- Straight: Alice says to her long-therm boyfriend, Bob, that she has been thinking a lot about "settling down on a more permanent basis" recently. Bob doesn't catch on and doesn't propose.
- Exaggerated: Alice states, in no uncertain terms, that she wants Bob to propose to her. Bob doesn't catch on and doesn't propose.
- Downplayed: Alice shows Bob that she's interested in him, he doesn't notice, so she shrugs and moves on to the next guy.
- Justified: Alice must drop hints because she lives in a society which would frown severely upon her being so forward.
- Inverted: Alice makes an innocent remark, and Bob mistakes it for a suggestion.
- Alice becomes angry that Bob didn't take the hint and didn't propose. But, at the end, Bob mentions that he can take a hint, then drops to one knee; he was just waiting for the right moment.
- Alternatively, Bob knows full well what Alice wants, but pretends ignorance: he doesn't want the situation to change, nor to get into a fight about it.
- Double Subverted:
- Bob, down on one knee, makes Alice a business proposal.
- Alternatively, Alice had wished for "someone" to propose, and Bob did so; but it turns out Alice was thinking of Chad.
- Bob knows what Alice wants, and tries to gently hint that he's not interested in her. She misses the point completely, and continues to pursue him.
Alice: Wow, Charlie and Eve look so happy together. I wish we had something like that.
Bob [whispering]: Not so obvious, Alice — it's only ten minutes into the show, I'm not supposed to figure out you like me yet.
Alice: Oh, right. Let me start over. *ahem* Wow, Charlie and Eve look so happy together. Have you ever thought about going out with someone?
- Zig Zagged: After they know each other for a long time, Bob comes to the conclusion that Alice was dropping hints, then stopped. He's embarrassed he didn't see it before and tries to win her over subtly, earning her interest for the first time - she wasn't trying to suggest anything before, but now he's dropping hints that caught her attention.
- Averted: Alice states, in no uncertain terms, that she wants Bob to propose to her; Bob does so.
- Enforced: "Let's have Bob not take the hint! It shows that Bob isn't as sensitive and attentive as Alice, and it's funny!"
- Lampshaded: "That was a hint, Bob."
- Invoked: "I want to marry Bob, but I don't want him to think I'm trying to force him into it; I want it to come from his heart."
- Exploited: Every time Bob does something nice for Alice, she says "finally, I've been trying to tell you to do that forever...'
- Defied: Alice wishes aloud that Bob would — Bob interrupts her in midsentence and suggests she simply say what she wants, straight up.
- Discussed: "Y'ever notice how you never seem to catch onto my hints, Bob?" "Yeah, I guess that happens."
- Conversed: "It's like some silly Sitcom where the woman drops hints instead of telling her husband what she wants, and the dunce never gets it."
- Deconstructed: Alice wishes aloud that Bob would propose; Bob doesn't take the hint and Alice becomes depressed and angry (see "Played For Drama"). The story, instead of painting Bob the bad guy, shows how Alice herself might be partly to blame, that maybe she could have avoided a lot of misunderstanding had she been more direct.
- Played For Drama: Alice wishes aloud that Bob would propose. Bob doesn't take the hint and doesn't propose. Alice takes this as evidence that Bob doesn't pay much attention to her and that, by extension, he doesn't really care about her. Alice is shattered, her self-worth devastated, and she slips into depression.
- Played For Laughs: Alice drops hints like crazy, and Bob keeps coming up with zany, unrelated explanations for her behavior.
I've heard that Hint Dropping is a nice place to visit, maybe we could go there sometime...