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Romantic Plot Tumor

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Love is a powerful emotion. It can completely change the way a character acts and thinks. It can be used to create drama, stupidity, comedic relief, or suspense. Maybe the writer just wants to tug at the audience's heart in a way they couldn't with the rest of the story. Whatever the reason for introducing it, love is a powerful tool in storytelling that can also make the audience feel okay with abrupt, arbitrary sex scenes.

However, like most tools, a love story can be deadly in the wrong hands. Sometimes, a writer gets so caught up in wringing every last drop of blood out of their romantic stone that they forget they have a compelling A-story to tell. This results in a Romantic Plot Tumor: a comparatively weak romantic sub-plot overtakes the potentially more interesting main plot.

At best, it results in a compelling little side-romance between two minor characters (or sometimes more than two characters) that avoids becoming too important in the grand scheme of things. At worst, it becomes a monster unto itself and brings the whole story down with it.

A telltale sign of a Romantic Plot Tumor is that you could edit out the romance thread completely and have the story still make sense (and be a more bearable length). Very common in superhero movies. The sad thing is that the creators usually put some thought and effort into crafting the romance; it isn't a Token Romance, but it turns out to be more of a glaring intrusion than a typical Token Romance.

Contrast Designated Love Interest, where a romantic subplot is given so little focus that it feels fake; why are these characters who barely know each other convinced that they're soulmates?

Obviously, considering the emotional nature of romance and the contentious issue of Shipping that arises out of it, most of these examples will fall into subjective territory.

A specific form of Genre Shift or Plot Tumor.

Strongly overlaps with They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, as many audience members who liked the plot that got overshadowed by the romance will likely end up coming to this conclusion.

Contrast No Hugging, No Kissing, which may stem from the writers having a strong desire to avoid this.

Compare and contrast Strangled by the Red String, which can overlap with this, but often happens as a result of the writers giving the romantic subplot too little screentime as opposed to too much, resulting in its resolution happening abruptly out of nowhere with little build-up beforehand.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds with its repeated moments of Hana and Arashi. The two are put into different teams and are unaware if the other is even alive, which causes fear and loss for each. While they do, eventually, find out that both are in the post-apocalyptic world, they are still kept apart. The reader is never actually told why they became a couple before the got put into cryostasis, the unnecessary drama of worrying about the other can feel out of place during intense moments in the series and Hana's slight attraction to Aramaki not only feels like it is forced to begin with but made worse because of her insistence on staying true to Arashi. As noble as that may appear, it makes one wonder why Hana is having this attraction subplot when it easily could be used for one of the other characters and expand upon them. The emphasis on Hana and Arashi's love can also feel like it's taking up potential time to show the other romances that are beginning to blossom among the cast. All in all, it comes across as if Hana and Arashi's Star-Crossed Lovers aspect is played up more and more simply for rule of cheap, emotional drama.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura: In the last part of the series a lot of time is spent on Syaoran's mounting feelings for Sakura, to the point where quite a few fans thought it started impinging upon the rest of the plot. This affected the Nelvana English dub (which edited out most romantic elements) to the point that a lot of later episodes, came out empty and nonsensical when diluted to the remainder of the plot, often retooled into clip shows.
  • Food Wars! began an arc about the appearance of underground chefs who threaten to smear Tootsuki's reputation by abusing the Shokugeki system. This set-up was apparently nothing but a vehicle to introduce a romantic rival who wants to win Erina's hand. This ended up invalidating Erina's Character Development. She went from a strong girl to a fragile person who is willing to turn her back on her friends and spend the rest of her life with some obnoxious creepy stranger just to satisfy her absentee mother who prioritizes gourmet over her daughter's wellbeing. Worse, Soma and Asahi make it clear that they are only interested in Erina's God Tongue to further their culinary skills, although Soma is slightly concerned for her wellbeing. Soma finally quashes Asahi, only for Erina to conveniently regain her confidence and curb stomp Soma at the BLUE finals. Soma heads overseas and cuts off contact with Erina. In the epilogue, in an inane twist, Asahi is revealed to be Erina's half-brother and Azami's illegitimate son, retrospectively making the whole BLUE Arc to be Surprise Incest. The conclusion of the epilogue exacerbated it further: The Ship Tease between Soma and Erina ultimately results in a Maybe Ever After, meaning that there was never a reason to introduce a Love Triangle in the first place.
  • HappinessCharge Pretty Cure! suffered terribly from this due to a Love Triangle between Megumi, her best friend Seiji, and the Cures' mentor Blue. Seiji has a crush on Megumi, but Megumi was starting to have feelings for Blue (something that hadn't been seen since the Yes! Pretty Cure 5 saga), but Blue had been sending mixed signals all the way, running with the "Precure cannot fall in love" spiel while having something towards Megumi. There's this entire Will They or Won't They? until the entire subplot is dropped when the Cures rescue Queen Mirage, return her to her true form — a Cure in the past that Blue fell in love with and broke her heart because of his duties — and they fell in love again! And anything between Megumi and Seiji is flat-out ignored! According to a PreCure fan, this is due to the writers not wanting the morals of the story to be distracted by the results. The morals is that romance can be happiness but at the same time causes misfortune and everyone should be mindful of other people's feelings even if they don't feel the same way.
  • The love affair between Yuki and Hitomi in ICE comes out of left field and goes nowhere for the rest of the OVA.
  • Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a curious case of a romantic plot tumor taking away from an already romance-based A-plot, as its focus noticeably shifts away from the two leads towards Ishigami's attempts to get a girlfriend. It didn't help that Ishigami-centered chapters are a lot more dramatic and cynical than the main plot.
  • Magic Knight Rayearth: For some, the Hikaru/Lantis romance in the second season of the anime is this due to it being both the crux of the story and ironically not being developed much aside from Hikaru just saying on a few occasions that she loves Lantis.
  • Mayo Chiki! is so much about Kinjirou and Subaru's relationship, it doesn't make the cut for Supporting Harem since the other haremettes are clearly just there for variety... but since they're so Out of Focus, they don't really do that well.
  • The first season of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 depicted the relationship between Saji Crossroad and Louise Halevy, as they were depicted as two civilians who see how the world is affected by Celestial Being's mission to "unite" the world by conflict and both ultimately suffer as a result of it. In season two, however, you can argue that this gets bloated, as Louise becomes the warrant officer for the A-LAWS and Saji Crossroad joins Celestial Being to co-pilot the 00 Raiser. Turning it into a Love Triangle is Andrei Smirnov, who is infatuated with Louise and will also do anything to protect her. This ate away screentime that could've been devoted to Allelujah battling (and accepting) his alter ego or showing the development of Nena Trinity.
  • A lot of the fan complaints lobbed at Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack center around a romantic quadrangle that develops midway through the story between the eponymous Char Aznable, Quess Paraya, Hathaway Noa, and Gyunei Guss. Quess is the direct instigator of this quadrangle, being a self-centered Hate Sink with psychic powers that affect a disturbing More than Mind Control effect on weaker Newtypes. Hathaway and Gyunei, both being weaker Newtypes, develop identical instant insane infatuations with Quess the moment they meet her and devolve from relatively likable kids (and in Gyunei's case, the Only Sane Man in Neo-Zeon) into murderous Crazy Jealous Guy types willing to shoot down allies or kill hostages if that's what it takes to impress Quess. As for Char himself, all his dignity is lost as he cold-bloodedly grooms the 13-year-old Quess to be his Tyke-Bomb (and Replacement Goldfish for Lalah Sune according to Gyunei, though Char asserts in the climax that he never sees Quess as anything but a weapon... not that that makes his actions any better or at all excusable). Worst of all, this romantic quadrangle dominates the story, motivating the actions of a good chunk of the cast and forcing the rest of it to react. The end result is that a story supposedly about Amuro and Char's final battle in large part focuses on an obnoxious child and the men (and boys) who want to bone her instead.
  • A problem with the latter half of Nagi no Asukara, where the plotlines revolving around Fantastic Racism, the Sea God, and the post-time skip plotline revolving around the declining worldwide temperatures all take a backseat to the unraveling of a love triangle that eventually grows into a love spider-web, even at the expense of developing several characters whose ultimate role in the story gets reduced to "likes this person."
  • Negima!:
    • There are two notable examples in Negima! Magister Negi Magi.
      • First is the love triangle between Nodoka, Yue, and Negi. It began with Nodoka developing an early crush on Negi and Yue trying to play matchmaker but succumbing to her own feelings. Not wanting to get in the way, she tried to withdraw before Nodoka made her realize it was okay. In the end, this love triangle became one of Yue's most defining characteristics with everyone telling her to hurry up and confess and Yue never getting around to it. It does take a back seat to the plot when she enters a magical academy due to her memory being erased though. This subplot strings along for several hundred chapters before getting a partial resolution a few months before the series ended and in the end, it went nowhere at all. Both Nodoka and Yue were rejected.
      • Secondly is the relationship between Setsuna and Konoka. It became a princess/bodyguard-type relationship before yuri subtext began to grow. Setsuna's angst over the matter became the defining part of her character arc and lasted several hundred chapters without progress even after a pactio. During the ordeal, Konoka's actual character diminished to insignificance.
    • Four big examples in UQ Holder!:
      • The shoehorned Time-Travel Romance between Touta and his mother figure Yukihime/Evangeline. Before it happened, the story was setting up the start of a plot-relevant Tournament Arc where Touta would go to the top of the Space Elevator in the finals and face his most powerful enemy Fate and his missing grandfather Negi. Then, literally out of nowhere, Yukihime's former teacher Dana kidnaps Touta and takes him to her castle located at the Void Between the Worlds to train him and some of his friends. In the middle of his training, Touta continues bumping into a Yukihime from the Middle Ages and the two quickly develop romantic feelings for each other while all of the plot and other characters are completely pushed aside.
      • When it looked like the manga was going back to the Tournament Arc, it was once again discarded in favor of putting all focus on the potential romance between Touta and Kirie. All the main characters suddenly wanted to drop everything so they could play matchmaker for Touta and Kirie. Several chapters were totally wasted on excessive Fanservice antics from a naked Kirie with Touta. It got to the point that the rest of the Unwanted Harem became utterly irrelevant because the other girls are always so Out of Focus that they don't try to get Touta hard enough or are rooting for Kirie.
      • Kuroumaru, the Expy of Setsuna mentioned above, was plagued with a very similar problem to their Shinmei-ryuu predecessor. Kuroumaru was presented as a person with No Biological Sex who was struggling to define their gender identity before they had to choose their physical sex at their sixteenth birthday, but Kuroumaru's character arc was soon dropped in favor of Kuroumaru's angst over their feelings for Touta. The issue went over a hundred chapters with no progress even after Kuroumaru confesses the truth of their body to Touta right before they make a pactio.
      • Right when it looks like the main cast will go to the Final Battle against the Big Bad, the plot gets derailed by an abrupt Time Skip where Touta is separated from his allies and must go look for them. As he finds the girls, entire chapters are spent on them advancing their relationship with Touta including having sex with him while all other characters and plot points are thoroughly ignored or put on hold.
  • Shakugan no Shana introduces an unimportant romantic plot rather early on. After a few yearly arcs had passed, it's to the point that more time is spent on telling you how this unimportant romantic subplot side-character feels about the events than on actually showing these events.
  • Many fans find the affair between Yasuko and Fumi in Sweet Blue Flowers rather puzzling, especially in light of Fumi's obvious feelings for her childhood friend Akira. The whole thing feels rushed and tacked on and looks more like an elaborate scheme to establish that Fumi is truly lesbian. It seems like the author realizes the inanity of it all when she decides to have Yasuko Put on a Bus, but not before spending up to two manga volumes on the relationship.
  • Sword Art Online has Kirito and Asuna. Their relationship practically overtakes the whole escaping the MMORPG storyline, even though it barely has any development. Still, they end up kissing (not before some Belligerent Sexual Tension), get married (only in-game, though), have sex (supposedly), and kind of adopt a child (which is actually an artificial intelligence). One wonders why the makers even bothered with Kirito's Supporting Harem when we are supposed to believe that Kirito and Asuna were meant for each other from the beginning. Compounded in that the writer himself admits regularly that he has no idea how to write supporting female characters, so he just makes them love interests.
  • The anime adaption of Valkyria Chronicles has this shoe-horned in about midway through, which changes Faldio's, Alicia's, and Welkin's characters whilst adding angst for the sake of it. This is made particularly grating by virtue of the fact that if the writers wanted to add romantic tension all they had to do was include either Noce or Juno from the game. The Love Triangle wouldn't have been that bad, though, if it didn't keep popping up during inopportune moments in ways that make the viewer question the characters' professional competence.
  • Quite a few fans of Wagnaria!! resent that the developing relationship between Inami and Takanashi has more and more taken center stage, considering how the series is filled to the brim with other interesting characters.
  • In the Wandering Son anime, the protagonist has a crush on Takatsuki which gets mentioned all the time. In the manga the crush is brief; Nitori doesn't like when people refer to it and it's not mentioned much afterwards. In the anime, their characterization and scenes are warped to make the crush appear to continue long after it ended in the manga.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Batman (Tom King) got accused of this in regards to the Batman/Catwoman romance, mostly because Bruce became obsessed with it, especially after Selina ditched him at the altar. After that happened, it was the only thing in the world that mattered to Bruce, causing him to flat-out abuse his family in frankly unforgivable ways and claim that Selina was the only person who could make him happy. What was supposed to be a psychological romp and character study of Batman was greatly diminished by the fact that it essentially ignored his relationships with every other character but Selina and to a lesser extent Alfred.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): The series is this in spades, especially during the period between the 90s and 160s. To wit, Sonic and Sally had been part of a Will They or Won't They? plot for ages when they decided to toss in Mina Mongoose as a third wheel. This lasted all of 30-40 issues before Sonic and Sally became the Official Couple. For all of ten issues before they broke up again. Then there was the time Sonic was with Fiona, which didn't pan out and she ended up with his Alternate Universe Evil Twin Scourge. Then Sally spends time with Monkey Khan before rehooking up with Sonic again... only to get turned into a robot. When the universe had to be rebooted, Archie quietly dropped Sonic and Sally's relationship entirely, which actually proved greatly beneficial for both characters.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord's first solo series ended up suffering from this for most of its run. It had a good start, introducing some characters like a lost sister of Peter and some interesting plots like the mystery of a new villain who put a bounty on Peter's head. However, it also introduced Kitty Pryde, who became Peter's new girlfriend in another book. At first, it looked like the relationship would be developed as a side plot in between Peter's many adventures, however, the couple was well-received by fans, and soon the book turned into the Star-Lord & Kitty Pryde romantic adventures. Every other subplot was forgotten with the exception of the one with the new villain, in favor of showcasing Peter and Kitty's developing relationship to the point that a whole crossover event was planned just to keep developing the relationship.
  • Les Légendaires: The Shimy/Shun-Day/Gryf Love Triangle was this by Book 16 in the eyes of most fans; it ended up reducing both female characters to borderline Satellite Love Interests, Gryf acted more and more like an asshole, the author kept portraying it as comical when it was supposed to be tragic, it ended up stealing the spotlight to vastly more interesting characters and antagonists, and on the top of that its conclusion was done by killing off Shun-Day. There is a reason Book 16 is considered one of the weakest books in the series, and book 15 (which reintroduced Shun-Day's character) doesn't fare much better. "A Deadly Love"? Give me a break.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic ran into this in the four-issue "Reflections" arc. While the main premise of the cast going to a Mirror Universe was positively received, the actual story is centered on Celestia's relationship with that world's version of Sombra, leaving lots of readers to claim that They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot.
  • Robyn Hood: Robyn's romance with German Villaraigosa, in The Curse. It's not only that her romantic interest in him doesn't bring anything to the story, beyond an excuse to keep the plots of Sam's possession and the ritual murders around the city connected. But it's also the fact that Robyn Hood is... well, Robyn Hood. So how do you think a character named like that, would feel about a rich asshole that thinks that he can get away with everything because he has money?
  • Spider-Man: Most of the relationships since "Brand New Day" can be seen as such. Most of them have no bearing on any of the ongoing plots at all. Even Peter's relationship with Carlie Cooper — which was set up since the very beginning of BND, with plenty of time spent emphasizing just how "perfect" the two are for each other - ultimately ends up being largely irrelevant and has hardly any impact on any of the major events in Peter's life. Even in Spider-Island, Peter's relationship with MJ — his ex-wife/ girlfriend — is more important to the plot than his relationship with Carlie, who was his girlfriend at the time. This is especially egregious since the creators emphasized how important Peter being single was to the story, essentially arguing that the stories "couldn't work" if Peter wasn't single. The Carlie relationship has actually become fairly critical to the main plot in Superior Spider-Man (2013), well after the actual relationship ended. Carlie is one of the few people who knows that Doc Ock has taken over Peter Parker's body. However, this is only made worse by the fact that Carlie just isn't that interesting or sympathetic as a character on her own and her "relationship" with Peter is by far one of the least convincing romantic subplots the web-slinger's ever had.
  • X-Men: The series loves to drum up romantic tension between two seemingly randomly selected characters. Usually it only leads to one or two scenes of flirtation — a "Romantic Plot Freckle" if you will; sometimes it leads to an actual ongoing relationship - a "Romantic Plot Appendage," say; but sometimes it ends up as a full-fledged Romantic Plot Tumor, with an inordinate page count being devoted to a relationship that ends up being dropped as soon as the writer loses interest (or left the book) to be rarely, if ever, mentioned again. The one example of this that hasn't gone into remission, despite both sides of it being dead, would be Wolverine and Jean (Old Man Logan and Teen Jean are around, but have more of an Intergenerational Friendship than anything else - which is good because as observed in comic, anything else would be creepy). Canon-wise, Scott and Jean were the One True Pairing, with Wolverine housing a crush on Jean and Scott being jealous. But eventually, they included Jean being attracted to Wolverine despite Scott's existence, though any time Scott got overly jealous he'd be called out on this, despite, you know, actually having good reason to be annoyed. Wolverine basically ends up with the only thing going for him is his love for Jean, and he'll angst about his inability to have her because of Cyclops despite the fact he has a lot more things to complain about, and Jean will all but cheat on Cyclops without actually consummating anything with Wolverine until it ends up with her almost stringing them both. Basically, whenever this gets played up, usually at least one of these three ends up being driven entirely by this in characterization. To make matters worse, it seeped into the films, being the biggest defining romance in the series - though they did at least have the sense to have Jean be fond of Logan, but not be inclined to do anything more than flirt a little and, as Logan puts it, she ultimately chose Scott.
  • Wonder Woman: When the series was rebooted Post-Crisis her traditional love interest Steve Trevor was paired up with Etta Candy instead and every attempt to put Diana in a relationship with a new guy was met with derision and lack of interest by the fans and rarely did anything for the story other than distract from it. This, combined with the wildly successful Wonder Woman (2017) movie (where Diana and Steve's romance was highlighted as one of the best parts of the film), is probably why Steve was restored as Diana's primary love interest DC Rebirth onward.

