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Implied Love Interest

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Who knows?

Our hero certainly spends a lot of time rescuing that princess, so he must really care about her. And it's a safe bet that she really cares about him, so it's only natural to assume they're more than Just Friends, right? But wait… had anyone actually said that the two of them are together, or are you just assuming? Is the character denying the truth or stating it when he says "She Is Not My Girlfriend"? Is it Not What It Looks Like — or is it? We could ask questions all day.

The Implied Love Interest is when one character fills the role of a Love Interest to another character in the narrative, or otherwise has a lot of tropes related to being a Love Interest surrounding them, but nothing explicit in the narrative or from the creators is ever stated on the matter. One reason for this trope is in a serial work, it allows the author to gently cover their bums when it comes to either Ship Sinking ("Hey, the ship never set sail in the first place") or Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends ("The potential was there from the start"). The writer may state that they Hooked Up Afterwards, or leave it to the reader's imagination. Expect there to be at least some fans who pair the couple up regardless.


A variation also happens a lot in video games where the player has more than one possible love interest. One character will often be the "preferred" option, with the most work gone into their romantic "route," hints nudging the player in their direction early on (such as being the first one the player runs into), or just the easiest to connect with unless the player deliberately chooses to go with another choice.

Naturally, this goes hand-in-hand — though whether palms cupped or fingers laced, we couldn't tell you — with Ship Tease. If the relationship is left ambiguous because the characters are of the same sex, it's either Hide Your Lesbians, or Homoerotic Subtext. Or, if the "couple" in question are close relatives, it's Incest Subtext.

Compare with The Not-Love Interest, which is similar, but the romantic implications do not actually exist.


