The moment when two characters become an Official Couple
There may have been Unresolved Sexual Tension
earlier, romantic feelings on either side or even an unmistakable Held Gaze
or two, but that was all on paper. This is it
, the actual relationship. It's happening, starting now. In a work, it's that point where until further notice
there's no more sense in asking Will They or Won't They?
. In Real Life
, it's that point beyond which you'd feel justified calling the other person "my boyfriend/girlfriend".
For many shows it is a natural part of the ongoing narrative. For some it's a twist. For still more it's a season Cliff Hanger
or standard ploy for the series finale
to be employed at the very end
. For others it triggers a specific type of Jumping The Shark
, especially if it breaks the Relationship Ceiling
Most commonly broadcasted with a First Kiss
, but every once in a while you find a more...drastic variant (Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex
comes to mind). Compare Relationship Reveal
— a moment where an implied but existing couple becomes canon. A move from casual to serious can involve I Got You A Drawer
. Also compare They Do
- the point past which the Romance Arc
is concluded and the relationship becomes a constant that feeds other
plot threads. Though they often coincide (e.g. in a Last Minute Hookup
) the two are far from synonymous; a Relationship Upgrade
can be the beginning of hardships, trials and tribulations that the relationship may not survive at all.
Not to be confused with characters upgrading their abilities by socialization
Beware: this page might contain spoilers
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Anime and Manga
- For Digimon Adventure 02, the Christmas Episode was an opportunity to upgrade some relationships— i.e. Ken and Iori could from that moment on converse with each other in a friendly, civil way rather than with constant unease. Also, Ken laughed for what was pretty much the first time — much to everyone's amazement.
- In the last episode of Candy Boy, Yukino and Kanade's relationship appears to get an upgrade from a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship to something more—not hindered by the fact that they are fraternal twin sisters.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- Chapter 252. "With ultimate love and ultimate power, the ultimate duo is finally born!!" And lo, did the Konoka/Setsuna fans Squee.
- Chapter 262 sees Kotaro and Natsumi forming a Pactio and admitting how much they care about one another. Whether this shoves them into Official Couple is up for interpretation, but they made some kind of progress.
- And now, as of the finale, Kotaro and Natsumi are married. They have achieved Official Couple Status.
- Mazinger Z: The moment Kouji and Sayaka becoming an item varies between adaptations, but in the Gosaku Ota alternate manga, it happened when they kissedight before Kouji sortied to fight a hopeless battle against the Mykene Empire army.
- Karin, when Usui finally acknowledges the millions of hints given to him that Karin and him were meant to be and does what Karin herself was too scared (for good reason) to do and confesses to her. This drives Karin to tears.
- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman: It happened at the end of the third series (Gatchaman Fight) when Jun finally chose Ken over Joe and they got together.
- Aoi Hana has Akira asking Fumi out, after learning Fumi has feelings for her.
- The kiss between Jean and Nadia may be treated as the moment where this upgrade takes place. Unfortunately, it was very inconveniently placed in the middle of an arc, with about 20% canon material. (And even then, it's treated as a cruel tease, as the writers quickly take them back to square one instantly afterwards.) Regardless, they end up as an official couple in the epilogue (although 31, and 35-39 also show the upgrade).
- Toradora is a good example of this trope. With a confusing Love Dodecahedron and twice your daily serving of Will They or Won't They? , Taiga and Ryuuji finally get upgraded from ...whatever they were, to a couple in episode 24, where Ryuuji proposes to Taiga.
- At the end of ...Virgin Love Kaoru and Daigo upgrade from Fuck Buddies to lovers after Kaoru overcomes his commitment issues.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed and Winry play out this trope well. Before leaving for the west, Ed somewhat "confesses" his feelings to Winry at the train station, using the words: "It's equivalent exchange! I'll give you half of my life, so give me half of yours!" Though he corresponds alchemy with love, Winry acknowledges what he really means, resulting in her agreeing to give him all of her life. Then, she quickly corrects herself, being flustered when those words dawned on her. Depending on how you want to interpret it (some say this was a proposal, while others say it was merely a confession), Ed and Winry end up with two children anyway, not to mention a wedding ring on Edward's finger. After spending their entire life denying any romantic feelings, they pass their comfort zone and hit home run!
- In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Mu la Flaga and Murrue Ramius manage to upgrade from Unresolved Sexual Tension into an actual relationship only after they've defected from the Earth Alliance and are thus no longer officially constrained by the military's rules against fraternization.
- At the end of Happy Lesson, Chitose's mothers decide that he's a grown man and doesn't need mother figures anymore...he needs wives. They all change into bridal gowns and marry the poor guy on the spot.
- Done very methodically in Psyren between Ageha and Amamiya, after quite a length of implied Two Guys and a Girl and light harem.
- Occurs at the end of episode 18 of D.N.Angel between Daisuke and Riku.
- In Fairy Tail, Alzack and Bisca are revealed to have gotten married after the time skip. Sherry is also engaged to Ren after the Oracion Seis arc hints at them getting together.
- In Zero no Tsukaima Louise and Saito start getting serious with their relationship at the beggining of the fourth season, they also marry at the end of the series.
- Guts and Casca from Berserk go from teeth-clenched comrades to Fire-Forged Friends in volume 8 and then finally to Official Couple status when they share their first kiss in volume 9 progressing to much lovemaking soon after. And then it all started to come tumbling down in volumes 12-14 when they were demoted from Battle Couple to Star-Crossed Lovers.
- Daisuke and Hinako in Bitter Virgin finally become a couple in the end. Sadly, not even they think it will last because they assume one day they would find someone better to support them.
- Pictured above is Scott Pilgrim & Ramona Flowers finally declaring their love for one another in Vol. 4.
- In Garfield, Liz has somehow fallen for Jon after years of begrudgingly dating him and the two are now the Official Couple. This can be considered a good thing given Jon's status in life.
- Clark and Lois were casually dating already, but the Relationship Upgrade happens in "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite", when he proposes. Word Of God is that originally she was supposed to turn him down because of her torch for Superman and status quo would be God, but then they realised that simply wasn't the Lois they were writing any more.
- Marvel Comic characters Rictor and Shatterstar spent a few years seeming like Heterosexual Life Partners, with the author planning to reveal that they weren't so hetero after all. He got moved off the book before this could happen, and it wasn't until much later that another writer had them finally start dating.
- The first eight chapters of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic A Delicate Balance are more or less entirely about Twilight's attempt to upgrade her relationship with Applejack without messing up their current relationship.
- In Peggy Sue fanfic The Second Try, the upgrade happens in chapter 4, "Love". After a heated argument related to Kaworu, Asuka finally musters the courage to confess her feelings to Shinji. Naturally he tells her that reciprocates. Given the mind-numbing complexities of time-travel, we see Shinji and Asuka like a couple BEFORE we see the upgrade.
- Chapter 28 of Weightless finally let Shepard and Garrus do this, after a series of extremely long and painful UST.
- A Growing Affection gives Hinata and Naruto four; in chapter one they become training partners to get to know each other better. In chapter 38 they become an official couple. In chapter 90, they get engaged; and the final chapter deals with their wedding.
- Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince:
- Harry and Ginny.
- Same with Ron and Hermione in Book 7.
- Book four of The Immortals has Daine and Numair realizing that they were meant for each other. The previous books give a few clues to this end, but not all that many - the fact that Daine was in her early teens and Numair in his late twenties, and her teacher, made him uncomfortable about the thing. Luckily for the author's observing Moral Guardians, Daine was already at an age where she would be considered an adult in her time period before this happened, and by that time Daine and Numair were no longer teacher and student, but friends and co-workers.
- Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. Han and Leia went through it. So did Jacen and Tenel Ka. Even Ben looks like he's going to get his own version of his parents' relationship in the person of Vestara Khai.
- In the Nightrunner series, Alec and Seregil get upgraded to Official Couple after almost two books of Ho Yay.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, just before Percy releases his power on the telekhines at Mount St. Helens, Annabeth kisses him.
