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Belligerent Sexual Tension / Live-Action TV

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  • Agent Carter. Agent Peggy Carter is always butting heads with her sexist co-worker Agent Jack Thompson. At one point, their boss says outright to Thompson's face that he has a crush on Peggy. Thompson doesn't deny this, implying that he demeans and dismisses her to cover it up.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us Skye and Ward, who start out diametrically opposed in every way, despite admitting they're attracted to each other. Ward ends up as Skye's SO, training her in combat and tactics, and they slowly grow closer despite their snarking, culminating in a short but intense kiss when Ward needs to go fight about a dozen enemy agents as a distraction. He's shortly thereafter revealed to be a HYDRA mole, and while his feelings for Skye were genuine, she goes from viewing him as "you'd be hot if you didn't brood so much" to "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME." He finally gets the hint when she shoots him three times in the chest and leaves him to die.
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  • Alex Drake and Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes (2008). This demonstrates it. Bearing in mind this is only one of three seasons and they didn't hook up until the very end.
  • Luke and Reid from As the World Turns. They are constantly snarking at each other but everyone knows they will end up together. They got together before the show ended, but only for a little while.
  • Lee Adama and Kara Thrace of Battlestar Galactica could easily blow the ship to pieces with the force of their BST (which remains belligerent even after they've had sex, and he deals with her sudden marriage to someone else).
  • Becker: John and Chris, best highlighted in this argument which reads like an Actor Allusion to the Sam/Diane scene below.
    Chris: Just to set the record straight, I don't love you.
    Becker: Well, I don't love you! I don't even know what made me think I could like you. You're so cute and sweet and nice and perky.
    Chris: Oh! Well, it's better than being a cranky old fart!
    Becker: I'm not cranky! There's just certain things that irritate me.
    Chris: Yeah, everything irritates you! You wouldn't know happiness if it bit you in the ass!
    Becker: Oh, yeah, why don't you bite me in the ass?
    Chris: Oh, why don't you bite yourself in the ass? Your head's right there, anyway!
    Becker: Just go away, would you?
    Chris: I'm going! Good night!
    Becker: Good night!
    Chris: No, no, good night!
    Becker: You wanna have dinner with me some time?
    Chris: I'd love to!
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  • Avon and Servalan of Blake's 7, and how. They spend most of the last two seasons either kissing or trying to kill each other; sometimes they don't even bother to separate the two.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • Jenny with Giles, at first.
    • Buffy with Spike, particularly notable in "Something Blue" and "Fool For Love".
    • Buffy and Angel in the earlier episodes, as Angel's personality hadn't been pinned down quite yet. It's largely dropped later on.
    • There's a Les Yay subtext between Buffy and Faith after the latter's Face–Heel Turn, and a Ho Yay version in the Angel spin-off with Angel and Spike.
    • Xander and Cordelia; in fact it's the only reason they can think of for their attraction, given that they loathe each other.
  • Michael Westen and Fiona Glenanne of Burn Notice. Starts out as Working with the Ex, goes through full-blown Destructo-Nookie, into Battle Couple, and ends Season 5 with Fi's non-fatal Heroic Sacrifice to keep Michael from becoming what he hates just to save her.
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  • Rick Castle and Kate Beckett from Castle scream this trope at the top of their lungs every episode. It progressed from secondary cast members noticing it, to suspects and witnesses who had never seen them before making comments, to eventually the two of them finally acknowledging the attraction, first to themselves and finally to each other. Amusingly, even with the Relationship Upgrade their dynamic hasn't changed one bit. They constantly snark at, belittle, and annoy each other... and then tumble into bed.
  • Cheers: Television Trope Codifier; most television shows since have mimicked the hostile romance between Sam and Diane. But in their case, it's a deconstruction. Their relationship is massively unhealthy, and causes them no end of misery because while they are incapable of being with one another (after one year, Sam falls off the wagon and Diane has to go into a sanatorium), they are almost as incapable of being without one another. Everyone around them tells them their relationship is unhealthy and doomed to fail, and ultimately, Sam actually agrees with this point.
    Sam: You are the nuttiest...the stupidest..the PHONIEST FRUITCAKE I ever met!
    Diane: And you, Sam Malone—are the most arrogant, self-centered, SON OF
    Sam: SHUT UP! ...shut your fat mouth!
    Diane: Make me.
    Sam: Make you...? My God, I'm, I'm gonna, I'M GONNA BOUNCE YOU OFF EVERY WALL IN THIS OFFICE!!
    Diane: [smirk] Try it and you'll be walking FUNNY tomorrow. Or should I say funnier!
    Sam: You know I always wanted to pop you one. Maybe this is my lucky day, huh?
    Diane: [low voice] You disgust me.... I hate you.
    Sam: Are you as turned on as I am?
    Diane: More!
    Sam: Bet me.
    [followed by The Big Damn Kiss]
  • In the jiang hu TV series Chinese Paladin III, both leads are tsunderes. It's particularly bad for the hero, since at the beginning the heroine knows more kung fu than him...
  • Community: Britta says "Jeff and I don't have sexual tension. We just argue all the time."... And then they hook up.
  • Wendy and Hodges on CSI. The common theory is that at some point Wendy will have to either kiss Hodges or punch him. Possibly both. The former, it turned out.
  • Dark Angel: Alec and Max. The attraction is more obvious from Alec's side, who seems to purposely piss her off just because he likes her reactions, but Max in rare moments hints she may feel the same.
  • Dawson's Creek: Joey and Pacey, particularly in the earlier seasons.
    • Lampshaded with Pacey and Hannah Von Winning in one episode.
      Hannah: Oh, a magic act. How appropriately juvenile of you.
      Pacey: Y'know, all this sexual tension can not be good for you complexion. What do you say you and me go backstage and do a little something about it?
    • Pacey with Andie.
      • Pacey has this with MANY women in the seasons. Coming from the show's main Deadpan Snarker, this should come as no surprise.
    • Joey with both Drew (early Season 4) and Charlie (in mid-Season 5)due to Snark-to-Snark Combat and one-sided or mutual attraction.
  • Dempsey and Makepeace: The immediate antagonism between Dempsey and Makepeace was countered by a strong physical attraction.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the Classic series, the Doctor (both of them) and Sarah Jane had their moments. The Third Doctor says sexist things just to get her riled up and drags her back to the TARDIS by her ear, and the Fourth abuses her to provoke her into Unstoppable Rage against an obstacle, threatens to bite her nose and likes grabbing her unexpectedly to make her squeal. She also does a fair amount of yelling, hair-pulling and wrestling. But the fact that they love each other is never in doubt, even if they might feel a bit funny about it when they realise they're both hugging each other.
    • River Song and the Doctor, who clearly care for each other very deeply but also spend a considerable amount of time snarking at and bickering with each other Like an Old Married Couple, which they may very well be (it's hinted at in a few episodes). Interestingly, the male half of the couple in question appears to be the Tsundere in the relationship.
    • Also, the Doctor and Amy a fair bit, despite the fact that she's been either engaged or married most of the time he's known her, and a child most of the time she's known him. And he's 900-something and a Time Lord, though (both?) of those problems also apply to River Song. It gets better. River Song has Time Lord DNA, and is Amy and Rory's daughter. She's kidnapped as a newborn baby in Series Six, and raised as a Laser Guided Tyke Bomb aimed at the Doctor. Whom she kills, and then sacrifices all her remaining regenerations to save.
      • It should also be noted that with the exception of River Song (and arguably Rose), neither Amy nor Sarah Jane were ever an official couple.
  • Lampshaded in Dollhouse in a twisted scene where Dr Saunders, having discovered she's just another personality programmed by Topher, tries to seduce him despite her loathing for the man. (To Topher's credit, he rejects her advances.)
    Saunders: But this is the end game. You designed someone to hate you so you could convince them to love you.
    Topher: I could whip up a love slave, any day I wanted!
