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Ship Tease

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"Hold on, I have to appease the shippers now."
Tommy Oliver, Truncated Power Rangers

Many fans ship. These fans often do it all the time (context or no) especially in certain demographics. Producers, especially those who keep their finger on the pulse of the audience, not to mention their eye on the fan fora, know this. So, they decide to tease the fans with hints about possible romantic entanglements, and thereby build that emotional attachment between the show and the audience as much as they can. If the writers are particularly impish, they'll tease a relationship that either never comes up or takes a hard right just as it gets going. Like a sudden death. Sometimes, however, ship teases evolve out of the teasing stage.

See also: Will They or Won't They?, Subtext, Fanservice, Never Trust a Trailer, Tonight, Someone Kisses, Literally Falling in Love, Implied Love Interest. Can end up as a Romantic False Lead. A best-case scenario is for a pairing to undergo a (canonical) Relationship Upgrade. Occasionally cheated by way of All Just a Dream or Alternate Reality Episode. Probably the cruelest method of Ship Tease is the Moment Killer. Contrast Ship Sinking.

Not to be confused with Striptease (heh heh, it sounds like "strip").

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Other examples:

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    Comic Strips 
  • In Peanuts, Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty are often shipped. To make things better in the cartoon and theater adaption, Peppermint Patty sings a song to Charlie when he asks what is love. The title? "Poor Sweet Baby."
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip story Mistress of Chaos, the Thirteenth Doctor, in a moment of vulnerability, finds solace in her companion Graham's arms. The concluding chapter of the strip adventure sees The Doctor almost sacrifice herself to defeat The Herald and The Sanity (two unhinged halves of herself) in the dimension known as The Castastrophea, and it describes Graham's fears for her safety as a "great weight pressing against his heart"; when The Doctor and Graham choose to depart The Catastrophea, they do so whilst holding hands! (This was before the series was firmly shipping Thirteenth and Yaz.)

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Secret of the Wings, Periwinkle asks Tinkerbell (speaking of Terrence), "So is he your boyfriend?" "Uuuuhhhhh..." Cut to next scene without finishing sentence.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Po and Tigress. It is said in the commentary for the first movie that Tigress is Po's favorite of the Furious Five, even though throughout most of the film, she's the one in the group who is the most vocal about her disdain for him. It takes until the end of the movie for her to respect him. In the sequel, while not romantic, the two share a lot of moments. When Po describes how confused he is about his past, and how Tigress wouldn't get something like that, she suddenly hugs him, much to the shock of the other Furious Five, and tells him she does understand. She then tells him that she can't watch her friend die, and to stay with Masters Storming Ox and Croc for his own protection. She also seems to be the most distraught out of the Five when Po is hit by Lord Shen's cannon. Later, when Po returns and is about to get hit by another cannon, she pushes him out of the way. In the wreckage of the cannon-burst, Po finds Tigress drifting and holds her hand briefly before pushing her out of harm's way. After Po defeats Shen, he hugs her, with Tigress initially frozen in shock before a smile grows on her face, while everyone else looks on in shock.
    • Viper kisses the Po-doll during the credits.
    • To a lesser extent, Crane and Mei Ling in Secrets of the Furious Five, where the feline Action Girl is so nice and loyal to the bird in the All of the Other Reindeer situation that many fans like to imagine them having a romantic relationship while they are at it.
  • Rise of the Guardians teases plenty of Jack x Tooth - especially their hug at the end, and the little bit where they just stare at each other before Baby Tooth interrupts.
  • In 9, the title character appears to have a Love at First Sight moment when he first meets 7.
  • There were a few moments teased between Dory and Marlin in Finding Nemo.
  • In the ending of Wreck-It Ralph, Rancis Fluggerbutter is seen checking out Vanellope von Schweetz with interest several times after his memories, along with those of the other racers, have been restored and it's revealed that Vanellope is the true and real ruler of Sugar Rush. The animators went so far to write a book about it, called One Sweet Race, in which Rancis - sick of losing and never winning a Sugar Rush cup - gets Vanellope to help him build a kart to win a race for once.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, the heroine Mrs. Brisby and the Captain of the Guard, Justin, flirt a few times, but both have more important things on their minds (not to mention that Mrs. Brisby is the widow of one of Justin's old friends).
    Mrs. Brisby: [looking directly at Justin] Beautiful!
    Justin: [blushes] Oh?
    Mrs. Brisby: [giggling] The lights!
  • Zootopia: A favorite activity of the fandom is speculation on whether the relationship between Judy and Nick will remain as best friends or evolve into a romantic relationship. Word of God confirms that they have a very deep friendship and their final exchange onscreen leaves the state of their relationship open-ended...
    Nick: You know you love me.
    Judy: Do I know that...? Yes. Yes, I do.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen is the Implied Love Interest of protagonist Miles and has multiple tender moments with him, in the ending Gwen even opens a portal to see Miles again they were separated. In the comics Spider Gwen and Miles were a couple so it’s not surprising.
  • In Turning Red, Priya is shown connecting with a goth girl during a game of charades, and the two are later seen dancing together under blue, pink, and purple lighting, while her friends cheer her on and smirk knowingly. The storyboard of this scene even includes the goth girl blushing, and the moment was later confirmed as queer by Andrea Goh of the Pixar Cultural Trust.
  • Justice League X RWBY: Super Heroes and Huntsmen double as Crossover Ship Jaune Arc and Jessica Cruz they spend most of the movie with only each other for company, emotionally confiding in each other, and with Jaune acting as a pillar of strength for Jessica. There are many scenes of the two Holding Hands and being physically affectionate across the movie.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • NXT season 3 had two sets of male pros with female rookies. The first set Goldust and Aksana were given a storyline involving a Citizenship Marriage while the second set A.J. Lee and Primo got a more subtle tease. One episode had them trying to find a private place for an unrevealed reason, AJ loved to celebrate winning matches by jumping on Primo's shoulders, when she was eliminated from NXT she broke down crying in his arms and they finally kissed on the last episode.
    • Similarly from the second season there was Layla and Kaval who also had an onscreen kiss.
  • Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo teased a gay relationship with each other, going so far as to declare each other "life partners" and showering each other with affection.
  • Stephanie McMahon and Kurt Angle were involved as Just Friends in a love triangle with Stephanie's husband Triple H. Steph was originally planned to leave Triple H for Angle, but Trips used his creative control to stop it.
  • Stephanie McMahon and Eric Bischoff initially were duelling General Managers of Raw and SmackDown in 2002 and got an onscreen kiss during a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment of a Halloween party. There had always been a bit of friendly sexual tension between them.
  • Trish Stratus got this a lot. She had it with Jeff Hardy twice, another time with her bodyguard Tyson Tomko, during a Stalker with a Crush storyline with Mickie James (that one she did kiss) and then there's Viscera.
  • Trish and Lita were involved in some teasing with Christian & Chris Jericho that was ultimately revealed to be an example of The Bet. This led to an 'intergender' feud between the two pairs, followed by a Heel–Face Turn for Jericho when Trish made her own Face–Heel Turn as Christian betrayed Jericho with her help.
  • Melina and John Morrison got a little tease during a backstage segment in 2010 obviously meant as a Mythology Gag to echo their offscreen relationship. They had been an actual on screen couple years before but had been separated onto different brands and this quietly disappeared. So the segment was this trope at the time.
  • Alberto Del Rio and Rosa Mendes got one during a segment at the TLC PPV.
  • Melina and Alicia Fox actually kissed on TV. Ditto for William Regal and Zack Ryder, although that was meant as comedy.
  • Kaitlyn and Derrick Bateman's "friendship" on NXT was this at first but they quickly became an Official Couple.
  • Kaitlyn's done this quite a bit. She's had Dolph Ziggler, Cody Rhodes and Hornswoggle. Funnily enough, her BFF AJ locked lips with the last two as well, and AJ is with Dolph Ziggler as of December 2012.
  • LayCool were a lesbian couple for as much as PG television would allow. Getting each other matching necklaces, always hugging each other and attending Couples' Therapy. Then Michelle had to blow it all by saying they weren't a couple.
  • Billy Gunn and Chyna had this going on when the former returned in 2000 to console her after her break-up with Eddie Guerrero. In Kayfabe interviews he would describe Chyna as "absolutely gorgeous" and they were shown to be very close. However whenever asked they would insist they were Just Friends. It never amounted to anything other than a friendship, though the 2001 Royal Rumble did have a very couple-y moment between them when Chyna was getting wheeled out on a stretcher.
  • Maryse and The Miz frequently throughout 2009. Maryse however was clearly just being The Tease, hoping to manipulate him into helping her. Miz sunk the ship at Night of Champions and pretty much told her to go to hell. However in real life the ship is sailing just fine for both of them.
  • Finn Bálor and Bayley since early 2016, when they were co-champions of their respective divisions in WWE NXT. They've done the cutesy Clothing Switch [1][2], the Dirty Dancing homage, and even campaigned on social media to be each other's partner for the Facebook-exclusive Mixed Match Challenge. You can imagine the en masse disappointment when Finn was paired with Bayley's best friend Sasha instead.
  • Speaking of the Mixed Match Challenge, Bobby Roode and Charlotte Flair have been in this position since they were paired up. The two are protective of one another and clearly very close, and have had multiple cutesy moments, such as Bobby twirling and dipping Charlotte after their second victory, or Charlotte teaching Bobby the famous Flair Strut. Not to mention they've probably known each other before they even joined WWE, and may have known each other during Ric's TNA run.
  • Another Mixed Match Challenge example: Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman. Widespread shipping was inevitable due to their Huge Guy, Tiny Girl dynamic, but even beyond that, they've had several cute moments together. One of their first promos together involved a Clothing Switch, but they have a vast difference in shirt sizes. Another notable one was Braun catching Alexa in his arms after Naomi enziguri-ed her off of the turnbuckle during their second match. They also publicly called each other 'cute' in an interview following their first match. Then at the 2020 event, The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, Bray Wyatt used a seductive illusion of Alexa to lure Braun into an ambush.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Muppets creators have taken to teasing Bunsen and Beaker. In A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, near the end, Beaker is dancing with a gorgeous model; Bunsen asks if he can cut in, and promptly starts dancing with Beaker. In the web video "Flowers on the Wall", Beaker pretends to be having a fancy dinner with a fake Bunsen, and later makes a card sculpture of Bunsen with hearts in the eyes. In The Muppets (2015) episode "Pig Out", Kermit asks why they're wearing each other's clothes, and Bunsen says that if it happened outside work, they don't owe him an explanation.
  • Gobo and Red from Fraggle Rock. The two are always fighting for leadership over the others, but at least a few episodes have revealed a hidden, mutual (if only platonic) relationship with one another. In at least one interview, when asked about what Fraggle she secretly likes, Red confesses that in spite of their status as Friendly Rivals, she secretly admires Gobo (so secretly that at one point, she looks around to see if Gobo isn't eavesdropping on this).

Alternative Title(s): Ship Teasing, Shipping Fuel


"Eww, gross, Loser Love!"

In order to throw off ghost hunter Valerie, Sam tackles Danny to the ground and kisses him. While the tactic works, it brings a bit of awkwardness between Danny and Sam, and despite them claiming it wasn't a real kiss, Tucker points out that the tactic still has the words "make" and "out" in it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / FakeOutMakeOut

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