    Fan Works 
  • Forged Destiny suffered from this. Jaune's romance with Blake ends up forming a significant amount of Books 3 and 4, and to the detriment of the rest of the cast due to him being the point-of-view character. The author would take notice and promise to reduce this in the next book, only for Book 5 to arguably make it worse, as the story now focused on their relationship threatening to fall apart due to Jaune carrying the Idiot Ball regarding both his love life and the main story for the entire arc. This culminates down the line in the latter half of Book 9, which is dedicated to how the love triangle between Jaune, Blake, and Ruby is affected by newfound political problems and issues that the characters must now grapple with.
  • The Longest Road has a lot of this, mixed with Gotta Ship 'Em All and Strangled by the Red String. The author even considers it necessary to list every single ship in his story, even though they bear little to no impact on the plot whatsoever. This happens even with the two main couples, Ash and Misty, and Brock and Sabrina.
  • Draco and Ebony's relationship in My Immortal is a particularly resilient tumor: even when it's quelled into submission by actual plot, it promptly becomes malignant again and overtakes anything else that's happening. This leads to the pair engaging in sex or just making out in the middle of random other events.
  • Inverted in My Inner Life. The relationship between Link and Jenna is the central topic even if there's nothing going on in it besides them just being super happy with each other. Every other plot point awkwardly bursts in instead. Though it could be argued that the trope is played straight since the romance plot wildly overshadows events it really shouldn't. For example, Link goes off to war and the only concern given by the narrator is that Link might not be home for the birth of her first child with him. The entire war is ignored and resolved within a chapter so Link can get home, Jenna can have her moment being happy to have him back and the romance can continue drama-free.
  • Ojamajo Doremi: Rise of the Shadows: The sub-plot of Majorin actually loving the Queen ultimately takes precedence over the fight between Light Beings and Shadows. Said sub-plot isn't mentioned in the summary whatsoever and only comes into play around the middle of the story, yet the main plot of Light vs. Shadows eventually comes off as just an Excuse Plot for shoving Majorin x the Queen down the reader's throats. The sequel, going by external sources and what is already written, is just as bad.
  • Showa & Vampire started out seeming like it was going to be going for a mostly action and adventure-style plot sprinkled with some romantic and teen drama elements. Shortly into the second arc when the other main protagonists were introduced, though, their social lives and the introduction of girls to fill out the characters' harems pretty much swallowed up the plot. Villains showing up on campus to fight the main characters seemed to happen just so there'd be some kind of reason to justify them being such powerful fighters.

    Films — Animation 
  • One reason why Batman: Hush (2019) was so polarizing among coming fans was that a great deal of the canon material from the comic was omitted in favor of Adaptation Expansion focusing heavily on Bruce and Selina's romance.
  • Bolívar, el Héroe: The romance of Rosa and Américo just was felt as filler and bordered on marginalizing Bolívar's story.
  • Gulliver's Travels: A damn good portion of the movie is spent emphasizing David and Glory's love for one another and their wedding, and they barely even get any real screentime or non-singing dialogue! Their wedding is LITERALLY only in the beginning to start up the conflict, but the thing is Glory and David have no personality beyond loving each other and don't get to really talk till the very end of the movie, so the whole wedding plot comes off as this super contrived just to shoehorn in a reason for war.
  • Igor: There's no point to the Igor/Eva romance, and it just comes out of nowhere.
  • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths: The main story is about the league trying to liberate an Alternate Universe from a group of evil counterparts known as the Crime Syndicate. Despite that, the film ends up spending quite a bit of time developing a romance between the Rose Wilson of this Earth and Martian Manhunter. Had the story taken place in the DC Animated Universe as originally intended, it would have probably been valuable character development for him, but it ends up being pointless as that is not the case.
  • While in the original story of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax the nameless boy came to get Truffula seeds from the Once-ler to restore his world after being turned to a total wasteland, the CGI animated film adataptation by Illumination on the other hand, decided to give the boy (who in the film is named Theodore "Ted" Wiggins) a generic love interest as his main motivation for Truffula seeds to solely win her affections because she wanted to see a real Truffula tree.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree: The human world's Twilight enters a relationship with Timber in that film. It only helps Twilight's emotional problems very temporarily, and has no role in actually helping her overcome the fears she developed in the previous film, yet takes a visible part of the movie's running time.
  • Open Season: The third film puts great focus on Boog and Ursa, as well as Elliot and Giselle's family, to the detriment of other plots and characters.
  • Shark Tale: The romance between Oscar and Angie is often cited as one of the film's weakest aspects. Oscar's actions make Angie's attraction for him unbelievable in the first place, the characters have little chemistry or reason to get together aside from the film needing an obligatory romance, and removing it would not make much of a difference to the film's narrative.
  • We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story:
    • Louie and Cecilia's romantic subplot seems to just exist for the sake of having a token romance in the movie at all, and it overall comes off as cloying.
    • Elsa's crush on Rex. Unlike Louie and Cecilia, this one's way more ambiguous, given Rex's reactions to Elsa's flirting show he doesn't feel very comfortable about the whole thing, even when she flat out reveals her feelings right after the climax. Thankfully, it's got just two scenes and that is all.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • And Then There Were None: While this is surprisingly averted to a certain extent in Agatha Christie's stage version and the 1945 movie version, one of the biggest complaints from purists about the Harry Alan Towers film adaptations is that they focus much, much too heavily on showing the blossoming relationship of the two survivors rather than focusing on the much more interesting mystery that made up the original story.
  • Annie Hall was going to be a movie about a murder mystery, with a small romantic subplot. It was not until during editing that the makers discovered their work had been overgrown with a romantic plot tumor and decided to just roll with it, creating the template for modern romantic comedies in the process.
  • Bloodsport has a romantic subplot that has absolutely nothing to do with the tournament that is the actual plot of the movie: it seems as if the love interest was added only to pad out the length.
  • The Caine Mutiny was notorious for having a romance that was completely irrelevant to the plot, to the point that Humphrey Bogart stated the film was "crapped up by a pointless love story."
  • The film adaptation of A Chorus Line is one of the worst cases of stretching out to tedious extent an affair (between Cassie and Zach) which should have been a minor romantic subplot - and, indeed, was originally a minor romantic subplot. This may have been done to beef up the part of Zach, who doesn't sing, enough to get a name actor to play him (Michael Douglas) since the other roles weren't and likely could not have been filled by name performers. People magazine's critic suspected it may have also been out of fear movie audiences wouldn't relate to the plights of the dancers.
  • The Departed won numerous awards and is very well-regarded, but the fact that both male leads have a relationship with the female psychiatrist is basically completely pointless, serving no point other than to have some romance in the film.
  • In the Francis Ford Coppola adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula (but not in Dracula by Bram Stoker), Dracula isn't after Mina Harker because he's an undead embodiment of evil, a monster seeking to feed on the blood of the innocent. It's because he's in love with her. Awww. And she loves him because it's a Reincarnation Romance. And Dracula wasn't cursed by God to be a vampire because he was an evil bastard who deserved eternal torment. No, Dracula willingly became one as a Rage Against the Heavens because his wife died of suicide and her soul couldn't be redeemed. Never mind that none of this was in the book, or that the forced romance between Drac and Mina leaves her acting like a complete and unsympathetic bitch to everyone around her, especially her loving husband. Unsurprisingly, the Dracula and Mina subplot only exists because of Executive Meddling, as they didn't think a straight horror film would sell tickets.
  • Enemy at the Gates keeps taking time away from a fascinating and incredibly taut plot centered around a sniper duel in besieged Stalingrad to focus on a love triangle. This one is more ironic than others: the love triangle did happen in real life, but the sniper duel didn't. That still doesn't change the fact that the sniper duel was what most people came to see. Reality Is Unrealistic sometimes.
  • The first film in The Expendables was criticized for often screeching things to a halt to focus on Lee and his relationship with Lacy. Despite the fact that she otherwise has no connection with the main story, an unnecessarily decent chunk of it was devoted to their relationship troubles due to Lee's job as a member of the titular Expendables as well as him protecting her from her new abusive boyfriend.
  • The movie Fabian. Going To The Dogs mostly resolves around the romance between protagonist Jakob Fabian and aspiring actress Cornelia Battenberg, which is turned into the overarching narrative of the movie. The movie is based on a novel by Erich Kaestner, which tells its story very differently: Rather than an overarching plot the novel consists of many subplots in which the protagonist encounters different people. The love story with Cornelia, which seems quite conventional in comparison, is just one of them. The movie also cuts on Fabian’s relationship with his best friend Labude, which is a very important relationship and character foil to Fabian in the novel.
  • An In-Universe example from The Fall: Roy is telling a story to a little girl named Alexandria. To spice it up a little — and possibly showing how he's still upset over his girlfriend leaving him for a man with a better job — a romance plot is suddenly introduced into his story. But because he's so depressed, the romance starts to become very, very bad, and in the end, part of the point of his story (with Alexandria taking over the reins) is the hero giving up on the love interest.
  • Flyboys might have been more endurable if it had dropped the love story (between two people who couldn't speak to each other, for goodness sake) and concentrated on The Squad...
  • Funny People: The movie didn't need an hour with George and his ex and most critics agree that it brought the movie down.
  • Gangs of New York: A powerful tale of revenge, gang violence, and political corruption, which takes a good half-hour out of the Day-Lewis/DiCaprio relationship for an almost completely irrelevant romance with Cameron Diaz. You could excise her character entirely, and the only other change that would necessitate would be giving Johnny a different reason for jealousy.
  • Gigli, is a mob movie about the kidnapping of a prosecutor's brother, but that was forced to the side when the movie was (re-)written to capitalize on the at-the-time romance between actors Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
  • The relationship between the Baroness and Duke is pretty central to the storyline of GI Joe The Riseof Cobra, even if it feels unnecessary to the mythos. G.I. Joe, after all, has no small shortage of improbable relationships across every canon. Ripcord and Scarlet's relationship, however, seems to have drawn almost universal scorn.
  • The biggest complaint of The Giver is the romantic story between Jonas and Fiona that was not in the book. In the book, Jonas merely had a crush on Fiona, and the tragedy was that romance was impossible for them because Fiona was irretrievably brainwashed by the community and even committed "Release" on senior citizens. Also, the Age Lift changed the thread from Puppy Love to something more serious (on Jonas' side, at least).
  • The Great Outdoors: It by no means dominates the narrative, but the subplot with Buck and Cammie can be excised from the movie without affecting the story in any way.
  • This happens in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. While the romantic subplots were in the book, they're forced to the forefront in the movie, making it seem like they are the most important part of the movie. What's even worse is the fact that by the time they revealed who the Half-Blood Prince was, the audience (at least, those who hadn't read the book) had no clue why it was important. In other words, the romantic plot made people forget what the main plot was. Granted, for some at least, the romantic subplots weren't much better in the book, either.
  • Heaven's Gate: The Love Triangle between Averill, Champion, and Ella takes up a great deal of the movie; detractors point out what little chemistry she has with both men.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) features a fairly obvious example of this trope, between Arthur and Trillian. The "original" source materials all handled their past differently, but agreed that Arthur had been briefly interested in Trillian during a single superficial encounter in the past; when he re-encounters her during the story, he displays jealousy at a few points, but not much more than that. By comparison, the movie version features an Arthur who is desperately pining over Trillian, who could have been his one true love had he not been afraid to pursue her, and he spends most of the movie time thinking about, worrying about or focusing on her. This was deliberately inserted by Douglas Adams when drafting the movie, before his death, to increase studio interest and audience acceptance of the movie. (Which doesn't necessarily rule out that the new love plot was half-baked or several draft rewrites away from being good.)
  • The Love Triangle of The Hobbit movies, between Kili, Tauriel, and Legolas, has been largely despised by critics, fans, and Evangeline Lilly. (It was the result of Executive Meddling, and actually went against Evangeline Lilly's single stipulation for being in the movie: that there be no Love Triangle.) It didn't need to be in the movie, especially since two-thirds of the relevant love triangle aren't even in the original book (and one is a straight-up Canon Foreigner), and the films were already severely overlong, which should have put their scenes first on the cutting room floor. Instead, the trio takes up far, far more screentime than ought to be necessary, overshadowing most of the non-Kili dwarves and Bilbo, all for the sake of a romance that the audience knows to be Doomed by Canon and a character who seems to be there for no other reason than his popularity. Even people who do think Kili and Tauriel have some chemistry (the scene involving the runestone in the Mirkwood dungeons is cited as their best) tend to find it overdone in the script, as the film devotes a lot of scenes to the characters reminding us of how much they love each other, how important they are to each other, and how their feelings are a love for the ages, despite having shared, at most, two conversations before they hooked up. Even the death of Thorin, the emotional climax of the entire trilogy, gets followed in the immediate next scene by Tauriel bawling about Kili and Thranduil declaring that their love was real.
  • I Am Number Four spends most of its time developing a typical teen love story. By the time it starts getting into the action the trailer led us to believe made up most of the movie, it ends. Just like that.
  • Unlike most movies made in India, the Tamil film Indian has a romantic subplot that is completely irrelevant to the main plot. The movie is about an aged ex-freedom fighter turned vigilante who is going around culling corrupt officials, and his own son is one such Corrupt Bureaucrat. Said son’s romantic pursuit of a veterinarian has no bearing on how he behaves and his own father’s pursuit of him in the end.
  • In My Country: Langston and Anna's adulterous romance takes away from the more interesting Truth and Reconciliation hearings, and they seem more like friends than lovers.
  • While a few James Bond movies have had unspectacular female leads with zero chemistry with 007, two such Bond Girls bear particular mention:
    • Stacey from A View to a Kill. On paper, she's a geologist with her own grudge against the Big Bad and she helps Bond thwart his plan to destroy Silicon Valley. But in practice, there isn't much she does or discovers that Bond couldn't have figured out on his own, and she spends more time needing to be rescued than doing anything useful. Also, their interactions read more as father-daughter than sexual (not helped by the actors' vast difference in age, which contributed to Roger Moore's decision to make this film his last outing as Bond), making their Shower of Love at the end feel completely out-of-nowhere and a bit inappropriate. It's widely accepted that the film's true female lead is May Day, but she's The Dragon who kills multiple supporting characters in service of the villain. To keep things Strictly Formula, Bond needed a good girl to be with in the end, even if she was The Load.
    • The World Is Not Enough features Dr. Christmas Jones, and while she's slightly more relevant to the plot than Stacey mentioned above, her shallow fling with Bond was seen as a distraction from his much more complicated relationship with Elektra King, especially when she's revealed to be the Big Bad. But like in A View To A Kill, Christmas exists solely to give Bond a good girl for the epilogue.
  • Jungle 2 Jungle: Most of the plot is centered around Mimi-Siku changing Michael's life, or Richard's dealings with the commodity stocks and the Russian Mafia. However, the plot completely stops for a few minutes so that Mimi and Karen can have a cute romantic scene at the pond.
  • In-universe example: In the original King Kong (1933), the reason Ann Darrow is hired by Denham in the first place is that the studio and the public want romance in his adventure movies. Based on his reluctance to do so, one can assume that a romance in one of his movies would be a case of this.
  • Man of the Year: Everything with Eleanor and Tom's fledgling relationship, which is eventually parlayed into a false scandal by the villains, especially as the movie's juggling so many other concepts as is.
  • Everyone expected Mary Shelley to spend some time on the titular character's tumultuous marriage to Percy Bysshe Shelley — but viewers weren't necessarily expecting the film to almost exclusively focus on it, to the point that her greatest professional accomplishment, the writing and publication of Frankenstein, is relegated to the third act and still nearly overshadowed by marital drama. Even more disappointing was the Historical Downgrade given to Mary Shelley, who in reality was a highly unconventional woman who was fully on board with her and Percy's open marriage and had lovers of her own. In the film, she's portrayed as a victimized waif waiting for her volatile, philandering husband to come home.
  • The Mountain Between Us has an exciting main plot about two strangers forced to help each other to survive after a plane crash in the frozen mountains of Montana. But it increasingly concentrates on a developing romance between them to the extent that the film continues for half an hour after they reach safety, and concentrates solely on the romance. It just makes the film feel like it has a needlessly stretched-out denouement.
  • The romance with Sarah (and indeed, Sarah as a character) were last-minute additions to Newsies, supposedly because, without her, the implications of close friendships between boys from different social strata and the introduction of a group of said boys who get a collective morning wash-up/shower scene in the first ten minutes would be just too obvious. They were right, but adding her didn't help.
  • Purposely avoided in Pacific Rim. Guillermo del Toro stated in numerous interviews that he dislikes how movies — particularly big-budget action movies — tend to shoehorn in a romance simply because one lead is male and the other is female. Despite a few Ship Tease moments, Raleigh and Mako end up close friends and partners, but not romantically involved.
    Guillermo del Toro: I wanted to show that men and women can be friends without having a relationship.
  • Pearl Harbor is a serious offender. As the late Roger Ebert said, it's about how, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle.
    • Firstly, the fact that it's a movie about the attack on Pearl Harbor and really has no need for a love story. The presented triangle with a woman choosing between two lovers is, for many, a hollow attempt to replicate the "romance amidst an iconic moment in history" success of Titanic.
    • Secondly, the love triangle itself drew plenty of scorn: A nurse in Hawaii falls in love with two fighter pilots. The first one apparently dies, so she goes to the other one. Then the first guy shows up alive, angst ensues, then the second guy appears to die. Eventually, one of them really does die, but only after knocking her up, leaving the runner-up to be the baby's father. By the halfway point of the movie, there was no way one could pretend to sympathize with the girl anymore; no matter which of her boyfriends died, she'd still have a spare. Titanic had Cal as a really obvious Unwanted Spouse and Jack as the One True Love, but Danny and Rafe are both meant to be sympathetic. One newspaper review at the time summarized the film as:
      "A girl has to choose between her love for two pilots when it's not clear how she tells the difference between them."
  • The Lightning Thief unfortunately gravitates towards this level, which was one of the many complaints fans had towards the film. This is partially brought on by the age upgrade in the film. While the book series grows the romance to fit with the age of the characters (from twelve to sixteen), the film has the characters at age sixteen, making the character development moot.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean has been accused of this on several occasions.
    • Elizabeth and Will's relationship troubles drag on into the sequels. Their characters' necessity to the story largely ended with their romance's resolution in Black Pearl. It's also rumored that Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley's Creator Backlash dispositions note  toward the characters stem from the romance story that took over the trilogy.
    • Though even they pale into insignificance next to the criticism of the new romantic sub-plot introduced in the fourth film, between a young missionary and a mermaid, which was so uninteresting as to have some Elizabeth/Will critics wish they'd been dragged back after all.
  • The Postman: Around the midpoint of the film, Abby and Shakespeare's romance begins to take over.
  • Prom Wars: Percy and Diana's romance is well-acted and well-developed, but since it is the focus of around a third of the scenes, many fans dislike how lots of interesting Prom Wars competitions are just given quick Montage clips as a result.
  • The 2008 film The Red Baron was heavily criticized for shoe-horning the fictional character of Nurse Kate and making her love story with Manfred von Richthofen the central plot of the film. Yep, that Red Baron. The Red Baron. They had the freaking Red Baron and they overlooked him. You could even say They Wasted A Perfectly Good Pilot.
  • A common criticism of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy. With many feeling the romance, or more so the buildup to the romance, taking too much of the plot. Especially in the sequels.
  • The Shoes of the Fisherman (1968) has a particularly egregious case. Most of the movie focuses on Anthony Quinn as Kiril, a Ukrainian bishop who becomes Pope and tries to avert a war between China and the USSR. Yet Shoes spends at least half an hour on a superfluous love triangle between David Janssen's American journalist, his wife Barbara Jefford, and mistress Rosemary Dexter. This subplot doesn't even relate to the main story (Janssen and Jefford briefly meet the Pope, without any impact on their relationship) and was widely attacked by critics.
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has scenes where the action grinds to a halt to show awkward flirting between Uhura and Scotty, a romance that is nowhere to be found in any of the other films. This is a weird example because the romance plot doesn't actually take up much screen time, but so little else happens in the movie that it feels far more time-consuming than it really is.
  • Stargate: The tacked-on romance subplot between Jackson and Sha'uri adds precisely nothing to the film.
  • Star Wars:
    • The most famous example (to the point that this trope was originally named "George Lucas Love Story") would probably be Anakin Skywalker's relationship with Padmé in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Whether this was the fault of George Lucas' writing or the actors is up for debate; either way, you're left with an almost unwatchable love story that not only takes up a majority of the movie but also takes attention away from the perfectly serviceable assassination plot (although getting in the love story was inevitably necessary at some point). Aside from the badly done scenes themselves, the storyline went like this: Obi-Wan finds a planet of cloners—Anakin and Padme fall in love next to a river—Obi-Wan learns of a massive clone army—Anakin and Padmé fall in love in a field—Obi-Wan confronts Jango Fett—Anakin and Padmé fall in love while eating dinner. There was no flow to the romance; as a result, it felt as if they fell in love Because Destiny Says So. This improves somewhat for Revenge of the Sith: while the love story is still uncompelling, it results in the conception of two major characters from the original trilogy and is pivotal to Anakin's turn to the Dark Side. Then again, putting the weight of the two most pivotal plot points of the trilogy on said unconvincing romance may not have been wise for other reasons...
    • Ironically, the post-George Lucas Star Wars Sequel Trilogy contains a similarly divisive and story-overriding relationship beginning in The Last Jedi: initial enemies Rey and Kylo Ren develop a bond after he’s tortured and violated her before murdering one friend (his own father) and maiming another (Finn)... without much time, and without much change in behavior on his part or much explanation as to why she feels attracted to him. The relationship was simultaneously as hated as this trope implies but also a popular pairing… by about half the fanbase. It managed to help make Kylo Ren (often seen as a Creator's Pet) a Base-Breaking Character and kicked off a change in focus on the story that spun off to contribute to Executive Meddling and behind-the-scenes drama to cut short his run as Dragon Ascendant so he could pull a Heel–Face Turn against a “somehow returned” Emperor Palpatine and get kissed by Rey before dying… meaning the romance and its favored member did, in fact, take over the story.
  • The Ten Commandments (1956) has a love story between Moses and his adopted half-sister Nefretiri. Not only is this romance definitely not in the source material, but the huge buildup in the first two hours of the film was abruptly derailed when Moses is exiled halfway through the film and gets foisted off on a princess from the desert. The emotional tension when he eventually returns to find Nefretiri married to his adopted brother is minimal. Nefretiri serves very little purpose in the overall film, and her one or two important actions could easily have been accomplished without the romantic tension, fluff, angst, and generally useless buildup that added an hour of length onto the already four-hour-long film.
  • The entire romance plot from Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead can be edited out of the movie with no effect at all on the story. This has, in fact, been done by some file-sharers. They simply removed every scene with the woman in it. The movie is reportedly none the worse for wear.
  • The Transformers films helmed by Michael Bay were infamous for this, crossing over with Human-Focused Adaptation. Many were deeply angered by the robots they’d actually come to see being constantly sidelined in favor of the tedious romance between Sam and Mikaela, who has virtually no importance to the story whatsoever. It got worse when Megan Fox was fired from the third film, resulting in Mikaela being replaced with some generic new girl who contributed even less. For all intents and purposes, she IS Mikaela with a few Ctrl+Fs to change the name in the script—Sam treats her like they have a long history together and wants to marry her. Transformers: Age of Extinction is widely considered the nadir in this regard, due to a scene where the plot literally stops dead in its tracks just so a side character can explain in detail why it's okay for him to have sex with Mark Wahlberg’s underage daughter. Mercifully, when the series was rebooted with Bumblebee and Bay was replaced by Travis Knight, any and all Romantic Plot Tumors were excised with extreme prejudice; the movie even has a Take That! at this near the end, making it seem like Charlie and Memo are going to be Strangled by the Red String only for him to get bluntly and embarrassingly shot down.
  • The book Tuck Everlasting is a Coming of Age Story about a preteen girl getting to know a family of Flying Dutchmen. The Film of the Book is about a teenage girl falling in love with the younger son of a family of Flying Dutchmen.
  • Tulip Fever was billeted as a Period Piece about the Dutch Tulip Craze of the 1600s. Unfortunately, the two main romances in the movie, and the various Kudzu Plots connected to those relationships, render the tulip craze to a Plot Device, mostly used as conversation fodder and as a possible means for the various male characters to quickly raise money for various personal goals.
  • Z for Zachariah: Viewers waiting for a more faithful adaptation to the book expressed disappointment that the film eschewed most of the plot points of the book in favor of a Love Triangle between the leads taking up most of the plot instead of the cat-and-mouse sci-fi thriller of the book, so much so that the film can come off as an in-name-only adaptation.

  • A lot of people feel this to be the case about the Anita Blake series. However, the veer from "action-packed, fast-paced vampire mystery/shoot-'em-up" to "S&M filled smut novels with tacked-on mystery chapter" (Micah being the most egregious example) is so extreme that it's more like a before-the-fact Actual Plot Tumor on a larger and more bulbous Romantic... thing.
  • The Aubrey-Maturin series books come to a screeching halt on two occasions due to romance/women being added to the story. The first (in Post-Captain) is somewhat excusable, as it establishes their wives and family early in the series, and was described as the author's homage to Jane Austen.
  • The romantic plot between Maximillian Morrel and Valentine de Villefort in The Count of Monte Cristo has little importance to the overall plot, except for giving the Count an opportunity to redeem himself at the end. It doesn’t help the fact that both characters are rather bland purity sues, whose relationship shifts the readers’ attention from far much more interesting members of the cast. It might be the major reason why their plot arc is cut out of many adaptations or Maximillian is replaced by a much more charismatic Albert in others.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: It's argued that the Amarantha plotline and the war with Hybern are put on the back-burn to focus on Feyre's relationship with Tamlin and later Rhysand during the first two books. The third arguably alleviates this by being more focused on the war efforts, though for some readers Feyre's romantic relationships are still given too much pagetime. Feyre and Rhysand's romance even starts to encroach on the fifth book's plot, which is supposed to be focused around Nesta, to the point that the book's climax is devoted to solving the issues threatening their relationship.
  • The Brazilian 1956 classic The Devil to Pay in the Backlands seems to suffer a little with this trope. Let's see, there's a FREAKING WAR going on, with a character seeking for revenge and others doing deals with the devil, but mostly people just remember the gay love storyline.
  • In Don Quixote, the last chapters of the First Part solve the Love Dodecahedron between Dorotea, Don Fernando, Lucinda, Cardenio, Clara, and Don Luis, leaving Don Quixote as a mere spectator in his own book. In the Second Part Cervantes makes an Author's Saving Throw when Don Quixote opines:
  • The Empyrean: While Rebecca Yarros' other work is very firmly in the contemporary romance genre, the cover and marketing for Fourth Wing focused much more on the fantasy plot about a dragon-gryphon war and a brutal dragon riding academy. Unsurprisingly, this left a lot of readers who were unfamiliar with the author disappointed when the novel focused much more on the Violet-Dain-Xaden love triangle. The war isn't really relevant for most of the book and larger fantasy worldbuilding is left vague or pushed aside for a romantic plot that, even for readers who did enjoy it, still felt somewhat rushed. In general, most readers agree it would be nice for the fantasy elements to get more focus and for the setting to be explored in greater depth, hoping that the sequel improves on this.
  • The author of the Fallen series apparently believed that the audience would be more interested in Luce and Daniel's dry, abusive relationship than an epic angel war and the threat of The End of the World as We Know It, to the point that the plot of each book can be boiled down to "Luce spends the first 80% of the book fawning over Daniel/angsting about how Daniel might not really love her/literally watching all of her past reincarnations fall insta-in-love with Daniel with actual angel stuff being shoved into the last 20% of the book."
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: Ana and Christian's romance is the main plot in the first book, but beginning with the second book, important things like Jack sexually harassing Ana and carrying out an elaborate revenge scheme against her and the Greys, Christian's ex Leila stalking him and Ana, and so on, are barely given any focus at all or occur mostly off-page, so we can focus on Ana and Christian's relationship drama and sexy times. It doesn't help that the romance is arguably rather unconvincing at best, abusive and dysfunctional at worst.
  • Wayne Barlowe's God's Demon has a romance between Sargatanas and Lilith that feels like a completely gratuitous and cliched shortcut to cheap pathos. You could cut it without affecting the story at all.
  • More than a few Harry Potter fans felt this way about the Harry/Ginny hookup in the sixth book - even those who supported the ship or had no real shipper bias to speak of.
    • Some felt this way about how things played for Ron and Hermione in the sixth book as well.
    • In general, the relationship dramas of Half-Blood Prince are highlighted by two key facts. Firstly, it gives the impression of cramming plenty of relationship development into one book, with Harry/Ginny feeling Strangled by the Red String thanks to Harry's feelings for her coming rather suddenly (barring subtle hints that many readers took as poor writing) and his "chest monster"; Ron/Hermione meanwhile embodies UST since the fact they Cannot Spit It Out becomes tiresome due to overexposure. Secondly, major developments (which are smattered through the novel) aside, the book is a Breather Episode that comes between the tense Order of the Phoenix (which was about preparing for a war that the Ministry of Magic refused to believe was on the horizon) and the climactically fast-paced Deathly Hallows (which brings all the tensions between the cast to the fore and finally resolves them, while they're on The Quest as the war finally breaks out in full).
  • The Hunger Games unfortunately suffered from this, even though the author made a point to avoid it. In the final book in the series, Mockingjay, this happens even more tragically when the author chooses to focus on how Katniss is torn between the kind, gentle, Distressed Dude Peeta and the quiet, brooding badass Gale instead of focusing on the second American revolutionary war. It's even lampshaded by Haymitch at one point: when Katniss goes to him - with bigger things on her mind than her romantic entanglings — he caustically asks her, 'What's the matter? Boy trouble again?'. The author has hinted that the triangle was a result of Executive Meddling.
  • The two romantic subplots in Into The Wild are this especially because it is a NONFICTION mystery about how (no spoiler warning necessary due to featuring on the summary) Chris ended up dying in Alaska. Chris wasn’t even involved in either subplot.
  • In Jaws there is an illicit love affair, lasting one afternoon, between Matt Hooper and Ellen Brody. It seems so contrived, it is easy to believe the rumor that it was the product of Executive Meddling. The better known (and more critically praised) film adaptation thankfully removes it and makes Brody and Ellen a Happily Married couple instead.
  • Some fans of The Kingkiller Chronicle felt that the Kvothe/Denna subplot and especially the Kvothe/Felurian chapters in The Wise Man's Fear (60+ pages of faerie sex dropped into the middle of a heroic fantasy novel) distract from the more interesting main plot. The fact that Kvothe's motivation for running off with Felurian is basically "might as well since I'm here" doesn't help either.
  • The Magicians And Mrs Quent manages to have two of these, each managing to be more egregious than the other for different reasons. The first half of the book could be reduced to little over a few pages without hindering the story any; instead, it spends two hundred pages setting up a romance between main character Ivy and another main character, Mr. Rafferdy. Naturally, as the book has "Mrs. Quent" in the title, this goes nowhere; instead, their romance is broken off because Rafferdy is a nobleman and Ivy isn't, and therefore their marriage would be inappropriate. Ivy then goes to the countryside and, after a romance that's developed in all of five pages, marries Mr. Quent. The Romantic Plot Tumor with Mr. Rafferdy is Egregious for being mere filler; the Romantic Plot Tumor with Mr. Quent is Egregious for being a textbook case of Strangled by the Red String, with absolutely none of the development put into this romance as was put into Ivy and Mr. Rafferdy's, as well as the fact that Mr. Quent is an earl, and therefore he and Ivy shouldn't be getting married in the first place.
  • Marked, the first book in The House of Night series had Zoey get a hot boyfriend and try to fend off her ex-boyfriend, but it was still mostly about Zoey becoming familiar with the vampyre world. The second book, Betrayed, put more focus on Zoey finding herself having three boyfriends at once, but the vampyre plot still had more attention and importance. The third book, Chosen, is when this trope fully emerges, with Zoey's juggling of her three boyfriends taking up as much space as the much more interesting plot with Aphrodite and Stevie Rae, if not more. It tapers off for a bit after Zoey finds herself boyfriend-less at the end of Chosen, but is back with a vengeance in the fifth book, Hunted, with Zoey even getting a new suitor to fill the place of the one she lost. It's probably telling that the most highly rated book of this series on Amazon is Untamed, the one where Zoey's love problems don't take up a large part of the plot.
  • Maximum Ride began life as a fairly decent kids' series, full of action and fighting stereotypical Mad Scientists. By book five, Max, the relationship between Max and Fang has become the entire focus of the (thin anyway) plot.
  • Realm of the Elderlings:
    • In the first books, the Farseer Trilogy, quite a bit of time is spent on the Fitz/Molly subplot and it gets quite tedious to listen to Fitz endlessly pining and wangsting over her when there's far more important matters going on (this is especially egregious in Royal Assassin), especially as Molly herself isn't an interesting or even particularly likeable character and instead just spends her time bitching about how Fitz doesn't spend enough time with her and gets angry with him for having a life outside of her. You get the impression Fitz merely likes her because she's the only girl his age he knew growing up. It's even lampshaded in the third book when Kettle points out to Fitz that their love for each other was more about who they used to be rather than who they are and their relationship is based on childhood memories and not much else. Even Fitz comes to see Kettle's right and decides to gracefully back away and let Burrich settle down with Molly instead, knowing Burrich deserves to be happy.
    • To a lesser extent in the Liveship Traders trilogy, there's the Althea/Brashen subplot that is initially just Ship Tease on both sides, but they go through a cycle of meeting up/flirting/arguing/having sex/miscommunicating/storming off/pining, repeated several times over the course of the books and it gets quite tiresome after a while, especially as Althea's goal of winning back Vivacia takes a backseat to her obsessing over her feelings for Brashen which is probably why she ends up not getting the ship back at the end of the books.
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which neglects most of the usual cast and the plots about the dolphins and God's final message in favor of Arthur and Fenchurch's love story. Douglas Adams actually suggests that readers who don't care about Arthur's sex life skip ahead to the last chapter, "which is a good bit and has Marvin in it".
  • The Story Of Tom Brennan. The last quarter of the book gets steadily overtaken by the romance between Tom and Chrissy, which just somehow solves everything.
  • Super Powereds is about five superhero kids in college, but it's really more about their college romance than it's about their superheroing.
  • Tara Duncan: Starting with book 8, even Magister has forgotten his initial goal of world domination in favor of courting Selena. It's gotten to the point that we never even find out his secret identity... But the reader is told everything about the fair amount of beta couples (Sparrow and Fabrice, Fafnir and Sylver, Mara and Archangel, Chem and Charm, Lisbeth and Various, Xandiar and Séné, Betty and a werewolf (and later Jar), Jeremy and Sanhexia, just to name a few).
  • Warrior Cats has suffered from this a lot, despite being an action series:
    • Graystripe/Silverstream — Whether their romance was tragic or overdramatic, Graystripe will forever be associated with this relationship, and almost everything in the series involving him is somehow tied in with Silverstream and his love/obsession with her.
    • Firestar/Spottedleaf — A much more divisive ship than the above (probably the most divisive of the series, in fact). Little to no relationship was built between the two while Spottedleaf was still alive, yet the entire rest of the series treats it as though they had a big, intricate romance that ended in tragedy. Their "relationship" serves the plot quite a bit despite barely existing at all. Sometimes, like in the cast of Firestar's Quest, the focus is so into this shadow of a ship that the main plot gets pushed to the side.
    • Bluestar/Oakheart — In the first series, their romance was considered a tragic story that threw both, but especially Bluestar, into a sympathetic light. In Bluestar's Prophecy, once Oakheart enters the picture, almost Bluestar's entire arc is about her underdeveloped, sudden, and short romance with him.
    • Bramblestar/Squirrelflight — While their relationship is considered one of the better ones for the most part, the plot sometimes decides to spend WAY too much time on their relationship drama and has Bramblestar give Disproportionate Retribution to Squirrelflight after the plot involving their kits. The New Prophecy focuses on them for almost half of the arc, and Bramblestar's Storm may as well be called "Bramblestar and Squirrelflight: Will They or Won't They?".
    • Leafpool/Crowfeather — These two suffer from the same issues as Bluestar/Oakheart above, only without the prior build-up. What's worse is that their relationship is the focus of more than just one book; half of The New Prophecy, the last two books of The Power of Three, and about half of Omen of the Stars are heavily reliant on their fling in Starlight and Twilight. Of course, considering what it resulted in, it is partially understandable. However, plenty of fans are sick of them at this point.
    • Dovewing/Tigerheart — Their relationship was pretty drawn out, Dovewing's feelings spanning almost the entirety of Omen of the Stars and serving as a major plot for her, despite Tigerheart's devotion being rather limited and being seen as a traitor in her eyes for helping his Clan hold her sister hostage and being in the Dark Forest. By Bramblestar's Storm, set a whole six moons after the ending of Omen of the Stars, she still has very obvious feelings for him. It took yet another arc and one Super Edition for their Will They or Won't They? to finally be resolved, with Dovewing having Tigerheart's kits and deciding to move to ShadowClan to be with him. In total, that's fourteen books, fifteen if Dovewing's Silence is counted. Understandably, their relationship, bearing almost no substance, got old fast. If one never read the chapters of the fourth arc told through the POV of the three other main characters, one would think an imminent war wasn't about to break out between the living cats and the vengeful cats of the Dark Forest.
  • Philip K. Dick's We Can Build You begins with the protagonists constructing Ridiculously Human Robots in the shape of historical figures, and getting themselves involved with a business magnate who might be too clever for them. Then the protagonist's pathological romance with the robot constructor begins taking center stage and overtaking the plot, until — in the last two chapters — all other subplots are jettisoned in order to resolve the romance, and then the novel ends abruptly.
  • In The Wheel of Time books, the author goes on and on about the Faile-Berelain-Perrin triangle and devotes pointless chapters to Perrin's agonizing over his kidnapped wife while plodding along aimlessly in his search for her, adding tedious bulk to an already horribly bloated series. Really, most of the love stories in The Wheel of Time were tumors.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A common criticism of Arrow is how much unneeded drama is mined from romantic foibles, especially Oliver Queen's, mostly because a lot of it comes down to one party lecturing the other (often with them presented as right to do so, while the audience often disagrees) or them arguing over issues that could be avoided by talking it out like adults. Oliver/Laurel was the first to get flak for this with cheating, sleeping with the sibling, love triangles, and romantic angst. Oliver/Felicity got this after becoming canon, becoming a huge part of the show and many finding it causing a negative effect on Felicity's character. In fact, Oliver/Felicity became so controversial that some jumped ship with Oliver/Laurel. It's an oft-cited reason for the extremely poor quality of Arrow Season Four, which is often regarded as the worst season of not just Arrow, as their romantic drama completely dominated that season.
  • The Kara/Lee/Sam/Dee Love Dodecahedron from Battlestar Galactica got completely out of control, hurting the otherwise enjoyable Season 3. Which is an accomplishment for a quadrangle that only existed in four mid-season episodes out of 20 in the season overall, but it seems to really stick out in fans' memories. The Will They or Won't They? between Kara and Lee lasted until the series finale, though to a lesser degree, as the writers largely abandoned the messy quadrangle for the infinitely sweeter and more organic Roslin/Adama romance.
  • The entire cast of The Big Bang Theory. Especially in the later seasons, it is very difficult to find an episode that doesn't revolve around their various relationship issues. Even Sheldon, who has a near-total lack of romantic desire, is not immune to this. The sole main character who doesn't have a girlfriend spends the bulk of his time either trying to get a girlfriend or being miserable because he doesn't have a girlfriend. The series has effectively gone from being about geeks and geek culture to being about geeks and their hot girlfriends.
  • The 11th UK series of Big Brother was thought to be the last ever at the time, and was promoted as a grand finale to the franchise. What it ended up being about was nothing but the showmance between Josie and John James. It took up most of the screentime, with hours of them just sitting under a duvet, and their fans multivoted to evict everyone who wasn't sucking up to them or even who just looked at them the wrong way, leaving a very hollow series. And, surprise surprise, they weren't together much longer after the series had ended.
  • Buffyverse:
    • The Buffy/Angel elements in "End Of Days"/"Chosen" and the entire episode "The Girl in Question" are argued as Romantic Plot Tumors for their respective series, whose leads both changed and developed drastically different lives from the one they had together. Making it worse was their proximity to the end of each series, which used precious screentime that could have been dedicated to setting up the storyline of the finale.
    • In Season 3, instead of solely focusing on the much more interesting storyline of a Slayer (Faith) turning to the dark side, along with the Big Bad's motivations, half of the season was dedicated to Buffy and Angel sorting out their issues, despite the fact that it was utterly obvious how it was going to end (Angel would leave to star in his own show, breaking up with Buffy). In other words, they stretched out a conflict (of whether or not they could be together) that could have realistically lasted about three episodes (and actually did end during the first half of the season).
  • While the Richard Castle/Kate Beckett relationship dynamic on Castle is not one of these, since the relationship dynamic between the two has for better or worse been the central driving engine of the show since the first episode, one of the frequent criticisms of the 'significant other' arcs of seasons three and four was that splitting Castle and Beckett up to be with other romantic partners damaged the chemistry between them and just bogged the show down with unnecessarily angsty and predictable subplots that ultimately didn't really go anywhere.
  • Cobra Kai: Part of the reason why the second season is viewed by some as a step down from the first season is that too much screen time was devoted to the teen romances of a Love Dodecahedron between Samantha LaRusso, Miguel Diaz, Robby Keene, and Tory Nichols. The romantic pairings of Sam with Robby, and Miguel with Tory, were viewed as boring and hard to relate to, in contrast to Season 1's development of Miguel's romance with Sam. Making it worse is that these love triangle shenanigans are what cause the karate war on the first day of school in the season finale, when Tory sees Miguel cheat on her with Sam at a party and responds by picking a fight with Sam at school, triggering an all-out riot that ends with Miguel breaking his spine when Robby kicks him over a railing, and Sam getting her arm lacerated by Tory with spiked knuckles. Season 3 was viewed as a step back to form by focusing much less on romance and tying up the love triangles in a definitive way by having Sam get back together with Miguel while laying the seeds for Robby to hook up with Tory.
  • In the fourth series of The Crown, Charles becomes one of the main characters, after receiving very little screentime in the previous series. Unfortunately, 100% of his storyline is his troubled marriage to Diana and his ongoing affair with Camilla. This plot not only dominates Charles' storyline but is also a frequent topic of conversation and concern among the other characters even when Charles is offscreen, to the point that it was one of the biggest plots in the series and overshadowed most of what Elizabeth (the actual sovereign) was up to at any given time.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Up to twenty minutes per episode for the first several episodes of Season 1 were spent on Foggy and Karen's budding relationship, possibly as an homage to the early Daredevil comics where there was a bit of a love triangle between Matt, Karen, and Foggy. This was negatively received, with many fans calling it boring filler and a Give Geeks a Chance-type romance.
    • Some feel this way about Matt and Karen's brief dating arc in season 2.
      • While the build-up and initial execution are sweet, the fact that it's ended so abruptly just as it was getting started due to Elektra's re-entrance into Matt's life, and the fact that there are some viewers seem to prefer him with Elektra, made some people feel like it was kind of pointless. Matt coming clean with Karen about his secret identity in the last scene of season 2 doesn't help, as many (especially the Matt / Elektra shippers) believed that Matt was only settling with Karen because of Elektra getting killed by the Hand.
      • On the flip side, though many fans liked Élodie Yung's performance as Elektra, some didn't feel convinced by the relationship between her and Matt. Other detractors state that it only added an unnecessary love triangle to the plot, or took up too much screen time when a slew of other interesting events was going on. The fact that her hijacking of Matt both directly and indirectly played a role in the breaking up of Nelson & Murdock also doesn't help.
    • Season 1 has an In-Universe case with Wilson Fisk and Vanessa Marianna. Fisk spends the season dealing with his criminal empire while also courting Vanessa, but in time, his focus on Vanessa gets to the point that Leland Owlsley and Madame Gao try to have her killed to get Fisk back on track.
  • One of the most criticized aspects of the 2022 version of Darna is how much time is dedicated to the Narda/Brian/Regina love triangle. It doesn't help that so much time is spent on it at the expense of the actual superhero action and how many fans feel Jane De Leon and Joshua Garcia don't have much chemistry despite how many people In-Universe declare that Narda and Brian are perfect for each other. The Regina and Brian part (despite many feeling that Garcia and Janella Salvador have better chemistry) is also often seen as unnecessary and only there to cause tension between Narda and Regina (who are destined to become arch enemies) when their differing opinions on justice are already fulfilling that role. It doesn't help that many feel that the love triangle takes attention away from more interesting dynamics, such as Regina and Narda or Regina and Ali.
  • Dexter:
    • Various seasons are afflicted with this to different degrees, such as 2 and 5, but the granddaddy of them all must be Season 4. We're repeatedly taken away from the A-Plot of the series to concentrate on LaGuerta and Batista's relationship. It's particularly galling because there's no build-up to this romance: they're already lovey-dovey by the time we see them and Batista's previous relationship is merely handwaved away. Oh, and this plotline affects the A-Plot in precisely one instance. Even worse is that it combined LaGuerta, whom many fans can't stand, and Angel, who is a fan favorite and perhaps the most likable person in the series.
    • And there's Hannah McKay, whose relationship with Dexter in Seasons 7 and 8 took focus away from more interesting characters like Isaak Sirko and Evelyn Vogel. It eventually swallowed the plot to the point that it becomes Dexter's main arc and the fight with the antagonist and Dexter's dark passenger hobby feels more like the B-plot instead.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Genre Shift between the Classic and New series from a No Budget children's horror-comedy serial to a reasonably budgeted flagship export under the BBC's "Original British Drama" imprint means that the show focuses a lot more on romance now than in the old days. This did help boost the show's popularity and achieve a similar Multiple Demographic Appeal to the show's '60s and '70s heyday, but every season arc ended up focusing on romance and The Power of Love, which alienated many Classic series fans, who had long been used to No Hugging, No Kissing. Even many non-Classic fans find it cheesy and poorly executed.
    • The relationship - later confirmed by Word of Saint Paul as a romance - between the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler was the first to attract controversy, with the Doctor spending several episodes moping over Rose being trapped in an alternate universe.
    • Steven Moffat's disinterest in writing active villains (preferring malfunctioning machines or time loops gone wrong) and background in romantic comedy meant that his promotion to showrunner made the romance elements even more prominent. Even before he became showrunner, episodes he contributed for the RTD era could focus a little too much on romance. "The Girl in the Fireplace" gets criticism from Tenth Doctor/Rose shippers for having the Doctor act out of character, abandoning Rose and Mickey on a spaceship in the 51st century to snog a courtesan in 18th century France, one episode after "School Reunion" where he told Rose that he would never leave her behind.
    • The decision to introduce River Song, who not only acted as a Spotlight-Stealing Squad in every one of her appearances but actually married the Doctor. After the conclusion of the Clara Oswald arc in Series 9, the first thing Moffat did in the post-season Christmas Episode "The Husbands of River Song" was reintroduce River, who he had supposedly written out permanently in the Series 7 finale. As Davies did with Rose and the Tenth Doctor, he had the Twelfth Doctor moping over the loss of River in the next Christmas Episode, "The Return of Doctor Mysterio", which works the relationship into the background of a new companion, but firmly brings the River business to an end to the point that she does not appear in this Doctor's Grand Finale, whereas Clara Oswald does.
    • The Series 7 episode "Asylum of the Daleks" has a subplot where Amy and Rory are working their way through a divorce, which has no connection with anything else that happens in the episode. Their very presence feels unnecessary since they don't advance the plot in any way. It's even more grating seeing as neither the divorce nor what caused it are ever mentioned again after they've got back together at the end of the story!
    • Series 8, despite having a brand-new Doctor played by a charismatic and well-liked Peter Capaldi, focused strongly on the romantic relationship between Clara and her new boyfriend Danny, meaning the Doctor and the monsters were often pushed to the sidelines. Even "Listen", the Character Development episode pitched as being about the Doctor having a mental breakdown, gives most of the screen time to Clara going on a bad date with Danny and using time travel to meet his child self and Identical Grandson. Also, from "The Caretaker" onward, a Love Triangle is established, putting an implied romance between Clara and the Doctor on top of the ongoing scenario with Danny. This plot is wrapped up in the Season Finale with a coda in the Christmas Episode "Last Christmas".
    • Justified in the final three episodes of Series 9. Clara is Killed Off for Real and the Doctor temporarily becomes a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds over the matter. Along the way, he returns to his home planet of Gallifrey after spending hundreds of years believing it was gone. As that event wrapped up one of the revival's longest-running story arcs, many fans felt it, and not the elevation of the Doctor and Clara from Platonic Life-Partners to Star-Crossed Lovers, warranted the central focus of an episode or two. However, excising the romantic aspect of these episodes would leave the finale trilogy without a substantial plot. There's also a clear implication that it is dangerous for the Doctor to fall in love, as it risks turning him into Beware the Superman. This makes "romantic plot tumours" directly related to the Twelfth Doctor in particular relevant to his ongoing Character Development, since the lessons he learns from his relationship with Clara ultimately allow him to love River the way she wanted him to.
  • A lot of screen time in Seasons 4 and 5 of Downton Abbey is taken up with the recently widowed Mary's love triangle with Charles Blake and Anthony Gillingham. Mary vacillates between the two of them until finally, Gillingham's character is derailed in order to have Mary break up with him, and then he decides to marry another woman, leaving the path clear for Mary and Blake. Just when it looks like the two will finally get together, they agree they're better off as friends, and Blake moves abroad. The entire love triangle has no real effect on any events in the show, nor on Mary, who gains yet another new love interest in the Christmas special following Season 5.
  • For many fans the John/Aeryn relationship finally degenerated into this in the fourth and final full season of Farscape. After coming up with convincing reasons for UST and angst for three seasons, much of S4 seemed like making up excuses to first have them angst and then rapidly get them together for the final third because the writers suddenly decided it was time. And Aeryn, in particular, lost practically all the dimensions she had previously so that almost everything was about her relationship with John. Most fans who feel like this think that the writers did manage to redeem the 'ship for the Wrap It Up "The Peacekeeper Wars".
  • The Nicole/Bryce/Keiko situation on FlashForward. While there were some legitimately heartwarming moments, this entire subplot could have been cut out of the show with minimum impact on the overall story, and it occasionally killed the momentum of the main solving-the-blackout mystery. Mark and Olivia's marital drama also verged on this, although that did tie into the plot more regularly.
  • One of the criticisms of the Niles/Daphne pairing in Frasier was that not only were Niles and Daphne less interesting once they got together as a couple than when they were doing the Unrequited Love Switcheroo, but that their relationship gradually began to take over the show and crowd out all the other characters.
  • Friends: Ross and Rachel. Dear GOD Ross and Rachel. It seemed that no matter what else was going on, the show made sure you never forgot about Ross and Rachel, often pushing their storyline front and center during the entire run of the show. It should be noted that the show also made a point of having the other four characters make no secret that they were getting tired of Ross and Rachel’s drama. Phoebe in one episode refers to it as “a bunch of high school crap no one really cares about,” and Monica impersonates Rachel by saying, “I love Ross, I hate Ross, I love Ross, I hate Ross!”.
  • Glee:
    • Finn and Rachel's relationship fits in this category for quite a few viewers. A story about a group of quirky, diverse, and talented misfits trying to move beyond their small-town life and pursue their dreams via their shared love of music... and at least a third of each episode focuses on Finn and Rachel's on-and-off again romance. Seeing as both the characters are talented, white, straight, and able-bodied, it's easy to see why people found this to be tedious at times. The fact that the actors of Finn and Rachel eventually got into an actual relationship and the fact that this pairing was supported by prominent columnists in the entertainment industry and the mass media doesn't help things either. Post-graduation, their on-and-off tango had no tension since it was clear they'd be together in the end. However, the untimely death of Cory Monteith pretty much put an end to that.
    • The fourth season love triangle with Marley, Ryder, and Jake takes a good chunk of time out of almost every episode and feels very uninspired due to the fact that all three characters are copies of original ones: Marley was dubbed "The New Rachel," Jake is Puck's half-brother, and Ryder is yet another football jock who secretly loves to perform. The only difference this time is that "Rachel" ultimately chose "Puck" rather than "Finn." Still, many have joked that the boys' rivalry-turned-friendship gave them more romantic chemistry with each other than either of them had with her.
  • Claire's relationship with West in Heroes was not one of the show's more successful moves, not least due to West being the only person in the entire run whom Claire had absolutely NO chemistry with. Including Sylar and her UNCLE.
  • In the fourth installment of the A&E/Meridian Horatio Hornblower adaptation ("The Wrong War" or "The Frogs and the Lobsters", depending on what country it was released in), Horatio gets into a brief romantic subplot with a local girl during a mission in France. The story was already dealing with three separate plot threads and the romance with Mariette could have been taken out without changing any major events, and since Mariette's never mentioned after the conclusion of her little story arc, its usefulness as character development for Horatio is questionable. The fact that Mariette is given very little personality and isn't terribly popular even among the portion of the fandom that doesn't ship Horatio with his Breakout Character best friend doesn't help.
  • House:
    • TV critics have this opinion of the Cameron/Chase romance. Fans mostly loved it, partly because it was the only happy ending/positive portrayal of love in the series, though of course that didn't last long.
    • As much as House/Cuddy is loved, so too is it reviled for not only going absolutely nowhere for so very long but for a while popping up in every single episode without fail, often with little-to-no justification.
    • Judging by the amount of screen time it got, the writers also thought fans were a lot more interested in exploring Taub's love life than was really the case. Taub? Interesting character. Taub/Whoever? Romantic plot tumor. The show becoming The Many Loves of Dobie Taub for a while was a tumor on the tumor.
    • The relationship between Thirteen and Foreman was extremely unpopular for several reasons. Their relationship had very little build-up, progressing from a mild dislike of each other to being in a relationship with only a couple of scenes of development. Furthermore, many fans were of the opinion that each of them had better chemistry with just about every other character on the show. Finally, both Foreman and Thirteen were very polarizing characters to begin with, so a lot of fans just didn't care what happened to them.
  • Many fans of House of Anubis believed that it became overpowered by the romance in the second season, despite the mystery being the main plot. It got to the point where the characters themselves seemed more interested in romance than the life-threatening curses they were under.
  • How I Met Your Mother suffered from this greatly. The series started out with Ted focusing on trying to get together with Robin, succeeding by the end of season one, and then them breaking up at the end of season two. Not so bad yet, namely since that at that point, it was treated as a Foregone Conclusion, and we knew sooner or later, Ted would meet his real wife. But then as the show went on it continued to have Ted and/or Robin pining for the other only to repeatedly go through a lesson that they just weren't right for each other, all the way up to the final season. And then the final episode came. The ship between Robin and Barney, one that a lot of fans preferred no less, was almost immediately thrown out minutes after the episode began, and much later it turned out that Ted's wife fell deathly ill six years prior to the events of the show's framing sequence. The plot tumor took over in-universe as well as it revealed that even though Ted was telling his kids the story of how he met his future wife, the fact that he focused more on Robin when he was telling the story was actually because he wanted permission from them to start dating Robin again, all so they would hook up at the last minute. All this after it was thoroughly established that the two did not belong together. Needless to say, a lot of people were unhappy.
  • While the Rio/Mele romance in Juken Sentai Gekiranger was very popular with English-speaking fans, the focus on their relationship to the exclusion of the heroes (resulting in little Character Development for any of the Gekirangers except Jan) is cited by some of the Japanese fanbase as a reason why the show didn't do well commercially.
  • Kamen Rider Kiva:
    • The Love Triangle between Otoya Kurenai, Yuri, and Jiro. This is dragged out for several episodes, leading to a bit of Derailing Love Interests as Jiro is turned into an obsessive lover who's prepared to kill Yuri if she won't marry him. Finally, Otoya and Yuri get together — and then he dumps her for Maya, the mother of the show's protagonist Wataru. The entire storyline has little to no effect on the plot and is generally considered by fans to be pointless and superfluous. Its only function seemed to be to hint that Megumi might be Wataru's sister — but he later gains Taiga as a long-lost sibling, so this subplot still served no purpose.
    • Kiva also features a subplot in which Wataru's friend Shizuka develops a romantic interest in him and tries to come between him and his official love interest Mio. Inexplicably and without warning, Shizuka then decides that Wataru and Mio are perfect for each other, and becomes a Shipper on Deck, again with no relevance to or impact upon the story. The focus on romantic storylines (much more than is typical for a Kamen Rider series, which usually feature little to no overt romance), some of them seemingly pointless, is a possible reason why Kiva is one of the least successful entries in the franchise.
  • The Jack/Kate/Sawyer love-triangle on Lost. Became especially grating when the series committed to a definite endpoint, and every second spent on this was one less second that could have been used to clear up the show's numerous mysteries and dangling plot threads. Also because the writers proved that they could write relationship arcs that are well done and popular among the fans (see: Desmond & Penny)...yet suddenly they couldn't do the same with the main one. This is taken to insane levels in the Season 5 finale, where Jack wants to erase the entire timeline by blowing up a nuclear bomb... because his relationship with Kate didn't work out. He doesn't seem to realize that this would mean they'd never meet in the first place! Juliet was also added to this romantic plot tumor. Additionally, Juliet suddenly changed her mind about detonating that hydrogen bomb because she thought that her relationship with Sawyer might end because Kate came back to the island. Really, the way Kate, Juliet, Sawyer, and Jack felt about detonating that hydrogen bomb was extremely arbitrary and depended entirely on how they felt about their role in this love polygon from hell at a given moment.
  • Arthur/Gwen started off this way in Merlin (2008). In the first series, the two barely interact (and Gwen outright dislikes Arthur) until the last few episodes, when they have a few shippy moments. Then in early Series 2 Arthur impulsively kisses Gwen, then suddenly Arthur is declaring he "cares for (Gwen) more than anyone" and everyone and their dog are going Shipper on Deck talking about how deeply they obviously feel for each other. Series 3 and 4 don't exactly downgrade their relationship but do allow it to develop and breathe in a more organic way with the two discussing things, working as a team, and dealing with various issues and obstacles, and they develop into a solid Official Couple, then Ruling Couple.
  • The Kimberly/Tommy/Katherine triangle in the first seasons of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers didn't start this way, and was actually pretty well put together, all things considered. Then came Zeo, and the infamous Ass Pull "Dear John Letter" Kimberly sent to Tommy. Katherine was forced to Die for Our Ship, relationships on Power Rangers have been handled very delicately ever since, and "Tommy Oliver = Jesus" jokes began (since at this point Tommy had also become a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.)
  • The Jim/Maggie/Don love triangle was pretty easily the most widely reviled plot thread of The Newsroom. Season two seems to be going out of its way to excise the tumor with extreme prejudice.
  • While the love triangle between Mikay (the heroine), Jao, and Gino in the Filipino series Princess And I is a major plotline, it has since become malignant that other larger plot threads are moved to the sidelines. This is mainly due to the series producers wanting to cash in on the Jaomik vs. Migi wars. Even with the story resolving the triangle when Mikay accepted Jao's marriage proposal (in a scene that suspiciously looked more like a wedding, the series still played up the triangle due to the clamor of the fans of the actor playing Gino to have more screen time (a common headache in most Philippine soaps).
  • The Office (US): The Andy/Angela/Dwight plotline in Season 5, where Angela is with Andy but still in love with Dwight, consumes a lot of screentime and a large amount of Dwight's screen time during it. It's not helped by Angela and Dwight, the main couple of the triangle, coming off as unlikable or unsympathetic as they cheat, hurt, and lie to Andy, who was an all-around Nice Guy at the time and Angela herself being The Scrappy since her introduction.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Emma's relationship with Hook is this for pretty much all fans who don't ship Captain Swan because of how it elevated the importance of an extremely polarizing character above that of several other well-established characters from the first season, and because the show sometimes seems to go out of its way to make Hook look good even when he doesn't deserve it.
    • Regina's relationship with Robin started off relatively well-received, if poorly developed, but it quickly devolved after Marion turned out to be alive, and then Robin cheated on her with Regina while she was frozen and dying. The writers tried to fix it by having Marion turn out to actually be a glamour-ed Zelena, but this really only made things worse because the faux love triangle and resulting pregnancy turned out to be one of the least popular plotlines in the show's history up to that point.
    • Though it started out extremely popular, most fans now feel this way about Rumple and Belle's relationship. The characters seem to be stuck in a cycle of manufactured drama and both will and unwilling separations. At this point, even fans who used to be hardcore Rumbelle shippers are tired of it.
    • Henry and the new Cinderella in Season 7. Many fans argue that they are nothing more than a much more boring rehash of Snowing (plus, them being a copy of Snowing was intentional on the writers' part), with their romance arc rushed (in one episode they kiss and two episodes later it skips to Henry announcing Lucy's birth and then an eight-year time skip in the same episode) leaving no time to develop their relationship at all, and furthermore, fans (especially Henry/Drizella shippers) argue that Henry and Ella have no chemistry whatsoever, which is essential towards a believable love story. Yet even though their romance in the past is rushed, somehow the writers still have time to show these two onscreen together all the time.
  • One Tree Hill: The long-running Peyton/Lucas/Brooke love triangle. It was dragged out until just before the mid-season finale of Season 4, even though the issue was completely resolved at the end of Season 1, with Lucas clearly choosing Peyton over Brooke - only for his own bad decisions earlier in the season to cause Peyton to end things with him. This led to the show repeating the exact same triangle a second time with of course the exact same outcome, wasting two other seasons on the already resolved matter until Lucas and Peyton finally got together for real mid-season 4.
  • In Peaky Blinders, Tommy and Grace are teased in the first Season even though Grace is The Mole working for his enemy, she eventually falls for him for real but still ends up selling him out and leaves Birmingham at the end of the first season. Come season two and Tommy has a new Love Interest, May, but ends up in a Love Triangle with Grace when she briefly returns to Birmingham and the season finale has three women (May, Grace, and Lizzy) waiting for him. He ends up marrying Grace in season three because she got pregnant, but this is cut short when Grace dies. The plot tumor comes in two parts - firstly because not only did Tommy "fall for" Grace when he knew absolutely nothing about her and knew she'd lied to him several times before he discovered she was working for Campbell but he is still hung up over Grace at the beginning of season two despite the fact she, you know, sold him out to his worst enemy and he forgives her for this for seemingly no apparent reason (Polly even lampshades this) and secondly, she continues to appear in the show long after her character has served her purpose. Tommy continues to hallucinate Grace years after her death and seems inexplicably incapable of getting over her even after he marries Lizzy and has a daughter with her. This is especially egregious because she's the only character Tommy does this with - he lost his first love, Greta, and his friends Danny and Freddie, his own mother and John, but none of them keep showing up and interrupting the story over and over again when they're supposed to be gone like Grace does.
  • The writers of Robin Hood KNEW that Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) was leaving at the end of the third season. Why then did they think that it was anything even close to a good idea to have him involve himself with Kate, the team liability? The actors had no chemistry at all, and the "romance" served no purpose whatsoever except to milk time away from better characters and more interesting plots, secure Kate's position as the most hated character on the show, and make Robin appear impossibly shallow, Kate being his second girlfriend since his wife's horrific death and the woman that his best friend is blatantly interested in. Even more illogically, the writers actually go to the trouble of bringing back Marian for a Together in Death scene, making Robin/Kate even more pointless than it already was.
  • This has been a recurring issue on Royal Pains, to the point where the showrunners once issued a moratorium on Dr. Hank Lawson's love life after viewers complained that he seemed to spend too much time going into and out of relationships.
  • Skins:
    • The Cook/Effy/Freddie Love Triangle in series 3 was one of those that looked perfect on paper, but was horrendous on-screen; Cook's an unlikeable twat, Freddie can't act, and Effy can only get away with being weird and mysterious when she's a side character (like she was in the first two series). The triangle was so all-consuming that it destroyed every other storyline it touched (not for nothing did it become known as the "Triangle Of DOOM"), including most notably the Bromance between Cook, Freddie, and JJ. The only storyline to escape unscathed - the Naomi/Emily/Katie triangle - is the most popular of the season, and by some distance. It's quite revealing to draw out all the significant relationship triangles to see how they interact (they do form a planar graph) because it demonstrates how central the Cook/Effy/Freddie triangle was and how important it was that it was done well. Which it wasn't.
    • The much-criticized fourth series may have managed to turn the previously well-written Naomi/Emily relationship into a tumor in series 3. Evidently feeling that nothing was so interesting as overblown romantic angst borne of dishonesty and unfaithfulness (because that was working out so well will Effy/Freddie/Cook), the writers gave Naomi and Emily a season-long relationship breakdown which, along with the aforementioned Effy-based love triangle, consumed all screentime to the detriment of other characters' development.
  • Smallville's Lana Lang. It doesn't help at all that Clark dedicates so much time fawning over her such that she is considered the Creator's Pet, or that she's not even his canonical love interest, and then they had the gall to bring her back after she was Put on a Bus, only to be Put on a Bus again this time for good. Their relationship also dragged about four years/seasons past the traditional high school sweetheart stage.
  • The Jack O'Neill/Samantha Carter UST of Stargate SG-1 sometimes became a Romantic Plot Tumor. The writers hadn't planned on pairing the two — it started being hinted at once they learned that fans already thought there was something going on between the couple — and it was clear that they had no idea where to go with it. It was buried at several points (with an entire episode practically dedicated to ending the ship), yet it crops up again every time, including several plot arcs where both Jack and Sam find someone but, of course, end up ending those relationships in favor of the UST. It even became a Running Gag in the series, where every single Alternate Universe showed them being together, usually because Sam wasn't in the military in that universe.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, the relationships of Chakotay and Janeway and the Doctor and Seven were totally relevant to the ...yawn... plot.
  • Stranger Things: Season 3 falls into this, with an awful lot of drama in the season being stemmed from characters' romantic relationships, especially in the cases of Mike Wheeler / Eleven and Joyce Byers / Jim Hopper. Many have also noted that a lot of the show's familial relationships have taken a backseat to the romantic ones, and it doesn't go unnoticed since Jonathan Byers is reduced to being Nancy's sidekick with minimal interactions with either his mother or with Will. Likewise, Joyce is relegated to being Hopper's sidekick (and Hopper himself is reduced to a caricature of his season 1 self). Mike and Nancy meanwhile are so isolated that casual viewers might not remember that they're siblings.
  • Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip suffers from this, devoting more time in the last half of its single season to the Matt/Harriet Will They or Won't They? than to the stronger storyline about another character's brother becoming a POW.
  • Supernatural:
    • The Sam/Amelia romance suffered from this. The romance being told entirely through flashbacks robbed the audience of seeing the natural progression and framing the story in opposition to not just the current Monster of the Week, but also the much more interesting storyline of Dean escaping Purgatory, essentially set the whole romance up as a plot tumor. The most Egregious example would be showing Dean first finding himself in Purgatory, then cutting to... Sam running over a dog and meeting Amelia. What really upset a lot of viewers was that Sam basically abandoned his brother to purgatory to pursue this relationship, which felt like a serious bit of Character Derailment for a pair that had literally gone to Hell and back for each other.
    • Played with in Season 15 with Sam and Eileen, in that Eileen turned out to be an unwitting plant for Chuck - basically a deliberate Romantic Plot Tumor. On the other hand, played straight in a variety of ways, including: Eileen appearing far more romantically interested in Sam than vice versa (arguably some Character Derailment for the hitherto-independent Eileen, whose role in the plot became solely "love interest for Sam"); Sam himself appearing mostly confused by the whole thing and not especially romantically interested in Eileen; confusion as to why Chuck would need a spy in the first place when he could already see everything Sam and Dean were doing; and writers seemingly not sure what to do with Eileen or the fledgling relationship after Chuck's mid-season reveal, taking it entirely offscreen thereafter. In the second half of the season, Sam and Eileen appear to never even see each other save for a single date when Sam needed to be out of the way for plot reasons - but then near the end of the season, we see Eileen has a picture of Sam as her cell background, again indicating a more serious relationship. The fact that Eileen apparently died and was resurrected in the final episodes, and Sam never seems to so much as text her to see if she's okay (and is implied to have married someone else in the Distant Finale), caps off the confusion.
  • In-Universe, this was deconstructed and weaponized by the villains on the series Timeless. Wyatt and Lucy were growing closer together and had even slept together. To drive a wedge between them, as well as the whole team, Rittenhouse went back in time and saved his wife Jessica from being killed. As a result, Wyatt had to go back to her and break Lucy's heart in the process. Wyatt was so determined to make his marriage work, and he and everyone else were so distracted by Jessica's return, that he was blind to clues about the real reason she was there until she kidnapped Jiya and stole their timeship. It turned out that Rittenhouse had gone even further back in time to train Jessica to become a lethal agent of theirs, and sent her to manipulate Wyatt in order to destroy the team from the inside. Everyone was angry with Wyatt for his willful ignorance (except for Lucy, who was pissed that he dumped him but understood his situation). Wyatt tried to rectify his mistake, but after Jessica lied about being pregnant, his decision to spare her indirectly led to Rufus' death. In the end, Wyatt realized that the only way to truly fix things was for Jessica to die at the time she was supposed to, which Flynn ensured happened.
  • True Blood:
    • Bill and Sookie. This is a particularly bad example as True Blood has a lot of really interesting ideas (discrimination against vampires, how would Immortals function in the real world) that were pushed to the side for a love triangle (with shapeshifter Sam).
    • Sam and Nicole. He had to rescue her when her college-age group of humans-for-supernaturals activists reached out to the local werewolves and got killed for their troubles, including her previous boyfriend. It was particularly weird watching her have sex with Sam in the shower when by that point, her boyfriend had just been murdered a few days ago. A huge chunk of his side of the romance had to do with the fact that he had gotten her pregnant and sensed it before she did, but that did not keep the whole thing from feeling extremely forced. The protests of Nicole's mother ("You're traumatized and you just met this man who's twice your age!") were supposed to sound unreasonable and prejudiced, but frankly, she said everything viewers were saying.
  • Twin Peaks had its fair share, but probably the least popular was James/Evelyn, which had no bearing on any other plot and became a major contributor to Season 2's notorious Seasonal Rot.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): The most criticized plotline of season 1 was the Unresolved Sexual Tension between Not Blood Siblings Luther and Allison. The six main characters were raised together from infancy and refer to each other as siblings, so watching them have the hots for each other made a lot of viewers uncomfortable. The series responded to this criticism, largely scrapping the plot in season 2, and then in season 3 definitively Ship Sinking it with a very dark Near-Rape Experience. In an interview, Tom Hopper said of that scene:
    Tom Hopper: The fact that they went through that—in a way does kind of bring closure to it, because I think it says... that it shouldn't really be, y'know? It's not right. And it felt wrong as it happened—on multiple levels. That's not really what they both want. It's like a weird sort of security blanket they have, which comes out in a weird, abusive manner, from both sides.
  • Voltes V: Legacy: One of the issues of the show is the romantic rivalry between Jamie and Eva for Steve's affections, with Mark later joining in to compete with Steve for Jamie's. Some fans find it unnecessary given that Jamie's anime counterpart, Megumi, never ends up with anyone regardless of the Ship Tease and Steve's anime counterpart, Kenichi, is too busy with protecting humanity. It doesn't help that the show's main writer, Suzette Docteloro, is mainly known for writing romantic comedies and dramas of middling qualities. Most of the criticism stems from Legacy's subpar writing and over-reliance on stock soap-opera clichés seen in many Filipino romance shows instead of more natural and subtle relationship development.
  • Wednesday: The Xavier/Wednesday/Tyler love triangle has been denounced by fans as the worst part of the first season. Many fans believe it is entirely out of character for Wednesday Addams to be in such a plot and that it was shoehorned because they're a conventional trope in the YA genre. None of the characters can make the viewer buy that they're attracted, let alone in love with one another, so the amount of time that the story spends trying to add relationship drama just feels like time that could be spent on other, more interesting sub-plots and characters (including characters who arguably had better romantic chemistry with Wednesday but weren't conventional hunky males or even male at all).
  • Wynonna Earp was sadly hit hard with this in the third season. Doc and Wynonna's relationship got a lot of attention, and not in a good way. For starters, Dolls was abruptly killed off, which ended the love triangle permanently, only for two more triangles to start up and at the same time. Even worse, Wynonna and Doc kept going back and forth between wanting to be together and denying their feelings. It got to the point where Wynonna and Doc's storyline got way more attention than the actual storyline of everyone getting together to fight the Big Bad.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Edge & Vickie Guerrero from 2008 to 2009 had no rhyme or reason and was obviously created to make Edge seem like even more of a tool (a task he could easily accomplish by being, well, himself). Romantic Plot Cancer is probably a more appropriate term considering that said romance did worm its way into virtually every pay-per-view and sometimes, even Raw.
  • The 2015 storyline with Rusev, Lana, Dolph Ziggler, and Summer Rae. It was already this and then Real Life Writes the Plot where Lana's injury and then real engagement between Rusev and Lana only served to extend things.