- Except that was a "if you don't get out of this alive" kiss. The real Relationship Upgrade happens after the final battle at camp, when she gives him his birthday cupcake.
- Heavily played with in the Dresden Files series. Even Word Of God Jim Butcher has no idea who Harry will end up with.
- Song at Dawn: Estella and Dragonetz have a Big Damn Kiss while practicing a love duet. The deal is sealed that night.
- In Smoke and Ashes, Tony and Lee finally hook up after three books of Everyone Can See It. In the short story See Me, set couple of years later, they are now living together.
Live Action TV
- Scrubs dabbled with this repeatedly in the relationship between JD and Elliot. At one stage they even became no-strings-attached "sex buddies", which JD says is the best thing a man can hear from a female friend. They receive their true Relationship Upgrade into Official Couple during the final (well technically there's another season, but in truth it's really more of a spin off setting/content-wise) season, one that is clean and without any drama mucking it up (aside from one bit of drama that arbitrarily arises during the two-part episode, but that is mostly to make way for a strong Crowning Moment of Heartwarming at the end).
- In the middle of the final season of I Dream of Jeannie, Major Nelson finally drops the Idiot Ball and confesses his feelings for and to Jeannie.
- In the final episode of the first series of Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto finally (and very dramatically) kiss in front of the team — not quite a Last Minute Hookup but almost, but it's their first on-screen kiss.
- Played With throughout season 2 with Toshiko and Owen: all of their relationship development takes place after Owen becomes undead, and Owen absolutely does not care what happens anymore. They share a mid-battle kiss, have that date that Tosh wanted all along, dance quite romantically at a wedding, and eventually say a tearful goodbye. They both realise how thoroughly dysfunctional it is and that they're both just going through the motions and waiting for the end.
- Jim and Pam on The Office (U.S. version) got a Relationship Upgrade between seasons three and four, and then another one later on.
- Harry and Christine in Night Court. A bit of a subversion in that they don't date for very long before deciding they work Better as Friends.
- In Battlestar Galactica, after 3 and 1/2 seasons of subtle growth and development, Laura Roslin told Bill Adama that she loved him, to which he responded "About time."
- In Hannah Montana Oliver and Lilly had been friends since kindergarten and now are an official couple.
- A milder example than others, since the actual moment of upgrade happened off-screen with very little build-up. Needless to say, the shippers of this couple felt rather cheated.
- As of season 3, The Big Bang Theory. (Boy, considering how central UST is to the show, even posting this is practically a spoiler!)
- Topher and Bennett, just before Saunders shoots Bennett in the head.
- And Echo and Paul, just before Alpha makes him brain-dead.
- Odo and Kira finally got this late in season six of the show after nearly a decade of UST. Miraculously the show avoids Shipping Bed Death and they're still madly in love in the series finale.
- Sonny and Chad go on their first date in Falling For The Falls.
- Mulder & Scully are a weird example; they spent five seasons as Platonic Life Partners, then had an Almost Kiss in the first movie, and the UST became more and more overt in season 6. For the last few seasons of the show it's hinted increasingly strongly that they're already together, and in the second movie it's finally made explicit. It's not clear when the Relationship Upgrade took place, though. (The leading candidate is season 7's "all things," which features Scully evaluating her past choices about life and relationships, leading up to a scene where she's getting dressed in Mulder's bathroom while he's asleep in bed, apparently naked. This episode also occurred at about the right time before Scully's pregnancy was discovered/revealed in the season-ending episode "Requiem".)
- Olivia and Peter from Fringe.
- Which was instantly railroaded by AltOlivia switching places with the real Olivia, and an oblivious Peter continuing his relationship with (and impregnating) the wrong one. When the real Olivia found out...she didn't take it too well. It's up in the air right now whether the upgrade will hold.
- It held, or was reinstalled. Then was promptly erased from all time three episodes later.
