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Developers' Desired Date

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The “date” being talked about here is a romantic date, not a number used to designate month, day and year. Therefore, this trope is not about a game release date that the developers would prefer to meet.

Simply put, this is when a game lets you pick from multiple possible love interests, but obviously has a favorite. This has little to do with one love interest offering better gameplay benefits than others, and has more to do with the game's story shilling this particular romance option over other choices. The Ship Tease is heavier with them than usual, and at times it feels like if the game didn't give you a choice in the matter, they'd be the official Love Interest.

Common symptoms of a character falling under this trope include:

  • More overt Ship Tease in the main story.
  • Being generally easier to court.
  • Guaranteed happy ending when certain other options can (or will) go awry.
  • Featured more prominently in promotional material.

Obviously this can go badly, rendering the subject of this trope prone to accusations of being a Creator's Pet, and the other datable choices have a higher chance of becoming a Fan-Preferred Couple. One reason for this is that a lot of players value freedom of choice and dislike pseudo-railroading; another is that the intended choice is sometimes paradoxically the safest and blandest so as to appeal to as many people as possible, while the other love interests are allowed to have more variety in personality.

This trope does not apply when you're allowed to court others beforehand, but are required to eventually tie the knot with the intended Love Interest. Romancing the favored choice must be optional.

This trope is also commonly applied in Japanese Media when a work (manga, light novel, visual novel, dating sim, etc.) is adapted to anime, where one of the options becomes the main one for the anime studio that adapted the media.

Sub-trope to Story Branch Favoritism. Compare Implied Love Interest, where the same heavy Ship Tease exists, but it never goes any further than that. May overlap with Game-Favored Gender.


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    Action RPGs 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Badass Biker Panam Palmer is this to a male V. She's the only love interest for male V you meet in the main story, she plays a big role in the second half of act II and potentially act III too, she spends the most time with V out of all romance options, their relationship builds more gradually (unlike the more sudden Relationship Upgrade in the other three), and she's the only love interest for whom completing the side missions for will unlock a new ending, "The Star", which is considered one of the more optimistic endings of the game. Even if you don't romance her, Panam is one of V's closest friends and allies, who's ready to die for them and offers V joining her clan, the Aldecaldos, and leaving Night City together. The closest to this trope female V has is Judy Alvarez, who is also the only love interest for female V met in the main story, so she spends more time with V than just what's in her sidequest, she was heavily featured in promotional materials before the game came out, and is the only romantic option (other than Panam) who will join you in "The Star" ending. The other two romance options, Kerry Eurodyne and River Ward are only met through sidequests, have no bearing on the main plot, and spend much less time with the player than either Judy or Panam.
  • Dragon's Dogma:
    • At first it seems to be Quina, the friendly Girl Next Door from your home village of Cassardis. She's the one who first finds you on the beach after your fateful encounter with the Dragon, helps tend to your wounds, and becomes involved with finding a remedy to free you from the coil of Arisenhood. The game seems to be pushing her as a Childhood Friend Romance. Yet her importance to the plot rapidly wanes after you leave Cassardis, and it's soon after your formal introduction to the royal court that you meet the real example of this trope — the Duchess Aelinore, locked in a loveless union with the Duke of Gransys. She takes a liking to you immediately, and you can get high affinity with her near-instantly after you first meet. All of her personal quests sow romantic tension with her, culminating with the two of you sleeping together in her final quest! You can choose another character as your Beloved, of course, but without any such intervention it's all but certain that Aelinore will be selected for you. It's likely that this was done out of utility rather than favoritism — you're mandated a Beloved for narrative reasons, so better they be a character of substance than some random peasant.
    • Every key side character in the game — Valmiro, Reynard, Julien, Mercedes, Madeleine, Selene, Quina, and of course Aelinore — is this trope by extension, as all of them have both personal quests that raise their affinity after completion and special dialogue in the epilogue and postgame should the Dragon select them as the Arisen's Beloved. Every NPC in the game (with a few rare exceptions) can potentially be your Beloved if you max their affinity and make sure they're the last person you speak to before the main story's penultimate quest. However, they'll only have generic dialogue after being rescued.
  • Fallout 4: The game heavily pushes Piper Wright as a potential Love Interest for both male and female Survivors. Her face resembles the default look for Nora, the male survivor’s dead wife, you meet her the moment you enter Diamond City during the main quest and assists you at a later stage of the quest. Piper practically asks you to take her with you on your travels, her approval skyrockets all the way up to “Idolized” if you just continue to be a good decent person and requires no personal quest unlike many other romance options. She is also the only romanced companion you can reveal the truth about your son Shaun too. You can give her your old wedding ring and she will wear it.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect: The player can have romantic relationships with Ashley, Kaidan or Liara, but Liara (being the only alien paramour) is clearly the game's favored example. Liara practically worships the ground the player walks on, is the only Love Interest that can be romanced by either gender, and her romance can only be failed if the player outright tells her they aren't interested, or they pick her up very late, leaving no time for a relationship to form. Ashley and Kaidan can both reject Shepard if the player makes bad choices during their conversations, and will walk away if Shepard suggests Polyamory, unlike Liara.
    • Mass Effect 2: The developers have admitted that they had the story nudge Male Shepard to Tali and Female Shepard to Thane, with the latter's species having been designed from the ground up to be as attractive as possible. Kelly Chambers is the only Love Interest in ME2 with whom Shepard cannot have an intimate scene, only being available for an optional lap dance. In the case of the previous love interests, only Liara has any sort of follow up, albeit as a DLC.
    • Mass Effect 3: The game heavily prioritises the ME1 love interests (Liara & Ashley/Kaidan) this time around. They are the only love interests guaranteed to still be alive at the beginning (though Ashley and Kaidan are mutually exclusive), Shepard can start a new relationship with them if they hadn't before, and are the only ones with a unique and fully animated sex scene. And once again, Liara gets a special nudge, being the the only love interest who can't die until the end, is available from the beginning of the game, and gets multiple intimate conversations with Shepard no matter what. Other relationships gets varying levels of attention: while the Garrus romance can be continued with no issues and both Cortez and Traynor have enough interactions with Shepard, some are outright doomed in this game (Jacob dumps Shepard for another woman, Thane is killed, and Kelly Chambers is either killed, commits suicide or is Put on a Bus) or can fail if bad choices gets made (Ashley, Kaiden, Tali, Miranda, and Jack).
    • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Keri T'Vessa and Avela Karr are treated as "romances", but are more like "side women" compared to the romances Ryder can have aboard the Tempest. In addition, the same-sex relationships were underwhelming in the original patch of the game (especially for gay male romance). In particular, Reyes Vidal was upgraded from another "fling" romance into a full-fledged romance.
  • Tales of Symphonia allows Lloyd to choose between the three party members with the highest Relationship Values for a scene later in the game, locking them in as his "soulmate" for the rest of the story. While all the girls' soulmate events are romantic, Colette is the one who gets the most Ship Tease in the story and is shown as Lloyd's canonical Love Interest in spinoffs, with the game's sequel having a similar scene where the two have undergone a Relationship Upgrade. Gameplay-wise, her Relationship Values start so high you're practically guaranteed to have her in your top 3 regardless of your choices, and it's very hard to sabotage her affection without intentionally trying. And if you have Kratos for the above mentioned scene, Colette will fill in the role as the "soulmate" during the ending since Kratos has left the planet with the rest of the remaining angels. As such, getting anyone except Colette as Lloyd's soulmate requires some work on the player's part to shake her off.

    Adventure Games 
  • In Life Is Strange Max can potentially have romantic interactions with two characters, Chloe and Warren. Chloe is given far more screentime and narrative importance, as she is tied to the driving mystery and her relationship with Max is central to the game, while Warren disappears for large sections of it and has ultimately little story impact. The ending centers the final choice on Max and Chloe's relationship, with the sequence leading up to it treating Chloe as the most important person in Max's life even if Max did all the romantic interactions with Warren and none with Chloe.
  • Life Is Strange 2: While Sean technically has an equal shot with both Cassidy and Finn, and can end up with either on the same terms depending on choices made, unlocking Finn's romance route involves making the exact correct dialogue choices and making an ethical decision most players will balk at. Meanwhile, it's actually harder not to romance Cassidy than it is to get with her, with her main romance scene being unmissable (and unmistakably sexual in its tone, unlike Finn's which is flirtatious but still far more ambiguous), and there's also the fact that Finn's route ends with a kiss at most while Sean and Cassidy can potentially sleep together. Plus, the Parting Ways ending, which is the only one where Sean's Episode 3 love interest(s) can reappear, seems to default to Cass as Sean's partner in the future unless Sean actively has a negative relationship with her, regardless of whether the player chose to pursue her romantically earlier; whereas Finn has to be successfully romanced (and survive, of course) to appear. On a meta level, Cassidy was featured way more heavily in promotional materials prior to the pair's introduction, also hinting at her being the developers' preference.
  • Life Is Strange: True Colors theoretically presents Alex's potential romances with Steph and Ryan on an equal footing, but despite being mechanically identical, all supplementary material points heavily towards Steph as the preferred option. Steph is a popular returning character from an earlier game in the series, while Ryan is a newcomer written specifically for True Colors; and Steph is the focal protagonist of both the game's story DLC and the franchise's first spin-off novel. Meanwhile, the main point in Ryan's favour is that he's arguably a little bit more important to True Colors' main story than Steph is; but Ryan can also side against Alex in the climactic confrontation, while Steph will stand with her regardless of your past choices. Follow-up materials also carry on from the ending where Alex and Steph leave town as a romantic couple, with both the Heatwaves novel and the Forget-Me-Not comics following this ending (although the writers have been clear that Life Is Strange exists in a multiverse and as such no choices are being declared non-canon, and indeed the Forget-Me-Not comics take place in a previously-established alternate universe from the games). Despite those protestations, though, it's hard not to see all this as all but canonising Steph as Alex's paramour.
  • The Walking Dead: A New Frontier has a Downplayed version of this trope. The main (but technically optional) romance in the game is between player character Javier and his sister-in-law Kate, with their relationship being a driving force behind much of the season's drama. However, due to Kate being quite unpopular with players, Javier being confirmed as bisexual, and Javier and Jesus getting a few fleeting moments of Ship Tease, players often treat Kate and Jesus as Javier's romance options and decry the much greater focus Kate receives — even though Jesusnote  was never really intended as a serious option.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition zigzags this, as your character's race and gender determine who your possible romance options are, and how easy it is to court those that are available, making it easier to gravitate towards certain options. Some of the options are only restricted by gender; Dorian and Cassandra are only available to male Inquisitors, while Blackwall is only available to female Inquisitors. Bull and Josephine have no restrictions on them at all. The others, however, are a bit trickier.
    • Sera is uninterested in men, is incredibly easy to romance if the player is a female Qunari (for whom she has a fetish) or Dwarf (whom she thinks are adorable), more difficult (but not tough) as a female human (whom is either a circle mage or a noble, both groups she dislike but can make exceptions to), is exceedingly difficult to romance as a female Elf (whom she normally despises), and even if romanced as an Elf, will break up if the player argues with her on her opinion of Elves.
    • Cullen and Solas can only be romanced by a female Inquisitor. However, Cullen is only interested in female humans and Elves, while Solas is only interested in a female Elf. It's worth noting that this was not done to make their romances more difficult, but rather as a time constraint - neither of them were initially planned to be romance options at all, and they were only added when the developer team was given more time to work on the game. Because they became options so late in the process, they had to be given limitations.
  • Dragon Quest V: The Hero has two potential brides: Bianca and Nera. In the Updated Re-release, he gains a third: Deborah. However, the game introduces Bianca first as the Hero's Childhood Friend, who is clearly in love with him even as children. Nera is a likable girl as well, but Bianca is shown to be completely devoted to the Hero's happiness and will even wish him good luck if he marries one of the other girls in a method that's clearly meant to make the player feel guilty. Even Nera, after seeing Bianca's devotion to the Hero, will suggest calling off their engagement so he can be with Bianca. Additionally, Nera has an alternate love interest (her own childhood friend Crispin) who she'll end up marrying if not chosen by the Hero, while the original version of the game didn't offer the same for Bianca. Deborah, meanwhile, is a complete and utter vain bitch and mostly a joke option, although she does become slightly kinder as a wife and mother, becoming much more of a Tsundere. Even in official artwork and promotional material for the game, the Hero's two children Parry and Madchen are blond, indicating that Bianca is the semi-official choice. If their mother is Deborah, even they are absolutely stunned that their father would marry someone like her.
  • Dyztopia: Post-Human RPG: Eliza, Kiyota, Edgar, Chase, Genesis, Rosie, and Setzuna are all romantic options for Akira, but the game makes it relatively easier to pair with Eliza compared to everyone else, since her first bonding event is free and can instantly fulfill the conditions for romance. Setzuna requires the player not to fulfill anyone else's romance conditions for the whole game while the non-Eliza party members require you not to miss their bonding events. Story-wise, Eliza was already established to have a crush on Akira and secretly arranged for Barbados to show up later to the celebration party so that she has more time alone with Akira.
  • Fear & Hunger offers an unusual aversion in The Marriage: a Romantic Fusion which doubles as a Power-Upgrading Deformation. The Marriage includes features of both genders, but doesn't resemble any of the party members used in its creation.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud has two love interests fighting over him (up until about halfway in, anyway), and the game is tracking Relationship Values in the background for them for the game's famous date scene. Whichever of the two has the highest will have a date scene with Cloud. However, the game is not limited to them, but also to Yuffie (whose date is far more platonic than either option), and to Barret (a bros' night out). From the four of them, the Relationship values start with Aerith at 50, Tifa at 30, Yuffie at 10, and Barret at 0, and while they're relatively equal in terms of the amount of ways to increase the values, Aerith has, by far, the most opportunities to gain many points in her favor.
  • Starting with the third game, the Persona series gives the MC the option to form a romantic relationship with most female Social Links, though each one still introduces one option that's pushed harder than the others.
    • Persona 3: While the game has you automatically hook up with any compatible character you reach a high enough rank with, both Yukari and Aigis are given special treatment. Yukari is given some Ship Tease scenes early in the game, leading into her Social Link being unlocked. And during The Answer, the post game campaign, she is deeply distraught by his death and wants to go back in time to bring him back. Meanwhile, Aigis has Undying Loyalty to the Protagonist, and a number of scenes later in the game emphasizing their intimacy, all the more noteworthy as she was not an option for a Social Link in the first release of the game. The most noteworthy scene between them is the ending of the game, where the protagonist spends his last moments with his head in Aigis' lap. In the Answer, Aigis is the main character, having inherited the protagonist's powers, and her self is split in two over her pain at losing the protagonist. By comparison, Mitsuru and Fuuka, the other two female party members, don't get nearly as much outside their social links, and the NPC options are hardly ever referenced.
    • Persona 4: Rise is a heavily downplayed example. She's the only member of the Investigation Team to have an obvious crush on the Protagonist during the story regardless of her Social Link standing and continuously flirts with him throughout the game, while also making an Anguished Declaration of Love during the True Ending. However, she doesn't get too many personal moments with the Protagonist outside of her Social Link (as the bulk of her flirting during the story happens within the presence of the rest of the team). Golden also adds Marie, who develops a rivalry with the aforementioned Rise over the Protagonist during Marie's Social Link (which is required for the Golden Ending). If the Investigation Team saves Marie from the Hollow Forest dungeon, the resulting events carry a lot of romantic undertones regardless of whether or not the player pursued a relationship with hernote . Additionally, she will be always be waiting outside the Protagonist's home on Valentine's Day to give him chocolate if she was saved (even if the protagonist didn't romance with her or just got back from a date with someone else) and will kiss the Protagonist if she is romanced.
    • Persona 5: Royal continued what Golden started by introducing Kasumi or rather, Sumire Yoshizawa. She gets far more Ship Tease moments with Joker during the story than any other character, is the only romance option to get a Showtime with Joker, actually confesses her feelings to him before the player can choose to make things romantic, and numerous aspects of their designs mirror each other. Ironically, it takes so long for Yoshizawa's social link to open up that Joker can only become a couple with her during the final month of the game, and several romantic events like Christmas or Hawaii are completely inaccessible with her.
  • Riviera: The Promised Land has a rather unusual example. While the game allows Ein to build up relationships with his 4 female party members, Word of God confirms that Ein's official partner to be his familiar, Rose the Cat, and her True Endingnote  is the canon ending. Getting this ending, however, requires Ein's relationship points with the girls to be very low, while still having Cierra's points being the highest. This means Ein needs to act like a Jerkass to the girls, which makes Rose's ending the hardest to get.
  • Even when later games in the Trails Series started letting players choose which girl the Chick Magnet protagonist ends up with, there's clear favoritism given towards certain individuals. Said characters will generally have obvious chemistry and more blatant Ship Tease with their respective boy during the main story (to the point where Everyone Can See It), as well as optional events that are more directly romantic (and sometimes physical) than those given to their competitors. Thus far, they include Elie for Lloyd in The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure and Alisa for Rean in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.

    Simulation Games 
  • Cute Knight: The Lisa the Librarian ending is one of the easiest endings to get, involving the common activity of fighting in the dungeon, then doing some easy work in the library, talking to her and giving her a cheap inventory item, and is the only one that has a Title Drop. She even appears in the game's icon with the protagonist on certain platforms, such as the Big Fish Games game manager.
  • The Harvest Moon series (pre-HM/Story of Seasons split) was pretty good at avoiding this trope, with three exceptions:
    • A Wonderful Life, which made it suspiciously easier to woo Celianote  and more difficult to get her to divorce you.
    • Island of Happiness and its revamp, Sunshine Islands: Both games have Mark or Chelsea (whichever one you didn't choose to play as) show up last among love interests, immediately highlights how alike they are and are insanely easy to woonote  Not to mention they appear together on the covers of both games.
  • Littlewood: The Amnesiac Hero is also an Amnesiac Lover to one of their romance options, Willow. Story-wise, Willow is also the one who stumbled upon the Hero after they seemingly vanished while defeating the Evil Overlord. Gameplay-wise, Willow is ridiculously easy to befriend in the early game, even compared to the two other villagers who knew the Hero prior to their amnesia, which results in her being the first character with whom flirting becomes an option during interactions. On top of this, Willow will ask her house to be close to the Hero's, while the rewards for decorating her house to her specifications include a plant called "Kissing Plant" and a painting called "Willow's Heart".
  • Rune Factory: The three first games offer the male Player Character a handful of marriage options, but the first potential wife he meets is always prominently featured in the game's animated opening and official art, including the picture on the game's box. A not-very-subtle hint as to who the creators intend to be the player character's final choice.
    • Rune Factory: The opening heavily features Mist, the young woman who first finds Raguna unconscious at the beginning of the game, while the other marriage candidates get a very brief cameo alongside the rivals. Mist also technically owns the farm that needs to be managed as part of the game, so Raguna ends up seeing a lot of her.
    • Rune Factory 2: The first generation's opening heavily features Mana, who is the one who suggests Kyle take over the abandoned farm. While Kyle will have a child with all the marriage candidates, one of the requirements for moving to the second generation is to build a school. For Mana, who really, really wants to become a teacher. As a result, Kyle will be in the middle of making a grand gesture for Mana, no matter who he's actually courting.
    • Rune Factory 3: This is averted in the first opening, but the second one focuses greatly on Shara, the young woman who finds Micah injured at the beginning of the game. Her everyday headgear, which is her most visible piece of clothing in most shots of her, is an item made out of flower ornaments and semi-transparent white fabric that wouldn't be out of place as part of a wedding outfit. Her family also far more heavily push her on Micah than the other bachelorettes.
    • Rune Factory Oceans: Both of the playable characters, Aden and Sonja, are heavily implied to be this. Both of them declare how much they care for each before they are enveloped in the light that serves as the plot catalyst, spend the entirety of the game forced to share Aden's body after Sonja's soul is separated from hers, and once they're finally separated, whoever doesn't become the playable character starts out with Love Points instead of Friendship Points.
  • Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town: There is a Secret Character, complete with a friendship meter and unlockable events, who temporarily becomes a resident of Olive Town if the Player Character marries Iori, but not if any of the other romance options are married.
  • Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, like its predecessor, makes Cecilia the easiest to woo, but also makes Rock just as easy to woo as the spring Toy Flower is his favorite and available from the start of the game. If you don't romance anyone, he and Cecelia will be the two choices offered to the player to marry.
  • My Time at Sandrock's Fang favoritism is apparent in the number of marriage-locked side missions he has, as well as the romantic framing of even his platonic side missions. The developers even posted a how-to video for courting Fang on their official youtube channel—because they also made him far more difficult to court than any other character. Breaking through the walls of a silent, closed-off recluse isn't easy, after all.

    Tactical RPGs 
  • Fire Emblem has many examples, though in most games the player can arrange for a wide variety of hook-ups other than the ones that are implied to be "correct."
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
      • In the first generation, Lewyn and Erinys are one of the easiest pairings to make (a conversation in Chapter 4 will instantly hitch the two if neither has a lover) and thus the easiest way to pass down the Purposefully Overpowered Foresti tome, and Erinys' son Ced's appearance, story role and name (taken from Lewyn's Famous Ancestor) practically assume Lewyn is his father. They are made an Official Couple in Thracia 776, where Ced canonically wields Forseti.
      • For Seliph, there's Julia or Lana (or her replacement character Muirne), though the former ship is sunk upon Seliph finding out they're related, unless you keep her and Seliph glued to each other until she's captured. It's more blatant in the Oosawa Mitsuki manga adaptation, though. As for Lana, while Seliph can marry almost any woman in the second generation, all of them except Lana and Julia start at zero love points, while Lana starts at a hundred.
    • Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade: Lilina for Roy. They have Ship Tease moments even outside of support conversations (mostly Lilina making it blatantly obvious that she has feelings for him, with Roy just not catching on), their support chain is one of the fastest in any game, getting them to A-rank alters the ending, and one of the CG images in the music player depicts their first meeting as children. This even got two nods in prequel Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade; one in the B-Support between Lilina's father Hector and Roy's father Eliwood, which has Hector dreaming of a not-yet-born Lilina playing with an unborn Roy in the future, and getting supremely annoyed at the possibility that he may lose his daughter to Eliwood's son, and the other in the epilogue, which shows the above-mentioned first encounter in cutscene form. Furthermore, an attention-grabbing card (lower-right) was made for the official Fire Emblem Cipher card game.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • Ninian for Eliwood, given the heavy amount of Ship Tease between the two and the fact that their A-Support alters the ending so that Ninian stays behind with her lover.
      • Hector for Lyn. The two of them have a lot of Ship Tease moments with each other as well as some altered scenes. Also, by the time of Binding Blade, the country Lyn is heir to has been merged into Hector's, which doesn't make much sense if she married somebody else.
    • Fire Emblem: Awakening:
      • Chrom is required to get married at the end of Chapter 11, and has four possible wives, five if Robin is a girl (or six if you count the nameless village girl if the others have all been paired off with someone else). Of them, the game pushes for Sumia and Female Robin the most.

        Sumia: She has an obvious crush on Chrom, is depicted as his wife in the game's opening cinematic, gets her own CGI cutscene with him titled "Lovebirds", is one of the few units to appear in a cutscene after their debut chapter (where her main role is also to interact with Chrom), and has the highest priority of his prospective wives if he's still not married by the end of Chapter 11.note  If the game forces them to pair up at that point, she also gets a unique cutscene that none of the other wives get any variation of. While not required for other characters to be married, certain support pairings have a lower threshold for a S-Rank, by about 14 compared to 16 or 18. This is also true for Chrom and Sumia, as their S-Rank threshold is 14 as well.

        Female Robin: As the two main characters her and Chrom's bond becomes a key part of the game's story regardless of if they marry or not.note  However, she is also the only one of Chrom's potential wives to remain relevant to the story after meeting Lucina. And if they do marry, there are a lot of plot conveniences that arise with their marriage since Robin is the vessel of Grima which itself creates more emotional conflict later on with Lucina. This is even lampshaded when Lucina and Male Morgan who's not Chrom's son mention it's a little odd that Chrom and Robin never got together. While Lucina mothered by any one but Female Robin accuses her of trying to seduce Chrom, then swings in the opposite direction by demanding she fall for him.
      • When it comes to Male Robin's love interests, the game seems to favor Lucina. Because they're both main characters alongside Chrom, Lucina is one of the few of Male Robin's possible love interests to stay relevant in the story, and the only one whose relationship with him affects the game's plot, due to her feelings and Robin's nature as Grima's vessel conflicting with her goal to prevent the Bad Future. Lucina is also often depicted with daisy flowers in some of the official supplementary material for the series, which only appear in Awakening during her Love Confession scene at the end of her S-support with Robin, in which Robin gives her a bouquet of daisies as an expression of his feelings for her.
      • All of the main marriageable units except Robin, Lon'qu, Donnel, and Morgan have accelerated support growth with one particular love interest, making such pairings easier to achieve. The pairings in question are Chrom/Sumia, Lissa/Vaike, Frederick/Maribelle, Virion/Cherche, Sully/Kellam, Stahl/Miriel, Ricken/Panne, Gaius/Tharja, Cordelia/Libra, Gregor/Nowi, Olivia/Henry, Lucina/Laurent, Owain/Kjelle, Inigo/Cynthia, Brady/Severa, Gerome/Nah, and Yarne/Noire.
    • Fire Emblem Fates:
      • While the Player Character Corrin can romance any opposite-gender unit except for their child Kana, Azura is one of the few characters that is playable in all routes, is mistaken to be a male Corrin's girlfriend in Chapter 5, has one of the fastest support growth rates in the game with Corrin, and the two of them constantly mention how much they trust and feel comfortable with each other throughout the game. Azura is also the only character in the game to have different Love Confessions and support chains with Corrin depending on the chosen path.
      • Subaki can marry any of the first-generation women, but the game has extra dialogue if you pursue his Revelation-exclusive romance with Selena. Selena actually comments on their daughter's resemblance to her own mother Cordelia, and has additional dialogue in their supports referencing this fact.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Depending on the route, Byleth gets....
      • Edelgard, regardless of Byleth's gender, is implied to be carrying a torch for them. At the end of her route, she essentially gives a Love Confession even if she isn’t S-Supported. She's still implied to have feelings for them even on the Silver Snow route, where they are absolute mortal enemies as this is the route where Byleth refuses to join her and remains loyal to the Church of Seiros after having spent almost a year growing closer to her as her professor. Promotional art also tends to show her gazing longingly at Byleth whenever possible.
      • Dimitri, both pre and post-timeskip (especially post), has several scenes with a lot of romantic undertones and Holding Hands is a reoccurring theme between them. He’s also the only one of the main lord whose paired ending with Byleth mentions marriage between them. Although he can only marry a Female Byleth, the undertones are still very much present when playing as male, making him either bisexual or If It's You, It's Okay towards Byleth in-text.
      • Rhea in her route, regardless of gender. In fact, Byleth's Relationship Values with Rhea are so important that her chance of surviving the final battle depends on her relationship with Byleth. Fail to get an A-support and she gets a Mercy Kill.
      • Claude as well. Much like Dimitri and Edelgard, he does get more than a few scenes highlighting his relationship with Byleth. He's also notable for being the only lord that canonically dances with Byleth regardless of their gender even though he can only really pair up with a Female Byleth. There's more dialogue hinting that Claude is attracted to Byleth if playing female such as his support with Ignatz where he asks Ignatz who he finds hotter between Byleth and what Ignatz imagines the goddess looks like heavily implying that Claude finds Byleth gorgeous. Claude also calls Female Byleth a beautiful flower along with Edelgard in a cutscene if you pick the right dialogue option pre-timeskip. Claude also mentions feeling some type of connection to Byleth even outside his own route similar to Edelgard like in Silver Snow.
      • Much like the other house leaders, Yuri comes off as this in the Cindered Shadows side-story. He gets a bit of deliberate Ship Tease with them, fitting his status as The Tease, becomes soft to Byleth pretty quickly, and isn’t ashamed to call them cute when recruited in the main game.
    • Fire Emblem Engage: While Alear can S-Support any unit (though some are platonic or only implicitly romantic), Alfred seems to be pushed the most. Even aside from being one of the several outright romantic S-Supports, he appears in the most cutscenes with Alear out of the other lords, and while some of that can be attributed to being the first of them to be recruited, he proceeds to have more screentime and interactions with Alear alone even after the rest of the crown heirs enter the story, and S-Supporting him is the only way to ensure he will not die young from his chronic illness in the epilogue, also making him one of the few characters whose ending significantly changes if paired with Alear.
  • The Unicorn, one of the most powerful deities in Unicorn Overlord, is a big proponent of spiritual monogamy. This is central to unlocking the power of the Ring of the Unicorn and the Ring of the Maiden, as the ritual requires the protagonist Prince Alain to select a partner who he shares a deep personal (if not necessarily intimate) bond with. While Alain can give the Ring of the Maiden to anyone in the Liberation Army, for the sake of Gameplay and Story Integration, any major Rapports with romantic undertones have an All Just a Dream addendum tacked on if they're unlocked and viewed after the ritual as Alain wouldn't dare breach the trust he has with his chosen partner or risk the wrath of the Unicorn by flirting with a third party. However, only Scarlett, Chloe, Yahna, Miriam, Fran, Nina, Melisandre, Leah, Berengaria, Primm, Liza, Rosalinde, Eltolinde, Ridiel, Celeste, Yunifi, and Dinah's rapports are given this treatment, implying that these are the only outright romantic partner choices that majorly qualify for and against the Ring of the Maiden. Interestingly, some party members like Amalia who not only show interest in Alain as a lover and can even become his queen if chosen like Amalia are not in this group.

    Visual Novels 
  • Very common in Choices: Stories You Play.
    • In the first book of The Freshman, Chris has more scenes with the main character than James or Kaitlyn, and the narrative treats him as her love interest even if the player picks the option of not being interested in him.
    • In The Royal Romance, Prince Liam is obviously favoured by the story as the main character's love interest. Justified, since she is involved in the plot at all because she goes to compete in a selection of potential brides for him. Even if she doesn't marry him, her child (for a rather contrived reason) is declared his heir.
    • Endless Summer has Jake McKenzie, who is far easier to build up a relationship with compared to the other love interests purely due to the large number of choices affecting your status with him.
    • In #LoveHacks, the main love interest is Mark Collins, who is a playable character on top of being the main character's long time friend, while the other love interests, Ben and Leah, do not officially join the core group until Book 2.
    • High School Story: Class Act greatly favours Rory Silva, as the main character is hinted to have a crush on Rory since childhood, not to mention the excessive amount of Character Shilling that Rory gets. Rory also gets significantly more premium scenes than the other two love interests, even if the player is dating Ajay or Skye.
    • Bloodbound favours Adrian Raines, not only because he is the main character's boss, but also because he plays a role in the other love interests' (Jax Matsuo and Lily Spencer) storylines (except for Kamilah Sayeed, who is a supporting character in his storyline instead).
    • Veil of Secrets has Flynn O'Malley who, as Kate's brother, has a personal stake in the story and essentially makes him the main character's partner/sidekick in the investigation of Kate's disappearance even if you insist on him staying out of your way.
    • Home for the Holidays has Nick Peralta, whom the player character accompanies throughout his stay in Winter Haven.
    • Desire & Decorum has Ernest Sinclaire, who already starts with a personal grudge against Duke Richards and is the kind of suitor Regency society would approve for the player character (male, white, British, high society), even though all the other love interests have significant amounts of free screen time and relevance to the story.
    • Big Sky Country greatly favours Sawyer Oakley, as the player character lives on his ranch and gets to know him fairly well for free while the others force the player to pay diamonds to get to know them better.
    • The Elementalists has Beckett Harrington, who appears in almost every chapter and has considerably more premium scenes than the other love interests even if the player took the option not to romance men.
    • Ride or Die: A Bad Boy Romance favours Logan, especially throughout the first half of the book because he introduces the main character to the world of street racing. A lot of characters assume they are in a relationship and he is the only love interest with premium scenes for the first five chapters. The second half shifts some of the focus to Colt Kaneko because of the similarities between him and the main character.
    • Open Heart greatly favours Ethan Ramsey, who serves as the main character's attending, and the narrative focuses on him slowly warming up to the main character. In Books 2 and 3, he also has far more premium scenes than the other love interests.
    • Perfect Match has Hayden, who outright starts the story as the player character's boyfriend/girlfriend (which is a given, as the entire premise is about the player character somehow finding the titular perfect match for them through a mysterious company's matchmaking). The only way to end the romance entirely is to choose the option to break up with them in the first book; romancing any of the other Love Interests (Damien, Sloane, and Alana) will just incorporate a polyamorous relationship.
    • Passport to Romance favours Elliot Langdon, as his subplot spans the entire book while the other three either have no subplot (Ahmed Khabbaz and Sumire Nagasawa) or have one that's resolved before the end (Marisa Pires).
    • Nightbound has Nik Ryder, who is a Nighthunter tasked to serve as the player character's bodyguard and the person who introduces them to the supernatural world.
    • In Wishful Thinking, the main love interest is Aubrey Watson, who is the main character's co-worker.
    • In Platinum, while Avery Wilshere gets strong focus due to being the player character's mentor, the narrative ultimately favors Raleigh Carrera, whom Cadence temporarily pretends to date as a publicity stunt. Romancing Raleigh is mandatory if the player is going for the maximum number of fans, as Raleigh's romance route provides more opportunities to gain fans than those for Avery and Shane.
    • In Sunkissed, the main love interest is Nate, who works as a lifeguard, which gives him more opportunities to hang out with the main character while Samson's an artist and Eliana's a marine biologist focusing on turtles.
    • Bachelorette Party favours Aisha Bhatt, as she is the main character's long time friend, and a key plot point is getting her stolen case back to avoid conflict with the Norwegian mafia. Additionally, she is present in the story almost the entire time, while Reed and Ash appear only intermittently.
    • In Mother of the Year, Thomas Mendez is the only love interest who confesses their feelings to you whether you romance them or not.
    • In Baby Bump, Clint Covington is the father of the player character's baby and has to resolve a love triangle between her and his fiancée, even if the player takes the option of not romancing him.
  • In CLANNAD, Nagisa Furukawa's route is partially mandatory in a handful of the other character routes. Without a significant portion of her character route, you cannot complete the routes for Kotomi, Tomoyo and Fuko. If you do Nagisa's route last, you'll still have seen a large chunk of her route by default, and the future Tomoya has with Nagisa is the entire premise of the After Story. It also helps she's the only character on the English poster on Steam for both this game and "CLANNAD Side Stories" and ultimately her route ends up being the focus of the anime with the other character routes mentioned but tweaked so that Tomoya ends up with Nagisa by the end.
  • Played with in Doki Doki Literature Club!. The game at first gives you the options of Sayori, Natsuki, and Yuri to pursue a relationship with, while Monika is meant to only be the Miss Exposition that explains how the game works and isn't able to be romanced. Once the game reaches a certain point, you'll have to pair up with one of the girls to make preparations for an upcoming event, but you're forced into choosing either baking cupcakes with Natsuki or designing a banner with Yuri regardless of whether or not you've been interacting with Sayori more. Later on, Sayori admits she's been suffering from depression for a long time, and the player is given the option to either confess their love to her, or declare her his best friend, the former happening even if you've exclusively hung out with the other two girls. Then Sayori commits suicide regardless of which choice you made. From there, Monika tinkers with the game files to alter Natsuki and Yuri's personalities to make them less appealing, while substituting certain options so you're forced to choose her at some points. At the end of Act 2, she erases all three other girls from the game's files so she's the only option the player has.
  • A Little Lily Princess:
    • Both the title screen and the picture used to represent the game in online stores depict Sara alongside Becky.
    • To be able to play any given route in Act 2, all its Act 1 events must be seen and accomplishing this has a Luck-Based Mission element to it. There is fortunately one route among the six available that can be played in Act 2 regardless of whether it was followed in Act 1 or not. That same route also has all its unlockable images in Act 2, which removes the last possible gameplay penalty for not following it in Act 1. That route is Becky's.
  • In Seduce Me, this trope applies to the middle incubus brother Sam. His epilogue in the first game is closest in line to the good ending of the second (and final) game, he is the easiest route to fall into, and is the first love interest you meet.