There's this girl who the male protagonist grew up with. She was either the Girl Next Door who was always nice to him or the high school beauty queen who was way out of his league. Either way, she grows up and moves to the big city, and he watches on as she became a famous actress, model, or singer, and he longs for her just like he did when he was young.
There are various ways it can go from there. Either they'll meet again by accident, or else the boy will seek her out. Maybe he's gone from being a shy nerd to being a billionaire, making himself a Suddenly Suitable Suitor. The girl will probably be Lonely at the Top and the boy will be a "piece of home" who seems more "real" than all the vain celebrities she knows.
At its most optimistic, they will fall in love and live happily ever after, but there are several dark turns this plot can take. The boy may go to extreme measures to try to live up to the girl's high standards. Alternately, he may realize she's not worth it after all.
Compare with Uptown Girl (which this trope may overlap with) and Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy. See also Girl Next Door, The One That Got Away, Childhood Friend Romance, Just Friends, Suddenly Suitable Suitor, Boy Meets Girl, Thriving Ex-Crush, and Peerless Love Interest.
- Used in the second movie of Macross Frontier crossed with Forgotten Childhood Friend: Alto remembers a childhood encounter with Sheryl Nome, the most popular Idol Singer in the galaxy, back when she was just an ordinary young girl with a dream who saw him on stage and praised his acting. Alto remembering this moment immediately resolves the series's central Love Triangle in her favor.
- Shark Tale: Before Oscar becomes famous with his "Sharkslayer" ruse, his friend and co-worker Angie is shown to harbor a secret crush on him. She finally confesses her love when confronting him about his Acquired Situational Narcissism and hot new girlfriend Lola.
Angie: Just tell me, Oscar, 'cause I'm curious. Why do you think she's interested in you, huh? Do you think, for one minute, that she would even be with you if you weren't the rich-and-famous Sharkslayer? Are you that blind?!
Oscar: At least she treats me like I'm somebody!
Angie: Yeah, but would she love you if you were nobody?!
Oscar: Nobody loved me when I was nobody!
Angie: I did! Before the money... And before the fame... Before the lie... To me, you were a somebody, Oscar. And now, you're nothing... but a fake. A sham, a con. You're a joke.
- Wish Dragon: Din and Li Na are a platonic example of this trope. They were the best of friends as children but were separated when Li Na's father got a very important job that forced him to move away with his family. Years later as a young adult, Li Na is now a wealthy, famous model who Din still hasn't seen. He then makes several attempts to reconnect with his friend before eventually doing so with a series of events relating to him finding the magic teapot containing Long and reconnecting with Li Na through the activities they loved to do as children.
- Best Legs in the 8th Grade, a Made-for-TV Movie. A lawyer hooks up with the girl he had the hots for back in Junior High School.
- Let It Shine: Cyrus has a huge crush on a pop star named Roxie, and has since they went to the same elementary school together.
- In Lord of War, Yuri Orlov had a crush on the local beauty queen, Ava Fontaine, while growing up. When he's a successful Arms Dealer, he arranges to meet her, and they get married. When she finds out what he does for a living, and he refuses to give it up, she leaves him and takes their son with her.
- Subverted in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where Harmony filled the "unattainable woman" role for Harry when he was young, but when they meet again in Hollywood, she never made it as a starlet and is still Waiting for a Break.
- Miss March is about a guy who wakes up from a four-year coma, finds that his girlfriend is now a Playboy model, and goes on a road trip to the Playboy Mansion with his best friend to reunite with her.
- Spider-Man 2: Applies to both Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker.
- Mary Jane was literally the girl next door to Peter growing up, who Peter has a long-time crush on. Two years after Peter rebuffed her love confession after almost losing her to the Green Goblin, Mary Jane is an up-and-coming model/actress and starring in a successful off-Broadway show, while Peter is trying to balance working odd jobs and going to college (and secretly fighting crime as Spider-Man). While Mary Jane still loves him, is still friends with him, and even suspects his secret, she pursues a relationship with astronaut John Jameson because Peter keeps pushing her away, subverting the trope since he is actively not pursuing her.
- However, Mary Jane discovers his secret identity by the end of the film - making Peter the "Boy Next Door Turned Superhero" - and decides to be with him, despite the risks, making it a Gender-Flipped Double Subversion.
- In Everything Everywhere All at Once, in one of the alternate universes, Evelyn rejects Waymond, learning martial arts and becoming a famous movie star. Decades later, they reunite at the premiere of her latest film.
- In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby knew Daisy when she was young, and climbs his way from Rags to Riches in order to be with her. It doesn't end well.
- In the anonymous Russian Christmas story Lenochka, written in the 18th century, the protagonist, having just arrived from the country to Saint-Petersburg, learns that the object of his Childhood Friend Romance, the eponymous Lenochka, has become a famous society beauty at court. It eventually turns out she loves him as much as before and uses her newfound influence to get him the promotions he needs to become a Suddenly Suitable Suitor because her late uncle has left her very specific instructions about her choice of a husband.
- In The Wish List, Lowrie's first wish is a kiss from his childhood sweetheart, who's become a famous talk show host in the years since he last saw her.
- In The Beatles song "Honey Pie", the main character's love interest (previously a working girl) has made it big in Hollywood, and he longs for her to come back to him.
- Played with in Johnny Cash's "Ballad of a Teenage Queen." The eponymous small-town girl has everything, including a loving, boy-next-door fiance. Then a movie scout comes to offer her stardom, so she goes to Hollywood, leaving him behind. While he doesn't make any move to follow her, they marry after she grows homesick and returns, implying that he never stopped loving her.
- Inverted in the song "Dixie Road", which was popularized by Lee Greenwood, though performed by others first, in which a man who has made it big as a musician is pining for a girl who he knew in his hometown, but she was happily married to someone else.
- Thomas Dolby composed "Europa And The Pirate Twins" about childhood friends that were separated during a war. Europa grew to become a celebrity, while the singer can only keep a collection of articles and photos of her. When Europa came to London, the singer tried to speak to her, only for one of her bodyguards to grab him. "Her eyes were gone forever as they drove her away."
- The Fountains of Wayne song "Hackensack" is about a guy who keeps seeing a girl he knew in high school in movies and magazines while he's still stuck back home in Joisey, hoping that someday she'll come back for him.
- In the song "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band a man discovers that the girl he admired from afar/lusted after in high school has now become a centerfold model.
- Gender-flipped in Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi", which tells the story of a woman who had a crush on a guy since high school, but wouldn't admit to it because he was unpopular. Now, he's a celebrity, and she's still pining for him, but he's out of her reach.
- Taylor Swift's song "dorothea" is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator whose high school sweetheart, the titular Dorothea, left their hometown and moved to L.A. in search of fame and success. Its companion song "tis the damn season" tells the story from Dorothea's perspective as she visits home for the holidays and contemplates whether leaving town was really the right decision.
- Storm Large's Fat Chick's Revenge is a dark take on this trope, where the singer is a formerly unpopular girl who's taunting the guy who knew her when she was in school. Rather than pining for her, he'd bullied her because of her weight back then but is now trying to pretend he'd always had feelings for her because of her newfound fame and wealth. She makes it clear that she remembers exactly how he treated her back then and has no interest in him now. Her "revenge" is living well while rubbing in the fact that he's never made anything of himself.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Makoto Naegi went to middle school with Sayaka Maizono, and though he had a crush on her, they never spoke because they were in different classes. When Makoto enrolls in Hope's Peak Academy as the Ultimate Lucky Student, he's put in the same class as Sayaka, who has since become the leader of a prominent idol group and enrolled as the Ultimate Idol. To Makoto's surprise, Sayaka actually remembers him from middle school, because she greatly admires him for the time she saw him help an injured crane that had gotten trapped in the school pool. Sayaka plays a big role in Makoto's motivation to survive when the killing game begins, even after she gets herself killed trying to frame him for the first murder.
- Niki from Lessons in Love was Sensei's childhood girlfriend, until he broke contact with her in the yet-unexplained period following his brother's death. In the game's present, she's a massively popular singer and idol, and admits that part of her success was an attempt to invoke this trope so that Sensei would realize what he'd skipped out on and come groveling back. A totally unsuccessful attempt - not only has he not been pining for her, his amnesia has left him with no memory of her at all and he's somehow managed to not even notice her despite her ubiquitous media presence.
- Rara/Countess Coloratura from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is a platonic, same-gendered variant of this trope with Applejack. The two were childhood friends who went to summer camp together, where they wrote a song. When they meet again for the first time in years in "The Mane Attraction", Applejack learns Coloratura had become a pop sensation in the interim. But when she acts distantly, refuses to accept Applejack's use of her "Rara" nickname, and performs an act that has no resemblance to the pony she once was, Applejack realizes she's been trapped under the influence of a controlling manager, subsequently helping her break free from him and adopt a style that's much more true to herself.