Because it is not the purpose of this program to show the further development of my relationship [...] I will refrain from showing much. I wouldn't want to throw my dear viewers' time down the gutter, now would I? Nothing else is as boring to tell as a story of successful love.
Hooray! They got together
! Finally! We've watched them Meet Cute
, groaned at the arrival of the Romantic False Lead
, sat through seasons upon chapters of Will They or Won't They?
, shouted hurray at their Now or Never Kiss
and this is the moment we've all been waiting for! And for good reason, because now...
Um, because now...
The Romance Arc
is the gift that keeps on giving. Whole fandoms have been known to run solely on the fuel of shipping vitriol
for years on end. Though they won't admit it, people will
continue reading through a boring scene just to see whether this guy can work up the nerve to ask out that girl over there. But, for some reason, as readily as they attach themselves to potential couples, they shrug at the successful conclusion of the romance and move on. Actually getting to see
what happens past the climax point of They Do just doesn't get people hooked the same way the anticipation does.
You can blame human Wish Fulfillment
mentality which romanticizes the exact phase of "getting together with someone" beyond all reason, or writers' inability to portray a relationship convincingly
, but there you are.
This may be why even in works far towards the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
, everyone seems to stay forever trapped in a limbo of meaningful gazes
and Moment Killers
; writers just don't want to take their chances with this reaction. It's also probably the underlying cause of Last Minute Hookups
and characters hooking up afterwards
being so common. It's a rare writer who seriously builds on plain vanilla True Love
as a pillar of the plot.
Another possible reason for the above is that writing a convincing relationship, with genuine depth of character and development, is a much more difficult feat than pouring on the quick-reaction drama and will-they-won't-they. Once that latter crutch is no longer there for the writer to lean on, weaknesses in the writing suddenly show through that the audience was too distracted by the narrative tension to notice — or care about — earlier.
This trope may be an extreme reflection of what tends to happen, over time, to real life relationships
; after the first year, the "honeymoon" of the romance is over. Few writers seek to capitalize on the Rule of Drama
Contrast with Belligerent Sexual Tension
and Platonic Life Partners
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Anime & Manga
- After Usagi and Mamoru got together in the Sailor Moon anime, they were shown together less and less; Mamoru's personality went from "mysterious" to "two-dimensional" depending on how interested the writers were in him. This was painfully noticeable in the last season, when a pseudo-courting period by newcomer Seiya replicates the old tension well, while Mamoru got Put on a Bus. The manga version avoids this trope by keeping Mamoru a well-developed (and much more Bad Ass) character even after the hook-up. Comparing his role in the fourth arc between manga and anime alone is dumbfounding; short version: in the former, he gets a major power-up, in the latter... he doesn't. It doesn't help that the anime adaptaion's director at the time flat out said he hated Mamoru and kept throwing in hints that Usagi should get with Rei.
- The finale of Bakugan Battle Brawlers shows Dan and Runo finally getting together, and the first episode of the sequel series, Bakugan: New Vestroia, has them still together. Then Runo and every other girl from Battle Brawlers gets Put on a Bus.
- Spider-Man: Peter Parker and Mary Jane, according to Joe Quesada. Peter and Mary Jane were Happily Married for around 20 years. Joey Q, resident Editor in Chief, decides that Peter being single would lead to far more interesting stories than being tied down. Cue One More Day, massive Ship Sinking, Quesada instantly drawing more backlash than his already-controversial DC counterpart Dan DiDio ever managed, and an Internet Backdraft that is still present to this day. The newspaper strips however have kept them married and the pair have enjoyed twenty-eight years of reasonable stability.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise runs into this with Aang and Katara. After they hooked up at literally the very end of the original series, the comic continuation has to treat them as a real couple, with the Sickeningly Sweethearts nature of it killing interest in both fans and their friends. Sokka and Toph call their PDA "ooggie". Other fans were not disappointed and their relationship becomes a critical point in the climax.
- Young on-and-off couple Edda and Amos finally did the deed in Nine Chickweed Lane while in Brussels for a cello competition. Since then, some readers feel they've become noticeably unlikeable. Decompression made it worse as the couple were still in Belgium for several real-time months. Those who disliked the strip feel the author seemed to be using it to play out "his unhealthy sexual obsessions."
- Referenced in Candorville by Lemont: he cites this trope as the reason he can't hook up with Susan.
- It happened with Baldo and Smiley in Baldo, and the author of the strip later cited it as the main reason behind their eventual breakup.
- Twilight has an especially extreme case; Bella and Edward get over the Will They or Won't They? midway through the first book, and that book has three sequels (not counting The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which doesn't follow Bella and Edward, and Midnight Sun, which has been abandoned by the author). Shipping Bed Death essentially happened almost as soon as the couple got together, and the fact that every book following just kept them together (with only some minor bumps along the way) made it worse.
- In season 4 of Community, Britta and Troy's relationship was interesting when it was two seasons of ship teases, but as soon as they got together, fans were unimpressed at the pairing. They wind up having an anticlimactic break up late in season 4.
- Moonlighting's Dave and Maddie. Despite this trope occasionally being known as Moonlighting Syndrome, the show didn't really suffer from the leads getting together, it suffered from the leads not being in the same room for about a year afterward. There was no point at which they were together as a couple at all.
- You'd think that all of the people who wanted George and Izzie to end up together on Grey's Anatomy would have been happy that the writers are finally putting them together. Yet, some of the loudest complaints about that have come from former shippers rooting for that pairing.
- Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman didn't last very long after Lois and Clark got together. It probably wasn't helped by the many false starts; the episode where they finally got married for real was actually titled "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding", and also Executive Meddling which kept the writers' hands tied because Warner insisted that the marriage in the show coincide with the marriage in the comics. The comic book writers, amusingly, say they were ready to marry Lois and Clark off for years and had to wait on the TV show. So then... a case of real-life Poor Communication Kills?
- Happens whenever lesbians hook up in German soap operas. In this case, it's literally "bed" death, as most of the time the pair is seen sitting on the edge of a bed, holding hands — and doing nothing else. Oh, with the exception of talking for countless scenes (but then again, Talking Is a Free Action).
- Friends: Ross and Rachel, who went through the Will They or Won't They? trek, were together for barely a season, broke up and returned to Will They or Won't They? territory for the next seven years. The writers themselves admitted they got them together too fast and couldn't make their actual relationship interesting. Despite the hype, many fans grew frustrated with the couple and lost interest. By the time a definitive conclusion was reached, most fans no longer cared. However, as can be seen below, Chandler/Monica played out differently.
- On Ugly Betty, audiences were crying for Betty to hook up with the adorkable Ensemble Dark Horse Henry. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on the cute/funny interactions that made the couple popular in the first place, the writers decided to throw in every bit of contrived soap-opera drama they could think of for the sake of "plot." Audiences got sick of it mighty quick, and before long Henry was Put on a Bus back to Tucson with his babymama.
- Frasier: The jury is still out on whether Niles and Daphne finally hooking up made their relationship less or more interesting; some fans cite this as the moment when the show jumped the shark. There are other factors. Keenan and Lloyd left the show at that very moment and other aspects of Seasons 8-10 were equally suspect. The eleventh season kind of bears this out, as N&D are also far more interesting there. Ostensibly, the coupling had something to do with Kelsey Grammer's ego, as he wanted the focus to shift to the title character (something also rather botched until the eleventh season). Season 11 in general was a huge reverse shark-jump. But most viewers agree that Niles and Daphne got together at just the right time, as they had avoided irritating or losing the interest of the viewers by not dragging the Will They or Won't They? on too long (as opposed to say, Ross and Rachel.) One could say that while Niles and Daphne suffered from this, they didn't have to, and they wouldn't have if Keenan and Lloyd had stayed. Incidentally, people forget that production problems is what made Moonlighting's Maddie and Dave, this trope's poster child, suffer so severely from Shipping Bed Death: it's just more difficult to pull off a good post-Relationship Upgrade romance than a UST-fueled one.
- A rather bizarre In-Universe example in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun. Sally, Tommy and Harry use Officer Don's radio scanner to listen to the private phone calls of a woman named Andrea and her cheating boyfriend, which they treat as though it were a show. This leads to them actually meeting Andrea and Harry dating her. Harry and Andrea have a nice, drama-free relationship, causing Sally and Tommy to complain that "the show has really gone downhill since Harry was introduced". They try to convince Harry to act like a jerk so that the "show" will be interesting again.
- The X-Files is sometimes accused of this, but as Mulder and Scully probably got together right around the same time as some other major changes in the show (it actually happened offscreen, but it was implied they first slept together around the end of Season 7, right before David Duchovny left) it's hard to say whether to blame the hookup or other factors for the deterioration in writing quality. The producers were certainly afraid of ending the UST between Mulder and Scully, often mentioning the Moonlighting Effect. Unfortunately they dallied so much we saw them get together only in the second movie.
- Luke and Lorelei from Gilmore Girls. The writers forgot how to write the characters and what made them interesting as a couple, not because the couple itself didn't work. And then they introduced Cousin Oliver April and gave Luke the Idiot Ball.
- The Doctor Who revival is an interesting case here (as usual). The first season of the new series had a fair bit of UST between Rose and the Ninth Doctor, culminating in a romantic kiss in the finale. Then he became David Tennant. The relationship became a straight-up romance and lo, the flame wars started. Some loved it, some thought Rose had become a Relationship Sue, some thought the whole thing was a badly handled Romantic Plot Tumor, some hated the idea of romance in Doctor Who at all; it didn't kill the show, but the fights are still going on. Increasing the effect was that whether the Doctor was romantically interested in Rose varied hugely, depending on who had written any given episode. It got even worse from Rose's return in Series 4. Her haters hated her appearing again, while many of her fans felt it negated one of the best companion departures.
- Caroline and Richard on Caroline In The City. So much UST, and so little of the caring once they got together. Oh my God.
- iCarly: The much hyped Sam/Freddie pairing. When iDate Sam & Freddie showed what an actual Seddie relationship would look like, this was the reaction of many fans. Sam and Freddie's chemistry as bickering sidekicks dissolves as soon as they get romantic and kills the UST Seddie fans saw before the arc started. Every kiss is identical and not filled with much passion. Their constant fighting is no longer cute and instead shows a dysfunctional relationship. The generally accepted reason for it is Nathan Kress and Jennette McCurdy's long friendship ruining their ability to show or feel passion for each other. They have both stated they dislike the idea of the Sam/Freddie pairing or that they want their characters to not end up with anyone, and Jennette has said that she dislikes filming romantic scenes and that kissing Nathan feels like kissing a brother.
- Ed. Part of the premise of the show was the unresolved romantic tension between main characters Ed (played by Tom Cavanagh) and Carol Vessey (played by Julie Bowen). They got together, ratings dropped, show cancelled.
- Bones: Angela and Hodgins broke up randomly, right after dealing with their issues relating to Angela's ex so they could get married. They realized they didn't trust each other. It didn't take, and they were married in a jail cell a season later.
- Both averted and played straight in Scrubs. They build on the relationships past the marriage stage with Turk and Carla and technically with Jordan and Dr. Cox (They're in a long-term non committed relationship with two children) but JD and Elliot have been playing the trope straight for almost the entire series. And did so until the last season, where they hooked up, finally grew up and stayed together for good. Dr. Cox and Jordan also got back together and stayed together.
- A complaint by some looking to explain a general decline in quality in the American version of The Office. Once Pam and Jim get together in between seasons 3 and 4, they became a little more boring. The writers have tried replacing them with other will-they-won't-they tensions and love triangles, such as breaking up Angela/Dwight, and then later introducing and breaking up Andy/Erin and Michael/Holly, but none of them had the same appeal as Jim and Pam's UST. Viewers complained that the show was turning into a "soap opera".
- Gossip Girl, with Dan/Serena and Chuck/Blair.
- Both groups have hardcore rusted on supporters and they are Ship Mates so tend to stick up for each other vocally. Other people (mostly the Dan/Blair & Serena/Nate Ship Mates) are tired of the "Chuck does something horrible, they break up, Chuck redeems himself, Blair forgives him, they get back together" and the "Serena redeems herself, Dan forgives her, they get back together" shtick. Which in the case of Chuck/Blair is happening for about the 6th time.
- Dan/Blair gained fans during the fourth season but when the two actually started dating the viewers disliked it so much that the ratings plummeted to the point that the show barely got renewed for a final season.
- Fringe may be in danger of this with Olivia and Peter. The writers promise that their relationship is central to the story. But every time it seems just about to start, it goes pear-shaped.
- Glee: While "Finnchel" are the biggest offenders of this trope, their entry are elaborated in the next section. Blaine/Kurt and Will/Emma have also fallen victim to this from the fandom. The former was the pairing was championed as being the first big mainstream gay pairing. Blaine's Creator's Pet status ended up turning fans sour. While with the latter, Will ended up being a jerk in the second season and it reached the point where fans started to root for Emma to stay with the blatant Romantic False Lead she married.
- Word of God says this is the reason Vince and Howard of The Mighty Boosh didn't get together. They kissed in the next to last episode of the show, but since Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt were Genre Savvy enough to know that the UST was a big part of the show, they broke them up and binned a script where they had sex, since they still have plans for live shows, a movie, or possibly even another series.
- Reign by Greg Stolze addresses the concept in the GMing chapter, which states that while a loving, happy relationship may be the most rewarding thing to be had in real life (complete with a Shout-Out to Stolze's wife), it's dull as hell for a game and risks leaving players dissatisfied whether you explore or ignore the relationship. So better to only explore troubled, difficult relationships for dramatic purposes until someone wants a happy relationship on which to retire their character.
- SNK can be pretty guilty of this as well. Ever since Fatal Fury 3 they did do ship tease regarding Terry Bogard and Blue Mary. SNK did enjoy using it at first with Fatal Fury 3 and the Real Bout series and the earlier KOF games as well. However, over the course of the 2000's, while Terry is considered iconic for SNK he didn't really have any role in the KOF series anymore and is pretty much just there to appease older fans. Some have even feared that SNK would kill off Blue Mary since unlike Terry who used to be a main character Mary was always a secondary one. That and Terry's girlfriends have a tendency to end up dead (in the anime, anyway). Fortunately that hasn't happened yet.
