Third-Option Love Interest
Bob is in a Love Triangle
with two girls, Alice and Carol, who often have a Betty and Veronica
dynamic. He likes both of them, and both of them like him, and he can never, ever choose between them
. While this dynamic has plenty of dramatic potential, on occasion the writers will want to shake it up a bit. To avoid showing favoritism to either of Bob's existing love interests, they may have him fall for a third girl: the Third-Option Love Interest
, Donna, whose job is to shake up the status quo of the relationship and breathe new life into it by tempting the vertex of a love triangle to Take a Third Option
. From the perspective of fan reaction, this can be very risky. Alice and Carol are likely to both have established fanbases
, and as such pairing Bob with some new girl who lacks this built-in support runs the risk of alienating everybody
The Third-Option Love Interest
can be of either gender depending on the initial triangle. They can sometimes even overlap with the Gay Option
May lead to a Love Dodecahedron
... or, since Status Quo Is God
, Donna may be Put on a Bus
, leaving the original two Love Interests
to duke it out. Sometimes Alice and Carol will lay aside their rivalry
and unite against the interloper — each would rather lose Bob to the other than to anyone else
. However, in some cases Donna/Bob
will become the Official Couple
In Fan Fic
, the Third-Option Love Interest
is a frequent target of Die for Our Ship
, since both Alice/Bob and Carol/Bob shippers will descend on her with the fury of Hell. Also, expect accusations of the character being a Canon Relationship Sue
(which may or may not be true). May also be Third Option Adaptation
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Anime and Manga
- In Air Gear, the love interests Ringo (the Betty), and Simca (the Veronica), (and Akito) for Ikki were shaken up by the arrival of Kururu. Ultimately averted: Ikki chooses his Betty — Ringo.
- There's also Kazu. When all three girls (Simca, Ringo & Kururu) find out a way how Kogarasumaru can still participate in the Glam Scale tournament they all hasten to tell Ikki about it thinking 'whoever manages to tell him first will secure their future at Ikki's side'. So, who's the one who gets to tell Ikki first? Kazu, of course! It's played for laughs but it does make one wonder...
- He's a speed freak, so it only makes sense that he would beet the girls.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: Russia's part of a canon Psychotic Love Triangle, harboring Mad Love for Lithuania and being chased by his sister Belarus, but he also seems to display some interest in his southern neighbor China in a couple of strips (if "putting on a panda suit and stalking him" or "inviting him to live at his house in a very creepy way" can be considered Ship Tease, which it probably can given Russia's nature). Many fans happily take this third option, especially given the two countries' extensive real-life history together, to the point where Russia/China is actually more popular than Russia/Lithuania and Belarus/Russia combined. Russia gets plenty of other love interests in fanworks, of course, but China is the one who has the most canon support after Lithuania and Belarus (even if he probably isn't very happy about it in canon).
- Thailand's also viable option for Russia's based on their mostly positive relationship albeit that this fandom is MUCH smaller than other. The unique thing is that he;s often portrayed that he likes Russia back as well and that his 1 percent hidden personality completely(or at least, almost) shutoff any sort of Wimpification that may appear. Similarly, Poland is a viable third option for Lithuania who's actually way more popular than the other two options.
- He's also a pretty popular option for Hungary below, considering their good relations.
- Greece and Turkey are the most canon-supported Betty and Veronica pair for Japan. However, fans almost never view Turkey as having a real chance to get Japan's attention and hence almost always treat England as the Veronica instead (making him a technical third option) and bring up America as a plausible third (fourth?) option too. In fact, an entire article could be devoted to all the *other* "third options" chosen for Japan in fanworks, but England and America are the ones that have the greatest fandom support and actual canon interaction with Japan.
- Also, in regards to England's "love life", we have America, Japan and France. Then Himaruya reveals that he's working on sketches for Portugal. Cue to fangirls latching onto Portugal and hoping they become this in one, two, three...
- But Wait, There's More! India has entered the fray as well, having been one of the more important English colonies in the past. While the fandom tends to pair him up with Prussia due to their Bollywood dancing scene that's easy to see as a Dance of Romance, some people have also added him to England's list of possible love interests...