  • Parodied in That Mitchell and Webb Sound when a new writer and producer take over a detective show called Preston and Loader and basically turn it into their own personal gay Slash Fic, with the two detectives making out in every scene. When one of the actors objects to this, it turns out the other also ships the two.
  • The tendency for this kind of behavior in radio soap operas was famously skewered by Stan Freberg in a skit called ''John and Marsha''. An entire intelligible narrative made solely out of the two actors saying each others' names in different tones. It actually works pretty well.

  • Anyone Can Whistle has one of the worst-written love plots in musical comedy, involving some Poirot Speak and a whole lot of Wangst.
  • The Troubled Production of Cirque du Soleil's Banana Shpeel involved, among other things, avoiding this trope. Originally, the Genre Throwback to Vaudeville was going to be The Musical as well, with a protagonist who is in love with the daughter of the troupe's boss, but when the creators realized that developing this plot via songs would leave little time for Slapstick and Cirque-style acrobatics, it was completely dropped, even though the fourth season finale of America's Got Talent featured their performers and one of the songs. As poorly received as subsequent versions of the show were, it might have been worse had this trope been in effect.
  • Les Misérables. Most fans regard the romance subplot as pretty weak in comparison to the revolution and poke fun at how Cosette and Marius are practically obsessed with each other before saying more than two words to each other.
  • Rock of Ages. Drew and Sherrie meet and have Love at First Sight. Why? Well...they're both attractive and they both like cherry slushies. Seriously. Then they're kept apart because Drew makes one, tiny, mention of them being "just friends". Sherrie (who, to be fair, has been set up as The Ditz) then takes this to the extreme and barely talks to him since they're just friends and then sleeps with rock star Stacee Jaxx in the Men's bathroom. Drew gets jealous and then he won't talk to her. And blah, blah, blah, long story short: they're both Too Dumb to Live and are in desperate need of a Sorkin Relationship Moment. And then to top it off the show's 2nd act makes clear that two side characters are the Beta Couple.
  • Ever since an 1887 stage adaptation, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has seen romantic subplots added to the point of Lost in Imitation. But the musical Jekyll & Hyde really pushes it — not only is Jekyll juggling two women who long for him (aristocratic Emma and prostitute Lucy), a bunch of showstopping songs are trucked out for both of them. Lucy, in particular, gets so much attention that the show's momentum slows to a crawl. It takes about 45 minutes into the musical for Hyde to show up!
  • Tuf Voyaging: In-Universe. Tuf attempts to help a world suffering from overpopulation when he comes back to help ''again', he learns that there was a TV series produced that not only had him in a relationship with the government official that hired him but had a "keep having children" monologue that completely reversed the intent of what he actually said.

    Video Games 
  • One of the main complaints in Dead Space 3. Ellie and Isaac fought through the horrors of the Necromorph outbreak on the Sprawl in Dead Space 2, and apparently had some form of romantic relationship off-screen (though such was not implied in 2). Come 3, Ellie and Isaac have broken up (with Ellie citing Isaac's inability to just man up and deal with his PTSD) and Ellie quickly replaces Isaac with an Earth Gov military Officer: Robert Norton. Despite being on a mission as humanity's last hope from becoming space-zombie fodder, this love triangle becomes the primary conflict among the group that constantly interferes with the mission at hand, with Isaac and Norton constantly butting heads over Ellie's affections. By trying to protect Ellie (who was once so capable that, in the second game, she rescues Isaac) and to accommodate their Cock Fight, she succumbs to Badass Decay; weakening all three characters. The third game also tries to play up the drama of Norton's Sanity Slippage, with Isaac and Ellie claiming they have no idea why Norton is becoming increasingly hostile to Isaac and possessive of Ellie, even though both of them know exactly what being around Markers do to people.
  • Many critics of Final Fantasy XV pointed out that the romance between Noctis and Luna gets a lot of screen time, but never feels convincing or satisfying, with the characters mostly communicating via scrapbook, exposition, or anguished pleas. It might have passed muster by the standards of average Eastern RPGs, and Luna's lines about 'wanting to be by his side' and Noct's anguish over not being able to protect her come right out of the well-regarded Cloud/Tifa romance in Final Fantasy VII, but because The Not-Love Interest relationship between Noct and his friends is very well-done and moving, it stands out as comparatively weak.
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Rose keeps pestering Raiden about their relationship throughout the whole operation. Even Raiden complains that Rose should let him focus on the operation, and asks why she was selected. The whole thing has absolutely no relevance for the plot, until The Reveal that she's only there to manipulate Raiden. The Substance Updated Re-release parodies this (among all the other weirdness from the endgame) in its fifth "Snake Tale", External Gazer - in the middle of a bloody war, Rose continually calls the player to complain about her love handles and other trivial things.
  • Happens in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) between the titular character and Princess Elise. Despite an Eldritch Abomination threatening to destroy the entire world, Sonic's story revolves entirely around rescuing the Damsel in Distress, interwoven with some very squicky romance. The main plot only becomes clear once you play Shadow and Silver's stories.
  • Raynor and Kerrigan of StarCraft II, turned a political struggle between three races seen in StarCraft into a sci-fi two-person love story where everything in the Koprulu Sector happens because of these two. Metzen even specifically states in an interview that the story of StarCraft is really just a love story between two characters... despite the game being built around the idea of strategically moving large armies against each other.
  • In many story routes of Star Fox Command it's easy to forget that the end goal is to regroup the Star Fox team to stop the Anglar invasion of the Lylat System rather than watching Fox's and Krystal's bellyaching sessions over their romantic woes. It doesn't help that their offscreen Downtime Downgrade was kickstarted by Fox holding the Conflict Ball, and that Krystal often hogs the spotlight while losing almost all of her positive traits.
  • Super Robot Wars K doesn't just have a boring Love Triangle between Mist Rex and his teammates taking up a good portion of the game, but it also takes time and focus away from the plot of Godannar, which has a Love Triangle that's handled far better. The icing on the cake, however, is the fact that in one of his many condescending speeches, Mist tells Godannar's Goh to stop agonizing over his love woes and just pick a girl already. Is it any wonder Mist is one of the most hated SRW characters ever?
  • The way the bonding events are handled is a point of contention in the Cold Steel Arc of the Trails Series. IV is criticized due to how by making every single female character a romance option for Rean AND making a decent chunk of their characterization hidden behind bonding events, it sidelines any potentially more interesting plots and character arcs for the various female characters in favor of having their character arcs revolve around being Rean's potential suitors, as well as preventing the various girls from developing relationships with other characters that would be potentially more interesting or make more sense in favor of adding them to Rean's haremnote . In addition, criticism is also levied at how the bonding system prevents the various girls from developing relationships with Rean that would have been more interesting or sensible without it being overtly romanticnote .
  • Tales Series:
    • Some feel this way about the end of Tales of Destiny 2. It's not that Kyle and Reala's tragic romance isn't... Well, tragic, or heartwrenching, it is pretty sad that Kyle has to choose between letting Reala get erased from time or dooming the world, it's that it starts taking up the whole plot and starts stealing the spotlight off of more interesting subplots and characters that are hastily swept under the rug to make way for it.
    • Tales of the Abyss:
      • The blossoming romance between Luke and Tear, to some people. It begins to start up rather abruptly, shortly after Luke's Important Haircut, when he is actually still focusing on his personal quest of becoming a better person after the fiasco that was Akzeriuth, in which he killed the citizens of an entire town and romance would not be something that high on his list. Especially since the Akzeriuth fiasco also revealed that, via cloning, Luke is technically only 7 years old mentally. Their interactions are always awkward, they don't really advance their romance past this highly awkward stage and it gets worse as the game progresses. More and more scenes seem to shove the two of them together, which does not work well with the aforementioned awkwardness. This romantic subplot could've easily been taken out of the game entirely and not have made much difference, considering the game is already dealing with a heavy plot of talking about one's meaning of existence and finding one's spot in the world.
      • Natalia and Asch's romance. Despite it being more of a side-thing, their few scenes together are given focus in a way to likely counter the above Luke and Tear moments. Ignoring the potential Squick factor that the two of them are cousins though it's revealed that Natalia is not the king's real daughter, making her completely unrelated to Asch, said scenes of them can come across as wanting to play up a Star-Crossed Lovers aspect in their relationship, with Asch initially being their enemy, but then turning into the aloof Anti-Hero who doesn't want to join. The fact that Asch dies later, leaving her heartbroken, doesn't help the Star-Crossed Lovers idea.
    • Tales of Graces with Asbel and Cheria, most noticeably in the Lineage and Legacies arc. During the main arc, it was made obvious that Cheria was carrying a torch for Asbel but never managed to tell him and Asbel himself never noticing. And the main arc had Cheria mention that, since she realized that Asbel would never get it and there was a period of lack of prolonged contact between them, she decided to move on and do things on her own. Any potentially romantic opportunities were then left in sidequests. Contrary to that, the Lineage and Legacies arc was practically nothing but Cheria and Asbel's very obvious romance. Asbel is portrayed from the beginning as thinking of Cheria in a special way, both get very stuttery around each other and blush a lot, with the rest of the party teasing the two about it as well. It's very different from their portrayal in the main arc and has caused some players to accuse Namco of having strangled the two with a red string of fate.
    • Tales of Xillia has Jude and Milla. The fact that any romantic scene between the two of them is a YMMV moment itself on whether it actually counts as romantic or something else, and the game heavy-handedly shoving the two together a lot makes any potential romance between them unpleasant to go through in the game. Especially if it comes over the potential better option of Jude and Leia. Jude and Milla did not fare better in the sequel. While Jude was made less of a Satellite Character and his Character Chapters focus on his attempt at making his spyrite technology work, so that spyrix will no longer be needed, the fourth and fifth Chapters heavily shove Milla and Jude together again, completely taking the focus off of the spyrite aspect. The attempts at romantic scenes come across as very awkward and out of place and while his spyrite technology does advance as well, it comes at the cost of viewing said awkward scenes.
  • Thrall and Aggra from World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, whose romantic arc received more attention and focus than most of the expansion's other plots despite having almost no relevance to the actual story.

  • Darths & Droids is a screencap webcomic parodying Star Wars, so naturally, it gets its digs in on the romantic subplot of Episode II, as noted above. However, rather than having the subplot occur between Anakin and Padmé, it instead has the players carry on a hesitant behind-the-scenes romance that results in both them and their characters hooking up and delivers some of the most delightfully awkward dialogue that one could ever imagine committing to print. It's lampshaded in The Rant when the author observes that Lucas deserves some credit, as writing truly awful romantic dialogue is harder than it looks. The comic takes it even further in Episode III when the Anakin-Padmé conflict is driven by their players' near-breakup thanks to Poor Communication Kills.
  • Homestuck started out with zero romance, only to have romance become a huge part of the storyline by act 5. This seems especially sidelined considering that it was introduced along with 12 new dialogue-heavy characters out of nowhere, with a special form of romance theoretically much more complicated than our own. In practice, it wasn't that it was more complicated, just that it filed things under that category that humans don't. In Act 5, Hussie expresses annoyance that he had to get all the explanations about Troll romance out of the way for their subplots to make sense, and shows exasperation at the Exposition Dump in which it's explained. Later in the story Hussie himself threatens the reader by saying that if they don't calm down he'll make them read the romance exposition again.
    • Lampshaded in Act 6 when John proclaims that he's sick of shipping and just wants to focus on getting stuff done.
    • Act 6 takes it into full-blown parody, with Aranea slipping into a self-indulgent Exposition Dump about leprechaun romance, which is noted to be completely irrelevant to the story and shown to be pointlessly complex. She's interrupted in the middle of her speech because the rest of the cast is starting to get pissed off by the pointless romance.
  • Sinfest had a stretch in which there was an increasing focus on the romance between nerdy bookworm Criminy and lonely succubus Fuchsia. It didn't overrun the entire story, the subplot is sweet, and not many fans complain about it. It still counts because while it distracts from the main story, the main stories themselves are so controversial and Anvilicious that the audience actually welcomes the distraction. It helps that the characters involved in the romance are among the few that haven't suffered Character Derailment or Flanderization. Tropes Are Indeed Not Bad.
  • To an extent, the Mecha Maid plot in Spinnerette becomes this...but only AFTER she and Spinerette get together! Generally, most of the issues post-Glass have focused on Spinerette's relationship with Mecha Maid, with most of the supervillain fights tied into this. Even the Crisis Crossover had this be a big deal.

