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Accidental Proposal

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"I made some cocoa and got engaged."
The First Doctor, Doctor Who, "The Aztecs"

Any situation in which a character carries out an action that is misinterpreted as a wedding proposal by another character. Typically, the latter character accepts, much to the former character's horror. Hilarity ensues.

It can be done in a number of ways: Bob wishes to propose to Alice and shows the engagement ring to Carol, who assumes he's actually proposing to her, not Alice; Evan wishes to propose to Alice and Bob finds the ring and shows it to Alice; Bob says something which, taken out of context, could sound very much like a wedding proposal; a Culture Clash where Bob is not aware that some completely mundane act in his culture is considered a marriage proposal in Alice's culture; etc.

Usually Played for Laughs but can occasionally be Played for Drama.

Common in sitcoms and soap operas. Sister Trope to Accidental Marriage (indeed, this trope often leads to that one). Can easily lead to a "Fawlty Towers" Plot. Contrast I Didn't Mean to Turn You On, where one character accidentally inspires a love that's a bit less romantic and a bit more... earthly.

Compare/contrast the Mistaken for Index.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Played for Drama in A 29-Year-Old Bachelor, Transported To A New World To Live Freely... At Least He Wanted To. After making a lot of money on an unexpectedly dangerous quest that also brought them closer together, isekai protagonist Taishi takes his teammate-turned-lover Marle shopping for better gear. He notices her admiring an expensive mythril shortsword, and ends up buying it for her while she's distracted. Later that day, during a date, he presents it to her, and although she's hesitant to take it at first, after a little convincing, she happily accepts it, and Taishi is surprised when the people nearby start applauding and congratulating them. When they return to their inn, the innkeeper's wife spots it and recalls when her husband gave her a mythril shortsword, prompting Taishi to ask if gifting a mythril shortsword has any special meaning. After a bit of stunned silence, Marle starts crying. Taishi has been hiding the fact that he was actually summoned from another world, and this is his first time hearing that in this world, it's common knowledge that when a man gives a mythril sword or dagger to a woman, he's promising to keep her safe if she'll agree to belong to him alone. After returning to their room, Taishi gently explains that he didn't realize he was proposing marriage so it didn't count, then devastates her by taking the mythril shortsword out of her hands... and presents it to her again.
  • In Cat's Eye, Hitomi had once slapped an exploding watch on Kamiya's wrist to stop his latest attempt to woo her, only to realize that Mitsuko Asatani had the matchbox with the code to enter to stop the watch from exploding in fifteen minutes. Not wishing to die, Kamiya started running like a possessed, ruined the cover of three of Mitsuko's fellow cops to find her, barged in the cafe where she was, cried out he had searched for her in all of Tokyo, punched away a guy who tried to shoo him away, grabbed the matchbox, entered the code... and suddenly realized Mitsuko was there for her omiai.note  With the guy he punched out. Before their friends. And Mitsuko's father. Who was praising him for the 'manliness' he just showed. Mitsuko accepted.
  • Used for a one-shot gag in Gate: After Princess Pina has led the Empire's negotiations with Japan, the (female) Japanese diplomat tries to shake Pina's hand... which is used for marriage proposals in the Empire. The difference is quickly explained and it doesn't get mentioned again.
  • Headhunted to Another World: At the end of chapter 8, the Demon Overlord gives Uchimura a runestone as a reward for his efforts thus far. To thank Ulmandra for helping him (and smooth things over after they had a spat over an unintended insult by him), he gives it to Ulmandra—not realizing that this is considered a marriage proposal among the demons. (Didja have to do it on bended knee?) He does it again when he buys a set of wedding goblets from a merchant as props for a gambit to establish trade ties with King Rampaige, and gives one to Ulmandra just because he thought she'd like it.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Early in the series, Italy greets Japan with a hug. Japan then insists that Italy take responsibility for his actions.
    • A similar situation happened with Pochi (Japan's pet dog) and Netherlands' rabbit after the latter greeted the former by licking him.
  • Downplayed in Heterogenia Linguistico. Hakaba compliments a lizardman's scales, but this is apparently equivalent to flirting, and Hakaba's guide Susuki asks if Hakaba was coming on to him (the lizardman).
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, Suletta gets one of these with Miorine when she and her Gundam Aerial get involved in a duel against Guel and his Dilanza. According to the school's rules, the top duelist is Miorine's fiance. By beating Guel, Suletta immediately became the school's top duelist, the two are now in a relationship, even despite poor Suletta trying to dissuade it by pointing out she's a girl.
  • In Nisekoi, Raku and Chitoge are walking together and Chitoge sees a sign advertising a certain charm that a man can give a woman to propose. Just then, Raku gets his hands on one of these charms. Thinking nothing of it, he casually hands it to her. He has no idea why she is freaking out, until he sees the sign and freaks out as well, desperately explaining it was a misunderstanding.
  • Ranma ½ has Shampoo's village of Joketsuzoku; according to the rulebook, not only is she supposed to give a Kiss of Death to any non-Joketsuzoku girl who defeats her, but she's also supposed to marry any non-Joketsuzoku guy who defeats her. Between being a guy who defeated her in front of her whole village (admittedly in the wrong form, thanks to his Gender Bender curse), followed by knocking her out cold again in male form in her first appearance in Japan, Shampoo and her great-grandmother insist that Ranma is engaged to her.
  • In The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World, When Idola pricks her ring finger on a cactus, Red uses his powers to produce a band-aid to keep the wound clean. He's unaware of her flustered reaction to this and thinks nothing of it until later on, where Rosie points out that in this world, few people have the funds for precious metal or jeweled bands. As such, proposals are often made with any kind of ring-shaped object... like that band-aid Red put on. He then tells Red to "take responsibility" and ask for Poseidon's blessing for Idola's hand in marriage. Red, now thoroughly aware of the implications and Poseidon's likely reaction, tries to get Idola to take it off already, only for her to preserve it with magic so she can wear it like an actual ring.
  • The Rurouni Kenshin anime has a filler episode devoted to this trope, as Kenshin is told by his friends to give his girlfriend Kaoru a ring he found in a fish he caught. Kenshin had never heard of the Western custom of proposing with a ring, but Kaoru had—the poor girl believes this to be an engagement proposal. By the end of the episode, though, all is confessed (and the ring is returned to the original owner, who was this close to killing himself because he threw it away after a fight with his fiance, but now can give it back to her and she wears it proudly) ...and poor Kaoru is so disappointed that she's seen stuffing her face in the Akebeko to try cheering herself up. There's still a sweet scene at the end where Kenshin makes up with her by bringing her flowers, though.
  • In Tamako Market, Dera colliding with Tamako's face causes her to sneeze violently; and apparently Dera's culture interprets sneezing at someone as a declaration of courtship towards them. Dera assesses the situation accordingly.
  • Rito Yuuki from To Love Ru accidentally fondled Cute Alien Princess Lala's breasts when she teleported into his bathtub, which is a proposal of marriage in her culture. When it actually comes time to go through with it, Lala, having known all along he didn't want to marry her and that his earlier confession was meant for someone else, backs off. At first she had been using him as an excuse not to have to go through with other marriage arrangements, but had quickly fallen for him and in the end didn't want to force him into anything.
  • Uncle from Another World: Uncle Yousuke Shibasaki constantly gives people valuable rings as a form of payment. They always interpret this as a proposal, while he is oblivious.
  • This trope kicks off the plot of Urusei Yatsura. During a competition to determine the fate of the Earth, Ataru's girlfriend promises to marry him if he wins. After defeating his female alien competitor Lum, he says how glad he is that he can get married. Lum thinks he's talking about marrying her, falls in love with him and accepts his "proposal".
  • In the epilogue of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, when Miyamura insists that Yamada should propose to Shiraishi, he makes Yamada do a roleplay where he (Miyamura) plays Shiraishi. Once Yamada goes along with it and yells "will you marry me?!", Shiraishi walks in and thinks Yamada is proposing to Miyamura.

    Asian Animation 
  • Lamput: In "Date Night", Fat Doc's date is about to be ruined when he hurts Lamput and his date gets angry. Lamput morphs into a wedding ring at the last moment to make it look like Fat Doc is proposing to her. It works, much to Fat Doc's joy.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics: In one of the Xmas issues, Moose shows Jughead a jewellery store window with a birthstone ring. He then asks Jughead to find out from his girlfriend, Midge, if she'd like that ring for Christmas. So later, Jug casually asks Midge if she would like the ring in the store window. Midge kisses Jughead and runs off in ultimate excitement. Turns out the jeweller had since placed a diamond engagement ring in the birthstone's spot. Since Moose was normally so jealous that he was known to hospitalize other guys for merely talking to Midge, Jughead was now seriously in deep doo-doo.
  • Kathy (1959): In issue #18's "Wedding Belles", Kathy's looking at a bridal wear shop window when Rick tells her he'll have a very important question for her that evening. She immediately assumes he's about to propose and, after he leaves, starts trying on dresses and preparing. Rick actually wants Kathy's opinion on the way he's customised his car's fenders and grill.

    Comic Strips 
  • Foxtrot: Eileen Jacobson begins her "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essay by announcing that Jason proposed to her. Jason uncorks a multi-panel Big "WHAT?!", while his best friend Marcus seems unsurprised: "Dude, you waved hi at her when she was with her dad. What'd you think it meant?"

