Dom: Tempting, but you're lowballing me.
Ian: As the commodity being traded, do I get any say in this matter?
Jes & Dom: No.
Ian: (Puppy-Dog Eyes)
Generally, Hilarity Ensues, except when the friend is poisonous, the love interest is clingy or psycho-possessive. One or both might decide to Murder the Hypotenuse, leaving the other a Cassandra Truth. Less murderously, both start a secret war for the affection and attention of the third party, trying to slander the other while seeming innocent. By the end, one or the other usually reveals they were less than ideal as a friend or lover and get cropped out of the picture.
When it doesn't come to blows, they either reconcile their differences... or draw up a "custody" contract that is ludicrously complicated. On occasion, the third party will call them out over being treated like a commodity... before being shushed so the grownups can talk.
When the third party manages to put their foot down, they might manage to mediate a solution. However, if both descend far enough in this petty politicking, the third party may well dump them both as an incentive to make them get over themselves. Fandom often comes up with its own, sexier, solution to the dilemma.
For some reason, the third party is usually a guy, the love interest a girl, and the friend another guy. Only rarely are the gender roles switched.
See also Yoko Oh No, when fans dislike a new lover. If the friend in question also happened to be the character's former lover then The Missus and the Ex applies instead. Compare Friendship Favoritism, Bros Before Hoes, and Jealous Pet.
- In Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts, Shoko (the love interest) thinks she and Akihisa (the best friend) are in this for Yuuji's affection. In reality, Akihisa doesn't see her like this and is willing to sell Yuuji out so he can win this competition against her.
- Code Geass: In all of a moment, the relationship between Shirley (love interest) and Rolo (clingy surrogate brother) becomes this when Shirley mentions wanting to get Lelouch back together with Nunnally. This causes Rolo to snap since he can't stand the thought of not being Lelouch's only sibling and realizes that Shirley knows important things that she shouldn't be aware of; he promptly ends things by killing Shirley.
- Yui and Tamahome over Miaka in Fushigi Yuugi (because Yui has a crush on Tamahome, too, and wants him for herself, and has also deceived to believe that Miaka has completely thrown her away).
- Played with in Nuko Duke. The protagonist Yuuya used to date Inori, but hardly ever spends time alone with her, as his best friend Yamato would always be there as well. Both Inori and Yamato are fine with sharing Yuuya's attention (Inori's ghost would even remark fondly about how those two men are inseparable). On the other hand, it's been said that Yamato has never been able to keep a girlfriend because he's too busy taking care of Yuuya, and those other girls aren't as willing to share.
- In Pandora Hearts, Gilbert and Alice frequently fight over Oz's attention. Given a good amount of ambiguity on the feelings of both parts, it's debatable which of them is supposed to be the best friend and which of them is supposed to be the lover. It's worth noting that Jun Mochizuki stated that Oz and Alice's relationship was not and never would be romantic, which would make Gilbert the lover if there truly is a lover in this relationship.
- Servant × Service has this with Taishi and his sister Touko. He mentions that his girlfriends usually break up with him right before Christmas. Chihaya suggests that this might be because he celebrates Touko's birthday (which falls on Christmas eve) rather than spending time with his girlfriend on Christmas Eve.
- In Skip Beat!, Ren (mutual crush) and Kanae/Moko (best friend) sometimes act like this towards Kyoko. On Kyoko's birthday, they were secretly trying to figure out who could get her a better present. Well, it's one-sided on Moko's part, but still.
- In Tiger & Bunny, reading between the lines will enable you to see the antagonism between Karina (love interest hopeful) and Barnaby (partner and close friend) over Kotetsu — especially noticeable in post-timeskip episodes and heavier on Karina's end than Barnaby's. It's lampshaded by Word of God note and in the 2nd drama CD; but since Kotetsu has yet to so much as consider Karina's potential to be his girlfriend, an out-and-out feud was averted.
- This happens in Tomodachi no Hanashi: Narugami ends up falling for Eiko, whose best friend Moe dislikes, or at least distrusts. She gives herself the task of finding out whether Narugami is really into her or taking advantage of her kindness, and consequently they end up clashing a lot.
- UQ Holder! has an odd, one-person variation: Kuromaru clearly has some sort of feelings towards Touta. The problem is that Kuromaru is a type of being with No Biological Sex until he turns 16, at which point he chooses to be either biologically male or female. He currently identifies as male but is rather clearly conflicted as to whether he wants to stay male, making his relationship with Touta something of a Bash Brothers thing, or become a girl and make the relationship more romantic in nature.
- The main conflict of the graphic novel After Eden. As Jon's and Celine's friends grow miserable due to their relationship, their friends plan to break them up and return to the way before. It went badly to the point all six of them won't talk to each other anymore.
- Archie Comics:
- Played for Laughs in Archie Comics, with an unexpected conclusion. Archie tries to take Veronica out to a movie while discussing Jughead seemingly getting too attached to Archie. The couple thought they have lost Jug, only to run back into him when they were at the theater. An argument rises up, and all three were kicked out because of the commotion. Archie makes up an excuse to get away from both of them, and when out of earshot he feels nothing but woe over being popular. The twist is that when Archie sneaked back in order to take a look at what's happening between Veronica and Jughead, thinking that they're still fighting over him, only to find out that they decided to go on a date with each other, effectively dumping Archie.
- Sometimes Jughead gets into a fight with Betty over Archie but usually, Jughead will team up with Betty against Veronica because, unlike Veronica, Betty is willing to share Archie with him!
- In Robin Ives never really gets along with Tim's girlfriend Ariana, partially because Tim has a lot of obligations eating up his time so Ives isn't pleased when spending quality time with a girlfriend becomes another one. He gets along better with Stephanie but by then its been heavily hinted that Ives has figured out that Tim's Robin note so he might just be more chill with Tim having a girlfriend that involves fewer lies. It probably helps that Steph and Ives have compatible senses of humor and both like the same geeky stuff as Tim, unlike Ariana, so they can all hang out together.
- Secret Six: Deadshots girlfriend Jeanette twice tries to make him choose between her and his best friend, Catman. Deadshot hesitates for maybe a couple of seconds before choosing Catman. Both times.
- This happened in an old Bloom County strip. Cutter John was with his animal friends when his girlfriend came over and borrowed him for an extended interlude. His friends were rather indignant at this.
- In Garfield, after Jon started dating Liz, Garfield felt jealous of her but eventually got over it.
- The Pokémon fanfic A Pikachu in Love forces this on Pikachu. He has to decide whether or not he wants to stick with Ash, who he'll never have a true friendship with due to being a Pokemon, and the possibility that Ash might leave him one day once he grows up, or Pichi, his newfound love who, besides also being a Pikachu, has a lot in common with him, and is able to openly communicate with due to them both being Pokemon.
- Child of the Storm has a complicated situation in the sequel, with Ron, Harry, and Carol. The complicated part comes in where no one is quite sure what category Harry and Carol's relationship fits under, meaning that it can just as easily be Friendship Favoritism. Either way, he's worried about being Locked Out of the Loop (due to a mixture of PTSD and natural reticence, Harry is notoriously sparing with information about his stranger exploits, while Carol usually already knows, because she's often involved) - as he explains, while he doesn't necessarily want to get involved in Harry's special flavour of insanity, he'd like to have the choice. Carol explicitly wonders about this, especially after her and Harry's Relationship Upgrade, as that presents a whole different range of problems. As it is, though, Ron and Carol actually get on fairly well, and he's actually got a small crush on her in his own right.
- A very interesting take on this concept forms the crux of the conflict in Racer and the Geek. It's interesting because the protagonist isn't the one who has to make the choice.
- In many South Park fanfics, the gang is in junior high or high school and Stan is dating Wendy or has a great shot at dating Wendy. However, one condition of Wendy's is that Stan must stop hanging out with Kyle, his super best friend. Most of these fics can be either Stan/Kyle slash or just mere friendship fics.
- In Reflections, an AU fic of Tales of the Abyss this is how Natalia sees her relationship with Luke and Asch. Unfortunately, not only is she Wrong Genre Savvy, but her actions in the name of this trope tend to backfire horribly.
- Downplayed in X-Men: The Early Years. Neither Scott, nor Hank, nor Bobby, nor even Jean can stand Warren's girlfriend Candy. Rather than forcing Warren to choose, though, they choose to respect that Warren loves her and that for all her irritating personality traits, she genuinely loves him back. So instead, they amuse themselves by annoying Candy and sabotaging their dates.
- A Running Gag is that Hank, Bobby, and Warren all can't stand Jean's various boyfriends and sabotage them. Which often involves them running from the Institute, screaming. Since Jean is holding a torch for Scott (who conspicuously does not get involved) and more generally wants a boyfriend who is, frankly, not a wimp, she minds less than she pretends.
- The Lion King:
- The Lion King (1994): Although the song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" is mostly just a romantic montage between Simba and Nala, it begins and ends with Timon and Pumbaa, Simba's best friends, lamenting the fact that they will lose him if he goes back to the Pridelands.
- The Lion King 1½ takes this further, revealing that they actually tried to sabotage the budding romance, but being Timon and Pumbaa, everything they did just backfired.
- In Chasing Amy, Banky gets super bent out of shape when his best friend and comic publishing partner, Holden, starts hanging out with a fellow comic book writer Alyssa (who's a lesbian but so what?) and eventually starts dating her, MUCH to Banky's disapproval. Holden (who's also uncomfortable with how experienced his new girlfriend is) decides to kill two birds with one stone by suggesting a threesome, which makes BOTH other characters turn their backs on him.
- The plot of A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! is about Timmy having to choose between remaining a kid so he can keep his fairy godparents or growing up so he can pursue a relationship with Tootie.
- My Best Friend's Wedding had this, with a little overlap in Love Triangle. Julianne and Michael made a marriage vow that, as best friends, if neither was married at age 28 they would marry each other. When Michael tells her he's marrying Kimberly, she panics and does her best (worst?) to break them up so she doesn't end up a spinster.
- Pretty in Pink has two of these: Ducky/Andie/Blaine and Blaine/Andie/Steff - the latter with the twist that Steff also tries to get together with Andie, leaving him barely any time or energy for his supposed actual girlfriend, or exuding general predatoriness.
- Sherlock Holmes (2009) has the tension between Mary (who's willing to share) and Holmes (who isn't) both wanting Watson at its center.
- Replace the "friendship" side of the equation with "adoptive familial relationship" and you have Jean Valjean, Marius, and Cosette in Les Misérables.
- Jeeves spends a lot of the Jeeves and Wooster stories getting Bertie out of romantic entanglements. This is mostly because Bertie wouldn't be happy with the type of girls he attracts anyway, and often ends up engaged by accident; however, this trope is clearly in play as well.
- Sparhawk (from the The Elenium trilogy by David Eddings) has gotten this treatment more than once. A dedicated member of the Church Militant, his wife basically negotiated with the church head to get his hand in marriage, and on numerous later occasions, when someone has needed his services in his area of expertise ('saving the world from Evil Gods', mostly) they have had to negotiate with his wife to 'borrow' him. And yes, he even used the "Don't I get a say in the matter?" line. With the predictable result.
- Harry Potter: Snape and Lily weren't dating, but he does love her. What caused the fallout was his friendship with future Death Eaters like Mulciber and Avery. Beyond influencing his ideologies, it caused a strain with Lily's other friends, wondering why she was a friend with him. Word of God is that if he could, he'd have done things differently and that there was a good chance they would have ended up together had he given up those toxic influences. Instead, she ends up with his adversary and rival, James Potter.
- Amelia (lover) vs. Zadie (friend) over Dylan Crosby in Reconstructing Amelia. Neither Dylan or Amelia want the conflict, but Zadie repeatedly antagonizes Amelia despite Dylan's desperate attempts to smooth things over and Amelia's attempts to just stay out of Zadie's way. In the end, it indirectly gets Amelia killed.
