Secret Relationship

Max: [as Agent 99 tries to kiss him on the cheek while in the middle of CONTROL headquarters] 99, no one at Control knows we're dating.
Chief: [walking past with a piece of cake] Yes, they do.
Get Smart 2008 film

Two characters suddenly wind up in a relationship together and decide to keep it a secret from everyone. The reason can be perfectly solid, e.g. one of them is the other's boss, or one is a Secret Keeper for the other, and making the relationship public would reveal too much, but just as often it can be an ill-defined "I'm not ready for them to know" excuse. They remain awkwardly but successfully concealed for several episodes, speaking in Unusual Euphemisms, constantly leaving to Talk About That Thing and generating many a "Fawlty Towers" Plot—basically put, behaving in such a manner that requires all other characters to juggle the Idiot Ball like crazy.

Eventually they will be found out. This is not a variable—the Secret Relationship is made to be discovered. The only variation is when, how, and whether everyone finds out at once or just one or two people find out at first and have to help keep the secret until everyone else finds out. A common humorous scenario is that everyone knows, but doesn't care; or people think it's funny watching them scramble to hide.

This can also be played for drama. Two people might be good friends, while aware that their parents, or the outside world, wouldn't approve of their friendship. In an attempt to prevent that from being discovered, the friends do everything they can to hide it, but sooner or later, hell will break loose. Romeo and Juliet may be the most well-known variation of this.

Naturally, a necessary precaution when Dating Catwoman.

Spoilers ahoy, readers, beware!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Marmalade Boy:
    • Meiko and Shinichi aka Nachan because he's her teacher. While Yuu finds out early on, the rest of the cast doesn't until they're caught and it becomes a scandal.
    • Later, Miki and Yuu get tangled up in one because they're stepsiblings and Miki's mother Rumi warned her not to fall in love with Yuu in the first place. She was actually joking, and once they tell the parents, they accept it. (It's handled differently in each media, though.) Also, the original ending planned (as mentioned in the mangaka's afterword in the last tankoubon) was that Miki and Yuu were half-brother and -sister and stopped dating, moving onto college. But the mangaka decided to change it when told by her editors that it was crazy.
  • The premise of Please Teacher!, where Mizuho and Kei are married even though she's his teacher. She's also half alien, but that's treated as a much less dangerous secret.
  • Nanao and Matsumoto from Junsui Adolescence keep their relationship secret due to it being a taboo Girls Love Teacher/Student Romance. Their friend Hanada-sensei figures it out regardless.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi's leads—Kaoru Hanabishi and Aoi Sakuraba—have an Arranged Marriage from way back when and are very much in love, but Aoi's family, in order to avoid a scandal (the marriage had been called off when Kaoru left the Hanabishis due to the abuse from his grandfather), force them to keep it a secret. Since this is a Harem Series, and several girls with romantic interest in Kaoru come to live with him, Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Hanjuku Joshi, Yae and Chitose keep their relationship secret for a while, since Yae is afraid that their peers will judge them for being Schoolgirl Lesbians.
  • In School Days, Makoto and Sekai both decide to date (and sleep with) each other, while Makoto is still in a relationship with Kotonoha, which he also never really breaks off and continues to lead her on. It gets worse from there. Much, much worse.
  • Played with left and right in Fruits Basket. The Head of the Sohma family (and God of the Zodiac), Akito, is dangerously unstable and particularly susceptible to the Green-Eyed Monster when it comes to the members of the Zodiac, so this seems to be the only kind of relationship they can have:
    • Subverted with Hatori and Kana. While their relationship may not have been intentionally kept a secret to people outside of the Sohma house, Kana and Hatori formally go to Akito to ask for a marriage blessing. Akito treats this knowledge as a secret that was kept from him or better said her, and flips out accordingly by smashing a vase into Hatori's head, effectively blinding him in one eye in the process. Kana's witnessing of this and Akito's accusation that this happened because of their relationship breaks Kana to the point where Hatori had to erase all her memories of their relationship to save her from her depression.
      • Hiro similarly ends up telling Akito about his love for Kisabefore he even confesses his love to Kisa. Suffice it to say that he ends up regretting it, and although he eventually gets over it, he doesn't actually confess his love to her for a long time.
    • Haru and Rin play this trope the most straight, being in a relationship but not telling anyone about it. Naturally, this ends in tragedy when Akito does find out: Akito blames Rin for it, she takes the blame to protect Haru, and promptly throws her out a second-story window, landing her in the hospital. The idea is still somewhat deconstructed, though, since it's clear that their choice to keep their relationship a secret is indicative of their poor communication in general, which causes still more trouble for them as time goes on.
    • Surprisingly averted with Ayame and Mine. They clearly like each other and would get together in a heartbeat if Ayame wanted to, but knowing that it would only end in heartbreak, he just doesn't start a relationship. Until Akito's Heel–Face Turn and Ayame being released of the Zodiac Curse—the first thing Ayame does is hug Mine and tell her that he loves her.
  • While most of their friends, and their parents, are well-aware of their relationship, Nitori and Anna from Wandering Son have this type of relationship. It mainly has to do with the fact Anna is a model (so her career would suffer), and that Nitori is transgender.
  • Ranma ˝: Played for laughs when Ranma and Akane try to pretend they were secret lovers all along. Most people don't buy it though; in fact, Ukyo is convinced Akane is forcing Ranma to lie and the rest of the school knows the two of them aren't really Happily Married because they're not arguing.
  • Ohgi and Villetta of Code Geass have a relationship that remains hidden throughout most of the series.
  • In Naruto, Asuma and Kurenai had been seeing each other, although they tried to keep it quiet and denied that they were. The truth comes out with Asuma's death and Kurenai's pregnancy, however, and all the other ninja suspected there was something going on between them anyway. It's later shown that they had been married as well.
  • Mari and Akko in Girl Friends keep their relationship from their friends, probably because they're both girls and aren't sure how they would react. However, while Sugi-san had mostly figured it out even before Akko and Mari had (thanks to a rather transparent attempt at I Have This Friend... by Akko), even in the epilogue set a year after they got together Tamamin still hasn't figured it out.
  • Reina of Yandere Kanojo would very much like to keep her relationship with Manabu under wraps, to protect her status as a delinquent. Manabu himself doesn't really mind one way or the other, but it quickly becomes clear that pretty much everyone knows about it, anyway.
  • Variable Geo: Reimi Jahana is the CEO of the Jahana Corporation and is almost always accompanied by her adjutant, Washio. It isn't revealed that she's romantically involved with him, until Chiho makes the mistake of entering Reimi's private rooftop rose garden and finds her straddling him, while they were making out.
  • The plot of Love Lucky is that Fuuta has to keep his marriage with Kirari secret for one year, or her record company will force them to get a divorce.
  • Saya and Tadashi of Onidere have a similar relationship to the one in Yandere Kanojo, the only difference being that they actually manage to keep it a secret.
  • Ayame and Shouhei from Oiran Chirashi are very compatible (specially in the sexual sense) and understand one another very well. Problem is, they live in the Red Light District of Yoshiwara: she's a High-Class Call Girl in training while he works as a hairstylist for the brothel she works/lives in and others; there's no room for any romance in such a Crapsaccharine World, and despite their chemistry they must keep their attraction under wraps.

