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Anchored Ship

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"Rogue and Iceman totally want to make out but they can't! This, by the way, is the central conflict of Rogue's character that played out over the course of thirty actual years. Except that in the comics, there was a truly awful Cajun accent involved, chere."
Chris Sims and Matt Wilson on X2: X-Men United

A situation that occurs when one or both potential partners in a relationship refuse to get involved with the other or take the relationship to the next level for personal reasons, often seemingly intractable ones. For example, Bob is in love with Alice, but unfortunately, he is also a widower, and is concerned about honoring the memory of his dead wife Carol. Therefore, while neither has rejected the other, their relationship isn't going anywhere.

Unlike Ship Sinking, this can be reversed, but several different outcomes tend to happen:

  • The characters overcome their problems and fall in love. In the above case, Bob may decide that Carol would want him to be happy, and fall in love with Alice.
  • The relationship never comes to be as a result of the problems, and then:
    • The problems prove too great and sink the ship for the person who has them. Bob decides that it would not be right to go out with Alice too soon after Carol's death. Or:
    • The problems drive away the unburdened partner or the one that has gotten over their problems. Alice realizes that she cannot help Bob deal with his issues and goes out with David instead, even while Bob claims he is willing to get together with her.
  • The problem is resolved, but the ship does not go forward for unrelated reasons, often the result of one of the two characters dying. Bob tells Alice he's in love with her, but Alice does not feel the same, for reasons unrelated to either's personal situations.
  • Nothing happens. This is often the case in ongoing works where this trope is present, or ones where the author concludes without revisiting the romance.

Compare Cannot Spit It Out, in which one of the people in the relationship merely cannot work up the nerve to confess to the other; in many Anchored Ships, the other partner is aware to some degree of how the person with the problems feels. Also compare Starcrossed Lovers, which is when the two lovers are prevented from having a normal romantic relationship, not by personal choice, but by forces or circumstances beyond their control. See The First Cut Is the Deepest, It's Not You, It's My Enemies and I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship for some of the reasons why this happens. Ship Sinking is the permanent variation of this.

As this often discusses the final outcome for couples, there will be spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Red River (1995) plays with this between Queen Nakia and Urhi. With both of them being very close, rumors have been flying around that they might be romantically involved and that her son Juda is from Urhi, not from the previous king, though this turns out to not be the case. The chapters revealing their past explains how things came this way. Both felt lonely and like outcasts in the Empire, with Nakia eventually asking Urhi to run away with her from Hattusa, but Urhi points out several reasons why they can't abandon their positions, and that his status as an eunuch means he cannot "make her happy as a man". They remained in their respective positions, with Nakia insisting on her bloodline eventually ruling the Hittite Empire, and Urhi becoming her personal confidante and servant. The relationship eventually ends when Urhi claims sole responsibility for crimes that would get Nakia's title as Tawananna removed and then kills himself, but not before whispering something to Nakia that could still help Nakia fulfill her goals.
  • A mix of this and Maybe Ever After for Mustang and Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist. They love each other, but they're officers working closely together in military whose anti-fraternization rules prevent them from showing their relationship publicly. That doesn't stop them emotionally, though, and having the rules change after Roy becomes Führer is perfectly possible.
  • Ayakashi Triangle: Suzu and Matsuri share a mutual attraction that eventually leads to both confessing their love to each other. However, Matsuri was turned into a girl, and feels he can't date anyone until he changes back because he's "not really himself" in the meantime. Suzu isn't convinced, and tries to get as close as possibly while nominally remaining "just friends".
  • In Delicious in Dungeon now that Shuro has given up on Falin ever being healed and has gone back to the East, any potential romance between the two has been put on hold. This may be reversed if a) Falin is cured of being a chimera, b) she decides to return his feelings and c) Team Touden takes Shuro up on his offer of living with him in the East. Only time will tell.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Inuyasha still has unresolved feelings towards his undead former girlfriend Kikyo, also feeling guilty and believing he must die with her as atonement, and Kagome (who is Kikyo's reincarnation) leaves him after seeing the two talking but then she remembers the party needs her and returns. They come to an understanding of the feelings they have for each other but their relationship stays basically the same. Near the end of the series, after Kikyo dies (this time for good), InuYasha is able to move on and finally realizes he can allow himself to love Kagome. They still don't progress much until the very end.
    • Sango and Miroku, since he can't get past his perverted nature and the knowledge that his Wind Tunnel will eventually kill him. While they are technically engaged, their relationship barely changes.
  • Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler is unwilling to start a relationship because the massive debt his parents dumped on him makes him feel he can't fulfill the duties of a boyfriend. (His first girlfriend also really screwed up his way of thinking.) The girl who confessed to him is just happy to understand his reasoning, and the series throws plenty of other blocks into the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Ken and Jun in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Jun clearly has feelings for Ken, and he often appears to have some for her despite his utter cluelessness when it comes to romance in general, but because of their duties and the importance of the Science Ninja Team's unity above all else the status of their relationship remains undecided until the end of the third series. Battle of the Planets averted this entirely with Mark and Princess, though.
  • The Wallflower: Kyouhei/Sunako are supposed to be the Official Couple, but because advancing the relationship would require both to suddenly resolve their crippling issues with dating, thus ending the series, the relationship progression is forever stuck in "Denial". The number of times Kyouhei has said "I don't care" or Sunako's been distracted by the creepy, just to string the reader along, is approaching Once per Episode.
  • Skip Beat!: Kyoko and Ren had a lot of Ship Tease, and Ren's manager always takes the chance to imply their relationship. However, both have an aversion to "love", so until they get over their problems, serious romantic relationship is impossible. Despite this, Kyoko has admitted to having feelings for Ren and it seems that she will get over her problems soon.
  • Ah! My Goddess: Keiichi/Belldandy is an interesting case. Between the manga's "Lord of Terror" and "Mystery Child" arcs, both Keii and Bell had their reasons for not pushing their relationship beyond its sweet, innocent, and gentle early stages, even though both seemed to want to. Unfortunately, later in the series, the two were Flanderized to exaggerate Keiichi's Cannot Spit It Out tendencies, and Belldandy's naïvete, throwing away what could have been an interesting case of Unresolved Sexual Tension.
    • In the TV series, Keii/Bell originally began as one of these, then a resolution occurred in Episode 19... and again in Episode 24. The second season, sadly, went back to the later manga's format, making it look like Keii and Bell never "pulled in anchor" in the first place.
    • The finale of the manga justified the state of their relationship by revealing relationships between goddesses and mortals are strictly forbidden. The Ultimate Force, which acts to preserve Keiichi's wish of being with Belldandy, prevented their separation by suppressing Keiichi's sex drive to the point that even platonic gestures were difficult. As a result their relationship stalled at a level that fulfilled Keiichi's wish without breaking divine mandate.
  • Gunslinger Girl. Triela is assigned to guard Mimi, a girl her age who notices her crush on her adult handler Victor Hilshire and encourages Triela to let him know how she feels. Being well aware that Hilshire isn't interested in having an affair with a fourteen-year-old cyborg killing machine whose feelings of love are likely a side-effect of her conditioned loyalty, Triela never follows her advice.
  • Rito and Lala are in a state of this in To Love Ru Darkness. Lala has long ago confessed her love to Rito, and Rito has recently done the same. However, Rito's feelings for his First Love Haruna haven't changed, and Rito can't bring himself to go forward with Lala until his feelings for Haruna are resolved. On the other hand, Lala is all for Rito and Haruna getting together, because she believes that Marry Them All is the best solution and that that way they can all live together happily.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is a rather...complicated example. Relena admits (in her Image Songs) that she's in love with Heero, but Cannot Spit It Out because she doesn't want to risk ruining the relationship they already have and is okay being Just Friends as long as he's nearby. Heero's feelings are less clear but there are strong signs that he feels the same way, especially in the Expanded Universe works penned by the show's writers, one of which has an implied off-screen kiss. The sequel novel Frozen Teardrop ends with the two of them getting married.
    • Out of universe, the director said the show was No Hugging, No Kissing because he thought romance was less important than other elements of the plot, and because he can't write romance. However, he did also say that he could see Heero and Relena getting together somewhere down the line when things have calmed down a bit.
  • Jellal and Erza from Fairy Tail. Though they've finally both confessed to one another that they like each other, Jellal feels undeserving of Erza, and is pretending he has a fiancee as an excuse not to act on his feelings. Erza knows he's lying, but is sensitive to his issues and has decided not to call him out on it. There's also the fact that he's a vigilante and wanted criminal while she's a member of a legal (if roughhousing) guild, meaning there's much more at stake than just Erza's reputation if they went public. Things do seem to shaping up for the two of them by the end of the series when Jellal is officially pardoned for his crimes, however.
  • Mai and Joey/Jounouchi from Yu-Gi-Oh! have their relationship fall into this pattern in the anime. They both obviously care about each other, but Mai has a bit of a "complex" over having been rescued by Jounouchi and Yugi multiple times, to the point of pulling a brief Face–Heel Turn to gain power and prove she doesn't need to rely on someone else to save her (and then has to be saved anyway). Jou doesn't help at all, as his She Is Not My Girlfriend tendencies in a few episodes only served to push Mai away.
  • Jin and Misaki in The Pet Girl of Sakurasou are an example that ends in a successful resolution. Jin feels an inferiority complex over Misaki, so he played a Casanova front, despite being faithful to their Childhood Friend Romance. The issue was resolved in volume 5 of the light novel.
  • Alibaba and Morgiana from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic. Alibaba has a Love Revelation Epiphany after one of his friends tells him Morgiana likes him, but Morgiana doesn't fully understand her own feelings for Alibaba, nor the concept of romance in general, so she doesn't feel ready to be his girlfriend. They agree to wait until Morgiana comes to learn enough about romantic love from Alibaba for them to become a couple. Then things are further complicated when Alibaba faces being forced into an Arranged Marriage. He could keep Morgiana as a concubine, but that would go against his principles.
  • This is the case of Ginta from MÄR, in the anime anyway. He might be chaste, but he's not completely clueless to the girl's affections for him. (He'd have to be legendarily thick not to notice eventually). He tends to push the matter aside so he can focus on... you know, saving the world. Once that's done however, he makes the choice to resolve things with Dorothy by not choosing her and instead returning to Earth with his father to be with Koyuki/Snow.
  • Kurosagi has Kurosaki and Tsurara. Tsurara has confessed to Kurosaki, and Kurosaki himself is at least comfortable enough with her to let her see his vulnerable moments. But, at the same time, Kurosaki is completely obsessed with taking down Shirosagis and he doesn't intend to let any "sentimental" relationships hinder him in his path, while Tsurara isn't willing to give up her dream to become a prosecutor, and as long as their life goals stand in opposition of each other, they acknowledge that there's no way they could ever be together.
  • My Monster Secret: Sakurada has some strong feelings toward his homeroom teacher, and when he confesses, it turns out that she reciprocates... but due to the ethical issues with a Teacher/Student Romance they agree to put the whole thing on the back burner until he graduates.
  • Dr. STONE: Taiju is in love with Yuzuriha, and it's heavily implied that she returns his feelings, but he decides not to formally ask her out, primarily because nearly all of humanity is currently Taken for Granite and he feels that any romantic approach would be uncomfortably similar to an Adam and Eve Plot. He resolves to confess to her once he and Senku have successfully revived civilization.
  • In My Hero Academia, Midoriya and Uraraka both have strong admiration towards each other. However, when Uraraka realizes her feelings, she chooses to suppress them so a potential romance won't interfere with their goals (Midoriya to be the next Symbol of Peace, Uraraka to make enough money to help her parents).
  • In A Certain Magical Index, Touma Kamijou and Misaki Shokuhou were friends would occasionally meet up with each out across Academy City until one day a gang of espers attempted to attack Misaki, leading Touma to defend her with his own body and causing Misaki to fall in love with him. Unfortunately, the injuries Touma sustained nearly caused Touma to die, forcing Misaki to use her powers to save his life and leaving him unable to remember her. Misaki hopes that Touma can regain his ability to remember her so she can confess her feelings for him.

    Comic Books 
  • Storm and Forge of the X-Men. He nurtures her back to health after (accidentally) depowering her. They fall in love. Both the "accident" and the Adversary undermine her trust in him. Some stabbing happens. When things are finally looking good, Mystique arrives (a broken bird, just like Storm was when Forge first met her). Forge asks Storm to marry him: she has to think about it. Forge asks Jean if she thinks her friend would leave the X-Men and just settle down with him: Jean (the telepath) is suspiciously evasive on the subject. Storm flies in the skies over the Xavier mansion, she is filled with joy and, after making up her mind, goes back to Forge to give him her answer. Confusingly, Forge has a backpack: he's leaving with Mystique that same night. He doesn't let her speak, and tells her they both know she's married to the X-Men and she'd never leave them for him. Storm falls on her knees, crying.
    Storm: I… I was going… to say… yes.
  • Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon in New 52. Despite internally expressing their feelings for one another in their individual books, they have yet to get together in the new continuity due to them each dealing with their own personal issues. The ship appears to be anchored for a while now, given that Barbara currently believes that Dick is dead.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Batman Begins: Bruce is in love with Rachel, but his career as Batman precludes their getting into a relationship. In The Dark Knight, Rachel gets into a relationship with Harvey Dent, and then Rachel gets blown up by the Joker and dies. She leaves behind a note stating that she was choosing to marry Dent, which Bruce never finds out about until the sequel (and even then he refuses to believe it).
  • In Casablanca, Rick and Ilsa don't get back together despite loving each other deeply because Ilsa is married to another man and Rick knows that Ilsa staying with her husband is the right thing to do.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Li Mu Bai is in love with Shu Lien, but because he failed to protect her fiance and his best friend, he cannot bring himself to tell her. He dies after confessing his love to her.
  • Jeffrey: The title character, though very attracted to Steve, is unwilling to have a relationship with him because of his fears about AIDS (Steve is HIV positive). In the end he decides love is worth the risk.
  • Whatever's going on between Zorii Bliss and Poe Dameron is left unresolved by the end of The Rise of Skywalker. She softens towards him after she helps him get to Babu Frik and asks him to come with her when she leaves for the Colonies. At the end of the film, Poe non-verbally suggests they go somewhere more private, but she declines. It's a lighthearted exchange and leaves their relationship open-ended.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy: At the end of the first film and for most of the second film, Peter loves Mary Jane, but is unable to get closer to her for fear that if his Secret Identity were to be compromised, she would be targeted by his enemies. Toward the end of the second film, she finds out his identity and says she is willing to take that risk with him at the very end.
  • Team America: World Police Lisa is in love with Gary, but was in a relationship with Carson before he died, and is worried about getting hurt by getting into another. Gary, however, convinces her to not worry about controlling her feelings, and the two soon have sex together. Well, to be more accurate, he gets her to sleep with him by declaring, "I will never die."
  • The Love of Siam: Tong and Mew never really got into the relationship/dating phase even though both characters love each other.