Contrast with Designated Love Interest; an Implied Love Interest is not canonically the "true" love interest, but is written with such chemistry that one suspects otherwise, whereas a Designated Love Interest is canonically the "true" love interest, but is written with very underwhelming romantic chemistry.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Attack on Titan has an incredibly bleak example of this, with Levi and his subordinate Petra. However, this scene was added to the anime and does not exist in the original manga. Petra's father assumes that Petra's 'devotion to Levi' (really likely devotion to their military cause) is romantic intent and believes that she wants to marry him, and brings it up personally to Levi, unknown to the fact that Petra just died and her remains were unable to be recovered. Levi does not respond or address this in any way, and she has so far never been brought up again by Levi in a way that distinguishes her from his other comrades or subordinates after her death.
    • Oluo and Petra are shown to have a close relationship, though it takes the form of bickering in most scenes. Oluo has an obvious romantic interest in Petra and even refers to her as his "wife", but her feelings for him are implied rather than overt. Many fans have interpreted Oluo imitating Levi's appearance and mannerisms as confirmation that Petra has feelings for Levi (because Oluo has feelings for Petra, and Oluo imitating Levi must mean he wants to get Petra's attention, because she expresses irritation at Oluo's behavior and claims "Levi isn't like that"), but it is also easily interpreted as her being angry that Oluo is wasting his time pretending to be someone else, because Petra likes Oluo for who he really is. Oluo is also shown to greatly admire Levi, and imitating someone you admire and think is "cool" is a common behavior, especially among young people (Oluo & Petra are suggested to be around 19 years of age.) An early official guidebook for the series also referred to their interactions as a "lover's quarrel." Oluo also watches her die in front of him and dies himself trying to get revenge.
  • The Big O: All but outright stated in Roger and R. Dorothy's case. It isn't long before their friends and even their enemies become aware that there's something between them. Further lampshaded by the lyrics of "And Forever", which plays during the end credits of each episode.
  • In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, Chisa has explicit feelings for Kyosuke, but it's never shown if they were requited. Complicating the matter is that she's one of the two people Kyosuke trusts absolutely, his character arc revolves around accepting his feelings over her murder and betrayal, both characters have several flashbacks/monologues about how important the other is to them and their future, and losing her causes—at the very least—a large part of Kyosuke's insanity. All this without a single kiss onscreen. Deepening the ambiguity is Kyosuke's comparison of her to Kyoko... another implied love interest, this time for the protagonist, Makoto.
    • Speaking of... Makoto and Kyoko are shown to care a great deal for each other, to the point she would rather die herself than kill him, have a lot of Ship Tease-y moments where they comfort or reassure the other, and a flashback shows Makoto blushing when he sees her smile. Episode 10 confirms that yes, he's in love with her, but her feelings are kept quiet.
    • Hajime/Izuru and Chiaki, although the subtext is so heavy the only reason it's "implied" is because there was never a Relationship Upgrade. She's shown to have waited a whole year for him to return, and his final thoughts, before undergoing his transformation into Izuru, were of her and how he wanted to be better for her. Episode 10 cements that his feelings for her were so strong that Izuru, who claimed he had no former feelings or memories from his past life, started crying at her death. Then went on to spend years mourning her.
  • In Digimon Tamers, Riley and Yamaki seem to be more than just workmates, as evidenced by their numerous scenes together (unlike her fellow operator, Tally), though the show never explicitly states how close they are.
  • Durarara!!: Vorona seems to have fairly conflicted feelings over Shizuo, at first wanting to kill him and eventually protecting him, she also hasn’t given him any reasons to beat the crap out of her since they met and Shizuo states that he likes having her around. Shizuo also goes out of his way to save Vorona from being crushed by construction equipment and Vorona likewise attempts to kill Izaya so Shizuo won't have to. Izaya pokes fun at this, as he says he thinks Shizuo helps people to get them to like him, whereas he protected Vorona because he has feelings for her.
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • Suzuna and Sena have a meet cute introduction to each other, people often think they're a couple, and Suzuna states that she doesn't view Sena as a little brother (unlike Mamori). Sena's feelings for Suzuna are left rather ambiguous as well, other then the fact that he's rather protective of her.
    • From the same series, Mamori and Hiruma. They started butting heads a lot since Hiruma is a psychotic delinquent who toughen up the team and motivate Sena through fear and pride talk and Mamori is the class rep who protects the more vulnerable members like Sena and clean up after them. As the story goes on Mamori is one of the few that can tell when Hiruma is hiding his exhaustion and softens up to him while Hiruma, who is still confrontational but so with everyone else, relies on her a lot. Suzuna even become their Shipper on Deck.
  • Fairy Tail: By the end of the manga, almost all of the couples are definitively resolved one way or another. The biggest one still up in the air is ironically Lucy and Natsu. There's a lot of ship tease but the series deliberately ends on a Moment Killer and avoids a definitive answer.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Unlike in the manga/Brotherhood anime (where he is exclusively into Winry from the start), Edward does not have a clear love interest in the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist. He has Ship Tease with both Winry and Rose. On Winry's side, there is clear tease in early episodes; however, by the middle their relationship is more subdued to the point where it's ambiguous if it's meant to be romantic or familial; official art loves shipping them, though. A dubiously canon OVA featuring Edward's grandchildren includes a girl who looks exactly like Winry, although that could also imply Alphonse/Winry or even either one marrying Winry's alter instead of the "actual" Winry. Rose clearly likes Edward, but whether he likes her back is ambiguous. He does blush when they dance together, though.
    • In the manga, Mei Chang is the implied love interest to Ed's brother Alphonse. During the main story they're shown to get along quite well and Mei clearly has a crush on him, but that's as far as it goes (the fact that Mei is pretty young and Al is currently a suit of armor kind of ensures that). But the epilogue says that Al left Amestris to study with Mei in Xing 2 years later, and at some date further in the future both of them are with Ed, Winry, and the latter couple's two children for the Elric family portrait, suggesting that Mei is now part of the family.
  • While possibly not the case with their counterparts in GoLion, Keith and Princess Allura in Voltron are widely considered the show's Official Couple, but their feelings for each other are never stated to go beyond friendship. It's possible that they are in love with each other and just don't realize it, but aside from a ton of Ship Tease the show doesn't really portray them as a couple.
    • As mentioned before, comic adaptations and the successor Voltron Force are rather blatant that they are.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers is a confusing case. While there are undoubtedly several potential pairings who get enough Ship Tease to justify calling it this, some characters are involved in more than one of these pairings, which leaves a situation where a character can have numerous other characters where a hook-up would have received enough subtext to not come as a surprise.
  • Inuyasha: Rin's observations and Kagura's thoughts imply that Kagura's in love with Sesshomaru. Moryomaru's comments and Totosai's observations imply that Sesshomaru cares about Kagura in some way but Rumiko Takahashi leaves the nature of their relationship open to interpretation.
  • K has three—Saruhiko and Misaki, Kuroh and Shiro, and Seri and Izumo. In something of an aversion/subversion of Hide Your Lesbians, the last one there is the only het couple and the only ones who don't have a legitimate reason why they just haven't had a chance. As of the end of Return of Kings, Saruhiko and Misaki have just gotten back to being friends after three years of fighting, and Shiro just returned to his original body after being body-swapped for the whole time he's known Kuroh—the attraction was clearly there from the start but he was in a complete stranger's body, so that would have been odd.
  • Maken-ki!: The exact nature of Takaki's relationship with Yuuka is ambiguous enough that it borders on being a case of Hide Your Lesbians.
    • There's subtle implications, such as when they arrived together for the student council's vacation to Okino Island, as if the were a couple. At other times, like the chapter 45 preface pagenote  the manga outright teases the possibility, though the page caption asserts it has nothing to do with the story.
    • Despite this, it's still implied that Everyone Can See It, though no one ever actually confirms it. The closest instance being Takaki's concern during the time of Yuuka's capture. In chapter 81, Minori and the others each try to assure her that Yuuka would be fine. When Yuuka escapes and safely returns to Tenbi, it causes Takaki to openly shed tears as Yuuka apologizes for making her worry.
  • Mazinger:
    • Mazinger Z: Kouji and Sayaka were the Trope Codifier for Belligerent Sexual Tension, spending most of the time together and were very close at each other, and after the Final Battle they traveled to America together, but they never became a couple. The anime makes Sayaka's feelings very explicit, but downplays Kouji's ones and showing him getting pervy about other women, but both manga versions (especially Go Nagai's original story) are more explicit about them wanting to pursue a relationship. They never quite reach the Official Couple status, but most fans take that status for granted. In other continuities they did become Official Couple on panel, though.
    • Great Mazinger: Tetsuya and Jun did not get together on panel, but there were tons of Ship Tease throughout the series. Jun spent the whole series chasing Tetsuya as he was Oblivious to Love, and he got jealousy when Jun got some suitor or he thought she would leave him.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: Duke and Hikaru clearly cared for each other and loved spending time together, but it was never explicitly stated they were together.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
  • Setsuna F. Seiei of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Bridge Bunny Feldt Grace, especially in the movie. Setsuna and Marina are more like Platonic Life-Partners.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Izuku and Uraraka. He's definitely expressed some attraction to her, and especially early on gets flustered while talking to her. He also instantly shifts from hating his childhood nickname "Deku" to adopting it as his own (eventually even using it as his hero name) because Uraraka said she likes it (Iida even Lampshades how abrupt this is), and this happens when they've only known each other for less than a day. It's now definite that she has a crush on him, but so far she's chosen not to distract herself by pursuing it.
    • Todoroki and Yaoyorozu hold a very strong mutual respect for each other and after being paired up during a training exercise, help each other work through their issues. Whether the relationship goes deeper than that is up for interpretation.
      • With these two, the author seems to be very aware of exactly what he's teasing. The spin-off series by the author's former assistant, SMASH, which consists of several scenes that are mostly canon but unrelated to events going on in the plot, features a running gag of Todoroki freezing himself and Yaoyorozu sweating machine parts when they are too close physically. They also get a lot of attention on the second drama CD, where they attend a festival together and their classmates follow them around, trying to determine whether it's a date. The audience isn't quite sure either.
    • Kaminari and Jirou, to an extent. They're often seen hanging out together and get along nicely for the most part, even bicker enough for those who like that. Jirou likes to tease him, but also reacts violently when he's hitting on other girls. On Kaminari's side when thinking about the people he wants to protect as a hero, Jirou is the first who comes to his mind, hinting that his feelings for her might be deeper than he realizes.
    • Among the Class 1-B students (when they show up in the story), Tetsutetsu and Kendo seem to have a mutual attraction, with things like Kendo musing during the Forest Training Camp arc about how she likes Tetsutetsu's straightforward personality, and Tetsutetsu's praise of her to Class 1-A during the Joint Training arc (mirroring Todoroki's own praise of Yaoyorozu during the same conversation) coming off like he's bragging about how wonderful his girlfriend is. Though in the latter case, it could simply be because everyone in 1-B loves Kendo.
  • Patlabor: The Mobile Police: The exact status of Noa and Asuma's relationship is difficult determine because the writers were so ambiguous about it, that fans have continued to debate the subject over 20 years later. In-series, their squadmates are convinced that their partnership goes deeper than "just friends" and even Hana noticed it, during her brief stint with the SVU2. Several episodes even show them going out while off-duty and the last 2-3 episodes imply that the nature of their relationship may be changing, if it hasn't already.
  • Pokémon
    • In several adaptations Misty was this for Red's counterpart note , though the games themselves have Red and Misty being buddy-buddy in one official art:
      • It's a point of controversy in the anime: the original writers stated that the two are too young to recognize their feelings, and some of the dialogue implying attraction in the Japanese version could also be interpreted as leaning more towards Platonic Life-Partners than romance. The English dub promoted her to All Love Is Unrequited—a few instances of dialogue were rewritten in an attempt to push the couple, and more notoriously, Misty's farewell sequence had the scenes depicted in the flashback completely changed (the original focused less on her as a Love Interest, and more on her as a trainer and as a friend).
      • The first 4koma had Red drooling over Misty a few times.
      • Satoshi in Pokémon Zensho is implied to be attracted to her, even using a heart when he talks to her a few times.
      • The Electric Tale of Pikachu rather famously heightened the UST between Ash and Misty far more than the anime ever did, giving them more blatant Ship Tease scenes. It even went as far as to give them a Maybe Ever After.
      • Pokémon Adventures gave Red two in the form of Misty and a new character named Yellow.
    • Jessie and James in the anime. There have actually been a few hints that James does have feelings for Jessie and vice versa, but the nature of their relationship is vague enough for fans to go either way and changes Depending on the Writer.note 
    • Through her time as one of Ash's travelling companions, May had her primary rival Drew as her increasingly heavily implied love interest. It started out with just some Ship Tease, with Drew giving her a red rose (romantic symbolism aside, red roses are his character's entire theme, even having Roselia/Roserade as his main Pokémon) but saying it was actually for one of her Pokémon. This continued to happen in Drew's later appearances, giving the impression of a Tsundere crush on May. But then she started teasing him about the roses being for her Beautifly, and eventually Drew dropped the pretense and just gave May a rose every time they met. While they were never actually confirmed as a couple, most people who knew them assumed they were and the writers seemed to be trying to make it as obvious as possible without actually having a Love Confession or on-screen kiss.
  • The relationship between the Samurai and their Princess is this in Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru: Samurai are cyborg individuals chosen by a "Locker Ball" who transforms them into a Samurai, Locker Balls are found and guarded by "Princesses" and when someone becomes a Samurai they become bonded to the Princess as well which now they must protect and become strong for her, this is even mentioned to be a "Fated Pairing"; However it's never explicitly said that the relationship must be romantic. For their part the main characters, Hachimaru and his Fated Princess, Ann have several potentially romantic moments together, like Holding Hands.
  • Team Medical Dragon has Dr. Katou and Asada. In the beginning of the series, Katou approaches Asada while he's at his rock bottom and recruits him into her Batista research team, giving him a job that allows him to regain his passion as a surgeon and effectively "saving" him from despair. They develop such a strong connection that Katou's ex-boyfriend, who has only seen them together once, believes they're in a relationship. However, it's unclear if their feelings for each other are actually romantic by nature, and Asada's Commitment Issues and Katou's determination to remain single in order to reform the corrupt medical system in Japan would probably prevent any Relationship Upgrade from happening anytime soon. Even if the one-shot post-epilogue chapter hints that Asada might return to Meishin after all.
  • In Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, Iruma is a Clueless Chick Magnet who has both of the main female characters in love with him and multiple other girls showing varying degrees of crushes on him. But Student Council President Ameri is the one who gets the most emphasis on her romantic feelings, and the one who Iruma keeps ending up in romantic situations with.
  • In nearly every Yu-Gi-Oh! series, the main group has exactly one main female character the protagonist's age, and there are occasional hints of her having a crush on the protagonist, but the show's emphasis on The Power of Friendship means her feelings will be ambiguously mutual at best and usually one-sided. The main examples from each series are Anzu from the original (implied to be requited), Asuka from GX (unrequited, as Judai becomes an Official Couple with Yubel), Aki from 5D's (no hint of reciprocation), Kotori from ZEXAL (she confesses, but his reaction is fairly ambiguous), and Yuzu from ARC-V (some hints of reciprocation, but ultimately unconfirmed).
    • Also from the original are Jounouchi and Mai, which is more famous than Yugi and Anzu in some circles, and despite their age difference (he's 16 and she's 24 as of the Duelist Kingdom arc) it's arguably more strongly implied than Yugi/Anzu.
      • Priest Seto and Kisara. Word of God outright states that Kaiba's obsession with the Blue-Eyes White Dragon is because of his past incarnation's deep feelings for Kisara, the origin of its Ka.
    • Jack and Carly from 5D's. Carly canonically has feelings for Jack, and Jack has something for her. However, very little of their relationship after the Dark Signers arc either confirms or denies his feelings. It eventually came out that Carly's arc was changed because, as odd as it sounds, her original voice actress was fired after she was found to be a member of a cult.
    • ARC-V gives Yuya and Yuzu at least three Identical Strangers from three different dimensions, and at least two of the three pairs are this trope. Yuto with Ruri, and less ambiguous with Yugo and Rin.
    • Downplayed with Yusaku and Aoi in Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS. While they do get a few Ship Tease moments, they have a lot less compared to what past protagonists and main girls in the franchise got, and overall don't seem to have much actual romantic interest in each other, or even a particularly strong friendship until the third season. The dub, however, plays this straight.

    Comic Books 
  • The Harvey Comics Casper the Friendly Ghost series has Casper and Wendy, when the two cross over, as inseparable best friends who have been so since time out of mind. The two are both good members of races that the world thinks are Always Chaotic Evil (in this comic, Our Ghosts Are Different makes ghosts just one more of the Enchanted Forest's fantasy races, not dead humans or dead anything. Witches are also a Witch Species, though magic must also be learned. Usually, ghosts scare people and witches play magical pranks and both treat this as their job in life—yes, 'life' applying to ghosts too in this case.) Of course, we never get confirmed non-platonic-ness.
  • PS238: Julie and Tyler. They spend a significant amount of time together, she keeps finding excuses to hug him (despite the fact that she's super strong and he's not), he gives her some confidence-building advice, she saves his life with a blood transfusion, and when they go to an alien planet he's even named as her "consort" (they're pretty sure that means "sidekick"). The only reason this is implied rather than actual is because they're both ten years old, and clearly haven't thought about anything like that yet.
  • Hints of Hippolyta and Philippus being in a relationship were dropped as early as Wonder Woman (1987), and became more heavy handed in Wonder Woman (2006) where Gail Simone intended to have them get married, but their relationship didn't make it into the comic before it was cut short for Wonder Woman: Odyssey. The queen and her captain of the guard were finally in a confirmed relationship for the one shot "Generations", and their relationship made it into the main continuity in Wonder Woman (Rebirth).

    Comic Strips 
  • In the Modesty Blaise strip (also adapted in novels and movies) many people assume that the titular character and her sidekick Willie Garvin are an item, though in fact their relationship is strictly platonic. Lampshaded in the fact that many of Willie's real girlfriends are often portrayed as being jealous of his feelings towards Modesty.

    Fan Works 
  • Breaking The Chains is not listed as a Blake/Weiss story but there's an air of shipping to it. Much of the dialogue is lifted straight from Blake and Yang's romantically tinged dialogue.

    Film — Animated 
  • Mulan and Captain Li Shang in Mulan. They blush around each other and Mulan asks the captain to stay for dinner, but no one outright says that they are a couple. Subverted in the second movie when they get married.
  • Miles Morales and Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. By the end of the movie they have become friends with hints of a future romance between them. Additionally, advertising for the movie featured them going on a date together, and the film's epilogue implies that they have found a way to contact each other across dimensions.
  • Judy and Nick in Zootopia. It's been clearly established by Word of God that they are Platonic Life-Partners by the end of the movie. Whether they will remain that way in the future or develop a romantic relationship is an endless source of debate within the fandom. Even the writers, producers, and voice actors can't agree. One of the directors, in particular, doesn't get tired of hinting there's something between them and maybe they will become a thing in future works. The directors have fully acknowledged that this issue has to be addressed if a sequel is made.
  • Poppy and Branch in Trolls. Branch is heavily implied to be in love with Poppy, and she seems to reciprocate by the end of the movie, but in the end nothing is confirmed. It is worth noting that their most predominate duet together is Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors", a classic love ballad and the scene itself gives off a rather romantic vibe. However, also worth noting is that they don't do anything more than hug, and romantic kissing among trolls is shown to exist in the film's opening number.
  • Eggs and Winnie in The Boxtrolls. The two share several bonding moments, and are shown to really enjoy dancing with each other at one point, but nothing is confirmed by the end of the movie.
  • Mrs. Brisby and Justin have their Ship Tease in The Secret of NIMH, but ultimately their minds are on other things besides romance.
  • Tigress from Kung Fu Panda has some ambiguous Ship Tease with Po. Tigress is his favorite of the Furious Five and a lot of their interactions in the first film revolve around Tigress learning to respect Po. Kung Fu Panda 2 adds onto their relationship by having them hug more than once and having Tigress show more concern for him than the others. Despite this, there's nothing 100% concrete that implies they like one another as anything but close friends.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Fred Ayres and Honey Hale in Flying Down to Rio. They're in each other's company a lot, they dance together (naturally), and the last shot is of them drinking champagne together. They seem like a Beta Couple except that they don't do anything overtly romantic onscreen.
  • Zach and Magenta in Sky High (2005). They're frequently together in scenes, both like to snark at the rest of the cast, dance together at Homecoming (after snarking about how stupid school dances are), and he even compliments her legswhile she's in guinea pig form.
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope. The original advertising even said that she and Luke were "in love", which, given how that worked out, is now Hilarious in Hindsight. Even today, people who haven't seen all the Star Wars movies tend to assume that she is Luke's girlfriend.
    • The Force Awakens seems to kind of be heading in the Rey/Finn direction, but there's very little concrete evidence to point to; it could all be read as platonic too. And who knows what the deal is with Poe!The Last Jedi reaffirms Finn and Rey are just friends and instead focuses on the romantic tension between Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo who share a Force connection, while Finn is paired with Rose Tico.
    • Rogue One depicts certain chemistry between Jyn and Cassian, which culminates in an intense Held Gaze during an elevator ride that leaves a lot of things left unspoken. All things considered, it's a case of "what might have been" had they only had more time to share together before their deaths.
    • Jannah to Finn in The Rise of Skywalker. There's never anything explicitly romantic between them, but Jannah becomes close to Finn quite quickly (to the point of being willing to die at his side) and spends more time with him than any other protagonist. For his part, Finn is excited and admiring when he learns he's not the only defected stormtrooper out there, and trusts Jannah enough to have her at his side in battle. According to Naomi Ackie, the romantic angle of Jannah and Finn's relationship was intentional.
  • Pacific Rim: Mako Mori and Raleigh Becket, as it's unclear whether they are this, Like Brother and Sister, or Just Friends. The ending leaves it ambiguous when they share a Headbutt of Love instead of the expected The Big Damn Kiss.
  • X-Men Film Series
    • X-Men: First Class:
      • The relationship between Magneto and Mystique is a little vague.
      • Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost; his term of endearment for her is "love," and he calls her "the most exquisite thing I've ever seen in my life." There's also this line:
        Emma Frost: If that telepath gets inside your head, he won't be as much fun as I am.
      • Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert may have developed a romance while he was recovering from his injury because he kisses her at the end.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past:
      • Much like X-Men: The Last Stand, it's left rather vague whether or not Bobby and Kitty had anything going on. The Rogue Cut makes it explicit because they kiss twice. Come Cosmic Retcon, Bobby is back to being in a relationship with Rogue. Kitty and Colossus co-teaching a class may mean something between them as well.
      • Erik and Raven. When she's holding a spike to his throat, he just quips, "It's been a while since we were this close." There is also a hint when Charles asks Erik for the second time, "How is she [Raven]?", and Charles' facial expression when he hears the answer reads, "Oh, god, he has slept with my sister."
        Erik: She was... we were... I could see why she meant so much to you.
      • In the "Double Take: Xavier & Magneto" featurette on the Blu-Ray release, Michael Fassbender mentions that his character is "…very close to Mystique, he has very strong feelings for her." On one of the commentaries of The Rogue Cut, Bryan Singer states matter-of-factly that Erik was Mystique's lover.
  • The Eagle (2011): Marcus and Esca. While they do become Fire-Forged Friends, there's no mention of a wife or girlfriend for either of them—aside from Marcus checking out two native women. A planned end to the film had them discussing their plans for the future. There are also questionable lines like this.
    Marcus: I thought I'd lost you.
  • Rita and Cage in Edge of Tomorrow, at least in the original script. They develop their friendship through training and although neither shows overt romantic interest in each other, Cage clearly becomes quite attached to Rita and she to him. Rita's quick kiss before the final battle was an ad-lib by Emily Blunt—and things are left in a Maybe Ever After situation.
  • It's left open with Kaulder and Chloe in The Last Witch Hunter. A kiss between them was filmed but cut from the finished product. While she helps him get over his wife's death, Chloe is significantly younger than him (twenty years between the actors) and it's never stated whether things are romantic or more of a surrogate father/daughter pairing.
  • In Centurion Gorlacon was The Mentor to Etain, but he has no wife in sight and he displays particular affection for her.

  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: Jame and Bane in the first book. They have serious Foe Romance Subtext: they fascinate each other, and parallel each other as foils. They could be quite the Mind Game Ship. Despite this, the subtext always stays highly ambiguous for a few reasons. In the first couple books—the ones Bane mostly appears in—Jame seems pretty asexual. At the end of the first book, they are revealed to be half-siblings, which is usually a form of Ship Sinking.note  Still, their final meeting ends with a Forceful Kiss… but it's not clear whether attraction was really a motive. It was a Kiss of Distraction, to catch her off guard her long enough Bane could push her through a hidden door. He also did it so he could bite through her lip—he was trying to do some Blood Magic. So who knows what to make of all that. All we can really say is that the first book manages to have a lot of subtext while staying very vague.
  • Ciaphas Cain keeps the exact nature of the relationship between Cain and Amberly Vail deliberately ambiguous, what with Cain writing the stories and Vail editing them. The attraction is definitely there, and it's heavily implied they have a sexual relationship on the odd occasions they meet up, but anything more than that is in the realm of speculation. The closest it ever gets to confirmation is when a Slaaneshi sorceress projects a Glamour that makes Cain see her as Vail, while the others with him see someone different, and afterwards he concludes that the glamour made the target see someone they care about.
  • In The ColSec Trilogy, there's nothing to unequivocally establish Cord and Samella as an Official Couple. That said, it's pretty clear by the end of the trilogy that Cord is in love with Samella, and there are hints that Samella probably reciprocates.
  • The Girl from the Miracles District: Zelda and Nikita. It's very clear that Nikita cares deeply about Zelda, and Zelda seems to reciprocate the feeling, but neither is keen on making any move towards a Relationship Upgrade, so they're stuck in a weird space in-between.
  • The Snow Queen is a bit ambiguous about the relationship between Gerda and Kai. Near the beginning they're described as friends who are as close as siblings; she does kiss him when she saves him, but it's not clear if that's meant to be romantic. You can find adaptations where they get together, are just friends, or get actual rewritten as siblings.
  • David Petrakis to the protagonist Melinda Sordino in Speak. David and Melinda share several classes and are lab partners in Biology. He is also one of her very few friends due not caring about her being branded a social outcast after calling the police during a Wild Teen Party before the school year began, Melinda even refers to him as "her hero", and they seem a bit protective of each other. It's more prominent in the book, with a few cute moments on Valentine's Day and a mention that David watches her when he thinks she doesn't notice. For rather understandable reasons, though, (namely, the fact that Melinda was raped at the aforementioned party, hence why she called the cops, and much of the novel centers around her recovery process) it never really goes anywhere beyond them simply being friends.
  • In Thieves Like Us, the exact relationship between Con and Motti is difficult to pinpoint. While the two mostly interact as friends and co-workers, there is one part in the first book where Motti looks after Con while she has a Heroic BSoD and admits he feels something for her, but suspects she wouldn't reciprocate. When she wakes up, she tells him she heard some of what was going on around her, and adds that he is the sort of guy she could be with. Even after this though, the two never actually share romantic scenes and show no indication that they might do so.
  • In The Traitor Son Cycle, it's pretty obvious that there's something between Irene and Walks on Clouds, as the two are far more affectionate with each other than people tend to be after two weeks of knowing one another, but with Walks on Clouds, one never knows what he/she's thinking, and Irene's feeling are in enough non-romantic turmoil that she doesn't even begin to think about this.
  • In Vampire Academy, Janine Hathaway and Ibrahim "Abe" Mazur have very close interactions by the end of the series. Rose suspects that they are having Sex with the Ex and that she might get a "surprise sibling" of her own. Her suspicions remain unconfirmed.
  • The Wicked Years:
    • There's an implied something between Crope and Tibbett in Wicked, but it's never explicitly mentioned. The two are inseparable, they're both explicitly gay, and Tibbett gets jealous when Crope introduces Fiyero to their friends until Fiyero notes that he's already married. Still, nothing is ever discussed in-text.
    • Elphaba and Glinda's exact relationship is vague. There are signs of an attraction between the two but it never goes anywhere onscreen and the two eventually part ways halfway through the first book, with Elphaba dying a few years later. Glinda continues to mourn "Elphie" for years afterwards. Elphaba's relationship with Glinda is much harder to pin down. She's affectionate towards her and they do share a parting kiss (whether it's platonic or romantic is ambiguous), but her feelings aren't nearly as strong. Nearly twenty years afterwards, romantic feelings between the two was confirmed by the author.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7 did this to various degrees for Blake/Jenna, Avon/Cally, Tarrant/Dayna, and Avon/Soolin.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Generally assumed for most 1960s man/woman companion pairs — Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright, Ben Jackson and Polly Wright, and Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield. The first two of these were eventually made canon by a throwaway line in The Sarah Jane Adventures, which revealed that Ian and Barbara had married and that Ben and Polly were a "couple". Jamie and Victoria got very Ship Teasey and then thoroughly sunk when Victoria decides to stay in the 1960s. Steven and Dodo were mostly immune, but the Expanded Universe goes into some heavy UST with Steven and Sara.
    • Despite being No Hugging, No Kissing, the original series has several of the Doctor/companion relationships possessing a romantic tinge, namely Three/Jo, Four/Sarah Jane, and especially Four/Romana. Four/Sarah Jane was finally made canon after 30 years in the New-Who episode "School Reunion", in which the Tenth Doctor told Sarah Jane that his Fourth incarnation had loved her but chosen not to pursue the relationship for various reasons.
    • The Doctor and the Master are widely assumed to have either a highly dysfunctional relationship or a romance that went sour. Not at all hurt by the new series laying on Ship Tease so thick it could be cut with a chainsaw. Even moreso when the Master regenerates as a woman.
    • The Second Doctor and Jamie, mostly because the actors both thought it would be fun to play them like this. Keep in mind that this was in the 1960s, when homosexuality was still illegal in Britain (although by that point barely ever prosecuted).
  • Key West only managed to last 12 episodes, but in those 12, Seamus O'Neill and Savannah Sumner would flirt with each other in every single scene they were in together. And this was way above and beyond the normal flirtatious manner that Savannah had due to her being the show's resident Hooker with a Heart of Gold. Fans of the show assumed they'd eventually hook up. The show was cancelled before anything concrete happened, unfortunately.
  • In an alternate future of Star Trek: Enterprise, the now elderly Captain Jonathan Archer is being cared for by T'Pol. However, an injury prevents him from remembering all that's happened since he was last on the Enterprise. T'Pol says to him that she fully understands that he might consider all this to be an illusion or an elaborate deception. To alleviate his fears she tells him the story of an old girlfriend he wanted to marry back on Earth. The stunned Archer wants to know just what kind of 'relationship' he and T'Pol have that he'd ever tell her the story. She'll only say their relationship has "evolved".

  • Jim Stafford's song "My Girl Bill", despite its name, uses Exact Words to imply that the (male) singer is in a relationship with a man named Bill, whom he is calling "My Girl Bill." At the end, it turns out that he and Bill are competing over the same woman; the singer has been saying, "Don't get between me and my girl, Bill."

  • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has Olive and William. They're the last two spellers left in the competition by the end and their rivalry throughout the show quickly turns to mutual respect and companionship; in fact, their subplots are the only two that interact with each other, with the other characters being concerned with winning the Bee for their own reason. At one point, Olive shyly tells William her name is an anagram of "I love." Despite all this, the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue simply calls them "friends."

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Dick Gumshoe and Maggey Byrde. It's rather obvious that Gumshoe has a crush on Maggey, but it's not clear how she feels about him. She does accept weenies from him after third case in Trials and Tribulations and gives him new coat in the ending but it's still left in the air whether or not they're a couple.
    • Apollo Justice and Juniper Woods. Juniper doesn't even try to hide that she has huge crush on Apollo, but like the example above, it's not clear if it's two-sided. It's worth noting that after Apollo eats lotus root Juniper gave him (which isn't meant to be eaten raw), he's worried that she'll think he's a weirdo, covers her from a bomb blast, and the wounds from said bomb blast are the only reason he didn't defend her later (he actually tried to defend her despite his injuries, but since he could barely stand, Athena changed him). At the same time, Athena's comment suggests he's Oblivious to Love. To complicate things further, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Juniper doesn't appear at all.
  • Ace Combat
  • Beyond Good & Evil fans, thanks to the continued non-existence of the sequel to confirm or deny their theories, are still debating what Double H means to Jade. On one hand, he's extremely devoted to her, treats her with chivalrous kindness, and even gets to kiss her once. On Jade's side, she gets in a He is Not My Boyfriend moment. One could interpret certain parts of the ending as him moving in with her. On the other hand, he's more than a decade her senior, and while they do grow very close, the lack of any real statements on the nature of their relationship (Battle Couple, or just Fire-Forged Friends?) will leave fans debating until the sequel actually (if ever) arrives.
  • Jin Kisaragi, Ragna's younger brother in BlazBlue, has one in Tsubaki Yayoi. They're Childhood Friends and she has an extremely obvious attraction to him, to the point where her closest friends play Shipper on Deck for the two. Considering how much of an asshole he is to virtually everyone else, the fact that Jin treats Tsubaki with genuine kindness only reinforces this.
  • Done very well in Cave Story, where the protagonist and his female counterpart Curly Brace are almost never seen in particularly romantic situations, but it's still clear that they care about each other in some way.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has two, one for the male version of the protagonist, and one for female.
    • Panam is this for male V. She explicitly has a crush on him, even if you don't romance her, she's the only option for male V you meet in the main story, she's the love interest you spend the most time with, and doing her sidequests will unlock "The Star" ending, which the players consider the best possible one in the game. Even if you don't romance her, or you play as a female V (who Panam won't romance), your friendship with her is one of the strongest bonds V can form in the game, essentially making you Platonic Life-Partners or Heterosexual Life-Partners. The deuteragonist, Johnny, even encourages male V to get together with her.
    • Female V has Judy. She's the only romance option for female V you meet in the game's story and have to work with in multiple missions. Johnny will mention that he can see "the way (Judy) is looking at (female V)" and that it makes V feel all "mushy inside" (Johnny and V share a body, so he can feel their feelings). Judy also has the most content post her romance arc, often texting V and sending her trinkets for her apartment. She's also the only love intrest, other than Panam, who will leave Night City with V in "The Star" ending.
  • Makoto Naegi and Kyoko Kirigiri in Danganronpa. Despite huge amounts of Ship Tease throughout Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School along with the confirmation in Episode 10 of the anime that Makoto views Kyoko romantically during his Nightmare Sequence, it's never actually outright said that they like each other or ever get into a relationship. While the epilogue and official artbook heavily imply they love each other and do get together, on-screen it never goes further than holding hands. Although, given the state of Kyoko's hands and how she feels about people seeing or touching them that alone speaks more volume about the nature of their relationship than it usually would.
  • Max and Monica of Dark Chronicle are companions in battle and very close, and toward the end of the game Monica makes a possibly one-way trip through time to the place that is "most important to her", which turns out to be right by Max's side. However, there's never any explicit reference to a romantic relationship - it may be because Max is just barely into his teens and Monica isn't much older.
  • A slightly strange example occurs in Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics. The game features a large number of "tutorial skits" that feature a man, a woman, a little boy, and a little girl. Naturally, this makes them resemble a family. However, they're never actually stated to be related, and while the man and the woman share some flirty dialogue, they're never confirmed to be a couple or the parents of the children, leaving their relationship ambiguous. This may have been intentional, to give them Applicability.
  • Kasumi and Ninja Gaiden's Ryu Hayabusa in the Dead or Alive series. Ever since Dead or Alive 2 came out, plenty of fans deemed them to be the Official Couple of the series due to their interactions in the game, forgetting about Ryu's original love interest Irene Lew. (Back then Irene was basically all but forgotten about at the time, aside from a brief mention in the first game.) However, once Irene became an Ascended Extra in DOA Dimensions and Ninja Gaiden 3, she regained her position as Ryu's love interest.
  • Disgaea has a few of these, the most telling is the ambiguous relationship between Laharl and Flonne. While Laharl repeatedly claims to not like her, his actions in the game suggest otherwise, going as far as to attempt a Heroic Sacrifice. At the time, she was Not Quite Dead in the canon ending while in the normal ending he really does go through with it.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IV: The interactions between Elisa and the Hero, have pretty heavy hints of Childhood Friend Romance, such as her wanting to be with them forever and the hug between the two on reuniting at the end.
    • Bianca Whitaker from Dragon Quest V. Most official media features her more heavily than the other girls (to the point that she's become an unofficial mascot character of the entire franchise), and use her son and daughter for the promotional artwork. Even the official cover art has Bianca and the children sharing her hair color. The story itself also nudges to player into choosing her as the bride as well, though the DS remake is more evenhanded about it.
  • EarthBound has this with Ness and Paula, despite what most people will tell you. Despite them not actually becoming an item, plenty of NPCs are Shippers on Deck for them, and of course there's the time where Paula is implied to decide against a love confession (she claims to have "forgotten").
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years: Edward and Harley. There's plenty of ship teasing and unresolved sexual tension between the two of them, and Tellah's ghost is practically a Shipper on Deck, but the game never confirms if they become a couple.
    • Final Fantasy X does this with Lulu and Wakka. She previously dated his brother Chappu who died in battle. Tidus simply suggests to her that she get with Wakka instead at one point. She does share a tender moment with him in the middle of the game but it's left vague. The sequel is two years later and they're suddenly married with a baby on the way.
      • Final Fantasy X-2 also gives Rikku one as well. A lot of the scenes with Gippal are optional and if you miss some of them, it's this trope. If you get all of them (for 100% Completion) then it results in a Maybe Ever After.
    • All of the player characters in Final Fantasy XII. Vaan and Penelo have grown up together and they're certainly quite close. They are implied to be together by the end of the game. Balthier and Fran have also been partners (as in sky pirates) for years and there are obvious signs of flirting — as well as a handful of tender moments between them. Ashe and Basch do have an interesting relationship and this line from Penelo "I know Ashe misses Basch" implies some kind of romantic connection.
      • Ashe and Balthier could be read as this, particularly from their scene together in the sequel.
    • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII:
    • Haurchefant in Final Fantasy XIV is very friendly towards the player character and is willing to do anything for them. The romantic subtext between the two is very subtle in the English script, but in the Japanese script, Haurchefant is much more open with his feelings towards the player character and can get very flirtatious at times. Naturally, since the player character is a Heroic Mime, you can choose via dialogue options on whether or not you appreciate his feelings or are happy to have him as a friend. Regardless of the feelings, the player character is glad to have Haurchefant on their side since being ran out of Ul'Dah by The Syndicate and seeing all of their Scion friends pull a last stand effectively left the player character all alone. When Haurchefant dies, the player character is visibly struck hard by it and certain cutscenes later on in the story shows that they still haven't quite gotten over their friend's death. Because the player character can be shaped to however the player wants them to be, Word of God says it's up to the player to decide how they view their relationship with Haurchefant and other NPCs.
  • Fire Emblem has many examples, though in most games the player can arrange for a wide variety of hook-ups other than the ones that are implied to be "correct."
    • Julia or Lana for Seliph in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, though the former ship is sunk upon Seliph finding out they're related, unless you keep her and Seliph glued to each other until she's captured. It's more blatant in the Oosawa Mitsuki manga adaptation, though.
    • Lilina for Roy in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade. They have Ship Tease moments even outside of support conversations (mostly Lilina making it blatantly obvious that she has feelings for him, with Roy just not catching on), their support chain is one of the fastest in any game, getting them to A-rank alters the ending, and one of the CG images in the music player depicts their first meeting as children. This even got two nods in prequel Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade; one in the B-Support between Lilina's father Hector and Roy's father Eliwood, which has Hector dreaming of a not-yet-born Lilina playing with an unborn Roy in the future, and getting supremely annoyed at the possibility that he may lose his daughter to Eliwood's son, and the other in the epilogue, which shows the above-mentioned first encounter in cutscene form. Furthermore, an attention-grabbing card (lower-right) was made for the official Fire Emblem Cipher card game.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade:
      • Ninian for Eliwood, given the heavy amount of Ship Tease between the two and the fact that their A-Support alters the ending so that Ninian stays behind with her lover.
      • Hector for Lyn. The two of them have a lot of Ship Tease moments with each other as well as some altered scenes.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening:
      • Chrom gets two — Sumia and Female Robin. Discuss with caution.
      • Male Robin and Lucina could also be seen as this, due to their relationship altering some of the scenes in the game's story, as it does with Female Robin and Chrom. Again, discuss with caution.
    • Fire Emblem Fates: Azura is this for Male Corrin. They get a lot of Ship Tease on all three routes, and Azura has three unique Love Confessions and Support chains with him, compared to everyone else's one, in spite of the true nature of their relationship.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: Depending on the route, Byleth gets....
      • Edelgard, regardless of gender, is implied to be carrying a torch for them. At the end of her route, she essentially gives a Love Confession even if she isn’t S-Supported. She's still implied to have feelings for them even on the Silver Snow route, where they are absolute mortal enemies as this is the route where Byleth betrays her after having spent almost a year growing closer to her as her professor. Promotional art also tends to show her gazing longingly at Byleth whenever possible.
