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Mistaken for Romance

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"We're not a couple!"
The Doctor and Donna, Doctor Who, "The Unicorn and the Wasp"

This supertrope describes situations where a platonic relationship between characters is seen as something romantic by another character.

As we know, there are many different kinds of "love", and people often confuse "friendship love" or "brotherly/sisterly love" with "romantic love". In this trope two people love each other. Some or many people, perhaps even those who know the two well, take this to mean they are romantically involved, but contrary to popular belief, they are just friends.

The key to this trope is that though affection and even love exists between the two people, it is not romantic (though in some cases there was the potential for it at some time in the past). Neither of the two characters have (or probably ever will have) any interest in the relationship becoming romantic, unlike in the Just Friends trope which requires this. However, one or more bystanders/others think that the love is a romantic one and may try to call them out on it.

The two may be (but are not necessarily) Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life-Partners, or Like Brother and Sister, or they could in fact be blood relatives. If a third person gets involved with one of the people and then finds out about the other it can turn into an Imaginary Love Triangle. See also The Not-Love Interest, a character who fills a typical Love Interest role but isn't actually interested in romancing the protagonist or vice versa.

Contrast She Is Not My Girlfriend and Everyone Can See It: the participants in this trope are not remotely romantically interested in each other, it is all in the eyes of the beholders. In those tropes, the the bystanders are being more perceptive and there is some truth in it.


See also Mistaken for Flirting. For cases where audience members interpret platonic interactions of characters in the work through the lens of Shipping, see Shipping Goggles.

NOTE: This is a love trope so there may be unhidden spoilers ahead.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle:
  • In Beauty Pop Narumi saw Kiri hanging out together with Ochiai, and when the latter closed in on her to get rid of a bug from her hair, Narumi thought they were kissing and assumed they were in a relationship.
  • Bleach: In the Substitute Soul Reaper arc, Keigo starts spreading rumors around the school that Ichigo Kurosaki and Rukia Kuchiki are dating. While both Ichigo and Rukia deny this, Orihime — who has a massive crush on Ichigo — notices how close their friendship is and mistakenly assumes Ichigo is in love with Rukia, despairing to Rangiku that she doesn't stand a chance compared to Rukia. In the end, Rukia marries her childhood friend Renji, while Ichigo marries Orihime.
  • In Bloom Into You, during the training camp for the student council's School Play, Riko Hakozaki, a teacher and the student council's assistant advisor, invites Tomoyuki Ichigaya, her friend and fellow member of her theater group, to coach the actors. Some of the students notice that they get along, and ask if they're in a relationship. Riko, who is in a relationship with Miyako, the manager of the coffee shop, truthfully insists that Ichigaya is just a friend, while Ichigaya mentions that he has a girlfriend.
  • A sub-plot in Chapter 925 of Case Closed has Idol Singer Yoko Okino and soccer star Ryusuke Higo making a scandal when reporters saw them shopping together on what looks like a date. They were actually just schoolmates looking to buy a gift for their former teacher who is retiring.
  • In Destiny of the Shrine Maiden, Chikane and Souma are the two most popular students at their school, and everyone, including the main character Himeko, thinks they are the perfect match for each other and must definitely be dating. In reality, there is nothing going on between them and both are interested in Himeko. Himeko ends up with Chikane.
  • Hyakunichikan!!:
    • Chiho's friend Kanami thinks that Shuuto must be married to Chiho's mom, but also assumes he's hitting on their kindergarten teacher (just because he was talking to her).
    • Shuuto's friend Hisaki Aoki assumes the reason he's been so secretive and distant lately is that he got a girlfriend.
  • In episode 33 of Jewelpet Twinkle☆, a rumor about Yuuma and Monica being in love with each other is brought to Akari's attention. Akari, who has a crush on Yuuma and is Monica's younger sister, begins to believe the rumor is true when she sees the two in the library together and is heartbroken, which drains the power from Ruby's Jewelcharm and thus bars her from entering the Jewelland. Thankfully, the rumor is just that, and Akari gains the confidence to admit her feelings to Yuuma after learning this.
  • While not exactly romance, Chapter 228 of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War has almost all of Ishigami and Koromo's classmates become convinced that they're Friends with Benefits after seeing how suddenly close the two are. They actually became friends on Discord the previous day and spent all night playing video games, but the fact that they're both half asleep (along with the others not understanding their gamer jargon) leads to them giving a very poorly worded explanation.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: This is what Kuroe feels when she first sees Manatsu talking with Arata. She's both relieved (because she thinks interacting with Arata will just trigger her Involuntary Shapeshifting again) and saddened (because she still likes Arata). Turns out Manatsu was gleaning info from Arata about her real crush: Harugon.
  • Noel and Sasa from Mint na Bokura are considered the Official Couple of the class since they hang out all the time. Nobody except Noel's sister knows that Noel is a boy.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00 features a rather hilarious scene in its second season when Mileina asks Setsuna and Marina if they are a couple. Both reply negative in complete deadpan (and in perfect sync) without a hint of embarrassment or sexual tension. If anything, they seem to love each other as something between Platonic Life-Partners and surrogate mother and son, since Marina is a dead-ringer of Setsuna's Missing Mom.
  • The 26th episode of the PaRappa the Rapper anime has Katy Kat determined to ensure that Bob G's ice hockey team win their final game. PaRappa and the others think that Katy wants to do this because she and Bob G are in love, but it turns out that Katy just wants Bob G to give her his jacket due to liking the design.
  • In episode 3 of Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream, Himespetchi, who is deeply in love with Mametchi, sees him holding hands with Yumemitchi and, thinking it's out of love for each other, panics and faints. It isn't until after she regains consciousness near the end of the episode that she learns Yumemitchi tripped and Mametchi only held her hands to prevent her from falling.
  • It's a running gag in Venus Versus Virus for Sumire's friends to mistake her and Lucia for a couple.
  • Takatsuki and Saori from Wandering Son are mistaken for being boyfriend and girlfriend by their respective Stalkers with Crushes. This assumption goes away when they learn Takatsuki's sex.
  • When Chizuru from You and Me sees Yuki and Shun talking, he mistakes them for boyfriend and girlfriend. When Shun's friends tell him that he isn't a girl (nor is he Yuki's boyfriend) Chizuru scoffs and believes they're insulting "her" chest size. When Chizuru sees Shun in the male school uniform he faints.
  • Alexis and Zane of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX spend so much time together that multiple characters like Chazz and Blair assume they're a couple. Alexis' brother vocally ships them together. However, they truly are Like Brother and Sister and only became so close because they comforted each other when Zane's best friend and Alexis' brother Atticus went missing.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINS: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue has a scene where Takeru takes Kiku to LINK VRAINS for the first time and puts his arm around her so she doesn't fall off his hoverboard, causing Shima to assume she's his girlfriend.
  • In Zetsuai (1989), the Idol Singer Kouji Nanjo is seen talking to a very cute Girl Next Door named Serika Izumi in public, and it reaches the news. Kouji is actually interested in Serika's older brother Takuto, a promising soccer player, who is furious at Kouji because this puts his innocent little sister in the spotlight and he fears that the Izumi's horrible Dark and Troubled Past will also be featured in the spotlight. Which is exactly what happened.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Bread Barbershop episode "Macaron's Day Off", a guy sees Wilk with Macaron, a famous Idol Singer, and thinks they're dating. He asks Wilk for the pictures he took with her, but Wilk, not realizing up until now that Macaron is a famous pop star, decides to keep them and give them to Macaron.