- Godspeaker Trilogy: Raklion has a friend-vs-lover conflict with his Heterosexual Life-Partner Hanochek, and his consort Hekat. Hanochek and Hekat hate each other, and it's a simmering background problem for a long time. When it comes to a head, Raklion—very, very reluctantly—sides with Hekat, and banishes Hanochek. But at the end of his life, with his Last Words, Raklion wishes that he hadn't.
Raklion: The god is calling, I do not wish to go. Hekat— [gasps] My beautiful knife-dancer... [sighs] I wish I had not banished Hano.
- In Warrior Cats, Firestar and Graystripe come into conflict over Graystripe's Secret Relationship with Silverstream. Though in this case, it's not just about Graystripe being in love but that they are from separate, warring Clans and Firestar has to cover for him.
- It seems like this is the case in the Brother Cadfael story "Dead Man's Ransom", with the girl resenting the constant presence of her fiancé's Blood Brother (the fiancé himself shows no particular inclination for her, seeing an Arrange Marriage as inevitable and having no other girl in mind- at first) but is actually subverted: the girl and friend are actually madly in love, but can do nothing to prevent her marriage.
- On Awkward., Matty is secretly dating Jenna and comes across a problem when his best friend, Jake, develops a crush on her.
- Boy Meets World:
- In an episode, one of Shawn's girlfriends gets so sick of Shawn spending more time with Cory than with her that she bans him from seeing Cory any more. The show being what it is, Shawn and Cory promptly resort to sneaking around and concocting elaborate lies to secretly spend stolen moments with each other behind the girlfriend's back, stereotypical of an affair between a married man and his impatient mistress (the episode title is even "An Affair to Forget"), with Cory becoming rabidly insecure and jealous of the girlfriend and begging Shawn to dump her and be with him instead, and Shawn trying and failing to resist the temptation to meet up with Cory, voicing highly romanticized descriptions of how it feels to be separated from him. Obviously, Shawn winds up dumping his girlfriend for Cory in the end.
- Shawn and Topanga have a similar tiff over Cory later in the series, during which Topanga insinuates that Cory loves Shawn more than he loves her and makes numerous quips painting Shawn as a homewrecker, while Shawn is jealous and hurt that Cory consistently blows off their friendship to be with Topanga. It's eventually resolved when Shawn concedes defeat, while Topanga realizes that she and Cory work better as a couple when Shawn steals him away periodically. Sequel Series Girl Meets World has had a few instances to indicate this is still going on today. For example, at Christmas, Cory puts his Cory & Shawn ornament in front of the Cory and Topanga ornament.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Willow, who was Xander's best friend since kindergarten, and Anya, his girlfriend, are occasionally clashing over him in Season 5.
Anya: You have known him since you were squealing infants together. You will always know him better than I do!
- Buffy's influence over Riley Finn causes resentment among his military buddies, particularly Forrest.
- Willow, who was Xander's best friend since kindergarten, and Anya, his girlfriend, are occasionally clashing over him in Season 5.
- Dawson's Creek started out with Jen/Dawson/Joey, and when that went the way of Aborted Arcs, Pacey/Joey/Dawson.
- In EastEnders, Roxy and Syed are not fans of each other at all, much to Christian's dismay.
- Wash and Mal in Firefly.
Wash: I mean, I'm the one she swore to love, honor and obey.
Mal Listen—... She swore to obey?
Wash: Well, no, not... But that's just my point! You she obeys! She obeys you! There's obeying going on, right under my nose!
Mal: Look, Zoe and I have a history. She trusts me.
Wash: What's that supposed to mean?
Mal: Don't mean a thing, but you're making out like she blindly follows my every word. That ain't true!
Wash: Sure it is!
Mal: Not so. There's plenty orders of mine that she didn't obey.
Wash: Name One!
Mal: She married you!
- This was the central plot of the Frasier season 10 finale, where Frasier's best friend Roz absolutely despises his new girlfriend Julia and believes that she is a terrible match for Frasier, to the point of telling Frasier she's evil and has him brainwashed, telling Julia to her face that she's not good enough for Frasier, trying to sabotage the relationship by trying to trick Julia into thinking Frasier's two-timing her, cornering her and telling her to stay away from Frasier or else, and even threatening her with physical violence. In the end, after Frasier refuses to listen to her pleas to take her advice and dump Julia, Roz point-blank tells him that "It's her or me, Frasier, tell me now or I swear to God I will walk out that door and I will not come back." The whole debacle ends in a rather nasty deconstruction of the trope: instead of reading this as a difficult choice between an old friend and his trust in her advice, and a new lover and his belief in her worthiness, Frasier is (quite understandably) so outraged by Roz's meddling that he impulsively chooses Julia in a fit of pique and Roz does walk out of his life (though they make up next season).
- It happens a few times in Friends, like Joey choosing between Phoebe (friend) and Ursula (lover) and Ross choosing between Rachel (friend who has still feelings for him) and Emily (lover who tells him he doesn't have to see Rachel anymore).
- Happens in House almost every time Wilson gets a girlfriend. The current one is fighting a secret war with House to see who'll win in the long term... When Wilson was with Amber, House actually did come up with a "custody contract", which Amber reluctantly agreed to and later added "penalty clauses" to.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Ted and Lily occasionally have this kind of conflict over Marshall, but tend to act out their possessive and jealous impulses on Marshall rather than each other (partly because they themselves were really good friends as well). On Ted's side, this came to a head in the episode "The Duel", where Ted panics that Marshall will abandon him and strikes back at this perceived encroachment on his territory by demanding that Marshall give him the apartment, which quickly devolves into a major argument and a frickin' sword duel between the two. They make up quickly though, partly because the sword duel was just that awesome.
- The episode "How Lily Stole Christmas" hinges on a variation of this conflict between Ted and Lily. Lily thinks Ted has been mad at her for hurting Marshall when she ran off to San Francisco and that since Marshall has now forgiven her, Ted should too. Turns out he is still mad, but more because she was also supposed to be his friend too, but never even called Ted during her absence. She had apologized to Marshall, but not to her other friend she left behind (the one who had to clean up the mess she made of Marshall by leaving)
- It has an episode where Sam started dating a guy and repeatedly blew Carly and Freddie off as a result.
- Another episode had Sam as the third wheel when, dateless on the night of a dance, seeks out Carly and Freddie only to be dejected to find them having a romantic moment together. Whether or not that was this trope or another one was left ambiguous.
- This ended up happening to Carly herself when Sam and Freddie briefly dated.
- An episode of Men Behaving Badly dealt with this (It was even titled "Your Mate Vs. Your Bird").
- Notable for its total aversion. Arthur and Merlin are Heterosexual Life-Partners, but when Guinevere starts to catch Arthur's attention, Merlin couldn't be more delighted. This poses quite a problem for the slashers considering Merlin and Guinevere are Like Brother and Sister, and more often than not it is Merlin encouraging Gwen to spend time with Arthur.
- Merlin even takes on a Die for Our Ship mentality toward anyone who looks as though they're a possible Love Interest for either of them.
- The only time this is averted is when Merlin is brainwashed and plans on killing Arthur. There are scenes between Gwen and Merlin arguing over who gets to serve Arthur lunch.
- Sean, Christian and Julia on Nip/Tuck have gone a few rounds on this.
- Sometimes touched on (and usually Played for Laughs) in Scrubs, especially with JD/Turk/Carla, but it usually ends up that they're all okay with it.
- Played for Drama when Turk, after finding out JD and Carla kissed, decided that in order for him to get over it, he had to choose one of them to be angry at for a while. He chose Carla, giving her the "Silent Treatment".
- Occurred once between JD/Elliot/Turk. The episode ended with JD declaring he loved her more than Turk, which was very hard for him to say.
- Season 1 had a rivalry between Elliot and JD's girlfriend Alex. Alex, a social worker working at the hospital, has a problem with Elliot who has noticed some drugs have gone missing and suspects a patient who is a former addict. Turk tells him in a situation like that it doesn't matter who is wrong and the smartest move would be to side with the person he wants to sleep with; but even though he and Elliot are just friends, he's falling in love with her. He sides with Alex, and Elliot gets angry with him, but he breaks up with Alex when he finds out she's the one stealing the meds.
- In Smallville, Clark is often this between Chloe and Lana, though almost entirely in the first half of the show. While the girls are usually fairly mature about it, it is further complicated by Chloe's teenaged desire to be more than just friends than Clark and Lana's temporary attraction to Lex. Luckily, Chloe grows out of it and becomes Platonic Life-Partners with him instead. Lana is Put on a Bus, all while Clark gradually begins realizing that his friendship with a certain Lois Lane may have something deeper than just friendship to it...
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Bashir and Keiko occasionally have this sort of conflict over O'Brien.
- An early episode of the original Battlestar Galactica has Starbuck lamenting the fact that he's going to be "losing" his best friend to Serena when Apollo marries her. Apollo smiles and says how much he appreciates Starbuck's friendship. Tragically, Serena is killed in a battle with the Cylons shortly after the wedding.
- Finding Carter: A dark version of this appears, when Carter dates bad boy Crash, who her best friend Max hates. It leads to a horrible moment where a fugitive Crash gets jealous of Max's relationship with Carter, and ends up accidentally shooting him. Carter not only dumps him but gets him arrested.
- Romantic Comedy Gavin & Stacey has this in spades, with newlywed Essex boy Gavin Shipman discovers his marriage to Stacey West has really upset the dynamic of his best friend Smithy, who feels put out, neglected and abandoned by his buddy, and isn't shy about indicating this.
- You has this between Joe, Beck's Stalker with a Crush boyfriend, and Peach, Beck's best friend who is immediately suspicious of Joe. Later it turns into a Love Triangle as it's revealed that Peach is also obsessed with Beck.
- Parks and Recreation's Ben and Ann don't have much in common except their love for Leslie, and they will fight tooth-and-nail to prove whose is stronger.
- The Merchant of Venice has two cases:
- In the main plot, Bassanio's friendship with Antonio versus his romantic relationship with Portia. This is an extremely mild case but is often played up for the sake of drama in performance.
- In the subplot, Lorenzo is in love with Jessica, and Launcelot is Jessica's friend, who acts as go-between delivering their love letters and helping them to carry out their elopement. All three characters aren't seen together until very late in the play when Jessica is married to Lorenzo; at this point, they've clearly become a case of this trope, with Lorenzo joking that he's jealous of Launcelot and the two proceeding to rank each other out.
- The Children's Hour: Martha doesn't get along with her best friend Karen's fiance, Joe. Her aunt mentions that she gets upset every time Joe visits and that she often takes it out on others (but mostly her). Martha's been this way since childhood. She's always been jealous when her friends fall for boys. This is actually because Martha is in love with Karen.
- In Catherine, there is a question in the confessional that asks this. Choosing "Lover" leans you towards the Lawful side on the Karma Meter; choosing "Friend" leans you towards the Chaotic side.
- In Disgaea 4, Fenrich and Vulcanus are frequently at odds with each other in regards to Valvatorez. Then again, the game tosses around enough hints to suggest that it might just be a straight-up Love Triangle.
- A one-sided version appears in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, Bentley is Childhood Friends with Sly and Murray, and in a relationship with Penelope. But unbeknownst to him, Penelope secretly hates Sly and Murray, while they view her as a good friend. When her true persona is revealed, Sly and Murray attack her in rage, while Bentley dumps her, citing his friends care for him while she only sees him as a tool.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Antimony is jealous of Alistair who strikes it off so well with Kat. The whole argument gets negated when Aly reveals that he must leave at the end of the week, and any hopes of his return are dashed first by the fact that he turns into a bird, permanently, and second by the incredibly depressing line, "And she never saw him again."
- A playful version where both the friend and the lover are female appears in this Questionable Content strip.
- Riverside Extras: An atypical Two Girls and a Guy example with Derry and Simon, with Ophelia in the middle. Less prominently, Jefferson Smith and Ophelia with Simon in the middle is a more typical Two Guys and a Girl example.
- Something*Positive: One of Eva's issues in her relationship with Davan was that two of his best friends were women. That his relationships to Aubrey and PeeJee were entirely platonic was something she could never really grasp.
- Left POOR Dead: Tippy hates Sylvia because he distracts Reginald from their friendship.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball, Gumball is dating his love Penny following "The Shell". However, his adopted brother and best friend Darwin doesn't tolerate this since Gumball is spending more time with her than him so he tries to break them apart in "The Bros". However, it is one-sided since Penny catches on and actually helps to repair the friendship between Gumball and Darwin by doing a wedding-like ceremony in the name of The Bro Code.
- Bob's Burgers: In "Roller? I Hardly Know 'Er!", Gene isn't happy about his best friend Alex becoming Courtney Wheeler's new roller-dancing partner and spending all his time with her, especially when he learns Alex "like-likes" Courtney.
- In Dan Vs., poor Chris is treated like the rope in a game of tug of war between his best friend Dan and wife Elise. Being a Nice Guy, Chris can't say no to either of them, so they usually have to sort it out between themselves through mind games, trickery, and blackmail.
- Daria often featured this with Daria and Jane's relationship with Tom—as in, each girl got to be the third wheel when Tom dated both in successive years.
- In Feast, Winston the dog isn't happy when his owner's new girlfriend tries to improve both their eating habits and the flow of junk food Winston is used to turns into Brussels sprouts.
- Played with in Gravity Falls—Lil' Gideon is obsessed with Mabel Pines, but perceives her twin brother Dipper as standing in the way of their relationship. Gideon's solution is to Murder the Hypotenuse.
- Also, in two separate episodes, Dipper is forced to choose whether or not to improve his standing with his Precocious Crush Wendy Corduroy at the cost of Mabel's happiness. Both times he ultimately chooses not to.
- On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jimmy's Poisonous Friend Beezy and his Yandere admirer Heloise are constantly at war for his attention. Literally the only reason they even remotely tolerate each other's presence is to stay around Jimmy, who occasionally becomes frustrated by their regular fights.
- In Episode 134, Stumpy wants to play a board game with Quack Quack, but Quack Quack is on a date with Eugly and therefore ignores Stumpy. Later, Stumpy manages to clone himself and he and the clones tease Quack Quack and Eugly until Eugly runs away crying so they can hang out with Quack Quack.
- A one-sided example is used as a plot point in Episode 148. Stumpy and Mr. Cat feel that Quack Quack has been spending too much time with Eugly, so they try to ruin their relationship so that they break up. Eugly decides to befriend them in order to make them stop, which works.
- Kid vs. Kat presents a passive, one-sided example with Coop's Action Girlfriend Fiona and his Heterosexual Life Partner Dennis. Dennis initially dislikes Fiona because she unintentionally distracts Coop from his usual "defeat Kat" plans and because Coop spends more time with her than with him. However he warms up to her in later episodes, even saving her from Coop's Yandere Stalker with a Crush Phoebe in "Birthday Bashed".
- Kim Possible: In "Stop Team Go", Shego is temporarily turned good and becomes the best of friends with Kim, leaving Kim's boyfriend and sidekick Ron feeling left out. Of course, things are back to normal before the credits roll.
- Invoked on King of the Hill: Joseph is getting close to a girl, and Bobby is reluctant to hang out with them because he feels like a third wheel. However, Nancy and Peggy find out that the girl is actually Joseph's half-sister, so Peggy encourages Bobby to "fight for his place" in the group. Since he's always hanging around them, they never get a chance to hook up.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has Shaggy caught between Scooby and Velma. It's largely his own fault, though. Shaggy blamed his own fear of going public with their relationship on Scooby, even when Scooby found out about it and seemed to approve... until Shaggy tried sneaking off to prom without telling him what was going on, ditching him in the process. Only then does Scooby actually start disapproving of the relationship and tries to ruin it, leading to Scooby and Velma forcing Shaggy to choose. He chooses Scooby, which hurts his friendship with Velma for the remainder of the season and then some, though they eventually make up and decide they might have been Better as Friends anyway.
- In Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, it was between Peter and Talon. As Spider-Man, he knows Talon's identity and was wary of her when Harry started dating her. Of course, he couldn't say anything without revealing his secret.
- In X-Men: Evolution between Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) and Lance Alvers (Avalanche) about Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat). Brought Up to Eleven in some fanfics.