It's your freshman year and you're gonna be hereThere's something about the Big Man on Campus that drives all the girls wild... even the ones that know he is sooo out of their league. If the dorky girl wants the most popular guy at school, it usually ends in one of two ways: either the two end up together, or she finds out that he's actually a huge jerk. Sometimes all it takes is a makeover to get the guy to notice the girl. If he ends up returning her feelings, often his ex-girlfriend the Alpha Bitch will get jealous. Classmates will wonder what the quarterback is doing with the nerd. This version is common Wish Fulfillment often seen in shows aimed at tweens and in chick flicks. If it doesn't work out between them, expect there to be An Aesop, usually something like "Don't change yourself for a jerk" or "Popularity isn't everything". Related to "I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me" if the guy decides to Give Geeks a Chance. All Guys Want Cheerleaders is often the gender-flipped version of this trope.
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know, I haven't seen you around before"
For the next four years in this town
Hoping one of those senior boys will wink at you and say
"You know, I haven't seen you around before"
— Taylor Swift, "Fifteen"
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Anime and Manga
- Extremely common in shojo anime and manga. Some examples:
- In Charisma Doll, Sara likes Hayase, who's the most popular guy. He's also a huge popstar, so that's why he's so popular. He actually likes Sara's alter ego popstar personality Sala.
- In ION, Ion has a huge crush on the most popular guy and Student Council President, Koki.
- In Himekei Doll, Ayumu is obsessed with Renji, who's not only popular, but a fashion designer as well.
- In a shonen example, Sakura of Naruto, has an infatuation with Sasuke, which is one of her defining traits, particularly at the beginning. It is also totally unrequited, with Sasuke often calling Sakura out for being average. Of course, this is often Played for Laughs, as almost every girl in Naruto (except Hinata) is obsessed with Sasuke, particularly while they're still in the Academy. The competition over Sasuke has had such results as ending friendships, causing fights in classrooms, and trampling innocent bystanders.
- Most of Tohru's homeroom think this is going on between her and the very popular Yuki. It isn't. Played with in the end, as he does hook up with the shy and usually-overlooked Machi, but he is the one who falls for her first.
- In Tokyo Mew Mew, Ichigo has a crush on Aoyama, the popular Kendo Team Captain (sort of the Japanese equivalent of the football quarterback) and they start dating partway through the series.
- In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, Lucia is involved with Kaito, a local surfing celebrity with hordes of fangirls.
- Sugar Sugar Rune has Chocolat paired up with Pierre, the prettiest and most popular boy in school, although theirs is a weird case because a) she initially dislikes him and soon finds out that he's her enemy, and b) at first she's only pursuing him so that she can take his heart, which would kill him.
- Sadako likes Kazehaya in Kimi ni Todoke. This is actually played with in the series because her love is requited by him, but because she's a loner.
- For an added bonus, he fell for her first and is genuinely a nice guy who wants her to be happy. When she stops being a loner, he's a little sad she's not just his anymore, but overlooks his desires for her happiness. Cue "Aaaww."
- In Shugo Chara!, heroine Amu has a crush on the school's resident Chick Magnet, Tadase, which he eventually reciprocates. She still ends up with bad boy Ikuto anyway.
- In Ao no Flag, Kuze is attracted to Mita, a very friendly and popular baseball player. She asks Ichinose, the main character and childhood friend of Mita to help her get Mita's attention. Little do either Kuze or Ichinose know that Mita is actually gay and crushing on Ichinose.
- Can't Hardly Wait: Preston has been in love with Amanda since the first day of high school but she's been dating the Jerk Jock all this time, until he dumps her prior to graduation. He plans on revealing his feelings for her at a graduation party.
- High School Musical: Gabriella towards Troy, though she's not actually interested in his popularity. She falls for him when they meet on vacation and doesn't discover he's the 'most popular guy' until later on. In fact, she's noticeably put off when he acts like a jerk to please his friends and tells him she prefers the real him instead of the Big Man on Campus everyone else see's. It also helps that Troy is smitten with her from the get-go, (even though she's a Shrinking Violet / Hollywood Nerd that doesn't undergo a makeover) and they single-handily demolish the schools social structure.
- Played straight with Sharpay. She's obsessed with making them East High's 'primo girl and guy' and goes to near sexual-harrassment levels to win him over. Add in that Troy carries a lot of insecurity about being defined only as the popular, basketball guy and its gets worrying.
- Sleepover has this with Julie liking the most popular guy, even though he's "out of her league".
- Played straight in A Cinderella Story. Supposedly dorky and unattractive Sam (Hilary Duff in a baseball cap) likes the Big Man on Campus and quarterback.
- Except that Sam doesn't like Austin because everyone else does. At the beginning she seems to think he's just another Jerk Jock, and she doesn't spare him any real thought until she finds out that he's Nomad.
- In 13 Going on 30, Jenna Rink wants to be with the most popular guy. She gets put in the closet with him playing "Seven Minutes In Heaven", and it turns out to be a mean prank. When she magically becomes 30 years old, she finds out that he becomes a fat taxi driver.
- In the movie Teen Witch, the nerdy girl Louise wants the most popular guy. She uses her magically gained popularity to try to fall in love with him. The obnoxiousness of this was pointed out many a time by The Nostalgia Chick.
- Sixteen Candles, Sam has a crush on Jake Ryan the whole movie. He's curious about her, and then comes to like her back.
- In the Disney Channel movie Read It and Weep, the dorky protagonist likes Marco Vega, the most popular and hot guy in school.
- In another Disney Channel movie, Suzie Q, the girl tries to change herself so the popular guy likes her.
- In Never Been Kissed, the sweet but dorky Josie likes the Big Man on Campus but gets humiliated by him.
- Similar to 13 Going on 30, Romy of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion crushed hard on the popular guy in high school who spurned her affections at the prom. At the reunion we find he's a loser unhappily married to the Alpha Bitch.
- Hairspray, in all incarnations, features this, though Link Larkin is genuinely nice in the end and it doesn't take a makeover to get him to notice Tracy.
- In the goofy film adaptation of The Brady Bunch, Marcia single-mindedly pursues the very cute but jerkish Doug specifically because "he's the Big Man on Campus." This has a different result than the similar situation in the original show (see below).
- Carter, in Princess Protection Program, had a crush on Donny since third grade. Everyone who knows her, even her enemies, knows about it. At the dance, when She Cleans Up Nicely and he finally notices her, she turns him down flat. "Before I put on this dress, you couldn't even remember my name." (She's right. His inability to remember her name was actually a running gag throughout the movie.)
- In The World's End Sam, as a teenager, had a one-night stand with resident School Idol Gary King (in the Disabled bathroom, no less). Twenty-odd years down the road her priorities are very different, especially since Gary, as she tells him he's "not boyfriend material".
- In Bras and Broomsticks, Rachel likes the hottest guy. She uses her sister's new witch powers to try to get him to fall in love with her.
- In The Princess Diaries, Mia has a huge crush on Josh, the most popular guy (who's a huge jerk). He only pretends to like her once she finds out she's a princess.
- Deconstructed in Carrie, where it does not end well for anybody involved.
- Amy liking Ian near the start of The 39 Clues series.
- The House of Night:
- Zoey catches the eye of Erik, who's repeatedly referred to as "the hottest guy in the school" and makes practically all girls swoon while thinking about how gorgeous he is. True to this trope's description, his ex-girlfriend is the Alpha Bitch Aphrodite who is not amused when she finds out about his relationship with Zoey. They eventually break up, though, mainly because of Zoey's utter inability to not throw herself at every hot guy who crosses her path.
- Zoey's other boyfriends, incidentally, are the popular football star from her previous high school and the incredibly handsome poetry teacher that all the female students seem to have crushes on.
