Coined by Eric Burns of Websnark, and large parts of this entry copied from his post.
Sometimes, relationships don't work out. It's a shame, but in romantic comedies, it's also a goldmine. What if one person moves on? Even better, what if they move on to one of their mutual friends?
The common trope in this situation is for the new couple to tiptoe around the old partner, trying to spare their feelings and avoid negative repercussions. Unfortunately, the more the new couple tries not to push the old partner's buttons, the more likely it is that some buttons will get pushed.
A Sorkin Relationship Moment is a moment where that person gets fed up and demands that the other people just stop it already. This is just too much. It is uncomfortable. It is unpleasant, and it is unfair.
The Sorkin Relationship Moment doesn't have to be romantic. It is, however, an attempt to resolve a tense situation through direct confrontation — shouting, in effect, stop it! from one person to the next.
- You're Under Arrest! has Natsumi yelling "What did you NOT want to tell me last night?" at Tokairin before they kiss in the airport.
- Higher Learning: As Shinji is going through a nervous breakdown Asuka gets worried, ergo she gets very angry with him. It gets so bad that Misato has to intervene rather forcefully so that they make up with each other.
- Connecting The Dots: Sakura has it out with Naruto as they discuss her confession of love after talking with Robin.
- A Growing Affection: Sakura does this with Naruto and Hinata after the Green-Eyed Monster got the better of her when the latter two started dating.
- The Child of Love: When Misato is fed up with Shinji and Asukas arguing and being at odds with each other, she angrily tells them that theyll go to the Obon Festival, theyll have fun together, theyll make up and theyll stop behaving like idiots or else.
- This trope is basically on continuous rotation in the later Harry Potter books.
- Unsurprisingly, these crop up in the four shows penned by Aaron Sorkin.
- Sports Night: Dana and Casey twice, Natalie and Jeremy many times. A classic example would be when Natalie insists everyone treat her like normal after they discover an athlete grabbed her arm and exposed himself to her in a locker room.
- The West Wing:
- Josh did this three times.
- And a slightly unusual but very funny version of the trope, Leo and Sam with regards to Sam dating Leo's daughter Mallory in the first season.
- Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Danny and Jordan, and Matt and Harriet have had it countless times.
- The Newsroom has it too. Notable example is the conversation between Lisa, Jim, and Maggie, with Lisa attempting to untangle the Love Triangle. Lampshaded by Don Keefer early in Season 2, when he point-blank demands that the clueless other staff members just stop asking questions about Jim and Maggie around him, comparing it to "playing golf behind a foursome of blind people".
- Cheers: Diane's Old Flame Frasier calls Sam and Diane out on their reluctance to admit their feelings for one another in Season Four's "Triangle."
- How I Met Your Mother uses this trope with regards to Ted, Barney and Robin. After months of feeling guilty, Barney finally confesses his misdeed to Ted. At first he apparently takes it surprisingly well, but then sarcastically suggests that Barney sleep with his mom too.
- Happens on Orange Is the New Black when Piper's fiance Larry has an affair with and eventually leaves her for her best friend Polly while Piper is in prison.
- Agents Of Shield: In Season 3, Fitz-Simmons end up having one when Jemma explodes on Fitz, asking why he's being so helpful trying to save Will (the guy she hooked up with when stranded on an alien planet), since she KNOWS Fitz feels about her but the situation makes her feel guilty and uncomfortable since she didn't expect him to take it so well. Fitz fires back that he's just resigned to the situation and getting angry won't change it, since he feels I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and they've had so many chances to be in a relationship but never made a move.
Fitz: (resigned frustration) "We're cursed."
- Questionable Content: Several times, including the strip that lends the above quote, Faye frustratedly tells Dora or Marten that it's OK that they're dating and sleeping together now, even though Faye and Marten had been interested in each other (but not dating) previously, and that they don't have to hide it from her. In fact, it ends up being Dora who develops a neurosis about it.
- A non-romantic version in Gunnerkrigg Court Kat calls out Antimony and Reynardine's awkwardness, and demands that they be friends again. While holding a pair of wire strippers.
- Happens twice in Daria. The first time comes when Jane starts dating Tom, and Daria, who previously had most of Jane's attention, resents becoming a third wheel and eventually confronts Jane and Tom about how she feels. Later, after Daria and Tom fall in love and Tom dumps Jane, Daria and Tom treat her with kid gloves, being aware of how awkward it must be for her. Jane finally asks them to stop being so weird around her.