- Played straight through the first five seasons and all four movies of Futurama with Fry and Leela, culminating in a supposed Last Minute Hookup and making ample use of the show's sci-fi elements to push the relationship to points much farther than other fandoms' ships would be able to go without becoming unable to snap back to the status quo and keep Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Averted in the sixth season, where they are together but their relationship is not given too much screentime. The fact that both are both interesting and important characters in ways that have nothing to do with their romance helps a lot.
- An odd case happens between Duncan and Gwen of Total Drama. Their friendship was realistic and well-received, though Gwen always tried to make it clear that they were only friends. Due to this, Duncan suddenly kissing Gwen in World Tour not only felt like it came completely out of nowhere, but resulted in the infamously disliked Gwen/Duncan/Courtney love triangle storyline. When it was time to actually show Duncan and Gwen as a couple, their every interaction was awkward and forced, with none of the charm or chemistry that they had when they were just friends. To make matters worse, the writers couldn't help from dropping hints that Duncan was still into Courtney the entire time, which makes you wonder why the hell he cheated on her with Gwen in the first place.
Anime & Manga
- Sword Art Online: Kirito and Asuna get together in the first volume/by episode 10 of the Anime and are married (due in part to the ease of marriage in an online game) in a few scenes and less than a day in universe. Chronologically they then adopt a daughter within two weeks and thus the majority of the series has them in a stable relationship with a budding family. Far from killing the ship, this simply shifts the focus to the relationships between them and Yui, along with the emotional impact of their various trials.
- Sailor Moon: Interestingly, Haruka and Michiru inverted the situation to their benefit compared to Mamoru×Usagi pairing. Despite being a creator-acknowledged Official Couple with a blatantly cute butch/femme dynamic and no alternative ships in the fandom, their relationship was always selectively (albeit increasingly) explicit enough to keep the fans interested.
- This is averted in Eureka Seven, where the UST between Renton and Eureka is supplemented by the Coralian sub-plot. The very next episode after they get together, the Coralian plot takes center stage.
- Averted in Kare Kano. At first it looks like most shoujos, with mildly Belligerent Sexual Tension (on Yukino's part, at least), some uncertainty whether Yukino and Arima will get together. This situation lasts for as late as... the second episode/volume. Then things start getting interesting: the threats to their relationship are not random encounters with Romantic False Leads, but their own weaknesses and selfishness, and the focus is given more to the emotional maturing of the characters rather than the relationship itself.
- Sakura Tsukuba's The Land of The Blindfolded manga took a very similar approach as Kare Kano, following the relationship threats and emotional growth of what became the Official Couple Kanade and Aru out of the Love Triangle.
- The Official Couple of CLANNAD hooks up at roughly the halfway point in the series. The rest of the show is pretty much about them starting a life together, with a heavy focus on the emotional interdependence of their relationship. The second half (aka "After Story") is also generally considered the superior part of the show.
- Averted in Itazura Na Kiss. In fact, a good number of fans will tell you that you wouldn't miss much by skipping the first season leading up to the Official Couple becoming, well, official.
- Averted in Toradora! where the establishment of Ryuji and Taiga didn't kill the interest in their romance, rather it enhanced it.
- Averted in Genshiken by Sasahara and Oguie. Their Unresolved Sexual Tension and Will They or Won't They? was cute enough, but it was better seeing each of them struggle with their first real relationship, deal with the difference between the person they were actually dating and the image they'd built up in their heads, and find out that they ultimately still really liked each other. In contrast, the anime was Cut Short right before their first official date.
- Rather cleverly subverted in Scott Pilgrim. All the action happened because he started a relationship with Ramona. And Scott actually undergoes his Character Development by being in a relationship.
- Inverted with Clark Kent and Lois Lane: the status quo of Clark being in love with Lois, who was in love with Superman stayed alive for 42 years before Crisis on Infinite Earths radically altered their backstories, and attempts to make it the status quo again fell flat as it would be out-of-character for the rebooted Lois Lane to be infatuated with a superhero, and fans were so fed up with the increasingly lame excuses for The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life that they were yelling for Clark and Lois to get on with it already!. They finally got together in 1991, although Clark's death, resurrection, and subsequent complications delayed the marriage until 1995. Siegel and Schuster actually wanted to both have Lois and Clark get together and for Lois to discover Clark's alter ego and become his Secret Keeper way back in the 1940s, but editors wouldn't let them do it precisely because of this trope, probably making them single-handedly responsible for codifying Loves My Alter Ego.
