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Sorkin Relationship Moment

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"If you want things to be not-weird between you and Marty and I, stop actin' weird about them! Be normal!"

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.

The Sorkin Relationship Moment is the moment the old partner gets fed up with all this and tells them to quit it already. The effort they're putting in to keep it from them is only making it more obvious, and the whole thing is just tiresome and they'd like it to stop.

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.

Named after Aaron Sorkin, who has had quite a number of these, and coined by Eric Burns-White of Websnark after the situation appeared in the Webcomic Questionable Content.

This is similar to "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Compare/contrast Ignore the Disability.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In The Ballad Of Stoot And Argyle, Terrance attempts this after Eric Cartman suggests they should hook up, outlining all the reasons why doing so would be a bad idea. They still wind up giving it a shot.
  • The Child of Love: When Misato is fed up with Shinji and Asuka’s arguing and being at odds with each other, she angrily tells them that they’ll go to the Obon Festival, they’ll have fun together, they’ll make up and they’ll stop behaving like idiots... or else.
  • Connecting the Dots: Sakura has it out with Naruto as they discuss her confession of love after talking with Robin.
  • Escape From The Hokage's Hat: After taking Lee out on a date, Sakura practically begs Naruto to find somebody who'll reciprocate his feelings rather than continuing to pine after her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Thought I Wanted This builds up towards this, as Adora realizes how toxic her relationship with Catra is and finds herself increasingly drawn towards Glimmer. This culminates in an awkward conversation between her and her ex-girlfriend when Adora decides to inform her that she and Glimmer have gotten engaged.

  • In The Social Network (written by the Trope Namer), this is how Eduardo Saverin's action of cutting off funds from Mark Zuckerberg, who has dropped out of Harvard to run Facebook from California with Sean Parker, is framed.

    Live Action TV 

Trope Namer:

  • 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".

By Series:

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 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.
  • 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.
  • When the very liberal Murphy Brown team gets an African-American boss, they find themselves tiptoeing around him so he doesn't feel like he's being treated a certain way on account of his race. The new boss enjoys this for a while, then confronts them with the fact that their white-guilt-driven tentativeness toward him was accomplishing exactly what they were trying to avoid and that they should just treat him like a normal boss.
  • Happens on Orange Is the New Black when Piper's fiancé Larry has an affair with and eventually leaves her for her best friend Polly while Piper is in prison.

    Video Games 
  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm: Max spends much of "Farewell" trying to work up enough courage to tell Chloe that her family is going to be moving away soon. When she finally manages to spit it out, Chloe reveals that she already knew: she'd overheard Max's parents telling hers about it. She didn't want to risk ruining their last day together, either.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.