    Fan Fiction 
  • After Rayla injures her head in Accidental Marriage Proposal, Ezran tends to the wound by wrapping Callum's scarf around Rayla's head and left horn (for leverage). Rayla promptly freaks out because wrapping an elf's left horn is considered a marriage proposal by Xadia standards. When Callum finds out, he falls to the floor laughing before explaining to Rayla that Ezran was simply tending to her wound and not proposing to her.
  • In Alpha And Omega (Fanfic), Shinji asks Aria to be his bond mate without realizing it's the equivalent of marriage.
  • In An Anthem for Sheltered Bays, Levi makes Eren trade six of his scales for his mantle. Since merfolk only trade scales for marriage proposals, Eren believes that they are engaged. They do actually marry.
  • In the Broken Bow series, letting a wood nymph braid your hair is their equivalent of giving you an engagement ring, as Armani finds out too late.
  • Coby's Choice: Amy does this to Gin while on Little East Blue, by offering to give him a last name, which counts as a proposal in his homeland.
  • In The Concubine Mo Chronicles, Wei Wuxian jokes Lan Wangji wouldn't be able to get rid of him if the man took him as a concubine. Since Lan Wangji is hopelessly in love with Wei Wuxian and not keen on letting him go after thirteen years of mourning for him, the Imperial Brother immediately jumps on the opportunity and brings Wei Wuxian to the Palace as his spouse.
  • Inverted in the Transformers fanfic Cross-Cultural Contamination: Trailbreaker fully intended to propose to Mirage when he gave Mirage a box of electric blue candy, but Mirage had no idea that by eating it he was accepting Trailbreaker's proposal. He doesn't mind being engaged when he finds out, but he is quite upset at misinterpreting the gesture, so he proposes to Trailbraker using his own tradition.
  • In the Transformers fanfiction Culture Shock, Megatron beats up Starscream (yet again), then offers the Seeker assistance in standing in an attempt to be condescending... only to learn that in the Seeker's hometown of Vos, such an act is considered an offer for a permanent bond. Starscream accepts the "proposal", and the trine makes it clear that refusing to participate is a bad idea, so he has no choice but to go through with it.
  • In the snippet Customs of Mandalore, Ezra is disappointed that Sabine didn't even hug him goodbye, only for the others to tell him (between bouts of gut-busting laughter) that he gave her his weapon during a battle, which on Mandalore is considered a marriage proposal as your putting someone else's life ahead of yours. While it only applies to someone close to you, Ezra and Sabine fulfill the requirements and since she accepted his weapon, they're now officially engaged.
  • Since Sona Sitri canonically swore she would marry only the man who would beat her at chess, Different DxD throws her in a tizzy when Issei manages it, and she refuses to talk about it for one year. Issei is quite surprised when he learns he's technically betrothed to her, but decides to go through the agreement since Sona made friends with him over the year and they came to fall in love.
  • Doctor Ghemor, I Presume? establishes that a Cardassian touching another's shoulders in a public setting is seeking a courtship ending in enjointment. A very flustered Bashir — who accidentally responded to Garak doing this by flirting with him — sputters that maybe the tailor was unaware it wasn't the human way, but since it's Garak, he was most likely trying to mess with the doctor and rolled with the flow. Or he was genuinely appreciative of Bashir but expressed it in a very Cardassian way. Or both.
  • In Dynasty, half-Cardassian Harriet was raised human and as such didn't thought that insults could be misconstrued for flirting, or punching the boy who just insulted her was basically equivalent to a betrothal. Cue poor besotted Mekor asking if she would like for their Bonding to be held in his ancestral house.
  • In a sense in En Tempus Veritas; Clark was planning to propose to Lois, but she walked in on him as he was practising it and drove him to make it right then.
  • Downplayed in Entirely Out of Spite since Ajax meant to ask Zhongli if the older man would agree to date him, only to bring him gifts decorated with dragons and phoenixes — traditional Chinese bridal imagery. The extremely flustered and happy Zhongli wants to wait a bit before committing, but nonetheless offers Ajax a wedding ring to seal the agreement.
  • In Havfruen Og Bein, shortly after becoming a mermaid, Charlie finds a pearl, then meets Thundercracker (who is a mermech in this story), who tries to attack her. In an attempt to stop the attack, Charlie offers him the pearl she found, unaware that offering a pearl to someone is the mermech method of proposing to someone. She's pretty embarrassed when she learns her mistake (luckily, Thundercracker doesn't hold her to it).
  • This piece of Gravity Falls fanart. For those too lazy to click on the link, Pacifia accidentally drops her ring, and when Dipper tries to return it to her, she thinks he's asking her to marry him.
  • There are so many The Hobbit fanfics about this that it may well be considered its own genre. Fanon has it that dwarves have complicated courting customs and of course it almost never occurs to them that Bilbo might not be familiar with those.
  • In this The Legend of Korra fanart, Mako gets Korra a necklace as a "thank-you for being a good friend" present. Unbeknownst to Mako, said necklace is a water-tribe betrothal necklace.
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fanfic An Indirect Proposal, Adrien says he would marry the person who made the pastry he ate, and ends up accidentally proposing to Marinette.
  • In Lum Sum Purple, Shampoo is chosen to be Lum's opponent in the tag game. While she wins, she is angry at having been humiliated twice, and gives Lum the Kiss of Death—unfortunately for Shampoo, the Oni interpret it as the Kiss of Marriage, and declare Lum and Shampoo married.
  • In the b-plot to the Meg's Family chapter "Family Goth", after Maddie and Stewie get freed from a finger trap, Cody lies and tells them that in Chinese custom that since their fingers touched they're engaged. They get "married", and when Stewie actually wants to make the relationship work, Cody has a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he realizes that an uncle and niece are acting like they're really married.