- While Hungary is more often than not paired up with her ex-husband Austria or her old friend/enemy Prussia, some fans think that her other enemy Turkey shouldn't be completely discarded due to the Foe Yay prospects. And now that Romania has received a face and profile, fanarts of him and Hungary having loads of Foe Yay are springing up too...
- Although less popular, she also playfully flirts with Ukraine in a bonus strip in the fourth volume.
- Korea himself might find the way into this too. As even though he groped Japan and China, he does take interest in Taiwan and is surprisingly nice to her. To summarize, both are actually the third option for each other, considering Taiwan's own share of ship tease also related to China and Japan...
- Spain, who's mostly trapped between chosing Romano and Belgium, has to option of being paired off "rather" easily with Netherlands. The bonus is in form of Ship Mates that shipped of Romano and Belgium sweetly.
- Bleach has Senna from Memories of Nobody. By the end though, Ichigo/Rukia shippers and Ichigo/Orihime shippers can rest easy.
- On the canon side, another potential choice is Tatsuki Arisawa, a childhood friend of Ichigo's and Orihime's best friend. She has little effect on the overall plot, but she has had a few Ship Tease moments with Ichigo. The other most popular secondary love option is the arrancar Nel, who's quite affectionate towards Ichigo (though there's a good chance that's just because she's a touchy-feely person, not necessarily because she's romantically interested in him).
- In Parallel Trouble Adventure Dual, Yayoi, Mitsuki Sanada, and D's chances with Katsuki are apparently ruined when he meets Mitsuki Rara. The girls themselves (apparently) come to an unspoken mutual agreement to all share him by living together, even in the newly created combined world.
- For his part though, Kazuki only really shows any reciprocated feelings for Mitsuki Rara.
- A rather marginal example, as well as a subversion, pops up in Elfen Lied with manga-only Nozomi, who provides a third alternative of a girl who has feelings for the male lead Kouta that isnt Yuka or Nyuu/Lucy/Kaede. It's ultimately Averted in the anime (as she's not even included there!) and subverted as per the manga's rather... messy ending.
- Qawool from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. The male lead, Makoto, has already chosen his girlfriend ( Ifurita) and has other girls still chasing after him (Shayla and Nanami), but when Qawool meets up with him, she immediately snags a spot in his harem. Incidentally, she's also The Scrappy for other reasons, so the Die for Our Ship gets especially toxic.
- The first two seasons of The Familiar of Zero saw a wide variety of love interests for Saito, but by the end of season two it was pretty much narrowed down to Louise and Siesta. Enter Tiffania. Louise's reaction in particular could be heard from space. And then Tiffania was pushed to the back and replaced by Princess Henrietta, whereupon both Louise and Siesta were simply dumbfounded and stricken with worry: Louise had a Heroic BSOD and Siesta finicked about how she could easily remove all opposition and be alone with him.
- Ayase from Guilty Crown appears to be this to Shu.
- Athena in Hayate the Combat Butler. Hayate openly admits that he likes her, and several of the other girls reactions are shown as they either accept it or decide to keep trying. Even Nagi puts her trust in Hayate to do the right thing by abandoning her fortune and disinheriting herself, giving a strong feeling sense of incoming resolution. But it's a subversion because she leaves at the end of the arc, leaving us with the original unrequited love dodecahedron.
- Although she was the last (officially) introduced to the viewers, she's actually the first girl that Hayate'd met, and she had appeared in flashbacks before Hinagiku had officially entered the harem.
- Um.. by her own words, Hinagiku entered the harem on her first appearing, she just hadn't realized it yet. By Maria's wordings, she knew Hina would enter it before her first appearance. Athena has also reentered the harem officially as of ch 300.
- Athena is probably Hata's vision of the Third-Option Love Interest for fans, since the fandom was generally split between Nagi and Hinagiku, and she's taken from both of the Ships.
- Post-Golden week chapters have given us Chiharu's entrance into the harem and potentially Luka/Ruka, who would actually fill this slot well, since we didn't even know about her existence until Golden Week had ended.
