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Threesome Subtext
aka: Three Yay
Sometimes, Betty and Veronica stop fighting over Archie and simply enjoy him together.

Subtextual implications in the story, about the possibility of a shared sexual relationship between three characters.

Like most other Ship Tease tropes, it might be caused by the author fooling around, with the expectation that no one will consider this a serious romantic resolution, or by teasing the fans of that particular kink to stay tuned.

Three-Way Sex is the textual version of this, where threesomes actually happen.

Twin Threesome Fantasy is a subtrope.

Compare One True Threesome, the Shipping Goggles-induced counterpart. See also Homoerotic Subtext and Incest Subtext.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga  

  • In Tenchi Muyo!, Ryoko x Tenchi x Ayeka, and Ayeka and Ryoko hate each other, but plenty of Foe Yay occurs in universe.
  • Aoba/Mairu/Kururi gets a bunch of this in Durarara!!. Mairu and Kururi thank Aoba with a kiss for turning in a group of bullies; Aoba has a They Are Not My Girlfriends moment when his Blue Square members refer to them as such, but turns right around and explicitly orders them not to involve the twins in the gang wars because he's taken a particular liking to them. And then there's all the Mairu/Kururi Twincest. Worth noting that they've all kissed at some point.
  • Star Driver is made of this trope, implying it so freaking hard between the three protagonists (Takuto, Wako, and Sugata) while never actually resolving it.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!
  • In School Rumble Eri and Yakumo are both in love with Harima. There has also been quite a bit of Les Yay / Foe Yay between the two of them, culminating in a episode where they both end up dancing with each other. Before the original manga suddenly stopped, Harima was also apparently engaged to Eri while living with Yakumo, with all three apparently content with the arrangement.
  • In Rosario + Vampire, similar to the Negima example, Yukari Sendou is a Shipper on Deck for two people she's attracted to, because if they get together, it'll be easier for her to score a threesome.
  • In Death Note during the first arc: Misa-Light-L and Second arc: Misa-Light-Takada / Light-Takada-Mikami and in the prequel novel Another Note Raye Penber-Naomi Misora-Ryuuzaki
  • Ranka/Alto/Sheryl in Macross Frontier. At the end of the series, Alto says "You are both my wings."
  • Carrot/Tira/Chocolat in the Sorcerer Hunters anime. It's strongly implied the sisters would not mind sharing the man they love.
  • In Otome Youkai Zakuro, there is a canon Twin Threesome Fantasy with Ganryuu and twins Bonbori and Hozuki.
  • Happens in Anatolia Story, also overlapping with Twin Threesome Fantasy. Kail's servant Kikkuri can't distinguish between the twins Ryuhi and Shala, Yuri's ladies-in-waiting, and they're both in love with him. He then gets both girls pregnant... and ends up marrying them both. At the end of the story, the three and their kids (twin boys mothered by Ryuhi and twin girls mothered by Shala) are seen living happily ever after.
  • Gets pretty heavy in the second season of Rinne no Lagrange. When the three leads are re-united after several months the argument between Lan and Muginami is settled when Madoka pushes them together and forces them to kiss. Later on Muginami returns the favour with Madoka and Lan. After that Lan pushes Madoka and Muginami together... and winds up knocking their foreheads together. Though Madoka does confirm several episodes later that she and Muginami did kiss at some point.
  • In Pokémon Special, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum is as canon as you can get with a bunch of twelve year olds, with it repeatedly being stated how the three of them together represent the perfect human spirit, them crying when they had to separate for the first time since they had traveled together, and them eventually ending up as parents for two baby Pokemon.
  • In the manga version of Magic Knight Rayearth, Hikaru says she wants to marry both Lantis and Eagle. Then she says she loves everyone and her feelings remain ambiguous... but those two are the only ones she mentions wanting to marry, so there's that.
  • In xxxHOLiC, there's the trio of Doumeki/Watanuki/Himawari, which has plot enforced implications: Watanuki is head-over-heels for Himawari, but Himawari's Doom Magnet status renders her dangerous to be around Watanuki... except when Doumeki's around, because Doumeki is a living Protective Charm. There's also a moment where Doumeki agrees to give Himawari a "date" with Watanuki alone, but insists that they will later "have lunch together, the three of us".
  • Yuyushiki runs on this. Sometimes the subtext goes dangerously close to actual-text.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, although Ed/Winry is the Official Couple confirmed via Babies Ever After, a far greater focus is on the relationship between Ed, Winry and Al than any romance. They've been friends since childhood, are constantly concerned and worried about the others' safety and happiness, and it's clear Ed cares for Al just as deeply as he cares for Winry.
  • As far as Shino of Kin-iro Mosaic is concerned, it would be best if she had both Alice and Karen out of her fetish toward blondes. She even comments that she could have a blonde on each arm. She also likes to daydream about the two together.
  • A subtle example in Soul Eater, where almost every weapon/meister pair seems to be opposite sex combinations (with Stein and Spirit being an exception), and have inordinate amounts of Ship Tease if not an official relationship... except for Kid, Liz, and Patty, who are a set of three.

    Comics 

  • In Empowered, this is implied between the three main characters, Emp, Thug Boy and Ninjette. Emp and Thug Boy are in a very happy relationship with Ninjette as Emp's best friend. But not only are Thug Boy and Ninjette attracted to each other (he even accidently felt her up when the three of them were sharing a bed after Ninjette underwent a traumatic experience), but it's implied that Ninjette is attracted to Emp, and Emp has described herself as a "three drink bisexual." The possibility is even acknowledged during a conversation between Ninjette and The Caged Demonwolf, though Ninjette refuses to divulge her fantasies.

    Film 

  • Johnny, Lisa, and Denny from The Room
    Denny: I just like to watch you guys.
  • Some people see a lot of this in TRON. Specifically, in the principle Love Triangle between the three main human characters (and their program counterparts, by proxy) and even homoerotic overtones between Flynn, Tron and Ram during the "Power Pool" scene.
  • Ben, Chon and O in Savages.

    Literature 

  • Since Troy Denning started writing the Star Wars Expanded Universe, he's put a lot of this between Jaina, Zekk, and Jag. When Zekk and Jaina are part of a hive mind, Zekk finds Jag attractive. Then in Invincible, after one fight, Jaina invites both of them to bed with her at the same time.
  • In Isabel Allende's Eva Luna, Intrepid Reporter Rolf's first romantic/sexual experiences were with his two cute cousins. The two sisters are very close and have the same taste in boys, so they see nothing wrong with sharing the lover as long as the three agree; then, they pretty much glomp-attack Rolf as he works up the nerve to decide which one he likes the best, and one thing leads to another.
  • Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere in The Once and Future King. Canonically, it's a Love Triangle, but the text makes it explicit that all three of the individuals involved love each other in some fashion.
  • Surprisingly, The Hundred and One Dalmatians had a lot of this. So Pongo and Missis are a Happily Married couple, very loving, very stable- and then they have a large amount of puppies that Missis cannot possibly feed all on her own. So the Dearlys bring Perdita, a new dog, into the family as a milk-nurse and have her nurse half the puppies, and this goes on for a few days. Missis initially feels jealous of Perdita, but Pongo reassures Missis that she doesn't have to be, and eventually all three dogs are eventually raising the puppies together and getting along really well. And then, when the puppies are stolen, Pongo and Missis go out to find them, leaving Perdita with the Dearlys to comfort them. The two often talk about Perdita while they're journeying and wonder if she misses them. Note that the novel barely mentions sex in any way, so the only reason this isn't canon is because at the end, Perdita finds this dog she had puppies with before and hooks up with him. The whole subtext of this was avoided in 101 Dalmatians through the magic of Composite Characters.
  • In Wicked, husband and wife Frex and Melena are both in love with Turtle Heart, though it's unclear whether Frex and Turtle Heart ever slept together (or even kissed).
  • The Revenge of the Sith novelization does everything but outright state that Padme/Anakin/Obi-Wan is canon. Anakin and Padme are obviously married while Anakin and Obi-Wan have stupendous Ho Yay, the narration stating that they're "closer than brothers, closer than lovers", and Palpatine stating that Anakin isn't choosing between the Jedi and the Sith, but choosing which one of them he loves more. And Obi-Wan and Padme themselves get a brief scene that shows them to be very friendly, despite Obi-Wan's dislike of politicians and Padme's distrust of anyone who isn't Anakin.

     Live Action TV  

  • Doctor Who
    • Rory/Amy/The Doctor have a lot. Amy has on occasion called them her "boys," and they don't disagree.
    • The Doctor and Rose have Unresolved Sexual Tension out the wazoo and Jack is canonically in love with both of them, managing to kiss them both before they kiss each other. Their short time spent on the TARDIS together plays up the subtext for all its worth, especially the end of "The Doctor Dances" and all of "Boom Town".
  • Glee: In the episode "Prom Queen" Rachel and Mercedes both ask Sam to the prom together. They go as a group of three (and are later joined by Jesse).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In the second season, Angelus/Spike/Drusilla is all but canon. Both the guys lust after her but also have massive Foe Yay with each other. There is an infamous line in later seasons where Spike claims to have not been intimate with Angelus except for "that one time" (implications confirmed by Joss Whedon himself) which probably happened when Spike was still with Dru. And, of course, when Angelus first shows up (after being de-souled) he kisses Spike passionately on the forehead, prompting Drusilla to gleefully squeal "We're a family again!" Was that even supposed to be subtext?
    • Before Spike came along, Angel, Darla, and Drusilla traveled together for quite a while...
    Drusilla: I'm full and warm, yet all alone.
    Angelus: That's not true, precious. You've got us.
    Drusilla: Not in the least. You won't even hurt me just a little bit.
    Darla: All you have to do is ask.
  • The joyful Abby/Becker/Connor reunion hug in the Primeval series 4 opener is bookended near the end of the series 5 finale: Our heroes walking off into the sunset: Matt/Emily in their own tight little pair, followed by our trio: Abby with an arm around Becker's waist, and holding hands with Connor. Becker also has an arm around Abby, and at the last second, he reaches over to put it around Connor, too. Awwww. Made all the more amusing by the fact that Becker once refused to answer a direct question about his orientation.
  • Happens a lot in How I Met Your Mother, in almost every permutation of the the five main characters, but most often and explicitly Ted/Marshall/Lily, where Ted is treated like an extra spouse in many, many gags. Marshall and Lily even once say "If we get married, we have to marry Ted!", when Lily gets pregnant, Ted keeps referring to it as "our" baby, and a montage in one episodes features Ted as the third factor in various famous couples (eg. Lady and the Tramp and the Bowl Of Spaghetti).
  • Happens between Cory, Shawn and Topanga on Boy Meets World:
    Shawn: I think the three of us could be very happy together.
  • In one Frasier episode, a case of misinterpretation leads Roz to believe that Niles and Daphne are asking her to have a threesome with them. The ensuing conversation is hilarious, and the fact that Roz doesn't seem too averse to the idea cause Niles and Daphne to mercilessly tease her after the miscommunication is cleared up.
  • In Degrassi, Holly J starts dating a boy named Declan. Unfortunately, Declan's sister, Fiona, is very...possessive of him, and constantly tries to sabotage their relationship. One especially blatant attempt at this ends with Fiona kissing Declan. Voluntarily. This wouldn't count as an example of the trope, except for the part in the next season where Fiona goes through character development, realizes she is bisexual, and kisses Holly J. Again, voluntarily. And Holly implies she is still in love with Declan, who, before their breakup, told both girls they had to make up because he wanted to spend the summer with both of them. Ahh, soap operas.
  • Leverage features this somewhat with Hardison/Eliot/Parker. It's not like they weren't already teased like crazy, but in the series Grand Finale, they died holding hands. Faked, of course, since Nate is a lying bastard of a narrator. However, when Nate and Sophie leave at the end of the episode, Parker, Hardison and Eliot go on by themselves. It's implied at least twice that the relationship between the three of them is meant to be permanent. When Sophie asks Eliot about his future he states that he wanted to open his own restaurant but now he's going to get stuck making sure Hardison's doesn't go out of business. In the finale when Sophie asks him to protect them, he says 'until my dying day'.

     Video Games  

  • Skies of Arcadia has so much of this between Vyse, Aika and Fina in-universe that Ship-to-Ship Combat among the three of them in fandom is nearly nonexistent. One of their boss fight opponents remarks on it!
  • Laharl, Etna and Flonne in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Each one has incredible chemistry with the other two. It's so obvious, it's painful.
  • The Ar tonelico series lets you double date (and later triple date) the Reyvateil heroines in your party. While you still can settle with only one girl in the end, almost no one in the game's going to call the protagonists out for diving into multiple girls' minds at once. The subject is even more awkward since "diving" is given the same intimacy level as sex.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, all of the heroines come in pairs of friends, so there's plenty of potential for this.
    • Hanako and Lilly's routes have the most, as the two are extremely close Heterosexual Life-Partners and both of their routes feature the other to a great extent. Befriending the other is required to get either of them, and their routes in Act 1 don't diverge until the very end. It's repeatedly made obvious how much closer than normal friends they are, with Hanako saying that she loves Lilly in her route. To cap it all off, at one point in Lilly's route during one of their pyjama party/tea party get-togethers, Akira mentions that plenty of guys would be very pleased to see Lilly in such skimpy clothing, and goes on to add that he even gets to see cute Hanako in her nightie as well. Hisao deflects, but Hanako haltingly says that if it's Hisao, she doesn't mind. She doesn't seem to realise what she's implying, but everyone else sure does, and quickly change the subject.
    • Early in Emi's route, Misha teases Hisao about having lunch with both Emi and Rin, and mentions that the three of them are cute together.
    • Shizune's route features Misha very heavily, and Misha canonically is in love with Shizune, though it isn't requited. The route arguably focuses more on the friendship between the three of them than on Hisao and Shizune's relationship specifically.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Sora/Riku/Kairi. Sora/Kairi is (probably) the Official Couple and the first game strongly implied that Riku also had a crush on Kairi (jury's out on whether he still feels this way about her), while Sora/Riku spend a lot of Kingdom Hearts II and Dream Drop Distance being pretty darn hoyaytastic to each other. When it comes to the dynamics of the three of them together, Kairi comments to Riku in Kingdom Hearts 2 that Sora is completely hopeless without them and holds Sora and Riku's hands between her own in order to let Sora see that what looks like Ansem Seeker of Darkness is, in fact, actually Riku. The opening FMV of Kingdom Hearts 2 briefly shows a scene of the three of them lying on a beach together, holding hands.
  • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, possibly. Seliph and Princess Julia will rule Bahara together... along with whoever you paired Seliph with (with the exception of Tinny or Patty unless you pair Tiltyu or Briggid, respectively, with a common dude)). The most obvious example would be Seliph/Lana/Julia; Lana and Julia are quite close and in her lover convo with Seliph in the final chapter, lana tells him she loves him but feels terrible about Julia, implying she both ships Seliph/Julia and has special feelings for the girl herself.
  • Kanon: You might have the ability to choose to date either Mai or Sayuri, but Yuuichi/Mai/Sayuri is arguably the main focus of Mai's route. Although she and Yuuichi get the most focus, it's made very, very clear that every relationship in that triangle is full of love and care, the three of them spend a lot of time time all together, and one of the most romantic moments comes when Yuuichi promises Mai that they'll all live together and imagines an extended sequences of the three being ridiculously domestic and cute together.
  • Played for Laughs in Mass Effect 3 with the Citadel DLC, where Tali drunkenly mentions the possibility of a threesome with a female Shepard romancing Garrus. This probably has more to do with her attraction to the latter, but considering how flustered she gets when she talks about the possibility of linking suits with Shepard in the second game, it's hard to say.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Harry Osborn makes a rather... interesting comment about himself, his girlfriend Gwen, his best friend Peter and Peter's date Liz.
    Harry: Then it's settled! This Saturday, we're a foursome!

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alternative title(s): Three Yay
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