faraday.
  • Aurora and Maleficent from Maleficent are often seen as having Mayfly-December Romance overtones instead of familial ones. The film downplayed Aurora's love interest Phillip and focused on the strong bond between Aurora and Maleficent instead. Similar to Frozen, Aurora was awoken by Maleficent's Act of True Love for her which didn't help.
  • Paper Towns: Unlike the book, Lacey and Ben don't have much chemistry. Many viewers felt Lacey had more chemistry with Q than she did with Ben, or than Q did with Margo. This was possibly a holdover from an earlier (and, according to John Green, far worse) version of the script which did in fact change the Official Couple from Q and Margo to Q and Lacey.
  • Pete and Natalie from the Pete's Dragon remake give off a Puppy Love vibe in a lot of scenes, especially in their first scene together.
  • Push: If the reviews and fan reactions are anything to go by, whatever relationship thirteen-year-old Cassie and twenty-three-year-old Nick were supposed to have wasn't what the audience saw, given her Clingy Jealous Girl behavior once Kira arrives and her short skirt. The worst offender was the hotel scene when Cassie leaves, "powers her use" by getting drunk, then returns to curse out Nick's actual love interest Kira, and falls asleep in a provocative position.
  • The fumble between Warren and Layla in Sky High is very famous in the fandom. Layla spends most of the movie crushing on childhood friend Will, who is oblivious due to pining for, and eventually dating, the older, prettier Gwen. Layla cries on the shoulder of school bad boy Warren, who has his own reasons for disliking Will, and the two decide to pretend to date to cheese him off. They have a number of cute scenes and even go to Homecoming together and by all appearances have a good time before the party is crashed by the bad guys. Will only learns Layla likes him in the last fifteen minutes (from Warren, no less) and just sort of realizes he likes her back without much buildup. This may or may not have been intentional; the film was originally planned as the first in a series of four, and according to one of the writers on IMDB, Will and Layla wouldn't have lasted and she'd have "officially" gotten with Warren.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the prequels Anakin and Obi-Wan are hit by this trope hard. The most overt examples are Anakin showing more affection to Obi-Wan than he does to his wife, and Obi-Wan's continued reluctance to off the homicidal brat even after witnessing his deeds first hand. The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith outright states that Anakin loves both Padme and Obi-Wan, that his fall to The Dark Side was ultimately a choice over which one of them he loved more, and describes them during their fight as "closer than brothers, closer than lovers".
    • Luke and Leia, and their behavior towards each other in A New Hope and half of The Empire Strikes Back. Whether they were intended to be siblings from the beginning is one of many things that falls victim to Lucas' Flip-Flop of God, but the end result is this trope. The Westermarck effect doesn't get a chance to kick in when you separate twins immediately after birth. note 
  • In the low-budget film A Talking Cat!?!, the character Chris is supposed to wind up with Tina, but the film is so poorly written that he winds up having more chemistry with Tina's brother, Trent. (Bonus points for the fact that both the boys go swimming in the pool together at one point.) It's worth noting that the company that made this movie also specializes in explicitly homoerotic films.
  • During the wedding in Breaking Dawn Part 1, the dance between Bella and Jacob had looked more natural with more connection and romance than the dance between Bella and Edward.
  • The Wizard of Oz: There is rather a lot of affection between Dorothy and the Scarecrow. Most notable is the goodbye scene where she saves him for last and says "I think I'll miss you most of all" - though nothing comes of it. This is partly due to a dropped plot point - where the film would have ended with a Maybe Ever After scenario between Dorothy and Huck (the Scarecrow's human counterpart). But since Dorothy is meant to be only twelve or fourteen in the film, it's quite possible this is just a platonic pairing.
  • X-Men:
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine is mostly about a heterosexual relationship, but the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth is too strong to be unintentional. While both characters repeatedly talk about how they're 'brothers', the constant Something Else Also Rises, playful flirting, eyeing each other, phallic symbolism, and grappling each other while yelling "Feels good, doesn't it?" kind of ruins the 'brothers' vibe. It's worth noting that the comic-book version of Wolverine's childhood featured a significant redhead named Rose as his first love interest. The first scenes in the movie are copied almost directly from the comic, except with a young Sabretooth in Rose's place.
    • In the first film, there is Wolverine and Rogue. She follows him around like a schoolgirl with a crush—which she is, as it's mentioned at one point later that she's actually "taken with him"—tells him that she wants to live her life on the road with him in the beginning, she walks into his bedroom at night, they hug, he goes after her and does everything he can to save her, he embraces her again and sticks his face to hers when she's unconscious so that he could give her his life force and, in the end, she tells him that she doesn't want him to leave, so he gives her his dog tags as a memory of him, which she keeps until his return. In fact, in the second film, Rogue's Designated Love Interest Bobby actually picks up on this and is clearly jealous of Wolverine.

  • The Belgariad: David Eddings seems absolutely incapable of writing a sibling relationship without getting a bit eyebrow-raisingly emotionally intense - Polgara and Beldaran in the early parts of Polgara The Sorceress, especially, read rather more twincestuous than not. Although, how much of this is David and how much can be attributed to his Co-Ghost Writer and wife, Leigh Eddings, is really anyone's guess.
  • Daughters of a Coral Dawn somehow hits this trope within its second paragraph. Protip, Katherine Forrest: when your narrator starts to wax lyrical on her own mother's "voluptuous hips" and "cantaloupe-sized breasts", something has gone very wrong.
  • Graceling: It seems like Kristin Cashore does this in Fire with the title character and Prince Brigan, with his nearly 180 regard of her, going from (understandably) absolutely despising her for being the daughter of a monster to honestly trusting her. It becomes Fridge Brilliance, however, once it's revealed Brigan learned early on in the book that Fire killed her own father in order to save Brigan's life—because Brigan's survival meant the difference between the kingdom's survival and the kingdom falling into complete ruin. It's a good enough reason for Brigan to seriously reconsider his initial hatred of her.
  • The Great Gatsby has Nick and Gatsby. Probably unintentional, but one of Nick's first descriptions of Gatsby was "there was something gorgeous about him." Then again, since there's more than a little evidence that Nick is gay or at least bi (including an ambiguous encounter with another man at a party), whether this was a Relationship Writing Fumble or deliberate Sub Text is a matter of considerable literary debate.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry and Hermione. Rowling said (in an interview for the book "Harry, A History" that came out in late 2008), "Now the fact is that Hermione shares moments with Harry that Ron will never be able to participate in. She shared something very intense with Harry. So I think it [who Hermione would end up with] could have gone that way." However, in other reviews, Rowling said Harry and Hermione are incompatible, so it's a bit vague-ish.
    • This also extends into the movies. Likely due to the fact that Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson had more natural chemistry, the amount of Harry/Hermione subtext in the movies is astounding. There are added scenes in almost every movie that (if it were any other series) would suggest they were the Official Couple. There is a large group of fans who did not read the books and just watched the movies who were certain that Harry and Hermione were going to end up together. The films' head writer Steve Kloves, while reading the books, thought Harry and Hermione would end up together and told J.K. Rowling he was surprised when they didn't; this has often been twisted by fan word-of-mouth into Kloves being a rabid shipper of the pairing and actively trying to undermine the canonical couples.
    • J.K. Rowling insists that she was never trying to imply Neville/Luna, despite plenty of background moments between the two that are easily interpreted in a cute shippy way (they stare at each other on the train, at one point she helps him into a chair...). This apparently was enough for them to get sorta-paired up in the movies.
    • Many felt Heterosexual Life-Partners Remus and Sirius were... not all that heterosexual, so much that a segment of the fandom went as far as accusing Rowling of homophobia when the former eventually got a female Love Interest.
  • How NOT to Write a Novel warns against this, calling it "The Deafening Hug." It goes on to tell us what those who are Genre Savvy already know: people will see love interests everywhere so you'd better be careful when, say, writing cousins Ben 10 style.
  • Hurog: Wardwick is very close to his magically bound slave, Oreg. So close, in fact, that Ward's younger brother gets jealous. The fact that it is the brother, not the love interest, who is jealous, is probably meant to imply that the relationship is more sibling-like. However, fandom concludes that love interest is not jealous because she is a cool, relaxed lady, and just... ship her with Ward and Oreg as threesome. Just as in LOTR this is merely a matter of interpretation of affectionate gestures, though unlike Tolkien the author is cool with homosexuality and may have decided to just not care what readers might read into it.
  • At first in the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon's feelings for Arya seem forced. This was a problem in Eldest, but he does improve in Brisingr, two sharing more natural moments together. At the end of the series, Arya has developed feelings for him, but decides the only proper thing is a Jail Bait Wait. Eragon, meanwhile, thinks that'd be nice, and might give that a try, if he didn't have some important business to do—whoops look at the time! Not really their faults mind you since they both made promises they couldn't back out of and that those promises had to be fulfilled on two separate continents...
  • The Lord of the Rings: When J.R.R Tolkien made Sam and Frodo one of fantasy's signature BFFs, he probably didn't realize that there would be those who interpret it romantically. The whole world he created in fact has different standards, standards that would normally be respected today. People are openly, emotionally and physically affectionate without it being perceived as emasculating or sexual. At the time he was writing, especially considering Tolkien's own life experiences, this sort of friendship was common and even encouraged—although playing it for Ho Yay was not unheard of either. (See analysis.)
