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Relationship Writing Fumble

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" cleaned his tonsils with your tongue! That's not a very 'motherly' thing to do!!"
Amanda Winn-Lee on Shinji and Misato's relationship in Neon Genesis Evangelion

Most people, after reading enough fiction, begin to have an idea of how relationships begin to fit together, and can spot a budding romance a mile off. Sometimes, though, the writers break away from these conceptions and do something entirely unexpected. Normally, the writers figure out what the relationship between two people should be in a series, then they take the stock derivatives and toss in cues to clue the viewer into how things are between those two people. When this trope crops up, however, it's usually the result of a writer breaking from the established relationship types and attempting to forge unusual bonds. To do this, they need to either re-use existing cues (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions) or create new ones (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions). Although sometimes a writer will pull it off, it more often leaves people with the completely wrong impression.


This trope isn't about writers fumbling the treatment of some relationship they ''meant'' to put in canon—making it more sympathetic or less sympathetic than they intended (in nine times out of ten, the trope you get in that case is Fan-Preferred Couple). This is about a writer fumbling their treatment of something that wasn't supposed to be a romantic relationship at all with the result that fans look at it and go "huh, seems like there's something there." Perhaps they accidentally made the protagonist and antagonist a bit too chummy, put too much Belligerent Sexual Tension into Sibling Rivalry, had too much connection within the Incompatible Orientation end of the love triangle, or even slipped off the tightrope of Heterosexual Life-Partners. Regardless of how it happened, they managed to pull off a Relationship Writing Fumble and now the writers are stuck dealing with the consequences. In minor cases, it will just be popular Fanon, but sometimes you'll have entire fanbases assuming that's what the writer "really" intended.


The best ways to spot these fall into two groups—Word of God meddling and series dissonance:

This is highly subjective, of course. What may seem like obvious subtext to you might not be the case to another (in particular, a lot of plain old Sibling Rivalry commonly gets interpreted as Belligerent Sexual Tension). See also: Ho Yay, Foe Yay, No Yay, Incest Subtext, Hide Your Gays, and The Not-Love Interest.



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  • This remake of an 80's Folger's commercial has a reunion between a guy who came back from for Christmas to his younger sister. In the original, this is innocent Big Brother Worship due to her young age, but the remake ages her up and makes her actions seems rather flirtatious. It ended up inspiring some parody videos, and even fanfiction, to play up the incest angle even further.
  • A series of Renault Clio ads in the UK featured a pair of French people, a beautiful young woman named Nicole and a handsome old man—the viewer assumes from their ridiculous UST and the old stereotypes about French men that they're lovers, until The Reveal when the woman addresses him as "Papa". This doesn't dispel the sexual tension, though, and they just look like an incestuous pair. When Peter Capaldi was asked about his role in Series 8 of Doctor Who, he reportedly was adamant that his relationship with the companion Clara had no sexual tension or flirting at all, requesting "no Papa-Nicole moments".

    Anime & Manga 
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight, particularly the anime adaptation, writes the brother and sister protagonists, Shugo and Rena, in a way that came across as incestuous to a lot of viewers.
  • 07-Ghost: Teito and Mikage. Mikage tells Teito that he considers him to be as important as his own family (possibly meaning he considers Teito "family") before declaring "I love you, Teito." There's other suspect hints pointing to Ho Yay as well. Such as Mikage's running glomp upon meeting Teito again (complete with sparkles) and sleeping in the same bed together in the first episode.
  • Attack on Titan: During the period of Manga Chapters 92-93 several readers assumed Gabi had a crush on Reiner due to her blushing around him, constantly clinging to him, following him everywhere around, her insistence on holding his hand, and the fact that Falco clearly seemed to be jealous of her behavior towards him. But, chapter 94 revealed that they're cousins.
  • Black Butler: Ciel and Sebastian have so much Ho Yay that it's easy to forget they're only using one another for their personal goals (Ciel using Sebastian for revenge and Sebastian only helping him so he can eat his soul later). There are no real hints that indicate they care about each other as friends, or even fellow individuals, but their constant physical intimacy and dialogue has lead to fans shipping them together more than Ciel and his actual fiancee.
  • Bleach centers almost entirely around the relationship between its protagonist, Ichigo, and the soul reaper who changed his life, Rukia, with whom he fights Like an Old Married Couple. They are described as the most important person in each other's world, and the series's best known arc, the Soul Society arc, is about Ichigo fighting against all odds to rescue her from certain execution. Nevertheless, Ichigo ultimately ends up with his admirer Orihime, who emerges from being primarily a Distressed Damsel and comic relief character to a serious romantic contender in the final arc, while at the same time Rukia, thanks to her new promotion to Lieutenant, becomes too involved in soul reaper matters to hang out with Ichigo's friend group to the degree she used to. With all the emotional weight given to the relationship in the earlier arcs, however, more than a few fans were very surprised and displeased.
  • Word of God reveals that this trope occurred between CLAMP members in the early chapters of Cardcaptor Sakura. The artist thought that Tomoyo had a crush on main character Sakura's older brother Touya, while the story writer actually meant for her to be in love with Sakura herself. When the artist found out her mistake, they quickly retconned the instances of Tomoyo blushing around Touya to be due to Touya (specifically, Touya's ears) reminding her of Sakura. CLAMP had a good laugh about this in a post-series interview.
  • Code Geass:
    • After the series ended, the staff used post-series supplementary materials to answer the Ship-to-Ship Combat between the fans of Kallen and C.C. by saying that Lelouch viewed C.C. as an equal. The problem came when they implied that C.C. essentially used Lelouch for her own emotional satisfaction, which blatantly contradicts her actions throughout the series, especially late in the series and in the final episode, where she's shown crying as he's assassinated, and happily speaking to his spirit in the final scene. The issue seems to be put down to rest with the sequel film, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, where C.C. resurrects Lelouch because she still has some unfinished business and admits to Kallen that it's indeed selfish of her to do it. Lelouch doesn't seem to mind about it and in the end, he chooses to join her in travelling around the world and names himself as L.L. which, according to Word of God, is a Wacky Marriage Proposal and C.C. happily accepts it. But again, the Resurrection film is set in an Alternate Continuity and there are fans who are dubious with its canonicity.
    • Kallen with Gino. A few scenes throughout the show seemed to establish a relatively friendly rivalry between them, plus Gino's backstory from the official novels said that he had a crush on his family's Eleven maid, all seemingly an attempt to set up an eventual relationship. However, they just didn't interact enough to properly develop it, with the overall result looked more like Gino went from viewing Kallen as a Worthy Opponent to having a crush on her, but Kallen herself never visibly reciprocated. Considering that Kallen's focal relationship was supposed to be between Lelouch and herself, then Gino's advances falling short might be intentional.
    • Rolo claims he sees Lelouch as his older brother, but in some scenes, it seems more like he's in love with him. This is to the point where some viewers saw his killing of Shirley as a case of Murder the Hypotenuse when in fact it was because he wanted to murder Lelouch's real sibling Nunnally, and Shirley, who remembered Nunnally's existence and wanted to reunite Lelouch and her, was a threat to that happening.
  • Digimon Adventure 02:
    • An episode had Miyako and Mimi growing really close, and Miyako even has a random Shoujo-styled Imagine Spot of herself and Mimi in Pimped Out Dresses embracing and looking deeply into each other's eyes. The implication was supposed to be that Miyako saw Mimi as a Cool Big Sis, but some fans saw it differently. Not helping is that the scene is animated similarly to the Les Yay-laden Revolutionary Girl Utena.
    • Daisuke also has gotten quite a bit of Ho Yay with Ken, especially as Daisuke becomes the main emotional support system of Ken.
    • This trope plays a rather big part in why the series' Distant Finale (where Yamato and Sora were revealed to be married) was controversial for many fans. Hiroyuki Kakudou states that he always intended for Taichi and Sora to be just friends, and for Sora to fall in love with Yamato as a way of subverting the usual pattern of the main boy and girl ending up with each other. This was also the plan for 02 until Our War Game! complicated this, because writer Mamoru Hosoda was unaware of the intended Official Couple and laid the Sora and Taichi Ship Tease thick in the movie. When Sora began dating Yamato in 02, many people were confused at the sudden change in love interest. Even the voice actors expressed surprise at this. When Digimon Adventure tri. rolled around, this time with a new writing staff, they began implicating once more that Taichi and Sora did have some tension and began marketing their relationship with Yamato as a Love Triangle. In the English dub, the Relationship Upgrade between Sora and Yamato seemed even more random and out-of-nowhere. Apparently, Jeff Nimoy, who was in charge of the English dub, shipped Taichi with Sora, and thus the script changes made the dialogue look like Tai had a longtime crush on Sora while making the friendly conversations between Yamato and Sora rather awkward and even hostile at times.
    • Taichi and Hikari have Incest Subtext that may or may not have been accidental depending on who you ask. Mamoru Hosoda, the director of Hikari's debut episode, did have a very strange interview about the incestuous undertones about their relationship. During a live stream on August 1, 2018, Hiromi Seki, the producer of the show, explicitly mentioned she had warned Hosoda about the episode, saying that the scene where Taichi returns to the Digital World "didn't seem like a parting between siblings, but a different relationship."
  • Eyeshield 21:
    • Mamori and Sena are supposed to be platonic friends, but apart from various references to Mamori's feelings for him being practically maternal, some moments can be misinterpreted as Ship Tease. Apparently they were supposed to be romantic at one time, but they eventually wrote that out and made them Just Friends.
    • Agon's jerkass behavior towards his brother is limited to teasing and noogies while his brother, Unsui, wants nothing more then for Agon to live up to his full potential. In the anime this is flanderized into Agon being almost violently abusive to his brother and Unsui declaring that his sole reason for existence is to serve his brother. So a relationship that was meant to be fairly normal (Agon being a jerkass and Unsui being a bit of a prude), ended up having parallels to an abusive relationship.
  • Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor: This trope is probably the reason why the Kazuki/Soushi pairing is so popular among the fandom.
    • At this point, in the middle of sequel Exodus and after over a decade since the original series, it is questionable whether it was this trope or intentional Ship Tease. Kazuki is still as oblivious as ever and the series has not let up on the undertones. In fact, now they only look pretty darn domestic.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist and its movie, Conqueror of Shamballa, is rife with this:
    • Probably the most unfortunate case is with Ed and Al, who seem a lot more devoted to and obsessed with each other than merely brotherly affection would suggest.
    • The Movie arguably had some of this with Roy and Ed as well; Roy has basically withdrawn from the military and his master plan to become Führer, and it's only seeing Ed return to Amestris that lifts him out of his funk. And then they fight alongside each other, completely ignoring Riza and Winry.
    • There's also the intense fixation that Alfons Heiderich—Al's Alternate Universe counterpart—has with Ed.
    • On the girls side, Winry and Sheska spend a lot of vaguely romantic moments together and Winry isn't Ed's love interest like in the manga.
  • Another Ho Yay example: Game×Rush, big time. It doesn't help that there are almost no major characters besides the two main guys, who spend the first volume in a platonic Belligerent Sexual Tension states and the second volume having Deep Emotional Confrontations and Meaningful Looks and Intimate (not that intimate!) Physical Contact.
  • Gundam:
    • Masashi Ikeda, the director of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, said in an interview that he didn't intend a romantic relationship between main characters Heero Yuy and Relena Peacecraft, considering the political and symbolic relationship between the two to be much more important than a romantic relationship. Yaoi Fangirls love to hold this interview up as "proof" that Heero is gay to support their shipping him with Duo Maxwell. However, they completely ignore a few other things Ikeda said, like the fact that he considered all romance in the series ancillary to the overall plot, that he considers himself horrible at writing male-female relationships, and, most importantly, that just because Heero and Relena didn't become a couple in the series doesn't mean that it'll never happen at all; Ikeda even admitted that he could see easily them getting together once their lives have settled down. This is further aided by the fact that every official sidestory has a strong emphasis on Heero and Relena's romantic attraction to one another, and that most of the cast (including Duo himself) tries to get them to admit their feelings for each other. And then the sequel novel Frozen Teardrop, written by the anime's head writer, follows through on Ikeda's assertion and sees Heero and Relena getting married at the end.
    • Likewise Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, where the writers intended a romance between protagonist Shinn Asuka and teammate Lunamaria Hawke. Unfortunately, Luna only ever acted as a sort of sister figure to Shinn while openly crush on returning character Athrun Zala. In fact, they never hook up until Athrun (and Luna's sister Meyrin) are apparently killed (by Shinn!), the whole thing coming off more like survivor's guilt. And then in post-series interviews, the director called Shinn and Luna's relationship the only "pure" one in the whole show. The directors' claim could come from the films' compilations which expanded the relationship between Shinn and Luna making them the only couple that starts in the series. Meanwhile, most of publications by Sunrise state that Athrun was just Luna's idol and there was not love.
      • Speaking of Athrun, we've got his train wreck of a relationship with Cagalli. Thanks to Aesop Amnesia he rejoins ZAFT and ends up having to fight Kira (again). When he finally pulls his head out of his ass, it looks like Cagalli has forgive him, but by the series end both are giving off very mixed signals. The movie may have been meant to correct this, but at this rate they won't finish it until G.R.R. Martin finishes A Song of Ice and Fire.
    • Gundam0083 has a notorious example of this. The whole series develops a relationship between protagonist Kou Uraki and Wrench Wench Nina Purpleton, and it does this well enough. But then in the penultimate episode, Nina reveals that she's in love with The Rival Anavel Gato completely out of the blue (and does so by shooting Kou, who's trying to prevent a Colony Drop). The only foreshadowing viewers are given is an extremely brief scene in the first episode where Nina seems to recognize Gato, but it could easily be written off as her just having an Oh, Crap! moment. This moment, combined with her early abrasiveness and seemingly valuing machines over people, has made Nina one of Gundam's biggest Scrappies. The manga adaptation handles this much better by having a Flashback that shows how Nina and Gato first met and develops their relationship a bit before the betrayal.
    • And while we're at it, let's talk about Amuro Ray, the original Gundam hero. In Mobile Suit Gundam he has a vague romance with Sayla Mass which is thrown off when he meets his apparent soulmate Lalah Sune (who he then kills accidentally). In the sequel Zeta Gundam, he got a new love interest, Beltorchika Irma. Unfortunately, she became a Clingy Jealous Girl in record time, so much so that fans ignore other characters (including Amuro) calling her on it, or her later Character Development. Then in Char's Counterattack, Amuro got a Disposable Woman, Chein Agi, whose relevance to the plot was basically nil. A good bit of this was Real Life Writes the Plot since Sayla's actress was unable to return for Zeta, and was ultimately only able a small cameo in Gundam ZZ (the series in which Amuro doesn't appear) before the actress died.
    • Yoshiyuki Tomino averted this somewhat in his novelizations, having Amuro and Sayla hook up in the original series novels, but the relationship is screwed up because Sayla is fixated on protecting the family name and begs Amuro to kill her brother right after they finish having sex. He wrote an alternate version of Char's Counterattack proposal where Beltorchika is still around and is in fact pregnant with Amuro's child, but this was not what was animated.
  • Tezuka's Lost World originally had a plant woman and Kenichi as the Official Couple, but Executive Meddling made him have to portray them as Like Brother and Sister. It doesn't work because of how the story invokes the Adam and Eve Plot at the end, and the art and body language still make it obvious they're supposed to be falling in love romantically.
  • Jamie Marchi was accused of this when writing the dub script for Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid. Early in the show, the titular Miss Kobayashi responds to her dragon maid's advances with "I'm a woman, though." The dub took this at face value and changed it to "I'm not into women," fearing that the original was homophobic for taking it as a given that being the same gender should shut down attraction in general. The problem was that, as Yuri Fans who protested the change know, "But we're both girls" or similar statements are a Stock Phrase in the Yuri Genre, at least in the Coming-Out Story part of it, and changing it to literally convey Incompatible Orientation because the script writer honestly believed the way it was worded makes Touru and her continued advances towards Kobayashi out to be disrespectful and selfish at best, predatory at worst.
  • In-Universe in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. Nozaki and Mikoshiba play the Dating Sim Conversations with 12 Girls/Girl Princess, but after getting their happy ending they feel bad for Tomoda, the protagonist's best friend and the game's Mr. Exposition, believing that they took up all his time and kept him from getting his own girlfriend or even enjoying his time in high school. They resolve to write a Doujin to give Tomoda his own Happily Ever After, but after going through the game's cast list they conclude that the person he has the best rapport with is...the main character himself. Which results in their Doujin becoming Boys' Love, to Sakura's confusion when she sees the finished product.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto and Sasuke share an Accidental Kiss in the third episode, have what can be interpreted as UST pre-Time Skip, and Naruto seems to have a "broken heart" thing going on after Sasuke leaves. Their "bromance" gets played up for all it's worth in their final battle, with elaborate declarations of friendship along with emotional confessions and apologies after beating the crap out of each other. It's all very, very easy to interpret as Belligerent Sexual Tension or perhaps a fight and reconciliation between two former lovers.
    • Although Sasuke and Itachi are brothers some fans find them to be closer siblings than the norm given their No Sense of Personal Space around each other, their confessions of brotherly love to one another, Itachi's Headbutt of Love to Sasuke, the Konoha School AU omake where Sakura calls Itachi and Sasuke's relationship "naughty", Sasuke's obsession towards Itachi including his insistence that Itachi is perfect and his Sanity Slippage when Itachi dies. He becomes sane again when Itachi is brought back from the dead briefly, and acts almost jealous when Itachi pays more attention to capturing Naruto than fighting him in Part I. Also, Itachi is revealed to have killed the entire Uchiha clan and his lover for Konoha and kept his brother alive.
    • Many fans assumed Shikamaru and Ino, and to a lesser extent Chouji and Ino, were supposed to have something going on. It doesn't help that Ino is a headstrong woman just like Shikamaru's mother and Shikamaru's eventual spouse Temari. The Distant Finale makes it clear that their friendship was never meant to be romantic. It is simply custom in their families for their clans to be good friends.
    • And finally, this was deliberately invoked and exploited with Naruto/Sakura, mostly in the anime adaptation where they were implied to have a closer relationship than what was actually shown in the manga. Kishimoto has stated in several post-series interviews that the two of them being close as teammates throughout the series was a deliberate mislead, especially since Sakura was never intended to be Naruto's main love interest to begin with, while Hinata, the girl Naruto truly fell in love with and got Happily Married to in the end, always was, and Naruto/Hinata had been planned since the early stages of the manga.
    • Some fans of Boruto see Hanabi's fawning over her nephew Boruto as being too close to flirting.
    • There is a moment when Naruto meets his mother for the first time and fawns over her being attractive. It's supposed to be cute familial praising, but his wording is awkward. The English dub fixes this by making Naruto sound more platonic.
  • While Neon Genesis Evangelion is used in the quote above, that sort of thing was very much intended to add to the weirdness of the show and the psychological problems of the cast. Misato wants to be a Cool Big Sis or Parental Substitute to Shinji, but she doesn't know how to be that way towards him, so she gives mixed messages.
  • Even though One Piece is a strictly No Hugging, No Kissing series as stated by the creator, Eiichiro Oda, himself, fans (especially certain ones) were quick to notice a few... interesting facts. Luffy, a Chaste Hero by default, nosebleeds after having seen a naked Nami, but he is not affected at all by witnessing the much more buxom Boa Hancock in that same state of undress (who is also nothing short of head over heels in love with him!). Oda's explanation for this? Something along the lines of "Luffy only acts this way around Usopp, who is a bad influence". That is not a very convincing reasoning.
  • PandoraHearts: According to the author, Oz and Alice aren't supposed to be a romantic couple, claiming their relationship is "on another level" and therefore they can't fall in love with each other. It's rather difficult to see that earlier in the manga, especially when one of their first interactions has them kissing to form a contract. There are also Oz's utter devotion and (temporary) Yandere tendencies towards Alice, Alice's Tsundere antics and the way she keeps fighting with Oz's servant Gilbert over Oz's attention.
  • Did Penguindrum fumble in revealing that Himari and Shouma are soulmates? Or was the entire show a precisely choreographed web of relationship fumbles? Depends on how you interpret it, much like the whole series.
  • Pokémon:
    • Word of God by Takeshi Shudō, the head writer for the first season, is that Ash and Misty were not supposed to be a couple. Their relationship does often come off as romantic though, be it unrequited Ash's side or not. They have a Belligerent Sexual Tension type friendship throughout the Original Series and Misty has shown jealousy towards girls' behavior around Ash (especially in the second movie). This was not at all helped by American dub writers leaning into the pairing, with a music CD released in America after the show started picking up popularity featuring a song sung from Misty's perspective that flat-out says she loves Ash, but Cannot Spit It Outnote . The American-produced Pokémon Live! musical also featured a romance between them.
    • In later seasons, Zoey and Dawn had a noticeable fumble early on as Zoey constantly appears to be flirting with Dawn (especially in the Japanese version). Dawn's reactions don't help (blushing in response in one instance), and neither does the "Prince and Princess" motif of their Contest clothing. Numerous fans thought that they were intentionally writing in a lesbian pairing, or at least a heavy Hide Your Lesbians (or Romantic Two-Girl Friendship case), as their dynamic is very similar to their predecessors May and Drew (who have did have Ship Tease). Later episodes toned it down into Zoey being Dawn's mentor.
    • Possibly Ash and both his companions in Best Wishes, Iris and Cilan. The former, mostly from their rivalry and from their Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure episode coming off like two lovers with broken hearts, and another episode involving them going on a day out on the town without Cilan, doing things together that don't involve Pokemon. Cilan and Ash's Pokemon pushing Ash to get back with her makes them all seem like they ship it. Ash and Cilan get this with Cilan's very campy nature and Hero Worship of Ash, which often comes off as obsessive or romantic. The three were actually a popular OT3.
    • There's a reason why non-shippers often joke that Pikachu is the only person Ash could ever love. Their friendship is incredibly strong and the focal point of a lot of the series. It doesn't help that more than a few Pokemon canonically like Ash.
    • Jessie's and James' relationship definitely counts note . They're very, very good friends (even if they don't always get along), with multiple episodes themed abut their relationship. James' childhood crush and fiancee is an Identical Stranger to Jessie, they fit the Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy cliche, and they're also very touchy with each other. Despite this, in the twenty years the anime has been running there hasn't been any undeniable Ship Tease for them. The closest scene was Jessie blushing when James was on top of her in "Training Daze" (and that happened early in their friendship, so you can argue she lost any attraction over time).
  • Ranma ½: The fandom believed Ryoga and Ukyo were shaping up to become an Official Couple, due to all the Ship Tease; particularly in the animenote , due to scenes like these. Rumiko tried to sink the pairing with the "Tunnel of Lost Love" story, then officially paired Ryoga with Akari, while Ukyo was given Konatsu as another would-be suitor (in addition to Tsubasa). You can guess how well that didn't work. The problem?
    • Akari was introduced in the last 4 volumes and had almost no development or personality traits beyond her obsession with pigs. So she was widely seen as a shallow johnny-come-lately, whose only purpose was to instantly fall in love with Ryoga simply because he defeated her pet sumo pig Katsunishki, and because Ryoga's cursed form was a black piglet. Thus, seeming like a consolation prize for him.
    • Konatsu had it worse, since his feelings toward Ukyo remained one-sided because her heart was set firmly on Ranma. Aside from that, Konatsu's presence in the series amounted to a single story of his own and a one-panel cameo in the final story, so fans didn't see the point.
  • In Reborn! (2004), there seems to be a lot more Unresolved Sexual Tension revolving around Tsuna with any other character besides his two canon love interests. Kyoko, a character Tsuna heavily reminds the reader from the very first chapter that he is in love with, is someone he rarely ever speaks to, and it has been revealed that the main reason he even likes her is because she was the first girl in a year to have spoken to him, yet he is willing to lay down his life for her even when they barely knew each other.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the Cloverway English dub of the original anime, the translators tried to hide lesbian couple Haruka and Michiru by making them cousins. Unfortunately, they didn't remove any of the obvious subtext between the two, which was clear enough to be picked up on even by children who barely had a concept of homosexuality to begin with. So all they effectively did was to turn a lesbian couple into a furtively incestuous lesbian couple.
    • In a late act of the original manga, Venus and Mars have a discussion about how they can't seem to hold down normal romantic relationships. After the foe of the day is vanquished, they realize that with their duties to the princess, they will never truly have the freedom to be devoted to someone romantically. Mars makes the comment "We don't need men. We have each other."
  • Seraph of the End:
    • It's hard to see Mika and Yuu as just childhood friends/family the way they claim to be when you see the extent they're willing to go to for each other and their No Sense of Personal Space and other moments with each other. In fact you'd be more inclined to believe Shinoa's statement of Mika being Yuu's girlfriend or Ferid commenting that Yuu is the "precious princess" that Mika wants to save. Even better, Mika doesn't deny it when Ferid claims that he is into Yuu.
    • Krul and Mika's relationship started with a forced kiss from her to make him a vampire, and there are quite some moments of No Sense of Personal Space from both of them, though they are mostly related to drinking blood, which make some fans ship them. However, later chapters/episodes downplay their undertones and depict their relationship more of the motherly kind, and Krul explicitly calls Mika her "son" at one point. From then on, most fans see their relationship as parental instead, which is in all honesty a lot better than shipping them given that Krul is a Really 700 Years Old experienced woman despite her young appearance, not to mention that when she first met Mika, he was twelve.
  • One Sket Dance chapter, called "Siblings" focuses on the sibling relationship between Bossun's adoptive sister, Rumi, and his estranged biological brother, Tsubaki, but the way the chapter is set up, it looks more like an Unresolved Sexual Tension. It begins with Rumi overhearing Tsubaki telling Bossun that he does not consider Rumi as his little sister, leaving her in a bad mood. In an attempt to get them "bond", Bossun had them watch a movie together, after which they proceeded to follow a typical dating sequence. It ends with them clearing up their misunderstandings, and they got along much better (to which Bossun remarked that "their relationship improved too quickly").
  • Soul Eater: Word of God says in an interview in the "How to make a deathscythe" guidebook that he doesn't plan to take any of the main characters' male-female relationships beyond "normal" trusting relationships. Never mind that the way they're written, many fans are convinced that Maka and Soul (for example) are already well beyond that point. A girl hugging a boy is a little tease-y, but overall innocuous. A girl hugging a boy while both are naked? It's purely platonic, of course. Strictly between friends. Nothing romantic whatsoever.There is also an arc involving the characters getting genderbent into the opposite sex. The basis for their appearances is their subconscious image of the ideal romantic/sexual partner. Soul looks an awful lot like Maka during this period, and is lampshaded as such. Black*Star and Tsubaki also look a lot like each other. Way to stick to it, Okubo.
  • Season 1 of Sound! Euphonium pushes the envelope of Romantic Two Girl Friendships. Kumiko and Reina have a high amount of tension while Kumiko all-but-ignores the closest thing she has to a (male) love interest Shuichi. It seems like this might end in something, but season 2 emphasises Reina's unrequited crush on her music teacher while refocusing Kumiko's attention on Asuka. It ends in Kumiko delivering platonic confessions to her older sister Mamiko and her graduating upperclassman Asuka, the latter which occus when Kumiko and Shuichi have a Relationship Upgrade in the original book. Kumiko and Reina's relationship stays ambiguous.
  • Tokyo Ghoul: Arima and Sasaki/Kaneki confess they love each other in a familial sense. The amount of detail their relationship gets, and how Arima makes it quite clear that he "owns" Sasaki in addition to Kaneki calling Arima beautiful when they first met makes it hard to see their relationship as just familial.
  • In Transformers Armada, the relationship between Starscream and Alexis was interpreted as an Interspecies Romance by many, and was a major factor in this version of Starscream becoming one of the franchise's premiere Dracos in Leather Pants. For reference, Starscream is a millennia-old, building-sized robot from outer space, and Alexis is a 12-year-old human girl.
  • Wandering Son:
    • Momoko acts like a Clingy Jealous Girl and Satellite Love Interest to her best friend, Chizuru, but she doesn't get much character development apart from this ambiguously gay behavior. Nothing comes of it, however, and in later chapters it is implied that she likes Oka, of all people.
    • Saori and Takatsuki suffer heavily from this. They become friends over the first several dozen chapters but due to a love triangle their friendship bitterly breaks. All this does is create a lot of Foe Yay between them. Later, when their friendship starts mending, Saori tells Takatsuki to grow out his hair because it would look nice on him, they seem to know each other's favorite drinks, and when Saori dresses up the usually masculine Takatsuki for a school event, she begins to fawn in a similar way she does to effeminate males. Later on, Saori begins dating Fumiya but that does nothing to deter their close friendship. Most of their high school appearances involve Takatsuki and Saori being together and they're even mistaken for boyfriend and girlfriend. It doesn't help that Saori and her boyfriend suffered Shipping Bed Death and she goes to a romance-related get together without him, making their relationship seem very dubious. Despite this, nothing ever happens and Takatsuki realizes he loves Nitori despite the two barely interacting anymore.
  • When Marnie Was There is pretty infamous for this. It's a film about two girls who become very close. There's a lot of hugging, holding hands, cute dancing, rowboating, and emotion flowing around the two—and it doesn't help that Studio Ghibli is quite well-known for writing romance. Everything points towards a cute, bittersweet Puppy Love scenario among two girls but it isn't even meant to be a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Marnie was Dead All Along and is Anna's grandmother. Anna and Marnie's bond fails to seem familial to a large number of viewers.
  • WORKING!!:
    • Takanashi and Poplar, Poplar is completely Takanashi's kind of girl and he shows a great deal of caring for her, and Poplar likewise seems to like him as well, though to be fair Poplar likes everyone, but she still seems to hold him dear a little more. This is even more noticeable when compared with Takanashi's Official Couple Inami, which feels like an abusive relationship in which he gets Strangled by the Red String to justify just why he's with a girl that is everything he doesn't like and punches him all the time.
    • This also goes for Inami, whose Romantic False Lead Kirio loves her lots and seems like the perfect match for her as he's the only guy able to block her punches, and in fact his love comes from her trying to punch him. She doesn't seem to dislike him either, but they don't get anything going on just because.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Joey and Mai are just "friends." Right. note  Probably because of this exact dynamic and being (relatively) popular characters, they earned the title "the only het pairing anyone likes" despite the large amount of Ho Yay in the series and the fact that Joey will be paired with any other male in the franchise you can think of.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's has Yusei and Akiza, who are meant to be Implied Love Interests, but though Akiza's clearly attracted to Yusei, his status as The Stoic and Akiza being Demoted to Extra means that it's rarely reciprocated and his relationship usually comes across as arms-length. By comparison, he's extremely close to Jack and Kalin, and his interactions with them drip with Ho Yay, not helped by their shared history of running around in tight vests calling themselves "Team Satisfaction." And just when the series started playing up Yusei and Akiza, along came Bruno, who is, if anything, even more openly close with Yusei — Akiza is even visibly jealous of Bruno at one point when she sees them bonding. The whole thing comes across less as the apparently-intended Ship Tease and Heterosexual Life-Partners, and more as Yusei hopping from one gay relationship to the next and unsure of how to let Akiza down gently.
  • Hiei and Kurama from YuYu Hakusho. Their relationship is depicted as close. Inevitably, of course, people take it farther than that. The evidence for them liking girls (or at least not liking one another) are put out there. The author said he never intended them to be a couple, but when fans asked him about it, he speculated that maybe he should have made them one. In the end, he said it's up to fans to decide. Toward the end, Hiei and Kurama say their goodbyes, with Hiei telling Kurama how much he means to him as a friend. Kurama jokingly responds that he's "not interested in [Hiei] that way" before they part. Hiei goes to live with Mukuro in Demon World, even giving her his tear stone.

    Comic Books 
  • The fan community of the Marvel Universe has long had rumblings of accusations that twins Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were more than a little too close to be "just" siblings. This becomes canon in The Ultimates.
  • Iron Man and Captain America have a tendency to go on about each others' eyes, risk life and limb for each other, do "buddy breathing", and that's not even touching on the time Cap rescued Tony from a burning building and the cover made it look like a romance novel, or Tony's speech to Steve's dead body in Civil War: Confessions. In an Alternate Continuity, Captain America married a female version of Tony Stark. Not only that, but Civil War never happened because they were together, and the world was actually a better place with their combined awesome.
  • X-Men characters Juggernaut and Black Tom practically lived in Ho Yay territory. Their concern for each other was unusual for villains and went beyond concern for a friend. Cain was so frantic when Tom's powers went haywire that he went to the X-Men for help, and Wolverine even called him out for caring more about his "boyfriend" than his own stepbrother. When he slept with She-Hulk (later Retconned into an alternate Jennifer), the way he said "Sometimes women are just plain better" sounded like he actually tried both.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Carl Barks was apparently stunned by the implications the censors found in Back to the Klondike, wondering how he could have missed it all. In the original, Scrooge kidnapped Goldie and made her work in his gold claim for a month to pay off a debt. As the censors rightfully questioned, what did they do at night? Watch television?
  • Batman and Robin have literally decades of this trope behind them. Jokes about Robin's short-shorts aside, for most of the time the two are the most important people in each others' lives.
    • A non-romantic examples can also occur. It has become sort of a Running Gag among Batman fandom that the louder a writer insists Bruce and Duke Thomas are on enteirly professional terms with one another and do not have a father-son type relationship, the more likely that creator is to write Bruce acting like a surrogate father to Duke.
  • Batman and Superman aren't as prolific, but they have their fair share of Fumbling. There is an Elseworlds set in medieval-ish Japan where "Superman" made out with a female "Batman".
  • Lenore and Ragamuffin from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl. Ragamuffin is portrayed as a monster at first, a vampire who massacres and eats people alive. He also wants to kill Lenore in the very first episode in which he appears, even though he doesn't succeed because he's trapped in a rag doll. In the later volumes, he cares for her so much that he becomes overprotective and focused only on defending her when she gets in reckless situations. Even when he returns to his old vampire self, he remains by her side and puts himself in danger for her.
  • Marv Wolfman sunk the Cyborg/Sarah Simms relationship in Teen Titans; Wolfman eventually hooked Cyborg up with black scientist Sarah Charles instead (at least for a while).
  • Paperinik New Adventures: Donald is supposed to be in a relationship with Daisy, as always. However, Xadhoom is a tsundere for him and most of their dialogue come off as flirting (she is the biggest offender, but he does return it and never seems to mind) and she straight up kisses him on one occasion. His only complaint is her high body temperature.
  • Spider-Man and Black Cat had a fling in the 80s up until Peter realized that she wasn't interested in having a normal relationship. Sounds simple enough, but even after getting Happily Married to Mary Jane, Peter still had baggage over the fact that Felicia liked Spider-Man more than him, leaving the implication that he wasn't as over her as he kept implying. Kevin Smith even cast a lampshade over it in his Black Cat mini-series.
  • Venom, or more specifically, Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote. While at face value nothing about them seems like anything hints at romance, especially with other adaptations where the symbiote is usually portrayed as a feral parasite, these two have a lot of moments where one could assume that their bond is romantic, to start, the symbiote had a long history of wanting to be with Spider-man and Eddie's first encounter with the symbiote was on a church of all places, they eventually start developing a very close bond to the point one could even die for the other and don't like to be apart, and on top of that, Eddie is usually bare naked under the symbiote. Its unknow if Venom's creator Davi Michelinie intended it to be romantic, but in Venom's second arc, there's a psychologist that describes the symbiote's feelings for Peter as similar to romantic and Peter tries to convince it into leaving Eddie by undressing himself. And this doesn't stop, by now, plenty of other writers not only have hinted it as being romantic but state it, having Eddie describe his bond with the symbiote as something beyond marriage or the symbiote describing their first bonding in the church to be similar marriage. Even writers who want to write their bond as toxic still keep the romantic overtones in some way or form.
  • A-Force managed to do this twice. During the Secret Wars (2015) miniseries, Lady Loki and America Chavez's relationship came off as way too friendly to pass for a mother-daughter relationship, and in the ANAD continuity, Singularity is supposed to come off as a little-sister figure to Nico, but was so chummy that one letter asked if they were going to become an official couple.
  • Archie Comics: Betty and Jughead have never been depicted as a couple or implied to have feelings towards each other, with most fans even interpreting Jughead as being gay or asexual. However, it's very easy for readers to pin them as a Beta Couple to Archie/Veronica, and they've been shown to be close friends in many issues and different series. For example, Life with Archie: The Married Life has Betty state that the person she missed most in Riverdale was Jughead. As Ascended Fanon, the live-action adaptation Riverdale pairs them up.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm had this between Carol and Harry, who were intended to be friends and Platonic Life-Partners. Despite that, there was some quite obvious chemistry between the two from the start and Word of God — after about forty chapters of vagueness — wound up grudgingly admitting that the ship name was cute, before apparently throwing up his arms, declaring that I Just Write the Thing, and deciding to go with it. He's also added that by the sequel, both are more than Just Friends, with literally everyone being able to see it and their protestations that they. Are. Not. Flirting being treated as a Running Gag. On a more serious note, both have tacitly admitted to being in love with each other, but with both of their issues (which are many, and varied), the two of them decided to keep things as they are for the time being, making it an Anchored Ship. For now. As of chapter 46 of the sequel, they've had a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Deserving manages to do this with two toddlers.
  • Hogwarts Exposed:
    • Caitlin and Emily are basically sisters through adoption. They are constantly enjoying each other's company, sleeping in the same bed, and engaging in oral sex with each other. Word of God is that the oral sex is meant to be seen as a sign of the strength of their bond as sisters. A sporker of the series honestly couldn't tell if it was a joke or not when the girls declared themselves to be dating.
    • The Card-Carrying Villain school bully Dick Bancroft's interest in Jamie (who we're told he hates, and even tried to kill once) can easily be interpreted as romantic infatuation. Again, this hasn't been lost on sporkers.
  • Princess Trixie Sparkle: Luna and Shadow are supposed to be Like Brother and Sister, but many fans see them as a Childhood Friend Romance instead. It doesn't help that Shadow's Friendship Song ballad, "My Dear Luna", parodies a love song.

    Films - Animation 
  • Some fans assumed that BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn was setting up Berix and Kiina as a "Tiny Guy, Huge Girl" couple — they hate each other at first, continuously bicker, spend some time together after getting captured, make each other laugh, and after the final fight, Kiina's so glad that Berix is okay that she almost crushes him with her hug. But the writer of the books and comics (who only worked on the movie as a consultant) said no. Kiina was just worried about Berix's wellbeing because she's one of the good guys, but other than that, can't stand him. And they also belong to different species—not that that kept Kiina from falling for Mata Nui, who was technically an artificial being, in the sequel novel.
  • Bolt has the titular character and Mittens. Between some of their conversations, the way they are written together versus with other characters, and their body language around one another, it draws a fine line between a close sibling-like relationship and Interspecies Romance.
  • Periwinkle and Tinkerbell from Disney Fairies are drawn to each other and instantly connect after meeting. They're compared to a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers and their film revolves around them trying to be together despite the dangers and barriers... They're also long-lost twin sisters.
  • Finding Nemo: Word of God is that Dory was supposed to be a child substitute for Marlin, but her emotional speech to Marlin, "When I look at you... I'm home" and her seeing Nemo off to school by Marlin's side in the ending scene almost as if she had become the new "mom" to Marlin's "dad" role made many fans think that she was meant to be Marlin's Implied Love Interest playing up the "quirky woman, serious man" trope. It's hard to find fanworks (especially Moe Personification art) that depicts them as platonic. Finding Dory makes it a bit clearer that they're platonic; however, some still mistake Dory being Marlin's "family" to meaning that she is his mate.
  • In Frozen Anna is interested in both Hans and Kristoff, with varied conclusions, but both fall into Strangled by the Red String in different ways (although in Hans's case this was intentional) and Anna ultimately has way more romantic subtext with her sister Elsa than either of them. The coronation scene where Anna tries to compliment Elsa comes off more as flirty than sisterly, as does her reaction to Elsa's new appearance when they reunite. It doesn't hurt that the Act of True Love that saves the day is between the two of them. In context, it's sisterly love between Anna and Elsa, but since Disney has spent almost a century showing True Love as romance and only romance, since Elsa's narrative arc of finding her identity and learning to accept herself has such a heavy Rainbow Lens that 'Let It Go' became an instant LGBT anthem, and since her sister is both the only female character she spends much time interacting with and the person she has the closest and most important relationship with, it can come across as quite a mixed message for some. At the very least, the massive amount of fan-works featuring the pairing suggests that there was enough unintentional romantic chemistry there to spark a lot of imaginations.
  • The Golden Films movie Miracle in Toyland contains some heavy subtext between the protagonist and his cousin. Gabriella is treated more like you'd expect an Implied Love Interest childhood friend to be in cartoons. Jessie and Gabriella are both very touchy around each other as well.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls did establish a canon love interest for Twilight Sparkle in Flash Sentry. The sequel however has Flash Demoted to Extra and, apart from a couple of Ship Tease moments, Twilight shares far more scenes with Sunset Shimmer. The film climaxes with the two of them sharing a duet in the final music number—and they're shown writing to each other at the end. This is already after the colossal ton of Foe Yay between them in the first film. If that wasn't enough, in the final post-Rainbow Rocks short 'Friendship Through the Ages', Twilight plays a piano with Sunset sitting on it. The latter then extends her hand to dance, but instead, Twilight gently strokes Sunset's arm. There's also classical music playing in the back, which gives this a romantic undertone. In a deleted scene of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, Sunset is pouring out her emotions to Twilight about keeping the magic under control when she hasn't done so with the other five and is in despair. What does Twilight do? She places her hands on Sunset's while smiling at her and telling her she is free to come to Equestria whenever she feels like it. And, in the actual movie, Sunset is constantly thinking about Twilight, as if one's partner wasn't responding to calls.
    • The Human Twilight and Sunset aren't free from this either. Among other things, in the climax Daydream Shimmer manages to snap Midnight Sparkle out of her evil stage by talking her down and taking her hand.. A much sharper contrast to stop foes then what we've seen before. And in the Forgotten Friendship special, just as Sunset has her memories of all her friends erased she looks longingly at Twilight and says "don't forget me".
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) has the Mane Six making friends with various other creatures throughout the journey. But none are slashier than Pinkie Pie and Princess Skystar. They're clearly intended to be Birds of a Feather in a platonic way but their song together "One Small Thing" evolves into the two of them dancing together. Skystar also has a solo where she sings softly to Pinkie, while clutching her finds. Had one of the characters been male, it would easily be interpreted as a love song.
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure While they were siblings in the original book series, which started in 1918, the 1941 cartoon retconned them into lovers for the first time. Every subsequent adaptation tends to be ambiguous about it; the 1977 feature film has their duet, 'Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers', comes off as heavily romantic, with Andy stroking her hand, hugging her from behind, and a weird segment where he's hidden under her apron(!).
  • A lot of Toy Story fans mistook Woody and Jessie for having Ship Tease in the second film. They're so similar, they have an ambiguous relationship, and they develop a close friendship over the course of the film. They also belong to the same toy line, implying they're Love Interests in the in-universe franchise. Ken and Barbie, when they first meet, are shown to be immediately drawn to each other in an almost "instinctual" way because of being Love Interests in their franchise, so some fans assumed Woody and Jessie would be the same, but Toy Story 3 utterly killed the concept by having Jessie return Buzz's affections.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The "I liked you better as a sister than a mom"-scene was a very late insertion in the film that replaced the bed-time story-scene, since test-audiences kept confusing Nani for Lilo's mother rather than her sister.

    Films - Live-Action 
  • The Mad Hatter and Alice are a bit on the edge in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). It's some weird crossbreed between platonic affection for a savior and romantic affection for someone Hatter is confusedly attracted to. Actually, it was a full-blown romance in the original draft of the screenplay.
  • In the 2017 film version of Before I Fall, lead character Samantha Kingston's love interest is supposed to be her awkward admirer Kent McFuller. However, she has a lot more chemistry with her best friend and the local Alpha Bitch, Lindsay Edgecome, who sniffs her hair, calls her "bae," and even kisses her deeply enough to leave a lipstick marking, which Sam seems to enjoy. On the final cycle of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, Sam's confrontation with Lindsay is also far more emotional than the one with Kent.
  • Carrie:
    • The Brian De Palma version has Tommy kiss Carrie out of nowhere at the prom. In the book it's made clear that Tommy only saw Carrie as a friend and was taking her to the prom as a favor to Sue. The film doesn't really explain why he's kissing Carrie — since he's basically cheating on Sue. This is probably why both remakes go out of their way to say that Tommy only sees Carrie as a friend.
    • Also in the DePalma version, there's an awful lot of Les Yay between Carrie and Coach Collins, the only teacher who likes her. Collins' actress Betty Buckley stated she intended to portray her as a lesbian, but never specified whether she was supposed to be attracted to Carrie.
    • Carrie (2002) really amps up the amount of scenes between Carrie and Sue, to the point that it almost seems like Sue is interested in her. And Sue also makes a throwaway joke about her and Carrie having a lesbian affair.
  • The Devil Wears Prada: Unlike their book counterparts, the interactions between the film versions of Andy and Miranda come off to many as Belligerent Sexual Tension, and a May–December Romance later on, rather than the overbearing boss-employee relationship it is supposed to be. This is especially apparent after Andy's make-over, where Miranda checks her from head to toe and proceeds to stare at her as she walks away. Meanwhile, Andy goes from complaining about Miranda behind her back to repeatedly gushing about her to people and breaks things off with Christian immediately after finding out the plan to replace Miranda. The scene where Andy finds Miranda after Miranda learns of her impending divorce is often singled out by fans as seeming to come out of a romance movie. This gets lampshaded by both Emily, "Why didn't you just climb into bed with her", and Andy's actual love interest Nate, "The person whose calls you always take. That's the relationship you're in". It doesn't help Nate is outright considered The Scrappy by many fans of the film for being so unsupportive of Andy's career.
  • Ender's Game: There is a ridiculous amount of apparent romantic subtext between Ender and his sister Valentine, to the point that she's appearing in his mind games as the princess that he has to rescue from a castle, and she's the one that Graff turns to in order to convince Ender to return to the Battle School after he suffers a Heroic BSoD. It's so prominent that the movie's attempts to hint at a romance between Ender and classmate Petra barely even register.
  • The infamous Fantastic Four (2015) barely took the time to set up Reed and Sue as the iconic couple from the comics. Instead, they dwelled on how Ben Grimm, friends with Reed since childhood, helped him reach the scholarship he'd always dreamed of, how Ben (and not Reed's parents) helped Reed move into the Baxter Foundation, how Reed could not consider deploying the teleporter without Ben there, the list goes on. The emotional peak of the movie is when Reed abandons Ben (specifically Ben) in a government facility to save himself from being experimented on... and Ben's reaction is not that unlike a scorned lover. Deleted drafts of the script had Ben consider enlisting in the army once he realizes Reed is moving on with his life and forgetting him. Uh...
  • Freaks: Hans and Frieda — a romantic couple — are played by brother and sister Harry and Daisy Earles. To prevent things from getting too freaky, their romance is very very much downplayed. There isn't even a kiss between them. We've got the Beta Couple for that.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
    • Yeah, Storm Shadow, you're killing the Baroness' husband on "Destro's orders." Sure... Doesn't help that they come off of as more of a Battle Couple than Scarlett and Snake-Eyes, the ORIGINAL pair of leading lady and badass ninja. The novelization seems to add considerable mutual witty banter and, yes, flirtation.
    • The Novelization also offers Ho Yay for Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, who seem to be matching Official Couple (sort-of) Duke and Ana/The Baroness flashback for flashback, meaningful look for meaningful look. (Bizarrely carries over to the Ninja Showdown kid's book.) Oddly out-of-place due to the gist of their past relationship being "We really, really don't like each other."
  • Gone with the Wind amps up Scarlet and Melanie's Romantic Two-Girl Friendship. Since Ashley is off at war for most of Part 1, Melanie shares far more scenes with Scarlet. It's made quite clear that Melanie is utterly devoted to her. Even her husband won't get away with making Scarlet cry. Scarlet likewise shows far more distress over Melanie's death at the end than Rhett breaking it off with her.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry and Hermione. Likely due to the fact that Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson had more natural chemistry, the amount of Harry/Hermione subtext in the movies is astounding. There are added scenes in almost every movie that (if it were any other series) would suggest they were the Official Couple. There is a large group of fans who did not read the books and just watched the movies who were certain that Harry and Hermione were going to end up together. Which is not to say that there are no Harry/Hermione shippers among the fans of the books, see the Literature section for more info. The films' head writer Steve Kloves, while reading the books, thought Harry and Hermione would end up together and told J.K. Rowling he was surprised when they didn't; this has often been twisted by fan word-of-mouth into Kloves being a rabid shipper of the pairing and actively trying to undermine the canonical couples.
    • In every film in which Luna appears, there's at least one scene between her and Harry that can be taken as Ship Tease, only one of which (him bringing her as his date to Slughorn's party) was in the books. Combine this with the fact that Harry and Ginny's courtship was seriously abbreviated from the books, and one gets the distinct impression the writers were only grudgingly admitting Ginny was the intended love interest. Interestingly, Luna was sorta-kinda paired up with Neville in the finale, which also wasn't in the books. In the books, neither of them end up with anyone but Word of God says they both marry other people (Luna marries someone who wasn't even in the books), prompting Neville's actor to say in an interview that their relationship was basically a summer fling.
  • High School Musical:
    • Ryan and Sharpay Evans; maybe the writers should have thought first before creating a pair of twins who are always hanging on and around each other, make a habit of playing romantic partners in theater, and are even implicitly marketed in the franchise's posters and imagery as being a main couple. We're even told that "if Sharpay could play both Romeo and Juliet her brother would be out of a job". The Disney Channel series Shake it Up deliberately invokes this trope in Gunther and Tinka — Word of God even states that this was done to poke fun at the relationship of Ryan and Sharpay as well as Gunther and Tinka's Expy status of those characters. There's an incredibly good reason why this song was cut from the first movie. Go to 1:12 and tell us those characters are supposed to be brother and sister, especially a brother and sister who don't particularly have any strong emotional bond to justify it a little.
    • Ryan and Chad introduce a Ho Yay Relationship Fumble in the second movie. Ryan's actor wanted him to be explicitly gay and into Chad, but Disney wouldn't allow that at the time. Thus, the two were played up in a romantic fashion, which was gone by 3.
  • The Hunger Games omits almost all of Katniss' internal monologue. As a result, the fact that she's faking a romantic attraction to Peeta during this installment of the movie series for the benefit of the crowd and her own survival doesn't come through fully. By the end of the movie, it looks like a genuine romance between the two instead of the initially tragic one-sided relationship of the books. The love story is made to seem like it's between Katniss and Gale, with Peeta and her public fake-romance with him being an obstacle to overcome while in the books, it's actually a love story between Katniss and Peeta, with Gale only in the mix for a triangle that never really kicks off and lasts only through the first half of the second book. And, most of all, for making the love story seem front and center when it's a side plot in the books. For the second film, the filmmakers chose to add relationship bits between Katniss and one guy and remove a lot of relationship bits between her and the other guy — presumably in order to milk more out of the love triangle concept and even things out between the boys. Consequently, many people who have only seen the films and not read the books, including several film critics, believe that Gale is Katniss' boyfriend when in actuality he's her male friend who feels unrequited love for her. To the point where there's a lot of criticism against both Katniss and Peeta over Katniss "cheating on" Gale.
  • Shura and Vincento in Hussar Ballad. It's supposed to be a clear-cut example of Defeat Means Friendship, but looks less platonic than that. When they first appear (after she takes him prisoner), they smile happily at each other and look (especially Shura) quite giddy, as if they have just been in bed rather than in battle. Vincento’s compliments to Shura sound like flirting (the official English subtitles aren’t helping: “That’s the first time I meet an enemy like this” is translated as “I’ve never met the likes of you”). Then, when they meet at the French camp (she on a spy mission, he after his escape), they share a long Held Gaze before Vincento decides to commit treason for her sake, the very thing he said he’ll never do. Additionally, Shura’s treatment by her official Love Interest looks more like abuse than Belligerent Sexual Tension to many modern viewers, while Vincento is nothing but affectionate towards her. The creators, it seems, were aware of the problem, because in the original play, Vincento tenderly kisses Shura several times to convince the French she is his brother, which got removed from the film.
  • In The Kissing Booth 2 Chloe and Noah are intentionally hinted to have romantic interest in each other, only for it to be revealed they're really just friends. Trouble is, some viewers think they carried off the "bait" part of the Bait-and-Switch a little too well, as Noah and Chloe come off as rather flirty and touchy-feely for platonic friends (especially compared to Lee and Elle).
  • In The Magnificent Seven (2016), Sam Chisolm and Emma Cullen have significantly more screentime and frankly more chemistry in their scenes then she does with Faraday.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Throughout the MCU's Captain America trilogy of films, Captain America and his childhood friend Bucky Barnes are so intensely devoted to each other that they're willing to throw everything away including their own lives and reputations just to protect each other, while Cap's relationship with his official love interest, Sharon Carter, is so conspicuously underdeveloped in comparison, that a lot of people are convinced Bucky is Captain America's real love interest. Even the films' writers fumbled mid-sentence, describing their relationship as a "love story" before quickly calling them brothers. It got to the point that in 2016 a popular hashtag called #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend was launched, in part due to how differently their relationship came off to viewers than the writers expected.
    • The Avengers with Clint and Natasha. Natasha is unendingly loyal to Clint and wants to save him from Loki so much she at one point offers to free him in exchange for freeing Clint, while he seems to know more about her than anyone else. There wasn't anything explicitly romantic about them, but they're depicted as so close that fans assumed they were each other's Implied Love Interest, resulting in them becoming the most popular Het couple in the fandom. Oddly, it's partly because Natasha never flirts with him that they seemed like they could be romantic. Until in Avengers: Age of Ultron when you find out they're Like Brother and Sister, especially when Clint's wife is introduced, which resulted in a very annoyed fandom.
  • There were a lot of things wrong with Maximum Ride, but main character Max's love interest Fang suffered a total lack of personality or interesting features, and most of his conversations with Max involved him disagreeing with her or questioning her priorities. Meanwhile, Ari has a tragic backstory, is hopelessly corrupted, has a reunion with Max after many years, and Max constantly has dreams about him. If not for the film going on to express in a more obvious way that Ari resented Max, it might have run its course before viewers realized it wasn't going to be a love triangle. Even more awkward, it turns out that in the books most of the characters are genetically related in some way due to being lab rats, including Max and Fang. However, Ari and Max share an actual father.
  • Paper Towns: Unlike the book, Lacey and Ben don't have much chemistry. Many viewers felt Lacey had more chemistry with Q than she did with Ben, or than Q did with Margo. This was possibly a holdover from an earlier (and, according to John Green, far worse) version of the script which did in fact change the Official Couple from Q and Margo to Q and Lacey.
  • Pete and Natalie from the Pete's Dragon remake give off a Puppy Love vibe in a lot of scenes, especially in their first scene together.
  • Princess Protection Program: Carter and Rosie are supposed to be at odds with each other before becoming best friends. However, their earlier moments come off more like the kind of Belligerent Sexual Tension you would find in a teen romance movie. Including a scene where Rosie orders Carter to dress her for bed. Also, due to how short of a time they have known each other, it's easy to read their latter bonding moments as flirty. Particularly the scene where they are trying on dresses or the one with them in front of the mirror. In the latter Rosie is very close to Carter from behind, and basically tells her she's beautiful, before placing a crown on Carter's head. There's also the burping scene which features the two on a swing and opening up to each other, which seems straight out of a romance story. Plus the extended ending where the two become agents together and end up slow walking down the beach together.
  • Push: If the reviews and fan reactions are anything to go by, whatever relationship thirteen-year-old Cassie and twenty-three-year-old Nick were supposed to have wasn't what the audience saw, given her Clingy Jealous Girl behavior once Kira arrives. The worst offender was the hotel scene when Cassie leaves, "powers her use" by getting drunk, then returns to curse out Nick's actual love interest Kira, making it come across as though she has a Precocious Crush.
  • The movie School of Rock has this with Dewey and Principal Mullins, as Dewey is the only person who manages to get past her harsh exterior and they share a touching scene where she rants about how she hates having to be such an uptight killjoy all the time but feels she has to because of the pressures of her job and Dewey reassures her she's still a cool person on the inside, plus he discovers she's something of a rock chick herself and they share a mutual passion for music. Later on he gets a So Proud of You from her despite fradulently becoming a teacher when his class manage to win the battle of the bands and they even share a hug. Nothing comes of all the Ship Tease, but the musical does pick up on this and they become an Official Couple at the end of the show.
  • The 2018 film Red Joan is about an elderly woman being outed as a Cold War spy - who first became one by entering a romance with a Soviet agent. Except the first scene establishing her past has her meeting a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who climbs into her room, has No Sense of Personal Space and is very friendly. This character Sonya just becomes Joan's friend (and eventual contact when she begins spying) but the scene is very much a Meet Cute - making it look like Joan was actually a lesbian. Indeed some early scenes between Joan, Sonya and Leo make it look like a Love Triangle is forming - with Sonya as the Hypoteneuse.
  • This happened in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to the Scott/Knives and Scott/Ramona relationships as a result of Edgar Wright starting production of the film while the comic book series was still ongoing and mistakenly thinking that Scott was going to end up with Knives instead of Ramona. When the final comic volume confirmed Scott/Ramona as the endgame couple, Wright changed the film's ending to have Scott choose Ramona over Knives... but the rest of the film leading up to that point still reads a lot like it's setting up Knives to be a better match for Scott than Ramona by giving them more romantic scenes and chemistry while at the same time giving Ramona much less Character Development than the comic book did.
  • The fumble between Warren and Layla in Sky High is very famous in the fandom. Layla spends most of the movie crushing on childhood friend Will, who is oblivious due to pining for, and eventually dating, the older, prettier Gwen. Layla cries on the shoulder of school bad boy Warren, who has his own reasons for disliking Will, and the two decide to pretend to date to cheese him off. They have a number of cute scenes and even go to Homecoming together and by all appearances have a good time before the party is crashed by the bad guys. Will only learns Layla likes him in the last fifteen minutes (from Warren, no less) and just sort of realizes he likes her back without much buildup. This may or may not have been intentional; the film was originally planned as the first in a series of four, and according to one of the writers on IMDB, Will and Layla wouldn't have lasted and she'd have "officially" gotten with Warren.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the prequels Anakin and Obi-Wan are hit by this trope. The most overt examples are Anakin showing more affection to Obi-Wan than he does to his wife, and Obi-Wan's continued reluctance to off the homicidal brat even after witnessing his deeds first hand. The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith outright states that Anakin loves both Padme and Obi-Wan, that his fall to The Dark Side was ultimately a choice over which one of them he loved more, and describes them during their fight as "closer than brothers, closer than lovers".
    • Luke and Leia, and their behavior towards each other in A New Hope and half of The Empire Strikes Back. Whether they were intended to be siblings from the beginning is one of many things that falls victim to Lucas' Flip-Flop of God, but the end result is this trope. The Westermarck effect doesn't get a chance to kick in when you separate twins immediately after birth. note 
    • The sequel trilogy saw shipping wars break out in the fanbase, with the three major camps being Finn/Rey, Rey/Kylo, and Finn/Poe. All three pairings have moments in all three films that can be interpreted as Ship Tease, and this wasn’t helped by comments from the cast poking at the issue. Near the very end of the third film, Rey/Kylo becomes canon... only for Kylo to die immediately after the couple shares their First Kiss. The rest of the potentially romantic subtext between the characters remains unaddressed. Needless to say, some fans found the film’s resolution of the romance angle confusing and underbaked.
  • In the low-budget film A Talking Cat!?!, the character Chris is supposed to wind up with Tina, but the film is so poorly written that he winds up having more chemistry with Tina's brother, Trent. (Bonus points for the fact that both the boys go swimming in the pool together at one point.) It's worth noting that the company that made this movie also specializes in explicitly homoerotic films.
  • Teen Beach Movie 2: Lela and Mack are supposed to be friends and straight with boyfriends. However Lela begins the movie basically ignoring her boyfriend Tanner and seemingly pinning over Mack. When she finds Mack's necklace, Lela readily abandons her whole life, including Tanner if he hadn't followed, just to see her again. When first arriving in the real world, she's overly excited to wear Mack's clothes and model for her, while acting like a teenage girl in front of her crush. Lela hangs out with Mack to the point that Tanner gets jealous, and then refuses to leave her new life and seemingly Mack behind. Lela ends the film by throwing Mack her jacket and winking at her. For Mack's part, she seems starstruck when she sees Lela look "normal" for the first time, with her mouth hanging open. She encourages Lela to rewrite the movie, and in the alternate timeline is obsessed with the movie Lela, Queen of the Beach even more than Brady was with Wet Side Story.
  • During the wedding in Breaking Dawn Part 1, some thought the dance between Bella and Jacob looked more natural with more connection and romance than the dance between Bella and Edward.
  • The Wizard of Oz: There is rather a lot of affection between Dorothy and the Scarecrow. Most notable is the goodbye scene where she saves him for last and says, "I think I'll miss you most of all," — though nothing comes of it. This is partly due to a dropped plot point — where the film would have ended with a Maybe Ever After scenario between Dorothy and Huck (the Scarecrow's human counterpart). But since Dorothy is meant to be only twelve or fourteen in the film, it's quite possible this is just a platonic pairing.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • In the first film, there is Wolverine and Rogue. She follows him around like a schoolgirl with a crush — which she is, as it's mentioned at one point later that she's actually "taken with him" — tells him that she wants to live her life on the road with him in the beginning, she walks into his bedroom at night, they hug, he goes after her and does everything he can to save her, he embraces her again and sticks his face to hers when she's unconscious so that he could give her his life force and, in the end, she tells him that she doesn't want him to leave, so he gives her his dog tags as a memory of him, which she keeps until his return. In fact, in the second film, Rogue's Designated Love Interest Bobby actually picks up on this and is clearly jealous of Wolverine.
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine is mostly about a heterosexual relationship, but the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth is too strong to be unintentional. While both characters repeatedly talk about how they're 'brothers', the constant Something Else Also Rises, playful flirting, eyeing each other, phallic symbolism, and grappling each other while yelling "Feels good, doesn't it?" kind of ruins the 'brothers' vibe. It's worth noting that the comic-book version of Wolverine's childhood featured a significant redhead named Rose as his first love interest. The first scenes in the movie are copied almost directly from the comic, except with a young Sabretooth in Rose's place.