  • Nerve Damage: After Rin rages about Shirou's stupidly overpowered magic style, Shirou offers to teach it to her. Rin points out that 1: It's completely incompatible with what she already knows and trying would kill her, and 2: You're only supposed to share your secrets with your own family. He shrugs and says he can teach her future children instead. There's a Beat, and then they both blush as they realize that the logical combination of those two facts means that he would have children with her, who he would then teach. Several times throughout the story, Rin catches herself thinking about their hypothetical overpowered children.
  • The first chapter of Our Mrs Monkey shows Nami accidentally blurting out "Marry Me" to Luffy and Luffy deciding to accept. Nami tries to explain it was an accident, but everyone in Cocoyashi Village gets caught in the moment and tries to marry the two on the spot. Nami manages to explain the situation before crunch time. That gets undone when Usopp forges marriage documents for them to land in Loguetown.
  • After viewing a particularly emotional piece, Vinyl Scratch tells Octavia she'd like to go on a "tour that lasts forever." Literally every other character in the Reading Rainbowverse interprets this as a proposal and starts preparing for her wedding, leading to Vinyl freaking out and locking herself in Fluttershy's bathroom.
  • Six Brides For Two Sisters: It is revealed that Princess Celestia offered to officiate Twilight's wedding back when Twilight was still a filly under her tutelage. Due to a poor choice of wording on Celestia's part, Twilight has been living under the assumption that Celestia intends to marry her when Twilight decides she is ready. Celestia herself is quite stunned when she realizes that everyone, including Twilight, thought it was a proposal.
  • Chapter 28 from Thirty Tales of a Swordsman sees the Strawhats end up on an island where a man has to offer some heirloom item to the girl then ask for her family to come get her for the wedding preparation. Zoro inadvertantly fulfills both conditions when he helps some fruit merchant girl, giving her a dropped necklace - he thought it was hers - and asking if she needs someone to come for her - as, does she need a doctor. The whole village immediately starts the wedding preparation and poor Zoro almost finds himself married. Fortunately - for him - Luffy disagrees as the wedding would mean Zoro wouldn't be able to adventure with the Strawhats anymore.
  • In This is the key to Victory, Ryuunosuke is chosen as Lum's opponent in the tag game, and during the game she tells Lum that she is never going to let go of her. While she meant that she would never let go of Lum until she could grab the Oni's horns, Lum believes that she is being proposed to, and being unaware of Ryuunosuke's real gender accepts the "proposal". She still wants to go with it even when Ryuunosuke reveals that she's female.
  • In The 100 fic "This Must Be the Place", when Clarke and Anya retreat to a bunker after escaping Mount Weather, Clarke unwittingly proposes to Anya when she suggests a 'union' when discussing the possibility of an alliance against Mount Weather. In the process, Clarke unwittingly gives Anya the three primary offerings expected of a union; protection (shelter from the storm), nourishment (the food supplies in the bunker), and creation (a picture of Anya's lost warrior, Tris, as Clarke affirms her regret over failing to save her). Anya reciprocates by going out and killing a wolf so that Clarke can use its skull as a pauldron in her status as a leader and its skin for warmth (protection), various foods (nourishment), and a knife carved with the same pattern of stars at the time the dropship fell (creation), with the union culminating in the connection of spirits as Clarke and Anya have sex for the first time.
  • In Those Obnoxious Ghosts, Danny ends up engaged to Lum when she misinterprets his statement of marriage being similar to a battle where you have to do whatever it takes to come out on top, and believes that he's asking her to marry him.
  • Both The Unwanted Harem Of Nathan Adams and Damona In The Details involve Nate becoming engaged to Damona by accepting the medal she gives him. He's unaware of this until she mentions it, and she's not going to accept his ignorance as an excuse.
  • In Urusei Yatsura: Love to Skate!, the Original Character who replaces Ataru in that fateful game of tag rhetorically asks if he should propose to Lum... only for the last part of the conversation to be picked up via microphone and overheard by Lum.
  • Played with in Xander the Maou, when Xander gets tired of dealing with Senator Kinsey and pretends slapping someone (which Kinsey just did) is a marriage proposal in his culture. Considering Xander is technically royalty, Kinsey is Reassigned to Antarctica for potentially causing a diplomatic nightmare.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Corpse Bride, Victor (Johnny Depp) is practicing his wedding vows in the forest, having fouled them up at the earlier rehearsal. When he manages to do it correctly, he slips the ring onto what he assumes is a twig sticking up from the ground. Instead, it's the hand of the titular Corpse Bride, Emily (Helena Bonham Carter), who accepts his "proposal".
  • Frozen II: Played for Laughs when Kristoff sees what appears to be Princess Anna's silhouette approaching and makes a grand, romantic proposal with several reindeer and his wingman Ryder helping. The person steps into the light and is revealed to be Yelena, who awkwardly tells him, "No."
  • In Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Amazing Pleasant Goat, Wolffy, while trapped in the prehistoric age and stuck in Paddi's body, hits one of the prehistoric goats with a stick in an attempt to stun it. The goat he hits is a female named Miss Lotus, and unfortunately for Wolffy, hitting another goat with a stick is the prehistoric goats' way of showing their affection for each other and gets him engaged with Miss Lotus.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Leap Year (1921): Poor Stanley does this three times in rapid succession on Catalina, gaining three unwanted fiancées. He kind of brings it on himself, like when he tells Molly "what you need is a husband" after Molly has a breakup with her boyfriend.
  • In Ride 'em Cowboy, Willoughby accidentally shoots an arrow into an Indian maiden's teepee. Tribal custom says this is a proposal of marriage and Lou and Bud spend much of the rest of the film running away from the bride-to-be and her tribe.
  • In The Searchers, Martin Pawley thinks he's buying a blanket from some Indians. Turns out he's married one of them instead, "Look". Ethan Edwards thinks it's hilarious. He is also rather nicer to the unexpected bride than her "husband", despite the fact that she's a Comanche.

