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Stalking is Love

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Becky: Were you stalking me?
Dave: Not like, in a threatening way.

Say you have a Stalker with a Crush. He relentlessly pursues his love interest, watching her as she sleeps, resorting to superfluous and often very disturbing lengths to protect her if he feels the need. She's probably going to be creeped out, right?

Wrong.

Instead of outright rejecting this guy's advances on the first go, the object of these advances isn't even irritated. She's completely dazzled and views them as romantic, completely overlooking the stalkerish implications of what he's doing.

Most characters of this type are intended to be sympathetic; the lengths the fella goes to is supposed to show just how much he loves his beloved (or she hers — this can happen to characters of any gender, although male examples are far more common). But characters like this can be very unnerving to readers and audiences who realize just how far things have gone.

There is an unfortunate Double Standard common in the depiction of this trope. Stalker type behavior in a man can make him a romantic hero but the same behavior will almost always make a woman dangerous or pathetic. Interestingly, the Stalker with a Crush trope features an exactly opposite Double StandardStalking Is Funny if It Is Female After Male and the stalker is more likely to be portrayed as cute and desirable, while a male stalker is portrayed as pathetic and dangerous.

Some more forgiving depictions of this trope rely on the stalker simply being too shy to approach the object of his or her affections directly, and is otherwise harmless. In other cases, he can't go and pursue a normal relation even if he would prefer it because of other, more dangerous, circumstances (for example, because they both belong to Feuding Families).

Sometimes this results from Values Dissonance, since behaviors towards a Love Interest that are considered appropriate in one time or place can seem creepy in others. Compare Abduction Is Love, Do Not Do This Cool Thing, and Playful Pursuit.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Future Diary plays around with this trope regarding Yuno (the stalker) and Yukiteru (the stalk-ee). While Yuno certainly believes firmly in this trope to the point where she actually traveled to a parallel space-time universe just to be with him again, Yuki is less than convinced. He falls in love with her by the end, even stating he did because she's always by his side, if only because he's just as messed-up as her.
  • In Gravitation, Shuichi chases Yuki constantly, despite being rejected, verbally abused, and often being called a little brat. They eventually end up together.
  • In Koharu no Hibi, while Akira is freaked out by Koharu's Stalker with a Crush tendencies, he still eventually ends up dating her because as he said he can't leave her alone.
  • In Reborn! (2004), although Tsuna is sort of creeped out by Gokudera's Stalker with a Crush tendencies, the show depicts him as being a very loyal and wonderful friend, writing off his desire to kill off anyone who gets close to Tsuna as being comedy.
  • Played with the usual amount of taste and seriousness (that is, none at all) in Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei, where Matoi and Kafuka certainly believe stalking is a form of deep love. Of course, Nozomu kindly informs her that mutual suicide is true love. And then unfortunately informs her that he'd be happy to kill himself with her at any time, so she took up stalking him while her previous stalking victim started stalking her.
  • Zetsuai (1989) is about a male singer named Kouji whose childhood crush on a male soccer star named Izumi — who he fell for as a kid — leads to assorted sexual harassment when the two meet in person years later. The series romanticizes stalking and rewards the attacker in the end when the victim becomes comfortable with his stalker and stops running away.

    Comic Books 
  • One time while watching Siryn sleep, Deadpool laments that what he's doing used to be considered romantic, but now it's called "stalking" and generally considered "Trespass". But that's Deadpool.
  • Speedball does not mind Squirrel Girl's disturbing stalking towards him. In fact, he finds it very cute. And it doesn't hurt that he likes hazelnut.
  • Similarly Black Cat stalking Spider-Man isn’t presented as creepy. At one point she even shows Spidey the Stalker Shrine she made for him and while a little freaked out, he still pursues a relationship with her.
  • In Deep Gravity, it's specifically averted. Paxon was sufficiently determined that his relationship with Michelle ought to have worked that he signed on to a deep-space expedition to a remote, dangerous planet just to follow her, believing that she could be made to see reason. Michelle certainly doesn't see it as romantic — but neither does he because, by the time the reunion he set in motion actually occurs, he's fully aware that it was the wrong thing to do.
    Paxon: It's three years on this crossing if you don't spend it asleep. That's a lot of time to reflect on your mistakes. I thought I was being romantic when I left Earth, but it didn't take me long to figure out that coming to Poseidon was a stalker move. That's not how I want you to think of me. You said it was over. That should mean it's over.

