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:
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth spin-off often implies Neji and Hinata, as it's quite obvious in some episodes that Neji has more than familial affection for Hinata. The most obvious scene is the one in which Neji imagines himself and Hinata in a Romeo and Juliet story, Hinata being, of course, his Juliet.
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.
.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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 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. 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 OT 3.
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.
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.
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.
Miyako also has gotten quite a bit of Les Yay with Hikari, especially in the episode where they are able to fusion digivolve their respective Digimon partners.
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.
Ranma 1/2: The fandom believed Ryoga and Ukyo were shaping up to become an Official Couple, due to all the Ship Tease; particularly in the animenote which played this up even more; including by having Ryoga rescue Ukyo in the second non-serial movie Nihao My Concubine, 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.
Iron Man and Captain Americahave 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 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 in one occasion. His only complaint is her high body temperature.
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.
Films - Animated
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. 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.
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(!).
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. Bolt 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.
Films - Live Action
In 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.
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 Novelizationoutright states that Anakin loves both Padme and Obi-Wan, and that his fall to The Dark Side was ultimately a choice over which one of them he loved more.
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.
The Mad Hatter and Alice are a bit on the edge in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. 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.
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.
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.
The Disney Channel series Shake It Updeliberately 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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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."
The film versions of Harry Potter actually added so many scenes of Harry/Hermione UST that weren't in the books, such as both Harry and Ron being jealous of her relationship with Viktor in the fourth film (it was just Ron in the book) and the extremely strange dance sequence in the seventh, that numerous annoyed fans felt that the writers had gone past accidental romantic flubbing and into outright attempted sabotage of the Official Couples (while numerous other fans were left grinning at the fact that the writers seemed to agree with them).
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', and 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.
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.)
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 "truelove", 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 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.
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.
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.
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. Then there's a statement JKR releasedin an interview where she expressed regret over pairing Hermione with Ron after thinking seriously about it, remarking that Ron and Hermione would probably be "ending up in marriage counseling".
This also extends into the movies. Likely due to the fact that Dan and Emma 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 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.
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.
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 Twincesty 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.
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 siblingy. 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 incesty tone of their relationship.
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. —>"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."
However nothing happens and he helps another guy get together with her with no sign of jealousy.
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.
Earlier, like all the way back in Season 1, there was Samantha and Daniel, who seemed to hit it off and share several very shippy emotional scenes. These dropped off significantly later on, so this can probably be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness. However, in what was intended to be Daniel's swansong, Samantha weeps over his fatally injured body saying she never told him how she felt about him. Which is just...weird.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 slaveand 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.
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.
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 later appearances extrapolated this into straight Ho Yay. Although while the "The Sound Of Drums"/"Last of the Time Lords" ("I like it when you use my name.") and "The End of Time" (Doctor in a bondage chair. Enough said.) drops hints all over the place between the two, it isn't certain how much of it is deliberate and how much is a Fumble, considering the writer of these episodesships them.
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.
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 getting married during their run on the show added a large dose of Reality Subtext as well.
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".
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.
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 descendent (he guesses she is the descendent 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.
Adric was a child and he was intended to have a mentor-student type relationship with the Doctor. Unfortunately, his chemistry with the Fourth Doctor comes across as strangely sexual in some stories due to bizarre dialogue, longing stares at the Doctor's mouth, and so on. (It's especially weird because the actors could not stand each other in real life).
A Relationship Acting Fumble affected the Doctor and the second Romana - the characters were consistently written with a very solid, parallel friendship (with the odd dip into Ship Tease) that developed logically over the course of her tenure, but the actors had a rather volatile real-life romantic relationship. Thus, 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.
Another Acting Fumble led to the Richard Hurndall First Doctor in "The Five Doctors" appearing, in one shot, to be checking out his own granddaughter. This scene was considered so bad it was cut out in several reruns.
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.
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 romantictropes and hint that Dean is Ambiguously Bi but deny there's anything between the two.
