A form of Heroic Self-Deprecation where a character thinks they're not good enough for their Love Interest. They may think this while they're actually in a relationship with said person (in which case they may break it off "for the other person's good"), or they may avoid pursuing them in the first place.
Done well, it can provide conflict, as well as maybe Character Development. Done badly, it can come across as Wangst, especially if the character has no reason to feel like this, or worse, is seen as disingenuously fishing for compliments.
- Ah! My Goddess:
- Belldandy is this way towards Keiichi Morisato. Numerous times things happen that make it seem as if he's losing interest in, or cheating on her, and she more or less ends up asking if she's good enough. And every single time, he promises her that she is, considering the wish he made to her in the first episode/chapter ("for a girl like her to stay with him forever" after being rejected by another woman), he doesn't intend to betray her trust.
- Keiichi himself is probably an even better example of this, particularly in the anime. He's quite aware that he is — especially in the beginning — an unattractive loser, and that by staying with him, Bell is taking a big step down. He often feels guilty for tethering her to him when he knows she could find someone better. The fact that both sides in this relationship are like this is one of the major contributors to the series' infamous Cannot Spit It Out dynamic.
- Belldandy also believes that she doesn't deserve Keiichi because she has been aware from day one of their relationship that Heaven messed with Keiichi's mind to keep him from consummating their relationship.
- In Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts despite how much he may deny feelings for and run away from Shouko and her advances on a frequent basis, when Yuuji actually talks about his relationship with her, he makes it out like it's all his fault that she's fallen in love with a worthless guy like him.
Yuuji: I want to set her free.
- Which hilariously backfires and only causes her to fall in love with him even more anytime he tries to convince her that she deserves a better guy than him.
- Annie Brighton from Candy Candy is this to Archie Cornwall, which isn't helped by his crush on the titular Candy and how Annie, despite her and Candy's Romantic Two-Girl Friendship, is also jealous of her. However, Archie soon realises that Annie is the one he actually loves, and they stay together.
- As someone who doesn't excel at anything, Hajime Hinata in Danganronpa 3 has a massive inferiority complex that makes him feel unworthy to be around Chiaki Nanami, one of the top elite. Despite her constant reassurances that she likes him as he is and he doesn't need talent, he still wrestles with thinking he doesn't deserve to stand by her side. He's sadly unable to overcome this and turns himself over to human experimentation, hoping to be made into someone "better". He gets the talent, and loses everything else.
- In Detective Conan:
- Yumi's ex-boyfriend Haneda is still in love with her, but believes that he is unworthy of Yumi until he can win all seven professional shogi title tournaments.
- Takagi sometimes shows shades of this trope towards his girlfriend Sato. At some point he's seen in tears due to this, thinking of how he believes himself to not have what it takes to make her happy. And then he's kidnapped and put in a Death Trap. And one of the persons who saves him is Sato herself.
- Krillin in Dragon Ball. Even after he married 18, he still wonders why she chose him, and still is worried about if he is worthy of her.
- In The Familiar of Zero, Louise continues to worry that Saito is only with her because he's her familiar, in spite of the multiple times he tells her that he loves her. To be fair to her, though, Saito can be rather easily distracted by the other girls in his harem.
- In Fairy Tail Jellal, after his HeelFace Turn, firmly believes that he has no right to be with Erza after what he's done, and even goes out of his way to lie about having a fiance to get around the fact that she's in love with him. All this in spite of the fact that he was Brainwashed and Crazy at the age of eleven.
- Juvia becomes this after she takes down the Necromancer Keyes, by extension killing Gray's father. Instead of getting angry, Gray holds her and tearfully thanks her for freeing his father.
- High School DXD deconstructs this trope with the relationship between Issei and Rias. Despite their love being blatantly reciprocated, Issei was - for quite some time - resigned to the mindset that she, a bonafide Ms. Fanservice and a Nice Girl with a noble heritage, deserves better than a perverted guy like him. This, however, causes Rias to remain heartbroken when Issei answered her question on what she really is to him: he said she's nothing more than the president of the Occult Research Club and his master. It took the support of the other girls to let Issei battle with his inferiority complex - caused by the trauma involving being killed on his first date by his ex-GF for being boring - and successfully hook up with Rias.
- Kaguya-sama: Love Is War:
- In a reversal of the usual Uptown Girl dynamic, it's the rich one who's insecure. Kaguya, for all her riches, intelligence, looks, and popularity feels that her past as an Ice Queen makes her unworthy of being in love with the kindhearted Shirogane.
- Shirogane also applies, but to a much smaller degree. Pretty much everything he accomplished during his high school career was motivated by a desire to stand as Kaguya's equal and prove that he was good enough for her.
- Kimagure Orange Road: Main character Kyosuke is in love with Madoka, but he thinks he isn't and will never be good enough for her. He thinks that she's beautiful, intelligent, mature... and compared to her, he looks like a kid.
- Setsuna from Mahou Sensei Negima! spends a considerable amount of time angsting over how she feels unworthy of her Ojou-sama Konoka. In fact, most of the girls in this series are pretty insecure towards their crushes in some way.
- Mametarou from Massugu ni Ikou is a mutt. After learning his girlfriend is a purebred Kishu, he starts feeling insecure in himself due to "just" being a cross.
- Snow gives hints of this in MÄR. Aside from the occasional jealousy, it doesn't go anywhere. It's heavily implied she hooks up with Ginta at the end anyway.
- In Mayo Chiki!, due to the nature of her situation, Subaru, who is a girl disguised as a boy, is constantly worried that she either isn't good enough for Jiro, or that he's either dating, or likes someone else. Despite that, Jiro always tries to reassure her.
- Both halves of My Love Story!!'s main couple experience this. Takeo primarily before their Relationship Upgrade, Yamato after:
- Pre-upgrade, Takeo has spent his entire life up to that point seeing the girls he likes prefer his Bishōnen best friend, Suna. So, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, it never occurs to him Yamato might reciprocate his growing feelings and he instead tries to play The Matchmaker with her and Suna. This persists until Suna engineers a confession out of Yamato with Takeo in earshot. He's much better afterward, but self-aware enough of his faults that he's hesitant to make any big moves without first consulting Suna.
- Post-Upgrade, Yamato worries about being good enough for Takeo. Takeo's more old-fashioned values and putting Yamato on a pedestal cause her to worry that he will reject her because she desires to move their relationship forward; even with something as simple as holding hands. She also experiences some low key possessiveness because she can not comprehend that the Gonky Takeo isn't typically popular with girls and frets about having to fight for him. Fortunately, once he's aware of these issues himself, Takeo assures her he'll be glad to move faster if that's what Yamato wants and that he loves her and only her.
- My Monster Secret: Initially, Youko is merely oblivious to the fact that Asahi has any deeper feelings for her than friendship. When the idea finally crosses her mind, she instantly shoots it down, convincing herself that Asahi is that nice to all his friends, and that he's far too polite to say that being her Secret Keeper is a pain in the ass. While Youko and Asahi do end up getting together, it takes another 40 chapters to happen, and not before they both go through some pretty painful emotional torment.
- While Naruto never gets into a romantic relationship with Sakura, he stated to Sai that he couldn't tell her he had a crush on her if he couldn't keep his promise to her, so he seemed to imply that he was unworthy of her. However, after Chapter 469, he completely stopped being like this to her.
- Hinata is this to Naruto. She has been in love with him since they were children, but her crippling shyness and severe self-esteem issues prevented her from ever pursuing him.
- Naruto himself is this to Hinata. In Chapter 611, Kiba implies that this is the reason why Naruto tries to act tough in front of her. This is confirmed in the canon movie The Last: Naruto the Movie. Part of why Naruto never noticed Hinata's love for him in the main series is because deep down, he felt he was unworthy of being loved by someone as kind and beautiful as Hinata. This is made explicitly clear twice: First, when Sakura tells Naruto that Hinata is "almost too good" for him, he does not disagree with hernote . Then, when Naruto makes his Heroic Vow to save Hinata from Toneri and properly return her love, he says "You always loved me for the way I am" or "You've loved someone like me forever and ever," depending on the translation.
- In Konoha Hiden: The Perfect Day for a Wedding, when Temari mistakenly believes Shikamaru is asking for her hand in marriage, she reveals that she doesn't find herself attractive enough for marriage.
- Played for Laughs in one chapter of Ojojojo when Tsurezure tries Meditating Under a Waterfall because he doesn't feel that he's handsome enough to be Haru's boyfriend.
- Jin from The Pet Girl of Sakurasou feels he's not worthy enough to be with his beloved childhood friend Misaki, due to her talents, such as in animation, and feels he would just weigh her down if he tried to have a serious relationship with her. This despite the obvious signs that Misaki really wants to be with him.
- Sayaka Miki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. She has a crush on Kyousuke Kamijou but Cannot Spit It Out, especially once it is revealed that becoming a Magical Girl means effectively becoming a sparkly lich. Sayaka feels she can't ask for Kyousuke's love because she now considers herself a zombie, and the realization that she made her supposedly selfless wish for selfish reasons along with her good friend Hitomi pushing the issue by giving her a one day headstart on confessing (which she balks at)...it doesn't end well.
- Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin ofter wonders if he's good enough for his girlfriend Kaoru. It's rather justified in his case due to his Dark and Troubled Past.
- This trope almost defines Kisa Shouta's angst and feelings toward Yukina Kou in Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi.
- In Sekirei, Minato is plagued by the feeling that he isn't good enough for his Balanced Harem. He calls himself "unreliable", and worries that he's a worthless guy because of his failure to get into university twice, as well as being an Extreme Doormat. Rather than allow this to consume him or damage their relationships, he resolves to become someone worthy of their love and trust, someone that will believe in himself enough to fully return their feelings. He declares this to them, and asks them to wait for him until then.
- Both protagonist of Tokyo Marble Chocolate feel like this about each other: Yuudai thinks he's a coward and lazy guy that doesn't deserve Chizuru, while Chiruzu becomes really clumsy when she starts to fall in love and she fears that this will scare Yuudai away. Compound this with their previous bad experiences with romance.
- Barbara Gordon alias Batgirl/Oracle sometimes felt as though Dick was only in love with the memory of the girl she had once been, rather than the woman she had become.
- Tommy Monoghan of the Hitman comic book ends his relationship with Tiegel once and for all by pretty much telling her outright that he's a scumbag, and if they stay together he'd just keep letting her down and screwing up. He's saying it because it's true, but he's ALSO saying it because he's about to take on a pretty good sized chunk of the CIA and doesn't want her around for it. Whether or not a reader thinks he would have said/done it if not for the whole CIA thing varies.
- Frank Einstein Jr. is this to Henrietta in Mini Monsters, specifically in the second album. He falls for her at first sight, but his feelings of being rejected and his own inferiority complex towards his physical appearance made him create an invention that makes people physically perfect. But that became dangerous because of Henrietta's extreme bipolar disorder. After that, he's still very much in love with her, and Henrietta starts feeling the same for him, although they can't tell their own feelings for each other.
- Sabretooth was shown to be this in Mary Shelley Overdrive. This one one of many instances where his insecurity shows. He meets & saves Bonnie from strange soldiers who want to kill her. Bonding over sex for hours, the two become very attached to each other & Creed takes her someplace safe while trying to get answers on why she's being hunted. When he calls to check on her, she asks if they can just go away & leave everything behind. This shocks Creed, who's surprised & confused that she'd want to be with him.
- Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson are this to each other. For Spider-Man, MJ is an incredibly beautiful, charismatic and talented young woman who is incredibly out of his league and would be far better off if she wasn't with him. For Mary Jane, Spider-Man is a selfless and brave superhero with amazing abilities. They each believe they aren't good enough for the other, and that they are dragging the other person down.
- Superman often sees himself as this. Although many women regard him as a hunky dreamboat and some kind of paragon, he sees himself as an ordinary man with exceptional skills or -depending on the era- an alien outcast. In Krypton No More, he doesn't get why his female co-workers like him since he thinks he is an outcast who is unable to have a healthy relationship with a woman. Regardless, he thinks his main love interests -Lana Lang, Lois Lane- are too good for him.
- Dale in The Walking Dead is always insecure about his relationship with Andrea, due to the fact that he is twice as old as her. Andrea shows a few small shades of this, mostly whenever Dale mentions his late wife. It ultimately works out until Dale's death, and Andrea is able to move on and be with Rick.
- Peanuts characters have two basic ways to deal with Unrequited Love: being too intense pursuing the one they're in love with while totally ignoring that they're interested, or paralyzing insecurity that keeps them from acting about their love at all:
- Charlie Brown himself is the biggest offender, and might even be the Trope Codifier to Western audiences. He's usually too absorbed by his own insecurity to even make a decision about love most days: most iconically with the Little Red Haired Girl, who he can barely even talk to. Though he briefly gets a little more confident with Peggy Jean (which didn't end well).
- Peppermint Patty is a mix of the two: she flirts endlessly Charlie Brown, but she occasionally makes it clear that despite her seeming confidence she's actually too insecure about her own flaws to do anything but play games. Upon seeing the Little Red Haired Girl for the first time, she breaks into tears believing it impossible that anyone would love herself in comparison.
- Marcie is also this, to a lesser extent is a lesser extent: she makes it clear she's "very fond" of Charlie Brown, but also barely does anything about it because she thinks he'd never love a girl with glasses.
- In My Huntsman Academia, Izuku has trouble believing that he somehow won Yang over and is constantly worrying about messing up and pushing her away. He promises that he'll "get better" at it as fast as he can, even as she assures him that they'll go at a pace he's comfortable with. He's self-conscious about how rough and calloused his hands are compared to hers and he nearly has a panic attack while thinking about his first ever date.
Izuku: So yeah, better to just argue logistics with yourself over whether or not your first date was actually your first date rather than to ruminate on it and let your own embarrassment and nerves potentially ruin this day out, yeah? Y-You mean... imagine if you ruined your first date with a girl ever. Imagine if it went badly! Would Yang break up with you? Would she tell everyone how terrible of a boyfriend you were?! WOULD YOU BE SINGLE FOREVER?! HOLY WOAH YOU DIDN'T-
- Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Played straight with Japan whenever he saw the moments Germany and Italy had with each other. Italy was this to both Germany and Japan as he saw himself unfit for the both of them with him hiding his insecurities with bright smiles.
- Played straight and inverted by Erin in And The Story Continues, regarding her blossoming romance with Stephen. While she does feel under his league and has been fighting self-confidence issues since the beginning of the series, she seems to be more concerned about getting hurt by him. His ladies' man tendencies worry her a bit and she still has baggage from what happened between her and L in the first story.
- Speaking of, L is implied to be this in the prequel, especially in the companion 'shots. While it's suggested that he develops feelings for Erin he never says a word about them and does not try to pursue a more intimate relationship with her. This may have been due to how he is in general and the nature of what relationship they did have...
- In "A Friend In Darkness", Kim's Vision Quest to rescue Ron from the Spirit World dredges up uncomfortable memories of times she'd been thoughtless and condescending toward him. She decides that he deserves better and breaks up with him until the end of the story.
- Extremely common in Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfics that have a romance between Shinji and Asuka, as it would be perfectly in-character for Shinji to feel this way if he ever did get into a relationship, and the fact Asuka has her own self-esteem issues does tend to make things a bit more complicated:
- Advice and Trust: Shinji thought he wasn't good enough for Asuka before and after hooking up with her. However Asuka disagrees and she always replies he's the only man good enough for her.
- Ritsuko also feels unworthy of Maya's love since she had been involved in Gendo's plan for Third Impact less than 24 hours before hooking up with her. Rei has told her under no uncertain terms that she's entirely justified in thinking that way, but it doesn't mean that she can't become someone worthy of her affection.
- In Children of an Elder God, Shinji didn't think that Asuka liked him because he was only a wimpy kid and she was beautiful and smart.
- Ghosts of Evangelion: Asuka can't understand why Shinji loves someone like her. She never figured it out, even though they were together during six decades. In a deleted chapter, Asuka tells Kaworu that Shinji is an idiot for loving her.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Shinji is shy, insecure, and he thinks that Asuka hates him, she'll never like him back, and hes damaged their relationship beyond repair.
- In Neon Metathesis Evangelion, Shinji initially feels quite bad when he discovers he has feelings for both Asuka and Rei. He thinks that shows that he is just an immature pathetic boy who will latch to anyone showing him a bit of friendliness. He is proven wrong when Mana tries to kiss him. Even though she has been very nice to him, it feels all wrong to him because it isn't with Rei or Asuka.
- Deconstructed in Once More with Feeling. Shinji thinks he isnt good enough for Asuka after he missed all of her hints, never helped her and let her die. However, Kaji warned him that attitude would hurt Asuka rather than helping her.
- Thousand Shinji: Touji was frightened of asking Hikari out, even after Shinji showed him that Hikari liked him back.
- Advice and Trust: Shinji thought he wasn't good enough for Asuka before and after hooking up with her. However Asuka disagrees and she always replies he's the only man good enough for her.
- Heirverse: Poor Gin and with good reason. Also oddly enough Aizen as well, though in a different context.
- Lampshaded in OTP Addiction, when Pyrrha refuses to leave Jaune to his death.
Mercury sighed and shook his head. "Trust me, there'll be other guys out there, ones actually worth your time."
Pyrrha smiled at Jaune. "I...I never met anyone...worth more to me than you."
- Jessie and James shift this role back and forth for the first half of Cori Falls's series of Pokémon fanfics. Either Jessie thinks she's too mean, bitchy, and coldhearted for someone as sweet as James, or James thinks he's too weak, stupid, and clumsy for someone as strong as Jessie. It gets pretty repetitive after the first five or so times.
- In an untitled fic set after Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, Homura becomes this trope. note She's spent so long hating herself that she can't imagine anyone not hating her.
Madoka: I will say it again and again for all eternity if I have to, Homura-chan, until you get it. You are you and I will always save you.
- The Reading Rainbowverse has Lyra breaking up with Bonbon because she's unsure if she feels the same way about their relationship as Bonbon does and doesn't want to lead her on. This is almost universally regarded as a poor decision.
- Weiss Reacts: Jaune is sure that he isn't worth Pyrrha's attention because he himself isn't a badass. Yang, his dad and Pyrrha herself point out that this is absurd and there are other reasons apart from being a badass that she might like him.
- Derpy in We're Gonna Get There Soon. Her klutziness, eye condition, and her poor relationship with her parents result in a mare who is very surprised when Thunderlane is interested in pursuing a relationship with her.
- Ryou Bakura feels this way about Tea Gardner in Deserted Distractions. Not only is he so used to being ignored and abandoned that he has a hard time believing he has the chance with beautiful, popular Tea who has several other romantic interests, but the perpetual taint of the Spirit of the Ring causes him to feel weak and unworthy of her love when she offers it to him. The Spirit's feelings for Tea also mean that being with Ryou puts her in constant danger.
- In Overwatch fanfics this is very common with both Hanzo and Junkrat, especially Jesse/Hanzo and Lucio/Junkrat works. While Hanzo makes some sense given his canon status as The Atoner who in-universe feels he crossed a Moral Event Horizon by killing Genji and thus might well have weak self-esteem, Junkrat's is more based in his own rough background and more self awareness than Junkrat usually displays in canon.
- Cinderella is this in The Rose And The Crown as a result of the abuse inflicted on her by her stepmother when she was growing up, believing that it was her fault that she 'lost' the love of her stepfamily, and terrified that she will do something to cause Eugene to hate her in the same way.
- How the Light Gets In features a rare mutual example. Dean and Laurel are completely in love with each other, think the other person "saved them", and see one another as the perfect parent; and, due to long-standing insecurities and self-loathing, they see themselves as wholly unworthy of the other's love, and as a mediocre (at best) parent.
- Evelyn and Solas in Walking in Circles are this toward each other. For Evelyn, once the canon events start and theyre officially together, she often displays doubt about herself due to her experience as a Tranquil, not being able to control her emotions or use her magic. She also sees herself as physically unattractive, being extremely underweight due not being able to take care of her health properly for two years. Solas always quickly assures her that he still finds her very desirable and that any hesitation on his part is only out of concern that he may hurt her.
- Solas, at least in the beginning, often tells her that she should run away to find a quiet and safe place to live and let him deal with everything, as he doesnt want her to suffer for his mistakes. Even when theyre together and hes accepted that shes not going anywhere or leaving him alone, Solas still believes that Evelyn could have a better and simpler life without him.
- The first story in the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series has two, though they're insecure for very different reasons. One sees himself as a broken thing, and he doesn't want the woman he loves to pity him or think she has to fix him. The other, who manages to keep his feelings an extremely well-hidden secret for a long time, blames himself (not unreasonably) for a tremendous misfortune which has befallen his love interest.
- In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, Nova lets his Heroic Self-Deprecation get to him on more than one occasion as a reason for why Twilight deserves better than him, but without fail, she's always able to talk sense into him.
- Used darkly in Flame's Shade when Weiss can't fathom Pyrrha's feelings for her. Years of self-hatred and emotional abuse has left her thinking she's not worthy of someone else's love.
- The titular character in Aladdin. He doesn't believe Jasmine could ever love the real him and disguises himself as a Prince to become worthy of her.
- Implied with Xibalba in The Book of Life. At the end, when he apologizes to La Muerte for all the trouble he caused, he adds that "you [La Muerte] deserve better than me". Gutierrez stated that the reason Xibalba wanted to make it look like he was cheating on her was out of insecurity.
- In An Extremely Goofy Movie, PJ is in this role. Bobby is willing to flirt with Beret Girl, PJ is not. He says a grand total of zero words to her, being visibly stunned speechless each time, until she decides to take the initiative and start flirting with him. At this point, PJ responds by reciting a poem about how nobody notices fat people no matter how they act. Beret Girl is both impressed and sympathetic, and asks, "How could anyone overlook this bundle of yes-ness?" and asks him to dance. This is the catalyst for PJ's Character Development: he immediately becomes a lot happier, less insecure, and more confident.
- In Mermaidia, Nori feels that Nalu will never love her because of class differences. She vents these feelings by bitching at Elina, who she thinks is dating him. (Unusually for the trope, Nori resolves these feelings before starting a relationship with Nalu.)
- In Strange Magic, when his use of a love potion goes badly, the Bog King becomes convinced that he is so hideous that even a magic can't make him lovable. It turns out that the the object of his affections was already in love - the one thing that makes someone immune to the potion's power. Bog is still fairly insecure when it comes to his fairy beauty second love.
- Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason does this with the protagonist playing this role.
Bridget: I read that you should never go out with someone if you can think of three reasons why you shouldn't.
Mark: And can you think of three?
Mark: Which are?
Bridget: First off, I embarrass you. I can't ski, I can't ride, I can't speak Latin, my legs only come up to here, and yes, I will always be just a little bit fat.
- The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen believes that she doesn't deserve the love of someone like Peeta. Haymitch agrees with her.
- This is why Audrey doesn't consider leaving the abusive "semi-sadist" Orin for her Adorkable Nice Guy coworker Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors; she likes Seymour, but she considers herself too dirty and worthless to be with him.
- In Marriage Blue, Vika is young and spectacularly sexy. Gun-ho is somewhat doughy and 18 years older than she is. This causes him anxiety and insecurity, which undermines their relationship.
- She's Out of My League is from the perspective of one of these; it's about a man who has found a very attractive girlfriend who really likes him, but he considers her way out of his league, leading him to sabotage things. It doesn't help that almost everyone around him appears to be an incredibly petty and spiteful person who either encourages him or actively attempts to sabotage things out of jealousy.
- At the end of Some Like It Hot, Sugar decides to run away with Joe. He tells her that she deserves better than The Casanova who put on a façade to win her heart, but she stays with him anyway.
- Middle of the Night: Jerry, a 56-year-old man, starts stressing out when the reality of marrying Betty (24 years old, spectacularly gorgeous) hits home.
Jerry I'm jealous. I'm afraid of every young man I see!
- Both Jerin and Cira/ Princess Halley in A Brother's Price, though for different reasons.
- This is par for the course in Catherine Anderson's novels, but Molly Sterling, Laura Townsend, Natalie Patterson, and Bethany Coulter are the biggest examples.
- Razz in Don't Call Me Ishmael!. While he is usually self-confident, he is this to Sally, believing that she is 'too everything' for him.
- The Queen in Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen was the daughter of a simple (albeit world-renown) mirror maker. When the King begins courting her, she's shocked and confused on why he would like an "ugly" woman like her.
- This is a constant problem for Georgina in the Georgina Kincaid series. She thinks she's not good enough for Seth and is going to end up hurting him, because she's hurt people in the past. That and she's a succubus, whereas he's a reserved and virtuous man.
- In the last two Harry Potter books, Lupin has this problem with Tonks; he turns her down because a.) he's quite a bit (12 years) older than her, b.) he has no steady means of support, and c.) he's a werewolf, with all the danger and Fantastic Racism that includes. They wind up eloping sometime between the last two books, but he's so sure that this was a mistake that he tries to leave her (and their unborn child) until Harry gives him a What the Hell, Hero? speech.
- In the last book, this turns out to be a big part of Ron's problem: with his low self-esteem he's convinced (among other things) that Hermione would never pick him over Harry. While it was heavily hinted at in the previous book through Ron's jealousy, carrying around an Artifact of Doom that could give him a constant mental "The Reason You Suck" Speech just brought all those issues to a head.
- While more subtle, Hermione herself is this to Ron. While she never blatantly displays Ron's levels of insecurity, she never takes it well when other girls are interested in Ron and shows it through fits of sadness and frustrations. This may explain why they need counseling in the future per Word of God, since neither of them are very good at voicing their feelings—Ron takes Stiff Upper Lip to a T when it comes to his softer emotions, while Hermione fails to realize that her words tend to hurt Ron's feelings.
- The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen feels that she doesn't deserve the unconditional love of a Nice Guy like Peeta. Haymitch agrees with her.
Haymitch: You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know.
- Mistborn: Vin and Elend provide a double example, Vin thinks she's too Book Dumb and violent for Elend, Elend feels he's too much of a passive screwup for Vin.
- Lauchlan Huxley, the main character of Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker has some self-esteem issues. And self confidence issues. And self image issues. He just has a lot of issues period, and is a Nervous Wreck as a result. When confronted with the possibility of a real, meaningful relationship, he's terrified, and honestly doesn't believe that he deserves to be in a relationship at all.
- Both Michael and Mia in The Princess Diaries, Michael because of feeling the constant need to prove himself "worthy" of dating a princess, Mia due to her low self esteem for dating an attractive genius who is her best friend's brother.
- Watson is this toward Mary Morstan in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, the second Sherlock Holmes story. As a wounded retiree from the Afghan army with little income, he feels that he has no right to even think about her, and things get worse when it turns out that she stands to gain a large sum of money.
- Michael of The Traitor Game is a platonic (or not) version of this trope for Francis, constantly feeling insecure about their friendship. This is because Michael has trust issues after being bullied at his previous school, and finds it difficult to accept that Francis - who is "cool", "posh" and "handsome" - would genuinely want to be friends with him. This leads to disastrous consequences.
- In New Moon of the Twilight series, Edward leaves Bella because of this, resulting in much Wangst from both of them.
- Although in this case it's less "I'm not good enough for you" and more "I'm finding it very difficult not to eat you.
- Very much Arthur of Along The Winding Road. Crippling social anxiety will do that, as will being the cause of the apocalypse.
- In Caliphate, Petra feels this way towards John because she believes herself to be "used goods" after being raped and enslaved as a prostitute and doesn't think he has any interest beyond her body. For his part, John doesn't think she is "ruined" and is only concerned with dating someone with such age disparity between them (she is 17 while he is at least middle-aged). At the end of the book, he asks her hand in marriage.
- Lennier never admits he loves Delenn until the fifth season of Babylon 5.
- In Season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is Angel's reasoning for ending his relationship with Buffy before he moves to LA. He wants her to have a relatively normal life and he feels that her being with him would make that more difficult.
- Spike in the comics. He doesn't think Buffy will love him after everything that's happened between them. She proves him wrong and they get back together...only for Spike to pull this again when they have to call on Angel to help with a Big Bad.
- Doctor Who: Occurred particularly between some of the companions.
- Rory thinks he's not good enough for Amy. So much so that he was too certain of rejection to ask her out, and is constantly surprised whenever she demonstrates her affection for him. This gets a lot better though, and by the end of the series, he's thrown it off.
- This also happens to Amy herself. In series 7 Amy almost gets a divorce because she's infertile and she knows Rory's always wanted children. Since Amy's bad at dealing with feelings, she never told him why she wanted a divorce. Of course, it turns out Rory doesn't care and in an unshot scene we find out that they adopted a child.
- Clara and Danny grow fond of each other very quickly, but their own personal insecurities (often caused by trauma from the past) tend to hold them back or have them fall into awkward conversations and situations. This is not helped by Clara trying hard to keep her adventures with the Doctor and her ordinary life as a schoolteacher and Danny's girlfriend separate, only for the effort to get out of hand. Later on, it does look like she and Danny will be able to resolve their grievances, and even the grumpy Twelfth Doctor grows to respect their relationship. This is cut short when Danny dies in an accident, and though he and Clara make peace before his, Clara's clearly heartbroken that she lost him just as they were beginning to really understand each other and what pained them both.
- The Doctor himself feels this way about most of his major love interests, given that he leads a dangerous life, is a centuries old space alien and (particularly after the Time War) generally hates himself. As a general tendency, he's very quick to leave them to find the happiness he can't give them elsewhere.
