The suitor in question is often a close friend, confidant, or acquaintance of the lead. Their relationship is often platonic in nature, at first, and when anyone suggests the suitor as a match, the lead may initially dismiss the prospect due to the nature of their interactions. However, eventually, the suitor's relationship with the lead evolves, and the lead begins contemplating what they may have overlooked before.
Perhaps the lead was previously with someone else who wasn't right for them, or even if there wasn't anyone else, perhaps the possibility of being in a romance with the lead hadn't necessarily occurred to the suitor, either. Either way, there needs to be an in-universe justification for why the two end up together.
In any case, once the lead realizes that the suitor is — (ahem) — suitable for them, there is a high chance that the suitor is the match that the lead has been looking for the whole time.
There can be some crossover with the Dogged Nice Guy, inasmuch as such a character tries to be noticed by someone who previously overlooked them, but the combination of both tropes is not a given. When this trope crosses over with Unknowingly in Love, the suitor in question can initially be on the receiving end of the lead's obliviousness to the lead's own infatuation towards the suitor; matters can also become complicated if the suitor in question is themselves oblivious to their own feelings towards the lead.
This plotline is a classic staple of Romantic Comedy, though it can also be found in other places.
While there is some Truth in Television regarding this phenomenon, inasmuch as it is not unheard of for people to begin relationships that they would have previously considered unlikely, there will be No Real Life Examples, Please! Especially since it would involve gossip about the relationships of real people.
As this is a form of The Reveal, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.
- In Naruto, the titular protagonist is initially so emotionally stunted by his upbringing in the village that resulted from his parents' deaths and the way the majority of the villagers treated him because of Kurama that he is completely unable to tell the difference between romantic love and the kind of 'love' one would feel for a favorite treat (such as ramen). And as a result, he proves completely oblivious to how Hinata is just about the only one who genuinely likes (and later loves) him for exactly as he is even back when they were both little kids (and the fact that he also ends up developing a shallow crush on Sakura as a result of him coming to view her as a prize to be won in his rivalry against Sasuke, whom Sakura herself likes, certainly doesn't help either). It isn't until long after he's matured and later realized the true nature of different types of love (among other things) that he finally becomes aware of how Hinata had always been willing and able to give him the love and attention he'd wanted for so long even when no one else would and that he himself had in fact already loved her as well without even realizing. And from there, the two eventually manage to become an Official Couple.
- In Yona of the Dawn, Princess Yona is initially infatuated with Su Won, failing to notice the affection of her childhood friend and eventual bodyguard Son Hak. Once Su Won kills Yona's father, the King, she begins to take note of Son Hak and his loyalty, and fall for him.
- In You and Me, Masaki initially pines for Shun, but eventually begins to fall for Chizuru after he expresses his affection for her, especially considering his kind treatment towards her.
- In Runaways, Karolina very obviously has a crush on Nico from the very first issue of the series, but Nico remains oblivious until about a quarter of the way through the second series. Alas, by the time she realizes her own feelings for Karolina, Karolina is engaged. They finally become a couple in Runaways (Rainbow Rowell), over a decade later.
- Played with in Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, where Mary Jane Watson is initially infatuated with the dashing, daring, Spider-Man, but eventually falls for her kind, considerate tutor Peter Parker, with the twist that the suitors are one and the same.
- In Frozen (2013), Princess Anna of Arendelle is initially romantically attached to the debonair Prince Hans, but after Hans reveals his true colours as a manipulator and sociopath, Anna starts to contemplate her feelings for Kristoff Bjorgman, the sassy ice harvester who assisted her on her journey. Kristoff himself is initially hesitant to acknowledge that he has feelings for Anna, believing Hans to be her True Love, but after it becomes clear that Hans is the Romantic False Lead, at the end of the film, he and Anna begin a relationship.
- In The Lion King (1994), Simba and Nala initially react to the notion of their betrothal with revulsion, since they are Just Friends. When they become adults, they realize that their familiarity as cubs makes them more compatible than they thought.
- In Better Off Dead, Lane spends a good portion of the film pining for his ex, Beth. In the interim, he strikes up a friendship with the French exchange student and automotive enthusiast Monique. By the end of the race to win Beth's affections back (which he wins on one ski) Lane realizes that he and Monique are much more compatible.
- In Bridget Jones' Diary, the title character meets Mark Darcy, and they initially don't get along. When Bridget's romance with her boss Daniel Cleaver sours, Bridget discovers that Mark really is her type - a considerate, romantic individual. For his part, Mark eventually realizes that he fancies Bridget as well.
- Clueless: Near the end of the movie, Cher realizes that she is in love with Josh, her idealist "ex-stepbrother", who is not afraid to call Cher out on her superficiality. Josh's mother and Cher's father had married and subsequently divorced when Cher and Josh were younger, but Josh has remained close with Cher's father and often helps him with work.
- In The Princess Diaries, Mia's longtime friend Michael has feelings for her, but she is unaware of this for most of the story. Only after she realizes that the Romantic False Lead Josh wasn't the right guy for her do she and Michael confess to each other.
