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Foe Romance Subtext

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Lying awake at night, thinking about him.

"Thou hast beat me out
Twelve several times, and I have nightly since
Dreamt of encounters 'twixt thyself and me;
We have been down together in my sleep,
Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat,
And waked half dead with nothing."
Aufidius to his blood enemy, Act 4, Scene 5, Coriolanus

The implications of sexual tension between arch-enemies. Just as Ho Yay is about the situation of implying romance where even the characters' canonical sexual orientations make it implausible, this trope intentionally creates an even deeper paradox by subtextually implying love in a relationship that is, textually, the opposite of love.

This trope is much more likely to come into play if one is The Rival and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, or a Rival Turned Evil, and is especially likely if one is an Evil Former Friend. If enemies have to work together, it can give the impression that adversity makes strange bedfellows. Other times, this trope can be invoked by a villain who seems to be too eager and persistent about trying to convince or force the hero to rule the world together, and eventually appear as a one-sided Villainous Crush. Terms of Endangerment often feature, and watch out for the "Take That!" Kiss. Dark Magical Girls are often depicted as understanding their Magical Girl counterpart far more than anyone else, and after inevitable redemption at the very least become Heterosexual Life-Partners, if not more.


Since most heroes and their villains tend to be the same gender, this results in most examples of Foe Yay overlapping with Ho Yay, but different gender foes qualify too. When it ultimately goes from subtext to text, and the two admit that they love each other, it is called Dating Catwoman. Contrast with Defecting for Love. For the villain who really is sexually obsessed with The Hero, see Stalker with a Crush, Mind Game Ship, In Love with Your Carnage, and Villainous Crush. See also Destructo-Nookie, when they actually do go the whole nine yards.