    Audio Play 
  • The Wasurenagusa series justifies this with the fact that its heroine gets herself romantically involved with one of the leaders of The Shinsengumi. In that organization, there was no room for relationships of any kind, and having such would be met with severe consequences.

    Comic Books 
  • Empowered gives us Sistah Spooky and Mindf**k. Even after their breakup the former is horrified by the idea of anyone knowing she was in a romantic relationship with a blonde woman.
  • Lightly parodied/inverted in the last volume of Scott Pilgrim with Stephen Stills and Joseph. The parodical nature comes from the fact that Stephen wasn't trying to hide the relationship. Scott was just a bit too thick to notice (though in his defense, he was suffering from a bit of a mental breakdown.)
  • In Astro City story "Pastoral", what causes Cammie to decide to become a Secret Keeper for Roustabout's Secret Identity is that she learned about this, namely Roustabout and her cousin.
  • Death Vigil provides a meta example with Sam and Bernie, in which the relationship was being hidden from the audience. While Bernie clearly cares a great deal for all of her Death Knights and personally takes any death among them nearly to the point of Heroic B.S.O.D., throughout the series she's demonstrated a particular concern for Sam's well-being, which gets played for Will They or Won't They? Ship Teasing. And then issue 8 reveals to the audience that Sam and Bernie had been together all along, completely changing the reading of their interactions earlier in the series.
  • Kimber's and Stormer's relationship is this for the first few issues of Jem and the Holograms - not because they're gay, but because Stormer's bandmates threaten to kick her out if she dates a Hologram member. However, it's an Open Secret, as in issue 6 Kimber's sisters casually ask if she is secretly dating Stormer, and Pizzazz knows something is going on between Stormer and Kimber but wants to stop it.
  • Ginger and Nancy fom Afterlife with Archie are secretly dating, despite the fact Nancy has a boyfriend. Nancy wants to come out but Ginger is worried they won't be accepted well.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: Shinji and Asuka get together after their First Kiss but they keeps it secret because they are frightened that their guardian would try to stop them or force one of them to move out. They actually do a fairly good job at keeping people from finding out (only Rei figured it out without being directly told).
    Asuka: I get impatient, you know that. I want my warm baka-Shinji. It's a good thing you always get up before anyone else, too. We don't want to get caught, do we?
    Shinji: I still feel a little bad hiding us from everyone, Asuka. We can't even go out on a weekend on a normal date or anything, and I'd really like to do that.
    Asuka: I know. But if Misato found out, she'd make us stop doing this. "We're too young!" or some other excuse, like we're not soldiers who could die any day.
    • Ritsuko and Maya end up in a similar situation, although they're keeping it a secret because Gendo would have them killed if he found out.
    • Sayaka and Kyoko were secretly dating before they hooked up with Kensuke. In fact, their originally wanted him to act as The Beard before their relationship developed into Polyamory.
  • The Child of Love: After getting together Shinji and Asuka try to keep their relationship secret for a while. However they did not fool Misato for a minute and they stopped pretending after a couple of months.
    Shinji and Asuka shared their feelings for each other under the Obon Festival's fireworks. It seems that Misato and Kaji did the same, too. Even though Asuka now admits to herself and Shinji that she's in love with him, she tries not to tell anybody else, much to his surprise. Nevertheless, when they're alone, she's a totally different person...
    Is she afraid of showing everybody how she feels for Shinji? Does she want to prove to Shinji that she loves him by giving him what she keeps from other people?
  • Evangelion 303: Played for laughs. Straight after becoming lovers Asuka warned Shinji against telling anyone that they were sleeping together. After several days she stopped caring about people knowing but she forgot to tell him, so Shinji was still denying everything to his friends and trying to keep it secret as the same time that her friends pried everything out of her.
  • Higher Learning: After getting together, Shinji and Asuka kept their relationship secret for a while until Shinji left right before the battle against Zeruel. Upon seeing Asuka's sobbing reaction, Misato figured it out.
  • The Second Try: Merely the tip of the iceberg. In a nutshell, Shinji and Asuka are time-travelers trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, so that they have to hide that they are together, they are actually Happily Married and they even got a daughter. The Reveal was really something to behold.
  • Several of the Wizards of Waverly Place stories that feature Justin/Alex as the main couple.
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist fan fiction Best Kept Secret uses this trope as its basic premise, exploring how the story might have gone if Roy and Riza were secretly married throughout the entire thing.
  • Many Soul Eater fanfics that pair Soul and Maka together have them trying to keep their relationship a secret. Usually it has more to do with Maka's Overprotective Dad than with their friends.
  • The Sherlock and Harry Potter crossover fanfic The Magic of Deduction has John and Sherlock fake breaking up to protect John from Moriarty. Slightly different as the two hardly had any contact with each other over the period of time in which they were "broken up"
  • Tsukasa and Miyuki in Stars Above.
  • Hisao and Misha in the Katawa Shoujo fic From Shizune's Perspective Shizune is upset by the fact that they kept it a secret from her.
  • Possibly due to Values Dissonance note , one Neji/Hinata fanfic in Naruto portrayed their relationship as this, even when Hinata had Neji's child.
  • Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy has Klavier and Apollo keep their relationship under wraps because at first Daryan would have killed Klavier for infidelity, secondly to keep people from looking too closely at their actions and so that officially people don't realize that they know each other.
  • Inverted in one story of the Facing the Future Series where Danny and Sam pretend to be broken up to get a bunch of ghosts trying to separate them to back off. Unfortunately, their friends fall for the ruse too.
  • In Shatterheart R!Syaoran and Kurogane keep their Friends with Benefits relationship a secret because R!Syaoran was still in love with Sakura and didn't want her finding out and so they could end it without anyone finding out. When Fai finds out about it due to walking in on them, things get worse.
  • By The Wrong Reflection Eleya and Gaarra have graduated to Official Couple status, but they're still keeping the relationship secret because it's against regulations (she being his direct superior officer and all). So far they've only told Eleya's parents and sister, but it's briefly implied in the first chapter that Eleya's Number Two, Tess Phohl, knows and isn't saying anything.
  • This is a favorite trope of fics about pairings of lesser villains, such as Jessie and James or Kunzite and Zoisite. The couple will go out of their way to hide their love because their superior will likely kill them for so much as having feelings for one another, complete with lots of angst. This goes double for fics where a villain falls in love with a heroic character and vice versa, Bowser and Peach being a favorite example.
  • Ranma ˝ fics often have one of these between Ranma and Akane. The main reason why they keep it a secret is usually because they don't want their fathers to pressure them into marriage even more than they already do.
  • The Lucky Star fic The Day Everything Changed has Konata and Kagami, at the end of the fic, agreeing to keep their relationship under wraps for a bit, which actually seems to fit in with the yuri subtext seen in the actual anime. In the sequel, Holiday Vacation, their relationship has been common knowledge for two years now, and is often a conversation starter at school among students.
  • Magma Grunt tries to keep her relationship with Brendan a secret in Dating A Team Magma Grunt, but this doesn't even last the first chapter because Courtney saw the two of them together.
  • Say It Again, the prequel to Say It Thrice, has the platonic variant for Betelgeuse and Lydia. Following the events of the film, they're slowly developing the friendship which forms the emotional heart of the main story. However, since her parents and the Maitlands only know him as the dangerous monster who wreaked havoc on their lives/afterlives, they have to keep it to themselves for a long time.
  • Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion:
    • Lelouch keeps his polyamorous relationship with C.C. and Sayoko a secret from the rest of the school, but Milly manages to figure it out.
    • Milly has some experience with secret relationships, since she has one with Nina. Or rather, she had one, but they broke up in the aftermath of the Lake Kawaguchi incident.
  • In the Hyrule Warriors inspired fanfic In Sotto Voce, the previous Zelda and Impa's mother Tikala fell in love and were in a relationship for years. Zelda's guard Kishla however grew jealous of their bond and exposed their romance. Zelda's parents forced the two women apart and arranged for Zelda to be married. Years later, the two decided that Tikala's child would become the guard of Zelda's child as an adult, in order to essentially have their children live out their desires. Zelda was Driven to Suicide due to being unable to be with her lover, but it was covered up as her dying of illness. The two did fall in love however are mad at their mother's decision. Zelda and Impa also keep their relationship a secret due to their relationship being taboo (Hylians aren't open about same-gender romances, plus Zelda is expected to have a heir, while Sheikah's are against women being with Zelda's due to the possibility of the bloodline of Hylia ending).
  • My Pain My Thrill is a Peach/Bowser Super Mario Bros. fanfic. Peach fell for Bowser early on in the series' timeline but the two kept up a charade that Peach was being kidnapped against her will. The koopas knew about their relationship but not the Toads or the Mario brothers. They kept their relationship up until Bowser began distancing himself from her after Peach nearly died giving birth to Bowser Jr. Peach eventually found out that Jr was her son (she didn't know she was pregnant and fell into a coma during the birth) and confronted Bowser about it. They end up mending their relationship and decided to still keep it secret.