      • Dimitri, both pre and post-timeskip (especially post), has several scenes with a lot of romantic undertones and Holding Hands is a reoccurring theme between them. He’s also the only one of the main lord whose paired ending with Byleth mentions marriage between them. Although he can only marry a Female Byleth, the undertones are still very much present when playing as male, making him either bisexual or If It's You, It's Okay towards Byleth in-text.
      • Rhea in her route, regardless of gender. In fact, Byleth's Relationship Values with Rhea are so important that her chance of surviving the final battle depends on her relationship with Byleth. Fail to get an A-support and she gets a Mercy Kill.
      • Claude downplays this a bit. Much like Dimitri and Edelgard, he does get more than a few scenes highlighting his relationship with Byleth. However, they lack some of the romantic undertones the former two have since Claude is considerably more well-adjusted than either of them and Rhea so he doesn’t rely on Byleth being his Morality Pet. That said, the Ship Tease between the two is still very much present, so he still fits the trope, only a bit less explicitly.
      • Much like the other house leaders, Yuri comes off as this in the Cindered Shadows side-story. But much like Claude, this is heavily downplayed (likely due to him not having his own proper route). He gets a bit of deliberate Ship Tease with them, fitting his status as The Tease, becomes soft to Byleth pretty quickly, and isn’t ashamed to call them cute when recruited in the main game.
  • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Viridi is this to Pit. It's worth noting that she goes all Tsundere for him eventually, on top of one of Pit's weapons, the Viridi Palm, apparently only being usable by beings completely devoted to her (and its design being her face surrounded by weaponized hearts). When Palutena teases her for having a soft spot for him, Pit admits he's not completely against the idea.
    • The original Japanese version seems to depict Palutena more, with he even admits he fantasizes about her.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Even Sora and Kairi are just this. Plenty of Ship Tease, but nothing happens in a No Hugging, No Kissing series.
    • Roxas and Naminé first cross paths in the prologue to Kingdom Hearts II, and though they only interact a few times, the pair quickly build up a strong bond, with Naminé vowing that they will meet again one day, even if they initially aren't able to recognize each other. This is, of course, because they're the Nobodies of Sora and Kairi. There's even a scene before the final battle with Xemnas where, prior to their complete merger, Kairi has Sora promise they'll spend every day together when Naminé expresses joy over the prospect of being reunited with Roxas.
    • In an inversion to the official status of the Cloud-Tifa-Aerith situation, in Kingdom Hearts, Aerith is implied to be Cloud's love interest, while Tifa is the manifestation of his inner light.
    • The implications are no longer very subtle in the credits to 2.8 HD Final Chapter Prologue, which features Sora/Kairi, Roxas/Naminé, and Cloud/Aerith among a montage of clips featuring very well-established official couples from Disney.
    • By the end of Kingdom Hearts III, Sora and Kairi are taken well past implied, as they not only finally get around to sharing that paopu fruit, but are depicted holding hands in public more than once - for the uninitiated, in Japanese culture any form of public physical affection is generally considered the realm of serious couples.
    • Arguably, Sora and Riku, or at the very least Riku towards Sora. In the original Japanese dialogue of III, when Riku and Mickey are in the Dark World for the first time, Mickey says Riku has found the strength to protect his 'precious person' (taisetsu na hito), very obviously implied to be Sora. This scene comes directly after one with Hercules saying Megara is his own precious person. However, in the English dub, Mickey says the 'things that matter' instead, while Hercules says 'the person I love most' about Megara, so the parallel and implication are completely lost (even if we as the audience can still deciper that Sora is the reason for Riku's growth and character development). To top it off, the KH3 Ultimania entry about Riku also uses precious 'person' instead of 'things'. It seems Riku's wish has deliberately evolved from when he was a child, but that important bit of character development got no homoed out of the English version.
    Image Text: A young Riku stated his wish: “I want to become strong enough to protect the things that matter.” Roughly 10 years later, after many twists and turns, he has finally obtained the strength to protect the person who matters.
  • Ribbon from Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is the closest thing to a love interest in the Kirby series. If you get the good ending, which requires 100% Completion, Ribbon will give Kirby a kiss, making him blush. It depends on whether you interpret the kiss as a romantic one or just a simple "Thank you" kiss. This is probably why Ribbon is so popular despite only being in one game.
  • League of Legends:
    • Garen and Katarina have been teased for years in varying ways. Maokai complains about people carving G<3K in his bark, Lux teases them about sitting in a tree, Tahm Kench offers both of them the chance to be taken to the other, and Pantheon comments that they are lucky to have found a battle partner in the other. Legends of Runeterra finally confirmed the two are dating in secret in 2019.
    • While in the current canon lore Ezreal is presented as a Hopeless Suitor towards Lux, in the Star Guardian universe, Ezreal and Lux get plenty of teasing towards each other. In the Battle Academia universe they are straight up dating.
    • The Lux comic heavily implies Jarvan IV is in love with Shyvana, while Shyvana's Undying Loyalty towards Jarvan in Legends of Runeterra suggests the feeling is mutual.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, players can do bonding events with characters that would end in a romantic ending (or a friendship ending if the character is male). Out of all the girls, Alisa Reinford is pushed as Rean Schwarzer's primary love interest as the game nudges at their relationship, people even comment on it, and for three games, Alisa is the only one who ends up kissing Rean's lips at the end of their bonding events compared to the other girls who don't even get a kiss. It's only in the fourth game where almost all the girls can have a real shot at getting a romantic ending with Rean if the player chooses to... and the game still tries to nudge players to choose Alisa.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The eponymous Princess and Link, throughout their multiple incarnations. They are the page image for a reason. The romantic connection between varies greatly depending on the game, from strongly implied (like in Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword) to non-existent (like in Twilight Princess). Hyrule Warriors plays off this a bit, revealing that the Canon Foreigner villain of the game became jealous of the connection that is always present between the two, having fallen for Link herself.
    • In Twilight Princess, Link is implied to have romantic feelings towards Mayor Bo's daughter, Ilia, which Collin, Midna, and Telma make note of at different points in the game. There's even a Sidequest Sidestory dedicated to restoring her memories which concludes with Renado, Cor Goron, and the others giving them a moment alone. After giving Link the Horse Call, Ilia tells him he needn't worry about her anymore and says she'll wait for him.
    • Revelations in supplementary material that the Link in Twilight Princess is a direct descendant of the one in Ocarina of Time retroactively make Malon to be the likely spouse of the latter, given that the Link in Twilight Princess is a rancher who knows Epona's song and is neither royalty nor a Half-Human Hybrid.
    • Played with in Breath of the Wild, where there are at least three different girls with feelings for Link: Zelda, Mipha and Paya. While Paya's nervous crush on Link never goes beyond that, both Zelda and Mipha are explicitly and unambiguously confirmed to be firmly in love with him. However, Link's own feelings are deliberately left ambiguous, one way or another, and likely intentionally left to the player's interpretation, to the point that, when it comes to Zelda and Mipha, the game has dialogue options that may imply he returns the feelings of either of them, neither of them, or both of them.
      • The Japanese version plays the trope more straight. The journal entries in the Adventure Log are written there in the first person, as in Link being the writer, and he reflects his own thoughts in them. In many entries, especially in those from later in the game, Link talks about Zelda with significant romantic undertones, strongly suggesting that he reciprocates her. This was removed from the Western localizations, however, where the journal entries are written addressing the player directly instead.
  • Liara T'Soni in the Mass Effect trilogy is widely considered the "default" romantic option. She's romanceable to both male and female Shepard, can be romanced in the first game, a majority of the Shadow Broker DLC focuses on the strain of her and Shepard's relationship after the latter's been dead for two years, and she stays loyal to you throughout the entire series.
  • Used frequently - though not always - throughout Metal Gear, in order to maintain Snake's unattainable quasi-Celibate Hero cool while still allowing him to have sexual tension with an attractive girl.
    • Diane in Metal Gear 1 gives Snake advice over the radio and has an overprotective brother who hates the fact that Snake keeps calling her. She attempts a love confession at the end of the game but has second thoughts.
    • In Metal Gear 2, Snake hits on Holly a couple of times and remarks to another male character that she's 'a blond beauty'. He needles her by pretending he's been asked to kill her (which she doesn't find funny), they make a plan to eat Christmas dinner together, and then he ditches her with zero explanation. Gustava is also implied as a love interest for him, since they both open up to one another extremely quickly, she tells him about her relationship with Frank with the implication Snake reminds her of him, Snake uncharacteristically freaks out about Gustava's death, and there's some sort of triangulation going on in the interaction where Fox murders Gustava but keeps Snake alive for himself.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake is clearly attracted to Olga, and talks about her in sexual terms whenever the topic of her comes up, but also makes it clear he isn't taking his crush seriously. She flirts with him on their first meeting but mostly just hates him. The two of them had some kind of interaction offscreen in which he was able to convince her to work together with him, which was heavily implied to involve Snake battling her. This carries over to External Gazer, where she is too embarrassed to tell Snake that she's married in her universe, and Snake lets her off by saying it's better he doesn't know.
    • In Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, Elisa functions as a love interest. At one point she manages to gain access to Snake's cell by telling the guard she wants to seduce him and ends up hugging him naked in order to talk to him using her powers. Roy, when introduced to her, says that Elisa is a little young and Snake should probably wait.
    • Metal Gear Solid 4 has an interesting variation where several female characters appear to find Snake attractive (on some level, anyway) but all of them hook up with someone else. Meryl is an Old Flame who does still hit on him a couple of times but soon gets tired of his depressive Death Seeker attitude, eventually hooking up with Johnny. Snake's first interaction with Naomi is rather sexual in tone and involves a scene of them doing a clinch while holding a rose, like tango dancers... but when she actually gets to see him naked (for medical examination), she starts crying, and she eventually becomes involved with Otacon. There's an emphasised shot of Snake looking deeply unhappy when Otacon and Naomi sleep together, though which one of them he's jealous of is intentionally unclear. Eventually, when you realise Otacon is also raising a kid with him, vowed to spend the rest of his life together with him at the end, and forms Snake's most emotional storyline, you start to realise (as Word of God stated) that Snake's love interest was actually Otacon.
    • At the end of Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, Snake has a similar Character Development arc as he's put into by falling in love with Meryl in Metal Gear Solid, and rescues Chris and drives off into the sunset with her before declaring his desire to get revenge on the person who planned the mission. He asks Chris to wait for him and she agrees.
    • Metal Gear Ac!d partners Snake up with a beautiful SWAT agent named Teliko. Mostly they're just mission partners, save for one or two mildly flirty interactions, but at the end of the game Snake mentions he was climbing a mountain before the mission and she asks if she can come along.
    • In Metal Gear Acid 2, Snake seems to be in some kind of relationship with a woman named Consuela Alvarez, and is especially anxious to get to see her again.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4 manages to avert this for the most part. While one of the companions, Rise, has a blatant crush on the protagonist, and is seen calling out an anguished love confession during the ending movie as the protagonist rides the train out of Inaba, no one character is given more in-game moments than another. That was until Persona 4 Golden introduced Marie. She holds a connection to the protagonist that none of his other friends do, she's frequently placed into She Is Not My Girlfriend moments, she's one of the few love interests to actually kiss the player character and the climax of her story carries a lot of romantic undertones regardless of whether or not the player actually pursues a romance with her. She also always shows up outside the Dojima house to give the player character chocolate, even if the PC didn't romance her or if he just got back from a date with someone else.
    • Persona 5's Updated Re-release Royal gives the protagonist Joker one of these in in the form of Kasumi (or rather, Sumire) Yoshizawa. She gets far more Ship Tease moments with Joker than even Haru Okumura (a character who explictly falls in love with Joker no matter what), and is the only romanceable character to have a Showtime with him (which features Joker carrying her bridal-style). Notably, she is also the only girl who confesses her feelings to Joker before he potentially engages in a relationship with her. To add to this, much of their designs mirror each other: she (as Sumire) wears fashion glasses like Joker that they both eventually ditch at the end, she has a red scarf in January that contrasts his blue one, her thief outfit is quite literally a female version of Joker's, and her Ultimate Persona Vanadis looks like a Distaff Counterpart to Arsene. She also appears together with Joker frequently in promotional artwork for Royal.
  • Pokémon
    • Essentially any time there's a possibility of the potential player characters meeting in any of the mainline games (Ethan/Lyra, Brendan/May, Lucas/Dawn, and Calem/Serena respectively, the other member of the pair being an NPC); with the exception of Generation V, where the other player character barely appears as The Cameo as your partner in the Battle Subway. However, this is usually restricted to really light Ship Tease that may easily fly over the heads of some people, or may not have had any romantic undertones intended at all from the writers... However, this trope is played completely straight for Brendan and May in the remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, if they aren't an outright canon couple, where the two are actually shown dating at the end of the game.
    • Wes and Rui from Pokémon Colosseum, very much in the same vein as Mario and Peach themselves, but it's unknown if its a Relationship Writing Fumble or intentional Ship Tease.
    • N and the player character could be said to have this relationship in Pokémon Black and White. However, due to the presumed age difference between the teenage protagonist and the 20 year old N, and N's obliviousness to human society in general, this is highly debatable.
    • This is the situation between Rosa/Nate and Curtis/Yancy in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2. It's painfully obvious that Curtis/Yancy has developed a major crush on Rosa/Nate, and if you follow his/her Sidequest Sidestory to its conclusion, the two eventually have a Ferris Wheel Date Moment together.
    • The player character and partner character in each game of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series has some ship teasing between them, but the pair in Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon is upgraded to this. While they don't say anything direct, a lot of their dialogue during and after the third act makes it apparent they may have more than platonic feelings for each other.
    • The player and Shauna in Pokémon X and Y get a heavy Ship Tease moment at Parfum Palace... Especially if you're playing as Calem (whereas her dialogue to Serena is played up to be more platonic). This would just be an unusually heavy Ship Tease moment if it weren't for Word of God confirming the romantic undertones, sort of foreshadowing the Relationship Upgrade Brendan and May get in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon is another case where the opposite gender character never appears, and instead all of the Ship Tease ends up focused on the main character and Lillie, who is heavily implied but never stated to have a crush on the protagonist (regardless of what gender you choose) and who the protagonist helps throughout the game.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield gives us Victor (male PC) and Marnie, or Gloria (female PC) and Hop. Marnie is never anything short of unfailingly cheerful and sweet to both the player and Hop, and Hop is a close friend to the player in all circumstances. The fandom is fine with both pairings. Or all three/four in one relationship.
  • In the Puyo Puyo series, there are multiple hints that Amitie has feelings towards Sig, with the games keeping the Ship Tease subtle while the official light novels explore their relationship further. With that said, Amitie is never outright stated to be in love with Sig, and Sig himself is too focused on Bug Catching to have actual thoughts on this, so even if the implied crush is mutual (and according to a line Sig says in the light novel Amitie and the Girl of Love!?, it might be), it's unlikely something will actually come out of it anytime soon.
  • While the Dating Sim aspects of Sakura Wars allows the player to chose which girl the main character ends up with, franchise poster girl Sakura Shinguji seems to be the main one for Ichiro Ogami, given her obvious attraction to him.
    • In Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, Gemini Sunrise is this for Shinjiro Taiga; she's the first member of the team to befriend him (despite being the last to actually join), has faith in his abilities right from the start, and even her crossover appearances explicitly spell out how much she loves him.
  • Shining Resonance allows Yuma to date any of its playable female characters, but will heavily imply that Sonia and Kirika are his two primary love interests, regardless. Most tellingly when they end up competing over him, due to Kirika's jealousy over Sonia being closer to Yuma than she is. However, at least two of your other party membersnote  will encourage him to try to get closer to Kirika. But the final say is left up to the player: you can choose either, both, or neither one.
  • Flynn and Isabeau in Shin Megami Tensei IV. Flynn is the player-controlled Heroic Mime, but Isabeau displays a fairly transparent crush on him. Since she's the hero representing the Neutral alignment, she only remains Flynn's teammate if the player ends up siding with her (in fact, she dies on the other two alignment paths), but the Neutral path in a given Shin Megami Tensei game is usually assumed canon, and considerably more pieces of merchandise and official art portray Flynn with Isabeau rather than her respective Law and Chaos counterparts Jonathan and Walter. There are also a few hints that Stephen is trying to nudge them together.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The games themselves generally avoid the subject of romance, despite Amy's unrequited crush on Sonic. Though Sonic X changed it by adding bits of subtext so it wouldn't seem as one-sided. Sonic X also added Belligerent Sexual Tension between Knuckles and Rouge, largely due to the latter being portrayed as a tease. The show was rather (in)famous among the shipping community for a reason.
    • Sonic and the Black Knight: Manages to imply both Sonic/Blaze (through her Black Knight counterpart of Percival) and Sonic/Amy at once. Percival blushes at Caliburn's teasing, and the final cutscene confirms Sonic and Amy were supposed to go on a date but Sonic missed it due to being summoned to Arthur's Realm.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The best example in video games would have to be Mario and Princess Peach, and it may extend to Princess Daisy from Super Mario Land. No romantic connection has ever been made explicit, yet everyone assumes. Lampshaded by Luvbi in Super Paper Mario, and it's shown that the other characters seem to be just as clueless about whatever's going on between Mario and Peach, which leads Luvbi to think it is an unrequited crush. The Paper Mario game before that seem to have NPCs throw out plenty of Ship Teases, and the things Peach says while in captivity seem to imply that she thinks of Mario as a lot more than a friend, however the interaction with Luvbi is probably the only time where Mario and Peach's relationship is explored beyond the two knowing each other, unless you count Bowser accusing Mario of "trying to get between me and Peach". The various games and other sources seem to go back and forth with how "official" Mario/Peach is; some outright confirm their relationship, others only imply it. Super Mario Odyssey outright teases it in the ending where Mario attempts to propose to Peach, only for Bowser to shove Mario out of the way so he could propose to her instead. The two men keep shoving their flowers in Peach's face waiting for an answer, which causes Peach to angrily shout "Enough!" and walk away in a huff. Mario and Bowser stare slack jawed in shock before crying over the rejection, but Peach then waves for Mario to come back home with her after she calmed down. The status quo thus remains.
    • Luigi and Princess Daisy are also implied to be a couple, or strongly believed to be one. In addition to various bits of Ship Tease between games, Daisy's SSBM Trophy mentions that gamers believe her to be "Luigi's answer to Mario's Peach". While in Mario Power Tennis, if Daisy wins the trophy, Luigi will be the one who presents it to her — to which she says "Thank you, sweetie!" They also act as each other's caddies in the Mario Golf series, further suggesting they may be a pair. And the center piece of the Daisy Circuit from Mario Kart Wii, is a statue of them dancing together.
  • Star Ocean: Till the End of Time has Nel and Clair. They are implied to possibly be a pair. In-game, Clair is always concerned for Nel's safety and, when she returns from rescuing Tynave and Farleen, they share a prolonged embrace. The manga version plays up the scene by having Fayt and Cliff stare uncomfortably, as Nel and Clair gaze into each other's eyes, until Cliff finally has to clear his throat to break them up.
  • Tales Series:
    • Harold and Judas in Tales of Destiny 2. While the other party members are paired up in quite obvious fashions, these two get Ship Tease moments (including a scene where Judas is specifically called out on only insulting Harold because he misses her) but no romantic resolution either way... Not helped by Harold getting sent back to the past with no memory of their journey and Judas possibly getting erased from time.
    • Tales of Vesperia: Rita and Estelle's friendship is another case that borders on Hide Your Lesbians, since it's never officially confirmed.
      • Several in-game skits lampshades the implied attraction between them, such as when Yuri and Karol discuss how Rita always frets over Estelle's safety. A separate skit has Judith call Rita out for trying to make an excuse to visit her, while a third one has Yuri outright call them "Ristelle."
      • Rita's also prone to blushing whenever Estelle pays direct attention to her, or anytime she gives Rita a compliment. Karol teases her about it in the following victory skit:
    Estelle: Wow, Rita! That was SO cool!
    Rita: [blushing] Really? Um, t-thanks...
    Karol: [grinning] Oooo~ooo!
    Rita: [flustered] Sh-shut up, YOU!!