  • Amaranthine Saga: For obvious reasons, the main plot of Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal involves one of these. Kimiko gives a comb to Eloquence Starmark (which in itself was an accident, as she had actually brought sweets, but they were eaten by his little brother), without knowing that a tailcomb is a highly traditional betrothal gift. In this case, Eloquence (and it's implied his father and the other adults as well) realize it's a mistake, but he convinces Kimiko to go through with it, because his role in the clan forbids him from pursuing a mate—but he IS permitted to be pursued.
  • Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman: George and Harold write a fake marriage proposal from Principal Krupp in Ms. Ribble's retirement card. The pair are too flummoxed to protest, and the staff arranges a wedding for them.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump has a similar case when, upon arriving on a crime scene with his girlfriend, David introduces her as his fiancée to avoid complaints. On their way home, both agree that they wouldn't mind.
  • In the seventh Ciaphas Cain novel, Cain does this to the daughter of a noble (who's after a husband so she can stake her claim as the governor of her homeworld) by basically nodding his head and going "uh-huh?" through one conversation too many when she's hinting at it. He wouldn't really mind it since it means a life of ease with an attractive woman, but he can't actually resign his commission. He gets out of it when she dumps him for the leader of a nearby planet.
  • Cradle Series:
    • When they first meet, Yerin asks Lindon to swear a mystical vow to help each other. Lindon hesitates, because that particular wording is typically used for mystical marriage vows in his clan (though not always; the vow can be used for anything, and his own parents didn't use it when they got married). Yerin is clearly completely unaware of the implications, so he doesn't say anything about it.
    • In book 7, Yerin and Lindon are both rewarded customizable cloudships. Lindon points out that they could do a lot better if they combine their rewards into one ship. Yerin stares at him, and it takes him a minute to realize he just asked her to build a home with him. He doesn't rescind the offer, though.
    • Happens once again in the final book. Lindon looks deep in thought, then pulls out a box and says it's something that should motivate Yerin. He opens it to reveal... an ugly-looking set of madra constructs. It turns out to be the memory echo of her dead master, so it is a big deal, but Yerin still gets whiplash from it.
  • Dexter: Dexter and Rita become engaged when Rita sees Dexter holding a ring (actually belonging to Dexter's sister's boyfriend) and assumes it's a proposal. In a twist, Dexter goes along with it.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth: During Uncle Gary's wedding to Sonja, Gary's best man Leonard reveals that Gary was actually planning to break up with Sonja during the baseball game they were attending and start dating her sister instead, but before he could do that a plane flew overhead with a banner saying "Marry Me Sonja?" Thinking it was from Gary, Sonja accepted. Gary would have told her the truth, but he was afraid the guys around his seat would beat him up if he let Sonja down.
  • In The Elenium, Sparhawk uses two near-identical ruby rings in order to save Queen Ehlana's life. One is traditionally worn by his family line, and the other by hers. Later he tries to return the ring to her, only for Ehlana to spot it's actually his family's ring rather than hers. She leaps on the mistake in order to make good on her childhood ambition of marrying him.
  • Garrett, P.I.: When Garrett and his girlfriend Tinnie encounter a powerful sorceress, he's worried the woman's flirty mannerisms will provoke Tinnie into a faux pas that will get them both blasted. He introduces Tinnie as his fiancee purely to defuse the situation, only to have her hold him to it and demand a ring a few pages later.
  • Gate:
    • An offered handshake is seen as a proposal by citizens of the empire, leading to some amusing moments during the peace negotiations.
    • In some cultures sleeping in the same room of the opposite sex for three days is seen as this, as Lelei claims she is now engaged to Itami.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Early in Storm Rising, the town council of Shonar asks Tremaine if some of his troops could possibly help with the harvest. Tremaine agrees, then realizes he'll need to have his volunteers briefed on local courting customs since they'll be working side by side with farm women — he doesn't want any issues with one person thinking they're in a casual relationship and the other thinking they're engaged.
  • I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in the Real World, Too: Yuuya is asked to give a present to Princess Lexia, so he provides some high quality bedsheets. Her father is furious and he is informed that in this country, a gift of bedsheets is a proposal and an invitation to sleep together on top of said sheets.
  • InCryptid: Alex jokingly asks Shelby to marry him halfway through book three. She says yes... in the fourth book, which takes place a year later. By the end of the book, he's perfectly willing to go along with it. That book also doubles as a Meet the In-Laws episode.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, Bertie once tried to act as a go-between for Madeline and Gussie. It convinced Madeline that he was speaking for himself. Not only did she consider them engaged, later, after that engagement was broken and she was engaged to another man, she broke it off and declared she would instead marry Bertie and make him happy.
    • Amongst many other times. One of the most common plots for the stories is: Woman misinterprets Wooster's actions as a proposal of marriage; Wooster is too much the gentleman to contradict her; Jeeves has to arrange for the woman to break the engagement off, to get Wooster off the hook.
  • In Louisa May Alcott's Jo's Boys, Tommy accidentally proposes to Dora while still thinking himself in love with Nan, who had resolved to become a doctor and so to never marry. He is unable to contradict her on the spot, and the effect of the engagement is to shake him out of Oblivious to Love. (Nan makes up a basket of medical supplies for a wedding present, knowing Dora will need it for his accidents.)
  • In KonoSuba, Kazuma unknowingly proposes to Iris thrice - first when he accidentally steals her ring, which she will give to whoever marries her; then when he promises to defeat the Demon Lord, as it is a tradition for the hero to marry the princess as a reward for defeating the Demon Lord; and finally when he gives her a ring to replace the one he stole, in effect exchanging rings with her.
  • In Kyo Kara Maoh!, Wolfram badmouths Yuuri's mom, and Yuuri gets mad. Instead of punching Wolfram, Yuuri slaps him across the left cheek (apparently, Wolfram is too much of a Pretty Boy to punch). What Yuuri doesn't know is that slapping someone across the left cheek is how at least the noble classes propose marriage in Shin Makokou. When he finds out, Yuuri is horrified, but Wolfram (and darn near all the other characters too) takes the engagement very seriously.
  • In Much Fall of Blood, Erik offers Bortai "the protection of his house" when he sees her being pursued by murderous thugs. He used the mongol word Ger (a kind of tent). In her culture this was a proposal of marriage. Nobody took it seriously, but for months the Mongols were sharing an in-joke at the expense of their clueless European guest. Eventually he got wise to the joke, and actually married her.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. While dancing together, Zebadiah Carter and Deety Burroughs enjoy a passionate tango together. Zebadiah says "Whew! After a tango like that the couple ought to get married." Deety takes him completely seriously (not realizing he was just joking) and accepts his proposal.
  • In Out of Spite, Out of Mind, Martin accidentally sort-of proposes to Gwen. They spend the rest of the book avoiding one another. They eventually talk it out, and the book ends with them getting married in a Dune-themed wedding.
  • A Memoir by Lady Trent: Courtesy of some inconvenient travel accommodations and Isabella's complete lack of a brain-to-mouth filter, she tells Suhail she'll marry him so he can accompany her into the Labyrinth of Drakes without it being seen as improper, and then continues with the plans only realizing halfway through that she just proposed to him. He finds it hilarious and accepts.
  • In A Princess of Mars, John Carter becomes engaged to Dejah Thoris after she calls him "my chieftain" and he responds by calling her "my princess", with him not knowing what the exchange of those terms means. It takes him some time to work out why she becomes so upset with him.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Wildling custom is that a man wishing to 'marry' a spearwife has to kidnap or capture her while heavily risking injury, or even death, from the spearwife herself, who has been brought up to fight her suitors. If the man lives and proves himself worthy to her, he and the spearwife form a union. However, Jon Snow doesn't know this custom and doesn't even know Ygritte is a woman when he and Qhorin Halfhand capture her and her fellow wildlings during a ranging — and he didn't intend for this at all — but it is still taken by Ygritte to be a gesture of attraction and affection, especially when Jon saves her life shortly after this. Ygritte spends about half of the story trying to seduce Jon as a result, much to Jon's chagrin and embarrassment, while Jon (though he becomes more and more attracted to Ygritte) rejects her advances.
  • In Reborn, the merchant Oren realizes the Emperor's advisor/seer, Izra, is infatuated with him, but he doesn't quite feel the same. However, though Oren doesn't want to use Izra, he does recognize that having him as a long term ally will help in Oren's future diplomatic and trade endeavors. He asks Izra's sister Odrica how to demonstrate his intentions for a long-term friendship. She advises him on a public ritual he can do (while the group happens to be staying with Izra's priest friends), and the result is that every Suoduny worshiper in earshot starts raucously celebrting, an ecstatic Izra gushes in his language to them about his new husband, and Oren confused and pleased about how well their "friendship ritual" has gone.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero, Princess Melty appoints Naofumi archduke as payback for teasing her, hoping he will be buried in legal work like her. It isn't until later that she learns the title is reserved for the future king, and that Naofumi is now bound by law to marry her. By then its too late do undo it however.
  • In World Customize Creator, Yusuke Tagami simply wiping away Princess Violet's tears and cupping her face is apparently enough to be considered a fiance candidate, which she immediately points out. He does it again with Sun by giving her a strength enhancing ring for her protection. Sun, however, doesn't point it out, and simply basks in the knowledge that Yusuke cares about her deeply.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Mr. Humphries and Mrs. Slocombe on Are You Being Served?: he was going to suggest something else to her, but she thought he was about to propose marriage, and when he started with, "I propose," she interrupted with, "And I accept!"
  • Done by James in one episode Big Time Rush. Apparently giving a rose to a princess is a marriage proposal in some foreign countries like Kerplankistan, and the king spends the episode setting up a wedding between his daughter and James. Uniquely, the princess doesn’t want the marriage either, but can’t go against her father.
  • In Charite, Doctor Behring says to his very gracious benefactor, Director Spinola, that he feels honored to be treated by him as a part of their family — and has missed that, only a moment before, Spinola was commenting on what a pretty couple Behring and his daughter Else are, having always tried to make a match of them. Before Behring has realized as what his phrasing comes across, Spinola already announces their engagement. It's rather dramatic as Behring was at the time making plans to marry the love of his life, Ida Lenze, who now thinks he's let her down, and there's no way for Behring to back out without getting into serious trouble with the prestigious Spinolas.
  • In Chuck episode "Chuck vs the Cubic Z", Big Mike plans on proposing to Morgan's mother with a cubic zirconium. He entrusts Morgan to guard it, who ends up losing the ring. At the end of the episode, the ring falls into the airvent and lands in Castle. Chuck finds it and kneels on one knee to pick it up while looking at Sarah. Cue to extreme awkwardness between Chuck and Sarah.
  • In Community, After Jeff and Britta "profess their love for each other", Abed hands Jeff a ring and tells him to propose. However, Britta proposes instead, and a wedding ceremony begins in mere seconds afterwards. Of course it's all stopped after Annie slaps Jeff (because she was getting a crush on Jeff, and was insulted by his advances towards Britta. Although the advances themselves were just an act so people would stop shaming Jeff after what happened in the Season 1 finale) and tells the truth.
  • The first episode of Series Nine of Doc Martin has Al accidentally proposing to Morwenna.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Aztecs": The Doctor accidentally gets engaged to Cameca by making her an offer that in her culture is a euphemistic marriage proposal. He apparently feels so badly about disappointing and leaving her that his libido goes AWOL for the next five or six centuries.
    • He kinda-sorta proposes to River, twice. The first time, he's asking whether she's married, which she is, to him, and she just runs with it to mess up with him. The second time, she has been shot and he doesn't know that it's her. He tells her "survive, and I'll marry you". She regenerates.
    • "The Day of the Doctor": The Doctor proposes to Queen Elizabeth I believing her to be a Zygon. She wasn't, and she accepts. He ends up marrying her, promising to be right back... and running off. That's why she wants his head on a pike.
  • Frasier:
    • Subverted in one episode where Frasier finds a wedding ring lying around, and his girlfriend of the week walks in, sees it and states enthusiastically claiming she will marry him. Then she reveals she knows it's not his (it belongs to Daphne's current boyfriend), and by the way, she doesn't find Frasier's terrified sweating at all reassuring.
    • How Martin ends up getting engaged to Ronee, after some hijinks and misunderstanding, the two get into an argument about how Martin would propose to her. It's only when they're done that the two realize Martin has just proposed.
  • Friends: Shortly after Rachel gives birth to Emma, Joey finds Ross's engagement ring, which Ross was going to present to Rachel and ask her to marry him. Joey turns around while happening to be on one knee, still holding the ring. Rachel says yes to Joey. A delightful series of miscommunications ensues.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • Ted accidentally takes the best man's jacket before a wedding. When he goes to break it off with a girl, he accidentally drops the ring he didn't know was in the jacket. As he picks it up, the girl answers the door to see Ted, kneeling in a tuxedo, holding a ring.
    • A sparkling wine flute containing a ring was delivered to Ted and Robin's table while they were on the first anniversary date, rather than the table next to theirs. When Robin sees it she yells "Noo, no no no no no no no, No! No, no no no, no, no, No!" The situation is soon cleared up, but Ted's alarm at Robin being so horrified by the prospect of marrying him sparks a serious talk about their relationship, leading to their breakup.
      Ted: Even though you don't want to get married, I'd like to think the fact that we've been together for a year and that we love each other might get me a gentler reaction than, "No. No, no, no, no, no, no. Ted, you cannot do this to me. No. No, no, no!"
    • And it's Played With when Barney "proposes" to Abby, who was in on the plan, to show Ted how annoying he can be with girls. Abby isn't the sharpest nail in the box and thinks it's a real proposal, telling her dad "It finally happened, daddy!", Barney believing her to be 'doing a bit'.
  • Jessie: In the episode "Trouble With Tessie", Jessie fears that Tony is planning on proposing to her when he invites her to meet his parents at his family's restaurant. It gets even worse for her when she finds out that the family has a tradition of proposing at the restaurant. She finds a ring in her soup and starts panicking and saying no, but then Stuart clarifies that the ring is actually his which he gives to Zuri.
  • In Magnum, P.I., Higgins breaks the news of his impending marriage to another women to his Gal Pal Agatha and does it so awkwardly she thinks he's proposing and accepts! Higgins then has the fun of disillusioning her, and later of confessing that he doesn't want to marry the first woman at all and asking Agatha's advice. Somehow their friendship survives.
  • In a sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus, a man goes to a male marriage registrar and asks the registrar to marry him to his fiance, but the registrar misunderstands and thinks the man is asking him to marry him. He accepts, although he does have a wife already, but he amiably decides to get a divorce. Another man comes in and asks the registrar to marry him and the registrar says he'd already accepted the other man's proposal. In the end it turns out they're all Straight Gay (including the first man's fiance and the registrar's "wife"); they all get married and live together happily ever after.
  • When "Mrs. Davis Reads Tea Leaves", due to Mrs. Davis' fortunetelling and some Exact Eavesdropping, Our Miss Brooks thinks that Mr. Boynton is going to propose marriage and they start their life of wedded bliss at the old honeymoon cottage outside town. Unfortunately, he's really proposing they start a summer camp together at the old honeymoon cottage outside town.
  • Shake it Up: In the episode "Review It Up", Cece and Rocky are trying to impress a reviewer who is trash-talking Shake It Up, Chicago! on his blog. They invite him and his girlfriend to Krusty's Pizza and perform a flash mob. The reviewer's girlfriend finds in her pizza the ring Deuce meant to give to Dina on their anniversary and excitedly says yes.
  • Ugly Betty: The magazine is doing a wedding-themed issue, meaning there's wedding and proposal stuff everywhere. One character tells his girlfriend he has something to show her over on the counter, then gets held up before he can show her what it actually is. She gets there and sees a display with "Will you marry me?" in several languages and happily accepts. She then sees her boyfriend's reaction, realizes exactly what happened, and tries to play it off as a joke. The secretary calls her out on the obvious lie, making the whole thing more awkward.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, the vicar (a woman) is asked by her love interest "will you be the one to marry me?", by which he means to join him and his partner in Holy Matrimony, rather than to become his wife. She misinterprets this and, when he introduces the other woman as his fiancee, yells whilst laughing "I don't think so!" then realises and apologises, pretending it was a joke.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Stand-up comedian Henry Cho talks about this in What's That Clickin' Noise?. While at a baseball game, the screen said "Marry Me Cindy" while he was on a date with someone named Cindy. He and all the guys with dates by that name ended up engaged.

