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Fake Relationship

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Two characters pretend to be in a relationship.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
johnnye on Nov 27th 2012 at 2:16:09 AM
Last Edited By:
Siempie on Mar 7th 2018 at 1:54:57 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

I don't know if this will generate many examples that don't fall under subtropes, but seems like a case of Missing Supertrope Syndrome.

Simply put, two characters who aren't in a romantic relationship pretend to be.

Naturally, there's a high likelihood of them Becoming the Mask, or at least one character claiming It Meant Something to Me.

Supertrope of Undercover as Lovers, Operation: Jealousy, The Beard, Citizenship Marriage, Shock Value Relationship, Boyfriend Bluff.

Contrast Secret Relationship. See also Fake-Out Make-Out, Marriage Before Romance (when the fake relationship becomes real) and Marriage of Convenience.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The premise of Nisekoi, translated as "False Love". The lead characters are pressured into pretending to be in a romantic relationship to keep their Feuding Families from getting out of hand.
  • In Scum's Wish, Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya are going out together, but the couple loves someone else — their teachers.
  • Ranma :
    • One of these occur after Ukyo mistakes Ranma's guilt induced kindness as affection she tries getting closer to him and even starts living with him. So in order to get Ukyo to leave, Ranma and Akane are forced to pretend to already be married, when they're actually just reluctantly engaged at that point. It doesn't fool Ukyo though who keeps making moves towards Ranma.
    • This occurs during one of the most confusing love triangles ever to exist. Ukyo finds herself being pursued by Tsubasa. So in order to try and get rid of Tsubasa, seemingly a girl who loves dressing up, Ukyo pretends to be in a full blooming relationship with Ranma (they are supposedly engaged, but haven't become serious). However, given Ranma is a Sex Shifter and Ukyo dresses like a boy, she told Tsubasa that she was with Ranma's girl form. Upon finally being rejected by Ukyo enough times, Tsubasa gives up and starts falling for girl Ranma. The kicker is that, Tsubasa is actually a boy crossdressing and always knew that Ukyo was secretly a girl, rather than a girl attracted to girls as everyone had initially thought.
  • In Koi to Uso, there are severe social consequences for not going through with your Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage. Yajima and his arranged fiance feel no connection and haven't willingly spent time together in years (in large part because he still loves his ex-girlfriend), but both claim to be in love and ready to marry any day because otherwise their careers would be in jeopardy.
  • In "Mahou Sensou", the protagonist Takeshi Nanase established a fake relationship with his childhood friend Kurumi Isoshima in order to ward off numerous men who pursue her, especially after a traumatic incident with a stalker.

Live-Action TV

  • Get Smart: Two KAOS agents once pretended to be in love, sharing a public kiss to escape detection by CONTROL. Max and 99 likewise often masqueraded as a married couple on missions before they got hitched for real.
  • Booth and Brennan did this several times on Bones before getting together for real. They went undercover as "Buck and Wanda" a couple of times, and once they did it at Brennan's school reunion.
  • The premise of the britcom Spaced is that the main characters believe they have a Single-Issue Landlord who will only rent the flat to a couple. It eventually turns out this was all based on a misprinted advertisement.
  • Frasier:
    • Frasier pretends to be Roz's date at a family reunion when she's recently been dumped and can't face her competitive, passive-aggressive sisters.
    • Martin pretends to date the mother of Frasier's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis as a prank on the pair of them.
  • In the Doctor Who-episode "The Time of the Doctor", Clara accidentally told her relatives that she had a boyfriend, leading her to call the Doctor in a blind panic.
    Clara: Emergency: you're my boyfriend.
    The Doctor: Ding dong, okay, brilliant! I may be a bit rusty in some areas but I will glance at a manual!
    Clara: No no, you're not actually my boyfriend.
    The Doctor: (disappointed) Oh, that was quick. It's a rollercoaster, this phone call.
    Clara: But I need a boyfriend really quickly!
    The Doctor: Well, I hope you're nicer to the next one.

Film

  • In Victor/Victoria, when Victoria starts masquerading as the female impersonator Victor, she and Toddy pretend to be lovers.

Western Animation

  • Fry on Futurama gets himself into a fake relationship triangle. First he pretends to be Amy's boyfriend so that her parents would stop trying to set her up with men. Later he pretends to be Leela's boyfriend so that Zapp Brannigan will stop hitting on her. This becomes awkward when all of them are having dinner at the captain's table in front of both Amy's parents and Zapp.
  • South Park: In the episode "About Last Night", it is revealed that Barack Obama and Michelle Obama aren't actually married, but it is all a ruse for getting Obama into office so he and McCain can steal an expensive diamond. At the end of the episode, Barack decides to be president after all and asks Michelle to stay with him.
  • In The Proud Family, Penny and Sticky get into one of these because the former (begrudgingly) wanted to assist the latter in gaining back Dijonay's affections for him.

Feedback: 32 replies

Nov 27th 2012 at 4:07:32 AM

Is this seriously not a trope already? If not it should be. Green Card springs to mind. And presumably every sitcom ever.

Nov 28th 2012 at 8:07:50 PM

Film

  • In Victor Victoria, when Victoria starts masquerading as the female impersonator Victor she and Toddy pretend to be lovers.

Nov 28th 2012 at 8:34:32 PM

That's basically the driving thing behind the TV show Spaced

Nov 28th 2012 at 8:58:50 PM

  • Fry on Futurama gets himself into a fake relationship triangle. First he pretends to be Amy's boyfriend so that her parents would stop trying to set her up with men. Latter he pretends to be Leela's boyfriend so that Captain Brannigan will stop hitting on her. This becomes awkward when all of them are having dinner at the captains table in front of both Amy's parents and Captain Brannigan.

Nov 29th 2012 at 7:47:34 AM

Two KAOS agents once pretended to be in love, sharing a public kiss to escape detection by CONTROL. Max and 99 likewise often masqueraded as a married couple on missions before they got hitched for real.

Nov 29th 2012 at 8:32:26 PM

Booth and Brennan did this several times on Bones before getting together for real. They went undercover as Buck and Wanda a couple of times and I think they did it at Brennan's school reunion too.

Nov 30th 2012 at 9:54:20 AM

The primary premise of Nisekoi, translated as "False Love". The lead characters are pressured into pretending to be in a romantic relationship to keep their Feuding Families from getting out of hand.

Dec 1st 2012 at 3:38:02 PM

A lot of overlap with The Beard, I really don't think there is anything covered by this trope that isn't covered by the subtropes.

Dec 1st 2012 at 3:50:01 PM

The Beard is currently written in such a way that it includes many versions of fake romantic relationship. Those that are listed here would fit there perfectly.

So would you propose to make that one specifically for gay couples (it states it was the origin of the word and the meaning), and move the example to this trope?

Otherwise, unless something similar is done, I'd say that yes, we already have this one.

Supertrope is a neat idea though.

Dec 2nd 2012 at 1:41:37 AM

Yeah, The Beard should apply exclusively to mixed-orientation couples.

Dec 2nd 2012 at 11:49:28 AM

That belongs in trope repair then before we go forward with any sort of rewriting of The Beard. As for my opinion the term may have originated in the gay community but there isn't a reason to divide a trope based on the reason it is used, as opposed to how it is used.

For example, Undercover As Lovers is it being used as a sting operation and thus carries some espionage undertones. The Beard is when it is being used while under some form of social pressure and thus trying to deceive friends and family, making it exclusively for "gay/lesbian social pressure" is unnecessarily precise. I just don't see any pressing need to make the distinction and get a supertrope involved.

There might be something when it comes to non-social pressure and non-espionage reasons, where there isn't a vital reason to pretend to be together but still do so anyway. Burn Notice had Michael and Agent Pierce pose as a married couple for no explicit reason except just as their cover ID, they didn't have to "promote" themselves as a couple other than just linking arms while they walked onto a ship.

Dec 2nd 2012 at 3:16:23 PM

Just a note: Boyfriend Bluff would also be a subtrope.

Dec 2nd 2012 at 5:45:04 PM

  • South Park: In the episode "About Last Night", it is revealed that Barack Obama and Michelle Obama aren't actually married, but it is all a ruse for getting Obama into office so he and Mc Cain can steal an expensive diamond. At the end of the episode, Barack decides to be president after all and asks Michelle to stay with him.

Dec 2nd 2012 at 10:49:23 PM

^^^ Unfortunately, the stupid TRS backlog is preventing us from bringing this up...

Dec 3rd 2012 at 8:06:34 AM

^^^ Fair point. Although I don't see how that Burn Notice example wouldn't count as Undercover As Lovers.

I didn't realise The Beard was so non-specific, I just assumed it only applied to gay people because it's term used in everyday English to mean "a gay person's fake wife".

OK, I guess we could put these examples on The Beard for now, and then when TRS is accepting new submissions I'll propose splitting it.

Dec 3rd 2012 at 11:44:48 AM

Yeah, I knew that was kind of an iffy example, especially after I saw how vaguely written Undercover As Lovers was (it's basically so open ended it could fit under The Beard right now when it shouldn't). But I did some Google research and The Beard was apparently co-opted by the gay community from a slightly older meaning where it was about someone taking a date to parties to throw off suspicion they are having an affair with someone else who was married (in this case "the beard" is not about looking more masculine but the fact that it is able to hide your true face).

Aug 3rd 2017 at 1:47:29 PM

See also Marriage Before Romance, when the fake relationship becomes real.

Aug 14th 2017 at 9:31:11 PM

Love this idea, but are we sure this is not the same as Undercover As Lovers?

Aug 14th 2017 at 10:32:30 PM

Undercover As Lovers is about using this as a disguise — it's a subtrope.

Aug 15th 2017 at 5:42:07 AM

In The Proud Family, Penny and Sticky get into one of these because the former (begrudgingly) wanted to assist the latter in gaining back Dijonay's affections for him.

Aug 15th 2017 at 6:46:10 AM

In Kuzu no Honkai, Hanabi Yasuraoka and Mugi Awaya are going out together, but the couple loves someone else. Their teachers.

Aug 15th 2017 at 4:57:32 PM

^ I took out the spoiler tag because the info it covers is in the page-top description on the work page.

Aug 15th 2017 at 6:18:45 PM

Anime and Manga

  • Ranma One Half has a variant. After Ukyo mistakes Ranma's guilt induced kindness as affection she tries getting closer to him and even starts living with him. So in order to get Ukyo to leave, Ranma and Akane are forced to pretend to already be married, when they're actually just reluctantly engaged at that point. It doesn't fool Ukyo though who keeps making moves towards Ranma.

Aug 15th 2017 at 6:29:16 PM

  • In Koi To Uso, there are severe social consequences for not going through with your Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage. Yajima and his arranged fiance feel no connection and haven't willingly spent time together in years (in large part because he still loves his ex-girlfriend), but both claim to be in love and ready to marry any day because otherwise their careers would be in jeopardy.

Dec 5th 2017 at 8:43:54 PM

No one's updating this?

Dec 8th 2017 at 1:22:30 AM

I don't think this falls in any subtropes: Live-Action Film: In "White Christmas" the Danny Kaye and Vera=Ellen characters pretend to be a couple so her sister and his partner will get together and ease up on them.

Mar 7th 2018 at 1:54:57 PM

  • In the Doctor Who-episode "The Time of the Doctor", Clara accidentally told her relatives that she had a boyfriend, leading her to call the Doctor in a blind panic.
    Clara: Emergency: you're my boyfriend.
    The Doctor: Ding dong, okay, brilliant! I may be a bit rusty in some areas but I will glance at a manual!
    Clara: No no, you're not actually my boyfriend.
    The Doctor: (disappointed) Oh, that was quick. It's a rollercoaster, this phone call.
    Clara: But I need a boyfriend really quickly!
    The Doctor: Well, I hope you're nicer to the next one.

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