    Comic Books 
  • In Angel and Faith, after Giles' will made generous provision for Faith, his great-aunts come to stay. As Faith shows Sophronia to the master bedroom...
    Sophronia: How awkward. I just realised this must be where you and Rupert used to... well.
    Faith: What? I wasn't sleeping with him.
    Sophronia: No, of course not. Middle-aged men leave everything they own to young ladies out of fatherly affection.
  • Archie Comics: A story had Archie get jealous of a blond guy taking Veronica out to a concert, who turned out to be her cousin.
  • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl:
    • The media think Supergirl and Lex Luthor are together. However, Kara regarded him as a friend and surrogate father before finding out that he considered her to be a useful pawn.
    • Rumor also has it that Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon - alias Batgirl - are together, but they're just friends... although Bruce actually encourages those rumors.
  • Killing and Dying: The narrator of "Translated from the Japanese" strikes up a friendship with the professor seated next to them on the plane. The flight attendant assumes they are married. When this story is narrated to the narrator's estranged husband it upsets him.
  • The Smurfs: In The Betrayal of Smurfblossom, Smurfstorm falsely accuses Blossom of having a crush on Hefty, spearheading the teasing insistence of them being 'sweethearts'. Throughout the story, most of the other smurfs fall for it or question whether or not it's true. Including Storm herself, as she starts getting jealous of their supposed relationship.
  • At least one comic has had civilians mistake Supergirl for Superman's girlfriend. They're cousins.
  • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: Sue asks Lawson to see him without clothes. Stark is confused, he's in the room, and she wants him to get naked? Reed clarified: he's an alien, and she's interested in his biology.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In the Wonder Girl Impossible Tale in #116 Wonder Girl mistakes Renno's interactions with the mermaid Firra as Renno finally finding a girlfriend he doesn't have to pretend to be someone he's not to be with, but he and Firra are just friends. WG leaving has Renno once again setting himself off on a task he has no hope of completing in order to try and win her over.

    Fan Works 
  • Adventures of a Super Family: After seeing Bruce Wayne, Karen Kent, and Diana Prince attending the same party and talking each other, some tabloids start spreading the false rumor that Bruce is having a threesome with both women.
  • Anything's Possible: Shego mentions that many people think she and Drakken are a couple, but they're not. He's twice her age and there is no romantic interest between them.
  • Asuka & Shinji's Infinite Playlist: When Shinji mentions he is supposed to meet up with a friend in the Myojo Academy's lobby, Asuka mischievously asks what kind of "friend" that person is. Shinji replies she is only an old friend, denying that she is some kind of girlfriend.
  • In The Awakening of a Magus, it turns out that what Ginny thought was a romantic connection to Harry was actually stemming from her Empath ability.
  • In Beyond Heroes: Of Sunshine and Red Lyrium, Varric keeps thinking that the Inquisitor - Bethany Hawke - is being pursued by various characters, including Cullen, Josephine, Blackwall, and Krem. He's repeatedly puzzled when nothing happens and ultimately concludes that it's probably a case of It's Not You, It's My Enemies. By the end of the story, she's married - to him.
  • Blackbird (Arrow): Most of Oliver Queen and Sara Lance's interactions are mistaken by outsiders to be attempts to become intimate with each other again due to their previous affair. In reality, what happened to Laurel (Oliver's ex-girlfriend and Sara's older sister) has effectively killed whatever interest they had in each othernote . Said interactions are mostly discussions (read: arguments) over how to get her back from the League.
  • In born of hell('s kitchen), Eric spying on Jessica Jones notes how relaxed and playful she is with "a handsome blind guy", even planning to attend a party with him. When informed of this, Trish identifies the man as Jessica's acquaintance Matthew and agrees they have to be dating, unaware that the ship has sailed long ago and neither party is interested in trying it again.
  • In ByAnyOtherName, Wei Wuxian is Disguised in Drag and won't stop fussing over Jiang Cheng and his nephew Jin Ling. On Jiang Cheng's side, he dresses "Wu Yingtai" with his late sister's clothes and jewelry while obviously being more fond and gentle with "her" than he tends to be with anyone else, leading the cultivation world to assume they're courting and will marry soon — to Lan Wangji's utter dismay, since it's not very nice to pine after a married woman.
  • In Co-op Mode, Armsmaster thinks Beetle Knight and Lady Bug are dating, when in truth it is all in his head. The same goes for Coil, but does not take it as far as Colin, who even concludes - wrongly - that Beetle Knight is only an overzealous fanboy, which is not helped by James' lack of a Corona Pollentia.
  • In Fall Back – 1940, Leo thinks Tom and Hermione are a couple. They aren't.
  • The Good Hunter: During the meeting with the Good Hunter in the Dream brought to life, the Wandering Scholar thinks that he and Evetta are married, but decides against inquiring him on the subject of his personal life, being in the midst of numerous weapons he can use to off him. When asked about who she is, Cyril simply says that she is "a faithful friend".
  • In To Hell and Back (Arrowverse), Eddie mistakenly believes Barry and Kara to be a couple when he meets the latter before the Queen Thanksgiving Dinner. When he voices this out loud, Oliver and Kal burst out laughing while Barry and Kara act like they're going to throw up.
  • The Lion, The Witch, and The Fairy's Tail: In the first part, Natsu and Lucy from Fairy Tail spend three years as King and Queen of Narnia alongside Gray and Erza. Outside of Ship Tease the two remain friends during their rule. By the time of Return to Narnia, centuries had passed in the other world and Narnian history recorded Natsu and Lucy as husband and wife.
  • In the Super Smash Bros one-shot Loyalties, Zelda clarifies to Pit that, despite what people say, she isn't Link's lover (or his sister). They aren't even particularly close.
  • In Married to the Koopa King, everyone, even Peach's cousin Daisy, thinks Mario and Peach are a couple. Peach has never had feelings for Mario. Mario's dedication to rescuing Peach is not due to his love for her, but due to a love of adventure. When Peach marries Bowser, Mario is only upset because his days of being a hero and regularly rescuing Peach are over.
  • In My Mother, when Padmé is revived from carbonite by Leia a few years after the destruction of the second Death Star, she is subject to a couple of these:
    • When Luke initially visits the Solos' apartment after Leia wakes up Padmé, he wonders if Leia is concerned that Han is having an affair with the woman Leia released from carbonite before Leia helps him realize who the woman is.
    • When Lando meets the family for the first time since Padmé is awakened, he assumes that she is involved with Luke before witnessing a news broadcast that confirms her real relationship with the family.
  • In My Pain, My Thrill, there's nothing romantic between Mario and Peach's friendship. Everyone in the Mushroom Kingdom just assumes they're a couple because Mario constantly rescues Peach and Peach is quite friendly with Mario. One "thank you" cake and everyone pinned them as a couple. Those in Dark Land know who Peach really is in a relationship with.
  • The Omnitrix Hero: Flash Sentry and Trixie Lulamoon were already friends, but start hanging out with each other even more often after Flash gets the Omnitrix, with Trixie serving as his closest confidant over his Secret Identity. The Rainbooms assume that their newfound closeness is due to them dating, but chose not to confront them about it. When they catch the two kissing (Trixie needed to distract him so a bunch of mind-reading monsters wouldn't be able to find him), and they interrupt Flash's explanation to reveal that they've known that the duo has been a couple for a while, the pair laughs themselves silly at the thought and state they wouldn't be caught dead dating each other, before catching the girls up to speed on the aforementioned monsters.