    Web Original 
  • Internet Historian felt this way about the media coverage and even court trial of the Costa Concordia disaster, as explained during his Costa Concordia Q&A. Not that he's defending former shipmaster Schettino, and he in fact feels Shettino got exactly what he deserved, but he also feels the captain was made The Scapegoat by focusing far too much on his affair with Domnica Cemortan while the other people on the bridge got off scot-free despite them also being implicitly responsible for the disaster as well, as well as the ship having engineering problems like flood doors that failed to close.
    The court also focused a lot on the affair with Cemortan, even though it basically had nothing to do with the tragedy. It was fairly incidental. To be fair, we did that too, we thought it was funny, but they turned it into a media circus and the claims of her "distracting the captain" were, as far as we can tell it, are just untrue. (laughs) Thank you for the note, by the way: one of the editors here says "it's not like he had her bent over the steering wheel at the time!" Yeah, brilliant, yeah, couldn't have put it better myself.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! has a very bizarre one in the form of Steve and Snot's relationship, which has had the Ho Yay ramped up or outright confirmed them as gay or together in the future. It becomes jarring when nearly every episode with Snot in it will mention or hint at this, no matter how unfitting or unnecessary it is.
  • Archer:
    • Lana and Archer's New Old Flame in season 6 — as well as a bit of season 7 — takes up so much time that some major plotlines were almost ignored. This is not at all helped by the fact that, midway through it, they seem to start repeating the same toxic behavior that separated them in the first place: Archer's bouts of immaturity and impulsiveness together with Lana's bouts of jealousy and righteousness.
    • Also happens in-universe in "Movie Star", where Mallory gets the opportunity to look at a movie script for an upcoming spy movie and decides to suggest rewrites. The rewrites in question involve giving the minor character of the CIA director a Gender Flip and changing the name to her name, then adding in a romantic subplot with an attractive black agent. By the time Mallory's done with it, said subplot has become so extensive that it's now the main plot of the film, resulting in it being renamed from Disavowed to Mandingo 2: The Enslavening.
  • Ben 10:
    • The "romance" between Gwen and Kevin in Ben 10: Alien Force was shoved down the audience's throat at every opportunity, with some suspecting that it was done to drown out the Kissing Cousins vibe given off by Ben and Gwen in the original series. It didn't help that it was tied into what was seen as a poorly explained Heel–Face Turn on Kevin's part. The pairing would come to be seen in a more positive light as the franchise continued and their relationship started to see proper development, but there aren't many fans who think it was a great addition from the start.
    • Ben and Julie's romance seen in Ben 10: Alien Force and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien is also perceived as a forced attempt by the writers to drop the same Kissing Cousins vibe mentioned above. But unlike the Gwen and Kevin debacle, it never improved to the point where the fandom at large started enjoying it. Especially when Ben 10: Ultimate Alien came around and Julie continued to stay with Ben despite him constantly jeopardizing their relationship by breaking promises to do non-hero activities and actively flirting with others while she's in earshot. Ben 10: Omniverse took this angle and had them break up between series because of Ben's self-centered behavior, with Julie only getting two appearances in Omniverse; ironically, even those who didn't like the relationship saw this break-up as poorly done.
  • Many fans felt that Ulrich and Yumi's ever-present Unresolved Sexual Tension had become a nuisance in Season 2 of Code Lyoko, when they felt there were much more interesting things to be focusing on, and rejoiced when it was greatly reduced for Seasons 3 and 4.
  • Part of what people disliked about Season 3, or Danny Phantom as a whole, was that the relationship between Danny and Sam (which already had fans divided) became featured in too many episodes. In fact, two episodes in particular, "Frightmare" and "Claw of The Wild", had plots that had nothing to do with the relationship yet have the relationship issues take over halfway through.
  • The Fairly OddParents! episode "Chindred Spirits" has an In-Universe example. Fearing that the Crimson Chin comics would turn into this after seeing the comic with the Crimson Chin and Golden Locksnote  on a romantic getaway, Timmy wishes for Golden Locks to not be in the comic anymore. When that doesn't work, he wishes to turn Golden Locks evil.
  • Green Lantern: The Animated Series: For some fans, Razer and Aya's romance is one of the less enjoyable aspects of the show, as their focus begins to overshadow story arcs, characters, and villains that had more potential, including Aya completely destroying the Anti-Monitor. And especially during the second half of the second season, it can really start to feel like even Hal Jordan's been turned into a supporting character on his own show because the entire series' focus by that point was entirely on the corrupted Aya and Razer's feelings for her, with characters like the Anti-Monitor, Sinestro, Tomar-Re, and Larfleeze not getting much focus and feeling like side pieces in all the Razaya drama. What also doesn't help matters is that their story ends with no resolution, with Aya's seeming death and the show getting canceled.
  • High Guardian Spice: The ongoing plot line between the Rosemary/Sage/Snapdragon got a bit tedious after 6 episodes, especially with the brief plot with Rosemary crushing on Aster before being resolved as soon as it came up.
  • Justice League: While it has plenty of supporters, the crush the show gave Wonder Woman on Batman has also been frequently accused of this by a few Wonder Woman fans. These fans perceived the relationship as the creators of the show, many of whom were admitted Batman fanboys like Bruce Timm, turning DC's premier heroine into a cheerleader for Batman. The fact that the series Batman Beyond had already made the pairing Doomed by Canon served to make any romantic moments between the two even more superfluous.
  • The Legend of Korra: The Korra/Mako/Asami love triangle was widely criticized as bogging down the first two seasons with unnecessary romantic drama. The producers responded to this criticism by excising the love triangle entirely from later seasons and even mocking it in one episode where Mako admits how pointlessly messy his past romances with Korra and Asami were.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The love square between Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Cat Noir has become this. It's been a factor of the show since the beginning, with it getting praise for its creativity early on; however, after several seasons and a combination of the same tired Will They or Won't They? and near-identity reveal cliches, the introduction of several alternate pairings, and some rather iffy actions taken on all sides of the romance, many fans have gotten sick of it and wish the show would get the obligatory identity reveals over with already (or at least reduce the amount of focus put on it). It doesn't help that, no matter how many reasons are given to keep their identities "secret" In-Universe, it's blatantly transparent that the only reason they're doing so is to keep the love square antics going.
  • This was seen as the main problem with Regular Show during its middle seasons, with some viewers being unenthused by many episodes concerning Mordecai's rocky love life. The show itself jokes about this in its final, Leaning on the Fourth Wall episodes, with the Seer noting that viewer interest had leveled off once Mordecai started dating Margaret. Season 6 in particular is widely disliked due to the sheer amount of episodes dealing with the Love Triangle between Mordecai, Margaret, and CJ. Many fans quickly got tired of it due to seeing CJ as both a better match for Mordecai and a more interesting character than Margaret, or conversely thought the CJ relationship had run its course due to her trust issues and Mordecai taking a level in jerkass. Other common criticisms were that it overshadowed the development of Rigby and Eileen's relationship, or that some fans just didn't care about the romance at all. In fact, Rigby and Eileen later became a fairly popular ship due to them having a far more healthy and supportive dynamic.
  • A lot of Beth and Jerry's scrappyness in Rick and Morty is owing to how much screen time their failing dysfunctional marriage and petty squabbles get, particularly in Season 2 where they both took massive levels in jerkass and their bickering bordered on demoting Rick and Morty to extra. Many fans either never cared about their marriage at all, have just gotten sick to death of it never going anywhere, are just incensed that it's taking screen time away from Rick and Morty's adventures, or even feel Beth and Jerry are much more interesting characters when their dysfunctional relationship isn't the focus and feel potentially good characters are being squandered. It's clear the writers picked up on this fact as Season 4 barely even touched on their relationship drama, Season 5 poked fun at it, and Season 6 reveals that the Jerry they got at Jerryboree was a different Jerry just to give that nonsense a good dose of Take That, Scrappy!: when he appears he is dismissively referred to as "Season 2 Jerry", everyone hates him, even their new Jerry thinks he sucks, and he ends up being killed in a pretty disturbing manner by Mr. Frundles without anyone else even really caring.
  • Samurai Jack: Season 5, especially during Episode 8. The same pacing that usually works for the whole action-laden series, definitely don't work for the romantic genre.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated seems to spend more time on the angst involved with Daphne's unrequited love for Fred, as well as Velma competing with Scooby for Shaggy's attention, than the actual overarching mystery in the first half of the season one. The second half got better about this, while the entire second season avoided it completely as the overarching mystery got a lot more focus.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Season 3 took the romance subplot from the previous season and amplified it tenfold, almost as though the writers were actively trying to make shipping fans of the show as upset and confused as possible. Coming into the third season, Star likes Marco but had to go back to Mewni at the end of season two due to the main plot, while Marco is dating his long-time crush Jackie. During season three, Jackie almost immediately dumps Marco knowing that he has stronger feelings for Star (though he doesn't realize this yet), allowing Marco to move to Mewni to be near Star. Unfortunately, Star has gotten over Marco and is now back together with her ex-boyfriend Tom, meaning that Marco is left pining for Star once he does realize his feelings. Meanwhile, the side characters of Kelly and Tad break up (for real this time), leading to the start of Kelly and Marco developing some strong Ship Tease. But anything on that front is seemingly derailed when Star and Marco share a kiss towards the end of the season, albeit not for romantic intentions, but still resulting in them rethinking what their relationship actually is.
    • While it can be argued that Season 4 doesn't neglect the Myth Arc as much as Season 3, it nevertheless continues to stretch the romantic plot further and further despite also blatantly telegraphing a "Starco" ending. In addition to showing the rocky nature of Star and Tom's relationship, primarily due to actions on Star's side of things, the show offers numerous moments for the two to break up only to perpetuate the relationship. Meanwhile, Marco and Kelly get together in a G-rated version of Friends with Benefits so they can move on from their former flames, but this is brought up for only one other episode before they abruptly break up, and off-screen no less. Fans believed that "Beach Day" would be the episode that would lead to them finally getting together, but it turned out to be a Red Herring and they remained friends. Tom would finally break up with Star shortly after that episode, however, and then directly tell Marco that he'd be fine with him dating Star. But by that point, the main plot was back in full force and ready to head toward its resolution. Star and Marco would finally share a quick (non-cheating) kiss during "Here to Help" with only three episodes left in the series. Just in time for their love to cause a Merged Reality of Earth and Mewni, so they can continue their relationship after the destruction of magic. The love-based merging of world was quickly seen as just another divisive move in an already polarizing series finale, where even fans that loved it feel both the lore elements and romance elements were incredibly rushed in order to fit everything into 22 minutes.
  • In-Universe in Steven Universe — in "Open Book", Connie laments that her favorite book series ended with the two main characters suddenly hooking up and getting married, with fifty pages dedicated to describing their wedding cake. Funnily enough, the conflict of the episode is resolved when Steven admits he felt the opposite, thinking the ending was really sweet and pointing out all the obvious romantic beats that Connie had ignored in favor of focusing on the worldbuilding and social commentary.
  • One of the more heavily disliked aspects of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) is Donatello's constant crush on April. It wasn't so bad during the first season where it just popped up every now and then, but in season two the new writers decided to take it and make it the primary aspect of Don's character, making every single one of his appearances devoted to him lamenting on his crush on April and getting jealous over Casey, which has also wound up limiting April's character development as well. Even worse is by the end of the season it seemed that the whole love triangle aspect was finally resolved, only for the whole thing to come back with a vengeance early on in the third season. By that point, fans had become sick of it. They circled back on it, though.
  • Total Drama. In general, the romantic relationships among the cast end up getting a disproportionate amount of focus, at the expense of the other subplots and important friendships among the characters. This becomes far more noticeable after the episode count for each season was sliced in half, forcing the writers to cram a lot more into the episodes instead of being able to spread things out.
    • A common criticism of World Tour is that the belligerent Love Triangle between Courtney, Duncan, and Gwen got far too much focus after Duncan returned to the competition midway through the season, to the point where fan-favorites Tyler and Noah were thrown out early to give more focus to it and it essentially consumed Gwen and Courtney's personalities in All-Stars.
    • Plenty of fans, especially adult fans, feel this way about the ongoing romantic tension between Mike and Zoey between Revenge of the Island and especially All-Stars; already coming across as overblown and repetitive, with Mike's Multiple Personality Disorder seen as distasteful in serving as the sole obstacle of their romance, many have gone so far as to blame the critical failure of the latter season almost entirely upon this plot.
    • The Spin-Off Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race had Carrie/Devin for the parts of the base that found them blander than the rest of the cast with a plot that was extremely predictable and too dragged out. It's worth saying that the reaction was never as negative as previous Total Drama examples, probably thanks to Race being a full-length season so their romance didn't stifle the other plots due to competing for limited airtime.
    • The Ridonculous Race also had Stephanie/Ryan. Unlike with Carrie/Devin, the reaction to them is about as negative as previous Total Drama examples (if not worse) due to many finding their immaturity to be very insufferable (most of their post-breakup conversations boil down to them yelling and screaming at each other) as well as dodging elimination two times due to most of them conveniently falling into the "Non-elimination episode if an important character loses" trap that the original series was guilty of.
    • Chase and Emma's relationship in the first season of Island (2023) has its fair share of issues thanks to Chase being an egomaniac who cut Emma's brakes as a prank and Emma flip-flopping between hating and loving Chase for his actions. Their repeated breaking up and getting back together despite all this hasn't endeared the fans to them.
    • The second season has Priya and Caleb's turbulent relationship, especially in the second half. Other potential story arcs are discarded in favor of their drama, more interesting characters (including the season's winner) are pushed Out of Focus (with the exception of Julia, and that's only because all her schemes now revolve around trying to break them up), Priya's character is derailed from a slightly naive but skilled girl to a repeat of love triangle-era Courtney, and Caleb repeatedly holds the Idiot Ball so the arc can be needlessly padded out.
  • Velma: One of the major criticisms that's popped up for the show is how the relationship drama between Velma and the other three main characters constantly gets in the way of the murder mystery plot. For example, most of episode three is spent on Daphne and Velma getting into a fight during a self-defense class and then making up again, with the murder mystery plot reduced to a subplot headed by Norville which Velma has no impact on.
  • Wakfu:
    • A very light example during the last half of season one, as Sadlygrove and Evangelyne's relationship begins to get hinted at more and more. It never overtakes the main plot, but their relationships with almost anyone but each other stop being explored. It can make it kind of jarring in the season finale when Yugo is spurred into an Unstoppable Rage after he feels Sadlygrove's wakfu disappear and Evangelyne has a Heroic BSoD when the Tree of Life dies, "killing" Amalia, because it's so easy to forget that they had meaningful relationships with other characters, too.
    • And it happens again in season two, which has several episodes focused on a fight between Sadlygrove and Evangelyne and a Love Triangle between those two and Cleo.
  • Winx Club has to juggle the main plotline alongside six different romantic subplots, a few tend to fall by the wayside. While no single romantic relationship is consistently a plot tumor, and they all further the action at some point, such as Bloom going to Earth after finding out about Sky's fiancée, Tecna's getting her Charmix by having feelings for Timmy, and Aisha turning to the warrior fairies after the death of Nabu, at any given time in the series the majority of the relationships featured aren't doing anything for the plot.

    Real Life 
  • The media has often been accused of this when it comes to news, with focus on celebrity gossip, relationships, and breakups over...well, real news. An example would be The New York Post on January 1, 2012. On December 31, 2011, news sources reported about further unrest in Syria, the acknowledgement of Kim Jong Un as the supreme leader of North Korea and a warning about the nation not changing their policies, general elections in Jamaica, saber-rattling by Iran against the United States and Israel (or the other way, depending on how you look at it), and Russell Brand ending his marriage to Katy Perry. Guess which story showed up on the front page of the New York Post.

Alternative Title(s): Romance Tumor, Romantic Plot Tumour, Spotlight Stealing Romance