- Subverted in Hellblazer. While some fans thought that putting a man like John Constantine on a stable relationship, specially after almost all his friends and lovers have died horrible horrible deaths, was a really bad idea, the last years of Hellblazer comics are worth reading as his partner, Epiphany Greaves, is a reckless young alchemist rebel woman that knows that his life has been tainted by all the deaths and dangers that his lifestyle provides, not to mention she's a real Action Girl. Some may say that they're a perfect couple. Also, John is still John, grumpy, bastard and asshole, but saw some character development while living with his wife.
- Discussed and defied near the end of Y: The Last Man, after Yorick and Agent 355 confront their feelings for each other. Being Genre Savvy and saturated with pop culture, Yorick specifically mentions Moonlighting as an example of why they shouldn't rush things. Sadly, they never get the chance, as 355 is assassinated then and there.
Films — Animation
- The Shrek movies avert this since even though the first movie ends Happily Ever After, the sequels show that Shrek & Fiona's relationship still has a lot of obstacles to deal with. Shrek 2 deals with the ogre couple having to deal with being accepted by Fiona's human parents and each other and Shrek Forever After is motivated by Shrek tiring of married life and all the responsibilities that come with it.
- The In Death series is a very rare example of a successful aversion. While the main characters, Eve and Roarke, start out with a rather warped Meet Cute (he's a murder suspect and she's the homicide detective), they marry by the end of book 4. There are over 30 books in the series.
- L. A. Meyer has been (narrowly!) averting this with Jacky and Jaimy in Bloody Jack since book one. The books are quite good, but the only reason many fans are still eager hangers-on by the tenth book is because everyone is painfully awaiting the They Do moment.
- The aversion is lampshaded in the Liaden Universe novel Mouse and Dragon, where the back cover blurb begins with "After the happy ending." The heroine has hooked up with her husband, but that means she has to deal with the messy political situation around Clan Korval, along with discovering her husband's faults as well as his virtues.
- Perhaps one of the greatest things about last season of The Nanny is that it completely averted this. After a couple of seasons of Will They or Won't They? and Moment Killers, Fran gets married to Max, and the show keeps being as good as it was before. This probably has something to do with the fact that the show main focus was not on their relationship, but on all the silly things that happened to them. Combine that with a big cast of characters which can divert the audience attention, and you have a series that doesn't depend that much on Will They or Won't They? anymore.
- Friends averted this with Chandler×Monica. We get to see them go from Secret Relationship to Everybody Knew Already to officially an item, get married, bickering, getting over it, eventually adopting children, and remaining in love the whole time. All of this without diminishing public interest in the couple. It helped that they had really good chemistry and that they sort of worked as Beta Couple to Ross×Rachel, ironically resulting in more people caring about them than Ross and Rachel because Monica and Chandler were actually happy, interesting and y'know together. But the Slice of Life and Ensemble Cast nature of the show helped the most.
- That '70s Show averted this with Eric and Donna. They got together after a LOT of teasing late in the first season, and the show remained just as interesting, if not more. Although they did have a couple of breakups, they spent a large portion of their time on the show as a Power Couple, and it didn't affect the quality at all.
- Inversions of this trope are known to occur too: For instance, pretty much everyone agrees that Dave and Lisa from NewsRadio, after subverting Will They or Won't They? by starting an intimate relationship in the second episode, are much more intriguing and entertaining when they're together as a couple, and that their break-up was a possible Jump the Shark moment.
- Averted by Farscape with John and Aeryn, probably because they kept the two of them from getting together without possibility of "takebacks" until about three-quarters of the way through the last season. Other plausible reasons: they had to keep it secret because John was scared of Scorpius finding out, resulting in minimal screen time; when they were open about it they spent more time running for their lives and spinning implausible plan after implausible plan in a desperate attempt to stay alive than in bed; they were the only two leads who looked fully human (though that shouldn't stop Farscape fans); or Claudia Black and Ben Browder may be just that good, which is very likely true even if any one of the above is also true. Because they are very, very good.
- It might also be relevant to note that Season 3's "Meltdown", generally considered the worst episode of the series, was also the one that featured the most explicit John/Aeryn action... though the sexy times were pretty hot, so it wasn't John and Aeryn's fault. Reportedly, Ben Browder actually wanted to invert the trope. Citing that "everyone knows that putting the leads together ends the show", he suggested early on that, in their first meeting, Aeryn and John should have slept together and then spent the rest of the show denying they had and trying to ignore the sexual tension. They were heavily implied to sleep together in the first season episode "a human reaction", they denied it fast.
- The aversion might have been due to the fact that most of the relationships in Farscape were well written with multiple levels of development. Hence it didn't become so much the 'build-up is better than the result' but 'the build-up determines the result' (i.e. the result is as good as the build-up). Or it could be because they just kept kicking ass...