    Urban Legends 
  • There's an Urban Legend surrounding a Coca-Cola ad. In the ad a man proposes to his gal by having a skywriter write "Marry Me Sue" in the air. According to the UL a woman named Sue in the area where the filming took place had a boyfriend who said that he wasn't going to propose to her; but if he did, he'd do it in a spectacular fashion such as hiring a skywriter.

    Video Games 
  • In Bravely Second, when Yew Geneolgia first meets Magnolia Arch, she's unconscious in the wreckage of her spaceship, and Yew uses a flower from a nearby magnolia tree to wake her up. When Magnolia wakes up, she accepts the flower he used as a gift. It later is revealed that, on the moon (where Magnolia is from), flowers are considered rare and valuable, and offering one as a gift is equivalent to a marriage proposal. As such, Magnolia spends a fair amount of time thinking that Yew had pledged to marry her.
  • In Deltarune, trying to equip the Snow Ring on Ralsei will make him ask if you're proposing to him. He won't wear it, however.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In a sidequest in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Maggie takes Moe the moblin's letter, saying "I want to eat you for dinner", to be a marriage proposal.
    • Inverted in Ocarina of Time: When Ruto gave the Zora Sapphire to Link, in Zora culture, his acceptance of it would mean that Link accepts her proposal. However, Link only needs the sapphire to open the inner chamber of the Temple of Time. So Ruto proposed to Link, but he interpreted it in a different way.
  • Resident Evil 6: While in the caves, Ada tosses Simmons' family ring to Leon so that he can use it to escape later on. His stunned and confused reaction leads to her cryptically clarifying that he has the wrong idea — she did not give him the ring because she was proposing.
  • In episode 3 of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Wallace accidentally proposes to Miss Flitt while picking up a lugnut that she mistakes for a wedding ring. Sorting this out takes up a good part of the plot of episode 4.

