Girl: Excuse me?
Boy: I've always liked you.
Girl: Oh my gosh... I like you too.
Narrator: After years of coming to terms with their feelings, their story has yet to begin. THE END
Murayama: Whaddya mean The End?! We're just getting to the real part! How do you even “date” anyway? The book says nothing about it since it ended right after they confessed.
It finally happened. After all the Fanwank and Shipping, after all the denial, after all the Will They or Won't They?, after all the fighting (by either the couple or the fans), and after all the heartless teasing, devoted fans and viewers alike are at last rewarded with the two characters (usually the main character and his/her close friend of opposite gender) everyone knows and/or demands should inevitably get together, finally doing just that. Too bad it can't be enjoyed, what with the show ending in the next two seconds and all.
Oftentimes the audience will only follow a series just to see if a specific couple will hook up. Actually hooking up the couple in the middle of the series runs the risk of Shipping Bed Death. In many series, resolving the romantic situations of the main characters is a Series Goal, hence any attempt to break through and resolve the relationships before the Grand Finale results in Failure Is the Only Option. Status Quo Is God results in the characters' relationship stagnating for the duration of the series.
With a Last Minute Hookup, even the most uncreative and hilariously unromantic of writers are enabled to enjoy all the benefits of rewarding incessant fans with an intimate relationship, without the hassle of actually having to do so. All they need to do is make sure the two have that one single kiss or exchange a single "I love you" at the very end, and it's all good. It's just that easy. Besides, True Love Is Boring anyhow.
Though certainly not exclusive to them, the trope is especially frequent in premature crush-laden shows directed towards kids and tween audiences, where very few writers have the guts to take a jab at illustrating actual romance, but nonetheless, a vast majority still feel the overwhelming need to drop an innumerable amount of anything-but-subtle "hints" toward the prospect all throughout the series. For the few bold ones that do have the guts to at least give it a try, they are hampered by Media Watchdogs and the usually larger portion of the audience who, quite frankly, just aren't into that kind of stuff.
While actually seeing the couple together and having a relationship would have been nice, there can be potential problems that arise from that, which this trope removes, such as the new couple not having the same chemistry now that they're together, their romance taking over the story, or the characters becoming Sickeningly Sweethearts. It may result in another ship being sunk, but that couple's shippers are spared having to see their rival ship together. This sometimes overlaps with Strangled by the Red String when it's done especially badly, but it can also serve as damage control for that trope, though there is a risk of any of these happening in unexpected sequels.
Contrast with New Old Flame.
Important Note: Even though this is not an Audience Reaction, and is usually pretty straightforward, (i.e. the couple hooks up at the last minute), that examples can get subjective due to Ship-to-Ship Combat, Shipping Goggles, or just plain disagreements. What one person considers to be the couple getting together, another person may not. For example, the couple may have confessed their feelings for each other earlier, at which point part of the audience now considers them to have hooked up, but the couple doesn't have their First Kiss until the very end, (or vice versa) and the other part of the audience doesn't consider them officially together until then. This can also apply to couples that hook up earlier but break up and don't get back together until the very end.
Warning: This is an Ending Trope, so spoilers abound
- ARIA: A variety of this trope occurs at the end of the series when super-undine Alicia declares that she will retire and get married. Before that, there was no indication whatsoever that she was even seeing someone, let alone that she was getting engaged. Throughout the series she appears to be mostly focused on Akari, so her announcement does come totally out of the blue. Worse, her fiancé doesn't even get the slightest bit of screen time, so it all feels like quite a cop-out.
- Captain Tsubasa: In the last two Volumes of the first manga series, Tsubasa and Sanae realize the feelings they have for each other, Sanae finally becomes honest with herself and her feelings, but Tsubasa is a strange case, he showed no hints whatsoever that he liked Sanae or anyone else, so his love confession felt like a last-minute plot. This is saved from its own awkwardness because that’s only the first manga series’ climax, the sequels do take their time to show Tsubasa showing affection towards Sanae, and consequently developing their relationship.
- DNA² makes it obvious in the final scene that Ami and Junta will end up together. This is after a good chunk of the manga revolved around Junta's feelings for Karin and her trying to come to terms with her own for him, with the attempt of hooking Junta up with Ami being a minor subplot that was quickly forgotten. Couples as Strangled by the Red String, as the other romantic options are quickly dealt with: Kotomi has been shipped off to Germany, Tomoko goes back to her jerk boyfriend and Karin, being from the future has to return and actually fixes the circumstances, so that Junta will end up with Ami.
- Erin: It's implied in the last scene that Elin and Ialu are married with a child.
- Happened in IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix. Takeshi and Liz spent all of 26 episodes (two years in-universe) exchanging blows. Takeshi already had a girlfriend in Fantine, a pilot for a rival team, who noticed Liz's connection with Takeshi and promptly broke off their relationship. In the last few minutes of the final episode, Takeshi struggles to ask Liz out on a date. Liz responds with a gentle kiss, confirming her answer.
- The Law of Ueki Plus: Ueki and Mori officially become a couple at the end.
- Magic Knight Rayearth: In the anime version, Hikaru and Lantis do this, with a full-blown confession from both of them, right before Hikaru gets whisked back to her world. The last few scenes, however, seem to imply that they won't be separated for long...
- This is heavily implied in the anime ending of MÄR between Ginta and Koyuki/Snow. Their last scene has them clinging to each other under the snow, suggesting they're now a couple, right before the credits roll.
- Martian Successor Nadesico holds off on making the relationship between Akito and Yurika official until the very end. While Yurika was pushing for a reciprocated Childhood Friend Romance from the start, Akito avoided it at every turn. The fight leading UP to the romance began with 5 minutes left in the series and is established with about 2 minutes left.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Roux Louka ends up joining Judau in the ending. He's the hero, his primary love interest (the Big Bad, Haman Khan) is dead, and his Unlucky Childhood Friend Elle is more-or-less hooked up with Beecher, so Roux (the only unattached girl on the Gundam Team) is elected despite having no more subtext with him than any other female major character.
- Parodied in chapter 2 of Musashi-kun to Murayama-san wa Tsukiatte Mita. After Musashi accepts her spur-of-the-moment offer for a relationship, Murayama starts pouring over her collection of romance novels for advice since she has no idea how to date someone. Unfortunately for her, every single one of them ends with the confession.
Murayama: Whaddya mean the end?! We're just getting to the real part.
- Naruto: Due to the genre of the series, all canon pairings were decided within the last two chapters and The Last: Naruto the Movie. All Love Is Unrequited is strictly enforced for the entire duration of the series and even at the end of the main story, the romantic relationships of the characters were still left unresolved. Then the last chapter is a Babies Ever After Distant Finale with the romantic relationships somehow resolved off-screen during the Time Skip. In the case of Naruto and Hinata, their hookup was resolved in a canonical movie appropriately titled The Last, set between the second last chapter and the last chapter of the manga.
- Nightwalker: Over the course of the story, Riho develops from muggle Girl Friday to Secret-Keeper to vampire daughter and finally to lover of the Vampire Detective protagonist. Despite appearing like a one-sided crush on Riho's part for the majority of the show, in the penultimate scene Shido and Riho get into bed (a coffin) together.
- Nodame Cantabile: It isn't until the very last scenes of the anime that Chiaki finally recognizes his feelings for Nodame and decides to study abroad together with her. Alas, their relationship has been put back a level again for the second season, following the manga.
- Ranma ½: The final chapter shows No Romantic Resolution for most of the Love Dodecahedron, except for Ryoga, who gets over his unrequited love for Akane and chooses to become committed to his relationship with Akari.
- Rave Master: Haru and Elie declare their love for each other during the final battle, when it seems she's going to have to kill him to save the world, but fortunately, he turns up alive one year later and they're Happily Married with a son in the epilogue.
- Samurai Pizza Cats: The original version sees protagonist Speedy frequently lusting after tea-girl Lucille; late in the series, he develops feelings for his teammate Polly, and they literally end up in each other's arms in the series finale. However, writers for the dubbed version weren't provided with scripts of the original episodes, forcing them to make up plotlines and dialogue as they went; as a result, Speedy's growing attraction to Polly is never mentioned at all until the final episode, making their embrace at the end seem very sudden.
- Sands of Destruction ends with Morte and Kyrie apparently suddenly realizing their feelings for one another are romantic in the last moments of the very final episode. You could almost make an argument for them being Strangled by the Red String, considering that most of their previous interactions were nearly entirely platonic or ambiguous at best, except that the romantic resolution is given little more than a light nod.
- Vandread: Dita finally gets into the spaceship with the male protagonist to fly home with him, after he calls her name. Coincidentally, the only time Dita calls Hibiki by his name is in that episode.
- Subverted in The Vision of Escaflowne. Hitomi and Van confess their feelings for one another in the last half of the last episode, but they don't kiss and Hitomi returns to Earth, leaving Van's world forever.
- Fairy tales often leave off with the couple overcoming the problem at hand, having a kiss, and proceeding to "live Happily Ever After". This is turned right on its ear with the Fables comic book series, where it's revealed that the "Prince Charming" from the various tales is all the same guy, working through a series of failed marriages.
- Within a year of Harley Quinn crossing over into canon comics, writers flip-flopped and started showing that the Joker really would kill Harley and only kept her around because she was loyal and made him laugh. A good handful of writers even had Joker openly flirting with Batman and Lex Luthor to amp up his creepiness. But in the very last issue of Gotham City Sirens, when Harley wants Joker dead for good and believes he's luring her into a trap, right before the New 52 complete reboot of the DC Universe, Joker kisses Harley. Note that this particular writer had zero experience writing the Joker before this.
- Strangers in Paradise: The hookup of Casey and Tambi in the last issue struck many readers as forced, given that they'd only been revealed even to have had an employer/employee relationship two issues previously; both were examples of Terry Moore's Kudzu Plot tendencies getting out of hand as the series drew to a close.
- X-Men: Over 20 years (real time) after their initial relationship crashed and burned, Shadowcat and Colossus finally consummated in the pages of Astonishing X-Men, She's lost in space, presumed nearly dead, within the year. But he was also dead for nearly a decade of that time.
- Most of the couples in Son of the Sannin avert this, getting together during the course of the story (either shown on-page like Naruto and Hinata or implicitly like Shikamaru and Temari). The only ones who play it straight are Kiba and Tamaki, who get a Big Damn Kiss in the second-to-last chapter (and a few chapters earlier even had an If We Get Through This… moment).
- Aladdin ended with the titular hero and his romantic interest marrying and sailing off on a magic carpet together—-but the sequel movies and TV series which follow press the Reset Button a little bit, making them only engaged (with Aladdin living in the palace to learn the ropes about being a Prince before the marriage takes place). While this may seem practical, it also allows the show to avoid the squicky-to-ten-year-olds portrayal of physical intimacy between the two romantically linked characters. (It also conveniently gives the hero a chance to demonstrate his manliness by becoming a desire magnet for every hot villainess and Damsel in Distress who comes to town.)
- A Monster in Paris stretches this trope to its limits, with Raoul and Lucille only hooking up after the Dance Party Ending.
- Shrek: For all of the fairy tale subversions, plays this straight by having Fiona and Shrek hook up at the end, but the subsequent sequels serve to illustrate the ups and downs of their abnormal marriage.