- Lampshaded in Gossip Girl by Blair, who tells Chuck that she's worried they'll be boring now they're in a relationship (a major concern for the fans). He replies that they could "never be boring" and was proven right - their subversion of Sickeningly Sweethearts was dramatic, heartwarming and hilarious, and the main fan displeasure was that the cameras cut away whenever they started to roleplay or pulled out handcuffs.
- Averted in Firefly. Executive Meddling wanted Wash and Zoe to hook up onscreen, but Joss Whedon wanted to show a Happily Married couple (at first). And they were still fun to watch!
- Averted to a degree on the US version of Queer as Folk when playboy Brian Kinney and his boytoy-turned-fiancé Justin realized that getting married would mean a slow torturous death to their relationship when they both grew bitter with resentment for going against their character's natures. Of course, this led to a serious case of Bittersweet Ending or even Downer Ending for shippers.
- Rachel and Finn on Glee initially managed to invert this; it was the constant delaying of them getting together that made them boring to shippers, because the conclusion was so inevitable. This was especially true when, after the creators promised that for Season 2 they would keep them together and "shift the focus to other couples," they instead broke them up again and did an exact repeat of their storyline in Season 1, dragging up the same two romantic false leads. In Season 3, the trope was played straighter; the two remained together for the bulk of the season, but they continued to get the most focus, with the resentment over it such that when Finn proposed in a mid-season episode, #RachelSayNo became a Twitter trending topic. It probably wouldn't be quite as fraught if it weren't for the fact that some fan preferred couples (e.g. Brittany/Santana, Quinn/Puck) remained in various stages of Will They or Won't They? during Finn and Rachel's never-ending, increasingly more and more contrived arcs. Only the untimely death of actor Cory Monteith, and the show's decision to have Finn killed off out of respect, brought an end to this.
- Inverted, possibly on The Big Bang Theory. Penny & Leonard finally had sex and became an Official Couple at the beginning of the third season, and it didn't hurt the ratings any. Although the show did nothing interesting with the couple and then they broke up. BUT they get back together in the fifth season and this time around it's much better handled with the two intentionally taking it slow at first, make a point of being more open and honest with each other, and Penny even manages to say "I Love You"!
- A possible aversion of this occurred in Robin Hood. At the end of season one Robin and Marian admitted their feelings for one another, and in season two they become engaged. In the season two finale, they have an impromptu wedding whilst awaiting execution. Now, despite there being plenty of material here for Robin and Marian to have spent season three as husband and wife, avoiding the wrath of Guy of Gisborne and battling Prince John's armies together, the episode in question ends with Marian's death at the hands of Guy. According to the writers, they felt that they "had taken Marian's story as far as it could go," the insinuation clearly being that once the Marian-centric Love Triangle had been resolved, the writers felt that there was no further need for Marian to remain on the show. Two new love interests for Robin were duly trotted out in season three. Unfortunate Implications? You betcha! This policy came back to bite the writers firmly in the ass: Robin×Kate (the Replacement Love Interest) never got a chance to reach a Shipping Bed Death because no one gave a shit about it to begin with.
- Averted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine with Worf×Jadzia and even more spectacularly with Odo×Kira, who had an entire episode devoted to getting them together and afterward were completely, utterly in love and acted like it, while still being their normal, fiery, Badass, amazing selves.
- Averted in Chuck, where Chuck and Sarah are more entertaining and watchable as a happy couple as they ever were when they wanted to be but couldn't for various reasons.
- The entire premise of Mad About You was the aversion of this trope. It focused on a generally happily married couple living in an apartment in New York City. It ran for 7 seasons. The difference there though is that they were already married when the show began, rather than slowly getting together over a long period of time.
- Doctor Who averts this with Amy and Rory; after their wedding at the end of Season 5 they still have just as much continuing development as before, and they're still just as much fun to watch.
- Rhoda famously seemed to avert this by allowing its title character to get married after years of struggling on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A mere eight weeks into the program saw a wedding with some of the highest ratings in the history of television. However, in the case of Rhoda, it wasn't the audience who got bored - it was the writing staff. After two seasons of a happily married Rhoda, the writers decided she worked better as a single woman and opened Season 3 with a bitter separation and concluded in their divorce. Viewers abandoned the show in droves, and while it survived another two seasons, it never recovered.
- Averted by Marshall and Lily on How I Met Your Mother, who became actually more interesting (not that they had actually been dull before...just less prominent) when they stopped being Ted's roommates and got embroiled in the realities of married life. Also averted with Barney and Robin. Barney's basically just his crazy, funny self no matter what...but the writers didn't anticipate the chemistry they had and wrote the break-up into the show before seeing it. Eventually, they put them back together.
- Averted by all three couples on Modern Family. They're all married, so there was no UST to begin with.
- Averted on Babylon 5 by John Sheridan and Delenn. It helped that they were in the middle of a war when they got together, and when that war ended they got to deal with another one — and as soon as those wars were over, they went right in to helping straighten out the galaxy from the mess it had been left in after said wars. Who's got time to get bored with a romance when you're on the brink of annihilation every week?