  • In the teen novel Party by Tom Leveen, a character talks about his casual friend like he has a crush on her and is in denial. However nothing happens and he helps another guy get together with her with no sign of jealousy.
    "She's very good looking but I'm not interested in her."
    "I'm jealous of any guy who would date her."
    "I can't be interested in her because my father wouldn't let me date a non-Muslim."
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
    • If it weren't for Scathach being such a Shipper on Deck for Francis and Joan's marriage, you could accuse Scatty of being into Joan herself. Then again Scatty seems to have Les Yay with just about everyone else in the series too.
    • The twin protagonists too. There are some lines and scenarios that feel almost as if it's a love story between Sophie and Josh. Neither of them has a canon love interest either. Of course with The Reveal of the last book that they're not actually related it makes this a teensy bit better.
  • Lampshaded in Sense and Sensibility - the two Official Couples are Elinor/Edward and Marianne/Colonel Brandon, yet Marianne gets all the interaction and conversations with Edward on the proverbial screen (because he and Elinor are Twice Shy), and Elinor and Colonel Brandon become such close friends and spend so much time together that the Shippers On Deck understandably soon believe they are the Official Couple. Jane Austen frequently mocked shipping in her books (see Emma).
  • Twilight:
    • Bella and Jacob have a pretty popular fanbase due to Meyer actually taking the time to develop their relationship and stated that they knew each other as kids. Yet Jacob still ends up as the Unlucky Childhood Friend, whereas no matter how much Meyer states that what the Official Couple Edward/Bella have is "true love", it doesn't change that she wrote their relationship as creepy and obsessive.
    • There's some scenes that can easily support Bella/Alice. This was almost certainly not intentional on Meyer's part, but it's still there.
    • In Breaking Dawn, Jacob/Leah seemed to be the obvious direction for the Unlucky Childhood Friend(s), especially because of the Slap-Slap-Kiss involved. However, Jacob imprinted on Bella's two-minute-old child, and that was that.
    • In The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Bree spends a lot of time wondering if Diego (her love interest) has some special bond with Riley (the leader of their coven) that means that he would be willing to betray her to Riley. This, plus a scene where it sounds like Victoria is suspicious that Riley's loyalties might be swayed from her (keep in mind that she controls Riley via his feelings for her) to Diego, makes it sound very much like Diego and Riley are lovers and his relationship with Bree is just platonic affection. It really doesn't help that Diego's interactions with Bree (a peck on the cheek, holding hands, etc) could just as easily be done between friends and that Bree's constant insistence that Diego trusts her over Riley sound like she's in denial.
  • Kes and Bo, the central twin characters of the Wind on Fire trilogy just adore each other, and as the characters age their love feels increasingly... not siblingly. Whether this s a "fumble" is a moot point: William Ncholon seems very confidant in his portrayal, never seeming to try and escape the slightly twincestuous tone of their relationship.

    Live Action TV 
  • Discussed in-universe in Brooklyn Nine-Nine; when discussing the UST between Detectives Peralta and Santiago, Detective Boyle recounts an example from his past where he and a girl he had UST with tried being Just Friends but eventually succumbed to their lust... while starring in a high-school production of Annie.
    Boyle: We were supposed to hug, on stage. And at first, that seemed like nothing too. But by opening night, we were full-on making out.
    Santiago: As Annie and Daddy Warbucks?
    Boyle: Mmm-hmmm... the audience was not on board. Playwright sued the school.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Writers realized they were writing way too much Slap-Slap-Kiss into Cordelia and Xander's interactions, so they just went with it and made them a couple.
    • During an early Season Four episode Riley is seen comforting a depressed Willow at a party. Riley's sensitivity here and the chemistry between the two actors in this scene (arguably more than Riley had had with Buffy) led many viewers to believe the show was heading for a love triangle, with Willow stealing Buffy's not-yet-boyfriend.
    • "Something Blue": Buffy and Spike getting married was supposed to be a joke, but there was so much chemistry between them that the Spuffy pairing just took off.
    • Additionally Willow and Tara's relationship was merely platonic. Word of God has said that he was considering making Xander turn out to be gay. But the chemistry between Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson proved astonishing - so they made them a couple.
  • On Chuck, Chuck's interaction with Sarah is constantly shown as being platonic, but the way Chuck and his sister Ellie interact around each other is flat-out "friends who want to be lovers" writing. He even does the falling-over-himself and stuttering bits that you expect from a TV show's portrayal of geek romancing. It turns out that Chuck was originally intended to have a love interest in his civilian life, but when it was decided that complicated matters too much, she was dropped... and many of her lines given to Ellie. The writers caught this subtext after the first season aired, and then started taking corrective measures.
  • Season six of Dexter has a guy named Travis, who has a rather close relationship with his sister. A few lingering glances, asking her to stay home from work, and the Big Bad talking about Travis wanting to "play house" with her makes their relationship seem... off-kilter.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The original series is firmly No Hugging, No Kissing, but numerous Doctor/companion relationships have an element of romance to them, deliberately or otherwise, most notably with 4 and Sarah Jane Smith, a point that would later be revisited between her and 10.
    • There's a preposterous amount of sexual tension between Richard the Lionheart and his sister Joanna in "The Crusades". The original script did have them as an incestuous couple until William Hartnell objected.
    • Whatever was going on between Steven and Dodo. In some stories, they get Ship Tease (like "The Ark", "The Savages" and "The Gunfighters"), which is fine... except that "The Massacre" has Steven imply he thinks she may be his own descendant (he guesses she is the descendant of Anne Chaplet, but a 17th Century French woman wouldn't give her surname to her children unless she'd had them out of wedlock and there'd be no specific reason for him to expect that, unless...). It's possible the implication of her descent from him was simply an oversight, or Steven being mistaken—it's also possible that Dodo and Steven's relationship was more familial as the Will They or Won't They? seems to exist mostly in other peoples' heads and Dodo's strange behaviour in "The Gunfighters" can be explained by her being strange anyway—but it's unlikely that both of these were supposed to be true at the same time.
    • Polly doesn't generally appear to have interest in anyone, but she calls the Doctor 'gorgeous' in one throwaway scene in "The Macra Terror", and when she leaves the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Ben to keep working hard and Polly to look after Ben, implying that they are romantically involved (as well as being alarmingly sexist by modern standards).
    • Whether Jo is the Third Doctor's Implied Love Interest tormenting the audience with UST, or whether she's a surrogate daughter figure, depends entirely on what works for that particular story.
    • At least for the latter's first few appearances, the relationship between the Doctor and the Master was far too amiable for The Hero and his Evil Counterpart. As mentioned in Foe Yay, their respective actors were good friends and this entered into their performances, but most appearances from the 1980s onwards extrapolated this into straight Ho Yay—eventually heterosexual when the Master regenerated into a woman.
    • Notorious real-life flirt Tom Baker was prone to sizing up female costars which his character was presumably intended to have no interest in. Bettan in "Genesis of the Daleks" is a nice, helpful female character whose job is to show up for about ten minutes to help the Doctor get back to his companions, but the UST between them is distracting.
    • The abusive relationship Ho Yay subtext between Styggron and Crayford in "The Android Invasion" deserves a mention. Styggron is intended as an obsessive control freak who has no interest in anything besides his convoluted plan, and it was supposed to be him manipulating Crayford for these ends and then abandoning him. Unfortunately, the extreme, gibberish-level convolution of his plan means that his Gaslighting of Crayford comes across as abuse for its own sake. The Padding scenes added by Robert Holmes add a whole subplot where Styggron straps down Crayford to an Agony Beam scanner to psychologically torture him by creating and destroying a robot duplicate in front of him, which makes Crayford's later obsessive devotion to him come off as inexplicable, unless he's emotionally codependent. The Doctor eventually has to talk Crayford into realising that Styggron's been lying to him about who he really is, which Crayford plays in the manner of someone finally realising the truth about an abusive husband.
    • The Doctor and Leela. Their relationship has a bigger power dynamic differential than most Doctor/companion relationships, with Leela being his student and, to a certain extent, his creation. Their relationship was intended to be more distant and vertical than with Sarah Jane, a carry-over from the Third Doctor era who didn't quite fit the Fourth Doctor's alienness. And none of it stops the Doctor checking her out in pretty dresses and trying to grope her thighs or sniff her hair while hiding with her in doorways.
    • The Doctor and K-9 were supposed to be Vitriolic Best Buds. Early in K-9's run, Tom Baker plays it more like the Doctor sincerely hates the Robot Dog and is only tolerating him because he's useful. Check out "Underworld", where he outright snarls at K-9's unhelpful comments, and plays the scene where he has to talk about K-9 being his best friend slightly mockingly, as if he's buttering up K-9 for favours.
    • Romana was a very attractive woman (in both of her incarnations) and a Time Lord like the Doctor, thus removing the Interspecies Romance issue entirely. She was his intellectual equal, and thus the usual mentoring overtones of his relationships with most other companions were absent and they came across more as (possibly romantic) partners. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward had a rather volatile real-life romantic relationship during their run on the show adding a large dose of Reality Subtext as well, which resulted in some Relationship Acting Fumble. In some episodes they come across as ridiculously in love and are clearly turning each other on a lot with their presence—and in others they won't even look at each other and stumble through their lines in a contemptuous monotone. Word of God is that one can sometimes tell if the actors had had a falling out by how they interacted on screen.