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfic The (only/best/most wonderful) Family I (could ever) Have where Sharon's parents were killed alongside Howard and Maria Stark by the Winter Soldier, Tony takes in Sharon as his adoptive daughter with her later choosing to go by "Sharon Stark". When Natasha introduces Sharon to Steve, he assumes, with Sharon making a comment about having dinner with Tony later, that Sharon is Tony's wife. After a bit of awkward silence, Natasha just blinks in confusion, Tony immediately leaves to talk with Bruce, and Steve is embarrassed after Sharon explains things.
  • Prodigal Son: It is revealed that Astrid stole something from Hiccup's room, Fishlegs steps in and bails her out by convincing the tribe that she was secretly in a relationship with Hiccup before he disappeared.
  • In the sequel to Not Completely, Altogether Here, Glinda has become a saint with many myths spread around Oz. Urban legends have spread about how "Glinda the Good" and her lover "Fiyero the Brave" bested Morrible and the Wicked Witch Elphaba. In reality, Glinda barely tolerates Fiyero and is head-over-heels for Elphaba.
  • In Tangled Fate, the new Lady Castellan is assumed to have taken the Lunar Exalted who came with her to Greyfalls as her consort. It's an easy mistake to make since Lunars and Solars tend to marry each other and Ryouga acts in a rather ambivalent manner around Ranma — however, Ryouga's weird behaviour is caused by memories from his past incarnation messing with his head as he very much considers Ranma as his friend, and Ranma isn't interested in moving him out of the friend category either.
  • In the Kim Possible fanfic The Touch of Green Fire, a jealous Kim mistakes Shego and Drakken for a couple. They're not. Shego isn't even interested in men, and Drakken is too into his job to care about romance.
  • Sixes and Sevens: Ivan never considers Michael Carter could be gay, so he sees his devotion to Emily and vice versa as romantic rather than something codependent formed during WWII.
  • Cassandra explains to Mahanon that pretty much everyone in Haven thinks he and Victoria are romantically involved, in Twice Upon an Age: All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird. As the two are really Like Brother and Sister, he's quick to correct her.
  • In A Thing of Vikings, when Hiccup and a group of Berkians arrive in Iceland and are rescued from Mildew by another Night Fury, Hiccup initially assumes that this Night Fury is Toothless's new girlfriend based on their obvious closeness before Toothless 'borrows' Ruffnut and Tuffnut to explain that the new Night Fury (later named Fearless) is actually his long-lost sister.
  • In What You Wish For, when Leni and Luna Loud don't know who Lincoln is because he was born to the Pingrey family instead of the Loud family due to a wish Lori made, Luna wonders if Lincoln is Lori's imaginary boyfriend.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Happens all the time, mostly centered on Jaune. Jaune mistakenly believes that Cardin has a crush on him, which leads to everyone else in school believing the same. Ruby and Yang think Jaune has a crush on Ruby due to the way he flinches every time he meets her eyes. Blake thinks "Hentacle" (who is actually Jaune) has romantic interests in her because he never hurt her. Jaune thinks his adoptive sister Cinder and his younger sister Lavender are fighting over Roman when they're just using him as a pawn. Around and around it goes. The biggest one, however, is how Yang told Jaune "it's a date!" when setting up a friendly hang-out, and Jaune assumed she meant it literally. His charming behavior on these "dates" (buying her flowers, holding her hand) leaves her flustered and eventually leads to them dating for real.
    Yang: We're official.
    Jaune: [confused] Officially together? Weren't we that before?
    Yang: We're more official now. You're mine now.
    Jaune: I... kinda thought I always was, to be honest.
    Yang: Then you were right.
  • In Transcending Legends, Applejack, Fluttershy, Rarity, and Pinkie think Twilight and Rainbow are dating after the two fall asleep cuddling each other.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Megamind, Roxanne admits to "Bernard" that despite popular opinion, she and Metro Man were never involved. They were very close friends, but he "wasn't [her] type".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Bleach: Rukia Kuchiki's habit of dragging Ichigo Kurosaki around leads to rumors that the two are dating — and that Rukia is the one calling the shots in their relationship. When Orihime Inoue comes across Ichigo and Rukia practising kenjutsu just as Ichigo pins Rukia to the ground, she awkwardly excuses herself — causing Ichigo to grumble that she completely misunderstood what was going on.
  • Played for Laughs in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). Jackson Barnes thinks that Mothra is Godzilla's mate and thinks it is gross, while others try to clarify that the two species have a symbiotic relationship.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore asks about how often he goes around with Hermione, and Harry insists they're Just Friends.
  • Most of the school in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl assumes Greg and Rachel are dating once they start hanging out more. However, it's a The Not-Love Interest plot.
  • In The Return of Sherlock Holmes, the antiques dealer Hudson mistakes Holmes and Watson (who is female in this adaptation) for a newlywed couple he was expecting. Holmes and Watson take advantage of his error and play along, allowing them to question him without divulging their true identities.
  • In Singin' in the Rain, a lot of people believe that Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a couple because they regularly play romantic couples in their films, and Lina herself subscribes to that belief. In reality, Don can barely stand Lina, who's a self-centered Dumb Blonde off camera.
  • Star Wars: In Return of the Jedi Han Solo thinks that the love between Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa is romantic. However, although Leia did kiss Luke (though only to piss off Han), they can't be in love because they just found out they were siblings.
  • In The Wedding Singer, Robbie and Julia are mistaken as a couple by wedding photographer Faye, who senses a closeness between them - though they are planning a wedding for Julia, so it can be understood why the confusion exists. Julia replies that they are brother and sister and they both pull quick childhood pranks on each other in a good-natured way.

  • In Felse Investigates: Black Is the Colour of My True Love's Heart by Ellis Peters, several people notice the covert signs of affection between Lucien Galt and a married woman and draw the wrong conclusion. She's his mother, who gave him up for adoption when he was an infant and she was an unwed teen; they've only recently been reunited, and she doesn't want to be public about it until she's had a chance to explain to her husband, who is unaware of that part of her past.
  • Cradle Series: During the book Uncrowned, Mercy is curious about Lindon's relationship with Yerin, and pokes him a few times to help him figure out his feelings. While all that is happening, Mercy's brother Pride takes every opportunity to heap scorn on Lindon, telling him he should not be there, he's just dragging Mercy down, and he should just give up. One especially bad moment is when Lindon respectfully calls him "brother," and Pride explodes. After the final battle in the book, Pride sighs and says that he will acknowledge Lindon as worthy of his sister.
    Mercy: Wait, what?
  • Fate/strange Fake: Jester Karture, who is obsessed with making the Beautiful Assassin his, sees her and Sigma talking and automatically assumes they are an item, which makes him furious and vow to make Sigma suffer.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Order of the Phoenix, while on a date with Cho Chang, Harry mentions that Hermione asked him to meet her later in the Three Broomsticks (not knowing the reasons). While it later turns out she had arranged for an interview with a magazine, Cho assumes it's a romantic thing, and later in another fight continues to taunt him about "darling Hermione".
    • In The Deathly Hallows Ron sees Harry and Hermione's affection, mistakes it for romantic, and gets jealous. Later, Harry reassures him:
      Harry: I love her like she's my sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It's always been like that.
    • Invoked/Exploited in The Goblet of Fire by Rita Skeeter who publishes a rather nasty article that outright states (read: lies) that they had been in a relationship, causing everyone to believe they are, even Ron's mum.
  • A Hole in the Fence: Grisón becomes shocked when he finds out that his friend Raclot thinks he is hanging with his girlfriend Prune a bit too much, since Grisón has never regarded Prune as more than a friend. Later, after finding out that Prune is his long-lost sister, Grisón makes sure that his own girlfriend Delphine knows she has absolutely no reason to be jealous of Prune.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree: Arteloth Beck suffers for this because the person he has this relationship with is the unmarried Queen Sabran. Sabran's spymaster sees the friendship as a huge impediment to her marriage prospects and appoints him ambassador to a country that has recently become Mordor to dispose of him. Loth, in his narration, comes across as a man who is unaware that he's aromantic (he has three extremely close platonic friendships and he contemplates that he has yet to feel the glow of romance well into adulthood) and had, in fact, promised to give Sabran away at her wedding—but to foreign suitors, that doesn't mean much.
  • In the second book of The Queen's Thief, one of Eddis' courtiers sees her visiting Eugenides at night and draws the wrong conclusion because just as all thieves think everyone else is a thief, all adulterers think everyone else is one too. Eddis and Eugenides decide to play up to the rumors as a smokescreen against Attolian and Sounisian spies. (As Eugenides says to the woman he actually loves, Eddis doesn't love him that way because she's much too sensible to be continually infuriated by his behavior for the rest of her life.)
  • The Raven Cycle. In the second book, The Dream Thieves, local Bad Boy Kavinsky is convinced that Ronan's devotion to his friend, Gansey, must be romantic or sexual in nature. When Kavinsky accuses him of wanting Gansey, Ronan states that it's not like that and that Gansey is a brother to him, even more so than his real older brother. Kavinsky was right about Ronan having a crush on one of his male friends. He just guessed the wrong one.
  • In Restoree the heroine, Sara, is kidnapped off the street and planted in the bed of the next heir to the High Lordship of Lothar to embarrass him. Instead, they go with it and Sara poses as his girlfriend - to the considerable irritation of her Love Interest and the boy's real girlfriend Lady Fara.
  • In Rob Roy, Frank suspects Diana is keeping a lover hidden in Osbaldistone Hall. Later he learns that person is not a lover but Diana's own father.
  • Jane Austen has some fun with this trope:
    • For much of Sense and Sensibility, everyone thinks that Elinor Dashwood and Colonel Brandon are in love. Elinor herself would think Brandon fancied her if she didn't know that he was in love with her sister, but their relationship is purely platonic—the main reason they gravitate toward each other at any social function is because they're usually the only two people in the room with some sense.
    • Subverted - rather loudly - in Northanger Abbey. When Catherine observes her new acquaintance Henry Tilney walking with a pretty young lady, the narrative comments that if Catherine were a character in another story, her response would be to immediately become jealous; however, Catherine has more than two brain cells to rub together. She recognizes a similarity between the two and remembers Henry mentioning his sister, and promptly deduces that this is her. She's right, of course.
  • Something to Talk About: Jo and Emma, her assistant, are taken for a couple while having what's actually just a friendly moment laughing together in public as reporters look on. Due to Jo's long-standing policy of not commenting on her love life, the rumor mill just keeps spinning.
  • Initially, in Survivors, Lucky is jealous of Alpha and Sweet's relationship. Alpha is The Leader of the Wild Dog Pack while Sweet is his second-in-command. Lucky thinks that they're mates until Sweet refers to Alpha as her "partner". She admits that it's normal for alphas and betas to be mates and so it'll likely occur with her and Alpha, but Sweet isn't currently his mate. She later ends up Lucky's mate.
  • Village Tales: Happens in Ye Little Hills Like Lambs when a (perfectly nice) footballer in a pub assumes Canon Paddick and Sher Mirza are a same-sex couple and that Canon's wee niece is theirs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Barrier: Two characters who eventually get together are mistaken for a couple at a point where they are sticking with each other for pragmatic reasons. They Sure, Let's Go with That the person but are clearly awkward about the assumption once they are alone again.
  • In the Black Books episode "The Blackout," Fran sees her boyfriend having dinner with another woman (who turns out to be his sister) and showing affection for her. She mistakes his love for romantic and sees an Imaginary Love Triangle.
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries: Kristin twice mistakes her eventual Love Interest Kahu for being romantically involved with other women. The first is his pregnant sister, who she mistakenly assumes is his live-in girlfriend. The second is his doubles partner Chontelle, with whom his relationship is entirely platonic.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Before knowing that Willow and Tara are together, Buffy actually assumes that the complications of Oz coming back after leaving Willow months ago are because Tara likes Oz.
    • Willow is on the opposite end in Season 6 when she and Tara are in the process of improving their relationship, but haven't properly gotten back together. She sees Tara talking to a girl in the hallway and assumes it's a date when she's just a friend from class.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Series 4 has a Running Gag of the Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble being mistaken for a couple, which they are forced to repeatedly deny. Ironically, Donna was the first main companion of the new series not to be in love with the Doctor, as the two are Platonic Life-Partners instead.
    • "Arachnids in the UK":
      • Yaz's sister Sonya asks Ryan if he's Yaz's boyfriend. The two respond by stating that they're just friends. Sonya is pleased, as she seems to be interested in Ryan.
      • Later in the same episode, Yaz's mum asks if Yaz and the Doctor are seeing each other. The Doctor has to ask Yaz if they are.
  • Joan and Sherlock are frequently mistaken for a couple in Elementary. They're two 40-something-year-olds who live together and work together. A few characters, including Sherlock himself and his older brother Mycroft, do use the word "love" to describe their feelings for each other; but they're Platonic Life-Partners, and there is no Ship Tease between them.
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Ray and his mother Marie go on a cruise after Frank gets injured and can't go. Cue everyone on the cruise thinking they were a May–December Romance and Ray was just calling her his mother to avoid embarrassment. This was not helped by Marie pretending that her husband died so she could attend the meetings for the "Merry Widows" club.
  • In Flashpoint, after Jules and Sam decide to get back together, they start getting hot and heavy in Sam's apartment, only for another woman to walk in. Jules initially believes that Sam has another girlfriend, and is horrified at what she's apparently done. Sam has to explain that no, that's his sister, she's been staying with him while she looks for a job.
  • Sherlock: The title character and John are Heterosexual Life-Partners, but their obvious (though prickly) affection for each other is frequently mistaken for being romantic.
  • Stranger Things: At the end of Season 3, Steve finds out his new best friend Robin is a lesbian. Due to it being a small town in the 1980s, he's literally the only person who knows this. Combine it with the fact they are "Platonic Soulmates with a Capital P" come Season 4 and you can guess where this is going.
  • Supernatural:
    • There's a running gag about the heroes, Sam and Dean, who travel together being Mistaken for Gay. It gets pretty meta once you learn anything about the fandom.
    • In Season 7, a group of angels finds Sam and Meg together, and they assume they are a couple. Meg, in particular, feels it necessary to deny this while the angels are assaulting her.
    • Castiel spends time traveling with another angel, Hannah. She is surprised when someone thinks they are romantically involved.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Nynaeve thinks that Lan and Moiraine are a couple after witnessing their relationship and having only a couple of Green Aes Sedai's Warders to compare it with (she couldn't be more wrong).

    Video Games 
  • 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim has a few cases of this, where two characters are talking about strange dreams they've been having and a third misinterprets their conversation as romantic. It's first seen when Iori overhears this between Juro and Shu (with a side of Mistaken for Gay), then again when Takatoshi overhears Iori and Shu, and once more Megumi overhears it between Juro and Iori. Megumi takes it much worse than the other two, however.
  • Seen in party banter in Dragon Age: Inquisition, when Dorian mistakes the hostility between Varric and Cassandra for Slap-Slap-Kiss. Varric is quick to correct him on this (as is Cass if she's present), since at the point when Dorian brings it up they don't even like each other very much. They do eventually develop a much more cordial working relationship, but it's not romantic in the slightest.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, this happens with Chrom and the Female Avatar in his Kid from the Future Lucina's supports with her, if they aren't married. When the Female Avatar denies having an affair with Chrom, Lucina gets extremely offended at the prospect of her not being attracted to her "amazing father" and practically demands she fall for him... before realising what she's saying. Time travel is weird.
  • Played for laughs in Grand Theft Auto V where Tonya believes Franklin is Michael's lover just because the two of them had been hanging out for a while and became good friends. Franklin denies the claims, but Tonya thinks Franklin can do what he wants and that there's nothing wrong with him having sex with another man. Another scene plays out the trope in a more dramatic sense between Michael and Trevor where a Chinese gang hunts down Trevor but grabs Michael instead and believes he is Trevor's boyfriend just because the two of them were seen hanging out around Trevor's trailer.
  • Onmyōji (2016): After Seimei agrees to let Yaobikuni, who has just delivered a Ship Tease-heavy dialogue about how he is her "fated one" who is the only one able to kill her, become his companion, Kohaku comments that Seimei is a "lady-killer", even though the two never develop a romantic relationship after that. They are now enemies by the way.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Mars from Team Galactic assumes that the player character and the professor's assistant are a couple on a date when they both approach her for a battle.
  • Tales of Vesperia: Estelle is mistakenly assumed to have romantic feelings for Flynn, twice during the game.
    • The first scene triggers as the group is leaving Halure. Estelle says it's urgent that she reach Aspio in time to deliver an important message to Flynn. Yuri then asks why and wonders if it's because she has a crush on him, which Estelle flatly denies.
    • The second occurs during an optional skit, where it's Raven who asks Estelle the same question. She becomes irritated and reiterates that he and Yuri have the wrong idea. A separate skit has Karol wonder if it isn't the other way around, with Yuri and Flynn secretly harboring feelings for her, themselves. Yuri says no.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Phoenix and Maya are constantly mistaken for a couple - mostly by Pearl, Maya's 9-year-old cousin, who absolutely refuses to believe that they're not an item. She goes so far as to slap him whenever she thinks he's "cheating" on Maya.
    • Pearl gets on the receiving end of this trope in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, when Athena assumes that she's Marlon's girlfriend in DLC case.
    • In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Ray asks if Kay is Edgeworth's girlfriend after he gives up his badge to continue defending her from murder charges. Edgeworth responds that she is his assistant and that he is responsible for her.
  • In The House in Fata Morgana, Jacopo and Maria are often assumed to be lovers due to how close they are, much to Jacopo's irritation.
  • In Ikemen Sengoku, the main character being appointed as Nobunaga's chatelaine frequently causes other characters to assume that she's his lover too, even on routes where she's interested in another guy instead. Unfortunately for her, this often leads to Nobunaga's enemies thinking that kidnapping her would be a great way to take advantage of the Devil King's one "weakness"...
  • In the first Magical Diary game, the female protagonist assumes that Minnie, Jacob, and Kyo are in a Love Triangle, and since Kyo is clearly a bad choice, fanfics often wrote Minnie and Jacob dating or happily married in the future. The second game continues this misapprehension just long enough to position Jacob as a rival for the male protagonist's potential romance with Minnie, before revealing that Minnie and Jacob are actually childhood friends with no romantic interest in each other at any point. Rather than being The Rival, Jacob turns out to be a Shipper on Deck trying to assist Minnie in getting together with the male protagonist.
  • Subverted a number of times in Melody in situations in which the protagonist hangs out with Melody before they start dating. Several people mistake them for a couple; they aren’t yet, but they are interested in becoming one.
  • Steins;Gate has three main characters guessing that Okabe Rintarou and Shiina Mayuri are dating, a suggestion Mayuri responds to with confusion, and Okabe responds with a flat denial. Though things have potential to progress in that direction, at the respective times of the guesses, neither of them think of each other that way.

  • In Agents of the Realm, when Norah and Adele leave in a hurry to fight a bleed, Kendell (not in on the secret at this point) thinks that the two are a couple on their way for some personal time.
  • Disney High School:
    • Kuzco and Jasmine are friends. Kuzco does not seem to have any real romantic interest in Jasmine, but flirts with her and calls her his girlfriend anyway, For the Lulz. Thus Jasmine keeps having to remind people they're not together, and Aladdin is even more convinced that he has no shot with her.
    • At one point, Belle and Milo are happily chatting about books, leading to a Funny Background Event where Adam is marching over to kill him, except that his own platonic friend, Kida, is fighting to hold him back.
  • In The Glass Scientists, Word of God is that other members of the Society think that Hyde and Jekyll are two people and lovers, an impression Hyde supports with glee.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper: When Chase's DND friends first meet Scarlet, they think she's his girlfriend since she was at his place before he was. He immediately denies it, but she decides to troll him more by informing them that she's slept over before. It helps add to their Ship Tease.
  • Questionable Content: Ayo turns up at her sister Yemisi's doorstep to tell her that she's flunked out of school and needs to stay with her. Hannelore, who is accompanying her, reluctantly lets her hold her hand for moral support. Yemisi opens the door, is greeted with the sight of them holding hands and smiling nervously at her and Ayo saying she has "big news", and guesses: "You…have a girlfriend?" Yemisi's roommate Willow then excitedly butts in, squealing over the supposed relationship.
  • In chapter 9 of Sleepless Domain, Outrageous Lime mistakes Heartful Punch's statement that she and Undine are "together" (as in, working together) to mean that they're a couple. Undine misses the implications, but HP immediately demands they change the subject. Lime agrees, saying she's "got a guy now, anyway".
  • In Undead Friend, Orrick and Wylie are mistaken as a couple by Orrick's parents. They both are extremely embarrassed by this accusation to the point his parents still don't really believe them when they said they weren't.

    Western Animation 
  • In Aaahh!!! Real Monsters episode "She Likes Me", Oblina and Krumm both think the other one is crushing on them because some of their classmates say so. They both try to 'break up' each other and after asserting that they don't feel anything romantic, they end the episodes as friends, nothing more.
  • In the ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks episode "Don Juan Theodoro", Alvin mistakenly believes Theodore is going to confess his feelings to a human girl named Jenny. He was really going to ask her to be his baking partner for the school fair.
  • Clarence. In "Pretty Great Day With A Girl", Belson and his friends think Clarence and Amy are hanging out because they're a couple when really they're just hanging out as friends.
  • DC Super Hero Girls: Carol Ferris/Star Sapphire is a Stalker with a Crush to Hal Jordan. When she sees Hal and Jessica Cruz together, she automatically assumes they are a couple and attacks Jessica, ignoring Jessica trying to explain they are not dating.
  • On The Fairly OddParents!, when Timmy goes to rescue Vicky from the Yugopotamians (because the alternative to her turns out to be even worse), the Yugopotamians mistake her for his "mate", to Timmy's disgust.
  • In one Jem episode, Rio becomes jealous of a man with whom Jem is working on a film. Jem has no interest in the other man, but Rio thinks she did. Made more awkward by the fact that Rio is Jerrica's boyfriend, not Jem's. (Jem and Jerrica are the same person, but Rio doesn't know that.)
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Cat and the Canary," initially Green Arrow presumes Canary and Wildcat have a romantic relationship and is visibly disappointed. Canary explains to him that she sees Wildcat as a mentor and second father, not a romantic interest.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In "Gorizilla", Marinette and Adrien hide in a fountain to avoid the latter's mob of Loony Fans. As soon as they get up, a man photographs them and puts the photo on the internet, leading Adrien's fans to assume that Marinette is his girlfriend. Not that she minds too much.
    • Their alter-egos of Ladybug and Cat Noir also run into this in "Prime Queen", where Nadja Chamack tries to get them to admit they are dating to boost her show's ratings. In this case, it's Adrien/Cat Noir who doesn't really mind the idea, since he has fallen head over heels for Ladybug.


"Woah! Not my boyfriend!"

"Yeah, she's way too old for me."

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / MistakenForRomance

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