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Boyfriend Bluff

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Actually, it's amazing how much the guy on the left doesn't know. He can count himself lucky.

When a guy (and it's almost always a guy) saves a girl on the street from being harrassed by some undesirables by coming over and pretending to be her boyfriend or brother, or something similar. The girl is usually not aware that the guy is about to do this, and often doesn't even know the guy in question. This doesn't stop them from turning into real lovers at some point.

Another scenario is the girl invoking this trope with a guy friend she might be with, by grabbing his hand or using a petname. Expect him to be surprised but play along. This also doesn't stop them from turning into real lovers at some point.

The idea behind this trope is that a man can only be dissuaded from going after a woman if he knows she's already taken, regardless of her level of interest in him.

Subtrope of Fake Relationship. Compare The Beard, Fake-Out Make-Out, Romantic Fake–Real Turn. Not to be confused with Girlfriend in Canada, which is someone bluffing that they have a lover elsewhere.



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  • In a commercial for Dentyne Ice gum, a man at a laundromat is throwing increasingly moronic pickup lines at a woman who is showing increasing irritation. Finally, another guy walks up, says, "Hi, honey," and kisses her, then gives her a pack of said gum she'd "wanted". The guy trying to pick her up quickly excuses himself...and when he's gone, the guy who kissed her introduces himself, shaking her hand.

    Anime and Manga 
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun, where Touma attempts to do this with Mikoto. The jig is up before it even begins.
    • Chronologically later, in A Certain Magical Index, Mikoto uses Touma to fend off the attention of someone she can't afford to offend or electrocute.
  • Used in an odd sense in Ai Yori Aoshi. Kaoru dissuades a pair of guys from making a move on Aoi with this claim...kicker being he really is her fiance, and he'd just kicked her out of his home suspecting her of being a ploy by his estranged family to get him to return (only to immediately realize his mistake). The incident kicks off the two's relationship.
  • Inverted in the hentai anime Sexfriend. Mina brushes off a persistent ex-lover by grabbing protagonist Takabe and claiming him as her boyfriend.
  • Fruits Basket: Kyo pulls a non-verbal version of this to protect Tohru from some guys that want to take advantage of her. It involves leaning on the wall next to her and glaring at them.
  • In CLANNAD, in a rare reversal of roles, Nagisa pretends to be Tomoya's girlfriend at one point to get Sunohara to stop bugging Tomoya. She thought that Sunohara was gay and in love with Tomoya... just another one of Tomoya's pranks (in reality, Sunohara just wanted to get Tomoya to play basketball with him for totally unrelated reasons). Note that this only applies to the anime adaptation... in the Visual Novel's equivalent scene, Nagisa is Tomoya's girlfriend at that point.
  • Attempted by one character in Blue Drop, but it just makes the Arume he's bluffing threaten to impregnate the woman in question.
  • In Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Lily used to get a lot of unwanted attention from male players, to the point that it almost ruined her enjoyment of the game. Eventually her guild master Kanbe suggested that she tell people they were partners, which caused the harassment to die down. In Episode 3, she asks Hayashi to become her new partner and he accepts, with Kanbe's approval (though it's also subverted, since Hayashi and Lily are slowly developing into an actual couple — or at least their players are).
  • In Seitokai Yakuindomo, Aria escapes from two persistent pickup-artists at the beach by claiming that Takatoshi was her husband. Suzu is less than pleased at being treated as their child.
  • In Say I Love You, Mei calls Yamato in episode 1 after she's unable to reach her mother when she notices there'a a creepy guy following her. He arrives to escort her home, then gives her a kiss, which is enough to scare the guy away, while unintentionally taking her First Kiss.
  • Inverted in Oreshura. Masuzu, the most popular girl at the school, gives a very public Love Confession to Eita, partly because she finds his lack of interest in love fascinating, and partly to stop having so many boys ask her out everyday. She forces him to continue pretending that they're dating by managing to get a copy of a journal he wrote fantasy stories in, and telling him that if he doesn't pretend to be her boyfriend, or he tells anyone about the fake relationship, she would release the contents of the journal on the internet. Since he considers the journal to be an embarrassing Old Shame, he's forced to comply with her demands. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with his Childhood Friend, Chiwa, who then keeps close tabs on them.
  • The Love Plus: Rinko Days manga adaptation has the protagonist invoking this to save Rinko from an angry gamer who got beaten by her in a fighting game at the local arcade. The game itself has it inverted, with Rinko being the one who pretends the player is her boyfriend.
  • In Howl's Moving Castle, this was how Sophie first met Howl, with him pretending to be her boyfriend to rescue her from a couple of harassing soldiers. While it managed to get the soldiers off Sophie's back, it also had the unintended effect of making the Witch of the Waste jealous of Sophie.
  • Golden Time: when Mitsuo is having a hard time getting rid of a pushy girl who isn't taking no for an answer, Banri shows up and pretends to be Mitsuo's boyfriend. Mitsuo swiftly catches on, and the two put on such an over-the-top act that the girl gets creeped out and runs away.
  • Spy X Family: When they first meet, Yoru asks Lloyd to pose as her boyfriend at a party. He agrees, as he conveniently needs to find a woman to pose as his wife as part of his mission. Unfortunately, he only makes it to the party after a grueling mission, and accidentally slips up by saying he's Yoru's husband rather than her boyfriend. After they leave, she asks that they be married to help escape suspicion from gossips and the country's paranoid government as a couple.
  • ½ Prince: Prince has girls fawning and throwing themselves at him left and right. He described it as them being wolves looking at a piece of meat. Luckily, he meets Lolidragon who is enamored by his good looks but not as crazy and calls herself his wife to get the women to leave Prince alone. It works.
  • Early in Princess Princess, Toru's cousin, who's a Stalker with a Crush, shows up to harass him. After several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of her, Shihoudani puts his arm around Toru's shoulders, gives the stalker a very catty look, and says "Sorry, he's taken." ...He then proceeds to kiss Toru on the lips to drive the point home. Toru and Shihoudani's relationship beyond that is up in the air, but there are plenty of further hints.
  • In Gakuen Babysitters, it's Played for Laughs when Inui wants to meet "Inomata" (actually a crossdressing Ryuuichi). In order to deter him, Yayoi comes up with a situation where Kamitani pretends to be "Inomata"'s boyfriend.
    Kamitani: This is my woman. You better give up.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: At one point, Miku disguises herself as Ichika and meets up with a guy named Maeda, who wants to ask Ichika out to dance at the upcoming bonfire. In order to repel him, when Fuutarou shows up Miku pretends they are dating and already promised to dance together.

    Comic Books 
  • Bobby and Cecilia do this to throw off the Sentinels in the X-Men comics in the 90s.
  • This winds up being the explanation for Superboy randomly having a wife (and a baby) in Young Justice (2019); When Conner winds up in Gemworld, one of the first things he sees is a pregnant woman getting harassed by two guards for travelling without a husband - three guesses on what Kon does.
    Conner: I'm her husband.
    Guard #1: Oh. You are?
    Conner: I am. *to Lophi* You okay, "Honey"?
    Lophi: The hell?

    Fan Fic 
  • Rules: A gender-inverted example with Light and Charlie, in order to get rid of Misa. It seems to have worked at first — Charlie tells her, over the phone, to stay the hell away from "her man", which relieves Light of the constant emails, calls, and voicemails. However, it was just the calm before the storm, as Misa goes as far as showing up on campus to win him back. Even a Fake-Out Make-Out doesn't completely deter her — she is convinced that she can't save Light from the "American whore," and will instead wait for Light, who she believes will come crawling back to her once Charlie breaks his heart. Obviously, that will never happen, as Light and Charlie aren't actually dating yet.
  • In the prequel to book 1 of Seven Days in Sunny June, a bunch of guys try to pick up Fluttershy, with or without her consent. Sunset Shimmer appears and poses as her hyper-aggressive girlfriend. It works, though it takes Sunset pulling out an (illusionary) gun to get them to back off.
  • Law & Order: UK. In the multi-chapter fic "Delayed Shock" (the first in a on-going series that has now been running for a decade), Matt and Alesha's relationship sparks when the team is hanging out at a pub and she's hassled by some drunken footballers. When one of them asks if she's with anyone, Matt answers for her, declaring, "She's with me."
    • Another (separate) story has him taking it even further and saying that she's his wife.
  • Gender-flipped in A Dovahkiin Spreads His Wings, Jon panics when Tywin Lannister tries to sell his niece's hand in marriage and claims he's already engaged to wed Serana Volkihar. Tywin isn't convinced at first until the lady appears and apparently confirms the story — as she's utterly disgusted by Tywin's behaviour and doesn't want for other people to bother the guy she has considerable UST with.
  • I'm Nobody has an unusual variant in a "Sister Bluff" by having an angry Ashley getting a pair of flirtatious asari with No Sense of Personal Space away from (the rather naive) Roxas by claiming to be his over protective big sister.

    Film — Animated 
  • Done in Disney's Aladdin, though in this case Al pretends Jasmine is his Cloudcuckoolander sister. Points to Jasmine for immediately getting it and playing along.
    Aladdin: Come on sis, time to go see the doctor.
    Jasmine: *to camel* Oh hello doctor, how are you?
    Aladdin: Uh uh, not that one...
  • In the film version of Howl's Moving Castle, Howl gets Sophie away from some soldiers who are trying to pick her up by coming over and pretending to be her boyfriend, before using his magic to send them literally marching off.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, in which the girl actually request it: "Be my boyfriend for five minutes."
  • Tank Girl. While Tank Girl and Jet Girl are in Water and Power's prison, Sergeant Small hits on Jet Girl. Tank Girl happens to be nearby and...
    Tank Girl: Quit pickin' on my girlfriend! [makes out with Jet Girl]
    Sergeant Small: God, that is... [disgusted look, leaves]
    Jet Girl: Thanks. It worked.
    Tank Girl: [mischievous look] What worked?
    Jet Girl: [disgusted look, leaves]
  • Played with in Predator 2. Jerry Lambert (Bill Paxton) is at a bar. He goes over to a man talking to a woman.
    Jerry: Hey, do you mind? It's my sister. [man leaves] Oh, you're not my sister.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005): it's how they met. They managed to avoid the military this way: they were looking for an American traveling alone.
  • Black Widow (1987). Alexandra Barnes and Catharine Petersen are taking a scuba diving class. An unattractive woman with a cold asks to be Catherine's partner, but Alexandra intervenes and says that she and Catharine had already agreed to be partners, much to Catharine's relief. This example fits the trope because there was considerable subsequent romantic subtext between Alexandra and Catharine, including two kisses.
  • Gender Flipped in Legally Blonde, where Elle pretends a boy at her college broke her heart, in order to make him seem cooler and get the Girl Posse to stop haranguing him.
  • In Little Children , Brad and Sarah (who are married, but not to each other) hug and kiss once to freak out the yuppies at the playground. It works.
  • In How To Be Single, Lucy meets her old friend at a bar who announces her engagement and bluffs at Lucy for being single. Tom, the bartender, sees this and kisses Lucy claiming to be her boyfriend.
  • Hitch pretended to be the boyfriend of a woman at a bar to get rid of a guy she obviously was not interested in.
  • In Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances grabs Marcello and pretends to be his girlfriend to escape from the men following her. This is an interesting case in that unlike many other such stories, this one doesn't work out in the end.
  • In Film Geek, Niko simultaneously wards off and puts down Brandon by telling him Scotty, whom Brandon called "a spaz," is her boyfriend, and pulls him in for a kiss for good measure. Brandon is not fooled, but leaves her alone.
  • Mentioned in Turistas: "I'm here with my little sister. I get to pretend to be the boyfriend when creepy guys try to bother her."
  • This Means War (2012): Lauren makes out with FDR in which to convince her ex, Steve, that she is perfectly happy without him. FDR builds on her story of her surgeon boyfriend by adding that he is a neurosurgeon, head of department at a children's hospital. He puts the crowning touch on by calling Steve the wrong name—repeatedly. The payoff comes when Steve's new fiancée clasps Lauren's hand and tells her she's "so lucky", while Steve looks verrry uncomfortable.
  • In Blue Is the Warmest Color, Adèle "accidentally" ends up in a lesbian bar, and being young, pretty, confused, and vulnerable, is of course easy pickings to be hit on. Emma wards them off by claiming to be Adèle's cousin, and keeps her company for the rest of the evening.
  • In Who's That Girl, Nikki Finn had to pose as Louden Trott's fiancee Wendy Worthington during an interview to obtain an apartment while the real Wendy was captured by Raoul and Benny.
  • In Bad Teacher, the title character runs after her chubby, nerdy student, who has just been cruelly rejected after publicly declaring his love for the most popular girl in class. After consoling him, she gives him her bra, then drags him back to where the group is waiting "angrily" claiming that she caught him making out with a high school girl. In two seconds, he goes from outcast to legend.

  • Anita Blake takes hitman Bernardo with her to a werewolf biker-gang bar, because she believes they are unlikely to listen seriously to a woman who shows up at their hangout alone.
  • Considering the above example, Granny needing to take Greebo with her to the opera in Maskerade may count.
  • In Paper Towns, Q goes out pranking with Margo at the beginning of the book. Someone hits on her and makes a comment about her "little brother," ie, Q. She tells the clerk, "Actually, he's my cousin." * grabs ass* "And my lover."
  • Inverted in the book of Genesis, where Abraham pretends that his beautiful wife Sarah is his sister whenever he travels to a foreign country so that other men won't try to kill him to have her. He actually did this twice. Then his son Isaac tried to do the same thing about his wife Rebecca.
  • Hoyt does this for Charlotte in I am Charlotte Simmons, pretending to be her brother to protect from a drunk hockey player. He does this largely because he wants to be romantically involved with her. Since his interest in her is very nearly as predatory....
  • In the book, Son of the Mob, this is how the titular mob boss's son meets and eventually starts dating the daughter of an FBI agent.
  • Occurs a couple of times in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series as a con gambit: a sexy young woman comes onto a guy, and as they're getting cozy, her companion/s burst in, claiming to be brothers, boyfriends or general protectors, protecting the girl's honour. The first time it's used, Skeeve is the mark, and the intent is to rob him. Later it comes back, with the same woman using a variant on the scheme to make the soldiers look like cads.
  • Gender Flipped in Everworld—the group encounters the Amazons, who seem prepared to take any unclaimed man for themselves. Senna claims that David is hers, which is kind of true, while Jalil is claimed by April, to his surprise. Christopher is claimed by no one and willingly taken away by the Amazon queen. He claims they just cuddled.
  • In the third book, A Storm of Swords in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Gendry pretends to be Arya's older brother to repel the advances toward Arya from older creepy men at a brothel. Arya is surprised and upset by Gendry saying this and asserts that he's not her brother probably because she has a huge crush on him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Cheers:
    • Inverted in the first season episode "Any Friend of Diane's," where Sam has rejected Diane's college friend Rebecca for being boring. To spare Rebecca's feelings, Diane says Sam turned her down because he and Diane are a couple (much to both Rebecca and Sam's surprise). Of course, once Diane says that, Sam and Diane use the opportunity to back-handedly insult and torture one another in front of Rebecca.
    • The last episode had Rebecca pretending to be Sam's girlfriend, while Diane's gay friend pretended to be her boyfriend.
  • Ross tried to do this for Rachel on Friends, but it was unwanted because Rachel was actually interested in the guy.
  • Orson does this for Susan in Desperate Housewives.
  • Fringe, Olivia and Peter are at a bar looking to get information from a contact. They make their contact, and Olivia begins pumping him for information. She introduces Peter not as her boyfriend but as her brother. Later, Peter asks about the "brother" comment, to which Olivia replies something like "Trust me, it works better that way."
  • Alex pretends to be Elaine's boyfriend "Bill Board" on Taxi.
  • Rizzoli & Isles has a Les Yay laden version in a scene where the titular characters dissuade a mechanic from romantically pursuing one of them by pretending to be a couple.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Emily and Richard invite Rory to a "Yale Party," during which she quickly realizes that she is the only young woman amidst dozens of eligible young men. When a particularly sleazy one starts to hit on her, Logan walks in.
  • Gabrielle gets a man to do this in the Xena: Warrior Princess pilot.
  • Inverted in the 1990's Australian Police Procedural mini-series Phoenix 2. A detective is confronted by a suspect he's following, so he pretends to be meeting his wife, a female bystander whom he surreptitiously shows his badge. The suspect goes on to meet his contact. At the end of the episode the detective mentions that she's rung him up to ask him out.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Time of the Doctor," Clara asks the Doctor if he'd like to pretend to be her boyfriend for when her parents come over for Christmas dinner. He dutifully arrives, but he makes the worst possible impression upon the family—he's stark naked!
  • Invoked in an episode of Grace Land, where a female FBI agent going undercover in a Bad-Guy Bar instructs a male fellow agent to pose as her cocky, possessive boyfriend so she won't be mobbed by unsavory guys while trying to focus on her target.
  • Captain Janeway and Lt. Cmdr. Tuvok pretend to be romantically involved in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Critical Care" when talking to one of the people who was involved with a thief that stole the Doctor and his mobile emitter from Voyager.
  • Major Kira and Odo also pretend to be romantically involved when they were dealing with someone who was pursuing Kira in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Suberted in the NCIS episode "Designated Target." Ziva asks Tony how to tell someone you no longer want to speak with them while speaking with someone else on the phone. Tony helpfully takes the phone, pretends to be her husband, and threatens bodily harm to the person on the other end. A shocked Ziva informs him he's just yelled at her aunt, who had called asking her for advice on how to stop seeing her elderly mah-jong partner.
  • In Sonny with a Chance, Sonny pretends to be Grady's girlfriend while his brother Grant is visiting.
  • In The Pretender episode "Prison Story", Jarod uses it to rescue a woman being harassed about her jailbird father.
  • In Enemy at the Door episode "The Jerrybag", Peter intervenes when he comes across a young woman being harassed by a couple of German soldiers, apologizing for being late to an invented rendezvous. It doesn't entirely work, since the Germans are confident they have him outmatched physically and in authority, and he has to do some more fast talking to get them both away unscathed.
  • Strong Medicine. Kayla asks Peter to pose as her fiance when her ex comes to town for a visit. Sure enough, they start dating soon afterwards.
  • Frasier:
    • Roz sees an ex-boyfriend walking past Cafe Nervosa and asks Frasier to kiss her so the guy will think she's moved on. Frasier is reluctant but eventually agrees after being reminded how rude the guy was to him. The ex takes one look at them and walks away without saying anything, but then Frasier's brother Niles walks in and proceeds to have a lot of fun teasing them about it.
    • In another episode, Daphne's ex-fiance Clive visits, and she introduces Niles to him as her husband.

  • In On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, Edward sends off some ne'er-do-wells by pretending to be Melinda's brother, and singing "Don't Tamper With My Sister," an entire song about not going about that kind of thing (in public).

    Video Games 
  • In the game Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, in order to get a pushy woman away from him, Fayt pretends that his friend Sophia is his girlfriend. At first she's left very shocked, but quickly catches on and goes along with it. After this all, she states that she didn't really mind being considered his girlfriend, which bumps up their Relationship Values.
    • Similarly, in Star Ocean: The Last Hope, if you head back to the base on Aeos, Commander Graft will think Edge and Reimi are a couple. Like the above example, pretending this is true is the more favorable response. Amusingly enough, it's very heavily implied the two hook up in the ending.
  • In the Yakuza games it's quite common for the player character to do this with hostesses they romance. Tanimura in Yakuza 4 can take a mission where he pretends to be a woman's boyfriend in order to drive away her ex for an extended period.
  • In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time you can find a girl being hit on much to her annoyance. You can step in and pretend to be her boyfriend, or girlfriend, and the guy will back off.
  • In Love Plus, Rinko nearly gets into a fight with a well-muscled youth due to his inability to accept his loss in a fighting game to a girl. As the situation escalated, Rinko apparently threw the first kick, but when she sees the player nearby, she claims that he is her boyfriend and asks the player to "destroy the punk." Obviously, the player grabs Rinko by the hand and employs the classic Nike defense.

    Visual Novels 
  • In My Candy Love one of the endings for the episode where Amber tries to slap you is Castiel throwing an arm around your Candy and saying "Are you trying to bother my girlfriend, Amber?" Which is a rare example of this trope being used to defend a female from another female.
  • In Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, this gets done to each of the 'date disturbers' that can appear when going on a date with a guy. The guy in question will be late, and the heroine will get accosted by a guy trying to pick her up or by a salesperson trying to get her to buy something. Each guy has a different way of bluffing the disturber away.

    Web Comics 
  • Inverted (unsuccessfully) by Sven attempting to escape an old girlfriend by claiming he's in a relationship with Faye in Questionable Content. Unfortunately for him, Faye is fed up with his antics and simply bluntly explains the situation to the other woman.
  • Sticky Dilly Buns:
    • "Rudy" saves "Dilla" from an attempted chat-up with a "Get lost. I saw her first." The twist there is that both are Disguised in Drag — "Dilla" is actually Dillon, and "Rudy" is Ruby. Given that Ruby is usually rather nervous and easily embarrassed, and she bluffs down a guy who's larger than herself to help someone she doesn't even like very much, this is a bit of a personal moment of awesome for her.
    • Later, Dillon is saved again by his Old Friend Ray, who pretends to be his boyfriend to get rid of a girl who's making moves on Dillon despite Dillon's visible lack of interest. The twist this time is that Ray actually identifies as straight, and doesn't know that Dillon is actually gay — with a massive unrequited crush on Ray.
  • Breadbun attempts this in Trigger Star to get away from Quiche. At first, it doesn't work, but then it works all too well. Despite this, Quiche is not entirely put off.

    Web Original 
  • No Boys Dorm: After Lara's apartment burns down, her brother Leon invites her to stay with him at the boys' dorm at the Academy. However, the rules state that no girl can stay in the boys' dorm longer than an hour- unless she's dating an Elite student. To save her from being thrown out, Takashi Tesumi- who is, in fact, Elite- covers for her and claims to be her boyfriend.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • There was some talk of a New York City mugger who would approach people (usually women) and say "walk with me." His cover story was that he was being stalked/robbed, and if his stalker saw he had a companion they would back off. Of course he got his victim into an alley or other secluded location and then robbed them.
  • 18th/early 19th century con men in France. The bait was an attractive teenage boy, and as soon as bait and mark were in a compromising position another accomplice would come by to barge in on the two. He would declare himself to be the unlucky younger party's older brother, or father (or simply a policeman) and threaten the mark into paying up to keep him from going to the police about this horrible affront to the young boy's decency.
  • This Not Always Friendly anecdote.
  • Many women point out that this is Truth in Television as guys making unwanted advances discount their opinions in refusing said advances; only being "taken", or "owned" by another man does, whether he is there or not.
    • Gavin deBecker actually advises women against doing this, stating that persistent men are likely to ignore it and see it as a reason to continue pursuing the woman—"I've got to show her that I'm better for her!", etc.
  • Patti Smith did this once as a girl in New York, to ward off said unwanted advance. She saw a man she knew slightly and ran to him saying "Pretend you're my boyfriend!" He did. He was Robert Mapplethorpe. They moved in together, did art together, and remained devoted friends for the rest of their lives.
  • A Cosmopolitan "How We Met" story featured a guy who decided on his own to invoke this when he noticed a girl being followed by a creep.


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