    Films — Animation 
  • In the film The Painting, Ramo and Claire are in love, but since he's a Alldunn and she's a Halfie (basically he's part of the elite class while she's part of a poor class), they try to meet in secret. They're apparently really bad at it though, since everyone knows, which is soon Played for Drama.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the major driving force of Lawn Dogs. A 10-year-old girl and a widely distrusted 21-year-old lower-class man have a platonic friendship, which is tragically misinterpreted when discovered.
  • In Star Wars, Anakin marries Padmé in secrecy due to the Jedi Code forbidding attachment.
  • In the film, Good Night, and Good Luck., Joseph and Shirley Wershba have to keep their marriage secret from all their colleagues ( pretty much all of whom know anyway), as the rules at the time did not permit a married couple to work together. This is a case of Truth in Television as all the events of the film are factual.
  • Alien Cargo: As it's against company regulation, Chris and Theta have to keep their relationship secret from their colleagues. They’re delighted that by chance they get to spend their shift out of cryosleep together, but later find out that this has exposed them to a dangerous virus that has infected the ship's living quarters.

  • In the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna and Jon start a relationship in the second novel. However, seeing as she's disguised as a boy in order to become a knight, and he's the heir to the throne, they keep this under wraps.
  • In The Bible, Abraham kept his marriage with Sarah a secret from two different local rulers (claiming she was his sister) for fear that those rulers would murder him so they could take her for themselves. Both rulers point out how stupid that was. This makes this Older Than Feudalism.
  • Used a lot for some reason in Warriors, as there are four separate Clans and the cats have a bad habit of falling in love with someone from another Clan. As you can imagine, these never end well. Not to mention the fact that the medicine cats keep on falling in love even though they're not supposed to.
  • Matt and Kate in Starclimber. Kate's parents want her to marry someone else, and would definitely not approve of her marrying Matt because of his working-class origins.
  • Terence and Eileen in The Squire's Tales series. Terence is the main protagonist of the first two books; Eileen first appears in book 2, and they start a romance but don't make it public because Eileen is a noblewoman and her reputation would be ruined if she were known to be in love with a squire. The next few books focus on other characters, with Terence and Eileen making only cameo appearances. Then in the ninth book, it's revealed that they've been married since shortly after book 2, but have kept it a secret for 15 years—though at least one other character can tell the moment she sees them together, and is confused when she finds out they don't share a room. Then at the end of the book, they decide "the hell with it" and have a second wedding in public… and Terence gets knighted, making it a non-issue anyway.
  • Jaime and Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. This is problematic because they share a last name - not due to marriage, but due to blood relation. The fact that he fathered her children instead of Cersei's actual husband helps kick off a civil war.
  • Maya and Lochan in Forbidden, hence the title. Their relationship is forbidden for… familial reasons.
  • In Jane Austen's Emma, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax are into a secret engagement which they hide extremely well, for fear that his family would not approve.
  • Sense and Sensibility: Edward Ferrars and Lucy Steele get engaged when they're just teenagers, and keep the relationship secret for four years because he would be disinherited had he married her. She's a scheming and calculating girl who really doesn't deserve him or even particularly like him, but figures that a genteel man without money is still a catch.
  • It's revealed at the very end of Northanger Abbey that Elinor Tilney was in love with "the most charming young man in the world". Their attachment was not of recent origin, and they got married when he became rich and a titled gentleman.
  • King Stephen and Queen Anne in The Death Gate Cycle. Theirs was a politically Arranged Marriage and they hated each other at first; after that changed, they kept up the façade for use in court intrigues. (And as a useful excuse for shouting matches.)
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The People's Republic of Haven assign political watchdogs to scrutinize their naval commanders. In one instance, though, the watchdog and the admiral wind up in bed and in love with each other. "Conflict of interest" doesn't begin to describe it. As in, if they'd been discovered, the kindest thing that would have happened to both would have been summary execution. The watchdog and admiral in question are Eloise Pritchart and Javier Giscard, future President and Fleet Admiral of the Republic of Haven, and theirs is one of the most touching love stories in the whole series. (The relationship kept going. The reason they had to keep it secret... didn't.)
    • In addition, Honor and Hamish Alexander have a secret relationship for a while due to a number of circumstances, namely a) he's already married (though his wife, who's almost completely paralyzed, approves of and even encourages their relationship); b) Hamish is Honor's superior officer and, like virtually all militaries, fraternization between Manticoran officers in the same chain of command is forbidden; and c) Honor's adopted planet, Grayson, is very religious and does not approve of out-of-wedlock sexual relations (they're not on Grayson, but Honor's high status in Grayson society could have been damaged if it were known). The issue is eventually resolved when Honor marries Hamish and his first wife in a polygamous marriage (not that unusual in the Honorverse), taking care of the first and last issues, and by that point Hamish is the civilian head of the military, so the second issue is no longer a problem.
  • Christine and Raoul need to keep their relationship secret because Christine (rightly) fears what The Phantom of the Opera would do if he found out.
  • Wives and Daughters: There are several Secret Relationships.
    • Osborne Hamley, the Squire's eldest son, is secretly in a relationship with a woman his father would never ever approve. He needs to marry a woman from a solid English family who would bring money to their family estate. He married a French woman who is a Catholic, penniless, with no family or friends and who used to be a nursery-governess. They even have a child together.
    • Roger falls in love with Cynthia and proposes, but he has to leave England for two years, so he doesn't want her to consider it binding. She also insists that nobody knows about it. Her family knows, and Mr. Gibson feels obliged to tell his father because it's an honourable thing to do.
    • There are hints that Cynthia is involved in a troubled relationship. She got engaged to a man who lent her money when she was fifteen, but she wants to break it off, and he doesn't want to, claiming he loves her.
    • There is gossip in the town that Molly Gibson is involved in an ill-advised relationship that might ruin her or at least her reputation. She isn't. It was just a misunderstanding.
  • In The Mill on the Floss, Maggie Tulliver and Phillip Wakem keep their friendship (and later, their romance) secret for over a year, due to the Tullivers' feud with John Wakem.
  • David Hassid and Annie Christopher have this kind of relationship in the Left Behind series while they're both working for Nicolae Carpathia in New Babylon, with the additional secret being that they're also Christian believers. Unfortunately, Annie is killed during Carpathia's "resurrection" in The Indwelling when Leon Fortunato calls down lightning to slay the disloyal among the gatherers at the funeral.
    • Before this, Buck and Chloe kept this going for ages under similar circumstances. Fred Clark's review of the series contends that the underlying fatalism of the premise (the apocalypse is God's will, and the "heroes" know that they couldn't stop it if they tried) meant there was no meaningful conflict to create tension, and the Secret Relationship plotline was put in in order to create the illusion of it, despite there being no particular reason for them to keep it a secret at all.
  • Secret Relationship: John and Ravishan naturally have to be very discreet, since homosexuality is penalized by death. They don’t ever have sex for the first time until after leaving Rathal’pesha. Nonetheless, Fikiri, spying on them out of the Grey Space at the monastery, sees them kissing and blackmails them. It also turns out that one of the other supposedly-celibate priests at Rathal’pesha is secretly married (Hann’yu, one of the few truly good people at the monastery—Aesop: forced celibacy is bad).
  • Horribly played in one of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's "Leyendas", named "La Promesa" ("The Promise") A young Count and a peasant girl named Margarita keep one of these, but he has to go to war so he leaves her. (And even more so, the Count has lied about his origins to her.) When he returns, he learns that Margarita was found out and then subjected to Honor-Related Abuse, and now all that's left from her is her un-buried hand with a ring that he gave her. He "marries" her, or more accurately her hand, and only then she can rest in peace.
  • Wolf Hall
    • Archbishop Cranmer marries Grete, the niece of reformer Andreas Osiander, while ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor. He smuggles her back into England when she become pregnant and reveals her only to Thomas Cromwell—Henry VIII, though broken with Rome, still doesn't approve ecclesiastical marriages. Cromwell's reaction is basically Oh, Crap!; then he fetches Helen Barre, a trustworthy woman serving in his household, to help Grete.
    • ...failing to realize the Interrupted Intimacy between Helen and Rafe until sixth months after she becomes pregnant, and Rafe confesses that he's secretly married her. Cromwell is floored. Rafe is equally floored that he was even able to keep it a secret given that it was going on more or less under Cromwell's nose, and Cromwell is not usually the man to miss a trick.
  • In The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Demane and Isa have to keep their relationship secret as homosexual relationships are a no-no in the northern lands (and much of the rest of the world). Demane is eternally frustrated about the lack of quality time they manage to steal away for. Eventually, while on the road through the Wildeeps and in the middle of an unnatural winter, Isa snuggles up to Demane for warmth in the dark and Demane realises that Cumalo either knew of their relationship or has just put the puzzle together, for he makes a pointed 'victory'-gesture towards them.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played straight between Abby and Brody in Against The Wall. Eventually revealed in-universe and Richie, both Abby's brother and Brody's cop partner, is not happy.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Subverted by President Laura Roslin and Admiral Bill Adama. Their close friendship (which has turned into a romantic and sexual relationship) is not really hidden at all, despite the conflict of interest that comes from the fact that they are the heads of the two branches of government in the Fleet (civilian and military). As of the back half of season four, they are living together and fairly affectionate in front of others.
    • Tyrol and Boomer, probably the first example in the series. He's a chief and she's an officer. Fraternization is frowned upon, so they have to keep their relationship a secret.
    • Billy and Dualla have some kind of a relationship that's not exactly public.
    • Dualla and Apollo have a somewhat secret relationship before they're married.
    • Apollo and Starbuck have a secret relationship after Apollo is married to Dualla and Starbuck is married to Anders.
    • Cally has an affair with HotDog. We only find out after we find out that Tyrol is a Cylon and he's not the father of the baby he thought was his.
    • Baltar's relationship with Number Six prior to New Caprica is a secret.
    • The secret lesbian relationship involving Admiral Cain, at least at first. Hardly a secret later on. Cain kisses Gina in front of her officers.
    • The relationship between Kat and her former drug dealer.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In season two, Xander and Cordelia. This is Played for Laughs.
    • In season three, Xander and Willow briefly had a fling when they were dating Cordelia and Oz, respectively, but it was wrapped up after a few episodes.
    • In season four, Willow and Tara. It is implied, but never explicitly stated, that Willow is uneasy about telling her friends she is dating a girl.
    • In season six, Buffy and Spike. This is a case of Dating Catwoman.
  • In Season 3 of Castle Esposito and Lanie had a relationship that they tried to keep secret due to working together. This failed epicly, as Esposito's partner, Ryan, Castle, and Beckett easily clued in.
    • For a while, Castle and Beckett did the same thing. The reason was that if Gates found out, she would use it an excuse to kick Castle out of the precinct, which would be a very valid concern if she hadn't figured it out on her own, probably before anyone else did. She decides not to view it as a problem
  • Jeff in Community has had a couple. First season he had a brief one with Slater before they were outed by Pierce and then in season two it turns out he had 'friends with benefits' status with Britta for most of the year.
  • When Doug and Carol reconcile on ER, they initially try to keep it a secret, due in part to Carol's hesitancy to fully commit(given Doug's previous track record for playing around, quite understandable). At the Christmas episode, she is confident enough in their relationship that she and Doug announce that they got back together at the staff Christmas party. Turns out most of the staff knew and had a running pool going as to when they would admit it!
    • Benton and Jeanie have this, as revealed at the end of the second-season premiere. It's a well-done Bait and Switch, as the previous episode had them deciding not to act on the sexual tension that had been building for months (she's married) and their sparse, awkward interactions in this episode indicated that there was no relationship but that they were still trying to work through lingering feelings. Only for the final scene of the episode to show them in bed together and the dialogue make it obvious that this had been going on for months and the aforementioned interactions to be the results of them struggling not to reveal to anyone what was going on.
    • Benton and Elizabeth attempt this initially, not wanting their personal lives gossiped about but it fails when Benton blurts it out to Romano, suspecting (likely correctly) that he's penalizing Elizabeth for rebuffing his advances.
  • In the British sitcom Executive Stress, a husband and wife must hide the fact that they are married from their employer. The employer has a policy that if two employees marry, one of them must quit or be fired.
  • Farscape: In the fourth season, Aeryn and John conceal their relationship and fake a break-up to prevent Aeryn and her unborn child being used against John by Scorpius.
    • The thing of it was, Aeryn herself was left in the dark for half a season. John had to conceal how he felt to make it look real and could only explain when an opportunity arose.
    • A less pleasant example is Chiana and Jothee behind D'Argo's back. The two begin an affair because of dissatisfaction with D'Argo's plans for the future (quiet married life on a farm). D'Argo finds out the next episode and is very, very unhappy.
  • The Flash (2014): Iris and Eddie at first keep their relation a secret for Iris' father Joe, since Eddie is also Joe's partner in the field. They eventually reveal their relationship in "Things You Can't Outrun".
  • Friends:
    • Monica and Chandler milked this for almost an entire season. Justifications included that at the start, neither of them dreamed that their London dalliance could become anything more than that. Plus, after seeing all of the drama induced by Ross and Rachel's relationship, Monica and Chandler thought it best to tell no one. And the other characters found out
    • Double-subverted in a plot where Ross is dating one of his students. They agree to keep it secret, as they initially think it's not something he can get fired over but that it's merely "frowned upon." Later, when Ross reveals the relationship to his fellow professors after he gets tired of keeping it a secret, the other professors inform Ross that it's not just "frowned upon" if a professor dates one of their students—Ross will likely get fired if the administration finds out. Thus, Ross and the student go back to keeping their relationship a secret.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Lord Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell attempt to be discreet about their romance due to the homophobia which exists within Westerosi society.
