Simba: I can't marry her, she's my friend!
Nala: Yeah, it'd be so weird.
Childhood Friend Romance is a part of romantic plots, when characters develop romantic feelings for someone who they spent their childhood years with.
Often the pair will see each other as Just Friends (and may even deny accusations that they might have a different type of relationship); then, when puberty hits or when they meet again after being apart for some time, they will realize that the other is all grown up. If the pair goes through a Puppy Love phase from the very beginning, a Childhood Marriage Promise may be involved.
Do beware, however, that the less fortunate side of a childhood romance also exists. Growing up involves more than just an upgrade to looks; the transitionary period from an impressionable child to a more-grounded teenager/adult takes years, and a lot can happen to the prospective couple during that time. Even if they spend those years staying in touch, both the sweethearts and the circumstances around them may change to the point that a true relationship between them may not last (or in some cases, can't even begin). This trope is about the sparks of a Childhood Friend Romance being in the air — the romance working out is not a qualifying factor.
Resistance to see a childhood friend as a potential romantic partner is known as the "Westermarck Effect", a theory that claims that people who grew up together before the age of 6 are likely to become hardwired to think about each other Like Brother and Sister, with a Stupid Sexy Friend squicked reaction to the notion of romance. (Other studies question this on the basis that though few of the people they examined had major romantic relationships with childhood friends, many had crushes and romantic feelings that just didn't make it.)
As an Ending Trope, spoilers ahead. Just the Title is a spoiler in this case!
Subtrope of Childhood Friends.
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Visual Novels
- Western Animation
- Real Life
- For Better or for Worse:
- Michael Patterson and Deanna Sobinski went to elementary school together, were parted when Deanna moved away, and reunited in university. Then they got married.
- Anthony Caine and Elizabeth Patterson met in elementary school as well. She moved away and then moved back home. They got married in the finale.
- Safe Havens: Candide is destined to be the unlucky childhood friend for Leonardo, for a number of reasons, the biggest one being he's Leonardo da Vinci, and he must go back to the past to fulfill his destiny there, and the history books show he never married. She gets a sweet consolation prize though: it's implied that she's the real Mona Lisa.
- Billy and Emily in Annabelle's Wish start off as childhood friends, with her helping to defend him from the local bullies who taunt him for losing his voice. At the end of the movie, after a long Time Skip, they're shown to be married.
- Bambi and Faline became friends when they were fawns. After the Time Skip, they fall in love with each other and the film ends with them having twins.
- In The Book of Life, Manolo and Maria were close friends before she left to study abroad. Both fell in love 10 years later and become husband and wife by the end.
- Nita and Kenai in Brother Bear 2. The whole plot revolves around them because Nita is in an Arranged Marriage but she can't marry her betrothed because the spirits already consider her married to Kenai through a little necklace he gave her when they were kids.
- This trope is heavily implied in Epic (2013) between Queen Tara and Ronin. Queen Tara makes playful digs at his serious nature, flirts with him, and is constantly trying to convince him to smile during the pod ceremony. Meanwhile, Ronin makes it all too obvious that he's crushing on her big time. Of course she's murdered before any of it can come to fruition, and several characters can't help but mention it when they hear the news.
- Frozen: Averted with Anna and Kristoff, who technically meet once as children, but never see each other afterwards as Kristoff is taken in by the trolls while Anna is shut away in the castle along with her sister.
- Frozen II: Played straight with Agnarr and Iduna. They met as children during Arendelle's expedition into the Enchanted Forest. However, Agnarr wasn't aware that Iduna was the Northuldran girl he met until she revealed it to him in their adulthood.
- In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Joe seems to be harboring a crush on Miss Acacia from even before the titular Jack showed up, but it doesn't end favorably for him.
- The Lion King: Simba and Nala. They grew up playing around and then, after they finished growing up, they became the Ruling Couple of the Pride Lands.
- Madagascar: Gloria and Melman. Though they're only friends during the first movie, it's shown in the sequel's opening sequence that both grew up in the Central Park zoo, and Melman always had a crush on her since that moment. Later in the movie, Gloria would start a relationship with Melman after leaving Moto Moto, which remained in the third movie onward.
- Derek and Odette in The Swan Princess. Though it started as an Arranged Marriage that they both protested, and they didn't really get along, love came quickly once they were adults.
- Carl and his deceased wife Ellie in Up. Much of the plot revolves around his pain from believing that he failed to fulfill his promise to her.
- RWBY: Ren and Nora have been together since they were both orphaned as young children, and other characters initially think they are an item until corrected. Nora has been in love with Ren for years, but only starts becoming open about her feelings from the end of Volume 4. Although they have the Big Damn Kiss in Volume 7, they don't discuss where their relationship is going until Volume 8, when Ren is finally ready to admit he's in love with her. However, Nora is struggling to figure out who she is as a person, so asks Ren to wait for her; he agrees without hesitation.
- Parodied in Doppelgänger with Lisa
Victor: You know, maybe what I always really wanted was right here... *leans into kiss Lisa*
- Love Gives Me Hope:
- Dan Roth from The Nostalgia Chick is the ultra-unlucky version, as he dated the titular Chick back in high school, but is now her roommate who is constantly either abused or forgotten.
- Edmund and Elanore meet again after a long absence and eventually the Count's appearance forces a Love Triangle.
- Storm Blackfire (a character in the Jade Regent Actual Play podcast series from RPGMP3) is a half-elf barbarian and combat expert. She's on very good terms with her childhood friend, Sandru. At one point, she acquired a magical glow-in-the-dark butterfly tattoo on a certain part of her body, which is difficult for her to conceal under her... usual attire. Luckily, her magical sword imbues her with cold-resistance.
- Serinepth Sinderman and Phillip Maisel of Trials & Trebuchets have been close friends since they were young children, and develop romantic feelings for one another. Things get complicated, however, when Serinepth's parents arrange her betrothal to Prince Frederick, the heir to the Ashuan throne.
- Whateley Universe qualifies. Jadis' bestest bud from elementary school, who she hasn't seen in years, is now at Whateley Academy with her, but already has found a girlfriend. Only Jadis is the daughter of the internationally feared supervillain Dr. Diabolik, so things could change in a lot of ways...