It could be the acting, but watching Michelle and David on Kings is like watching two inexperienced people who think that mutual values and an appreciation for the other's attractiveness means a relationship is a good idea, never mind if the agreement and appreciation actually equals genuine sexual/romantic attraction or not. Friendship-wise, they actually have good chemistry. Romantic-wise, they come across as children playing house.
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.
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.
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.
Chloe and Clark, non-stop. The producers tried to sink it 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. They joke about the CPR being Clark and Lex's first kiss.
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".
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).
Allegedly, the writers of Tin Man were going to ship DG and Cain, but Neil McDonough is very adamant about his characters not getting into romantic encounters, so they backpedaled it into an Intergenerational Friendship.
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.
In Suburgatory, Tessa and her father George sometimes act more like that of a couple than a father and daughter.
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.
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.
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-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."
Jane and Maura on Rizzoli & Isles are intended to be Heterosexual Life-Partners, but, due to the fact that they have more sexual tension than Brennan and Booth, pretty much the entire fandom ships them, and not without cause. 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 she actually 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. As of the end of season four, in particular, a scene where Maura starts crying after she finds out that Jane might get engaged (she doesn't), the characters are so obviously in love with each other that it's almost accepted as canon.
In the first half of season two of Veronica Mars, the writers put Veronica and Duncan back together as a couple, 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.
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.
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, while in the reunion with Riku, he goes 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. At one point, also in Kingdom Hearts II, he even goes as far as to day-dream about dancing with her in a very romantic tone.
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 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?
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, and Sabin helps her with her faith. Later she has a long talk about fellings with General Leo, and about not having fellings with Shadow. Her lover? No canon love interest.
Final Fantasy VII: Many gamers when playing VII for the first time thought Barret and Tifa were a couple.
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.
Final Fantasy XII has the least Ship Tease of all series. Vaan and Penelo spend the whole game with as casual friends. The more the game goes, the less they talk to each other. And Balthier? All that casual flirting with Ashe and Fran for nothing. The result is a Maybe Ever After for each possible pairing. Penelo is with Vaan at the end with the ambiguous line "every sky pirate needs a partner". Balthier and Fran share an intimate moment in the climax. There's also an interestingly worded line about how Ashe misses Basch.
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
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...
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 especiallythis line◊ from the ending.
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.
The sex scene in Six Days A Sacrifice is a double version of this; Yahtzee intended for it to read as the opposite of a romantic scene (thanks to his own unique hangups on the subject of sex), but it ended up being just plain a romantic scene (that's count one), in a situation where a romantic scene had no business being (that's two). 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 second Knights of the Old Republic, 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.
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.
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 real fumble comes with Asbel and Sophie's relationship. She's clearly meant to be a kind of surrogate daughter to him, and he officially adopts her in the Updated Re-release but they're a more popular pairing than Asbel/Cheria in the fandom.
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 ElinciaandSoren. (Though Elincia's share of Ship Teaseseems 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 Anti 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 the other 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.
In her review of Matilda guest star Mara Wilson (yes, thatMara 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.
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.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula's actions towards her brother are nothing short of seductive. (Okay, 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 being her and the Blue Spirit aka Zuko's alternate identity.
Season 4 seems to be continuing this trend as Asami is shown to be more interested in Korra's return then Mako was. And during the three year Time Skip we learn that while Asami, Mako and Bolin all wrote to Korra, Asami was the only one who Korra wrote back to and hand even asked Asami to not tell Mako & Bolin that she had written to her but that them, stating that it was easier to tell her about her nightmares then then anyone else.
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 episodes.
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.
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 original comics. Raven, however, crossed the line.
Robin and Raven also have a few moments like this. Cozy talks in romantic settings, and Robin literally going to hell in order to save Raven, and telling her she's what makes him hope.
In addition to all of his other similarities to Spider-Man, Danny Phantom'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
On 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.
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.
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.