- Friends: Chandler is genuinely smart, funny, good-looking, has a very successful career and a very kind personality. However, he's had a traumatic childhood, bad luck with women, commitment phobia, and the gang constantly jokes that Monica 'can do better'. He also feels intimidated by the memory of Richard, whom the gang had idolised and whom Monica had truly loved. An alternate universe episode reveals that even when Monica is a fat, 30-year old virgin with an extremely boring boyfriend, Chandler still thinks he's not good enough for her. Fortunately, he and Monica are Opposites Attract; he stabilises her neuroses while she builds his confidence.
- Gossip Girl Chuck Bass runs on this trope regarding Blair for most of the show's duration. It doesn't help that Blair goes back and forth between reinforcing this belief and telling him he's the best man she's ever known and all that she's ever wanted.
- In New Girl's season 1 finale, Schmidt ends things with Cece because he's convinced she's too out of his league for him to ever make her happy.
- Nip/Tuck has Christian break up with Natasha because he thinks she deserves better than The Casanova like him.
- Rachel of Suits displays signs of this when Mike breaks it off. Despite all her explanations of how important she is to the firm, she still believes he looks down on her for never passing the LSATs and remaining a paralegal.
- Played for laughs at the end of the Jonathan Creek episode "Satan's Chimney", when Carla storms into the theatre Jonathan is working at demanding to know why he hasn't contacted her after their adventure:
Carla: [Imperiously] Before you say it Jonathan, you needn't say it. Clearly I was expecting too much, but I did just think you might have taken the trouble to ring me, you know? God knows it must have been obvious I wanted to hear from you! With your astute mind you must have figured that one out. [Jonathan tries to interject] And don't try to pretend I'm so repellent! Cause... I mean... I'm bright. I'm fun to be with. And well up to your speed. And plus! I did actually save your life if you remember! So I don't think it would have killed you to get in touch! Just to say hello or see how I was! After everything we went through together?
Jonathan: ... It only happened last night. It's only twelve o'clock now. I thought you'd be glad of some rest—
Carla: [In the exact same tone] Yes. Well. That's the other thing. I'm also deeply insecure. And emotionally vulnerable. And frequently prone to irrational outbursts. So, now you know the whole picture, it's up to you whether you want to see me again or not.
Jonathan: Okay then, let's say tonight. Have a bite to eat or something?
Carla: I'll let you know if I'm free. [Storms off]
- Arrow: The main reason why Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance never got back together (despite heavy implications Oliver is still and will be always be in love with her) is because Oliver honestly believed that he wasn't good enough for her and wasn't deserving of her love, which he outright tells the "Laurel" in the fantasy produced by the Lotus-Eater Machine during the Season Five crossover (as the real Laurel was Killed Off for Real in Season Four). It's implied that these feelings stem from before the island, hence his philandering ways — in Oliver's eyes, he was only speeding up what he perceived to be the inevitable. After Oliver came back from the island, he supported her relationship with Tommy because he genuinely wanted her to be happy and felt he was incapable of giving her the life she originally wanted with him, no matter how much they loved each other.
Oliver: I'm sorry. The person you fell in love with, that's not me. And I never deserved that love...and you always deserved better.
- Gilmore Girls: In the Season 3 episode "Swan Song", when Luke gives Jess advice about his relationship with Rory, Jess reveals that he is this to her.
Luke: She picked you.
Jess: God knows why.
Luke: She knows, that's all that matters.
- Daredevil (2015) and The Defenders (2017): A lot of the tension in Matt and Karen's relationship stems from them each feeling the other is too good for them, due to their secrets (that Matt's Daredevil, and Karen killed James Wesley) causing them to put on a metaphorical mask where they hide their darker side around each other. Somewhat lampshaded when Matt is grabbing Karen from her office at the Bulletin to move her into police protection with Foggy and the others.
Matt Murdock: You deserve better, Karen.Karen Page: [turns around and gives him a small smile] So do you.
- The song Amanda has the line "Fate should have made you a gentleman's wife".
- Inverted in "Frozen" by Delain, in which the protagonist's love interest clearly has issues preventing him from being with her.
- The James Ingram song "I Don't Have The Heart" shows a man who clearly cares about his woman but feels that he is not good enough for her.
- Seems to be the main theme of "She's Like the Wind" by Patrick Swayze.
I feel her breath in my face
Her body close to me
Can't look in her eyes
She's out of my league.
- Basically the premise to the Tal Bachman song "She's so High."
What could a guy like me ever really offer?
She's perfect as she can be, why should I even bother?
- Found in the Anna Nalick song "Sort of Delilah."
Once you were a tower, and given the power, how did I become the wrecking ball?
Didn't wanna hurt you, didn't deserve you, I'm usually the victim after all.
- The narrator of Flyleaf's There For You is a self-described "selfish fake" who has requited feelings for a friend.
You speak the unspeakable thought-
I love you too...
- "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" is basically a song about a man telling a woman that he's a no-good cheating rake and she's better off without him. Played with depending on the version: Marvin Gaye's is a quite up-tempo, as if the man is more matter-of-fact about it, whereas Paul Young's version is slower and melancholy, as if the man's genuinely in love with the woman but believes he can't make her happy.
- Mutual example in South Pacific. Nellie fears she'd bore Emile, due to being less cultured than him. Emile, meanwhile, thinks he's probably too old for Nellie.
- Almost every love interest in Dragon Age II. Most of them have self-esteem issues to begin with, but romancing them tends to bring it to the forefront.
- Anders is a mage living outside the Circle who has to look over his shoulder for Templars. He's also possessed by a very angry Spirit of Justice that may or may not have become a full-on demon, and by the end of the game, he's plotting to blow up the Chantry. He's the most vocal about not having anything to offer, especially once supporting apostates is declared a hanging offense.
- Between being an elf, a blood mage, and a Fish out of Water, Merrill refuses to believe Hawke feels romantic affection towards her until Hawke specifically tells her s/he does. Even after they've just had sex.
- Fenris is an amnesiac fugitive ex-slave whose former master is heavily implied to have sexually abused him. After his first time with Hawke, he has a rush of memories from his old life and panics, feeling like a fool for thinking he could be with someone.