- In Set It Up, neither Harper Moore nor Charlie Young initially realize that they are a suitable match, and respectively pursue relationships with "Golf Guy" and Suze. When these relationships fail, they both realize that they are more suited for each other than their respective bosses, whom they had set up through subterfuge.
- In Tall Girl, Jack "Dunkers" Dunkelman is openly smitten with Jodi Kreyman, who dismisses him as a prospective match in favour of someone taller. While their friendship becomes strained by these factors, Jodi eventually realizes Dunkers' potential when she finds out that he stood up for her when other people were talking about her behind her back, including her Romantic False Lead.
- In the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne declines Gilbert's proposal and instead dates Roy Gardner. Anne eventually realises that she only loved the idea of Roy as her childhood "romantic ideal" and she and Gilbert eventually get together at the end of Anne of the Island.
- While Simon and Baz ARE the Official Couple of the book Carry On, Simon initially is dating the nice pretty Agatha for half the book. Only when she gets upset with being the Standard Hero Reward and Baz messes up by letting shine through that he actually has been in love with Simon for years does Simon realize that he and his brooding roommate are actually pretty compatible. It takes another quarter of the book and multiple dramatic life-and-death situations for him to actually fall in love though.
- Emma: Near the end of the novel, Emma realizes that she is in love with Mr. Knightley, her late father's best friend who had been like an uncle to her when she was growing up.
- The Expanse: In Cibola Burn, Elvi Okoye spends most of the book pining for Holden, who is already spoken for and mildly put off by her awkward advances. But after Fayez explains that she's just horny and that he is available, she consents. Four books later, they're Happily Married.
- Harry Potter: While Ginny Weasley had a crush on Harry all the way back in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry was too young and too embarrassed by the attention at the time, seeing Ginny as simply Ron's little sister. After he saves her life, Ginny relaxes around him and they develop a friendship over the years. After Harry's longtime crush on Cho Chang goes south and Ginny goes with Harry to the Ministry of Magic, by the time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince rolls around he finds he's jealous of Ginny's relationship with Dean Thomas. This culminates in the two getting together and later marrying]]. Ginny later reveals she never lost her feelings for Harry, and was advised by Hermione to date other boys and relax around Harry on purpose to give him a better chance to get to know her as a person, purposely invoking the trope.
- Labyrinths of Echo: Max's initial love interest in the series is the Action Girl Melamori, but after a series of supernatural occurrences, they must break up under pain of one of them dying. A few novellas later, Max meets Tekhhi, a demure inn proprietor who named her establishment after Max's cats in an attempt to catch his attention and eventually falls in love with her. The two of them remain together for most of the series until Tekhhi's tragic death. Max is then reunited with Melamori, having found a way to cheat the curse that turned them into Starcrossed Lovers.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager novel Mosaic, Janeway keeps running into her childhood friend Hobbes whenever she's hit a roadblock in her life, and he keeps offering her good advice. At the end of the novel, he tells her that he's tired of going by "Hobbes" because it's actually his middle name and that his first name is actually Mark. He turns out to be Mark Johnson, Janeway's future fiance.
- In the book Stranger in the Mirror by Cherie Bennett, Callie has always had a big secret crush on her beautiful sister Laurel's boyfriend Jake. She knows as she gets picked on and called a geek regularly by her classmates that she has no chance with him. Only her best friend Addison knows about her crush. It's only when Callie finds a magic pink heart-shaped rock that it helps her become beautiful enough for Jake to finally take notice and ditch Laurel for her. However, Jake's true selfish colors are revealed when Laurel gets in a car accident and he couldn't care less. And then it turns out that Callie's best friend Addison has always had genuine unconditional feelings of love and affection for her all while she was crushing on Jake.
- In the Warrior Cats arc Dawn of the Clans, Turtle Tail is about the same age as Gray Wing and likes him, but Gray Wing's too infatuated with Bright Stream, and then Storm, to notice, even when an elder suggests that Turtle Tail might be a good match for him. Finally, Turtle Tail decides to leave the group for a bit and returns pregnant with another tom's kits. It's after the kits are born that Gray Wing finally realizes his feelings for her and they officially become mates, and everyone else congratulates him on finally noticing that they're perfect for each other.
- Booth and Brennan in Bones. Brennan in particular would deny that she should be with Booth every time it came up in the first few seasons. And both spent the early part of the show feeling they were too different to be compatible. Booth had a girlfriend for part of season 6 and Brennan eventually broke down fearing she’d missed her chance. Fortunately they did end up together later in the same season.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:
- Greg is something of a Deconstructed Character Archetype of the suitor beneath notice. In season 1, and the beginning of season 2, after starting put as a bartender who isn't afraid to call Rebecca out on her behaviour, he takes the role of the unexpectedly suitable match in relation to Rebecca. She is hung up over Josh, but Greg and Rebecca have far more in common, and their relationship is gradually developed in the background. Lampshaded by Rebecca in a moment of Wrong Genre Savvy—she's right in her identification of the trope, but this show isn't a rom-com, and the trope is Subverted when Greg decides to leave and pursue his own Character Development. When he returns two years later, they have both gone through a lot of Character Development; and when they try their relationship again, it is no longer an unexpectedly suitable romance as much as a re-kindled relationship.
- Parodied Trope in the episode "I'm Almost Over You". The episode is set up like a rom-com, with Nathaniel and Maya as the protagonists who should be together, and their exes — Rebecca and Joanne — as Romantic False Leads. Deconstructed in the end.
- In Doctor Who, Amy initially overlooks her childhood friend Rory (partially because she believes him to be gay) in favour of her infatuation with the Eleventh Doctor, but eventually comes to terms with her own feelings for Rory, who has always been there for her, and whose personality she considers to be the most beautiful she has ever encountered.
- In Everything's Gonna Be Okay, Drea harbors a crush on classmate Matilda, but Matilda initially brushes her off in favor of Lucas. After being rejected by Lucas, Matilda decides to settle for Drea so that she won't graduate high school dateless but ultimately grows to genuinely love Drea.
- In Mad Men, Peggy goes through a series of relationships, none of which pan out, while working a desk (at most) away from Stan near-constantly since his introduction in the middle of Season 4. The final episode ends with Peggy realizing her love for Stan and their last scene in the series is The Big Damn Kiss between them.
Peggy: I don't even think about you. I mean, I do, all the time. Because you're there... and you're here.
- In One Day at a Time (2017) episode "To Zir, With Love", Elena spends the whole episode doggedly trying to figure out if her crush Dani is gay. She finds out she is... and has a girlfriend already. A dejected Elena is then approached by Syd, who has been present the entire episode and made conversation with her a few times, but who she hadn't paid much attention to now.
- You Me Her: For multiple seasons, Nina carries on various drama with her sometimes-boyfriend Andy. All the while Shaun is in the background, being generally grounded and solid. Shaun eventually lampshades it near the end of season 3:
Shaun: For the record, I'm also your "Mr. Right There in Front of You."
Nina: What the fuck is that?
Shaun: Like in rom-coms. The one who's always there if you just take the time to notice.
Nina: Yeah, no, but nice try.
Shaun: Well, no. It's true.
Nina: Okay, look, you're a lot of things, including ginger-ish and intermittently ruddy—but you are definitely not my—
Shaun: Mr. Right There in Front of You. And here's the beautiful twist: the more that you deny it, the more that you're just proving my point.
- Me and My Dick: Joey (and his Heart) think that he's a suitor Vanessa had dismissed before, with Heart saying, "Sometimes your one true love turns out to be the person you initially disliked". However, Joey's Hollywood Homely friend Sally ends up being a better match for Joey after Sally confesses her real feelings for him. Discussed in "Even Though".
- In My Cafe, after Mary divorces the art thief Ben, she receives a note from Bill, a tech whiz who had until recently carried a torch for her and done nothing about it. Eventually, after Bill joins a soccer team, Mary and Bill enter a relationship.
- Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves: Penelope joins the gang and develops a bond with Bentley, but she spends a good portion of the game crushing on Sly, completely obvious to Bentley's own crush on her. However, after being rescued by Captain LeFwee in the penultimate chapter, she comes to realize her romantic feelings for Bentley, and they hook up. Of course, by Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, this was thrown out the window when Penelope reveals her true colors as a manipulator and sociopath.
- Ménage à 3: Most of the Official Couples are resolved when the characters start relationships with people they hadn't noticed before.
- After spending most of the story being either too shy about his feelings or being taken advantage of sexually by various characters, Gary eventually realizes he loves Peggy, and it takes her a while to realize she feels the same.
- Jane and Vince are Peggy's co-workers who both want to sleep with her. When she later invites them over for a threesome, they are squeamish about touching each other due to their almost familial relationship... until Peggy leaves the room for a few minutes and the two are hammering away so passionately that they gleefully try to make a baby.
- Yuki and Matt start out barely knowing each other as acquaintances until Yuki almost mauls Matt's genitalia during "practice sex" so that Yuki could become intimate with Gary. Gary then points out that the two of them seem to be having loving, passionate sex with each other just fine, prompting them both to have a Love Epiphany.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the Season 1 episode "The Fortune-Teller," Katara initially dismisses Aang as "a sweet little guy, like Momo [their pet lemur]." At the end of the episode, she has this realization when Sokka remarks that Aang is a powerful bender, which is the description the fortune-teller gave her of her future husband. Downplayed in that Katara doesn't give much weight towards pursuing a relationship with Aang following this realization, even after Aang makes his feelings for her clear, wishing to focus more on the group's efforts to end the Hundred Year War.
- In The Dragon Prince, Callum had a childhood crush on the Perky Goth Claudia — right up until she chooses to ignore their friendship in favor of helping her father try to kidnap not just him, but his kid brother along with the titular Dragon Prince. Later, his new friend, the Action Girl Moonshadow Elf Rayla, kisses him when Callum comforts her during a low moment; he's caught off guard, but the kiss makes his feelings for her crystalize, and they become an Official Couple.