This is when a character is seen as so attractive that she is never asked out, because anyone with half a brain would realize that a girl like her would reject a guy like him out of hand. It's obvious she's out of his league, so why bother to ask?
The girl, on the other hand, feels unable to ask him herself, whether because of social custom, historical imperative, or some other reason. However, she isn't out of his league at all. In fact, so many guys have refused to ask her out on the grounds that she's out of their league that she begins to feel unwanted and ask if there's something wrong with her. She will also often feel inadequate and very lonely, and this in turn compounds the problem of her not being able to ask for herself; obviously there is a reason nobody wants her, and she too is afraid of rejection, making this cyclic.
Related to I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me, but that trope is when a girl feels very ordinary next to a hero, yet he wants her anyway. This is when a guy feels too inadequate or ordinary to have a chance with the girl, and how she feels as a result of so many guys feeling this way.
This trope is not Always Female, but because an important part of the situation is that she cannot simply ask him, it tends to be a female trope. Leads to I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me if she does simply ask him. Related to So Beautiful, It's a Curse, and also to Beauty Is Bad and Green-Eyed Monster when other females act bitchy to the girl just because they think she's pretty and therefore a bitch.
On whether or not this is Truth in Television, one view states that this happens in real life because of unconscious social cues sent out all the time, causing others to modify their behavior accordingly. The other view, however, states that because Most Writers Are Male, and therefore unable to fully empathize with the female mind, that the girl's loneliness and desperation for male company may be used wrongly, instead of introducing real-life complexities.
- Invoked in ˝ Prince by the titular character Prince, whose good looks attracts mobs of girls to swarm him. To defend himself from this, he adapted a look of self confidence and intimidation so that even though he'll still turn heads and have on lookers constantly, they'll feel too intimidated to approach him.
- In Azumanga Daioh, Sakaki is an extraordinarily tall and athletic girl with several Crowning Moments of Awesome under her belt. But she's also very shy and affectionate. Other students are scared to talk to her either because they think she's too awesome or because she's intimidating. She wind ups often wishing she'd get invited into club activities, since she's too timid to reach out for them herself. She got her wish when she fell in with Chiyo and her friends.
- In the Korean manhwa Cynical Orange the beautiful protagonist embodies this trope. The girls hate her and spread nasty rumours about her and only the delinquents actually ask her out. She does not have any friends until she meets her Love Interest.
- A gender inversion occurs in Family Complex. Harumi, the eldest son of The Beautiful Elite Sakamoto family, is so handsome that everyone in his school treats him like a king, making him feel isolated from his peers. And since his wannabe servants are very overprotective towards him, girls are scared to come close to him.
- Kurimiya suffers from this and more in Glass no Megami. She has also spent a lot of her life traveling from place to place abroad so that when she finally comes back to Japan it just adds to her feeling lonely and isolated.
- Himemiya Yukio from Gokujou Drops. She's jealous about how her girlfriend/servant Komari can get close to people so easily. As Komari put it, "Yukio-chan's fans are weird".
- Handa-kun is about an unfortunate youth who thinks he is hated by everyone else at school because they are avoiding him thanks to this trope being in effect.
- Hinagiku of Hayate the Combat Butler, especially with her being rather cool and prickly in earlier chapters (before we started seeing her vulnerable side more often). It's obvious that the guys at school crush on her, and the girls even more so, yet nobody has ever really asked her out. When Hayate went to the kendo club, the other members were seething with jealousy at Hayate calling her by her first name, implying that most of the students are rather distant with her despite her popularity. This may have something to do with her being very close to Athena, who really was unreachable to everyone else due to her aloofness.
- Hayate keeps this going by often commenting to others that Hinagiku couldn't possibly fall for a guy like him, even managing to make himself depressed a couple times thinking about it. It actually goes both ways as Hinagiku has her own insecurities and sometimes feels that Hayate couldn't like her as she isn't feminine enough. Basically it's I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me going both ways.
- Hinagiku's sister, Yukiji also seems to have gotten this when she was younger, though only Kaoru-sensei seems to still be hanging on to it.
- Happens to Iori Yoshizuki from I"s, who's so pretty and popular that pretty much nobody approaches her at school. Although there is also the fact that she's had a crush on Ichitaka for as long as he's had one on her.
- Himemiya Chikane from Kannazuki no Miko. Lampshaded by a character, who says that "simply having the courage to directly ask her out makes one a hero". Even the girls feel intimidated by her charm.
- Miu Furinji from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is strongly implied to have been bullied by the girls of her former school because of her good looks and her massive knockers.
- To a milder extent, Kotobuki "Mugi" Tsumugi from K-On! suffers this trope. There is an episode about her trying to make her bandmates closer to her. She ends up making Mio cry.
- Hinata Hyuga is arguably the most beautiful girl in Naruto's class, but is also extremely shy, especially in Part I, and for the longest time, she couldn't confess her love to the titular character. She finally did in Part II, and although Naruto never directly mentioned her Love Confession, they did start to have more significant Ship Tease afterwards, beginning in the Fourth Shinobi World War Arc. The Last: Naruto the Movie is the canonical tale of how they fell in love and got Happily Married.
- One of the reasons why Kotonoha Katsura from School Days is bullied or ignored by other girls is her Aloof Dark-Haired Girl plus Gag Boobs appearance, which makes her pretty popular with the guys even when she wouldn't necessarily like to have their eyes on her.
- Played for Laughs in Super Gals. Aya thinks at one point that boys are too intimidated by her looks and brains to ask her out.
- In Walkure Romanze, Celia is gorgeous, kind and bar none the best knight in the school. Because of this, people have a hard time approaching her, resulting in her having few friends and suffering from social insecurities.
- One Archie Comic involved Reggie lying about knowing a supermodel to screw Archie out of a date with Veronica for himself. He offered to set Archie up, but the model reveals she didn't know any Reggie. Archie soon finds out that she is dateless at the moment, and when asked, she reveals everyone always assumes she's already hooked up.
- Implied to have been the case for Firefly, "the sexiest mare at the Academy," in Dash's New Mom. When Blue Streak asked her out, after she said yes she set a new speed record flying her date to the movie theater. In the end, it worked out great for both of them.
- Happens twice in The First Of Many. Princess Cadance was glad to go out with Shining Armor because of this trope, and it went very well for them. Now Princess Twilight is going on her first date, and that isolation is breeding hysteria over the prospect that her first date might go horribly wrong.
- Clair in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines mentions that her height and muscular arms have driven away a few men. Though it's likely this is mostly due to the men she dated being from Johto which is considered the most conservative, old-fashioned and backwater region, and despite this several characters consider her fairly attractive.
- Embodied by a nameless blonde in a bar in A Beautiful Mind, where John Nash arrives at a mathematical reason for it happening. The main thing being illustrated by Nash in the scene is a common Game Theory model known as Prisoner's Dilemma, which essentially states that two competitors' greed - and incentive to not lose - dooms them to fail in their pursuit. It's not about the blonde being ignored so much as it is about the group of men working together to not step on one-another's toes.
- Played straight in The Love of Siam. Ying is an attractive girl. However, no one in the movie ever compliments or even asked her out. Ying's friends who are arguably less attractive than her even pokes fun of her for being single.
- This serves as the premise of She's Out of My League.
- Used in Discworld (where it's known as "jerk syndrome"), with both Juliet in Unseen Academicals and Tawneee in Thud!.
- Juliet eventually pairs up with Trevor and becomes a model.
- Angua and Sally also delicately introduce Tawneee to the idea that she's "settling" for Nobby, a chronic petty thief and watchman who smokes constantly, doesn't bathe, is occasionally mistaken for a monkey, and carries papers from the ruler of the city stating that, after consulting with Nobby's doctor and midwife, he's concluded that the balance of probability is that he's a human being (although for all that, he's not such a bad guy). Tawneee, however, is a highly successful stripper. In the end, Nobby breaks up with her because of her lack of kitchen skills.
- And how they got together? 'Has No Shame' Nobby figures "what the hell?" and just asks her out.
- Lady Hish Tulla, from the Kharkanas Trilogy, is subjected to this both at court in general — thus preferring to remain at home at Tulla Hold unless summoned to court — and from men she's actually been together with before already, namely Anomander Rake and Silchas Ruin. Although by the beginning of the story she's so used to it she fears any change in that dynamic.
- Lena from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is said by many different characters to be strikingly pretty, but to the point people are intimidated by her. Her personality makes this difficult as well.
- Ayla and Jondalar do this to each other during The Valley of Horses. Less because of beauty and more because of assumptions that had nothing to do with beauty. Jondalar assumes that, because of Ayla's isolation and silence, she's a shaman on a quest to commune with the Earth Mother; Ayla doesn't realise that the feelings she has for Jondalar are sexual. When she finally does realise it, she tries everything she can to get him to sleep with her, but Jondalar, under the impression that it would be improper, doesn't make a move. It's more mutual misunderstandings that come from being from different cultures that separates them, not their good looks.
- Played for Laughs on Corner Gas, where Brent is described this way by all of the Dog River women. This baffles the Toronto-born Lacey, who eventually comes to the conclusion that all of the other men in Dog River are so undesirable that "overweight, bald gas station owner" is essentially an Adonis when stacked up against them. The Dog River women just think she's lying to herself to feel better about not being able to have Brent.
- And then they end up together in The Movie anyways. Or rather, they ended up together two years before the movie and nobody had noticed.
- Discussed in Scrubs, when J.D. asked the gift shop person if this applied to her, and then she said no.
- Mentioned in Two and a Half Men: Jake is going to a school dance and asks Charlie for advice. Charlie tells him to go straight up to the prettiest girl in the room and ask her to dance, because all of the other guys will be afraid to talk to her.
- In one episode of Welcome Back, Kotter, all of the Sweathogs except Vinnie Barbarino, the ladies' man, are asked out to the dance.