    • During the Fifth Doctor's run, there was a no touching rule between the Doctor and his female companions to dispel the notion that he could be having a sexual relationship with either of them. It just made fans think he was having one with the token male companion of the time, who wasn't subject to those restrictions. Peter Davison noticed this himself during a DVD Commentary, musing that Turlough was created so that the Doctor would have someone he could "put his arm around".
    • The Fifth Doctor and Susan are also widely noted to have looked like they were checking each other out in their scenes together. Possibly a bit hard to play a convincing grandfather-granddaughter relationship with a ten-year age difference in the wrong direction.
      • In the same story, there's a whole scene where the First Doctor appears to be checking out his granddaughter's arse that was so gobsmackingly overt that reruns cut it out.
    • Inverted in the serial "The Mark Of The Rani." The novelization of the story makes it quite clear that The Rani wants absolutely nothing to do with The Master and sees him as a nuisance (it almost seems as if Pip and Jane are expressing how they feel about The Master being added to the story in the first place). However, in the actual televised serial, Kate O'Mara and Anthony Ainley (especially Anthony Ainley) were clearly playing up the characters' UST for all it was worth.
    • In "The End Of Time", Naismith and his daughter seem to have a lot of sexual tension going on, almost to the point of squick. Since the show is still aimed at kids, and the UST has no bearing on the plot whatsoever, it just comes across as random.
    • Steven Moffat loves exploring the murky territory between familial love, sexual love, and different familial roles, usually via time travel. While a small vocal minority still insists that he's in favour of Wife Husbandry, it's usually tasteful, and he's won awards for stories focusing on these themes more than a couple of times (see: "The Girl in the Fireplace", about the Doctor's protection of a little girl as she grew causing her adult self to fall in love with him; and "Listen", where time travel accidents cause Clara to meet her boyfriend's child self, her boyfriend's Identical Grandson, and the child self of the Doctor). But it's very unlikely he would have had the Doctor, Amy and Rory all flirting with each other so much if he'd known where their arc would end up going. Or the parts where River appears to flirt with Amy. Even after he knew exactly what he was doing, he was still pushing the sexual angle between Amy and the Doctor hard, by repeatedly implying for Bait and Switch reasons that Amy's baby was the Doctor's.
    • The Doctor and Clara Oswald. As soon as they get together as a team, there's near-constant subtext about their friendship not being in a brotherly-sisterly realm, despite its platonic nature. The Doctor reluctantly (if happily) shows signs of having a chaste crush on Clara, largely because she's given him a new sense of purpose after he was very withdrawn from the world prior to befriending her. This is not helped by Clara, cheeky as she often is, taking him by the shoulder in episodes like "Hide" and "The Crimson Horror" or making him shyly squirm over minor gestures of affection. Jenna Coleman herself noted that Clara had grown to really like him, but it wasn't until his regeneration in "The Time of the Doctor" that she (belatedly) realised she was a little bit in love with him as well. Despite Peter Capaldi begging Steven Moffat not to write the relationship between Clara and his more morose incarnation as romantic (at least, so the claim has been made; this has since been denied), theirs is an intense bond, complete with long anguished looks at each other and a flat-out (if veiled) love declaration. At the end of season 9, the Doctor subjects himself to billions of years of torture to undo her death, shoots another Time Lord (with a gun!!) to escape with her, and then uses tech to lobotomize his memories of her as the only possible way of letting her go.
  • Though opinion is divided (as plenty of viewers strongly dislike this pairing), the relationship between Tom and Mary on Downton Abbey has them acting like a married couple after the deaths of their respective spouses. They're brother and sister in-law and each get new love interests over the course of the show—but that doesn't change the fact that they spend nearly every waking moment together, are able to communicate without words, are the missing mother/father figure to the other's child, and have an understanding of each other that goes beyond what anyone else in the show has.
    • Even stranger, despite the fact that throughout season six Tom becomes The Matchmaker to Mary and her latest Love Interest, most of his heartfelt speeches about why Mary should be with Henry are phrased in such a way that makes it seem like he's talking about himself (as with this one) as though it's all part of a desperate attempt to fight his own feelings.
  • In-Universe in Father Ted: Ted and Dougal are attempting to write lyrics for an entry for Eurosong. Dougal's first suggestion for lyrics for a song called "My Lovely Horse" is "My lovely horse I want to hold you so tight/ I want to rub my fingers through your tail and love you all night." When Ted points out that the lyrics should be about being best friends with the horse, not about being in love with the horse, Dougal proposes "Take this lump of sugar, baby, you know you want it."
  • Flash Forward features a gay couple on their first date discussing getting married, having children, and saying things like 'I'd never leave you'. That doesn't happen the first time you go out for dinner (although, Janis does end up being put-off by the obsessiveness that her date ultimately displays). Furthermore, Janis has more chemistry with Demetri (who has a fiancee, with whom he has not a terrible amount of chemistry) than with the aforementioned date.
  • Game of Thrones: While it has yet to be seen whether it was intentional on the writers' parts, Sansa and Jon have some definite sexual chemistry in the course of Season 6 after having gone through the Trauma Conga Line, and being the only family either has seen in ages, they become very close and prone to Held Gazes and affectionate gestures. Many reviewers have commented that they thought it was going to be a Relationship Upgrade moment when they were in the top of the ramparts together, but then he went to kiss her forehead. The Reveal that they're actually cousins is only making the shipping easier.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • We have the normal Betty and Veronica dynamic for Lorelai and Rory's romantic interests. The Will They or Won't They? gets resolved between Luke and Lorelai for the 5th season. Dean gets awkwardly Put on a Bus and Logan Huntzberger complicates Rory and Lorelai's relationship for the first half of season 6. Then Luke suddenly finds out he has a daughter, drawing the Will They or Won't They? out until the series finale. In an attempt to "fix" the mistakes from the sixth season, Logan doesn't even end up with Rory while Luke and Lorelai finally get together in the finale, yet it feels more like a Last Minute Hookup.
    • Jess and Rory: They had a very popular relationship in Season 3 that ended because of personal issues, bad-timing and Jess's spin-off. (Which was then cancelled). They continued to harbour feelings for each other and Jess returned as a mature, reformed man. He won over the rest of the viewers in persuading Rort to get her life back on track and reunite with her mom. (She'd become a college drop-out and party girl since meeting Logan). Obviously the writers were heading toward Rory dumping Logan and moving past her mistakes like Jess did? Their timing is finally right. Um, no, she rejects Jess and returns to Logan who was pretty much hated at the time? What?
    • Marty, a sweet fellow Yale classmate of Rory who seemingly combines the positive traits of Dean and Jess. Yet nothing ever happens and Marty gets written out to make room for Logan. Rather than giving the character a proper sendoff, Marty unexpectedly returns during the last season, having become a Jerk Ass seemingly only to strengthen the friendship between Rory and her two new Yale friends, who were mostly devoid of personality.
    • Many people believe that Paris' uncanny ability to insert herself into every facet of Rory's life, is proof that she's clearly enamoured with her, something that Rory is utterly oblivious to. Likewise, she displays far more chemistry with Rory than any of her so called "Boyfriends".
  • In GoGo Sentai Boukenger, Natsuki has no memory of anything that happened before she met Masumi - her memories were erased to protect her identity as the last survivor of a destroyed civilization. They go everywhere together, do everything together, and Natsuki is explicitly stated to be "the light to Masumi's darkness" and the only one who can pull him out of a state of intense despair. They are one of the most popular ships in the entirety of the franchise, yet they never reached Official Couple status, and the actors stated in interviews that the characters' relationship was akin to that of parent-child or brother-sister.
  • Claire and Peter in Heroes have a whole lot of sexual tension going on, despite being related. It was originally unintentional, and they backed away pretty quickly. The big problems were that: 1) They had excellent in-character reasons to be thrilled to meet each other, and the fandom interpreted it as the start of a Rescue Romance, and 2) The show hadn't revealed that they were related yet. It didn't help that the actors actually dated.
  • House:
    • The friendship between House and Wilson had such intense Ho Yay overtones that writer Doris Egan couldn't resist writing just a bit more of it each episode. This earned her the nickname "Saint Doris" among fans, but the other writers weren't quite on board and kept downgrading Egan's Relationship Upgrade moments again. Showrunner David Shore had to Word of God nix the canon likelihood of House and Wilson becoming a couple in a semi-famous interview with TV critic Mo Ryan, after Doris Egan's writing on the "Amber" Story Arc made the subtext nearly text. This was not the first, the last, or even the most blatant hint for the two.
    • The Unresolved Sexual Tension and the surprising resemblance between House and Cameron was written effectively enough, and Hugh Laurie and Jennifer Morrison had chemistry enough, that even after the two of them were paired off with different people, they could scarcely be in the same room for more than ten seconds without making many fans wonder how they hadn't already jumped each other's bones. It's possible that Cameron was written off the show in order to put an end to any possibilities between them once and for all.
  • iCarly:
    • Carly and Spencer had an incestuous dynamic similar to Justin/Alex or Ellie/Chuck.
    • The blatant Sam/Carly undertones. Although the fumble may have been deliberate considering Dan Schneider and his penchant for including hidden Ho Yay and Les Yay in his supposedly teenage focused shows.
    • Spencer/Sam. One episode had Spencer lean over and tongue Sam's ear so she could hear his pop rocks crackling, and a later episode stated that she had a crush on Spencer.
    • A meta fumble, with the writers creating two opposing Shipping sects, with the Just Friends Carly/Freddie romance vs the Belligerent Sexual Tension couple Sam/Freddie, and then pushing each in multiple episodes, only to turn around and tell the audience they were watching the show wrong.
  • If the writers of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries wanted viewers to believe Havers and Lynley aren't falling head-over-heels in love throughout the course of the show, they really shouldn't have had them call each other their reason to get up in the morning, or given them the infamous Cry into Chest at the end of "In Divine Proportion" that looks like nothing so much as a man comforting his traumatized lover. Many, many fans have pointed out that Lynley has much better chemistry—and a much healthier relationship—with Barbara than he ever did with Helen.
  • In Life With Derek, the titular character and his step-sister have a very flirty relationship with each other. A lot of moments between the two that may have been intended to be family-like are... not family-like. Huge emphasis on the may. In later seasons, the writers became the Masters of the Mixed Messages and weren't really clear what the relationship between the two really is. Word of God states that Derek and Casey "care for each other more than anyone," but whether it's on a family level or a romantic level was left ambiguous (much to the displeasure of the Dasey fanbase). And it doesn't help that the actor and actress who play Derek and Casey (Michael Seater and Ashley Leggat respectively) seem to support the Derek/Casey pairing and (most likely due to being good friends in real-life) had great on-screen chemistry.
  • The Mentalist has Jane and Lisbon, who the writers insist have a platonic version of Belligerent Sexual Tension. Fans didn't buy it, and in later seasons it seems as if the writers just ran with it. As of season 5 Lisbon has begun to fall in love with Jane. Even Jane's hallucination of his daughter ships them.
    Jane: He does love you... how could he not?
  • Merlin:
    • Arthur and Morgana behave like Flirty Step Siblings, with lots of Slap-Slap-Kiss. In series two, the writers immediately backed off, leery about Brother-Sister Incest implications and the need to justify the increasingly marginalized Gwen by upgrading her to love interest for Arthur. But the third season has The Reveal that Morgana is Uther's biological daughter and Arthur's half-sister, throwing past Arthur/Morgana interactions into a whole new light. In the most of the well-known versions of Arthurian legend, Mordred is their son, not a kid who they rescue together, and in all of those they're usually brother and sister. (Mordred generally turns out to be a Bastard Bastard and attempts to get revenge on Arthur as a morality tale against out-of-wedlock relationships and incest.)
    • In the first season of the show, before Arthur got roped into a for-life Official Couple, most of the fans thought that Arthur/Merlin was a legitimate thing, what with the long poignant gazes, the Belligerent Sexual Tension, and the Slash Dragon saying things like "A half cannot truly hate that which makes it whole" every two seconds. Consider the following dialogue between Merlin and his mother:
      Hunith: He must care for you a great deal.
      Merlin: Arthur'd do the same for any village. That's just the way he is.
      Hunith: It's more than that. He's here for you.
      Merlin: I'm just his servant.
      Hunith: Give him more credit than that. He likes you.
    • While the respective actors of Arthur and Gwen have great friendship chemistry, but the moment she starts being all "I believe in you, Arthur," and he's all "I love you, but we can never be together," the whole scene starts reading like cardboard. Bradley James has said himself that when he's kissing Angel Coulby, it's very mechanical. Of course, this was a fumble that couldn't really be avoided, what with them being Arthur and Guinevere and making the move to have Gwen not be an arranged marriage princess.
    • Some people were a bit confused as to why Gwen and Merlin, on the other hand, seemed to be hitting it off rather... well during the first season. Gwen did have a crush on Merlin, but starting with episode 5 she was getting over it (to a certain degree of success). Too bad the writers rushed so many major developments, such as her and Arthur almost spontaneously developing feelings for each other in Series 2. It's probably for this reason that physical contact between Merlin and Gwen was limited from that point on, to tone down Colin and Angel's chemistry (the characters are meant to be Like Brother and Sister).
  • Monk: The relationship between Adrian Monk and his two attractive female assistants was certainly not an out-of-the-box relationship type. In spite of the obvious opportunities for sexual tension, there is virtually none of it, and the show is all the better for that. Overall, Sharona and Natalie are shown as feeling devotion and even love toward Monk, but in an utterly platonic, somewhat motherly way. Monk, for his part, was always dedicated to the memory of his late wife. However:
    • In the episode "Mr. Monk Gets Married," where Adrian and Sharona have to impersonate a married couple, there is an eyebrow-raising tender moment where Sharona thanks Adrian for letting her wear his wife's ring to carry off the ruse.
    • With Natalie, there were a few isolated incidents where she really seemed to be coming onto him. In particular, there are the several scenes in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" where she fawns over how handsome he looks in uniform; and the downright bizarre stake-out scene in "Mr. Monk and the Genius," where Patrick Kloster spots her and Monk spying on him and Natalie inadvertently blurts, "We should kiss!"
  • In Neighbours, Libby Kennedy and Stephanie Scully are meant to be 100% heterosexual. Their actors... do not portray them as 100% heterosexual.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • It's probably down to Jennifer Morrison having chemistry with half the male guest stars on the show, but Emma and August certainly seemed as if something was about to go on. Most of August's early scenes consisted of him flirting shamelessly with her and yet nothing came of it. It almost seems as if the writers retconned into a platonic thing, as August was Put on a Bus in Season 2 and Emma was then given two more canon love interests. August's Season 4 return at least acknowledges this somewhat—with Killian getting a little jealous at their conversations.
    • As noted here, the chemistry between Snow White and Red Riding Hood and the way their scenes are shot look very couple-y. Although Red is a Shipper on Deck for Snow and Charming, there's no denying the sheer amount of Les Yay Snow and Red have.
    • Emma and Regina have been noted to have this, particularly from Season 4. One episode is devoted entirely to Emma attempting to rebuild her friendship with her. And Emma's devotion to Regina is startlingly like that of a lover, especially in the Season 4 finale. Despite both of them having canon love interests, many fans are convinced that Emma and Regina are the show's Official Couple.
    • Despite Aurora being married to Philip, he's out of sight for most of Season 2 and she shares more screen time with Mulan. Writers seemed to pick up on this one and subvert the trope by revealing that Mulan actually is in love with Aurora.
    • Emma and Lily have this in spades. Lily first appears in a flashback as a special friend that Emma once had. Their scenes are shot, lit and scored in a way that made fans wonder if Lily was really Ambiguously Gay. If the character had been a boy, it would have immediately been interpreted as a love story. Naturally when Lily was brought back, the Les Yay aspect was played up in their scenes even more.
    • Season 3 also sets up a She Is Not My Girlfriend moment between Hook and Tinkerbell (yes, really). When Emma asks if they were ever involved, Tink denies it while Hook implies it. The matter is never approached again.
    • Despite Ariel's introduction episode being all about her trying to win Eric's heart, she shares only one scene with him. And yet she makes more of an emotional connection with Snow. The friendship between them is given far more development and screen time than Ariel's crush on Eric.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: Jane and Maura are intended to be Heterosexual Life-Partners, but unless one of them is literally in bed with someone else it's very easy to just pretend that they're married. Given the amount of time Jane spends are Maura's house, it wouldn't be difficult for a casual viewer to mistake them as living together. There has been no shortage of subtext, including multiple instances of falling asleep in the same bed, undressing in front of one another, Maura being the only non-family member present at Rizzoli family events (many of which Maura hosts), heart-to-hearts between both Maura and Jane and Maura and Jane's mother, and long, significant glances and meaningful lines, as well as several probably unintentional but still rather poignant parallels. It's firmly established that Jane cares for Maura just as much as her brothers, and Jane is implied to be the first close friend Maura has ever had. The writers have tried to temper this by introducing a revolving door of increasingly "perfect" love interests for both characters and putting more and more emphasis on their love lives with other people, but to no avail. The end of season four has a scene where Maura starts crying after she finds out that Jane might get engaged (she doesn't).
  • Smallville:
    • Chloe and Clark, non-stop. The producers tried to sink it via Word of God multiple times, but the way they write their relationship, they just like torturing viewers. More than one article covering the special "Justice" made the mistaken assumption that Clark's jealous guarding of Chloe from The Flash—er, Impulse was on his own behalf rather than Jimmy Olsen's. Given that this behavior has been happening all the way up to and including Season 8, it's difficult to blame people for the Chlois theory when they keep doing this.
    • Clark and Lex in earlier seasons. There was a lot of unintentional(?) innuendo in their relationship, starting with Clark performing CPR on Lex in the Pilot. Director's commentary for the pilot suggests that they either invoked this intentionally or can see how they started it, joking about the CPR being Clark and Lex's first kiss.
  • On So Weird, the writers devoted a lot of screen time to the close relationship between Carey and Molly, for whatever reason. The writer's admit that Carey came off as too mature for it to have a mother/son vibe, and could easily be seen as a May–December Romance.
  • Stargate SG-1:
  • Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis. They're written like they're the show's blooming romance, and actors Torri Higginson and Joe Flanigan certainly play it like they're a couple. In spite of the relationship's popularity, the writers completely deny any such thing.
  • Stargate Universe went the other way. Chloe Armstrong appeared to be developing a strong relationship with Eli Wallace, a somewhat chubby math geek. This was nixed when she suddenly started sleeping with Lt. Matthew Scott.
  • Star Trek:
    • Most Star Trek: Enterprise viewers assumed Captain Archer and Science Officer T'Pol were intended to be each other's main romantic interests since that's how they were written, until the writers put a stop to that by grabbing hold of T'Pol's Belligerent Sexual Tension with Trip.
    • The Deep Space Nine writers famously stopped giving Bashir and Garak so many scenes together when they found out the characters had a huge shipping following. It didn't help that the Bashir and Garak subtext was (according to Andrew Robinson, Ron Moore, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe) put there deliberately with the expectation that nobody would really notice. The same thing happened shortly thereafter with Bashir and O'Brien, but this time the writers realised the slashers were gonna slash anyway, so they continued to emphasize that friendship.
    • Kirk and Spock are either in love with each other, or this trope. It's possible they started out as the latter, but the writers were certainly aware of the former interpretation by the time The Motion Picture was filmed—the novelisation reveals that there are rumours about the relationship even in their universe. Instead of attempting to de-slash the relationship, the movies seem to take the subtext and run with it, to the point that the two of them can arguably be read as a married couple. "The noblest half of myself", anyone?
    • Star Trek: Voyager actually managed this with a breakup: Kes dumps Neelix while possessed in "Warlord", yet everyone treated this as though it was a genuine end to the relationship and both were free to move on. They also managed enough Ho Yay to kill a slashficcer on contact, culminating in a Strangled by the Red String relationship between Seven and Chakotay, both of whom had had more romantic chemistry with Janeway than they had with each other.
  • In Suburgatory, Tessa and her father George sometimes act more like a couple than a father and daughter.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam and Dean are unusually co-dependent (to the point of it being unhealthy) for just being brothers. They risk their lives for one another countless times, and both of them readily admit they are each others' greatest weakness. In the early seasons especially, the brothers were very touchy-feely with each other, especially Dean towards Sam (though Sam gave as good as he got in Seasons 3 and 4, when he was pretty well permanently terrified that Dean was going to die). Throw in more emotional scenes, brotherly-devotion speeches, and Died In Your Arms weepery, and they definitely stretched the idea of how "normal" brothers interact. In later seasons this seems to have calmed down, but the brothers have also finally learned how to hug. Eric Kripke, the creator, has admitted that he can see why so many fangirls see the Homoerotic Subtext between the brothers, lampshading it several times during the series, and one of the Exec Producers herself has been known to refer to the show as The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean.
    • The same problem was introduced along with Castiel. The writers use dozens of romantic tropes and hint that Dean is Ambiguously Bi but deny there's anything between the two.
  • Allegedly, the writers of Tin Man were going to ship DG and Cain, but Neal McDonough refuses to film love scenes of any kind. As such in the miniseries, fans are split down the middle as to whether there was an attraction - or more of a father/daughter relationship. The fact that Cain believes his wife to be alive for half the story muddies the issue even further.
  • Veronica Mars: In the first half of season two, the writers put Veronica and Duncan back together as a couple (after quite awhile of both the characters and the audience believing they were most likely half-siblings!), and, according to what the writers and show-runner said in interviews, it was a supposed to be a happy, healthy relationship. It did not come off that way at all. Instead, it came across as a miserable relationship where Duncan was having dreams about his ex-girlfriend Meg, generally acting as though he would rather still be Meg, keeping secrets from Veronica. On top of everything, the sex was clearly lousy.
  • The writers of Wizards of Waverly Place seem to have given Justin and Alex, who are brother and sister, an almost Slap-Slap-Kiss-like dynamic. It stems, just like the example from Chuck, from the fact that Justin was intended to be a next-door neighbour only for it to be switched late on in pre-production. It doesn't help that one episode featured Alex accidentally wishing that everyone forgot Justin was her brother, causing their own mother to comment that they'd make a cute couple. They try to remedy this by giving them both relationships, and the Justin/Juliet one almost works. Then they got rid of Juliet, when they made her an eternal mummy slave and didn't bring her back until near the end of the series. And right after Juliet left, Alex came and comforted Justin, giving him a big, consoling hug.
  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files are a classic example. The idea that the characters would have an intense platonic relationship but not be sexually or romantically interested in one another was firmly established in the original idea for the series, and the writers repeated it in interviews for years. But by around Season 5 or so the characters seemed to have different ideas, and eventually the writers went with it.

  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town was supposedly not supposed to sound like a bisexual romance song. It would be bad enough that the singer is using the term "girl crush" incorrectly however the song is dripping with Les Yay. With lyrics like "I wanna taste her lips/Yeah, 'cause they taste like you/I want to drown myself/In a bottle of her perfume" and "I don't get no peace/Thinking about her under your bed sheets/The way that she's whispering/The way that she's pulling you in/Lord knows I've tried/I can't get her off my mind" it seems like the singer is equally into both individuals.
  • "Let's Love" by Echosmith, was originally written as a duet despite the fact that the two singers are siblings. When the label decided to make it a single, they understandably wanted it rerecorded as a solo.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Scars of Mirrodin Block of Magic: The Gathering, Venser is supposed to have a relationship with Karn akin to that of a long lost pupil meeting the remains of his mentor... a relationship that was never developed beforehand (in fact, downrightly Out of Character, considering both of them had more chemistry with Jhoira, Karn as a friend and Venser as a perv, and Karn actually disliked Venser), and this was never developed in the novel anyways.
  • In a earlier Mirrodin Block of Magic: The Gathering the main characters Glissa-an elf-and Slobad-a goblin-were supposed to be good friends at least adopted family at best. However, between the frequent kisses she gives him, the fact that she doesn't mind undressing in front of him, and the blatant confession that he is important to her implies something else. The epilogue in the 'Fifth Dawn' only made it worse. Considering it was caused by bad writing, the writers were asking for the fumble.


    Video Games 
  • Bahamut Lagoon was ambitious. Instead of following the more common romance tropes, the hero starts in a relationship with the princess, only for her to make her own decisions and pursue somebody else while growing to face a greater destiny. But in execution, it created Square's single most loathed female character, at least in the country where it was sold. Falling for the man who helped kill her father should have been heavy and dramatic, but Princess Yoyo's dialogue around him sounded meme-inducingly shallow. The way she struggled with her remaining feelings for the hero came off as selfish and emotionally manipulative. All the while, the player got the hero's perspective of reassembling her kingdom, fighting an empire to save her, and continue serving her. Also her name was Yoyo, so it was harder to see her as deep. Aside from being one of the earliest cases of NTR, there were too many emotional gut punches for what most players saw as an unlikable heroine.
  • Chzo Mythos: The sex scene in Six Days A Sacrifice; the idea is that the character who'd lost most of their hope for survival proceeded to hop into bed with each other, in what Word of God says was supposed to be representative of their descent into near-savagery. This was widely assumed to be badly done Fanservice. He's remarked that if he had the chance to remake the game he would turn it into a rape instead to properly convey the tone he was going for.
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, while Wang Yuanji is Sima Zhao's wife, she seems to show more affection towards his brother Sima Shi. This was remedied in Warriors Orochi 3 and the official sequel Dynasty Warriors 8, where Yuanji showed a lot more affection and loyalty to Zhao.
  • All Final Fantasy games suffer a little from this. Most of the time, the main hero usually doesn't show his emotions for other girls, or any kind of romantic feelings. That is somewhat justified, since you can root for you favorite couple, but at the same time, the canon couples tend to have a Broken Base.
    • Final Fantasy IV has Cecil/Rosa/Kain in a love triangle. The intent was for Cecil and Rosa to be in a relationship from before the start of the game, and Kain to be his friend who secretly loved Rosa. Many have pointed out that Cecil rudely kicks Rosa out of his room for trying to talk to him about his feelings before leaving to go and talk about his feelings to Kain, and that he always seems more worried about Kain than Rosa; while Kain complains about having to spend time with Rosa, viewing it as a punishment, and insists he'd rather be out fighting Cecil instead. Even Kain's statement of jealousy about Rosa comes across more like he was jealous of Cecil's qualities that allowed him to attract Rosa, rather than desiring Rosa at all for himself.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • Terra has some Ship Tease with any male character she talks to. At first, Locke saves her, then Edgar gives her a reason to fight, Banon welcomes her into the fold, Sabin helps her with her faith - and even Celes (a woman) get to bond about their mutual ability to use magic and whether or not they can fall in love. Later she has a long talk about feelings with General Leo, and about not having feelings with Shadow. Her lover? No canon love interest.
      • Ultros is supposed to be a Dirty Old Man with a taste for pretty girls, but has a non-trivial amount of Ho Yay with Chupon (especially in the Japanese version). Square and the fans alike have run with this and make frequent jokes about his bisexuality - from his description in Final Fantasy All The Bravest (which describes his relationship with Typhon as 'questionable'), to the description on his menu item in Square Enix's Eorza Cafe, to his attraction to Bishōnen Noah in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Many gamers when playing VII for the first time thought Barret and Tifa were a couple, or a couple that had recently split up.
      • Marlene is introduced in a Bait and Switch scene implying she's Cloud's daughter with Tifa, and although it's immediately revealed that she's actually Barret's, the perception influenced Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children where Cloud and Tifa act like Marlene's parents, with her dad Barret never interacting with her beside appearing with her in the group photo in the ending.
      • Johnny's relationship to Cloud has confused fans for years. The intention behind Johnny was that he was born in Midgar, was Tifa's ex who had broken up with her amicably before the start of the game, and while he was moving on and leaving Midgar he still couldn't help being jealous towards Tifa's new crush, Cloud. Unfortunately, the crucial early scene establishing Johnny's antagonism towards Cloud (where he yells at him and begs him to 'treat her like an angel of this slum') was cut, so the player's interactions with him in Midgar only show his good side, and we never learn about his involvement with Tifa. This means the later scene where Cloud encounters Johnny in Costa del Sol and he berates Cloud seems to come out of nowhere, in addition to his lines being mistranslated so he tells Cloud: "We were in SOLDIER, and childhood friends before that. You were such a playboy. And a @&$%ing murderer!" Since Cloud's backstory is extremely confusing anyway, fans were stuck. Many assumed Johnny was mistaking Cloud for Zack (the person Cloud had taken his Fake Memories of being in SOLDIER from); a previous (unrelated) scene had shown Cloud reading a letter Tifa had received from a childhood friend who'd left Nibelheim to live in Midgar, which many other fans assumed was Johnny. In reality, all Johnny had been saying was something like "It can't be! You're that ex-SOLDIER, [Tifa's] childhood friend, and sexy playboy! A, and... a murderer!"
      • Cid's treatment of Shera is supposed to be unpleasant, and Cloud as well as whichever party members you bring to the scene are all shown to side with Shera over him. But, since Cid was supposed to be a sympathetic character, it was intended as his colleague Shera enduring his attitude and him being a rude grump but caring about her really. Many players feel it crosses the line into Domestic Abuse. Shera appears to live with him, doesn't leave his house, makes him tea and is always apologising to him, and feels she is repenting for ruining his life; Cid is incredulous at the suggestion that Shera is romantically involved with him and casually dismissive of her feelings. They make up in the game, but a lot of fans were very upset when they were revealed to have got married in Dirge of Cerberus, citing Romanticised Abuse.
      • Part of the reason the Complete cut of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children came out was because, in the original movie, Cloud had far more to do with the unrelated Vincent than he ever spent willingly talking to his own family members. The extended version gives him an actual relationship with his adopted ward Marlene, when in the original he only had a couple of scenes where he was even in the same room with her.
      • Vincent in Dirge of Cerberus has UST with Shalua, a certain flirty tinge to his relationship with Yuffie, and an Implied Love Interest plotline with a character that biologically appears as a ten-year-old. His official love interest is still Lucrecia.
    • Final Fantasy X has Lulu and Wakka. They are completely different from each other, and sometimes they fight, and without any warning they are married in the sequel. Most fans didn't like it. There are approximately two scenes that Ship Tease them in the first game. The first is an intimate moment between them in the Blitzball Tournament and the second is Tidus suggesting they hook up. For another 'couple', the same game has a scene early on. After Tidus has met Yuna, he has a dream about the two of them preparing to run away to Zanarkand—only for Rikku to show up, angrily saying he said he would take her. The dream looks as if it's setting up a love triangle between the three. But by the time Rikku joins the party, Tidus and Yuna are already established as the Official Couple and all Rikku's scenes with Tidus make it clear they're Like Brother and Sister.
    • Final Fantasy XII has no official romance, but a lot of Ship Tease. Vaan and Penelo look as if they're set up to be Like Brother and Sister, and Penelo seems to be The Not-Love Interest to him. But then the game ends with an implication that there is a romance involved ("every sky pirate needs a partner"). Balthier is The Casanova but he has special affection towards Fran, and there is a line from her in the sequel that says he tried to woo her. There's also a line in the ending about how Ashe misses Basch; the way it's delivered suggests it's in a romantic way rather than platonic. There are also one or two scenes that hint at a Vaan and Ashe pairing—as her Defrosting Ice Queen moments are usually with him. But again nothing is confirmed.
    • Final Fantasy XIII
      • Fang and Vanille. Nothing is exactly stated, but Fang's heavy concern for Vanille and her readiness to take on the world if it meant to protect Vanille, just made their interactions a little subtext-heavy. Same with Vanille, who went out to find Fang, after being separated from her earlier on. Whether it's intended as Homoerotic Subtext, Heterosexual Life-Partners, a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship or simply a carry-over from the original concept of Fang being a man and their interactions not changed is anyone's guess.
      • Hope and Lightning. They spend a good amount of time alone together when the party splits up and Lightning does take Hope under her wing, to toughen him up. Their interactions can easily swing between motherly/mentor feelings on Lightning's side, but can just as easily be seen as romantic. Then came Lightning Returns and put a heavy subtext into the relationship of Lightning and Hope note , to the point that it almost feels like they are being set up as a romantic couple, which caused the English localization to lessen this emphasis and throw in a nod towards a potential crush from Hope towards Vanille, only to be immediately denied and never brought up again as the game keeps marching into Lightning and Hope's territory. Then the post-game novel was released, and any kind of subtlety is thrown off the window, starting with Hope (now reborn as a young man) denying having ever seen Lightning as a mother figure and revealing he went insane over illusions of Lightning prior to his abduction and the author (who is also the scenario writer for the trilogy) dropping major hints towards Lightning going to meet Hope in the in-game epilogue.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Agrias Oaks is a conflicted bodyguard to the princess. The princess gets captured, so Ramza offers to go along to help, despite his superior's objections. When his superior turns on Agrias in an attempt to kill said princess, Ramza fights him off. Later, the princess is captured once again and Agrias is forced to flee, getting saved by... you guessed it, Ramza. At this point in the game, however, she joins the rest of the generic player characters and can die permanently... Whereupon she gets a few lines of dialogue in the next fight, and then nothing whatsoever. The War of the Lions rerelease then went and added an optional mini-event where Mustadio reveals his previously-unmentioned crush on Agrias, with the possibility that she might reciprocate. So, which character is supposed to be her romantic interest, again?
    • The two main characters of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates are the (twin) brother and sister pair Yuri and Chelinka. Presumably their interaction was intended to be platonic, but when Yuri is swearing to always protect Chelinka and never to leave her side, this gets a lot harder for the players to believe...
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Ike, The Hero of the Fire Emblem Tellius games, has a very ambiguous sexuality that has been debated for years in the fandom. In the first game, it looked like he was bisexual on account of having massive amounts of Ship Tease with Princess Elincia and Soren (though Elincia's share of Ship Tease seems to have been added only the English script). In the second game, Ike's romantic subtext with Elincia was written out entirely, to both give way to Elincia being more receptive to Geoffrey's Bodyguard Crush on her (which can end up in marriage if the player so desires) and ramp up the amount of Ho Yay between Ike and Soren, painting the second more as a Straight Gay. Then Fire Emblem Awakening revealed a character named Priam, who wields Ike's sword and claims to be his descendant. While some fans have simply settled on believing Priam to simply be a descendant of Ike's sister Mist, which is a rather plausible idea due to Marth being a descendant of Anri the Hero through Anri's brother Marcellus, it's not necessarily a perfect theory, so any attempt to "prove" Ike's sexuality one way or another through the way inheritance now works have fallen through. As such, if Priam is Ike's direct descendant and Ike was intended to be either straight or straight-leaning bisexual all along, the writers on both sides of the ocean did a pretty terrible job of getting that across. However, due to Ike's lack of what could be perceived as romantic attraction to either of them from his side of things, it is possible for none of the above to be true at all.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening can be seen as doing this with Chrom and the Avatar. While it makes sense for them to be close, due to them being the main characters and best friends, Chrom has four (five if you count the Village Maiden) other possible brides and the Avatar of either gender can marry anyone of the opposite gender. But the writing in the final arc puts so much emphasis on the relationship that it's like they're married no matter who you chose for their spouses; with the possible exception of Lissa, Frederick, Lucina and maybe Basilio and Flavia, any other spouse of the Avatar gets pushed into the background, and Chrom's wife stops being relevant after chapter 13. Even the Future Past DLC makes a big deal of how much the Avatar loved Chrom and features them watching over Lucina together at the end. If you ship either character with anyone else, it can be really jarring. Part of this (such as the "love" line during The Future Past) was as case of Lost in Translation: the Japanese version was always careful to be ambiguous about their relationship (so that their dialogue would make sense regardless if they were married, in-laws or just friends) but the English language has much less room for ambiguity.
  • Isaac, from the Golden Sun series, has a warning for his fellow Heroic Mimes: Don't have a talkative best friend (Garet) who constantly reminds you that you have to rescue your girlfriend (Jenna). The fealty to the pairing, plus scenes where the two interact directly, could easily be misconstrued as intent on him staking his own claim. (And since you're a Heroic Mime, you can't say anything to counteract that impression; not even to the Player!) Furthermore, don't make things worse by allowing another female on the team, no matter how useful she is (Mia).
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The writers have a strong tendency to overdo the scenes with Sora and Riku. Most people seem to agree that the actual fumble comes when they reunite in Kingdom Hearts II, in which Kairi and Sora simply have a hug (which, at first, he makes somewhat awkward-looking by not hugging back for a few seconds), while in the reunion with Riku, he gets on his knees and cries his eyes out going "I looked for you!". At the same time, though, the series makes it very clear that Sora loves Kairi.
      • While it never quite gets to the level of that scene, pretty much all of Sora and Riku's interactions in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is heavy on the Ho Yay. This probably stands out most near the end while Sora is comatose.
