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No Sparks

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There's jumping to conclusions, and then there's this.

"It started about a half hour before the wedding. I was in this room where we were keeping all the presents and I was looking at this gravy boat. This really gorgeous limoge gravy boat. When all of a sudden [...] I realized that I was more turned on by this gravy boat than by Barry!"
Rachel explaining why she ran out on her wedding, Friends, "Pilot"

Alice and Bob are friends, or Bob has a crush on Alice. They go on a date and kiss, and Alice finds that she does not feel anything for Bob, as much as she tries. He is a great guy, but that special something is just not there.

This tends to come up with Test Kiss but can happen in any situation where two people try out a relationship but find they have no chemistry. This is often the fate of the Dogged Nice Guy, and always the fate of the Unlucky Childhood Friend and the Romantic Runner-Up. It will also happen if they are Better as Friends or Platonic Life-Partners.

A more explicit version of this trope is when someone is unhappy in a current relationship, and we see them having unfulfilling sex or no sex. Kisses with the soon-to-be-dumped significant other are perfunctory and short.

It is only No Sparks if the character in question has never felt a true spark towards his or her attempted significant other. If there used to be chemistry but it's gone, that's Dead Sparks.

This trope sometimes occurs in Romantic Comedy during the sad period when the hero and heroine are estranged. One or both of them may try to date someone else, but it does not work because there are No Sparks. This is taken as an indication that the lost guy or girl is The One and should be won back at any cost.

Sometimes No Sparks happens when the wrong guy comes first. The lack of sparks discredits the bad relationship, often retrospectively.

This can be a method of Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends. Or creating them.

Related Tropes: Better as Friends, Electric Love, Platonic Life-Partners, Like Brother and Sister, Romantic Runner-Up. See also Couple Bomb, for a pairing in real life that's a dud on screen.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bleach: One of the reasons the Arranged Marriage between Ryuuken and Masaki was doomed no matter what was that they both knew they were romantically incompatible. Aizen's experiments accidentally hollowfy Masaki, introducing her to future husband Isshin. This also frees Ryuuken and his childhood friend Katagiri to Marry for Love.
  • At the start of Bloom Into You, Yuu is mulling over a confession from a middle school classmate. Yuu realizes that while she likes him, she doesn't feel anything special for him, and is quite disappointed since she'd always thought love was a powerful and overwhelming feeling. With some advice from Touko, Yuu ends up turning him down.
  • One of Hinako's main sources of angst in Doughnuts Under a Crescent Moon is the fact that she's never felt chemistry with any of the men she's gone on dates with, even the ones who feel sparks towards her, leading her to believe herself to be "defective" because she can't fall in love like a "normal" person.
  • In Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, this is the reason Tsubame eventually turns down Ishigami. She spent a long time getting closer to him and trying to see if there was anything there but found that even though she grew to love him a great deal, she still only saw him as a "sweet kouhai", not a love interest.
  • Subverted in Ladies versus Butlers!, Tomomi begins to suspect she might have feelings for Akiharu and decides to test it with a date. They spend the day together and she tries all sorts of things, finally at the very end deciding that there indeed are no sparks. Then, as she walks away relieved to confirm this she asks him about his past crush, and he admits that as a child he had a crush on her. She continues to walk and act nonchalantly while her face turns beet red.

    Comic Books 
  • An entire issue of Angel Love is dedicated to the title character trying to find if there's any chemistry in her relationship with a guy she's seeing or not.
  • Cassandra Cain and Superboy meet on a cruise and end up having a short fling, but it ends quickly when both realize that neither of them really likes each other in that way.
  • This is pretty much how the Superman/Wonder Woman ship has been torpedoed in the past (and a major reason it stays that way outside of Elseworlds): there was really nothing there to make them stay more than friends. The New 52 reboot made an attempt at it in the "main" universe, but it was never going to last. In Wonder Woman (Rebirth), Diana herself admits that they were together mainly because it was easy.

    Fan Works 
  • Angel of the Bat: Times of Heresy gives this treatment to Cassandra Cain and Connor Hawke. Cassandra was struggling with her sexuality at the time and was hoping a hook-up with a man would help her get over her breakup with her girlfriend. Connor, meanwhile, was written as asexual but went along with the relationship to spare her feelings. Per Word of God, Cassandra certainly could be attracted to Connor, but her damaged emotional state at the time prevented her from feeling it, and Connor's sexuality would have made it impossible to work in the long term.
  • In Brony Steve Makes Out with Fluttershy, the eponymous Brony crosses dimensions into the world of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with a secret agenda to kiss Fluttershy, whom he had fallen in love with when he watched the show. Although he got past her strange, more realistic appearance, he ultimately doesn't develop any actual romantic feelings towards her like he thought he would. When he actually kisses her, he gets prickled by the whiskers on her muzzle, and he could sense deep hurt in her eyes.
  • There's a more meta version of this in Child of the Storm: when asked about potentially shipping Harry and Diana, who have a lot in common (both demigods, both with difficult childhoods, both with some form of Psychic Powers, and both with sweet natures and sometimes explosive tempers that they worry about) and are close friends, the author has remarked that he actually tried writing it at one point and ran into this problem, deciding that they're more Like Brother and Sister.
  • I See What You Do Behind Closed Doors: Marinette is concerned when she notices that she doesn't feel any zing after getting together with Adrien. Despite this, she's determined to make the relationship work, unaware that Adrien is only dating her because he noticed she looks a lot like Ladybug and is using her to fantasize about being with the object of his affections...while he's unaware that they're the same person.
  • Happens to Clark twice in The Last Son, when Kitty and Rogue both try to kiss him. A little more heartbreaking for the latter, as at the time, he was the only person she knew that she could touch without draining.
  • Queens of Mewni: an attempt to invoke The Big Damn Kiss between Hekatia and Edmund causes them to realize there was nothing there. Hekatia then casually dismisses her servants throwing the petals and blowing the bubbles. (They would end up marrying anyway, due to this being an Arranged Marriage, but they make it work as Platonic Life-Partners.)
  • Kelly and Marco in Stay, one-sided. Marco acknowledges that when he looks at Kelly, he doesn’t feel anything romantic. Not the warmth of love he feels with Star, not the flutter of a crush he felt with Jackie, or even the chemistry he shares with Heckapoo. This is not good for Kelly, who does love Marco and is angry at his rejection.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Shrek Forever After, Shrek needs a True Love's Kiss from Fiona in order to break the spell that has put him in a bad Alternate Timeline where he never saved her from the castle from the first. After an argument, Fiona tries giving him a kiss, but it doesn't work, because she doesn't love him. They try again at the end of the movie, which works.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 27 Dresses, Jane kisses her boss, who she has crushed on for years, and finds she does not feel anything for him.
  • In Back to the Future, Lorraine pursues Marty with a passion, to the point where his attempt to turn her off by coming on too strong fails because she jumps him first. But when she kisses him, she suddenly feels like she's kissing her brother. This may be her instincts picking up on what she doesn't know consciously — that Marty is her son from the future.
  • Nicely played in Bringing Up Baby when Cary Grant's character is engaged to his coworker who basically says that she will not have sex with him when they are married and their marriage's purpose is to solidify their working relationship. The next few scenes include Cary Grant experiencing Meet Cute with Katharine Hepburn, so when Cary's fiance is shown again the lack of sparks becomes even more apparent.
  • In Enchanted, the failed kiss from Prince Edward might count.
  • In Ocean's Eleven, Danny strongly suspects his ex-wife Tess doesn't love her current boyfriend Terry Benedict (the guy whose casino he's trying to rob). So he asks her if he makes her laugh, and Tess points out that at least he doesn't make her cry, basically admitting that she doesn't love Terry, but shutting down Danny's criticism through a cutting reminder of why she and Danny broke up.
  • The Princess Diaries:
    • The failure to foot-pop while kissing is shown as an indication of a lack of sparks.
    • This trope is resurrected in the sequel when Mia's fiance fails to get her going. He's objectively a great guy, and they get along famously, but Mia just can't see him as anything except a friend. When she breaks off the engagement, he's relieved and wishes her the best, indicating he felt the same way.
  • In Spider-Man 2, Mary Jane asks her fiance to kiss her upside down, re-enacting her awesome kiss with Spider-Man. He feels it; she does not.
  • In The Wedding Singer, Julia's lack of chemistry with her fiancee is played up, most hilariously in the scene where she's trying out her wedded name-to-be ("Julia Gulia") and finding it... less than satisfactory.

  • In Apparatus Infernum, this is Ritsuko's reason for breaking up with the guy her family would have liked her to marry. Things were pleasant enough, but she realised that if that's all there was, both of them were just wasting their time.
  • In The Selection, Marlee genuinely tries to feel something for Maxon, but eventually confesses to America that they have nothing in common and she doesn't feel anything for him. Then she falls for someone else, and it's over from there.
  • Lissa and her relationship with her first boyfriend Aaron in Vampire Academy. She might have lost her virginity to him, but she never was that much into him.
  • Violeta: Before marrying Fabian, Violeta finds him boring and predictable and says that she knows exactly what he will be like 20 years from today. Her marriage is fine. But when dashing pilot Julián Bravo turns up and sweeps her off her feet, "fine" is not good enough anymore for her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Pete & Pete: Pete and Ellen try going out after all of the UST between them... only for it to go horribly. However, not long after that, they kiss again and it apparently goes well. It's as frustratingly vague as it sounds.
  • In The Big Bang Theory, Leonard and Leslie decide to skip all that pointless date business and proceed directly to the goodnight kiss—no sparks fly.
  • This happened at least twice on Boy Meets World.
    • Topanga and Cory had broken up. She was dating another guy, and when he kissed her she felt nothing and realized Cory was her soulmate.
    • Shawn and Topanga kissed for a film project and Cory was extremely jealous. Angela (Shawn's girlfriend) tried to convince him it didn't mean anything but ended up having to throw him down on the bed and lay one on him to show him that it's different with someone other than your one true love.
  • Cordelia and Wesley in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It takes them the latter half of the third season to work their way up to a Test Kiss, and it turns out incredibly awkward for both of them.
  • Clarissa Explains It All had one episode in which Clarissa's quirky best pal Sam crushes on her, having noticed she was a girl for perhaps the first time ever. She consents to a date, and he kisses her at the end of it; the kiss makes them both realize that their love for one another is strictly platonic.
  • Exaggerated in Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. For the whole series, Mark has been pining for June. He finally tells June, and although June initially wants to remain friends, she begins to question if she also has feelings for Mark. She decides to tell him and the two end up having sex. Which is completely boring for both of them. Thinking that perhaps it was a fluke, the two try again. It's still boring. They try to drink some wine beforehand. Still doesn't work. They do it out in public, they do it wearing flashy wigs, nothing helps. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, the two are forced to conclude that there's nothing between them.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond: During the family's trip to Italy, Robert falls for a beautiful local girl, Stephania, and they have a brief romance until he returns to America. Later in the season, the rest of the family helps bring Stephania to visit, and while initially thrilled, spending more time with her every day causes Robert to realize that he doesn't really have any strong feelings for her, and in fact finds her a bit annoying; their relationship ends not long after he realizes this.
  • Mal and Zoe at the end of the Firefly episode "War Stories", when Mal proposes that they sleep together due to the argument that he and her husband Wash had during Niska's torture. Zoe's deadpan response: "Take me, sir. Take me hard." The utter lack of chemistry between them is enough to unnerve Jayne, who is normally the most lecherous of the crew. It doesn't get too far due to Wash intervening and dragging off Zoe to their bunk.
  • Friends:
    • The pilot episode has Rachel running out on her wedding after realizing she feels more passion for a particularly nice wedding gift than she does for her husband-to-be.
    • In the third episode Monica is dating a charming guy named Alan. Monica confides in a co-worker that while the rest of her friends all love Alan, she doesn't "feel the thing" for him. She eventually breaks up with him and the rest of the gang are far more upset about it than she is.
    • Billionaire Pete had to work very hard to win Monica over because of this problem. He had everything: money, connections, good humour, a kind personality, but Monica just didn't feel anything. Eventually, she decides she can't ever see him again because she doesn't want to break his heart, so he takes a gamble and gives her a hot kiss goodbye (the first kiss they've ever had). She's so startled by how good it is, she immediately initiates a Test Kiss. After that, there's no trouble with sparks in the relationship... at least until he goes crazy, that is.
    • Chandler and Phoebe have precisely no chemistry. When Rachel and Phoebe find out about Chandler and Monica's Secret Relationship, the two sides won't admit what they know. The escalating war culminates in Chandler and Phoebe dating to try and break the other into admitting defeat. Phoebe weaponises their complete lack of sexual chemistry to force Chandler into a Friends with Benefits confession. She's so successful that he instead issues an unexpected Love Confession for Monica.
    • Joey and Rachel almost have sex, but it turns out Joey is completely unable to unhook Rachel's bra. This qualifies as "not feeling it" for Joey, who once made a girl's bra come off just by looking at it. (And as we find out later, said girl was Monica.)
  • The following exchange comes from an episode of The Golden Girls involving a man from the senior center pursuing Sophia.
    Sophia: There's no spark.
    Dorothy: He's 90. You're 80. Sparks are dangerous.
    Blanche: Oh, I know what you mean, Sophia. I would never date a man without that spark.
    Dorothy: Fortunately you carry flints in your bra.
  • Gossip Girl: Chuck tells Blair that she has no sparks with Lord Marcus, and also says the same about Nate twice. Much later, to test whether she has sparks with Dan, she does a Test Kiss and concludes (though slightly doubtfully) that there's nothing there. He disagrees.
  • Subverted in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. Mark and Vanessa kiss in one episode to prove that they don't have a spark after Geneva tells them that they're soul mates (based on the shapes of their skulls). After the kiss, they both insist that they absolutely didn't feel anything.
  • In The Haunting of Bly Manor, it's made painfully obvious in flashbacks that Dani had a case of this towards her fiance, Edmund. She does care for him as her best and oldest friend, but throughout all the wedding planning she looks awkward and uncomfortable, especially when Edmund tells the story of his proposal to her. Even he starts to pick up on the fact something's not right. Dani looks a great deal more enthusiastic about her seamstress putting her hands on her waist during a dress fitting, which is a big hint as to why she doesn't feel romantic attraction towards Edmund.
  • How I Met Your Mother: When Ted finally finds The Slutty Pumpkin, this ends up being the situation. They just can't click.
  • On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou Grant always had an undercurrent of sexual attraction running through their relationship, but only at the very end of the series do they actually attempt to kiss one another.. and break into helpless giggles.
  • This is a Running Gag on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide when Moze gets with the hot foreign exchange student Faymen for a long time, and only feels sparks kissing her best friend Ned.
  • The Office (US):
    • A chronic version of the trope could be Pam and Roy in early seasons. While it's never shown, it's reasonable to assume there were sparks at one time, but Roy isn't interested in putting that amount of effort into the relationship anymore, and that in turn is a turn-off for Pam.
    • Also implied later on with Jim and Karen.
    • When Pam's parents divorce, it's revealed that what incited it was Jim telling Pam's father about the sparks he had always felt and continued to feel for Pam, causing him to realize that he had never really felt that way for Pam's mother even at the high points of their marriage.
  • One Day at a Time (2017): Elena is floored when she attracts the attention of Josh, an extremely popular boy at her school, and tries to talk herself into liking him since he's cute, sweet, and attentive. But, she just doesn't feel it. Yeah, there's a good reason for that...
  • In the episode "Soulmates" of Parks and Recreation, a Dating Service Disaster matches Leslie with Tom. Tom thinks they're meant to be and is incredibly inappropriate about it, and at the end, Leslie gives him a "Shut Up" Kiss to show him that they're not a good match. Tom later states that though there was no romantic passion to it, he's pretty impressed by her skills.
  • In an episode of Reba, Reba is trying to get back into the dating game and goes out with her old college boyfriend. She enjoys the date up until the goodbye kiss, in which she feels nothing. This causes her to remember why she left him for Brock.
  • In Robin Hood, Robin begins a relationship with Kate for no real reason beyond the fact that she has a crush on him. After he's fatally poisoned, he notably can't bring himself to kiss Kate goodbye, despite her obvious attempt to get a Last Kiss.
  • Zack and Jessie kiss on Saved by the Bell and have no attraction to each other.
  • Schitt's Creek: After ending their brief relationship, Stevie and David decided they are Better as Friends. But one night, as they bemoan the lack of options in the town, they wonder if there is still a spark. They kiss...and nope. No spark.
  • It happens twice on The Secret Life of the American Teenager with Ricky and Adrian. The first time it happens, she blames it on pregnancy hormones (pregnant by another man, Ben, to be specific), while he sees it as affirmation that they should just be friends, an idea he was already mulling over. The following season, she feels sparks with another guy but thinks she needs to kiss Ricky one last time to be sure that they're really over. He reluctantly obliges, and neither of them feels anything.
  • In the Bay of Married Pigs episode of Sex and the City, Miranda Hobbes (played by bisexual actress Cynthia Nixon) is thought to be a lesbian by her boss, kisses a lesbian she's been accidentally paired with to prove to herself she's not a lesbian.
  • Sonny with a Chance: This is the main focus of the episode "Sonny With A Kiss". Sonny and Chad are very nervous and pressured when everyone finds out they haven't had their First Kiss yet and keep encouraging them to kiss, leading to hilarious and bumbling attempts of kissing with disastrous results. As all the tension continues to rise, the two start to fear that they might have no spark and believe that they are Better as Friends. That is until they finally kiss and realize that they do have sparks but their Ship Tease doesn't.
  • Stranger Things: In season 2, Murray's Sherlock Scan theorizes that this is Nancy's problem with her boyfriend Steve. Which is followed up by him doing another Sherlock Scan that points out Nancy clearly has sexual tension with Jonathan.
    Murray: And this other guy, what's his name— (snaps fingers)
    Jonathan: Steve.
    Murray: (mocking voice) Oh, Steve! We like Steve! But we don't love him.
  • In That 70s Show, Jackie and Hyde went on a date in the third season and kissed but Jackie felt nothing (this is indicated by a sudden break in the romantic music). Hyde's face and demeanor implied that he did, however — Jackie's blithe demeanor prevented him from stating so. They eventually got together in the fifth season.
  • Defied by Eddie and Raven in an episode of That's So Raven, there are sparks there, but they both hide the fact from each other.

    Visual Novels 
  • Riki and Rin in Little Busters! actually start off like this - Rin asks him out just because they get along and it seems like it'll work out, and Riki agrees for these reasons and because he only just gave a vague answer in response to a girl's love confession and he doesn't want to do it again. But when they try it out, they're so used to being friends (having been so since they were children) and such shy, easily embarrassed people in general that their floundering attempts at romance routinely fall flat and they just end up doing everything they used to do as friends instead. They do manage to find sparks later on, though.

  • Nanase in El Goonish Shive breaks up with Elliot for this reason, and can't understand why. Then Elliot's Opposite-Sex Clone Ellen arrives, and she has her reason.
    • And then, when Elliot and Sarah start dating, they eventually discover that their relationship isn't as sparky as they hoped it would be, and they're actually more Like Brother and Sister. Will Elliot ever find true love?
  • Jake from Homestuck considered going out with Jane, who has had a crush on him for a while, but wasn't sure because although it seemed like a nice enough idea, he never really felt the sparks. When Jane accidentally makes him think she doesn't like him, he admits that it's probably for the best they never went out. He also suspects this is the case with his feelings for Dirk, although he's yet to reach a definite decision and has at least seriously considered a relationship.
  • in Ménage à 3, after DiDi receives an unusually passionate kiss from the sexually highly experienced Zii and a totally spark-free kiss from Gary, she naturally concludes that she's a lesbian. Eventually, Zii feels obliged to tell her that Gary is a clueless virgin, so her problem was with him rather than with men in general (although Didi has only ever known of routinely bad (and fast) sex with men, which probably didn't help).

    Western Animation 
  • In the 6teen episode "Great Expectations", Wyatt and Caitlin accidentally kiss in the dark during a fumbling of rendezvous arrangements, but the two quickly realize they actually liked it, and try going out based on that and their own preexisting familiarity with each other. However, once they actually do go out on a date, their next kiss prompts nothing from both of them, and the two realize they probably only felt sparks the first time since they thought they were kissing someone else. Funnily enough, this actually comes as a relief for both of them, as it allows them to agree on simply being good friends.
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long "Homecoming," Spud and Trixie meet this fate as well, despite various hints at shipping throughout the season.
  • In Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs, Prince Chawmin' attempts to apply True Love's Kiss upon So White, but try as he might, he just can't wake her up. Who ultimately wakes her up with a kiss? The Dopey expy.
  • Played with in DuckTales (2017): Launchpad gets an obvious crush-on-first-sight upon meeting the Moonlander Penumbra. The feelings are clearly one-sided, but Penumbra does agree to a single coffee date. Said date is so awkward and uncomfortable that Launchpad's initial infatuation very quickly runs its course, and he comes away with the firm conviction that they are not meant to be; after this he never displays any further romantic feelings towards her (though they do eventually become friends, as Penumbra hadn't really taken the date seriously and never held it against him as he had worried).
  • A running gag with Brick and Savannah from Milo Murphy's Law. They attempt to invoke Belligerent Sexual Tension between them as a part of their Tuxedo and Martini aesthetic, but it fails every time because they lack any romantic chemistry In-Universe.
  • This is discussed in one episode of South Park, when Wendy is made to work on a school project with Cartman. Cartman manages to make her laugh a couple of times, raises a salient point or two, and even shows he has a couple of things in common with her, and she begins to feel attracted to him. It's explained to her that it's not sexual attraction but mere sexual tension, and so to get it out of her system she grabs and kisses Cartman: the moment this happens all her "feelings" for him vanish and she's relieved to not be interested in him at all.
  • In Season 3 of Young Justice (2010), Will Harper and Artemis Crock are living together and co-raising the former's daughter and the latter's niece, Lian. This living arrangement causes some of their friends and family to assume they are in a relationship, or push them to consider starting one. Will eventually decides to test the waters, and the two do share a kiss, upon which Artemis, still grieving the death of her boyfriend Wally, becomes overwhelmed with guilt and flees. Later, after her friends help her to acquire some closure with Wally's memory, Artemis is able to give the kiss some thought... and admits to Will that she felt nothing, to which Will responds with relief because he felt the same. The two gratefully agree that they are perfectly fine as non-romantic friends and don't need to force anything else.