  • Sollux and Aradia from Homestuck. It's implied that they dated in the past, with Vriska outright referring to Sollux as Aradia's boyfriend immediately before mind-controlling him into killing her, but even that's relatively ambiguous (especially since trolls have four forms of romance). This former relationship was later clarified to mean a moraillegiance. Still, there's a lot of Ship Tease between the two and the occasional implication of an actual relationship, but nothing concrete either way.
  • Tower of God: Bam chooses to follow Rachel where ever she may go, even if that includes fighting sea monsters even though he had to be taught why people would use violence at all few months prior. Many note that this has a romantic notion to it and the author (of course) hasn't said a thing about their relationship status. She could be a mother figure, big sister, best friend or love interest.

    Web Original 
  • In Hector's World, Tortoisenapper Quince blushes when he sees Senorita Ortega and leaves her flowers, but he doesn't say that he's in love.
  • In Resident Evil Abridged, Chris implies that he's attracted to his partner, Jill Valentine, when he describes her as, "a hot straight-talking woman". Though it's never said how she feels about him.

    Western Animation 
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: The Hero Nigel Uno/Numbuh 1 and his superior/Mission Control, Rachel T. McKenzie/Numbuh 362. While there was no explicit proclamations of love, the two had a lot of Ship Tease together in Rachel's two major appearances, and it was strongly implied that Rachel, at the very least, had a crush on him (Nigel's feeling were less clear, but it was clear he saw her as one of his closest friends). Complicating the matter is that Nigel already had an official love interest: his Puppy Love girlfriend Lizzie Devine, who he had been dating since Season One. That being said, it's notable that the episode where he and Rachel had most of their Ship Tease, "Operation: G.I.R.L.F.R.I.E.N.D.", was also the episode where he and Lizzie finally broke up.
  • Danny Phantom: The episode "Frightmare" suggests that Danny has/had a one-sided crush on Star even though she made her dislike of him constant.
  • Mac and Goo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Admittedly Goo's first appearance was filled with She Is Not My Girlfriend and a few bits of Mac accidentally Ship Teasing himself with her, but throughout the rest of the series their relationship seems to be completely platonic. Though this dynamic could be justified by them being all of 8.
  • Gravity Falls: The episode "Northwest Mansion Mystery" gives Dipper and Pacifica several nice moments together. It's not definitively romantic, but multiple side materials have further played up the Ship Tease.
  • Did anyone ever watch Handy Manny and not assume that he and Kelly had a thing for each other, despite no real evidence?
  • Hey Arnold!: Gerald and Phoebe have a strongly implied mutual crush, making them a Beta Couple for their best friends, Arnold and Helga.
    • Early episodes have repeated hints of something between Harold and Rhonda but nothing is ever stated explicitly stated and in other episodes Harold is shown to be interested in Patti.
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo has never made it clear whether she has a crush on Mr. Cat or not, though the occasional She Is Not My Girlfriend and Ship Tease moments suggest that she does. Subverted as of the fourth season, where it is made very clear that she is in love with him.
  • The Legend of Korra: When held prisoner by Gazan and Ming-Hua, Bolin makes three statements: That Gazan had a Badass Mustache since he was ten, that he was raised by an older sister, and that he and Ming-Hua are mutually attracted to each other. They share a look, then Gazan tells Bolin he got two out of three right. We never find out which.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the series' final episode/epilogue, we get to see what has happened to the Mane Six in the many moons since Twilight's coronation. As they arrive for their regular Council of Friendship meeting, Applejack and Rainbow Dash are playfully arguing over chores, and Fluttershy pops in via Discord's personal dimension as he hands her a bag lunch. AppleDash and FlutterCord were both very popular ships in the fandom, and though nothing is explicitly said, implications are definitely there.
  • On Ready Jet Go!, Mindy and Mitchell are heavily implied to have crushes on each other, in episodes like "What Goes Up..." and "Kid-Kart Derby" where Mindy constantly sneaks up on Mitchell and and even tried to ask him out on a date in the latter episodenote  Mitchell acts abrasive towards her in return, especially in "Mindy's Mystery", but "Solar System-Bake Off!" and especially "Detective Mindy" (where Mitchell seemingly proposes to her at the end of the episodenote  seem to show that Mitchell does care about Mindy. However, it hasn't been confirmed in the show at all.
  • Fred and Daphne in the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoon may very well be the Western Animation Ur-Example. In the original series, none of the characters were romantically linked. The closest the series came to outright Ship Tease was occasionally having the pair dance together. This was enough for the general audience to assume they were a couple. It's become so synonymous with the franchise that many many future adaptations have taken the subtext and run with it.
  • Spongebob and Sandy from Spongebob Squarepants. It's occasionally implied SpongeBob has a crush on her, but nothing has been confirmed in the series itself (licensed products have confirmed it).
  • Star Wars Rebels: Kanan and Hera act Like an Old Married Couple, serve as a pair of Parental Substitutes for the younger members of the crew, and have a few moments where it looks like they're about to kiss, only to pull back so the kids don't have to see it. The prequel novelization A New Dawn depicts a romantic tension between them, though one-sided on Kanan's part; while Hera likes him too, she's Married to the Job. It's implied that while Kanan outgrew this infatuation to focus on commitments in wartime, his feelings still linger. This is most apparent in the episode (re)introducing Hera's father. As of Season 4 it's no longer implied, complete with The Big Damn Kiss. Then it's confirmed their relationship had been sexual by the appearance of a child in the finale.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The show sets up a lot of romantic tropes around Steven and Connie, including Steven working up the courage to talk to her followed by a Crash-Into Hello, but it isn't immediately clear whether or not their relationship itself is actually a romantic or platonic one. Their relationship becomes more clearly romantic in nature later in the series, with Steven definitely having a crush on her and Connie implied to have the same, but neither character has admitted this to each other yet. This may be in part due to Steven aging slower than normal humans complicating things.
      • Having only met them twice before, Kevin assumes they're a couple and spends a whole episode trying to get them back together again... because he wants Stevonnie to liven up his party.
      • As of Steven Universe: The Movie, Steven and Connie have aged by two years, and Steven's body has finally grown into that of a teenager. His and Connie's only major interaction in the film ends with her leaving for space camp, where she gives him a quick kiss on the cheek before running out the door. After a brief moment of Post-Kiss Catatonia, Steven bursts into a massive smile.
      • Steven Universe: Future turns their relationship from implied to explicit, going as far as Steven proposing to Connie. She rejects him only because she thinks it's too early, not because she doesn't like him.
    • Pearl and Rose. Pearl is heavily implied in the show, and outright stated by Word of God, to have been in love, but it's left decidedly ambiguous whether or not Rose returned those feelings exactly, especially considering her eventually falling in love with Greg and having Steven. This may no longer actually be the case, as Rose definitely reciprocated Pearl's feelings during her time as Pink Diamond.
  • Aerrow and Piper on Storm Hawks are close friends and have several intimate moments throughout the series. Their relationship never goes into anything explicitly romantic, but you could hardly be faulted for assuming it was intended to be. Then again, they could just be Platonic Life-Partners.
  • Rai/Kim from Xiaolin Showdown is a very popular ship on, and while there are indications that they might like each other in the series (Rai dreaming about being on a date with Kim, Rai being the only one of the guys that Kim kisses on the cheek, the third season episode "Dreamstalker" confirming Rai's side), it is never outright stated whether Kimiko reciprocates or not.


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