    • The first two games also created a bit of subtext between Sora and Ariel, not helped by the fact that her canon partner wasn't in the first game. The first scene between Sora and Ariel does have something that looks like flirting going on. Ariel's desire to see other worlds is paralleled to Sora's ambitions at the start of the game. Plus they share a couple of intimate scenes and Ariel is the only one of the Disney characters to worry about never seeing Sora again. But Sora is clearly attracted to Kairi and Ariel gets paired up with Eric in the second game (something that Sora actually helps with).
    • The Axel/Roxas subplot, which is absolutely dripping with Ho Yay. Trying to show it in a Big Brother Mentor light did nothing to help.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, any and all Romance Sidequests were reduced to this. It appears the reason for this is that Obsidian's Chris Avellone is quite anti-romance, and even goes on record that he doesn't want one in his games unless it ends badly.
  • X and Zero from Mega Man X are infamous for being the biggest Ho Yay couple in the series, despite only being best friends in official canon. The biggest source for this is X5, which had some pretty heartfelt lines during the climax and especially this line from the ending.
  • Metal Gear:
    • The franchise as a whole has lots of glaring Ho Yay elements, many of which are a lot more appealing than the official pairings, but the games rarely ever acknowledge them in the text, sticking to innuendo only. What makes it this trope is that male/male Not Love Interest pairings are often much more developed, with Snake and Otacon having a long-term friendship and living together in a nuclear family with a child by the fourth game, and Big Boss's relationship with Kaz being much deeper and firmer than his relationship with his official love interest Quiet, for just two examples. Theories as to why this is are varied - is it a attempt to write sincere queer love stories without alienating a straight audience? Queerbaiting a Yaoi Fangirl and LGBT Fanbase contingent? An Affectionate Parody of the buddy-focused 80s action movies that Metal Gear Pastiches, or even a Deconstruction of that aspect of them? Or is it genuinely accidental?
    • Metal Gear Solid has Meryl (in her ending) imply that Ocelot raped her ("Torture?" "And things even worse than that."), which is tone-deaf for a number of reasons - not least that every later appearance of Ocelot, especially since Metal Gear Solid 3, has shown him to be a Noble Demon and gay. Apparently, the localiser was shocked when people interpreted Meryl's dialogue this way; the line is excised from the Video Game Remake, and the graphic novel adaptation reveals the actual incident was Sniper Wolf (the only female FOX-HOUND terrorist, and extremely heterosexual) forcing Meryl to watch Snake's torture.
    • In the original Metal Gear Solid, Wolf feels up Snake's chest and flirts at him before leaving, and Ocelot wolf-whistles - though as part of a line directed at Snake about Wolf, suggesting he's whistling at him (or at least in mocking sympathy with him) rather than at her. The remake elaborates this moment into a bizarre scene where Ocelot attempts to get a kiss off Wolf and she is disgusted, which seems strange for Ocelot, even if he's trying to mock her.
  • In Millennium: A New Hope, an RPG by Indinera Falls, two of the main characters, Marine and Benoit, seem to have slight hints of Ship Tease in their dialogue, despite the fact that they are cousins. They even have their own mild Shipper on Deck, a fairy named Jeanne.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Not so much a "writing fumble" as "forgetting to delete the dialogue", but the player character's relationship with either Bishop or Neeshka. Depending on your dialogue choices, Neeshka can swear to a male PC that she won't let anything happen to him and that he's her "most important person", while Bishop will flat-out ask a female PC to run away with him, and may later admit to having romantic feelings for her.
  • Super Street Fighter IV has Guy and Rose, most evident during their Rival Battle and during their endings. It seems as if Capcom was trying to pair these two up, despite the fact that Guy is already married to Rena (at least by the time of Final Fight: Streetwise, if one considers it canon). Never mind the fact that Rose would appear to be a Celibate Heroine (at least, as long as Bison is still menacing the planet), meaning that she and Guy were probably intended to be portrayed as Platonic Life Partners.
  • Suikoden V:
    • The relationship between the main character and his younger sister—who is the crown princess and heir apparent of the queendom—is, perhaps, depicted as being a little too close. While it does work the way it was probably planned—making the player care for her, and providing a real motivation to rescue her when she becomes the prisoner of rebellious nobles early on—it can easily be misconstrued as Brother-Sister Incest (and Lolicon, too, just for good measure). Especially considering that the two of them share a bed at one time, and that the "Good Ending" has you, following her coronation as Queen, take on the position of General of the Armies, which is reserved for the Queen's Consort.
    • If you talk to NPCs in Sol Falena before the final dungeons, they will say that your sisterly queen intend to radicaly reshape the state: turning the Queendom into a constitutional monarchy and abolishing the whole "tournament winner becomes Queens' Knight Captain and Queen Consort" tradition being at the top of her agenda. On the other hand, the good ending heavily implies that the prince ends up with Lyon, who also happens to be his sister albeit adopted... Well, at least, the children won't be inbred.
  • Tales Series
    • In Tales of Rebirth, Claire is Veigue's Implied Love Interest, and he does show interest in her wellbeing. Only problem is, they are adopted siblings. This can Squick people out and have them seeking out another love interest for Veigue... Which is easily found in Tytree. Tytree is constantly trying to win Veigue's approval and respect, and is in general his emotional support in later portions of the game. They also have a very subtext-laden fistfight partway through the game, and afterwards Tytree is ecstatic at being the "closest one to Veigue." Yeah. Add that Tytree doesn't seem all that interested in women and the alternate couple of Veigue/Tytree is quite reasonably popular, enough to rival Veigue/Claire.
    • The Official Couple of Tales of Graces is Asbel and Cheria. In hindsight, this should have been obvious—given that the only other women in the party include a) an underage robot girl and b) a Mad Scientist who seems more interested in Asbel's younger brother. However, the romance was poorly done: with the supposed lovers never really interacting beyond a pointless kidnapping mini-arc: leading to a very shallow and token relationship tacked onto the end of a story that dealt with the relationship between Asbel, Sophie and Richard. It took an Updated Re-release to lay some actual foundations for their relationship, but then people were annoyed because the re-release part added so much obvious supertext between Asbel and Cheria, it didn't remove the feeling them being shoved together at the last minute. The relationship between Asbel and Sophie also gets this. They get so many scenes together in the plot that they're a major Fan-Preferred Couple, but officially she ends up becoming his adopted daughter.
    • Tales of Xillia has the official couple as Jude and Milla. However, in Jude's route, he gets ship-teasing with pretty much any of the party members. He is the first person who is really kind to Elize and becomes important to her, with implication-to-outright-stating that her dream is to become Jude's bride. There is a ton of, though onesided, teasing with his childhoodfriend Leia. And then there's that tethering thing with Muzét. Whether the developers were a little too open or having fun with ship-teasing all over the place or because they honestly never intended it to go that far, most people saw more natural chemistry between him and the other girls. Even with Alvin. The flirting with Alvin is almost certainly deliberate, with how Alvin constantly draping his arm over Jude and flat out asks him very on whether he swings both ways.
    • Natalia and Guy in Tales of the Abyss. She is obviously in love with Asch and that is their relationship in the game. But during an emotional time at the mid-point of the game, Natalia gets some bad news and Guy becomes extremely kind and gentle towards her. While Guy has always been mentioned to be a bit of a smooth-talker towards women, despite his gynophobia, he pays extra attention to Natalia at this point, is the first one to notice when she is too distracted to move on and cheers her up. Ultimately, nothing comes from it and was never intended, despite the two still having moments of being together when the party splits up.
  • In TRON 2.0 (alternate continuity than TRON: Legacy), Monolith seemed to be trying to imply some interest between Jet and Mercury, but the pair had a critical lack of scenes together, and Mercury spending half that screentime under a memory wipe put a severe damper on it.
  • Metroid: There was speculation after Metroid: Fusion whether Adam was just Samus' CO or whether there was more going on between them. Metroid: Other M states Adam is a father figure to Samus, but there was still enough confusion that some reviewers accidentally listed Adam as Samus's boyfriend.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
    Chick!Kristy: I'm just having an affair with my dad, you guys!
    • In her crossover review of The Chipmunk Adventure with The Nostalgia Critic, he incorrectly refers to the villains as lovers, only for the Chick to comment that they're brother and sister. This just Squicks him out.
    • In her review of Matilda guest star Mara Wilson (yes, that Mara Wilson) mentions how fans of the movie wrote a lot of slash fic between her character and the teacher (bear in mind, Matilda was six years old...). A clip of the two plays, and the Chick admits that she kind of sees it, to Mara's disgust.
    "It's not not there!"
  • Flippy and Flaky from Happy Tree Friends are victims of this trope, according to most fans. In spite of the fact that the creator has set two prominent official couples (Cuddles/Giggles and Handy/Petunia), a lot of fans still want to see Flippy/Flaky happening. There are many reasons this happened, but the most important ones are the fact that Flaky is the only one who has appeared to get closer to Flippy, becoming a potential good friend of him, which apparently determined him to stop killing her. She even made him return to his normal self once, although Flaky has developed a phobia for him and she has started running away from him in the latest episode. There is also the fact that Flaky has no gender according to WordOfGod, in an interview that reveals that Flaky is asexual.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • The Lemongrabs. Before the reveal by both Word of God and in the series itself that they were actually brothers, the ambiguous nature of their relationship caused many fans to assume they were lovers. It wasn't helped by scenes of them nuzzling each other when they first met, as well as calling their artificially created family of Lemon Children "[their] boys". Several disturbing scenes in later episodes however caused most shippers to ultimately jump ship.
    • In "What Was Missing", Princess Bubblegum and Marceline were written almost exactly like bitter ex-girlfriends who had a nasty breakup. However while later entries like the "Sky Witch" episode and the Marceline and the Scream Queens comic series further support this interpretation, it's unknown whether this is a genuine Fumble or deliberate Ship Tease, as by that point the writers were well aware of the pairing's massive popularity. Word of God says this is exactly what they are.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Aang and Katara's relationship comes off as more familial than romantic at times as Katara acts as the mature Team Mom to the goofy Kid Hero Aang. The Will They or Won't They? aspect is dragged along and beaten to death until the very end of the series finale. Many fans of the show were actually surprised that the two turned out to be the Official Couple rather than a Romantic False Lead or Red Herring and this is even lampshaded a couple of times throughout the series by the writers, most prominently in Ember Island Players where actress Katara says she loves Aang like a brother. It doesn't help that Katara is a Master of the Mixed Message towards Aang but she had a huge and very obvious attraction to Jet, this only makes her feelings for Aang look strictly platonic in comparison.
    • Azula's actions towards her brother are nothing short of seductive, though admittedly that's how she acts with pretty much everyone. No Word of God whether or not this is intentional. But they sure loved to tease the fans with this idea such as a possible pairing in the series between her and the Blue Spirit, aka Zuko's alternate identity.
    • Azula's interactions with Ty Lee and vice versa come off as romantic, but this was unintentional. Azula was manipulating Ty Lee for her own gain and Ty Lee was afraid of disobeying her, it's just that Ty Lee's default personality is to be upbeat and friendly to everyone and Azula's default Faux Affably Evil personality, as noted above, is to act seductive towards everyone, so their interactions come off as friendlier than one would expect between a blackmailer and her victim. But that's why at the climax of "The Boiling Rock" Ty Lee betrays Azula to save her actual friend Mai without a second thought.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben and Gwen are supposed to be cousins, but the writing style used is more like a persistent Belligerent Sexual Tension in a No Hugging, No Kissing world mixed with a bit of flirting. They obviously appear to like each other, helped by scenes like the Hands-On Approach slow-dance lesson. Originally, Gwen was supposed to be a classmate and close friend before the writers realized that they needed a good reason for her to accompany Ben and Grandpa Max on the road trip. In other words, the Belligerent Sexual Tension could have been a leftover from that earlier stage of development (but it is most likely just a pure fumble after the first season).
    • Ben and Kevin have a lot of Ho Yay, especially during the time when Ben was pregnant (don't ask). They change relationships every new season, since they switch between Foe Yay and Ho Yay. Especially in Alien Force, despite all the hate in the past, Ben forgets everything and trusts Kevin by the second episode (with bonus Ho Yay), and later when Kevin goes evil again Ben sounds like he is ready to kill Kevin but Gwen doesn't let him. And then in Omniverse, Kevin goes evil again but Ben saves him this time.
  • The DiC-era Care Bears episode "Last Laugh" starts with the shocking revelation that "Cheer Bear ISN'T cheerful!" The reason? Grumpy Bear. Cheer Bear explaining that she feels like she's failing to live up to her name because he's the one person she's never been able to cheer up does nothing to prevent her from coming across as someone simply suffering from an unrequited crush (if anything, that only makes it worse).
  • Danny Phantom: In addition to all of his other similarities to Spider-Man, Danny's relationship with his sister, Jazz, often resembles Peter Parker's with Mary-Jane (the red hair doesn't help). You half-expect Jazz to say, "Go get 'em, tiger," at the end of "The Ultimate Enemy," especially after the hug, lovingly touching his hand, and considering their dialogue sounds strikingly similar to Danny's and Sam's during their Last Minute Hookup:
    Jazz: Don't think this means I'll stop being meddling and overprotective./Sam: I just have to warn you, I still have my own way of doing things.
    Danny: Wouldn't have it any other way./That's what I'm counting on.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in spades. Pepper is always jealous whenever Rhodey looks at another girl and starts a fist fight over Rhodey wanting to hang out with another friend of his who's a girl. She also has a heart to heart and long, laughter filled date with Gene in one episode, after which she becomes his devoted Gene-can-do-no-wrong fangirl and texts/calls him constantly. Tony also comes across as flirting with Rhodey a lot of the time, made even more Ho Yay intensive whenever Rhodey yells at him to open up and stop blocking people out. They have so many heart to heart conversations and Tony apologizes to him so often it's more reminiscent of a squabbling couple than best friends. Then there's the way Whitney follows Tony around even when he's being an asshole to her (although given her abusive father, she might just be okay with it) and how far she'll go to save his life... And we're not even going to get into Tony's fanboying of Gene Khan. Oh, and in the last few episodes Rhodey seems to care a bit more about Whitney than he lets on.
  • Kim Possible and Shego are supposed to be enemies but Shego's nicknames for Kim and the fact she really, really enjoys fighting with her carry a lot of Foe Yay undertones, something the fanbase really took to. However, Shego was eventually paired Drakken and Kim with Ron but some don't let that stand in their way.
  • The Legend of Korra had this, resulting in (yet another) shipping war. Mako had dated both Korra and Asami, but the writers made it insufficiently clear to the fans when one couple had broken up, which they interpreted to mean that he had no problem having two girlfriends at the same time. Particularly Hilarious in Hindsight now that Korra and Asami are the Official Couple.
  • The Looney Tunes Show gives us a perfect example of Ho Yay overshadowing the possible love interests. Bugs is shown to be in a some-what relationship with Lola (somewhat) but most of the dialogue (and premise) can be seen as Bugs and Daffy being married.
  • The Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon slipped up pretty damn bad in "Bro Bots." As an added bonus, in the last fight scene, Protoman ends up more-or-less straddling his younger brother, who then wraps his legs around Proto's friggin' waist.
    Megaman: You and me. One on one. No PANTS.
    Protoman: You got it.
  • The Golden Films movie Miracle in Toyland contains some heavy subtext between the protagonist and his cousin. Gabriella is treated more like you'd expect an Implied Love Interest childhood friend to be in cartoons. Jessie and Gabriella are both very touchy around each other as well.
  • Brad and Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot are meant to be Platonic Life Partners with the plan being that Sheldon would get paired up with Jenny eventually (the show ended before it could happen). However, Jenny sees Sheldon as "just a friend" and a few episodes have implied that Jenny might have something of a crush on Brad. Needless to say, the fans took notice, making Brad/Jenny the more popular ship.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Griffon the Brush Off" is very easy to interpret as a messy Love Triangle centered around Rainbow Dash, with Pinkie Pie as the Stalker with a Crush and Gilda as the Clingy Jealous Psycho Ex-Girlfriend. Even the opening is near identical to Pepe Le Pew chasing his newest true love, complete with Pinkie performing his little love hop.
    • What, exactly, is the relationship between Twilight Sparkle and Spike? They've shown signs of being friends, siblings, mother and son (Twilight did hatch him, after all), and there's even evidence of Spike having a Precocious Crush on her, given that he displays the same devotion towards and obsession with pleasing Twilight that he does towards Rarity (who he does have a crush on). Lauren Faust said that she considers Spike to have been raised by Celestia, which would put them closer to siblings considering how motherly she is to Twilight, but she also stated that because she had already left the show this was only her personal interpretation. A passing scene causes even more of a fumble. The scene in question depicts Spike's eyes become hearts when Twilight's hair accidently becomes like Rarity's.
    • Cheese Sandwich's idolisation of Pinkie Pie appears to be simple respect for her talents. However there are a couple of lines in the episode that suggest he could have actually fallen in love with her. The subtext for a romance is definitely there.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Word of God says that the main characters (with the notable exception of Official Couple Robin and Starfire) all love each other Like Brother and Sister, even Beast Boy and Raven. Although, it has also been stated that Raven and Beast Boy were written as 'an old married couple' just without the relationship part, so really, the fumble was unavoidable.
    • As mentioned, the Titans are all platonic except for Robin/Starfire. A lot of fans have trouble seeing Robin and Raven as only friendship, especially on Raven's side. They understand each other so well and have such a good friendship in later episodes that many thought Raven liked Robin. Nothing has been confirmed though.
    • Slade's obsession with making Robin, then Terra, his "apprentice" is borderline sexual. It doesn't help that he actually slept with Terra in the comics.
    • Cyborg and Bumblebee were initially written to dislike each other in hopes that the fandom wouldn't assume she was his love interest just because they're both black. All this accomplished was making the pairing extremely popular in the fandom due to their constant bickering coming off as Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • Jo and Brick from Total Drama would often compete with each other. It even happens in the show's opening. It was supposed to be a simple rivalry between a girl and a boy, but it could easily be interpreted as Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • In Transformers Prime, Jack and Arcee behave like they have something going on, despite one being a human teenager and the other being a fully adult transforming robot. Complete with Jack remarking that part of the reason he cares so much for her is that she was "his first" and Jack's mother remarking that Arcee "isn't the kind of girl I imagined him ditching me for".
  • Young Justice: Dick and Artemis probably were only supposed to come off as friends or siblings, but their banter winds up coming playfully romantic, he already knew who her parents were but still trusted her, and then she outright straddles him in "Darkest." (It Makes Sense in Context.) Canonically she's dating his best friend, and they have enough Ho Yay themselves that some fans just ship all three together.