  • The Belgariad: David Eddings seems absolutely incapable of writing a sibling relationship without getting a bit eyebrow-raisingly emotionally intense — Polgara and Beldaran in the early parts of Polgara The Sorceress, especially, read rather more twincestuous than not. Although, how much of this is David and how much can be attributed to his co-writer and wife, Leigh Eddings, is really anyone's guess.
  • Bridge to Terabithia is about a 10-year old boy named Jess who becomes best friends with a girl named Leslie. The book never suggests their relationship is more-than-platonic, but it's very easy for readers to view a Puppy Love scenario going on between the two. They spend most of their time with one another and have a close, kindered bond. Near the end, Leslie drowns in a river. Jess' reaction to this is a lot like a Belated Love Epiphany. The 2007 film rolls with the romantic elements of their friendship.
  • Daughters of a Coral Dawn somehow hits this trope within its second paragraph. Protip, Katherine Forrest: when your narrator starts to wax lyrical on her own mother's "voluptuous hips" and "cantaloupe-sized breasts", something has gone very wrong.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Ana and Kate are just supposed to be good friends, with Kate saying she loves her like a sister, but a lot of their interactions can come off as Les Yay, especially from Ana's end considering how often she points out Kate's physical attractiveness with similar terms she uses for Christian. It doesn't help that Kate cares a lot more about Ana's happiness and well-being than Christian seems to.
  • Graceling: It seems like Kristin Cashore does this in Fire with the title character and Prince Brigan, with his nearly 180 regard of her, going from (understandably) absolutely despising her for being the daughter of a monster to honestly trusting her. It becomes Fridge Brilliance, however, once it's revealed Brigan learned early on in the book that Fire killed her own father in order to save Brigan's life—because Brigan's survival meant the difference between the kingdom's survival and the kingdom falling into complete ruin. It's a good enough reason for Brigan to seriously reconsider his initial hatred of her.
  • The Great Gatsby has Nick and Gatsby. Probably unintentional, but one of Nick's first descriptions of Gatsby was "there was something gorgeous about him." Then again, since there's more than a little evidence that Nick is gay or at least bi (including an ambiguous encounter with another man at a party), whether this was a Relationship Writing Fumble or deliberate subtext is a matter of considerable literary debate.
  • Harry Potter:
    • J. K. Rowling insists that she was never trying to imply Neville/Luna, despite plenty of background moments between the two that can easily be interpreted in a cute shippy way (they stare at each other on the train, at one point she helps him into a chair...). This apparently was enough for them to get sorta-paired up in the movies.
    • While arguably not as prevalent as in the movies, a lot of readers didn't really get the Like Brother and Sister vibe that Rowling intended for Harry and Hermione, resulting in her being bombarded by questions from fans and journalists asking when they would get together. It didn't help that In-Universe, a lot of the characters seemed to believe they had feelings for each other or were actually dating, or Rowling emphasizing a kiss from Hermione to Harry on the final page of Goblet of Fire ("She did something she had never done before and kissed him on the cheek"). The problem also stems from Rowling's choice to write the series entirely from Harry's perspective; we see a lot of Harry's interactions with Hermione, Ron and both, and since Hermione is the girl that Harry spends the most time with by far and they never come across as anything but friendly and amicable, it is natural to see Hermione as the love interest. Conversely, readers never get to see how Ron and Hermione interact with each other one on one when Harry is not around, where a lot of their relationship's development would tend to happen. (Eventually, Rowling herself admitted that while writing the last book, Harry and Hermione were coming across as a potential couple due to these factors.)
  • Hurog: Wardwick is very close to his magically bound slave, Oreg. So close, in fact, that Ward's younger brother gets jealous. The fact that it is the brother, not the love interest, who is jealous, is probably meant to imply that the relationship is more sibling-like. However, fandom concludes that love interest is not jealous because she is a cool, relaxed lady, and just... ship her with Ward and Oreg as threesome. Just as in LOTR this is merely a matter of interpretation of affectionate gestures, though unlike Tolkien the author is cool with homosexuality and may have decided to just not care what readers might read into it.
  • The Lord of the Rings: When J. R. R. Tolkien created Sam and Frodo as one of fantasy's signature BFFs, he probably didn't realize that there would be those who would interpret it romantically. The whole world he created in fact has different standards, standards that would normally be respected today. People are openly, emotionally, and physically affectionate without it being perceived as emasculating or sexual. At the time he was writing, especially considering Tolkien's own life experiences, this sort of friendship was common and even encouraged — although playing it for Ho Yay was not unheard of either (see analysis as well as the series' HoYay page).
  • In the teen novel Party by Tom Leveen, a character talks about his casual friend like he has a crush on her and is in denial. However, nothing happens and he helps another guy get together with her with no sign of jealousy.
    "She's very good looking but I'm not interested in her."
    "I'm jealous of any guy who would date her."
    "I can't be interested in her because my father wouldn't let me date a non-Muslim."
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel:
    • If it weren't for Scathach being such a Shipper on Deck for Francis and Joan's marriage, you could accuse Scatty of being into Joan herself. Then again Scatty seems to have Les Yay with just about everyone else in the series too.
    • The twin protagonists too. There are some lines and scenarios that feel almost as if it's a love story between Sophie and Josh. Neither of them has a canon love interest either. Of course with The Reveal of the last book that they're not actually related, it makes this a teensy bit better.
  • Lampshaded in Sense and Sensibility — the two Official Couples are Elinor/Edward and Marianne/Colonel Brandon, yet Marianne gets all the interaction and conversations with Edward on the proverbial screen (because he and Elinor are Twice Shy), and Elinor and Colonel Brandon become such close friends and spend so much time together that the Shippers On Deck understandably soon believe they are the Official Couple (because they are frequently the only two sensible people in the same room, and therefore gravitate toward each other). Jane Austen frequently mocked shipping in her books (see Emma).
  • In Septimus Heap, Septimus and Jenna were intended to explicitly see each other as honorary siblings due to the latter having been essentially adopted by the former's family after the murder of Jenna's mother and seeming death of Septimus himself as a baby all on the same day (long story). The narrative itself likewise at times tries to actively enforce this intention by having several words of narration and dialogue indicate that the two view each other as if they were siblings while also giving Jenna a canon love interest in the form of Septimus's best friend Beetle while Septimus himself later gets the possibility of a future romance teased between first him and Syrah and later Rose. Despite all this, however, a surprisingly large number of seemingly rather suggestive (albeit, in fairly subtle and kid friendly fashion) or similarly romantic undertone possessing moments shared between Septimus and Jenna over the course of the series ended up present in the series to the point that a sizable number of readers genuinely thought that they were intended to be the main Official Couple.
  • A truly squicky example shows up in Jodi Picoult's novel, A Spark of Light, with the main character Hugh intended to be a Doting Parent and Papa Wolf for his daughter, Wren, but instead he comes off as creepily obsessed with her. He and Wren never argue or disagree on any subject, are extremely close because Hugh raised Wren after her mother walked out, he considers Wren his "universe", constantly goes on about how special she is, laments that eventually some boy is going to "steal" her from him and defies his boss's orders to talk down the gunman because his daughter is trapped inside the clinic with him (with his boss arguing that because Hugh isn't capable of being impartial in this situation, he can't be trusted to negotiate effectively). His marriage to his wife, Annabelle, broke down because he was such a Control Freak, yet he isn't mentioned being interested in other women and focuses all his time and energy on Wren, with his sister Bex being her surrogate mother figure. It comes off like an emotionally-stunted man latching onto his daughter as a Living Emotional Crutch after driving away his wife.
  • Twilight:
    • Bella and Jacob have a pretty popular fanbase due to Meyer actually taking the time to develop their relationship and stated that they knew each other as kids. Yet Jacob still ends up as the Unlucky Childhood Friend, whereas no matter how much Meyer states that what the Official Couple Edward/Bella have is "true love", it doesn't change that she wrote their relationship as creepy and obsessive.
    • There are some scenes that can easily support Bella/Alice. This was almost certainly not intentional on Meyer's part, but it's still there.
    • In Breaking Dawn, Jacob/Leah seemed to be the obvious direction for the Unlucky Childhood Friend(s), especially because of the Belligerent Sexual Tension involved. However, Jacob imprinted on Bella's two-minute-old child, and that was that.
    • In The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Bree spends a lot of time wondering if Diego (her love interest) has some special bond with Riley (the leader of their coven) that means that he would be willing to betray her to Riley. This, plus a scene where it sounds like Victoria is suspicious that Riley's loyalties might be swayed from her (keep in mind that she controls Riley via his feelings for her) to Diego, makes it sound very much like Diego and Riley are lovers and his relationship with Bree is just platonic affection. It really doesn't help that Diego's interactions with Bree (a peck on the cheek, holding hands, etc) could just as easily be done between friends and that Bree's constant insistence that Diego trusts her over Riley sound like she's in denial.
  • Kes and Bo, the central twin characters of the Wind on Fire trilogy, just adore each other, and as the characters age, their love feels increasingly... not siblingly. Whether this is a "fumble" is a moot point: William Nicholson seems very confident in his portrayal, never seeming to try and escape the slightly twincestuous tone of their relationship.
  • How NOT to Write a Novel discusses this trope, using an example story called "The Deafening Hug" in which the narration describes the protagonist's sister in very amorous ways, giving the impression that there is (possibly one-sided) Brother–Sister Incest going on. Afterwards the author points out that people will see love interests everywhere so you'd better be careful when, say, writing cousins Ben 10 style.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in-universe in Brooklyn Nine-Nine; when discussing the UST between Detectives Peralta and Santiago, Detective Boyle recounts an example from his past where he and a girl he had UST with tried being Just Friends but eventually succumbed to their lust... while starring in a high-school production of Annie.
    Boyle: We were supposed to hug, on stage. And at first, that seemed like nothing too. But by opening night, we were full-on making out.
    Santiago: As Annie and Daddy Warbucks?
    Boyle: Mmm-hmmm... the audience was not on board. Playwright sued the school.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The writers realized they were writing way too much Belligerent Sexual Tension into Cordelia and Xander's interactions, so they just went with it and made them a couple.
      Cordelia: I'd rather be worm food than look at your pathetic face!
      Xander: Then go! I'm not stopping you!
      Cordelia: I bet you wouldn't! I bet you'd let a girl go off to her doom all by herself!
      Xander: Not just any girl. You're special.
      Cordelia: I can't believe that I'm stuck spending what will probably be my last few moments on Earth here — with you!
      Xander: I hope these are my last few moments! Three more seconds with you, and I'm gonna...
      Cordelia: 'I'm gonna' what? Coward!
      Xander: Moron!
      Cordelia: I hate you!
      Xander: I hate you!
      [They kiss for the first time — hard]
    • During "The Initiative", Riley is seen comforting a depressed Willow at a party. Riley's sensitivity here and the chemistry between Alyson Hannigan and Marc Blucas in this scene led some viewers to believe the show was heading for a love triangle, with Willow stealing Buffy's not-yet-boyfriend.
    • In Season 4's "Something Blue", Buffy and Spike getting married was supposed to be a joke and the catalyst to Buffy deciding she was over bad boys, but there was so much chemistry between them that the Spuffy pairing just took off.
    • Word of God says that by season three, he had decided that either Xander or Willow would eventually come out as gay. He was apparently leaning toward Xander, but in season four Alyson Hannigan and Amber Benson had such astonishing chemistry that Willow/Tara became canon instead.
    • Also in season 4; Riley Finn is introduced alongside his two fellow military buddies, Forrest and Graham. Forrest, however, seems to be inordinately fixated on Riley's romantic relationship with Buffy and openly dislikes her as soon as Riley shows any interest in her. Though the writers only intended Forrest to be a concerned friend who was in too deep in the Initiative, more often than not he came across as a jealous, scorned admirer who hated that Buffy stole his man. Even Marc Blucas himself has joked in interviews that he was pretty sure Forrest was in love with Riley.
  • On Chuck, Chuck's interaction with Sarah is constantly shown as being platonic, but the way Chuck and his sister Ellie interact around each other is flat-out "friends who want to be lovers" writing. He even does the falling-over-himself and stuttering bits that you expect from a TV show's portrayal of geek romancing. It turns out that Chuck was originally intended to have a love interest in his civilian life, but when it was decided that complicated matters too much, she was dropped... and many of her lines given to Ellie. The writers caught this subtext after the first season aired, and then started taking corrective measures.
  • Dexter:
    • Season six has a guy named Travis, who has a rather close relationship with his sister. A few lingering glances, asking her to stay home from work, and the Big Bad talking about Travis wanting to "play house" with her makes their relationship seem... off-kilter.
    • The series had a lot of tension between Debra and Dex (who is her adopted brother). It wasn't helped by the fact that the actors were dating RL (and got married). In Season 6 the writers actually acknowledge it by having Debra fall in love with Dex (never actually acted on).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The original series is firmly No Hugging, No Kissing, but numerous Doctor/companion relationships have an element of romance to them, deliberately or otherwise, most notably with 4 and Sarah Jane Smith, a point that would later be revisited between her and 10.
    • There's a preposterous amount of sexual tension between Richard the Lionheart and his sister Joanna in "The Crusade". The original script did have them as an incestuous couple until William Hartnell objected.
    • Whatever was going on between Steven and Dodo. In some stories, they get Ship Tease (like "The Ark", "The Gunfighters" and "The Savages"), which is fine... except that "The Massacre" has Steven imply he thinks she may be his own descendant (he guesses she is the descendant of Anne Chaplet, but a 17th Century French woman wouldn't give her surname to her children unless she'd had them out of wedlock and there'd be no specific reason for him to expect that, unless...). It's possible the implication of her descent from him was simply an oversight, or Steven being mistaken — it's also possible that Dodo and Steven's relationship was more familial as the Will They or Won't They? seems to exist mostly in other peoples' heads and Dodo's strange behaviour in "The Gunfighters" can be explained by her being strange anyway — but it's unlikely that both of these were supposed to be true at the same time.
    • Polly doesn't generally appear to have interest in anyone, but she calls the Doctor 'gorgeous' in one throwaway scene in "The Faceless Ones", and when she leaves the TARDIS, the Doctor tells Ben to keep working hard and Polly to look after Ben, implying that they are romantically involved (as well as being alarmingly sexist by modern standards).
    • Whether Jo is the Third Doctor's Implied Love Interest tormenting the audience with UST, or whether she's a surrogate daughter figure, depends entirely on what works for that particular story.
    • At least for the latter's first few appearances, the relationship between the Doctor and the Master was far too amiable for The Hero and his Evil Counterpart. As mentioned in Foe Yay, their respective actors were good friends and this entered into their performances, but most appearances from the 1980s onwards extrapolated this into straight Ho Yay — eventually heterosexual when the Master regenerated into a woman.
    • Notorious real-life flirt Tom Baker was prone to sizing up female costars which his character was presumably intended to have no interest in. Bettan in "Genesis of the Daleks" is a nice, helpful female character whose job is to show up for about ten minutes to help the Doctor get back to his companions, but the UST between them is distracting.
    • The abusive relationship Ho Yay subtext between Styggron and Crayford in "The Android Invasion" deserves a mention. Styggron is intended as an obsessive control freak who has no interest in anything besides his convoluted plan, and it was supposed to be him manipulating Crayford for these ends and then abandoning him. Unfortunately, the gibberish-level convolution of his plan means that his Gaslighting of Crayford comes across as abuse for its own sake. The Padding scenes added by Robert Holmes add a whole subplot where Styggron straps down Crayford to an Agony Beam scanner to psychologically torture him by creating and destroying a robot duplicate in front of him, which makes Crayford's later obsessive devotion to him come off as inexplicable, unless he's emotionally codependent. The Doctor eventually has to talk Crayford into realising that Styggron's been lying to him about who he really is, which Crayford plays in the manner of someone finally realising the truth about an abusive husband.
    • The Doctor and Leela. Their relationship has a bigger power dynamic differential than most Doctor/companion relationships, with Leela being his student and, to a certain extent, his creation. Their relationship was intended to be more distant and vertical than with Sarah Jane, a carry-over from the Third Doctor era who didn't quite fit the Fourth Doctor's alienness. None of it stops the Doctor checking her out in pretty dresses and trying to grope her thighs or sniff her hair while hiding with her in doorways.
    • The Doctor and K-9 were supposed to be Vitriolic Best Buds. Early in K-9's run, Tom Baker plays it more like the Doctor sincerely hates the Robot Dog and is only tolerating him because he's useful. Check out "Underworld", where he outright snarls at K-9's unhelpful comments, and plays the scene where he has to talk about K-9 being his best friend slightly mockingly, as if he's buttering up K-9 for favours.
    • Romana was a very attractive woman (in both of her incarnations) and a Time Lord like the Doctor, thus removing the Interspecies Romance issue entirely. She was his intellectual equal, and thus the usual mentoring overtones of his relationships with most other companions were absent and they came across more as (possibly romantic) partners. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward had a rather volatile real-life romantic relationship during their run on the show adding a large dose of Reality Subtext as well, which resulted in some Relationship Acting Fumble. In some episodes they come across as ridiculously in love and are clearly turning each other on a lot with their presence — and in others they won't even look at each other and stumble through their lines in a contemptuous monotone. Word of God is that one can sometimes tell if the actors had had a falling out by how they interacted on screen.
    • During the Fifth Doctor's run, there was a no touching rule between the Doctor and his female companions to dispel the notion that he could be having a sexual relationship with either of them. It just made fans think he was having one with the token male companion of the time, who wasn't subject to those restrictions. Peter Davison noticed this himself during a DVD Commentary, musing that Turlough was created so that the Doctor would have someone he could "put his arm around".
    • The rather 1980s belief that physical contact between the same gender wouldn't be interpreted sexually meant that fans instead latched onto female companions Tegan and Nyssa, two characters who, despite the infinite dimensions of the TARDIS, feel the need to share a bedroom. When Tegan rejoins the crew in "Arc of Infinity", Nyssa gives a whoop of delight and hugs her, while the Doctor looks like he'd rather be somewhere else. Out of sequence recording didn't help: Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding were asked to tone down their chemistry since they were coming across as very close in only Tegan's second story.
    • The Fifth Doctor and Susan are also widely noted to have looked like they were checking each other out in their scenes together. Possibly a bit hard to play a convincing grandfather-granddaughter relationship with a ten-year age difference in the wrong direction.
      • In the same story, there's a whole scene where the First Doctor appears to be checking out his granddaughter's arse that was so gobsmackingly overt that reruns cut it out.
    • In "The End of Time", Naismith and his daughter seem to have a lot of sexual tension going on, almost to the point of squick. Since the show is still aimed at kids, and the UST has no bearing on the plot whatsoever, it just comes across as random.
    • Steven Moffat loves exploring the murky territory between familial love, sexual love, and different familial roles, usually via time travel. While a small vocal minority still insists that he's in favour of Wife Husbandry, it's usually tasteful, and he's won awards for stories focusing on these themes more than a couple of times (see: "The Girl in the Fireplace", about the Doctor's protection of a little girl as she grew causing her adult self to fall in love with him; and "Listen", where time travel accidents cause Clara to meet her boyfriend's child self, her boyfriend's Identical Grandson, and the child self of the Doctor). But it's very unlikely he would have had the Doctor, Amy and Rory all flirting with each other so much if he'd known where their arc would end up going. Or the parts where River appears to flirt with Amy. Even after he knew exactly what he was doing, he was still pushing the sexual angle between Amy and the Doctor hard, by repeatedly implying for Bait-and-Switch reasons that Amy's baby was the Doctor's.
    • The Doctor and Clara Oswald. As soon as they get together as a team, there's near-constant subtext about their friendship not being in a brotherly-sisterly realm, despite its platonic nature. The Doctor reluctantly (if happily) shows signs of having a chaste crush on Clara, largely because she's given him a new sense of purpose after he was very withdrawn from the world prior to befriending her. This is not helped by Clara, cheeky as she often is, taking him by the shoulder in episodes like "Hide" and "The Crimson Horror" or making him shyly squirm over minor gestures of affection. Jenna Coleman herself noted that Clara had grown to really like him, but it wasn't until his regeneration in "The Time of the Doctor" that she (belatedly) realised she was a little bit in love with him as well. Despite Peter Capaldi begging Steven Moffat not to write the relationship between Clara and his more morose incarnation as romantic (at least, so the claim has been made; this has since been denied), theirs is an intense bond, complete with long anguished looks at each other and a flat-out (if veiled) love declaration. At the end of season 9, the Doctor subjects himself to billions of years of torture to undo her death, shoots another Time Lord (with a gun!!) to escape with her, and then uses tech to lobotomize his memories of her as the only possible way of letting her go.
    Doctor: Clara, I'm not your boyfriend.
    Clara: I never thought you were.
    Doctor: I never said it was your mistake.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Though opinion is divided (as plenty of viewers strongly dislike this pairing), the relationship between Tom and Mary can come across as the two of them acting like a married couple after the deaths of their respective spouses. They're brother and sister-in-law (Tom's late wife Sybil is Mary's sister) and each get new love interests over the course of the show — but Tom and Mary often spend nearly every waking moment together, are able to communicate without words, are the missing mother/father figure to the other's child, and have an understanding of each other that goes beyond what anyone else in the show has. When Tom becomes The Matchmaker to Mary and her latest Love Interest, most of his heartfelt speeches about why Mary should be with Henry are phrased in such a way that some fans feel like Tom is talking about himself (as with this one), viewing it as though it's all part of a desperate attempt to fight his own feelings.
    • To those viewers whose Shipping Goggles are oriented in a slashier direction, Tom's efforts to set the pair up come across as his having a Matchmaker Crush on Henry. Effectively, the writers have created an Official Couple where both parties have more chemistry with Tom Branson than each other, which is impressive as far as this trope is concerned.
  • In-Universe in Father Ted: Ted and Dougal are attempting to write lyrics for an entry for Eurosong. Dougal's first suggestion for lyrics for a song called "My Lovely Horse" is "My lovely horse I want to hold you so tight/ I want to rub my fingers through your tail and love you all night." When Ted points out that the lyrics should be about being best friends with the horse, not about being in love with the horse, Dougal proposes "Take this lump of sugar, baby, you know you want it."
  • Flash Forward features a gay couple on their first date discussing getting married, having children, and saying things like 'I'd never leave you'. That doesn't happen the first time you go out for dinner (although, Janis does end up being put-off by the obsessiveness that her date ultimately displays). Furthermore, Janis has more chemistry with Demetri (who has a fiancee, with whom he has not a terrible amount of chemistry) than with the aforementioned date.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Several viewers thought that Tyrion had romantic feelings for Sansa in Season 8, and some felt Sansa may even have reciprocated them to a degree. Tyrion expresses admiration for Sansa and states they "should've stayed married", to which Sansa says it wouldn't work "because of the dragon queen" without giving any other explanation. Sansa also makes a point of telling him that of all the men she was betrothed/married to, he was the best. And then there's their emotionally charged moment while they're hiding in the crypts and could be killed at any moment. It doesn't help that Tyrion previously admitted to finding Sansa attractive but refused to act on it on moral principle. However, given Tyrion's later confession that he's in love with Daenerys, the writers apparently didn't intend for him to have romantic interest in Sansa.
    • Jon and Sansa's relationship is also supposed to be a cute sibling one, but some fans saw it as them as Kissing Cousins instead, especially with Jon being extremely protective of Sansa after they reunited and threatening every man who mentions her (Littlefinger, Theon, Tyrion) and only Sansa's presence is able to calm him down during his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Ramsay Bolton. Sansa also becomes very close with Jon after not even sharing scenes with him in Season One, taking care to dress him as a Stark, talking about what a great man he is and gently touching his arm or face, etc.
    • Sansa appears to be a magnet for this trope, because Theon's behaviour towards her also smacks of romantic feelings. She is the only person capable of pulling him out of his Reek persona by reminding him of who he was and it's when her life is threatened he finally snaps, kills Myranda and escapes Winterfell with Sansa. Later he returns to fight by Yara's side but she realises what he really wants is to return North and help his adoptive family and gives him her blessing to do so. On his return, Daenerys is clearly expecting Theon to bow to her (since Yara and Theon came to offer an alliance with Dany earlier), instead Theon goes and kneels to Sansa over the dragon queen and tells her he'll fight by her side "if she'll have him" and she's seen smiling warmly at him as they share a meal in Winterfell hall. Sansa is utterly distraught when Theon is killed in the battle and puts her direwolf pin on his body before it burns.
    • Sansa and Margaery big time. Sansa clearly looks up to Margaery a lot, and Margaery, besides being a very touchy-feely friend, has a soft spot for Sansa beyond just some Pet the Dog moments, low-key mentors her about sexuality, offers her roses, casually mentions that some women like "pretty girls" while looking at Sansa, and, as characters put it in-universe, adores Sansa. Also, the two often share prolonged gazes while holding hands an make plans for the future. Definitely not helped by Natalie Dormer having chemistry with about anyone and anything, much less so by Sophie Turner being very supportive of the ship, constantly mentioning in in interviews, suggesting Littlefinger’s aforementioned "Queen Margaery adores Sansa!" line from Season 5, and… this.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • We have the normal Betty and Veronica dynamic for Lorelai and Rory's romantic interests. The Will They or Won't They? gets resolved between Luke and Lorelai in the fifth season. Dean gets awkwardly Put on a Bus and Logan Huntzberger complicates Rory and Lorelai's relationship for the first half of season 6. Then Luke suddenly finds out he has a pre-teen daughter he never knew about, drawing the Will They or Won't They? between Luke and Lorelai out until the series finale. In an attempt to "fix" the mistakes from the sixth season, Logan doesn't even end up with Rory, while Luke and Lorelai finally get together in the finale — yet it feels more like a Last-Minute Hookup for some.
