There is a piece of vital information that would clear up a character's problems, whether it is a misunderstanding of romance or combat. If the character would just spit it out already, it would save entire episodes', if not entire seasons' worth of trouble and tears.
Whether it's due to embarrassment, ego, or just plain stupidity, they rush into whatever situation is going on. Sometimes this leads to a moral about the benefits of clear-headed conversation over fighting needlessly. However, most of the time it's just to provide padding to the series.
Of course, any time someone finally summons up the courage to actually say it, they will be interrupted. It could be sudden events in the plot taking priority, or another of their circle of friends suddenly feels the need to announce some unimportant item that needs everyone's attention right now. The moment is lost, and even when it isn't, they likely won't be believed anyway. Sometimes, most tragically of all, the character or the person to whom this needs to be said will die or be otherwise lost forever just as the character has gotten up the courage to make his or her feelings known.
Thinking you have courage enough and finding yourself indulging in Talk About the Weather or other chitchat is also common.
If a character derives pleasure from withholding information and puzzling others, it is Loves Secrecy.
If it's a magical curse that prevents the character from sharing information, then that character may be Tongue-Tied. If it's simply too personal for the character to talk about, they're Emotionally Tongue-Tied. If both members of a romantic pairing can't spit it out, they're Twice Shy. Should the character find saying whatever it is so alien and repugnant that they are practically incapable of saying it, it's probably Gagging on Your Words. If they're too damn mad to get the words out, you're dealing with a case of Angrish.
See also Aborted Declaration of Love, Interrupted Declaration of Love, You Didn't Ask, Idiot Plot, Mistaken for Index, Hint Dropping, Dug in Deeper. A specific sub-trope of Poor Communication Kills. Sister trope of Tongue Twister. Has nothing to do with being unable to clear one's mouth of a disgusting flavor. Everyone Can See It is what happens when the information is romantically related and blatantly obvious to everyone except those who can't spit it out.
- Used famously in CLAMP works, especially Cardcaptor Sakura, Wish and the newer series Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- and ×××HOLiC. They also tend to use a unique variations of this trope especially with the dreamseers. Who can see the possible futures both good and bad. They'll tell the rest of the cast whenever the future is good, however when the future is generally bad they won't say anything. The reason behind this is because as long as they don't tell the key players that future then they can change it, but telling others of that future can set it in stone. And the only dreamseer who actually DID say the future was still unchanged... said so after her death.
- Code Geass:
- Shirley Fenette is not able to give a Love Confession to Lelouch that he actually pays attention to until a little over halfway through R2, and then she dies.
- This also applies to Lelouch himself. Manipulative Bastard he might be, but he's also a Bad Liar and keeps his mouth shut when he really shouldn't. This results in a good chunk of tragedy in the show, especially his inability to be honest about the exact circumstances surrounding Euphemia's death.
- This is more or less Rumiko Takahashi's S.O.P.: At least one member of the pairing must not be able to confess their feelings:
- Ranma ½.
- After spending most of the series calling Akane an "uncute tomboy", Ranma finally musters up the courage to tell her that actually, he thinks she's really cute — and then she doesn't believe him because she thinks he's trying to trick her.
- In one of the songs from the albums, "November Rain", the lyrics imply that Ranma is incapable of letting anyone, even himself, know what his true feelings for Akane are.
Ranma: I'm not being true with myself. Yes, I know, but I can't say those words.
- Ryōga spends the entire manga obsessing over how much he loves Akane, but never actually tells her without being interrupted by something. to make things worse for him, the one time he spits it out, it turns out to be a Mistaken Declaration of Love.
- Akane is also guilty of this. In the arc where Ranma becomes Nabiki's fiance instead, Akane is jealous of Nabiki's ability to tell Ranma how she feels because she can't tell him so easily.
- Urusei Yatsura:
- Ataru can't admit he really loves Lum because if he did, he'd have to give up his dreams of a harem. (It should be noted that this makes sense to no-one other than Ataru, given his horrible luck with women.)
- Also during the second tag duel in the fifth movie, Ataru refuses to say that he loves Lum despite the stakes — because under those circumstances the words wouldn't be meaningful.
- Maison Ikkoku: Godai is openly in love with Kyoko, but is too wishy-washy to 'fess up. Kyoko is aware of this, but is conflicted both by a rich rival suitor and her inability to let go of her dead husband.
- Although Inu-Yasha and Kagome seem to have "reached an understanding" as to how they feel about each other, neither has been able to actually say the words, even to themselves.
- Even worse, and more obvious is the Sango/Miroku quagmire, where one side can occasionally get their feelings out, but the other either locks up or spoils the moment, though they did eventually get on the same page.
- One Pound Gospel: Thoroughly averted with Kosaku Hatanaka, who's quite vocal about his wish to live with Sister Angela and have her as his girlfriend. Subverted with Angela herself; she likely could spit it out, if this didn't conflict with her wish to become a full nun.
- RIN-NE: Rinne seems to figure it out fairly early on that he feels something for the main heroine Sakura, even if he isn't sure just what. However Sakura's straight face and calm attitude leaves him unsure as to how she feels and prevents him from saying anything even he worked up the courage to.
- Ranma ½.
- Jeremy from A Cruel God Reigns encounters this a lot. He can't tell his step-brother Ian about Greg's abuse after Ian tells him that he vows to make their new family a happy one. He can't tell his mother Sandra about it out of fear that she will be Driven to Suicide. He tries to tell his boarding school roommate William about it by saying that he got the whip marks on his back from an evil spirit (Greg) that beat him in his house's torture room (his bedroom), but William doesn't get it. All in all, Poor Communication Kills. Literally.
- The lynchpin of the Ah! My Goddess manga is Keiichi and Belldandy's ironclad relationship, and Keiichi's inability to blatantly express his love without help from a third party, even though Belldandy has no trouble at all with it. He was much closer to Bell in the early manga, though, and seems to be getting better at it in recent chapters. It should also be noted that the trope is averted in the 1994 OVA, and in the 2005 animé's first season (...but ignored in the second), and both seem to be more popular and well-known among fans than the manga.
- Ai Yori Aoshi:
- The whole series would have been much simpler if Aoi and Kaoru could just tell Kaoru's Unwanted Harem that he was taken. Also much shorter. On the upside, it paves the way for Tina's crowning moment.
- Tina is another example. Her inability to confess her love to Kaoru before the series begins leads to her going on a year-long trip around the world, mainly to try and get over it.
- In the backstory of Aizawa-san Multiplies, the title character spent two years crushing on her classmate Souta Mizutani. She even named a cat after him because of it.
- In Aoi Kiseki the female lead Ageha is unable to interact with her beau without going full Tsundere and confessing her feelings out of sheer shyness. When she finally works the courage to do so, a nasty fall damages her brain, robbing her of her ability to speak. Ouch.
- How anime fans (and indeed anyone with half a brain) react to Arashi no Yoru ni. They keep saying the word "friend" but you keep thinking one of them should just blurt out the obvious.
- Moe in Asteroid in Love had a crush on Misa for several years as of Present Day, but she didn't have the confidence to confess to the latter until Mikage encouraged her to.
- Mikasa from Attack on Titan, has been in love with Eren since they were kids, but he remained completely oblivious to it and she resigned herself to loving him from afar. Come Chapter 123, Eren asks her out of nowhere what exactly he means to her and Mikasa, completely blindsided, stammered out that he was her family. She would later come to see this moment as one of her greatest regrets, especially considering the path that Eren went down shortly after this encounter...
- Kaorin of Azumanga Daioh can't do anything about her crush on the resident Huge Schoolgirl, as she becomes so flustered around Sakaki that it's amazing that she can talk at all.
- Bakemonogatari brings this to the logical conclusion. Hanekawa never confessed her feelings towards Araragi despite knowing him for years, so he gets taken away by Senjougahara who confessed to him not long after realizing her own feelings. Araragi never realized this until the cat possessing Hanekawa spit it out to him.
- In Bakuman。, Moritaka Mashiro's uncle Nobuhiro was in a correspondence with his classmate Miyuki Haruno (Miho's mother) for years, but was unable to confess his feelings to her until he was able to make a living off of manga, wanting to date her with the intent of marrying her and feeling unable to do so considering her rising to become the secretary to her company's president. Miyuki eventually fell in love with another man and had children, as while she felt the same about Nobuhiro, she was unable to wait any longer. Kaya's father notes that Moritaka and Miho admitting their feelings to each other is the crucial reason why their relationship will have a different outcome.
- A particularly heartbreaking example occurs in Berserk during the Eclipse. Judeau wants to confess his love for Casca after being seriously wounded by one of the Apostles. When the time finally comes, all he can say to her is "I'm glad to see you cry.". He dies painfully in her arms immediately after.
- B Gata H Kei:
- Takashi Kosuda has moments of this when trying to express his feelings for the series protagonist, Yamada. When he finally works up the courage to confess his love to her, his message is garbled by train doors closing on his neck before he is whisked away.
- Yamada is worse. She and Kosuda start dating at about chapter 20. Kosuda finds this out about 200 chapters and almost two in-universe years later.
- The fact that the two sisters Asu and Kyou from Binbou Shimai Monogatari love each other a lot can't prevent them from communicating poorly on a regular basis, making them run in panicky circles where a few choice words would have helped immensely. But the making-up hugs are cute indeed◊. Awww...
- Blood+: Haji. Poor Haji loved Saya for the entire series but he remains the stoic quiet guy. For centuries, ever since a young Haji saw Saya in 1870, he pined away but he never tells her until the very last episode at the very last moment when Saya is trying to kill Diva's babies and wants to die herself - and even then he only coughs it up when Kai forces him to. Of course, a few minutes later Amshel shows up and wrecks their moment, leaving Haji buried in rubble. Just think how much better Saya's life would be if he had said it sooner.
- Hagino in Blue Drop for the largest part doesn't tell Mari that she is the commander of the space ship that caused the disaster in which Mari's parents died.
- In Chrono Crusade, it's hard to say that the plot would have changed had he told Rosette, but Chrono constantly dodges around telling Rosette about his past — to the point that "one of these days, I'll have to tell you a story" practically becomes his Catchphrase. The few times he does seem to be about to explain it, he's interrupted. In the manga, Rosette has to go into his soul and dig around in his memories to find out the truth.
- City Hunter: Ryo. The one time he tried to declare his love for Kaori, he couldn't finish the phrase. Then Kaori accidentally blew up the building, preventing him from succeeding in his attempts at finishing the phrase.
- In Classi9, Bach has troubles dealing with discovering Ren's gender, so much he can't bring himself to tell her he knows.
- In Destiny of the Shrine Maiden the plot would have been almost completely different if Chikane had told Himeko about what happened in their past lives.
- All Daisuke needs to do in D.N.Angel to stop transforming into Dark is to get the girl he loves to love him in return — but that includes loving Dark, since Dark is a part of him. Daisuke is unable to bring himself to tell her the truth, partially because he's scared of rejection and partially because part of him isn't sure if he wants Dark to leave.
- Eureka Seven:
- Three of the characters, a seasoned rebel named Holland, his girlfriend/second in command Talho, and a young boy named Renton get into an argument over an injured teammate. Holland pretends he doesn't care, and goes on a mission to save a head priest "for a lot of money." Renton is furious that he doesn't care. Talho understands that Holland is saving this priest because he can save their teammate. Holland beats Renton up for his suggesting they try to save their teammate, Talho slaps Holland for not telling Renton that he wants to save their teammate, she also slaps Renton for not realizing that Holland wants to save their teammate (but she doesn't tell him this). This leads to Renton leaving the crew, and falling into the company of a rival mercenary. Just because everybody Cannot Spit It Out.
- In another example, Renton, who's looking for relationship advice because he wants to tell Eureka he loves her, winds up looking at a porno rag, and of course, he gets caught. The men think he wants to do it with Eureka, so they convert his room into some sort of love nest, and Holland of course finds out and beats the shit out of Renton.
- A non-romantic example from Fairy Tail is Cana, who is Gildarts' daughter. However, she was originally raised by her mother who apparently never told Gildarts about her, and after her mother died, Cana sought out Gildarts but couldn't work up the nerve to tell him she was his daughter. It was more than a decade before Gildarts found out.
- Played straight by Saito and Louise in the first season of the The Familiar of Zero anime, averted early in the second. Particularly surprising considering who these characters are expies of.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and second anime, Winry and Ed have this in SPADES. To the point where he'd rather recite the periodic table of elements than admit his feelings.
- Full Metal Panic!:
- Through the entire anime, Kaname was unable to bring herself to come out and confess to Sôsuke. Granted, anyone should have been capable of noticing her feelings without a direct confession, but... Sôsuke being Sôsuke, normal methods don't work with him.
- He probably had a clue and, by the look of the Second Raid finale, he reciprocated even though he wanted to keep it a secret from Mithril for obvious reasons.
- In ''The Second Raid", Tessa angrily denounces Sôsuke's inability to just say that he loves Kaname over her.
Tessa: Do you understand my feelings, even a little bit? You're the worst! You pretend to be kind and friendly, but you're just an egotist! You're always pretending... Why don't you just admit it? "I want to be with her! Don't stand in my way!"
- Wraith comes to Mao with important news. But after watching Mao rally the forces by commanding them to embarrass their annoyingly overconfident fallen comrade, Kurz, by completing the mission without him, Wraith immediately clams up and insists the news actually wasn't that important and would probably just ruin the mood. Said news is that Kurz actually survived and had just finished rehabilitation.
- In Girls Beyond the Wasteland, Yuuka starts to realize that she likes Buntarou, but can never bring herself to tell him directly, either due to fear of rejection, or because she doesn't want to screw up the group dynamic in the event they started dating.
- In Girls und Panzer, the three members of the Oarai student council are the only ones who know that if the school does not win the tournament, it will be shut down. Naturally, while this motivates many of their decisions, they don't reveal it, with Anzu making a vaguely worded threat that Miho won't be attending school at Oarai for long if she doesn't join the tankery club, silencing Yuzu when she is about to tell Miho and Yukari the truth, and even being unable to tell Miho when she invites her to dinner for that exact purpose (leaving Miho suspicious). This proves counterproductive to the student council's plans when those Locked Out of the Loop are less concerned about winning, and they are ultimately forced to tell the truth when Miho considers forfeiting the match rather than risk people getting hurt.
- Although GUN×SWORD begins with Wendy offering to marry Van as a reward for saving her hometown, Wendy never confesses her deepening feelings for him, despite some good opportunities. Instead, her feelings for him are displayed mostly through Green-Eyed Monster moments. Her decision not to say anything when they part in the finale looks a lot like an Aborted Declaration of Love, but since they end up being reunited in the Distant Finale —at a time when she's actually old enough to be in a relationship with him— things work out in the end.
- In Hana-Kimi, Mizuki loves Sano, and Sano loves Mizuki pretty much from chapter 3 onwards. Also, that's about when Sano also finds out that Mizuki really is a girl. And neither knows about what the other knows until chapter 133.
- In HappinessCharge Pretty Cure!, a lot of Hime's problems, especially around Iona and her Jerkass attitude around her, is due to the fact that she just can't spit out her Dark Secret, that she accidentally opened the Axia Box, releasing the Phantom Empire.
- Shallot◊ from Sayuri Tatsuyama's Happy Happy Clover, has a secret crush on Clover's best friend Mallow◊. In one story from the first volume, Shallot asks Clover to deliver a secret letter to Mallow and tells her it's a secret between him and her. But Kale's baby brothers hears what Shallot and Clover we're talking about and later when Clover loses the letter. She decides to look for it, but the entire forest animals hears about the letter which was a result that Kale's brothers said to one of them and started asking each animal. When things start getting out of hand, Clover then see's Mallow asking for the letter that Shallot secretly gave Clover. By the end, the entire forest knows about this while Mallow is confused and Shallot is embarrassed. In the second volume, where a the main characters would answer questions to readers/fans. Shallot reveals that he wants to tell Mallow that he likes her, but its impossible to him since she's mostly spending time with Clover. However in the final volume, when Shallot get's hurt. Mallow recently in that volume wanted to be a doctor and decides to visit Shallot. Near the end of the story, Shallot accidentally admits to Mallow that he likes her. When he realized that he said that, he tries to say that it wasn't supposed to sound like that. But Mallow's response? He gives him a big hug! After Mallow hugged him, Shallot get's so excited that he passes out as a response. Mallow responds by trying to wake him up, she also monologues about her heart feeling "fuzzy and warm" after he said that to her. Ever since that day, Clover mentions that Mallow's been giving alot of hugs to him lately. Near the end of the final volume, he and Mallow get married during the epilogue of the series.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- Kyon seems to be the only cast member who is oblivious to Haruhi's attraction to him (even though she would likely die before admitting as much, perhaps even to herself).
- Conversely, Kyon has admitted on multiple occasions (in the novels, at least) that he is attracted to both Asahina Mikuru and Nagato Yuki (but never confesses as much to either girl). In a subversion of the latter, Asahina warns Kyon that he mustn't allow himself to become too close to her.
- This trope mostly applies to Haruhi, who would simplify things a lot if she actually said something, and unlike Kyon, doesn't have a reason to keep quiet.
- Although most of the girls of Hayate the Combat Butler Unwanted Harem have the ability to use this trope, the only one who really gets it enforced on her is Hinagiku, though she did manage to confess once, it was timed so that he couldn't hear it, and otherwise it gets mixed with interuptions or her simply, as she explains to Ayumu, wanting him to start the confessions.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers:
- A great deal of time involving England and America involves both of their inabilities to share their feelings, mixed dangerously with England's tsundere tendencies and America's Jerk with a Heart of Gold habits targeted right back. This Ship Tease has affected the fandom as well as the canon universe immensely.
- Sweden — every time he tries to talk to Finland, he becomes flustered and can't finish what he was about to say. It doesn't help that Finland seems to be Oblivious to Love, either.
- Hidamari Sketch:
- Highschool DXD:
- The girls usually have NO problem telling Issei of their feelings, often at the same time... in his bed... as he's trying to go to sleep. The only one that does is Rias, because she's worried he doesn't see her as anything but the Occult Club's president. Issei has trouble telling Rias how he feels, too. He's still emotionally scarred from being rejected and literally murdered by the first girl confessed to, a fallen angel named Raynare, who'd been masquerading as a normal girl and stringing Issei along before killing him.
- Akeno has trouble confessing at first, knowing Issei's hatred of Fallen Angels and fearing he would hate her, too, due to her half-blood heritage as one. Once he assures her he couldn't hate her if he tried, she gets a lot more clingy, in a good way.
- The girls in How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend can't bring themselves to telling Tomoya how they feel, either because of competition from the other girls or because he seems to be Oblivious to Love.
- Including it in the Anime & Manga section even though it's technically an Original English Language manga. In Dramacon by Svetlana Chmakova, despite three years of blatant flirtation and although, like Kagome and Inuyasha, each has more of less come to an understanding with regards to the other's feelings, neither Christie or Matt openly confess their feelings before the story's final act.
- Played mostly straight with the members of Ichika's Balanced Harem in Infinite Stratos, but wonderfully averted with Laura, after being defrosted. Half an hour after she knows she's in love with Ichika, so does everyone else—Including Ichika, which is pretty damn impressive.
- Itazura Na Kiss: A lot of grief would've been avoided had Naoki simply voiced his growing feelings for Kotoko earlier. It took a Green-Eyed Epiphany to finally declare to her.
- In Junjou Romantica, Misaki has enormous difficulty on two counts: he can't bring himself to tell Usami he loves him, and he's so concerned with never being a burden to anyone that he's pretty much incapable of saying what he wants from other people, even when they flat-out ask him and are obviously willing to do whatever he wants. Naturally, this leads to complications, as he tends to go along with what other people want — even when the reason why they want it is because they think it'll make him happy...
- A variation in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. Instead of it being "cannot spit it out", it's "will not spit it out" since the plot revolves around Kaguya and Shirogane trying to force each other into confessing without confessing themselves. Although they actually do confess and get together long before the series ends.
- In Kaleido Star, Ill Boy Ken Robbins tries often to tell Sora Naegino that he greatly loves and admires her, but never gets the chance. In a more adult version, Kalos Eido loves his best friend Sarah Dupont, but feels guilty for their common past and doesn't want to let her know. And last, Jerry the policeman can't tell his best friend Kate that he loves her since they've been friends for decades and he fears to lose that friendship When he does tell her, he graduates to Victorious Childhood Friend.
- Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss has some real problems admitting his feelings to Nanami. Part of it comes from the fact he's her servant and bodyguard and he was forced into that position against his will. Part of it stems from his disapproval of Interspecies Romance (he's a Kitsune and she's a human). And part of it is simply that he is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- In Kanon, Yuichi's aunt Akiko never thinks to mention to him that the girl whose death traumatized him 7 years ago was still alive in the hospital until the memory resurfaces.
- One reason for the Idiot Plot in Kedamono Damono. Haruki has his reasons, though.
- The title character of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is totally unable to take initiative in starting a romantic relationship with Miu, even though she obviously likes him. All of the masters are constantly guessing (and probably betting on) when he'll finally say something.
- Many love triangles, such as the one in Kimagure Orange Road, have a third wheel who thinks that the main character returns their feelings. In the case of KOR, he doesn't, but feels it's far better to lead her on for the entire series instead of sitting her down and explaining the situation, as he does care for the girl as a sister and can't bring himself to hurt her feelings. It certainly doesn't help that the girl whom he does have feelings for is the best friend of the third wheel and an Action Girl who already promised to help the wheel girl, as well as willing to beat the shit out of him if he causes said girl harm.
- Kimi ni Todoke: Sawako keeps stopping short of saying what she really feels time and time again because of her overly selfless and humble personality, an endless source of frustration and misunderstandings for those who care about her.
- Kotaro and Mayumi in Kotaro Makaritoru absolutely love each other but feel too embarrassed to confess it to the other. When one of them is about to muster enough courage to confess, expect someone else to show up and ruin the moment.
- In the animated adaptation of Kotoura-san, there is Haruka and Hiyori to Manabe. Interestingly, Manabe and Haruka's romance progresses fine regardless, and Haruka confessed in the end regardless. Averted in the manga, where Haruka confessed in the third chapter.
- A consistent problem in Last Game. Although, it may be Justified in Yanagi's case because Kujou is just so Oblivious to Love that she might misinterpret his potential confession as a declaration of friendship instead.
- In Love Hina it took the vast majority of the fourteen volumes of the published manga for the male protagonist to even get past "I L...". The entire rest of the manga consists of the same happening to the female lead. It's fun to follow, but incredibly excruciating at the same time. It's eventually referred to this in the Kanako arc OVAs.
- In the first two seasons of Lyrical Nanoha, the villains have their own reasons for doing what they're doing, but refuse to tell why despite Nanoha wanting to talk to them. Nanoha (whose main characteristic is her honesty and straightforwardness) decides that the only way to get them to explain their actions is to beat them in combat and demand an explanation. It works.
- The Wolkenritter are concerned about Hayate being uncovered as master of the Book of Darkness and being labeled a criminal as a result, which could be one reason why they don't tell Nanoha and her friends their story.
- Also, all of the TSAB's experience with them at that point was as emotionless, deadly constructs who would stop at nothing to protect the Book of Darkness - not exactly people with a trustworthy reputation. Even if Nanoha and Fate are willing to think otherwise, it's clear they're not the ones calling the shots on the case.
- After episode 9 of Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Sasshi finds himself unable to bring himself to tell Arumi that Masa-jii is dead.
- In Magic Knight Rayearth, Clef can't bring himself to reveal that the Magic Knights are summoned to kill the Pillar of Cephiro as a failsafe if that person becomes evil and threatens the land. He deeply apologizes for this later.
- Mahoraba takes the romantic variety to insane levels, leaving you to wonder if either of the mains have tongues at all until the last episode.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED:
- A large amount of problems in the series and its sequel could have been avoided had Athrun actually spoke his mind to various people, instead of moping around silently and constantly going "it's nothing" when people asked him what he thought.
- Deconstructed concerning Kira and Flay. Before his fated duel with Athrun, Kira tells Flay there's something he wants to tell her, despite all the time she's been manipulating him. When Kira disappears after the fight, Flay realizes that she did like him. Fate ends up conspiring to keep the two apart until the very end where Rau Le Crueset ends up shooting down her escape craft as one last Kick the Dog moment.
- In Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, Sakura probably wouldn't even be Nozaki's assistant at all if she'd just told him she liked him instead of chickening out and saying she's his fan. Nozaki being Nozaki, of course, he took it the wrong way. She makes the same mistake the second time. Later, she states that she wants to make Nozaki fall for her and confess first because she's afraid that if she confesses again Nozaki will just use it to mine ideas for his manga.
- My Love Story!! plays this straight between Takeo and Rinko for about three episodes before Makoto gets annoyed and forces them both to tell the truth, resulting in the two going steady almost immediately. Makoto basically spares the audience about 20 episodes worth of angst and romantic tension.
- My Monster Secret plays with this trope in just about every way possible. In the first chapter it's averted, with protagonist Asahi going to confess to his classmate Youko...only to get thrown off his stride when he walks into the classroom and sees her with fangs and giant bat wings. When she says she'll have to leave the school now that her secret is exposed, he promises not to tell anyone and asks her to be...his friend. He hides his true feelings for a while, but in hindsight he decides it's better this way since if he'd said "Be my girlfriend" right then, it would have looked like he was blackmailing her. A couple of friends who have known him for years also think it's a good thing, since Asahi has a tendency to admire girls and mistake that admiration for lovenote , but by being friends first he gets to know the real Youko and develop actual feelings for her. He does end up confessing for real about halfway through the series, and the two become a couple, though the confession letter he wrote in the first chapter doesn't get opened until the very last.
- There's also other characters who have feelings for Asahi, and can't spit it out for various reasons. Class Representative Nagisa is an alien who got most of her knowledge on Earth by reading manga, and is also incredibly insecure about her feelings. Shiho tries to deny her feelings for Asahi because she and Youko have known each other since they were kids and she'd never do anything as scummy as stealing her best friend's boyfriend. And of course, both of them are major Shippers on Deck for the couple (while Youko ships Nagisa with Asahi before realizing her own feelings). Both of them actually do confess, but entirely so that Asahi can let them down gently and they can move on with their lives.
- And then there's the non-romantic version with the main plot, which is most prominent with Rin, Asahi's Granddaughter from the Future. She could very easily clear up a lot of the mysteries and confusion about the plot (in particular whom Asahi ends up marrying), but she's expressly forbidden from revealing future knowledge, with her punishment for doing so being barred from returning to the future for some time. Near the end of the series, as the cast starts to put things together, she says "To hell with the rules" and owns up to everything because she wants to prevent the Bad Future she comes from where practically the entire cast are alone and sad due to their friendships and lives breaking down.
- The title character of Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water is obviously attracted to Jean, even though she otherwise claims he's merely a friend. Unfortunately she is unable to admit her love for him or what she actually wants from him because she simply doesn't know how to act appropriately except through rage (she gradually changes that behavior). Jean, by contrast, is much more open, honest, and demonstrative.
- Hinata regarding her feelings for Naruto until she did spit it out... and almost got killed by Pain immediately afterward. She survived, but Naruto did not directly respond to her feelings until The Last (see below).
- Naruto. He had extreme admiration and fondness for his teammate Sasuke, viewing him as his best friend and the person he could relate to more than anyone else, wanting his acknowledgment. However, he was too stubborn, prideful and jealous of Sasuke's skills and reputation to ever admit it, and acted like he hated him most of the time. Until Sasuke stabbed a chidori through his chest and nearly killed him... yeah, it took that much. Of course, their relationship was complicated, even in the best of times.
- Naruto was also this with his other teammate Sakura; he couldn't confess that he had a crush on her due to his promise to bring back Sasuke. Subverted when Sakura used this promise to kill Sasuke and spare Naruto further emotional pain by giving him her infamous fake love confession so he'd stop chasing him. Naruto easily saw right through her, called her out on her dishonesty, rejected her outright, and stated that the promise was no longer the reason why he wanted to save Sasuke; he has his own reasons now.
- As stated above, Naruto has this again in The Last: Naruto the Movie, this time concerning his genuine true love for Hinata. Sakura herself disputes the above example and helps Naruto realize that his crush on her was more a product of his rivalry with Sasuke and how he wanted to beat out Sasuke at something for once than any actual romantic feelings—which was implied back in Chapter 3—while his love for Hinata is sincere and real. Naruto does spit it out to Hinata in the movie, twice (compared to the years it took Hinata to spit it out two years ago). The first time he spat it out, it didn't go so well thanks to Toneri. However, after the Final Battle, he proposes to her and she happily accepts, the two enter a relationship, get Happily Married, and have two children.
- In Shikamaru Hiden, Shikamaru gets tongue-tied when he's trying to ask Temari out to dinner.
- Negima! Magister Negi Magi:
- Effectively invoked when Negi tries to ask his father's allies who his mother is. Unfortunately, Rakan swore them to silence until he "acknowledges Negi as a man", seemingly so that Negi would have even more incentive to beat him in their upcoming fight.
- Naturally, it's then revealed with no build up at all, by a newly introduced character. It's later confirmed by Jack Rakan, in the same offhand manner:
Jack: Oh, by the way, Arika really is your mother. See you later. (heads off to bathroom).
- But can you really stop there? The entirety of Negima is comprised of characters who can't spit it out. Nodoka, Yue, Chachamaru, Evangeline, Asuna, Negi, Kotarou, and a slew of side characters have relationships they refuse to act on, for reasons ranging from denial, feelings of unworthiness, fear of hurting others feelings, or amnesia.
Kotarō: What's with her? All she's saying is, "L-L-L-L" over and over again.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Scarcely a character in the entire series is capable of admitting his or her deeper feelings toward those he or she loves most (with Kaworu being the main exception). Often even the exceptions turn out not to be exceptions. For example, Asuka's flamboyant confessions of love for Kaji are to mask her growing attraction to Shinji. Of course, it doesn't work. Unfortunately, the consequence of that situation was the End of the World as We Know It, and it could have been averted if the characters (mainly Shinji and Asuka) would have been more open and sincere with each other.
- Every time Haru from Ojojojo makes an effort to say something genuinely nice or sincere to Tsurezure (or anyone else of a lower social status), she reflexively twists her words into something condescending. She gets a little better about it over time, and eventually does give Tsurezure a proper Love Confession (after they've already been dating for a few months).
- Morei has this issue in Omujo! Omutsu Joshi. She has a hard time speaking her feelings to her childhood friend, Shouta. This is compounded by her attempt to appeal to him by going along with what she incorrectly thinks is Shota's fetish for girls in diapers. She stumbles over her attempt to declare her love for Shouta while showing him she's wearing one and accidentally convinces him she has the fetish as a result. In a later chapter, she fantasizes about trying again but can't go through with it.
- In Princess Tutu, Ahiru can't tell Mytho that she loves him — Not because of nervousness, but because she will cease to exist once she does. This becomes very troublesome in the first season finale when Princess Kraehe offers to return Mytho's emotion of love, but only if she says that she loves him.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- Deconstructed: Sayaka Miki does have her chance to get together with an Ill Boy Kamijou as her friend Hitomi Shizuki does ask her if she loves him. Sayaka's inability to just spit it out already makes her friend consider the answer is no. She has her reasons, yes, but still...
- Another example is Homura. She knows she loves Madoka, and is highly motivated by those feelings...but she can't express them without breaking down and sobbing incoherently (as seen in episodes 8 and 12). This results in much confusion for Madoka, as Homura's actions indicate love but her words don't.
- Reborn! (2004) stars Tsunayoshi "Tsuna" Sawada, an Unlucky Everydude with a crush on his classmate Kyoko who Cannot Spit It Out. One of Reborn's first tasks in making Tsuna a suitable heir to the Vongola Mafia family is using his "Dying Wish Bullet" to make Tsuna confess his love to Kyoko. But in the end, she still thinks he was joking, and he has yet to convince himself to confess a second time.
- Rosario + Vampire has Inner Moka, who refuses to admit her increasingly obvious affection for Tsukune.
- In Saki, Nodoka desperately tries to cover up her feelings for Saki whom she keeps referring to as nothing but a friend—not to much avail, though.
- The foundation of pretty much all the tension and drama of Whispered Words is based on Sumika's inability to tell Kazama that she loves her. Kazama likes girls too, and very openly... But Sumika isn't her type, and is petrified that a confession of love would destroy their friendship. As of chapter 20, the tension is even more balanced on this, from both sides: Kazama is in love with Sumika as well, but doesn't know that Sumika likes girls (or even just her), so she is also terrified that confessing her love would tear them apart.
- The inability of various characters in School Rumble to confess their love, Harima's feelings for Tenma being the principle example.
- It's very obvious from early on in Senki Zesshou Symphogear that Miku is harboring romantic feelings for her best friend, Hibiki. Unfortunately, Miku can't bring herself to confess and Hibiki is far too dense to figure it out. The final scene in the series has Miku finally work up the courage to presumably confess her love, with Hibiki replying that she also has something to tell Miku and hopes it's the same thing, but the series ends without any explicit confirmation.