- By the time Hawke's named Champion of the city, Pirate Girl Isabela is convinced the two of them no longer have anything in common. The codex notes that after telling Hawke that they were the only reason she came back, she runs away for two years.
- DLC character Sebastian is the least self-flagellating, possibly because he outranks Hawke socially rather than vice versa.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition follows suit:
- Dorian, who constantly reminds the Inquisitor that their relationship will not be seen well, as Dorian is a mage from the Tevinter Imperium, and it could cost the Inquisitor goodwill. He's especially unhappy when the Inquisitor uses his influence to help Dorian get an amulet back, as he's afraid people will assume Dorian's merely cozied up to him to use his power for himself.
- Warden Blackwall doesn't believe he's worthy of the Inquisitor, and is also worried about their respective obligations and the fact that he's ultimately another soldier in her army. The biggest reason turns out to be that he's a former war criminal trying to atone.
- Cullen also shows signs of this; he has trouble believing that the Inquisitor would be serious about pursuing a relationship, especially if she's seen him in withdrawal.
- Fallout: New Vegas: The Stealth Suit Mark II is not an insecure love interest (it's a suit of armour with an A.I. personality and a female voice) but it talks like one:
Will you love me if I help you hide?Do you like me?Don't you like me anymore?No one can go as un-noticed as me.
- Ninian in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Sword loves Eliwood, but feels she isn't worthy of him due to her secret heritage as a half-Dragon and her guilt over having been an unwilling catalyst in his father's death. Eliwood uses their A support to reassure her that he loves her no matter what.
Laurent: "I was not worried about whether I was fit to support the army... I was worried I was unfit to support you. Thoughts of how I might better aid you and you alone consumed me! That was my true distraction from watching over the others (...) You're Chrom's daughter, and in your veins runs the blood of exalts and heroes. ... So how could a common man such as I ever be worthy of you?"
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, Badass Bookworm Laurent becomes this if he falls in love with Lucina. In his own words during their S support:
- Sumia can be this for a male Avatar until their S support, where she decides to stop hiding behind her books and learn to love herself as she is. She actually shows traces of this towards all of her possible boyfriends; one of her event tiles with a lover has her openly ask him how come he hasn't found a prettier girl than her.
- Brady is implied to be this for a female Avatar, as in his Love Confession he tells her "I'll become a guy worthy of your love!"
- The male Avatar can become this for Tiki. Justified in that Tiki is the daughter of an actual goddess and the only other man she has ever shown anything resembling interest in was the Hero-King Marth, a legendary King Arthur like figure by the time of the events in Awakening.
- In Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, Prince Berkut and Lady Rinea are this for each other. From Berkut's part he loves and trusts Rinea deeply but he feels that she genuinely deserves the power and status of an empress, which does not mix well with his severe self-worth issues; from Rinea's, since she's from an Impoverished Patrician background while Berkut is the nephew and heir apparent to Emperor Rudolf, she frets about whether she's a suitable girlfriend to him or not.
- In Echoes too, the White Magician Girl Tatiana is constantly worried that her Amnesiac Lover Zeke will remember his old life and leave her, even though he assures her that will not be the case even if he does regain his memories. When she explains herself to Alm, she confesses that she feels horribly selfish for it and immediately adds that if Zeke did turn out to have a girlfriend and still loved her, she'd let him return to her.
- Anju from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, who seems plenty insecure to begin with. Her fiance, Kafei, has been missing for quite a while, and she's beginning to think that he ran off because he didn't really love her after all. This is not helped by her mother, who seems convinced that Kafei hooked up with Anju's best friend instead. As part of the game's most elaborate sidequest, Link must give her proof of Kafei's love for her, otherwise the poor girl will give up on him completely.
- Mass Effect:
- Nice Guy Jacob feels this way towards both Miranda and female Shepard (if you romance him).
- Tali'Zorah feels this way if male Shepard pursues a relationship with her. See the entry on I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy. When you meet up with her again in the third game she's much more confident and this trope becomes averted.
- Garrus counts for slightly different reasons. He gets that you like him, but isn't quite sure how to go about a relationship with a human. He's also tired of losing people.
- Vetra from Mass Effect: Andromeda continues the trend, she has to ask if you were really flirting with her and is genuinely surprised if you tell her you like her. Hell, her second romance scene is made up almost entirely of the poor girl being anxious over somehow messing everything up. She seems to get a bit better about this as her romance goes on, though.
- All four female party members in Persona 3 go through this if the P3 Hero romances them.
- Yukari, for all her popularity, is well aware that she has heavy emotional baggage and personality issues that would cause most boys to leave her without a second thought. Towards the end of her Social Link, she asks the P3 Hero if he would've preferred to go out with a girl who has less strings attached.
- Fuuka is painfully aware that she's the least interesting of the four (her cooking doesn't help matters), flat-out says that she's not worth the P3 Hero's time, and is honestly surprised if he prioritizes her over the others.
- Aigis, being a Robot Girl, is self-conscious about being unable to offer the same kind of physical and emotional comfort that a human girl would have no problem with. She also knows that even if her feelings were requited, a relationship between her and the P3 Hero will eventually suffer from MayflyDecember Romance.
- Mitsuru is less concerned on whether or not she's "good enough", and more about whether her romantic prospects will survive the ups and downs that come with life. After all, if the P3 Hero romances her, he'd either have to accept the heavy responsibilities that come with being the spouse of a rich heiress, or they'd elope, and possibly have a failed relationship.
- The female party members of Persona 4 also have this going for them, with the added bonus of the player being able to completely validate their concerns by being unfaithful.
- Chie is insecure about being seen as One of the Boys, because she thinks it means she's not attractive at all. She also constantly compares herself to Yukiko, Rise, and Naoto, who she thinks have more of a chance of winning over the P4 Hero than she does, which is why she can hardly believe it if he shows interest in her.