See also Foe Yay Shipping, for the subjective audience reaction of insisting that after a certain number of such scenes, the two should become a couple (this appeal often lies in the forbidden nature of the relationship, a staple of the shipper diet). Please move non-objective examples to that page. Not to be confused with Faux Yay.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • The fight between Ladd Russo and Chane Laforet atop the Flying Pussyfoot in Baccano! is punctuated with this, as Ladd repeatedly declares his love for Chane and monologues about how she loves him back. Even while he's trying to blow her to bits with a shotgun. It's implied that Ladd's just trying to mess with her, but when he starts to caress her cheek and play with her hair, one can't help but wonder.
    Ladd: I'll take it. I accept this love from you, young lady! But you have to accept my love, too...
  • The attraction that Slan, the female member of the Godhand, has to Guts from Berserk. Given that she's a sadistic demonic god, she basically derives a lot of pleasure from all the suffering she and the other God Hands can put him through. And it's not exactly helped by the fact that Slan is Too Kinky to Torture — the only thing Guts succeeds in doing by impaling and blowing off half of Slan's torso with his Arm Cannon during his battle with her in the Qliphoth is giving her an orgasm.
  • Bungo Stray Dogs: The original Dark Era Light Novel had some Subtext between Oda and Gide. For example, when they first meet, Oda describes Gide as handsome, Dazai proposes their wedding, and the final duel is held at an old-fashioned ball room, and terminology like 'twirling half a turn' are used. On top of that, their Abilities work in such a way that they're completely synchronised. When the two come at a standstill (by holding hands, if not in the conventional way), it's described as 'miraculous'. The anime doesn't include most of it, but interestingly leaves most of the subtext at the end in it. (as in that the fight is animated like a dance) And since the duel ends with them both dying, it can be seen as Together in Death.
  • Buso Renkin: Papillon's obsession with Kazuki. Magnified by how there's already a lot of subtext around Papillon with his flamboyant outfit including speedos and a distinctive butterfly mask.
  • Chrono Crusade has Aion/Chrono. In the manga, Aion is really Chrono's twin brother, unknown to him, and actually cares quite a bit for Chrono. The anime adaptation included a scene where Aion holds Chrono's face in his hands and leans so close while speaking to him that their lips are almost touching. He also has a bit of In Love with Your Carnage for Chrono in both versions.
  • Clover has Barus and Kazuhiko's innuendo-laden dialogue. Barus is especially fond of Kazuhiko, and likes to call him his "prince." And snuggle with his severed hand at night.
  • In Date A Live, Kurumi at first sought out Shido to consume him and take the mana of the three Spirits he had sealed up to that point. Her behaviour towards him seems to oscillate between "I really want to eat you and take your power" and "I really want to pin you down to the bed and screw your brains out", making little flirting gestures like licking him and nibbling him, to make him squirm. After he nearly gave his life protecting her from Kotori, she has seemingly garnered a genuine affection for him.
  • Death Note has Serial Killer Light and Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist L, who (willingly, at least on one side) become handcuffed together for an indeterminate amount of time. Light's girlfriend Misa immediately protests by saying "Light is mine and I don't want to share him with you!" There was also that time when L gave Light a foot massage.
  • Gunsmith Cats:
    • This defines the relationship between Rally Vincent and the Big Bad Goldie Musou in the manga, even though it's decidedly one-sided, with Goldie's desire to possess Rally, body and soul is the main reason for their conflict. There's also some Foe Yay between Rally and the Jerk with a Heart of Gold rival/enemy/ally Bean Bandit.
    • To a lesser degree, the relationship between Goldie and Rally's junior sidekick Misty Brown. In one scene Misty drugged senseless in her underwear, in the next Misty in leather bondage gear, crying. And in the last book of the series the two end up in a consensual relationship! Seriously!
  • Heavy Metal L-Gaim: Lampshaded by The Hero Daba Myroad in chapter 15, as seen in the quote above. Unknown Rival Gablet's became so driven and so obsessive with defeating Daba that sometimes it sounded like if he had a crush on him.
  • K has three varieties of this, with the top 3 members of the Red Clan, HOMRA, and the Blue Clan, Scepter 4.
    • The Red King, Mikoto Suoh, and the Blue King, Reisi Munakata, are a more classic example. It helps that neither neither are "bad guys" just in an Order vs. Chaos situation that escalates by the time of s1 when Mikoto's Morality Chain is killed. Reisi even goes through a variation of Antagonist in Mourning after s1, to the point he might die from a Democles Down.
    • Their seconds, Izumo Kusanagi and Seri Awashima, are friendly enemies, sharing information somewhat and having nice conversations, though they do go at each other in a fight.
    • Their thirds, Misaki Yata and Saruhiko Fushimi, are the former-friend variety (though neither side is evil). Saruhiko left HOMRA and joined Scepter 4, which Misaki took as a grave betrayal (though it doesn't help that Saruhiko invoked being seen as a traitor due to his issues). When they fight, it's clear there's more going on under that. It's even more obvious in side materials, which seems to suggest Everyone Can See It and Saruhiko being repeatedly reminded of Misaki while Misaki himself repeatedly shows that underneath the bluster he misses Saruhiko as well and tries to repair the relationship.
  • Little Witch Academia (2017): Chariot and Croix often get into violent confrontations due to their clashing ideologies. Croix has a tendency to attack Chariot with hordes of robots, knowing full well that Chariot can easily defeat them. But whenever Chariot gets hurt (such as while trying to protect Akko from Croix's robots), Croix freaks and throws her plans aside to save Chariot.
  • Loveless:
    • Soubi with two of the main villains, one being Ritsu-sensei in which they actually were sort of in a relationship (Ritsu took his ears) and Soubi was upset when Ritsu gave him to Semei. But they're both just sort of neutral to each other now. And, of course, Semei, with Soubi's obsession to obey the man's every word, despite how he purposefully abandoned him and replaced him with his real Beloved fighter Nisei. However, Soubi's obsession could be because of the way he was trained and nothing more.
    • Ritsuka and Semei. Though Semei doesn't see Ritsuka as his enemy, Ritsuka is kind of torn on what Semei is, exactly, due to what people have told him about him and many unanswered questions. Such as why he faked his death.
  • Inspector Zenigata, who chases after Gentleman Thief Lupin III, is rumoured to be married. To a lady. Huh. Could've fooled everyone. (It's actually rather sweet how his life falls apart whenever he's taken off the Lupin case.) This is even Lampshaded in Lupin III (Blue Jacket). When Zenigata tries to crash Lupin's wedding, Rebecca assumes that he's Lupin's jealous ex-boyfriend.
  • Michiko Malandro and Atsuko Jackson in Michiko & Hatchin. Michiko even flat out implies that Atsuko used to get aroused whenever Michiko would beat her up or overpower her when they were younger.
  • In Mother Keeper, Turkes has one on Ricalna; even Adam who didn't see what happened between them could tell. Turkes makes comments about wanting to make Ricalna his man at least twice, willingly gives him whatever information he has and has No Sense of Personal Space when it comes to Ricalna.
  • Naruto: It's been stated that the sharingan awakens with the loss of a loved one. Madara Uchiha awoke his sharingan when he ended his friendship with Hashirama Senju, who would eventually become (though reluctantly) his Arch-Enemy. Even into the modern day, after both men have long passed, when Madara is revived he starts bashing on the Five Kage for not being as good as Hashirama, and is obsessed with having a rematch when he senses his enemy's chakra. Hashirama, for his part, is perhaps the character most sympathetic to Madara, speculating that all of Madara's actions are ultimately him lashing out in grief after his brother Izuna's death.
  • Tabool in Now and Then, Here and There is unhealthily obsessed with garnering any attention whatsoever from his best-friend-turned-rival, Nabuca, to the point that he gets jealous of a freaking six-year-old. Long story short: Nabuca continues to reject Tabool and it does not end well.
  • Phi Brain: Puzzle of God gives us Rook and Kaito. The two were childhood friends. Unfortunately, Rook was taken away as a child and eventually became a Tyke Bomb who determined that Kaito was the perfect candidate for Phi Brain, a program filled with Death Trap puzzles, the ultimate goal of which is to create the perfect puzzle solver. It Makes Sense in Context. As Kaito solves puzzles, Rook gushes over how beautiful he is when doing so. He even concocts a plan to convince Kaito that the best thing to do is to leave his True Companions behind and join him. It doesn't work. He gets very angry when Kaito's Love Interest, Nonoha, displays how close she and Kaito are. When Kaito finally makes it clear that he will never join POG, the conglomerate Rook works for, Rook goes into a mad rage, screaming that Kaito is his and that he has to join him. Rook's personal Dragon needs to hold him back from making a grab at Kaito himself.
  • Seraph of the End:
    • Ferid has this occasionally with Krul. He flirts with her, calls her beautiful, and says he's in love with her after she cuts off his hand. When he attacks her from behind in another scene, tells her that her beautiful neck is wide open, and bites her. He also demands for her to submit to him.
    • Ferid once patted Mika on the butt and a dream of Yuu's shows Ferid revealing Mika's shoulder, holding him close, and biting him suggestively.
    • In chapter 46 Ferid drives up in his car and holds out his hand to Mika and Yuu, with a flirtatious look and teasingly saying "I heard you two were being attacked by a dangerous vampire so I came to your rescue. Come take a ride with me. I'll save you." He plays mind games with Yuu and Mika throughout the chapter, and when Yuu turns into a demon to attack Ferid for showing them Akane's head Ferid tells Mika he's "worried for the poor guy (Yuu)" because he's says Yuu could turn into a full demon. He states he has an antidote to cure Yuu and tells Shinoa "Let us go rescue dear Yuu." Mika is adamant to keep Ferid from getting near Yuu and says "I won't let you have your way with him!" Ferid smiles and says he just wants to help Yuu. Mika says he's not going to let Ferid touch him. Crowley engages Mika in a fight while Ferid states cheerfully "Now precious Yuu is all mine." Ferid approaches Yuu and blushes saying "Wow! Haven't you grown into the cute one!! Your demon is on the verge of rampage yet you still have such clear and beautiful eyes. No wonder you are the extra special guinea pig." He then lifts Yuu's face by his chin and gets close saying "Perhaps before I heal you I'll take a little sip of your blood." Yuu asks if there's something in it for him if he allows Ferid to suck his blood. Ferid says he got the curse suppressant from Guren and it's the same one he takes. Yuu demands Ferid tells him everything he knows and Ferid smiles, covers Yuu's mouth with his hand, says "Oh, you are cute" and bites him while gripping his shoulder and hand. He then "cures" Yuu of his advancing demon curse while holding him close and leaning his head on Yuu's shoulder.
  • In one episode of Sonic X, during a fighting tournament, Rouge fights Tails and beats him... by kissing him. A few episodes earlier, she essentially flirts with Knuckles.
  • Akagi and Uozumi have this in Slam Dunk. It's been mentioned that Uozumi talks about defeating Akagi everyday and from what we've seen, this is probably not an exaggeration. He almost instantly took an interest in Akagi when he first saw him, cheered him on during the Kainan game, and his rivalry with him is his main motivation for improving. Even after quitting basketball he still travels all the way to Hiroshima just to see Akagi play and even gives him advice in the middle of a game. On Akagi's side he considers Uozumi the better player (despite what everyone else says) and has a great deal of respect for him. This is even mocked at times, such as when they hug and cry on each other's shoulder.
  • Ayeka and Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo!. Depending on which Alternate Continuity you choose, they are old childhood acquaintances or mortal enemies, but they always fight — and not just over Tenchi's affections. In at least one alternate world glimpsed during an Alternate Universe episode of the television series, though, they are clearly in a relationship with each other, though outside forces were involved.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Eto varies in one chapter between getting close to Kaneki to lick his face, reveal her fondness for him and how they're Not So Different, and declaring her love for him as he's tossing her off the building. Further subtext can be read into the fact that he eats her kakuja after defeating her.
    • Torso kidnaps Mutsuki, dresses him in a white gown, puts a wedding ring on his finger, and cuts off his arms and legs to prevent him from leaving. He tells him they are going to get married while showing him his cut off legs and arms. In another chapter following that he is depicted shirtless and breathing heavily while standing before Mutsuki and saying "My Tooru" which has disturbing implications. In the fourth volume he details how he has a Lack of Empathy and is aroused by dead bodies and Mutsuki especially to the point of masturbation. With his previous lovers whom he abducted he mentions in his diary how when they show their distaste for him and his actions he retaliates by destroying their faces. He believes he just has to get Mutsuki alone and have a long talk with him to get him to return his love and says that his feelings for Mutsuki might end up being his salvation. He also gets really excited when fighting Mutsuki and says they are connected by knives. He also informs Mutsuki that he's infatuated with him because of his eyes which are the same as his. In chapter 73 of re: Torso brings Mutsuki a flower crown, and waxes romantically about how beautiful Mutsuki is but gets angry when Mutsuki glares at him and won't accept his compliments. He beats Mutsuki violently while screaming insults. Later, the two are lying together on a makeshift futon. Torso says that he only "scolds" Mutsuki because of how deep his love is, and Mutsuki cries while agreeing. He promises to show Mutsuki a field of flowers. In chapter 78 Torso watches Mutsuki as he's sleeping, wipes away his tears, feeds him, and they share their Dark and Troubled Past. Mutsuki actually finds himself feeling sorry for Torso and Torso sees Mutsuki as a replacement for his only friend whom was abused, dismembered, and eaten by his father shortly afterward. At the end of the chapter Torso picks up Mutsuki presumably to take him to the beach which he had wanted to do with his friend and the text at the end reads "Because I love you, I'll take you." A couple entries in the 2016 calendar feature the following: Mutsuki dressed as a Cat Girl being fawned over by Torso, Torso holding girly underwear he's showing Mutsuki, and writing a love letter to Mutsuki. In the letter he states he would love to drive Mutsuki places and says he would help him dress, bathe, and eat. He says of course he would need help doing all of that because he would have no arms and legs and that he loves him.
  • In Wolf Guy - Wolfen Crest, there's the Big Bad Haguro Dou, who is the young son of a powerful Yakuza boss, and who becomes completely obsessed with protagonist (and werewolf) Inugami. He initially doesn't care about or even think twice about Inugami... until he pushes Inugami too far, which results in Inugami showing him his true form and scaring the shit out of Haguro. Haguro goes insane from it, and stalks Inugami after that, cutting himself all over his arm and carving the word "Inu" onto his hand. Haguro has been shown after that to, while having sex with his girlfriend Ryuuko (who also lusts after Inugami and thinks about him while having sex with Haguro), think only about Inugami, and screams his name while imagining him. Later, Haguro ends up raping his male subordinate to death, while again thinking of Inugami. And after Inugami decides he's had enough of this shit and tries to move away, Haguro, being the stalker he is, tries desperately to do stuff to piss Inugami off so that he'll come back.
  • The Familiar of Zero: In the fourth season's OP, Louise gets licked on her face by a new, evil purple-haired girl named Janette and the girl hugs Louise close to her with a blushing Louise struggling to get away. And in episode two Janette tricks Louise by pretending to be a plebeian, gets close to her face, and licks her again. She also touches her face and says that if things had worked out different they could have been friends. She also calls Louise "cute and innocent".
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi's Chick Magnet powers work even on his arch-nemesis Fate, their encounters becoming more and more romantically charged each time they meet. Eventually it reaches the point where Negi's other rivals for his affection worry about the extra competition.
  • The end of Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion transforms what was regular Homoerotic Subtext into this, as Homura becomes the devil of the new world, imprisoning Madoka against her will, all to make her happy.
  • Food Wars!: In a world where cooking is a highly personal art, eating Soma's food brings Erina to orgasm. He singlehandedly shakes all her deeply-entrenched beliefs about culinary elitism so deeply that she spends several scenes alone, in her room, just pondering him. One of Soma's driving goals is to make a dish she'll admit to liking, and Erina goes to great lengths to get him out of their school because she's afraid that he might succeed. They soon become Worthy Opponents, despite Soma being this nobody peasant first-year and Erina being a renowned School Idol.
  • In Danganronpa 3, most of Munakata's inner turmoil stems from the fact that his Implied Love Interest was really, really evil, which he only learns after she's been brutally killed. He can't reconcile his grief for her with his hatred for all things Despair, which is foreshadowed in a scene where he, um, stabs her corpse while sighing her name. The fanbase capitalized on this opportunity to make Freudian jokes, even more so after Munakata admits that, in spite of everything she's done, part of him still wishes Chisa were alive.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: When any of Yuya's counterparts meet, they run the risk of absorbing the other or fusing back into their original form, Zarc. When he accidentally absorbs Yugo, the villainous Yuri makes it his mission to do the same with the others. He purposely plays up his attempts as a romantic pursuit, saying that Yuya is begging to be with him, and that they'll be together even if Yuya's father doesn't approve. However, this is likely Yuri being a troll, as per the norm.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: Yusaku had been searching for the person who saved him during the Lost Incident/Hanoi Project. For ten years. Yusaku is sixteen. Turns out the voice was Revolver. Yusaku ''still'' wants to save him though and only fought him because he couldn't be convinced otherwise.
    • It doesn't help that Revolver himself got obsessed with finding Playmaker's real identity that he was willing to delay enacting the Tower of Hanoi, which was guaranteed to succeed just to fight him. Then he lied to his father, someone he respects so much and placed his interests far above his own, when asked if he knew his identity already.
    • Yusaku gets this in season three with Ai. Despite Ai's crimes, Yusaku is still willing to pardon him and tells him to flee instead of turning him in, and Ai eventually reveals his motive to be Yusaku's survival and forces Yusaku to kill him, finally telling Yusaku he loves him while dying in his arms.
  • One Piece: The twisted relationship between Arch-Enemies Trafalgar Law and Donquixote Doflamingo is chock full of this, though it's mainly on the latter's end. Doflamingo is Ambiguously Bi, and has flirted with Law, offering to go out with him for drinks that he is all grown up. Then it's revealed that Law was intended to be his right-hand man, and even after Law left the crew, he was welcomed back at any time, with Doflamingo even keeping his specific position open for thirteen years. When they have their Final Battle alongside Luffy, that's when the subtext comes out full force — Doflamingo continuously beats Law down, shooting him full of bullets and at one point cutting his arm off, all while ranting about Law's numerous betrayals like a Crazy Jealous Guy, clearly resenting the fact that Law continuously chose others over him, as Doflamingo views himself as Law's true benefactor. After Law reveals he is a D, the mortal enemy of a (former) World Noble like Doflamingo, that's the point where he just full on snaps, goes into Yandere mode and tries to kill him ala If I Can't Have You... Doflamingo's obsession with Law surpasses the self-centered fondness he has for his loyal crew to such an extent that the romantic subtext becomes that much stronger and more obvious in comparison.
  • Durarara!!: Shizuo Heiwajima and Izaya Orihara. Hate at First Sight meeting, obsessive loathing (to the point that Shizuo flies into a rage just by seeing Izaya), No Sense of Personal Space — it's like a love story, except you replace every instance of "like" and "love" with "despise" and "hate". Considering how the subtext is so strong that other characters have seriously considered the possibility of at least a "hate sex" relationship, while an In-Universe Fangirl outright ships it, all signs point to the Foe Yay being intentional.
  • In Boarding School Juliet, Char is envious that Romeo's feelings for their shared crush are requited, so she blackmails him into carrying her on all fours like a horse. (It doesn't make much more sense in context.)
    • The Alternate Character Interpretation that Juliet always had feelings for Romeo and just didn't realize them is popular, mostly because of the chapter title sketch which shows her gazing at him from afar while holding flowers.
  • Detatoko Princess has Topaz collect girls from all over and plan to add Lapis to her collection, and she grows very concerned when one of her groupies comes close to actually killing her. Lapis, for her part, is completely oblivious.

    Comic Books 
  • Made explicit in Mark Waid's Irredeemable, in which the genius supervillain Modeus (a clear Lex Luthor expy) explicitly confesses a very disturbing obsession with the Plutonian (himself an expy of Superman).
  • The Joker often makes comments toward Batman of this nature, talking about their relationship as though it were romantic and making flirtatious advances. It's not clear if this is out of some actual attraction or simply to make Batman uncomfortable. To say nothing of how in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth he slaps Batman's ass.
    • This aspect of his criminal activity is expanded on in The Dark Knight Returns from the very first scene, as he sees Batman's return to active crime-fighting reported on the news and segues from dis-interested catatonia to his old grin and the quiet declaration, "Darling." He goes on to mention how he never keeps count but loves Batman for doing it for him and outright flirts as they try to finish each other (each in his own way) in the Tunnel of Love, of all places.
    • In Death of the Family, Batman has an internal monologue about how the Joker's eyes never change, never revealing anything about his thoughts or emotions. Except for love for Batman.
  • in Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , a flirtatious relationship gradually develops between the American ninja John Doe and the Soviet KGB leader Colonel Novikova... to the consternation of their subordinates and comrades.
  • Superman and Lex Luthor clearly have something going on, even if Lex is more recalcitrant about it than the Joker is with Batman. It is genuinely explicit that jealousy of Superman is a major motivating force for Lex; the exact nature of that jealousy, however, can vary quite a bit from the usual platonic state.
    • In the Silver Age, Superboy kept a trophy room of mementos of Luthor before he turned evil, including some of his lost hair. Note that before he turned evil, Lex likewise had a Superboy room.
    • When Superman died, Lex immediately arranged for him to be cloned - with the clone having genes added in from Lex himself, making the new Superboy for all intents and purposes the biological son of Superman and Lex Luthor.
    • In the nineties, Lex had an ongoing affair with Supergirl, who, in that version, was a shape-shifter, and there was at least one scene where she used her shape-shifting to flirt with him. You have to wonder how often he asked her to wear her costume to bed.
  • It's usually one-sided, but X-23 is subject to this:
    • Her arch-nemesis, Kimura, is positively obsessed with her. She sees Laura's escape from the Facility as a personal insult, and whenever she catches up to her delights in punishing her for "being a bad girl." Much of her other behavior tends towards being stalkerish in nature, she calls her endearments such as "sweetie," enjoys physically and emotionally tormenting her, and threatens harm against Laura's actual love interest at the time, all the while giving her the vibe of a Psycho Ex-Girlfriend.
    • She also gets it with Hellverine in her solo series. He stalks her because he desires her to lead his armies, but he also gives the impression he just plain desires her. He captures her other Stalker with a Crushnote  and presents him to her as a gift, approaches her in the form of a naked Cyclops while complimenting her beauty and skill as a killer, (while also belittling her and claiming she was made to obey a master) all the while approaching her with intimate gestures such as touching her cheek and stroking her hair.
    • When she meets Sabretooth while they're both imprisoned by Shogun during The Logan Legacy, Creed wastes no time making suggestive comments and touching her hair. Even more subtext is provided by the fact that Creed has long had a similar obsession with Wolverine, and Laura is effectively Logan's daughter.
  • Parodied in "He Tied Me To A Buzzsaw (And It Felt Like A Kiss)", a Cobweb story from Tomorrow Stories in which Cobweb narrates the story of her rivalry with a supervillain called the Mongoose as if it was a love affair. It ends with her finding him tying another superheroine up, and killing both of them.
  • Artemis hates Kanto for playing with her and her emotions during their relationship, which she thinks was false on his end. While Kanto never quite corrects her to her face he does actually care about her as is on display in issue 126 of Wonder Woman (1987) where he has her dead to rights but knocks her out instead and then sets her somewhere where his allies won't kill her and she won't be trampled during the battle.

    Films — Animation 
  • Like in the comic it was based on, the first half of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns ends with The Joker, who's been rendered catatonic for years due to Batman vanishing, hears mention of his old foe on the news and makes a full recovery.
    Joker: B-Batman... darling...
  • The LEGO Batman Movie takes the subtext between Joker and Batman's rivalry and cranks it about as far as they can go in a PG family movie. Batman refuses to form connections with anyone, even his enemies, so his refusal to call the Joker his greatest foe is played like an unrequited love, with the other villains reassuring Joker that he "doesn't need" Batman.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In America 3000, the women of Frisco and Kansos in Colorado have an entire mythology built up around hating the men and wanting to exterminate them, and the free men Korvis leads in his compound at Camp Reagan have generally adopted a similarly hostile attitude toward the women. So why does the young Vena smirk and take a good long look when her mother cuts off young Korvis' loincloth near the beginning? Why, when Korvis and his men later raid Frisco, does he get distracted and linger over the sleeping form of the newly-crowned Tiara Vena in her shelter? Because of perfectly natural desires, and because they're going to get it together with each other later, that's why.
  • James Bond:
    • There was more than a bit of homoeroticism between Bond and Alec in GoldenEye.
      Alec: James and I used to share everything... absolutely everything.
    • Bond/Le Chiffre from Casino Royale (2006). When your naked torture scene begins with the villain eyeing Bond up and saying "You've taken good care of your body"... This is more explicit in the novel where Le Chiffre addresses Bond as "dear boy" during the scene, and Fleming based him on the bisexual Alastair Crowley.
    • Skyfall throws "implications" right out the window with Silva's opening scene, where Bond is tied to a chair and Silva unbuttons his shirt to touch a scar on Bond's shoulder, continues to caress his throat, and strokes Bond's thighs. Bond responds to Silva's quiet snark, "Well... first time for everything, yes?" with "What makes you think this is my first time?"
  • Batman and The Joker in The Dark Knight ("You complete me!") One reviewer described the delivery of that line as "like a bride to a groom". The Joker also pretty clearly enjoys Batman beating him. This particular bit of subtext goes back a long way, and has become more or less canon in the comics.
  • While Xerxes, as portrayed in 300, appears to be into everything, and his feelings were not reciprocated, his interest in Leonidas certainly appeared to be more than political. The director felt that the teenage boy demographic would find Xerxes scarier if he was presented as a Depraved Homosexual intent on molesting the protagonist.
  • Roxy/Velma from Chicago. Even besides the whole Girls Behind Bars aspect of it, Roxy and Velma do spend a lot of time glaring at each other while wearing nothing but skimpy underwear. And during the last number they seem... a lot more friendly.
  • Dirty Harry. Scorpio's reaction to seeing Inspector Callahan's .44 Magnum revolver for the first time. "My, that's a big one." Reportedly actor Andrew Robinson ad-libbed that line, which made the crew laugh. One of many allusions to Scorpio's stereotypical "gayness", along with the hair and the whiny, murderous hissy fits.
  • There is a strong albeit disturbed vibe from Hannibal Lector towards Will Graham in Red Dragon.
    "Clever boy. I think I'll eat your heart."
  • In Scanners II: The New Order, The Dragon Peter Drak makes a point of repeatedly referring to protagonist David Kellum as a "pretty boy", "Davie", and commenting on his "pretty eyes".
  • Fight Club. Aside from the fact that they're basically the same person, there's a large amount of subtext between The Narrator and Tyler, as Tyler is the epitome of everything the Narrator wishes he were, compared to the Narrator's docile, repressed sexuality. The movie opens with Tyler shoving the barrel of a gun down the Narrator's throat, they live together, bathe together, spend their nights beating each other to a pulp while shirtless and covered in sweat, and let's not forget the chemical burn scene, in which Tyler kisses the Narrator's hand and holds him down while he burns him, and Marla's almost jealous reaction when she sees the scar ("Who did that to you? Guy or girl?"). There's also the Narrator's jealousy and subsequent brutal beat-down of the pretty blond guy who started to seem like Tyler's new favorite.
  • Seymour and Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. In its first Villain Song "Feed Me", Audrey II (who is named after the woman Seymour loves, by the way) seduces more than convinces Seymour to aid him. Audrey II sings to him "feed me all night long", puts one of its roots up Seymour's shirt, and forces Seymour into a chair before bringing him uncomfortably close to his face. Audrey later pulls Seymour's pants down (to punch him in the scrotum, but still). And in his later Villain Song "Mean Green Mother From Outerspace", in a brief part Audrey says: "I got garden style, major moves, nasty thoughts, and I'm using them."
  • X-Men: First Class: Erik with Charles, to the point where Television Without Pity gave them the "Best Couple" award. Also present in the original X-Men trilogy. It's supported both by James McAvoy (who plays Xavier in First Class) and Ian McKellen (who plays Magneto in the other films). A bit of a variation on this trope in that they're actually friends despite their opposing goals and the subtext comes from the friendship rather than hostility.
  • Deliberately inferred in the original The Hitcher, to the point where it creeps out the cops to watch the lead characters interact in the interrogation room.
  • L.A. Confidential: Half the characters are convinced there's something more to detectives Bud White and Ed Exley's rivalry than just hatred.
    Jack: [to Ed] Bud White's gonna fuck you for this if it takes him the rest of his life.
    Lynn:: [also to Ed] Fucking me and fucking Bud aren't the same thing.
  • Lupin III: Dead or Alive: While Zenigata is leading a captured Lupin (or rather, the local bartender Lupin disguised as himself) to their helicopter pickup, the good inspector is speaking boastfully of the peaceful life he will lead after turning Lupin's trial and finally going home. He discusses two names he discarded; War (because he didn't want to upset his female readers) and Love and and War (because he didn't want people to get the wrong idea about the two of them).
  • Black Widow (1987). There's overt Les Yay between the Black Widow and the female federal agent who's investigating her, from their first face-to-face encounter during a resuscitation exercise.
  • I Shot Jesse James: While they don't start out as foes, Jesse James and Robert Ford definitely have this going on. Even though Ford plans to (and eventually does) kill Jesse, he helps Jesse take a bath and is tortured by his decision to murder Jesse years afterward. Though Bob's Dying Declaration of Love towards Jesse sort of removes the subtext part.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi turns up the subtext between Kylo Ren/Ben Solo and Rey from The Force Awakens. Connected by a Psychic Link they initially treat with hostility, they slowly begin to warm up, bond and empathize with each other over their mutual loneliness and sense of loss in the galaxy. Rey is flustered when she accidentally sees him shirtless through their Force bond, the pair of them have several long held gazes, they touch hands at one point despite not being physically nearby, and Ben holds out his hand when he asks her, in a pleading manner, to join him after he kills his master. Becomes text in The Rise of Skywalker, wherein after spending much of the movie fighting each other, including Rey landing a fatal wound and then healing him, telling him she cares for Ben, not Kylo, he returns to the Light and sacrifices his life for hers, after which they share a kiss before he dies.

