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Speech-Impeded Love Interest

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"Her struggle with the "R" enunciation gets laughs yet, but then and now it served as endearing equalizer for a woman who'd have seemed too perfect otherwise."

Imagine yourself meeting a gorgeous girl that seems to have come from the pages of a romance novel. She seems perfect in every way... That is, until she opens her beautiful mouth. Once she does, you realize that she either has pwofound twouble with her w's, s-st-tutters, lithpth or cannot speak clearly at all. Basically, you have a downplayed version of Disabled Love Interest.

When the speech impediment is shown to be debilitating (like a severe stutter), it is usually given to a fragile Shrinking Violet who is waiting for her knight in shining armor. Often, though not always, she recovers from the impediment by the end of the story; in this case, that's part of the Adrenaline Makeover with possible Unfortunate Implications because it makes out that a hero wouldn't want a disabled or otherwise "imperfect" love. At other times, though, the impediment serves as an endearing quirk which only adds to the character's charm (it may even be lampshaded in-story). In some cases, the Love Interest may even be unwilling to undergo speech therapy for exactly this reason.

Compare with Cute Mute. An inversion of this trope is a speech-impeded protagonist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Inverted in The Anthem of the Heart. The protagonist, Jun, rarely speaks—and sounds squeaky and stuttery when she does—because it gives her severe anxiety attacks, supposedly due to a "curse." (As a child, she believed that her parents' divorce was her fault because she accidentally revealed her father's infidelity, and convinced herself her life would spiral out of control unless she never spoke again.) She starts to open up and discovers that singing avoids the curse when she develops a crush on a boy in her class. Ultimately double-subverted, as well as inverted. He doesn't feel the same about her, not because of her speech issues, but because he's still in love with his old girlfriend. But her personality shift catches the attention of a different guy, who suddenly delivers a Love Confession to her at the end.
  • Hinata Hyuga from Naruto had a stutter for a good chunk of her life due to her abusive family and self-confidence issues. By Part II, she stops stuttering so much, even around her crush, Naruto. She completely loses her stutter by the Invasion of Pain arc. She and Naruto finally become an Official Couple in The Last: Naruto the Movie.
  • Shoko from A Silent Voice is deaf. Most of the time she uses sign language or writes in a notepad, however when she does speak she has a very pronounced speech impediment. Her Love Confession to Shoya is ruined by him misunderstanding her.
  • Played for Laughs in Yo-kai Watch. Blazion can only say "roar". When Flushback makes Blazion flashback to past traumatic events, it's shown that this individual Blazion is the only one with that issue. One of his girlfriends dumped him precisely because inability to speak bored her.

    Fan Works 
  • Genevieve St. James from the eponymous fanfic, a beautiful girl who is the love interest of Sherlock Holmes, has a stammer.

    Films Animation 
  • In The Little Mermaid, Ursula takes Ariel's voice for herself when giving her human legs, which makes it tricky (but not impossible) for Ariel to gain Prince Eric's heart.
  • Inverted in Tangled. The protagonist Rapunzel has a small lisp while her love interest Flynn doesn't.

    Films Live-Action 
  • In Attention Bandits by Claude Lelouch, Marie-Sophie (the main character's daughter) has a stammer. The movie received praise for its positive portrayal of stuttering: it was presented just as a distinctive quirk, rather than a disability or a drawback.
  • Irene, the famous writer Dashiell Frank's girlfriend from the movie Mr. Jealousy, also stutters.
  • In In the Company of Men Christine, the female main character, is one of the most beautiful girls in the firm. However, she's deaf with a thick, barely intelligible deaf accent and a labored, strained way to speak. Subverted and Played Straight: while someone gets to appreciate her even more because of efforts, most people (including the resident Jerk) pick on her exactly because of that.
  • In Pearl Harbor, Goose has a terrible stammer when talking to his girlfriend/love Betty.
  • Annie, John Glenn's wife from The Right Stuff, has a severe stutter (Truth in Television actually).
  • Judy from Shakes the Clown has rhotacism.
  • Smartie, the main character's stuttering love interest, from Young and Dangerous movie series.

  • While not the protagonist's love interest, Mag in Breakfast at Tiffany's invokes this with her pronounced stutter. She will exaggerate it, especially in front of men, when it benefits her. Apparently the impediment makes her more appealing.
  • In The Commandant by Jessica Anderson, Letty, Patrick Logan's young beautiful wife, has a lisp. It is highly possible that Anderson drew inspiration for this from her own lifelong stammer.
  • Horatia from The Convenient Marriage stutters. Her future husband remarks that he likes it.
  • Lauren Young from "The Doctor's Flawed Bride with a Lisp" (in the Mail Order Bride series) has both a limp and a lisp.
  • Ellen, the protagonist's friend from Gypsy Heiress by Laura London, is a beautiful girl with a small and charming stammer. Robert, the young master of Brockhaven's domain, becomes enamored of her.
  • Marta, the attractive 16 year old Mexican girl, from The Hardest Ride by Gordon Rottman is mute due to a brain trauma; the protagonist gradually falls in love with her, and they eventually marry.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Beryl Stapleton has a lisp. She's not English-born and raised, so it might just be an accent.
  • Honey from Louise Rennison's novel series The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey has both a lisp and a rhotacism. Which doesn't prevent her from being a boy magnet.
    Honey: I know I have a lithp. I lithp and I like it. And boyth theem to like it too!
  • In Prairie Preacher series by P. J. Hoge, Savannah got a stutter after a car accident. She marries Harold Effan aka "Kid", one of the protagonists.
  • In Reviens by Samuel Benchetrit, the main character falls in love with Suzanne, a pretty stuttering nurse.
  • In Tickle Amongst The Cornstalks by Bob Bishop, Lady Charlotte, the series' main beauty, cannot pronounce her r's.
  • In The Vow, a Medieval romance by Mary Spencer, Lady Margot le Brun also stutters. Unusually for the genre, her stutter does not disappear or even diminish by the end of the novel.
  • Evie Jenner, a shy red-haired beauty from Lisa Kleypas' Wallflowers series, has a stutter. She becomes this in "Devil in Winter" (after a happy marriage, her stutter somewhat diminishes, but never disappears completely).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: "Forest of the Dead" has a gender-inverted case: while trapped in a simulated world, Donna gets married to a man who has a severe stutter. At the end, she surmises that he was a manifestation of her subconscious perfect mate, i.e. unable to talk back to her. He's actually real, and fails to reconnect with her because he is unable to say her name while being teleported off the planet.

  • The novelty song "Little Eefin' Annie" has the singer describe his girlfriend Annie, who is incapable of saying anything without having it preceded by lengthy babbling.

  • Ophelia from Hamlet is occasionally played as having a lisp (most notably, she lisped in her mad scenes in the Stanislavski-Craig Moscow Art Theatre production). As believed by some, this was actually intended by Shakespeare, which gives Hamlet's line "You jig and amble, and you lisp" a literal meaning.

    Video Games 
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Princess Sakura of Hoshido is a Shrinking Violet who tends to go from stuttering to Suddenly Shouting, and remains as such even if she marries. She can potentially be romanced by the Male Avatar, the first generation Hoshido men (save Ryoma and Takumi) and the two Nohrian Princes, Xander and Leo, in the Golden Path.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Katawa Shoujo, the Student Council President Shizune Hakamichi is deaf and tends to talk through others either through a sign language interpreter (her best friend Misha) or, like Shouko above, via writing in notepads. There's just one time where she attempts to actually use her voice and that's during the last sex scene in her path. Hisao is rather surprised and awed.
    • Hanako Ikezawa also counts. Due to the trauma of the house fire that scarred her and killed her parents, and the subsequent bullying she received because of said scars, she's an extreme Shrinking Violet whose speech is either stilted, stuttery, or both.

    Web Comics 
  • Ennui GO!: Calixta is a Shrinking Violet that speaks with a stutter. It becomes more noticeable when she's around and/or thinking about her crush/boyfriend Max.
    Calixta: *when asked what's her New Year's resolution* I just want to have my first k-k-kiss with Max...

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: Tina's main love interest, Jimmy Jr., has a pronounced lisp (in part because of his braces). In "Ain't Miss Debatin'," Tina confesses she has a thing for boys with speech impediments in general.
    Gene: She likes 'em not quite a man and hard to understand.
  • Inverted in Jem. The protagonist Jerrica mispronounces certain words, mainly "very". She has some Dude Magnet qualities and has two love interests: her sort-of boyfriend Rio who also loves her alter ego Jem (but doesn't know they're the same person), and Riot who loves Jem but not Jerrica.
  • Asami from The Legend of Korra has a lisp according to certain scenes. She ends up the Official Couple with Korra.

    Real Life 
  • The actress Kay Francis, one of Hollywood's top beauties, had a speech impediment which made her pronounce her r's and l's like w's, which added to her Ms. Fanservice appeal.
  • Another renowned cinema beauty Marlene Dietrich had a similar speech impediment.
  • The 1950s sex symbol Marilyn Monroe stuttered; though she managed to tame her condition onstage (her famous throaty way of speaking was probably a way of hiding the stammer), it resurfaced in her last movie.
  • Phyllis Potter, the first wife of Fred Astaire, likewise couldn't pronounce her r's.
  • Mary Louise Dowell, a really gorgeous Broadway showgirl, was nicknamed "Stuttering Sam" because of her strong speech impediment. She didn't mind her stutter at all, was very popular with the opposite sex, and married in 1944 (reportedly she didn't stutter when she said "I do").
  • Elizabeth Inchbald, a 18th century novelist, actress and playwright, known for both her beauty (which surrounded her with admirers) and her severe stutter.
  • Another Hollywood beauty Marion Davies had a very noticeable stutter which made her concerned about the transition to sound in movies. Fortunately she didn't stutter onstage, but in everyday life, her stutter never went away.