- Until Peter somehow wills himself back into existence, they eventually get back together, Olivia announces she's pregnant, and they time skip three years to show Peter and Olivia very much together and raising their daughter Etta. That is, up until the Observers invade and they're separated from Etta and get encased in amber for 20-odd years. Shenanigans ensue involving the plan to defeat the Observers, and Etta dies. Eventually the Timey Wimey Ball comes into play and the final episode ends with Peter and Olivia still together with Etta (who's back to being three years old and obviously no longer dead.) Phew!
- This was originally presented as Zach & Flo's story line in Season 3 of The Amazing Race. They came on as Just Friends looking for more; only they ended up averting it when Flo left the race dating a racer from another team.
- On leg 8 of Season 17, Chad proposed to Stephanie in Oman while they were waiting for their departure time to continue their leg. Their title was subsequently upgraded from "Newly Dating" to "Engaged".
- It's not really clear whether the scene at the end of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles with John and Cameron in bed together is supposed to be this or the opposite, with John realizing how much of a machine she really is and understanding the sexual tension between them isn't real.
- Since he commits a Heroic Sacrifice and dives into the future to get her chip back, it seems pretty confirmed he doesn't think of her as a machine.
- In Community episode Interpretive Dance Jeff and Slater have to fill out official paperwork with the college so that they can have a relationship.
- After quite a bit of Ship Tease Britta and Troy get together between seasons 3 and 4.
- On Boy Meets World, Cory and Topanga officially get together in the first episode of season three.
- What Brody wants from Abby in Against the Wall. She wants them to stay as Friends with Benefits.
- Booth and Brennan in Bones, despite several false starts, finally achieved their relationship upgrade at the end of Season 6.
- Glee: Occurs in "Original Song" between Blaine and Kurt.
- In Season 3's "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Chuck and Sarah dropped the Will They or Won't They? pretenses and got their relationship upgrade by episode's end.
- Grissom and Sara on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in the season 6 finale-the last scene showed them in bed together.
- Babylon 5: John Sheridan and Delenn get theirs in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" when he tells her, "...I can no longer imagine my world without you in it." Although they don't get their Big Damn Kiss until eight episodes later, from that episode on, they are for all intents and purposes together romantically.
- The writers and actors of Castle didn't even try to hide the fact that Beckett and Castle were eventually going to become a couple; the tension (which was arguably the primary driving force behind the show) was in seeing how. As of season four's finale, "Always", it finally happened. It remains to be seen how future seasons will handle their relationship upgrade
- Friends: Monica and Chandler get together in the series 4 finale. It's initially a Friends with Benefits relationship that upgrades further to a full-blown romance that eventually ends up with them Happily Married.
- Given that How I Met Your Mother is the Romantic Comedy of Sitcoms, this isn't exactly uncommon. Special mention goes to the season one finale where Ted and Robin finally get together after he makes it rain for her. Also notable is "Definitions", which is all about this and how the relationship-averse couple wants to stick to their Friends with Benefits deal, but Lily won't let them. Although, as Ted points out, they had their Relationship Upgrade months ago (in the previous season finale). They just never defined it.
- Happens for Josh and Donna midway through the seventh season of The West Wing. They share a in-the-heat-of-the-moment kiss after getting unexpectedly good polling numbers and consummate their relationship on Election Day shortly thereafter.
- On Spartacus Blood And Sand, the path to Relationship Upgrade is often fraught with Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome.
- Crixus and Naevia probably have it the worst. He's a slave gladiator, she's a house slave being kept as a virgin to preserve her market value. They're Star-Crossed Lovers. Or as much as they can be given that he is kept locked in a cage at night. Then they are forcibly separated and a good chunk of Vengeance revolves around finding Naevia, and then reconnecting her with Crixus.
- Agron and Nasir have a rather less melodramatic version. There was an early kill-him-or-kiss-him dynamic however. Although a near-death experience is involved, they hook up fairly quickly and easily in comparison.
- Spartacus and Mira never make it.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has Mike and Sandy early on.
- In this page of Dresden Codak, Kimiko and Yvonne literally upgrade their relationship (the gadget she uses even reads FRIENDSHIP UPGRADED: CHUMS), in order to allow use of nicknames.
- Elan and Haley in the 400th Order of the Stick strip.
- Torg and Zoe from Sluggy Freelance, after years of Torg having unspoken, unrequited feelings her, have slowly gotten to the point where they frequently go on what may or may not be dates.
- Yori and Ina in No Need for Bushido have finally gotten to this point.
- Aubrey and Jason in Something Positive. For a long time part of the group of friends the comic centres on, they're now married and have adopted a daughter.
- At the end of Scary Go Round, Amy and Ryan are friends likely to get together. After a three-year Time Skip, the follow-up strip Bad Machinery sees them recently married.
- Penny and Aggie:
- Sara and Daphne go from friends, to not on speaking terms (when Daphne, bitter over her Unrequited Love, decided to believe the "rape" slander against Sara), then back to friends again, and finally to lovers.
- Brandi and Stan go from Friends with Benefits to an exclusive relationship.
- The title characters go from enemies to friends to lovers.
- In Slightly Damned, Buwaro and Kieri finally kiss after Buwaro gets seriously injured trying to defend Kieri.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: After a lot of Ship Tease, Parley's experience with the ghost of Jeanne leads her to finally admitting her feelings for Andrew.
- After two years trapped in the meteor with her, Rose from Homestuck - coy about it as she is with her brother - arranges what she clearly intends as her first date with Kanaya.
- It certainly appears that Ash & Emily from "Misfile" have finally gotten theirs with this page
- In Worm, this occurs after Brian realizes his feelings for Taylor, though they aren't sure what they are after that.
- Kim Possible:
- In what was meant to be the end of the series, So The Drama, Kim and Ron become officially "More Than Friends" (complete with cheering section).
- It's implied that Shego and Drakken experience this, too, although theirs happens during the second Grand Finale of the series.
- In Avatar The Last Airbender, The two Beta Couples pretty much just happened, without any proper upgrades. Meanwhile, the main couple had this no sooner than in the very final scene of the very final episode. The one beta couple was a case of New Old Flame, so they didn't need an upgrade, just a reunion after Zuko was finally un-exiled from court. As for the other, their upgrade was in the prior season, during 'Serpent's Pass'. She just got Put on a Bus for the rest of the season shortly thereafter.
- The (no longer) final episode of Futurama implied this for Leela and Fry, however the first of several movies made it more complicated. In turn the fourth movie made it look like they will finally be receiving the Relationship Upgrade. And in the first episodes of the 6th reboot season they now are a proper couple, although it's uncertain just how stable their relationship will be during the rest of the season.
- Presumably, Robin and Starfire after Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo.
- Predictably, Danny and Sam in Danny Phantom got together by the Grand Finale.
- Casey Jones and April O'Neil (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) have had a series of relationship upgrades in the 2003 animated series, beginning as acquaintances, and later friends, until the third season, when they become a couple. In the latest, seventh season, Casey has proposed to April, and the two are now married. Other incarnations of the couple have gone through the process as well.
- While Candace and Jeremy from Phineas and Ferb were an Official Couple from the get-go, they don't refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend (and share their First Kiss) until the episode, "Summer Belongs to You." (Although the timing of their Relationship Upgrade is made more complicated by the fact that the episodes don't air in the same order they take place. In some episodes, Candace is still only crushing on Jeremy; in some episodes, they are de facto dating; and in some episodes they are "officially" boyfriend and girlfriend.) Season 3 starts with them being unquestionably canon though, as Candace tries to find out what Jeremy likes about her.
- Subverted in the movie. Isabella kisses Phineas at the end but then they're both exposed to an amnesia ray that wipes both their memories of the event.
- Duncan and Gwen from Total Drama World Tour, who unfortunately got together by cheating on Duncan's current girlfriend Courtney.
- Singer Melissa Manchester told why she got married. One day her live in boyfriend gave her an ultimatum: he wanted more out of the relationship or he was going to end it. So they got married.
- MTV's "Friendzone" is a show where various men or women seek to get into relationships with their best friends with... varying results