- Yukiko sees herself as an Extreme Doormat incapable of normal social interaction, and the personality she keeps to herself would be considered weird when applied to someone with her reputation, leaving her resigned to never having self-esteem or personal happiness. If romanced by the P4 Hero, she mentions that it sometimes feels too good to be true.
- For all her confidence in her crush on the P4 Hero, Rise hints that she might have gotten scared and run away had he not taken the time to help her work through her post-idol burnout.
- Naoto has zero experience in romance, and has pretended to be a guy most of her life, so she gets extremely worried about how the P4 Hero sees her on the way to her romance route.
- Raven from Rune Factory 3. If you marry her, much of your dialog with her consists of her being reassured that you love her and wanted to marry her.
- Odette from Rune Factory Tides Of Destiny has a scene where she's looking for a foundation that will hide her small facial and upper arm scars because she's worried that Aden doesn't find them attractive. Either option the player can pick leads to reassuring her that her scars are not detrimental to her attractiveness.
- In CLANNAD, Nagisa initially acts like this when she and Tomoya start dating. Tomoya gets fed up with it pretty quickly and tells her to have more confidence in herself. He doesn't like anyone insulting his girlfriend, including herself.
- Kotonoha of School Days doesn't believe herself worthy of Makoto's affections, an impression not helped by his tendency to sleep with other girls behind her back (should the player make him do so). For worse, Kotonoha already had self-esteem problems due the severe bullying she's been subjected to... often coming from another prospect love rival, Makoto's childhood friend Otome. In some paths, this drives her to start using her body to keep Makoto interested in her, while in other paths it drives her to get the competition out of the way, and in at least one she'll be Spurned into Suicide if she loses.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, Jessica Ushiromiya is in love with Kanon, one of the Ushiromiya family servants. Kanon does love her back, but he believes he isn't worthy of her love due to his insistence that he's "furniture". As the story continues, it becomes clear that this isn't just Wangst and the real reason he's so insecure is quite complicated and tragic.
- Seizh of Under the Moon is very hesitant in his pure love paths, and requires a lot of convincing on the point that, yes, the heroine really is in love with him. Justifiably so, since he knows she was head over heels for his brother until she was wind-wiped.
- In Asagao Academy Normal Boots Club, Hana often feels this way towards Jirard during his route.
- Princess Evangile has Mitsuki and Marika. The former's insecurities stem from an inferiority complex and overall envy of her friend Rise, while Marika's stems mostly out of guilt for previously wronging The Protagonist. Part of their Character Development in their respective routes has Masaya help them to overcome these issues.
- In Tamie's route, it's inverted. She's fine with pursuing Masaya, but he's not, mostly because he's unsure if her feelings for him post Easy Amnesia are really hers or are a result of her memory loss.
- Dora of Questionable Content may well be the Trope Codifier for webcomics. She's a ball of neuroses who is constantly worried that Marten, the first decent male she's ever dated - is going to leave her because of her hangups. And also because she's convinced he's still pining for Faye, despite both of them saying that's never going to happen. They do eventually split up, but not for any of those reasons.
- Furry webcomic Nip and Tuck has Thelma Possum, Tuck's girlfriend; long regarded as one of the homeliest girls in Malarkey County due to her Age-Inappropriate Dress, with Tuck rejecting her advances throughout puberty, she initially has severe issues about how she looks and is prone to putting herself down. Tuck hates this self-loathing aspect of her, and helps her grow and learn to stop being so critical of herself.
- Parodied with the psychotic Ask That Guy with the Glasses. Even though the Love Martyr narrator tells him how amazing he is constantly, he'd rather be abused and told he's worthless.
- Molly from The War Comms was this for Ralph at the beginning of their relationship. She's mostly overcome it now thanks to Character Development.
- Whateley Universe: Sahar, having had a Heel Realization after falling in love with Zenith, broke off their relationship because she felt she didn't deserve someone as wonderful as Zoe. This led to a great deal of pain for both of them, leading Zoe, who thought it had been due to her Gender Bender transformation, to herself become insecure and somewhat bitter over the relationship. It took an intervention led by Chaka to get them back together, after which Semiramis set out to make amends for her previous Fille Fatale behavior.
- Gravity Falls has this with Robbie Valentino. One of the reasons he's hostile to protagonist Dipper Pines is because he sees him as a threat to his relationship to Wendy, the girl they both like. This is despite the fact Dipper is only 12 while Wendy is 15 and Robbie 16. While Dipper does prove to be a reason for the break-up, it's because Dipper (with help from Grunkle Stan) brings evidence of Robbie being a lying jerk (heck, she was going to break up with Robbie in the beginning of the episode for being a bad boyfriend.) So ultimately, it was Robbie's own behavior that led to the failure.
- Wirt from Over the Garden Wall believes that he can't compete for the affections of his Love Interest Sara with rival Jason Funderberker, who he says is "the total package" and "has his act together." This is revealed to be entirely in his head when the audience actually meets Jason, who is only marginally more confident than pre-Character Development Wirt and massively socially awkward. Sara is friendly toward him in a pitying sort of way, but communicates that she's much more interested in Wirt clearly enough that only Wirt himself could miss the signals.
- Connie Maheswaran, the the Implied Love Interest of the titular Steven Universe, who doesn't understand how Steven, a boy with magic powers and a epic destiny awaiting him would be interested in a completely normal and mundane girl like her. The insecurity goes both ways, however, as Steven admits at one point he doesn't understand why she would like hanging out with him when he—from his viewpoint—just keeps messing everything up.
- In Regular Show, a large part of the reason why CJ and Mordecai have relationship troubles is that despite Mordecai constantly trying to prove his dedication to her, she is afraid that he still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend Margaret and when seeing the two together she tends to jump to conclusions (and CJ has a bad temper and being a cloud person, manifests as literal storms.) Which isn't helped by the fact that they regularly find themselves in Not What It Looks Like scenarios when they hang out and Margaret does still have feelings for Mordecai (though Mordecai doesn't find this out until CJ is gone.)
- Hey Arnold!: Helga Pataki is madly in love with Arnold, but is too shy and insecure to tell him because she's afraid he'll reject her. So she resorts to bullying him instead.