- Genderbent-flipped for "John" and Sarah in I Am Number Four
- In Beastly, the quiet, bookish Lindsy admits that she's had a long-standing crush on Kyle, the most popular guy in her school. When Adrian (who is Kyle under a curse, which Lindsy doesn't know) asks if she liked him because he was attractive, she was more interested in his confidence and charisma.
Live Action TV
- Lizzie of Lizzie McGuire likes Ethan Kraft for the entire series. Her love is unrequited.
- In Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, level-headed Moze surprisingly does fall for Seth, the Dumb Jock who doesn't do much but spin a basketball on his hand. He does end up liking her, but she realises he's a waste of time.
- In Unfabulous, Addy has a crush on Jake, the coolest guy at school. It comes as a shock to everyone when he and she actually end up dating.
- In The Brady Bunch, Marcia gets a crush on Doug Simpson, the Big Man on Campus. She actually manages to get a date with him but he ditches the date once he sees her bruised, broken nose.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch: Sabrina for Harvey, in the live-action show. He is a regular guy in the comics (and its more faithful adaptions.)
- Glee does this, with Rachel's crush on Finn. He seems to like her, but doesn't like that he gets ostracized by his friends for being with her.
- From Robin Hood, half the outlaws have a crush on Kate, but she only has eyes for Robin Hood.
- In the Mexican telenovela Sonadoras, nerdy Lucia falls for popular Gerardo. But Gerardo pines for beautiful dancer Emilia, who loves somebody else. Subverted in that Lucia does get Gerardo in the end- after a makeover involving creating Lucia into an alter ego cousin named Adriana goes wrong!
- Played straight with both of Jenna's love interests on Awkward.
- Faking It: Karma wants Liam...who only really starts to notice her after she's (falsely) outed as a lesbian.
- The Worst Year of My Life, Again has a gender-flipped version. Alex has a crush on Nicola, the most popular girl in school.
- The speaker in "You Belong With Me", a Taylor Swift song.
- Subverted in that the nerdy girl and the popular guy are actually close friends. The song actually gives the impression that it had been a case of Single Guy Seeks Most Popular Girl, with the newly not-single guy's friend being left behind.
- Also applies to Teardrops On My Guitar. Also subverted in that the speaker and the object of her affections (Drew) are good friends but she wishes that he would break up with his girlfriend and start dating her instead.
- Yandere Simulator is about a high school girl called "Yandere-chan" falling in love with the Chick Magnet "Senpai", and proceeds to get him by eliminating everyone else.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Paya, a shy girl from Kakariko village, has a crush on Link, The Chosen One and the most important young man in all of Hyrule.
- In Kim Possible, Bonnie's attraction to Brick and Ron was mainly due to both being popular at something. Brick at football and Ron after his brief period as a millionaire and becoming the star running back.
- My Little Pony Tales had Starlight crushing on Ace. Unfortunately for her, Ace was a massive Jerkass who was often the closest thing this incarnation of the series had to an antagonist. No matter how badly he treated her, however, she continued to pine after him... uselessly, since he had his own hopeless crush on her friend Melody.
- This was done with Rarity in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In the first season, she has a huge crush on Prince Blueblood. She meets him in person in "The Best Night Ever", and finds out that he's a major douche. So very typical.
- Happens to Rarity again in "Simple Ways" when she develops a crush on the travel writer Trenderhoof. He's not such a bad guy, being Innocently Insensitive and a bit smug at worst, but Trenderhoof ends up falling for Applejack.
- Spinelli for T.J. in Recess, as hinted in a few episodes. Various episodes show that he likes her as well.
- Riley for Johnny in The Replacements, on Yandere levels.
- A bit of subversion in Miraculous Ladybug. Marinette didn't like Adrien at first when she caught him cleaning up the chewing gum that Chloe had intended to put in her seat, assuming he was in on the prank. However, the next day, Adrien offers her his umbrella and explains what had happened. After seeing how kind he was, Marinette immediately falls for him.
- Singer Katy Perry went back and performed at her old high school, and took the time to single out the football star she had a big crush on, who never noticed her. Shane Lopes is a football coach at his old high school now, and Katy kind of rubbed it in.