- Mulder and Scully in The X-Files are insanely attractive, but they rarely date anyone or pursue romantic relationships. He's an obsessive loner of conspiracy nut in a career black hole. In one episode, a rather unattractive man steals Mulder's identity, and later tells him he's wasting his life, and that he's a handsome man with a great job and shouldn't be alone. Scully is occasionally shown as a Dude Magnet, but she's often oblivious or not interested, or the guy in question might end up being the supernatural monster they try to catch.
- Mentioned in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, during one of the repressed memories. Ezio's older brother tells him men are afraid of attractive women, and thus the first person to actually talk to them has the advantage.
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night is the school idol and mutually 'off limits' to all the boys because she's so clearly out of their league. This really doesn't bother her much as it leaves her more time for her own studies and magus training.
- Happens in The Longest Journey when one Alatien woman is apparently very attractive among her kind, and despite her crush on an Alatien warrior, she is too shy to court him. Turns out that he's thought her out of his league all along, and hasn't even bothered asking her.
- In Planescape: Torment you can meet a Harmonium guard in the forum who has a nascent crush on one of the regulars, but has never dared approach her because he always sees her chatting and being social with other people and thinks this trope is in effect. She, on the other hand, is actually terribly lonely because she has a problem with being a Motor Mouth, which means that none of the people she talks to ever comes back to talk with her more. The Nameless One can, depending on inclination, either tell the guard this particular piece of info (which gives him the resolve to confess) or tell him that she's actually incredibly popular with men (which breaks his heart). As with many of the game's side quests, Fell makes a unique tattoo out of either resolution.
- RWBY plays this trope and subverts it with different characters.
Pyrrha: I have been blessed with amazing talents and opportunities. I am constantly surrounded by love and praise... but when you're put on a pedestal like that for so long, you become separated from the people who put you there in the first place. People assume I'm too good for them, that I'm on a level they simply can't attain. It's become impossible to form any kind of meaningful relationship.
- Pyrrha Nikos- a star athlete and Significant Green-Eyed Redhead- is in love with Jaune Arc because he doesn't idolize her like the other students do. Jaune himself is in love with Weiss, and (unintentionally) ignores Pyrrha romantically despite the anvil-sized hints she keeps dropping. And when he finally does figure it out, she dies only a few minutes later fighting the Big Bad after sending him to safety against his will to protect him.
- Pretty much the whole joke of this Oglaf strip. As part of a running gag with a wishing doll that subverts wishes, the woman in this comic finds herself unable to sleep with anyone, despite immense effort on her part.
- Done to each other in this Questionable Content strip.
- Shotgun Shuffle: Quinn is surprised to learn that her new roommate Ellie actually doesn't have a lot of dating experience, a she is a Blonde Bombshell who allegedly stole Quinn's boyfriend in High School, but Ellie's spectacular looks intimidate most guys, and it was her less spectacular (and less inhibited) sister who stole Quinn's boyfriend.
- This Subnormality strip, especially in the first panel. The girl in the first panel is actually a recurring character whose whole character is this. She is an extremely attractive girl who is interested in various traditionally geeky stuff, like comics and video games. This in turn causes an extreme version of this trope, to the point where one guy she talks to spontaneously aborts himself from reality because the concept of a girl that attractive liking nerdy things and showing interest in him is apparently so alien to him that he can no longer sustain his form in our universe.
- This xkcd comic.
- On Adventure Time, Blargatha creates a fake husband so that she can challenge her sister Slime Princess to the throne. Slime Princess is shocked, since Blargatha is "so hot," while Blargatha explains that her hotness keeps men away and is actually "like a prison." Of course, the two sisters are basically identical and look like this.
- The prom episode of Generator Rex makes a mention or two of how "hot girls don't get asked out". Rex is skeptical until Dr. Holiday confesses no one ever asked her to prom.
- He's hardly ugly himself, but Andy Lee of Hamish And Andy managed to snare a date (and later the heart) of Megan Gale, a real life Wonder Woman clone renowned for being one of the most beautiful women in the world (and dating Italian male models) by, in her own words, "being the only boy brave enough to ask me out." Aaaaaaaawwwwww. Curse you, Andy Lee.
- Emma Watson took a big hit from the British Newspapers for complaining about this in an interview.
- Pretty and beautiful women often suffer from "somebody's girl syndrome" (SGS) in which they are perpetually single while cute and average looking girls have boyfriends or are hanging around guys. That's because many guys think the hot chicks already have gorgeous boyfriends and are out of their league and won't approach them. Therefore, the hot chick contracts SGS as a result. Guys also stay away from these particular women when they follow what self-help guru Robert Ringer calls the "Boyfriend Theory" which states that a man is better off physically by assuming that she has this big, buff and mean boyfriend, POSSLQ (person of opposite sex sharing living quarters), fiance or husband until he can assemble enough background information about the very attractive woman without stalking her.
- There's a related (ill-advised) pick-up line based on this trope - "I know I'm not the best looking guy here, but I'm the only one talking to you."
- This actually affects the entire spectrum. While most people fantasize about the The Beautiful Elite, they're usually most attracted to people in their own league, and usually meet attention from these people with suspicion. The exception is, of course, the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife/Hot Guy, Ugly Wife scenario.