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Romantic Ribbing

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Ran and Moca: Band Mates, Soul Mates.

Relationships can be very complicated things. There are a myriad of traditions and protocols to observe, as well as interpersonal dynamics unique to a particular couple.

A sign that a couple is especially close is when one partner, most often The Gadfly, though not necessarily, can playfully tease their partner without them getting hostile or bitter about it. In some relationships, both parties are good at this, engaging in playful banter with each other.

Sometimes, in the Superhero genre, this will be a hallmark of Foe Romance Subtext, when one or both parties can engage in playful teasing of one another.

A sign that the relationship is in trouble is if the playful teasing suddenly turns hostile or mean-spirited, or, on the flip side, provokes a genuinely angry outburst from the recipient.

For someone who always behaves like this in romantic relationships, see Trickster Girlfriend. Also related to The Tease who likes to arouse others for fun. Compare and contrast Dating Catwoman, Belligerent Sexual Tension, Slap-Slap-Kiss, Power Dynamics Kink, Loving Bully. May involve a Cold Touch Surprise.

Compare Vitriolic Best Buds for non-romantic versions.

Also may include Insult of Endearment, if there's a common term used in the teasing efforts. Spouses and long term romantic partners may engage in Familial Chiding.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Amagami SS: Kaouru begins her arc in the anime by playfully flirting with Juniichi, doing things such as biting his ear, or glomming all over him while suggesting that they go to a popular date spot while calling him "Darling". When asked about it, she engages in mock crying, clinging to the curtain of the classroom window while saying she only does it because it's fun. One of her attempts at Romantic Ribbing on the school roof leads to an Accidental Kiss between the two.
  • BanG Dream!: For Afterglow, we have Moca Aoba and Ran Mitake. Moca is constantly teasing Ran in a very flirtatious way (Moca will tease anyone, but Ran is the only one who it seems to be flirtatious with). In the 4koma, when Ran shows up at the convenience store Moca works at, Moca hands her a slip of paper with her phone number and says, "I get off at 5. Call me." Ran points out that she already has Moca's number. In an episode of Garupa Pico, Tsugumi relates a story of how, when Ran and Moca were at her cafe, Moca asked for a bite of Ran's dessert, and when Ran slid the plate over, Moca makes it clear she wants Ran to feed her, prompting a Luminescent Blush from Ran and a reply of "Moca, you're embarrassing me." And in The Movie, BanG Dream! FILM LIVE, Moca gives Ran a flirtatious "Woo Woo!" twice on stage, causing Ran to blush profusely in front of the audience.
  • Bloom Into You:
    • Subverted. Yuu assumes this is what's going on when Touko shows up at her family's bookstore and buys a lesbian romance novel with explicit sex scenes. It turns out that Touko didn't realize what it was she'd picked up until she got home, prompting a sincere and profuse apology to Yuu the next day.
    • Played straight when Touko visits Yuu's home for the first time. She's nervous and flustered, and Yuu teasingly calls her a "perv" for it. Touko protests that anyone would be nervous being in the bedroom of the girl they liked romantically.
    • Miyako shows up to the Sports Fest in order to watch Riko and then tease her about her poor performance in the events.
  • Doki Doki School Hours: Kitagawa delights in teasing her crush, the diminutive Mika-sensei, from such antics as offering her Valentine's chocolates, only to dump them on the floor, only to then reveal they were carved erasers and she still has the real chocolates, only to then put them away as the bell has rung and they have to start class, forcing Mika-sensei to wait until lunch break to have them.
  • My-HiME: The first hint of Ship Tease we get of Shizuru and Natsuki, long before they're made official, is an early episode when Yuuichi and Reito walk into the Student Council Room to find the girls there. Reito asks if they're interrupting anything, to which Shizuru cheerfully replies, "You sure are, and right at the juicy part.", to Natsuki's immediate embarrassment. And that's not getting into the Audio Dramas like "Lingerie Rhapsody" and "Natsuki's Desperation". This extends to their My-Otome counterparts where Shizuru openly flirts with Arika in front of Natsuki to get a rise out of her.
  • Snow White with the Red Hair: When they have enough time to themselves Shirayuki likes to lightly tease her boyfriend Zen. She's also occasionally done so while there are other people around and he has to act like he doesn't recognize the flirting since their relationship is a secret to the general public until they can announce their engagement due to his position as a prince.
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san: The series is practically built out of this trope. Takagi and Nishikata are in middle school, and she clearly has a crush on him, which she shows by teasing him relentlessly throughout the series. Nishikata is initially unaware of her genuine feelings towards him, but considering that the Time Skipped spinoff series shows the two of them married with a child, it's fair to say that he figured it out at some point. Takagi is still the master of teasing her husband, though.

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • In the 1997 Marvel's Valentines Special, Mary Jane comes home and hears a sound that prompts her to think a prowler is in the house. She suddenly finds herself stuck to a giant heart-shaped web, and gives a relieved, "Oh, it's you."
      Peter: (in costume, carrying flowers and chocolates) "Oh, it's you." Is that all you have to say—to your husband on Valentine's Day? "Oh, it's you." Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?...I mean I always assumed I'd marry a girl who could stand me, or at least pretend to on major holidays, and...
      Mary Jane: Petey—Shut up.
      Mary Jane: Petey, I can't move my arms. They're stuck to your stupid web.
      Peter: Oh, well...Don't worry. It'll about an hour.
      Mary Jane: You mean we're trapped like this for a whole entire hour?
      Peter: Well, you are.
      Mary Jane: (kissing him) Cool.
    • Spider-Man's relationship with the Black Cat is often written this way, whether they're romantically involved or not, with the two frequently trading snarky comments about the other's quirks such as Peter's focus on responsibility or Felicia's Sticky Fingers. Sometimes this would escalate into outright hurtful insults when the writers wanted real drama.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In the Golden Age Diana liked to cover Steve's eyes from behind to make him guess who she was, which he always got right away since he knew her voice, but sometimes had to hesitate to answer if he didn't know whether she was dressed as Diana or Wonder Woman at the time. She also often did things that would make him frazzled before leaning on him and saying things about what a useful boyfriend he was.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan and The Archmage's Last Bow, Nova Shine and Twilight Sparkle banter their days away. Nova in general is The Gadfly, but Twilight can dish out as well (such as "admitting" that her favorite soccer team just happens to be Nova's favorite team's arch-rivals to see his reaction).
  • Duran And Kiyohime's Omake Theater: Being set after the original My-HiME, Shizuru still delights in teasing Natsuki and getting a Luminescent Blush out of her. This happens frequently. But a standout example is when Shizuru accidentally misses a revised deadline because she had stayed in bed one day for amorous activities. Natsuki asks Shizuru if that's what she told the professor.
    Shizuru: Ara, do you think I would tell my professor that I missed his class because I was being held at the sexual mercy of my cute high school girlfriend?
    Natsuki: Geez, You make it sound like I'm Shiho's age when you say it like that. And yes, I think you're capable of saying any number of outrageous things when you think you'll get some advantage by it.
  • In Eleutherophobia: A Straight Line Down Through the Heart, Tom calls Bonnie an "overachiever" when she arrives at their double-date; Cassie thinks they're arguing at first due to their flat tones of voice, but then she realises they're teasing when they start giggling.
  • Guys Being Dudes: Spark and Arlo get in a couple good-natured jabs at each other's expense. Candela also apparently solely addressed the latter as "Emo Trashlord" during the early stages of their relationship, both as this and because he wouldn't tell her his name.
  • The My-HiME fanfiction Inter Nos continues with the tradition of Shizuru teasing Natsuki. In one instance, when Shizuru takes Natsuki to her home in Hime, their amorous activities leave very noticeable hickeys on Natsuki's neck and shoulders. Natsuki is very conscientious of them, and Shizuru light-heartedly suggests that she can blame them on lampreys. When Natsuki learns that lampreys are a type of fish, she balks.
    Natsuki: No one sensible swims in the winter! I was attacked by a senator!
    • Later, when Natsuki leaves a hickey on Shizuru, Shizuru is completely unconcerned. Natsuki, however, is horrified that people will see it and know she caused it. She weakly suggests that Shizuru can say a lamprey did it, causing Shizuru to laugh loudly.

    Films — Animation 
  • Barnyard: Daisy, Otis's pregnant love interest, at one point tells Otis the baby's coming, then laughs at his reaction.
    Daisy: Haha, I made you jump.
  • The Incredibles: During their first on-screen patrol, Elastigirl (Helen) tells Mr. Incredible (Bob) that he needs to be more...flexible (which she helpfully demonstrates by stretching through his legs.) Later, during their wedding, Bob repeats her words back to her when she tries to chide him on being late to the ceremony.
  • Shrek has a literal example at the end of a Falling-in-Love Montage, when Fiona playfully nudges Shrek in the ribs, and Shrek responds by equally-playfully shoving her into a bush and laughing as he runs off.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Annihilation (2018): In a Happy Flashback, Kane tells Lena that while he's on his upcoming mission, they'll be able to see the same stars when they look up at the sky. Lena starts laughing and asks him if he seriously thinks she spends her time melodramatically gazing up at the sky pining for him. She begins teasing him while he pretends to be offended, culminating in them making out. It helps establish that their relationship was genuinely loving until Lena cheated on Kane due to him always being away, which led to a heartbroken Kane going on a Suicide Mission.
  • Donnie Darko: After a terse argument with Donnie, his mother, Rose Darko goes to her husband Eddie, who demonstrates a downplayed version of this trope by reassuring and teasing her at the same time.
    Rose Darko: Our son just called me a "bitch".
    Eddie Darko: You're not a bitch. You're bitching, but you're not a bitch.
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife: The first of The Stingers reveal that Peter and Dana are Happily Married, and Dana is running Pete's old Psychic Test on him. Including the "mild electric shocks" he used to give his students. It's clear that they're having fun together, despite Dana having to shock Peter whenever he tries to engage in Blatant Lies.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Downplayed example. In a Film-only scene, Aragorn finds a blade to his throat while looking for althelas, aka, kingsfoil. Then he hears a familiar feminine voice playfully ask:
    Arwen: What's this; a Ranger caught off his guard?
  • In Love Story, the protagonist's Love Interest Jennifer Cavilleri ironically calls him "Preppie", and constantly teases him with sarcastic quips. He soon learns to retaliate, but she still outmatches him every time:
    'Damn,' I replied, 'why can't I ever quit when I'm ahead?'
    'Because, Preppie,' said my loving wife, 'you never are.'
  • The Princess Bride: Buttercup has resolved to kill herself since she believes Westley to be dead. She raises a dagger to her chest...
    Westley: There's a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. T'would be a pity to damage yours.
  • Across the Thin Man series, Nick and Nora Charles' entire relationship is defined by an endless (but never serious) snarky back-and-forth. A perfect example is their first scene together where Nora feigns jealousy over a young woman who asked Nick for help and Nick, when asked who she is, responds with a wistful "admission" that she's his daughter from a fling in Venice. In fact, they spend so much time ribbing each other and everybody else they come into contact with that you know things are getting serious when it stops.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Big Bang Theory: When Sheldon suggests that the diamond in Penny's engagement ring is a used drill bit, Leonard denies it Penny says she believes him, but then presses the ring to Leonard's arm and makes a drilling noise.
  • The Devil Judge: Yoon Soo-hyun gives Ga-on a silly, teasing marriage proposal just to play it off as a joke and call him a punk.
  • Doctor Who: River and The Doctor (11th) often teased one another, though River often had the upper hand.
    Amy: How come you can fly the TARDIS?
    River: Oh, I had lessons from the very best.
    The Doctor: (flattered) Well, yeah.
    River: It's a shame you were busy that day.
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2024): John tends to do more playful ribbing to Jane than she does to him, like teasing her for how badly her farts smell.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The O'Briens are a married couple who love teasing each other. Examples include Keiko claiming Miles has gotten fatter in "Time's Orphan" and Miles pretending that he thinks Keiko is cheating on him in another episode.

    Visual Novels 
  • This pretty much makes up the vast majority of the player character's courtship with "Grim" in A Date with Death. Given how easily flustered he is, it's not hard to see why they can't help but push his buttons, and the game gives you several options for how to do so.

    Western Animation 
  • Daria: When Tom and Daria begin their relationship, Tom has a habit of light-heartedly teasing Daria, often when she's overthinking things and he wants to gently point that out to her.
    Daria: Do you think I complain too much.
    Tom: (lightly) What are you bitching about, now?
  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: In "Ghost Quest", Jonny, Jessie, and Hadji end up on a haunted island, with Jonny and Jessie each possessed by the spirits of a pair of lovers who had turned on each other and killed one another. Hadji convinces the spirits to forgive one another and move on, which they cement with a Big Damn Kiss in Jonny and Jessie's bodies, causing the two to find themselves in a romantic embrace when they came back to themselves. When they leave the island, they note on their ship's clock that no time has passed since their arrival, prompting this response from Jessie:
    Jessie: (flirtatiously) Yeah, time stood still for me, too, Jonny.