The Not-Love Interest

The Not-Love Interest is the phenomenon in which the character fulfills a typical "Love Interest" role, but isn't intended by the writers to have that kind of relationship with The Hero. This trope often represents a Subversion of one or more Love Interest tropes, or tropes that normally lead to a character becoming a Love Interest, such as Rescue Romance.

This trope points out that certain roles and dynamics are frequently shared between the hero(ine) and the Love Interest, or that characters in these dynamics frequently evolve into a Love Interest. With opposite cisgender pairs, this is so common that when that is Averted or Subverted, viewers are surprised they don't, or surprised that it turns out to be a non-romanticized relationship.

With other kinds of pairs, such as those of the same gender, this often takes on a different connotation. The relationship between the hero and this character is often written with the same role and dynamic as the Love Interest, but never get the same fulfillment. Unfortunately used to draw audiences, and likely due to that, unfortunately a common occurrence, possibly even more than the former.

The Hero may have an actual love interest, but they will usually be less significant than this character.

It's a common source of Shipping fuel, often spawning Fan Preferred Couples. Frequently happens with Heterosexual Life-Partners and Platonic Life Partners. It appears prone to being pointed out in interviews, DVD commentaries/special features, and other things in the manual.

Compare Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life Partners, Like Brother and Sister, Just Friends and Tragic Bromance. Has nothing to do with She Is Not My Girlfriend, though somebody might say this (with actual sincerity). This trope is to UST as oil is to water vapor. Romantic Two-Girl Friendship is a subtrope. Relationship Writing Fumble is what happens when the writers try to do this and it doesn't work.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  
  • Xxx Holic:
    • Doumeki can potentially be considered this to Watanuki. Early on it was determined the two of them would have some sort of connection and practically everyone around them in-story was Ship Teasing them (and so were the fans). They also wind up doing a number of Heroic Sacrifices for each other, Doumeki especially. But at no point does Doumeki ever explicitly express any romantic interest to Watanuki, and Watanuki never fully gets over his distaste for Doumeki. Also, for the first half of the series Watanuki's intensely crushing on his classmate Himawari, and then spends the rest of the series pining after his boss Yuuko for the next 100 years after she dies, and ultimately Doumeki's married to someone else aka Kohane Tsuyuri... a girl who also was implied to be in love with Watanuki.
    • Yuuko is also this to Watanuki. They form a close mentor-student/mother-son relationship, one that evolves in strength and importance over time. When Yuuko dies, Watanuki is so affected by it that he makes the decision to take over and be made unable to leave the shop so he can wait for Yuuko to return someday. However, there's nothing that explicitly indicates that they love each other romantically.
  • Abe is this to Mihashi from Big Windup. Mihashi's two main cares are sports and Mihashi's approval. One of the Signature Scenes of the series involves them holding hands and they have a close friendship.
  • In Black Cat, Saya is Train's Not-Love Interest. Her function in the plot is similar to that of a traditional dead lover / love interest; in fact, Train's affection for her is enough to cause Creed to "take drastic measures". But it's later revealed, perfectly and seriously, that Train never contemplated any romantic involvement with her.
  • Bleach:
    • Ichigo rushes to Soul Society to save Rukia. Regardless, they're not each other's Love Interests, but are instead True Companions.
    • Momo Hinamori is this for Toushiro Hitsugaya. Side materials imply that they're Like Brother and Sister since they were raised together, but since Momo was the first person aside of their caretaker to not fear Hitsugaya for his powers, Hitsugaya has sworn to protect her at any costs ever since they were children, and this Declaration of Protection is one of the strongest drives for their relationship.
  • Count Cain:
    • This is Riff and Cain's relationship. Cain has a number of Love Interests over the course of the series — and they all have a noticeable impact on him — but Riff is the person with whom all his trust and strongest feelings lie. And Cain is the only significant person in Riff's entire life. It's played around with quite a bit towards series end, though arguably The Grand Finale managed to play the trope straight once more.
    • Cassian is this to Jezebel, though the latter only acknowledges Cassian as being the "one who saved him'' moments before dying in his arms.
  • In Death Note, L is this for Light. L evokes feelings in Light that he feels for no one else. L is the most important person in Light's life even after he is dead. And in the anime L is the only person on Light's mind when he's dying. Light has two canon love interests Misa and Takada which he cares nothing for, and neither are as important to Light or to the plot as Light's rivalry with L.
  • Sora to Taichi in the Japanese version of Digimon Adventure, much to the ire of shippers worldwide. The English version adjusted things just enough to make Tai her Unlucky Childhood Friend when she pursued a relationship with Matt.
  • Eyeshield 21: At the beginning of the series Anezaki Mamori joined the football club for the sake of Sena, her childhood friend and Not Love Interest. More specifically, she joined to protect him from the bullying of the football club’s captain, Hiruma Yoichi. Initially, Sena is all Mamori cared about, getting worried over his injuries and yelling at Hiruma for picking on him. However, as the series progressed, Mamori started spending more time with and getting closer to...the aforementioned Hiruma Yoichi. It got to such a point that at the end of the manga, although Sena is still a dear friend to her, Mamori completely intends for her and Hiruma to play seriously and defeat him, since he's on a rival team now. So while Sena remains the Not Love Interest and important to Mamori, it's hinted that at the end of the day, sticking by Hiruma is higher on her priority list.
  • Winry to Edward in the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist. They have their early Ship Tease's but for the most part Winry is portrayed as being like a sister to him. This in contrast to the manga and Brotherhood, where they eventually become an Official Couple.
  • Kagerou Project: Shintaro and Ene start with a dynamic that would imply a romantic relationship will develop (she's his sole companion as a Hikikomori, and - Trolling aside - is constantly trying to get him outside and participating in things), but when Ene's backstory as Takane Enomoto is revealed, it turns out that she was in love (and still has feelings for) Haruka Kokonose - a.k.a. Konoha, while Shintaro is revealed to have a mutual She's Not My Girlfriend dynamic with Ayano Tateyama, but no one believes them when they say it.
  • Kill la Kill: Senketsu is this to Ryuko. As her father's last creation, they end up sharing a bond akin to nagging parent and child. Yet Senketsu is always there to reassure and work with Ryuko.
  • Hatori is Ayumu's not love interest in Life. They spend a lot of time together, Hatori is Ayumu's Living Emotional Crutch, Hatori is always there for Ayumu, and they spend a lot of time holding hands.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Asuna is Negi's partner and the girl closest to him out of all the students in his class, and at least half of them are in love with him. Despite getting a lot of Ship Tease, Negi and Asuna never express a real romantic interest in each other. At the end of the manga, Negi tells Asuna who is the girl he likes that way and Asuna's reaction confirms it's not her (not that she cares, she in fact tries to get Negi to confess to the other girl right away). It should be noted that Negi also admits that while he isn't in love with her, Asuna will always be his most important person.
  • Akemi and Yotsuya in Maison Ikkoku. Not only are they partners in crime in tormenting Yusaku, but there is frequent touchy-feeliness between the two during their regular booze parties. Akemi has on one occasion coldly declined to join the other tenants in spying on the mysterious Yotsuya, suggesting that she has feelings towards him, or at least a respect for his privacy, given that her own background contains a few skeletons. A romance between the two was never meant to be, however, since it would undermine the mysterious aspects of Yotsuya's character. And besides, Akemi ended up marrying her boss aka the Master of Cha-Cha Maru.
  • Despite several characters making jokes and comments about it, Setsuna and Marina of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 genuinely seem to not have any romantic interest in each other. Their connection comes more from the fact that they are from neighboring countries and are both searching (in very different ways) for answers to the same questions. When outright asked if they were dating, they both deadpanned "We are not a couple" in unison, without any of the embarrassment or blushing this kind of situation usually entails. If anything, their relationship is more akin to that between a mother and child - and it's not helped by how Marina looks scaringly like a younger version of Setsuna's Missing Mom.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto is somewhat attached to Sasuke, even after he leaves Konoha to join Orochimaru, then goes rogue and basically becomes an international criminal. Before then, the show devotes not insignificant amounts of time to the two rivaling each other at becoming better ninja; both is (partly) the other's inspiration. However, Sasuke is not as much Naruto's friend as Naruto would like him to be.
    • Sakura plays this trope straight (and in romantic sense) for Naruto, to a point where even Naruto replies his father's Mistaken for Romance with "Kinda". Word of God states their relationship was nothing more than a Red Herring for the true Official Couple, Naruto and Hinata.
    • Hinata becomes the most important person for Neji, after his Heel–Face Turn, as one of his most important - if not the most important- priorities is to take care of her and always look after her as a brother figure. They exaggerated this so much in Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth, that Neji practically worships Hinata there. He even spazzes and has fits of despair when he finds out she actually shits like a normal human being.
  • Pandora Hearts:
