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Everyone Must Be Paired

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Marge: It's about time Mr. Burns found a woman. I can't stand to see a man single.
Lisa: Some people enjoy being alone, Mom.
Marge: No, everyone should be paired up.

Romance is one of the most common elements of storytelling, so it's pretty much a given that the main protagonist would have at least one Love Interest over the course of the story. Some works, however, don't stop at pairing up the main hero/heroine. They don't even stop with having just one other Beta Couple in the mix. No — every major and minor characters in the setting must have a love interest by the end of the story, no matter how little interaction the pair had before they get together. Basically, this is a Canon version of Gotta Ship 'Em All.

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Related to Pair the Spares, in which the other characters are specifically paired up to get them out of the main couple's way, because the work just can't leave the heartbroken suitors single, even if they have no chemistry to their new Love Interest. This mindset can also lead to the introduction of Satellite Love Interest (where a character exists just to become someone else's love interest) and Last Minute Hookup (where a couple hooks-up just before the show ends despite the lack of prior romantic interactions).

Sister trope to Weddings for Everyone, where the story ends with multiple couples getting married.

Compare No Loves Intersect, where multiple characters manage to get paired up without the relationships being caught up in a Love Triangle or Love Dodecahedron. Contrast All Love Is Unrequited.

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens at the end of After War Gundam X: Garrod gets together with Tifa, then Sara and Jamil become an item... while Toniya and Witz get married, and Roybea and Ennil hook up. And while it may have been an Ass Pull, it was an awesome Ass Pull, as it was surprisingly well-written and kept up with the series's optimistic tone.
  • Animal Land features 5 human characters who are gifted with the ability to communicate with animals, although one of them is evil. After he is defeated, the remaining 4 gets paired up together—even though only one of the couple has any chemistry, while the other two characters never actually interact on-screen.
  • The Fruits Basket manga does a pretty amazing job at this - two dozen characters all get paired off before the end.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, there are obvious Ship Tease between the main characters Edward/Winry, Roy/Hawkeye and Ling/Lan Fan, but then we also see May getting a crush on Al, Olivier and Buccaneer have a talk on the rooftop, Bradley actually cares about his wife... And in the epilogue, May's presence in Elric family photos implies that she really did hook up with Al.
  • In The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, out of the 9 surviving Beast Knights, and lead female Samidare, only two of them didn't pair up. While Mikazuki/Subaru, Taiyo/Yukimachi, and of course, Yuuhi/Samidare were all foreshadowed and had ship tease, Hyou/Yayoi is most definitely this trope, as the former didn't show romantic interest in anyone for the main story, while the latter was in love with lead male Yuuhi.
  • Naruto: By the end of the series, nearly every member of the Kohana 12 have gotten together and with kids. While some of the pairings do have legitimacy; Hinata has loved Naruto since she was a kid and the two even got a movie about their romance, Sakura has been pining for Sasuke all her life who finally recuperated her feelings, and Shikimaru and Temari have Belligerent Sexual Tension with one another, others come out of nowhere. They include Ino getting with Sai and Choji marrying Karui. Even Rock Lee has a kid and Kiba is seeing someone. The only ones who aren't in a relationship are Shino, Ten-Ten and Neji, who is dead.
  • The last volume of the Shugo Chara! manga is literally an After Show focused on pairing together all the remaining main characters: Chapter 1: Utau/Kuukai. Chapter 2: Rima/Nagihiko. Chapter 3: Yaya/Kairi.

    Film—Animated 
  • In Ice Age 5: Collision Course, Sid laments that he is the only member of the original trio who doesn't have a mate. Naturally, he does get one in the end named Brooke. Unfortunately, she's a Satellite Love Interest who doesn't appear until the final act who literally asks him to marry her after spending only fourteen minutes together. (In-Universe! They barely have any development at all.)

    Film—Live-Action 
  • Done for laughs at the end of Baseketball. Coop ends up with his love interest Jenna, and Squeak embraces the possible transsexual he has been sharing looks with. Remer on the other hand looks despondent until he meets gazes with Yvette, a character he has had no interaction with throughout the movie. They immediately begin making out.
  • Every character in Bridesmaids ends up in a relationship or is in one from the beginning: Helen, Becca, and Rita are all married. Lillian gets married to Doug, Annie ends up with Rhodes, and the happily-single Megan is revealed to have hooked up with the Air Marshal, with whom she shared a single (admittedly flirty) scene, and he accompanies her to the wedding. Even Annie's divorced mom is heavily implied to hook up with the guy from roadside assistance at the very end.
  • In High School Musical 3, all of the main cast is paired except for Ryan, who is Ambiguously Gay, and Kelsi, who has been the source of a heated debate over whether or not Disney also put a lesbian in the film. So, naturally, Disney covers their butts from the many people who would have objected to having homosexual characters in a Disney film by pairing them up.
  • In the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, this is the premise from the beginning; six of the titular brothers, unhappy that the oldest of them is wed, kidnap six girls they like from the nearby town and try to Stockholm-seduce them over the winter.
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    Literature 
  • In The Belgariad, the Purpose absolutely loves pairing people off, and thus most of the heroes end up in relationships by the end.
  • Averted in Betsy-Tacy. Multiple couples and pairings are suggested or named throughout the high school books, but only four of those couples ultimately marry. All other characters marry someone they met after high school.
  • Everyone in The Infernal Devices, gets a fairytale romance at the age of sixteen. Sophie is paired up with Gideon after deciding she didn't really love Jem anyway, and almost from the moment she is introduced Cecily is paired off with his conveniently single brother. Meanwhile, only single characters are killed off (Jessamine, Thomas).
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, only Official Couple Percy/Annabeth gets any focus, with a couple minor side pairings like Grover/Juniper and Clarisse/Chris that are few and far between. Come the sequel series The Heroes of Olympus, and suddenly romance plays an important role in the plotlines of every single major character, and Percy/Annabeth is joined by Jason/Piper, Hazel/Frank, Leo/Calypso, and Nico/Will Solace. The only main character who doesn't end up with anyone is Reyna, who plays the Romantic Runner-Up.
  • Tara Duncan is a particularly triumphant example, as the Loads and Loads of Characters all end up paired with somebody even if they never interacted before. It include Sparrow and Fabrice, Fafnir and Sylver, Mara and Archangel, Chem and Charm, Lisbeth and Various, Betty and a werewolf and later Jar, Jeremy and Sanhexia, just to name a few).
  • Lampshaded, but ultimately averted, in The Tomorrow Series. Ellie mentions in the first book how the eight of them are in three different romantic relationships: Lee and Ellie, Kevin and Corrie and Homer and Fi, and then goes on to comment that it was too bad there wasn't any chance of Robyn and Chris getting together ("then we really could have had Perfect Partners").
  • Romance and marriage is seen as very important in Twilight. As a result, pretty much every character in the story (except Leah) gets a Love Interest. Even the baby gets a betrothed in the form of her mom's ex!
  • Orson Scott Card:
    • Taken to an extreme in the Homecoming Saga. She's a functionally asexual scientist! He's a gay librarian! They Fight Crime!!note  They get married! They have kids!
    • The Ender's Game series ends in Children of the Mind with a double marriage that seems to serve little point but to pair up all the remaining single characters of young adult age, among them an embodied fragment of another character's psyche and the recently created biological avatar of the future-internet's artificial intelligence.

    Live-Action TV 

    Theatre 
  • Taken to a science by Gilbert and Sullivan. They do this in nearly every one of their plays. In the final number, all the pairs are established, and the crowds pair off as well.
    • In The Sorcerer, they go so far as to pair somebody off with the local Notary, who doesn't even get a name.
    • Of particular note is Patience. Attempts to Pair the Spares are the basis of an entire musical number. No matter which way the couples are made, there is always one man left over. The final lines of the show: "Each of us will wed the other, / Nobody be Bunthorne's bride!" Given that the operetta's titled Patience, or Bunthorne's Bride, this is a pretty major subversion.
    • Parodied in The Pirate Movie, where Mabel, after being told she can't marry until her older sisters have married, freezes her dream and pairs everybody else off. Including, since there are more pirates than sisters, pairing two of the male pirates together.
    • Subverted in The Yeomen of the Guard, where everyone ends up with the wrong person, and poor Jack Point is left out to dry.
    • At the end of Ruddigore, Rose goes back to Robin, so Richard decides to marry one of the bridesmaids instead. The first act finale approaches this, where Rose decides to marry Richard for no better reason than that he's "the only one that's left"; marrying everyone off seems to be the thing to do in what is said to be "perhaps, the only village in the world that possesses an endowed corps of professional bridesmaids." Even the haunted portraits of the barons of Ruddigore get married (to more bridesmaids!) at the end.
    • In some shows the pairs aren't explicitly stated in the script, but that generally won't stop most theater companies from pairing people up anyway. There are only two pairings at the end of The Mikado: The romantic lead Yum-yum and Nanki-poo, and the plot obstacles Katisha and Ko-ko. But typical amateur productions also pair up most or all of the other leads, and the entire men's chorus of Gentlemen of Japan with the women's chorus of Schoolgirls, for the closing number.
  • For William Shakespeare, few things define his comedies more than marriage. Virtually all of his comedies end in marriage, and some even see almost every significant single entering wedlock by the final curtain.
  • Subverted in The Rivals. All the major characters either start out paired or pair up over the course of the play, except for Sir Lucius O'Trigger, one of the heroine's unsuccessful suitors, and Mrs. Malaprop, the heroine's maiden aunt. This leads another character to suggest that the two spares should pair up with each other, but Sir Lucius responds with disdain.

    Webcomics 
  • Though it didn't begin this way, every recurring character in Sonichu was eventually paired with another one. Villains are the exception—one sign of a villain becoming good is becoming "sweethearts" with someone else. Magi-chan, for a long time, was the exception; as a Hermit Guru who lived in isolation from the other characters, it made sense for him to remain single. Then he was paired up with Silvana the moment she stopped being evil.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: Discussed by Marge in "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love"; She states that she can't stand seeing someone she knows being single, and when Lisa argues that some people enjoy the single life, insists that "everyone should be paired up".
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