- Sgt. Frog spent an entire episode milking the trope, as Momoka's attempts to refer to Fuyuki on a first-name basis lead to increasingly absurd changes in the conversation.
- Shana from Shakugan no Shana doesn't have a bloody clue how to talk about her feelings, particularly about why she's falling for Yuji. This, of course, drives her tsundere behavior towards him; since she can't spit it out, beating him up works too.
- Akina of Don't Become an Otaku, Shinozaki-san! cannot spit anything out. She can't tell Kaede and Micchy she is more into fashion then otaku stuff, and she really can't say that she is in love with Kaede, especially to herself. This latter also causes her to have difficulty referring to Kaede by her first name.
- In Smile Pretty Cure!, Yayoi decides to pull an April Fools prank, saying that she's going to get transferred to another school. It's all fine and dandy, except for one hitch - the person she told it to was Miyuki, who panics and begins spreading the news, spiraling into Reiko holding a farewell party with the rest of the class and Yayoi unable to say anything because the other girls keep putting words in her mouth. It isn't until Akaoni reveals the truth through a manga Yayoi drew and lost that the girls realize that it was a lie. They're pretty disappointed at her... until they realize it was Miyuki's fault for believing it in the first place!
- It took until the very last episode of Super Dimension Fortress Macross — more than 2 years after it became painfully obvious to everyone — for Misa (Lisa) to finally drop the L bomb on Hikaru (Rick).
- In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Connor is unable to bring himself to tell Lag that Gauche, whom Lag befriended while being delivered to Cambel Litmus, was fired from his Letter Bee position after going missing. In a one-shot story, a woman's maid is unable to reveal herself as the person who had sent her the picture postcards, because she had been forced to sell the gift she had received from her future employer when the two were younger. One of Lag's Heart Bullets reveals the secret, which the woman takes well.
- In Tekkaman Blade, an early episode has D-Boy's transformation crystal being broken, forcing him to use a modified Pegas robot to transform into Blade. Late in the series, when he's losing his memory due to a Deadly Upgrade, he forgets that his crystal broke and starts trying to transform on his own. Despite that he is searching the ground frantically and asking, over and over again, where his crystal is, Pegas refuses to say even something as simple is "I have your crystal, give me the command," instead uninformatively urging D-Boy to transform. Later, he dryly explains, "D-Boy refuses to access my Tek-Set function."
- Those Who Hunt Elves. All it would take to save the group tons and tons of trouble every episode is for somebody to approach an Elf and say "Hello, there. This might seem like an odd request but my friends and I are looking for fragments of a very important spell that's been imprinted on the bodies of five random Elf women. You don't happen to have recently found yourself with a strange marking on your body, have you? You HAVE? Great! Would you mind if we went to a quiet, private location to check if it's one of the fragments and remove that for you if it is?" Instead of, y'know, randomly assaulting and ripping the clothes off every one they come across.
- Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny has this tendency to the point of it being a Fatal Flaw. He doesn't like hurting people or worrying them with his own problems, and so prefers to keep unpleasant information to himself. This is a frequent cause of misunderstandings and leads to quarrels with both his daughter and his partner.
- Time of Eve has robots who appear emotionless, but are revealed to secretly be Ridiculously Human Robots. Both they and their human masters are not comfortable with this. Sammy in particular is a good example: she hides her concern and growing affection for her master Rikuo, and is afraid to be seen at the cafe even after he finds out she's a regular.
- Played with in To Love-Ru. In the first chapter, Rito plays it straight and then subverts it when he does finally confess to Haruna. Only for Lala to get in the way. It then plays the trope fairly straight for a time. However the reason changes from shyness to indecisiveness as he is no longer sure of his feelings. As soon as he is sure of his feelings for Lala, he confesses to her immediately, then goes to confess to Haruna who he still loves, making it a subversion.
- In Tomica Hyper Rescue Drive Head Kidou Kyuukyuu Keisatsu, despite his usual egomania, Karigari becomes so flustered around Sasagawa that he is unable to confess his feelings to her. That or circumstances will interrupt him, like a spacecraft suddenly about to plunge down onto the city. Of course she has no clue.
- In Tona-Gura!, would-be couple Kazuki Arisaka and Yuuji Kagura sometimes get so flustered by their obvious feelings that they cannot speak to each other at all, not out of anger, but out of trepidation. In one instance, where he has fallen on top of her (legit in this case, despite his immature tendency to grab at her), they are at this point so tongue-tied that a primal Accidental Pervert/Tsundere moment passes with only a few "Excuse Me"s — and that's all.
- Completely averted in Tonari no Kashiwagi-san. Yuuto confesses his feelings to Kotone the same day as his Love Epiphany (though it was technically by accident).
- Tatsuya and Minami in Touch. He likes her and she likes him, and she even kisses and confess to him before the 20th episode. It still took over 100 episodes...
- In Tsukigasa, Kuroe and Azuma have this in regards to their feelings but also on the larger scale of failing to communicate exactly what happened in the incident where Azuma cuts off Kuroe's arm and all the fallout from that.
- In Umi Monogatari, Kanon doesn't confess that she likes Kojima because she's afraid he'll reject her.
- This is suspected to be the case with Rudolf in Umineko: When They Cry.
- In Yuria 100 Shiki, Yuria can't tell Shunsuke how she feels about him, because she's Sex Bot and has no idea if her feelings are real or just part of her programming. Also because she doesn't really know how — everything outside of "how to be a sexbot" she's had to learn on her own and is still very naive about most things.
- Subverted in Yu Yu Hakusho. Just before Yusuke leaves to face his demon heritage, he has one last meal at the Yukimura diner. Cue Yusuke's marriage proposal, which Keiko reacts to rather nonchalantly. The subversion comes when Keiko returns to her room — Yusuke drops "Oh, come on, Keiko... you know I love you." without nary a second thought. Keiko's response? An even more nonchalant "Yeah, yeah."
- My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!:
- Catarina has a large mixed gender harem, all of whom were supposed to be interested in each other in various ways. Since she thinks that they still must be into each other like they are in the game they were based on, she doesn't factor herself into the group's romantic interactions. All of them are trying to get her to figure it out by being indirect and get frustrated when she completely blows them off. Only Maria and Mary get close to actually spitting it out. For Maria in particular there is no excuse: The lines she gives are ones that Catarina knows would be a confession if they were said to anyone else.
- Catarina's parents, the Duke and Duchess, had one in the backstory. They both fell in love with each other at first sight, but never told each other. Catarina's father basically proposed to her mother by going to her father instead, which he feels guilty about. In the original timeline, this eventually led to Poor Communication Kills; the Duke adopted a boy with strong magic, who the Duchess assumed was his illegitimate child. She hated the boy and shunned her husband, becoming a bitter old shrew and contributing both to Catarina's villainy (as she was left to be spoiled by her father) and Keith's womanizing (because he was starved for affection). In the new timeline, Catarina's attempts to be nice to Keith result in the Duchess confronting the Duke about it. When she realizes Keith is not her husband's bastard, she becomes much nicer to him, and the Duke and Duchess enter into a honeymoon phase. They grow up as a happy, close family.
- Tales of Wedding Rings: Sato and Krystal have been in love for ten years, but just can't tell each other. The series starts with Krystal leaving for her "home town," only for Sato to follow her through a portal to another world where she's about to enter into a magical Arranged Marriage to some guy she's never met. She dodges this by marrying Sato instead. While initially Krystal insists that it's just a political marriage and they don't have to do anything, they quickly realize that's stupid, admit they're in love with each other, and treat their marriage as real. Word of God is that the manga was originally going to be a long case of Will They or Won't They?, but plans changed very early on. Of course, because Sato and Krystal have terrible luck, they keep getting interrupted before they can actually consummate their marriage.
- Charlotte Roselei from Black Clover. She has a very bad experience of this when it comes to the one she is in love with. When Yami only wants to ask her about the curse she suffered from, not only does she interrupt him but also runs away screaming when she thinks he is about to make her confess. Eventually, she admits her love for Yami to her squad and they are supportive about it, much to her surprise. But she's still completely unable to admit it it to Yami. For added hilarity, he shows up to talk to her almost immediately afterwards.
- The Quintessential Quintuplets: Much of the later drama happens because Fuutarou discovers that, five years ago, he met one of the Nakano sisters in Kyoto, and they made a promise to become top students. Said quintuplet (later revealed to be Yotsuba) starts doing everything in her power to keep Fuutarou from learning the truth and even tries to get him to forget about her. As it turns out, this is all because she instantly recognized Fuutarou when they meet again at the start of the series, but she feels ashamed that unlike him, she couldn't fulfill their promise. This is also the reason why she doesn't confess her feelings for him, thinking that she has no right to pursue him, and after noticing that her sisters are falling in love with him, she decides to step aside to give them a fair chance too.
- Charlie Brown's inability to talk to the Little Red-Haired Girl in Peanuts was inspired by the rejection of a proposal to marriage Charles M. Schulz offered his girlfriend in 1947. The woman later married a fireman, the woman and Schulz remained friends for life, but Schulz was significantly affected by the rejection. Unrequited Love was a constant theme in Peanuts.
- In the 1990s Marvel Comics series Sleepwalker, Rick Sheridan finds himself unable to explain his sudden sleeping problems, caused by Sleepwalker being trapped in his mind, to his girlfriend Alyssa, mostly because he's afraid of how he thinks she'll react.
- Peter Parker is unwilling to reveal his dual identity to his Aunt May, because he fears the shock will kill her, and later because he doesn't want her constantly worrying about him risking his life as Spider-Man. It became even worse when Peter wouldn't tell his first girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, the secret either. He never told Mary Jane while they were dating, either — she had to tell him that she knew his secret.
- When May does find out and talks to Peter, it's one of the most touching scenes in comics, including the part where she specifically points out that she's a big girl and she won't just keel over, and that she will be worried, but he has her blessing. Unfortunately Retcon'd by One More Day.
- This is subverted in the Ultimate Spider-Man series, where Peter reveals that he's Spider-Man to Mary Jane in issue #13. Mind you, that's really early in the series by Bendis standards. Then again, it takes him nearly a hundred to tell this to Aunt May.
- A Cable series tends to get sapped of any and all momentum it may have built up at least once an issue, as all the conflict roots from Bishop's complete inability to simply explain his apparent FaceHeel Turn to the X-Men he's been working with for years, despite countless opportunities to do so.
- Shazam: For most of his super heroing career, Captain Marvel Jr couldn't tell anyone his name, because it happened to also be his transformation phrase (minus the "Jr"). He's now known as Shazam, having taken over for Billy Batson, who took over for the Wizard Shazam as guardian of The Rock of Ages.
- Mouse Guard: Incredibly, it's the Hot-Blooded Boisterous Bruiser Saxon who embodies this trope. In Winter, we learn that he's been sitting on his feelings for Gwendolyn for years. He spits in the denoument.
- Happens several times in the Squadron Supreme limited series. Sometimes it's sheer plot convenience, as a character is found withholding information that could've averted a problem later on. Other times, it's due to higher-priority instructions given during brainwashing...
- The Sandman In "Death: At Death's Door", Despair and the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe like each other, but can't admit it.
- In Mini Monsters, we have Frank and Henrietta. They definitely love each other, but they can't tell their feelings because of shyness. Also, Henrietta's alter-ego Miss Hit does not help at all. Unsurprisingly, all people think they're a couple, and Frank constantly denies it.
- One rare example in ElfQuest (rare because the elves tend to practise Brutal Honesty): Zhantee keeps his love for Leetah a secret, likely because Leetah is lifemated to their chief, Cutter. He's open about his respect and admiration for her, but never says that his feelings are romantic. When Cutter finds out, he tells Zhantee that they could have been a threesome centuries ago if Zhantee had only told him. Too bad this is moments before Zhantee dies.
- In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Spike, when confronted by Nightmare Rarity, can't quite bring himself to admit his feelings for her. This is immediately lampshaded by Nightmare Rarity, who coldly mocks him for it.
- A magically-induced variation of this trope figures in the origin of Doctor Strange. When Dr. Stephen Strange was staying at the Ancient One's retreat, he discovered that the Ancient One's disciple Baron Mordo was trying to kill his master. Mordo found out and placed a spell on Strange, magically gagging him whenever he tried to warn Mordo's master. Recognizing Mordo's evil and the need to counter it, Strange offered himself as the Ancient One's new disciple. The first thing the Ancient One did was remove Mordo's enchantment from Strange, which he knew about all along ("A student can have no secrets from his master.")
- The Mighty Thor: Odin does in fact love his sons Thor and, despite everything, Loki, but it would take a truly phenomenal effort for him to say it. He does eventually say it during Loki: Agent of Asgard, much to the infuriation of an older version of Loki, who bellows that Odin never said that to them. And seconds later Odin gets angry and refuses to say any more on the subject. He says it again to Loki later in that series, when they're in a very dark place (issue #11), together with a lot of other stuff fitting under Vagueness Is Coming.
- Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Danvers has to report the results of her interrogation of Lawson. She's visibly ashamed to open her mouth and say "His name's Captain Marvel and he's a spaceman from the Cree indian tribe, sir"
- The Backstagers: Beckett, for Bailey Brentwood. The subtext is that Beckett fears he'll be rejected for being trans.
- Deathstroke's buddy Billy Wintergreen hypothesizes in the Rebirth series that Slade loves his kids more than anything in the world and is eaten up with guilt for not being the dad that they need but is too fundamentally broken to tell them that.
- A non-romantic variant. In the very first issue of X-Men Unlimited, it was revealed that Cyclops was so courteous to Professor X he literally cannot call him "Charles". He'll call him "Professor" or "Xavier" or "Professor Xavier", but he'll never call him "Charles".
- In "Our Lady's Child" the main character lies about having opened a forbidden door and continues to do so, despite getting kicked out of Heaven, losing her voice, spending several utterly miserable years trapped in the wilderness and having all three of her children (temporarily) taken away from her as punishment. She doesn't admit to the truth until she's on the verge of being burnt as a witch because her husband's subjects believe that she ate the missing kids.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: In chapter 6, Japan was about to confess to Italy only to cut himself short. Nerves got to him. Subverted later on.
- A Crown of Stars: Shinji and Asuka got together after he said her that he loved her. However Asuka was still very confused, frightened and insecure of herself and her feelings. So it took a while until she was ready to admit to herself and him that she needed him and loved him back.
- Advice and Trust:
- Subverted. In the prologue Misato thinks Shinji is incapable to confess his feelings to Asuka and she tries to encourage him to admit them to her. Shinji answers the usual excuses: he does not think that Asuka loves him back, he likes things the way they are right now... in reality they had got together several weeks ago and were keeping their relationship secret. Before that, though, they HAD been unable to spit it out: Shinji did not believe that Asuka liked him, Asuka was too proud to admit that she had fallen for him and both were frightened of rejection.
- A bit of Ascended Fanon revealed that the entire human/angel war was set in motion by this. Adam and Lilith were originally in love with each other, but never confessed their feelings before they were converted into carriers for the FAR souls. Lilith's desire to be with Adam caused her to subconsciously follow him to Earth.
- Evangelion 303: Asuka kept her real feelings for Shinji secret. She finally managed spitting it out after getting engaged, but even then she was still frightened to say it.
- In the Mob Psycho 100 fanfic The Best Laid Plans Teru plans to confess his feeling to Mob over a very fancy dinner date. His plans are derailed when he find that he forgot his wallet at home, doesn't have enough to pay for their dinner, and falls into a stream. Eventually he does spit it out, though, and it's adorable.
- The Bolt Chronicles: Mittens has trouble admitting her feelings for Bolt to Rhino in The Ship.
- The Child of Love: Asuka could not spit it out because she was afraid of admitting she loved and needed Shinji, and she did not believe he was really in love with her. Shinji could not spit it out for a while because he thought she did not love him back. Finally they spat it out in chapter 5.
- Doing It Right This Time: In the original timeline Shinji thought Asuka did not like him back, Asuka thought Shinji did not like her back and he loved Rei instead, and Rei was unable to recognize her own emotions. In the altered timeline neither of them confessed for a while since Asuka was confused because she also started liking Rei, Rei was unsure about her feelings towards Shinji and Asuka, and Shinji thought he would have to choose between both.
- Fate/Gamers Only: During the first Halloween event, Rikku prepares to respond to Kiyohime calling her her husband by saying that her wife is Mash, but cuts herself off before she can finish saying her kohai's name. Mash gets disappointed because she was interested in finding out what Rikku's type was, but Dr. Roman assures her that she doesn't have to worry.
- Ghosts of Evangelion: Shinji doesnt confess his feelings until he is eighteen because he thought that Asuka would reject him.
- Green: This is the main thing keeping Fluttershy and Rarity's burgeoning romance from being realized. Rarity loves Fluttershy but is worried about what would happen to their friendship if Fluttershy doesn't feel the same way. Fluttershy finds herself in the exact same position. Eventually, Rarity decides to get her feelings off her chest by way of an anonymous love letter, delivered in the dark of the night. She doesn't do a good job covering her tracks, though, and between her signature scent on the letter and Angel Bunny spotting her in the act, Fluttershy is able to deduce who the letter was really from, which gives her the courage to finally give Rarity The Big Damn Kiss.
- HERZ: Shinji and Asukas inability to express their feelings openly and clearly was an additional source of pain. In chapter 2 Asuka remembers their relationship finally improved when she managed to open up to him.
- Higher Learning: Shinji was afraid of confessing Asuka because he is a shy kid who did not think she liked him. Asuka was frightened of confessing Shinji because she is afraid of opening up to other people, and he had ignored all hints she dropped. It took a bottle of sake for them reaching each other out and blurting their feelings out.
- Last Child of Krypton: Shinji did not dare to confess his feelings to Asuka because he was afraid that she would not love him back or she would find out about his Secret Identity and regard him as something was above her rather just Shinji. Asuka did not dare to confess her feelings because she was afraid to open up and get rejected.
- Once More with Feeling: Shinji can't spit two things out to Asuka: his feelings towards her (because he is certain of she'll run for the hills if he confesses too soon); and the bit about him being a time-traveler and being awfully sorry for all what he did and did not to her (because her life and safety depends on him keeping his mouth closed).
- The One I Love Is...: Asuka had a very hard time confessing openly her feelings to Shinji. And the fact of Shinji has also a very hard time with this is part of what moves the plot forward.
- The Second Try:
- A humorous subversion. Hikari goads Asuka into confessing her feelings for Shinji, believing she is unable to. The audience, however, knows that Asuka had gotten WAY past that step several years ago (or, depending on the point of view, several years later... Time travel is migraine-inducing).
- Played in an interesting manner in "Love": after an argument in which Asuka told Shinji that he would be unable to notice if someone had feelings for him but was unable to express them, the two have a bit of pillow talk where Asuka timidly points out that she was talking about herself, to which Shinji answers that he understood and has the same feelings for her. Yet, in spite of having finally spit it out, they both tiptoe around each other for the next few days, afraid of making the next move, until Asuka eventually gets fed up with it and decides to tackle the issue, leading to the First Kiss of their relationship.
- Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: After realizing he loved Asuka Shinji did not tell her right away because he wanted to wait for the right time to ask her out. Asuka did not tell Shinji she liked him because she was in self-denial for a long time.
- One Forgotten Realms fanfiction had Drizzt trying to tell Catti-brie how he feels about her at the most perfect moment — on a balcony during a ball — only to be interrupted because Delly was having a baby.
- Happens twice in the Elizabeth Quatermain series. First, when one character proposes to the woman he loves, he can't quite bring himself to actually ask the question (luckily, she answers it anyway). The second time, another character just can't say the words until he's practically arguing with the object of his affections, finally blurting it out in an Anguished Declaration of Love.
- This happens in World of Warcraft fanfic Children Of The Stars, where Keleria - madly in love with Ayuri and most certainly wanting to express her feelings - won't allow herself to spit it out rather than wanting to and just getting cold feet.
- A huge point of plot in the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha fanfic Toward the World's End. Protagonist Arthur is clearly in love with Nanoha, which is obvious to everyone except Nanoha and himself. Arthur constantly grapples with the fact that he has no clue what he actualy feels for Nanoha, other than that it is more than friendship. He does reffer to Fate as his "rival for Nanoha's love" toward the end of the 2nd fanfic however, with the revelation more directed at the fact that Arthur now understood Fate's feelings, rather than his own. However, it may suggest that he is at least slightly comming to terms with how feels.
- This gets so extreme that the other characters make jabs at Arthur about it, and several of them have a "side" that they're on (Either supporting Arthur or Fate ending up with Nanoha). Particualy, Arthur's fellow forwards often use this as a talking point at lunch time. Subaru in particular. None of these characters have any problem spitting it out to Nanoha either, making several jokes about Arthur's feelings around her.
- A Growing Affection has this as part of Konan and Nagato's backstory. Things might have gone differently if Nagato had not suffered from this.
- Danny and Sam in Hearts and Minds had difficulty confessing their deeper feelings for each other at first.
- In Children of Time, Sherlock Holmes can't even seem to process his feelings towards Beth Lestrade, let alone spit them out. After she makes a thinly veiled Anguished Declaration of Love, he can only say, "Good night, Beth."
- Almost literally in Ah! My Goddess fanfiction Haloes. While Urd and Keichi are obviously developing feeling to each other, a nasty bout with aphasia robs the former of her ability to use written and spoken language. Her later Anguished Declaration of Love has the mute goddess develop and entire Starfish Language made of music and translate it in words just to relearn how to speak.
- The Fascinating Yet Obvious Twixie spends thirteen chapters of Twilight and Trixie dancing circles around each other without admitting how they feel, for fear of rejection. Given that they spend the entire story together in the same room and get highly intimate for a number of reasons, some severe self-delusions are employed. Once Trixie realizes that Twilight does feel for her, it all comes tumbling out.
- Magician's Obsessions: This and an unhealthy dose of Oblivious to Love keeps Trixie and Twilight from realizing their feelings. Of course Trixie only collects those photos and news clippings of Twilight in order to keep tabs on her rival! Of course Twilight is depressed because Trixie left and never came back, because she really, really wants to be her friend! At one point Celestia considers just telling Twilight, "You're in love. Get on with it!"
- In ''Blind Mans Bluff", Nick just can't confess his feelings for Ellis. He truly loves him, and God forbid if you ever hurt Ellis in front of Nick, but due to his general standoffish nature and his residual trust issues from his rocky divorce, he finds it difficult to express his feelings.
- In Any Way You Want It (a sequel to Going Anywhere), roommates Tinker and Emma each refuse to reveal to the other why they were running away from Canterlot on the same day until the other does first. For his part, Tinker doesn't want to ever tell her that he left his fiance (in an arranged marriage) at the altar. Though unstated, Emma probably has the exact same reason, being as it was the exact same altar.
- In Thousand Shinji:
- Rei had feelings for Shinji but she couldn't spit them out because she was frightened of being rejected since she was Shinji's mother's clon, and he was dating someone else, anyway.
- Asuka couldn't initially confess that she liked Shinji because she was frightened of opening herself up and getting hurt.
- Shinji fell for Asuka as soon as he met her, but he didn't confess for a while because he didn't think that she would accept him.
- In Children of an Elder God, Shinji liked both Asuka and Rei, but he didn't say anything because he wasn't sure about his feelings or theirs... until Asuka kissed him.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Shinji didn't dare spit his feelings out because he thought Asuka hated him. On the other hand, Asuka thought that he wasn't interested in her and he hated her.
- It's revealed in Sugarcarthesis that Sugarcoat had a crush on Twilight and never told her while she was at Crystal Prep because, well, Crystal Prep is all about academia. By the time she finally does confess, Twilight has ingratiated herself with her Canterlot High friends and has no idea how to react...
- In X-Men: The Early Years, Scott doesn't dare to confess his feelings because he believes Jean doesnt like him back, isn't interested in a serious relationship and a romance between them would tear the team apart.
Hank: Why don't you come out and tell her how you feel?
Scott: Jean and I are just friends.
Hank: There's nothing wrong with wanting to be more.
Scott: (glaring) There is if I screw it up and it blows this team apart. There's a lot more to consider than how I feel. Besides, Jean has stated over and over again she's not interested in a serious relationship. So it's better for us to stay friends.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged: "Every fiber of my being wants to puke at once when I say this, but I need your he... heaa..."
- A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 24, Moondancer confesses to Princess Celestia that she kept sending hints Twilight's way, but Twilight never figured out what Moondancer was trying to say - that she was in love with Twilight.
- In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Jack has to recruit the help of Méliès to communicate his feelings for Miss Acacia in the form of a puppet show, since the words get caught in his throat when he tries to say it out loud.
- Strange Magic: Marianne and The Bog King are obviously in love with each other by the end of the film but aren't willing to confess. Both really want the other to take the first step while giving weak platitudes about how much their time together has changed them, much to the frustration of everyone around them. It takes a full on Crowd Song to force them to confess.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: Poor Sally can't tell Jack that she considers him more than Just Friends.
- In Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Harold is unable to confess his love for Maria until the very end.
- In The Perfect Score, Desmond finds it hard to voice his opinion to his mom. Roy calls him out:
Roy: So why don't you pro?
Desmond: You don't know my mom, man. She's all about college degrees. She works three jobs. If I blow my knee out in college, all I got is credits. If I blow my knee out in the NBA, I got a four-year guaranteed contract. Millions.
Roy: What does she say when you tell her that?
Desmond: I can't. You don't know my mom, man.
Roy: [chuckles] All 'cause you can't talk to your mom?
Desmond: What? You can?
Roy: Mine's dead. [pause] But if she wasn't... Yeah, I would talk to her.
- Spider-Man 3:
- Harry Osborne has a terrible grudge against Spider-Man, as he believes he was responsible for the death of his father, Norman. As one of the only people who knows Spider-Man's real identity, he spends the greater part of the movie making things difficult for Peter Parker, battles Spider-Man a few times as the Green Goblin, and eventually, in one of said battles, gets injured. Later in the movie, Peter asks Harry to help fight the team of Venom and the Sandman, but Harry declines the offer. At this point, the Osborne family's loyal butler Bernard arrives, and tells Harry that Spider-Man was really never responsible for Norman's death, and that he died of his own folly. Apparently, the butler knew this all along, but still allowed Harry to play out his vendetta against Spider-Man. According to the DVD extras, the butler was a hallucination for Harry to justify himself. Note how only Harry sees him during the entire movie.
- There's also Mary Jane. If she had just said that she got fired from her job, about half of the conflict in the movie would disappear.
- Peter is unable to tell Aunt May about how Uncle Ben died until late in the second movie. Justified in that he was partly responsible.
- Peter in The Amazing Spider-Man is the absolute definition of this trope. Despite being a budding scientific genius, plus highly articulate and witty when it comes to taunting criminals he's captured and stupid cops, whenever he tries to speak to Gwen he deteriorates into gibberish. He ends up getting around this by revealing his webbing rather than outright saying it, allowing her to put the clues together.
- In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter stumbles on his words in nearly every conversation he has with Liz Allan, and is staring at his feet when he finally tells her about his crush on her. However, she's already figured it out and offers to be his date to the school dance.
- Peter and MJ both in Spider-Man: Far From Home. They care about each other, but aren't comfortable putting it into words quite yet. Peter has psyched himself up by planning out a Love Confession, which keeps getting derailed by his life as Spider-Man. When they're finally alone together and he's about to tell her, he's thrown off-guard by MJ revealing she knows his secret identity. She then accidentally devastates him by claiming that her interest in him was only about seeing if her theory was correct, but bigger problems emerge before she can explain that wasn't what she meant. After Mysterio has been defeated and they reunite, they finally tell each other how they feel and they have their First Kiss. By the denouement, they're a couple.
- In The Whole Town's Talking, Jones never mentions his undying love for Miss Clark—only when drunk.
- In Blonde Crazy, Bert can't express his feelings to Anne much to his detriment.
- The hero of Shock Corridor experiences speaking impairment in critical situations as a result of the electroshock therapy he received.
- Used in The Empire Strikes Back to comedic effect. C-3PO notices that the hyperdrive motivator had been damaged by blaster fire and tries to tell Han Solo a few times. Each time Solo shuts him up, so when they try to escape from an Imperial Star Destroyer by escaping to hyperspace and the drives peter out, 3PO says the equivalent of "I told you so" and Solo gets a look of extreme embarrassment and moves off to fix the hyperdrive.
- Used rather movingly in Batman (1989). Bruce tries to tell Vicki he's Batman, but he just can't bring himself to actually say it. When she walks away to answer the door, he disgustedly mouths "I'm Batman" to himself.
- Tragically used in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Shu Lien and Li Mubai are deeply in love with each other and pretty much everyone knows, including themselves, but Shu Lien's first love and fiancé was actually Li Mubai's best friend, and he tragically perished in an event that Mubai still blames himself for. Therefore, to not shame the dead guy's memory, they can't act on their love. And don't do so until Li Mubai is fatally poisoned and, in his last moments, he shares a Last Kiss with Shu Lien.
- Averted in Ghost Rider: Johnny's love interest confronts him about breaking their date... so he tells her that he turned into a burning biker skeleton possessed by a spirit of vengeance. Naturally, she finds this preposterous, but when she sees proof that he was telling her the truth, she unhesitatingly steps up to help him.
- One of the protagonists of Better Than Chocolate keeps starting to come out of the closet to her mother, only to have her mother interrupt, assuming she was trying to disclose something else.
- In Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: Jay's trying to figure out where their monkey's being taken. Silent Bob spots a sign on the back of the leaving car reading "Critters of Hollywood." Silent Bob gestures wildly to Jay, who can't figure out what the hell Silent Bob's saying. Until finally...
Silent Bob: THE SIGN! ON THE BACK OF THE CAR! SAID "CRITTERS OF HOLLYWOOD!" YOU DUMB FUCK!
Jay: Say it, don't spray it.
- In Amélie, the titular protagonist plays numerous games with her Love Interest, ostensibly in order to whet his curiosity about her, but actually because she's painfully shy and terrified of the prospect of actually making a connection with him. The two times she attempts to set up a meeting with him with the genuine intent of introducing herself to him, her shyness causes her to freeze up and she finds herself incapable of approaching him.
- In Galaxy Quest, when they couldn't stop the self-destruct countdown, Jason was just about to confess his feelings for Gwen... when the countdown stopped on its own at 00:01. ("It always stopped at 1 on the show!") Gwen then briefly chases him down, asking "What were you about to say?"
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver just can't tell Magneto that the latter is his father. Peter knows he'll say it to him some day, but just couldn't do it even when standing right in front of him at a moment where doing so could've convinced Erik to fight against Apocalypse sooner.
- This is basically the entire plot of While You Were Sleeping.
- In MirrorMask, Valentine is almost physically incapable of saying outright that he's sorry.
Valentine: If I was to say s-s-something apologetic... it would reflect my feelings in this matter.
- In Watch It, John can't tell Ann how he feels; the closest he gets is after she gets back together with Michael, and John says to her, "I don't know that I don't love you." He immediately realizes how ridiculous it sounds, and of course, she doesn't believe him either.
- 7th Heaven: Chico has asked Diane to marry him, but she wants him to say he loves her first.
Chico: I can't, it's very stupid.
- In April Showers, Sean cannot seem to tell April he loves her. And then she dies in the school shooting, meaning he'll never get the chance to.
- The fall and damnation of Satan, the eternal struggle between heaven and hell, and the loss of quite a few demigods is due to all the characters in To Reign in Hell performing an extended dance remix of this trope.
- In The Rise of Endymion, the main character spends a great deal of energy angsting over a period of time that his love spent unaccounted for while he was off touring planets, having kidney stones, and eluding the Space Pope. No, really. He deduces that this time was spent with another man, and angsts accordingly. At length. Of course, he can't bear to ask her about it; otherwise she might have told him that thanks to some time travel tomfoolery, the other man was him. However, considering how much of the plot's pacing hinges on said lover's constant reluctance to give information that would explain anything to anyone, maybe not.
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, all characters assume they know best. Each lies or hides the truth "for the greater good." The resulting confusion, interpersonal conflict, jealousy, and setbacks invariably stem from the main characters' inability or unwillingness to communicate. In the end, it turns out all the good guys are on the same side! Who knew?
- A recurring theme in Anne McCaffrey's books, where couples spend entire books (occasionally several) pining for each other until something forces one or both to admit their feelings. (See: F'lar and Lessa in Dragonflight, Afra and Damia in Damia, Sebell and Menolly in Dragonsinger) The most absurd example has to be in Dragonsdawn, where Tarvi didn't tell Telgar he loved her until she was about to die... and they had been married for years and had several children.
- In the book Destiny (book 3 of the Rhapsody series), dragon-blooded Marty Stu Ashe cannot reveal the identity of his new wife to his soulmate, the equally sueish lead character, Rhapsody, for reasons that were never made very clear.
- Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier). The heroine is convinced that she's a complete failure compared to Rebecca, her husband's first (dead) wife, until she finds out that Rebecca was evil and the husband never loved her and murdered her. Which cheers her up immensely.