    Saunders: But that wouldn't be a challenge, would it? [pushes him onto the bed] Slaves are just slaves. But winning over your enemy, the one person guaranteed to reject everything you are? That's real love.
  • Downton Abbey has Matthew and Mary. So, so much, particularly in Series 1.
    Mary: I've been studying the story of Andromeda; do you know it?
    Matthew: '[suspiciously]'' Why?
    Mary: Her father was King Cepheus, whose country was being ravaged by storms. And, in the end, he decided the only way to appease the gods was to sacrifice his eldest daughter to a hideous sea monster. So they chained her, naked, to a rock—
    Matthew: But the sea monster didn't get her, did he?
    Mary: No. Just when it seemed he was the only solution to her father's problems, she was rescued.
    Matthew: By Perseus.
    Mary: That's right. Perseus. Son of a god. Rather more fitting, wouldn't you say?
    Matthew: That depends. I'd have to know more about the princess and the sea monster in question.
  • John Crichton and Aeryn Sun in Farscape's first Season. Both seem to be jerks and tsunderes in varying degrees.
  • The Ferals: Rattus and Modigliana. In Feral TV, when Modi was helming a "mystery date" show with Rattus as one of the bachelors, they turned out to be pretty much made for each other, but under normal circumstances in both shows the only times they're not hitting and insulting each other is when they team up to hit and insult other people.
  • Firefly:
    • Back story indicates Wash and Zoe's relationship began like this: constant fighting that would end up in one or the other's bunk.
    • Inara is a highly-respected Companion but Mal hates whoring as a career option. She never ceases to rub in his face that at least her job is legitimate. Mal struggles with intimacy complications and Inara struggles with a secret she can't reveal. They also come from different walks of life: he was from the outer planets and volunteered to fight the Alliance. She's from a Core planet and supported Unification. He was a Christian whose faith in God was destroyed, she's a Buddhist whose faith is still going strong. He's a scavenger at the bottom end of the criminal pecking order, she's a highly respected, law abiding member of high society. They're both stubborn, determined, confident, passionate people who both want to protect the people they care about... often in different ways.
  • Frasier
    • Niles tries to instigate this intentionally after he and Daphne have an argument that leaves him trembling with arousal. Daphne, being Oblivious to Love as usual, doesn't get it and winds up acting even more sweet and polite than usual, thinking that Niles keeps insulting her because he's depressed. Fail.
      • It does work later on, somewhat more spontaneously- their first time having sex came after a blow-out argument.
    • The show also did a Deconstructive Parody of the Cheers example above when Frasier, arguing with a coworker, suddenly says, "Are you as turned on as I am?", which is met with a horrified "NO!"
      • Frasier must have been confused. The belligerence between him and Kate Costas, a former station manager spilled over into passion in season 3.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Jon and Ygritte. Aside from the fact that he's on the Night's Watch and sworn to defend the rest of Westeros from Wildlings like her, he's also sworn a vow of celibacy—something she doesn't hesitate to needle him on constantly. They're also both fully aware of Jon's unspoken attraction to her, and Ygritte keeps baiting him endlessly.
    • Between Irri and Rakharo in Season 1. They snipe at each other, but their argumentative relationship hides genuine feelings for each other. Unfortunately, the subplot had to be dropped in Season 2 and it turns into Love Hurts when he is killed.
    • Robb with Talisa, a surgeon he meets in the aftermath of Oxcross. They eventually marry.
  • Rory and Jess from Gilmore Girls started out as a mild form of this trope. They bickered over music, books and television before admitting that they really liked each other. And to a lesser extent, this was also how Rory and Logan initially got to know each other. Paris and Doyle's relationship is a more straightforward example.
  • The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: Frank Hardy & Nancy Drew. Dear GODS, Frank & Nancy. The first time the Hardys & Nancy Drew met, Nancy throws Frank to the floor. All episodes featuring the trio inevitably have Nancy & Frank getting seriously on each others' nerves — until they finally share a kiss at the end of "Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom".
    Nancy: ARGH!!! Frank Hardy is the most exasperating...annoying...frustrating...
    Bess: ...cute.
    Nancy: NO! (pause) Well, maybe a little...
  • House of Anubis:
    • Patricia and Eddie in Season 2 are the most famous example, as their feelings are obvious to everyone despite their bantering. Eddie eventually heard her tell Joy that she did like him, but she denied it. Their BST even continued after their kiss.
    • Joy and Jerome had some of this as well, though it started as actual hatred. She actually tried and failed to invoke this, when she was pretending to have feelings for him, giving us this little gem when she tries to discuss the trope with him.
      Joy: Like we are just pretending, and using hate to cover up our real feelings for each other?
      Jerome:, I think it's just cause we don't like each other.
  • Deconstructed with Ted and Zoey in season 6 of How I Met Your Mother, which combines it with a mild form of Dating Catwoman. Their relationship is initially antagonistic because Zoey is standing in the way of Ted accomplishing his lifelong dream of designing a skyscraper in New York City, with Zoey trying to prevent the destruction of an old hotel which is to be site of Ted's building. While they soon become attracted to each other, they continue to argue over Ted's building and basically everything else. This ultimately causes their relationship to mutate into a full-blown Destructive Romance, as their inability to agree on anything results in heartbreak for both of them.
  • Played with on iCarly with the Sam and Freddie relationship. They do nothing but bicker, whilst Sam routinely abuses him, punches him, bullies him and does things like hit him with tennis racquets and throw him out of tree houses. They share their First Kiss in season two but it's not a result of Slap-Slap-Kiss. In season 4 Sam suddenly kisses him in the middle of a speech he was giving about how she needs to put her feelings out there. Because he thought she liked another guy.
    • The trope itself is deconstructed during the 4 part story arc when they enter in a full-blown Masochism Tango. The arc shows what happens when Sam and Freddie, two people who continually bicker, fight, argue and often act in ways that show they legitimately hate each other start dating. They fight, bicker, argue, piss each other off constantly, drag each other down into fighting harder than they did before due to spending more time with each other. They need Carly to fix their fights even more than usual, to the point Carly snaps and tells them they shouldn't be dating at all. It doesn't get better. The last episode shows them being unable to share an interest of the other without ruining it for the person whose interest it is. They have no shared interests outside of filming the webshow and their relationship fades away because they have no reason to see each other for anything but making out. They also realise their personalities are too different to work in a relationship for more than a few weeks. As Sam and Freddie are a pretty standard Belligerent Sexual Tension ship, the arc serves as a deconstruction of the trope as a whole.
  • Tsukasa and Natsumi spend much of Kamen Rider Decade arguing. Tsukasa trolls, Natsumi hits him with the Hikari Secret Technique. Admittedly, since this is Kamen Rider, it's not explicitly said that they end up together, but it is implied by the end.
  • Tenkaichi and Fujii (said right from the start to be his possible love interest) have this in Lessons for a Perfect Detective Story mostly because each of them hate how the other solves crimes—throughout Tenkaichi refers to Fujii as an amateur who doesn't understand how crime solving works, who is also completely unfeminine, and she believes he's an idiot because he does extremely counter-intuitive things but always gets it right. Fujii only accepts that she has feelings for Tenkaichi at the very end when she learns she won't see him again after the end of the show.
  • The step-siblings Derek and Casey from Life with Derek fit this trope to a T, despite that the creator of the show constantly stated it was just "sibling banter". The actors, however, admitted they intentionally invoked this trope most of the time.
  • Kyle and Max in Living Single. At times, they took turns as to who was the Jerk and who was the Tsundere in various episodes.
  • MacGyver: The writers attempted to set this up between Mac and Nikki Carpenter. However, Nikki was not popular with fans and she was quickly Put on a Bus, never to be heard from again.
  • The Mentalist: Lisbon has yelled at Jane more times than there are episodes. Jane does some sort of Bunny-Ears Lawyer trick that is likely to get both of their asses fired about as often. Doesn't mean they wouldn't kill and die for each other.
  • The Mighty Boosh. Sweet, handsome Vince Noir and awkward Loner Howard Moon are made for each other. Everyone in the Boosh universe, naturally, can see it except them.
    • Addressed by Howard in "Party" after he and Vince kiss on the rooftop when Vince is being threatened with death.
      Howard: The arguing, the bickering, it's all because of the sexual tension! The deep, powerful, molten sexual tension that's been brewing up between us!
  • Nathan and Kelly in Misfits are many fans' apparent One True Pairing. What with him being a snarky and immature Jerkass Woobie and she an aggressive, telepathic Tsundere chav, the ensuing clash of issues and attitude problems is an unexpected joy to behold.
  • Moonlighting: Dave and Maddie in spades. Every episode featured them arguing about their case of the week with the undercurrent being how attracted to each other they were. The third season episode "Atomic Shakespeare" lampshaded this by casting the two as Petruchio and Kate in an Affectionate Parody of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.
  • Nick and Jess in New Girl, even after they get together. They end up deconstructing this dynamic, eventually breaking up after realizing that the only thing they see eye-to-eye on is that they love each other, and that they can't stay together while arguing over almost everything else.
  • The Newsroom: Will and Mac. They spend two full seasons bickering back and forth, with Will repeatedly punishing her for cheating on him back when they were together before the series. The attraction is still there for both of them, but they're both wounded and can't come to terms with it until Will finally realizes that he's still in love with her, and he fumbles around a marriage proposal. She accepts.
  • On Northern Exposure, Dr. Joel Fleischmann and Maggie O'Connell's long-simmering UST was severely impeded by a) his tendency to deal with his severe Fish out of Water status with fits of jerk behavior, and b) her severe resistance to relationships after the deaths of several previous boyfriends (which she believed to be her curse).
  • Person of Interest: Root and Shaw. Though there's plenty of punching, eye-rolling, and even shooting (mostly on Shaw's part), the two have more than their fair share of sexual tension and clearly care about each other, though Shaw refuses to admit it for a long, long time.
    Root: Hey kids. You miss me between drug deals?
    Shaw: Yeah. I miss you like I miss an intestinal parasite.
    Root: I love your similes.
  • Max and Kenny in Picket Fences are a great example of this trope. They may be best friends but they sure love arguing over little things, as well as incessantly insulting and teasing each other. This is mainly because they're clearly in love and just refuse to admit it. Seriously, denial reaches new levels with these two. Even after they've finally slept together, they still refuse to admit their feelings to each other. At first, anyway.
    Kenny: I went into that bed to get laid, period.
    Max: But that's not what happened, you were making love to me. That wasn't just fun between the sheets, you were making love!
    Kenny: That's what you wanted to see!
    Max: Ugh, why would I want to see that? You're a Cro-Magnon, you think I want some Neanderthal to fall in love with me??
  • Power Rangers
  • In Quantico, Caleb spends one episode trying to make Shelby's life hell in retaliation for her getting him kicked off of the shooting range. After she confronts him about it, they end up making out.
  • Della and Sean in Raised by Wolves. They are divorced, and although Della makes it quite clear she has no time for her ex, and every time they meet they argue, you get the feeling that the sparks that fly are being generated by so much sexual tension you could run a small town off the energy.
  • Helen Magnus and Nikola Tesla of Sanctuary. Sure, they have different opinions about bringing vampires back. And yes they did have a few arguments about this (Nikola once said "Magnus has shot me more times than I can count"). But still, he is the only one who gets on her nerves that much and gets away with it. Not to mention that lately she seems to realize that she cares about him. And that grabbing his arms and pulling him closer to her during a little quarrel they had is completely acceptable... Taken to another level and possibly made canon with their Now or Never Kiss in the season 4 finale.
  • Dr. Cox and Jordan of Scrubs. They were married and got divorced, but kept up this trope even after their relationship officially ended. They also kept sleeping together, had two kids, move back in together, and basically stayed married in every sense but the technical(though one episode has them find out that they were still married due to an error made by Ted, though they quickly divorced, but stayed together). And they love this trope so much that when Jordan insists they stop fighting for their son's benefit, the other characters treat it as if they have stopped having sex. Fighting is sex to these two.
  • Chad and Sonny on Sonny with a Chance. Sonny is definitely, with her tsuntsun side only triggered by Chad and occasionally Tawny. Come to think of it... As Chad was only introduced in the 2nd episode, Sonny and Tawni actually came first for this. As of the end of Season 1, it looks like some movement in the Chad/Sonny relationship is happening, a remarkably quick Relationship Upgrade for this type of couple (assuming they don't muck around for another season or 2 denying their obvious feelings for each other).
  • Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran of Stargate SG-1. With Vala the Jerk with a Heart of Gold able to annoy Daniel (in a way no one else quite could) into losing his cool. Also none of the other cast really expect them to get together, but Mitchell did sometimes tease Daniel about it. They actually took the Belligerent part of this trope quite literally in Vala's first episode with a spectacular fight sequence unlike anything ever seen in the show. Lampshaded right off the bat by Vala with; "You know, we could just have sex instead."
    • In the series finale, the main cast is stuck in a bubble of accelerated time, trying to figure out how to get off the ship before it explodes. It takes Major Carter fifty years to figure out how (by reversing time to before the ship gets hit), and in that time, Vala and Daniel hook up and live a happy (and apparently monogamous) life together.
  • A subplot of one Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode involves Chief O'Brien being forced to work with a female Cardassian engineer. The two spend the entire episode bickering and sniping at each other. He interprets her apparent hostility as typical Cardassian disdain for humans. She interprets his apparent hostility as O'Brien coming onto her, since apparently BST forms the basis of Cardassian courtship. (The Garak/Bashir slashers proceeded to have a lot of fun with the implications of Garak arguing with Bashir over literature for three years.)
  • Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, the Official Couple on Star Trek: Voyager (sometimes it appeared they were the only couple on Voyager). In one episode, a pair of aliens even described this in precise detail while observing the two.
    Aliens: Note how the female through the feigned antagonism encourages the male in his attempt to mate.
  • Supernatural:
    • Bela Talbot had it with both Winchester boys. She shot Sam and he still had dirty dreams about her. The trope was almost invoked word for word when Bella offered Dean "angry sex".
    • Dean's relationship with Cassie in the first season episode "Route 666" seemed to fall under this.
    • Whenever Meg and Castiel show up in the same episode, this is their default behavior toward each other. This includes insults, occasional physical violence, and wall-slamming kisses.
    • Played for Homoerotic Subtext in "Point of No Return". Dean sees Castiel glaring at him and says, "Not for nothing dude, but the last time someone looked at me like that, I got laid."
  • The Thick of It Peter Mannion, overhearing Emma and Phil bickering, once asks them: "What is this? sexual tension?" Their (apparently sincere) response is less than enthusiastic:
    Phil: Fuck off, I'd rather pay for it.
    Emma: I'd rather fucking eat my own shit.
  • In The Time In Between, Sira and Marcus evolve into a mild version of this, butting heads when they are both in the middle of espionage activities but don't know the other is too.
  • Series 2 of Torchwood introduces John Hart's relationship with Captain Jack Harkness by having them make out with each other... and then immediately beat the crap out of each other.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Klaus and Caroline throughout Seasons 3 and 4, particularly from Caroline who eventually even admits it. It gets resolved after a passionate one-night stand in the woods.
    • Damon and Bonnie positively oozed this at the beginning of Season Six through their non-stop arguing, but after being trapped in a dimension for four months with no one else for company what else would you expect?
    • Damon and Elena to a lesser extent, but only in the first 3 seasons.
  • Pete and Kelly the vet in early Warehouse 13 season 2:
    Myka: What is it with you two?
    Pete: Man, I hate her!
    Myka: Right...


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