  • The 39 Clues has Amy Cahill and Ian Kabra. Ian pretended to like Amy so he and his sister could run off with a clue, but as she began to think that she was getting over him, he actually developed feelings for her. Even if he wanted to tell her how he felt, it is unlikely that his mother Isabel would let them be together. At the end of the series the Sequel Series offers a chance for things to change.
  • The Aeneid is perhaps the earliest appearance of this trope. Aeneas and Queen Dido are in love with each other, but he has to fulfill his destiny and found Rome, whereas Dido is still grieving her dead husband and is dealing with a severe emotional deficit. Dido overcomes her issues, but Aeneas does not. In the context of the origin myth, this is the source of the Punic conflicts that Rome and Carthage engaged in, and serves to eulogize the Carthaginians as being Worthy Opponents.
  • The Dresden Files, Harry and Murphy have been this for the last several books. In the early books they were headed in a romantic direction, but in Proven Guilty morphed into Platonic Life-Partners when Murphy shied away from the idea—she said she could handle something more casual, without totally deep (and thus emotionally dangerous) commitment, but is right when she says Harry "doesn't do casual". Neither one has given up their feelings for the other, and Harry has admitted in his narrative that he wishes there weren't so many things in the way (especially since his other attempted forays into romance have ended quite disastrously). It looks like the ship is going to stay anchored for the foreseeable future, though, because of all the impediments. Harry's half-brother has told him repeatedly they're both complete idiots, so far to no avail.
    • In Changes the stresses of their respective lives finally makes them willing to have a romantic rendezvous, except, 20 minutes before their planned meeting, Harry gets shot dead.
    • Also, in a short story written by Jim Butcher, with Murphy as the protagonist and set 40 minutes after the events of Changes, she has definite interest in him.
    • As of Skin Game they have share a big damnn kiss with a high probability of them continuing their relation.
  • The Fallocaust series has a couple of these.
    • Sanguine and Jack are very much in love, but Sanguine left Jack to become Silas' sengil/bodyguard. They also split up so Sanguine could date Valen before he died.
    • Reno and Silas spend the entirety of The Suicide King falling for each other, only for Silas to finally get his beloved Sky back.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry and Ginny finally get together partway through the book, only for Harry to break up with her at the end because he doesn't want her to get hurt while he goes on his wild Horcrux chase. Ginny is actually very understanding, and by the epilogue of the following book they are married with three children.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: At first Sabrina refused to consider a relationship with Danny because she didn't want him to distract her from the Chalice of Light tournament. After she discovers he's the Mageknight, she considers herself a distraction to him.
  • The Pendragon Adventure: Loor and Bobby. They both have feelings for each other, but Loor won't consider a relationship until after their mission is over. In the end, the Reset Button end ensures they never met in the first place.
  • Under Suspicion: Starting with The Cinderella Murder, Laurie Moran spends a lot of the series uncertain about she feels regarding Alex Buckley; she's fond of him and gets the sense he's fond of her too, but she's still grieving for her late husband Greg and also knows that Alex is rumoured to be involved with lots of women. Alex isn't quite the ladies' man he's made out to be and has eyes for no one but Laurie, but he's unsure how she feels towards him or if it's the right time for him to confess his feelings. At the end of the second book, Alex impulsively kisses Laurie and tells her he's in love with her. Laurie doesn't reject him exactly, but says she needs a bit more time, with Alex insisting he's willing to wait. They try casually dating, but Laurie is still reluctant to take the next step. By the end of The Sleeping Beauty Killer, Alex gets tired of being stringed along and gives Laurie an ultimatum to make up her mind: she either wants to be with him or she doesn't. By the end of the next book, Laurie realises she does want to be with Alex and they get engaged.
  • The Wheel of Time has several relationships that dally in this territory, but most notably the relationship between Nynaeve Al'Meara and al'Lan Mandragoran starts out this way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Austin & Ally has the title characters anchor their ship via I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Lee Adama and Kara Thrace fit this trope fairly well. As Kara was once engaged to Lee's dead brother and she and Lee nearly had a drunken hookup while Zak was still alive, they subsequently felt that hooking up later was disrespectful to his memory. They did hook up briefly but personal issues (like the fact that they were both currently married to other people and Kara didn't believe in divorce) prevented it from sticking.
    • Later Admiral Adama and President Roslin start having feelings towards each over but with both having key positions in the fleet (and the political repercussions of such a union) they decide not to act on it. Well until things go to completely to hell and they decide to put themselves first for a change.
  • Bones: Booth and Brennan. He confessed his love for her in the 100th episode and for a while it wasn't too clear where things were going. Eventually season 7 had Brennan and Booth living together and having a baby together.
  • Castle: Castle and Beckett. Beckett states that she's free to give it a shot once her mother's murder is resolved, but not before. As of the finale of season 4, they are together. And at the end of the season 5 finale, he asked her to marry him
  • Chuck: Chuck and Sarah, due to the complexities of spy life. It gets resolved midway through season 3.
  • Danny and Lindsay on CSI: NY. At first, she pushed him away because of her emotional problems with having survived an incident that took the lives of her friends. Then, he pushed her away while he grieved for a young boy who'd been shot and killed while out with Danny.
