->''"The day Maura Tierney decides to stick with Fletcher is the same day Fletcher: 1) gets his car impounded for speeding and a number of unpaid parking tickets; 2) gets thrown in jail; 3) breaks through security in an airport; and 4) steals an airport vehicle, delaying a flight and endangering lives. Cary Elwes lost to ''that guy''."''
-->-- '''''{{Website/Cracked}}''''', [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-3-most-depressing-minor-characters-in-famous-movies_p2/ "The 3 Most Depressing Minor Characters in Famous Movies"]], discussing ''Film/LiarLiar''

You know, there isn't really anything ''wrong'' with this guy. He just doesn't measure up for some reason. Somebody else can make the jokes he tells a little funnier. He could use a little help in the wardrobe department. He loses a lot of women to the [[PrinceCharming taller, more handsome, more suave guys]] (and/or the [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys bad-boy types]]). Or maybe he's all of those qualities, yet somehow isn't quite Mister Right Enough for the leading lady, who prefers the Protagonist's flaws.

The reason this character shows up so often in stories is likely to make a statement about the mysterious ways of love and about how the chemistry between two people is something that cannot be predicted. This message is a little undercut by the fact that certain people seem to be ''exactly'' the type to be cast as second-runner in a romance. Perhaps the chemistry is not so mysterious, after all.

Note that while this trope largely applies to male characters, it can occasionally affect female characters as well, particularly in LoveTriangle relationships where there's two women and one guy. In these cases, the exemplar of this trope is usually the "Betty" of a BettyAndVeronica matchup.

Sometimes called "The Baxter" (but not [[TheMaryTylerMooreShow Ted Baxter]]) from C.C. Baxter of ''Film/TheApartment'', a sad sack who actually gets the girl. The Michael Showalter movie ''Film/TheBaxter'' deconstructs the concept. Compare HopelessSuitor, RomanticFalseLead, UnrequitedTragicMaiden, and NoSparks. See also DidNotGetTheGirl and EverythingButTheGirl when it's ''TheProtagonist'' who is the romantic runner-up.

Note that since this trope involves the ''resolution'' of [[LoveTriangle love triangles,]] '''SPOILERS AHEAD!'''

'''Please''' don't use this trope to bash {{Official Couple}}s that you don't like, too.


[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* Yamcha may be the quintessential example. In fact, he combines this trope with RomanticFalseLead, because in the events of ''Manga/{{Dragonball}}'', he was explicitly set up with Bulma after the end of the first big story arc conclusion, when the dragon was summoned. However, fast forward to ''Anime/DragonballZ'', & Bulma dumps him, & then gradually warms up to [[BloodKnight Vegeta]] of all people, ''who had been a villain actively threatening the planet in the previous story arc''.
* Kotori is a female example from ''VisualNovel/DaCapo''. Many of the characters mention that she's popular, she's a good cook, smart, and she likes spending a lot of time with Junichi. Many characters also comment that those two would be a good match for each other. But unfortunately for her, Junichi's [[ClingyJealousGirl jealous]] [[NotBloodSiblings sister]] Nemu doesn't like him spending time with any girls but her.
** Sakura is another example. She even fought with Nemu at first, but eventually gives him up at the end of the first Season.
* Kentarou Nara from the anime/manga ''Manga/SchoolRumble''. Oddly enough, he was originally going to be the main character of the show, but was nonetheless relegated as a side character with little screen time or role in the story.
* ''Manga/InuYasha'': Houjou is unbelievably and relentlessly ''nice'' to Kagome, and even though the few dates they try out are disastrous, he doesn't give up. However, his name isn't in the title, so of course he's doomed to providing lots of unnecessary medicine while she runs off to save the world with Inuyasha. Fortunately, he doesn't seem to mind much.
* Similarly, in ''Manga/RanmaOneHalf'', Akane Tendo openly considers Ryoga Hibiki to be much nicer and sweeter than her CompassionateCritic and NoSocialSkills fiance Ranma Saotome, but she's more or less ObliviousToLove when it [[AllLoveIsUnrequited comes to him]]. That said, Ryoga does find somebody else...
* Yuuno Scrya from ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha''. Nice guy, helpful, supportive; he was the one who gave Nanoha [[JumpedAtTheCall her calling]] but relationship-wise it just didn't go anywhere and WordOfGay states that Nanoha ended up with Fate instead.
* An odd example is Kyougo Monou from ''Manga/{{X1999}}''. He ''did'' [[VictoriousChildhoodFriend get to marry the girl he loved]], Saya, and even had two children with her (Fuma and Kotori)... but he ''remained'' as the Romantic Runner Up since he knew Saya loved him but not ''that'' way, as she was in love with [[spoiler: her best friend Tohru]] and married Kyougo mostly to fulfill her destiny.
** ''Manga/AyashiNoCeres'' features a similar situation where Yuuhi readily accepts his romantic loss to Aya's MysteriousProtector, Tooya. [[spoiler: In the end, however, Tooya tell him that he's dying and won't live more than two years, so he asks Yuuhi to take care of Aya and their soon-to-be-born child once he's gone]].
* Subverted in ''Manga/ParadiseKiss''. [[spoiler: Hiroyuki Tokumori was in a love triangle with Miwako and Arashi, ending up as the loser. He also was Yukari's first crush, but then she fell for George. In the end, though, Yukari and George break up, George goes abroads... and Yukari ''marries'' Tokumori]].
* Female example: Anju Kitahara in the ''Anime/MarmaladeBoy'' anime. ''Marmalade Boy'' has actually more than one example (Ginta, anyone?), but Anju is the one who fits the most.
* Dr. Itsuki of ''Anime/RahXephon'', anyone? Haruka initially dated someone else before the Mu arrived, then she dated Itsuki in college. [[spoiler: Haruka's actual true love turned out to be ''Ayato'', and they were separated [[StarCrossedLovers literally by time and space]] before Itsuki ever dated her...]]
* In ''LightNovel/{{Corsair}}'', Aura, a [[PluckyGirl plucky]] (if naive) girl had being planning to marry Canale for a very long time. Though Canale really respects and cares for her he does not want to pursue a relationship for reasons even other than the [[{{Uke}} obvious]], and he ends up with the {{jerkass}} BastardBoyfriend instead, who is something of an adopted sibling to Aura, just to rub it in.
* Eleanor of ''Manga/VictorianRomanceEmma'' is a female example. There's nothing wrong with her, it's just that William had already fallen in love with someone else.
* Dr. Tomoaki Araide in ''Manga/DetectiveConan''. Dude's handsome, soft-spoken, rich,... and he ''happens'' to have romantic interest in a young girl named Ran, who has been smitten with the GuileHero Shinichi/Conan already for years. [[spoiler: One of the OAV's shows what would likely happen if Shinichi never found a way to become normal... Araide would lose ''even then'', since [[IWillWaitForYou Ran would rather be alone than without Shinichi.]] Thank ''Gods'' it was AllJustADream...]]
** An even more blatant example is [[GentlemanDetective Inspector Shiratori]], whose biggest in-story role was being part of the LoveTriangle between [[ActionGirl Sato]] and [[NiceGuy Takagi.]] [[spoiler: It's later explained that his reasons to like Sato [[LovingAShadow go beyond]] [[ManicPixieDreamGirl the]] [[BecauseDestinySaysSo mere]] LoveTriangle, and [[FirstGirlAfterAll were centered on]] [[IdenticalStranger someone else]] in the end.]]
* Misty from ''Manga/{{Vandread}}'' falls into this trope. She never really had a chance since she was introduced in Season 2, and her romantic rival, Dita, was a part of the ship's crew, and they didn't want to see her miserable (nor did she want to ostracize them any further). so she painfully gave up pursuing Hibiki, and while she tries to play off her pursuit of him as "being bored", she later goes to the park [[TheWoobie alone to cry.]]
* Reito of ''Anime/MaiHime'', for Mai. Mai strongly considered him at first, but ended up with Yuuichi in the end.
* In the ''VisualNovel/{{Shuffle}}'' anime, every girl, especially [[spoiler: [[UnluckyChildhoodFriend Kaede]]]] becomes this once Rin chooses one near the end of the anime.
* In the anime for ''{{VisualNovel/Clannad}}'', every girl not named Nagisa falls into this trope. If it wasn't already blatantly obvious to viewers from the very beginning of episode 1, a massive ShipSinking [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvemcebvJb8&feature=related scene occurs in episode 18]], which makes it very clear to all of the other girls which one of them Tomoya really cares about.
* Deconstructed in ''Manga/RosarioToVampire'' with Kurumu (a succubus). It's fairly clear [[UnrequitedTragicMaiden how heartbreaking it is for her]] to not be the girl to get Tsukune. Gets worse because [[spoiler:in this universe, UnrequitedLove [[DeathByDespair is a bad thing for a succubus]].]]
* Shouta from Momokuri is this to his best friend Rihito. Rihito has always been popular, and while Shouta's far from a bad catch, he's just not quite to the level of hot-guy Rihito. [[spoiler:Even Shouta's ChildhoodFriend Yuzuki, who everyone in the entire series has described as either being in love with him or not realizing she's in love with him, winds up dumping him for Rihito in the end.]]

* ''Fanfic/ACrownOfStars'': Rei to Shinji. She is not a bad person and she cares about him, but Shinji loves Asuka, not her. Unfortunately she is too jealous to realize and understand Asuka loves Shinji back, and her jealousy is creating troubles right when they need her help.
* ''Fanfic/AdviceAndTrust'':
** As far as it is known, Chihiro Tanaka is not a bad girl -albeit persistent and meddlesome-, but Shinji loves Asuka despite of all her flaws.
** Rei is Shinji and Asuka's friend, they would do anything for her and they would never hurt her. But when she confesses she loves them both, they are too committed to each other to consider a three-ways relationship (not that she would interfere anyway).
* ''Manga/{{Evangelion 303}}'': Saburo was inmature, sometimes overbearing, a borderline stalker and he did many dumb things and hurt people as he tried and failed to get Kaworu back... but he was not a bad person. He was just unable to control his emotions and let the past go. He also thought he was protecting Kaworu of a heart-break by interfering between Rei and him. When he realized that was not the case he gave up.
* ''Fanfic/{{HERZ}}'': Kurumi was not a bad girl per se (at least if you do not count [[spoiler: she got Shinji hammered in order to sleep with him),]] but she was not Asuka. Shinji loved Asuka for her beauty, brains, bravery and fierceness and being the only person could understand him, and he needed her badly.

* The Michael Showalter film ''Film/TheBaxter'' is a parody from the perspective of one of these guys.
* Ralph Bellamy in just about any movie where he's not playing UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt. Were TVTropes around in the '40s, he'd be the TropeNamer. Movies in which he DidNotGetTheGirl:
** ''Film/TheAwfulTruth'' (1937)
** ''Carefree'' (1938)
** ''Film/HisGirlFriday'' (1940)
* Actor James Marsden has quite the Baxter career going, playing blandly nice guys who fail to get the girl one way or another in ''Film/{{Superman}} Returns'', ''Film/XMen'', ''Film/{{Enchanted}}'', ''Film/TheNotebook''...
** He ''does'' get the girl in ''Superman Returns.'' Strangely enough, that film casts {{Superman}} as the Baxter. In the first hour, at least. In the end, he still loses, Lois pretty much states that they're done as a couple and she's going to pine for Superman, because she really loves him and [[spoiler:he is the father to her son]].
** And he gets a girl in ''Enchanted'' too -- [[PairTheSpares just not the one he was originally looking for]].
** And in ''27 Dresses'', but he's more of a DeadpanSnarker there.
** And in ''X-Men'', where Jean even marries him. Suck on ''that'', Wolverine!
* Sam in ''Crossing Delancey'' is one of these, but ends up winning the girl anyway.
* This page describes the entire existence of James Norrington from ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' -- even though he is played by Jack Davenport, he cannot compete with [[TheHero Will]] or [[JerkWithAHeartofGold Jack]]. Even in ''[[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanDeadMansChest Dead Man's Chest]]'', when he was dirty, drunk, and hot as hell. Poor fellow.
** Technically Jack Sparrow too, as he also loses Elizabeth to Will in the third film. This is less tragic though, because while Norrington genuinely loved Elizabeth [[spoiler: and eventually made a HeroicSacrifice to save her from Davy Jones]], Jack's relationship with her was more PlayedForLaughs and he ended up getting a new love interest in the [[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanOnStrangerTides fourth film]] anyway.
* Walter in ''Film/SleeplessInSeattle''. This is a guy who was ''about to get married'', and basically gets dumped for some guy who lives on the other side of the country and whom his fiance has never even met.
* Julian in ''SomethingsGottaGive''. Diane Keaton dumps the much-younger, suave doctor KeanuReeves for Creator/JackNicholson. Sad Keanu, indeed.
* Speaking of Trope Namer [[Series/StellaUS Michael Showalter]], how about Coop from ''Film/WetHotAmericanSummer''? Katie's speech to him at the end basically epitomizes this trope:
-->'''Katie''': Listen, Coop - last night was really great. You were incredibly romantic and heroic, no doubt about it. And that's great. But I've thought about it, and my thing is this: Andy is really hot. And don't get me wrong, you're cute too, but Andy is like, * cut* . From marble. He's gorgeous. He has this beautiful face and this incredible body, and I genuinely don't care that he's kinda lame. I don't even care that he cheats on me. And I like you more than I like Andy, Coop, but I'm 16. And maybe it'll be a different story when I'm ready to get married, but right now, I am entirely about sex. I just want Andy. I just wanna take him and grab him and fuck his brains out, ya know? So that's where my priorities are right now. Sex. Specifically with Andy and not with you. But you're really nice. Everyone thinks so. And I still totally wanna be friends.
* Dan from ''Over Her Dead Body''.
* Creator/MichaelCera in ''Film/NickAndNorahsInfinitePlaylist'' and ''Series/ArrestedDevelopment''.
** Maybe he starts out as this but his character ultimately gets the girl in both of these.
* Cary Elwes's character from ''Film/LiarLiar''.
* Creator/BenStiller in ''Film/RealityBites''.
* Proteus in ''WesternAnimation/SinbadLegendOfTheSevenSeas.''
* Film/FiveHundredDaysOfSummer is interesting in that one of these is the main character and it is about the fact that while he was completely in love with her, she wasn't at all in love with him([[ForegoneConclusion which isn't a spoiler]]). The key theme is the difference between his expectations and the reality of the situation.
* ''Film/MyBestFriendsWedding'' is entirely built around Julia Robert's character fighting not to become this. [[spoiler: She doesn't get the guy, but hooks up with Rupert Everett at the end. Awwww!]]

* Richard Mayhew, the Everyman in Creator/NeilGaiman's ''Literature/{{Neverwhere}}'' who [[RefusalOfTheCall refused The Call]].
* Sam from Charlaine Harris's ''Literature/TheSookieStackhouseMysteries'' books. He's her employer, and first indicated her interest when she got into her first serious relationship with another man. They're just good friends by now.
* This is part of Demandred's backstory in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'', and is [[FreudianExcuse apparently why he ended up as a mass-murdering evil general]].
** In particular, it's massive RPT '''MASSIVE''' resentment of his status as second fiddle to the Dragon. Almost as smart, powerful, handsome, etc, etc. IIRC, he wound up playing for the side of evil so he could finally be superior.
* Frank in the ''Outlander'' series has the unfortunate distinction of first losing his wife in a magic rock, and then, just as he's getting over her, geting her back only to find that she's still in love with the guy she married in the 18th century.
* [[BlackMagicianGirl Nicci]] of the ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' is a female example. Though she eventually becomes the closest confidante and magical advisor to her love, she remains the No. 2 woman in his life.
* Jacob Black of ''Literature/{{Twilight}}''. Specifically in ''New Moon'' when he was still nice to Bella till she showed he would choose Edward over him, after that he started to get all Alpha Male on her trying to get her grounded, kissing her by force and later by emotional blackmail. In the end he managed to get Bella to admit she loved him, but she still loved Edward more.
* Len Levy not only doesn't get Jessica Darling in ''Second Helpings'' (or the later books in the Sloppy Firsts series), he loses her to his ''best friend.''
* Several characters in ''Literature/HarryPotter'': [[spoiler:Viktor Krum, Cho Chang, Michael Corner, Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown. And Pansy Parkinson might count considering she didn't get Draco Malfoy in the end]].
* ''Literature/TheHungerGames'': Sorry [[spoiler:Gale...]]
* Ashfur in ''Literature/WarriorCats'', when Squirrelflight passes him over in favor of Brambleclaw. [[LoveMakesYouEvil This does not bode well for his mental health]]...
* [[spoiler:Simon Lewis]] from ''Literature/TheMortalInstruments'', Clary chooses [[spoiler:Jace]] instead of him, although he doesn't seem too affected by it in the long run.
* In ''Literature/{{Overenskommelser}}'' by ''Creator/SimonaAhrnstedt'', both of the story's protagonists have one. Beatrice has Alexandre St Cyr D'Aubigny, and Seth has Lily Tremaine. But in the end, [[spoiler:Alexandre and Lily hook up.]]
* ''Worldwar'' gives us Dr. Jens Larssen. He starts off the series happily married for several years to Barbara Larssen. Everything's going swimmingly - they even manage to find time to make love while Lizard aircraft bomb the area around their house - until Jens is sent on a top-secret but vitally important mission that necessitates him very slowly crossing one of the largest countries on Earth. When he's been gone for the better part of a year, [[spoiler: Barbara assumes he must be dead and first starts sleeping with, then marries, then gets pregnant by another man. Only for Jens to then turn up, alive and well after all and having been looking forward to his and Barbara's reunion for months, and watch as Barbara chooses the other guy over him. But bear in mind that Jens is hardly a saint. He does threaten at one point that he might ''rape'' Barbara.]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Zack Allan in ''Series/BabylonFive'' with regards to Lyta Alexander.
** Even more heartbreaking is Lennier with regards to Delenn. They both think the world of each other, but Lennier gets OvershadowedByAwesome in the form of Sheridan. [[spoiler:This ends ''horrifically'' when Sheridan gets trapped in a life-threatening situation and Lennier has his first "blink at the Abyss" moment in his ''entire life'' and [[TheUriahGambit leaves him to die]]. [[ConscienceMakesYouGoBack He turns back]] within seconds, but Sheridan is rescued by that time, leaving him with having just tried to ''assassinate the president of the Interstellar Alliance.'' He steals a fighter and flees a very confused Sheridan, who returns to Delenn to find a note from Lennier confessing the whole thing. Delenn - who ''never realized Lennier was in love with her'' - forgives him instantly, Sheridan is implied to get over it within the next day or so, but Lennier '''never'' forgives himself for that moment of weakness.]]
* Billy Keikeya on ''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''.
** For that matter, Apollo as well. Sure, he steals Dualla from Billy but ''then'' it turns out he really wanted to be with Starbuck, who instead goes for handsome, kind-hearted jock Anders. He eventually tries to get over her but it doesn't work and he gets separated. But Starbuck's dead by that point, or at least appears to be, and things get way hectic when she comes back. Then [[spoiler:Anders is revealed as a Cylon, but the revelation doesn't break Starbuck and Anders up as one might predict. And then, Dualla shoots herself. To top it all off, when Anders dies, Starbuck, who's NotQuiteDead, disappears again. Sucks to be Apollo]].
** Which is hilarious, because in some ways Anders also fits. While, yes, he does actually get to marry Starbuck, it's implied a number of times that she would rather be with Apollo (and Anders knows this). At one point, she basically out-right states that the only reason she hasn't left Anders for Apollo is because she doesn't believe in divorce.
** In the original series, Athena seems to be this for Starbuck.
* Dean Forester from ''Series/GilmoreGirls''. He may have been Rory's first ever boyfriend, but he eventually loses her to Jess and Logan as the series progressed.
* Harvey Kinkle in the later seasons of ''Series/SabrinaTheTeenageWitch''. [[spoiler: After he himself dumped Sabrina after finding out she is a witch at the beginning of season 5, he kept returning to appear in the show throughout seasons 5 to 7 and kept dropping hints that he still was in love with Sabrina. But only in the very end he gets the girl back]].
* [[spoiler: Stuart [=McRae=]]] was a very good version of this in ''Series/RoadToAvonlea''. It made perfect sense for [[spoiler: Felicity]] to want to marry him - ''and'' for her to dump him after [[spoiler: it turned out that Gus was still alive]].
* ''Series/{{Friends}}'':
** David, Phoebe's on-and-off boyfriend, showed up once again in season nine and proposed. Phoebe promptly rejected him for Mike Hannigan, whom she ultimately married. To add insult to injury, the writers went out of their way to point out that the inoffensive David was a penniless failure by this point.
** Also in the Season 6 finale, Richard for Monica, when she picks Chandler over him. This is rather ironic as Richard in-universe is considered the perfect guy and an AlwaysSomeoneBetter to Chandler. However the writers make it very clear that Monica moved on from him and it's Chandler, with all his neuroses and insecurities, who is the love of her life.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'':
** Xander qualifies for this trope on multiple occasions. Buffy rejects him for the more romantic Angel. Cordelia ultimately also winds up with Angel after breaking up with him. Willow, after pining after him for the first two seasons, ultimately chooses Oz over him. Even Anya sleeps with Spike after breaking up with Xander. Inverted when Buffy ''does'' begin to develop romantic feeling for Xander -- and Xander rejects her for her little sister, Dawn (who had a crush on him and he rejected ''her'').
** Spike. And on a century-plus streak going at it, despite numerous metamorphoses, whether he be human, rabid young vampire, sarcastic and surprisingly sane old vampire, chipped reluctantly-good vampire, soulful good vampire, soulful bad vampire, or all-out champion of good. The irony being that most of the time he's losing out to Angel or Angelus, probably because while Angel was [[TookALevelInBadass taking levels in badass]] he was getting hit by BadassDecay so hard the trope had his name for a while.
** Riley Finn, who loved Buffy, but she didn't love him back. The interesting thing is that Riley is otherwise more the PrinceCharming type. The problem is that Buffy is... well, take your pick: a) just interested in him because he's the 'normal' guy, b) not Angel.
** Willow suffered from this, too, as she had a crush on Xander during Seasons 1 and 2, only for it to go unrequited, as he was more focused on Buffy and [[SlapSlapKiss Cordelia]] at this point. It was only during Season 3 that they expressed mutual attraction for each other.
** Oz lost out on Willow's affections to Tara in "New Moon Rising".
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': This has happened to Bashir twice. Leeta dumped him for ''Rom'', whom she marries. Later on, after Jadzia is gone, Ezri tells him that if Worf hadn't come along, Jadzia would have chosen him.
* Tom Demming from ''{{Series/Castle}}'' is a mix of this and a RomanticFalseLead, as while his arc is only a few episodes and he exists, essentially, to [[ObliviousToLove wake Castle the hell up]], he is a genuinely good guy who really does care about Beckett and seems to make her happy.
* Subverted in ''Series/SexAndTheCity'' Steve looked like he would be this for Miranda, and they even broke up for a while. But in the end his sheer averageness was just the kind of stability she needed.
* Boomer of the little-known children's show ''Maddigan's Quest''. Even before the series, Garland saw him as more a goofy friend than anything, and after Timon shows up, he's got no chance. Even when Timon [[spoiler:turns into a human cockroach]], Garland still prefers him. I mean, ouch.
* Between her roles on ''Series/TheOfficeUS'' and ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'', Creator/RashidaJones seems to be building a career on playing this character.
* Artemus Gordon ends up this way at the end of almost every first season episode of ''Series/TheWildWildWest''. Having helped saved the day (and usually the girl) most of the time, he turns to talk to either her or Jim West and finds that the girl is now in Jim's arms. From the second season on Artie's luck gets much better.
* Brian Krakow in ''Series/MySoCalledLife'' may be the ultimate {{Deconstruction}} of this trope. Especially since he gets his ''own'' runner-up in Delia Fisher, and shows you exactly what the real-life consequences of at least [[AllLoveIsUnrequited two]] [[ObliviousToLove tropes]], and a complete and utter crushing deconstructive subversion of [[UnrequitedLoveSwitcheroo a third]].
* Zach was this to Seth in ''Series/TheOC'' with regards to Summer. A nice guy, son of a congress man, confident, mature, and yet just not quite what Summer really wanted. The implication when he was PutOnABus was that he went into business with George Lucas, so maybe it all worked out in the wash.
* ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'':
** The show deconstructs this trope in the episode "Shelter Island". Ted sees himself as the DoggedNiceGuy, and even invites fiancee Stella's JerkAss ex-boyfriend Tony to their wedding. Only when she leaves him at the altar does he realizes that Tony was actually the romantic lead of that particular love story, while Ted is the RomanticRunnerUp.
** When Tony later writes and sells a movie script based on the events, Ted is pissed off and humiliated because he doesn't even get this characterization in the movie. Instead, the character based on him is an outright villain who goes around kicking dogs and doesn't even care about the female lead; he just wants to keep her away from her soul mate for laughs. The worst part is that the character, Jed Mosely, even refers to himself using Ted's real name during a JerkAss "Do you know who I am?!" rant.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** Mickey Smith is decent, okay-looking, just an average guy with a hot girlfriend...until some guy with a leather jacket and a nice ride sweeps her off her feet.
** Zigzagged between Martha Jones and the Tenth Doctor. Gorgeous, funny, extremely intelligent, and brave, Martha falls in love with the Doctor almost immediately. Which the Doctor realizes - it's just that he still misses and loves Rose. No wonder [[spoiler: [[PairTheSpares Mickey and Martha end up married]]]].
** Further Zigzagged between the Twelfth Doctor and Danny Pink with regards to Clara Oswald. The Doctor is still in love with Clara (a carryover from his previous incarnation who, per dialogue in the episode "Deep Breath", considered himself to be Clara's boyfriend), but initially steps back and intentionally distances himself from her emotionally, leaving her open to establishing a relationship with Danny. From the get-go, however, Danny and the Doctor are contrasted, with Clara maintaining feelings for both and trying to keep both men in her life. This does not end well, and when Danny is [[spoiler: KilledOffForReal but briefly revived as a Cyberman]], he finally finds out where he stands with Clara when she says to him (not realizing she's speaking to Danny): "I would never, ever, give up the Doctor, because he is my best friend, too. He is the closest person to me in this whole world. He is the man I will always forgive, always trust. The one man I would never, ever lie to." This after spending most of Series 8 lying to Danny.
* Lancelot from ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' has such low self-esteem that on realizing that Arthur is in love with Guinevere, gives up on his own romantic hopes without a fight or even checking with Guinevere herself to see what man she prefered (and at that point, he would have almost certainly been her first pick).
* Given a twist in the final season of ''Series/{{Frasier}}'' in which Frasier is the bland nice guy who gets the girl while the more exciting boyfriend doesn't. Aspects of this trope are played straight by the boyfriend Frank, who is overall an extremely nice and friendly guy and a committed environmentalist.
* This was Frasier's [[RomanticFalseLead original reason]] for existing on ''Series/{{Cheers}}''. He was meant to appear as a recurring character in the third season as a LoveInterest to Diane, as a way of providing conflict between her and Sam. This eventually led to the two getting engaged and having a wedding in the season finale, one that Diane eventually runs out of. Still, while Diane didn't run out to reunite with Sam initially, she does end up rekindling her romance with him later on, while Frasier forms a relationship with Lilith.
* Part of the rivalry between Jack and Sawyer for Kate's affections in ''Series/{{Lost}}''. Jack is a very good guy, skilled, likeable and an excellent surgeon. Sawyer is dangerous, charming, and mysterious as well as almost entirely unlikeable. Ben points this out to Sawyer telling him that ,on the island, he's the dashing adventurous bad boy while Jack is the bland doctor. Off the island, Sawyer is two bit ex-con and Jack is the respected, well-educated Doctor.
** Later during Season 5, Sawyer ends up [[PairTheSpares forming a relationship]] with Juliet (who had previously realized that she was essentially a RomanticFalseLead for Jack). However, the sexual tension between Sawyer and Kate remains, and Juliet [[GenreSavvy continues to worry]] that she will be this to Kate, this time for Sawyer. In the end, [[spoiler: Jack]] ends up with [[spoiler: Kate]], and [[spoiler: Sawyer]] ends up [[spoiler: Juliet]].
* Damon Salvatore from ''Series/TheVampireDiaries'': Both Katherine and Elena prefer and have chosen Stefan over him. Is always second best to Stefan in regards to love and romance.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'': Poor Lincoln Lee. Let's recap: in the [[spoiler: original timeline]] red-verse, he is in unrequited love and friend-zoned with Fauxlivia. This doesn't seem to change after the [[spoiler: Season 4 reboot of both universes]]. In the [[spoiler: rebooted]] blue-verse, he has a flirtation going with Olivia, who seems interested. Until a handsome, snarky stranger shows up who's actually [[spoiler: her true love from an erased timeline]]. To add insult to injury, her choosing [[spoiler: to remember Peter]] means she won't even really remember that she and Lincoln had a mutual attraction. However, after his much cooler alternative universe-counterpart dies, he decides to cross over for good and stick to Fauxlivia. Towards the end of the last season, when Olivia crosses over one last time using her cortexiphan-induced powers, it's revealed that they married and had a son.
* Joy Mercer on ''Series/HouseOfAnubis'' so very much. It gets to the point where [[spoiler:even when Nina was gone, Fabian refused to date Joy, as he believes they should be [[JustFriends just good friends and nothing else.]]]]
* ''Series/{{Glee}}'':
** Sam unfortunately ends up being this. First, Quinn cheats on him and ends up choosing Finn. Then, he briefly dates Santana until she dumps him for the bully Karofsky, [[ArmouredClosetGay not knowing that they are acting as each others' beards.]] Then after a long term relationship with Brittany, she dumps him and gets back together with Santana a couple months later.
** Artie was this after Tina dumped him for Mike.
** The Quinn/Finn/Rachel love triangle had Rachel and Quinn alternating the role of runner up. The most notable instances were in season 2. Finn and Rachel broke up, leading to him and Quinn getting back together with Rachel still pining for Finn. Then Finn dumped Quinn because he was still in love with Rachel, making her the runner up.
* Sam Cavanaugh of ''Series/{{Moonlighting}}'', whom Maddie Hayes outright admits would be perfect for her -- if she weren't already madly in love with her wisecracking, strip-poker-playing, flirtatious, seemingly devil-may-care partner David Addison, with whom she has the kind of romantic and sexual chemistry frequently blamed for forest fires.


* The narrator of "I'll Be Around" by The Spinners.

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/MattHardy and [[Wrestling/BryanDanielson Daniel Bryan]] share the humiliation of each having lost a romantic rivalry to ''Kane''. That's right, Wrestling/{{Kane}} - a socially awkward, genuinely ugly, supremely sadistic borderline HumanoidAbomination. Then again, there was a saving grace in each case in that [[Wrestling/{{Lita}} the girl]] [[Wrestling/AJLee in question]] proved to be [[ReallyGetsAround a total slut]].

* Paris, of ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet''.
* This was a standard trope for Creator/GilbertAndSullivan.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''Franchise/MassEffect'', Dr. Michel has feelings for Garrus, but will lose to a female Shepard who romanced Garrus in the second game, [[spoiler:and even if the player does not romance him, he'll end up with Tali if Shepard didn't romance her]].
** Given the many ways one can play their character, almost all of the series' party members can be subjected to this if Shepard decides to romance one character in either of the first two games and end up with someone else in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''.
* Kain from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyIV'' could well be the MostTriumphantExample for the medium.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In ''Webcomic/PunchAnPie,'' Heather's mother describes Heather's ex-boyfriend as squarely fitting into this trope (he hasn't been seen, though). Angela's ex-boyfriend from the [[Webcomic/QueenOfWands prequel]] had a lot of these traits but doesn't quite fit the trope.
* ''Webcomics/{{Erfworld}}'' has Jillian, who has three people in love with her. After she leaves two behind to go after the third, one of them asks the other why he didn't go with her.
-->'''Jack Snipe''': Hm, well... Could I ask the same of you, then, [Wanda]? Could it be the same answer? I mean, I wouldn't have minded so much counting myself among Queen Jillian's trophies. But I wouldn't much have enjoyed placing, oh...thirdish among them. I would say she left with the one she really came to take. It seems there is Ansom, and then there are ancillaries. And where is the glory in being a spare?

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Cooper from ''WesternAnimation/{{Ben 10}}''. In ''[[WesternAnimation/Ben10AlienForce Alien Force]]'' he shows himself as a caring, humble and really intelligent kid who has a deep crush on Gwen. However, she never showed any interest in him (she even tried to avoid him many times) and always chose Kevin over him everytime he appeared. This trope was taken to the extreme in ''[[WesternAnimation/Ben10UltimateAlien Ultimate Alien]]'' during the first season finale. Cooper had a fast growth and became a big teenager who was pretty much a palette swap of Kevin (only blonde). He worked hard to make sure Gwen's plan of stopping Kevin was a success and even defended her when Kevin almost killed her, yet all he got in the end was a thank you and a kiss on the cheek from Gwen, followed by seeing her giving Kevin a big kiss on the lips.
* Blythe Baxter from ''WesternAnimation/LittlestPetShop2012'' had Josh Sharp falling into her arms as he swoons with her, even though he [[spoiler:loses her]] each time she leaves him, hoping to go back to her room, resulting in a major ''heartbreak'', due to the song [[spoiler:Keep on Loving You]] by The Donnas.
* [[spoiler:Mako]] in ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra''. While he ''did'' fumble up his relationships with Korra and Asami a lot over the first two seasons, one could argue that in Book Four, he was mature enough to finally hold a relationship. [[spoiler:In the end, however, he ends up as a good friend to both Korra AND Asami. He's also the runner-up to ''both'' as the two, in the GrandFinale, have a RelationshipUpgrade.]]
** For some delicious {{irony}} [[spoiler: Korra and Asami are able to bond and become closer over their shared bad experiences with dating Mako.]]
* Cupid from ''WesternAnimation/EverAfterHigh'' seems to be headed this way. Dexter is [[ObliviousToLove oblivious]] to her crush on him, probably because he's too head over heels for Raven to notice. Raven reciprocates the feelings, and while they aren't [[OfficialCouple official]] yet, all signs seem to be pointing in that direction.