- Averted on Castle. It was widely speculated that the show would never put Castle and Beckett together, as the show was powered by the UST between the two leads, and the fandom is powerfully driven by shipping. Even Castle's actor, Nathan Fillion, was openly against it. However, the two finally hooked up (although they haven't married yet) at the end of Season 4, and have been happily in a relationship all through Season 5. The stories are as good as ever, and the ratings are the best they've been. Even Fillion admits he was wrong and the "Moonlighting Curse" has been broken. They're as interesting as a couple as they were when they were flirting... possibly even moreso.
- Furthermore, season 4 (and season 3 to a lesser extent) are considered something of a weak point, mostly because the attempts to keep Castle and Beckett apart were pretty flimsy anyway. A good example is "The Limey". Castle and Beckett were each given a new Romantic False Lead in the episode. Interestingly, instead of audience anger being directed toward the false leads (which happened previously with False Leads such as Detective Demming and Josh Davidson), the majority of the frustration instead landed on Castle and Beckett, since they stubbornly refused to have a mature conversation about their feeling for each other, making it a rather obvious attempt to artificially extend the tension, leading fans to simply say "get on with it!"
- Cheers didn't become popular until Sam and Diane got together as a couple in the second season. But it did stay popular after Diane got Put on a Bus.
- On JAG, Harm and Mac didn't become a couple until the Series Finale. You can't get more of an aversion than that (apart from never becoming one at all).
- A lot of fans complained about Naomi and Emily's story in Season 4 of Skins for averting this; having got together at the end of Season 3, Season 4 was all about them dealing with trying to keep the relationship going through Naomi's infidelity, a not atypical problem in real-life long-term relationships. Many people thought they should have split up, possibly just to watch them go through the (admittedly adorable) Romance Arc again.
- Legend of the Seeker did not get worse at the end of the first season when Richard and Kahlan said "Fuck it, we just won't have sex" and got together for good. In fact, it got considerably better — although it helped that the Relationship Upgrade was accompanied by a general Growing the Beard that was only partially caused by said upgrade. Possibly helped by the fact that anyone that has read the novels would see this as a foregone conclusion.
- Bones: While Angela and Hodgins remain an example, Bones and Booth have remained interesting even after getting together.
- This trope is the reason why Howard and Vince of The Mighty Boosh didn't get together. The creators stated they originally planned on them becoming a couple during the TV show, but decided against it for fear of ruining the dynamic of the characters. Noel Fielding says if Howard and Vince do ever get together, it wont be until he and Julian Barratt know for sure they're done with the characters.
- On Parks and Recreation, both Andy & April and Leslie & Ben become Official Couples about a season after the dynamics between them were introduced, and most would agree that the show only benefited from these pairings. On the other hand, Ann & Chris becoming one (after years of Will They or Won't They?) was essentially a setup for the characters being Put on a Bus half a season later.
- An inverted case with Outlander in that the main character, Claire Randall, is already married to someone else. But upon getting thrown back in time, circumstances force her to marry the other main character, Jamie Fraser, whom she is not, initially, in love with. As with the novel series the show is based on, the marriage takes place early in the story so that the couple's developing relationship becomes the focal element of the series.
- In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, at around the halfway point of Maxim actually marries Selan after narrowly beating what seems to be the big bad at first. A year passes and it is revealed there's still a lot more to the game. It could be said that the trope is fully inverted, because in this story the leading up to the romance is fairly underplayed but in the latter half of the game their relationship is important to the plot.
- Most BioWare games drag the romance sidequests out until the very end, or simply make it so that once you've finished the sidequest, that's the end of all dialogue options with that person. However, this is averted in the Merril and Anders Romances in Dragon Age II, where either party can become an Official Couple with Hawke and move in during Act II. Both romance arcs continue from there, based on the person drama of each respective love interest.
- Mass Effect:
- The fact that the series allows romances to be continued from one game to the next means that even if one game on its own would suffer from this, the relationship can continue into the next one and still continue to develop.
- Mass Effect 3 averts. While most romances, even ones carried over from previous games, end up in a conversation that sets the relationship basically in stone, the dialogue with them doesn't end there. Even the obligatory Pre-Climax Climax scene isn't the end of the content, unlike previous games in the series; Shepard and the LI can discuss their relationship further during the final goodbyes, and the Extended Cut added a couple of romance-related scenes to the endgame and ending (though not enough for some fans). The Citadel DLC really took it Up to Eleven though, with a ton of pre-final level romance content for most characters, including dates and a party.
- Quite markedly averted in a certain route in Galaxy Angel. In Forte's route, somewhere between the three games, Tact and Forte has somehow skipped the "I love you" phase to each other (or rather, replacing it with "I got your back, you watch mine.") and went straight to a decidedly mature take of living together as adults. The second and especially the third tests their resolve of being together as a commander and a soldier in a relationship. The third game's "breaking point" event is notable in that Forte's route is the only one not featuring relationship problems with Tact as a result of said event, instead having PTSD as a central theme.
- Inverted in Time and Eternity. Toki and the MC are already a couple by the time the game starts, and how they met and became a couple is hardly brought up, yet their wedding is a central plotpoint (in fact it's so central that, due to Time Travel, it happens five times).
- Ménage à 3 habitually averts the trope by being a Sex Comedy much more than it's any sort of romance, whatever some fannish shippers might want. The characters get into relationships, but these are generally short-lived or incredibly unstable, and are frequently obviously bad ideas from the first; hence, they may crash and burn, or just fizzle due to bad communication. Any pairing that the shippers might suggest (any pairing) can happen, but it probably won't end anything much. Even when the lead character who started the comic as a desperate virgin got laid, it involved a previously minor character, the relationship promptly crashed, and the ex-virgin didn't change much as a person. It's assumed by most of the fan base that most of the main cast will end up in long-term relationships when the comic comes to an end, and various final pairings are discussed from time to time, but it would be dangerous to bet on anything.
- Girls with Slingshots has generally averted this when dealing with secondary characters' relationships, like Thea and Mimi, Chris and Melody, and Maureen and Jameson...etc (although probably because they did not receive as much focus as the main characters), but this was interestingly played with in its treatment of the relationship between main character, Hazel, and Zach: At first they started with tons of Unresolved Sexual Tension and Will They or Won't They? moments, then they finally hooked up and became a couple. But problems started to arise in that Hazel received no Character Development whatsoever and continued to be the same selfish and immature person, at first this was Played for Laughs and for a big part of the story Zach was portrayed as the perfect wish-fulfilment boyfriend who selflessly put up with a girlfriend who gave nothing back to the relationship other than sex and the sight of being drunk, this caused a lot of What Does He See in Her? and No Accounting for Taste reactions in the readers. The author most have realized this, so this was taken to its logical conclussion when Hazel's antics pushed Zach too far and made him break up with her.
- One of the running plot threads in the first season of Welcome to Night Vale is Cecil's (apparently unrequited) crush on Hot Scientist Carlos. Then, in the one year anniversary episode the two share a tender moment, and go on a first date a couple episodes later. The show is perfectly content in having the two of them be an adorable Official Couple, all while dealing with usual relationship difficulties (like the occasional missed date) along with the difficulties of living in a place like Night Vale.
- In The Nostalgia Critic's review of Les Misérables, Paw and Maven meet for the first time to sing a song criticizing how unrealistic the Love at First Sight trope is... and proceed to immediately fall in love over the duration. The relationship has been going strong since. Bit of Real Life Writes the Plot there, with the two actors being happy newly-weds in reality.
- Limyaaels Fantasy Rants argues that this trope doesn't have to exist, and expresses a desire to read some stories about marriage, not just about the buildup. That said, part of what Limyaael wants is not "happily ever after," but "challengingly ever after," because actual relationships have problems that need to be worked out.
- Many fans were nervous Kim Possible would be subject to this once the two leads finally hooked up in the movie and found that the series still had another season. To their credit, the writers kept the relationship instead of copping out. There are differing opinions on how well their romance was handled, but most fans think it was good enough to avert this trope.
- Averted on Code Lyoko with Ulrich and Yumi, since they never really resolved their relationship either way; not only did they not hook up, but they never really reached the Better as Friends stage either, meaning that their relationship was left in limbo at the end of the series.
- Look at one of the major complaints from the fandom of the first season of Young Justice, and one of the major points will Superboy and Miss Martian's Romantic Plot Tumor. Come the season 2 premier, the two have broken up, meaning the viewers will get a rinse, lather, and repeat of the previous season. By season 2, their romance (and romance in general really) received much less focus thus averting much of the annoyance it caused in the previous season. Instead it was used to heighten the two's character development over the Time Skip. Superboy matured much more and MM grew colder due to an off-screen death of her pseudo-mother, leading her to become a LOT more loose with her telepathic intrusion which is what leads to their breakup.
- Justice League does a pretty good job of averting this. The writers did establish Green Lantern and Hawkgirl's romance very early, and they keep flirting with each other and getting closer. Once they finally drop all pretense and get together, Hawkgirl's alien boyfriend shows up, she's revealed to be a traitor and while ultimately she betrays her race to save the Earth, she leaves the league for a while. Once she returns, GL has moved on and is dating Vixen, but then he travels to the future and meets his son, who has hawk wings, and is indeed Hawkgirl's son too. GL claims he won't let fate decide for him, and prefers to let things run their course.