- In Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, Audrey is in love with Piccadilly, though he has been led to believe she hates him. Before he leaves with Thomas, Arthur, and Barker to confront Jupiter in The Final Reckoning, Audrey attempts to confess her feelings to him, but what she manages to say comes out in an awkward and confusing manner. Before she can clearly explain what she's trying to tell him, she is interrupted. She never sees him again before his death.
- Sophie Hatter in Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones is cursed to take the form of a 90-years-old woman — and part of the curse is that she can't tell anyone. If she tries to, she's either interrupted or people misunderstand her.
- In Aunt Maria, the protagonist Mig spends a good part of the book trying to convince her mother that the evil Aunt Maria has turned Mig's brother into a wolf. The mother refuses to believe this and continues to insist that he's just around the corner, mostly because Maria also enchanted the mother to basically hang around and be a housekeeper.
- The Homeward Bounders:
- No Homeward Bounder is allowed to tell anyone else still in play about what they really are, and who They are.
- Jamie also repeatedly mentions how well it turned out that he never tells Helen about Him On His Rock, though there were situations where he nearly did.
- In Isobelle Carmody's Ashling, part of The Obernewtyn Chronicles, Rushton and Elspeth love each other, but neither of them admit it until Rushton has an emotional breakdown and tells her that he thinks that she doesn't love him because he can't use his psychic powers, when she was actually ignoring him because she thought he was carrying on with Freya.
- In The Name of the Wind, Kvothe finds himself unable to tell Denna how he feels, at first out of mischance (and her frequent, frustrating absences), but later it is because he fears he has nothing to offer her, and that if he were to pursue a romantic relationship with her it will end badly, as most of her relationships apparently do. Instead of trying to work up the courage anyway, he ends the book as an Unlucky Childhood Friend. Of course, this is only the first part....
- Seregil from Nightrunner takes at least a book and a half to spit out anything: the secret of his protege's heritage, his true feelings for his protege, his own murky past....
- Harry Driscoll from The Frog King hates the word "love" at first, then when he has the chance to attempt to redeem himself to his ex-girlfriend and show how much she means to him... he abuses her and her new author/boyfriend and only realises he never said he loved her until it's too late.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs used this trope a lot. His character's justification was usually that they thought the other person already knew, or that they didn't realize the information was important. Unless it's love, in which case Oblivious to Love generally covers it. This results in these situations:
- In A Princess of Mars, although aware of the Culture Clash, Dejah Thoris is so offended by John Carter than she declares him unfit to clean the teeth of her grandmother's cat. Later, when he finds that she is crying, believing him dead, he talks with her companion, saying that Dejah Thoris is distressed that her grandmother's cat would have no one to clean its teeth.
- A character fighting alongside another for several days before realizing the other character is his long lost father (The Gods of Mars).
- A woman accepting a marriage offer from the Romantic False Lead because she thinks The Hero should have told her he loved her. And when she's been kidnapped, and the hero has helped her, she coldly declares that how he acts in the future will determine what she thinks of him. A little hurt, he manages to shrug, and it's her turn to be hurt — he has to know that she is honor-bound not to encourage him.
- A man in love with a woman thinking she's already married because she mentions she loves another man when really she's just talking about how she loves her brother (Tarzan at the Earth's Core).
- A character thinking he's a genetically engineered monstrosity when really he's a totally normal amnesiac human (The Monster Men).
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower series does this a hell of a lot: Whoops, pregnant with a shapeshifting daemon baby and I'm one of the fathers and there's two of us. Funny part is I never had my way with you. My seed is being passed to you by an oracle who'll proceed to rape you for a good 30 pages. Gosh darn, can't not love Stephen King.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ginny is about to blurt out her Big Secret (also the solution to the deadly mystery at the center of the story) to Harry and Ron when Percy comes blundering in and scares her off.
- In the Half-Blood Prince, a large part of the story is getting a memory (essentially, a magical retelling of events) from a man who fudged the version he originally gave. This memory is considered very vital by Dumbledore for understanding Voldemort. However, it takes a potion of felix felicis to get the memory from him. Horace was unwilling to part with the proper version of events because he was horrified and ashamed of what he had done, believing he had done "great damage".
- And let's not forget Order of the Phoenix, where the adults' unwillingness to tell Harry about his connection with Voldemort and all that it entails is largely responsible for Sirius's death.
- Snape doing this arguably sets off the entire story. After he calls Lily a "Mudblood" in a fit of anger, he tries to apologize, but Lily points out that he acts prejudiced towards all Muggleborns, asking flat-out, "Why should I be any different?" Snape seems about to answer for a moment, but ultimately remains silent, and they break off their friendship. This, of course, leads directly to Snape's FaceHeel Turn, which itself leads to Voldemort learning of the prophecy and trying to kill Harry as a child.
- Harry finds out in the last book that Dumbledore had been eaten up with self loathing for causing his sisters death for about a century. He let his brother Aberforth continue to (understandably) resent him for that long. Aberforth had just assumed he was able to move on with his life and become the best wizard of the era. Harry has to be the one to explain to Aberforth that he was never free from it all because he could never bring himself to apologize to Aberforth or tell him that he loved him and their sister.
- In the Discworld novel Soul Music, Quoth the Raven has trouble revealing that Susan's grandfather is Death, going "Dah Dah Dah Dea" (as part of a dramatic build-up). At which point Susan assumes that he's bothering her to inform her that a grandfather that she's never knowingly met is DEAF.
- Just about every single heroic character in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and its sequel series The Heroes of Olympus, suffers from this. Nobody who has has any sort of vital information about anything can reveal it straight away, either because they for various reasons Cannot Spit It Out or because they're interrupted by someone else arriving or something important happening. The single exception to this rule is Butch, a minor character from The Lost Hero, who at his first appearance explains exactly what's going on the moment he's asked.
- American Wife has one of the most tragic examples of this trope.
- Gaunt's Ghosts:
- Kolea cannot bring himself to admit to Dalin that he is his real birth father.
- Gaunt and Curth, during a series that has spanned well over a decade, have only come close to saying how they feel about each other a handful of times.
- Jeeves and Wooster: Most, if not all, of Bertie Wooster's problems can be traced back to this trope, combined with his being an Extreme Doormat. Besides being unable to correct any girl who thinks she's engaged to him, at the end of The Inimitable Jeeves he can't work up the courage to fire Jeeves, or even tell him off, after Jeeves has fooled one too many influential people into thinking he's insane. He tries to start a conversation to that purpose several times, but repeatedly ends up saying, "Oh, nothing!".
- A lot of harm could have been avoided in The Traitor Game if Michael confronted Francis properly about his supposed betrayal or if Francis managed to tell Michael that he is gay sooner.
- This happens a lot throughout The Dresden Files:
- Harry not telling mundanes about the magical world because they can't handle the truth or knowing can put them in danger.
- In Dead Beat Mavra telling Harry that if he asks for help in getting the Word of Kemmler she'll come down like the sword of Damocles on them.
- In Parzival, this is the cause of Parzival's problems: when he first sees the Grail, he thinks of the question he should ask, but fails to ask it, setting in motion the rest of the plot.
- Lilac and Aiden from Of Fear and Faith fall for each other immediately but can't spit it out due to fear (of being rejected and getting attached, respectively). Aiden, naturally, still flirts with Lilac and she eventually musters up the nerve to flirt back, but they both try to pretend they don't have deeper feelings.
- Simona Ahrnstedt gives us a really painful example of this in her debut novel, Överenskommelser. It's the story about young Beatrice, who's bullied and pressured by her abusive and tyrannical uncle into an engagement with a man. A man who's not only like forty years older than her, but he also treats women like they're dirt under his shoes. So what does she do? Of course, she tells nobody the truth about why she agreed to marry this man (he would get her beautiful but weak cousin instead, if she didn't sacrifice herself). To be fair, she really is in a crappy situation, but still, yikes... And unfortunately, her love interest Seth is no better. Since he thinks that she willingly rejected him to marry an old disgusting aristocrat, stupid pride keeps him from admitting that he loves her. Several misunderstandings between them (sigh...) leads to much misery for them both (including that Beatrice gets brutally raped and battered on her wedding night).
- The Windwater Pack Cian is a bit tongue-tied when he finally tells Moira he loves her. As she put it: Its a good thing youre cute, because that has got to be the most awkward proposal in the history of wolves.
- In A Wolf in the Soul, Greg can't summon up the courage to tell anybody about the weirdness happening around him for the entire first two-thirds of the book. He even blames others for not seeing the pain he's working so hard to keep under wraps. At least in the last third of the book he gets better, but he can still barely bring himself to tell the people from whom he's begging for help unless they tell him they already know he's a werewolf.
- In Vampire Academy, Dimitri's feelings for Rose are intense and genuine, but boy does he take his time to admit to them.
- In Pride and Prejudice, the first thing Darcy says about Elizabeth is that she's not pretty enough to dance with (which she overhears). When she walks to Netherfield to visit her ill sister, his opinion of her starts to change, but he doesn't do anything beyond Longing Looks until he tries to propose to her many months later, fully expecting that she was hoping for it. He did have a good reason for keeping his feelings quiet; as he helpfully explains, he was trying to reason himself out of wanting to connect himself with her inferior family. How odd, then, that she should refuse him! Of course, after Elizabeth's refusal, Darcy takes stock of himself based on her complaints about him and starts to shape up, becoming a much more polite and empathetic person. This causes Elizabeth to begin loving him, but feels incredibly awkward about it given how violently she refused him, and also feels guilty because half of the jerkish acts she accused him of weren't even true. So she says nothing to him about it, partly due to the awkward and partly because she feels like he couldn't possibly love her back after the crap she gave him. Then Lydia elopes with Wickham, exposing the Bennet family to potential, devastating shame which would make Darcy's marrying Elizabeth social suicide on his part, and complicates it all even further.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- Had Doran Martell told his plans to his nieces and daughter that he wants to help the remaining Targaryens reclaim the throne as their revenge against the Lannisters, then Myrcella wouldn't have lost an ear and Ser Arys Oakheart wouldn't have died which would have prevented Qyburn in providing Cersei's Kingsguard champion for her upcoming trial. In fact, this is Doran's weakness which Ser Barristan Selmy acknowledged to Quentyn Martell that had he revealed it earlier, then Daenarys Targaryen wouldn't have stayed in Mereen and married to one of the nobles to stabilize the city, something which Quentyn came too late.
- Likewise to his daughter, Arianne. Had she confronted him about the letter regarding her inheritance, then she wouldn't be brooding about it for years which resulted to her failed coup, Myrcella's injury and Arys' death.
- Justified in The Trials of Apollo - while Apollo has clearly figured out some plot important information, he forgets it at the worst possible moment due to him being Brought Down to Normal. Of course, Apollo gets frustrated at how often this happens.
- In a somewhat unusual example, Richard Dalloway from Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway has a terrible time working up the courage to tell his wife that he loves her! (She understands his feelings anyway, and reciprocates them.)
- The gay action series Cut & Run by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux has this in spades, as befits a pair of troubled FBI tough guys who enjoy antagonizing each other almost as much as sex, and whose relationship is shaped by brutal, successive traumas. Ty (who's never been in love) and Zane (whose long-dead wife was the love of his life, or so he thought) can't manage to acknowledge to themselves that they're in love, much less to each other. Ty admits it to himself late in book two and to Zane deep into book three, but Zane doesn't come clean to Ty until well into book four.
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
- The latter part of Season One sees more or less every other main character trying to encourage Fitz to first acknowledge his feelings for Simmons and then admit them to her. But every time he tries, she thinks he's talking about something else, and, when she confronts him with a question about his hostility towards her other potential Love Interest, he dries up completely until he manages to come up with another semi-plausible excuse. Even when they're both expecting to die, he still can't bring himself to tell her, but asks her to "let me show you" via an attempt at a Heroic Sacrifice so she can live.
- Late in Season Five, after May tells Coulson that she loves him, Coulson repeatedly tries to reply and fails each time. One gets the feeling Coulson understands Fitz a lot better now.
- Big Wolf on Campus has Tommy trying many times to make his obvious crush on Stacy known to her. While it's pretty apparent that she suspects this and likes him in return, kisses, dates, hugs, or other intimate moments are usually interrupted by Tommy turning wolfy (caused by feelings of extreme emotion) and thus forcing him to run away.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Subverted in "Once More, With Feeling", in which several "Can't Spit It Out" plot threads that could have been milked for weeks, if not seasons, are dragged into the open by a demon's musical curse.
- In Season 3's "Revelations", Willow wants to admit something to Buffy—which gets interrupted by a fight. Then Willow lies to Buffy to avoid saying what's going on and it later nearly costs Willow her relationship with Oz. Could've saved a half a season's worth of relationship drama (and she helped break up Xander/Cordelia).
- Yet another example was Xander's crush on Buffy in the first season. It took the entire season before Buffy caught on to the blatant hints as well as Willow's crush on Xander.
- A different application of this trope occurs with the Spike/Buffy relationship in Season 6, which she conceals from the Scoobies because she's ashamed of it. Tara eventually finds out, but has to guess it from Buffy's expression. It's only when she says to her old flame Riley, "I'm sleeping with Spike," (even though he already knows, having caught them in bed together) that Buffy finds the courage to end their Destructive Romance. When the Scoobies find out after the event, they're shocked, but generally supportive as they know Buffy has been going through a rough time.
- Buffy herself admits she has a hard time saying "I love you" to anyone, likely due to how Angel's Super-Powered Evil Side crushed her completely when she told him. The only other times she says it are to Dawn and to Spike right before he pulls his Heroic Sacrifice.
- The titular character averts this pretty hard, since he seemingly can't stop telling Sarah about how he feels about her, even though their relationship is supposed to just be a cover. Sarah, on the other hand, plays it very straight for the first two-and-a-half seasons.
- Sarah seemingly rubs off on Chuck in early season 3. Because it seems like they could save themselves about a dozen episodes' worth of heartbreak if they just got together and had one honest talk. Instead, they seem to be airing out their problems to just about anybody but each other. And because Chuck has to hide his secret from his family and friends, he can't even give them the full disclosure.
- A fairly dark example from Coronation Street. The police arrive at Gail's house and she is annoyed at them for being there. They have a hard time breaking some news to her and she tells them to go ahead and "spit it out" so they can leave. It turns out they found her husband's body floating in a river.
- Doctor Who
- See also The "I Love You" Stigma, as the series does not allow the Doctor to utter the words "I love you" to anyone on screen, leading to scenarios such as...
- "School Reunion": The Doctor tells Rose that he leaves his companions behind because he will always outlive them:
The Doctor: Imagine watching that happen to someone that you...
Rose: What, Doctor?
- In "Doomsday", after Rose chokes out "I love you" to the Doctor (transmitted as a short-term hologram into the parallel world she's trapped in), it's his turn. "Since it's my last chance to say it... Rose Tyler—" And then the transmission cuts and he vanishes.
- Even when he gets a second chance to tell her in "Journey's End", the Doctor is too broken to say more than "Does it really need saying?". However, his part-human clone fares better.
- Also in "The Satan Pit", where it looks like he might finally ask another character to pass "I love you" along to Rose, the Doctor bails out at the last minute in a very sweet way, mind. "Tell Rose tell her... Oh, she knows."
- "School Reunion": The Doctor tells Rose that he leaves his companions behind because he will always outlive them:
- "Last of the Time Lords" subverts it, as although Martha doesn't say the words when she admits that she was in love with him, it's clear that the normally-Oblivious to Love Doctor knows exactly what she's on about.
- "The Lodger": Everyone, including the Eleventh Doctor, can tell that Craig and Sophie are interested in each other. But neither of them say anything until the events of the episode.
- "Let's Kill Hitler" reveals that this was a problem for Rory before we met him. In this case, Cannot Spit It Out + Single-Target Sexuality = the girl he's in love with assuming he's gay. When Mels tries to get them together, he panics and runs out of the room before Amy catches on.
- In "Face the Raven", the Doctor appears to be on the verge of telling Clara about his feelings for her as she prepares to meet her death, but she cuts him off with a tender hug instead, telling him she knows what he's about to say.
- Especially during the Twelfth Doctor era, the writers have had the Doctor use euphemistic statements instead of straight "I love you", with three major examples occurring in "Dark Water" (confirmed by the showrunner as meaning "I love you"), "The Girl Who Died" and "Hell Bent". Clara herself has done this herself with regards to the Doctor on a few occasions, using alternate wording rather than a straight ILY.
- See also The "I Love You" Stigma, as the series does not allow the Doctor to utter the words "I love you" to anyone on screen, leading to scenarios such as...
- The first season of Everwood. One of the fundamental sources of Ephram's antagonism toward Andy is the latter's seemingly-inexplicable decision to uproot his family and move from New York to the eponymous little mountain town. We learn in episode 1 that Andy did it because his wife made him promise before she died. Ephram even points this out in the season finale after Andy finally tells him (after they've worked out their differences): "You know, this would have been a lot easier if you had told me straight away."
- Firefly has an example with Simon and Kaylee. Simon is rather distracted with protecting his sister, while Kaylee is concerned by the class divide. It is the source of much UST until the end of the Movie.
- Niles spends seven years pining after Daphne, his father's physical therapist and (default) housekeeper (in fairness, he does spend much of that time married). Despite trying to confess his feelings to her several times, his attempts are continually thwarted (usually owing to his own fear of rejection or, unwittingly, by Daphne herself). He remains unable to give voice to his emotions until the eve of Daphne's marriage to another man, and even then only after learning that Frasier has already let slip Niles's little "secret".
- In the final season of the series Frasier and Niles's father, Martin, displays a similar inability to confess his growing feelings for his girlfriend, Ronee.
- Ross doesn't tell Rachel he loves her for the entire first season, chickening out every time the opportunity arises. This has the unfortunate result of Rachel only finding out from Chandler while Ross is on a trip to China, and when she realizes she loves him too, he's already met someone else there. Rachel herself then falls victim to this. She spends a good few season 2 episodes being unable to confront Ross about her feelings. It takes a lot of wine and borrowing a stranger's cellphone to spit it out properly.
- Subverted when Joey developed feelings for Rachel. His hesitance was more due to her being pregnant with Ross's baby (though they were no longer together) and he eventually did work up the courage to tell her.
- Inverted with Chandler's feelings for Monica—he Can't Hold It In. They are actually together, but are very cautious in moving forward, and vaguely describe their relationship as "being on London time", "goofing around", and "two friends who just want to spend more time together". At one point, he blurts out that he loves her and freaks out.
- Meanwhile, Monica knows she loves Chandler but decisively holds off saying so until he's ready. A justified case of this trope.
- Game of Thrones: Sam, either because of his oath or his overall awkwardness, is unwilling to admit any romantic feeling for Gilly despite her less-than-subtle hints that his affection would be welcome.
- Almost every single thing that happens between Serena and Dan towards the end of the first season of Gossip Girl could have been avoided if she had just told him about Georgina.
- On Happy Days, Fonzie cannot bring himself to say "sorry" when he's done something wrong to someone.
- The second season could have been about fifteen minutes long if characters who were on reasonably cordial terms at the end of the first season a) remembered each other's phone numbers and b) bothered to discuss the, y'know, impending pestilent apocalypse with each other.
- The Mohinder/Bennet subplot was a particularly awful in this regard: Mohinder spends the entire season obsessing about the world-killing virus. Bennet waits until the second to last episode of the season, after their partnership has imploded and Mohinder has consequently shot him, to mention, "Oh yeah, the Company has been experimenting with that for decades."
- Season One has a number of more specific examples of this, with metahumans hiding their powers from others. Particularly notable are Nathan's constant lying to everyone about his flying (he doesn't even think to tell his invulnerable daughter what he can do), and the half-dozen or so times Claire tries to tell her parents (or, as she later admits, "trying to not tell" them) about her healing.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Barney goes the entire fourth season without telling Robin he's in love with her, mainly because he's terrified she'll laugh him off because he's built such an infamous reputation as a shallow, womanizing sleazeball. He does tell Lily (who then tells Marshall) and Ted figures it out halfway through the season, but Lily and Marshall don't know Ted knows and vice versa, so all three of them sit on their hands in impatient silence for several months waiting for Barney to get a grip or Robin to get a clue.
- This also comes up in Seasons 7 and 8, again with Barney and Robin while they deny their feelings to themselves/everyone else, until they got together again.
- Back in Season 2 when Ted and Robin were dating, Robin tries to summon the courage to say "I love you" to Ted. She almost does, but at the last second, rather than uttering the three dreaded words, she blurts out "falafel".
- The last two episodes of the first season of Jeeves and Wooster has Bertie making several attempts to get Gussie to confess his love for Madeline Bassett. The first time, Gussie loses it just a little and starts rambling on about newts at length until Madeline, who is actually waiting for him to confess his love, gets fed up and leaves.
- On Lizzie McGuire, Gordo pines after Lizzie for the entire duration of the show. He nearly tells her several times, but falls victim to this trope. Lizzie ends up finding out from Kate, not Gordo. The Movie finally gets them together.
- The episode where they all think Sawyer has Shannon's inhaler. If he just told everyone he didn't have it, there would have been no torture, but also no first Kate/Sawyer kiss...
- And then of course, the castaways ignore good advice that is spit out. Even by themselves. "Don't wander alone in the woods full of tree-smashing monster-thingies." Always good advice. But no...
- There is no character on Lost who is capable of completely summing up any event completely. They'll tell one mysterious event on an expedition, but will not tell the rest. They also never pull everyone at the crash site together to compare notes.
- This drives most of the entire story of Mad Men. If Don Draper came clean about his "dark secret", then he would be able to straighten things out with his wife, stop looking over his shoulder generally, and would have saved his brother's life. Near the end of season three, he does come clean to Betty about it, but only after she forces his hand by finding out about much of it herself. At the end of the season, it looks like they're headed straight for a divorce.
- Married... with Children: It's Valentine's Day, and all Peggy wants is for Al to say "I love you". He'd rather have sex.
- In Merlin, most of the problems presented in each episode could be quite easily solved by briefing King Arthur as to what is going on. Somewhat justified because Merlin's magical abilities have to be kept secret, and displaying his knowledge in certain situations could lead to suspicion being cast his way. Also, on the occasions when he does try to warn people about some imminent danger, they generally refuse to believe him—even though he has been proven right again and again.
- Doubled down in "Tableau Vivant", a third-season episode of Modern Family. Phil can't bring himself to tell Mitchell, his brother-in-law, that he's fired as the new agency's lawyer. Mitchell can't bear to tell Phil that he really doesn't like the work, which is in addition to his regular job.
- One of the worst ongoing examples is from Monk; the title character has obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it's almost never mentioned, even when it would help. On one occasion, he shook hands with two white women, then a black guy, then asked his assistant for a wipe, like he frequently does. The black guy assumes Monk is racist, and explicitly asks him if he has any excuse. They tried to say Monk wasn't racist with Natalie saying "He loves Rainbows!" and Monk doing a rainbow-type of a hand motion.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus has a skit called "Miss Annie Elk" wherein the title character experiences a prolonged coughing fit whenever she tries to tell the host her theory on a certain dinosaur. This being Monty Python, the theory isn't exactly earth-shattering. It was also included in the Pythons' farewell special, Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go.
- Murdoch Mysteries: It's pretty clear to anyone that Murdoch likes Dr. Ogden, but he cannot get himself to say it. When he tries to propose to her late in "The Murdoch Sting", he still has this problem (despite having had a fortifying drink of Brackenreid's scotch beforehand); he stops himself and starts again when he tries to ask the question before Julia stops him and flees into her house.
- The Office does this with Jim and Pam, with Jim not revealing his feelings for Pam. In one episode, Jim has been jinxed into not speaking and Pam tries goading him into talking (and thus, losing the game): "It looks like you have something to say." Cue longing look that says more than words could. He eventually spits it out in the season two finale.
- In Once Upon a Time, a number of times characters try to make confessions to others but are unable to finish.
- David's unsuccessful attempt to confess to Kathryn that he and Mary Margaret were having an affair.
- Emma tries to take back her lie to Henry about how his father died, but can't bring herself to do it.
- In one episode of Psych, Henry is given fifteen seconds to deliver a final message to Shawn in the hypothetical situation of dying in a plane crash (like the victim of the episode). He stumbles over his words until the fifteen seconds are up. Only after Shawn stalks out does he string together "I love you."
- A lot of problems in the show Reaper come from Sam's inability to tell Andi about his problem with the devil.
- Seinfeld has the standard episode about The "I Love You" Stigma in Season 6, but later inverts it with Season 7's storyline about George's engagement to Susan, which instead boils down to his inability to go through with the breakup conversation. Since his various backwards Please Dump Me measures have no effect, the problem turns out to literally only be resolvable by Susan's sudden death.
George: ...I can't face that scene. You know what kind of scene that would be? I'd rather be unhappy for the rest of my life than go through something like that. I CAN'T, I CAN'T. I tried to psyche myself up a million times, I cannot go through that.
- Inverted when Lisa Landry met Terrence in Sister, Sister. Lisa did spit it out to Terrence when meeting him. Unfortunately for both her and Terrence, it was the wrong kind of "spit it out."
- Smallville: Many problems befalling the characters stems from Clark's refusal to tell anybody about his powers (though Clark's fear is quite justified considering that superpowered individuals and their loved ones tend to get targeted by government conspiracies and mad scientists in the SV-verse).
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- Odo spent the better part of a decade in love with Kira without ever being able to confess his feelings to her (well, unless you count his Anguished Declaration of Love to what turned out to be a changeling that had taken Kira's form or the confession made by a 200-year-older future Odo in "Children of Time"), to the point that when he finally does Jadzia comments "It was about time".
- The subplot of the Season 5 episode "Dr, Bashir, I Presume" involves Rom attempting to confess his love for Leeta, only to repeatedly chicken out. For her part, she feels the same way, but mistakes Rom's timidity for lack of interest. In the final scene, as Leeta's about to leave DS9 with Zimmerman, Rom finally tells her how he feels. Much to Zimmerman's disappointment, she returns Rom's affections and decides to stay.
- In Stranger Things:
- Mike gets pretty easily flustered telling Eleven how he feels about her, to the point that Mike cannot even say the word "love" around Eleven. In the first season finale, Mike is explaining to Eleven how she'll be a member of his family, with his older sister Nancy as one to her, but he doesn't want to be like a brother to her, so to explain, he instead kisses her. Eleven's face lights up in absolute delight afterward. In Season 3 after getting back together following a temporary break up, Mike gets into an argument with Max and Nancy about El overtaxing her powers to find the Mind Flayer, and in a rush of emotion finally admits that he loves her. However, since El had been in the other room at the time, she didn't hear him. At least, that was what Eleven let Mike believe; in the season finale Eleven reveals that not only did she hear Mike, she also loves him.
- Jonathan, being an aloof introvert, is unable to spit out that he's got a crush on Nancy. Likewise, Nancy is unable to admit after season 1 that she's got feelings for him. They're so blatantly dodgy around the subject that Murray Bauman has to push them to act on their feelings.
- On Teen Wolf, Derek spends a sizable chunk of the first season being a creepy, cryptic lurker and leaving Scott believing that he is the one that turned him into a werewolf. He also could have been more forthcoming with details about what Allison's family does.
- In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, if Riley talked to John, John talked to Sarah, Derek talked to either of them, Sarah told people where she was going OR they just had a nice, normal family dinner once in a while, they would figure out in about 5 seconds that Jesse was holding Riley hostage, that she had pretended to be a school official to get info on John, was lying to Derek and is not on their side. Instead they remain oblivious and one of them gets killed.
- In To Love and Die, Hildy tracks down her estranged father, stalks him to his workplace, gets a job working for him, finds out he is a contract killer, follows him to and interrupts his latest hit, is consequently captured by his associates and interrogated on suspicion of being a rival contractor. One would think that the perfect time to finally reveal that she's his daughter would be when he has her tied to a chair and is demanding, on pain of death, to know who she really is, but even then, she manages to spend the entire interrogation rambling, and doesn't blurt out the truth until he's already given the order to kill her and is seconds away from leaving the room (fortunately, he listens).
- Velvet: Ninety percent of Pedro's problems in the first two seasons would have been resolved if he could have just told Rita he loved her without five minutes of nervous babbling.
- In Zoey 101, Chase spends 3 seasons pining after Zoey. In one episode, he tries to text his feelings to her, and her cell phone falls into a fountain. After Zoey finally finds out how he feels...he gets Put on a Bus to England.
- This is the premise of the song "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by The Police. The narrator is in love with a girl, but can't work up the courage to tell her. (Also "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da". Same narrator, I guess.)
- Same with "When You Walk in the Room", most famously covered by The Searchers. "Wish I could tell you how much I care / But I only have the nerve to stare".
- Also, "Company Calls Epilogue" by Death Cab for Cutie.
You were the one, but I can't spit it out when the date's been set...
- Radiohead's "Creep" is about a self-loathing guy who tries to work up the nerve to admit his feelings, but can't. The "she's running out the door" verse implies he spectacularly fails.
- In "Living Next Door to Alice", most successfully covered by Smokie, the narrator has been in love with his neighbor for 24 years, but couldn't tell her. And now she's moving away. The last verse also reveals that the narrator has a second neighbor of 24 years who's been watching him and Alice and now, that she sees that he's missed the chance to tell Alice his feelings for her, decides not to make the same mistake and finally confesses to him.
- "Everybody Knows (Except You)" by The Divine Comedy. The narrator can tell literally anyone about his feelings, and does (his parents, his friends to the point of driving them crazy, random strangers on the street and even making a small child cry) but he cannot bring himself to tell the one oblivious object of his affections.
- "Hiccup" by P!nk is nothing but this trope: "Why every time I try to tell you how I feel/It's like a hiccup-up-up/And it won't come, come, come/As soon as I think I'm about to share my lovin'/That's when the hiccups come in."
- "Hello" by Hawk Nelson as well: "Every time I want to say, 'Hello'/Every time I want to stay, I go/Can never find the words to let you know/ Sometimes you plague my mind a million times..."
- "Unsaid Things" by Mc Fly: "And I've still got so many unsaid things that I want to say/And I just can't wait another day/I wish she knew"
- "Things I'll Never Say" by Avril Lavigne. She wants to tell her Love Interest that she cares and wants a Relationship Upgrade, but she's insecure.
- "She's Out of My Life" by Michael Jackson, which is basically about regret from post-relationship failure because of this trope: "So I've learned that loves are not possessions/And I've learned that love won't wait/Now I've learned that love needs expression/But I've learned too late" and later "Damned indecision and cursed pride/I kept my love for her locked deep inside/And it cuts like a knife/She's out of my life".
- "Was It Something I Didn't Say" by 98 Degrees is about a breakup caused by this.
- "If Only You Knew" by Patti Labelle: "I must have rehearsed my lines/A thousand times/Until I had them memorized/But when I get up the nerve/To tell you the words/Just never seem to/Come out right".
- The rather minimal lyrics of Mercury Rev's "Car Wash Hair" hint at this:
Wanna ask but I just stare
Can I run my hands through your car wash hair?
- Jim Croce's "I'll Have to Say 'I Love You' in a Song"...because of this trope. "Every time the time was right/All the words just came out wrong..."
- "The Chase" by Kane (Christian Kane's band) is about how this causes a breakup.
I can't believe you're leaving
Over three words I couldn't say last night
'Cause you could hear it in my voice
See it on my face
You left me with no choice
But to leave you
For the chase
- "Big Brother" by Kanye West provides a friendly example. He made the song when the relationship between him and Jay-Z hit a rough patch.
If you admire somebody you should go 'head, tell 'em
People never get the flowers while they can still smell 'em
- Played for laughs in Madness' "House of Fun"; the teenage protagonist would find his life a lot easier if he could just actually tell the chemist he's talking to that he wants to buy some condoms in a way that makes it clear that he's talking about condoms; instead, he comes out with a whole load of increasingly bizarre euphemisms that ends up making the confused chemist think he wants to buy some balloons.
- The German a capella band Wise Guys have a song called "Relativ" which is made of this trope. The singer spits it out in the last line, though.
- "Heart on Fire" by Scars on 45.
So bowl me over black and blue, it's far too hard to say "I love you"
- "Too Shy to Say" by Stevie Wonder. The singer describes his feelings toward the object of his affections, as well as what relationship he wants. But, of course, he can't say it out loud.
- Vocaloid's "I Like You, I Love You" by Kagamine Rin features a shy girl awkwardly attempting to confess her love.
- The Imagine Dragons song "On Top Of The World" is about telling those you love you love them before they leave.
- The Backstreet Boys' song "Shape of My Heart" is about confessing your love to your significant other after a fight over this trope.
Looking back on the things I've done
I was trying to be someone
I played my part, and kept you in the dark
Now let me show you the shape of my heart
- Virtual band Prozzäk cover this in "Pretty Girls". The singer describes various professions that he would take up in order to get to know the girl ("If I were a dentist I would take the opportunity to look in your mouth/Maybe if I did, then I could better understand just what you're talking about") because actually talking to her is "something that I know I'd never have the guts to do".
- Garbage's "Why Do You Love Me" has the emotionally struggling narrator eventually going through this:
Now I've held back a wealth of shit, I think I'm gonna choke
I'm standing in the shadows with the words stuck in my throat
- "First Love Picture Book" from HoneyWorks' Confession Executive Committee ~Love Series~ tells the story of Mio Aida, who fell in love with her school mate Haruki, and the two were really close, but she never found the courage to "close the last 10cm distance" between them, and they eventually parted ways and moved on from each other. Tragically, Haruki's song, "Goodbye, Our Mutual Unrequited Love" reveals that he actually feels the same way about Mio, but likewise was too scared to actually confess to her.
- "2Shy" by Shura is about how the singer is deeply in love with a friend, but as the chorus goes, she is "too shy to say it".
- Mothy's "60 Second Love" sung by Rin Kagamine is about a school girl who is in love with a boy who reads her bus, but can't bring herself to tell him.
- "To the Reticent You" by the above producer and singer is about a girl who wishes for her boyfriend to tell her he loves her so that she knows his love for her is true. Subverted a bit, as they are already in a relationship and apparently living together; he simply hasn't said the words yet he does by the end of the song, though.
- Florence + the Machine:
- "No Light, No Light":
Cause it's so easy to say it to a crowd
But it's so hard, my love, to say it to you out loud
Make me a big grey cloud
So I can rain on you things I can't say out loud
- "No Light, No Light":
- Red Panda Adventures:
- This pretty much sums up the entire relationship between the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel. For all her flirtation, the Flying Squirrel can't bring herself to say what she feels. By the same token, the Red Panda can't voice his own feelings and he thinks the Squirrel is just kidding around. At the end of Season 3, everything comes out into the open when the Red Panda thinks the Squirrel's been killed and plants a "Shut Up" Kiss on her when she reveals she's alive. Season four's intro proceeds to introduce the Flying Squirrel as the Red Panda's fiance, and season five onward introduces her as his wife.
- In the season three episode "The Terrible Two", supervillains the Mad Monkey and Jackrabbit team up. Upon capture, the two declare their love for one another, the Mad Monkey even forgoing his chance to escape since he can't do it without leaving her. The Flying Squirrel is utterly flabbergasted that they can just come out and say it.
- Tales from Muppetland: The Frog Prince had a particularly silly version of this. The Princess's evil aunt places a spell on her where she is unable to speak straight. Despite trying her hardest to explain that "Tant Aminella" (Aunt Taminella) is the evil witch, no one catches on. Of course, this is aimed at kids, so no deep plots here (not bothering with spoilers tag since it's painfully obvious to anyone over the age of about... 8).
- According to the Yu-Gi-Oh! "Master Guide", Gorg seems to have a crush on Meanae but can't express his feelings due to his stone-face nature and lack of emotions.
- The chorus of "If I Loved You" from Carousel describes an inability to overcome nervousness and proclaim your love to someone.
- Both Le Bret and Christian try to convince Cyrano de Bergerac that he should tell Roxane that he loves her, but he's too ashamed of his perceived grotesqueness due to his big nose (and has serious mommy issues) to entertain the thought.
- In Pokémon Live!, Misty can't tell Ash she loves him because she thins he's too busy with Pokemon to notice her.
- Older Than Steam: Romeo and Juliet uses this trope. Tybalt confronts Romeo, challenging him to a swordfight. Romeo tries to explain that there's no reason for their two families to keep feuding, since he and Juliet recently got married. Tybalt won't let Romeo get to the part about marriage, assuming Romeo's unwillingness to fight is simply the act of a coward. Then Tybalt makes the whole conversation moot when he fights and kills Mercutio instead.
- RENT: Roger spends much of the first act wanting to tell Mimi that the reason he's rejecting her is that he's HIV positive, but he's unable to muster the words; the closest he comes is saying there's something he should tell her before abruptly shutting down. What he therefore doesn't find out until almost the end of the act is that Mimi is HIV positive too, making his concerns moot.
- Final Fantasy:
- Faris of Final Fantasy V can't bring herself to admit that Lenna is her sister until they're about to (make a failed attempt to) save the last crystal on their world.
- Final Fantasy VII did it, but it did it right. Cloud is convinced he used to be a member of SOLDIER, and all evidence points towards this — he has the uniform, the sword, the skills and the glowing eyes. However, after leaving town to join SOLDIER, he failed to get in, and instead enrolled as a basic grunt. After his idol, Sephiroth, burned down his hometown, maimed the closest thing he had to a childhood friend, nearly killed his best friend, and stabbed him through the chest, he was patched up by Evilutionary Biologist Hojo as part of an experiment. However, the combination of the drugs and trauma completely destroyed his mind, and when they escaped and Zack died defending him he utterly snapped, adopting an elaborate system of Fake Memories and osmosed personality from Zack. The only person who knew all this was Tifa, who met Zack on the mission. But she was unable to tell him anything in fear of what effect it could have on his mental state. Her inability to do so earns Cloud a Mind Rape and a Heroic BSoD at the hands of Sephiroth, which Tifa has to fix in a Journey to the Center of the Mind, after the damage has been done.
- On another note, Tifa's inability to tell Cloud her feelings for him is a definite Cannot Spit It Out as well.
- There's also Irvine's inability to mention his past association with the other main characters and even the villain in Final Fantasy VIII. He alludes to it for a while, but it takes a rather random event to make him open up with it.
- In Final Fantasy XIII, due to being just a Tagalong Kid in a series of horrible events and emotional trauma, Hope cannot bring himself to confront Snow about his mother's death for over half of the game's story.
- Kaidan, at least in Mass Effect. He shows interest in a female Shepard early on, but has difficulty spelling it out. The third game revealed that he had an even harder time spitting it out if Shepard is a man. Shepard being Oblivious to Love did not help. Shepard can call him on it, too:
Kaidan: You have something up your sleeve, Shepard? What am I talking about, of course you do. That's what I lo- appreciate about you.
Shepard: Galaxy in the balance and you trip talking to me.
- Amazingly subverted in Mass Effect 3 when you are asked to betray your teammates and keep the genophage from being cured. If you attempt to inform your teammates to prevent the sabotage, the shuttle you're on suddenly hits turbulence and interrupts you, making it look like a straight example of this trope. You're given a second chance a couple of combat sequences later, and a third chance (to tell Mordin / Padok specifically) right before the curse is released.
- In Fire Emblem, Hector and Florina's entire support conversation set is based on Florina being unable to say two words to Hector, when all she wants to do is thank him for saving her from certain doom in Laus. It takes Hector and her pegasus fighting to get her to finally spit it out. Of course, her androphobia didn't exactly help...
- Used absolutely heartbreakingly in Prey (2006). Tommy asks himself in the mirror why he won't just tell Jem he loves her. He eventually does after having had to kill her.
- An interesting example: It takes a borderline Heroic BSoD (or maybe Villainous Breakdown is better considering the character) for Viconia in Baldur's Gate II to admit that she loves the protagonist. She has no problem sleeping with him, but confessing love is trickier.
- Neverwinter Nights 2:
- Casavir has this problem. He can't even admit his feelings to people who aren't the one he's in love with, though said feelings are painfully obvious to the rival...
- Said rival is an even more extreme version, in that he won't admit to himself that he might just be attracted to the Player Character...until the endgame, where he strongly implies that he did indeed feel affection for her. Shame he had to betray her first.
- Gann in the expansion defies this trope, swearing that if he is ever in love, he'll say so.
- Elanee in the official campaign is very reserved. It takes the foundations of her world being ripped from under her and the only person she has left being set to duel a really nasty giant evil guy to force her to admit she cares about him.
- Shandra's severe embarrassment when Grobnar inadvertently reveals her extreme concern for the PC's fate before said duel also probably qualifies her for this.
- Nathyrra in the original game has a bit of trouble with this.
- Anden in the fan module A Dance with Rogues has severe issues with this trope, probably due to his extremely straight-laced attitude in a world of Black-and-Grey Morality.
- Toward the end of Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, Toadbert recovers his memory, and becomes frightened by the brothers? gathering the Cobalt Star shards, but runs away before he can tell anything. He tells the brothers to rub some dirt off the sketch he had given to them earlier, which reveals the other Shroob Princess, but gets turned into a mushroom before he can say anything else. Peach is about to tell the brothers about the Cobalt Shard before a flying saucer attacks, and misses several opportunities to tell them before Bowser pieces together the shards, freeing the elder Shroob Princess.
- In Mega Man Zero 3, Cyber-elf X seems to be hiding a very important piece of information to his best friend Zero (even though X doesn't have a problem revealing it to someone else; what were you thinking, X?!). It was the Big Bad that revealed the secret behind Zero that X was trying to hide: Zero is using a clone body and Ax-Crazy Omega Zero is the original body. Naturally for Zero, he still doesn't care about it when he finds out.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has a bartender keep a letter from Bobbery's deceased wife away from him for several DECADES. It's not until the player needs the Bob-omb that the bartender gives you the letter to give to the ex-sailor.
- Most of the problems in the last act of Phantom of Inferno could have been solved early on if Reiji had done what most normal people would have done and greeted Cal as joyfully and warmly as what he had expressed in his monologue and explained to her why he ran instead of using the opportunities that she gave him to speak to be confrontational and non-expressive. ( "...Leave Elen out of this." "Cal..." "..." "Wait, Cal!" etc., etc., etc.) Made doubly frustrating because she approached him looking for an excuse to drop her vendetta.
- A few of the minor spirits never seem to get around to telling Yuuto how they feel in Eien no Aselia. Unless they do it during the sex scenes, which aren't part of the English release. On a more important note, neither Kyouko or Kouin ever confessed to the other despite the two actually dating. Both have their own reasons.
- Sadira of Vanguard Bandits has a huge crush on the Hero Bastion that everyone can see(including him if the player chooses). If the player decides to go after her ending, she finally manages to work herself out to say it though.
- Knuckles and Rouge in Sonic the Hedgehog seem to have a mutual affection for each other, as heavily hinted at in their last interaction in Sonic Adventure 2, but their respective duties as guardian of the Master Emerald and government agent keep them from pursuing things further.
- Dragon Age
- Not even remotely romantic, but the Arishok in Dragon Age II is utterly unable to directly compliment people who are not followers of his religion outside exceptional circumstances, and even then he seems to understate a lot. One of the earliest 'compliments' you hear from his mouth is: "I have a growing lack of disgust for you."
- And on the romance side, Aveline's ridiculously awkward attempts to woo Donnic. In all fairness, she is his superior at this point, so it's not like she can just ask him out for a drink, but its still hilarious.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition has a significantly less cheerful romance example: Solas's inability to admit that he is the Dread Wolf during his final romance scene is at least part of why he breaks up with the Inquisitor, and ultimately ends up leaving the Inquisition.
- In one of the saddest moments of Mother 3, Bronson brings news to Flint, the father of Lucas and Claus, but has trouble getting it out.
Bronson: ... I'm not sure what to say... But just stay calm and hear me out. I have good news, and I have bad news. Which do you want to hear first...? No... Let me start with the good news first. I picked up a giant "Drago Fang". It'll make for a great weapon. I figured you could probably use it. ...... As for the bad news... ...... The bad news is... ............ ...It's where I found the Drago Fang. It was...... in your... It was pierced through your wife's heart...
- Tales Series:
- In Tales of Symphonia, a character refuses to be rescued from a dungeon when the Boss mentions Lloyd "killed her grandmother," referring to the game's second Boss Battle against a friend of Genis' who had been turned into a monster. Lloyd hangs his head in shame, the girl lets the bad guys take her away and the party has to track her through two other dungeons to rescue her again, much later in the game. All he had to do was let the girl know that her grandmother was very much alive after the battle, that she came to her senses after being defeated (which was the only reason they even knew the monster was her) and died saving them from the villain who had transformed her.
- Whether we're talking about the above, Judith in Tales of Vesperia, or Arietta in Tales of the Abyss, this is one of Tales' writers favorite tactics when they want to preserve conflict that could be cooled off just by the characters sharing facts, explaining things, or saying what they're thinking. Of course, if they do manage to spit it out, and the writers want that conflict, they'll be met with some half-baked Hand Wave (if the character that needs convincing is calm and collected) or rage-filled dismissal (if the character is not) anyways, so...
- Catherine's Vincent can't spit anything out. As the game involves him getting into an unintentional affair, this causes some problems.
- Poor Naomi! Not only is she unable to spit out her feelings for Satoshi, but because of her Tsundere nature, she is unable to apologize when she knows she's gone too far, so neither her nor Seiko feel any better and they end up separating which leads to Seiko's death. In Book of Shadows, Naomi actually has a coughing fit.
- In Solatorobo, this is pretty much the only reason that Red and Elh aren't together by the end of the game. Merveille designs a virtual simulation to invoke a Rescue Romance to get them to admit their feelings, but the program ends too quickly and Red forgets what he was going to say. There's also a minor, nameless female NPC who constantly tries to tell herself to spit something out to another male NPC. Subverted when the guy just owes her some money.
- Immortal Souls has John unable to bring himself to tell his Love Interest Allison that he's a vampire, that he's the one who accidentally caused her brother's coma, or even just admit that he is in love with her. This causes him all manner of problems, as since he's a Heroic Neutral, both the bad and (Manipulative Bastard) good guys take advantage of the matter on a regular basis. As a result he's constantly forced to choose between keeping his secrets, protecting Allison, and/or going along with whatever scheme either side has cooked up for him.
- Rather sweet example in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. It's hinted by her older brother and confirmed by her human soul that Rottytops harbours a secret admiration for the titular heroine and genuinely wants to be friends with her, but never gets around to admitting it.
- Pretentious Game: The blue square is willing to climb mountains, leap cliffs, dodge fire, and use whatever is necessary in the pursuit of the pink square...but is also unable to confess his love to her.
- This drives the entire plot of Emily Is Away. You keep backing out of telling Emily how you really feel about her, and that leads to her getting together with Brad, even after a brief breakup, and you losing the only other girl you showed interest in.
- Mipha from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had multiple chances where she could have made her feelings about Link known to him but didn't. "The Champions' Ballad" reveals that the scene where the two talk atop Vah Ruta was originally intended to be when she would have presented the Zora Armor to him (the traditional method for Zora princesses to propose to their intended husbands), but she didn't. The scene where she was about to advise Zelda on awakening her powers is implied to be her admitting that she thinks about Link when using her healing magic, but she brings the topic up so haltingly that she can't get to that part before Calamity Ganon returns. And each time you fight against Waterblight Ganon in the Illusory Realm, she'll bring up the times they spent together and the Zora Armor but always stop short of saying she loves him; she'll even demand in an uncharacteristically angry manner that he not read her diary, which does explicitly mention her love for him.
- Played for Drama in Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series: Rocket was in love with his deceased friend Lylla, but never told her because he'd always thought they would have more time together. This weighs heavily on his mind and, unfortunately, causes him to be totally unreasonable about the Eternity Forge. He can only see it as a chance to bring Lylla back and undo his mistake, not as the dangerous object it really is, and gets insanely pissed if you decide to destroy it.
- Valkyria Chronicles 4 has Raz trying to confess to Kai. When he actually DOES get it out, and makes it to the end of the conversation without being shot down, he's left laughing jubilantly in relief.
- In Puyo Puyo!! 20th Anniversary, Feli finds Lemres and tries asking him out on a date. She struggles to say it and ultimately winds up asking for a "delicious" Puyo battle from him instead.
- In Rhythm Doctor, there are two young patients named Logan and Hailey who obviously love each other, but cannot bring themselves to say it.
- Fate/stay night: Sakura eats, cooks and does the next-closest thing to living in Shirou's house for 2 years and is completely smitten with him, but due to her completely non-existant self-esteem, she absolutely cannot let him know how she feels.
- Yo-Jin-Bo is absolutely full of this trope. Jin is the worst about it, but all of the guys do it. Even when confessing their feelings, it often comes out as "I "Uh" You, Too" and You Should Know This Already.
- In Shiny Days nobody can ever say anything important when it would be appropriate. Surprisingly given the genre, the one who's worst about this is actually Setsuna after she's started dating Makoto. She never takes the opportunity to tell Kotonoha that she's dating Makoto even though Kotonoha is one of the girls nice enough to instantly back off if her crush is taken. She also won't tell Makoto that the new substitute manager at Radish is her father, not her ex boyfriend. While Makoto's reaction is way overboard and rather dickish, the whole problem could have been resolved if she could just say four simple words: "Shun is my dad."
- In X-Ray & Vav, X-Ray has this problem towards his pal, Vav — Vav's head over heels in love with Intrepid Reporter Ash Samaya and X-Ray is both insanely jealous of him and insanely terrified of losing his pal to a girl. Vav is completely clueless to this (and other things) that he thinks that X-Ray's being an asshole with Hilda frustrated that the two just won't sit down and talk lest their egos clash. Doesn't help that The Mad King used this against them. Thankfully, they get this worked out in the end.
- RWBY has this problem with Team JNPR as the girls, Pyrrha and Nora, are in love with the boys, Jaune and Ren, but they don't come out and say it normally. It's much more noticeable, especially with Nora, in their respective Image Songs, "Dreams Come True" and "Boop". In the Volume 3 finale, Pyrrha finally is able to fully express to Jaune how she feels about him... just before she goes off to what turns out to be her death. RWBY Chibi parodies this for all it's worth.
- Non-romantic version in If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, when Magnus asks Kitten for the reason behind the latter's resignation. Kitten tries to explain it to him, but realizes that Magnus doesn't remember a thing from his mad rampage which caused Kitten to make the Deal with the Devil to stop him, and decides to hide the fact, mangling the account immensely.
- Eric (one of the Loserz webcomic's protagonists) has this problem with Alice, even after she told him she liked him. See here.
- Irregular Webcomic!: Shakespeare. Ophelia. Does it really have to be spelled out?
- In the second part of the Love Potion arc of Sluggy Freelance, Gwynn curses Torg by turning him into a half-man, half-donkey and causing him to bray every time he tries to say something important in order to make sure that he does not tell anyone about her plan. Unfortunately, while on a date with Zoe, Oasis arrives and abducts him, kicking Zoe in the face in the process. Under the curse, Torg is unable to tell anyone what happened, causing Gwynn to believe he mistreated Zoe, but he eventually manages to get Riff to find out the truth.
- In Rascals, Reiko when she tries to tell Skye that she loves him on this page here .
- Red String and Reika and Eiji. Despite the massive piling of sexual tension, despite Eiji beating the hell out of his former best friend for impugning her honor, despite even getting a book cover together, it took thirty-seven chapters for them to become a couple, although it was obvious that they were going to hook up as early as the third or fourth chapter. The situation was lampshaded when Fuuko asked Miharu point blank if they'd hooked up yet and a weary Miharu answered in the negative.
- Nadia from The Key to Her Heart hides her sexuality from her friends, and thinks it will help keep anything from getting out if she doesn't let on that she knows about Juliet's "condition," not because she's worried about homophobia, but because she's trying to dissuade her lesbian best friend. It's not clear how she thinks the Masquerade will help, but the general secret-keeping drives pretty much every problem they have.
- Dave and Helen from Narbonic gradually become attracted to each other. This week of strips gives you a good idea of their relationship. Eventually, they end up together. Then break up. Then almost destroy the world. Then get back together. Then plot to destroy the world together.
- In Sakana, Jiro, who is already unlucky enough, simply can't build up his courage to talk to "Cashier Girl" , who is working across from him and who he's been in love with for two years without even knowing her name. They do go on a date together after some time, but only after Jiro had some help from his big brother and his best friend.
- It took years (real-time) for Piro and Kimiko to admit that they had feelings for one another, even if it was only about a week in comic time (or about seven weeks if you count Chapter 0).
- Depending on how you look at it, it may have taken even longer in the case of Largo and Erika. Even though it's pretty much a given that they're a couple, neither one has ever voiced his or her feelings for the other in-comic.
- Even more mysterious is the Yuki/Kobayashi relationship, such as it is. It's been intimated that he's spent years pining for her, and that just about everyone other than Yuki was aware of the fact, but it remains unclear whether she considers him a potential romantic interest or "just a friend". Either way, she isn't telling.
- Oh dear. Lucy from Bittersweet Candy Bowl spends YEARS - both in-world and in real life - trying to come to terms with her feelings before she finally announces how she feels. Disappointingly, she left it just a bit too late.
- In Charby the Vampirate Nikodemus keeps delaying informing Vita of his feelings for her even after a coworker has informed her of his very obvious crush. Her annoyance with his hesitation eventually leads her to turn her attention to Quixoto.
- No Pink Ponies. Jess's inability to "Spit It Out" is taken to ridiculous lengths. And heights. And, eventually, depths.
- The Dreamland Chronicles: Silly girl just say something
- Jane has it so bad that even when the friend she has feelings for outright asks her whether she has a crush on him she panics and instinctively denies it, a rejection he takes at face value. Dirk theoretically averts this as he's apparently planning an Anguished Declaration of Love towards the person he's in love with, but even he's been crushing on him for three years (to the point where his autoresponder seems to be trying to provoke him into action) and he's noticeably tight-lipped about the exact details, or even if he's really going to go through with it at all.
- Also, Nepeta never got around to telling Karkat that she liked him (though he does indeed know, and doesn't reciprocate), nor Kanaya with Vriska before she found out that Vriska liked Tavros instead and bitterly gave up. Karkat and Terezi seemed to have similar problems.
- Eridan also was this. He's in a moirallegiance with Feferi, and their dialogue implies that they've know each other for a long time. But their moirallegiance goes badly, and by the time Eridan's got up the courage to confess that his feelings for her are romantic, Feferi wants to break up with him and is too emotionally exhausted to consider a romantic relationship.
- Karkat has a great deal of trouble spitting out tragic events to his friends, such as the deaths of some of the other trolls and Gamzee going insane.
- Split Screen: Jeremy wouldn't confess his feelings for Jan because he feels he's not good enough for her and he'd hold her back on her career path. She's too stubbornly prideful to just ask him how he felt. This went on for more than a decade.
- A fair chunk of the early portion of Their Story focused on Sun Jing's efforts to befriend the girl she has a crush on, Qiu Tong. She loses her nerve and ends up walking away after stammering out a "hi" each time, and her suspicious behaviour causes Qiu Tong avoid her, out of fear that Sun Jing wants to beat her up. This lasts until chapter 81 when Sun Jing finally confesses to Qiu Tong and makes her romantic interest clear.
- The Order of the Stick: Haley is unable to confess her love for Elan for the first several hundred chapters. Elan, being the resident Cloudcuckoolander, is the only one oblivious to her feelings. Taken Up to Eleven when she is struck with aphasia, and takes advantage of the situation to confess multiple times to Elan's face, secure in the knowledge that he can't understand a word, when actually confessing (say, through writing, or just grabbing him and smooching) would cure her.
- Dr. Frost: As the story develops, The Watson character Yoon develops an obvious crush on the Sherlock Homage character of Frost, which is made clear in every way except a straight confession.
- Nightvee: Creamarina has a crush on Nightvee, but she's too shy to tell him about it.
- Tripping Over You: Played with, because Milo does make his big confession to his friend Liam in the very first chapter... then admits that he's been in love with him for a good two years. Which was fairly obvious to everyone but Liam.
- In Shadow of the Templar, Simon and Jeremy are a perfect example. Despite spending years in an exclusive Secret Relationship and risking their lives for each other multiple times, they are apparently incapable of expressing their feelings for each other. Jeremy just acts like a Tease, and Simon hesitates to even think of Jeremy as his friend.
- In Twig, Jamie advises Lillian against following this trope with her feelings for Sy, since none of them want that kind of regret on their shoulders. Then, noting his own hypocrisy there, he admits that he's also in love with Sy, who is shocked and cannot reciprocate.
- In Entirely Presenting You, Alexis can't tell her closest family and friends about her secret-identity as the bloodsucking-superhero known as Blank Face.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: The entire reason Dr. Horrible wanted to make a Freeze Ray was so that he could work up the courage to talk to Penny. Unfortunately, due to his own terminal shyness and his later vendetta against Captain Hammer, he never does get to tell her how he feels about her. And then Penny dies.
- In the Echo Chamber episode Dumbass Has a Point, Dana has a bit of trouble apologizing:
Dana: Sorry I was... [long beat] ...yeah.
- They go into a relationship anyway, but The Nostalgia Critic looks ready to cry when he chickens out of holding The Nostalgia Chick's hand and telling her that he's in love with her.
- Critical Role: Percy Vex'Ahlia dance around this for 70+ episodes! He builds stuff for her and calls her his "favorite," while she gives him kisses on the cheek in return for the projects he builds for her and calls him "dear," but neither of them tell each other about their feelings because of the trauma in their pasts. He thinks he's no good for her, and she thinks she's below his station. Not until Percy dies in Episode 69 does she confirm her feelings, and he doesn't hear them then. He spends the next two episodes only just then considering telling her, and then gives her The Big Damn Kiss to end Episode 72.
- Sonic Boom
- Amy Rose's Boom counterpart, like the main universe version, is in love with Sonic. But Boom!Amy tries to keep this to herself rather than obviously fawn over him. In "Translate This", Amy is actually visibly horrified when the Universal Translator nearly blurts out her crush for her, so she smashes it with her hammer.
- In "Fortress of Squallitude", after the team comes to rescue Amy from Eggman's lair:
Sonic: We might have a hard time saying it, Amy, but... (disengaged) well you know.
- Spongebob Squarepants
- In the episode "Fools in April", after Squidward has played a prank on SpongeBob, he realizes how much he's humiliated him and goes to his house to apologize... but because of his despise toward him, every time he tries to say "I'm sorry", he just can't pull it off without doing weird cartoon-takes.
- In "Krusty Love" Mr. Krabs becomes enamoured with Mrs. Puff when he saw her in his restaurant. Spongebob encourages him to ask her out, but he is unable to form any real words and needs Spongebob to "translate" for him.
- This is the cornerstone of Ulrich and Yumi's UST in Code Lyoko.
- Sam too, from Danny Phantom. She's outspoken on so many things... except her obvious crush on Danny. She's had a lot of close calls with other romantic rivalries as a result. They (predictably) got together in the end.
- Following Amity Blight's Character Development in The Owl House and eventually developing feelings for Luz, she doesn't have the heart to tell her how she feels, especially in "Wing It Like Witches" whenever they cross paths.
- Try as she might, Isabella from Phineas and Ferb can't work up the courage to tell Phineas how she really feels about him. He can't tell her either.
- In the Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Good Times, Bat Times", Chip tries to reveal his feelings to Gadget. Twice. He always fails.
- Subverted to an extent in Family Guy. Brian has confessed his feelings to Lois (and in one instance at least to her husband, and Brian's best friend, Peter) on more than one occasion, but she always turns him down (it has been implied that she has always known of Brian's romantic feelings for her; ironically she seems oblivious to next door neighbor Quagmire's naked lust for her despite his repeated and shameless advances).
- In Exo Squad, not only are Nara and Marsala both unable to express their feelings for each other, they each have instances where they unknowningly slap the other down.
- In Codename: Kids Next Door, it's a cute Running Gag between Numbuh 4 and Numbuh 3.
- Doug does this a lot when it comes to Patty. She can't spit it out, either.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- "Green Isn't Your Color": Fluttershy makes it big as a fashion model, and Rarity is jealous, but trying not to show it and being supportive so Fluttershy can have her chance to shine. Meanwhile, Shrinking Violet Fluttershy is quickly growing tired of the unwanted attention that comes with fame, but trying not to show it because she thinks Rarity would be disappointed if she gave up. Both of them confide to Twilight Sparkle... but unfortunately for everyone involved they make Twilight swear to secrecy. Twilight promptly drives herself crazy trying to keep their respective secrets even though it would save everyone a lot of trouble if she didn't keep said secrets.
- Another example: from 'A Bird In The Hoof', Princess Celestia meets Twilight's friends for the first time in person. She's been told about them and what they do. When Fluttershy is introduced to Philomeena, Celestia merely asks Fluttershy "Isn't she lovely?" Cue the bird losing a few feathers off of her already near-featherless body and making a horrible hacking cough as though she's dying (She is. She gets better.). Long story short, the entire episode could have been skipped if Celestia had simply thought to mention to Fluttershy that Philomeena is a phoenix.
- Winx Club Flora is unable to tell Helia about her feelings for him. And when she finally does it turns out he felt the same way all the time...
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang. Oh, Aang. Someday you'll be able to tell Katara how you feel. Naturally, that time was the end of the Grand Finale.
- In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, potential couple Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne suffer from this. By the time Hank works up the courage to say anything, he goes unconscious right after saying the word "love". He doesn't manage to actually proclaim his feelings for Jan until after she goes unconscious.
- In Jimmy Neutron, Cindy and Jimmy do this with each other all the time, with a handful of Suspiciously Specific Denial thrown in for good measure. Especially Cindy in "The N-Men". She tries to calm Jimmy down by admitting her feelings for him, but goes "I l-l...I l-l-ll..." and then faints. Jimmy is understandably curious.
Jimmy: "L? L? Like? Loathe? Love? WHAT!?"
- Zig-zagged in ThunderCats (2011)
- When asked directly, young Prince Lion-O doesn't disclose that he saw a frightening vision in the Sword of Omens during a Rite of Passage ceremony, both unaware of its significance, and all too aware of his father King Claudus's disdain for him as a Cloudcuckoolander. Court Mage Jaga deliberately mentions that "Sight Beyond Sight" exists, in an attempt to convince Lion-O that its safe to confide in him, which succeeds. Unfortunately, satisfied that Lion-O trusts him enough to tell him eventually, Jaga gives Lion-O an indulgent Not Now, Kiddo, to allow him to get back to a party. Unbeknownst to either of them, Lion-O's vision is very time-sensitive. The next evening, too late to do anything, Lion-O realizes he saw ancient Outside-Context Problem and Big Bad Mumm-Ra.
- Also Zig-zagged with a Sibling Triangle subplot between Lion-O, his brother Tygra and shared Love Interest Cheetara. Rather than explicitly state that they both have feelings for her and asking if she reciprocates, they complicate matters by treating their interactions as (yet another) passive-aggressive competition, hoping she'll give an indication of "choosing" one of them eventually. In "Between Brothers" Cheetara finally understands the extent to which the pair have been feuding over her, and apologizes for playing this trope straight. She admits that she's also harbored unrequieted feelings, confessing her love and kissing Tygra, which is of course the moment Lion-O enters the scene.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!: This sums up Sprx and Nova's relationship fairly well, especially in Sprx's case; it's obvious he loves her, and comes fairly close to saying it a couple of times, only for something to interrupt or chicken out at the last second. In the final episode, it's Nova who finally spits it out, in order to break Sprx out of his Brainwashed and Crazy state.
- Metalocalypse: Nathan Explosion has an "apology problem," in that he finds it hard to say that he's sorry for his actions. This turns out to be a actual physical incapability during Roy Cornickelson's funeral: as he tries to apologize to Pickles, he stammers over the phrase and even vomits blood before he can finally spit it out.
- Class of the Titans: Archie has this for fellow hero Atlanta, and pretty much everyone can see it. Theresa and Jay both have their moments as well until the finale.
- Crumley Coghweel was nebbish from a 1963 Paramount animated short subject who had been working in the secretary pool of Michigan Nuts And Bolts for 20 years. His boss calls him in and says that Cogwheel has never asked for a raise because he's too timid. He challenges Cogwheel to ask for a raise right then and there, but Cogwheel cannot spit it out. The boss gives Cogwheel a week to summon the courage to ask for a raise or else he'll be fired. On the last day, Cogwheel finds the courage: he gets drunk.
- Carrie to Devin in Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race for most of the series until she gives up on him and decides to just focus on the competition. Which happens just in time for him to realise he's in love with her and suffer from this trope as well!
- The titular heroine of Miraculous Ladybug suffers from a combo of this and an Unrequited Love Switcheroo with her crime fighting partner, Chat Noir. What makes it really frustrating is that their identities are only covered by a Domino Mask for each of them — it kinda makes you want to go inside the TV and tell them yourself.
- Helga in Hey Arnold! in regards to her crush on the title character. She does finally admit it in Hey Arnold! The Movie, but the two later agreed that it was just "the heat of the moment".
- Initially played for laughs, then played for drama in Star Wars Rebels episode "Jedi Night". Hera, who is a bit delirious due to being given a Truth Serum while being interrogated by the Empire, spends the entire episode trying to tell Kanan something while he breaks her out of jail, only to Bait-and-Switch to something silly ("I have to tell you something... I hate your hair."). At the end of the episode, she finally manages to tell him that she loves him... and then he dies right afterwards, leading to her anguishing over why didn't she tell him sooner. The Grand Finale later heavily suggests, however, that she was trying to tell him something else she's pregnant.
- Played for Laughs on Disenchantment, as Elfo has an unrequited crush on Bean, but always deflects when asked directly.
Luci: Just say "Bean"! You wanna watch the sunrise with Bean!
Elfo: Stop saying what I mean!