  • Dark Angel: Season one at least. Max and Logan don't get together and strongly deny it despite both of them hallucinating the same dream of them dancing... Until the finale, in which, a dying Max hallucinates the two finally getting it on, before flashing back to reality and admitting her love to Logan before dying... Don't worry though. Zack commits suicide to give her his heart. In Season 2, as much as they'd like to get together, they literally can't, because Max is infected with a virus tailored to Logan's DNA that makes it impossible for them to even touch each other safely. Even then, they still occasionally deny that they're a couple and that the first thing they'd do if the virus were gone is have sex. Which fools no one.
  • In Doctor Who, the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane are Revisioned as this in the revival series. In the original series, they had a lot of UST and tended to be read as Implied Love Interests but in "School Reunion" the Tenth Doctor explains to her that he'd been well aware they'd fallen in love, but broke off the companionship due to his desire not to get involved with her. Their older selves both still love each other, but neither is the person the other had fallen in love with any more (literally, in the case of the Doctor), making it extremely bittersweet.
    • After acting like a couple in all but name for several episodes, a number of misunderstandings and the Eleventh Doctor's centuries-long stay on Trenzalore (during which he saw generations of humans live and die) led him to break off his relationship with Clara. After his regeneration into the older-looking Twelfth Doctor, he further attempts to anchor the ship by claiming that he had been mistaken in thinking of himself as her boyfriend. Clara tries to be mature about it, denies any interest she might have had, and asks out a co-worker whom she eventually becomes involved with. But throughout Series 8, it becomes quite apparent (and was confirmed by actors and writers) that despite their occasional fallouts, mutual attraction is still very much there, resulting in a ship-lifting anchor in "Mummy on the Orient Express" and creating a somewhat unusual Love Triangle scenario. In Series 9 (by which time Clara's boyfriend in Series 8 is deceased) it is clear, if never explicit, that the ship between the Twelfth Doctor and Clara is no longer anchored, with both lead actors and the producer speaking openly in promotional interviews about the two being "crazy for each other" (Peter Capaldi's words) and Clara being "totally in love" with the Doctor (Jenna Coleman's words). Due to The "I Love You" Stigma long held by this show, they express this through looks and other subtleties. Ultimately, the Series 9 finale "Hell Bent" forces the ship to be anchored, perhaps permanently. Clara died two episodes prior, but the driven-mad Doctor risks all of time and space to bring her back. Realizing the relationship is now dangerous, they part and the Doctor undergoes a mindwipe of his memories of Clara that isn't lifted until shortly before his regeneration into Thirteen. Clara, meanwhile, gets her own TARDIS and goes on to have an unlimited number of adventures with Ashildr while biologically frozen and unaging until whatever day she decides it's time to return to the moment of her death so that the universe won't collapse. The relationship could be revived down the line, but justifying it would be difficult under these circumstances.
  • Downton Abbey: Bates and Anna, due to Bates' having previously been married. Bates' wife Vera causes them problems for ages, starting out by turning up in the kitchen at Downton in episode 1 and threatening to sell the story of Lady Mary and Pamuk to the newspapers unless Bates returns home with her. Much angst and tragedy ensues; Bates and Anna think they have finally succeeded in buying her off, but Vera appears to win in the end by committing suicide and framing Bates for her "murder."
  • Niles and Daphne were like this for five solid seasons in Frasier: Niles was helplessly in love with Daphne, but he was married and refused to cheat on his wife, and wouldn't divorce her since he loved her too (though why he loved her, no one will ever know). So he never mentioned his love, and though Daphne had mad chemistry with him, she remained oblivious to his feelings, never even considering him due to his marriage. They finally de-anchored when Niles' marriage fell apart for unrelated reasons, but went through a long period of Will They or Won't They?, Cannot Spit It Out, Unrequited Love, Poor Communication Kills, Romantic False Lead, and Unrequited Love Switcheroo before they finally hooked up.
  • Good Omens (2019): While not necessarily romantic in nature, it's made clear that Aziraphale and Crowley care deeply for each other but can't admit to being anything more than "hereditary enemies who might occasionally run into each other and help each other out, but nothing more that can't be explained away as them just doing their jobs more efficiently" because of them being an angel and a demon who would be severely reprimanded at best and killed at worst if their bosses ever found out just how friendly they are with each other. For this reason, most Aziraphale/Crowley fanfics set before the events of the show portray them as being stuck in Unresolved Sexual Tension limbo until the show's events make it so that they no longer need to worry about Heaven or Hell coming after their heads for being together.
  • Gossip Girl: Chuck and Blair almost constantly, especially in the second season. First, because of Chuck's fear that him and Blair needed the thrill of the chase and would be boring as a couple. Later on, because he didn't believe he could make her happy. Eventually, he realizes he can't keep running from his feelings.
    • It also happened once with Blair anchoring the ship, after the disastrous brunch in Gone with the Will.
    • Dan and Serena ended their romantic relationship for good when they discover that they share a half-brother together and it would be far too weird and awkward for them to continue their romantic relationship.