    • Jess and Rory. They had a very popular relationship in Season 3 that ended because of issues between the characters, In-Universe bad-timing, and Jess's spin-off (which was later cancelled). They continued to harbour feelings for each other and when Rory was going through a confused, unfocused time during Season 6, Jess briefly returns to the series as a guy who's grown up, worked through his rebellious phase, and has successfully published a novel. Jess won over more viewers when he encouraged Rory to get her life back on track, go back to Yale, and patch things back up with her now-estranged mom, who Rory was really close with.note  Some fans thought that the writers were heading toward Rory dumping her boyfriend, then-Rebel Prince Logan pre-Breakthe Haughty, and moving past her Season 6 mistakes like Jess did. Some fans also thought that this would be when Jess/Rory got their timing right and would get back together — but no. She rejects Jess and returns to Logan. Many a Flat "What" was heard from the fandom that day.
    • Taken Up to Eleven for nearly all relationships in the 2016 revival, which manages to alienate some fans from the Jess/Rory, Logan/Rory, and Luke/Lorelai ships. Rory and Logan are having an affair while being involved with other people, which fans argued was out of character for both of them, particularly following Logan's Character Development in the original series and made both characters Unintentionally Unsympathetic. Jess and Rory get less than five minutes of screen time together and are friends now despite their heartbreaking last scene in the original series without much of a backstory to connect these dots over the last decade since we saw them together. The writers revive the Will They or Won't They? plots for both Jess/Rory and Rory/Logan literally minutes from the end. Luke and Lorelai are having the same issues with their relationship they were having in the original series — despite the nine year time jump — during which they've been in a committed relationship and living together. They do eventually tie the knot, but not before teasing a break-up for nearly an entire 90-minute episode.
    • Marty, a sweet fellow Yale classmate of Rory who seemingly combines the positive traits of Dean and Jess. Yet nothing ever happens and Marty is written out to make room for Logan. Rather than giving the character a proper sendoff, Marty unexpectedly returns during the last season, having become a JerkAss, seemingly only to strengthen the friendship between Rory and her two new Yale friends, who were mostly devoid of personality.
    • There are those fans who believe that Paris's uncanny ability to insert herself into every facet of Rory's life means she's clearly enamored with her, something that Rory is utterly oblivious to. Some believe Paris displays far more chemistry with Rory than any of her so-called "boyfriends".
  • In GoGo Sentai Boukenger, Natsuki has no memory of anything that happened before she met Masumi — her memories were erased to protect her identity as the last survivor of a destroyed civilization. They go everywhere together, do everything together, and Natsuki is explicitly stated to be "the light to Masumi's darkness" and the only one who can pull him out of a state of intense despair. They are one of the most popular ships in the entirety of the franchise, yet they never reached Official Couple status, and the actors stated in interviews that the characters' relationship was akin to that of parent-child or brother-sister.
  • Hannah Montana:
    • Miley and Lilly are just supposed to be best friends, but most fans think they have more chemistry together than with their actual love interests. Their relationship is filled with Les Yay, and is often given a lot more focus than their romantic ones. In the first episode, Miley's afraid to tell Lilly she is Hannah, in a way that resembles someone being afraid to tell their childhood crush they like them. The Movie also gives a lot more focus and weight to their fight than to that of Miley with the Boy of the Week, Travis. Lilly eventually gets with Oliver, but the show makes it clear that Miley is her most important relationship, and she chooses to help Miley over Oliver multiple times. When the two do fight it comes off to many fans like an old married couple. There's a good reason most fanfiction about the show interpret them as already dating.
    • Miley and Mikayla are supposedly rivals, but their dynamic comes off more like Belligerent Sexual Tension to a lot of fans. When Miley first meets Mikayla she basically squees, and acts like a girl with her celebrity crush. Meanwhile despite not getting along with Hannah, Mikayla seems to adore Miley, and acts more affectionate towards her than towards her actual crush, Jake. Mikayla also hates Lilly and acts like a girl jealous of someone else being close to her crush.
  • In Heroes, some fans ship Peter and Claire and have been before it was revealed they are uncle and niece. When these two meet episodes before The Reveal and before viewers knew they were even remotely related, it was believed these two might get together... in a very non platonic way — but it was revealed that any romantic dynamic some fans saw was entirely unintentional. After The Reveal that they are related, writers backed away from Claire and Peter's initial dynamic pretty quickly. The big problems with Peter and Claire were 1) They had excellent In-Universe reasons to be thrilled to meet each other, and the fandom interpreted it as the start of a Rescue Romance, 2) they were both introduced as young, hot characters with the same questions about their powers, and 3) because the show hadn't revealed that they were related yet, people started shipping Claire and Peter right away. It didn't help that the actors actually dated.
  • House:
    • The friendship between House and Wilson had such intense Ho Yay overtones that writer Doris Egan couldn't resist writing just a bit more of it each episode. This earned her the nickname "Saint Doris" among fans, but the other writers weren't quite on board and kept downgrading Egan's Relationship Upgrade moments again. Showrunner David Shore had to Word of God nix the canon likelihood of House and Wilson becoming a couple in a semi-famous interview with TV critic Mo Ryan, after Doris Egan's writing on the "Amber" Story Arc made the subtext nearly text. This was not the first, the last, or even the most blatant hint for the two.
    • The Unresolved Sexual Tension and the surprising resemblance between House and Cameron was written effectively enough, and Hugh Laurie and Jennifer Morrison had chemistry enough, that even after the two of them were paired off with different people, they could scarcely be in the same room for more than ten seconds without making many fans wonder how they hadn't already jumped each other's bones. It's possible that Cameron was written off the show in order to put an end to any possibilities between them once and for all.
  • iCarly:
    • Carly and Spencer had an incestuous dynamic similar to Justin/Alex or Ellie/Chuck.
    • The blatant Sam/Carly undertones. Although the fumble may have been deliberate considering Dan Schneider and his penchant for including hidden Homoerotic Subtext in his supposedly teenage focused shows.
    • Spencer/Sam. One episode had Spencer lean over and tongue Sam's ear so she could hear his pop rocks crackling, and a later episode stated that she had a crush on Spencer.
    • A meta fumble, with the writers creating two opposing Shipping sects, with the Just Friends Carly/Freddie romance vs. the Belligerent Sexual Tension couple Sam/Freddie, and then pushing each in multiple episodes, only to turn around and tell the audience they were watching the show wrong.
  • If the writers of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries wanted viewers to believe Havers and Lynley aren't falling head-over-heels in love throughout the course of the show, they really shouldn't have had them call each other their reason to get up in the morning, or given them the infamous Cry into Chest at the end of "In Divine Proportion" that looks like nothing so much as a man comforting his traumatized lover. Many, many fans have pointed out that Lynley has much better chemistry—and a much healthier relationship — with Barbara than he ever did with Helen.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
    • Happens in-universe and played for laughs in the episode "The Nightman Cometh". Charlie intends the protagonist of the eponymous play to be a man in love with a princess who has his soul corrupted by the Nightman, a demon he battles against. However, he's initially named the Little Boy and certainly doesn't look or act like he's meant to be a grown man, adding an unintended pedophilic undertone to the princess's duet with him. On top of this, while intended as nonsexual, the Nightman taking his soul is laden with Homoerotic Subtext; the scene features a Fade to Black as the Nightman creeps under his covers, and Frank's character keeps mispronouncing "boy's soul" as "boy's hole" — even the actors involved thought they were staging a rape scene. (It's heavily implied as well that the story is inspired by Charlie having been molested by his Creepy Uncle.) Naturally, Charlie is incensed at all of this and insists that there are no undertones whatsoever.
      Mac: Ummm... I think we have to be very careful about how we do the rape scene.
      Frank: Yeah.
      Charlie: Wh-what in God's name are you talking about? There's no "rape scene".
      (Mac and Frank give Charlie a confused look)
      Mac: ...Well, sure. I pay the Troll Toll and then I rape Dennis—
      Charlie: No! You don't rape him! You become him! You do not rape him!
      Frank: He doesn't?
    • A similar thing happens in the Gang's attempts at Lethal Weapon fan films. They're intended to have Riggs and Murtagh's daughter be the Official Couple, but the film is so laden with so many male Fanservice scenes and intimate moments with Riggs and Murtagh (up to and including playful shower wrestling) that most people upon viewing the film assume it to be a porno. They throw in a scene of the two visiting a strip club while talking about how not-gay they are in an attempt to cover this. It doesn't help that the wedding scene has both Riggs and Murtagh's daughter visibly flinching away from the Big Damn Kiss (as a result of their actors hating each other).
  • Legacies: The writers and characters In-Universe have repeatedly stated that Hope and Josie are never going to get together, with their crushes on each other being very much in the past. However, a lot of fans feel that they still have far better chemistry than Hope and Landon. In the first season, Hope and Josie have a scene where they argue in the park that is framed and shot similar to a Belligerent Sexual Tension scene from a high school Rom Com. In another universe, their counterparts are paired together for the sake of a joke (which comes off as far more tender than they meant it to). The second season tries to paint Josie/Landon/Hope as a love triangle, but it makes Josie come off like a kid with a crush, who doesn't know how deal to with it. When everyone's memories of Hope return, Hope refuses to return if it will hurt Josie (which leads to Josie telling her to stay while holding hands, as a soft romance song plays in the background). When Josie turns evil, Hope tries to desperately bring her back (even trapping someone who suggests killing her in a simulation), before jumping into Josie's subconscious where Josie's good half (disguised as a talking pig) tells Hope to try kissing her sleeping form to wake her up like out of a fairy tale.
  • In Life with Derek, the titular character and his step-sister Casey are supposed to have an antagonistic Sibling Rivalry relationship with one another but come across more like they have Belligerent Sexual Tension than anything else, and thus, feel like a pair of Flirty Stepsiblings in deep denial of their attraction to each other. Not helping is that Word of God states that Derek and Casey "care for each other more than anyone", nor that Michael Seater (Derek's actor) and Ashley Leggat (Casey's actress) openly shipped the Derek/Casey pairing and (most likely due to being good friends in real life) had great on-screen chemistry.
    • To a lesser extent, there's Edwin (Derek's little brother) and Lizzie (Casey's little sister), who have a similar Flirty Stepsiblings vibe with Toy Ship mixed in.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has this when it comes to Midge's friendship with Lenny Bruce.
  • The Mentalist has Jane and Lisbon, who the writers insist have a platonic version of Belligerent Sexual Tension. Fans didn't buy it, and in later seasons it seems as if the writers just ran with it. As of season 5 Lisbon has begun to fall in love with Jane. Even Jane's hallucination of his daughter ships them.
    Jane: He does love you... how could he not?
  • Merlin:
    • Arthur and Morgana behave like Flirty Step Siblings, with lots of Belligerent Sexual Tension. In series two, the writers immediately backed off, leery about Brother–Sister Incest implications and the need to justify the increasingly marginalized Gwen by upgrading her to love interest for Arthur. But the third season has The Reveal that Morgana is Uther's biological daughter and Arthur's half-sister, throwing past Arthur/Morgana interactions into a whole new light. In the most of the well-known versions of Arthurian legend, Mordred is their son, not a kid who they rescue together, and in all of those they're usually brother and sister. (Mordred generally turns out to be a Bastard Bastard and attempts to get revenge on Arthur as a morality tale against out-of-wedlock relationships and incest.)
    • In the first season of the show, before Arthur got roped into a for-life Official Couple, most of the fans thought that Arthur/Merlin was a legitimate thing, what with the long poignant gazes, the Belligerent Sexual Tension, and the Slash Dragon saying things like "A half cannot truly hate that which makes it whole" every two seconds. Consider the following dialogue between Merlin and his mother:
      Hunith: He must care for you a great deal.
      Merlin: Arthur'd do the same for any village. That's just the way he is.
      Hunith: It's more than that. He's here for you.
      Merlin: I'm just his servant.
      Hunith: Give him more credit than that. He likes you.
    • While the respective actors of Arthur and Gwen have great friendship chemistry, but the moment she starts being all "I believe in you, Arthur," and he's all "I love you, but we can never be together," the whole scene starts reading like cardboard. Bradley James has said himself that when he's kissing Angel Coulby, it's very mechanical. Of course, this was a fumble that couldn't really be avoided, what with them being Arthur and Guinevere and making the move to have Gwen not be an arranged marriage princess.
    • Some people were a bit confused as to why Gwen and Merlin, on the other hand, seemed to be hitting it off rather... well during the first season. Gwen did have a crush on Merlin, but starting with episode 5 she was getting over it (to a certain degree of success). Too bad the writers rushed so many major developments, such as her and Arthur almost spontaneously developing feelings for each other in Series 2. It's probably for this reason that physical contact between Merlin and Gwen was limited from that point on, to tone down Colin and Angel's chemistry (the characters are meant to be Like Brother and Sister).
  • Monk: The relationship between Adrian Monk and his two attractive female assistants was certainly not an out-of-the-box relationship type. In spite of the obvious opportunities for sexual tension, there is virtually none of it, and the show is all the better for that. Overall, Sharona and Natalie are shown as feeling devotion and even love toward Monk, but in an utterly platonic, somewhat motherly way. Monk, for his part, was always dedicated to the memory of his late wife. However:
    • In "Mr. Monk Gets Married," when Monk and Sharona have to impersonate a married couple to investigate a man who's married Randy's mother, there is an eyebrow-raising tender moment where Sharona thanks Monk for letting her wear Trudy's ring to carry off the ruse.
    • With Natalie, there were a few isolated incidents where she really seemed to be coming onto him. Such as several scenes in "Mr. Monk Goes to the Bank" where she fawns over how handsome he looks in a security guard uniform, or the downright bizarre stake-out scene in "Mr. Monk and the Genius," where Patrick Kloster spots her and Monk spying on him and Natalie inadvertently blurts, "We should kiss!"
  • In Neighbours, Libby Kennedy and Stephanie Scully are meant to be 100% heterosexual. Their actors... do not portray them as 100% heterosexual. (The writers added fuel to the fire when, after Libby had left the show, Steph suddenly started dating women.)
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • It's probably down to Jennifer Morrison having chemistry with half the male guest stars on the show, but Emma and August certainly seemed as if something was about to go on. Most of August's early scenes consisted of him flirting shamelessly with her and yet nothing came of it. It almost seems as if the writers retconned into a platonic thing, as August was Put on a Bus in Season 2 and Emma was then given two more canon love interests. August's Season 4 return at least acknowledges this somewhat — with Killian getting a little jealous at their conversations.
    • As noted here, the chemistry between Snow White and Red Riding Hood and the way their scenes are shot look very couple-y. Although Red is a Shipper on Deck for Snow and Charming, there's no denying the sheer amount of Les Yay Snow and Red have.
    • Emma and Regina have been noted to have this, particularly from Season 4. One episode is devoted entirely to Emma attempting to rebuild her friendship with her. And Emma's devotion to Regina is startlingly like that of a lover, especially in the Season 4 finale. Despite both of them having canon love interests, many fans are convinced that Emma and Regina are the show's Official Couple. It helps a bit that they share a son in different ways — Emma is Henry's biological mother while Regina is Henry's adoptive mother. Both are devoted mothers to Henry so Emma and Regina's relationship to each other and to Henry can play as Has Two Mommies.
    • Despite Aurora being married to Philip, he's out of sight for most of Season 2 and she shares more screen time with Mulan. Writers seemed to pick up on this one and subvert the trope by revealing that Mulan actually is in love with Aurora.
    • Emma and Lily have this in spades. Lily first appears in a flashback as a special friend that Emma once had. Their scenes are shot, lit and scored in a way that made fans wonder if Lily was really Ambiguously Gay. If the character had been a boy, it would have immediately been interpreted as a love story. Naturally when Lily was brought back, the Les Yay aspect was played up in their scenes even more.
    • Season 3 also sets up a She Is Not My Girlfriend moment between Hook and Tinkerbell (yes, really). When Emma asks if they were ever involved, Tink denies it while Hook implies it. The matter is never approached again.
    • Despite Ariel's introduction episode being all about her trying to win Eric's heart, she shares only one scene with him. And yet she makes more of an emotional connection with Snow. The friendship between them is given far more development and screen time than Ariel's crush on Eric.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: Jane and Maura are intended to be Heterosexual Life-Partners, but unless one of them is literally in bed with someone else it's very easy to just pretend that they're married. Given the amount of time Jane spends are Maura's house, it wouldn't be difficult for a casual viewer to mistake them as living together. There has been no shortage of subtext, including multiple instances of falling asleep in the same bed, undressing in front of one another, Maura being the only non-family member present at Rizzoli family events (many of which Maura hosts), heart-to-hearts between both Maura and Jane and Maura and Jane's mother, and long, significant glances and meaningful lines, as well as several probably unintentional but still rather poignant parallels. It's firmly established that Jane cares for Maura just as much as her brothers, and Jane is implied to be the first close friend Maura has ever had. The writers have tried to temper this by introducing a revolving door of increasingly "perfect" love interests for both characters and putting more and more emphasis on their love lives with other people, but to no avail. The end of season four has a scene where Maura starts crying after she finds out that Jane might get engaged (she doesn't).
  • Scrubs has J.D/Dr.Cox as the most popular ship in the fandom and part of the reason for this is because J.D's Hero Worship of Dr. Cox comes off like a serious crush. J.D is one of the very few people who gets to see Dr. Cox's more vulnerable side, he often insists on being touchy-feely with Dr. Cox, even when he gets viciously rebuffed, calls him "Perry" in later seasons and records his voice so he can play it back to him later. They even treat a Nerves of Steel woman who has a Nervous Wreck of a husband and J.D comments they remind him of himself and Dr. Cox, who doesn't deny it. Dr. Cox meanwhile calls J.D "newbie" or some variety of girl's names and refers to him as "my intern/attending", plus he drags J.D to a bar with him in the middle of the night, while J.D is in his pyjamas, because he doesn't want to drink alone. It doesn't help J.D/Elliot was supposed to have been sunk in Season Three by them becoming increasingly dysfunctional and they only got together again very late in the show when Bill Lawrence caved under fan pressure, while Jordan was only supposed to be a Oneshot Character before she gets made into a recurring one and she's basically just a Distaff Counterpart to Dr. Cox.
  • Smallville:
    • Chloe and Clark, non-stop. The producers tried to sink it via Word of God multiple times, but the way they write their relationship, they just like torturing viewers. More than one article covering the special "Justice" made the mistaken assumption that Clark's jealous guarding of Chloe from The Flash—er, Impulse was on his own behalf rather than Jimmy Olsen's. Given that this behavior has been happening all the way up to and including Season 8, it's difficult to blame people for the Chlois theory when they keep doing this.
    • Clark and Lex in earlier seasons. There was a lot of unintentional(?) innuendo in their relationship, starting with Clark performing CPR on Lex in the Pilot. Director's commentary for the pilot suggests that they either invoked this intentionally or can see how they started it, joking about the CPR being Clark and Lex's first kiss.
  • On So Weird, the writers devoted a lot of screen time to the close relationship between Carey and Molly, for whatever reason. The writer's admit that Carey came off as too mature for it to have a mother/son vibe, and could easily be seen as a May–December Romance.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Cam Mitchell and Samantha Carter. Word of God said that the Carter/O'Neill ship was Official Couple, nonetheless at one point the Suspiciously Similar Substitute page referred to Mitchell picking up where O'Neill left off with Carter. Particularly the macaroons scene from "Line In The Sand".
    • Earlier, like all the way back in Season 1, there was Samantha and Daniel, who seemed to hit it off and share several very shippy emotional scenes. These dropped off significantly later on, so this can probably be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness. Also, it would have been rather inappropriate, since Daniel's whole reason for being on the team was to rescue his wife from the Goa'uld. However, in what was intended to be Daniel's swansong, Samantha weeps over his fatally injured body saying she never told him how she felt about him. Which is just... weird.
  • Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis. They're written like they're the show's blooming romance, and actors Torri Higginson and Joe Flanigan certainly play it like they're a couple. In spite of the relationship's popularity, the writers completely deny any such thing.
  • Stargate Universe went the other way. Chloe Armstrong appeared to be developing a strong relationship with Eli Wallace, a somewhat chubby math geek. This was nixed when she suddenly started sleeping with Lt. Matthew Scott.
  • Star Trek:
    • Most Star Trek: Enterprise viewers assumed Captain Archer and Science Officer T'Pol were intended to be each other's main romantic interests since that's how they were written, until the writers put a stop to that by grabbing hold of T'Pol's Belligerent Sexual Tension with Trip.
    • The Deep Space Nine writers famously stopped giving Bashir and Garak so many scenes together when they found out the characters had a huge shipping following. It didn't help that the Bashir and Garak subtext was (according to Andrew Robinson, Ron Moore, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe) put there deliberately with the expectation that nobody would really notice. The same thing happened shortly thereafter with Bashir and O'Brien, but this time the writers realised the slashers were gonna slash anyway, so they continued to emphasize that friendship.
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk and Spock are either in love with each other, or this trope. It's possible they started out as the latter, but the writers were certainly aware of the former interpretation by the time The Motion Picture was filmed—the novelisation reveals that there are rumours about the relationship even in their universe. Instead of attempting to de-slash the relationship, the movies seem to take the subtext and run with it, to the point that the two of them can arguably be read as a married couple. "The noblest half of myself", anyone?
    • Star Trek: Voyager actually managed this with a breakup: Kes dumps Neelix while possessed in "Warlord", yet everyone treated this as though it was a genuine end to the relationship and both were free to move on. They also managed enough Ho Yay to kill a slashficcer on contact, culminating in a Strangled by the Red String relationship between Seven and Chakotay, both of whom had had more romantic chemistry with Janeway than they had with each other.
      • SF Debris has pointed out in his reviews how scary it is how much chemistry Harry has with Tom than with any of the show's other characters. Like the episode where Tom gleefully points out all the times Harry fell for a woman who for one reason or another he stood zero chance with. "But I'm sure there's nothing gay about this."
  • In Suburgatory, Tessa and her father George sometimes act more like a couple than a father and daughter. In particular, Tessa has a tendency to refer to George by his first name, instead of calling him "Dad" or "Father". The show even lampshades this when George's friend Noah calls their relationship disgusting.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam and Dean are unusually co-dependent (to the point of it being unhealthy) for just being brothers. They risk their lives for one another countless times, and both of them readily admit they are each others' greatest weakness. In the early seasons especially, the brothers were very touchy-feely with each other, especially Dean towards Sam (though Sam gave as good as he got in Seasons 3 and 4, when he was pretty well permanently terrified that Dean was going to die). Throw in more emotional scenes, brotherly-devotion speeches, and Died In Your Arms weepery, and they definitely stretched the idea of how "normal" brothers interact. In later seasons this seems to have calmed down, but the brothers have also finally learned how to hug. Eric Kripke, the creator, has admitted that he can see why so many fangirls see the Homoerotic Subtext between the brothers, lampshading it several times during the series, and one of the Exec Producers herself has been known to refer to the show as The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean.
    • Dean and Castiel got so many emotionally intense scenes highlighting their "profound bond", like Dean becoming a depressed mess after Castiel's supposed death and carrying around his trenchcoat as a keepsake and Castiel repeatedly prioritizing Dean's life over his own, Heaven, and the safety of the entire world, that some fans honestly thought that the show was setting them up to be a romantic couple. Like with the above Sam and Dean example, later seasons tried to dial back the Ho Yay between them and emphasize that their bond was a friendly/family-like one, but that didn't stop the shippers. Interestingly, the final season confirmed that Castiel really did love Dean romantically, so either the showrunners eventually decided to just partly roll with this Relationship Writing Fumble or the fans weren't all that far from the mark after all.
  • Allegedly, the writers of Tin Man were going to ship DG and Cain, but Neal McDonough refuses to film love scenes of any kind. As such in the miniseries, fans are split down the middle as to whether there was an attraction — or more of a father/daughter relationship. The fact that Cain believes his wife to be alive for half the story muddies the issue even further.
  • Veronica Mars: In the first half of season two, the writers put Veronica and Duncan back together as a couple (after quite a while of both the characters and the audience believing they were most likely half-siblings!), and, according to what the writers and show-runner said in interviews, it was a supposed to be a happy, healthy relationship. It did not come off that way at all. Instead, it came across as a miserable relationship where Duncan was having dreams about his ex-girlfriend Meg, generally acting as though he would rather still be Meg, keeping secrets from Veronica. On top of everything, the sex was clearly lousy.
  • Victorious: Tori Vega and Jade West are supposed to be enemies and competing for the same guy, Beck. However, as many fans have pointed out, they seem to have more sexual tension with each other, to the point where it's borderline Belligerent Sexual Tension. Tori often goes to great lengths to help Jade and win her approval. Jade for her part, seems to often flirt with Tori and will often go to Tori when she's upset. The two are also twice made to play a married couple and even go on a date (albeit by force). Jade also ditches her boyfriend Beck in the final episode and instead spends it with Tori. It got to the point where phrases with their ship name started trending worldwide on Twitter, and the show and creators started to lampshade it.
  • The writers of Wizards of Waverly Place seem to have given Justin and Alex, who are brother and sister, an almost Belligerent Sexual Tension-like dynamic. It stems, just like the example from Chuck, from the fact that Justin was intended to be a next-door neighbour only for it to be switched late on in pre-production. It doesn't help that one episode featured Alex accidentally wishing that everyone forgot Justin was her brother, causing their own mother to comment that they'd make a cute couple. They try to remedy this by giving them both relationships, and the Justin/Juliet one almost works. Then they got rid of Juliet, when they made her an eternal mummy slave and didn't bring her back until near the end of the series. And right after Juliet left, Alex came and comforted Justin, giving him a big, consoling hug.
  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files are a classic example. The idea that the characters would have an intense platonic relationship but not be sexually or romantically interested in one another was firmly established in the original idea for the series, and the writers repeated it in interviews for years. But by around Season 5 or so the characters seemed to have different ideas, and eventually the writers went with it. It's an interesting case of a Relationship Writing Fumble becoming a canon relationship.

  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town was supposedly not meant to sound like a bisexual romance song. The singer is jealous of her exe's new girlfriend. It would be bad enough that the singer is using the term "girl crush" incorrectly, however the song is dripping with Les Yay. With lyrics like "I wanna taste her lips/Yeah, 'cause they taste like you/I want to drown myself/In a bottle of her perfume" and "I don't get no peace/Thinking about her under your bed sheets/The way that she's whispering/The way that she's pulling you in/Lord knows I've tried/I can't get her off my mind", it seems like the singer is equally into both individuals.
  • "Let's Love" by Echosmith, was originally written as a duet despite the fact that the two singers are siblings. When the label decided to make it a single, they understandably wanted it rerecorded as a solo.
  • "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, at face value, sounds a lot like incest. However, Word of God says that "little sister" was just supposed to be slang for "girlfriend" and is not actually about siblings.
  • "Drops of Jupiter" by Train is usually interpreted as a Grief Song addressed to a deceased girlfriend or wife by people who don't know the background behind it, since the lyrics make it seem like a Love Nostalgia Song. It was actually written as a tribute to the lead singer's mother, who had died a few years prior to the song's release.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Scars of Mirrodin Block of Magic: The Gathering, Venser is supposed to have a relationship with Karn akin to that of a long lost pupil meeting the remains of his mentor... a relationship that was never developed beforehand (in fact, downright Out of Character, considering both of them had more chemistry with Jhoira, Karn as a friend and Venser as a perv, and Karn actually disliked Venser), and this was never developed in the novel anyway.
  • In an earlier Mirrodin Block of Magic: The Gathering, the main characters Glissa — an elf — and Slobad — a goblin — were supposed to be good friends or adopted family at best. However, between the frequent kisses she gives him, the fact that she doesn't mind undressing in front of him, and the blatant confession that he is important to her implies something else. The epilogue in the 'Fifth Dawn' only made it worse. Considering it was caused by bad writing, the writers were asking for the fumble.

  • In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Albus and Scorpius develop a forbidden relationship with one another that involves them risking their lives for one another, defying other people's attempts to keep them apart, and is even paralleled at one point with Snape and Lily's relationship. Said relationship is supposed to be strictly friendship, with Scorpius asking out his actual crush Rose at the end, but some readers interpreted it quite differently.
  • Sunday in the Park with George has perhaps one of the oddest examples out there, introducing a fumble between a man and an apparition of his deceased great-grandmother that may or may not actually be there. The man in question, George, is the identical great-grandson of painter Georges Seurat, and she seems to think he's him, but Sondheim probably should've thought before giving lines like "We have always belonged together" to relatives.

    Video Games 
  • Bahamut Lagoon was ambitious. Instead of following the more common romance tropes, the hero starts in a relationship with the princess, only for her to make her own decisions and pursue somebody else while growing to face a greater destiny. But in execution, it created Square's single most loathed female character, at least in the country where it was sold. Falling for the man who helped kill her father should have been heavy and dramatic, but Princess Yoyo's dialogue around him sounded meme-inducingly shallow. The way she struggled with her remaining feelings for the hero came off as selfish and emotionally manipulative. All the while, the player got the hero's perspective of reassembling her kingdom, fighting an empire to save her, and continue serving her. Also her name was Yoyo, so it was harder to see her as deep. Aside from being one of the earliest cases of NTR, there were too many emotional gut punches for what most players saw as an unlikable heroine.
  • Chzo Mythos: The sex scene in Six Days A Sacrifice; the idea is that the character who'd lost most of their hope for survival proceeded to hop into bed with each other, in what Word of God says was supposed to be representative of their descent into near-savagery. This was widely assumed to be badly done Fanservice. He's remarked that if he had the chance to remake the game he would turn it into a rape instead to properly convey the tone he was going for.
  • The creators of the infamous Atari 2600 porn game Custer's Revenge claimed in response to criticism that the game was meant to depict a consensual sex scene where Custer seduces the woman. However, between the context of an American officer having sex with an Indian woman, the fact that other Indians seem to be shooting at Custer as if they're defending her, the fact that the woman doesn't move and is up against a cactus (implying her to be restrained somehow), and the lack of any story to imply seduction, with the back of the box saying "she's not about to take it lying down"... well, suffice to say the accusations that the game depicted a rape were hardly unfounded.
  • The relationship between V and Johnny Silverhand in Cyberpunk 2077, though how much of it is this trope and how much is deliberate Ship Tease is debatable. The game features four romance sidequests, and Johnny isn't one of them. In a mission called "Tapeworm", V can jokingly ask if sex was the first thing Johnny thought of when he took over their body, with Johnny quickly saying that V's not his type. Despite that, there's a lot of moments that hint that their bond might be something deeper than simple Platonic Life-Partners/Heterosexual Life-Partners: The achievement for completing the mission where V gets the biochip with Johnny's Virtual Ghost on it is called "The Lovers" (after the arcana symbolising human relationships, not only romantic ones), he can compare his and female V's dynamic to an old married couple, he seems jealous when V pays attention to someone other than him, and a sidequest where you fix a broken rollercoaster and take it for a ride together is called "Rollercoaster of Love", after a song, like most missions in the game. The pair's constant snarking and bickering can be read as Belligerent Sexual Tension, and the whole progress of their relationship brings to mind countless "enemies to lovers" stories. There are also Dummied Out voicelines of Johnny calling V "My princess/prince" completely sincerely (why they were cut is unclear). Johnny's behavior in the "Temperance" ending makes him look like he's mourning his soulmate. Their relationship can be easily read as platonic or romantic, depending on the player's preference. There are so many of these moments and the subtext of Johnny growing to love V as the game progresses is so strong, that some fans speculate that in early development, Johnny was actually a fully-fledged romance path.
  • Many first-time players of Death Stranding mistakenly assume Amelie is Sam's estranged wife when she's actually his sister albeit an adoptive one. The confusion is probably caused by a mixture of their exact relation not being discussed all that directly in the early parts of the game, Sam's wife getting offhand mentions before it's established that she's been dead for awhile, and Sam and Amelie's early interactions making sense either way, which all causes players to make an incorrect connection in their heads. It really doesn't help that Sam at one point jokingly compares their relationship to that of Mario and Princess Peach; in context, he's just riffing on the fact that he's spent much of the game trying to rescue her from kidnappers, but given that Mario and Peach aren't siblings...
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, while Wang Yuanji is Sima Zhao's wife, she seems to show more affection towards his brother Sima Shi. This was remedied in Warriors Orochi 3 and the official sequel Dynasty Warriors 8, where Yuanji showed a lot more affection and loyalty to Zhao.
  • All Final Fantasy games suffer a little from this. Most of the time, the main hero usually doesn't show his emotions for other girls, or any kind of romantic feelings. That is somewhat justified, since you can root for you favorite couple, but at the same time, the canon couples tend to have a Broken Base.
    • Final Fantasy IV has Cecil/Rosa/Kain in a love triangle. The intent was for Cecil and Rosa to be in a relationship from before the start of the game, and Kain to be his friend who secretly loved Rosa. Many have pointed out that Cecil rudely kicks Rosa out of his room for trying to talk to him about his feelings before leaving to go and talk about his feelings to Kain, and that he always seems more worried about Kain than Rosa; while Kain complains about having to spend time with Rosa, viewing it as a punishment, and insists he'd rather be out fighting Cecil instead. Even Kain's statement of jealousy about Rosa comes across more like he was jealous of Cecil's qualities that allowed him to attract Rosa, rather than desiring Rosa at all for himself.
    • Final Fantasy VI:
      • Terra has some Ship Tease with any male character she talks to. At first, Locke saves her, then Edgar gives her a reason to fight, Banon welcomes her into the fold, Sabin helps her with her faith — and even Celes (a woman) get to bond about their mutual ability to use magic and whether or not they can fall in love. Later she has a long talk about feelings with General Leo, and about not having feelings with Shadow. Her lover? No canon love interest.
      • Ultros is supposed to be a Dirty Old Man with a taste for pretty girls, but has a non-trivial amount of Ho Yay with Chupon (especially in the Japanese version). Square and the fans alike have run with this and make frequent jokes about his bisexuality — from his description in Final Fantasy: All the Bravest (which describes his relationship with Typhon as 'questionable'), to the description on his menu item in Square Enix's Eorza Cafe, to his attraction to Bishōnen Noel in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Many gamers when playing VII for the first time thought Barret and Tifa were a couple, or a couple that had recently split up.
      • Marlene is introduced in a Bait-and-Switch scene implying she's Cloud's daughter with Tifa, and although it's immediately revealed that she's actually Barret's, the perception influenced Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children where Cloud and Tifa act like Marlene's parents, with her dad Barret never interacting with her beside appearing with her in the group photo in the ending.
      • Johnny's relationship to Cloud has confused fans for years. The intention behind Johnny was that he was a friend of Tifa's (possibly ex-boyfriend) who had grown up in Midgar before the start of the game and feels jealous of Tifa's crush, Cloud. Unfortunately, the crucial early scene establishing Johnny's antagonism towards Cloud (where he yells at him and begs him to 'treat her like an angel of this slum') was cut, so the player's interactions with him in Midgar only show his good side, and we never learn about his affiliation with Tifa. This means the later scene where Cloud encounters Johnny in Costa del Sol and he berates Cloud seems to come out of nowhere, in addition to his lines being mistranslated so that he ends up telling Cloud: "We were in SOLDIER, and childhood friends before that. You were such a playboy. And a @&$%ing murderer!" Since Cloud's backstory is extremely confusing anyway, fans were stuck. Many assumed Johnny was mistaking Cloud for Zack (the person Cloud had taken his Fake Memories of being in SOLDIER from); a previous (unrelated) scene had shown Cloud reading a letter Tifa had received from a childhood friend who'd left Nibelheim to live in Midgar, which many other fans assumed was Johnny. In reality, all Johnny had been saying was something like "It can't be! You're that ex-SOLDIER, [Tifa's] childhood friend, and sexy playboy! A, and... a murderer!" It's at least finally cleared up in Final Fantasy VII Remake where Johnny just has a crush on Tifa while he's trying to get to Cloud's good side by calling him "bro" with little success.
      • The original draft for Lucrecia's story would have had her as the one woman on Hojo's staff, being drugged and raped to serve as mother of the genetically modified baby that would become Sephiroth. This was cut and replaced with Lucrecia being a willing participant in the experiment, which has the effect of turning her originally intended Lost Lenore role into a weird, abusive relationship where Vincent is still obsessively in love with a woman who did crimes against humanity. Dirge of Cerberus ramps this up to the point where she is responsible for the death of Vincent's father, and yet he doesn't love her any less.
      • Part of the reason the Complete cut of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children came out was because, in the original movie, Cloud had far more to do with the unrelated Vincent than he ever spent willingly talking to his own family members. The extended version gives him an actual relationship with his adopted ward Marlene, when in the original he only had a couple of scenes where he was even in the same room with her.
      • Vincent in Dirge of Cerberus has UST with Shalua, a certain flirty tinge to his relationship with Yuffie, and an Implied Love Interest plotline with a character that biologically appears as a ten-year-old. His official love interest is still Lucrecia.
      • In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Tifa and Aerith are both Cloud's love interests, who get parallel scenes where each one shows him around the area of Midgar they live in, each asks him about their outfit, each do the Pietà Plagiarism pose with him, and so on... until they meet each other, get on better with each other than they do Cloud, agree to go on "a date" with each other, and start to exclude Cloud from their plans and dungeon puzzle activities, which makes him visibly annoyed. Since Cloud is a Celibate Hero with No Social Skills who is always defensive around the girls, showing profound discomfort and clumsiness even with hugging or touching them, his romantic chemistry with them is limited compared to how much they are both able to react with open affection for each other. Even in The Drum, when the party is divided, Cloud is partnered up with Barret to develop their bromance while the girls continue to cheer each other on, joke and, apparently, flirt.
    • Final Fantasy X After Tidus has met Yuna, he has a dream about the two of them preparing to run away to Zanarkand—only for Rikku to show up, angrily saying he said he would take her. The dream looks as if it's setting up a love triangle between the three. But by the time Rikku joins the party, Tidus and Yuna are already established as the Official Couple and later all Rikku's scenes with Tidus make it clear they're Like Brother and Sister.
    • Final Fantasy XII has no official romance, but a lot of Ship Tease. Vaan and Penelo look as if they're set up to be Like Brother and Sister, and Penelo seems to be The Not-Love Interest to him. But then the game ends with an implication that there is a romance involved ("every sky pirate needs a partner"). Balthier is The Casanova but he has special affection towards Fran, and there is a line from her in the sequel that says he tried to woo her. There's also a line in the ending about how Ashe misses Basch; the way it's delivered suggests it's in a romantic way rather than platonic. There are also one or two scenes that hint at a Vaan and Ashe pairing—as her Defrosting Ice Queen moments are usually with him. But again nothing is confirmed.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • Fang and Vanille. Nothing is exactly stated, but Fang's heavy concern for Vanille and her readiness to take on the world if it meant to protect Vanille, just made their interactions a little subtext-heavy. Same with Vanille, who went out to find Fang, after being separated from her earlier on. Whether it's intended as Homoerotic Subtext, Heterosexual Life-Partners, a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship or simply a carry-over from the original concept of Fang being a man and their interactions not changed is anyone's guess.
      • Hope and Lightning. They spend a good amount of time alone together when the party splits up and Lightning does take Hope under her wing, to toughen him up. Their interactions can easily swing between motherly/mentor feelings on Lightning's side, but can just as easily be seen as romantic. Then came Lightning Returns and put a heavy subtext into the relationship of Lightning and Hope note , to the point that it almost feels like they are being set up as a romantic couple, which caused the English localization to lessen this emphasis and throw in a nod towards a potential crush from Hope towards Vanille, only to be immediately denied and never brought up again as the game keeps marching into Lightning and Hope's territory. Then the post-game novel was released, and any kind of subtlety is thrown off the window, starting with Hope (now reborn as a young man) denying having ever seen Lightning as a mother figure and revealing he went insane over illusions of Lightning prior to his abduction and the author (who is also the scenario writer for the trilogy) dropping major hints towards Lightning going to meet Hope in the in-game epilogue.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Due to the relaunch of the game, much of the Scions characters and relationships were a case of All There in the Manual for players who didn't play 1.0. 2.0 didn't spend much time re-establishing them. For the most part this wasn't a huge deal, but it did lead multiple players to misunderstand the relationship between Thancred and Minfillia. Since the former is a pretty big playboy and also cares very deeply for the latter, many players misconstrued this as romantic love, when in actuality it was closer to parental. See, in 1.0, Minfillia's father died in an accident, and Thancred felt guilty for being unable to save him, leaving her an orphan, so he (along with F'lhamnin, the woman responsible for said accident) essentially became her foster parents. He even at one point in Heavensward has to clarify to Krile that his interest in Minfillia is strictly non-romantic. So when he Took a Level in Jerkass during Shadowbringers, it wasn't due to potentially losing his love for a child, it was because his daughter was planning to sacrifice herself for a young girl that looks just like her. If there is anyone that Thancred is really interested in beyond his playboy ways, it's F'lhamnin.
    • Final Fantasy XV:
      • The entire game, practically. The story's constant focus on the relationship between Noctis and his three male friends, combined with his obvious reluctance to get married, can come across as him being a closeted gay man and marrying purely for politics. It doesn't help that he only interacts with his canon love interest in two or three scenes on-screen, while there are entire quests called "Tours" dedicated to Noctis just hanging out and bonding with any three of his friends one-on-one.
      • Ignis, towards Noctis. Brotherhood is a major theme of the game, and the four main characters are described at various points as having a brotherly bond of friendship. At one point Regis explicitly tells a young Ignis to serve as a brother to Noctis. But Ignis's extreme level of dedication to Noctis, including his willingness to throw away the entire world's future in exchange for his friend's safety among other things, and the fact that his relationship with Noctis employs numerous of what are typically thought of as Love Tropes, to the same or even greater degree than what Noctis's actual love interest gets, caused quite a lot of players to come away believing his attachment to Noctis is rooted in feelings of a more romantic than brotherly nature instead, and not always because of Shipping Goggles.
      • Speaking of Lunafreya, although she and Noctis are supposed to be the Official Couple, and is said to have been in love with him since childhood, most fans who saw Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV believe she had more romantic chemistry with Nyx Ulric. This is likely the result of Kingsglaive being based on the early portion of the game from when it was still Versus XIII, and in taking over Noctis's original role, whatever romantic development Noctis was supposed to have with Stella was inadvertently carried over to Nyx's interactions with Lunafreya. It also doesn't help that Lunafreya is a notorious case of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character in the main game and that even fans of her and Noctis's romance have heavily criticized it for being Strangled by the Red String, leaving her relationship with Nyx to be the better developed of the two.
    • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Agrias Oaks is a conflicted bodyguard to the princess. The princess gets captured, so Ramza offers to go along to help, despite his superior's objections. When his superior turns on Agrias in an attempt to kill said princess, Ramza fights him off. Later, the princess is captured once again and Agrias is forced to flee, getting saved by... you guessed it, Ramza. At this point in the game, however, she joins the rest of the generic player characters and can die permanently... Whereupon she gets a few lines of dialogue in the next fight, and then nothing whatsoever. The War of the Lions rerelease then went and added an optional mini-event where Mustadio reveals his previously-unmentioned crush on Agrias, with the possibility that she might reciprocate. So, which character is supposed to be her romantic interest, again?
    • The two main characters of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates are the (twin) brother and sister pair Yuri and Chelinka. Presumably their interaction was intended to be platonic, but when Yuri is swearing to always protect Chelinka and never to leave her side, this gets a lot harder for the players to believe...
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Ike, The Hero of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a very ambiguous sexuality that has been debated for years in the fandom. In the first game, it looked like he was bisexual on account of having massive amounts of Ship Tease with Princess Elincia and Soren (though Elincia's share of Ship Tease seems to have been added only the English script). In the second game, Ike's romantic subtext with Elincia was written out entirely, to both give way to Elincia being more receptive to Geoffrey's Bodyguard Crush on her (which can end up in marriage if the player so desires) and ramp up the amount of Ho Yay between Ike and Soren, painting the second more as a Straight Gay. Then Fire Emblem Awakening revealed a character named Priam, who wields Ike's sword and claims to be his descendant. While some fans have simply settled on believing Priam to simply be a descendant of Ike's sister Mist, which is a rather plausible idea due to Marth being a descendant of Anri the Hero through Anri's brother Marcellus, it's not necessarily a perfect theory, so any attempt to "prove" Ike's sexuality one way or another through the way inheritance now works have fallen through. As such, if Priam is Ike's direct descendant and Ike was intended to be either straight or straight-leaning bisexual all along, the writers on both sides of the ocean did a pretty terrible job of getting that across. However, due to Ike's lack of what could be perceived as romantic attraction to either of them from his side of things, it is possible for none of the above to be true at all.
    • Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a case of the opposite with Rafiel and Nailah. While the game makes it clear they're close, and that she saved his life in the past, what little interactions they do have don't seem particularly romantic and an optional conversation gives Nailah Ship Tease with Tibarn. The two also lack a paired ending. So some fans were surprised when Rafiel and Nailah's appearances in a special Fire Emblem Heroes banner made it explicit that they are a couple, and always have been.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening can be seen as doing this with Chrom and the Avatar. While it makes sense for them to be close, due to them being the main characters and best friends, Chrom has four (five if you count the Village Maiden) other possible brides and the Avatar of either gender can marry anyone of the opposite gender. But the writing in the final arc puts so much emphasis on the relationship that it's like they're married no matter who you chose for their spouses; with the possible exception of Lissa, Frederick, Lucina and maybe Basilio and Flavia, any other spouse of the Avatar gets pushed into the background, and Chrom's wife stops being relevant after chapter 13. Even the Future Past DLC makes a big deal of how much the Avatar loved Chrom and features them watching over Lucina together at the end. If you ship either character with anyone else, it can be really jarring. Part of this (such as the "love" line during The Future Past) was a case of Lost in Translation: the Japanese version was always careful to be ambiguous about their relationship (so that their dialogue would make sense regardless if they were married, in-laws or just friends) but the English language has much less room for ambiguity.
  • Isaac, from the Golden Sun series, has a warning for his fellow Heroic Mimes: Don't have a talkative best friend (Garet) who constantly reminds you that you have to rescue your girlfriend (Jenna). The fealty to the pairing, plus scenes where the two interact directly, could easily be misconstrued as intent on him staking his own claim. (And since you're a Heroic Mime, you can't say anything to counteract that impression; not even to the Player!) Furthermore, don't make things worse by allowing another female on the team, no matter how useful she is (Mia).
  • Rox the Charr and Braham the Norn from Guild Wars 2 had a relationship layered with Ship Tease when they were first introduced in Season 1 of the Living World, most notably when Braham reacted to Rox excitedly telling him that she might earn a place in a Charr warband like a boy hearing from the girl he has a crush on that she's getting a scholarship to a university on the other side of the country. It came to a head during the climax of the season, when Braham's leg was broken and Rox refused to leave his side, despite it costing her the place in the warband she craved, even when Braham was telling her she had to go. Unfortunately this was never developed further after this, with the developers admitting on a livestream that the two were Just Friends.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • The writers have a strong tendency to overdo the scenes with Sora and Riku. Most people seem to agree that the actual fumble comes when they reunite in Kingdom Hearts II, in which Kairi and Sora simply have a hug (which, at first, he makes somewhat awkward-looking by not hugging back for a few seconds out of surprise), while in the reunion with Riku, he gets on his knees and cries his eyes out going "I looked for you!". At the same time, though, the series makes it very clear that Sora cares deeply Kairi, and he did get on his knees for her too earlier, albeit not in front of her and in a sadder context (and the HD remaster made it more apparent that he actually cried over her too in the Gummi Ship after learning she had been kidnapped by Axel.)
    • Many of Sora and Riku's interactions in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance are especially heavy on the Ho Yay. This probably stands out most near the end while Sora is comatose. One could argue that it's not even a fumble at this point, and the writers are well aware of what they're doing.
    • The first two games also created a bit of subtext between Sora and Ariel, not helped by the fact that her canon partner wasn't in the first game. The first scene between Sora and Ariel does have something that looks like flirting going on. Ariel's desire to see other worlds is paralleled to Sora's ambitions at the start of the game. Plus they share a couple of intimate scenes and Ariel is the only one of the Disney characters to worry about never seeing Sora again. But Sora is clearly attracted to Kairi and Ariel gets paired up with Eric in the second game (something that Sora actually helps with).
    • Kingdom Hearts III shows that they didn't learn from the Sora/Ariel thing, as it recreates almost exactly the same scenario with Sora/Rapunzel. Much of the gameplay in Corona boils down to "Rapunzel sees a new outside-world thing and Sora shows her how awesome it is". In KHIII, this is a vehicle for fun minigames, where in Tangled, it was a vehicle for romantic development. Making this either better or worse is that, unlike in KHI Atlantica, Rapunzel's canon romantic partner isn't Adapted Out — Flynn is right there in your party as well, watching as this all happens, and you half expect it to turn into a Love Triangle.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, any and all Romance Sidequests were reduced to this. It appears the reason for this is that Obsidian's Chris Avellone is quite anti-romance, and even goes on record that he doesn't want one in his games unless it ends badly.
  • X and Zero from Mega Man X are infamous for being the biggest Ho Yay couple in the series, despite only being best friends in official canon. The biggest source for this is X5, which had some pretty heartfelt lines during the climax and especially this line from the ending.
  • The author of Mermaid Swamp has stated on her Twitter that she finds it surprising people ship Rin and Seitaro together, as she considers them to be Vitriolic Best Buds at best. In the game itself, they can unintentionally come off as having Belligerent Sexual Tension instead, due to scenes such as Seitaro running into the bathroom when he hears Rin scream, then staring at her while she's naked, and Rin teasingly suggesting they "sleep together". The pair also seem a little too insistent that they'd never be attracted to each other, and in one of the bad endings Rin outright commits suicide to be with Seitaro after he died.
  • Metal Gear:
  • In Millennium: A New Hope, an RPG by Indinera Falls, two of the main characters, Marine and Benoit, seem to have slight hints of Ship Tease in their dialogue, despite the fact that they are cousins. They even have their own mild Shipper on Deck, a fairy named Jeanne.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Not so much a "writing fumble" as "forgetting to delete the dialogue", but the player character's relationship with either Bishop or Neeshka. Depending on your dialogue choices, Neeshka can swear to a male PC that she won't let anything happen to him and that he's her "most important person", while Bishop will flat-out ask a female PC to run away with him, and may later admit to having romantic feelings for her.
  • Persona 5 has Ryuji and Ann, who have been friends since junior high. Their Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic seems to come across as Belligerent Sexual Tension. The game does make efforts to potray the two as Platonic Life-Partners, by having Ryuji bluntly reject Ann's offer for a date and asking her to introduce him to a rival model, while Ann is hinted to have a crush on Joker during her Confidant events. However, there are still some moments and cutscenes in the game's story, which can easily cause the player to second guess the nature of their relationship, such as Ann being shown to be the most devastated and later upset at Ryuji, for seemingly making a Heroic Sacrifice to save the rest of the Phantom Thieves during their escape from Shido's Palace, which can be a bit awkward if Joker is dating her, since he's just shown standing around smiling as he watches his girlfriend look like she's on the verge of confessing her love for his best friend.
  • Super Street Fighter IV has Guy and Rose, most evident during their Rival Battle and during their endings. It seems as if Capcom was trying to pair these two up, despite the fact that Guy is already married to Rena (at least by the time of Final Fight: Streetwise, if one considers it canon). Never mind the fact that Rose would appear to be a Celibate Heroine (at least, as long as Bison is still menacing the planet), meaning that she and Guy were probably intended to be portrayed as Platonic Life-Partners.
  • Suikoden V:
    • The relationship between the main character and his younger sister — who is the crown princess and heir apparent of the queendom — is, perhaps, depicted as being a little too close. While it does work the way it was probably planned (making the player care for her, and providing a real motivation to rescue her when she becomes the prisoner of rebellious nobles early on), it can easily be misconstrued as Brother–Sister Incest (and No Yay, too, just for good measure). Especially considering that the two of them share a bed at one time, and that the "Good Ending" has you, following her coronation as Queen, take on the position of General of the Armies, which is reserved for the Queen's Consort.
    • If you talk to NPCs in Sol Falena before the final dungeons, they will say that your sisterly queen intends to radically reshape the state: turning the Queendom into a constitutional monarchy and abolishing the whole "tournament winner becomes Queens' Knight Captain and Queen Consort" tradition being at the top of her agenda. On the other hand, the good ending heavily implies that the prince ends up with Lyon, who also happens to be his sister albeit adopted... Well, at least, the children won't be inbred.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Rebirth, Claire is Veigue's Implied Love Interest, and he does show interest in her wellbeing. The problem with this is they are adopted siblings. This can Squick people out and have them seeking out another love interest for Veigue, which is easily found in Tytree. Tytree is constantly trying to win Veigue's approval and respect, and is in general his emotional support in later portions of the game. They also have a very subtext-laden fistfight partway through the game, and afterwards Tytree is ecstatic at being the "closest one to Veigue." Yeah. Add that Tytree doesn't seem all that interested in women and the alternate couple of Veigue/Tytree is quite reasonably popular, enough to rival Veigue/Claire.
    • Natalia and Guy in Tales of the Abyss. She is obviously in love with Asch and that is their relationship in the game. But during an emotional time at the mid-point of the game, Natalia gets some bad news and Guy becomes extremely kind and gentle towards her. While Guy has always been mentioned to be a bit of a smooth-talker towards women, despite his gynophobia, he pays extra attention to Natalia at this point, is the first one to notice when she is too distracted to move on and cheers her up. Ultimately, nothing comes from it and was never intended, despite the two still having moments of being together when the party splits up.
    • Tales of Xillia has the official couple as Jude and Milla. However, in Jude's route, he gets ship-teasing with any of the party members. He is the first person who is really kind to Elize and becomes important to her, with implication-to-outright-stating that her dream is to become Jude's bride. There is a ton of, though onesided, teasing with his childhood friend Leia. And then there's that tethering thing with Muzét. Whether the developers were a little too open or having fun with ship-teasing all over the place or because they honestly never intended it to go that far, most people saw more natural chemistry between him and the other girls. Even with Alvin. The flirting with Alvin is almost certainly deliberate, with how Alvin constantly draping his arm over Jude and flat out asks him very on whether he swings both ways.
  • The Last of Us does a rather positive example of this between Joel and Tess, despite what Word of God has claimed. In-game, their interactions and trust in each other can be read in various ways, with Bill mentioning 'trouble in paradise' at one point, but nothing ever being a name for the exact nature of their relationship. Tess does say at one point that 'there must be enough here', being the closest to indicating that there might be romance between them, but whether it goes into the physically intimate or merely a deep bond of trust realm is up for interpretation.
  • In TRON 2.0 (alternate continuity than TRON: Legacy), Monolith seemed to be trying to imply some interest between Jet and Mercury, but the pair had a critical lack of scenes together, and Mercury spending half that screentime under a memory wipe put a severe damper on it.
  • Metroid: There was speculation after Metroid Fusion whether Adam was just Samus' CO or whether there was more going on between them. Metroid: Other M states Adam is a father figure to Samus, but there was still enough confusion that some reviewers accidentally listed Adam as Samus' boyfriend.
  • This trope is the reason why there's lots of Ho Yay between Rean Schwarzer and Crow Armbrust in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. The game is supposed to treat the two of them as rivals who have differing opinions of the war and why Crow shot the chancellor, while Rean is a bonafide Chick Magnet and does have a few women attracted to him. Unfortunately, the game presents them being a couple who underwent a bad break-up and are trying to mend their relationship. The game does have some elements of dating sim for Rean to pair up with any girl but unfortunately, all those events end up being optional and can be skipped by players if so desired. Crow's events, however, are mandatory to the plot (he's technically The Dragon) and Rean always thinks about Crow even if he's not there. Even Rean's rant towards the chancellor that Crow supposedly killed but turned out to be not dead is all about for Crow and why the chancellor didn't stay dead (said chancellor is Rean's missing dad which complicates things). It doesn't help that both Rean and Crow end up having the only Combination Attack in the entire Erebonia arc. Even Lloyd and Rixia's combo attack from the previous game isn't in Cold Steel II! Succeeding games just made things worse where in Cold Steel III, Rean thinks about Crow way too much while on Crow's end, he starts remembering who he is after he sees Valimar (and Rean's students) fight against The Nameless One. After Rean kills The Nameless One in rage for killing one of his friends, Crow immediately stops fighting Alisa's team with his mask dropping and immediately jumps down thousands of miles to the bottom of the Gral of Erebos (summoning his mech) and immediately restrains Rean to get a hold of himself. Meanwhile in Cold Steel IV, an in-game month passing by where Rean breaks out of his confinement, Crow (and Duvalie) team up with him but before the fight starts, Crow tosses Rean, who is still in his Unstoppable Rage, a 50 mira coin and Rean has a mild response to it. And then there's the First Rivalry of the game (where all the Divine Knights have to fight in specific areas and whoever loses gets absorbed by the winner) where Crow nearly disappears but Rean won't let him by hugging Crow so tightly while Valimar reverses the absorption and gives the power back to Ordine to sustain Crow's life. All these happen before Rean even starts doing any bonding events.
    • If you thought that was the end of it, The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie takes things Up to Eleven where Crow joins Rean's route twice compared to the rest of Old Class VII. And in Rean (and C's) Final Boss fight against Zoa-Gilstein (who is not the Final Boss of the main game), he joins with them. In fact, he, Rean, and C cannot be taken to the main Final Boss of the game (as Lloyd leads that). Finally at the end of the game, he and Rean interact with each other instead of Rean interacting with one of his 11 love interests. In fact, the choice for Rean having a love interest at the start of Rean's chapter is only referenced twice throughout the entire game: once when Rean remembers her and the other is when Jusis apologizes to the simulated version of Normal Ending Rean from Cold Steel IV (long story) that he didn't bring his loved one in that Rean's final moments. Can anyone tell how Rean is supposed to be a harem protagonist?