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!: Lois Fairchild and Mason Dixon, after having perhaps thirty seconds of screen-time together before this, fall passionately in love in the last sixty seconds and sing the beautiful romantic duet appropriately titled "Love Theme from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" before literally Walking Off Into The Sunset Together.
- Billy Madison: Practically every single character pairs up with someone right at the end, including a real person and a giant penguin that had previously only existed in Billy's mind.
- Epic Movie: Near the end of the film, Mystique ends up revealing she now finds Peter extremely attractive and drags him into his tent to have sex with him. Peter had a crush on Mystique near the beginning of the film, but her only scenes up to this point involved her mocking and rejecting him, and the other simply had the X-Men and her now wanting to stand beside Peter. Her finding him attractive enough to have hardcore sex with him, as a fat, unibrowed grandma per his requests might I add, all night long near the end of the film comes almost completely out of nowhere.
- Fool's Gold: Gemma Honeycutt and Alfonz. He at least had formerly expressed lust about in her in a fairly sleazy manner, but her attraction came out of absolutely nowhere (she had spent the film mooning over Finn).
- Highwaymen: After Fargo's defeat, the protagonist initially considers leaving as his quest for revenge is over (Fargo previously murdered his wife). He and Molly seem to get together just before the end credits.
- In Holiday, John and Linda wait until the very last shot of the movie to make their relationship official. That's still one up on the play's Maybe Ever After ending.
- In most of the James Bond films, Bond will hook up with other women throughout the movie, but he almost always waits until the last few minutes to hook up with the main Bond Girl. Of course, Bond being Bond he's usually slept with them once, or at least kissed them, before that.
- The Lord of the Rings: The pairing of Faramir and Éowyn at the end of the third film comes basically out of nowhere (though it's given much more attention in the books) after Éowyn has spent most of her time pining after Aragorn. Though you might argue realizing the crush is hopeless shows Character Development.
- The Martian: Beck and Johanssen's relationship is reduced to a literal Last Minute Kiss when she gives him a quick smooch before he goes EVA to help retrieve Mark, instead of (apparently) hooking up beforehand and moving into the same bunk as happened in the book. Given that said romance didn't really add much to the story in the first place and barely ever comes up after it's mentioned, this doesn't really hurt much.
- Our Miss Brooks: After eight years on the radio, and four years (concurrently) on television, Connie Brooks finally gets Phillip Boynton to propose marriage in the last ten minutes of the cinematic Grand Finale. Even then, the proposal is de facto delivered by Mrs. Davis and Mr. Boynton's mother.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has Will and Elizabeth, who despite being obviously in love with each other the entire movie don't kiss until the penultimate scene, (which also includes an Anguished Declaration of Love).
- Played for Laughs in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, where immediately after the Style Boyz performance at the Poppy's, Lawrence makes out with the unnamed stagehand who he had previously never even met (at least on screen). This is even Lampshaded by Conner in the middle of his inner monologue.
Conner: Yo, do they even know each other?
- In The Purchase Price, Joan and Jim finally kiss and (it's implied) consummate their marriage in the last seconds of the film.
- Saving Silverman: J.D. hooks up with Coach Norton at the end of the movie, immediately after both admit they are gay. They get married in the next scene.
- The Snake King, A Syfy Channel Original Movie, ends with the male lead and female lead, who have shown no interest in each other at all up to this point, falling in love after the final battle. It is a prime example of this trope, complete with the one single kiss at the very end.
- Strange Days: Mace and Lenny get together just seconds before the end credits roll.
- Timelock ends with a spaceship pilot and a criminal in bed... despite the fact that she was a total bitch to him and he should be serving his sentence at Alpha One.
- This happens in so many books of Agatha Christie such as The Murder on the Links, Towards Zero or Why Didn't They Ask Evans? In fact, it might be shorter to name the Christie books that don't have a last-minute hookup. Sometimes the 'last-minute' part may even be as late as the final page and occasionally overlaps with Fourth-Date Marriage.
- 1Q84: The novel ends with Aomame and Tengo escaping 1Q84, renting a room in a hotel, and having sex before looking up at the solitary moon in the sky.
- 2666: The first part ends with Liz leaving the love triangle with Pelletier and Espinoza in favor of Morini.
- The Beast Player: At the end of the original duology, Seimiya agrees to unite the two conflicting territories of Lyoza through her marriage to Shunan.
- Changes actually manages to subvert this: Harry and Karrin finally almost acknowledge their feelings for each other and manage to set up a date, but Harry gets shot and dies just before the date can happen. Of course, this being Harry, the hero of the series, he goes on to solve a case while being a ghost, then comes back alive.
- The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander: After five books of arguments and misunderstandings, Taran and Eilonwy get married at the very end of the last chapter of the last book.
- In the Darkest Powers series, Chloe and Derek, only get together at the end. However given they may make an appearance at some point in the next YA trilogy (Darkness Rising), there might be the possibility of seeing them as a couple then.
- The Da Vinci Code: The romantic subplot between Langford and Sophie was limited to this trope, more for the sake of the hero getting the girl than for any plot purpose.
- Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky has two mild examples. There is some foreshadowing of the relationships involved, but it's still pretty sudden.
- Pham and Anne spend most of the book trying to outmaneuver and ultimately murder each other, but when Anne is deFocused, she and Pham become an item in less than a page.
- Pham ships Ezr off with Qiwi within twenty pages of the end of the book, and Ezr apparently has no problem with this. In his case, it's especially jarring because Ezr has spent literally the entire book up to this point faithfully waiting on the Focused Trixia, only to be flat-out rejected by her once she is partially defocused because she no longer feels like a human. Flip a page or two, and suddenly Ezr and Qiwi are a thing.
- Harry Potter:
- Hermione and Ron. After seven books of Will They or Won't They?, they make out in the hall while Voldemort and the Death Eaters are attacking the school and people are dying. The movies try to avert this by building them up as a couple earlier by giving more Ship Tease. Just look at the film version of Prisoner of Azkaban.
- A book specific example would be Harry and Ginny in Half-Blood Prince. Not only do they become a couple close to the end after Harry spends a good portion of the book crushing on her, but they still manage to break up before the end of the book! To make matters worse, they spend even less screen time together in the last book. By the epilogue, they're Happily Married, leaving even those who took no sides in the shipping scratching their heads. Again, the film tries to avert this. Not only does Ginny get a fair more screen time and more scenes with Harry in the Half-Blood Prince adaptation, but they don't break up at the end, either. Plus their interactions in Deathly Hallows, Part 1 count too. (Thank you Steve Kloves!) However, like Hermione and Ron, it still suffers on account of how much is left out.
- Lupin and Tonks' relationship at the end of HBP also qualifies. The actual romance between the two was hardly ever seen from Harry's perspective. Those who didn't notice the hints were naturally shocked, and even after the two are explicitly stated to have married between the penultimate and the last book, the readers still don't see much evidence of romance between the two. Heck, Lupin even ditches her for a while when he finds out he got her pregnant because he was afraid he passed his condition onto their child. He mans up after a What the Hell, Hero? moment from Harry though.
- Just Friends by Robyn Sisman sees the two main characters embark on rather serious relationships (with other people) and have genuine problems when living with each other for a short time. The relationships with their partners conveniently end so they can end up together on the last page, leaving many questions as to how they would live together and deal with each other's and their own character flaws unanswered.
- Done surprisingly well in Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun. At the start of the story, Bern Thorkellson is saved by witch-in-training Anrid. He then goes off to have numerous adventures, while she stays behind and eventually becomes the head witch on her island. Neither of them ever forgets the other though, and when Bern returns home at the end of the novel, Anrid is waiting for him. She explains that he has been pardoned and is allowed to come home to the family farm while dropping some not-so-subtle hints that she would like to go with him. Bern—who at this point has watched his father die and is more or less disillusioned with life in general—decides that having some genuine warmth in his life would be a good thing, and they decide to get married and give it a shot.
- Loyal Enemies: After a lot of Will They or Won't They?-tension, several Love Epiphanies and lots of Everyone Can See It, werewolf Shelena and her so-called enemy Veres eventually just disappear into the bushes and have sex in the epilogue. Played for Laughs because Veres' apprentice Rest assumes they're going to try and kill each other. Though Shelena leaves immediately after, it is heavily implied they will see each other again regularly as she is confident that she's pregnant and Veres would want to see his child. The follow-up novella shows them still madly in love, living together and raising their son.
- In Lucky Jim: Jim and Christine breaking it off with their romantic rivals, after a whole book of romantic setup, and getting together is the last thing to happen in the book.
- In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, although the relationship between Simon and Miriamele had been shaping up over the course of all three books, it's not until the denouement that they finally upgrade it thanks to a bit of Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex coupled with Standard Hero Reward.
- It's not until the last page of Mockingjay that Katniss ends up with Peeta.
- An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. She spends the final paragraphs letting readers know that, the two main couples did indeed marry, and pairs off most of the other unmarried characters, not without a Take That! to readers who objected to Laurie marrying Amy rather than Jo at the end of Little Women. Although the hookup is mentioned in the middle of the book, she does this again in Jack and Jill by explaining that all the assumed pairings would happen in a decade but they're just children now. She has to add the obligatory old maid, however, in Molly.
- It is very common for Redwall novels to reveal in the epilogue that characters got married after their adventure. Rather infamously, it never happened for Mariel and Dandin.
- Sense and Sensibility: The main female characters finally get with their men during the last two chapters out of fifty. Jane Austen seems to prefer spending more time on the conflict arising from bad relationships than on the good relationships.
- Right, this is because Austen specialized in courtship plots. The whole point of a courtship plot is that it follows a couple from the beginning of the relationship to a successful conclusion, which in Austen's time meant an engagement or wedding. You can't have the couple getting together in the middle of the novel, because then the plot would end.
- In The Ship Who... Won, Plennafrey rescues Keff from Chaumel and the other mages. Keff initiates Rescue Sex with her and, because he's much kinder than men she's used to, Plenna falls in love and wants to leave her planet for him. Keff wants a Friends with Benefits situation as he's much more dedicated to his chaste relationship with Carialle. At the end of the book, as Plenna's preparing to leave Carialle gives a biology presentation that concludes with telling Plenna that she wouldn't be safe in space - at which point Chaumel, who's had a rapid Heel–Face Turn, calls Plenna a treasure and asks her to marry him. They've barely spoken, but she's delighted and goes away with him immediately.
- In The Twilight Saga, Jacob Black with Renesmee. It takes them less than a minute to be paired up, especially after Bella delivered her and recently passed away. Way to mourn the girl you thought you were in love with, Jake.
- War and Peace ends with Pierre and Natasha getting hitched. The epilogue shows them Happily Married.
- Angel has a variation, where Fred and Wesley don't so much hook up at the last minute as they do hook up and then have exactly one minute to enjoy it before Fred dies in the very next episode.
- Ashes to Ashes (2008): In a heartbreaking way Alex and Gene. Not to mention Shaz and Chris.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Faith and Principal Robin Wood. The two head off to the Cleveland Hellmouth to battle there. However, as of the comics, they've apparently broken up.
- Clueless Even though Dionne and Murray have sex in the movie, they do not hook up on the TV show until the last episode of the show.
- Crossing Jordan: In the should-have-been-a-season-finale series finale, we do get one final angst-free kiss between Woody and Jordan.
- Rose and the Tenth Doctor's metacrisis clone in the Doctor Who series 4 finale "Journey's End".
- In Les Filles d'à côté, at the end of the show's first incarnation, before its reboot with a pretty much brand new cast, it is strongly hinted Marc gets off with Claire, and they depart as a couple, possibly to Brussels. Apparently Claire was worn down and couldn't be bothered to say "Non!" anymore.
- Firefly: Simon and Kaylee don't have a chance to get very far on the show itself, but in the Big Damn Movie, they finally share their feelings during the final showdown with the Reavers, and one of the last shots is them making out.
- Friends: The final episode ended along similar lines: Ross and Rachel had already been together and broken up in various capacities, but only in the series finale did they get to hook up For Real, presumably to be together happily ever after.
- And even within the finale, the Will They or Won't They? theme was dragged out to the very. Last. Moment.
- Thankfully averted with both Chandler/Monica and Mike/Phoebe. Chandler and Monica were together for over half the series without any breakups to hook them up again and married for the final three seasons. Phoebe and Mike got (back) together at the beginning of Season 10 and married halfway through.
- Gilmore Girls: The very last scene of the finale has Lorelai running into Luke's arms and kissing him. A bit of a variation, as it wasn't a matter of Will They or Won't They? — they already had — but had broken up a season earlier: the real question was whether or not they'd get back together.
- Hannibal hinges its entire plot on the antagonistic yet magnetic back and forth between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Though the first two seasons are laden with Homoerotic Subtext to the point of it having a very long Ho Yay page, it remains subtext until season three, where Bedelia helps Will finally understand that yes, Hannibal has indeed been in love with him for years, likely smitten even as far back as their first interaction. The series ends with the two pack killing together, tenderly embracing and escaping the clutches of the FBI via cliff dive. They even make a meal of Hannibal's former love interest Bedelia.
- iCarly: After 5 years of shipping fan wars, pandering for the Sam/Freddie pairing as well as the Carly/Freddie one and both relationships having temporary in-canon relationships that are broken up, Carly kisses Freddie for the last time and they have a last-minute parting kiss in the original series finale before Carly leaves the country.
- JAG: After nine seasons of Unresolved Sexual Tension, Harm and Mac get together in the last five minutes of the series finale.
- Kamen Rider Double: Akiko and Ryu hook up six episodes (plus a movie) before the end of the season. Akiko started with a vague interest in each of the three male leads, though definitely leaning towards Ryu, who on the other hand, didn't seem interested in a relationship at all. Despite Akiko never overtly pursuing Ryu on-screen, he finally asks her out in the A to Z movie, then in the show they are confirmed to have hooked up via a prank on Shoutarou. This left very limited time to develop the relationship beyond some superficial lines and gestures, but in Movie Wars Core they got married (and were still married by the time of the Accel Returns movie which confirmed Ryu does love her.)
- Life with Derek has one of the Victorious Childhood Friend Romance variety in the penultimate episode of the series between Derek and Emily.
- Lizzie McGuire: In the series finale movie Lizzie and Gordo have their kiss at the end complete with fireworks.
- The Mentalist: Jane and Lisbon finally confess their feelings for each other and have their First Kiss in the final shot of the Season 6 finale, which was originally the show's final episode. (The show has now been renewed for an "encore" season, but the creators made it clear that they deliberately Invoked this trope just in case a renewal wasn't forthcoming.)
- Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: Phryne and Jack finally get their Official Kiss after three seasons of solid Will They or Won't They?, not to mention plenty of Belligerent Sexual Tension along the way.
- The Surprisingly Happy Ending of The Musketeers has all four protagonists happy in love. D'Artagnan, Athos, and Aramis all had well-established love interests, but Porthos had only ever had Girls of the Week, and that quite rarely. Cue one of the Girls of the Week from a single episode earlier in the series, with whom he'd only been mildly flirtatious, suddenly turning up in Paris, and by the end of the (pretty fast-paced) episode, they're engaged.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 mocked this concept when it occurred at the end of one movie: "I know our love wasn't part of the plot, but... let's be part of the loose-end festival anyhow."
- The Office (UK): Tim and Dawn in the UK Version. Dawn finally leaves Lee for Tim at the end of the Christmas special (which was actually after the series finale). David also finally hooks up with a girl, but it's uncertain if that will be as lasting.
- Our Miss Brooks: After eight years on the radio, and four years (concurrently) on television, Connie Brooks finally gets Phillip Boynton to propose marriage in the last ten minutes of the cinematic Grand Finale. Even then, the proposal is de facto delivered by Mrs. Davis and Mr. Boynton's mother.
- Phil of the Future has the two main characters and best friends, Phil and Keely, starting their relationship just before Phil finds out that his family is returning home in the final episode of the series, and sharing their first kiss a few minutes before Phil leaves.
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch had Sabrina returning to first love Harvey instead of getting married when the network refused to allow an hour-long finale.
- Space Cases: In a love sucks version of this, Harlan and Catalina share their feelings for one another right before an explosion sends her to another dimension and she is replaced by Suzee. However, Harlan starts to hit on Suzee almost immediately at the start of Season 2.
- Spaced: In an instance of this trope occurring long after the actual series is over, the last two minutes of the DVD documentary feature a couple that looks exactly like Tim and Daisy arguing over who should change their baby.
- Stargate SG-1: In the final episode, Daniel and Vala finally get together, having been constantly bickering (and, in Vala's case, flirting) throughout season 10 and some of season 9. They spend many long, monogamous years together. Even then, the hookup is reversed when Teal'c goes back in time and changes the past, but it's implied that they'll end up together eventually anyway.
- In Stargirl (2020), the final minutes of the finale reveal Rick and Beth are married in the future. While a popular couple for the fans to ship, they never showed any actual romantic interest in the series proper.
- Star Trek:
- Star Trek: Voyager: The out-of-nowhere Crack Pairing of Seven of Nine and Chakotay in the final season. This was largely a way to appease Robert Beltran, who had been complaining about the uselessness of his character, so they shut his mouth by slipping Jeri Ryan's tongue into it. It got one episode more than halfway through the final season suddenly establishing that Seven had a one-sided interest in Chakotay, despite a complete lack of chemistry or buildup prior to this (and both having far more Ship Tease with other characters). Then, in the very last episode, with no further explanation, they suddenly get together. Fans generally went "what". (The Expanded Universe novels, faced with actually having to deal with this relationship, ended it immediately. Canonically, Star Trek: Picard retroactively made this the Last Het Romance for Seven.)
- Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a will-they-or-won't-they relationship between Worf and Troi that ultimately remained ambiguous.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Julian Bashir's interest in Jadzia Dax is clear from the very first episode. Seven years later, Jadzia Dax has fallen in love with a character of the week, been forcibly separated from him, fallen for a woman, been separated from her by social stigma, fallen for a Klingon, married him, tried to get pregnant (with Bashir's reluctant medical assistance), been senselessly murdered, had the Dax symbiont extracted and rejoined to create Ezri Dax, slept with said Klingon again, broke up with him, realized she had feelings for Bashir, spent a third of a season avoiding him, and then finally kissed him in the next to last episode and slept with him in the last. They probably ended the series because they ran out of ways to torture the Bashir/Dax shippers.
- Sugar Rush: Kim and her crush, the hedonistic Sugar, finally cop off after Sugar stabs a guy. Rather than letting them have any kind of relationship, the second series fast forwards 18 months and nothing more has happened between them. Talk about a letdown.
- Super Sentai:
- Choujin Sentai Jetman: After a series-long love triangle between Ryu, Kaori, and Gai, with the attraction between Ryu and Kaori only implied, a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue shows that they marry three years after the events of the show.
- Bakuryuu Sentai Abaranger: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue and Dekaranger Vs hint at Yukito and Emiri being in a relationship. Finally confirmed in Gokaiger that they got married.
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: Episode 46 is a massive Ship Tease between Sen and Umeko, but it's not till Magiranger Vs the following year that it is confirmed as canon.
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger: Hikaru and Urara suddenly marry two episodes before the end of the show. Justified Trope since Hikaru had had a vision of his own forthcoming death so there wasn't really time to extend the courtship.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Mele's motivation throughout the whole of the series is her love for Rio, but he doesn't return her affections until right before they die together at the end of the show.
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger: Amy and Daigo get together in the final episode after she suddenly confesses that she loves him.
- Subverted in Ted Lasso. The final episode opens up with Ted walking into Rebecca's kitchen, obviously scruffy from sleep, asking if she wants to talk about it... and then in walks Coach Beard, closely followed by his wife, and the quick explanation that they're here because of a gas leak and Ted is actually asking whether Rebecca is willing to discuss Ted moving back to the US.
- Spoofed at the end of Series 2 of A Touch of Cloth when Jack Cloth suddenly and inexplicably hooks up with the only available main character — his nemesis, who killed his wife and who he was inches away from killing for most of the series, and who is also another man, with no indication given to Jack's (or his) orientation prior.
Ann: But... I don't understand.
Jack: Nor do I. That's just how feelings work.
Ann: But you hate him.
Jack: Love and hate don't mean anything, they're just words we use to describe meaningful feelings.
Ann: He killed your wife!
Jack: (with a shrug) No one's perfect.
- Veronica Mars ended on a number of cliffhangers due to its cancellation, one of which was over the status of Veronica and Logan's incredibly on-again/off-again relationship. The concluding Big Damn Movie seven years after the show ended revealed that they didn't get back together at the time, but then they do hook up (apparently for good this time) by the end of the film. note
- Warehouse13: Pete and Mika (subverting their relationship Like Brother and Sister).
- The West Wing:
- CJ and Danny get together for keeps in the last few episodes, though they'd had feelings for each other (and kept kissing each other) for years before then.
- Josh and Donna who share their first kiss late in the last season and whose relationship status is then left hanging until the finale (where all we see is them waking up together).
- Wonderfalls has Eric return at the VERY LAST MINUTE, having left his wife for good.
- The X-Files didn't have Scully and Mulder become a couple until near the end of the seventh season, when they weren't sure there would be an eighth. And even then it was only implied.
- Zoey 101: Zoey and Chase. After three seasons of Ship Tease and Everyone Can See It, they confess their love to each other, but only after they're 6000 miles away from each other and can't do much about it. Chase is then Put on a Bus for the final season, only to come back in the finale, where they finally kiss and become a couple in the last five minutes.
- Numerous fairy tales leave off with the Star-Crossed Lovers overcoming the problem at hand, having a kiss, and proceeding to "live Happily Ever After." With the state of modern marriage, it would've been nice for the storytellers to have left some notes and guidelines as to how a man and a woman could come to achieve this. Maybe even a study guide.
Rapunzel's Prince: She has skin white as snow...Cinderella's Prince: Did you learn her name?Rapunzel's Prince: No, there's a dwarf standing guard.
- The Happily Ever After ending is deconstructed in Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical. In their song Agony, the two princes sing about their love for (obviously) Cinderella and Rapunzel (their names in the script are officially "Cinderella's Prince" and "Rapunzel's Prince", removing any possible doubt). They eventually catch up with their respective love interests and marry them at the end of Act One. Then, in Act Two, they reprise the song, except this time it's just as obviously Sleeping Beauty and Snow White they're singing about. It's pretty clear (even before one of them seduces the Baker's wife) that the Princes are a lot more interested in the chase itself than in Happily Ever After.
- Older Than Steam: One of the most obvious examples is "Snow White and Rose Red", where not only does Snow White get the prince (formerly bear), but her sister Rose Red marries his brother, who had not even been mentioned so far.
- In Agnes de Mille's Rodeo, the Cowgirl spends three-quarters of the ballet fruitlessly pursuing the Head Wrangler. During the final movement, the Hoedown, she falls for the Champion Roper instead, leaving the Head Wrangler to pair off with the Rancher's Daughter.
- Ruddigore: Richard is aced out by Robin/Ruthven for Rose's affections just before the closing chorus, so he immediately and enthusiastically turns to Zorah, head of the professional bridesmaids corps. She accepts him with equal enthusiasm, despite having had no real interaction with him previously. This is typical of the "any partner is better than no partner" attitude that tends to prevail among Gilbert's characters.
- Aveyond: The Darkthrop Prophecy has a Playable Epilogue that's just choosing and wooing a bride for male lead Edward. It's also an in-universe Last-Minute Hookup; he has until the end of the day to choose his bride, or his mother will choose one for him. Earlier games in the series tended to play this straight for the main couple and avert it with side couples, who could get married at any point in the quest as long as the conditions were met.
- Eternal Eden is an unusual variation. After spending a major portion of the game flirting with Jean, Fierro was engaged to Josefine in the epilogue. Granted, the epilogue took place after a Cosmic Retcon, where the events that take place in the game did not happen in the new reality, and the two probably had an offscreen romance.
- Fire Emblem: You can make this happen if you put off getting an A support between two characters until the final battle.
- In Fire Emblem: Awakening especially, there are several units available via SpotPass (playable versions of Emmeryn, certain antagonistsnote , and Priam) which you only get access to right before the final map who are still somehow able to reach S support level with the player character. Downplayed (but still present) with Flavia and Basilio (towards the player, since they are only Platonic Life-Partners of each other) who become playable in chapter 23, about 3 chapters before the last one.
- Fire Emblem: Three Houses only lets Byleth reach an S support 'after' you've already beaten the final boss. Especially notable with Rhea, who 'is' the final boss of the route in which you can S support her.
- Played with in Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Gades seems to be the final boss, and Selan suddenly confesses to Maxim mere minutes into the aftermath. Their journey is far from over.
- Mass Effect:
- The Romance Sidequest of the first two games will reach its climax just before the endgame. In the first game, it happens just before heading through the Mu Mass Relay in pursuit of Saren. In Mass Effect 2, it's during the hours leading up to the suicide mission through the Omega-4 Mass Relay. In both games, this trope applies only if you sufficiently nurtured a relationship with a romanceable character throughout the course of the game. Something about uncharted Mass Relays seems to heighten hormone levels in organic species...
- Subverted or played straight in Mass Effect 3, depending on when the player locks in their preferred romance. This time, the big scene occurs just before the assault on Cerberus HQ. Probably not so much the 'uncharted Mass Relay' bit as it is the 'we're probably going to die so let's do it while we still can' bit. If the player waited until the last minute to lock in the relationship, it's the same deal as the first two games. If they locked in the relationship at the first opportunity, there are bits of dialogue making it clear that Shepard and his/her love interest have been having sex for quite some time before the actual love scene, with hints that the love interest has effectively moved into the captain's cabin.
- Neverwinter Nights: You can, if you want, try and develop a relationship with Aribeth —after you've defeated her and she is awaiting a likely execution for treason, and just before you go off to fight the Big Bad.
- And as we find out in the expansion pack, she is executed, whether you redeemed her or not.
- Typical romance theme in Riviera: The Promised Land between the Ein and the girls isn't really obvious other than a Relationship Values until the very end of the game, where a Big Bad kills off the protagonist's soul mate to revive an sealed lady monster for a final battle before she gets revived after you beat the game. Rose's good ending is not better either, since Ein has been treating her as a cat for the entire game until some magical medicine turns her into a human girl.
- Shining Force II: There are a couple last-minute hookups. Bowie and the princess hook up after his kiss brings her out of her coma. Sarah we found out had a crush on Bowie all along and is heartbroken, but we're led to assume that she hooks up with Kazin instead.
- Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: All three potential romances do not reach their resolutions until the end of the game. The lesbian relationship with Juhani occurs after you decide to stay on the good side once and for all, the relationship with Carth occurs when you return to the ship, and the relationship with Bastila begins not long before the final boss battle.
- Tales of Xillia: Milla and Jude are seen as this by some players, as they never actually admit their feelings for each other out loud and their (English) scenes tend to lack a certain romantic note to them, which makes their status as Official Couple come off as this. The fact that Milla becomes the new Maxwell and has to leave the Human for the Spirit Realm, leaves any proper relationship an impossibility.
- Xenosaga: Allen and Shion get together at the end.
- Avalon had two: Joe & Helène, and Ceilidh and Phoebe. This second one became a rather large controversy for many fans, as there was little to no hint of it in the strip before the Schedule Slip until the text summary that the author ended the comic with. The second one felt rather out of left field (perhaps to the point of Phillips' falling prey to Pair the Spares), while the first one was pretty obvious for quite some time.
- Fans! had a few examples in the strip's fifth book (which was meant to be the series' last arc, until T. Campbell and Jason Waltrip decided to return to the strip a year or so later). Will and Shanna, after dancing around each other finally hook up. After Tim's tech business goes bust, Tim and Julia get together. And in one of the more bizarre variations on this trope, Alysin (who had at the beginning of the arc decided to leave her husband Rikk because she felt she didn't deserve him) not only reconciled with Rikk but resolved the Rikk/Aly/Rumi triangle...by inviting Rumi to join their marriage. As of two or so years of the revival, all three relationships are still doing well (although Will and Shanna have had some stumbling blocks).
- Kid Radd: At the end of the title character's "game", he always leans in to kiss his girlfriend Sheena ... at which point he's interrupted by the credits. (This extends to the end of the comic itself.)
- In the last chapter of Magical Boy, after his attempt in asking Toby out fails, Max gets asked out by Sean.
- Starslip: Holliday and Cutter are shown holding hands in the final episode. They'd staged a makeout session a few episodes earlier to throw off Deep Time's prediction algorithms, but there was never a hint of romance.
- Alexander Avila: Discussed in his "Last Minute Gays" videos. He discusses how a lot of canon queer relationships are only allowed to get together at the end of a series. Among the many examples are Korra and Asami from The Legend of Korra and Marceline and Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time.
- Critical Role: In the final episode, Scanlan and Pike ask each other out right before the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue begins, and said epilogue involves them getting married.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius had Jimmy and Cindy finally kiss in the last episode, "The Lady Sings the News". Even though the episode itself was Libby-centered.
- Adventure Time: The final episode "Come Along With Me" has Princess Bubblegum and Marceline share a kiss after the latter rescues the former from GOLB. LSP and Lemongrab also kiss, which is Played for Laughs.
- Avatar franchise:
- Avatar: The Last Airbender ends the series with Aang and Katara sharing their Official Kiss.
- The Legend of Korra ends with Korra and Asami walking off into the spirit portal holding hands and looking lovingly at each other. The creators later confirmed that Korra and Asami are indeed an Official Couple at the end.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: The last minutes of the finale "Operation: I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S." reveal that Numbuh 3 and Numbuh 4 are married in the future. Numbuh 2 and Numbuh 5 are also married, even though they never showed romantic interest in each other during the show like Numbuh 3 and Numbuh 4 did.
- Danny Phantom is quite an obvious example: after three seasons of flirting and UST, Danny and Sam finally get together at the end of the series finale.
- The Grand Finale of Daria has Upchuck randomly hitting on Andrea during a party. She agrees to leave the party to go on a date with him, to his complete and utter amazement.
- Doug: Providing an animated equivalent to the JAG example, after seven seasons of Will They or Won't They?, Doug and Patti finally become a couple in the last few minutes of the final episode.
- Futurama: Subverted. Fry and Leela confess their love for each other and kiss at the end of Into The Wild Green Yonder, which was supposed to be the series finale, until the show got revived for more seasons. Fry and Leela stay an Official Couple for the rest of the series.
- Jackie Chan Adventures: The last minute of the finale rushes giving all of the good guys a happy ending. This includes randomly having Jackie and Viper hook up out of almost nowhere, though Jade had been their Shipper on Deck from Viper's first appearance.
- Kim Possible:
- Relationship Upgrade as a Grand Finale is ridiculed by Kim and Ron in the show's third season, in a bit of Lampshade Hanging that foreshadows the end to the then series-capping TV movie. The two watch a weepy teen drama called Agony County:
Ron: Oh, please! Are they still teasing that Charity and Danny are gonna get together?
Kim: Like that's ever gonna happen! It would end the series.
- Subverted with the main couple in a special case. Kim and Ron's Official Kiss was the last scene of what was intended to be the Finale Movie. However, grassroots operations orchestrated by fans brought the show back. Kim and Ron stay an Official Couple for the entire fourth season.
- Drakken and Shego are very implied to be a couple at the end of the series finale "Graduation."
- Relationship Upgrade as a Grand Finale is ridiculed by Kim and Ron in the show's third season, in a bit of Lampshade Hanging that foreshadows the end to the then series-capping TV movie. The two watch a weepy teen drama called Agony County:
- My Dad the Rock Star: In the final episode, Willy, the male lead, and his female friend Alyssa start dating. Furthermore, it's only in the last few minutes that they officially become a couple, with Willy spending most of the episode uncertain if they were on a real date or just hanging out as friends. Quincy also finds a Love Interest (in an entirely new character) during those last few minutes, which avoids making him a third wheel.
- The Grand Finale of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero has Penn and Sashi share a kiss sometime after the team's final mission.
- ReBoot had Bob and Dot finally kiss during the last couple minutes of the series finale. The series was Un-Canceled three years later, and the Reset Button was pushed to a degree - they spend the first few episodes of the season back in Just Friends territory and are still not really officially together by the new finale.
- The Grand Finale of Regular Show has Mordecai literally hooking up at the last minute with a brand new character.
- The Replacements: In the final episode, it is revealed that Jacobo and Tasumi are a couple. Considering that the idea of them as a couple had only been hinted at once previously, Todd and Riley's surprise at that reveal is pretty justified.
- Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!: After four seasons of Belligerent Sexual Tension with many Cannot Spit It Out moments, the last episode has Sprx and Nova finally show their true feelings for each other when Nova confesses her love to make Sprx go back to being good after the Fire of Hate turned him evil and he almost killed her. Nova then gives Sprx a kiss right before the final battle against the resurrected Big Bad begins and the series leaves off on a Cliffhanger ending.
- Teen Titans: The series often alluded to Robin and Starfire having feelings for each other, with the duo finally having their Big Damn Kiss in the last few minutes of the Finale Movie, Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo.
- Young Justice:
- The series finale randomly has Wonder Girl and Robin hook up, though neither had received much screentime or characterization to lead up to the development. A part of the script that didn't make it into the final product even pokes fun at how sudden relationships can happen, with the two stating "We know" and secretly holding hands.
- That same unused scene reveals that Tye and Asami get together. There was nothing explicitly romantic between them previously, but they at least interacted more and it was already popular with the fans.