  • Kevin & Kell:
    • Oddly reversed in one case, in which Fenton's proposed a number of times, but Lindesfarne's turned him down every time (not that she doesn't want to, she just wants to get her degree first). When Fenton starts becoming more reckless in his flying, Lindesfarne tricks him with a Faked Rip Van Winkle plot by showing what he's risking with his recklessness, namely a successful career and marriage to her. When Fenton asks if that means she accepts his proposal, Lindesfarne realizes she accidentally accepted.
    • Later, Aby accidentally does this when she asks if marrying Mark would help him get custody of his nephew Tyler.
  • Use Sword on Monster: Humphrey thought he was just helping a captive stand up, and then Maga nailed him with a magical betrothal-binding. (Deliberate on her part, because the binding means she and Humphrey now share each others' pain... and she's expecting the DHSS to try torturing information out of her.)

    Web Original 
  • In this Not Always Romantic story, the submitter tries to salvage a terrible first date by suggesting they play pool. Trying to find out what's jamming the pool table's coin slot, he finds a ring and, still kneeling down to get to the slot, holds it up to show her. It's only when he sees the panicked look on her face that he realises what this looks like.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Prisoners of Love", Jake and Finn have rescued the Princesses from the Ice King and are taken them home when Finn makes a vague remark that the Slime Princess interprets as a proposal and accepts. Finn is too startled to say anything so Jake comes up with an Embarrassing Cover-Up to persuade the Slime Princess that she doesn't want to marry him.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Butterfly", after Rocky gets hit with Doughnutt Sheriff's shoe while holdind a bagel in a Disaster Dominoes scenario, he finds himself near a crocodile lady holding the bagel in a way that makes it look like he's proposing to her. She accepts, which confuses Rocky.
    • In "The Goons," the dumbest people in town race across the park while blindfolded. During the race, Richard accidentally picks up Larry while he's trying to propose to his girlfriend. As a result Larry ends up proposing to him instead. Instead of confusion, Richard is overwhelmed, saying that it's all happening so fast.
    • Larry tries to propose to Karen again in "The Shippening", but because of Sarah altering reality with her notebook, he gets dragged down an elevator and accidentally presents the ring to Mr. Small. Mr. Small elatedly accepts and rips his clothes off to reveal a wedding dress underneath.
  • In Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben challenges the Tetramand princess Looma Red Wind to a battle to prevent her marriage to Kevin. He doesn't find out until after defeating her that in her culture, females are betrothed to whoever defeats them in combat. Kevin and Looma's wedding is called off and Ben unwittingly ends up engaged to her in Kevin's place.
  • In the CatDog movie in which the eponymous characters look for their parents, they wind up in a place where cats and dogs cohabitate peacefully, although they are all hillbillies. After drinking some root beer, Cat burps in the face of a female dog, who tells her dad and a wedding is arranged.
  • "Is It College Yet?", the Series Finale of Daria, features a subplot where Ms. Barch mistakes Mr. O'Neill's attempts at sympathy regarding her ex-husband as a marriage proposal.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "Members Only", Bugs is planning to break up with Lola. As he approaches the table, he trips and drops a mint under a chair. As he kneels down to pick it up, Lola assumes he is proposing and immediately accepts.
  • In the Nightmare Ned episode "Until Undeath Do Us Apart", Ned dreams that he winds up engaged to a zombie through hilarious circumstances.
  • In Popeye and Son, this is how Bluto ended up married to his wife Lizzie - during one of his attempts to sabotage Popeye and Olive's wedding, he stole the wedding ring, and due to a convoluted series of events, ended up at the site of the wedding ceremony. Lizzie saw the ring, which he was holding, and believed he was proposing to her - having always thought of him as a "dreamboat", she accepted, and had the ceremony started immediately.
  • In the Regular Show episode "Lost and Found", Mordecai gives one to the princess of a planet of talking mantises when he gives her his "ice cream" (really a baby maggot) which in their culture is considered a proposal.
  • The Simpsons: In "Apocalypse Cow", Bart accidentally becomes engaged to Cletus' daughter Mary when he gives her a stolen cow to look after (It Makes Sense in Context).

    Real Life 
  • Harry Truman always maintained that he married his wife, Bess, because of something like this. When the US entered World War I, Truman decided he would sign up with the army, and went to see Bess (whom he had been courting informally) to let her know his decision. During their conversation, Bess apparently joked, with no actual intent behind it, that "if this were a novel, I suppose you'd be proposing to me about now." After a few moment's thought, he replied, "Well, Bess, I think that's a right fine idea, but given the war and all maybe we should wait until I'm back from Europe." And they did.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Accidental Engagement


The Doctor gets engaged

The Doctor accidentally gets engaged to Cameca by making her an offer that in her culture is a euphemistic marriage proposal.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / AccidentalProposal

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