  • While Word of God has it that Miho from MegaTokyo isn't gay, she does seem to have a very close, intimate emotional connection with Ping. Or rather, Ping has an emotional connection with Miho, but not vice versa, mostly caused by Ping being a naïve cutie and Miho being a Manipulative Bastard.
  • Davan/PeeJee in Something*Positive. Word of God claims it was fumble initially but turned into trolling the shippers after they started asking when they would get together. Eventually he made clear that the two would never get together, at least in part because the "real PeeJee" is against the idea.
  • Stunt and Bumper from Dominic Deegan gave off extreme vibes of Ho Yay from the start. Except they were only meant to be Heterosexual Life-Partners. In the end, the creator just went with it and gave them several moments of Ship Tease.
  • In Cucumber Quest, the Nightmare Knight is supposed to have a parental relationship with all of the Disaster Masters. However, that was not made very clear outside of Word of God, making many people assume that Rosemaster's deep devotion and love for him were romantic rather than daughterly.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The on-panel dynamics between the main characters are meant to be entirely platonic. However, two of the closer pairs of friends are gradually gaining a Like an Old Married Couple dynamic and are frequently seen doing things alone together. When the story reaches a point where the main group would have every reason to split up, the two pairs of very good friends plan to stay together either by choice or because someone else wants them to.

    Web Original 
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
  • Flippy and Flaky from Happy Tree Friends are victims of this trope, according to most fans. In spite of the fact that the creator has set two prominent official couples (Cuddles/Giggles and Handy/Petunia), a lot of fans still want to see Flippy/Flaky happening. There are many reasons this happened, but the most important ones are the fact that Flaky is the only one who has appeared to get closer to Flippy, becoming a potential good friend of him, which apparently determined him to stop killing her. She even made him return to his normal self once, although Flaky has developed a phobia for him and she has started running away from him in the latest episode. There is also the fact that Flaky has no gender according to Word of God, in an interview that also reveals that Flaky is asexual.
  • A weirdly circular example in Hazbin Hotel. The friendship between Charlie and Vaggie was written so tenderly that many storyboard artists working on the show took them to be a couple; Vivienne decided to roll with that and they are canonically a couple now. But in the final product, their relationship is so subtle that many first-time viewers take Vaggie to simply be Charlie's friend, plus it doesn't help that Charlie is the only person Vaggie responds positively to and her goals entirely revolve around Charlie's.
  • RWBY: In Volume 7, Clover, a charming Atlas soldier, is introduced as a supportive friend in a time where Qrow really needed one. While the writing itself makes it clear they're simply friends, changes independently made by the animators that were not asked for by the writers (most noticeably, a recurring tendency of Clover to almost flirtatiously wink at Qrow), and the decisions of the official twitter account and voice actors to play up their relationship into almost romantic territory to promote the Volume (especially with posts likening them to more canonical couples like Ren/Nora and Yang/Blake) made fans assume the two were meant to be seen as a couple in the making, especially considering the fandom was, at the time, hungering for some male LGBT+ representation. This backfired immensely when the Rooster Teeth crew was accused of queerbaiting by the end of the Volume due to what happened in the last two episodes, and they admitted that these changes were not a good idea when they never intended to make them a couple.

    Western Animation 
  • The Lemongrabs in Adventure Time. Before the reveal by both Word of God and in the series itself that they were actually brothers, the ambiguous nature of their relationship caused many fans to assume they were lovers. It wasn't helped by scenes of them nuzzling each other when they first met, as well as calling their artificially created family of Lemon Children "[their] boys". Several disturbing scenes in later episodes, however, caused most shippers to ultimately jump ship.
  • All Grown Up!: While Phil and Lil's Incest Subtext in Rugrats is justified by Children Are Innocent, this spin-off has them as preteens where there are several 'wait...what?' moments; the second episode has Lil asserting her independence, moving into her own room and playing it very much like a break-up (complete with an ending that features a Better as Friends resolution). Another episode deals with Lil growing breasts, and Phil's reaction to it is very atypical of a brother. There's another episode where Phil hits it off with a friend from the soccer team, and Lil didn't like that her friend was taking her brother away from her.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Azula's actions towards her brother are nothing short of seductive, though admittedly that's how she acts with everyone. No Word of God whether or not this is intentional. But they sure loved to tease the fans with this idea such as a possible pairing in the series between her and the Blue Spirit, aka Zuko's alternate identity.
    • Azula's interactions with Ty Lee and vice versa come off as romantic, to the point where even Azula's voice actress thinks Azula loved Ty Lee, but this was unintentional. Azula was manipulating Ty Lee for her own gain and Ty Lee was afraid of disobeying her. It's just that Ty Lee's default personality is to be upbeat and friendly to everyone and Azula's default Faux Affably Evil personality, as noted above, is to act seductive towards everyone, so their interactions come off as friendlier than one would expect between a blackmailer and her victim. But that's why at the climax of "The Boiling Rock" Ty Lee betrays Azula to save her actual friend Mai without a second thought.
    • Zuko and Katara have a number of moments that look like Ship Tease and Unresolved Sexual Tension, even before Zuko's Heel–Face Turn. There is the infamous moment when they're in a cave together and Katara touches Zuko's scar, their "field trip" episode after Zuko joins their group, and Zuko's attempted Heroic Sacrifice for Katara in the finale, which ends up with Katara cradling Zuko. Many assumed that Katara was the Betty to Mai's Veronica and that the series was exploring Zuko's feelings for Katara after he ran off from Mai. Word of God says they were never intended to be a couple, but their status as a Fan-Preferred Couple led to a bit of trolling.
    • If you watch "Jet" without knowing that Katara and Sokka are siblings, it can come off like a Love Triangle between them and the title character. It starts with Katara being annoyed by Sokka's role as the boring, practical guy; she gets swept up in bad boy Jet while Sokka disapproves; then she realizes that Jet is a jerk and Sokka's way of seeing things was right all along. Switch out Sokka for Aang (whose crush on Katara is oddly not addressed in this episode) and it would be textbook early ship fuel.
  • Ben 10:
    • Ben and Gwen Tennyson are supposed to be cousins, but the writing style used in the original series is more like persistent Belligerent Sexual Tension in a No Hugging, No Kissing world mixed with a bit of prepubescent flirting. They obviously appear to like each other, helped by scenes like the Hands-On Approach slow-dance lesson. Ben and Gwen being the only recurring characters in their age range outside Kevin 11 only helps this interpretation as, well, you don't have many options. Unless you think the girl who wanted Ben as a pet is a good match for him (we'll get back to her later). As a fun fact, Gwen was supposed to be a classmate and close friend before the writers realized that they needed a good reason for her to accompany Ben and Grandpa Max on the road trip, leading some to view the Slap-Slap-Kiss dynamic as a leftover from that earlier stage of development which evolved into pure fumble afterwards. The 2016 reboot in which the duo is more friendly with each other, with Ben even giving a speech telling Gwen how great he thinks she is in one episode, has no such excuse to fall back on.
    • Ben and Kevin have a lot of Ho Yay, especially during the time when Ben was pregnant (don't ask). They change relationships every new season, since they switch between Foe Yay and Ho Yay. Especially in Alien Force, despite all the hate in the past, Ben forgets everything and trusts Kevin by the second episode (with bonus Ho Yay), and later when Kevin goes evil again Ben sounds like he is ready to kill Kevin but Gwen doesn't let him. And then in Omniverse, Kevin goes evil again but Ben saves him this time.
    • Really, the Relationship Writing Fumble is just a regular part of the series at this point. Gwen starts dating Kevin? They have more subtext with Ben and Charmcaster, respectively, than they do with each other. Ben's final love interest as revealed in Omniverse? Little-to-no chemistry between them due the character (the aforementioned girl who wanted his werewolf form as a pet) not appearing in the franchise for over 200 episodes, especially compared to the interactions between Ben and Rook.
  • The DiC-era Care Bears episode "Last Laugh" starts with the shocking revelation that "Cheer Bear ISN'T cheerful!" The reason? Grumpy Bear. Cheer Bear explaining that she feels like she's failing to live up to her name because he's the one person she's never been able to cheer up does nothing to prevent her from coming across as someone simply suffering from an unrequited crush (if anything, that only makes it worse).
  • Danny Phantom: In addition to all of his other similarities to Spider-Man, Danny's relationship with his sister, Jazz, often resembles Peter Parker's with Mary Jane (the red hair doesn't help). You half-expect Jazz to say, "Go get 'em, tiger," at the end of "The Ultimate Enemy," especially after the hug, lovingly touching his hand, and considering their dialogue sounds strikingly similar to Danny's and Sam's during their Last-Minute Hookup:
    Jazz: Don't think this means I'll stop being meddling and overprotective./Sam: I just have to warn you, I still have my own way of doing things.
    Danny: Wouldn't have it any other way./That's what I'm counting on.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk gave viewers 7 straight seasons of very strong, obviously intentional subtext between Dagur and the object of his obsession, Hiccup. Hiccup and Astrid are engaged by Season 7. In Season 8, the same episode where Dagur announces he's engaged (to a woman he met for the first time two episodes and a very short time chronologically ago) has him get down on one knee, take Hiccup's hand, and beg him to be his best man while sobbing uncontrollably about how he can't bear the thought of having his wedding without him, with Hiccup acting even more awkward than usual at his utter lack of personal space. Possibly, the scene was supposed to be Played for Laughs; instead, it comes across as an Anguished Declaration of Love from someone who knows his feelings are unrequited and is resigned to despair over his fate towards someone who knows it and wants to soften the blow.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in spades. Pepper is always jealous whenever Rhodey looks at another girl and starts a fist fight over Rhodey wanting to hang out with another friend of his who's a girl. She also has a heart to heart and long, laughter-filled date with Gene in one episode, after which she becomes his devoted Gene-can-do-no-wrong fangirl and texts/calls him constantly. Tony also comes across as flirting with Rhodey a lot of the time, made even more Ho Yay intensive whenever Rhodey yells at him to open up and stop blocking people out. They have so many heart to heart conversations and Tony apologizes to him so often it's more reminiscent of a squabbling couple than best friends. Then there's the way Whitney follows Tony around even when he's being an asshole to her (although given her abusive father, she might just be okay with it) and how far she'll go to save his life... And we're not even going to get into Tony's fanboying of Gene Khan. Oh, and in the last few episodes, Rhodey seems to care a bit more about Whitney than he lets on.
  • Kim Possible: Kim and Shego are supposed to be enemies but Shego's nicknames for Kim and the fact she really, really enjoys fighting with her carry a lot of Foe Yay undertones, something that some fans really took to. However, Shego was eventually paired with Drakken and Kim with Ron but some don't let that stand in their way. Eventually the series threw those fans a bone with the episode "Stop Team Go", where the two become friends after Shego is turned good.
  • The Looney Tunes Show gives us a perfect example of Ho Yay overshadowing the possible love interests. Bugs is shown to be in a some-what relationship with Lola (somewhat) but most of the dialogue (and premise) can be seen as Bugs and Daffy being married.
  • The Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon slipped up pretty damn bad in "Bro Bots." As an added bonus, in the last fight scene, Protoman ends up more-or-less straddling his younger brother, who then wraps his legs around Proto's friggin' waist.
    Megaman: You and me. One on one. No PANTS.
    Protoman: You got it.
  • Brad and Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot are meant to be Platonic Life-Partners. However, some episodes implied that Jenny might have something of a crush on Brad. Needless to say, the fans took notice, making Brad/Jenny the popular ship.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • The episode "Griffon the Brush Off" is very easy to interpret as a messy Love Triangle centered around Rainbow Dash, with Pinkie Pie as the Stalker with a Crush and Gilda as the Clingy Jealous Psycho Ex-Girlfriend. Even the opening is near identical to Pepé Le Pew chasing his newest true love, complete with Pinkie performing his little love hop.
    • What, exactly, is the relationship between Twilight Sparkle and Spike? They're definitely close enough to consider each other family, but the nature of their bond is never specified. They've shown signs of being friends, siblings, mother and son (Twilight did hatch him, after all), and it can be argued that Spike shows evidence of having a Precocious Crush on her at times. Asking the production crew doesn't help much either, as Lauren Faust said that she considers Spike to have been raised by Celestia, while series director Jim Miller states that he was raised by Twilight. It isn't until season nine's "Twilight's Seven" that we finally we learn that they view each other as siblings, with that reveal being the result of Spike's own voice actress asking for this issue to be cleared up. Whether Twilight's parents raised him or such duties were split between them and Celestia is still up in the air, though.
    • Cheese Sandwich's idolisation of Pinkie Pie appears to be simple respect for her talents. However there are a couple of lines in the episode that suggest he could have actually fallen in love with her. The subtext for a romance is definitely there. It may have been intentional, given that they're married in the Distant Finale.
  • PAW Patrol: A lot of fans mistakingly believe that Chase and Skye, as well as Marshall and Everest, have Ship Tease going on between them. But as series director, Charles E. Basien, said in his own words, "Those scenes from past episodes only show the friendship [Chase & Skye and Marshall & Everest] have." That has done little to nothing to stop the fans, however.
  • Velma and Shaggy have been a popular Scooby-Doo ship for years. As early as Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! there have been signs such as Velma having Shaggy's cough medicine at hand and Shaggy having a spare pair of Velma's glasses. However, this wasn't Ship Tease. It was a by-product of the two having originally been siblings during development. Some elements spilled into the final product, resulting in accidental Ship Tease. Some future productions do end up making a relationship between the two Ascended Fanon however, granted if only briefly, such as Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Bow and Glimmer got this both ways. Writers and cast were describing them as Like Brother and Sister right up until the final season was about to be released, but a couple of episodes made it seem like Glimmer had an unrequited crush. Then, when they actually did hook up in the series finale, so little had changed about their relationship from the times it was described as Like Brother and Sister over the course of the season that many people felt like it came out of nowhere with less than half an hour of show left, making it a fumble from the other end.
    • To an extent this applies to Adora and Catra as well. While most saw their caring for one another from Day 1, between both being raised by Shadow Weaver and growing up together it's not a wonder that many viewers assumed they were supposed to be like sisters, at least until the series finale.
    • Word of God confirmed in interviews that Adora/Catra and Bow/Glimmer were the endgame plan from day one, which means that presumably the writers did not intend Glimmer and Adora to have as much Ship Tease as they did - even as they put in a scene where Adora's devotion to Glimmer literally saves her life near the end of the second-last season.
    • In a rare positive example, Catra and Adora's romance was supposed to be subtle. It was clear Noelle and the writers underestimated how much viewers would read into Adora's and Catra's interactions and quickly realized that Catra was in love with Adora.
  • Steven Universe:
    • After Spinel reveals her Tragic Backstory, she and Steven sing a duet called "Found" where Steven assures her she will love again (in those exact words) and offers him her hand. Spinel's hesitant body language, the focus on their joined hands, and Spinel's parts in the song all suggest a Defrosting Ice Queen finally opening up and falling for someone new after being hurt. Spinel's immediate shine to Steven and her Clingy Jealous Girl behavior before this do not help, and neither does the fact that Steven's actual love interest, Connie, barely appears in the movie. It continues in her next appearance where she gains heart eyes on sight of Steven and immediately rushes to smooch his face.
    • Word of Saint Paul stated that Peridot was intended to be asexual/aromantic, making it unlikely that she was in a relationship with Lapis Lazuli. They have the single longest section on SU's Ship Tease page and the announcement did little to discourage Lapidot shipping in the fanbase. It certainly doesn't help that at least one other boarder openly shipped the two.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Word of God says that the main characters (with the notable exception of Official Couple Robin and Starfire) all love each other Like Brother and Sister, even Beast Boy and Raven. Although, it has also been stated that Raven and Beast Boy were written as 'an old married couple' just without the relationship part, so really, the fumble was unavoidable.
    • As mentioned, the Titans are all platonic except for Robin/Starfire. A lot of fans have trouble seeing Robin and Raven as only friendship, especially on Raven's side. They understand each other so well and have such a good friendship in later episodes that many thought Raven liked Robin and she's the only person capable of calming his mind in "Haunted", something even Starfire wasn't able to accomplish. Robin is also the one who volunteers to go find Raven in the underworld in Season Four when Trigon causes The End of the World as We Know It (even being willing to tolerate Slade's presense if it means he can find Raven). It doesn't help that in the comics Raven did have an unrequited crush on Robin. Nothing has been confirmed though.
    • Slade's obsession with making Robin, then Terra, his "apprentice" is borderline sexual, especially with him taking measures to control their bodies - Robin with nanobots and Terra with a suit grafted to her nervous system. It doesn't help that he actually slept with Terra in the comics.
    • Cyborg and Bumblebee were initially written to dislike each other in hopes that the fandom wouldn't assume she was his love interest just because they're both black. All this accomplished was making the pairing extremely popular in the fandom due to their constant bickering coming off as Belligerent Sexual Tension.
  • In Total Drama, Jo and Brick's relationship was apparently meant to be a simple rivalry between two jocksnote  of opposite genders. In practice, they have enough Belligerent Sexual Tension interspersed with moments of respect that it comes off like a romance arc where the writers just forgot to give them a Relationship Upgrade at the end. It also doesn't help that Dawn's comment about Brick having a "need to be dominated" seems like perfect setup for a Pitbull Dates Puppy scenario.
  • In the "Rebirth" trilogy of The Transformers, the relationship between Arcee and Daniel Witwicky is suddenly deepened, probably as a prelude to making him her Headmaster partner. Then at the very end of the final episode Daniel, who is literally inside Arcee's head at the moment, tries to make what sounds very much like a romantic confession only for Arcee to shush him, saying she feels the same way.
  • In Transformers: Prime, Jack and Arcee(different character than the one above) behave like they have something going on, despite one being a human teenager and the other being a fully adult transforming robot. Complete with Jack remarking that part of the reason he cares so much for her is that she was "his first" and Jack's mother remarking that Arcee "isn't the kind of girl I imagined him ditching me for".
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender:
    • The exact nature of Keith and Shiro's relationship with each other. They're the closest of the main paladins, but because the show doesn't get around to explaining Keith's backstory until two thirds into the show, it's not clear for a long time exactly when or how they got to know each other and what kind of bond they shared, and whether it was friendship, familial, or something else. Of course there's the official Word of God-supported stance that the two are very close friends. At one point Krolia mentions Shiro having helped raise Keith, and he does have some (admitted by Word of God to be unintentional) resemblance to Keith's father, suggesting a fatherly roleAlthough... . However, this is contradicted by flashbacks which show Shiro as closer to a Big Brother Mentor instead, and Keith himself also describes Shiro on two separate occasions as brotherly (although that interpretation also receives some pushback from Word of God). Meanwhile, because up to that point the two share quite a lot of Ho Yay, because Shiro fulfills quite a few of the roles a love interest normally would towards KeithExplanation , and because neither have any other viable love interests to speak of aside from Shiro's Last-Minute Hookup brought about by an Author's Saving Throw, bolstered by Shiro being gay and thus Incompatible Orientation not being an obstacle, others interpret them not as The Not-Love Interest but as each other's Implied Love Interest instead, despite the show's indications otherwise.
    • After previous seasons established that Acxa and Keith shared some sort of unspoken bond, Season 7 has a few moments of heavy Ship Tease that appeared to suggest Acxa had romantic feelings for Keith. However nothing ever comes of it, and in fact the following season focuses much more heavily on her budding friendship with Veronica.
  • Young Justice (2010): Dick and Artemis probably were only supposed to come off as friends or siblings, but their banter winds up coming playfully romantic, he already knew who her parents were but still trusted her, and then she outright straddles him in "Darkest." (It Makes Sense in Context.) Canonically she's dating his best friend, and they have enough Ho Yay themselves that some fans just ship all three together.


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