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Secret Relationship

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Max: [as Agent 99 tries to kiss him on the cheek while in the middle of CONTROL headquarters] 99, no one at Control knows we're dating.
Chief: [walking past with a piece of cake] Yes, they do.

Two characters suddenly wind up in a relationship together and decide to keep it a secret from everyone. The reason can be perfectly solid, e.g. one of them is the other's boss, or one is a Secret-Keeper for the other, and making the relationship public would reveal too much, but just as often it can be an ill-defined "I'm not ready for them to know" excuse. They remain awkwardly but successfully concealed for several episodes, speaking in Unusual Euphemisms, constantly leaving to Talk About That Thing and generating many a "Fawlty Towers" Plot — basically put, behaving in such a manner that requires all other characters to juggle the Idiot Ball like crazy.

Eventually they will be found out. This is not a variable — the Secret Relationship is made to be discovered. The only variation is when, how, and whether everyone finds out at once or just one or two people find out at first and have to help keep the secret until everyone else finds out. A common humorous scenario is that everyone knows, but doesn't care; or people think it's funny watching them scramble to hide.

This can also be played for drama. Two people might be good friends, while aware that their parents, or the outside world, wouldn't approve of their friendship. In an attempt to prevent that from being discovered, the friends do everything they can to hide it, but sooner or later, hell will break loose. Romeo and Juliet may be the most well-known variation of this.

Naturally, a necessary precaution when Dating Catwoman.

Contrast Fake Relationship.

Spoilers ahoy, readers, beware!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ai Yori Aoshi's leads—Kaoru Hanabishi and Aoi Sakuraba—have an Arranged Marriage from way back when and are very much in love, but Aoi's family, in order to avoid a scandal (the marriage had been called off when Kaoru left the Hanabishis due to the abuse from his grandfather), force them to keep it a secret. Since this is a Harem Series, and several girls with romantic interest in Kaoru come to live with him, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Bloom Into You has a few examples.
    • Touko and Yuu's relationship is a secret from most of the cast, even early on in the series, when it's just Touko asking Yuu to love her on the condition that Yuu not love her back. Maki witnesses them kissing, and Yuu, terrified of what might happen if rumors spread, forces him to swear he won't tell anyone. Maki agrees, since he enjoys watching other people's love stories play out, but notes that Yuu seemed more worried about Touko than she was about herself. Later on in the series, it's implied that Yuu's sister Rei, her group of friends, Maki and Sayaka all know about her relationship with Touko, although Yuu hasn't told her parents or Doujima yet.
    • Riko Hakozaki, Yuu's homeroom teacher, and Miyako Kodama, the owner of a local cafe, are actually dating, but keep their relationship a secret. Riko's the one who's more worried about keeping it secret, since Miyako tells Sayaka the truth when she asks.
    • Akari's crush Oogaki claimed that he wanted to focus on basketball when he turned down her Love Confession, but the truth was that he was in a relationship with Serizawa, the team captain. The two of them wanted to keep their relationship secret to avoid complications with the team, although Doujima is furious with Oogaki for giving Akari false hope.
  • Romio Inuzuka and Juliet Persia, resident Star-Crossed Lovers (notice the names?) of Boarding School Juliet are from two opposing nations. Juliet accepts Romio's Love Confession at the end of Chapter 1 (episode 1 in the anime) under the condition that it be kept under wraps. If they were ever to be found out, they would both get labeled as traitors to their countries. They make it their goal to change the world so that they don't have to hide their relationship anymore.
  • The Dangers in My Heart: Anna discusses it with Kyōtarō on a train ride, bringing up how kids back in her elementary school days got together and openly held hands in the hallway. Then says that she personally finds this trope more fun and asks Kyōtarō what he thinks.
    • Between them overall, it's downplayed. The two always walk home from school together, begin hanging out outside of school and try to keep their level of closeness a secret from their classmates, especially at the start of their third year to avoid Kankan's desire to throw a flashmob celebration for class couples. But they’re an unofficial couple up to that point and actually question if they've been dating the whole time or not.
    • They eventually do start dating for real, but ironically it’s by then that they start letting a select few people close to them know.
  • The plot of Dandelion Among Lilies revolves around a secret relationship. Mizuho and Ena's both being women cause them ostracism, so they try to avoid being open about their romance. Drama occurs when the more open Ena becomes worried that Mizuho would rather be with a man.
  • Played with left and right in Fruits Basket. The Head of the Sohma family (and God of the Zodiac), Akito, is dangerously unstable and particularly susceptible to the Green-Eyed Monster when it comes to the members of the Zodiac, so this seems to be the only kind of relationship they can have:
    • Hatori and Kana. While their relationship may not have been intentionally kept a secret from people outside of the Sohma house, Kana and Hatori formally go to Akito to ask for a marriage blessing. Akito treats this knowledge as a secret that was kept from him (or better said her) and flips out accordingly by smashing a vase into Hatori's head, effectively blinding him in one eye in the process. Kana's witnessing of this and Akito's accusation that this happened because of their relationship breaks Kana to the point where Hatori had to erase all her memories of their relationship to save her from her depression.
    • Hiro ends up telling Akito about his love for Kisa... before he even confesses his love to Kisa. Suffice it to say that he ends up regretting it, and although he eventually gets over it, he doesn't actually confess his love to her for a long time.
    • Haru and Rin play this trope straight, being in a relationship but not telling anyone about it. Naturally, this ends in tragedy when Akito does find out: Akito blames Rin for it, she takes the blame to protect Haru, and promptly throws her out a second-story window, landing her in the hospital. It's clear that their choice to keep their relationship a secret is indicative of their poor communication in general, which causes still more trouble for them as time goes on.
  • Mari and Akko in Girl Friends (2006) keep their relationship from their friends, probably because they're both girls and aren't sure how they would react. However, while Sugi-san had mostly figured it out even before Akko and Mari had (thanks to a rather transparent attempt at I Have This Friend by Akko), even in the epilogue set a year after they got together Tamamin still hasn't figured it out.
  • In Hanjuku Joshi, Yae and Chitose keep their relationship secret for a while, since Yae is afraid that their peers will judge them for being lesbians.
  • Hybrid × Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia: By volume 8, Reiri officially begins dating Kizuna in secret. She has to keep their relationship hidden because she's an adult (age 27) who's sleeping with a minor (17), in addition to being his Commanding Officer and his biological sister!
  • Nanao and Matsumoto from Junsui Adolescence keep their relationship secret due to it being a taboo Girls' Love Teacher/Student Romance. Their friend Hanada-sensei figures it out regardless.
  • Kaguya and Shirogane from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War finally start dating over winter break, though they try to keep it a secret to keep Kaguya's family from finding out. Despite this, at least half a dozen people find out before they've even been going out for a month (they didn't even last five seconds before Karen found out because she happened to be only a few feet away when Kaguya made her Love Confession by complete coincidence). Kaguya also takes any chance she can get to show off to the rest of the student council while still keeping it within the realm of a Sarcastic Confession.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: Kuroe tries to do this once she starts dating Arata, as the latter is a popular Chick Magnet and she is worried that his reputation will suffer if he's seen with a "loser" like her. But she ends up having to deliver his forgotten lunch to him in view of the whole school, which results in everyone quickly finding out anyway.
  • Love After World Domination: Fudo Aikawa enters a relationship with Desumi Magahara. Problem is, he's the leader of the "Gelato Five", while she's one of the top generals of the evil organization Gekko, so they can't allow it to become public.
  • The plot of Love Lucky is that Fuuta has to keep his marriage with Kirari secret for one year, or her record company will force them to get a divorce.
  • Marmalade Boy:
    • Meiko and Shinichi aka Nachan because he's her teacher. While Yuu finds out early on, the rest of the cast doesn't until they're caught and it becomes a scandal.
    • Miki and Yuu get tangled up in one because they're stepsiblings and Miki's mother Rumi warned her not to fall in love with Yuu in the first place. She was actually joking, and once they tell the parents, they accept it. (It's handled differently in each media, though.) The original ending planned (as mentioned in the mangaka's afterword in the last tankoubon) was that Miki and Yuu were half-brother and -sister and stopped dating, moving onto college. But the mangaka decided to change it when told by her editors that it was crazy.
  • In Naruto, Asuma and Kurenai had been seeing each other, although they tried to keep it quiet and denied that they were. The truth comes out with Asuma's death and Kurenai's pregnancy, however, and all the other ninja suspected there was something going on between them anyway. It's later shown that they had been married as well.

  • Saya and Tadashi of Onidere don't want to reveal they are together to keep being perceived as delinquents. They manage to keep it a secret. Momo actually knows about Saya and Tadashi's relationship, and helps them keep it a secret. Even when they don't know that she knows.
  • Ayame and Shouhei from Oiran Chirashi are very compatible (especially in the sexual sense) and understand one another very well. Problem is, they live in the Red Light District of Yoshiwara: she's a High-Class Call Girl in training while he works as a hairstylist for the brothel she works/lives in and others; there's no room for any romance in such a Crapsaccharine World, and despite their chemistry they must keep their attraction under wraps.

  • The premise of Please Teacher!, where Mizuho and Kei are married even though she's his teacher. She's also half alien, but that's treated as a much less dangerous secret.
  • Ranma ½: Played for laughs when Ranma and Akane try to pretend they were secret lovers all along. Most people don't buy it though; in fact, Ukyo is convinced Akane is forcing Ranma to lie and the rest of the school knows the two of them aren't really Happily Married because they're not arguing.
  • In School Days, Makoto and Sekai both decide to date (and sleep with) each other, while Makoto is still in a relationship with Kotonoha, which he also never really breaks off and continues to lead her on. It gets worse from there. Much, much worse.
  • Variable Geo: Reimi Jahana is the CEO of the Jahana Corporation and is almost always accompanied by her adjutant, Washio. It isn't revealed that she's romantically involved with him, until Chiho makes the mistake of entering Reimi's private rooftop rose garden and finds her straddling him, while they were making out.
  • W-Change!! features a non-romantic version between Tatsuya Fukama, an honours student and Student Council President and his best friend, Arashi Tachibana, the leader of a biker gang. In fact, Fukama is the heir to the Kokushin Clan, and Tachibana's gang is actually a faction serving under Fukama's clan. They hide their friendship in order to keep Fukama's identity a secret.
  • While most of their friends, and their parents, are well-aware of their relationship, Nitori and Anna from Wandering Son have this type of relationship. It mainly has to do with the fact Anna is a model (so her career would suffer), and that Nitori is transgender.
  • Reina of Yandere Kanojo would very much like to keep her relationship with Manabu under wraps, to protect her status as a delinquent. Manabu himself doesn't really mind one way or the other, but it quickly becomes clear that almost everyone knows about it, anyway.

    Audio Plays 
  • The Wasurenagusa series justifies this with the fact that its heroine gets herself romantically involved with one of the leaders of The Shinsengumi. In that organization, there was no room for relationships of any kind, and having such would be met with severe consequences.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, local hero Roustabout is on the run from the law, requiring him and his girlfriend to naturally keep their relationship quiet.
  • Ginger and Nancy from Afterlife with Archie are secretly dating, despite the fact Nancy has a boyfriend. Nancy wants to come out but Ginger is worried they won't be accepted well.
  • DC Pride: Tim Drake Special: Tim masks what he's doing when he goes on his first date with Bernard, as it's his first non-het romantic relationship and he's still figuring out his own bisexuality. He does come out to his friends and family later.
  • Death Vigil provides a meta example with Sam and Bernie, in which the relationship was being hidden from the audience. While Bernie clearly cares a great deal for all of her Death Knights and personally takes any death among them nearly to the point of Heroic BSoD, throughout the series she's demonstrated a particular concern for Sam's well-being, which gets played for Will They or Won't They? Ship Teasing. And then issue 8 reveals to the audience that Sam and Bernie had been together all along, completely changing the reading of their interactions earlier in the series.
  • Empowered has a secret love relationship between Vain Sorceress Sistah Spooky and Mindf**k. Even after their breakup the former is horrified by the idea of anyone knowing she was in a romantic relationship with a blonde woman.
  • Kimber's and Stormer's relationship is this for the first few issues of Jem and the Holograms (IDW) - not because they're gay, but because Stormer's bandmates threaten to kick her out if she dates a Hologram member. However, it's an Open Secret, as in issue 6 Kimber's sisters casually ask if she is secretly dating Stormer, and Pizzazz knows something is going on between Stormer and Kimber but wants to stop it. Eventually Pizzazz decides to ignore the romance as long as it doesn't affect their band.
  • In Robin Tim's father and his physical therapist try to hide their relationship from Tim for quite a while, probably because of Tim's recently deceased mother. Tim of course has known all along and figured out they were going to start dating even before they did. He has no problem with it and figures Dana could make a really cool stepmother, which in time she does.
  • Lightly parodied/inverted in the last volume of Scott Pilgrim with Stephen Stills and Joseph. The parodical nature comes from the fact that Stephen wasn't trying to hide the relationship. Scott was just a bit too thick to notice (though in his defense, he was suffering from a bit of a mental breakdown.)

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust:
    • Shinji and Asuka get together after their First Kiss but they keep it secret because they are frightened that their guardian would try to stop them or force one of them to move out. They actually do a fairly good job at keeping people from finding out (only Rei figured it out without being directly told).
      Asuka: I get impatient, you know that. I want my warm baka-Shinji. It's a good thing you always get up before anyone else, too. We don't want to get caught, do we?
      Shinji: I still feel a little bad hiding us from everyone, Asuka. We can't even go out on a weekend on a normal date or anything, and I'd really like to do that.
      Asuka: I know. But if Misato found out, she'd make us stop doing this. "We're too young!" or some other excuse, like we're not soldiers who could die any day.
    • Ritsuko and Maya end up in a similar situation, although they're keeping it a secret because Gendo would have them killed if he found out.
    • Sayaka and Kyoko were secretly dating before they hooked up with Kensuke. In fact, their originally wanted him to act as The Beard before their relationship developed into Polyamory.
  • The Child of Love: After getting together Shinji and Asuka try to keep their relationship secret for a while. However they did not fool Misato for a minute and they stopped pretending after a couple of months.
    Shinji and Asuka shared their feelings for each other under the Obon Festival's fireworks. It seems that Misato and Kaji did the same, too. Even though Asuka now admits to herself and Shinji that she's in love with him, she tries not to tell anybody else, much to his surprise. Nevertheless, when they're alone, she's a totally different person...
    Is she afraid of showing everybody how she feels for Shinji? Does she want to prove to Shinji that she loves him by giving him what she keeps from other people?
  • Evangelion 303: Played for laughs. Straight after becoming lovers Asuka warned Shinji against telling anyone that they were sleeping together. After several days she stopped caring about people knowing but she forgot to tell him, so Shinji was still denying everything to his friends and trying to keep it secret as the same time that her friends pried everything out of her.
  • Higher Learning: After getting together, Shinji and Asuka kept their relationship secret for a while until Shinji left right before the battle against Zeruel. Upon seeing Asuka's sobbing reaction, Misato figured it out.
  • The Second Try: Merely the tip of the iceberg. In a nutshell, Shinji and Asuka are time-travelers trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, so that they have to hide that they are together, they are actually Happily Married and they even got a daughter. The Reveal was really something to behold.
  • Several of the Wizards of Waverly Place stories that feature Brother–Sister Incest with Justin and Alex as the main couple.
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist fan fiction Best Kept Secret uses this trope as its basic premise, exploring how the story might have gone if Roy and Riza were secretly married throughout the entire thing.
  • Many Soul Eater fanfics that pair Soul and Maka together have them trying to keep their relationship a secret. Usually it has more to do with Maka's dad's potential reaction than with their friends.
  • The Sherlock and Harry Potter crossover fanfic The Magic of Deduction has John and Sherlock fake breaking up to protect John from Moriarty. Slightly different as the two hardly had any contact with each other over the period of time in which they were "broken up"
  • Possibly due to Values Dissonance, note  one Neji/Hinata fanfic in Naruto portrayed their relationship as secret, even when Hinata had Neji's child.
  • Ace Attorney fanfic Dirty Sympathy has Klavier and Apollo keep their relationship under wraps because at first Daryan would have killed Klavier for infidelity, secondly to keep people from looking too closely at their actions and so that officially people don't realize that they know each other.
  • Inverted in one story of the Facing the Future Series where Danny and Sam pretend to be broken up to get a bunch of ghosts trying to separate them to back off. Unfortunately, their friends fall for the ruse too.
  • In Shatterheart R!Syaoran and Kurogane keep their Friends with Benefits relationship a secret because R!Syaoran was still in love with Sakura and didn't want her finding out and so they could end it without anyone finding out. When Fai finds out about it due to walking in on them, things get worse.
  • By The Wrong Reflection Eleya and Gaarra have graduated to Official Couple status, but they're still keeping the relationship secret because it's against regulations (she being his direct superior officer and all). So far they've only told Eleya's parents and sister, but it's briefly implied in the first chapter that Eleya's Number Two, Tess Phohl, knows and isn't saying anything.
  • Ranma ½ fics often have a Fandom-Specific Plot: There's a secret relationship between Ranma and Akane. The main reason why they keep it a secret is usually because they don't want their fathers to pressure them into marriage even more than they already do.
  • The Lucky Star fic The Day Everything Changed has Konata and Kagami, at the end of the fic, agreeing to keep their relationship under wraps for a bit, which actually seems to fit in with the yuri subtext seen in the actual anime. In the sequel, Holiday Vacation, their relationship has been common knowledge for two years now, and is often a conversation starter at school among students.
  • Magma Grunt tries to keep her relationship with Brendan a secret in Dating a Team Magma Grunt, but this doesn't even last the first chapter because Courtney saw the two of them together.
  • Say It Again, the prequel to Say It Thrice, has the platonic variant for Betelgeuse and Lydia. Following the events of the film, they're slowly developing the friendship which forms the emotional heart of the main story. However, since her parents and the Maitlands only know him as the dangerous monster who wreaked havoc on their lives/afterlives, they have to keep it to themselves for a long time.
  • Code Geass: The Prepared Rebellion:
    • Lelouch keeps his polyamorous relationship with C.C. and Sayoko a secret from the rest of the school, but Milly manages to figure it out.
    • Milly has some experience with secret relationships, since she has one with Nina. Or rather, she had one, but they broke up in the aftermath of the Lake Kawaguchi incident.
  • In the Hyrule Warriors inspired fanfic In Sotto Voce, the previous Zelda and Impa's mother Tikala fell in love and were in a relationship for years. Zelda's guard Kishla however grew jealous of their bond and exposed their romance. Zelda's parents forced the two women apart and arranged for Zelda to be married. Years later, the two decided that Tikala's child would become the guard of Zelda's child as an adult, in order to essentially have their children live out their desires. Zelda was Driven to Suicide due to being unable to be with her lover, but it was covered up as her dying of illness. Their children did fall in love however they are mad at their mother's decision. Zelda and Impa also keep their relationship a secret due to their relationship being taboo (Hylians aren't open about same-gender romances, plus Zelda is expected to have a heir, while Sheikah's are against women being with Zelda's due to the possibility of the bloodline of Hylia ending).
  • My Pain, My Thrill is a Peach/Bowser Super Mario Bros. fanfic. Peach fell for Bowser early on in the series' timeline but the two kept up a charade that Peach was being kidnapped against her will. The Koopas knew about their relationship but not the Toads or the Mario brothers. They kept their relationship up until Bowser began distancing himself from her after Peach nearly died giving birth to Bowser Jr. Peach eventually found out that Jr was her son (she didn't know she was pregnant and fell into a coma during the birth) and confronted Bowser about it. They end up mending their relationship and decided to still keep it secret.
  • In the Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles, when Solas and Evelyn got together while they were still in Ostwick, they kept it a secret to prevent it being used against them (as most Circle mages would do). Once canon kicks in, their relationship is more like a semi-open secret; most of the main cast know that they’re together but to everyone else, it’s just a rumor. Solas actually wants to continue to hide it at first, since he wants Evelyn to get as much influence and power in the Game as possible, but she disagrees.
  • In TRULY OUTRAGEOUS: A Jem Fan Film!, Stormer's bandmates realize that she's dating Kimber, but Kimber's bandmates (including her sister) don't learn until Stormer kisses a traumatized Kimber after Kimber learns a terrible secret.
  • In Total Drama fanfic Three Tests of Valor Due to Heather and Courtney being so strict over inter-teams' interaction, Lindsay and Harold keep their relationship a secret at first.
  • In Never Been Bothered, Elsa and Anna tried to keep their relationship secret and even married in secret due to the incestous nature of their romance. Eventually they were found out, so they ran away from Arendelle and abdicated the throne. At their new home, the unnamed POV character promises to be their Secret-Keeper after accidentally finding a family photo.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles:
    • Flash believes that Shining Armor and Cadance might have been in one since Shining did not tell Twilight about their relationship until their wedding. Though it turns out Shining was not trying to keep it a secret, and the only one who didn't know at all was Twilight.
    • It is eventually revealed Rainbow Dash and Soarin have been in a relationship ever since Rainbow's time at the Wonderbolts Academy. After Springer learns about their relationship, they say they kept it a secret because they didn't want everyone to think Rainbow was getting favors from the Wonderbolts. They come clean about their relationship to everyone after some encouragement from Springer.
    • Rarity and Lightning Blitz are revealed to have also been dating in secret. After the first date together, they decided to keep going out together and see what happens, but kept it a secret from everyone else in case things didn't work out. After several dates together they realized they have a lot in common and decide to officially become a couple, but are forced to reveal their relationship a bit sooner than they planned when Spike discovers them together at the worst possible time.
  • Much Ado About Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won: Horatio Hornblower and Archie Kennedy get an upgrade from friends to lovers in this fic. They must keep it hidden from everybody because they are naval officers and what they want to do is a capital offence according to the Articles of War. If anybody finds out and reports them, they will be court martialed and hanged.
  • The Splatoon 2 fanfic Her Fractured Spirit portrays Marina and Pearl as a couple. They'd rather not have their relationship in the public eye, however they act just flirty enough to cause rumors. This fanfic is far from the first to suggest that the two are a couple, however; whether this actually is the case in the main Splatoon canon is a subject of much... ahem, "heated debate".
  • How to Fake a Marriage has Adrien and Marinette start a relationship midfic, but keeping it secret so that Gabriel won't learn it. Absolutely hilarious moments follow when their friends keep trying to matchmake the two, and Adrien trolls them by pretending to miss the clues.
  • Touch (2005): Roxy and Stormer aren't open about their relationship, even to one another. They don't refer to each other as girlfriends or openly discuss their relationship.
  • In Perfect Diamond World, sisters Elsa and Anna have a secret incestuous relationship. A priest finds out and holds it over their head as blackmail. The two end up moving to England together and pretend to be widowed friends living together.
  • Cat's In The Cradle has Makoto fall in love with Sayaka, with them keeping it secret for the sake of Sayaka's career as an Idol Singer. Kyoko only learns about it after her class graduates from high school and Sayaka's career has started to decline.
  • Girls und Panzer: Hope Dies has Miho and Erika Itsumi of all people. Since there would be problems if people found out Miho was in a relationship with one of their opponents, they didn't show any signs of affection in public lest they be accused of passing information to the enemy hence Erika's canonical hostility toward Miho(although she was genuinely angry with Miho for a while). The truth is only revealed some time after Miho is murdered at the start of the fic, the culprit being Yukari, who performed an If I Can't Have You… on Miho.
  • Miraculous Ladybug fanfic The Murder of Lila Rossi: Alya tells Detective Wolfe that Lila was dating the famous model Adrien Agreste, but they kept it quiet because of tabloids. This is the first of Lila's many lies to be exposed, but part of the reason it worked is that Adrien really does have to keep his relationships secret. Plus his actual girlfriend, Marinette, is an employee at his father's company, and it could quickly lead to accusations of Nepotism (though Marinette has threatened to kick Gabriel's ass again if he tries to give her any sort of special favors).
  • Steal the Truth, Reach Out For Your Heart: Due to Rise still having an active career as an Idol Singer, her relationship with Yu is kept secret from the general public. Nanako didn't find out about it until she came home to find Rise at Yu's apartment (which is actually hers, since they've been living together).
  • The Legend of Genji: Shortly after Kuvira's defeat, Iroh II began dating a man named Haruki, which he hid from the public due to the stigma same-sex couples faced in the Fire Nation as a consequence of Sozin's lingering anti-LGBT laws. Also, as the Fire Nation's crown prince, Iroh II was facing increasing pressure to settle down with a wife and continue the royal bloodline. He kept his relationship with Haruki a secret for well over a decade until the time finally came for Iroh II's mother to Abdicate the Throne, at which point Iroh II publicly rejected the crown and came out as gay so he could officially marry his boyfriend.
  • In the Doug fan series Another Day in Bluffington Duology, Patti and Beebe hid their relationship from everyone, even their close friends.
  • In the new timeline of Alya and the Harem Reality, Marinette, Alya, and Chloe have to keep their polycule relationship a secret. Not because of any potential backlash from Marinette dating two different girls, but because it would be a risk to their Secret Identities, especially with the (correct) speculation that Ladybug, Rena Rouge, and Queen Bee are dating each other.
  • Played With in The Princess Is Not in Another Castle; This One Is Safe Enough, where officially Marinette is dating Adrien, but they later tell their classmates that he's been The Beard for Marinette and Kagami's relationship to help conceal it from Kagami's mother. The end of the story reveals that the secret relationship is actually between Marinette, Kagami, and Adrien, which they're keeping a secret so the media or Adrien's father won't try to exploit it.
  • In CAGED, Adrien and Luka are Sickeningly Sweethearts but have to hide their relationship from the public with help from their classmates, since they know that Adrien's Control Freak father wouldn't approve of him dating a boy, much less one from a "lower" class. Unfortunately for the couple, Lila exposes their relationship through Tabloid Melodrama because Adrien refuses to be hers, knowing very well that Gabriel will lock Adrien in his room and cut all communications to his boyfriend and his friends.
  • Republic City Blues: Asami has to keep her relationship with Korra a secret, due to her father viewing affection as a weakness and barely allowing Korra to be her bodyguard as is. After they spend the night together, Asami leaves early and makes her side of the bed without waking Korra.

    Film — Animation 
  • In The Kingand I, Prince Chulalongkorn falls in love with Tuptim, a servant girl. They keep their romance hidden as it's strictly forbidden due to their different social status, but are determined to be together. However, until the time is right, they decide to keep their relationship a secret, until the King's advisor discovers their romance and outs them in his plot to takeover the kingdom.
  • In the film The Painting, Ramo and Claire are in love, but since he's a Alldunn and she's a Halfie (basically he's part of the elite class while she's part of a poor class), they try to meet in secret. They're apparently really bad at it though, since everyone knows, which is soon Played for Drama.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien Cargo: As it's against company regulation, Chris and Theta have to keep their relationship secret from their colleagues. They’re delighted that by chance they get to spend their shift out of cryosleep together, but later find out that this has exposed them to a dangerous virus that has infected the ship's living quarters.
  • All About E: Trish didn't like having to keep her relationship with E a secret from E's parents (as she hadn't come out) at all, which strained them even prior to their ultimate breakup.
  • August In The City: August and Clem were secretly together years before, while both pretended they were attracted to guys.
  • AWOL: Rayna, who's married to a man with two girls, starts seeing Joey, another woman, secretly.
  • Besties: Nedjma and Zina keep their lesbian relationship a secret, until the day Nedjma's group of girls stumbles upon them kissing, with one of them stealing Nedjma's cellphone and looking at the SMS the two exchanged. The other girls then shame Nedjma.
  • Cruz Diablo: Carlos denies her relationship with Marcela even while being threatened with a red-hot metal rod.
  • In The Dry, Jamie Sullivan and the local doctor are in a secret gay relationship. Their sneaking around causes one of them to be suspected of murder after he gives a false alibi to the police rather than admit that he was with his partner.
  • In the film Good Night, and Good Luck., Joseph and Shirley Wershba have to keep their marriage secret from all their colleagues (most of whom know anyway), as the rules at the time do not permit a married couple to work together.
  • This is the major driving force of Lawn Dogs. A 10-year-old girl and a widely distrusted 21-year-old lower-class man have a platonic friendship, which is tragically misinterpreted when discovered.
  • In Star Wars, Anakin marries Padmé in secrecy due to the Jedi Code forbidding attachment. It goes horribly wrong, with Anakin falling to The Dark Side and mortally wounding Padmé in a fit of jealousy.
  • Loving Annabelle: Annabelle and Ms. Bradley are secretly together. Annabelle is a troubled teenager who is forced to go into Catholic private school after getting kicked out of several other schools. She falls in love with her poetry teacher, Simone Bradley. The relationship is secret more to keep Ms. Bradley from getting fired and arrested than because of it being same-sex (though the Catholic school they're at doesn't like that either).
  • Murder by Decree: Catholic Housemaid Annie Crook becomes the attention of a handsome guest at her employer's house. He seduces and marries her and she bears him a daughter. Of course, since the man turns out to be the Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward (or "Eddy"), the Duke of Clarence & Avondale, a Protestant and second-in-line to the Throne of England, this relationship has to be kept secret.
  • Ophelia: Unlike the play, it's shown here that Ophelia and Hamlet were romantically involved, but kept it secret due to her common-born status. This extended into a secret marriage as well, with Claudius trying to marry them off with other people after discovering it.
  • Rosaline: : At the start of the film Romeo and Rosaline have been sneaking around due to their Feuding Families. Paris (unaware that Juliet is seeing a Montague) suggests that the secrecy contributes most of the spark to their relationship. Indeed, after enough time has passed Rosaline realizes she doesn't really love him.
  • Where Hands Touch: Leyna and Lutz must keep their relationship a secret, as it's banned under Nazi laws since she's not "Aryan".
  • Saving Face: Wil hides her relationship with Vivian from her family and refuses to engage in PDA. Wil's mother refuses to reveal the father of her child. In the first case it's due to homophobia, the latter as they aren't married.
  • Welcome to the Dollhouse: Brandon threatens Dawn to keep their relationship a secret, as he’s too embarrassed to be associated with her publicly. The relationship is short-lived and no one finds out, except for maybe Ralphy, who was spying on them in Dawn’s Special People Club.
  • The World Unseen:
    • Miriam and Amina keep their relationship a secret, not only because Miriam's married, but that it's same-sex (highly taboo in early 1950s South Africa).
    • Jacob and Madeleine can only date secretly due to being an interracial couple, which is illegal. He reluctantly concludes it will never work after nearly being caught by a policeman.
  • Eloïse's Lover: Àsia keeps her relationship with Eloïse secret due to homophobia from her loved ones.
  • The Truth About Jane: Jane and Taylor date secretly as a result of homophobia before the pair are outed.
  • Bonnie & Bonnie: Yara keeps her relationship with Kiki secret, knowing it would be condemned by her Muslim family and community as they're both women.
  • Kissing Jessica Stein: What Jessica tries to have with Helen, keeping their affection with each other from the public. Helen finds this increasingly annoying, and eventually insists on them being public about it, with Jessica acceding.
  • Equals: Silas and Nia, after he gains emotions (she had them already) engage in a secret affair, forbidden by their society (as love or sex is banned).
  • Maggie & Annie: After both admit they love each other, Maggie and Annie have a secret affair, but it soon comes out to Annie's husband Bill.
  • Carmen y Lola: The title characters carefully pretend they're simply very close, intimate friends as a result of the homophobia in the Roma community.
  • India Sweets And Spices: Alia sees Varun although she knows that her parents won't approve of them being together since he's from a much poorer background, sneaking into his room regularly to have sex with him.
  • In Parking (1985), Eurydice is unaware of Orpheus and Calais's romantic relationship and sees them as close friends.
  • Rafiki: Same-sex marriage is illegal in Kenya and queer relationships are taboo. One of Kena's friends habitually makes fun of a local gay man, not knowing Kena herself is queer. Kena and Ziki keep the fact they're lovers a secret because of this.
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post: Cameron was involved with another girl named Coley and the couple had to keep this secret as they're both from a homophobic Christian community.
  • Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: Elizabeth, Olive and William keep the fact they're together (or they try to) as bisexuality (along with polyamory) are taboos, deemed "sex deviations" in the early 20th century.
  • Requiem (2021): Evelyn is secretly with Mary, another girl in their village. They must hide the fact since this is 1605 in England, with such a relationship forbidden.
  • Feast of Love: Kathryn, who's married to Bradley, starts seeing Jenny secretly after becoming attracted by her. It doesn't last long however before Kathryn leaves Bradley.
  • Heatwave (2022): Claire starts an affair with Eve, the wife of her boss, which they naturally keep a secret so he doesn't learn about it (though she isn't aware Eve's married to him at first).


By Author:

  • Jane Austen:
    • Emma, Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax are in a secret engagement which they hide extremely well, for fear that his rich and snobbish family would not approve. It is presented as very improper behaviour and a rather serious issue because they were being dishonest to their social circle and disrespected their legal guardians. It also creates a great deal of stress for Jane, because the title character (who has absolutely no idea about the engagement) and Frank have such a great relationship that it's generally expected they will eventually marry.
    • Sense and Sensibility: Edward Ferrars and Lucy Steele get engaged when they're just teenagers, and keep the relationship secret for four years because he would be disinherited if he married her. She's a scheming and calculating girl who really doesn't deserve him or even particularly like him, but figures that a genteel man without money is still a catch.
    • It's revealed at the very end of Northanger Abbey that Elinor Tilney is in love with "the most charming young man in the world". Their attachment is mutual and not of recent origin, and they get married when he becomes rich and a titled gentleman.
  • Horribly played in one of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer's "Leyendas", named "La Promesa" ("The Promise"). A young Count and a peasant girl named Margarita keep their love secret, but he has to go to war so he leaves her. (The Count has also lied about his origins to her.) When he returns, he learns that Margarita was found out and then subjected to Honor-Related Abuse, and now all that's left of her is her un-buried hand with a ring that he gave her. He "marries" her, or more accurately her hand, and only then she can rest in peace.

By Work:

  • Airborn: Matt and Kate in Starclimber. Kate's parents want her to marry someone else, and would definitely not approve of her marrying Matt because of his working-class origins.
  • Annie on My Mind:
    • Being a same-gender couple in the early 80s, Annie and Eliza try to keep their relationship secret. They both eventually feel stressed over having to pretend to be "just friends". They're outed when they're caught after having sex.
    • Ms. Widner and Ms. Stevenson have been together since they were teenagers, but keep their relationship a secret. This includes having a fake "for show" bedroom to make it seem as if they're just roommates.
  • In The Bible, Abraham kept his marriage with Sarah a secret from two different local rulers (claiming she was his sister) for fear that those rulers would murder him so they could take her for themselves. Both rulers point out how stupid that was. This makes this Older Than Feudalism.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa:
    • Tasia keeps secret the fact that she's now in a relationship with her handmaid Mylla, as same-sex relationships are taboo in their culture.
    • When she and Joslyn becomes lovers, they also don't tell people because of this at first.
  • King Stephen and Queen Anne in The Death Gate Cycle. Theirs was a politically Arranged Marriage and they hated each other at first; after that changed, they kept up the façade for use in court intrigues. (And as a useful excuse for shouting matches.)
  • In the Elenium trilogy, one of these exists between Sephrenia, who tutors the Pandion Knights in magic, and Vanion, the head of the order. (The relationship isn't exactly forbidden, but it's certainly not approved by the church; the Pandions are Church Militant knights and Sephrenia is the high priestess of a completely different religion.) It's initially a very well-kept secret, but hints of it leak out through the trilogy, and by the very end they don't really hide it anymore. In the sequel trilogy, the Tamuli, they're married.
  • Flowers in the Attic and its sequels are predicated on this trope, as siblings Christopher and Cathy spend their adolescence so isolated from the world that they end up falling in love with each other. Later in the series, they are (to the eyes of the rest of the world) a married couple, and the secret relationship they have to hide is their biological connection. This was also true of their parents, Chris and Corrine; their father was the half-brother of their mother's father. As the prequel novel Garden of Shadows reveals, that's not the whole truth either. Their parents were actually half-siblings, because Corrine was conceived when her father Malcolm raped his young widowed stepmother, Alicia, Chris's mother. Corrine grew up believing that Malcolm's wife Olivia was her biological mother, and the real relationship between herself and her eventual husband was hidden from everyone except Malcolm, Olivia, and Alicia.
  • Maya and Lochan are secretly together in a forbidden relationship in Forbidden, hence the title. Their relationship is forbidden for... familial reasons of... Brother–Sister Incest.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Percy Weasley's somewhat erratic behavior throughout the year is eventually explained away by Ginny: he's secretly dating Penelope Clearwater, a prefect from Ravenclaw.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • The People's Republic of Haven assign political watchdogs to scrutinize their naval commanders. In one instance, though, the watchdog and the admiral wind up in bed and in love with each other. "Conflict of interest" doesn't begin to describe it. As in, if they'd been discovered, the kindest thing that would have happened to both would have been summary execution. The watchdog and admiral in question are Eloise Pritchart and Javier Giscard, future President and Fleet Admiral of the Republic of Haven, and theirs is one of the most touching love stories in the whole series. (The relationship kept going. The reason they had to keep it secret... didn't.)
    • Honor and Hamish Alexander have a secret relationship for a while due to a number of circumstances, namely a) he's already married (though his wife, who's almost completely paralyzed, approves of and even encourages their relationship); b) Hamish is Honor's superior officer and, like in virtually all military forces, fraternization between Manticoran officers in the same chain of command is forbidden; and c) Honor's adopted planet, Grayson, is very religious and does not approve of out-of-wedlock sexual relations (they're not on Grayson, but Honor's high status in Grayson society could have been damaged if it were known). The issue is eventually resolved when Honor marries Hamish and his first wife in a polygamous marriage (not that unusual in the Honorverse, and completely acceptable and even expected on Grayson), taking care of the first and last issues, and by that point Hamish is the civilian head of the military, so the second issue is no longer a problem.
  • John Putnam Thatcher:
    • Going for the Gold. Two of the athletes have been married for a year, but are afraid that the groom's rich parents won't approve of the bride and hope that this will change if she acquits herself well in the Winter Olympics.
    • The culprits in East is East are married, but keep it a secret so no one will think of them as co-conspirators. Not even their families know, judging from some I Want Grandkids comments.
  • Last Herald-Mage Trilogy: Vanyel Ashkevron meets Tylendel and falls in love, shedding his Safety in Indifference. But he's afraid of what his father, who Wanted a Gender-Conforming Child, will do if he finds out, so Van puts on an Obfuscating Stupidity act where he plays up the sneering popinjay he seemed to be when he arrived at Haven, even attacking and fighting Tylendel (with his knowledge and to his amusement). Unfortunately this backfired in a major way on Tylendel's death and Van's Traumatic Superpower Awakening - all of Tylendel's friends and peers, who otherwise would have been sympathetic and supportive, hated the violently homophobic person Vanyel pretended to be and wished he had been the one to die, and, well, A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read.
  • Left Behind
    • David Hassid and Annie Christopher have a secret relationship while they're both working for Nicolae Carpathia in New Babylon, with the additional secret being that they're also Christian believers. Unfortunately, Annie is killed during Carpathia's "resurrection" in The Indwelling when Leon Fortunato calls down lightning to slay the disloyal among the gatherers at the funeral.
    • Buck and Chloe kept hiding for ages under similar circumstances. Fred Clark's review of the series contends that the underlying fatalism of the premise (the apocalypse is God's will, and the "heroes" know that they couldn't stop it if they tried) meant there was no meaningful conflict to create tension, and the Secret Relationship plotline was put in in order to create the illusion of it, despite there being no particular reason for them to keep it a secret at all.
  • The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali:
    • Rukhsana and her girlfriend Ariana are secretly dating as Rukhsana's afraid of her parents' reaction. Ariana is unhappy with this, not wanting to be kept a secret.
    • Irfan is secretly seeing a white girl, which his family wouldn't approve of either, and sympathizes with Rukhsana due to this.
    • Rukhsana finds out that her cousin Shaila in Bangladesh is secretly dating a college classmate, and this isn't allowed by her parents who are planning her arranged marriage with someone rich.
    • In Bangladesh meets Sohail, a closeted gay man who's secretly involved with a guy.
  • A Master of Djinn: Fatma is secretly lovers with Siti, another women, as same-sex relationships remain taboo in Egypt. Siti sneaks in and out of Fatma's apartment by the window so the building's doorkeeper, a notorious gossip, doesn't spot her going inside. A few people know and are fine with the fact, keeping their secret.
  • In The Mill on the Floss, Maggie Tulliver and Phillip Wakem keep their friendship (and later, their romance) secret for over a year, due to the Tullivers' feud with John Wakem.
  • Nevermoor:
    • Charlie and Martha think they have one, but the truth is, everyone figured it out ages ago—even Morrigan figures it out within a week or so of knowing them. Everyone just plays along to avoid embarrassing them, since they're both too shy to go public with it yet.
    • Miss Cheery seems to be in one with Roshni. They're known to be close friends, but Morrigan only finds out they're romantically involved when she sees them kissing when they think she's asleep. However, it's unclear if it's a secret to everyone or if Morrigan and the rest of Unit 919 are out of loop because, well, they're Miss Cheery's students.
  • In The Phantom of the Opera, sweethearts Christine and Raoul need to keep their relationship secret because Christine (rightly) fears what the Phantom would do if he found out.
  • Presidential: Connie and Emily keep the fact they're dating secret at first, as Connie's being US President it would put them in the public view invariably. They soon grow tired of this however, with both deciding it's better to just be open on the fact rather than hiding.
  • The Rifter: John and Ravishan naturally have to be very discreet, since homosexuality is penalized by death. They don’t ever have sex for the first time until after leaving Rathal’pesha. Nonetheless, Fikiri, spying on them out of the Grey Space at the monastery, sees them kissing and blackmails them. It also turns out that one of the other supposedly-celibate priests at Rathal’pesha is secretly married (Hann’yu, one of the few truly good people at the monastery—Aesop: forced celibacy is bad).
  • Safehold: In book 10, Princess Alannah Ahrmak of Charis and Lewys Gardner of Dohlar are deeply in love, but the political consequences of a publicly acknowledged marriage between them would be catastrophic. They instead get married in secret, keeping the relationship hidden from all but their immediate families and an inner circle of trustworthy allies.
  • Jaime and Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire. This is problematic because they share a last name - not due to marriage, but due to blood relation. The fact that he fathered her children instead of Cersei's actual husband helps kick off a civil war.
  • In The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Demane and Isa have to keep their relationship secret as homosexual relationships are a no-no in the northern lands (and much of the rest of the world). Demane is eternally frustrated about the lack of quality time they manage to have. Eventually, while on the road through the Wildeeps and in the middle of an unnatural winter, Isa snuggles up to Demane for warmth in the dark and Demane realizes that Cumalo either knew of their relationship or has just put the puzzle together, for he makes a pointed 'victory'-gesture towards them.
  • Sorry, Bro: Nareh starts dating Erebuni secretly after they act on their mutual attraction, since she's not out to her family as bisexual and isn't sure how they'll react.
  • Terence and Eileen in The Squire's Tales series. Terence is the main protagonist of the first two books; Eileen first appears in book 2, and they start a romance but don't make it public because Eileen is a noblewoman and her reputation would be ruined if she were known to be in love with a squire. The next few books focus on other characters, with Terence and Eileen making only cameo appearances. Then in the ninth book, it's revealed that they've been married since shortly after book 2, but have kept it a secret for 15 years—though at least one other character can tell the moment she sees them together, and is confused when she finds out they don't share a room. Then at the end of the book, they decide "the hell with it" and have a second wedding in public... and Terence gets knighted, making it a non-issue anyway.
  • Tortall Universe: In the Song of the Lioness quartet, Alanna and Jon start a relationship in the second novel. However, seeing as she's disguised as a boy in order to become a knight, and he's the heir to the throne, they keep this under wraps.
  • Used a lot for some reason in Warriors, as there are four separate Clans and the cats have a bad habit of falling in love with someone from another Clan. As you can imagine, these never end well. There's also the problem of the medicine cats, who keep falling in love even though they aren't supposed to have such relationships.
  • Wives and Daughters:
    • Osborne Hamley, the Squire's eldest son, is secretly in a relationship with a woman his father would never ever approve. He needs to marry a woman from a solid English family who will bring money to their family estate. He actually marries a French woman who is a Catholic, penniless, has no family or friends, and who used to be a nursery-governess. They even have a child together.
    • Roger falls in love with Cynthia and proposes, but he has to leave England for two years, so he doesn't want her to consider it binding. She also insists that nobody knows about it. Her family knows, and Mr. Gibson feels obliged to tell his father because it's an honorable thing to do.
    • There are hints that Cynthia is involved in a troubled relationship. She got engaged to a man who lent her money when she was fifteen, but she wants to break it off, and he doesn't want to, claiming he loves her.
    • There is gossip in the town that Molly Gibson is involved in an ill-advised relationship that might ruin her or at least her reputation. Subverted because she isn't. It was just a misunderstanding.
  • Wolf Hall
    • Archbishop Cranmer marries Grete, the niece of reformer Andreas Osiander, while ambassador to the Holy Roman Emperor. He smuggles her back into England when she become pregnant and reveals her only to Thomas Cromwell—Henry VIII, though broken with Rome, still doesn't approve of ecclesiastical marriages. Cromwell's reaction is basically Oh, Crap!; then he fetches Helen Barre, a trustworthy woman serving in his household, to help Grete.
    • Cromwell fails to realize the Interrupted Intimacy between Helen and Rafe until sixth months after she becomes pregnant, and Rafe confesses that he's secretly married her. Cromwell is floored. Rafe is equally floored that he was even able to keep it a secret given that it was going on more or less under Cromwell's nose, and Cromwell is not usually the man to miss a trick.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Accused (2023): In "Robyn's Story" Jamie sees Robyn, but only secretly since he's very much closeted.
  • Abby and Brody are in a secret relationship in Against the Wall. When it's eventually revealed in-universe, Richie, who is both Abby's brother and Brody's police partner, is not happy.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003):
    • Subverted by President Laura Roslin and Admiral Bill Adama. Their close friendship (which has turned into a romantic and sexual relationship) is not really hidden at all, despite the conflict of interest that comes from the fact that they are the heads of the two branches of government in the Fleet (civilian and military). As of the back half of season four, they are living together and fairly affectionate in front of others.
    • Tyrol and Boomer, probably the first example in the series. He's a chief and she's an officer. Fraternization is frowned upon, so they have to keep their relationship a secret.
  • Apollo and Starbuck have a secret relationship after Apollo is married to Dualla and Starbuck is married to Anders.
  • Cally has an affair with HotDog. We only find out after it is revealed that Tyrol is a Cylon and he's not the father of the baby he thought was his.
  • The secret lesbian relationship involving Admiral Cain and Gina, at least at first. It isn't one later, as proven when Cain kisses Gina in front of her officers.
  • Cam and Arastoo for a few episodes of Bones. Cam technically was his boss but mainly she just hated bringing her personal life to work. Hodgins deduces the truth when Cam returns Arastoo’s Farsi love poetry book and he and Angela spot them kissing. No one else finds out though until they decide to tell Booth and Brennan a couple episodes later. And anyone in the lab who still didn’t know likely couldn’t miss it when Arastoo got deathly sick from a virus and Cam didn’t care that anyone saw her losing it because of it. Then of course they end up on TV several seasons later...
  • Bridgerton: In season 1, Anthony Bridgerton and Sienna Rosso have been in a clandestine relationship because he’s a viscount and she's a working class opera singer. They eventually break up once realized their relationship would never work out.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In season two, Xander and Cordelia. This is Played for Laughs. Cordelia doesn't want her reputation ruined so she acts mean when anyone else is around.
    • In season three, Xander and Willow briefly had a secret fling when they were dating Cordelia and Oz, respectively, but it was wrapped up after a few episodes.
    • In season four, girls Willow and Tara date in secret. It is implied, but never explicitly stated, that Willow is uneasy about telling her friends she is dating a girl.
    • In season six, Buffy and Spike get involved romantically. This is a case of Dating Catwoman. They meet in secret and ultimately have a big, violent sex scene.
  • Call the Midwife: Patsy and Delia have to keep their long-term relationship secret because, in early-1960s Britain, homosexuality is both socially stigmatized and illegal.
  • Carnival Row:
    • Due to stigma against interspecies relationships, humans and Fae keep them secret if possible. When they get discovered, it can have dire consequences. Philo himself was conceived from such a secret affair.
    • Same-sex relationships are forbidden as well, and the coroner was forced to keep the fact he'd been involved with a man secret after he died, even when performing his lover's autopsy.
  • Castle:
    • In season 3, Esposito and Lanie have a relationship that they try to keep secret due to working together. This fails on an epic scale, as Esposito's partner, Ryan, Castle, and Beckett easily clued in.
    • For a while, writer Rick Castle and detective Kate Beckett date and try to hide it from the team. The reason was that if their boss Gates found out, she would use it an excuse to kick Castle out of the precinct, which would be a very valid concern... if she hadn't figured it out on her own, probably before anyone else did. She decides not to view it as a problem.
  • Community:
    • First season Jeff Winger (a thirty-something student) has a relationship with a very hot statistics professor Slater. They keep it a secret because it's hotter with all the sneaking. They're eventually outed by Pierce.
    • In season two, it turns out Jeff has had 'friends with benefits' status with Britta for most of the year. They are in the same study group and others are not happy they were not honest with them. They break it up the moment it's out, but their possible relationship continues to be Ship Teased.
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton: Frannie and Marguerite, her mistress, were secretly lovers. It was kept a secret due to the homophobia, racism and classism which would forbid it. Some people though suspected that she had an "unnatural attachment" with Marguerite. Frannie would actually like them to be open about it, but Marguerite tells her that it's impossible. She agrees to stay with her in the dark.
  • Control Z:
    • Miguel and Susana were in one due to her having a husband.
    • Alex and Gabi kept their relationship a secret due to the fact the latter is a teacher.
  • CSI-verse:
    • CSI: Supervisor Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle, who is his direct subordinate, carry on a secret affair until Ecklie finds out, which leads to not only everyone else finding out, but also the team being split up for a while.
    • CSI: NY: Lab Chief Mac Taylor and M.E. Peyton Driscoll have a relationship behind the team's backs for a few months until she (in spite of agreeing earlier to keep their personal and professional lives separate) tells him she's tired of being "an office secret."
  • Dexter: Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta, a boss of Homicide, dates and has sex with her direct subordinate Sergeant Angel Battista in season 4. When it gets revealed, their superior Captain Matthews wants them to either break up or have Angel transferred to another department. They take a third option and get married.
  • Dickinson: Emily and Sue's relationship is romantic/sexual, with them clearly in love. Naturally it's kept from everyone else, since this was completely taboo at the time. When they're once caught kissing by Austin, the pair then quickly pass it off as Sue doing so in "thanks" to Emily.
  • ER:
    • When Doug and Carol reconcile, they initially try to keep it a secret, due in part to Carol's hesitancy to fully commit (given Doug's previous track record for playing around, quite understandable). At the Christmas episode, she is confident enough in their relationship that she and Doug announce that they got back together at the staff Christmas party. Turns out most of the staff knew and had a betting pool going as to when they would admit it!
    • Benton and Jeanie have a secret relationship, as revealed at the end of the second-season premiere. It's a well-done Bait-and-Switch, as the previous episode had them deciding not to act on the sexual tension that had been building for months (she's married) and their sparse, awkward interactions in this episode indicated that there was no relationship but that they were still trying to work through lingering feelings. Only for the final scene of the episode to show them in bed together and the dialogue make it obvious that this had been going on for months and the aforementioned interactions to be the results of them struggling not to reveal to anyone what was going on.
    • Benton and Elizabeth attempt to hide their relationship initially, not wanting their personal lives gossiped about but it fails when Benton blurts it out to Romano, suspecting (likely correctly) that he's penalizing Elizabeth for rebuffing his advances.
  • In the British sitcom Executive Stress, a husband and wife must hide the fact that they are married from their employer. The employer has a policy that if two employees marry, one of them must quit or be fired.
  • Farscape:
    • In the fourth season, Aeryn and John conceal their relationship and fake a break-up to prevent Aeryn and her unborn child being used against John by Scorpius. The thing of it was, Aeryn herself was left in the dark for half a season. John had to conceal how he felt to make it look real and could only explain when an opportunity arose.
    • A less pleasant example is Chiana and Jothee being together behind D'Argo's back. The two begin an affair because of dissatisfaction with D'Argo's plans for the future (quiet married life on a farm). D'Argo finds out the next episode and is very, very unhappy.
  • The Flash (2014): Iris and Eddie at first keep their relation a secret for Iris' father Joe, since Eddie is also Joe's partner in the field. They eventually reveal their relationship in "Things You Can't Outrun".
  • Sam Braddock and Jules Callaghan in Flashpoint are this on and off throughout the series, as SRU teammates are not allowed to date but neither of them wants to leave Team One. They first get together in Season 1 but break up about a season later when the team catches on. They then try to move on but find that they can't escape their feelings, and they get together again at the end of Season 3. Their relationship is discovered in Season 4 and they're nearly split up, but after a crisis reveals that they're able to put the job ahead of their personal feelings, they end up getting dispensation to remain on the same team while in a relationship, and Season 5 sees them openly dating, having a baby, and, in the series finale, getting married.
  • For Life: Two prisoners were involved, which is highly taboo-not only due to prevalent prison homophobia, but one's in the especially homophobic Aryan Brotherhood. They're a mixed race couple as well, since one was Asian, even worse in their eyes. When he fears he's been found out, the white guy tries to get in Protective Custody, then hits a guard so he's put into solitary when it doesn't happen soon enough.
  • A French Village: Due to the stigma against French people involved with the German occupiers, both Lucienne and Hortense try to hide the fact they're seeing Germans, though some people still find out (it's also forbidden by German military regulations).
  • Friends:
    • Monica and Chandler milked this for almost an entire season. Justifications included that at the start, neither of them dreamed that their London dalliance could become anything more than that. Plus, after seeing all of the drama induced by Ross and Rachel's relationship, Monica and Chandler thought it best to tell no one. And the other characters found out
    • Double-subverted in a plot where Ross is dating one of his students. They agree to keep it secret, as while they assume it's not something Ross could get fired over, it's probably still frowned upon. But when Ross gets tired of keeping it a secret, he eventually reveals the relationship to some of his fellow professors—they inform him that a professor dating a student isn't just frowned upon and that it's something that Ross at least could get into a lot of trouble for (i.e., he'd probably get fired if the higher-ups at the university find out about the relationship). After learning of this, Ross and the student go back to keeping their romantic relationship a secret.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Lord Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell attempt to be discreet about their romance due to the homophobia which exists within Westerosi society.
    • Tyrion and Shae conceal their romance after his father Lord Tywin Lannister commands Tyrion not to take her to court and vows to hang the next whore he finds in Tyrion's bed.
    • Jaime and Cersei, since Twincestuous adultery with the queen is frowned upon. Cersei is married to Robert Baratheon, but her children were fathered by her twin brother Jaime. If Robert found out, their heads, including the royal bastards', would end up on spikes.
    • Robert Baratheon insists that his betrothed Lady Lyanna Stark was kidnapped and raped repeatedly by Prince Rhaegar Targaryen while other characters suspect their relationship might have been consensual. It turns out that they really were a couple in love and even got married in a secret ceremony, but almost nobody knew about the wedding of a highborn lady and a crown prince.
  • Gilmore Girls:
    • Luke and Lorelai try to keep their Relationship Upgrade (from close friends to boyfriend-girlfriend) when they had sex in Luke's apartment above his diner. They are found out immediately when Lorelai goes down to the diner for a cup of coffee early in the morning wearing one of Luke's shirts, forgetting the diner is open for breakfast and full of customers.
    • Lane Kim and Henry Cho keep their relationship secret, especially from Mrs. Kim. Ironically, Henry would probably be the perfect boyfriend for Lane in her mother's eyes, but Lane decides to hide the relationship since she thinks her parents would either never approve or approve of him so much that Lane wouldn't like him anymore. Eventually, Henry breaks up with her when he gets sick of all the effort and not being able to go out on a real date with her.
    • Lane and Dave, her bandmate. Dave really goes an extra mile on that one, and pretends to be really mean to her in front of their bandmates. In order to hide that specific relationship from her mother, she pretended to date Yung Chu (who uses Lane to hide his relationship with his secret Japanese girlfriend).
    • Lorelai Gilmore dates Max Medina and they keep it hidden because he's her daughter's (Rory's) teacher. They eventually date openly and get engaged. (Lorelai gets cold feet and calls off the wedding though.)
    • Lorelai and Jason "Digger" Stiles keep their relationship hidden from her parents because he works with her father, and her parents think they would not be suited to each other romantically. Digger strongly disapproves of Lorelai's decision and says he wants to be honest, because these things always get revealed and it is only bound to be embarrassing.
    • Lorelai and her ex Christopher try to hide their return to each other because she thinks no one will approve.
    • Rory's roommate and friend Paris dates her much older professor Asher Fleming at Yale. Their relationship lasts quite long. He seems to have a reputation for dating young female students. Rory is very displeased that she has to be a Secret-Keeper, and Paris is annoyed when she finds out that Rory's friend Lane knows about them.
  • Cal and James on the British miniseries Glue date in secret, presumably because the locals would not take kindly to such a relationship (Cal is below the age of consent, for one thing). Unusually for the trope, nobody else knew about them while it lasted.
  • In a nod to the Star Wars reference above, when Jake and Miley begin secretly dating in some of the later episodes of Hannah Montana, they use the code names "Anakin" and Queen "Amidala."
  • How I Met Your Mother:
    • Barney and Robin go the entire summer without their friends knowing about their Friends with Benefits arrangement (Future Ted admits in a later episode that the other three were really, really passing around the Idiot Ball that summer). She says it's because they didn't want Lily forcing them to have The Talk, but he admits the lie just turned them on.
    • This trope is inverted in the second season of the show. Ted and Robin mutually decide to break up because they both want different things out of life, but they pretend to still be a couple for a little while longer because they don't want the news of their breakup putting a damper on Lily and Marshall's imminent wedding.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): Due to being an interracial queer couple, which is doubly illegal and taboo given the story begins in the early twentieth century of Louisiana, Lestat de Lioncourt (a white Frenchman) and Louis de Pointe du Lac (a black Creole) carefully keep the fact that they're lovers a secret (albeit many realize it) from all but a few (obviously their vampire daughter Claudia knows). Once, a police officer discovers that they have only one bed in the house and threatens them with a five-year term in prison for a "crime against nature" due to this, but doesn't do anything further.
  • JAG:
    • In the Pilot Movie, Lt. Arutti was secretly married to Painter. They kept it a secret because the Navy would not have allowed them to serve in the same unit.
    • In "Boot", there is a secret relationship between Sergeant Gonzalez and Major Klein. Harm decides to overlook it on the condition that they will turn themselves in if Sergeant Gonzalez is not accepted into the officer commissioning program, which she was previously mentioned to be a shoe-in for.
  • Janda Kembang: Neneng and Rais gets together at the end of episode 26, but they decide to keep it a secret until Robert figures it out and spreads the news two episodes later.
  • Both of the Benjamin twins on Kings:
    • David and Michelle: Michelle has taken a vow to devote her life to God, and in any case, her father is the King and probably wouldn't approve. (Though he may suspect...)
    • Jack and Joseph: Jack is in the Transparent Closet and has been explicitly told by his father that he can't be gay and become King, but Joseph is the one person with whom he has a genuine and reciprocal love. Then Joseph dies.
  • The Law According to Lidia Poët:
    • Lidia is secretly having sex with Andrea, as they aren't married (this would have been a scandal in the 1880s for her and her family).
    • Lidia's niece Marianna is secretly seeing a young man, but is already engaged. She not only encourages Marianna to pursue it but counsels her how on discretion so they won't be caught as well.
    • In 1x2 the accused it's revealed was seeing another woman secretly (due to homophobia).
  • A League of Their Own (2022): All of the lesbian relationships, aside from two couples' lesbian friends, because with homophobia at the time the consequences would be them getting fired or worse.
    • Max is secretly boinking her preacher's wife before breaking up with her.
    • Carson and Greta also start up a relationship together they keep secret as well.
    • Lupe is revealed to be secretly dating another woman.
    • Additionally Max's uncle Burt, a trans man, has to keep his assigned sex quiet. He and his wife live near the railroad tracks away from most people so they're private.
  • Line of Duty: In Series 6 Joanne Davidson is shown to have been secretly involved with Farida Jatri. Though not stated, it's probably because Farida is Jo's subordinate, so this wouldn't be allowed.
  • Mad Men has lots of secret relationships, often involving an Office Romance and/or adultery:
    • Don Draper's first mistress is a bohemian artist Midge. Her friends know about them, but people in Don's job don't, and he keeps it secret from his wife.
    • Don Draper sleeps with Rachel Menken, a Jewish client of Sterling Cooper advertising company. Rachel starts falling in love with him, but breaks it off when Don offers to run away with her without any consideration for his wife or kids.
    • Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling have a long and passionate love affair. He is one of the bosses in their advertising agency and married with a teen daughter while she is a single secretary (who more or less runs the office as an unofficial office manager). Some people know, for example Roger's older business partner Mr. Cooper tells Joan she should not waste her youth, but most are oblivious to the relationship. They break up when Joan gets engaged. Roger continues to have a soft spot for Joan. They later have a baby together after they sleep together once, and Roger tries to tag along.
    • Roger starts a romance with Jane, Don's new hot secretary. Roger gets divorced and marries Jane very soon after. It was a great surprise for everyone in the office.
    • In season 2, Don Draper has an ugly affair with Bobbie Barrett, a wife and manager to an obnoxious comedian Jimmy. The relationship started as professional but they soon begin sleeping together. Jimmy strongly suspects they slept together, and Don's copy writer Peggy also finds out about the affair. Don ends their relationship after he learns she's been gossiping about him.
    • Don Draper, still married to Betty, romantically pursues Susan Ferrell, his daughter's young idealistic teacher. She resists — at first. Later she is sorry they can't date publicly for fear that they would be seen. Susan's brother visits her when they are together and figures out something is off. Don breaks it off when his marriage starts crumbling.
    • Don starts sleeping with Faye Miller. She is a marketing researcher hired by SCDP, and probably the healthiest of Don's post-divorce relationships. They kept it secret from all people in the office, and not many knew about it because Faye left the job when SCDP lost their tobacco account.
    • Megan starts at SCDP as Don's new secretary, they sleep together and very soon Don decides to marry her, as he was infatuated with her model looks, magical-nanny abilities and desire to work in advertising as a copy writer. Many people are so surprised when he announces the engagement that they don't even know who Megan is.
    • Ted Chaough has an affair with Peggy, his head writer. He wants to leave his wife for her, but breaks it off very soon and leaves Mannhatten. He insists he loves her deeply, but Penny is very hurt by his treatment of her.
    • Pete (married to Trudy) has an affair with a young depressed housewife. Her husband eventually finds out and he and Pete have a fight on a train.
    • Don Draper sleeps with Sylvia Rosen, an older but beautiful housewife of a doctor who live in the same building as Don and his wife Megan. Don is disgusted with himself when his daughter Sally accidentally sees them in bed.
  • Magnificent Century: Hatice and İbrahim in the beginning. While it initially seems valid to hide (rank differences) it gets ridiculous after a while, and when it finally comes out, Süleyman's reaction is like, "Yeah, okay, you can get married. I love you both and have been spending all season talking about how I want you both to be happy."
  • M*A*S*H. Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan engage in a torrid affair for four seasons, but kid themselves that no one knows about it and react with outrage when anyone refers to it. More than once Hawkeye threatened to tell Frank's wife about the extramarital relationship to get him to back off (which is why it was allegedly secret in the first place, particularly since his wife is the one with the money and assets).
  • The Mentalist: Co-workers at California Bureau of Investigation Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt are dating but keep it hidden, since coworkers are not allowed to date. When they're found out, they're given the choice of breaking up or one of them transfering. Rigsby loves Van Pelt more then his job and chooses the transfer but she loves him too much to let me ruin his career and ends it. Then a couple years later they get back together and even marry, having a child in-between the Time Skip between Seasons 5 and 6.
    • After getting together in the Season 6 finale, Jane and Lisbon agree to keep their newfound relationship to themselves partially to avoid the same situation as Rigsby and Van Pelt. Their boss Dennis Abbot though makes it clear almost immediately to Jane that he's figured it out and even seems surprisingly supportive. Cho might've also known as he didn't question too much about Lisbon suddenly staying in Austin though its hard to tell with him.. Interestingly, there is no point where they make their relationship public and yet when they announce their palns to get married, everyone is happy and no-one asks when they got together. It kinda helps that pretty much everyone though the two were going to get together at some point (as revealed by Rigsby).
  • Arthur and Gwen in Merlin keep their relationship a secret until the end of season 3 when they start making out in front of the castle.
  • Midnight Sun (2016): Anders turns out to be secretly with Thor, whom his family don't know of yet (presumably he fears they might be homophobic).
  • Mimpi Metropolitan: When Bambang and Melani finally get together, Melani tells Bambang to keep it a secret because she doesn't want to make a fuss in their dorm. The secret lasts for about a week.
  • Mohawk Girls: Bailey and Caitlin keep their non-Mohawk boyfriends a secret for some time due to the very negative attitudes many Mohawks have of relationships like this.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • It's implied in "Big Murderer on Campus" that James Gillies and Robert Perry are a couple, but they try to pass off as being best friends because homosexuality was a crime in late 19th-century Canada. Inspector Brackenreid believes that the two young men are unusually close, and he even asks Detective Murdoch if James and Robert are "Just good pals, or something more?"
    • Dr. Emily Grace who works at the City Morgue gets herself a lover, Miss Lillian Moss. The ladies must keep it secret as lesbian relationships are illegal. They pass as friends among their suffragist circle of friends and live in neighboring apartments. Inspector Brackenreid finds out about them and warns Emily to be careful but he's surprisingly understanding. Most of the team find out when Miss Moss gets murdered.
  • My Dead Ex: Bethany tells Wren they can only be together secretly, as she isn't brave enough to come out. Wren isn't happy with that, and encourages her to come out. In the finale Bethany does.
  • Never Have I Ever: Kamala had a secret boyfriend, Steve, while her parents are trying to arrange her marriage. He's of East Asian ancestry, not Indian, and their relationship is sexual too, both of which they wouldn't like so she keeps it hidden. However, this turns out to be an open secret since he's been spotted more than once sneaking in or out of the house.
  • The Thames Television sitcom Never the Twain revolves around the bitter rivalry between next-door neighbours and former business partners Simon Peel and Oliver Smallbridge, who go out of their way to antagonise each other in their professional and personal lives. In the first episode, we learn that Simon's son David and Oliver's daughter Lyn are romantically involved, but have had to keep their love a secret from their warring fathers; as they're planning to marry, they decide they can't hide their relationship any longer, and Simon and Oliver's reaction inevitably involves a joint Parental Marriage Veto (until Lyn claims to be pregnant).
  • In New Girl, Winston and Ally attempt to keep their relationship a secret from everyone at the police station since they're partners and it's against the rules. This lasts for all of one episode.
  • Northern Exposure: Joel and Maggie finally go to bed together, and after keeping it secret for about forty-five minutes they can't stand the subterfuge anymore and actually announce it to everyone in Roslyn's Cafe. Nobody cares.
  • NUMB3RS: It turns out in the season two episode, All's Fair that the suspect, Lt. Joe Karnes, and the victim, Saida, a Muslim, were married and he tries to avenge her death before the team locates him.
  • The Office (US):
    • There was Dwight and Angela's secret relationship from the second to fourth seasons and then becoming a full-out secret affair when Angela is engaged to Andy in Season 5. Only Jim and Pam each find out individually, and the entire office learns just before both Dwight and Angela truly break up in Season 5's "The Duel".
    • Before Angela is dating Andy, Dwight and Angela keep it secret for no apparent reason; office relationships are not forbidden. They're just weird like that.
    • For the first four episodes after the Season 6 hiatus, Andy and Erin keep their newfound relationship a secret. Until they admit their relationship to everyone by the end of the episode. However, they broke up in the next episode after Erin found out about Andy's history with Angela.
  • Øyevitne has total of three across the series:
    • Philip and Henning's relationship, mostly due to the latter's brief, but strong internalised homophobia. After Philip's scare on the railway line in episode 4, the pair make up and Henning is much more openly affectionate. In the finale, Philip chokes out that he and Henning are in love to a supportive Sven, who notes he thinks it's wonderful.
    • Zana and Ronny—morally despicable on his behalf and completely illegal due to her being 15 years old. Their relationship begins prior to the series, and both parties try to keep it private, but in the series' opening episode, Zana's father Hamit has found out and sent a gang of bikers after Ronny, kicking off the entire series' plot when Philip and Henning witness him murdering his captors.
    • Camilla and Ronny, who begin seeing each other later in the series—mostly so he can use her as a mole to stay one step ahead of Helen's investigation. He's furious when she casually notes their relationship is the subject of work gossip, slamming her into a wall and quickly having to make up a fake story about a dead former friend to explain himself.
  • Leslie and Ben in Parks and Recreation had one of these in season 3, since his superior Chris did not allow coworkers to date. Only Leslie's best friend Ann was privy to it, but Leslie's boss Ron eventually found out and warned them that they were terrible secret keepers and everyone was going to find out eventually. They finally, reluctantly broke up when Leslie was given a chance to run for city counsel, knowing the scandal could destroy their careers. They later got back together because they loved each other and Ben decided to pursue a different career.
  • Perry Mason (2020):
    • Perry seems to keep his relationship with Lupe quiet, if not secret, likely due to racism since he's white and she's a Latina.
    • Della is a closeted lesbian who meets clandestinely with her girlfriend due to the homophobia of the time.
    • Similarly to Della, Burger is a closeted gay man. He takes Della on dinner dates to keep up the facade for them both.
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock: Marion and Miss McCraw have to keep their relationship a secret, not so much due to being a teacher and student but the two both being female. Despite wanting to be with her, Marion is unhappy at the prospect of having to keep this secret forever.
  • Queen Sugar:
    • Nova and Calvin, due to the fact that he's married to another woman. Becomes less secret after he leaves her for Nova.
    • At the start of season 2, Charley and Remy, since she hasn't finalized her divorce from Davis yet. Once she does, they're much more open about it.
    • At the beginning of season 6, Charley and Davis hide the fact that they're back together. They come clean about it pretty quickly, however.
  • The Republic of Sarah: Alexis and AJ are in one, due to the former being married, while AJ's afraid of people's (apparently homophobic) reactions if it was discovered.
  • Scrubs:
    • Dr. Cox and Kelso have entered into a secret friendship, which has tones of this. Kelso even describes it as "all the thrill of an affair, but without all that exhausting sex." When J.D. finds out, he's furious.
    • J.D. and Elliot think their relationship is secret. It isn't as Everybody Knew Already.
      Dr. Cox: And, if you listen closely, you'll hear the sound of no one caring.
  • Sonny with a Chance: Sonny and Chad attempt this during the two-part episode that has them start dating. It works out about as well as one would think, and the So Random cast finds out (twice... it's hard to explain) before the second part ends. (And there was plenty of bad lying to cover up the first reveal.)
  • That '70s Show:
    • In one episode, Hyde has a sexual relationship with a popular girl who demands it be kept secret and refuses to even speak to Hyde when she's with her friends. It probably should have been a parable about the importance of keeping your self-dignity in a relationship, except that Hyde was perfectly okay with the arrangement.
    • Jackie and Hyde's relationship in later seasons was also completely secret from their friends. In private, they couldn't keep their hands off each other, but if anyone else was in the room they were insulting each other as usual.
  • In season one of Veronica Mars, Veronica and Logan keep their relationship secret to postpone social backlash. Veronica is a Fallen Princess in a town ruled by the Rich Bitch and Blue Bloods, and Logan is one of those rulers.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): In addition to being co-conspirators, Moiraine and Siuan are lovers, while presenting an image of mutual antagonism to the rest of the world.
  • The White Lotus:
    • Mark is shocked to learn his father had sexual relationships with men on the side, and died from AIDS because of it.
    • Paula secretly dates a Hawaiian guy she meets, since Olivia always gets jealous of her having things she doesn't.
  • Why Women Kill: Joan and Grace turn out to be secret lovers who meet every Friday in a hotel.
  • Without a Trace: Martin and Samantha in Season 3 (because of a prior relationship with another agent, she's afraid of being known as the office pump), though everyone figures it out eventually.
  • On an episode of The Wonder Years, Kevin eventually finds his adorable and dorky dance partner Margaret Farquhar to be genuinely sweet and interesting—but on a completely different rung on the junior high social ladder—so he suggests a secret relationship to her as a way to balance it out. She takes offense.
  • Yellowjackets:
    • Taissa and Van turn out to be a couple in the past, which they keep from the others. They eventually come out in "Doomcoming."
    • Travis and Natalie also started a relationship in 1996 which they kept a secret.
  • You Me Her: Izzy is not okay with being Jack and Emma's secret lover, as they're worried over the consequences for them if it was revealed. When they initially make this clear, Izzy tearfully breaks up with them. They come out as a throuple later, but also still fall into this often, such as while Emma's conservative parents visit.
  • Young Sheldon: In "A Box of Treasure and the Meemaw of Science", Mr. Givens and Ms. Hutchins are secretly in a relationship.
  • The entire relationship of Quinn and Logan on Zoey 101, since both were embarrassed to be dating each other. They were quite successful in keeping it a secret; their big reveal at the Prom, when they came clean about their romance, did come as a shock to everyone present at the moment.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Retail: It's an Open Secret at Grumbel's that Val and Cooper are dating (and eventually marry) but everyone goes to great lengths to ensure upper management, particularly Stuart, never finds out because their relationship technically is in violation of Grumbel's policy, and Stuart, who loathes Cooper, wouldn't hesitate to fire him over it. The closest Stuart ever gets to finding out is through Josh, who overhears Marla talking to Val about her and Cooper's upcoming vacation. Cooper outmaneuvers him by exploiting the One-Steve Limit to make it look like Val was dating another man named Cooper. In the end, Stuart finds out Cooper got married, but not to who, and Grumblel's went into bankruptcy before he could find out.

  • The Magnus Archives: Tim wrongly assumes that this is what's going on when Basira continues to come to visit Jon at the Archives to secretly give him tapes related to Gertrude's murder, and promises to keep their "relationship" a secret no matter how much Jon tries to let him know he's got the wrong idea.

  • In Street Scene, Mrs. Maurrant goes to lengths to conceal her affair with Sankey from others. Unfortunately, most of her neighbors already know about it.
  • The Phantom of the Opera. Christine and Raoul's relationship is known about, but not that they're engaged. Despite knowing full well how much Christine fears the Phantom, Raoul grasps the Idiot Ball when he demands to know why they need to conceal this.
  • Hamilton: the nature of Burr's relationship with his future wife Theodosia states that she can't be seen in public with Burr, such as at the Hamiltons' wedding, because she's married to a British general. On the other hand, John Laurens clearly knows about it, and Burr is perfectly willing to divulge the details to Alexander in private.
  • One makes up the backbone of The Prom, in which Emma and Alyssa have been dating in secret for a year and a half. It's fully justified, however, given that they're two teenagers living in a small homophobic town. A significant part of the musical's tension lies in the fact that Alyssa is still closeted and can't find the courage to out herself, even as Emma is harassed and discriminated against by Alyssa's own friends and mother.
  • The main setup for Bare: A Pop Opera is Peter and Jason's secret relationship. They go to a homophobic Catholic boarding school, and part of the main tension between the two is that Peter wants to come out but Jason is scared.
  • Spies Are Forever: what Curt and Owen were before Owen was presumed dead.
  • While Lady Larken and Sir Harry might not be a secret relationship in Once Upon a Mattress, the fact that they are expecting certainly is. That's also one of the main reasons they're so frantic to get Prince Dauntless married.
  • Charlotte and Ted in The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals are secretly seeing each other even though Charlotte is married (but her husband is a total jerk and cheating on her too, so who's really the bad guy here?).
  • Probably the most famous example of this are the eponymous leads from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The two belong to warring families and thus need to keep their love a secret. It does not go well.

    Video Games 
  • One takes place in Guilty Gear onwards, between Ky Kiske and Dizzy. After Ky fetched Dizzy and took her in (in XX Accent Core Plus), they fell in love and even had a son, Sin Kiske. However, they aren't actually married due to various factors (such as Dizzy being officially declared dead by the world government since X, her lack of legal status as a Gear, Ky being the High King of Illyria on top of leading the Holy Order, and the time she spent pretty much frozen), and very few know that they're together. Other than that, though, they're very content and comfortable with one another. Later the Illyrian crowds find out about Dizzy's existence, adore her for her kindness towards them, and want her to marry Ky... without knowing that they're already involved.
  • Garen and Katarina from League of Legends try to keep their relationship with each other a secret from others, on account of the two working for opposing nations. They apparently aren't very good at hiding it, as a large amount of characters have been shown to already be aware of it.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Diana Allers' romance is this, as she says her career would be jeopardized if her relationship with a source came to light. Then Liara finds out if you were dating.
  • Whenever the Player Character enters a relationship in the Persona series from Persona 3 onward, it's heavily implied that they keep it a secret, likely to not interfere with their missions or cause any unusual rumors to spread. Some of the more justified examples include:
    • Persona 3:
      • If the Male Protagonist romances Mitsuru, she makes it clear in that she wants it to be secret, at least for a while, because during her Social Link, she ducks from an Arranged Marriage that was set up for the sake of her father's Mega-Corp.
      • In Portable, this is naturally what the female main character and Ken do if they get into a relationship because they know what the normal reaction would be to a 16 and 10 year old couple. Any suggestions of coming out get shot down by Ken himself. If the Female Protagonist romances Akihiko, a secret relationship is also implied if she speaks to certain characters - if she talks to Junpei on Christmas while she is Akihiko's Love Interest, he puts two and two together and is genuinely surprised.
    • This trope is used in Persona 4 as well. The only way to even partially expose a relationship Yu might have with a party member is by talking with the teammates at the entrances of the dungeons in the Midnight Channel. If Yu is played as a serial cheater, hints toward that get dropped as well, but it doesn't get blown out in the open until the Valentine's Day sequence in the Golden remake: he can only choose one girl, and then all the other gals that he romanced will sadly tell him how disappointed they are on him.
    • It's repeated again in Persona 5. There are some more justifications for the secret aspects, not just for Ren's party members, but for his Co-ops as well: Haru is like Mitsuru in that she also ducked out of an Arranged Marriage, Futaba is his caretaker Soujiro's adopted daughter and he is very protective of her, and half of the romanceable Co-ops are older women who all suggest him to lay low, especially if he romances his homeroom teacher Sadayo. Like 4, the player can make Ren juggle multiple relationships, but this time around he will face the consequences for doing so... by being confronted and then beaten up by the (very understandably) angry women.
  • In Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, the protagonist Curtis insists on this with his co-worker girlfriend, which paves the way for freaky BDSM sex with the only other female co-worker.
  • Stardew Valley: Mayor Lewis is in one with Marnie, much to the latter’s annoyance. One of his quests is for the player to "discreetly" find and recover his shorts. Said shorts just happen to be found in Marnie's bedroom. Upon returning them to the good mayor, he denies any knowledge of how they could have ended up there.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: One early quest playing as a Jedi involves a pair of Padawans in a clandestine affair (in this era, Jedi are discouraged from attachment, but not outright forbidden). The player can choose to expose them or not. The female Jedi Knight can play this straight with Doc, who even offers suggestions on hiding a pregnancy. Averted with the female Jedi Counsular; Iresso may be laid-back, but he refuses to break the law or get the Consular in trouble.

    Visual Novels 
  • Amnesia: Memories downplays this in Spade World. Everyone knows that the heroine and Ikki are dating, but Ikki purposefully acts cold to her in public because he wants to hide how well the relationship is actually going.
  • Whichever girl he chooses, the protagonist of Daughter for Dessert will only tell the rest of the main cast near the end of the story. Justified, as the protagonist and all the girls work together, and introducing a romantic relationship can cause tensions in that situation. Especially justified with Amanda because of the taboo nature of this particular relationship.
  • Double Homework:
    • Very justified with the protagonist, Johanna, and Tamara. It’s taboo, both because of incest and a ménage et trois situation.
    • Averted with Lauren if the protagonist pursues a relationship with her. Lauren will only sleep with him if he will publicly acknowledge the relationship.
    • However, this trope is implied if the protagonist also decides to pursue Morgan, Amy, and/or Rachel while dating Lauren, since Lauren would most likely blow her top if she got wind of it.
  • In Kindred Spirits on the Roof, most of the cast keeps their relationships secret from others for various reasons.
    • In Miyu's case, she takes great pains (including forging public displays of affection) to keep her relationship with Matsuri secret because her traditional parents are unlikely to approve, but later agrees to let Matsuri tell their teammate Hina and her friend Yuna after Hina gets dragged into a lovers' quarrel between Matsuri and Miyu.
    • In Kiri's case, the fact that she's dating her teacher, which is a much more taboo relationship than one between two women of the same age. She tells her friend Youka that she has a lover but doesn't reveal the lover's identity.
  • One option for Damien's path in Magical Diary, at the end. To avoid alienating your friends, you have to keep it a secret. Potsdam knows, no matter what, but she doesn't do anything besides suggest that you cover up your hickey. Failure to do so leads to your friends turning on you if they find out—but by this point, they've seen their worst nightmares about your relationship with him come true, so they're justified in believing that you're suicidal and possibly insane for trying to continue any kind of relationship with him.
  • Melody:
    • If the protagonist and Melody get into a relationship, they keep it a secret from Amy for a few weeks. They also keep it from Hank until Melody gets a strong start to her concert tour.
    • Likewise, if the protagonist and Amy form a relationship, they will initially keep it a secret from Melody - but for a much shorter time.
    • Subverted if the protagonist and Isabella get into relationship, and make it all the way to the High School Sweetheart Ending. The two of them don’t tell Tim about their relationship, but he knows anyway, because he heard them making love when they were both staying in his house.
  • Happens in some of Kotonoha's paths in School Days; Makoto and Sekai may start seeing each other behind Kotonoha's back, and for obvious reasons they try to keep it quiet. The problem with this plan is that they're absolutely terrible at hiding it from anyone other than Kotonoha, who only takes so long to catch on because she is unwilling or unable to accept that Makoto is cheating on her.
    • Also in some paths of the parallel story, Cross Days. Protagonist Yuuki can start a secret relationship with Ai behind Roka's back or even end up in one with Makoto.
  • Takes place once in a while in Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, since the Player Character Saori is a Sweet Polly Oliver in an otherwise all-male vigilante group. A good example is Shintaro's path: Shintaro accidentally and awkwardly finds out about her secret midway through the story, agrees to be her Secret-Keeper (and so does Makoto, the leader of the group), and soon he and Saori are more or less falling in love.

  • The Dating Catwoman variation is used in Evil, Inc., where Captain Heroic and Miss Match are married despite being a hero and a villain. Only their son, their parents and one of his allies knows. Additionally, each set of parents has never met the other set due to the risk of conflicts.
  • In YU+ME: dream , this happens a couple of times:
    • Lia asks Fiona not to date James, but when James asks, Fiona can't seem to say no, even though she wants to and has made a promise.
    • Jake and Don's relationship is secretive because Jake's parents are anti-gay and because Jake goes to a Catholic high school.
    • When Lia and Fiona do start dating, Lia asks Fiona to keep it a secret here and here. It does cause some strain in their relationship, as seen here.
  • In Between Failures one of these has begun between Thomas and Carol.
  • Winsbury and Janet in Gunnerkrigg Court. In-comic, it's not clear exactly why it's a secret; perhaps the fact that Janet is the Headmaster's daughter has something to do with it, as it's suggested he wouldn't be happy. Out-of-comic, it's a reference to the folk song "Willie O'Winsbury" (Child Ballad #100). The Willie and Janet from the song keep it a secret because Janet's dad is the King. Word of God stated that the couple is hiding the fact that they're also "romantic dorks". In Chapter 34, they reveal they're in a relationship, but their romantic dorkiness means that everyone else disbelieves their ludicrous tale of horses, fast cars and daring gold thefts, and dismisses the whole idea. And then in Chapter 57 circumstances force them to explicitly reveal their relationship to Antimony, who says maybe she should have realized the truth sooner, what with the 3-hour, 2-person play about marriage the couple once staged for all their classmates...
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Ellen and Nanase initially concealed their relationship from most people out of a desire to keep Nanase's sexuality a secret from her homophobic mother. While the remaining six main cast members were aware of their relationship, no one beyond them knew. However, after a near-death experience, Nanase finally came out to her mother, at which point they stopped hiding that they were together.
    • Catalina and Rhoda also hide their relationship, which is helped by the fact that they go to different schools, and very few people know both of them. While many of Catalina's friends and acquaintances know that she is gay, and that she is dating some mystery person, only a handful of other people seem aware that it's Rhoda. In this case, the secret stems from a desire on Rhoda's part to hide her sexuality from her friend Diane, as she doesn't want Diane to find out that she has been crushing on her for quite a while.
  • Bruno and Corrie in Kevin & Kell: in the early years, Corrie rode on Bruno's back disguised as a sheepskin.
    Corrie: So when you gonna tell 'im 'bout us?
    Bruno: Patience, my sweet.
  • Fido and Sabrina in Housepets! It was a serious taboo for them to have a relationship, especially with Fido's status as a role model for the dogs of Babylon Gardens and a K-9 Officer. Fido finally let the cat out of the bag on live television to thwart an Arranged Marriage. The fallout is still ongoing, but it doesn't appear it will have a long-term effect on his career (outside a three-week suspension for the fight with Jata). In fact, his superior, Sergeant Ralph, appeared relieved by the revelation, and was only disappointed that he wasn't warned beforehand about what Fido was about to do.
    Sergeant Ralph: I've had my eye on you for a while. Your suspicious behavior worried me. I thought you were participating in something underhanded — or worse, illegal. Who you decide to snuggle with after hours is none of the department's business nor concern.
  • Jennifer "Billie" Billingsworth and Ruth Lessick in Dumbing of Age. It needs to be secret since Ruth is Billie's RA. It's not the only secret they keep.
  • Jack Zimmermann and Eric "Bitty" Bittle in Check, Please!. Jack is a professional hockey player in the NHL and there are currently no out queer players, so he doesn't know how public knowledge of his relationship with another man would affect his career. They eventually decide to tell their teammates and fully come out to pretty much the entire world when they share an impulsive Smooch of Victory after Jack's team wins the Stanley Cup.
  • In Simply Sarah, two teenage girls try to keep their romance a secret from everyone until they can move out together. Sarah decides to tell her mother early on but Janey can't get the nerve to tell her homophobic mother. They both end up coming out one way or another.
  • Tripping Over You: When Liam and Milo start to date in Chapter 2, Liam insists that their relationship be secret because he's still closeted and is afraid of his strict father's reaction. An incremental Coming-Out Story follows: he accidentally outs himself to Milo's father in Chapter 5; learns in Chapter 6 that his friends already knew; and finally reveals the truth to his father in Chapter 10.
  • Suitor Armor: Sir Baynard and his servant Peres are in a secret homosexual relationship, since homophobia seems to be alive and well in their kingdom.
  • Darkest Night: Mags is initially seeing Ava secretly since the latter has a boyfriend. The pair break up due to wanting different things.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the mage Belial and Sultana Razia have a secret affair. They can't make it public due to the political ramifications of a Sarquil ruler being intimate with a foreigner, which would be frowned upon in the court. They're eventually discovered, however, which leads to a coup in which Razia's twin sister Adela kills her and takes over the throne while Belial and his bastard children Khalid and Sumrah are sent into exile to Belial's homeland.
  • In Heart In Hand, Darryl and Alex keep the fact that they regularly have sex with each other a secret from everyone else because they're superstar hockey players under constant media scrutiny. When Alex gets Forced Out of the Closet after cameras catch another man leaving his hotel room, he manages to still keep it a secret that the other man was Darryl until Darryl decides to publicly come out too.
  • In Lovelace ½, Andi figures out that Mr. Stone and Ms. Seok are secretly an item.
  • In the web series Shadow of the Templar, both Simon and Jeremy keep their relationship a secret from everybody else. That's probably a good thing, because one is an FBI agent and one is a high profile Gentleman Thief. In "High Fidelity", Simon admits to his team and to his boss the nature of his relationship with Jeremy.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back": Hermes takes a stress-relieving vacation, and he is temporarily replaced by bureaucrat Morgan Proctor, who becomes infatuated with Fry because she is kinky for dirty slobs. However, she wants to keep it secret from everyone and will deny their affair if Fry tries to reveal it.
    Morgan: Now listen, you filthy pig. No one can know about us. If anyone asks, I'll deny it.
    Fry: Just like every other girl I've dated.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil gives us Kendall and Ronaldo, after Kick finds out about them in "Frame Story"... albeit, even the viewers are confused about whether they're together or not, consistently. Since that episode, there have been numerous episodes in the second season where they're still dating, yet Kendall either breaks-up with Ronaldo, prefers Kick and even cheats on him behind his back (literally behind his back).
  • The Loud House gave us Lincoln Loud and his former tormentor, Ronnie Anne Santiago. (By 'former tormentor', it means she's a Tsundere Loving Bully who picked on him because she has a crush on him.) The reason they keep it secret is because Lincoln was teased for it, but it's not clear whether it's still a secret.
  • Shaggy and Velma in Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. At first it seems like Shaggy's just afraid of commitment and using Scooby as an excuse.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Principal Skinner and Edna Krabappel: they keep it a secret for half an episode, get found out, get fired, hold the empty school hostage, then pretend to break up. Afterwards, they (literally) put their relationship back in the closet, with varied degrees of secrecy after that. It's one of the few Simpsons plots not completely affected by Negative Continuity.
    • Edna and Ned Flanders try to keep their relationship a secret too. Or at least, until Edna unintentionally reveals that she and Ned eloped some time ago.
    • In "Bart's Girlfriend", Bart Simpson has had this kind of relationship with Jessica Lovejoy, who not only wants to preserve her "sweet girl" reputation, but finds keeping it secret exciting. Bart eventually ended his relationship with Jessica because she was a worse troublemaker than he is.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Continuing off of the movies, we have Anakin and Padmé.
    • The series even goes so far as to deconstruct Anakin and Padmé's relationship in "The Rise of Clovis":. When Padmé's old flame, Rush Clovis, shows up and she starts getting close to him to get some information, this does not sit well with Anakin, who can't really say she's already married to him since he isn't supposed to be married in the first place. After he nearly beats Clovis to death in a fit of jealous rage, Padmé not only calls him out on him going too far with his possessiveness, but on how screwed up their relationship actually is. They aren't able to do the things that legit married couples get to do and there's some distrust between them. As a result, she decides that they should stop seeing each other for a while (which only lasts seemingly until the end of the next episode).
    • The show also indicates that Anakin and Padmé's relationship is a rather badly-kept secret, as about the only character who knows both of them and works with at least one of them on a regular basis who isn't indicated to either know or suspect what's up is Jar Jar. And we do mean only: Ahsoka, Rex, Obi-Wan, Palpatine, Bail Organa and Yoda, not to mention R2-D2 and C-3PO, are all shown to either outright know about or suspect the existence of said relationship. And of that incomplete list, most of those people have not been explicitly told.
  • Young Justice:
    • Season 2 reveals that Red Arrow and Cheshire developed one during the Time Skip, including a (probably) secret marriage and a kid.
    • In Season 1, Superboy and Miss Martian try to keep their relationship secret... and fail, hard. Only two people actually need the relationship pointed out to them and both times literally pointing in their general direction provide all the proof needed.

    Real Life 
  • Romeo and Juliet could have learned a few valuable lessons from Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, who determined to unite both themselves in marriage and their kingdoms into the unified Spain. This they accomplished in defiance of both their families and the Church's ban on marriage between second cousins (which is what they were) besides through numerous secret letters sent to each other, a couple of clever ruses, Ferdinand disguising himself as a traveling merchant at one point, and a Papal Bull of dubious authenticity. In addition to their success in consummating their secret relationship, they also proved to be very cunning political partners. Seriously, their history sounds a lot like what Romeo and Juliet's tale might have been like if Niccolo Machiavelli had written it instead of Shakespeare. Today, every Royal House in Europe is descended from them—usually many times over.
  • Australian astronomer Ruby Payne-Scott was forced to marry in secret because the law did not permit married women to hold a permanent position in the Commonwealth public service. She was eventually discovered and forced to leave her position, despite being a pioneer in the development of radiophysics and radio astronomy.
  • In 1591, Sir Walter Raleigh began an affair with Bess Throckmorton, one of Queen Elizabeth I's ladies-in-waiting. The relationship had to be carried out in secret because Elizabeth was incredibly jealous and possessive of her ladies-in-waiting. They then secretly married when Bess became pregnant. As you can guess, Elizabeth did find out about the affair, and had them thrown in the Tower of London. She only released Raleigh when one of his expeditions returned with the spoils of a captured Spanish ship and the crew threatened to mutiny, and Bess out of guilt after her child died of plague while in the Tower.


Video Example(s):


You Happened (The Prom)

Emma and Alyssa celebrate the prom getting back on and prepare to come out publicly.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / SecretRelationship

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