    • Tyrion and Shae conceal their romance after Tywin commands Tyrion not to take her to court and vows to hang the next whore he finds in Tyrion's bed.
    • Jaime and Cersei, since Twincestuous adultery with the queen is frowned upon.
  • Luke and Lorelai on Gilmore Girls, where they had sex in Luke's apartment above his diner. They were found out when Lorelai went down to the diner for a cup of coffee early in the morning wearing one of Luke's shirts, forgetting the diner would be open for breakfast and full of customers. Many other secret relationships such as Rory and Dean in the beginning, Rory and Jess while she was still dating Dean, Rory and Marty when one of Rory's friends was dating him (they never dated but later Marty pretended he had never even met Rory), Lane and almost anyone because Mrs. Kim never approved, Lorelai and Max because he was Rory's teacher, Lorelai and Digger because he worked with Richard, Lorelai and a guy from her night school because he was so young, and Lorelai and Christopher when she thought no one would approve.
  • Cal and James on the British miniseries Glue date in secret, presumably because the locals would not take kindly to such a relationship (Cal is below the age of consent, for one thing). Unusually for the trope, nobody else knew about them while it lasted.
  • Blair and Chuck for a few episodes in Gossip Girl''s first season.
  • In a nod to the Star Wars reference above, when Jake and Miley are secretly dating in Hannah Montana, they use the code names "Anakin" and Queen "Amidala".
  • Barney and Robin in How I Met Your Mother go the entire summer without their friends knowing about their Friends with Benefits arrangement (Future!Ted admits in a later episode that the other three were really, really passing around the Idiot Ball that summer). She says it's because they didn't want Lily forcing them to have The Talk, but he admits the lie just turned them on.
    • This trope is also inverted in the second season of the show. Ted and Robin mutually decide to break up because they both want different things out of life, but they pretend to still be a couple for a little while longer because they don't want the news of their breakup putting a damper on Lily and Marshall's imminent wedding.
  • On JAG:
    • In the Pilot Movie, Lt. Arutti was secretly married to Painter. They kept it a secret because the Navy would not have allowed them to serve in the same unit.
    • In "Boot", between Sergeant Gonzalez and Major Klein. Harm decides to overlook it on the condition that they will turn themselves in if Sergeant Gonzalez is not accepted into the officer commissioning program, which she was previously mentioned to be a shoe-in for.
  • Both of the Benjamin twins on Kings:
    • David and Michelle: Michelle has taken a vow to devote her life to God, and in any case, her father is the King and probably wouldn't approve. (Though he may suspect...)
    • Jack and Joseph: Jack is in the Transparent Closet and has been explicitly told by his father that he can't be gay and become King, but Joseph is the one person he has a genuine and reciprocal love with. Then Joseph dies.
  • Longmire: Cady and Branch. It's a bit awkward since Cady is the daughter of the same man that Branch is opposing in the elections for sheriff.
  • Magnificent Century: Hatice and İbrahim in the beginning. While it initially seems valid to hide (rank differences) it gets ridiculous after a while, and when it finally comes out, Süleyman's reaction is like, "Yeah, ok, you can get married. I love you both and have been spending all season talking about how I want you both to be happy."
  • Subverted in M*A*S*H. Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan engage in a torrid affair for four seasons, but kid themselves that no one knows about it and react with outrage when anyone refers to it.
  • The Mentalist: Rigsby and Van Pelt, since coworkers are not allowed to date.
  • Arthur and Gwen in Merlin until the end of season 3 when they start making out in front of the castle.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: It's heavily implied in "Big Murderer on Campus" that James Gillies and Robert Perry are a couple, but they try to pass off as being best friends because homosexuality was a crime in late 19th-century Canada. Inspector Brackenreid believes that the two young men are unusually close, and he even asks Detective Murdoch if James and Robert are "Just good pals, or something more?"
  • Jimmy Palmer and Michelle Lee on NCIS, though it later turned out to be an Open Secret amongst Team Gibbs.
  • In New Girl Winston and Ally attempt to keep their relationship a secret from everyone at the police station since they're partners and it's against the rules. This lasts for all of one episode.
  • Dave and Lisa (briefly) in Newsradio.
  • Was well subverted in Northern Exposure. Joel and Maggie finally go to bed together, and after keeping it secret for about forty-five minutes they can't stand the subterfuge anymore and actually announce it to everyone in Roslyn's Cafe. Nobody cares.
  • In the US version of The Office, there was Dwight and Angela's relationship from the second to fourth seasons (and then becoming a full-out secret affair when Angela is engaged to Andy in Season 5). Only Jim and Pam each find out individually, and the entire office learns just before both Dwight and Angela truly break up in Season 5's "The Duel".
    • The thing is, before Angela is dating Andy, Dwight and Angela keep it secret for no apparent reason; office relationships are not forbidden. They're just weird like that.
    • For the first four episodes after the Season 6 hiatus, Andy and Erin keep their newfound relationship a secret. Until they admit their relationship to everyone by the end of the episode. However, they broke up in the next episode after Erin found out about Andy's history with Angela.
  • Leslie and Ben in Parks and Recreation had one of these in season 3, since Chris did not allow coworkers to date. Only Ann was privy to it, but Ron eventually found out and warned them that they were terrible secret keepers and everyone was going to find out eventually. They finally, reluctantly broke up when Leslie was given a chance to run for city counsel, knowing the scandal could destroy their careers.
  • Pretty Little Liars is chock full of this trope. This trope applies to practically every couple in the series, Ezria being one of the more dramatic examples.
    • Not to mention Spoby, Haleb, and Emaya at certain points.
  • Robin Hood and Marian for obvious reasons.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr.Cox and Kelso have entered into a secret friendship, which has tones of this. Kelso even describes it as "all the thrill of an affair, but without all that exhausting sex." When J.D. finds out, he's furious.
    • And earlier in the series, J.D. and Elliot think their relationship is this. It isn't.
      Dr. Cox: "And, if you listen closely, you'll hear the sound of no one caring."
  • Sonny with a Chance: Sonny and Chad attempt this during the two-part episode that has them start dating. It works out about as well as one would think, and the So Random cast finds out (twice... it's hard to explain) before the second part ends. (And there was plenty of bad lying to cover up the first reveal.)
  • Supernatural: Sam and Ruby have a secret relationship throughout the end of the show's third season and into its fourth.
  • In Teen Wolf, Scott and Allison tried this, using Stiles as their liaison. It didn't work.
  • Jackie and Hyde (briefly) on That '70s Show.
  • In season one of Veronica Mars, Veronica and Logan keep their relationship secret to postpone social backlash. Veronica is a Fallen Princess in a town ruled by the Rich Bitch and Blue Bloods, and Logan is one of those rulers.
  • The Walking Dead: Lori and Shane, Shane and Andrea, Glenn and Maggie...
  • On an episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin eventually finds his Adorkable dance partner Margaret Farquhar to be genuinely sweet and interesting—but on a completely different rung on the junior high social ladder—so he suggests this trope to her as a way to balance it out. She takes offense.
  • The entire relationship of Quinn and Logan on Zoey 101, since both were embarrassed to be dating each other. They were quite succesfull in keeping it a secret, actually their big reveal at the Prom, when they came clean about their romance, did come as a shock to everyone present at the moment.

  • Curly and Laurey in Oklahoma!. Inevitably, their duet "People Will Say We're in Love" is reprised as "Let People Say We're in Love."
  • Jason and Peter in bare: a pop opera have one of these.
  • In Street Scene, Mrs. Maurrant goes to lengths to conceal her affair with Sankey from others. Unfortunately, most of her neighbors already know about it.
  • The Phantom of the Opera. Christine and Raoul's relationship is known about, but not that they're engaged. Despite knowing full well how much Christine fears the Phantom, Raoul grasps the Idiot Ball when he demands to know why they need to conceal this.

    Video Games 
  • In Mass Effect 3, Diana Allers' romance is this, as she says her career would be jeopardized if her relationship with a source came to light. Then subverted when Liara finds out if you were dating.
  • Whenever your MC enters a relationship in the Persona series, it's heavily implied that they keep it a secret, likely to not interfere with their missions or cause any unusual rumors to spread. Some of the more justified examples include:
    • Persona 3: If the Male Protagonist romances Mitsuru, she makes it clear in that she wants it to be secret, at least for a while, because during her Social Link, she ducks from an Arranged Marriage that was set up for the sake of her father's Mega Corp..
    • This is naturally what the Female Main Character and Ken do if she romances him because of the normal reaction to a 16 and 10 year old couple. Any suggestions of coming out get shot down by Ken himself. If the Female Protagonist romances Akihiko, a secret relationship is also implied if you speak to certain characters - if you talk to Junpei on Christmas while you're Akihiko's Love Interest, he puts two-and-two together and is genuinely surprised.
    • This trope is used in Persona 4 as well. The only way to even partially expose a relationship Yu might have with a party member is by talking with your teammates at the entrances of the dungeons in the Midnight Channel. If you play Yu as a serial cheater, hints toward that get dropped as well, but it doesn't get blown out in the open until the Valentine's Day sequence.
    • It's repeated again in Persona 5. There are some more justifications for the secret aspects, not just for your party members, but for your Co-ops as well: Haru is like Mitsuru in that she also ducked out of an Arranged Marriage, Futaba is your caretaker's adopted daughter and is very protective of her, and most of your romanceable Co-ops are older women who all suggest you lay low, especially if you romance your homeroom teacher. Like 4, you can juggle multiple relationships, but this time around you will face the consequences for doing so.
  • In the execrable Full Motion Video game Phantasmagoria 2, the protagonist Curtis insists on this with his co-worker girlfriend. Which paves the way for freaky BDSM sex with the only other female co-worker.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: One early quest playing as a Jedi involves a pair of Padawans in a clandestine affair (in this era, Jedi are discouraged from attachment, but not outright forbidden). The player can choose to expose them or not. The female Jedi Knight can play this straight with Doc, who even offers suggestions on hiding a pregnancy. Averted with the female Jedi Counsular; Iresso may be laid-back, but he refuses to break the law or get the Consular in trouble.

    Visual Novels 
  • One option for Damien's path in Magical Diary, at the end. To avoid alienating your friends, you have to keep it a secret. Potsdam knows, no matter what, but she doesn't do anything besides suggest that you cover up your hickey. Failure to do so leads to your friends turning on you if they find out—but by this point, they've seen their worst nightmares about your relationship with him come true, so they're justified in believing that you're suicidal and possibly insane for trying to continue any kind of relationship with him.

    Web Comics 
  • The Dating Catwoman variation is used in Evil, Inc.., where Captain Heroic and Miss Match are married despite being a hero and a villain. Only their son, their parents and one of his allies knows. Additionally, each set of parents has never met the other set due to the risk of conflicts.
  • In YU+ME: dream , this happens a couple of times:
    • Lia asks Fiona not to date James, but when James asks, Fiona can't seem to say no, even though she wants to and has made a promise.
    • Jake and Don's relationship is secretive because Jake's parents are anti-gay and because Jake goes to a Catholic high school.
    • When Lia and Fiona do start dating, Lia asks Fiona to keep it a secret here and here. It does cause some strain in their relationship, as seen here.
  • In Between Failures one of these has begun between Thomas and Carol.
  • Winsbury and Janet in Gunnerkrigg Court. In-comic, it's not clear exactly why its a secret; perhaps the fact that Janet is the Headmaster's daughter has something to do with it, and it's suggested he wouldn't be happy. Out-of-comic, it's a reference to the folk song "Willie O'Winsbury" (Child Ballad #100). The Willie and Janet from the song keep it a secret because Janet's dad is the King. Word of God stated that the couple is hiding the fact that they're also "romantic dorks". In Chapter 34 they reveal they're in a relationship, but their romantic dorkiness means that everyone else disbelieves their ludicrous tale of horses, fast cars and daring gold thefts, and dismiss the whole idea. And then in Chapter 57 circumstances force them to explicitly reveal their relationship to Antimony, who says maybe she should have realized the truth sooner, what with the 3-hour 2-person play about marriage the couple once staged for all their classmates...
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen and Nanase initially concealed their relationship from most people out of a desire to keep Nanase's sexuality a secret from her homophobic mother. While the remaining six main cast members were aware of their relationship, no one beyond them knew. However, after a near-death experience, Nanase finally came out to her mother, at which point they stopped hiding that they were together.
    • Catalina and Rhoda also hide their relationship, which is helped by the fact that they go to different schools, and very few people know both of them. While many of Catalina's friends and acquaintances know that she is gay, and that she is dating some mystery person, only a handful of other people seem aware that it's Rhoda. In this case, the secret stems from a desire on Rhoda's part to hide her sexuality from her friend Diane, as she doesn't want Diane to find out that she has been crushing on her for quite a while.
  • Bruno and Corrie in Kevin & Kell: in the early years, Corrie rode on Bruno's back disguised as a sheepskin.
    Corrie: So when you gonna tell 'im 'bout us?
    Bruno: Patience, my sweet.
  • Fido and Sabrina in Housepets! It was a serious taboo for them to have a relationship, especially with Fido's status as a role model for the dogs of Babylon Gardens and a K-9 Officer. Fido finally let the cat out of the bag on live television to thwart an Arranged Marriage. The fallout is still ongoing, but it doesn't appear it will have a long-term effect on his career (outside a three-week suspension for the fight with Jata). In fact, his superior, Sergeant Ralph, appeared relieved by the revelation, and was only disappointed that he wasn't warned beforehand about what Fido was about to do.
    Sergeant Ralph: I've had my eye on you for a while. Your suspicious behavior worried me. I thought you were participating in something underhanded — or worse, illegal. Who you decide to snuggle with after hours is none of the department's business nor concern.
  • Jennifer "Billie" Billingsworth and Ruth Lessick in Dumbing of Age. It needs to be secret since Ruth is Billie's RA. It's not the only secret they keep.
  • Jack Zimmermann and Eric "Bitty" Bittle in Check, Please!. Jack is a professional hockey player in the NHL and there are currently no out queer players, so he doesn't know how public knowledge of his relationship with another man would affect his career.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the mage Belial and Sultana Razia have a secret affair. They can't make it public due to the political ramifications of a Sarquil ruler being intimate with a foreigner, which would be frowned upon in the court. They're eventually discovered, however, which leads to a coup in which Razia's twin sister Adela kills her and takes over the throne while Belial and his bastard children Khalid and Sumrah are sent into exile to Belial's homeland.
  • In the web series Shadow of the Templar, both Simon and Jeremy keep their relationship a secret from everybody else. That's probably a good thing, because one is an FBI agent and one is a high profile Gentleman Thief. Thoroughly subverted in High Fidelity when Simon admits to his team and to his boss the nature of his relationship with Jeremy.
  • In Lovelace ˝, Andi figures out that Mr. Stone and Ms. Seok are secretly an item.

    Western Animation 
  • Cindy and Jimmy have one of these in the "Stranded" episode of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
  • Jake and Rose form one within the Dating Catwoman scenario in Disney's American Dragon: Jake Long.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil gives us Kendall and Ronaldo, after Kick finds out about them in "Frame Story"... albeit, even the viewers are confused about whether they're together or not, consistently. Since that episode, there have been numerous episodes in the second season where they're still dating, yet Kendall either breaks-up with Ronaldo, prefers Kick and even cheats on him behind his back (literally behind his back).
  • Shaggy and Velma in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. At first it seems like Shaggy's just afraid of commitment and using Scooby as an excuse.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel: they keep it a secret for half an episode, get found out, get fired, hold the empty school hostage, then pretend to break up. Afterwards, they (literally) put their relationship back in the closet, with varied degrees of secrecy after that. It's one of the few Simpsons plots not completely affected by Negative Continuity.
    • Edna and Ned Flanders tries to keep their relationship a secret too. Or at least, until Edna unintentionally reveals that she and Ned eloped some time ago.
  • Continuing off of the movies, Star Wars: The Clone Wars even goes so far as to deconstruct Anakin and Padme's relationship in the "Lost Missions" episode, "Rise of Clovis". When Padme's old flame, Rush Clovis, shows up and she starts getting close to him to get some information, this does not sit well with Anakin, who can't really say she's already married to him since he isn't supposed to be married in the place. After he nearly beats Clovis to death in a fit of jealous rage, Padme not only calls him out on him going too far with his possessiveness, but on how screwed up their relationship actually is. They aren't able to do the things that legit married couples get to do and there's some distrust between them. As a result, she decides that they should stop seeing each other for awhile (which only lasts seemingly until the end of the next episode).
  • Young Justice:
    • Season 2 reveals that Red Arrow and Cheshire developed one during the Time Skip, including a (probably) secret marriage and a kid.
    • In Season 1, Superboy and Miss Martian try to keep their relationship secret... and fail, hard. Only two people actually need the relationship pointed out to them and both times literally pointing in their general direction provide all the proof needed.
  • The Loud House gave us Lincoln Loud and his former tormentor, Ronnie Anne Santiago. (By 'former Tormentor', it means she's a Tsundere Loving Bully who picked on him because she has a crush on him.) The reason they keep it secret is because Lincoln was teased by him, but it's not clear whether it's still a secret.

    Real Life 
  • Romeo and Juliet could have learned a few valuable lessons from Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, who determined to unite both themselves in marriage and their kingdoms into the unified Spain. This they accomplished in defiance of both their families and the Church's ban on marriage between second cousins (which is what they were) besides through numerous secret letters sent to each other, a couple of clever ruses, Ferdinand disguising himself as a traveling merchant at one point, and a Papal Bull of dubious authenticity. In addition to their success in consummating their secret relationship, they also proved to be very cunning political partners. Seriously, their history sounds a lot like what Romeo and Juliet's tale might have been like if Niccolo Machiavelli had written it instead of Shakespeare. Today, every Royal House in Europe is descended from them—usually many times over.
  • Australian astronomer Ruby Payne-Scott was forced to marry in secret because the law did not permit married women to hold a permanent position in the Commonwealth public service. She was eventually discovered and forced to leave her position, despite being a pioneer in the development of radiophysics and radio astronomy.