  • Hrathen towards Sarene, in Elantris. Later turns from subtext to Love Epiphany, although the latter character remains totally oblivious to any of this.
  • In Loyal Enemies, Shelena and Veres are nominally mortal enemies, what with her being a werewolf and him a monster hunter specialized in werewolves. But setting aside Shelena's questionable decision to drag him half-dead out of a ditch and take him home to heal, there's some increasing romance subtext between them as the book goes on. Forced to work together, they have to share her hut, ride on the same horse and spend nights talking at the campfire. Shelena just can't keep her paws off Veres, sticking feathers up his nose at night and getting almost stabbed for her trouble. Veres, on his part, is very interested when the talk comes to Shelena's preferences in men, and he's always just around the corner when Shelena has gotten herself into trouble again. When asked by Delirna how Veres is in bed, instead of denying anything, Shelena's answer is 'Like a corpse.' And when Shelena almost dies from an arrow wound, Veres uses his own life force to drag her back from the brink of death. Enemies, mortal ones. Sure.
    Eventually, Shelena has a Love Epiphany, but that doesn't put the subtext to rest until the very end of the book, as Veres' point of view is never shown.
  • Berlin Alexanderplatz: Seen in the interactions between Franz Biberkopf and Reinhold. The latter screws over the protagonist Biberkopf, time and time again, but Biberkopf keeps showing forgiveness for him. In the tv-adaptation by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the queer subtext is made even more blatant:
    Narrator: Reinhold and Biberkopf stare fixedly at each other. The one-armed man has no pity for the man in the prisoner's box between the two policemen...he has only a curious devotion for him. I once had a faithful comrade, never a better one could there be. I must look at him, keep on looking at him, nothing seems more important than to look at you. The world is made of sugar and dirt. I can look at you quietly, without batting an eye. I know who you are. I now find you here, m'boy, in the prisoner's box, outside I'll meet you a thousand times more, but my heart will not turn to stone on account of that.
  • Cold Days: In between Mab's attempts to kill Harry Dresden, she gets very touchy-feely with him. The subtext is heightened by their plot-related sex in the previous book. Also the fact that as Winter Knight, being the consort to the Winter Queens is one of Harry's official duties.
    Mab moved very slowly, very gracefully. There was something serpentine about the way she slithered up my body and lay with her chest against mine. (...) [She] made a low, hungry sound in her throat as she leaned down, until her lips were almost touching my ear.
    "I have no use for weakness, wizard." She shivered in a kind of slow, alien ecstasy.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Feyre and Rhys, so much. The fact that they have to act as lovers multiple times, including a rather handsy kiss, does not help. By the end of the second book, it's no longer "foe" or "subtext".
  • In The Witchlands, Safi is annoyed to find out that the "Chiseled Cheat" - the man who stole all her money, now revealed to be a Hell-Bard, hunting Safi - is still very attractive despite being her enemy.
  • The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign is about the conflict between Kyousuke and the White Queen, who used to date until she broke her promise to not kill anyone. Then she broke it again to protect him in the Secret War. Currently his goal is to kill her, and her goal is to make him love her again.
    “We will never understand each other.”
    <And that is why I love you.>
    “I can’t join you.”
    <Doesn’t that just make it all the more exciting?>
  • In the pornographic book Crystals of Mida, Jalav and Ceralt both rape the other, depending on which side is currently winning the war between their races.
  • Captive Prince: Even when they still hate each other, Damen is put off by how attracted he is to Laurent.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Spike and Angel are half this, half regular Homoerotic Subtext, depending on how antagonistic Spike is in the specific episode.
  • Babylon 5: Londo and G'Kar start off as fierce rivals, with Londo revealing in the first regular episode ("Midnight on the Firing Line") that he'd had a prophetic dream about his death, where the two of them would choke each other to death some twenty years in the futurenote . As the series progressed, the rivalry waxed and waned (with others often commenting about the two ambassadors' unique relationship), with the two settling into a sort of bickering Friendly Rivalry/Vitriolic Best Buds situation by the end of season four, with the two would often arguing Like an Old Married Couple.
  • In the later seasons of Blake's 7, there is overt innuendo of sexual attraction between the Seven's new leader Avon and Big Bad Servalan. In particular, at the end of the episode "Death-Watch", Avon plants a partially-sincere, partially-"Take That!" Kiss on her, and she doesn't kill him. For Servalan, that's the equivalent of most women ripping their clothes off and leaping on him.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Angelus relentlessly flirts with Buffy and considers his murdering his way through her friends to be foreplay, while Buffy is continually reluctant to kill him because of her feelings towards Angel. That said, the series wavers back and forth on whether Angel and Angelus are separate people or two sides of the same person.
    • Buffy and Faith repeat the same dynamic she had with Angel/us, only with more emotional baggage, complete with "Take That!" Kiss from Faith and both of them acting like spurned girlfriends every time they cross paths. Fast forward to season 7, and the First says everything Faith did was so Buffy would love her.
    • Buffy and Spike had so much of this that eventually, the subtext became text. Becomes a Deconstructed Trope thanks to the Destructive Romance that follows.
    • Giles and Rayne have a whole lot of meaningful eye contact and passionate reminiscing. YMMV on whether this is subtext or Foe Yay Shipping.
    • Glory flirts with everyone as a Running Gag, regardless of gender or physical appearance. This includes Buffy and anyone else she fights, often while she fights.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor and the Master had some of this in discreet 1970s style right from the start, and the twenty-first century show responded to social changes by dumping the "sub" from the subtext altogether.
    • The Doctor sobbing over the Master's body in "Last of the Time Lords" and pleadingly telling him "You could be beautiful" in "The End of Time". And don't even start on Scream of the Shalka (although the Master isn't a foe any more)... There's also that phone call in "The Sound of Drums" where the Doctor says all they have is each other. Then the Master asks if he's asking him on a date. The Doctor responds by offering to fight across the cosmos.
    • While observing from afar, Missy in the eighth season of the Revival Series refers to the Doctor as her "boyfriend". When they finally meet, she starts things off by snogging him in a near-tackle, much to his confusion and horror. Although later, he voluntarily kisses her. Oh, and she's a female incarnation of the Master.
  • Dollhouse: Dr. Claire Saunders passionately hates her colleague Topher Grace for being an Insufferable Genius. As it turns out, she's actually an Active, Whiskey, whose current personality imprint was designed by Topher to be his Commander Contrarian. After discovering this, she spitefully tries to seduce him by crawling into bed with him.
    Topher: Hey, I could whip up a love slave anytime I wanted!
    Saunders: But that wouldn't be a challenge, would it? Slaves are just slaves, but winning over your enemy — the one person guaranteed to reject everything you are — that's real love. More real than anything up there in the world.
  • Spoofed in Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible where the Yellow Peril Diabolical Mastermind and the Gentleman Adventurer Guile Hero are noted in the commentary track to have played it "like they used to be lovers", although it wasn't in the original script and mostly conveyed through the acting. Mark Gatiss explained in the commentary that the relationship between hero and villain is inherently a romantic one, as heroes need villains in order to express their glory and villains need heroes in order to have someone to defeat.
  • Hannibal has the intense, antagonistic yet irresistible draw between the two protagonists, Good Is Not Nice unsociable FBI profiler Will Graham and Affably Evil Cannibal Serial Killer Hannibal Lecter at the core of the entire show. The series ends with the two admitting mutual romantic feelings before disappearing with plans to start new lives together.
  • In Intelligence Mei Chen, a rogue Chinese Intelligence operative into whom Dr. Cassidy implanted a chip under duress, gets very flirty when she encounters Gabriel, likewise a chipped operative. Among other things she compares him to Adam (to her Eve). He is not interested, though he does fake it at one point to lure her in so the team can remotely delete some classified data from her chip.
  • Killing Eve: Eve and Villanelle's mutual obsession with each other makes up half the plot. It's explicitly a Villainous Crush on Villanelle's end, but it's still up in the air if Eve returns the attraction. It is heavily, heavily implied that she does, though she perhaps doesn't realize it herself. (Or, more to the point, doesn't want to realize it. Given who Villanelle is, it's hard to blame her.)
  • Killjoys: Dutch, the protagonist, and Delle Seyah Kendry have what Dutch refers to as "Hate Flirting". Later, Dutch's doppelganger Aneela ends up actively in a relationship with Delle Sayeh.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • James Gillies, the criminal mastermind on the show, kisses Detective William Murdoch on the mouth for a full three seconds towards the end of "Midnight Train to Kingston."
    Gillies: For the last time, this is it for us. Doesn't that make you just... a little bit sad?
    Murdoch: No.
    Gillies: Not even a teensy bit?
    Murdoch: [shakes his head]
    Gillies: Come now, Detective. You and I share something, something... special. I'll miss you, you know that. [grabs Murdoch by the collar and kisses him]
    • There's a prop that foreshadows this in "The Murdoch Trap": a film projector has a nearby placard that says, "Turn Me On". The film is of Gillies himself addressing Murdoch.
  • Sherlock: Jim Moriarty (who Sherlock deduces to be gay at first sight) just loves flirting with Sherlock. It begins from the first message Moriarty sends to Sherlock; Moriarty's very opening words are "Hello, Sexy". They later meet in person when Jim is masquerading as Molly Hooper's boyfriend, and even in disguise Jim overtly flirts with Sherlock, giving him his phone number just like you would to a romantic prospect. Moriarty (as his true self) later talks about this like he's a jilted date:
    Moriarty: I gave you my number. I thought you might call.
  • Smallville:
    • Lex Luthor and Clark Kent go above and beyond the already high bar for homoerotic subtext set by their comic book source material. Just like in the comics via genetic engineering, they basically have a son together. Unlike the comics, there is a Maiden Name Debate of sorts for said son, Alexander Luthor/Conner Kent.
    • Clark has it with both incarnations of Zod. It didn't help that the first was borrowing Lex's body for their final battle.
    • Lois Lane and Tess Mercer. Exhibit A:
      Lois: What is it with you and physical violence?
      Tess: The last time you and I saw each other, things did get a little... physical, didn't they? [wiggles her shoulders suggestively]
      Lois: And then what happened, Tess? Inquiring minds want to know.
      Tess: You don't remember?
      Lois: Well, a three-week concussion can do that to you. But I think that you bonked me on the head and then held me somewhere.
      Tess: Held you? That's wishful thinking, Lane. When I came to, you were already gone. We never did get to finish what we started, though. Little rematch?
    • Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor. This one is canonical (from Lionel's end, anyway; they actually had an Almost Kiss, but Lionel was in Clark's body), at least according to Word of God, since John Glover, the actor who played Lionel, actually said he was putting attraction to Chloe into his portrayal of the character. You can see for yourself here.
  • Supernatural has explicit Dating Catwoman scenarios with Sam/Ruby and (at least on a Heterosexual Life-Partners level) Dean/Crowley. A more subtextual example is Bella's relationship with both Winchesters: They hate her for the many times she's put them into a frustrating situation, but she still talks to them in a flirty way, is very sexy, and her very first interaction with them involves giving Sam a titillating moment while she steals something from him.

  • Jonathan Coulton's Nemeses is this trope, and unrequited obsession, and Unknown Rival. An earlier version of the song made it more clear.
    Could it be that you and me
    Are always meant to be together
    Promise me you'll let me be
    The one, the best of your arch enemies
  • The Megas, a Mega Man (Classic) fan band, have the song "Blue Like You" about Flash Man feeling this for Mega Man.
  • The music video for the K-Pop musical act Troublemaker (comprised of Music/Hyuna of 4minute and Hyunseung of B2ST)'s debut song, Troublemaker, is all about this trope.
  • Miike Snow's Genghis Khan is about a Punch-Clock Villain having captured a James Bond expy. He has the hero strapped to a table with a laser pointed at him but just as he is about to execute him, the clock strikes five and the villain powers down the machine and goes home. As the villain spends time with his perfectly ordinary family, he can't get the hero off his mind even when he's spending time with his wife. The villain eventually freaks out and rushes back to execute the hero to banish the thought of him from his mind... only to realize that he can't bring himself to do, release the hero, and replace his wife with the hero and enjoy a peaceful domestic life together. At the end of the video, the villain's wife has now become a villain herself, and repeats the song's refrain in a sinister fashion:
    I get a little bit Genghis Khan
    Don't want you to get it on
    With nobody else but me
  • Only One Enemy (Единственный враг)by Canzler Gi starts as a story about a man seeking his Worthy Opponent, then slowly escalates and ends on "Dying into the void of unreguited love, I'm waiting for you, my only enemy".

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon. Chris spent nearly all of the Attitude Era insulting Stephanie as much as he could and alluding to her being extremely promiscuous. At one point, he even insinuated that she had slept with everyone on the planet. Everyone, however, did not mean Jericho, which led to a lot of Foe Yay Belligerent Sexual Tension that had numerous fans begging for them to have the planet-cracking hate sex already. At one point, they were even supposed to have an affair to spite Stephanie's then-husband Hunter (who would later on become her real life husband), but the idea was nixed. The tension was so thick that even today, after over a decade of minimal interaction, fans still strongly support the pairing.
  • Kevin Steen and El Generico. They were obsessed with each other. Steen's constant claims about how Generico is an "infection"/"disease" that he needed to get rid of and his fixation on Generico's mask and desire to remove it and show Generico's face to the world, the constant mind games — it all reads as Steen being attracted and/or madly in love with Generico and just sublimating it through intense violence. It was eventually acknowledged onscreen when Steen kissed Generico on the lips during their grudge match at Final Battle 2010.
  • Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have a cross between this and Homoerotic Subtext — ever since their first feud in 2011, in FCW, aka developmental. Things got particularly heated during 2017 where the two kept on flip-flopping each other before finally reuniting as a team and winning the RAW Tag Titles together. Every segment they shared during that summer was chock full of Belligerent Sexual Tension, with two acting like a pair of ex-lovers who still love each other but also still hate each other. The Will They or Won't They? was so bad that even male fans were wondering when they were going to screw each other's brains out.
  • WWE NXT has the former tag team #DIY, between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. Ciampa, being a Yandere, betrayed Gargano at TakeOver: Chicago because he couldn't stand the idea of Gargano "replacing" him with another tag team partnernote ; and if he couldn't wrestle, neither could Gargano. Gargano was completely traumatized by the betrayal, and couldn't really find it in himself to return Ciampa's newfound hatred until Ciampa attacked him at the end of TakeOver: Philadelphia — and even then, he couldn't completely return it until Ciampa cost him his NXT career. After that, the subtext blew up full force; on top of Ciampa regarding Gargano as selfish for trying to move his career forward without him, Gargano started stalking Ciampa in hopes of forcing him to accept a grudge match against him (which eventually succeeded). The actual match itself was so raw with emotion that it was borderline intimate, with many fans stating that they felt like they were voyeurs for watching something so personal. Especially towards the end of the match, where it seemed like Gargano and Ciampa were about to reconcile; despite everything that happened between them, despite now hating him with everything he had, Gargano never quite gave up hope that Ciampa could be redeemed.

  • Played for Laughs in the fifth and final season of Bleak Expectations, where it becomes increasingly obvious to Ripely that her husband and the evil Mr Benevolent do have a romantic relationship.
    Ripely: Oh, look. It's your boyfriend.

  • Coriolanus is a play by Shakespeare about a Roman soldier who has become unable to function without war. One of the ways this is highlighted is by the scenes where he faces his blood enemy Tullus Aufidius, where their dialogue is far more impassioned than those between Coriolanus and his own wife and family. Partway through the play, he turns his back on Rome and seeks out Aufidius, seeking for Aufidius to kill him. Instead, Aufidius embraces him, saying that he is gladder when he sees Coriolanus than his own wife.
    "But that I see thee here,
    Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
    Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
    Bestride my threshold"

    Video Games 
  • Dota 2 between, of all people, Tidehunter and Kunkka. They are established in their backstories as hating each other - Tidehunter's hatred for Kunkka is never explained though, but out of that hatred he sunk his beloved ship. Those are some of the responses they have to each other:
    Kunkka: I never tire of hearing my name on your lips.
    Kunkka: Ah, nobody hated me like Tidehunter. He made me feel appreciated.
    Kunkka: Ah, Tidehunter, you cared enough to hate me. You can't buy that sort of love.
  • Darksiders: A creepy one-sided version of the Watcher towards War. They're magically chained together, with the Watcher imbued with the Charred Council's favor to supervise War. The Watcher's every other line reminds War that he's his bitch, and some of his lines sound a bit less-than-chaste.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Knuckles and Rouge, particularly in Sonic Adventure 2. The two spend the better part of the game at each other's throats, mainly because they both want to restore the Master Emerald after it as broken earlier, albeit for different reasons, noble and selfish respectively. However, in their final confrontation when Rouge was in trouble, Knuckles saved her and the two gazed in each other's eyes while holding hands for a good few seconds before Rouge pulled away in disgust. Knuckles calls her out on her ungrateful attitude, but then Rouge teases that he just wanted to hold her hand. Rouge decides to just give up her pieces and leaves it at that, Knuckles apologizes if he hurt her in their previous fight and Rouge gives a small smile in his direction before departing.
  • League of Legends: Garen and Katarina, both paragons of diametrically opposed city states. They received high compatibility ratings under Blitzcrank's matchmaking service but aren't an official couple. During the game, Garen has unique jokes specifically toward Katarina, which are somewhat flirty.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has Phosphora and Pit, the former going on several times about how cute the latter is, much to his embarrassment. Palutena has to remind Pit that Phosphora is an enemy.
  • Portal drops several hints that GLaDOS's fixation on Chell goes beyond the usual Kill All Humans motivation, with lines such as "Despite your violent behavior, the only thing you've managed to break so far... is my heart." It could be unintentional... but then Portal 2 ramps it up further, giving GLaDOS every Psycho Lesbian trope in the book, and she frequently tries to guilt trip Chell using language common to abusive partners. This culminates in "Want You Gone", a Break-Up Song in everything but name. The Final Hours of Portal 2 reveals that a cut plotline had GLaDOS growing increasingly jealous as the player collected personality cores, culminating in them entering a room to be greeted with the sight of a cold roast dinner, at which point GLaDOS would berate them for missing dinner because they were busy cheating on her with a personality core. In "You Wouldn't Know", the credits song of LEGO Dimensions, GLaDOS tries to make Chell jealous, shows resentment over her keeping away, and reminisces over "how much we had".
  • City of Heroes has former Heterosexual Life-Partners, Statesman and Lord Recluse as the main hero and villain of the game. When they got their powers they worked together for a time, until Statesman found his B.F.F. was set on using them for evil, and left to fight evil - Statesman feels Lord Recluse's power drove him to abandon morality, Lord Recluse feels Statesman's power drove him to become self-rightous.Statesman has an entirely unironic hope that they can be B.F.F.s again even while beating up Lord Recluse's mooks; As for Lord Recluse, the entire villain zone is a monument to getting even with the man who dumped him. This was played subtley at first but as Statesman has a chance to kill Lord Recluse and refuses on hopes he can be rehibilitated, and Lord Recluse refuses any plan for world domination that does not involve Statesman eating some humble pie by being given the chance and failing to stop him - both are demonstrated to be invested in eachother above all else.

This goes a step futher in the Who Will Die arc where Statesman is killed by a no name villain, looking to steal his powers - which kills Statesman as they are all that was keeping his 150+ year old butt alive. Lord Recluse flips the hell out, nukes the orbiting lair of the villain responsibe then takes a rocket ship up and proceeds to deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown for daring to kill HIS arch-enemy.

  • In the Shantae games, Risky Boots' attitude towards the eponymous heroine frequently oscillates between despising her and wanting to tumble in bed with her. In Pirate's Curse, there's a scene where Risky traps Shantae in a trap disguised as a bathtub and seems very excited from her dialogue that the trap worked. In the ending of Risky's Revenge, there's a very specifically placed line break so Risky's Just Between You and Me speech to Shantae comes across as wanting to "strip you [...] of your powers". According to the developers this was fully intended.
  • In Tekken, there's quite a bit of this between Emilie "Lili" de Rochefort and her rival Asuka Kazama. Mostly (if not entirely) on Lili's end, though.
  • Subverted in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Nazi Evil Matriarch Frau Engel has a lot of suggestive dialogue with the Polish/Jewish all-American Action Hero B.J Blazkowicz, but she is doing it purely to mess with him. She doesn't even stop when she has him literally on a chopping block.
  • Downplayed in Hades: Zagreus and Warm-Up Boss Megaera are exes, and Megaera is tasked with stopping Zagreus from escaping. Needless to say, a lot of their former relationship, both romantic and familiar, leaks into their pre-fight banter and taunts as they're clearly not over each other.

    Web Animation 
  • Tom and Tord from Eddsworld are believed to have this by quite a few people.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Farce of the Three Kingdoms, Jiang Wei and Deng Ai are archenemies who supposedly hate each other... but they're also quite obsessed with one another, get jealous, and have very suggestive fight scenes.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball "The Ex", Gumball's Arch-Enemy Rob deciding to be Banana Joe's nemesis instead is treated like a breakup. Gumball takes it badly and tries to win back Rob's enmity. Gumball even tries dressing up like a banana and pleading that "[he] can change!" Gumball's girlfriend Penny finds the whole situation ridiculous.
  • Numbuh Five and her former candy hunting partner Heinrich Von Marzipan in Codename: Kids Next Door. Many of their interactions come off like ones between ex-romantic partners, not to mention their habit of calling one another by special nicknames (Liebchen and Heiny, respectively). Not to mention their making up after Numbuh Five managed to free Henrietta from being cursed to be a boy.
    Numbuh Five: Heinrich, what happened to you? You've become a monster!
    Heinrich: Ooh, you noticed.
  • In Grossology, we have Abby and Chester/Kid Rot. There are hints in the latter's debut episode that he and Abby have a thing for each other. It only becomes more obvious when Chester becomes Kid Rot permanently, which is when he starts obsessing over her. Abby, meanwhile, still likes Chester, but it's shown that she prefers him to Kid Rot, making the whole “foe yay” thing on her side a bit ambiguous.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Magic Duel" has The Great And Powerful Trixie outright stating that defeating Twilight Sparkle became her highest priority after she (indirectly) humiliated her, and after her defeat Twilight focuses all of her attention into defeating Trixie in a re-match, complete with the gem "I can't stop thinking about Trixie!".
    • Discord spends "The Return of Harmony" creeping on all of the mane six, especially Twilight, what with frequently invading her personal space, picking her up and hugging her, and at one point he strokes her face. And while he exchanges maybe half a dozen lines with Celestia all of them are said in a playful, flirtatious manner, including "Did you miss me, Celestia? I missed you...".
      • "Keep Calm and Flutter On" has Discord up to his usual tricks, faking affection for Fluttershy so that he can convince her to not use her Element against him. It's over by the end of the episode though, what with his Heel–Face Turn.
      • Even when he's reformed, Discord inflicts this on Twilight in the Season 4 episode "Three's A Crowd". If anything, it's even more pronounced than in his first appearance. Special mention goes to the part during Discord's song "Glass of Water" where the two dance together.
    • This is how the changelings operate, impersonating a loved one then draining the love they're provided by their unsuspecting enemy. Relatedly, much speculation arose around Shining Armor and Chrysalis, what with the latter impersonating Cadance for who knows how long.
    • Daring Do invokes it in "Daring Don't". Bonus for Rainbow Dash's reaction to it.
      Ahuizotl: The ring, Daring Do! Give it to me!
      Daring Do: Now, Ahuizotl, you know I love you, but I can't give you the ring till I've properly proposed.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Perry the Platypus and Dr. Doofenshmirtz are at the very least the epitome of the Friendly Enemy, treating their adversity as a job more than any actual effort to harm one another. Doofenshmirtz owns a pair of boxers with Agent P's face on them. In another episode Doofenshmirtz is shown ordering home nemesis dolls (resembling blow up dolls) and receiving "yet another platypus". Then there's the episode "It's About Time", where Doofenshmirtz acquires a new nemesis, which is presented as him having an affair, culminating with them on a relationship talk show together. "Yeah, I've got a nemesis..."

    It's also heavily implied that this is the standard relationship for all nemeses. The aforementioned agent that was thwarting Doofenshmirtz without Perry's knowledge was Peter the Panda, and lo and behold, he too has a nemesis, called Dr. Mystery, who becomes jealous of Doofenshmirtz and proceeds to kidnap and attempt to kill him. Doofenshmirtz learns more of their relationship while in captivity, and finds out, much to his horror, that Mystery doesn't tell Peter his plans or his back stories (a staple of all Perry/Doofenshmirtz confrontations). This is quickly presented as a communication problem, and Doofenshmirtz finds himself giving Mystery relationship advice, all culminating in Peter appearing to thwart Mystery and save Doofenshmirtz with Perry in tow, the former of whom reacts in delight and begins asking what Doofenshmirtz gave Peter that he couldn't in between getting punched in the face.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Word of God states that Adora and Catra's relationship was deliberately written in this manner, with this trope actually being showrunner Noelle Stevenson's favorite type of character relationship. Almost every other interaction they have once Adora defects to the Rebellion comes across as heavy flirting, even in the middle of a serious fight.
  • The Simpsons: Bart and Sideshow Bob to an extent. It gets to a point where Bob can't kill Bart in one episode because he's grown accustomed to his face, literally.
    • The "Treehouse of Horror XXVI" segment "Wanted: Dead, then Alive" has this in spades, where there is some (possibly romantic) subtext between Bob and Bart (Bob showing his "I ♥ Bart" tattoo on his back, taking Bart's body home after killing him and playing with him as if he were still alive, realizing that Victory Is Boring without Bart around and talking to his corpse). Bob even decides to revive Bart because it brought him some excitement in his life.
      Bob: And now, Bart, let's bring the old spark back to our special relationship.
    • The "The Haw-Hawed Couple" episode from s18e8 is built entirely around this trope.
      Nelson: Haw-haw, I touched your heart!
  • Star Wars Rebels: The Seventh Sister likes to flirt with Ezra and Kanan. In the next breath, she will fantasize about cutting them to pieces. The fact that the Seventh Sister and Kanan's voice actors are married in real life only amplifies it.
  • Steven Universe sets up Jasper and Lapis Lazuli as a metaphor for an abusive relationship, with the former coercing the latter into fusing ("Come on. Just say yes."), then the latter trapping the both of them at the bottom of the ocean, literally holding each other down and both twisted into something much worse.
    • It gets even more blatant every time we see anything to do with Malachite and what's going on in her "head". "Chille Tid" shows her mindscape and in it Lapis has physically chained Jasper up, using herself as the anchor. "Super Watermelon Island" shows Jasper expressing admiration for Lapis' endurance and Malachite later exulting about the power of fusion. By "Alone At Sea", it can barely even be called subtext: Lapis admits to missing Jasper, and Jasper returns and forcibly manhandles Lapis, admits she's been stalking Lapis, accuses her of being a monster, and then gets down on her knees with her hand locked around Lapis' and begs her to become Malachite with her again, insisting that she's changed and she can take whatever Lapis cares to dish out to her in return for having their toxic dynamic back. In Love with Your Carnage indeed...
  • Storm Hawks sets up a lot of Star-Crossed Lovers tropes with Piper and Master Cyclonis, especially in the episode "Best Friends", where they get very close very quickly before Cyclonis' sudden but inevitable betrayal. Then when Piper starts tapping into her Dark Magical Girl side, Cyclonis starts showing up in her dreams.
  • TRON: Uprising: Beck/Paige. Paige is a Type IV Anti-Villain (not evil, but fighting for the wrong side, Tessler killed her friends, framed the Isos for it, and made it look like he saved her life so he could have her as a dragon). Beck? Well, he's trying to start a revolt to overthrow her boss.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Foe Romantic Subtext


She-Ra (2018)

Adora and Catra dancing together at the Princess Prom has quite a lot of, um, tension.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / FoeRomanceSubtext

Media sources:

Main / FoeRomanceSubtext