Follow TV Tropes


Love Triangle

Go To
Some fans see impending "wars".
Other fans see impending threesome.
"You love her
but she loves him
and he loves somebody else.
You just can't win."
The J. Geils Band, "Love Stinks"


Alice is in love with Bob, but Bob is in love with Charlie, while Charlie is in love with Alice. Well, that's one of them. A Love Triangle commonly involves three people, love, and decisions. It can be dramatic, or it can result in Wacky Hijinx.

Love triangles are usually resolved in one of four main ways:

  1. The most common way is for two of the characters involved in the triangle to end up together, and the other one being eliminated through death, turning out to be unworthy of whoever they want, or stepping aside so that their beloved can be happy.
  2. Sometimes no one gets what they want — perhaps one character decides that neither of the people vying for them are worthy, perhaps one rival murders the other or otherwise eliminates them in a way that causes the other person to lose all respect for them. Sometimes the person that both rivals want winds up dead, and either sets up a lasting enmity between the two or leads to a double case of My God, What Have I Done?.
  3. Sometimes a fourth person is brought in as a Third-Option Love Interest; don't expect this option to go well with Shippers of either of the two pairings.
  4. Finally, there's the option of the three characters becoming a One True Threesome, or one character deciding to Marry Them All. This is a rare thing, both due to societal expectations of one person ending up with one person and because love triangles don't often allow for attraction between all three members of the triangle.

See Triang Relations for all the ways these three people can mess up their love lives.

Sometimes a Love Triangle can come to involve a fourth person, while still ultimately being called a "triangle." But more complications that result from widening it can be explored further in a Love Dodecahedron.

Expect anyone involved in the love triangle to become a Jealous Romantic Witness when they see their romantic rival and object of affection being intimate in one way or another.

Very common in Soap Opera. Compare Friend Versus Lover and Cock Fight.



Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Audio Plays 
  • The main premise of the Choose Me otome audio drama series. You, as the main character in each story, must choose between two love interests vying for your attention.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Fire-Bird, the Horse of Power, and the Princess Vasilissa, the princess hates the old tsar and falls in love with the archer, but the tsar insists on marrying her.
  • In Anguillette, the protagonist, Hebe, loves Prince Atimir, though she marries the Prince of Pleasure Island. Hebe's older sister Ilerie competes with her for Atimir's affections, and Atimir marries her.
  • In "The Two Trees" King Niall of Leinster and King Fergal of Ulster became bitter enemies due to both loving a woman called Maeve, who deliberately encouraged this antagonism. They don't become friends again until their children have a vision stating that they're fated to marry one another.

    Films — Animation 

  • Defied in the song Au fond de temple saint from the opera The Pearl Fishers: when two close friends realise that they have fallen in love with the same person, they vow to renounce her so they do not become enemies.
  • "Hide Your Heart" by KISS has a variation of this. Rosa and Tito are together, but an (implied to be unhappy) Rosa hooks up with Johnny anyway. It doesn't end well for Johhnny.
  • The song "Withered Hope" by They Might Be Giants describes a love triangle between Withered Hope, her "Soul Mate", a crook, a motorbike, and Sad Sack (who loves Withered Hope).
  • Sarah Brightman has "Make Up My Heart". The singer has two great men in her life, but she wants one in her life. The whole song is dedicated to her talking about her dilemma and what one man has that the other doesn't.
  • Suede's "Asphalt World": "When you're there in her arms / And there in her legs / Well I'll be in her head".
  • The opening song for Macross Frontier, named Triangler sung by Maaya Sakamoto is a deconstruction of this trope. It tells of the feelings and crushing doubt that one who is in that situation might feel. An alternate version of this song is sung by Ranka and Sheryl and the version is aptly named Triangler Fight on Stage. Lyrics here.
    • Frontier also has the other song Tablet which is sung from the POV of Sheryl and Ranka; they are both asking Alto to pick the other because they want them to be happy and apologizing to the other for falling for him while also thanking each other for being a true friend. It is heartbreaking.
  • This is the premise of the Vocaloid song Acute. Kaito is engaged to Miku, but he's having an affair with her best friend Luka. Luka doesn't want to betray Miku, but she can't deny her feelings for Kaito. Miku eventually finds out, and the song ends with her stabbing Kaito, before trying to commit suicide.
  • In "Second Boys Will Be First Choice" by The Brobecks, two boys are in love with the same girl, and the song comforts the one that she ends up not getting together with by saying that he'll find love somewhere else.
    Gather 'round ye boys and girls, listen ye to my tale
    Of two boys and one girl, but which one will win her
    And which one is destined to fail?
    Complicated situation made harder every day
    Boy number two, there is someone for you
    Just forget her and walk away
  • "Love Triangle" by RaeLynn turns this on its head: the "triangle" is between the narrator and her divorced parents who share custody of her.
  • Reba McEntire and Linda Davis' "Does He Love You" is a duet between two women who are vying for the same man, and asking the other "Does he love you like he loves me?"
  • Eric Clapton's hit song "Layla" is about Pattie Boyd, who was then married to George Harrison.
  • "The Less I Know the Better" by Tame Impala is about the narrator finding out that the object of his affection has hooked up with a guy called Trevor. He does not take it well.
  • "Miracle" by Mac McAnally, also recorded by Crystal Bernard and Restless Heart, puts a twist on this. The male character in the song is in a relationship with two women, one of whom is pregnant with his child. But the ending of the song reveals that he's actually married to both of them and trying to keep each wife a secret from the other.
  • Within The Rolling Stones, Brian Jones had been dating German-Italian actress Anita Pallenberg for two years, though their relationship had been quite volatile, to say the least. After Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were busted for drug possession in 1967, Mick, Keith, and Brian were advised that they should leave the country for a short while, so a trip to Morocco was planned. However, in Toulouse, Brian fell ill with pneumonia, forcing him to spend the next several days in the hospital. Anita and Keith went ahead and started seeing each other behind Brian's back (Keith later confirmed in his 2010 autobiography, Life that she made the first move). When Brian was finally able to join them, he was able to sense what was going on between Keith and Anita. Reportedly, Brian paid for the services of two prostitutes, and though what happened next is largely conjecture, it is agreed that there was some altercation between Brian and Anita (Keith claimed that he threw fruit at her and humiliated her, but other sources claimed that he savagely beat her). What is certain is that the next day, Mick, Keith, and Anita left Morocco, and Brian was left stranded in Morocco for the next couple days. This incident practically destroyed the friendship Keith and Brian had previously had, and it only exacerbated Brian's alienation from the Stones, which eventually resulted in him being fired from the band in June 1969 note 
  • Discussed in Tom Lehrer's song "Lobachevsky," in which the protagonist has written a book in a highly-specialized field of geometry.
    ...Metro Goldwyn Moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles, changing title to The Eternal Triangle, with Ingrid Bergman playing part of hypotenuse.
  • On Taylor Swift’s album folklore (2020), the songs “cardigan”, “august”, and “betty” are perspectives of each teenager (Betty, James, and the unnamed girl James had an affair with) involved in a tumultuous summer love triangle.
  • From Franchise Love Live!: Nijigasaki Highschool Clubs subgroup DiverDiva has the song “Love Triangle”. In the text we hear complains about, that the singer is in love with the directly addressed audience and that the other girl is kind or charming too. Both members of DiverDiva are singing parts of the song, heavily implying, that the other girl is the other member of the subgroup.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • One of the interpretations of the Song of Songs from The Bible, which is a series of love poems about the Shulamite and her Beloved, is that the Shulamite's Beloved isn't actually Solomon, but a shepherd, and the whole thing plays out as the story of two suitors vying for her attention. However, as hard as Solomon tries to woo the Shulamite into marrying him, she ultimately chooses the shepherd over Solomon, saying to the effect that all the money in the world wouldn't be enough to buy her love.
  • The King Arthur stories largely revolve around the triangle of Arthur, Guenivere, and Lancelot. Interestingly, each of them originally came from a different story line, and merged together sometime in the 12th centuries. It's widely believed to have been the work of French poet Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote about it in his Lancelot or The Knight of the Cart.
  • Greek Mythology has the triangle of Aphrodite, Hephaestus and Ares. And then there's the perpetually recurring triangle of Zeus, Hera and whoever Zeus happens to be sleeping with at the time.

  • In the Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town, Veronica and Stacey are both attracted to Ethan, though he's not aware of either. Veronica is very jealous of Stacey for seemingly having the edge.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • WWE had the Triple H-Stephanie McMahon-Kurt Angle triangle, which seemed to be leading to Steph leaving HHH to be with Kurt, but this is Triple H, so it didn't.
  • The real-life Edge-Lita-Matt Hardy love triangle (Matt and Amy "Lita" Dumas had been a couple both on-screen and off before she left him for Adam "Edge" Copeland, messing up his real-life marriage at the time in the process) crossed over into the wrestling world, temporarily getting Matt fired for complaining about it online and turning Edge into a seemingly unstoppable Karma Houdini.
  • The most infamous & tragic Real Life example is known to be Triple H x Chyna x Stephanie. It has been noted by Chyna, Vince Russo, and Ivory that Triple H cheated when he began seeing Stephanie. Some WWE stars have also alleged the affair started as early as 1999 rather than early - mind 2000's like commonly believed. Chyna says she found out about the relationship when she discovered a love letter Stephanie had written to him, which Triple H confirmed to be true during a Howard Stern interview. Things worked out well for Stephanie & Hunter, whose relationship continued for 19 years & counting. Sadly Chyna spiraled downward with numerous project & legal setbacks. She became more bitter, and began lashing out at Vince, Stephanie, and Triple H, even making threats to the latter two. Some time later she made accusations that Triple H once hit her when they were together. Tragically while Chyna never seemed to get over what happened, Triple H was well over it and even stated that she was mainly a convenient fling while he was stuck on the road & not thinking about his future. Sean Waltman says Triple H complained about Chyna frequently and even tried to "warn" him about her when they began dating. This implies Triple H settled for her a while but was not happy or truly committed, so when Stephanie became an option, there so no legitimate contest and he still lived with & went through motions with Chyna while developing an actual relationship with Stephanie.


    Web Animation 
  • Mocked extensively in Terrible Writing Advice, where narrator constantly advises throwing this in, regardless of whether it is necessary, fits into the genre the episode is talking about, or if it would take too much time away from more interesting elements,to the point of it being a Running Gag. Gets taken Up to Eleven in the "Evil Empires" video, in which the narrator admits that evil empires are one of his favorite clichés, only for an actual love triangle to come in and complain that it thought it was his favorite cliché, putting him in a Love Triangle with this very trope, and The Empire.
  • In Brawl Universe, This is Played For Laughs and Played Straight with Sheik and Zelda. They are initally the same person, so they fight over Link's affections. Link himself has feelings for Zelda, but has to deal with Sheik as they travel to find the whereabouts of Zelda.
  • In Red vs. Blue, Lopez-Sheila-Caboose would form a "weird, horribly disgusting love triangle" if Sheila was more aware of Caboose's feelings for her. (Note: Sheila is the Blue Team's sentient tank, Lopez is the Red Team's robot, and Caboose is an idiot).
  • RWBY had one with Pyrrha having a crush on Jaune, who only saw her as a friend at first, while Jaune had a crush on Weiss, who was indifferent towards him. Later complicated further in season two, when Neptune is introduced as a Love Interest for Weiss.
  • EVERY SIMS MACHINIMA EVER (Parody) plays this trope for laughs. Ella and her best friend since infancy Chloe both like the same boy. When asked to study with Brandon, Ella contemplates this for all of a few seconds. She ends up going for plot reasons. After all, it wouldn't be quite as interesting if she didn't.
    Ella: It was obvious that Chloe liked Brandon, so I was torn.
    Ella: I went anyway for drama.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 

    Real Life 

"I love you!"
"But I love him!"
"I am so conflicted!"


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Love Quadrangle


Love Hexagon

This trope gets cranked up to eleven as a total of SIX people argue over who loves whom.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / LoveTriangle

Media sources: