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One True Love
aka: True Love

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"All of our young lives we search for someone to love. Someone that makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance to a song of heartbreak and hope. All the while wondering if somewhere, somehow, there's someone perfect who might be searching for us."
Kevin Arnold, The Wonder Years

The most indomitable of romantic ideals is the idea of one utter perfect specimen who is your ultimate match. Perhaps they will have everything in common with you and share your dreams. Perhaps they will be your Foil because True Love Is Exceptional. A third possibility is Mindlink Mates leading the two of them to understand each other better than anyone else.

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Often Love at First Sight occurs when someone spots or otherwise realizes that this person is their true love. Because Destiny Says So or The Power of Love are often invoked to explain why that person is the way they are or how you met them. If sex is involved, it may overlap with Sex Equals Love.

Not to be confused with One True Pairing, which is what the fans want to happen. This only applies to examples where it's made clear and deliberate in the work, regardless of what the editor happens to ship and regardless of how convinced you are. Also not to be mistaken for the Short Story by Isaac Asimov about a computer that falls in love, titled "True Love".


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • CLAMP are very fond of this trope, and use it frequently in their manga. Most evident in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, which ties together all their various stories into one multiverse (along with alternate universes thereof), and when counterparts of established romantic couples pop up, they will invariably still be in a relationship regardless of how their circumstances differ in the various worlds.
  • Deconstructed at the end of Codename: Sailor V: Minako and Ace share this, but Minako will always put her mission over love and Ace, knowing this, became Danburite so that she'd understand it by killing him. Needless to say, by the time she debuts in Sailor Moon Minako has some serious issues, even if she does everything in her power so nobody will notice.
  • DARLING in the FRANXX: The main symbol of the series is the Jian, a one-winged bird from Chinese mythology. In Chinese myths, a pair of Jian birds represents marriage since the two are inseparable and co-dependent on one another. Much like a Jian pair, Hiro and Zero Two are inseparable and serve as each other's wings. Back when they were children, Hiro tried to help Zero Two escape the APE facility where she was being tested on and tortured. Looking past Zero Two's inhuman appearance, Hiro became the only boy who admired and loved her for who she was Warts and All, and even promised to marry her while they were on the run. Their short time together as children made an impact on Zero Two and, as Episode 12 reveals, she spent much of her life looking to reunite with her original "darling", the boy she loved and missed. When she finds out Hiro was her "darling" all along in Episode 13, she becomes distraught over her actions up to that point before the two make up in Episode 15. Since then, the two have shown unconditional love for one another and know that their bond will help them overcome whatever obstacle fate throws at them.
  • Fairy Tail: Zeref Dragneel and Mavis Vermilion — they are undoubtedly the love of each other's lives, but constant misfortune has kept them apart. As the only two existing bearers of the Curse of Contraditions, they are the only two people that could ever hope to fully understand and empathize with each other. This fact caused them to fall in love with each other, but as the curse's purpose is to deny its bearer happiness, Mavis "died", separating them for over a century before Mavis was revived. Denied a chance to be with the love of his life and the only person to have ever made him truly happy, Zeref fell into greater despair than ever before until he finally snapped and dedicated himself to being as evil as the world declared him to be. Mavis, now an Astral Projection only visible to members of Fairy Tail, stayed close to Zeref and was forced to watch as the man she loved begin his true Start of Darkness, all the while being unable to comfort him and stop him in his tracks. In the present storyline, despite everything that has happened, they are still deeply in love with each other — Mavis all but begs Zeref not to destroy the world because it was the world where they met, while Zeref's only regret about his plan is that in the new world he wishes to create, he and Mavis will never meet. The sheer tragedy of their relationship is only highlighted when fans are shown in an omake that in least one other world, they managed to find happiness together. Eventually, thanks to the power of the One Magic, they are finally able to be together in the afterlife.
  • Inuyasha: A bit of a complicated example because Inuyasha's One True Love is Kikyou's soul. Inuyasha and Kikyou were deeply in love and were very close to living out their ideal married life, but this ended tragically when Naraku tricked the two into hating each other. Naraku fatally wounded Kikyou while disguised as Inuyasha, and expected Kikyou to take Inuyasha's life while using the jewel to heal herself. She could not bring herself to do either out of love for Inuyasha and instead used her remaining strength to shoot a single sealing arrow to pin him to the Goshinboku tree; this meant, Kikyou was full of both bitter hatred and very strong love towards Inuyasha at the time of her death, so the Shikon Jewel became corrupted in response to her hatred while the love granted her a wish to see Inuyasha again. Naraku planned to use the tainted Jewel but Kikyou realized this and with her last words, ordered Kaede to burn it with her body, which she and the locals did. Inuyasha and Kikyo's love transcended time and space as the desire to see Inuyasha again was the wish that the Shikon Jewel used to reincarnate Kikyou as Kagome Higurashi, and therefore reconstitute itself despite Kikyo's conscious decision to destroy the jewel with herself. With time Kagome becomes Kikyou's successor, and although Kikyou was the woman Inuyasha "loved most in all the world", Inuyasha comes to realise that he is destined to be with Kagome (though they are different people, they are also one and the same), and Kagome also comes to understand it and let go of her own insecurities about Kikyo and herself. Inuyasha and Kikyou (as Kagome) finally get to live out their happily married lives together in the end, like they had first planned those many years ago. And before that, the revived Kikyou passed away peacefully in Inuyasha's embrace, finally free of everything. Rumiko Takahashi stated that she chose Kikyou's name basing on the language of flowers, as the Chinese Bellflower's meaning is "unchanging love".
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto has spent almost his entire life searching for the one person who would love him unconditionally, in spite of everything that has and will transpire in his life, along with all of his flaws, like his parents would have if they lived beyond his birth. However, since he never understood the romantic implications of such a relationship, he's been blind to the fact that the person he's been searching for has been right in front of him all this time: Hinata, the girl who has admired, acknowledged and loved him for the way he is since the day they first met as children. It takes him until the canon movie The Last: Naruto the Movie to finally realize that Hinata is the precious person he wants to protect and be with. Confirmed by Word of God in this 2015 New York Comic Con interview:
      Masashi Kishimoto: I think what made me realize it was partly because, if you really look back and think about it, Hinata always supported and acknowledged Naruto, even before Master Iruka. She had the ability to see beyond his reputation and see the true person inside. I think I started realizing that they were meant to be.
    • Naruto's own parents recognize they are each other's soulmates. His mother Kushina was bullied as a child for being an outsider and for her long flowing red hair in particular, which caused her to resent it. She also initially didn't think much of his father Minato, believing him to be "flaky", similar to how Naruto initially thought of Hinata as "weird". One day, though, Kushina was kidnapped by Kumo ninja for being the Kyuubi Jinchuriki. She made a Trail of Bread Crumbs using strands of her hair, and just when it seemed no one had caught on, Minato appeared and rescued her. He was the only one to catch on to what she was doing and even admitted that the first thing he noticed about her when they first met was her beautiful long red hair. That was the moment that Kushina realized that the hair she hated so much had become her Red String of Fate that led her to her soulmate.
    • According to Kishimoto, Sasuke and Sakura was planned from the beginning to end up together alongside the main couple, Naruto and Hinata. Sasuke never shows interest in any woman until finally reciprocating Sakura's romantic feelings towards the end of the Shippuden and they remain together as a married couple in Boruto.
  • Princess Tutu: Rue and Mytho end up being this to each other by the end.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • Usagi and Mamoru are repeatedly stated to be this, and their love is often used by Usagi to gather the strength to defeat the villain in the end.
    • This is also the case between Haruka and Michiru, who are in a long lasting relationship after S and are rarely seen apart from each other.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Jaden and Yubel. In a past life, as children, he promised to love them and only them forever. His feelings for them were so strong, they carried over through his reincarnation and memory loss: it only takes him a few minutes after remembering to reaffirm the vow and fuse their souls together for eternity. On Yubel's end, they loved him so much they voluntarily underwent a Painful Transformation into a monster just so they could protect him, and apparently waited thousands of years for him to be reincarnated. Yubel's love was so strong it drove them to insanity, damned and redeemed them in succession.

    Comic Books 
  • While most superheroes have multiple love interests, there tends to be at least one love interest the writers keep coming back to no matter what happens, and that love interest is usually this trope.
  • Aquaman and Mera are this to the point that most non-comic book fans aren't even aware that Aquaman had other love interests. They were married long before Lois and Clark and it took the death of their son for there to be any real strain in their relationship. In the New 52, when Aquaman's relationship with Mera did start breaking down, it turned out to be because she had been replaced by her evil younger twin sister Hila.
  • Apollo and Midnighter of The Authority and Stormwatch. The peculiarities of their comics-verse means that we've seen a great many alternate universe versions of them (Palette Swap versions, kid heroes, samurais, a golly-gee parody of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold...), and all of them are joined at the hip. They take it for granted to the point where Midnighter is disturbed and upset to meet an alternate universe version of them that broke up.
  • Jessica Jones and Luke Cage hasn't really had any other love interest than each other since they got married and any issues in their marriage has never involved jealousy or unfaithfullness.
  • Batman, despite his numerous relationships in both personas, has only ever loved two women: Catwoman and Talia al Ghul. Of those two women, the one that can be described as the love of his life is Catwoman. But because True Love Is Boring, they have never managed to settle down in a lasting relationship with each other long enough to cement them as this in the eyes of the general public, though this has been explored in What If? scenarios. In adaptations where Bruce does manage to settle down, it's usually with Selina.
  • Green Arrow and Black Canary. While their relationship tends to be turbulent at times, in the end they only really have eyes for each other. There's only ever been one adaptation they both appear in where they aren't an Official Couple, and that's one of the main reasons why that adaptation isn't very popular with comic book fans. DC themselves went out of their way to reinforce this after that adaptation ended, with one comic noting that as long as they're apart, it doesn't matter how happy they are — they will both always feel as if something is 'missing'.
  • Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris are living proof that just because you're this, it doesn't mean your relationship is stable; while Hal admits the only woman he wants to settle down with is Carol, it's not enough to keep them from constantly breaking and making up. Though the epilogue of Wrath of the First Lantern does reveal they will get their Happily Ever After one day.
  • Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have recently become this as many find the duo's chemistry great, especially since the latter is shown to be a healthier partner for the former than The Joker.
  • In a case of Word of God, James Tynion IV said in an interview for Death of Wolverine Legacy, that Mystique has only ever loved one other person and that was her partner, Irene Adler aka Destiny. Her death drove Mystique insane and she has expressed her willingness to do anything in order to get Destiny back several times.
  • Kate Kane and Renee Montoya have each had multiple love interests, but the two of them together is, according to both comic canon and Word of God, the pairing that is meant to be at the end of the day. This is perhaps made most explicit in the Rebirth Batwoman series, but they also end up together in Convergence and 52. And in Injustice: Gods Among Us, though an alternate universe, they're even married.
  • Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman are this. Reed has shown no interest in basically any woman aside from Sue apart from flashbacks from before they met, while Sue has had the choice between Reed and other guys and always goes with Reed. The two of them have also been together in the comics since 1965 with their wedding issue and have never actually broken up since which is something of an anomaly for comics. Even when their marriage is strained, they still find their way back to each other.
  • Nightwing has two: Barbara Gordon and Starfire (Koriand'r). While most media tend to lean towards Barbara, Kori's romance with him has gotten extensive focus as well (usually in Teen Titans media), and he's technically gotten married to both (as seen in Convergence). His pre-Flashpoint version married Barbara, and his pre-Crisis version married Kori. Essentially, if Dick Grayson is ever going to settle down, it's going to be with one of them. But because True Love Is Boring, he's never going to seal the deal with either of them.
  • Scott Summers and Jean Grey are this to one another — while Scott married Maddy Pryor (Jean's literal clone, not that anyone realised), and had a long-term relationship with Emma Frost, he was always pining after Jean (something both women were acutely aware of). Likewise, while Jean's flirted with Wolverine a few times, she's always defaulted back to Scott. As teen Hank explains to Bloodstorm (a teenage vampire alternate Storm), her crush on Scott is as doomed as his was on Jean, because Scott and Jean always end up back together — even after the two spent ages trying to avoid the matter to try and avoid their perceived Bad Future, it happened.
  • For Spider-Man, it's Mary Jane Watson, a fact that writers and editors have struggled with, given that she's both good for Peter and popular with the audience, which led to their marriage in the regular continuity after vocal public demand. The issue? See: The True Love Is Boring caveat, one of the things that led to the much-reviled One More Day storyline that retconned their marriage out of existence. The fact that Aunt May wanted to set her up with Peter, and that she and Peter have a great deal in common (being both poor kids from Queens who wanted to make it big), and that she spent the longest time married to Peter in the regular continuity and appears in most adaptations, made her for most of Spider-Man's history. The only love interest Peter Parker ever came to loving as much as he did Mary Jane was his First Love, Gwen Stacy (whose death, incidentally, was what pushed Peter and Mary Jane together in their grief).
  • Superman: Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Everyone and their dog knows that these two are made for each other. Evidence: every form of media they've ever appeared in. There's not a single adaptation where they don't end up together — and if Clark ends up with anyone else, it's after Lois' death.
  • Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. They've been a mostly solid Official Couple after they got together and only really broke up because Stephanie died (or faked her death, so to speak). They got back together in Convergence, as did their New 52 counterparts, and have barley shown any interest in anyone else since.
  • Wally West and Linda Park may rival Lois and Clark in this regard. They've literally come back from the dead for each other through The Power of Love, and their love was so strong that when Neron (DC's stand-in for Satan) took it, it almost killed him.
  • Wonder Woman: Diana and Steve Trevor have been each other's love interests since the Golden Age of Comics. One of the reasons for Diana’s lack of romance Post-Crisis is because Steve was demoted from being her love interest and paired off with Etta Candy instead. Any and all attempts to pair Diana with other men failed because they simply lacked the chemistry Steve and Diana had, which eventually led to Steve being promoted back to being Diana’s love interest in DC Rebirth.

    Fan Works 
  • In 30 Kisses, 30 Ways Asuka and Shinji, the premise is each chapter shows a different alternate reality, and in all of them Shinji and Asuka get together.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità: Two people, one love. As in Italy was in love with both Germany and Japan at the same time, because both fulfilled him. They loved him too, and they grew to love each other as well.
  • The Big Bad of The Bug Princess mockingly uses this exact term for the relationship between the leads. He's trying to rattle BJ's cage, but at the same time, he's right.
  • Children of Time: Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade. Interestingly, despite the series involving more couples, it's only to the Holmeses that the trope applies. The Doctor is explicitly stated to have had other loves before Rose (including his wife, the mother of his children), and Watson had Mary before Sally. It is heartbreakingly easy, however, to see that Sherlock and Beth are the only lovers each other will ever have.
  • The Princess and the Knight: Victoria and Jadelyn are presented as being true loves. When Noxymis tries to force Jadelyn to fall in love with him, he finds himself unable to do so. Jadelyn's love for Victoria is so strong that as long as she lives, he can't use the gem on Jadelyn to this end. When Victoria is on the edge of death, she refuses to die once she hears Jadelyn asking her not to and is able to hold on long enough for Trina to save her.
  • Reconciliation: Shinji and Asuka are this for each other. For a good chunk of the fic, we find several alternate versions of Shinji and Asuka. The versions may be wildly different, but they are always in love with each other. Always.
    • In chapter 11 Asuka becomes aware of it:
      A dream-scape formed around them. A physical realm in which their imagined forms manifested. Simply from the will of a girl who had lived infinite lives, time and time again, with only one constant. Her lover was always there. For her. It's time she was there for him.
    • And in chapter 12, Lilith calls Asuka Shinji's life mate.
  • RE-TAKE: Asuka told that after Third Impact countless alternate realities were born, all of them different and unique... and the single only unifying element was that Shinji and her always met and fell in love.
  • Scar Tissue: Rei visited thousands of realities during Instrumentality. No matter what reality she visited or what world she went to, Shinji and Asuka were always together, always bonded by destiny. They were one.
  • Transformers Animated: Cybertronian Genesis: Optimus Prime views Elita-1/Blackarachnia as his, which is why he doesn't even entertain the idea of a relationship with anyone else, even though, as the Hero of Cybertron, he could have anyone he wanted. In another life, had Blackarachnia remained Elita-1, it would've been mutual — it's outright stated that Optimus was the only 'bot she ever felt anything for, even during her relationship with Sentinel. But in this life, she refuses to acknowledge his feelings, even though some part of her still feels the same way.
  • In The Many Dates of Danny Fenton, a Danny Phantom fanfic, Kara Kent is this officially to Danny.
  • Subverted in Somnium. Aurora believes that her chance at love is gone because her One True Love, Phillip, died after saving her with True Love's Kiss. She initially tries to reject Giselle with this, but Giselle tells her that love can come more than once.
  • explosivesky is a RWBY fanfic author famous for fics were Blake and Yang are always destined to be together, no matter what. In most of the fics, Blake and Yang figure it out immediately, and often mention that they feel like they've done all this before. There are also usually background relationships of Ruby/Weiss, Jaune/Pyrrha, and Sun/Neptune, but they don't get much focus. Sometimes the background pairings are shuffled around.
  • In Interpretive Steps for a New Tango, it's shown that Bruno and Pablo love each other so deeply that even after they break up due to Pablo's lingering hang-ups about his sexuality, they're completely unable to form a meaningful relationship with anyone else because all other romances feel hollow compared to what they had with each other. When they inevitably get back together, the narration confirms that the two of them lived Happily Ever After.
  • The author of the Video Game Shrines loves this trope:
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Bolt and Mittens become the Official Couple of this series in “The Ship,” and their soulmate status is overtly confirmed in “The Rings” and “The Gift.”
  • In the Facing the Future Series, Danny and Sam both show and outright say that they see each other as the love of each other's life.
  • In one day at a time and its sequel the superhero game, Jason Todd has only ever really loved three women in his life. However, he admits the only one that can really be described as the love of his life is Donna Troy. When Donna comes back in time like him, she admits she feels the same way about him, and the two lose no time in restarting their relationship.
  • In the House/Once Upon a Time fanfic Definitely Not Lupus, Emma and Regina are constantly called true loves throughout the story. Their love is strong enough that Emma becomes pregnant through said love, and when they kiss, it manages to give Emma her magic back.
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    Film — Animated 
  • Shrek: Shrek and Princess Fiona. The spell cast on Fiona to eventually break her curse is supposed to allow her to meet her true love (who is supposed to rescue her from the dragon guarding her while she's in the highest room in the tallest tower), with True Love's Kiss sealing the deal. The problem is that no one really expected Fiona's true love to be an ogre (least of all Fiona herself), so it takes time for them to really acknowledge they're this. It's also something of a deconstruction, in that while Shrek and Fiona are soulmates, they aren't actually in love with each other when they first meet, instead falling in love while they're traveling to Duloc in order to deliver Fiona to Lord Farquaad to be his bride. As all but stated by Shrek Forever After, even if Shrek had kissed Fiona when they first met, it wouldn't have broken the curse because they weren't actually in love yet.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Conjuring Universe: Ed and Lorraine Warren, for each other — something they reference repeatedly.
    Lorraine: God brought us together for a reason.
  • In The Constant Nymph, Tessa tells Lewis that they were made for each other, that she was always going to be with him; fate made her a few years late in finding him, but young or old, they were meant to be together. It helps to know that she's only 14 and he's at least in his 30s.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: Played with and arguably deconstructed. Bruce Wayne has only ever loved his Childhood Friend Rachel Dawes and has every intention of being together with her when he's finished with his mission as Batman. While Rachel does love Bruce and originally intended to wait for him, she begins to change her mind when she meets Harvey Dent and starts a relationship with him. Ultimately, she chooses Harvey and wrote a letter to Bruce explaining her intentions to marry him and that they're Better as Friends — which Alfred then burns to spare Bruce any more pain after her death. Unfortunately, that leaves Bruce to continue mourning Rachel for the next eight years because he was so convinced that she was his soulmate. It's only after being told the truth that Bruce finally becomes open to the idea of love again, first with Miranda Tate (aka Talia al Ghul), then much more successfully with Selina Kyle (who, in the comics, is his real One True Love).
  • DC Extended Universe:
    • Lois Lane for Clark Kent/Superman. Before his Heroic Sacrifice against Doomsday in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Clark has these words for Lois:
      Clark: This is my world... YOU are my world!
    • Steve Trevor for Diana/Wonder Woman. Their story was brief, cut short by Steve's heroic death in the climax of Wonder Woman, but that was enough for her to remember him for a century and counting, as seen when she was looking for the photo they took during World War I in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. She went to Steve's family ranch and kept heirlooms of him as seen in Wonder Woman 1984, and even admits to the temporarily-revived Steve that the main reason she can't move on from him is because the only lover she has ever wanted is him.
  • Enchanted: Prince Edward and Giselle believe they are each other's, but it's Robert's kiss that awakens Giselle, thus proving that he is her true love.
  • In addition to the whole group being True Companions more generally, It: Chapter Two reveals that even after twenty-seven years apart Ben and Richie are still hopelessly devoted to their childhood sweethearts (Bev and Eddie respectively). It's implied that, despite being 40 years old by now, neither of them have ever had a serious relationship due to their adherence to this trope.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The First Avenger: It's implied that Steve believes in this to a certain extent, which is why he has such a hard time with women — he's not looking for a fling to have some fun with, he's looking for someone with whom to spend the rest of his life. He thought he found that with Peggy Carter, but as we all know, fate denied them a chance at a happy life together. While he's thrown himself back into the fight so he doesn't dwell on what he's lost, The Winter Soldier and Civil War suggest he might have a second chance at happiness with Sharon Carter. In Avengers: Endgame, however, Sharon is one of those taken by the Snap, and Steve is ultimately unable to move on from Peggy. When it's all said and done, he goes back to the 1940s and lives out the rest of his life with her in an Alternate Timeline; the final scene shows them finally having their dance and kissing.
      Steve: Figured I'd wait.
      Peggy: For what?
      Steve: The right partner.
    • Iron Man: Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. Pepper could have left him behind years ago and become successful on her own but stayed behind as his Beleaguered Assistant because she was in love with him. And out of all the women Tony has slept with over the years, out of all the people that he's let into his life, however tangentially, the only person he could count on to be there when it really mattered was her. Tony and Pepper also play with this a little, in that despite knowing that the only people they really wanted were each other, it took them years to start a relationship — not because there were other people, but because Pepper refused to even entertain the idea until Tony became a better man, the kind of man she always thought he could be.
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Shang-Chi's parents, Xu Wenwu and Ying Li. One thousand years of conquest, and yet after meeting Li and falling in love with her, Wenwu gave up all his power and longevity to start a family and grow old with her. Her untimely death destroyed him, causing him to return to the Ten Rings and his old life of criminality and conquest, and eventually made him susceptible to the manipulations of the Dweller-in-Darkness, by impersonating her and convincing him that she was the one being kept prisoner behind a gate in her home village of Ta Lo instead of it.
    • Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, the original Ant-Man and Wasp. The two were Happily Married and had their daughter Hope, but one mission in the 1980's led Janet to pull a Heroic Sacrifice that trapped her in the Quantum Realm. Even after 30 years, Hank never stopped loving her and never even tried to find love again. The events of Ant-Man and the Wasp take place because Hank and Hope find a way to rescue her from the Quantum Realm and it is Hank himself who goes to rescue her. Cue one of the most heartwarming reunions in the franchise.
    • Wanda Maximoff and Vision. From the day of his creation, they’ve only had eyes for each other, and another character even refers to them as soulmates (if somewhat condescendingly). He's her Living Emotional Crutch, and they even got a tv show named after themselves where they're living in apparent domestic sitcom bliss. Their love is so strong that Wanda is able to create a perfect replica of Vision from her own memories, and even after somewhat accepting her loss in the finale, it’s clear that she has no desire to ever move on.
      Darcy Lewis: The love you two have is real. You belong together.
  • After hinting at it throughout the original trilogy, The Matrix Resurrections more or less explicitly confirms Neo and Trinity as soul mates who will always find their way back to each other. Their love for each other is strong enough to transcend any attempts to suppress it and eventually leads to Trinity breaking free of the Matrix altogether when she is properly reunited with Neo.
  • The Princess Bride: Buttercup and Westley are this for each other. The Big Bad, who wants Buttercup to marry him instead, knows he is doomed to failure as long as Westley is alive because of this trope.
  • Sleepless in Seattle: Lampshaded by Annie in one scene, who says it is usually invoked as means of explaining all the romantic accidents. Played straight when she later goes along with the idea that Sam is the one anyway.
  • When Harry Met Sally...: Mentioned by Sally who complains of a man she was interested in finding his perfect match. "He just met her... She's supposed to be his transitional person, she's not supposed to be the one."
  • A New York Christmas Wedding: Gabby is Jenni's, which she realizes over time. The prime timeline had Jenni lose Gabby years ago and move on to David, but when she's sent back being with her again sparks Jenni's realization.

    Literature 
  • Chronicles of the Kencyrath: Played with in regards to Ganth and the Dreamweaver. Ganth obsessively adored her, and it was clearly unhealthy. It definitely isn't glamorized — it's clear this is very screwed up... although Ganth's feeling at least are also somewhat tragic. But even so, Ganth definitely believes she is his One True Love... but no one else really agrees with him, and the story doesn't present them as such.
    Ganth: You don't understand. What happened was fated.
    Trishien: Well, it was certainly fatal.
  • In The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams Deconstructs the trope, pointing out that the One True Love is always within driving distance, and of the preferred gender, age, and species. And if the relationship doesn't work, the person usually will find their "True" One True Love under the same circumstances.
  • Per Word of God, Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Tellingly, Harry's last thoughts right before Voldemort kills him (Harry actually survived, but he didn't know he would) are of her, all but stating that she was the greatest comfort in his life. Notably, Harry tried to deny his feelings for her at first (mainly because she was Ron's sister) and only after seeing her make out with her boyfriend did he finally accept the truth. Ginny herself admits after they got together that she never fully got over her crush on him at the beginning of the series. They only broke up because of, as Ginny puts it, "some stupid, noble reason", with the unsaid understanding that if they both made it through the war, they would get back together. The epilogue reveals they eventually got Happily Married with three children.
  • While The Hunger Games for the most part averts this trope, it is surprisingly brought up at the very end. Upon declaring her love for previously fake-boyfriend Peeta, Katniss states that the two of them ending up together "would have happened anyway", implying that she believes they would have fallen in love even if they hadn't been in the Hunger Games together.
  • "Lifemates" in the Liaden Universe are rare but when they do happen, that 'verse's science of psionics can objectively verify it. (It is eventually revealed that this is due to genetic spiritual meddling by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens in the past, and there's a damn good reason why it always seems to happen to the "dramliz" and not anyone else.)
  • A major plot device in Night World (that is often central to the plot of every novel) is the Soulmate Principle, in which everyone is destined to have a partner who is ideal for them and makes them a better, more complete person. The connection between soulmates is so strong that some of them will be instantly attracted or drawn to each other even if this is the first time they met and making physical contact sends an electricity-like jolt between them. It's also implied that some soulmates can even reincarnate together. Every book features the main protagonist finding her soulmate, which will almost always be complicated by the fact one of them is human and the other is a Night Person, which is forbidden under Night World law. Given that a lot of Redferns and Harmans (or their relatives) start finding human soulmates, the witches speculate that this could be a sign that times are changing for both the Night World and the human world.
  • Odd Thomas and Stormy Llewellyn were destined to be together forever. It says so on the little card a carnival fortuneteller machine gave them. Taken to the extreme when Stormy dies at the end of the first book. Odd seems perfectly willing to go the rest of his life without finding anyone else. When it seems he might find someone to replace her, he can't help but feel conflicted.
  • Condwiramurs and Parzival in Parzival — so much so that both of their names are written on the Holy Grail, allowing them to love each other.
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: The Driving Question of the first third of the novel is which of Evelyn's husbands was the great love of her life. The answer? None of them. Evelyn's true love was Celia St. James, and the majority of Evelyn's marriages were to either hide their relationship or to get over Celia.
  • Subverted, like so many tropes, in A Song of Ice and Fire: Cersei Lannister has spent their entire lives convincing her twin Jaime that she and he are this for each other. It is instead made very clear that Cersei's only interest in Jaime is in his role as a male version of her; once he loses his right hand and begins to rediscover his own honor, instead of simply being a reflection of her who will do her bidding, she has no more use for him.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In Plato's Symposium, Aristophanes tells a "Just So" Story about how human beings once had four arms, four legs and two heads, which allowed them to roll around like boulders and (somehow) gave them enough power to threaten the gods of Olympus. Most of the pantheon suggested these humans be wiped out, but Zeus instead split them all in twain with his thunderbolt, leaving the navel as the place where they were stitched up again. This, Aristophanes explains, is why humans love: we are looking for the half that we lost (which could be the same sex as us). This work, published ~ 375 BC, is the Ur-Example of the "One True Love" trope in Western Literature.
  • Isaac Asimov's "True Love": Milton is disappointed in the first date that he and Joe arrange, and they realize that they can't be Milton's ideal woman unless he's their ideal man. So the two of them adjust their search to figure out who would see him as their ideal man. Only one woman out of the 3,786,112,090 in the world match their criteria.
  • Bella and Edward in Twilight are repeatedly stated to be this, giving or attempting to sacrifice everything for the sake of each other. In their universe, it is deliberately invoked by the werewolves, who bond to a single soulmate for whom they always love.
  • In the Vita Nuova, Beatrice is the only woman Dante can truly love; all the women he fawns after after her death are just distractions from the memory of his true beloved.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 100 has Clarke Griffin and Lexa who, despite their rocky start and the rough patch they hit after Lexa chooses to rescue her people from Mount Weather over Clarke's own, are shown to develop a strong bond for each other that eventually becomes a romance. Lexa's early death shocks Clarke and she never fully recovers and she never gets together with anyone else in the series. To cement her status as this in the series final episode the Judge who decides whether humanity will transcend to a higher form of consciousness or be destroyed takes on Lexa's form for Clarke with both the show and its creator confirming that this is because Lexa was Clarke's greatest love.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. Fitz and Simmons have been put through Hell and back over the course of the series and still find a way to be together. With Fitz letting himself drown to save her to jumping into an alien portal find her. Even if it means helping Ward and HYDRA bring a monster back to Earth to prevent them from hurting her. When Fitz is plugged into the Framework, AIDA alters his memories so that she took Jemma's place in Fitz's life. This causes Fitz to not only become a sadist but to develop obsessive loyalty not to Jemma, but to AIDA. When Fitz is woken up from the Framework, AIDA still wants to be with him, but even with two lives' worth of memories, Fitz says he can't love anyone but Jemma. Despite witnessing the horrors Fitz committed in the Framework Jemma still believed in Fitz.
  • Babylon 5:
    • John Sheridan and Delenn, despite the fact that she was his Second Love. The Power of Love between them has been enough for Sheridan to defy both death and torture and may in fact be responsible for winning two separate wars.
    • Jeffrey Sinclair and Catherine Sakai, to the point where Love Transcends Spacetime.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003) has Laura Roslin and Bill Adama. Mary McDonnell, who played Roslin, explicitly stated that the two are soulmates:
    McDonnell: I do think that the other thing [Ron] created is that there are soulmates in life, and I think that's true with this relationship — if you look at it from a soul-mate point of view, their destiny brought them together to serve a bigger cause, together, and in the process perhaps heal something very old and very familiar between themselves.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara is generally portrayed as this to Willow. While she gets together with other people after Tara, none of the relationships ever last and even years down the line in season 10, she confesses to Andrew that she occasionally thinks about finding a way of bringing Tara back to life.
  • ER: Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway, to the point where Carol calls him her "soul mate" and a friend of theirs says that she is "the one" for Doug. This remains true for all six seasons they are on the show and they do get their happy ending together.
  • The Flash (2014)
    • Barry Allen and Iris West. They're even married on an alternate earth and in the first timeline of the series. While both are capable of feeling genuine attraction to others and can even fall in love with other people (Eddie Thawne for Iris, Patty Spivot for Barry), it always comes back to them in the end. Barry fully admits that Iris is the love of his life, and she admits she feels the same way, too.
    • Caitlin Snow and Ronnie Raymond, who were also together/married on an alternate earth (the same alternate earth as Barry and Iris' doppelgangers, in fact). While Caitlin was able to move on from Ronnie's death and find love again with other people, neither of those relationships went anywhere (one of them because the guy turned out to be evil). And even then, it's outright stated that Ronnie will always be first in her heart regardless of who she ends up with in the end.
  • Parodied in an episode of Friends: Phoebe asks Chandler if he believes in soulmates. He doesn't, he believes in falling in love, but not that there's one person who's perfect for you. She says "Good, because I just met Monica's!" The rest of the episode is him feeling increasingly threatened by this guy until Monica explains she doesn't believe in One True Love, either.
    Monica: I don't think that you and I were destined to end up together. I think that we fell in love and work hard at our relationship. Some days we work really hard.
  • In The Good Place, everyone has a soulmate that they are introduced to upon their arrival in the afterlife. Eleanor is Chidi's, and Jianyu is Tahani's. Except Eleanor is only in the Good Place due to a mix-up, and it all goes haywire from there. This is ultimately subverted when the season one finale reveals that they are all actually in the Bad Place in an elaborate form of psychological torture. Michael even confirms later that soulmates aren't real, but rather he made them up to torture the four humans.
    • A season four flashback shows Michael confessing to Chidi that he doesn't know if soulmates are real, but if they are, they're made, not found.
  • Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham in Hannibal. Invoked throughout the series: Hannibal and Will's other relationships are all either doomed to fail because Hannibal or Will are too 'abnormal' compared to their partner, or framed as lacking something essential even when they're otherwise satisfying. Conversely, Hannibal and Will are consistently framed as being the only ones who can truly "see" the other — understanding and accepting each other to a degree of intimacy inaccessible to anyone else — and are irredeemably drawn to each other. Will has a harder time accepting this than Hannibal, but in the series finale, they're revealed to be in love with each other, effectively marking them as a twisted, violent version of this.
  • Holby City: Serena Campbell calls Bernie Wolfe "the one great love affair of my life", and Bernie admits without shame that she would wait for Serena "for eternity". The writing goes on to make it painfully clear that they are "it" for each other, and no one else will ever come close. The series ends with them married, working together again, and ready to start the next chapter of their lives together.
  • The entire premise of How I Met Your Mother is based around Ted's search for his future wife, who has been shown to have the exact characteristics that Ted is looking for.
  • Lucifer (2016):
    • Lucifer Morningstar and Chloe Decker. Not only is Chloe the first and only woman Lucifer has ever truly loved, but Chloe was literally made for him by his Father, who had Amenadiel bless Chloe's mother so she could be conceived. This is deconstructed, because Lucifer fears his feelings for her might not even be real but instead another tool for his Father to manipulate him and takes some time to accept this isn't the case. Later in Season Five, after Chloe finally finds out, she begins fearing that she has no choice in the matter, and like Lucifer, that her feelings aren't even real. It takes her time to accept that while she may have been made for Lucifer, it's up to her whether or not they get together.
    • Dan Espinoza and Charlotte Richards. In an Alternate Universe where Dan never met Chloe, he still manages to find his way to Charlotte, and it is shown that their romantic relationship is stronger than Dan and Chloe's ever was. And after Charlotte dies, he doesn't so much as give any other woman a second look for the rest of the series (sans a depression-fueled one night stand with Ella that he immediately regretted). Eventually, after Dan himself dies and makes peace with his guilt, he ascends to Heaven and reunites with Charlotte there.
  • Arthur and Guinevere in Merlin. Merlin even says that Gwen and Arthur are destined to be together, even though this pairing is never explicitly mentioned in any of the prophecies featured on the show.
  • One episode of Mysterious Ways focuses on the idea of soulmates and whether a person can have more than one. One character mentions that you will "never be able to shake" your soulmate once you find them; later in the episode, it's pointed out that Declan can't seem to "shake" Peggy OR Miranda.
  • NCIS:
    • Main protagonist Leroy Jethro Gibbs' true love was his first wife, Shannon, who was killed alongside their daughter Kelly. At one point, Ducky, one of Gibbs' oldest, closest friends, called her the love of Gibbs' life. Gibbs has never been able to let go of their deaths, and it has doomed every single romantic relationship he's had since, including his three marriages after Shannon.
    • Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David are strongly implied to be this. Both had numerous relationships with other people throughout both their tenures in NCIS, but when it came down to it, the ones they loved most were each other. Ziva's childhood friend and her brother Ari's lover even used this in the Season 11 premiere to hurt Ziva by lying to Tony about whether or not she'd seen her while Tony was hunting for her in Israel; she wanted to pay Ziva back for taking away the man she loved by separating them. Even after Ziva left NCIS and stayed in Israel permanently, Tony never stopped thinking about her. Eventually, he departs from NCIS himself after Ziva supposedly dies in the Season 13 finale to take care of their daughter, Tali.
  • Quite literal in the Netflix series The One. Rebecca Webb and her business partner James have developed a dating service that finds your "match", who is pheromone DNA matched to be the best person for you. From what is seen in the show, it works and changes dating as we know it.
  • Once Upon a Time: Tinkerbell uses magic to help Regina find hers: Robin Hood. Unfortunately, thanks to Regina's issues and a streak of bad luck, their relationship is ground to a halt every time it tries to start up.
    • Snow White and Charming are this, too. They are, according to Rumplestiltskin, the definition of true love, and will always find each other.
  • Played for Laughs for an entire series of Peep Show, where Once an Episode Mark has decided that each and every girl he meets is the perfect woman for him.
  • Every main character in Pretty Little Liars has one. In Emily's case, that person is Paige. In some of the fandom's eyes, it's Alison but by season seven it's made abundantly clear that it's Paige. Even if they didn't end up together and Emily ended up with Alison, the show wanted the audience to know that this was not the happy ending Emily herself wanted and that it was fanservice to the max and it lampshaded it in 7x15 when Emily and Paige have their final goodbye:
    Emily: Nobody wanted this
    Paige: Somebody did, they just never asked any of us.
    Emily: I HAVE to do this.
    Paige: I know. That's what makes you Emily.
  • An abundance of them in Princess Returning Pearl: Yong Qi and Xiao Yan Zi, Er Kang and Zi Wei, Han Xiang and Meng Dan...
  • Raising Hope: Virginia and Burt have remained married for over 20 years, despite Maw Maw continually trying to break them up, because she wanted to boot out her freeloading family. Jimmy later narrates that "if two people are meant to be together, they will stay together no matter what tries to get in their way"—while deleting a text message on Sabrina's phone from her boyfriend, asking her to go to a restaurant, so he could take her out to eat instead.
  • Played With in Runaways: Xavin wholeheartedly believes they're this to Karolina, due to their understanding of a prophecy claiming that the two are spiritually betrothed and destined to be together. Karolina, however, is having none of it, due to already being in a complicated but committed relationship with Nico, and generally wanting to be free to make her own romantic choices even if her current relationship doesn't work out. The conflict is resolved when Xavin becomes the foster carer of Karolina's newborn sister Elle, and realises that the prophecy was real but that their "great love" was always meant to be for their adopted daughter.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The final episode of the series reveals "soul stones"; everyone has one on the North Star, and those that fit together are soulmates. Sabrina stops her wedding with Aaron after she finds that their soul stones don't fit, and walks away from the altar—only to run into Harvey. They kiss and ride off as their soul stones fall together and fit perfectly.
  • Scandal: Olivia Pope and President Fitzgerald Grant III are the love of each other's lives. Unfortunately, because True Love Is Boring, their relationship is constantly on-and-off, either due to outside forces (such as Fitz's political career, as he's unhappily married to First Lady Mellie Grant — Olivia is/was his mistress, even though he sees her as more than that) or their own personal reasons (Olivia broke up with Fitz in Season Five even though his divorce meant they could finally be together openly because she, like Mellie, hated the idea of being stuck in a Gilded Cage and playing the part of First Lady, being far more capable than just a glorified hostess and housewife).
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Will Riker and Deanna Troi may get plenty of action in Gene Roddenberry's Free-Love Future, but ever since their first brief relationship, they have been each other's Imzadi (a Betazoid term that, in the EU, has deeper meanings than just "beloved"). They finally get married in Star Trek: Nemesis, and as of Star Trek: Picard, they've been married for twenty years and are raising a daughter.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam had had other love interests since Jess' death, but none have continued to be mentioned for so long and none of them seemed to have close to the same level of impact on Sam. Azazel and Brady both mentioned that had she not died, she and Sam would have gotten married and lived happily ever after.
    • In Season 5, Sam and Dean visit Heaven where a friend confirms that they're soulmates and share a Heaven, leading to a full five-second silence where they don't look at each other.
      Ash: Mm-hmm. Yeah. See you got Winchesterland. Ashland. A whole mess of everybody-else-lands. Put them all together: heaven. Right? At the center of it all? Is the Magic Kingdom. The Garden.
      Dean: So everybody gets a little slice of paradise.
      Ash: Pretty much. A few people share—special cases. What not.
      Dean: What do you mean ‘special’?
      Ash: Aw, you know. Like, uh, soul-mates. [Neither Sam or Dean say anything.] Anyway.
    • As it turns out, Dean was this for Castiel since the first moment they saw each other in Hell. Unfortunately, this doesn't save either of them.
  • Damon and Elena from The Vampire Diaries fit this trope. While the series initially centers on a love triangle between Damon, Elena, and Stefan, she eventually chooses Damon while her relationship with Stefan is explained as being magically manipulated. According to Word of God, Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec planned to continue the love triangle to see if Elena could find her way back to Stefan and to end the series with both brothers dying for her. But the departure of Elena's actress Nina Dobrev solidified Damon and Elena's status as the main pairing. Damon and Elena are also the end game pairing of the novel series the show is based on where they are confirmed as soul mates.
  • Yellowstone: Kayce and Monica Dutton are VERY much this. From the beginning of the series, it’s obvious that they are deeply in love. Even when they argue, it’s clear that their love for one another is at the forefront and no matter what happens, it’s the two of them, that’s it. Dialogue implies it was true from the very beginning.
    Kayce: I’m trying to remember what I was wearing when I met you.
    Monica: All I remember is, you weren’t wearing it for long.

    Video Games 
  • Trick & Treat: As the official Steam store indicates:
    Trick or treating in a vampire's house. Trick & Treat is a light-hearted Halloween adventure. It's about exploring and solving puzzles in a spooky atmosphere. There will be some horror elements, romance, many bad ends and a happy ending of true love.
  • Invoked in the NES game based on the Beetlejuice film. When Betelgeuse (who is the player character) first comes across Lydia, he explicitly identifies her this way.
  • The Witcher features a side story starring a Hooker with a Heart of Gold named Carmen and her paramour — a guard captain-turned-vigilante werewolf. Carmen risks life and limb to find a cure for her beloved's lycanthropy, and with Geralt's help, she tries out everything until only one option remains: the proverbial "true love". Geralt is understandably skeptical and awkward when he suggests it, but to everyone's surprise, it actually works, somehow, with Carmen's lover cured of lycanthropy. Even a hardened cynic like Geralt is taken aback by this success and calls the whole story nothing less than a fairy tale.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fated relationships, both romantic and platonic are a key element of The House in Fata Morgana.
    • The main game features Michel and Giselle, who despite a rocky start never look anyone else's way after getting together. While Michel's dying wish is for Giselle to find someone else and live a happy life, she refuses to move on, spending nearly a full millennium waiting for his reincarnation to return to her. When they finally reunite for good in their next life, they quickly rekindle their relationship and eventually get married.
    • Despite causing her mutilation and death, Jacopo has been in love with Morgana since she was eleven, while she is heavily implied to have had a Precocious Crush on him. Word of God states that Jacopo is attracted to her soul and would have fallen for her regardless of age or gender, and while he marries someone else in his second life, his wife turns out to be an incarnation of part of Morgana's soul. In the afterlife, Jacopo is on the brink of destroying his soul out of guilt when Morgana saves him despite not having forgiven her murder, allowing him a chance to make amends and win her heart in their next life. Both the prequel and sequel give them much heavier focus (even more than Michel and Giselle), with the prequel exploring their friendship in their first lives and the sequel exploring their new relationship in their third and final life together. They're instantly drawn to one another, finally reconciling thanks to Jacopo's better treatment of her even before they regained their memories of their past lives and his Anguished Declaration of Love, and the game ends with them taking a trip he'd promised her in their first life together.

    Webcomics 
  • Discussed and explored in Goblins, as Kin — a yuan-ti — explains to Minmax that her species doesn't form emotional attachments, though there are rare cases of "True-Seeing", in which they're literal soul-mates and can experience each other's pleasure and pain, but applies solely to yuan-ti. She has to explain this because Minmax is falling in love with her, and Psion!Minmax believes it to be true - it later turns out that they're the sole exception to that rule.
    Psion!Minmax: As childishly cliched as it is, the previously unnoticed detail is love. The two of you are genuinely in love. Something so mathematically improbable that I suspect you to be the only reality to suffer from this state. There are many realities in which the two of you are romantically involved, but none of them are able to demonstrate actual love on a relevantly deep level. Real love is indeed something very special. It's known universally as the most efficient way to inject nausea into simple mathematics to the point of permeation.
  • Deconstructed in a xkcd What If?. While Munroe doesn't attack the idea of someone who is perfect for you, he does address the corollary — that you'll be miserable with anyone else — and points out how that condemns the vast majority of humans to a loveless existence.

    Western Animation 
  • The Beatles episode "I Want To Hold Your Hand" has a scientist aboard a cruise ship, having captured an octopus whose unhappiness stems from being lovesick. The scientist lowers a diving bell into the ocean to gather some input on finding the octopus's true love. The Beatles have hidden inside the diving bell from their wild female fans, and under the sea they discover a similarly lovesick female octopus. Once back on ship, the boys buy the male octopus and throw him back into the ocean to be with the female octopus to live happily ever after.
  • Danny Phantom: Jack and Maddie Fenton, the titular protagonist's parents. In an alternate timeline where Maddie married his best friend Vlad Masters, who also had feelings for her (and still does in the main timeline), it is shown that she is absolutely miserable with Vlad and still loves Jack, who took Vlad's place as the first halfa and stayed away from Maddie out of shame as a result. Hell, when Vlad designed a computer program based entirely off her, designed specifically to love him and disparage Jack, the program reveals in its dying moments that it never loved him and instead loved Jack (or "The Jack Program", in this case). It doesn't matter when, where, or what they are; Jack and Maddie are simply meant to be.
  • Futurama Turanga Leela is this for the main character, Philip J Fry. This doesn't stop him from dating other women though. Leela mostly rejects him in early seasons but eventually admits to her love for him. They have a rather unstable relationship for a season after the show was revived but eventually settle into a more stable relationship in the last season.
  • Justice League: John Stewart and Shayera Hol are implied to be this, as they were in love in a previous life. Though Shayera falls for a male Hawk first, it's John she always ends up with in the end.
  • Kim Possible: Word of God confirms that Kim and Ron are this. Both have dated other people and have had brief relationships but as the show goes on, it becomes very clear to everyone except them — both in and out of universe — that the people they're meant to be with are each other. So the Drama implies that deep down, even they knew it, but refrained from taking the next step for their own reasons (for Ron, it was their long-standing friendship; for Kim, it was peer pressure and the level of Ron's maturity). It's only after Drakken interferes and tries to push them apart that they finally muster up the courage and act on what's between them.
  • Miraculous Ladybug both plays it straight and inverts it. Marinette, who is the titular heroine Ladybug, has such a massive crush on Adrien Agreste that she has trouble speaking around him. Adrien, who is the superhero Chat Noir, is in love with Ladybug and flirts with her constantly. Neither is aware of the other's identity, however, so they are unknowingly in love with each other. The only times they reciprocate their feelings are when Marinette, while in her identity of Ladybug, meets Adrien.
  • A variation in Pound Puppies (2010): Everyone has a soulmate-level perfect pet.

Alternative Title(s): True Love

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