- In the Kimagure Orange Road manga, Sayuri Hirose attempts to be the third option for Hikaru's Betty and Madoka's Veronica. The catch is she means nothing to Kyousuke, so her attempts to seduce him were unsuccessful.
- Feldt Grace from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. She loses, though. Sort of..
- Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto has two girls that have a crush on him pre-time skip, Ino and Sakura. Post-time skip he gets another admirer in Karin. At best, Sasuke never shows romantic interest in any of the girls. At worst, he stabs through them to further his revenge. He ends up with Sakura in the end.
- In Onani Master Kurosawa, does Kakeru end up with Takigawa, who he had a crush on, or Kitahara, the one he eventually defrosts? Neither of them. He actually ends up with Sugawa, the bully and his first victim, since by the time they start getting together, she has become much less mean and more Tsundere.
- Ukyo Kuonji in Ranma ˝. Until her arrival, the primary contenders for Ranma's affection had been Akane (Betty) and Shampoo (Veronica). Although she never escaped Unlucky Childhood Friend status, Ukyo was still a relatively plausible third option and remains a popular choice in the fandom; she's even hit with Die for Our Ship less often than Akane and Shampoo are, in direct contrast to the common trend of the third option getting hit by the hardest with Die for Our Ship.
- Fumina Konoe in Shakugan no Shana.
- In the SHUFFLE! anime the main character, Rin Tsuchimi is being pursued by Lisianthus (Gods) and Nerine (Demons), and his childhood friend Kaede. Who does he fall in love with in the end? The close buddy and tease, Asa.
- In the 11th volume of the Sorcerer Hunters manga, Carrot fell into a serious relationship with a girl named Mousse, leading Chocolat and Tira to confront him with their true feelings. However, it turns out Mousse wasn't even real (?) and the plot turned out to be a set-up for the epic Final Battle in which Carrot eventually chose Tira.
- While there's half a dozen girls after Tenchi Masaki in Tenchi Muyo!, the relationship map stabilizes relatively quickly with six girls chasing Tenchi. Until Tenchi in Tokyo, which introduces Sakuya Kumashiro into the equation. She's probably one of the biggest examples of the Die for Our Ship effect relating to this. Though she eventually succeeds in winning Tenchi, she doesn't survive to the end of the series.
- The third OVA introduces Noike who shows up already arranged to be married to Tenchi by a very powerful matriach of the Jurai royal family. Ryoko and Ayeka are not amused. Fan reaction, oddly enough, is less extreme than what Sakuya faced, but that's probably because the third OVA seems to get even more Fanon Discontinuity than Tenchi In Tokyo (the latter being treated as relatively more acceptable because it's just an alternate universe anyway).
- In Vandread, romantic tension is developing between Hibiki and his three love interests, and then in the second season a Girl in a Box shows up and decides he's cute.
- In ×××HOLiC, the Double Subverted Love Triangle between Watanuki, Himawari, and Doumeki has a monkey wrench thrown into it when it turns out that for all his intense crushing on Himawari and numerous bonding moments with Doumeki, the one Watanuki cares the most about is... his boss and mistress Yuuko Ichihara, for whom he sacrifices the right to leave the shop indefinitely, in hopes he will one day see her again. Doumeki is... less than pleased about this arrangement. However, this has not discouraged Doumeki from still acting like he's his husband.
- Watanuki's feelings for Yuuko and the pairing itself is becoming more and more canon. Especially after chapter 193, where Haruka pretty much comes out and has a heart-to-heart talk with Watanuki, giving him a relationship-advice pep talk ( "If you truly believe you and she will meet again, then you mustn't do anything that will make her cry."). Which prompts Watanuki to go into one of his melancholy worshiping moods of Yuuko, holding her pipe and saying her name.
- Vivian Wong is this in the fifth season of Yu-Gi-Oh!. There is an unspoken rivalry over Yugi by his close friend Anzu, who cares for Yugi a lot but is mostly interested in the Pharaoh and the aggressive Bratty Half-Pint Rebecca who is quick to shower him with affection. When Vivian starts trying to shoehorn in, Rebecca and Anzu are quick to unite against her, including Anzu cheering Rebecca on in her duel against Vivian.
- Cheryl Blossom of Archie Comics, the character in the page picture and the former Trope Namer. She was a bombshell redhead introduced in the '80s who saw the original Betty and Veronica going after Archie and decided it would be fun to show them up. She makes her big return in the 90s in the Love Showdown storyline, where Betty and Veronica escalate their competition for Archie, which ends in Archie choosing Cheryl Blossom instead (although the Status Quo is restored in a follow-up special). Since then, however, she has apparently started going out with the nerd of the cast after getting to know him on the internet, in a Throw the Dog a Bone moment.
- Cheryl is also shown as being in the way of Reggie too. A humorous issue shows her winning a talent contest (with Archie and Reggie as the judges) over Betty and Veronica. What'd she do? Batted her eyelashes at them.
- Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats has also become a possible alternative for Archie's lover. Archie Comics even released a four-part What If? story in which Archie marries her instead of Betty, Veronica, or Cheryl.
- With Batman this tends to happen. Usually torn between Catwoman and Talia al Ghul, writers have recently decided to add Wonder Woman to the mix, although Batman doesn't like to acknowledge it. Sometimes.
- Early in The Amazing Spider-Man Betty Brant (brunette) and Liz Allan (blonde) are competing for Peter Parker. Then Aunt May introduces them to her best friend's niece, Mary Jane Watson. They are both aghast at the thought of having to compete with this knockout beauty. Mary Jane's face is only shown several issues later, but fitting in with this trope, she turns out to be a redhead.
- Occasionally, Black Cat is played as the third option to the other loves of Peter's life, MJ and Gwen.
- Although not to the extent between Wonder Woman and Batman, Spider-Man has had at least strong feelings at one point toward fellow heroine Ms. Marvel whom she reciprocated. Out of all the superheroines, she's arguably the one with the best chance with Spider-Man.
- Ultimate Spider-Man for a time went with this trope; at the end of Ultimatum arc in Ultimate Spider-man, Kitty accidentally revealed to MJ that she still had romantic feelings for Peter. 6 months of unresolved plot development, Peter was now in a romantic relationship with Gwen Stacy. It didn't last.
- In what is a hilarious and awesome example, when the '90s Supergirl goes to an alternative Earth to take the original Silver Age Supergirl's place (it's long and complicated, but awesome), she ends up marrying the original Superman. In the wedding splash panel, you can see Lois Lane and Lana Lang saying "Please oh please — let it be a hoax! Or a dream! Or an imaginary tale!"
- And Lori Lemaris, a friggin' mermaid, was Supes' original third option winner.
- For a time in the 80s, Cat Grant was definitely in the running. Lacking any L's in her name probably doomed her.
- In the Disgaea Novels, Laharl is given a rather big harem of girls as the novel series goes on, but Flonne and Etna are his closest friends and therefore his primal love interests, and he is not all that fond of the rest. But in the 3th novel we are introduced to Ozonne, Flonne’s little sister, and she & Laharl hit it off pretty well.
- In the Gone series, over the first three books there were hints at a possible love triangle between Quinn, Lana and Edilio. In Plague Sanjit and Lana become a couple.
- And in Lies, Edilio and the Artful Roger become a couple.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sansa Stark is initially infatuated with both her betrothed Prince Joffrey Baratheon and pretty boy Loras Tyrell. It's later revealed that the former is a sadistic psychopath and abuses her terribly, and the latter is gay for Renly Baratheon, but in the meantime she's developed an odd chemistry with the much older and more violent Sandor Clegane.
Live Action TV
- Many fans felt that Nina filled this role on Angel. Of course, Cordelia was MIA at the time and Buffy was busy with her own series...but when has that ever stopped anyone?
- The season 1 finale of Community had Jeff in between Granola Girl Britta and Hot Teacher Slater. He ends up choosing Annie, although he hasn't been romantically involved with any of the three in season 2.
- It is revealed by the end of season 2 that he has been secretly seeing Britta but they break up once others find out about it.
- In season 2 Annie still has feelings (including a lot of resentment) towards Jeff but there are hints that she and Troy might get closer. In the season finale Abed becomes a third option out of the blue.
- Season 3 seems to run with this pairing, however. From the episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" onward, the show hints that Annie and Jeff are being groomed to be the Official Couple of the show, with Troy and Britta paired together concurrently.
- During Season 7 of Degrassi we had the love triangle of Holly J (Veronica) and Mia (Betty) going after Sav. The two girls brutally tear into each other for Sav's attentions, finally leading to Mia thinking Sav picked her... until it turns out he likes Anya.
- Kurt from Glee spent most of season one deluded that he was a mix this trope and Gay Option to Finn. He wasn't. Kurt hooked up with Blaine instead.
- On Gossip Girl, Colin was this to the Dan-Serena-Nate triangle.
- Also, fans were crazy in Season 4 to know who Blair would pick - Chuck(Vanessa) or Dan (Betty)? Turns out she picks Louis. No one was happy.
- Series 3 of Robin Hood had the title character in a Love Triangle with outlaw Kate (Betty) and villainess Isabella (Veronica). If you're wondering where his traditional love interest Marian is, she'd been Killed Off for Real at the end of the previous series, and became the third option when Robin also dies and is reunited with her in the afterlife.
- Early seasons of Smallville had Chloe (Betty) and Lana (Veronica) as possible love interests for Clark, naturally leading to Ship-to-Ship Combat from fans when Lois Lane showed up, although the "Clark is either with or crazy over Lana while Chloe secretly still loves him" formula lasted several more seasons before Lana is Put on a Bus and both Chloe and Clark end up with others.
- In What I Like About You, Holly leaves for England, while Vince (Veronica) and Henry (Betty) both expect her to choose one of them. She comes back from England with a new guy, Ben. Henry eventually moves on and goes to Princeton and Holly ends up with Vince.
- Invoked in the season five finale of One Tree Hill, where the audience sees Lucas call a girl and propose to her. The show gives three options for who he could be calling- either Lindsey and Peyton, who had been part of a season-long love triangle, as well as high school ex-girlfriend Brooke, who hadn't even really been part of the equation until the finale threw her in as an option. It was Peyton.
- In the ballet Rodeo, the Cowgirl and the Rancher's Daughter are both in love with the Head Wrangler, who in turn is interested in the Rancher's Daughter. During the final movement, "Hoedown," the Cowgirl gets the Head Wrangler's attention—but instead winds up with the Champion Roper, leaving the Head Wrangler and Rancher's Daughter to pair up.
- Aside of the Betty and Veronica dynamics with Kotonoha and Sekai, there are three potential Third Option Love Interests in the School Days games: Otome, Setsuna and Hikari.
- Cross Days, which is from the perspective of Yuki, rather than Makoto's, has Ai and Makoto himself. Roka probably counts too.
- White Album 2 Concluding Chapter introduces three: Chiaki, one of Haruki's schoolmates at the university he goes to; Koharu, a high schooler going to Haruki and Setsuna's old school; and Mari, Haruki's boss at the Hirasakura Company, where he works at. All three represent facets of what might help shake off the lethargy he's been living through, which can be summed simply as: looks like Kazusa (Koharu), acts like Kazusa (Mari, albeit more socially-adjusted), and is not like Setsuna (Chiaki, who has no ties to and cares little for Haruki's past).
- In Bittersweet Candy Bowl, both Lucy and Tess were love interests for Paulo, but he ended up choosing Jasmine, a girl introduced at the last minute.
- Homestuck has this with Vriska, who had romantic feelings for Kanaya, Tavros, and plausibly Terezi. She ends up asking John out, and dying before hearing a response. On the other hand, due to her species' romantic customs, she could have plausibly ended up with all of them in different quadrants..
- Whateley Universe example: Thunderbird has all four of Sizzle, Aztecka, Tesla, and Widget interested in him for almost a year. They all lose out when Chaka realizes Thunderbird is a total 'boy scout' type and snaps him up in about ten minutes.