A Girl Next Door is a character who, it is implied, an "ordinary guy" male protagonist might have known when growing up, and whom he might like without feeling intimidated. She may literally be from the same neighborhood as the hero, or she may just remind him of girls he knew back home.
In simpler terms: the feminine equivalent of an "average Joe", in terms of looks and personality. An Average Josephine, if you will.
They'll usually embody a "wholesome" sort of femininity, so they're rarely the promiscuous sort, though she might act as a foil to a woman who is. Since the trope is more about her personality, some can be considered knock-outs. In which case, they're likely the local beauty in the neighborhood, or a small town; especially if she's someone like the sassy, hot waitress from the local diner, or the Farmer's Daughter.
Among their friends, they're easy to talk to and usually good listeners. But they also tend to be frank about how they see things and expect the same in return. In a Betty and Veronica duo, she's the "Betty". As such, her disposition ranges from even-tempered, to boisterous and, if she's a looker, she usually doesn't flaunt it. That isn't to say, she's incapable of passion; she's just unlikely to be extroverted about it.
Girls of this nature will often appear in Harems, usually as the inevitably Unlucky Childhood Friend of the protagonist, or as said above, the "Betty" in a Love Triangle. In non-romantic stories, she'll either be best friends with one of the others, or she may be the Cool Big Sis.
The Spear Counterpart, Boy Next Door, is the same, only—you know—male. Often overlaps with One of the Boys. Contrast with Hello, Nurse! and Peerless Love Interest. Also compare The All-American Boy, who might well be her High School Sweetheart.
For the 2004 film, see The Girl Next Door. For the 2007 film, see The Girl Next Door. For Numbuh 3 and Numbuh 5, see Codename: Kids Next Door. Also not to be mistaken for Crystal Bernard's album, The Girl Next Door or the webcomic Girls Next Door.
- There is an unusual example in Welcome to the N.H.K.. Misaki Nakahara is a literal Girl Next Door whose innocence and rather plain beauty is, at first, an integral part of her relationship with Satou, combining this trope with Manic Pixie Dream Girl. However, both tropes become subverted when she is slowly revealed to exhibit nearly every symptom of a textbook case of Borderline Personality Disorder, including extreme self-esteem issues, self-harm, skewed social perspective, and an unhealthy (suicidally so) obsession with Satou.
- Variable Geo: Satomi is the 'plainest' looking girl among the cast, having short mussy hair and a Beauty Mark on her left cheek. She's also shown to be honest and a hard worker, having two jobs to support herself and her kid brother.
- Kosaki Onodera in Nisekoi. While the rest of the haremettes are gangsters and the daughter of the police chief, Kosaki is just an ordinary girl who works in her family's bakery.
- High School of the Dead: While the other female leads are meant to cater to different fetishes, Rei's look and her mannerism invokes a tomboy quality, befitting the "childhood friend" type. Though she has to compete with Saeko for Takashi's affections.
- Bleach: Tatsuki gets mistaken for a boy sometimes, since her hair is short, but she's most definitely a girl. Chizuru even said she'd probably hit on Tatsuki, IF she weren't such a tomboy.
- Orihime and Tatsuki's other school friends count too: Michiru is the cute and homey kind, Mahana is the more active and tomboyish type, and Kunieda is the smart and quiet Cute Bookworm.
- School Rumble: Mikoto's a looker, but she's basically one of the guys. So her attractiveness stems more from her chest, since most guys are intimidated by her height and athleticism. Asou was one of the few to not be put-off by it and briefly dated hernote . And, in School Rumble Z, it's revealed that she eventually married Hanai.
- Subverted with Habara from Daily Lives of High School Boys. As the Distaff Counterpart to the main character Tadakuni, you might expect her as this for Toshiyuki Karasawa. While her current personality would suggests this, she was formerly the most feared bully in elemental school and was responsible for Karasawa's scar on his head. Despite being a Nice Girl nowadays (mostly), all boys including Karasawa still fear her and they would pay her or her friends money rather than dating her. Funnily enough, Habara believes that Karasawa is in love with her, delusional about the fact that he obviously hates her.
- In Ao No Kanata Four Rhythm, Hinata and Rika's bedrooms are right next door to each other, mere feet apart. As a Running Gag, Hinata keeps running into his new neighbor while she's changing clothes in her room. Queue the simultaneous screams.
- In Endride, Alicia is Emilio's childhood friend who was always sneaking into the palace to play while they were growing up. She's the nice, wholesome sort, always ready to listen, and has some romantic interest in Emilio, but holds off on pursuing it since she's not sure it's reciprocated.
- So, I Can't Play H!: Applies to Mina in both the figurative and literal sense. She's been neighbors and schoolmates with Ryosuke since childhood. And, while she's undeniably attractive, she feels plain compared to other girls; especially if it's Lisara.
- Captain America. He's wholesome, humble, a gentleman, and as American as apple pie. He's progressive enough to not have any prejudice against anyone, but old-fashioned enough to have very set morals and a strong sense of justice.
- Betty Cooper in the Archie Comics, as opposed to her Uptown Girl rival for Archie's affections, Veronica. For his part, humble everyteen Archie is this in comparison to the wealthier and more athletic Reggie Mantle or the goofy comic relief Jughead.
- Played with in regard to Gwen Stacy of Spider-Man. As portrayed in the comics, Gwen was more of an exotic flower whom Peter only met after he left Forest Hill and "went out into the world", i.e. Manhattan and college. She came from an upper-class background, her first boyfriend, Harry, was the son of a millionaire and in her first appearance she was introduced as a high-school beauty queen. However, as she became the Betty to Mary Jane's Veronica, she moved into this category. MJ herself became literally this Trope in the Ultimate universe, having lived next door to the Parkers since she was a little girl and, before their Relationship Upgrade, was the geeky best friend of an equally-as-geeky Peter.
- Shellie from Sin City is sassy but meek enough to qualify.
- In Astro City, the Silver Agent explicitly describes his first girlfriend as this. He broke off with her because he was sterile, but told her It's Not You, It's My Enemies because she would have tried to stifle her dreams for him.
- Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man Trilogy movies is an example due to her being a Composite Character with Liz Allan, who in the comics attended Midtown High together with Peter Parker and Flash Thompson, and Gwen Stacy who was (or rather, became) the girl-next-door type girlfriend to Peter.
- Captain America: The First Avenger:
- The film The Girl Next Door clearly subverts this trope, as said girl is a retired porn actress played by Elisha Cuthbert.
- Layla from Sky High (2005) is Will's Granola Girl best friend.
- Jamie Sullivan in A Walk to Remember is a believer in God who doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
- Andy from The Devil Wears Prada was meant to be the kind of girl you could run into on the subway.
- From The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Shy and beautiful Lena and Carmen, the writer.
- He's Just Not That Into You has three: Gigi Phillips is like a basset hound. They're kinda pathetic - so you want to cheer them up. Beth Murphy wants a good man and a husband. Mary is a romantic who has been hiding behind technology.
- Stéphanie is the girl across the hall in The Science of Sleep. Zoé lives there as well but she isn't one of these.
- Casey Carlyle from Ice Princess is a Cool Loser and physics geek.
- Julie from Flipped is such a friendly neighbor that she regularly gives Bryce her chicken's eggs for his family.
- Maggie (Marla Sokoloff) from the movie Whatever It Takes. She eventually ends up with her boy next door.
- Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) lives across the street from her boyfriend Glen. Wes Craven noted he cast the actress specifically because of her accessible, wholesome appeal.
- Mary, the protagonist of the movie Saved!, is played as one of these; more importantly, she doesn't lose the general demeanor even after becoming pregnant. This is meant to show Mary as genuinely filled with the Christian spirit of compassion, in order to contrast Mary with her Alpha Bitch rival, who attends the same Christian school environment as her but is hypocritical about being "filled with Christ's love".
- Sweet, shy, and sensible Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is this to neighbor Charles Bingley.
- For Cassie from Animorphs, high fashion is socks that actually match for once. She's also gentle in being the team's moral center and doing what she must but hating the need to fight.
- Jack Weyland's 1990 book tells the story of teenage best friends Michelle & Debra where Michelle chooses to be the good, obedient, religious girl while Debra strays.
- In Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, Delia is this to Eric, the Victorious Childhood Friend, and Fitz, the Unlucky Childhood Friend. by the end of the book the tables have turned and Eric is the unlucky one.
- Sunshine has the titular character the vampire-slaying, magic-wielding version.
- Julie Sims in 1632 is a Girl Next Door with a rifle. She's described as being pretty, but not much more, and aside from occasional bouts of angst is fairly level-headed.
- Ruby, Ralph's girlfriend in Urn Burial has lived in the house next door to him since they were born, and whilst not drop dead gorgeous is plenty attractive enough for being familiar and not having any pretensions.
- Bernadette (Bernie) Manuelito in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series by Tony Hillerman is the rare Native American version. She is a pretty, cheerful, down-to-earth fellow Navajo cop who is contrasted to Chee's previous love interest, the beautiful, sophisticated, half-white lawyer Janet Pete from Washington, D.C.
- Subverted along with most of the wholesome ideas of The '50s in Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door.
- A golden years example occurs between Ralph Roberts and Lois Chasse in Stephen King's Insomnia. He's a retired widower; she's been a widow for a while now, and they've been good friends and neighbors for some years. Eventually they tie the knot.
- The titular character from iCarly, Carly Shay. Cute and feminine but not overtly sexual, Freddie's known her for a long time, and they have the Childhood Friend Romance and Just Friends thing going on. Carly is popular at school and with her webshow without being the Alpha Bitch, and will rebel against authority if she perceives unfairness in the treatment of her friends. Carly does have enough aspects of the Genki Girl to qualify her for that as well, but there Ain't No Rule that says she can't be The Genki Girl Next Door. See The Chick and Tomboy and Girly Girl.
- Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years is a good tv example. Actress Danica McKellar is also a Hot Scientist.
- Amanda takes the Betty position with Kyle who also has the wholesome traits to apply.
- Also Andy and Josh have a very easy time becoming boyfriend and girlfriend because they're each like a typical teenage boy.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend Chloe Sullivan and Lana Lang, who has an Unlucky Childhood Friend in Clark in Smallville.
- Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls is straight up while her mother Lorelai knows how to put an outfit together, host a fun party and is a role model to Rory making her a double subversion. Rory's first boyfriend Dean was the male version until he Took a Level in Jerkass.
- From Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow is straight up this, while Buffy's toughness mixed with her femininity make her character average out.
- The first 2 seasons, Buffy is very much this trope, befriending underdogs, having quick come-backs and being especially peppy. She's also naive & somewhat awkward around guys she likes, and Zander is her male Unlucky Childhood Friend. Over time, however, a lot of "break the cutie" occurs, turning her into a 99% Crusader. Willow (who has a lot of the Librarian traits) also turns into a Crusader by the end, having lost her naive innocence along with Buffy.
- Topanga from Boy Meets World became this starting with season 2 (season 1 Topanga was a Cloud Cuckoolander Granola Girl). She even has a Childhood Friend Romance "ordinary guy" male protagonist Cory.
- Maggie in How I Met Your Mother is explicitly described as this, which attracted many guys to her. She eventually ends up with her literal boy next door. There's even a montage of them being shown at different ages, from when they first met as children to them growing old together.
- Monica Geller from Friends is a bossier and sexier version than most, but is down to earth, maternal, and The Heart of the group. She lives across the hall from Joey (who was originally going to be her love interest) and Chandler (her eventual boyfriend and husband).
- Donna Pinciotti in That '70s Show is an excellent example of the Tomboy version of the trope.
- From Degrassi: The Next Generation there's Liberty, Emma, whose foil is the provocative Manny, and Terri whose foils are queen bee Paige and top dog Ashley.
- Mary from 7th Heaven starts going out with a neighbor guy who she used to play basketball with. After she breaks up with him he says that playing a game together will help him feel more like they're friends again.
- Pam from The Office (US) is an adult version. A down-to-earth, modestly dressed Nice Girl with a shy crush on her best friend, and a big part of her appeal is how approachable she is, combined with her obvious but understated good looks. In later seasons, she gains more confidence.
- Penny from The Big Bang Theory. She moves into the apartment across the hall in the first episode and that alone gave Leonard some hope that she might become interested in him. She is consistently portrayed as a fairly down-to-earth and friendly girl who helps fill in the gaps in the guys' social skills. Still, as she and Leonard start dating, it’s made fairly clear that if they weren't neighbors he wouldn't have had much of a shot with her.
- Betty Cooper in Riverdale, a CW reboot of the Archie comics franchise, not only is the modernised version of the original Betty, but she’s genuinely nice, pretty, and academically inclined. Her bed-room window is literally across the street from Archie’s, too. She turns into Unlucky Childhood Best Friend after her unsuccessful Love Confession to Archie, but then develops an unexpected albeit supportive romance with her fellow Intrepid Reporter Jughead Jones.note
- In Taylor Swift's "Tear Drops On My Guitar", she's the Unlucky Childhood Friend.
- "Girl Next Door" by Brandy Clark:
If you want the girl next door
Some Virgin Mary metaphor
Your cardboard cutout on the wall
Your paper or your Barbie doll
With perfect hair and a perfect dress
I'm really just the perfect mess
And I ain't nothing less or nothing more
So, baby, if you want the girl next door
Then go next door
- Patrice in 13. Subverted in that Evan has not known her his whole life, rather he has just moved there and she is the first friend he makes.
- Kate Monster in Avenue Q, particularly for Princeton, for whom she carries a torch.
- Asta Allmers from Little Eyolf by Henrik Ibsen. She grew up with the male protagonist, believing herself to be his sister, and though not overly sexual, has grown into his best friend, much to the annoyance of his wife, Rita.
- To some extent, Alyx from Half-Life 2. Only debatable thing is that when she was living in Black Mesa, she was only a baby. But then came the Combine occupation and she became a rather hot tomboy by the time Gordon returned two decades later. Since then, they've been together for most of the time.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy VII: Tifa was originally an aversion, as she used to have the look (and body) of a supermodel. Square Enix redesigned her appearance for Advent Children, by shortening her hair to about shoulder-length, reduced her bust size, and gave her a more realistically proportioned figure along with a much more conservative outfit. Which was done because Nomura wanted her to have the look of a modern working-class woman. In short: he deliberately invoked the trope to make her seem more approachable.
- Final Fantasy X-2 Final Fantasy X-2: The same can be said of Yuna and her cousin, Rikku, who're presented as a pair of fun loving teens. Both are cute and have modest figures, though Rikku certainly doesn't dress modestly.
- Friday the 13th: The Game has Jenny Myers, who is explicitly called this on her concept art.
- The Legend of Zelda series features numerous females, several of whom, fall under this category:
- Ocarina of Time has Link's best friend, Saria, who is the most popular girl in Kokiri Village. Though her looks are best described as childlike, since the Kokiri don't age beyond their early adolescent years. Which is why she physically resembles a 13-14 year old girl, despite possibly being much older.
- Malon is another example from the same game. As a ranch-hand, she's presented as having a natural, rustic beauty, whose appearance is that of a simple farm girl.
- Twilight Princess has Ilia who, despite being the Mayor's daughter, has the look and personality of a farm girl instead - from her short blonde hair, to her love of nature and her habit of going barefoot.
- Skyward Sword casts the namesake character herself in the role, being the daughter of the headmaster and a close-but-mostly-platonic friend of Link at the start of the game.
- Skies of Arcadia: Legends: Aika is both a literal and figurative example:
- Her house was actually next-door to the Dyne family's, back on Pirate Isle. Later, when Vyse establishes their new HQ on Crescent Isle, her flat is directly across from his, on the villa's second floor.
- In terms of attractiveness, she has a tomboyish charm about her that's been noted as being reminiscent of Pippi Longstocking. While her hips and legs are said to be the most notable aspects of her figure.
- Fire Emblem:
- The series as a whole has a few, though they can be HEAVILY disputed. Counting by appearance, there's Caeda/Sheeda, Lilina, and Tana. Note that all three of these girls are royalty (more or less; Lycia's not a monarchy but Lilina's father is nevertheless the head of a country). Then again, the same is true of their love interests, so it's all relative.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, if Chrom doesn't have enough supports or love points with any of his prospect girlfriends before Chapter 11, he's slated to marry and have Lucina with a girl from an Ylissean village, only known as the Village Maiden. In her first and only appearance, she fits in here to a T: she's sweet, soft-spoken, and she and Chrom seem to be pretty Happily Married.
- Rachel from Tower of God is set up as this, being a childhood friend and mother figure for Baam. The fact that she ran away from their life together should have been a first good hint, but it is subverted when she tries to kill him out of jealousy and fear that he might stop her in her quest.
- In The Fairly OddParents!, Tootie is a geeky girl who lives near Timmy and quite obviously loves him. Although Timmy doesn't return her affections at first, he sympathizes with her since they both have to deal with Tootie's meaner older sister and Timmy's babysitter, Vicky. According to the live action movie, many years later, Tootie returns to town a transformed woman, and Timmy falls in love with her.
- The Legend of Korra: The eponymous heroine is portrayed as a down-to-earth tomboy type, who's the amazonian daughter of Chief Tonraq. She's also a natural beauty, though she prides herself on her bending ability and her role as the world's Avatar instead.
- As a male example, Jeremy to Candace in Phineas and Ferb. There's also Isabella for Phineas, who hasn't noticed her feelings yet.
- Like Buffy, Kim Possible is a double subversion because she's insecure about boys, dating, and the social order, and has very few close friends; however, she's admired by her peers, involved in every school activity, and is an international kung-fu-fighting pro-bono action heroine.
- Spoofed in The Amazing World of Gumball in the episode "The Fan":
Sarah: Or maybe I'm just the girl next door who's always been there for you, but you're too foolish to realize it's perfect for you.
Darwin: But you don't live next door.
Sarah: I can move.
- The fashion industry is forever caught between the ideal of maximum glamour and idealised beauty, and the need to sell stuff to, well, real people. One solution is to employ models with (allegedly) "Girl Next Door" looks; it's said that this becomes more widespread during economic recessions, when the industry is less inclined to take chances. Of course, these tend to be unusually slim, poised Girls Next Door, with perfect complexions.
- American TV commercials have had a whole recent trend of "Girl Next Door customer service rep deals humorously with wacky customers" ads. It started with Flo from Progressive Insurance, and she's been joined by Jan from Toyota and Lily from AT&T.