A type of Satellite Character who exists primarily to serve as the love interest for a main character. It doesn't matter what their life was like beforehand; their focus in the story revolves around the sole fact that they dig said main character, and the main character digs them. A staple of Harem Series. When part of a movie, it's usually because the plot revolves around a second love interest that is used to show how much better the Satellite Love Interest is for the protagonist.
Contrast with Designated Love Interest, in which a character's characterization isn't involved enough with loving another character, thus making the "love interest" moniker seem tacked-on.
Please don't use this trope as an excuse to bash characters whom you dislike for X/Y/Z motives. Being a love interest doesn't immediately equal being a satellite character, and many accusations fit less in this trope and more in Die for Our Ship.
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Anime and Manga
Aoi from Ai Yori Aoshi. Being a Yamato Nadeshiko alone wouldn't make her fit this trope, and she's far from boring or unsympathetic, but there's no denying that she spectacularly fails the "imagine the character without her love interest" test.
Miho Azuki of Bakuman。, whose only goal apart from becoming a voice actress is getting together with Moritaka Mashiro, and even then, those two goals are intertwined because of her promise to only marry Mashiro when they both achieve their dreams.
Princess Charlotte from Berserk fits this trope to a T. Her only role in the history is being Griffith's Meal Ticket and she seems to only think about him all the time. The Crapsack Worldpunishes her for being such.
Chii in Chobits is literally this since she's a Robot Girl without an operating system and her entire personality starts from scratch. Later flashbacks to when she wasn't yet a Love Interest show that can be much deeper (and possibly would become like that again).
Subverted in Deadman Wonderland. Main character Ganta is trapped in a prison whose inhabitants are, by and large, not very nice people, when he meets a painfully shy and sensitive girl who clings to him from the word "hello." Minatsuki is actually a psychopathic killer who puts on the nice-girl persona and then gets sexual pleasure from the look of betrayal on her victims' faces right before she kills them. She is starting to get a little better, though.
Ren in DearS — a particularly extreme example, given the series enjoys the term slave.
Misa Amane from Death Note is an interesting illustration of this trope. She's dedicated to her career as an idol and her "job" punishing the guilty, so she can't quite be called shallow... but where Light is concerned, she's shallower than any five other examples on this page. Her willingness to submit to his slightest whim is so extreme it's scary. It's certainly possible to picture her without Light — we see her before they meet, and she's clever and dangerous. But after they meet, she'd rather die than live any kind of life without him.
There are two of note in the Dragon Ball franchise, both of them intentional examples. First is Marron, Krillin's first girlfriend in Z (and practically a clone of Bulma) that appeared during the Garlic Jr. Saga, only for her to dump poor Krillin in the only stand-alone episode in the series. Then in GT, Goten was seen on a date with Pares, a girl that got perplexed by ice cream... on a cone.
Nyu in Elfen Lied; like Chii, Nyu is a Blank Slate, picked up by Kouta from a beach. Possibly a subversion, in that Nyu's attraction to Kouta is a reflection of her true personality Lucy, a borderline psychopathic mass murderer with real, complex, and disturbingly heartbreaking reasons for loving him.
Midori from Green Green. If she weren't allowed to squeal "Yuusuke" every ten seconds, she would lose her reason for existence.
Subverted in GUNNM. In an argument with Gally over her choice to become a Hunter-Warrior, Ido lets it slip that he revived her with the expectation that she would be one of these. Gally, like any sane person would be upon hearing this, is pissed.
Koutarou Azumamiya of Hayate the Combat Butler used to be this for Hinagiku originally, and the anime even added a few episodes of this to him, but since the second year started, he's actually gotten some character of his own.
In Honey Crush it never becomes very clear why the two other girls are so heavily in love with Madoka (one of them even continues to do so after her death, turning her into a ghostly Stalker with a Crush). Sure, Madoka might be pretty, but her personality remains elusive throughout the series.
Shino from the manga Ichiroh is a comedic example, as it's a gag series and can get away with it. She's never seen away from Nanako and almost all she does is lust over her. It doesn't help that she's also a mix of Clingy Jealous Girl and Stalker with a Crush with a pinch of Psycho Lesbian at her worst.
Hojo from InuYasha is a male example of this. Of course, we don't see him enough for him to have much of a personality. And he exists for the sake of a Running Gag rather than actual romantic tension.
Something similar happens in Kamichu!, where Yurie is much closer to Matsuri than her supposed love interest Kenji.
Kampfer's Natsuru Senou is the rare case of a Satellite Love Interest who is the main character. He is primarily defined by his rather basic crush on Kaede. When someone asks him in episode 8 why he likes Kaede so much, he first refers to her beauty and elegance. When it's brought up that most of the girls he knows are also beautiful and elegant, all he can do is shrug his shoulders and say that you "don't need a reason to love someone". Seriously, the guy has no personality outside of his crush and his frustration with his new Gender Bender status. On the other hand, Kaede herself has some Hidden Depths...
Kyoko from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!. Her main personality trait is... she's a good Girl Next Door. And a huge reason why Tsuna has a crush on her is because she was the only girl who bothered being nice to him in 12 months.
Koharu in Koharu No Hibi, so very much. Deconstructed, but with no lasting effects.
Yuno basically has no personality outside of her devotion to Yukiteru. This is played as straight as possible to make herscary while being a deconstruction of the trope. Her entire world revolves around Yukiteru, and if anyone threatens to take him away from her, she flips her shit and equates it to her entire future being taken away. This is with good reason. Before meeting Yukiteru, Yuno had just killed her parents, who were sitting dead in her house for three weeks. She had absolutely no hope for her own future, and was moved when Yukiteru's hope for the future was for his family to get along. So when Yukiteru jokingly accepted her offer to become his bride, she was thrilled since she finally had a reason to keep living her life. So her life very literally depends on having Yukiteru there for emotional support. He is her future. It gets even more interesting in that Yuno recognizes this fact and basically gives a "The Reason We Suck" Speech about how it was "pretend love" and she would have been fine with anyone as long as she could emotionally depend on him. Fortunately, it turns out that maybe their love isn't that meaningless after all.
The main female characters from Mobile Suit Gundam AGE largely fall into this, becoming moreso with each successive generation. Emily at least has her grandfather and Dique to talk to, but even Yurin's existence is ultimately all about how her presence affects Flit. In G2, a large part of Romary's dialogue is saying "Asemu" with varying degrees of distress or plaintiveness and it's implied she joined the military just to stay close to him and Zeheart. In G3, we really don't know anything at all about Wendy—not even that she is really a love interest, because she doesn't get enough screentime to show whether or not she has a crush on Kio, she just fits in the Girl Next Door pattern that Emily and Romary established.
Sakura in Naruto starts as one in the manga, but begins to grow more well defined around The Forest of Death Arc. The same can be said of Karin, who started out as the usual blank slate love interest, but became a more thought out character shortly after her introduction. Hinata is sometimes accused of being one, despite having a detailed backstory and character, because most of her character focus is on or related to her love for Naruto.
Saya from Peacemaker Kurogane. She pretty much exists only to be Tetsunosuke's love interest. She fits very much with the question, "What would her personality be if she never met the male lead?" Nothing. Come on, we know she's mute and all, but even mute people have personalities and quirks.
Inverted by Outer Moka from Rosario + Vampire. This is entirely justified, as she is an artificial person created to protect the true Moka and Outer Moka is aware of this, and she even does her best to put aside her own feelings to pair up Tsukune and Inner Moka, albeit this is far more explicitly done in the manga as opposed to the anime. And, to further the inversion (again, in the manga at least), the two of them have worked together to support each other in regards to Tsukune, while Inner Moka's wishes and intents are kept the primary consideration.
School Days: In the anime the two main female love interests get reduced to only being known for their obsession with Makoto. And that is the point, actually: the series shows the psychological strain and the extremes that being completely centered on a single person can bring... specially when said person is a Jerk Ass who uses both of them and others for his own pleasure.
In Shugo Chara!, Amu's crush on Tadase started out based on looks and really nothing more because she'd never spoken to him. Later on in the series, Amu's feelings for Tadase develop into her liking him based on his personality once she gets to know him.
A lesser-known example outside of Japan is Millina the treasure hunter from the second half of the Slayers novel series. While it's subverted in that she does not romantically like her pursuer, the Hot Blooded Luke, she pretty much serves as his Morality Chain, a given, considering that Luke has a fragment of the verse's Big Bad inside of him. The finale of the novel series is triggered by Luke going crazy over her being assassinated. Like Zelgadiss before her, she's a Deadpan Snarker and a Magic Knight...with no given reason. Of course, Luke himself isn't much better.
Since she molds her personality to mirror that of whoever she's stalking, she might fit the darker trope of Empty Shell more than this one.
Fatina from The Tower of Druaga. She spends the first 3/4ths of the first season as a character whose sole character traits were being a bitchy Neeba fangirl. This changes later on, where we get an episode where she and the main character are stranded together and bond a little, removing her from Neeba and giving viewers a bit more insight into her character. She never really goes back to being a complete Neeba fangirl after that. To add to things, Neeba offers Fatina and Fatina alone an invitation to join him and Kaaya after they betray their groups. She turns down his offer and stands by Jil's side.
The Vanishing Of Nagato Yuki Chan, a spin-off manga of Haruhi Suzumiya, turns the protagonist of the main series into this. Kyon's tendency to be passive stays, while the observational narration is gone, so he has little to show other than caring for Yuki.
Himawari of xxxHOLiC comes off like this for a good while. There's a very good reason for this given later.