    • In the end both the aforementioned ships were refloated despite the immense difficulty for all the characters involved.
  • In Here Come the Brides, Jeremy and Candy have been in love since the pilot, but they can't get married because the writers were afraid that viewers would think Bobby Sherman was also married and lose interest in him. Jeremy tries to propose to Candy a few times, but something always happens to get between them.
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Ted and Robin which had been going on for most of the seasons. Then, Ted decided to let go of his feelings with Robin when she's about to marry Barney, and eventually, he met the Mother. However, the series finale swerves around with Robin and Barney divorced after three years of marriage and the Mother dead six years prior to Ted telling the story to his kids, which turned out to be more of asking their permission to date Robin again. The kids approved, and the show's ending implies a reunion for Ted and Robin. Needless to say, the ending caused one of the biggest Broken Base in TV history.
    • The alternate ending has the Mother not dead but Robin and Barney are still divorced. Newly added dialogue revealed that there might be a chance for Robin and Barney to get back together though it remains unclear if they're ever going to rekindle their relationship.
  • iCarly:
    • Carly and Freddie get together in "iSaved Your Life", but break it off at the end of the episode because Freddie can't be sure of Carly's true feelings for him, as they may be a result of hero worship.
    • Sam and Freddie break up after a 5 episode arc in "iLove You". It's not a total sinking, they could come back to it later.
    • Carly and Freddie end up sharing a last minute kiss to pull up their anchor, Sam & Freddie stay sunk.
  • Liv and Major in iZombie. They were engaged until the boat party. After becoming a zombie, Liv breaks up with Major, much to everyone's shock (they were the perfect couple), since she's (rightly) afraid of passing her "condition" on to him. They try to have an awkward friendship, but Liv finds out that, after 5 months, Major is moving on with another girl (worse, she sees them playing a zombie-killing game). When she finds out that Major is kicking out his roommate, she suspects that a girl he's sort-of seeing plans to move in. She sends her boss and friend Ravi to room with Major to try to prevent that, although Ravi reveals that Major correctly figured out her plan and went along with it, as this means that she's not over him. Then she meets Lowell, a British musician who is also a zombie. Lowell seems to like Liv, in large part because she's the only other zombie he knows and can speak freely to. After finding out that Liv is still not over Major, Lowell is content to just be friends until such time as she's ready to move on.
  • JAG: This was the case with Harm and Mac for almost nine seasons until it was resolved in the very last episode, "Fair Winds and Following Seas"; due to the fact the they are both career-oriented military officers working at the same place. Plus multiple other vague excuses were made throughout the series.
  • Kings: Michelle is in love with David but can't be with him because she made a vow to devote her life to God after recovering from a near-deadly illness. Eventually she decides that God didn't save her life for her to be miserable.
  • Lost: A variation with Sawyer/Kate in the final season. They both make it off the island and their respective love interests both die, making it entirely possible that they eventually get together. However, the sideways world makes it very clear that Juliet and Jack are their respective soulmates.
  • In The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Lenny Bruce (a real life comedian who died of an overdose in 1966) and leading lady Midge Maisel (the Mrs. Maisel of the title) have a Will They or Won't They? romance teased throughout the show. However as the show seems to be sticking to historical reality (minus some generic timeline fudging)this ship is very unlikely to be leaving harbor.
  • The Mentalist: It is strongly implied that this is the situation with Jane and Lisbon. They clearly care about each other, and considering the fact that the last man Lisbon loved was another co-worker, it's unlikely to be the rules keeping them apart; but Jane is still very much married, though his wife has been dead at least three years, and he seems incapable of moving on until he has had his revenge. Of course, long after he's had his revenge, he finally admits that he loves her.
  • The Nanny: The reason why Max and Fran don't get together at first is that he has loads of emotional baggage (including a dead wife). Later Max proposes to her at the end of the fifth season, and they get married, staying so for the final season.
  • Open All Hours: In "The Housekeeper Caper" Arkwright openly bemoans that he and Nurse Gladys have been engaged for six years, but they are no closer to getting to the altar then than he was at the start. The bone of contention seems to be that it is Gladys who is doing the delaying, waiting for her elderly mother to pass away before going forward.
  • The titular duo on Sapphire and Steel clearly care for each other, and Steel [who rarely shows emotion] even says on one occasion that he loves Sapphire, but, like most things in the show, the details of their relationship [and what a relationship between two Humanoid Abominations would involve] are left vague.
  • Scrubs: Happened to JD and Elliot every time they almost got together. The end of Season 3 and beginning of Season 4 seemed to sink the ship permanently, but towards the end of Season 6 it suddenly resurfaced and became an anchored ship, accompanied by the retcon that JD and Elliot's problems were due to a mutual fear of commitment. By the eighth season they get together.
  • Smallville's Clark and Lana got so bad that, by the end, the actress quit and the audience was in outright revolt.
    Neal Bailey So IT'S OVER. FOREVER. AND EVER AND EVER. Clark and Lana will NEVER EVER EVER be together again. It's over this time. Really! ...If it's true, I openly concede that this was the best episode of the series ever, because it saved the series. But you and I both know it's not, so it holds no drama, no hope, no character, nothing.
  • Stargate SG-1 Jack and Sam, since fraternization regs are still in practice.
    • It's implied after "Threads" that they went ahead anyway, rules be damned, and are simply keeping it low-profile. Deleted scenes from Stargate Atlantis really hammer it home. (Besides, Word of God says they got together the nanosecond Jack retired.)
  • Star Trek: The Original Series. Captain Kirk might romance the Girl of the Week, but as The Captain he can't even think about getting on with the well-stacked blonde Yeoman Rand who brings him his meals and daily reports.
    Kirk: I have a beautiful yeoman. Have you noticed her, Mister Spock? You're allowed to notice her. The Captain's not permitted...
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard and Crusher have the shadow of Crusher's dead husband Jack, who was also one of Picard's close friends. At some point in the Grand Finale's alternate future they got married, but eventually divorced and went their separate ways again.
  • Star Trek: Voyager. Captain Janeway with her Number Two Commander Chakotay. The main problem was that The Captain felt she should not be involved with a subordinate, which as they were stranded in the Delta Quadrant meant everyone on board the ship.
  • Jack and Sue in Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye, since it would involve one of them quitting their job at the FBI.
  • Chief Phupha of A Tale of Thousand Stars loves Tian but knows the latter can’t stay at the remote village forever. Tian has a family that cares about him and misses him back in the big city. So Phupha pushes Tian away so that the latter will return home. This ends up just being a pause in their relationship, as neither can forget the other.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Stefan and Elena have gone through this throughout most of the series. This is mostly due to Stefan being a vampire and Elena being a human, leading two completely different lifestyles with different backgrounds. One reason is Elena finding out Stefan is a vampire. A second reason is Stefan enduring blood issues and having issues with his blood addiction and keeping it a secret from Elena. A third reason is Stefan's brother, Damon, who is also in love with Elena, causing issues and tension between Stefan and Elena and their relationship. A fourth reason was Stefan sacrificing himself (turning off his humanity and becoming a blood addicted Ripper) to Klaus in order to save his brother Damon from a fatal werewolf bite by getting the cure (which turned out to be Klaus' blood). A fifth reason is Elena recently turning into a vampire. However, despite all of these issues, Stefan and Elena have managed to overcome all of these obstacles and come together still more in love then ever before and stronger as a couple.
    • Not so much by midway though season four, after Elena becomes a vampire and she starts to fall in love with Damon much to the delight of the large and vocal Damon/Elena fanbase.
    • Caroline and Tyler become one in season three, because of Tyler getting sired by Klaus. They break up but still have feelings for each other, and Tyler gets Put on a Bus to try to break Klaus' mind control.
  • Veronica Mars has this with Veronica and Duncan in season 1 ((eventually they get back together and then break up for good) and later with Logan and Veronica. When the series was revived Logan and Veronica were living together, albeit with the question of their nuptials still up in the air, until Logan’s untimely demise in the series end.
  • Victoria, despite being a biography of real-life individuals, established a "will they, won't they" semi-romance between Queen Victoria and her prime minister, Lord Melbourne (based, it must be said, on evidence that the two did carry a torch for each other). Real Life Writes the Plot, however, and just as in real life Victoria is destined to marry Prince Albert, forcing the Victoria/Lord M ship to be anchored permanently (but not sunk as the series and its accompanying novel - as well as historical accounts - indicate that Lord M, at least never stopped being in love with Victoria).
  • In The X-Files, Mulder and Scully were this for the first six seasons, along with being mutual living emotional crutches. Though neither outright said anything, everyone could see it — which resulted in them being used against one another by the various bad guys — and the UST was sometimes so palpable it was painful.
  • Happens to Zoey and Chase in Zoey 101, after Chase can finally spit it out but ends up stuck in London for the semester. As they don't see a long-distance relationship working, they decide to let it be for now. It all ends well eventually.

  • Played for Laughs in The Magnetic Fields' song "The One You Really Love":
    I gaze into your eyes of blue
    But their beauty is not for me
    You're dreaming of someone who's gone
    You're dreaming of the one you really love
    You're dreaming of...the corpse you really love!

    Video Games 
  • Action Taimanin: Yukikaze Mizuki is stated to be in a relationship with Tatsurou Akiyama which is also noted to have made little progress.
  • In Tales of Legendia, Shirley is in love with Senel, but he was engaged to her sister, Stella, who died, and won't move on from her death.
  • It's hinted in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance that this is Otacon's problem in general. He's a Chick Magnet, but considering that most of the women he loves tend to die, he has reservations about starting relationships.
  • Touched on in Mass Effect between Female Shepard and Kaidan. If their romance progresses to a certain extent, at one point she'll tell him, "You're not wrong. But there are regs," highlighting the fact that the Normandy is an Alliance military ship and she's his commanding officer. Since he is a romance option, this gets chucked very quickly once that situation no longer applies.
  • In canon, all Ensemble Stars! ships are this: due to all of the main characters being idols, they will be expected to remain single for the audience, as is currently the case for real-world idols in Japan. The player character is a producer and so technically exempt, but she knows how dangerous it would be for any of the students to date her and is too professional to do so, anyway. And if it'd be bad for one of the students to date her, dating each other would definitely be out of the question, regardless of the very high levels of Ship Tease and Homoerotic Subtext among them. This is stated explicitly in the story Love Comedy where Kaoru admits that while he has genuinely fallen for Anzu, it'd be bad for not just him but his comrades in Undead as well if they started dating, so he instead hopes that they'll meet again in the future and be together then. Naturally, shippers tend to Handwave away these concerns, as making the characters have to choose between love and their careers, particularly in such a usually optimistic series, would generally be too depressing.

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl: One way to see Mike and Lucy ever getting together.
  • General Protection Fault: Fooker admits to Sharon that he loves her, but while they are in a relationship, he's hesitant to get married, having seen many bad marriages like that of his parents. Sharon accepts this, and decides to let him decide when or if he's ready to marry (Then again, she did catch the bouquet at Nick and Ki's wedding).
  • Housepets!: Peanut and Grape. Peanut has strong feelings for Grape, and she insists that they are more than Just Friends, but also admits that she is not romantically attracted to dogs.
  • The Order of the Stick Therkla is in love with Elan, but he is still faithful to Haley. As she is fatally poisoned and dying in his arms, she refuses to come back to life after he is unwilling to be with her.
  • Questionable Content gives us Marten and Faye. The UST drives much of the first five hundred strips, but Faye's issues stop this from going anywhere. About strip 500, Faye tells Marten why she isn't ready for a relationship, and not to spend his life waiting for her.
  • Sluggy Freelance Torg is in love with Zoe, but Oasis loves him and is willing to kill any potential romantic rivals, preventing him from getting closer to Zoe until he finds a way of dealing with Oasis. Oasis attacks Zoe, causing her to figure out both that Torg loves her and that she loves Torg, only to be killed mere seconds later by Oasis, oddly enough for reasons that had nothing to with hypotenuse removal.
    • But wait, with the newest chapters It turns out Zoe wasn't killed after all but kept alive by nanomachines that rebuilt her without memories until Riff restores them by copying her memories the night prior to her 'death' by Oasis via time travel. Now they've gone back to the status quo with him in love with her and her remaining oblivious.
  • Elliot and Susan from El Goonish Shive have both explicitly stated that they have feelings for the other, but refuse to act on them for a variety of reasons. Elliot doesn't feel comfortable hooking up with Susan so soon after breaking up with her best friend, and he values her friendship, and doesn't want to mess that up. Susan, meanwhile, has a number of mental and emotional issues that keep her from being able to have a real relationship, and she doesn't want to make Elliot wait while she resolves those issues. Combine that with the fact that Elliot has started dating someone else, and this ship is unlikely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender
    • During "The Ember Island Players," the final episode before the finale, Aang and Katara are forced to assess their relationship. When Aang expresses his desire to "be together" with Katara, she claims to be confused about her feelings and does not wish to be involved with Aang if she's unsure. This may be one of the most briefly anchored ships out here, because at the end of "Sozin's Comet," less than five episodes apart from "Ember Island Players," Katara is finally willing to enter the relationship and be with Aang.
    • And Zuko/Mai had been completely open for a long time as well. It was entirely unclear if their childhood crush would develop to anything when they first met again after years and when things seemed to get resolved after The Beach, everything was out in the open again up to and during the volcano prison. Only when she attacks Azula to save him does she commit to accepting his decision to join the Avatar. But then she vanishes again until the finale, and they get back together. Then they break up again during the comics, and while she does return to help him during the Smoke and Shadow trilogy, nothing has been said about whether they get back together or not.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Cat Noir have mutual crushes on each other, but cannot get together due to a whacked-out Two-Person Love Square where Marinette is crushing on Adrien the civilian, but Adrien is crushing on Ladybug the superhero. Also, Marinette is adamant about the rules of the Miraculous: they cannot know one another's secret identities. This may be more than a mere rule: The episode "Cat Blanc" revealed that when they discover each other's identities, things swiftly turn disastrous.
    • Master Fu reunites with an old flame, Marianne, in "Backwarder", but they cannot safely get together until Hawk Moth is defeated. "Miracle Queen" resolves this when Master Fu's memories are wiped, allowing him to start anew with her.
  • Phineas and Ferb, Ferb has a crush on Vanessa, which is slightly problematic since she's sixteen and he's "less than fifteen" according to the creators; some evidence would make him as young as nine. Some fans like to think they could get together when they're both adults, or just use some Applied Phlebotinum to equalize their ages.
    • Word of God said that he'd like to see them get together when they're older and the age difference wouldn't matter.
    • In the penultimate episode, "Act Your Age", where we see the characters as young adults (ten years after the main series takes place), we see that Vanessa has been in a relationship with Ferb for a while now, so the ship sailed.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Reluctant Love Interest


Too Soon For Permafrost Tunnel

At the end of their not-date, Beef and Alyson both admit they like each other but aren't emotionally in a place where they can be in a romantic relationship yet.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnchoredShip

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