    • Alice is this to Oz. Oz adores her to no end, calling her "his sun" and taking his devotion to Yandere levels early on. In fact, it was Alice who gave Oz life and a conscience of his own through love and care back when he was her stuffed rabbit. Their closeness leads many people to believe they are in love, but eventually Word of God confirms their relationship isn't of romantic nature.
    • Lacie seems like the standard deceased love interest/lover when it comes to her relationship with Jack; he was charmed by her when she met him by chance, he spent 8 entire years looking for her after they were separated and soon after he found her, he lost her again when she was thrown into the Abyss, which is his motivation for wanting to bring the world down into the Abyss. However, it was noted by Lacie herself that what Jack feels for her isn't love; he wanted to always be by her side but never sought to become her lover. It's eventually revealed Jack's feelings for Lacie are far more complex than they seem; Jack was indeed fascinated by Lacie at first, but over the 8 years it took him to find her, Jack grew to hate Lacie for tying him down with the desire to see her again. However, that very hatred makes Jack feel alive and lets him know who he is, which is why he has to be by Lacie's side.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka and Homura. Homura is willing to rewind time again and again all to save Madoka.
  • In the TV series of Record of Lodoss War, Spark becomes highly commited to his mission to save Neese, as he's the leader of the group. It's even made fun of by Leaf and Raina, who put quite an effort into getting them together. In the end it seems he only manages to rescue her with The Power of Love, but once she is freed from the dark magic and awakens in his arms, she just hugs him in thank and there's never any indication that Spark wasn't just trying to protect a good friend.
    • Though they are still the closet thing to love interests in that particular season and some would argue that the indications are definitely there. There just wasn't anything that's explicitly conclusive, which actually not that uncommon even among official love interests.
    • Orson and Shiris are very close, and Orson ultimately goes out like a champ to save her. But their relationship isn't necessarily romantic, just very intimate, in the technical sense.
    • Rune Soldier Louie is set in the same verse as Record of Lodoss War. At first Melissa is dismayed by being ordered by her god, Mylee, to serve Louie as her "valliant champion", as he is the complete opposite of what she always hoped for. Regardless, she gradually helps him to overcome some of his worst traits and comes to appreciate his genuinely good nature and desire to help people in need. She eventually stops being embarrased by having to serve him and even stands up for him, when others call him a useless idiot. Despite all this, they never show any actual romantic interest in each other.
  • Mokuzu to Nagisa from Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai. Mokuzu outright insists she's a mermaid who must befriend someone within a set period or she will turn to sea-foam. The two hold hands in splash pages and Mokuzu only attends a "date" with a boy to spend time with Nagisa.
  • With Snow White and Seven Dwarfs obviously being based off of the fairy tale of the same name and Takeru being something of a Knight in Shining Armor to Shirayuki, the series is occasionally mislabeled under romance—but given that Takeru is a 16-year-old teenage boy and Shirayuki is a little girl, there's zero romantic context between them, needless to say.
  • Maka and Soul from Soul Eater. They're inseparable partners, their connection is really deep, they share a lot of intimate moments and they even live together. Constant Ship Tease aside, their relationship always remains that of very close Vitriolic Best Buds and Word of God states he intents to keep it that way.
  • Reina is this to Kumiko in Sound! Euphonium. Reina is a mysterious, aloof peer from Kumiko's middle school. Over the course of the first several episodes they become close friends with heavy overtones of something romantic. Despite this nothing concrete has been confirmed and if the anime is anything like the novels Kumiko and Shuuichi is the Official Couple.
  • Yui in Strawberry 100%. Though considered one of the four main heroines in the series, Yui is never considered a love interest nor does she ever show Manaka any affection outside of their sibling-type relationship, although she acts at times like an overprotective big sister.
  • Tenchi and Kiyone of Tenchi Muyo! often drift into this kind of relationship, notable because she's one of the few regular female characters not infatuated with him. Kiyone does drop that she might be interested in Tenchi in Tokyo to Ryoko and Mihoshi, saying that Tenchi could use a more serious, down-to-earth girl like Kiyone (and really, it's hard to blame her). Though given the context of the scene, and that Kiyone puts her job with the Space Police above everything else, she could have been saying it just to push Ryoko's buttons.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Barnaby shows up in Kotetsu's life at a critical point in the latter's career and fits into so many "love interest stereotypes" (a Troubled, but Cute/Tsundere/Broken Bird Defrosting Sugar And Ice King who bears some suspicious parallels to the widower hero's late wife and was mentored by the show's Big Bad) that the writer/artist for the manga adaptation has even joked about him being the show's 'heroine'. The creators' fondness for teasing their "wonderful relationship" doesn't help.
  • Elsie from The World God Only Knows is introduced as a typical Magical Girlfriend and soon moves in with Keima under the ruse of being his long lost half-sister. They work together to capture evil spirits that are possessing girls in the real world and Elsie gets to spend more time with Keima than any of his conquest targets and official haremettes. However, their relationship always remains sibling-like and they never show any serious romantic interest in each other. And thanks to a Cosmic Retcon at the end of the manga, they are real blood-related siblings now.
  • Despite Anzu being the closest to an actual Love Interest for Yugi of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi himself also cares a lot about Atem and Jonouchi, and both of them are his heterosexual life partners, if not almost more than her. Jonouchi will love his sister and his best friend more than any girl or guy who enters his life, and Kaiba will never actually like anyone aside from his little brother.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Bolt has Mittens, a stray cat who meets Bolt after he gets separated from his owner Penny. Initially, Bolt takes her prisoner because he is deluded into thinking she is an agent of the fictional villain Dr. Calico. Ultimately, though, this leads to them getting to know each other in what strongly resembles a romantic subplot, culminating in a pseudo-Falling in Love Montage and them ending up as Platonic Life Partners. Despite how close they end up being with each other, however, the possibility of it being anything other than platonic is never even hinted at, presumably because the animals in this setting are just "realistic" enough for an interspecies pairing to be weird.
  • Finding Nemo has Dory, a blue-tang fish with short-term memory loss who befriends Marlin the clownfish on his quest to find his son. Most of the movie consists of their dialogue with each other, they share body contact often, and even though she's not attentive most of the time she truly worries for him. Yet they never hook up, probably because 1.) interspecies dating is really weird, and 2.) Marlin's a widower who lost his clownfish wife to a barracuda, and most likely is in too rough a time of his life to find another wife. Word of God (aka Audio Commentary) states that Dory was introduced to serve as a surrogate child so Marlin could re-adapt his parenting approach.
  • Sisters Anna and Elsa in Frozen are each other's Not-Love Interests. The movie centers around their relationship more than any romance and Anna is Elsa's Living Emotional Crutch. The twist at the climax is based on this trope: Anna is told that her heart can only be unfrozen by an Act of True Love. Right as she's about to freeze to death, her love interest is coming in to save her— but she denies him the chance, catching a sword blade meant to kill Elsa. Thissaving Elsa — ends up being the act of true love that breaks her curse.
  • In Megamind Intrepid Reporter Roxanne Ritchie is always being saved by superhero Metro Man and is quite emotional when he's no longer there to protect the city. However, it turns out they were never actually involved, to the surprise of Megamind (Roxanne's real Love Interest).
  • In The Road to El Dorado, Miguel and Tulio are each other's Not Love Interests—not only do they hide their friendship by fighting, confess how much they mean to one another as they think that they're slowly dying, but they even have a painful break-up! According to some, the original script had them more explicitly be lovers—no wonder their Ho Yay factor is so high.
  • Woody has this dynamic with Jessie in Toy Story 2. The two got very close upon their introduction due to coming from the same line of cowboy toys, and Jessie fulfills the typical role of the female lead in the installment. But Woody already has Bo-Peep, so their relationship with each other is mostly platonic, and Jessie has more of a love-interest in Buzz.
  • Anna and Marnie from When Marnie Was There. Anna is the reserved Ill Girl protagonist who meets a pretty, mysterious girl her age when staying over at relatives. They become quick friends, go row-bowing together, hold hands, and Anna is compared to Marnie's future husband however their friendship is familial. Marnie is Anna's deceased grandmother.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has Vanellope, a little girl Ralph meets when she steals his golden medal. They make a deal so he helps her win a race and he can get his medal back in exchange. They soon bond and become close friends because they're both outcasts in their own games. Ralph's attachment to her is strong enough for him to decide he doesn't need a medal to prove he is a good guy and he even tries to sacrifice himself for her.
  • Zootopia puts a lot of focus on the developing relationship between protagonist Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, the con-man fox that she ropes into her investigation. Of course, as a Buddy Cop Show, this trope is pretty much to be expected. However, one can argue that future romance is possible given they get something of a Maybe Ever After and the creators aren't ruling out the option of them becoming an item.

     Films — Live Action 
  • The most important relationship in Attack the Block is that between Sam the nurse and Moses the teenage delinquent. The film actually begins with Moses mugging Sam just before the alien invasion starts, and the progress of the film is marked out by their silent Held Gazes and growing trust in one another. By the end, Moses gives her back the ring he stole and they work together in order to defeat the aliens.
  • Axel and Jenny never become more than just friends in Beverly Hills Cop, even though Jenny otherwise filled the role of love-interest. Axel even had to storm the villain's castle to rescue her at the end of the movie.
  • Edmund and his sister Lucy, from the film adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia, become this in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, due to the fact that they always look for one another and desperately call each other's name when they are separated.
  • In the film adaptations of both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, the love interest aspect of the female leads Sophie and Vittoria are removed, when they were quite present in the books. In The Da Vinci Code, Robert is kind of an uncle figure/protective older brother to Sophie, and in Angels & Demons he and Vittoria are pretty much strictly business. Tom Hanks explains that the frantic pace of the plot of the latter led the filmmakers to excise the romantic subplot.
  • The previous page picture is from the Doom movie, which took a certain pleasure in subverting the typical hero/heroine love interest angle, as well as other tropes. Samantha and John Grimm are estranged but loving fraternal twins.
  • Barney and Sandra in The Expendables. He ultimately decides to return to Vilena with his crew and rescue her, but it's because he respects her courage in standing up to the Big Bad, not because he's fallen in love with her. The sequels ditch the "love interest" role completely, with the female teammates being there not to give the heroes someone to rescue in Act III or kiss at the end, but rather to kick ass and make quips, just like the guys do.
  • Danny is this to Nicholas in Hot Fuzz. Word of God says that in the original script Nicholas had an actual love interest, but she was cut and some of her storyline and actual lines were given to Danny.
  • In the remake House of Wax (2005), the characters played by Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray seem very much like ex-lovers who will reconcile at the end, since everyone else is dead. But they're brother and sister, so no.
  • Ariadne and Dom in Inception. The latter is still a little hung up on his deceased wife and the former gets some Ship Tease with Arthur, and there's a tiny bit of an age gap too.
  • Calvin and Spooner's relationship in I, Robot shows all the classic signs of them becoming love interests — even a Scar Survey — but by the end, there's nothing to suggest they're going to be more than friends.
  • Snow and Emilie in Lockout. The former is sent on a mission to save the latter when she is held hostage onboard a giant orbital space prison. The two bicker and banter and Snow basically acts like a jerk towards her the whole time, but they grow to genuinely care for each other. The epilogue when they arrive back on earth teases a romance and includes an almost-Almost Kiss, but the movie ends with them still just friends.
  • The relationship between Max and Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road never gets an upgrade. Probably in foresight of a Furiosa-less sequel.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In general, Black Widow is a Not-Love Interest to most of the boys:
      • Her closest bond is with Hawkeye. He's the main reason she joins the team, and they have by far the closest relationship of the group, but they're never shown to be anything beyond extremely close friends. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we find that Clint Barton is married and with a family, sinking the Clintasha ship, though Natasha was the only member outside of Fury to know and is even viewed as an aunt by Clint's kids.
      • In addition to Hawkeye and Captain America (explained below), she was the one who recruited Banner to the team, is the only one Tony had a past connection with, she's shown to be close with Coulson and Fury, but so far every relationship is completely platonic. It makes her something of One of the Boys. Though Age of Ultron tweaks things thanks to Ship Teasing between Natasha and Bruce Banner. She loves him because "he is the only man who will run from a fight he knows he can win." Both bonding over their sense of isolation (as well as being robbed the opportunity to have a family) is something that fans have mixed feelings regard to this.
    • The Captain America movies in particular indulge in this:
      • In The First Avenger, Cap does have a Love Interest, British Agent Peggy Carter, but the actual catalyst for his heroics comes from Bucky Barnes. It's for his sake that Cap raids the Red Skull's base, and that leads to him forming the Howling Commandos to finish destroying HYDRA, and it's to avenge him that Cap takes the mission that ends with him freezing to not-death in the Arctic. Peggy serves as a supportive, encouraging mentor — her affirmation steels his resolve both times he goes to bat for Bucky — but Bucky is his motivation.
      • In The Winter Soldier, the lack of a Love Interest is almost a running gag. Steve still loves Peggy, but she's well into her 90s and suffering from dementia. His post-war comics Love Interest, Sharon Carter/Agent 13 is introduced in this movie, but they speak to each other exactly twice. Instead, the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson, and Natasha Romanoff all take different aspects of The Not-Love Interest: the Winter Soldier serves as Steve's primary motivation, because he's actually a brainwashed Bucky Barnes; Sam Wilson is his emotional support, who tries to get him to talk about his feelings; and Natasha gives the movie its flirty banter, though it's made subtly clear that the two of them have a platonic "work wife/husband" type of relationship, and most of that banter revolves around her trying to set him up with other women.
      • In Captain America: Civil War, while Steve has more interactions with Sharon Carter, including some clear sexual tension between them which was somewhat resolved with a Big Damn Kiss early on, his primary motivation and catalyst for his actions is again, Bucky Barnes, who, by this point, is cemented as the second most important character in the Captain America films, after Cap himself. Steve is so loyal and devoted to Bucky that he's willing to split up the Avengers, become a fugitive, desecrate his name and legacy, and more-or-less take on the entire world for him. Bucky, on his end, seemed to stay away from Steve for so long because he didn't want to cause his best friend anymore pain.
  • The plot of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Greg even notes the fact that if it were a different kind of story, there would've been more romantic tropes instead of a strong friendship. Nevertheless, Greg's growing friendship with Rachel is the main focus of the film.
  • In Scanners, there's never a hint of romance between hero Cameron Vale and his ally Kim Obrist, because they're too busy fighting for their lives to fall in love. Also, Cameron is terrifying.
  • Holmes and Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
  • Star Wars: Leia is this to Luke Skywalker. He's fixated with rescuing her from the moment he sees her, she's the one whose name he screams when he is dangling off a Bespin tower, she's his main confidant and comforter, and threatening to turn her to the Dark Side is his Berserk Button. She's his sister, natch. Of course...other people have interpreted their relationship in other ways. Of course, in this case it's because she was set up as his Love Interest early on, with the siblings angle being a Retcon (whether or not George Lucas will admit it).
  • Quorra to Sam in TRON Legacy. She rescues him, they battle together and defend each, she confides to him her desire to see a real sunrise, and the two sometimes have awkwardly cute moments with each other. At the end of the film, though, Quorra and Sam are not dating: a deliberate choice by her actress Olivia Wilde, who knew such a romance would feel unbelievable.

     Literature  
  • Jason and Rachel in The Beyonders. They're the only two people in Lyrian from our world, they develop a deep bond over the trials they face in that world, and Rachel eventually comes to harbor a bit of a crush on Jason. However, for the most part, their relationship is entirely platonic—Jason even has a separate love interest, and Rachel's crush never comes up during the story.
  • The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Henry and Vlad. The two are extremely close and often act more like love interests than any of the girls (many girls, in Henry's case) that they are interested in. Vlad seems to be Henry's only serious relationship.
  • In Dragon Bones, the hero, Ward, takes the escaped Beautiful Slave Girl Bastilla with him on his own escape (which was only necessary because he refused to deliver her to those wanting to re-enslave her), after having tended to her wounded feet beforehand. No Rescue Romance ensues, even though the woman tries to invoke it; Ward says he just isn't interested in casual sex, and has no deeper feelings for her. There is also Oreg, who due to some ancient evil magic is Ward's slave (Ward inherited him), and Ward's foremost priority when some of the group (which also includes Ward's sister Ciarra and his brother Tosten) are in need of help. Ward says it's due to the fact that everyone will readily help Ciarra, but Oreg has no one but him. There is some, possibly unintended Ho Yay, but Oreg never becomes a love interest.
  • In The Dresden Files, Harry's relationship like Thomas is like this sometimes. Thomas Raith the incubus is Harry's friend and half-brother and they never have any doubts about the relationship, but when Harry is between girlfriends, Thomas takes on that role in the story a little bit: He's closer to earth in some ways and has needed to be rescued more than once. Although Harry does pretend to be "Toe-moss"'s gay lover once, to keep someone from questioning why he was searching Thomas's apartment ( since nobody else knows that they're half-brothers)
    • Molly Carpenter has this duty when the narrative isn't focused on Thomas. As the daughter of his closest friend and later his apprentice, Harry feels personally responsible for her safety and well-being and blames himself when he fails her. She is in many ways his Distaff Counterpart and Foil and their interactions emphasize how they bounce off of and affect each other. Despite Molly's crush on him, Harry refuses to consider a romantic relationship partly because he doesn't feel that way, party because of the Squick (he knew her when she was a kid and there's the power imbalance of a student-teacher relationship)
  • Harry Potter:
    • Even after Harry fell in love with Ginny Weasley, her brother Ron was the first Weasley he met and the one we see more; indeed, Harry almost never began dating Ginny in out of fear that it would tick Ron off. Hermione also takes this role sometimes — notably when the trio were separated in The Deathly Hallows.
    • Perhaps the clearest example of this for Ron is in Goblet of Fire, when the Second Task consists of each Champion rescuing one of their closest loved ones from the merpeople's village. Two of the Champions had to rescue a Love Interest, one a sibling, and Harry had to get Ron.
    • Luna. She was the only one who could successfully comfort Harry after the death of Sirius, and the two later went to a dance together in what was legitimately Not a Date. Word of God even notes that Harry's friendship with her (as well as Neville) is meant to mark his Character Development between books five and six.
    • We must not forget Hermione, who hits all sorts of notes. Many fans were baffled and angry when these turned out to be false leads.
  • As usual, the Honorverse has an example. In the wake of the battle of Lovat, Thomas Theisman and Eloise Pritchart become this to each other, as the man Eloise loved, her de facto husband Javier Giscard, was killed there. With her lover gone, Eloise drew ever closer to Theisman, who quite literally held her hand as she agonised over the decision to authorise the operation that would result in the First Battle of Manticore and became her closest confidant, friend, and supporter. If they were romantically involved, they would fulfill the Ruling Couple trope to a tee.
  • Gale Hawthorne fills this role to Katniss in the first two books of the Hunger Games series, being her best friend, her hunting partner and quite handsome. The Capitol realizes this is a possible problem in selling Katniss' sort-of fake relationship with Peeta and try to pass Gale off as her cousin. It gets more complicated when Gale turns out to have romantic feelings for Katniss, and while she doesn't reciprocate those feelings the situation does confuse her and she wonders if she would have ended up dating him by default if she hadn't gotten to know Peeta.
  • In Looking for Alaska, Miles Halter has Alaska Young, who quickly becomes his closest friend, confidant, and the engine driving his Character Development. There are obvious signs of attraction on both ends, but they never formally hook up, primarily because neither one can think of a way to remove Alaska's out-of-state boyfriend from the board.
  • The Lord of the Rings.
    • Frodo and Sam. There's obviously strong affection and emotion between the two, and incredible devotion, especially on Sam's side. Sam winds up marrying Rosie Cotton (who seems to have no problem with their bond and even tells Sam to take care of Frodo in the books) and becoming mayor of the Shire, and he and his wife take care of Frodo until he leaves the Shire itself. Sam ultimately ends up taking a ship to the West, where Frodo is presumably waiting.
    • Merry and Éowyn. He's devoted to her, treats respectfully and commends her courage when everyone else puts down her desire to fight in battle, and the two even kill the Witch-King together. However, Éowyn falls in love with Faramir over their similarities and Merry returns to the Shire with Frodo, Sam and Pippin.
  • Conn and Rowan in The Magic Thief. They form an incredibly close friendship, to the point where the people around them are even jealous of how close to Rowan Conn is. Conn confides in her, comforts her in times of stress, and she likewise helps him get out of scrapes. But they're Platonic Life Partners through and through, with nary a hint of romance between them.
  • This practically defines the relationship between Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. They understand each other without words, and completely trust each other - but both feel that having sex would somehow undermine their relationship. Stressed in the novel where the Big Bad brainwashes Willie, making him believe his lover to be Modesty and the real Modesty to be an evil enemy bent on getting the couple apart. Not knowing about their special relationship, the Big Bad doesn't realize that 'this person had sex with you' and 'this person is Modesty Blaise' is so contradictory it makes Willie doubt his preconceptions and it ultimately helps him fight off the brainwashing.
  • Tal and Milla, the two leads of The Seventh Tower, are this to each other. A boy and a girl, both decently good looking and about the same age (teenagers at that!), whose relationship forms the emotional backbone of the series and who start out hating each other but gradually develop an incredibly strong rapport- and they never make the slightest move towards getting together romantically. Tal at one point admits that Milla is pretty (albeit after another character brings the subject up, and he admits to have not really given it much thought before that) but that's as far as he takes it; Milla never even goes that far. The (admittedly small) fandom still ships them sometimes, though, and neither has an actual Love Interest.
  • Because Sherlock Holmes isn't that close to his brother Mycroft and eschews the possibility of friendships and romantic interests as things that might get in his way, Dr. Watson is literally the only important person in his life. It's shown most clearly in ''The Three Garridebs'' when Watson is wounded, since he begs him not to be hurt and calmly tells the idiot that if his friend had died on him, he wouldn't have left the room alive, but it's apparent in subtler ways throughout the series. For his part, Watson, despite being a more emotional and social person than Holmes, has few friends, no surviving family, and is unmarried or a widower for most of the series, so that Holmes is the most important person to him.
  • The Meg Cabot novel Teen Idol is all about a small town girl who has to show a glamorous movie star around her high school while he's preparing for a role. The movie star kick starts the plot, helps her start to come out of her shell and gain some confidence, the two develop a close relationship, he takes her to prom, and then...they both hook up with other people. The Just Friends excuse they were using throughout the book was genuine.
  • In Uprooted, Kasia fills this role for Agnieska — they're childhood friends, and a large fraction of the book's plot is about Agnieska trying to rescue her, first from the Wood, and then from the laws which say that her life is forfeit because she was taken by the Wood.

     Live Action TV  
  • Jack and Liz Lemon are this on 30 Rock. They even get married, accidentally for one episode and still don't see each other as anything but best friends.
  • Another MCU example: Agent Carter gives Peggy Carter a Not-Love Interest of the same sex, Angie Martinelli. She provides Peggy with emotional support after a fellow agent's death, gets upset when Peggy's double life keeps them from spending time together, and helps her escape the SSR agents hunting her without questioning her innocence.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be making a point of having Coulson be the only lead character with no potential love interests among the main cast. In relation to the two women on his team who potentially fill the typical role of the hero's love interest, he's more of a Parental Substitute to Skye, and while there are hints of a long-ago history between him and May, they seem to be Just Friends these days. Of course, The Avengers established that he did have a love interest before the show started, but there's a good reason why he and Audrey can't be together just now and an episode was devoted to Ship Sinking them, with Coulson declining to reunite with her so she can get on with her life. He finally gets an actual love interest in the third season, but she gets gunned down midway through.
    • Another example is Mack for Fitz: As Fitz and Simmons go through their Romance Arc, Mack fulfills the role of the Romantic False Lead for Fitz. He and Fitz bond while Simmons is undercover in Hydra and the drama that plays out between the three seems very much like a Love Triangle with Simmons acting very jealous and Mack appearing as a tempting potential partner.
  • When Spike appears in Angel season 5, he quickly takes on a role like this, as their complicated history and relationship drives a lot of drama, far more than anything to do with Angel's actual love interest for the season. Again it's noted by Joss on the DVDs. "We finally found the right girl for Angel - Spike." Hilariously, the in-universe movie adaptation of After the Fall, called "Last Angel in Hell", gender-flips Spike into Angel's love interest.
  • Babylon 5: Susan Ivanova's relationship with most of the male leadership of the station can be described as a form of very affectionate professionalism. Her relationship with Sheridan, in particular, is one of the most important relationships in the show, and despite the complete lack of sexual tension — and it is a complete lack — the storyline makes it painfully clear that they do love each other deeply. Interestingly, in Sheridan's case, this trope is in play despite the fact that he does have a love interest — Ambassador Delenn — with whom he has an equally important and believable relationship. He truly does care equally for both women, simply in completely different ways.
  • Apollo and Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica, to the point that Starbuck is dismayed upon learning that Apollo and Serina are getting married. The relationship is especially obvious in "War of the Gods".
    Apollo: It's me, Apollo. Remember? We talk about things.
  • In Body of Proof, Peter is this for the lead character of Megan Hunt. Despite them both being straight, single, and non-family type of partners in a crime-solving drama, there is no hint of them being anything more than friends and co-workers. The writers pull it off quite successfully with very few people passionately shipping them.
  • In Boston Legal, while midgets, their mothers, foxy judges and prostitutes aplenty will come and go, Denny Crane and Alan Shore will always find themselves back on the balcony sipping Scotch and smoking a cigar at the end of every day. And then they got married. Denny and Alan... well, they are to The Not-Love Interest what The Not-Love Interest is to UST.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In season 5, Buffy's newly-created little sister Dawn fulfills this role, to the point where Buffy says, given a choice between killing Dawn, and letting the apocalypse happen - well, goodbye world, it's been fun. Joss Whedon said on the season 5 DVD "[Buffy's] love interest for the season was her sister."
    • It sometimes seems like any woman Xander dates is doomed to play second fiddle to the two very important women in his life, Buffy and Willow. Cordelia senses it ("When you're not babbling about poor, defenseless Willow, you are raving about the all-powerful Buffy"), and Anya seems to as well ("When things get tough, he/ Just hides behind his Buffy"), hence her fight with Willow in "Triangle" (An imperfect example because both women were in fact love interests for him, but in Willow's case it was only briefly.)
    • For that matter Buffy serves as Willow's not-love interest. After Tara's death, before she embarks on her quest for vengeance, Willow visits Buffy, who was shot, and saves her life.
  • Chuck and Ellie (his sister) seem to do a lot more hugging than Chuck and Sarah in Chuck.
    • A good example of that was shown at the end of the season 5 episode the Santa Suit. Sarah had been captured and kept hostage by Shaw - a man that had vowed to kill her in the past to avenge the death of his wife - for the entirety of the episode. Once Chuck beats Shaw though, he runs over to give Ellie a hug rather than checking to make sure that Sarah, his wife, is alive and unharmed.
  • Criminal Minds: Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia. This conversation from the season three episode "Penelope" (that takes place after Garcia got shot) says it all:
    Morgan: I'm not going anywhere.
    Garcia: I'm fine, I've got my goon squad parked out front.
    Morgan: Goon squad or no goon squad, until we catch this guy, that couch is gonna be my new best friend. Now leave it alone.
    Garcia: Okay, but if you plan on using this to take advantage of me, let me call my doctor so he can come and revive me.
    Morgan: Hey, silly girl - I love you. You know that, right?
    Garcia: I love you too.
  • On Dexter the titular vigilante has his sister Debra. He even notes in one episode that if he could have feelings for anyone, they would be for her. However it's revealed that Debra has supressed feelings of the non-platonic kind in season 6 and later she admits it when Dexter gets a new love interest in season 7.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor has this kind of dynamic with the majority of his companions. Especially notable are Sarah Jane Smith from the classic show, Donna Noble and the Tenth Doctor in New Series 4, and (once the ship was sunk) the Eleventh Doctor with Amy Pond & Rory Williams. He even went so far as to call them "the people I LOVE!!!" in one episode (to date the only time he has ever invoked the L-word with his companions as usually The "I Love You" Stigma is in place, even with regards to the handful of companions he unambiguously falls in love with - including one he marries). Ian and Barbara also warrant a mention, as they are the companions who teach the Doctor to be less of a Jerkass and he becomes far closer to them than most others - being forever damaged by their departure much like the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are by losing their companions.
  • In the sixth and final season of Downton Abbey, Mary Crawley and Tom Branson became this to each other. They're technically brother/sister-in-law, and after the deaths of their respective spouses they became inseparable (not counting Tom's brief sojourn in America). Together they manage the estate of Downton Abbey, and became a surprise Fan-Preferred Couple within the fandom thanks to the warmth and solidarity of their scenes together.
  • Joan Watson in Elementary. Now portrayed as a woman, many viewers expected Joan to be paired together with Sherlock. They share a very close bond, are near inseparable, and live in the same apartment... But Word of God is they will not fall for each other, and shippers aside they do not seem attracted to each other outside the norm for Sherlock and Watson. Joan is Sherlock's Living Emotional Crutch and he cares for her, but not in a romantic way.
  • Eureka has Sheriff Carter and his Deputy Jo Lupo, but instead of a romance developing with those two, Carter ends up being involved with Doctor Blake.
  • Firefly:
    • Kaylee seems to play this role for most of the crew (with the writers even admitting that the easiest way to create drama for everyone was to threaten her), with the exception of her actual Love Interest Simon.
    • While Simon and Kaylee are an Official Couple, he has his own not-love interest in the form of his sister River. Part of the reason Simon and Kaylee took a long time to get together was because Simon was busy taking care of River.
    • Mal and Zoe. One episode centers around Wash's complaints that there's UST between them. However, at the end of the episode Mal and Zoe's attempted kiss (to "defuse" this so-called tension) is painfully awkward. Even the resident Badass Jayne, normally the most lecherous member of the crew, is unnerved.
      Zoe: (dead monotone) Take me, sir. Take me hard.
      Jayne: Now somethin' about that is just downright unsettlin'.
  • Kirk and Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series are each other's Not Love Interests.
    • So much so that they inspired the first Slash Fic.
    • Roddenberry himself declared about a romantic relationship: "...we certainly believe that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." Draw your own conclusions.
      • Played more straight in the new movie, with Kirk and Spock re-enacting the basic pride and prejudice hate-turns-into-love story...only platonically. Damion Lindelof (producer) even commented on the DVD that the heart of the story was Kirk and Spock "falling in love with each other, in a way, but not in a romantic way, in a Butch and Sundance way."
  • Frasier has the titular character and Roz, his producer and eventual best friend. Despite being the likelier candidate of the two female leads to become Frasier's partner in a game of Will They or Won't They? (the other female lead, Daphne, is quickly established as the Love Interest for Frasier's brother Niles), nothing ever really happens. Their commitment to being Just Friends even survives them actually sleeping together towards the end of the show's run. There's no Last Minute Hook Up, either: in the end they remain best friends, with Roz focusing on her daughter and her career, while Frasier gets with the final Girl of the Week.
  • Joey and Phoebe in Friends. Also a Fan-Preferred Couple and often hinting about potentially being together in a future. Besides some isolated kisses, they never actually dated or had sex. Lisa Kudrow and Matt Le Blanc even wanted to throw in a line during Phoebe's wedding episode that implied the two had been having casual sex throughout the show's run but the producers denied them.
  • Glee:
    • Kurt Hummel has a perfectly good boyfriend to whom he is devoted, in the form of Blaine, but his father Burt will always, always be more important than anybody else in his life, especially after Burt's heart attack.
    • Kurt also has another one in his "Brassy Hag" Mercedes. They're always there for each other, they do basically everything together, they're incredibly close...but Kurt just happens to be gay and not interested. Early in the first season, though, Mercedes was none the wiser and actually thought they were going out, until Kurt turned her down and later came out to her.
  • Meredith and Cristina Grey's Anatomy. Despite having having romantic relationships with men, they are the most important people in each others' lives. Meredith calls Cristina "her person" and, occasionally, her soul-mate. They always go to each other first for help/advice, don't keep secrets from each other, and sometimes sleep in the same bed. Their romantic interests know that they can never get between them and they would always choose each other over them.
  • House and Wilson in House, given that they're based on Holmes and Watson. Wilson is, if not the most important person in House's life, damn close. He's also the only person House seems to genuinely care about.
  • The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: No one will ever be as important to Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers as they are to each other, to the point where they have explicitly called each other their reason to get up in the morning. Lynley's relationship with Helen consistently takes a backseat to his relationship with Barbara. If they're not in love with each other, they're this trope.
  • Dr. Cal Lightman and Dr. Gillian Foster on Lie to Me, partners who own the Lightman Group and have serious Will They or Won't They? going on. Made explicit in "The Whole Truth", when Cal talks to the fiance of a man who engineered his own assisted suicide with the help of his best friend (named Leo):
    Clara: What about Dr. Foster? What is she to you?
    Cal: She's my Leo.
  • Mash: Hawkeye Pierce was a notorious casanova, but in the later seasons his relationship with BJ was his closest, to the point where their goodbye became the final scene and emotional climax of the entire series. Hawkeye flat out tells him he's the best friend he's ever had. They have also gotten (platonically) jealous of each other's friendships with other men, from Hawkeye subtly distrusting Leo Bardanero in "Last Laugh" to BJ's ongoing jealousy of Trapper. They bicker like an old married couple and their REALLY intense fights ("Period of Adjustment," "Preventive Medicine") are WHAM episodes. They "get back together" before the rolling credits both times.
  • Merlin: No matter their differences, the insults flung between them, or the abuse heaped upon one another, Merlin and Arthur are destined to be together. Just not together together.
  • Monk's closest relationship is with his nurse Sharona and later on her replacement Natalie. They are not romantically involved. Given that they were inspired by Holmes and Watson, it's a given.
  • Nikita and Alex share this role on the titular show in that much of the main emotional arc involves the two of them despite their independent romantic entanglements.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Alice is on a quest to rescue her Love Interest from the villains, but she's joined by her old friend Will, the Knave of Hearts. It's clear that the two of them have a (platonic) history together, and they have the central relationship of the show.
  • Proof has Cat Tyler and Ivan Turing. Turing has recruited Cat to help him find hard evidence of the existence of an afterlife, but since he has cancer, it's already likely that he has no romantic feelings for her. Her husband, Leonard Barliss, has to be convinced, so Turing tells him that he's dying, though he wanted it kept secret, so that he wouldn't get the wrong idea about his wife.
    Turing: If things were different... you'd have a fight on your hands.
  • Psych: Girlfriends may come and go, but Shawn and Gus will always be the most important people in each others lives. Though the hit slash pairing is Lassiter and Shawn.
  • The US version of Queer as Folk has Michael Novotny and Brian Kinney. While they don't get the explicit romantic pairing of their British counterparts, it's clear that they're it for each other. Twinks come and go, husbands and children and family are important, but when it comes down to it, the comic-book addicted geek and the slutboi-with-issues are the love story of the show.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, the above-mentioned Sarah Jane Smith finds her Not Love Interest: her adopted son, Luke. Their relationship is the heart and foundation of the show.
  • Scrubs has Heterosexual Life-Partners JD and Turk, who lived together for over ten years since meeting in college. They've acknowledged the fact that they're practically married, even after Turk is actually married to Carla. When Turk went on his honeymoon, JD secretly went to visit him there since they couldn't stand to be away from each other, and he couldn't wait to come back home to see JD. Carla has accepted the fact that Turk will apparently never love her as much as he loves JD, and JD told Carla (while drunk) that she can never love Turk like he does. This is why it was such a big deal when JD told Elliot he loved her more than Turk after they finally became an Official Couple.
  • In The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg serves as this for Jim Ellison, serving as a support to deal with Jim's physical and emotional problems as a Sentinel and also needing Jim to rescue him every other episode.
  • Sherlock:
  • Skins had this with Emily and JJ in the latter's S3 episode. They helped each other overcome their problems and became close friends and, at the end of the episode, they even slept together. However, Emily made it clear from the beginning that it was a pity screw, simply a response to JJ's earlier statement that if he got to be normal for a day, the first thing he'd do was lose his virginity. The viewers know it's not going anywhere since, like the Kurt/Mercedes example above, Emily just isn't into boys that way.
  • Sleepy Hollow has Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills. The former is married and the latter has a quasi-love interest of her own, but the two of them are the Witnesses mentioned in the Bible's Revelation and their relationship is the centerpiece of the show. That said, neither the actors or the writers have discounted the possibility of a hook-up later down the track. However, her death at the end of season 6 puts a crimp in the prospect.
  • Smallville: Up until around early season 8, Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan, to the point where real-world journalists who hadn't kept up with the series assumed they were a couple in Season 6.
  • Tim and Daisy in Spaced. One of the series's main subplots is the slow-but-steady erosion of the "not" from the phrase. The last scene in the "Skip to the End" documentary demonstrates this, showing them as a couple with a child.
  • Starsky & Hutch are often this towards each other, especially when in danger.
  • Strong Medicine:
    • Lu's friend Peter. Never an ounce of Will They or Won't They? tension, just good friendship. With Dana also. Even though he insists on sleeping with her when she asks him to be her sperm donor, it's not the consummation of Unresolved Sexual Tension, just his belief that the natural way to conceive a child is best.
    • Also, Dr. Dylan West. He and Lu can't stand each other, which usually means Belligerent Sexual Tension. Actually, it just means that. . . they can't stand each other. When they finally do start to get along, it's not because they're developing feelings for each other, just that they're learning to work together.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam and Dean make it clear that, no matter what, they are each other's #1 priority. In the Season 8 finale, Dean flat-out tells Sam "Don't ever think that there is anything I would put before you, ever!" while trying to stop Sam from sacrificing himself to trap all demons in Hell permanently, and Sam tells Dean that his biggest regret in life is all the times he's let Dean down. Sam initially gets pissed at Dean for stopping him from shutting the Gates of Hell (never mind that he stopped of his own volition) but eventually admits that he would have done the same thing. They've also been Mistaken for Gay many times in-universe. Dean notes in "The Chitters" that the old married couple bicker in much the same way Sam and Dean do (though he doesn't know the former are a couple yet).
    • Castiel towards Dean could also count. Balthazar even calls Castiel "the one in the trench coat who's in love with [Dean]."
  • Teen Wolf: Life-long best friend Stiles is this to Scott. While Scott does have a Love Interest Allison, their relationship is pretty intermittent and she's often off dealing with other issues or even on opposite sides of the conflict. Meanwhile Stiles is almost constantly by Scott's side, makes it his personal responsibility to hold him together, is Scott's confidant for his secrets and worries and they both use The Power of Love to save each other. Stiles is also the only member of the pack without training or supernatural powers so often needs Scott's physical protection. At one point the season villain pulls the classic I Have Your Wife move and has Stiles kidnapped and beaten because he knows that's the best way to scare Scott.
    Gerard: You have a knack for creating a vivid picture, Mr. Stilinski. Let me paint one of my own. Scott Mc Call finds his best friend bloodied and beaten to a pulp. How does that sound now?
  • In The Tunnel, Karl Roebuck and Elise Wasserman team up in order to hunt down the Truth Terrorist, but never become an item. Ironically, Elise is perhaps the only woman that Karl (currently on his third marriage) doesn't flirt with, cheat with, or show romantic interest in over the course of the show.
  • Wallace to Veronica Mars. Of course, Executive Meddling said it would never happen.
  • Tori and Andre from Victorious. Made more interesting that they've done two love duets, but they're best friends and don't see each other as anything more. The only real moment of Ship Tease between the two resulted from Andre's crush on another character, which had Tori dress up and pretend to be the other character and that only results in an Almost Kiss.
  • In Warehouse 13 You have Pete and Myka, in a show like this normally the two main characters have UST, but Pete and Myka have purely platonic feelings for each other and don't think of each other in a sexual way, which Myka states in one episode after they think they had sex.
  • President Jed Bartlet and Leo McGarry on The West Wing. They act and bicker exactly like an old married couple, spend all the time possible together, tease and flirt (in a joking way), and play a blatantly spousal/parental role in the staff's nuclear family-modeled True Companions. While Jed may have an excellent wife and family outside of the west wing of the White House, Leo is for all purposes the love interest in Jed's "other" family inside the west wing, with the thrill of politics in place of sex and romance.
    • For the vast majority of the series this seemed to be the case with Josh and Donna. They have an extremely close bond and often act like an old married couple; even the press core knows how much they mean to each other (when Donna and Toby's ex wife/baby mama are involved in a terrorist bombing the reporters call Toby for information out of respect for how upset Josh must be). Yet it's not until midway through the last season that they show any actual romantic interest in one another.
  • Wire in the Blood had Dr. Tony Hill and his Most Important Person DCI Carol Jordan. Seeing as Tony has difficulty being a real boy on the best of days, Carol kept him grounded and reminded him there was life outside work and serial killers.
  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files were this for each other from the get-go, and they were supposed to stay that way; the original idea was that they would never be more than platonic work partners. However, the chemistry between the actors caused their platonic relationship to look pretty non-platonic in the eyes of the fans, and by season five, the writers started playing with the idea that they could be more than friends. By season seven, they were.

     Role-Playing Games 

     Theatre  
  • Annie and Daddy Warbucks from Annie. Daddy Warbucks even has a Heartfelt Declaration of Love song, complete with waltz and their final duet is entitled "I Don't Need Anything but You."
  • The musical Baker Street has Irene Adler as Sherlock Holmes's Not-Love Interest. Though a few of Irene's numbers could be called love songs, and Holmes does go Undercover as Lovers with her, he remains a decidedly Celibate Hero.
  • Mark and Roger from RENT. Exemplified by the fact that the big reconciliation after Roger leaves New York for Santa Fe, and then comes back is not between Roger and his girlfriend, Mimi - it's Roger and Mark, who get an entire song ("What You Own") dueting about how similarly-miserable and yet still devoted to each other they are.

    Toys 
  • Several in BIONICLE, in part due to most characters being asexual and aromantic. For example, Gali tends to fill this role for Tahu, as she often argues with him and he is more protective of her than the other Toa. The two address each other as "brother" and "sister", although, this doesn't stop the shippers since they're Not Blood Siblings.

     Video Games 
  • Ao Oni: Mika/Megumi for Hiroshi. Her core motivator in the games (from Version 5.0 onward, anyway) is to find Takuro - or wait for him to find her - so they can leave together.
  • The Aveyond series is fond of this, as the creator, Amanda, deliberately avoids pairing up the "most obvious couples".
    • In Ahriman's Prophecy, The Heroine Talia began her journey accompanied with her Childhood Friend, Devin. The two never separated throughout the entire quest, and they're both the only non-OptionalPartyMembers of the game. Officially, Devin would go on to marry Rebellious Princess Alicia Pendragon, while Talia would marry a Sun Priest.
    • In Aveyond 1, Rhen's first team mate was Lars, with whom she shares a rather complicated history. Although the two hated each other at first, the journey made Lars change for the better, and he and Rhen got along just fine afterwards. However, Rhen's Love Interest is Dameon, and nothing is known of Lars's eventual love life.
    • Aveyond 3 has Mel and Edward. Edward seems quite keen to get to befriend Mel and followed her around during her mission, while Mel in response acts like a Tsundere towards him. Their relationship remains platonic, as Edward would officially wind up with Stella, and Mel would marry a descendant of Lars.
    • Boyle and Myst from Aveyond 4. He's a retired villain who's forced to become a hero for the sake of his dog. She's the Mystical Waif who needs his help to rescue her younger brother and is largely responsible for his eventual change. However, Myst makes it really clear that people like Boyle are not her type, and she shares plenty of Ship Tease with Robin instead, while Boyle's only marriage option is with Ingrid.
  • In the "This is not a Meet Cute" department, there's Double H to Jade in Beyond Good & Evil. After Double H's rescue, he becomes Jade's loyal sidekick, following her everywhere. His single-sided devotion to her slowly deepens to a real friendship between the two of them. However, there's no overt romance between them, though they are frequently shipped.
  • Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite has many cute moments with Booker DeWitt, including one early in the game where she near-coyly asks if he has a "woman in his life". Nothing comes of it, but seeing as he's her father it's probably for the best.
  • In Crisis Core, Zack's main love interest is Aerith - but Cloud is the one who he ends up dying for.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Alistair and Morrigan are the most obvious ones, provided you're outside of their preferred gender, but pretty much anyone in your party can become this.
    • In the City Elf origin, Shianni serves this role for the protagonist. She's given a lot more characterisation that the Player Character's bride/groom and she shares more emotional dialogue with him/her, leading one to infer that the only reason she's not the love interest is because she's supposed to be one of their many cousins.
    • Dragon Age II follows suit with Aveline and Varric, neither of whom can be romanced. However, the game actually does go out of the way to Ship Tease Aveline and Hawke (if the player chooses) before sinking that ship. Word of God has mentioned they originally thought about including a scene where an unromanced Hawke would have met up with Varric at the end, revealing the two were in a secret relationship.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition has Felix for companion Dorian Pavus. He's Dorian's best friend and helps him by infiltrating the Venatori, but Dorian states that there was never anything between them as Dorian would not have betrayed the trust of his then-mentor, Felix's father, by seducing his son.
      • Dorian can also be this for a female Inquisitor, as there are a number of opportunities for the characters to flirt as their friendship grows stronger. Due to Incompatible Orientation, they can never be a ship, but (depending on player choices) this doesn't in the slightest hinder their flirtations.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has this with Noel and Serah. They have basically the same dynamic as any other male and female lead of a JRPG, but Serah is engaged to Snow, and Noel has Ship Tease with Yeul.
  • Fire Emblem Tellius:
    • Princess Elincia is one for Ike. When we first meet Elincia in Path of Radiance, it seems possible, even likely, that she'll end up together with Ike due to Rescue Romance conventions, Ship Tease, and the fact that she's the most important female character in the game. Not helping is how much the English version played up the pre-existing Ship Tease, and the fact that the two practically walk into the sunset holding hands at the end. In Radiant Dawn, not only do the two spend less time around each other, but Ike has paired endings only with Soren and Ranulf, and Elincia only with Geoffrey.
      • Soren and Ranulf themselves may be examples (Soren in particular), as their bond with Ike is shown to be extremely close, yet despite what shippers like to claim their relationship is never stated to be outright romantic.
    • Chrom and The Avatar, AKA Robin of either gender in Fire Emblem Awakening. If you don't choose a Female Avatar as one of Chrom's possible brides, they remain as each other's best friends and "two sides of a coin".
    • A similar case to the above is Azura and The Avatar, AKA Corrin of either gender, in Fire Emblem Fates. While Male Corrin and Azura receive heavy Ship Tease, it is entirely possible for them to end up as Platonic Life Partners instead.
    • This is actually a possibility for any lord character with a teased relationship and many love interest options; e.g. Eliwood and Ninian or Roy and Lilina.
  • Otacon is Solid Snake's Not Love Interest in Metal Gear. In the first MGS, they have what could be described as a Meet Cute in a warped sort of way, exchange some emotionally loaded dialogue, and, if Meryl (the actual love interest) dies, Snake leaves with Otacon instead. And then they wind up raising a kid together in Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • The voice actors have some fun with how "Not" Otacon actually is (see the lengthy MGS entry under Ho Yay). In canon, though, MGS4 tried to sink the Snake/Otacon ship and make it clear he was the Not Love Interest and Snake's Platonic Most Important Person. It didn't work.
    • And Meryl counts, too. Even though she canonically survives, she never does become Snake's love interest. Hell, she actually hooks up with the series' dedicated Butt Monkey!
  • The story of Monster Hunter 4 sets this up between the Player Character (who has a Purely Aesthetic Gender) and the Ace Commander. He has a general Tsundere attitude towards the Player Character, admires their accomplishments over the course of the story and saves them from drowning at sea at some point. There's even a victory cutscene during which a mutual friend pats the Ace Commander and the Player Character on the shoulder at the same time with a big smile on his face while they're shaking hands.
  • Kumatora to Duster (or maybe it's the other way around) in Mother 3. When Duster gets Easy Amnesia for three years), it's Kumatora who stays with him throughout it, even if only on the sidelines. And while she hides herself behind harsh words, she genuinely seems to care for him. But as for love? There's no real evidence of that.
  • Despite Princess Zelda and Link from The Legend of Zelda being the princess and hero of their games respectively, there are some games where any romantic hints aren't there at all, or where it's heavily implied that the two don't end up even if they do know each other. But since almost every single game or two stars a completely different Link and Zelda, this tends to change wildly between games.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Sora's devotion to his friend Riku and determination to find him is one that you would normally expect to see an RPG hero express towards a Damsel in Distress Love Interest.
    Sora: Riku... It's Riku. Riku's here! I looked for you. I looked everywhere for you!!
  • Persona 4:
    • Yosuke is emotionally dependent on the Protagonist, who he idolizes and grows very attached to. This unusual relationship actually came about because Yosuke was originally supposed to be the Gay Option and the essence of that remained even after he was turned into a regular friend.
    • There's also Yukiko and Chie. During the quest to rescue Yukkiko, Shadow Yukiko reveals that she considered Chie a female version of Prince Charming.
  • Rui to Wes in Pokémon Colosseum. Their initial meeting certainly seems like it's working up to a Rescue Romance, as Wes saves Rui from a band of kidnappers. The two team up, and Rui follows Wes everywhere. Without Rui's ability to see Shadow Pokemon, there isn't much Wes can do, so they depend heavily on each other. However, after that, there's not much evidence that their relationship is anything but platonic. Even the end of the game (which the Genre Savvy viewer might expect to hold some kind of Love Confession) has... not much, really. Maybe Rui's just not into bad boys. Though it's hard to establish any kind of a relationship when Wes never says anything.
  • Eruca in Radiant Historia. She and Stocke have a Lady and Knight relationship that's disproportionately close for how long they've known each other, he's constantly going through hell and high water to help and protect her, and they even get mistaken for a couple a few times. He's actually her older brother, so that would be a bit awkward. Hence, not much shipping from this one.
  • Rune Factory 4 has Ventuswill. The first girl that the protagonist meets, the plot is actually centered around her for the first half, the first female Dragon God in the game series and, despite being a dragon, has a human-shape sprite to interact with at times... but is not an actual bachelorette to marry, despite what these signs may indicate, especially the last one.
  • Elisabeth Blanctorche from The King of Fighters is this to Ash Crimson, specially since she's also his Only Friend and the person whom he did... well, everything he did in the Tales of Ash saga for.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour Murphy and Anne. The way she acts antagonistically to him because she mistakenly believes he killed her father can come off almost like she was a furious, hurt ex. In fact, in one Let's Play, the player believed that Anne would be revealed as Murphy's ex-wife who left him when he was sent to prison.
  • Super Mario Bros.: According to Luigi, Princess Peach is Mario's Not Love Interest. However, how true this is tends to change often.
  • Tales Series:
    • Jude and Milla from Tales of Xillia can be said to be this. Even though Jude seems to be very fascinated by her, to be the point of being a stalker, and despite the two being set up as the typical male and female lead roles, there is actually very little development that can be considered romantic. Tales of Xillia 2 gave them a bunch of Ship Tease, but still not nearly as clear as most other Tales lead roles.
    • Yuri and Estelle from Tales of Vesperia. They're the two lead roles and their circumstances and development leading to romance could be considered typical but there are no strong or explicit romantic development between the two. The two still develop a close relationship and one can argue that future romance is possible but the game itself does not delve into it.
  • Sam is this to Lara in the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider. Lara becomes an Action Survivor in order to rescue her, fights her way through an entire island filled with madmen to rescue Sam, and even does a bridal carry at the end of the game. Despite all of that, they are never portrayed as anything but friends.
  • Queen at Arms has Nicholas, the player character's adopted older brother. Though Nick and his "brother" can potentially share a number of emotional scenes, there are no story paths in which they become a pair. The developers acknowledge that they originally intended for Nick to be one of the romance options, but ultimately felt that keeping the sibling relationship intact was more true to the characters.
  • The eponymous Ratchet & Clank are extremely close and would do anything for each other. While Ratchet has a couple Girl of the Week love interests, and Clank is a general Chick Magnet, none of these relationships are as serious and enduring as their friendship (to the point that Qwark once referred to Clank as Ratchet's Only Friend - untrue, of course, but they're definitely each other's best friends). Fans even squeed when they finally got to bro-hug, but if the fanwork is anything to go by, most fans are supportive of them as Heterosexual Life-Partners; slash work exists, of course, but it doesn't predominate.

     Visual Novels  
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Miles Edgeworth to Phoenix Wright. Old childhood friend, troubled past, Edgeworth's frozen prosecutor heart melted by Phoenix's honest passion...it's no surprise they're the most common ship in the fandom.
    • Maya Fey and Phoenix go everywhere together, they clearly care deeply about each other, and they've saved each other's hides on more than one occasion. But when someone suggests they're a couple, they respond with confusion.
    • In Dual Destinies there's Athena Cykes and Simon Blackquill. The last case reveals that they saw each other quite often when she was a child and he studied under her mother, and he ended up Taking the Heat and going to prison for seven years to ensure that she wasn't accused of murder. His incarceration was the main motivation for Athena to become a lawyer, with her striving to prove his innocence.
    • Player character's assistants in general except Diego Armando, who is Mia's boyfriend. Maya, Ema, Trucy, Kay, and Athena all share the same characteristic of being plucky, and ever lasting energetic in their happy days. Given their partners are Dead Pan Snarkers, people tease them for being Odd Couple, even though it's usually comes off as brother/sister-like relationships.
  • Kyousuke for Riki in Little Busters!. It's constantly impressed on the audience how very close they are (often to ambiguously romantic levels), he gets an incredible amount of focus - though he doesn't have his own route, he's absolutely integral to Rin's route and gets even more plot focus in Refrain - and one of the biggest subplots in the game is the way their relationship changes over the events of the game, from friends to fighting to becoming even better friends. It's even more noticeable since this is Bishoujo game, which tend to have only minimal male characters and even more minimal character development for them. He's even alone among male characters in a Key/Visual Arts game in having his own Leitmotif, something usually restricted to only the love interests.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, Phi is the first girl that Sigma meets. They initially have a belligerent relationship, her ending is the True Ending of the game, and she has a lot of plot relevance... but she and Sigma are never even hinted to move in a romantic direction. At best, they go from Teeth-Clenched Teamwork to something resembling friends. Although there are some scenes with them when you fail to defuse the bombs, they're not exceedingly romantic. Word of God has also confirmed that the two will never be a couple at any point.

     Web Comics  
  • In Red String, Ayu has been Makoto's best friend since they were little. She's easily the closest person to him since his beloved grandmother's death. There are absolutely no romantic feelings between them, despite what the fandom who wants him out of the way for Kazuo and Miharu might suggest.
  • Davan and PeeJee of Something*Positive. PeeJee even described herself as his "platonic life-partner". Davan canonically had a crush on her when they first met, and there was lots of Ship Tease when the creator got tired of people asking for them to hook up, but he's since gone on the record as saying they'll only ever be extremely close friends.
    Davan: Am I going to have carve "Davan loves you very much" backwards into your forehead?
    PeeJee: No, I think I got it this time.

     Web Original 
  • Henry of Nan Quest is a dark (and somewhat meta) take on this. He's the first character Nan meets face-to-face, and it's a silly, romcom-like introduction at that. He's also an innocent Pretty Boy who entered the hotel at the same time as Nan, and protects her at numerous points. So obviously they're soulmates, right? Nope! He's a serial killer who was trying to manipulate Nan into lowering her guard.
  • In Noob this is the relationship between Omega Zell and Fantöm. Both are male and more or less confirmed to be straight despite Omega Zell's Ambiguously Gay characterization, but he also shows behaviours virtually identical to Celeb Crush, Cannot Spit It Out and Gibberish of Love in Fantöm's presence. The consequences of the franchise's first Wham Episode eventually makes the in-game social barrier between them start crumbling and they become somewhat friendly. It's little wonder that Gaea is writing fanfiction with the premise of the two are having a secret affair in the comic version of the story.
  • RWBY: Jaune and Ruby quickly form a bond through a shared feeling of social awkwardness when they're both new to Beacon. They then bond as leaders of their respective teams, and the two teams are very good friends. Jaune is also quick to offer back-up to Ruby if he thinks she's in trouble. However, Ruby has shown no romantic interest in anyone and Jaune initially falls for Weiss until he begins to reciprocate Pyrrha's feelings for him.

     Western Animation  
  • Animaniacs has Rita and Runt, a pair of homeless animals who are in seek for a new home together. They are not romantically involved, mainly because a dog-cat romance would be really weird.
  • In The Batman, Batgirl and Robin are tweens/early teens at best and the two display almost zero romantic interest in each other, instead bickering and playing off each other as a brother and sister would, with a healthy dose of competition over who's the better sidekick thrown in. Although in the final season, Batgirl was shown to be in college while Robin was still in middle school.
  • Ben 10:
    • Gwen and Ben are of opposite genders, but they're also cousins. Their relationship hovers somewhere between siblings, best friends, best frenemies, and everything else, all at once. While Gwen does get a love interest in the sequel series, Ben and Gwen are still #1 Best Teammates.
    • Oddly enough, Ben is also this trope for Kevin (whose love interest is actually Gwen) despite how close the two act sometimes.
  • Terry and his Girl Friday Max in Batman Beyond, mostly because she's the only person his age who knows his Secret Identity.
  • Daria:
    • Daria and Jane have this sort of relationship. The final episode (not counting the finale movie) has Daria note this while Jane helps her through an emotional crisis:
      "It would have been good to see Tom, but this way, I got to talk to the person I trust most."
    • Jane is probably this to Trent as well. She's the only member in his Big Dysfunctional Family he seems to really care for.
  • Ingrid and the titular character of Fillmore! are opposite gender best friends and each others partners however there isn't any romance between them.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel Pines. No matter what, their loyalties lie with each other and harming one triggers the other's Berserk Button. Several episodes ("The Time Travelers Pig," "The Deep End" and "Sock Opera") involve one of them having to choose between their sibling's happiness and a Love Interest and they always choose the former.
  • Stormer plays this up to Kimber in the Jem episode, "The Bands Break Up". Stormer is treated similarly to Kimber's rotating roster of male love interests, Kimber's friends fear Stormer is basically a "bad girl" corrupting Kimber, and they develop a bit of Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Despite this nothing happens and they go back to being enemies come next episode. The Jem and the Holograms reboot comic released thirty years later scraps the "implied" part period.
  • Julie to Mike in Motorcity. He affectionately calls her "Jules," and often trusts her with certain information or duties. In the finale they even get kinda close when she's trying to break him out of prison. Not to mention that writers for the show revealed that they were going to be canon in the upcoming seasons.
  • On My Life as a Teenage Robot, Brad. He's protagonist Jenny's best friend and usual foil, but Word of God says that if the show had continued, their relationship would continue to be platonic and Jenny would likely have wound up with her geeky admirer Sheldon. Brad/Jenny is still the Fan-Preferred Couple, however.
  • This is mostly what Ren and Stimpy's relationship in the original series is about. In the adult spinoff called Adult Party Cartoon, however, they are quite explicitly portrayed as a homosexual couple.
  • Teen Titans:
    • While Terra is Beast Boy's official Love Interest in season two, he and his teammate Raven are a Fan-Preferred Couple and became canon in the DCU right around the time the show ended. Beast Boy's and Raven's relationship comes off like a stereotypical goofball guy trying to romance a stoic, reserved girl however Word of God confirms in the cartoon they're meant to be platonic best friends.
    • Some fans see this with Raven and Robin, who also share a few unusually close moments. They know each other well and have an extensive friendship however it's platonic.
    • Cyborg and Bumblebee are both black, both opposite genders, and are both fight a lot with the other. Most cartoons would pair them up but Word of God is that was unintentional.
  • On Total Drama, Max and Scarlett rarely have significant interaction with anyone but each other, and a few characters seem to think that they're dating; Max even suspects that Scarlett may be attracted to him. However, they never wind up more than friends/enemies.
  • Despite having a history together (As well as being the primary Transformers Animated turn-on) Blackarachnia always came second to Optimus in terms of importance when compared to Sentinel. He leaves the fembot behind behind to save Sentinel and himself which results in her transformation to technorganic, gets more episodes devoted to their rivalry, and in BA's last appearance he seemed more concerned about Sentinel than her. The ironic thing about this? The she-spider was the reason for their antagonist rivalry in the first place!
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Harry comes off as this to Peter. Peter's constant ditching of Harry and inabililty to tell the truth puts considerable strain on their friendship. In "Venom" the spat between Peter and Harry comes off as a girlfriend temporarily leaving her boyfriend only to make up with him later and gets back together with him. Complete with a female friend giving the hapless "boyfriend" relationship advice and the "girlfriend" venting about the "boyfriend" to family.
  • Wander and Sylvia from Wander over Yonder, an interspecies nomad team who trot the galaxy in tandem. They share everything (including drinks) and are viewed more or less as a unit by their enemies.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men has a fascinating example of this between Wolverine and Emma Frost. Although the show features an ensemble cast there's always an emphasis on the prickly and distrustful (and completely platonic) relationship between Wolverine and new recruit Emma Frost. By the season's end it becomes clear why: the entire future of the planet hinges on a simple choice Wolverine must make: whether or not he can trust her.
  • This was probably what was intended for teenage runaway Ro and robot assassin with a heart of gold Zeta on The Zeta Project.The fans had a different interpretation.

     Real Life  
  • The other wiki has a page devoted to this phenomenon.
  • There's also the "work spouse."
  • A modern term for a friendship similar to this is "queerplatonic". They're closer than people expect from friends but they're platonic.


Alternative Title(s): Most Important Person, Not Love Interest

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheNotLoveInterest