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Nobody Thinks It Will Work

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Diane Court: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?
Lloyd Dobler: No. You just described every great success story.

A trope frequently seen in Sit Coms and Romantic Comedies. The hero and his love interest are obviously all wrong for each other. They have little in common as far as interests or hobbies are concerned, their personalities are built to clash, and it's obvious that once the shine has worn off the apple, they're going to break up and break up hard. Maybe he's a serious-minded businessman and she's the daughter of two aging hippies who never left The '60s behind. Maybe he's an unambitious semi-jock who has never really done anything in his life, and she's a genius bound for a life of intellectual achievement. Whatever the case, friends, family, and casual acquaintances point out that "This will never work" at every opportunity because nobody in his right mind thinks that the two belong together.

Except they do. And when they live Happily Ever After, they prove everyone wrong, because True Love is Exceptional.

There is often a scene where the primary naysayers express their incredulity over the situation, or sometimes even recant their disbelief. When the story starts out with the couple married, a recurring plot is one or both spouses getting doubts or clashing, only to reconcile and learn An Aesop about True Love.

Often a romantic version of the Odd Couple, though the two romantic leads don't need to literally be opposites. Also frequently involves an Uptown Girl. Often the consequence of Opposites Attract. Compare with Star-Crossed Lovers. Also see What Does She See in Him?, where the question is how the attraction occurred at all, not whether they can make it work.

Not to be confused with It Will Never Catch On.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bitter Virgin ends on this note. While Yuzu and Kazuki give up their pursuit of Daisuke, they do so feeling that he and Hinako are bound to break up sooner or later, leaving things open for them to try again. Even Daisuke and Hinako themselves believe that the other will eventually find a more suitable partner, but hope to make the most of their relationship until then.
  • Episode 24 of CLANNAD, which covers an alternate-universe "Tomoyo end", is essentially this trope condensed to twenty minutes.
  • Fushigi Yuugi, between the Official Couple, of course! It's because she's the Priestess and he's her Seishi, she's from the real world and he's a character in the book, none of the Four Gods would ever allow it, they can't cross the erotic line... it's forbidden love at its extremity. The subversion is that it's a POV only mostly by Tamahome's mentor and by Miaka and Tamahome themselves after they've realized how difficult it is.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, this is Kaname's biggest source of hesitation towards attempting a Relationship Upgrade with Sousuke despite her undeniable attraction to him and recognition that he might like her back. Not only do Sousuke's job and background leave him horribly ill-prepared for anything resembling a healthy romantic relationship, but she's also aware of her own reputation as undateably abrasive and is surprised she hasn't already driven him away. Witnessing Sousuke's bloody-minded determination to bring her back home in the four months following Amalgam's assault on Tokyo is what finally gives her the confidence to discard those worries and go for it. When they finally reunite in front of Jindai High School after a year-long life-and-death struggle against Amalgam, they immediately kick the relationship off with a Big Damn Kiss in front of the entire student body.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Arrow and Black Canary. After years of relationship issues (cheating, abusive behavior, etc.), the two finally get married in a mini-arc across both their series in 2007. When they sent out invitations to the wedding, the reactions from most of the superheroes ranged from hysterical laughter to taking bets on how long it would last. For the record, it lasted three years out-of-universe, with Black Canary ending the marriage after her husband's actions during Justice League: Cry for Justice.
  • Subverted by way of Writer Conflicts with Canon in Spider-Man. Howard Mackie's final story in his late 1990s run on the comic had Mary Jane reflecting that apparently everyone had said they would never last. However, pretty much everyone was trying to hook her and Peter up in the early comics. In fact, MJ was first introduced as a girl that Aunt May was trying to set Peter up with, and him regularly refusing to even meet her because he thought she'd be ugly became something of running gag for several dozen issues (hence the famous "Face it, Tiger... you just hit the jackpot!" line once they do meet).
  • Deadpool and Rogue for a period of time. It's canon they both have feelings for one another and went on their first date after sharing their first two kisses -initiated by Rogue in Uncanny Avengers vol 3. Chapter 22. During the kiss, Rogue absorbs Deadpool's powers which weakens her, allowing Wonder Man to finally be set free. In the following chapter, Beast explains how it worked, saying that skin on skin contact made it happen. However, Beast thinks that Rogue was slapping Deadpool, rather than thinking she'd kiss him. Later, Synapse and Brother Voodoo talk about it. The latter is surprised to hear of it, and Synapse says she doesn't think it's really a thing. Quicksilver isn't surprised however, stating that it's natural the two loneliest people in the world found one another.

    Fan Fiction 
  • The Oneiroi Series. Well, did you really think anyone would?
  • Dark Heart High: Yuri's parents. For good reason - an Evil Overlord and a Magical Girl aren't supposed to get married! And never mind having a kid on top of that!
  • Rules: Light Yagami and his love interest Charlie invoke this on themselves by listing all the problems a relationship between them would have: Their personalities would constantly clash, he has to go back to Japan and she'd never do a long-distance relationship, his parents would want him to have an obedient, Japanese homemaker for a wife, and she'll never give up her dream and/or pretend to be someone else just to appease them. All in all, a recipe for disaster — so it's only fitting that the epilogue indicates that they're still going strong, with Charlie even learning how to speak Japanese.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Say Anything...: Trope Namer, Uptown Girl Hollywood Genius vs. unambitious slacker variant.
  • Ben Stone and Allison Scott in Knocked Up. He's an overweight pothead layabout. She's a hot media figure. They are both the best thing to ever happen to each other.
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Justice is a highly intelligent, highly-skilled, erudite cat burglar. Jay is an ignorant foul-mouthed semi-homeless pothead.
    Justice: "What can I say? I love the little skeezoid?"

  • In Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, the passionate, loud, lusty, and rather promiscuous Jack Aubrey falls deeply for Sophie Williams, a proper, virginal, and as it turns out rather undersexed young lady. His best friend wishes them well, but privately predicts woe; her cousin, Diana Villiers, doesn't bother to be private about it.
  • Deltora Quest: He's the handsome, brave, heroic, and renowned king of a massive country. She was raised by trees.
  • Georgette Heyer's Sprig Muslin and Venetia both contain this trope.
  • The Frog King by Adam Davies.
  • In Vampire Academy, Rose and Dimitri do eventually get together, but their concerns set out in the first book are never resolved, and are probably more pressing by the last book.
  • This is the general reaction of the Summer Court to Aislinn's relationship with Seth in Wicked Lovely.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The core premise of Dharma & Greg, Bewitched, and possibly I Dream of Jeannie. In Dharma and Greg they have clashing personalities which their family thinks makes them incompatible; in Bewitched, pretty much all of Samantha's relatives think she's crazy for marrying a mortal; and in I Dream of Jeannie...she lives in a goddamn bottle. The former two series have romantic tension since they start out married, and the last has them begin in a master/more-powerful-servant relationship, making a recurring plot one or both spouses/interests getting doubts or clashing, only to reconcile and learn An Aesop.
  • The CSI episode "$35k OBO" begins with a couple leaving a restaurant, wishing one another happy anniversary and remarking, "And they said it would never last." Since it's CSI, it doesn't come as all that much of a surprise when the trope is almost instantly violently subverted in more ways than one: Not only are they both murdered, but it turns out they each hired the same hitwoman to kill the other.
    • And they paid up front?! Morons!
  • In Home Improvement, Jill has occasionally mentioned that people tried to talk her out of marrying Tim.
    Jill: Our wedding was so beautiful. I am so glad that I didn't let anybody talk me out of marrying you.
    Tim: Who would try to talk you out of marrying me?
    Jill: Oh, no one, you know, just my mom, my dad, my sisters, my family, the minister, the postman, some guy down at the mailbox...
  • Hal's family believed this about his marriage to Lois in Malcolm in the Middle.
  • This was the general attitude, at first at least, about the pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber on General Hospital. This sort of romantic pairing is actually pretty common in soap operas.
  • I Love Lucy: CBS initially responded to Lucille Ball's insistence that Desi Arnaz play the husband in her TV show by saying they weren't sure if audiences could believe that a celebrity like Lucy had a mixed marriage with an obscure Cuban bandleader. In response, Lucy and Desi gave a vaudeville tour across the country. The tour became a success, proving to the networks that a TV show of the duo would be huge.
  • Victorious has Beck and Jade. No one understands it, but they've been going strong for almost 3 years, and it's implied they make each other better people as a result.
  • Friends: Both Rachel and Phoebe look down on Monica and Chandler as a couple, but as neither of them manage to establish a successful relationship until the end of the series, and Monica and Chandler are very happy and well-suited, they come across looking like jealous jerks rather than friends with legitimate concerns.
    • Averted with Joey who thinks they're great and 'going to last forever'. He's proved right.
  • Parks and Recreation: April and Andy get married after dating for less than a month. Leslie tries to dissuade them, but surprisingly they stay Happily Married for the entire show.
  • In Shtisel, Ruchami elopes at 15 with Hanina, a boy she'd only met a week or two ago, and had only spoken to in person for the first time that morning! Her parents don't know he exists until they're already married, and she doesn't even know if he has living parents (she finds out his father is alive, but they're estranged). Her parents, especially her mother, try to get him to divorce her, but after meeting him and finding out what he's like, they acquiesce. This is not to say they don't have marital problems, since the show is a drama, after all.

  • Shania Twain's song "You're Still the One" is all about this trope.
  • Adding to the list, "Anniversary" by Voltaire.
  • As is Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract".
  • And Céline Dion's "Everybody's Talking My Baby Down."
  • And touched on in Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe" (They say we're young and we don't know; won't find out until we grow...) Which is Hilarious in Hindsight considering what happened to the singers, but hey.
  • George Gershwin's song "They All Laughed" is about a couple who had to go through this trope. It's the Trope Namer, in fact.
    • The original working title of this trope "Let Them Say This Isn't Love" comes from "Niech mowia, ze to nie jest milosc" by Piotr Rubik, a Polish symphonic pop song which also exemplifies this trope.
  • The song "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane" by Tanya Tucker.
  • Chuck Berry's Never Can Tell (you may recognise it from Pulp Fiction) is titled after the refrain the old folks use to recant their naysaying while the song describes the kids going on to live happily.
    "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell
  • Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know About Us", as covered by Tracey Ullman.
  • One of two options presented by the protagonist in "Who's To Say" by Vanessa Carlton — the other being that everybody is right and it won't work, and the point being that there's only one way to find out.
  • "We Weren't Crazy" by Josh Gracin is about a relationship that's stayed together even when all of the male's peers thought it was crazy.
    • Similarly, "Love Like Crazy" by Lee Brice.
    • And "Living Our Love Song" by Jason Michael Carroll.
  • Amanda Marshall's "Dark Horse" (also recorded by Mila Mason) is another of these.

  • In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro proclaims that Beatrice and Benedick are a good match for each other. Everyone else is highly skeptical due to their constant bickering, but they still agree to help him try to set them up.

     Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Referenced, Played for Laughs, and subverted in "Love Cruise". The three protagonists lament how their relationships or crushes with more popular kids have (temporarily) suffered devastating setbacks. They agree that maybe such relationships are always doomed, only to witness an interclique Goth and Pom-Pom Girl couple who have no such feelings.
    Trixie: Love officially stinks. I mean, it just never works out. Am I right?
    Joshua and Tricia walk up, talking.
    Joshua: I never thought this could ever work out.
    Tricia: Give me an L-O-V-E. Love is real for you and me.
  • Family Guy: Lois Griffin (née Pewterschmidt) is the bright and attractive daughter of a very wealthy Rhode Island family while her husband, Peter Griffin, is a not-so-bright jock, although this is more of an Odd Couple. Peter points out to Lois in the episode "Brothers & Sisters" that back when he and Lois first became a couple, hardly anyone felt that they made a good match — in fact, as Lois soon realizes, Carol (Lois's sister) was one of the few people to have supported the relationship from the very beginning.

     Real Life 
  • Lois Duncan, author of many famous suspense stories, described her husband Don Arquette, as being an engineer and so different from her that many family members thought they would not be able to talk about anything besides the weather. Yet they have been married since 1965.
  • Lord Rosebery commented that the marriage of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier wouldn't last more than six months. It lasted 56 years until the former's death.
  • When Ozzy Osbourne and his now-wife Sharon got married, everyone expected his hard-driving rock and roll lifestyle to destroy any chance they had of staying together. 28 plus years later, in spite of a few close calls before Ozzie finally cut back on the pharmaceuticals, they're still together.
  • Patti and Robin Lee Graham (the sixties teenager who sailed around the world alone) were not shockingly different but they did have a marriage that no one would have bet on. She was a teenage beach girl, he was a crazy (if not really as crazy as some when you think of it) boy who wanted to sail around the world. They met at 18 and eloped and are still together.

Alternative Title(s): They All Said We Never Could Be Happy