Follow TV Tropes


Childhood Friend Romance
aka: Victorious Childhood Friend

Go To

Zazu: Oh, just look at you two! Little seeds of romance blossoming in the savanna. Your parents will be thrilled, what with your being betrothed and all.
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.

See also Patient Childhood Love Interest, a subtrope common in Harem Series. Compare also with High-School Sweethearts. Often benefits from First Girl Wins. It tends to overlap with Heart Is Where the Home Is (turning down a foreign Love Interest in favor of a local lover).

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • After Eden: Jon and Celine have been best friends since children, but drifted apart after Celine moved to another place. They quickly reacquainted and quickly fell in love.
  • Archie Comics:
    • In Archie Comics, Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper are usually written as childhood friends who began dating by high school.
    • Betty and Archie are this in Archie Comics (2015). They began 'dating' as five year olds and stayed together most of their lives. The two breaking up in high school due to the "lipstick incident" causes major drama at their school because they're known as a power couple.
  • Back to the Future establishes that Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker knew each other in fourth grade, fell out of contact for a few years, then fell in Love at First Sight in high school in 1984 and began dating.
  • Bamse has the example of former villain Vargen and his childhood crush Virginia, they meet up years later, but by then she is already married.
  • In 2007, Batman and Zatanna were retconned into Childhood Friends. The two have a Will They or Won't They? dynamic with a lot of Ship Tease, but Zatanna has never been as major a Love Interest as Catwoman.
  • Black Panther invokes then averts this trope. Nakia, one of the Dorae Milaje (Beloved Ones, sworn bodyguards that were historically also potential brides for the King of Wakanda, though T'Challa does not practice that aspect of the tradition) believes this is what is going on, having grown up around T'Challa. He is tricked into kissing her by an opponent who makes him believe he is reliving an embrace with a (now) ex-lover, confirming (in Nakia's mind) T'Challa's intent to marry her. Her unrequited romance devolves into Stalker with a Crush territory, to the point that she tries to murder his ex-lover and eventually betrays him entirely, pledging herself to Killmonger and becoming the anti-Wakandan terrorist Malice.
  • ElfQuest:
    • Rayek grows up with Leetah, first starts communicating with her magically before she's even born, shares his life with her, and on the day he asks her to stay with him forever... the hero shows up and claims her for himself. (They eventually settle it with a good old fist fight. 10000 years later.)
    • Mender spends his very early years around The Chief's Daughter Ember, eventually takes her virginity after they reunite, and is promptly forgotten when he goes off to fight in the war and Ember meets a Proud Warrior Race Guy stranger. Elves have no concept of cheating — all sex is good sex — but Ember treats him horribly.
    • Cutter and Skywise are just enough years apart for Skywise to hit puberty first and Cutter to be left behind wondering why his friend spends so much time in the bushes with Foxfur. By the time Cutter is 16, he loses both of his parents and Skywise loses Foxfur, and it's implied that they spend some time together as mates after that before Cutter ends up with Leetah. They're still occasionally seen sharing a bed together from that point on, but they're never as close again as they were before Leetah came along.
  • Hal Jordan and his most prominent love interest, Carol Ferris aka Star Sapphire. They meet as kids through their fathers (Hal's was a test pilot for the Ferrises' aviation company), and stay in each others' lives by taking on the family businesses, nursing a mutual attraction for years.
  • Halo: Blood Line: It's eventually revealed that two members of SPARTAN-II Black Team were in a relationship when they were teen cadets (having known each other in boot camp since they were six). The side effects of their augmentations implies that they don't feel this way about each other anymore, but some of the tension still remains.
  • Judge Dredd: The story of America Jara and Bennett Beeny in "America". They both grew up in the same city block, but America always had a rebellious spirit while Beeny always considered himself a coward. They moved apart as America joined the democratic movement to end the Judges' totalitarian rule and ended up destitute, while Beeny tried to play it save and ended up a succesful but ultimately unhappy musician. They find each other years later and have a one-night-stand, but America is soon killed during an arrest. Beeny transfers his brain to America's comatose body so they can still be together.
  • Lauren Stone was the girl next ship to Nikolai Dante. When she comes back into his life after he becomes a pirate, Nikolai is definitely receptive to rekindling their romance, but unfortunately his relationship with Jena Makarov at the time is, ahem, complicated. Lauren is one of the few young women in the series who Nikolai doesn't have sex with.
  • Envy and Todd from the Scott Pilgrim series were friends since they were eleven, but ended up parting away and growing up seperately. After meeting up again post-college, they hooked up and started a band. Unfortunatlely, both of them have changed and not for the better, though with Todd, this led to him being unfaithful and cheating on her with the drummer, resulting in this subversion.
  • Superman:
    • In the Silver Age, Dick Malverne grew up at the Midvale Orphanage during the same time that Linda Lee alias Supergirl did, and he had a crush on her. Although the two dated for a while they grew apart after college. They met again as adults, and Dick confessed he always loved her and and knew of her secret identity before dying in Young Love.
    • In most of versions of the Superman mythos, Lana Lang is Clark Kent's childhood friend who had a huge crush on him. Usually Clark liked her back, but after leaving Smallville, he falls for Lois Lane, and he and Lana become Just Friends.
    • In The Amazing Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue, Superman gets split into two identical Supermen. Superman Red is in love with Lois, but Superman Blue still has feelings for Lana Lang, so he gets married to his childhood crush.
  • Xs Omnibus: This somewhat happens between Quint and Nine, as they have been friends for years and they both ended up loving each other romantically.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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.

    Films — Animated 
  • 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.
  • Barbie and Kevin in The Barbie Diaries are mentioned to have been best friends since they were kids, and at the end Barbie realizes he, not Todd, is the guy for her.
  • 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.
  • Dounia and the Princess of Aleppo: Dounia's grandparents grew up together and eventually married.
  • 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:
    • Frozen: Averted with Anna and Kristoff, who technically see each other once as children, but never meet 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.
  • Gloria and Mumble in Happy Feet are close from childhood; Gloria saw Mumble come out of his egg (even being the one to encourage him to hatch as she tapped on his egg) and defended him when his classmates mocked his inability to sing. Eventually, they mate as adults.
  • 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.
  • Robin Hood (1973), it's implicitly stated that Robin and Maid Marion knew each other as children and fell in love as they grew up before Marion left to go to London. Even in spite of not seeing each other for several years, it's shown that they never forgot each other, eventually marrying after King Richard returned and deposed his greedy brother Prince John.
  • 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.

  • Backstreet Boys song "How Did I Fall In Love With You" is about the realization that the singer's friend is one of these.
  • A common theme in country music:
    • George Strait's "Check Yes or No", which starts out "It started way back in third grade/I used to sit beside Emmy Lou Hayes..." and winds up twenty years later with the two married.
    • Clay Walker's "One, Two, I Love You"
    • Bryan White's "Rebecca Lynn"
    • Trisha Yearwood's "She's in Love with the Boy" is about a girl planning to marry one of her friends: "even if she's gotta run away, she's gonna marry that boy someday."
    • Tim McGraw's "Don't Take the Girl"
    • Jody And The Kid by Kris Kristofferson tells the story of a boy who is admired and constantly followed around by a younger girl. Flash to decades later when the now grown man and woman are walking down the same paths hand in hand, under the same nickname, "Jody and the Kid" given to them by the town elders.
    • Thomas Rhett's "Marry Me" and "Life Changes" which are both semi-autobiographical, though the latter explicitly mentions his real-life wife, Lauren:
    I bought a ring and she said "I do"
    But everybody else said, "man, you're twenty-two
    "Whatcha trying to prove?"
    "Hey why don't you wait?"
    'Cause I've been waiting on her since the second grade, yeah
  • "The Search Is Over" by Survivor. The singer is searching for "the one" and finally realizes that it's his lady friend who's been there for him the whole time. A Truth in Television, since writer Jim Peterik based it on a friend of his.
  • Pulp's single "Disco 2000" is sung from the perspective of a man with unrequited feelings for his childhood best friend. The song lyrics start by stating the guy and the girl were born the same day, they were raised together by their moms (who even said they could've been sister and brother) but she ends up marrying someone else.
  • The song "Todo ha cambiado" ("Everything has changed") by Chilean music group Canal Magdalena deals with a male friend who tries to change his situation, yet fails.
  • The song "Doushite Kimi wo Suki ni Natte Shimattandarou" ("Why Did I End Up Falling For You") by DBSK is from the point of view of a childhood friend watching his love get married to another man.
  • The video for Empty Rooms by Gary Moore depicts the unlucky variation.
  • Adele's very bittersweet "Someone Like You" is all about this, from the point of view of the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
  • Flight of the Conchords' "Bus Driver's Song" is narrated by the bus driver, who keeps derailing his tour of the town to talk about Paula, a woman who used to live next door to the driver when they were little. The driver used to think they'd get married one day, but she married someone else.
  • "She Hasn't Always Been This Way" by Doc Walker has a guy coming to terms with a sudden crush on his best friend's little sister (also a friend of his) who is now very hot. They're not friends any more, and she won't even talk to him.
  • "May" by James Durbin is the story of a very tragic version of this. The two kids grow up and get married, but the title character dies in childbirth and from that point on, the protagonist can't help but see her every time he looks at his daughter.
  • The video for Kelly Clarkson's song "My Life Would Suck Without You" shows Kelly's dysfunctional relationship with her boyfriend starting when they both were children.
  • Butch Walker has a somewhat creepy take on the Unlucky Childhood Friend in the video for "Mixtape".
  • The song ''Naisho no Hanashinote , with lyrics by Supercell has the singer lamenting that her school crush, might have their eyes on someone else, and hopes they will one day realize her feelings for them.
  • Neil Sedaka's Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen has a young man marvel at his now beautiful 16 year old child-hood friend, and how she used to be like a little sister to him.
  • Vocaloid Len Kagamine's "Fire Flower", in which he sings to his childhood sweetheart that his love for her is as intense as a firework.
  • A homosexual variant seems to occur in the music video for Joey Graceffa's "Don't Wait"; the story begins with one of the two boys saving the other from bullies. After a timeskip, a grown up version of the boy who was rescued saves a man wearing the same necklace as the boy who rescued him, implying that this man and the boy were one and the same. Afterward, they kiss.
  • YouTube singer Jayn has a song called "Smoke and Mirrors", which implies that the narrator and her crush were this. Then her crush fell in love with another girl. The narrator proceeds to turn into a Yandere, tries to get her crush to marry her instead, and when he refuses, she kills the other girl (who's implied to already be married to the narrator's crush).
  • The Lumineers' song "Flowers in Your Hair" tells a brief story of how the narrator and a girl grew up together, first as innocent kids and later as self-assured teenagers. Apparently, the girl developed feelings for him, and he tells her that he finally loves her back.
  • "Where Did You Go To My Lovely?" and "Last of the Breed" by Peter Sarstedt is this story Marie-Claire left her lover for money and power.
  • Ian and Ellen of The Plastic E-Gulls
    Right away I knew
    We were meant to be together
    Since Elementary School, Grade One
  • "Sandpit Girl" by Sammy J is a Deconstructive Parody, sung from the point of view of someone convinced that this is the case with his former childhood friend based on their Childhood Marriage Promise... and consequently feels justified in showing up to and objecting to her marriage to someone else, complete with calling her a "whore" to her face. Except that he actually turned up at the wrong wedding.
    She'll always be a six-year-old to me... Not like that!
  • Taylor Swift loves this trope.
    • "Mary's Song (Oh, My My My)" begins with the couple meeting at the ages of seven and nine, and ends with them being a Happily Married couple eighty years later.
      Take me back when our world was one block wide.
      I dared you to kiss me and ran when you tried.
      Just two kids, you and I...
    • "You Belong With Me" implies it in the song, and confirms it in the music video, with the leads living next door to each other and being best friends.
      Can't you see that I'm the one who understands you?
      Been here all along, so why can't you see,
      you belong with me?
    • "It's Nice to Have a Friend" shows two friends eventually falling in love and getting married.
      Something gave you the nerve
      to touch my hand.
      It's nice to have a friend.
  • bulow's "Two Punks In Love" describes a pair of friends who, having seen each other through difficult childhoods and having a lot of history, end up in love.
    Even though the years go by/seasons change and flowers die
    We're still walking side by side/I'm still yours and you're still mine
  • Diana Ross' "I'm Still Waiting".
    I remember when
    I was five and you were ten, boy
    You knew that I was shy
    So you teased and made me cry
    But I loved you
  • Deconstructed by Sonata Arctica with "Shamandalie." The narrator's obsession with his childhood friend leads her to spurn him and ruin the friendship as well, and now he cannot even speak to her as a friend.
  • A slightly odd variant in Smokie with their "Living Next Door To Alice", where the protagonist has been mooning over his Childhood Friend Alice for 25 years (which probably makes the protagonist in his early thirties), but it's only when she moves away, that he realises that it's his other female Childhood Friend that he should have been interested in.
  • The video to "See It In Your Eyes" by synthwave artists Roxi Drive and Sellorekt/LA Dreams depicts a budding romance between preteen likenesses of the artists in The '80s, with the present-day Roxi appearing on a VHS tape that the boy gives the girl as a memento.
  • In Cher's "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", when the narrator is young, she becomes friends with a boy, and when they play-fight he always wins. When they grow up, they get married, but soon after, he abandons her for reasons unknown.

  • In the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Allegro, Jenny is Joe Taylor's girl from childhood, and she keeps writing to him while he is away at medical school. When they meet again, Joe decides to marry her even before finishing his education, though Jenny would prefer it if he were wealthier. In the second act, they move to the city at her insistence so he can earn more money at a big city practice. When Joe hears that his wife is having an affair with a soap tycoon, he feels he doesn't care anymore about the girl he's known since he was eight years old.
  • Cinderella (Lloyd Webber): Cinderella is childhood friends with Prince Sebastian, having bonded over being misfits in Belleville. They start the show hiding their mutual feelings for each other and end it by running away together.
  • Stuart Patterson's play Cinderella, which is based on the panto but is not itself a panto, calls the Buttons character (see above) Callum, and he and Cinderella end up together once she realises the Prince is a Prince Charmless. Callum then turns out to be Lost Orphaned Royalty of a neighbouring kingdom.
  • The traditional Pantomime version of Cinderella adds the character of Buttons, who's been a servant to the family since both he and Cinders were children, and is in love with her. She is destined to marry the Prince. Depending on the production, she either never notices how Buttons feels or lets him down gently.
  • The title character of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac is in love with his cousin Roxane whom he used to play with as a kid. At Act II Scene VI, Cyrano and Roxane tenderly remember when they were children and played each spring at Cyrano's house at Bergerac.
    Roxane: Confession next!... But, ere I make my shrift,
    You must be once again that brother-friend.
    With whom I used to play by the lake-side!...
    Cyrano: Ay, you would come each spring to Bergerac!
    Roxane: Mind you the reeds you cut to make your swords?...
    Cyrano: While you wove corn-straw plaits for your dolls' hair!
    Roxane: Those were the days of games!...
    Cyrano: And blackberries!...
    Roxane: In those days you did everything I bid!...
    Cyrano: Roxane, in her short frock, was Madeleine...
    Roxane: Was I fair then?
    Cyrano: You were not ill to see!
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, Maximian jovially talks of how Fausta and Constantine were sweethearts as children. He's about to propose a political marriage — one that requires Constantine to divorce his wife and his son's mother.
  • Motel and Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. Initially it seemed to be a dead end because the local matchmaker set Tzeitel up to marry the town's wealthiest citizen, but the pair eventually convince Tzeitel's father, Tevye, to let her marry Motel instead.
  • Éponine Thénardier could be seen to be this in the musical of Les Misérables. However, in the book, Marius doesn't meet her until adulthood and barely knows her.
  • Patience and Archibald in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience were friends as small children, but then lost contact with each other for a while before falling in love during the play.
  • Spring Awakening has Ilse as the most unlucky childhood friend ever to Moritz, who (among other things) is so terrified/confused about his own sexuality that he'd rather die than keep going on. That doesn't do wonders for romance.

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss:
    • Blitzo and Stolas are a subversion and a deconstruction. The two meet as a kids during a circus performance and Stolas is instantly attracted to Blitzo. Despite the fun the two have, Blitzo merely used Stolas to rob the Goetia palace of its royalties as commanded by the former's greedy, abusive dad. They also just spend a day together as kids, thus they couldn't really be considered "friends" despite the fun time they had.
    • Stolas deludes himself into thinking this trope is in effect once they reunite several decades later, but Blitzo knows that they really weren't and even plans to confess the truth to Stolas. That is until Blitzo realizes he can play along with Stolas' delusion to steal the Grimoire.
  • Subverted with Jerry and Jackie from the HotDiggedyDemon series Jerry. They first met when they were young, hit off immediately, and it's implied that Jackie seems to harbor some feelings for him as an adult...but she never commits, opting instead to take his money and sneak away after every one-night stand.
  • Manga Room: Ren Matsushita and Sakura Hanomoto were childhood friends and dating each other. Unfortunately, their relationship was cut short due to Sakura's death and it took Ren a long time to recover.
  • The Music Freaks: Zander and Luke were good friends as children and secretly had crushes on each other, later on in "A Drummer's Confession", they officially became an item.
  • 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.

    Web Original 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Unlucky Childhood Friend, Victorious Childhood Friend, Childhood Friend Love Interest, Childhood Sweetheart


Welcome To This Day

Having fallen in love, Kenai and Nina wed after the latter chooses to become a bear to be with him, something that's implied the Great Spirits wanted to happen.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / HappyEnding

Media sources: