The Not-Love Interest is the phenomenon in which the character who fulfills a typical "Love Interest
" role doesn't actually have a romantic 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 romantic pair. This is so common that when that is Averted
, viewers are surprised by a non-romanticized relationship.
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
While more archetype-based Books on Trope
like to treat love interests and these characters as completely different things, the screenwriting book Save The Cat!
lumps the role of love interest and Not Love Interest
together in its Ten Movie Plots
under "Buddy Love", pointing out that what we think of as a romance is, in writing terms, "just a very sophisticated Laurel and Hardy
movie where one of the participants is wearing a skirt".
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.
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Anime and Manga
- 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.
- Before the Eclipse, Guts and Griffith of Berserk were very much like this. Griffith in particular took things to rather Yandere levels, particularly as he started falling further and further toward the Despair Event Horizon. Before Guts, Griffith was also the most important man in Casca's life as well. He tends to have that kind of effect on people.
- In 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.
- In 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.
- 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.
- An interesting case in Eyeshield 21: at the beginning of the series Anezaki Mamori initially joined the football club for the sake of Sena, her childhood friend, arguably most important person at the time, and Not Love Interest. More specifically, she joined to protect him from the bullying of the football clubĺs captain, Hiruma Yoichi. Initially, Sena is all Mamori cared about, getting worried over his injuries and yelling at Hiruma for picking on him and etc. 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.
- 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.
- Despite several characters making jokes and comments about it, Setsuna and Marina of 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 younge version of Setsuna's Missing Mom.
- This is Riff and Cain's relationship in Godchild. 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.
- Despite Tea being the closest to an actual Love Interest for Yugi of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi himself also cares a lot about Yami and Joey, and both of them are his heterosexual life partners, if not almost more than her. Joey 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.
- Tiger & Bunny has a Ho Yay example. 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.
- 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. Sayu is also this for Light because she's the only girl Light seems to care for, but she's his little sister.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka and Homura. Homura is willing to rewind time again and again all to save Madoka, but there's no concrete evidence they're anything but friends (subtext aside).
- What Doumeki from xxxHOLiC can potentially be considered 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.
- 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.
- Case Closed provides a rather odd example. Ran and Conan enjoy hanging out together, look out for one another, and generally are very close. The dub even has Sonoko make a joke about Ran being Mrs. Robinson to Conan, bringing him somewhere as a "date". The strange part comes in that Conan is also Shinichi, who is Ran's love interest, but was shrunk thanks to poison and now is stuck in the body of a child. She has no idea of that though, only thinking of Conan as a child, so it's this trope from her perspective.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Funnily enough, fans were unaware about this regarding Nami and Luffy in the early days of One Piece, with one fan now infamously asking if Nami and Luffy had a thing for each other, spurring the now equally infamous answer from Oda that "there will be NO serious romance between the characters in One Piece" and that sort of thing is for a "girl's manga". Nowadays, Hancock actually fits the mold even better than Nami ever did since she actually is in love with Luffy, and her relationship with him would essentially be a dead-ringer as the Action Girlfriend if it weren't for his complete Asexuality.
Film - Animated
- 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).
- 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.
- 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 Jesse in Toy Story 2. The two got very close upon their introduction due to coming from the same line of cowboy toys, and Jesse fulfills the typical role of the female lead in the installment. But Woody already has Bo-Peep, so his relationsip with each other is mostly platonic.
- Sisters Anna and Elsa in Frozen are each other's Not-Love Interests. 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. This — saving Elsa — ends up being the act of true love that breaks her curse.
Film - Live Action
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Holmes and Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
- 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.
- 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 Ś even a Scar Survey Ś but by the end, there's nothing to suggest they're going to be more than friends.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Hawkeye for Black Widow in The Avengers. 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.
- 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 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.
- Essentially, Natasha is this to most of the boys. As well as the above, 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 so far. It makes her something of One of the Boys.
- 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.
- In The Heat Mullins convinces Ashburn that a guy likes her (though the audience can see why one would think that) and Ashburn turns the guy down...only to find out he was asking her not to speak to him in such a clipped tone, not on a date.
- Though at the end there are hints that he is indeed romantically interested in Ashburn after all.
- 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.
- 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.
- Even after Harry Potter 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.
- This is the case between Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. 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 they take care of Frodo until he leaves the Shire itself, but he ultimately takes a ship to the West, where Frodo is presumably waiting.
- Merry and ╔owyn. 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, ╔owyn falls in love with Faramir over their similarities and Merry returns to the Shire with Frodo, Sam and Pippin.
- 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 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- Justin and Alex from Wizards of Waverly Place. The Movie implied that they are meant to be by each other's side forever, when Justin has declared in the end: I'd never leave you, after Alex has confessed her true feelings. (No, no those kind of feelings, but close to it. )
- 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, never had sex and in fact Joey ends up introducing Phoebe to her husband to-be. 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.
- Also Joey and Chandler (referenced in the Joey spin-off).
- And Rachel and Monica, at least early in the show.
- NCIS: Tony and Ziva have drinks, dinner, spend time together... but it's Not a Date. Ditto for McGee and Abby (who are exes), Gibbs and Jenny/Ducky... the show seems to run on this trope. The team's become so co-dependent and attached to one another they seem to function as each other's love interests.
- 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 The Not-Love Interest for Willow. After Tara's death, before she embarks on her quest for vengeance, Willow visits Buffy; who was shot, and saves her life.
- Elsewhere in the Buffyverse, 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.
- In season four Angel's son Connor filled this role.
- The Winchester brothers of Supernatural. Though some fans will always insist differently.
- Castiel towards Dean could also count.
- Kaylee seems to play this role for most of the crew of Firefly (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."
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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):
: What about Dr. Foster? What is she to you?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. If the writers genuinely never intended for there to be any Unresolved Sexual Tension between the two, then it was a bit of a Relationship Writing Fumble for Scully to show up at Mulder's place, still wet from a shower, and strip to her underwear so he could check her lower back for alien marks. This was in the very first episode.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kurt Hummel from Glee 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.
- Sherlock: As based on the original source material, John Watson for Sherlock Holmes. Watson's proved to be willing to kill and risk his life for Sherlock, and then he was the final hostage in Moriarty's game with Sherlock. This actually led to Sherlock losing his cool and getting furious at Moriarty for involving him. The reason why? That's his best friend that he wants to look out for.
- Mary could be seen as this as well, since despite the fact that she is married to John, she does like Sherlock, and, since Sherlock's not interested in getting married, and isn't as close with Lestrade or Mrs. Hudson, or Mycroft, though is pretty close to Mrs. Hudson, but she's more of a mother figure, Mary as a sister, and, like Mrs. Hudson, Mary seems to get Sherlock as well as John does, despite the fact she shot Sherlock.
- Now that Series 3 came, Sherlock could be seen as this for John. Despite the fact he's married, he has no surviving family other than his drunk sis, Harry, and no friends other than Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson, though he's not as close with them, but is closer with Mrs. Hudson than he is with Lestrade and Harry, though Mrs. Hudson is more of a mother figure. Also, he's VERY protective of those he's fond of, Sherlock being one of them.
- The same could be said for the duo in Elementary. Now portrayed as a woman, many viewers expected them to be paired together. 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.
- 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. 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wallace to Veronica Mars. Of course Executive Meddling said it would never happen. Weevil and Dick could also qualify as the same.
- 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.
- Starsky and Hutch are often this towards each other, especially when in danger.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 centrepiece of the show. That said, neither the actors or the writers have discounted the possibility of a hook-up later down the track.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole established his love interest long before the show started, and there's a good reason why he and Audrey can't be together just now.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Holmes's Not-Love Interest. Though a few of Irene's numbers could be called love songs, and Holmes does team up with her, he remains a decidedly Celibate Hero.
- 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.
- 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.
- Miles Edgeworth to Phoenix Wright in Ace Attorney. 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.
- At the same time, Maya Fey, the second most popular shipping option. She and Phoenix go everywhere together, they clearly care deeply about each other, and he often has to rescue her from some danger. 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. Nothing romantic ever comes of it, but it's one of the prominent ships to come out of that game.
- 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.
- RWBY: Jaune Arc and Ruby; they're introduced to one-another really early in the series, and become quick friends thanks to their shared Adorkable tendencies, but so far there seems to be no romantic element to it. Probably due to Ruby being 15, and so would come off as more of a kid sister than a potential romantic interest, but so far Jaune seems to be interested in Weiss, while Pyrrha, Jaune's best friend in the show, has a pretty blatant crush on him that he's oblivious to.
- Chapter six of Volume 2 also confirms that Nora and Ren are this. Jaune assumed they were a couple, but Nora corrects him about this, assuring him that they're not together that way. They're merely childhood friends, with Ren being the one who's taken to taking care of Nora's absurd behaviour.
- In Noob this is the relationship between Omega Zell and Fant÷m. Both are male and more or less confirmed to be straight despite Omega Zell's Ambiguously Gay characterization, but he also shows behaviours vitually identical to Celeb Crush, Cannot Spit It Out and Gibberish of Love in Fant÷m'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.
- Gwen to Ben in Ben 10. They are of opposite genders, but they're also cousins (not that that stops some people). 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.
- It's much more apparent in Alien Force since both characters have matured greatly, rarely fight, and openly hug each other
- 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.
- 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 it should be noted that, in the final season, Batgirl was shown to be in college while Robin was still in middle school.
- 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!
- 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, she would likely have wound up with her geeky admirer, borderline Stalker with a Crush Sheldon. Brad/Jenny is still the Fan-Preferred Couple, however.
- On 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.
- Some fans see this with Raven and Robin, who also share a few unusually close moments.
- 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 explictly portrayed as a homosexual couple.
- On 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:
- Jane is probably this to Trent as well. She's the only member in his Big Dysfunctional Family he seems to really care for.
- The Adventure Time episode "Go With Me" is largely spent sinking the possibility of Finn and Marceline dating while also establishing that they have more in common than Finn does with his crush, Princess Bubblegum.
- Oddly enough Princess Bubblegum herself could be seen this way in more recent episodes. Finn may have some lingering feelings for her, but has decided to move on and is currently dating Flame Princess. Bubblegum is still the main female character on the show, though, as well as Finn's close friend and the princess he works the most with.
- Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel Pines. No matter what, their loyalties lie with each other and harming one triggers the other's Berserk Button. Though there is some focus on Dipper's crush on Wendy, it's clear he values his sister's happiness first.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.