Carlie Cooper from Spider-Man was supposed to be "perfect" for Peter, the problem was because she was kind of quickly introduced and then forgotten about for a significant amount time while the rotating writers focused on THEIR pet characters when she reappeared it got a collective "huh?". Seemingly to make up for lost time a lot of her appearances consisted of everyone talking about how super awesome she was -even those who had never met her before. If this weren't bad enough, she appeared in an issue titled The Many Loves Of Spider-Man before they were even dating. When they finally got together Peter declared it was "the rightest thing in the world" (despite the fact she was dressed up as his ex). What little personality traits could be assigned to her were seemingly all sewn together from other love interests that were much better developed characters. Combined with the fact she and Peter had a laughable lack of actual chemistry (quite a feat when you're dealing with not actors, but drawings), that she was named after Quesada's daughter, no one could decide what she looked like and was a Replacement Scrappy for Mary Jane to boot, she quickly became The Scrappy and when they broke up during Spider Island the fandom rejoiced. She's still in the books, but now they're focusing more on her job as a CSI, so hopefully this trope will be averted and more of an assignable personality will surface.
Sadie in Starman has no character outside of her relationship with Jack and worry about her brother.
Laurie Juspezyk from Watchmen was employed by the US government essentially to be one of these for Dr. Manhattan after she quit her old job in the Superhero business. Deconstructed in that she actually does have a personality, and it winds up conflicting to some extent with her mission of keeping Manhattan focused/sane/human, because the fact that he's too much the first of those and not enough the third upsets her, which in turn upsets him.
Lightning and Starla in My Little Unicorn. They develop a crush on first sight and we never learn much about her other than her interest in astronomy, which is practically forgotten after her introduction. Starla doesn't even appear in the author's video of character bios for the fic!
Another example would be Rhymey and Fluttershy in the later half of the story.
Irina, the Greek princess in Astérix at the Olympic Games, whose entire personality is pretty much 'I love poetry, I love Lovesix, I don't want to marry Brutus'. The person chasing after her, Lovesix, is pretty static as well.
The Prince in Cinderella was also ridiculously bland and barely has any lines. Disney appeared to have noticed this, and well made up for it in the third movie.
He had a few lines...and all of them were to say that Cinderella was wonderful and where she was going when she was running away. Which just makes it worse.
Faline in the first Bambi movie doesn't really have a personality, especially when she grows up into a Doe. The midquel fleshes her out. Likewise neither Thumper's nor Flower's love interests have any personality, though they only appear very briefly.
Vixey from The Fox and the Hound has barely any personality, due to being introduced around the time Tod was put in the nature reserve, and meeting and immediately triggering Tod's affections within two minutes of her first appearance. She is implied to have known Big Mama for some time from the sound of her introduction, but that's pretty much all we know about her besides the fact she and Tod love each other.
Tony in The Incredibles, who shows up in the beginning and the end of the film and mainly exists as Violet's crush. In fact, he only really exists to demonstrate Violet's character development. At the beginning of the film, she's too shy to even remain visible in his presence. At the end, she's able to talk with him and get a date while he's stammering nervously.
Bo Peep from Toy Story. Sure, she's sweet and has a bit of a naughty side, but both those traits are used in order to demonstrate her affection for Woody (grabbing him around the neck with her shepherdess's crook, for example). She never really interacts with any other toy on-screen and she exists mainly as a sympathetic ear to Woody. Bo Peep's lack of development — and the popularity of the other female characters, Jessie the Cowgirl and the tour guide Barbie doll from the second Toy Story movie, and the logistics of having Bo Peep actually be involved in the action of the third movie (given that she wasn't actually a toy at all, but a china figurine) — were the reason why she didn't appear in the third movie
Film — Live Action
Jocelyn in A Knight's Tale. She's beautiful, rich, likes clothes, loves William...and that's it. All the poor girl gets to do is stand on the sidelines and then have either a love scene or a fighting scene with Will. Though she's lucky enough to even get moments of witty lines and displays of spunk.
From the same decade, Jennifer in Back to the Future. She appeared very little in the first movie and apparently existed only so that Marty would have someone to spill exposition on in the opening scenes. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale tried to write her out of the sequels, but the way they ended the first movie made that difficult; she did get some development in the second and third movies.
Joanna and Elizabeth, the Royal Princess Babes from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. While this was somewhat justified in the first movie due to their brief screen time, they remain featureless in the second movie, even with their more prominent role in the heroes' lives.
Marianne from The Boat That Rocked has no consistent personality in her ten minutes total screen time except to be an object of adoration for the teenage protagonist. She almost immediately breaks his heart by sleeping with another guy on their 'date', but they get back together in the last 15 minutes with practically no apology and no explanation from her.
In Cherry 2000, the title character is a Robot Girl with a very limited AI (she probably wouldn't pass a Turing Test). The whole plot of the movie is the hero's trek to find a body to replace her lost one. She only appears for a few minutes of the movie, and is unceremoniously dumped to save the female tracker who the hero fell in love with during the journey.
Since she's a sexbot, she's more or less supposed to be this. Dumping her in favor of a real person is character development; if she had a personality it would be more of a Kick the Dog moment.
Casey in Chronicle is notable in that being a Satellite Love Interest was a cover for her actual role in the film; to provide another camera for the film's Found Footage style.
Justin Timberlake's girlfriend in Edison exists only to remind everyone that he's a hip, sexy twenty-something and get beaten to a bloody pulp by the corrupt cops he's investigating.
Prince Edward from Enchanted parodies it from the usual Disney Princess. However, it was averted in one scene where after his kiss didn't wake up Giselle, he realized he wasn't the one for her and immediately asked Robert to do it, showing he is open-minded. And after Giselle woke up, he was genuinely happy for the two of them.
Link Larkin in the original 1988 film version of Hairspray had no personality whatsoever outside of being a love interest to Tracey. The musical adaptation gave him a lot more character.
John Tucker Must Die is an example of the male lead (John Tucker) being the guy who shouldn't end up with the main character, so that the Satellite Love Interest can come in at the end.
Katie Deauxma in the Kick-Ass movie, who is every bit Dave's dream girl to the core, even to the point of immediately forgiving him for pretending to be gay and having sex with him right afterward, plus having sex just about anywhere—including on a dumpster. She is given an occupation and her interest in comics is touched upon, but her entire character ultimately centers around being Dave's perfect girlfriend. The most important role she plays aside from that is sending Dave after Razul, which leads to him meeting other important characters. Ironically, in the comics, she ditches him when he tells her the truth and disappears from the comics entirely.
Tina Carlyle in The Mask. To the point that they had to reveal that the other half of the Betty and Veronica was The Mole for the Big Bad in order to find a good, non-sexual reason why Stanley should prefer her in the end.
Aaron from Mean Girls is a rare male version. He pretty much solely exists to be a pretty (and gullible) face and stuck in the Love Triangle between Cady and Regina.
Aaron proves he does have some depth under that handsome facade when he chews out Cady for flunking math so he can tutor her, even though she's good at it.
Jane from Puma Man. A character so lacking in personality that she barely qualifies as a cardboard cutout.
Whatsherface, Joan, from The Starfighters. The whole movie is an endless stream nothing of interest happening to incredibly uninteresting people, and she does not disappoint.
In TRON: Legacy, Olivia Wildewent out of her way to ensure that her character Quorra didn't get saddled with this. We see the beginnings of an attraction between the Sam and Quorra once they get to know each other a bit better on the Solar Sailer, which is probably a more natural true-to-life progression than this trope: they only recently met.
In-universe in The Truman Show. Truman's wife Meryl doesn't really love him and is only acting the part of his love interest. At one point, he even asks her "Why did you marry me? You can't stand me." After she leaves the show, the studio was set to have Truman start a new relationship with a hot new co-worker.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Jeyne Westerling is Robb Stark's Satellite Love Interest. Her entire role in the plot is for Robb Stark to marry her and break his vow to Walder Frey, and all she talks about is how to be a good wife to Robb. (The fact that there are no point-of-view chapters for Robb explains this somewhat; we never see the two of them interact one-on-one, so we don't know what their relationship is really like.)
Jeyne's simplicity is most likely one of the reasons why the Game of Thrones writers cut her out and replaced her with a new Love Interest for Robb who, admittedly, is a better developed character: a field nurse who maintains a strong opinion against the war and is quite intelligent in her own right.
Bart and Robert in the Baby Sitters Club series, whose only purpose is as love interests for Kristy and Stacey respectively. By contrast, Mary Anne's boyfriend Logan was a much more rounded character and was part of the club himself.
Will Yamakawa from the book Babysitters Summer Vacation was a Satellite Love Interest for Claudia. This also counts as a Token Minority Couple.
Ada from Dickens' Bleak House falls under this trope. She is sweet and so beautiful that Even the Girls Want Her and completely in love with her cousin, Richard. And that's it.
Ditto for Lucie in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was at such a loss to develop her that her most memorable attribute is her ability to arrange furniture nicely.
Samson's infatuation with an unnamed Philistine woman in The Bible.
Kathein, in Courtship Rite, the woman the maran-Kaiel were originally planning to marry. She's a brilliant scientist, whose research becomes important to the plot more than once, but since they were ordered to marry someone else, the maran-Kaiel have been forbidden to see her, so she gets only a minimal amount of screen time and character development.
Lin Carter's Cthulhu Mythos tales have a variant of this in the form of the Great Old One Idh-Yaa, whose only purpose is to be Cthulhu's mate and the mother of his three sons. This may be one of the reasons why some fans disregard Lin Carter's Mythos.
Played with in the Eternal Champion story by Michael Moorcock. The hero, Ekrose, wins a battle and becomes betrothed to the beautiful princess Iolinda, even though he just met her. Over the course of the story, he starts developing a much deeper connection to Ermihazd which develops into more genuine love. This has far reaching consequences by the end of the story.
In Firebird Lackey, Ilya falls in love with Tatiana because she's incredibly beautiful. After rescuing her from the Katschei, he comes to the unpleasant conclusion that her looks are the only pleasing thing about her. Fortunately, he catches her cheating with his brother Piotyr, which gives him grounds to end their engagement.
Bryce Loski of Flipped is a subversion. Juli is only interested in him for superficial reasons, and her family sees him as a pretty shallow person. In reality he's got lots of Hidden Depths, he's just also a raging Stepford Smiler who deliberately projects his shallow image to cover up how bad things are at home. A major theme of the book is Juli learning to looks past appearances and Bryce learning to act like a decent human being.
In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Kevin had divorced because Donna was not this, and painted Julia this way. In the end, after he killed Kevin, Roger paints Julia a new Kevin, who will treat her better — it wasn't after all her fault.
A Princess of Mars has John Carter do things beyond the impossible all for his relatively basic love for Dejah Thoris.
Elend Venture starts out like this in the first Mistborn book, being basically defined by being the idealistic, bookish young nobleman that heroine Vin gradually falls for. In the second and third books Elend becomes a core POV character in his own right, and quickly gets Character Development moving him out of this one.
Margaret Blair from the Mobile Suit Gundam novels. She's a chubby redhead who works as Kycillia Zabi's secretary and she's sleeping with Char... and that's all we ever get to know about her. Egregious as most female love interests in the novels get considerable character development, especially when you consider the level they already got in the anime, which was quite generous for its time: just compare her with Lalah Sune, Sayla Mass or even Frau Bow.
Many of these in Sweet Valley High and its spin-offs. It was almost guaranteed that once a book Elizabeth, Jessica or both would meet a new love interest who led her into some sort of scheme or caused her to become torn between him and her loyal regular boyfriend. Steven and other supporting characters got Satellite Love Interests too.
One of the most bizarre examples of this trope can be found in the concept of "imprinting" in Twilight, in which males "recognize" the females that they are destined to fall in love with — which can occur as early as child-birth (in fact, Jacob imprinted on Bella's child before she was even conceived). Many of these female imprintees are "basic" by default considering they're infants or toddlers and thus have no fixed personalities at all. Their lives revolve entirely around their future husbands considering the teenage boys appear to become their caregivers until they're of marriageable age, and whether the girls want to be in these relationships is treated as somewhat irrelevant in the text. They are future wives, nothing more.
One example of this was when Jacob came across his friend Quil (a teenage boy) on a date with Claire (a two year old) at the beach, which involved Quil just watching as Claire played in the sand.
Ramandu's daughter in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader only appears in the last chapter and exists largely to be beautiful and provide exposition. She doesn't even warrant a name of her own. She marries Caspian and we're informed that they live happily ever after.
Until she gets nommed by a snake and provides the inciting incident for The Silver Chair.
Silverstream from Warrior Cats. She never appeared in Into the Wild (not even as an apprentice or at least in the allegiances), and her first appearance in the second book was only to rescue Graystripe from drowning. She never had an appearance where it didn't involve another more important character, and the only notable thing she did outside of bearing Graystripe's kits was getting Firestar in touch with cats who knew something about Redtail's death.
Live Action TV
Kennedy from season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer appears to be interested in Willow for two reasons: she's cute, and she's willing to have sex with girls. At one point Willow asks her flat out what Kennedy knows about her, and Kennedy is barely able to come up with anything. But by the next episode, they're in a relationship.
Also Anya, who managed to turn "shallow" into an endearing quality.
Scott Hope, Buffy's incredibly forgettable high school boyfriend. The writers probably made him shallow deliberately to contrast with Buffy's vampire boyfriend Angel who had just been killed.
For all his popularity with the fandom even Oz counts; in his entire time as one of the main cast he had no individual plotline that didn't involve being Willow's love interest.
Dr. Peyton Driscoll in CSI NY has hints of this. She had the potential to be a great character, as an ME she was obviously smart, but the writers ruined this by making her very first scene one of her in bed with Mac. Later on, it seemed virtually every scene with her had to be connected to Mac in some way.
Christine is getting milder complaints about this, though she's better liked than Peyton. Some fans feel she hasn't been fleshed out enough or given enough personality to allow people to relate well to her, and they feel she's a bit too perfect to seem real or that she's a written a bit too much like Mac's perfect woman. They point out things like her being quick to forgive Mac for initially shutting her out somewhat from his aphasia problem and that in several scenes, she's been sitting in her restaurant with the door open after hours,even in dangerous New York, as though just waiting for Mac, even the time when she hadn't been answering her phone and wouldn't have known he would be coming over.
Mellie from Dollhouse starts out as this as she is just Paul's neighbor/girlfriend. Later it is revealed that she is a doll and the whole Mellie personality was made just to be Paul's Love Interest. Her real persona, Madeline, actually has much more going on in the story.
Blaine Anderson from Glee; his primary role being Kurt's boyfriend. He rarely gets any real plots or scenes for himself; even the few that don't directly involve Kurt nevertheless end up being more about Kurt than Blaine. In the third season, he had a few Kurt-free plotlines such as friction with Finn and Sam, and his relationship with his brother.
Season four sees him become almost completely independent from Kurt. He has plenty of his own storylines and scenes.
Heroes: West, Caitlin, Yaeko, Simone. Most of these examples are so egregious as to be almost Bond girls (boys?) with how little we see of them if at all after the season they're introduced in. One of these lucky ladies is introduced and then retconned out of existence in show.
Horatio Hornblower: Mariette from "The Frogs and the Lobsters" is given very little personality. She is there just so Hornblower can fall in love with her and she reciprocates. Nearly everything she does in the episode is related in one way or another to Horatio. For example, when she's insulted by the chauvinistic Marquis, it's just a set-up to show that Horatio acts like a gentleman even to a French peasant girl.
Robin's boyfriend in season 7/8 of How I Met Your Mother, who is some guy she met in a store once when she was still dating Ted. All the audience knew about him was that he was a Walking Shirtless Scene; most of the few character traits he was later given were informed attributes. The last episode he appeared in revealed he was extremely dumb and the main reason Robin stayed with him was that he was very skilled in the bedroom.
Helen Clyde from The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, who exists almost entirely to serve as Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley's love interest. When compared to the other woman in his life — his partner Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, who is about as three-dimensional as it gets and has her own storylines, quirks, and foibles — Helen appears practically cardboard by comparison. Throw in a very healthy dose of UST and a reciprocal case of The Not-Love Interest between Lynley and Havers, and there's a reason Lynley/Havers is the show's Fan Preferred Couple by an overwhelming margin.note This isn't the case in the novel series from which the show was adapted, where Helen is much more three-dimensional — the show, although quite beloved in its own way, is treated as an Alternate Continuity by fans with good reason — but Lynley/Havers is still the favourite by a considerable distance.
Nadeshiko Misaki in Kamen Rider Fourze. Although she fights as a Rider herself, her primary purpose is to fall in love with Gentaro and to give him the Rocket States upgrade.
Subverted in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Malcolm accuses his then-girlfriend of only dating him for the thrill of sneaking around. She retaliates by explaining why she genuinely likes him, citing reasons that actually make sense (e.g. he's funny, even when he's complaining.) Malcolm then figures out that he actually likes her as well, again citing reasons that she actually demonstrates. Double subverted two episodes later, when she dumps him for being self-centered.
Deliberately invoked in Merlin between Arthur and Vivian, the latter being a Royal Brat who only exists to flounce around in pretty clothes. The two of them are put under a Love Spell that makes them act like Sickening Sweethearts, much to the bafflement of everyone else.
But notably subverted with two more of Arthur's Romantic False Leads: Princess Elena and Princess Mithian. Both are brought to Camelot (at different times) to join in an Arranged Marriage to Arthur, but instead of treating them as mere impediments to his happiness with Guinevere, both are likeable and developed characters. Elena's importance to the narrative has less to do with her relationship to Arthur as it does her role as an Unwitting Pawn in The Fair Folks' attempt to take over Camelot, and though Mithian's function was simply as a Love Interest to Arthur, she was also a three-dimensional character who ended up being popular enough to return to the show in the next season.
But played straight with Freya, Merlin's Lost Lenore. She gets one scene in which she's permitted to share details of her past (and even that is more of a Mythology Gag that establishes her affinity for lakes), the rest of the time she only exists so that Merlin can be her Caretaker, enjoy openly using his magic in front of her, and experience manpain when she dies. It's especially glaring when he takes her to a lakeside in order to Let Her Die Happy and she mutters: "you remembered..." Well of course he remembered - her love of lakes is the only personal detail she ever shares with him!
Revolution: Nate Walker to Charlie. However, he may end up subverting the satellite part, now that he's revealed to be Jason, Captain Tom Neville's son.
Clara in Sanctuary. She is the last descendant of the original Invisible Man, so the Sanctuary team has to recruit her to complete a mission. She and Will hook up pretty quickly despite the fact that they have absolutely nothing in common and she really has no purpose in the show other than Fanservice (she has to be naked to turn invisible.) Despite the fact that their relationship lasts all of four episodes, Will later describes it as one of only two "serious" relationships he's ever had. Abby has shades of this, though she does have her own job (which conflicts with the Sanctuary sometimes) and she and Will have a history together that makes their instant relationship a bit more palatable. She's still something of a Scrappy, though.
Scrubs had Elliot's boyfriend, Jake. This was explained as his having trouble expressing emotion, so they never really got to know each other very well.
Skins sets up several of its characters as this before eventually subverting the trope - for example, Michelle in the first generation, and Mini and Nick in the third.
An interesting subversion with Jo in the second season of Supernatural. She made her first appearance as an obvious love interest for Dean, complete with an "adorably" feisty demeanor, a tragic backstory that mirrored the Winchesters', and - despite her tiny frame, lack of muscle tone, and dearth of any special powers - the ability to somehow best Dean in a physical altercation. However, by the time her subsequent appearances rolled around, the writers dramatically scaled back on her Sue tenancies, having her pull an inconveniently timed "I'm coming with you" on the Winchesters, idiotically deciding to go alone into the lair of a Monster of the Week whose MO was known to be the gruesome slaughter of young, attractive blondes, and having to be rescued by Sam and Dean, both of whom found her presence a burden and were only too happy to hand her back to her mother as soon as possible. She pretty much disappeared from the season after that, making only one more appearance which existed mainly to establish that the idea of any romantic relationship between herself and Dean was ridiculous, and that he would never come close to caring for her as much as he cared for Sam. Word Of God states that Jo was originally conceived as a love interest for Dean, and that she was phased out of the series due to negative fan reaction, which explains the rapid scrapping of her original characterization.
Deconstructed in "Wishful Thinking". In this example a guy uses a magic coin he inherited to create a wishing well, so he can make the girl who he's been in love with since high school, but is oblivious to him, love him over anything else. At first he's happy with the new situation, but eventually gets disheartened from the fact that she literally has no personality other than pleasing and loving him, even killing others for him to maintain their "love".
Austin from Ugly Betty has no last name and is more of a plot device to get Justin to realize his sexuality than an actual character.
Aaron Hill, Luann's long time crush object. Very pretty... and that's it. Even attempts at giving him depth (the revelation of his relationship with legally-adult Dianne) only served to underline what little personality he had.
There was an arc where Luann was spending a lot of time with Gunther, only for the end of the arc to reveal that it had been Aaron in disguise the whole time, trying to teach her a lesson about judging on appearances vs. actual merits. It's telling that, aside from disguise time, the most interaction the two had was Aaron berating Luann for missing the point when she asked to try on the Gunther mask.
Aaron ended up getting more depth with later stories, though that ended up being negated when he was Put on a Bus. But he has nothing on the blandness of Quill, who is handsome and... Australian. And that's about it.
A prime example is The Little Red Haired Girl from the Peanuts comics. We hardly know a thing about her, she didn't appear in the strip (Her first on screen appearance was in an animated TV special in 1977) or even her name (the special called her "Heather") Of course the whole point of this romance is about Charlie Brown's one-sided affections and inner emotional turmoil for her rather than actual interaction.
Christian in Cyrano de Bergerac is practically a cipher. He's handsome, and in love with Roxanne, and brave, and that's about it. Even the baker, Ragueneau, is a more fully developed character.
Lia in Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana. The whole show is about her sweetheart, Zark, going on The Quest to find her after, sometime prior to the beginning of the show, they were separated for reasons unknown to the audience. With this in mind, she only appears in the final scene.
Li in Aquaria due to the fact that we only ever hear Naija talk, and in the past tense.
Naija to Li, as well. When she was on her own, her desire just to figure out what the hell happened to everyone made for a pretty compelling motivation; when she meets Li, the story utterly derails as she loses all interest in solving the mystery or exploring; she's so happy that she's not completely alone anymore that as long as she doesn't have to be alone ever again, the game could end right there for all she cares. She literally only continues along to find the answers and beat the final boss because there's a mouse cursor telling her where to go and what to shoot.
Rika Shiraki's "path" in Bible Black. Minase is only slightly interested in her at first because she's the popular "school idol". After he puts a love spell on her, she only exists to have lots of sex with not just Minase, who she is now obsessively in love with, but anyone Minase tells her to have sex with.
Rosa Joanna Farrell from Final Fantasy IV is often criticized for her only noticeable character trait being her dedication to Cecil.
Sunny Funny from Parappa The Rapper. Her role in both games revolves around her being Parappa's crush.
Persona 3 has Aigis, whose development leads her to become a Satellite Love Interest as part of her Become a Real Boy plot. Her role in FES expands on this, but her relationship with the protagonist is still the core of her character.
Justified: She is a Shadow destroying robot. The protagonist fights shadows and has the worst one sealed inside him so naturally she joins him.
Beth in Shin Megami Tensei II was intended as such for the hero, but she also proves useful in battle, thus giving her a useful purpose. Is totally subverted because she also does a Heroic Sacrifice and gives you her power in death, as, even though you find out she was created to serve you, her love for you was quite real.
Many early video games featured a Damsel in Distress as part of the backstory who didn't even manage to rank as high up as static, since she spent the whole game imprisoned somewhere and possibly said thanks at the end.
Molly in Achewood semi-averts this at first, with her introduction giving her plenty of reasons to find interest in Roast Beef. However, this development (such as her interest in computer programming) was more or less dropped when she moved in with him. She then pretty much played this trope to a tee, getting defined only by her relationship with Roast Beef (to the point where she almost never even interacted with the other characters). As of recently, though, she's been getting more development.
Alex in Candi. He seems to be getting more static and more dense with every appearance. Not that he was ever much more than "Candi's boyfriend" before.
Donte in the Ciem Webcomic Series is given his own story in Comprehensive Gerosha titled Of Emeralds and Sapphires for the sole purpose of rescuing him from being a completely one-dimensional plot device. He is rarely on screen or does much of anything while on screen. And if you take his "he's secretly the superhero Emeraldon" part out, his single most defining characteristic is that he's one of Candi's love interests.
The author eventually developed several pitches for several spin-off stories, realizing just how limiting Candi's point-of-view really is.
Regardless of whether or not it was intentional, Yosue Makoto from RedString is this in spades. From his first appearance and throughout the comic, all he has ever wanted was Miharu, even while she was engaged to Kazuo. He never gives Miharu (or the audience) a reason why he's in love with her, he just is. Aside from his obsession with her, we don't know much else about him aside from a few throwaway traits.
In All Grown Up, Rachel (Tommy's girlfriend) is this to a T. Not only doesn't she receive any character development, but she has no close connections with any of the Rats, nor is she seen with anyone else aside from Tommy. Compared to more popular fan pairings such as Tommy/Kimi and Tommy/Lil, Rachel generally contributes nothing to the series. In addition, their romance has had its share of complications. In the end, because of her family moving away, she generally breaks up with Tommy. But to make matters worse, when Rachel sees Tommy with another girl, she tells him that she never wants to see him again.
Queen Rapsheeba, Snap's love interest on Chalk Zone.
Tom from Daria was introduced as a way to explore the concept of Daria dating and exists solely for that purpose as his backstory and personality are only relevant as it relates to his interactions with Daria. He causes some friction when he starts by dating Jane and falls for Daria. Unlike a lot of these examples, he's also there to show that teenage romances rarely last - they break up at the end of their senior because they realize they really aren't that compatible and Daria moves on with her life.
Ruth MacDougal (the brunette sixth grader with braces whom Arnold had a crush on during the first season) on Hey Arnold is an example, though Arnold stopped pursuing her on the Valentine's Day episode when Ruth talks and Arnold discovers that she's very shallow and boring.
On Jimmy Two Shoes, Jez and Saffi exist only to be girlfriends of Lucius and Beezy, respectively, and are ignored when these connections aren't important. This is notable in one episode involving Beezy being put in an Arranged Marriage, when he points out he has Saffi, she's wheeled out to say "I don't mind," then proceeds to disappear other than a cameo near the end.
One-shot girly girl Dawn from Ka Blam who showed up in the episode "A Nut in Every Bite!". As soon as he saw her Henry fell in love with her. However, she was rather boring personality-wise, especially compared to the snarky tomboyish June, and other than finding him hilarious, she didn't return his affections. He forgets about his crush on her at the end once he realizes that she wasn't worth it.
Parodied in Kim Possible, where Senor Senor Junior kidnapped a computer expert so he can find the perfect girl that matched his Shallow requirements. Turns out it's Bonnie.
Angel from Lilo And Stitch The Series has no noticeable personality traits outside of being a girl version of Stitch and being his love interest. Oh, there's also something to do with her singing being able to turn older Experiments evil and that's about it.
Jeremy Johnson from Phineas And Ferb used to qualify. Earlier episodes gave him no purpose other than being a bright spot in Candace's life, but recent episodes develop him more. He's shown to have his own life and friends, and is savvy to Candace's freak outs. He's even got extensive interaction with other characters up to and including Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
In The Proud Family: Suga Mamma is attracted to Lasienaga's Grandpa, although the latter not only has no interest in her, but also seems to insult her every time, and in at least one episode also wished for her to disappear. Literally the only reason why she continues with her crush anyways is because she doesn't understand Spanish (the grandpa always speaks in Spanish). Then again, in this case it's just a Running Gag so that the grandfather can insult her and laugh maniacally afterwards.
AndrAIa from ReBoot has this problem, especially after she grows up & loses the naive Fish out of Water characteristics that made her so endearing at the beginning. She was originally created to do nothing more than try to kill a guy in a submarine, so it's not like she would have needed much of a personality. Also, she's a bit of an Action Girl, so it's not like she's totally useless.
Johnny V. from Recess only existed to give Spinelli a Temporary Love Interest. To the point where he doesn't even appear outside the episode he first appears in.
Several minor characters from The Simpsons can come off as this, defined entirely by being the wife of a more prominent character. Sarah Wiggum, Bernice Hibbert and Brandine Spuckler all come across as this at times, although to some degree they have all developed to a limited extent. Subverted with Helen Lovejoy, whose personality of being a gossipy Moral Guardian is more than enough to stand on its own.
Lola Bunny in her initial appearance, because Bugs Bunny needs to be romantically infatuated. The Looney Tunes Show The Looney Tunes Show revamped her into a character that does date Bugs, but has a defined personality, family life, and interests that make her a unique character as well. To a smaller extent, she also had a defined personality on Baby Looney Tunes outside of Bugs, though largely because everyone was now infants, there was no romance going on.
Trent from Total Drama has some characterization, but really never gets a plotline that doesn't involve Gwen. The writers don't seem to have much else to do with him, at least in the context of the Show Within a Show—he's voted off as soon as they break up in season two and he's not a contestant on season three, though there is a minor subplot about him forming a boy band with Cody, Harold and Justin.