    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse: Anthony was introduced as Liz's secret admirer, following her around watching her every move while she was oblivious. It took her friend finally pointing him out for her to even notice him, after which they dated for a while, with nothing said against his questionable behavior. Of course, that was child's play to the turns the relationship took years later. (Ex: him continuing to stalk her even after he married someone else.) Literally child's play- Anthony and Elizabeth were children when they met, so the behavior was less "questionable" and more "shy nerdy little boy with his first crush."
  • Zits: One arc had Jeremy stealing his parents' car in the middle of the night so he could repeatedly drive by the house of a girl he was interested in, an act which got him arrested. When Connie chewed him out over it, asking what he thought he was doing, Jeremy described it as a "desperate romantic gesture". Connie then told Walt to take over lecturing him, as she almost forgave him.

    Fan Works 
  • Essentially applies in the celebrity fanfic "Best Days of Our Lives", which portrays Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood as childhood sweethearts; their relationship fell apart after high school graduation because Carrie's mother was constantly making it clear when things weren't going well for them, even though the relationship itself was always happy, and after a run of bad luck involving their potential new apartment burning down before they could move in, Carrie was persuaded to return to her parents. After Kelly had her victory on American Idol, it was basically impossible for Carrie to get back in touch with her through normal channels, to the extent that Carrie tried out for Idol herself just to get Kelly's attention and was genuinely surprised when she won.
  • In Code Geass: Mao of the Deliverance, Mao travels hundreds of miles to find C.C. again while listening to her voice constantly on his headphones. She actually recorded this for him, however, and he is really just trying to save her life (albeit against her wishes).
  • In the Facing the Future Series, Maddie once told Jazz that Jack would camp out on her family's yard when they were away just so he could see her when she got back. While Jack and Maddie thought it was romantic, Jazz thought that it was nothing to be proud of.
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic The Games We Play is about one of Rainbow Dash's friends having a crush on her and using the Mare Do Well costume as a means to disguise their identity and get close to her without risking their friendship. Except "get close to her" pretty much ends up meaning "stalk and sexually harass her". Zigzagged in that Dash is very unhappy with this, but starts to reciprocate, and ends up feeling pretty damn confused.
  • In humanized Happy Tree Friends fanworks, Flippy often does this to Flaky.
  • In If Bella Were Sane, Edward stalks Bella and tries to trick her into marrying him while she's drunk because he's in love with her. Unlike the Bella of The Twilight Saga, the fanfiction has her creeped out and punch him over it. The last chapter, in which Bella's very loopy, very Mormon Aunt Stephenie comes to visit from Arizona makes a huge Take That! at the trope.
    I told her everything, sipping tea in my pajamas. I left out the rude words and stuff and most of my freakouts—like I said, really Mormon—but she got the whole story.
    She said it was almost sort of romantic.
    Like I said, sort of loopy.
  • In The Twilight Saga fan fiction The Not So Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, the main character, Bree, is the object of some restraining order-worthy affection from Alec, though — unlike Bella with Edward — she's not nearly as charmed by the creepily felonious antics or isn't shy about mentioning it.
  • Parodied in The Silmarillion/The Lord of the Rings fanfic "A Practical Guide for the Courtship of Elves, by Beren son of Barahir". Beren stalked Luthien in the woods for a while because he was mesmerized by her. Several characters try to explain to him that it was wrong... but first of all they have to explain what "stalking" is and why it's creepy. Then Luthien cuts them off to tell that she stalked Beren afterwards, and she was damned persistent.
  • In the Death Note AU Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything L gets upset when Light stops blatantly stalking him.
  • Explicitly rejected in What You Already Know: Chimera; when Sam Carter learns that Pete Shanahan was trying to dig into her real background even after she told him her job was classified, she calls the relationship off, stating that his actions demonstrate a lack of trust that she can’t accept.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man:
    • Peter's love interest Gwen Stacy doesn't have much of a problem with finding out she graces the background of his computer, or him attending a tour of hers that he clearly didn't sign up fornote , or him repeatedly visiting her room via the window rather than by the doornote . May be lampshaded by showing she owns several Twilight books.
    • Even more so in the sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where Peter takes to watching Gwen from rooftops after they break up. We get this exchange:
      Gwen: Have you been following me?
      Gwen: How often?
      Peter: Just once a day. Sometimes... Sometimes more.
  • We're introduced to Ricky in American Beauty when he's following Jane around with a video camera, filming her. Funnily enough, she asks him to stop filming her and he puts the camera away, saying okay.
  • The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. The title character watches his crush a lot.
  • In Bram Stoker's Dracula the titular count stalking Mina through London is put under a sympathetic light instead of being creepy like it would be in any other context, since she’s the reincarnation of his dead wife. Though even Mina herself is clearly bothered by it and only relents to his presence when Dracula hypnotises her.
  • The 2004 film Closer:
    Anna: Because you stalk me outside my studio.
    Dan: I don't stalk, I lurk, and when I'm not there you look for me.
    Anna: How would you know I look for you if you're not there?
    Dan: Because I am there, lurking from a distance.
  • Notorious Vanilla Ice star vehicle, Cool as Ice sees Badass Biker Johnny Van Owen playing this trope jaw-droppingly straight. He obsessively pursues Kathy, whom he knocked off a horse in their first meeting, and yet she's somehow charmed by him and his early 90s witticisms, at the expense of her current jock boyfriend. The most infamous moment is when Johnny sneaks into Kathy's house early in the morning, lays down right next to her(!), and wakes her up with an ice cube.
  • Strongly represented in Crazy, Stupid, Love in the storyline of the son. Even to the point where the object of his desire is sending him messages to stop because he's making her uncomfortable. It's still presented as romantic, though.
  • In Disturbia, Kale watches Ashley from his bedroom, though rarely for things like undressing. He later tells her about all the little personal quirks and hobbies he knows about her from his spying, to prove that he understands her. They kiss right after this. Granted she does tell him that it's either "the creepiest or the most romantic thing [she] ever heard".
  • The protagonist of Diva stalks an opera star, then finally meets her... and she sleeps with him.
  • Flipped: In the beginning, as Juli instantly falls in love with his new neighbor, Bryce, follows him almost everywhere he goes. Particularly, everytime they go to school, much to Bryce's annoyance.
  • GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra:
    • Ripcord's amorous designs on Scarlett tend to come off as stalking, despite most likely being meant to be charmingly goofy.
    • Destro has this sort of relationship with the Baroness. Unlike traditional versions of the romance where it's entirely consensual, he seems very interested in the current one despite her showing only marginal interest in return. He even has her husband killed for touching her. However, he also knows she's mind-controlled.
  • The Graduate: Ben watches Elaine leave for Berkeley behind the bushes, then goes to Berkley to be near her, then chases a bus to bug her as she's on her way to a date with another guy, even though this entire time she kind of hates him. Eventually he succeeds in convincing her to like him again, and they ultimately flee together. Though it's suggested at the end that neither of their feelings may be as deep as they'd hoped.
  • In The Hairy Bird, Snake pursues Tinka even though she isn’t interested, going as far as to proclaim his love for her outside her window and showing up at her school claiming to be her dad.
  • Hannibal turns the title character into a Stalker with a Crush for Clarice Starling. While in ''The Silence of the Lambs, he simply seems to enjoy being creepy for creepiness' sake, the sequel turns it into a kind of weird romantic love for Clarice Starling, with him sneaking into her house and watching her sleep (while touching her face and hair). In a deleted scene, he breaks into her car and licks the steering wheel to get the taste of her. Not to mention the part where she's talking to him on a cell phone trying to find him, and it turns out he was behind her touching her hair. The weird thing is that it's actually meant to be romantic.
  • The Heartbreak Kid (1972): Kelly ends up marrying Lenny after his stalking campaign, though whether she really loves him is open to question. While he does believe that he loves her, he soon comes to regret it...after marrying her.
  • In Indecent Proposal, Gage's behavior towards Diana following their one-night stand, something that was contractually agreed on to be one night and nothing more. He shows up at both of her workplaces (she's a realtor who teaches ESL part-time) uninvited and unannounced and otherwise manipulates situations in order to bring her close to him, essentially forcing her into a relationship. At one point, incensed at his conduct, she shows up at his office to tell him off, and here the Double Standard kicks in full force — whereas his behavior was portrayed as adorable and playful even though she clearly found it upsetting, hers is made out to be alarming and disruptive even though she has every right to be angry with him. But sure enough, she gradually softens towards him and they end up together for a good portion of the movie.
  • Jason's Lyric: Jason follows Lyric from the restaurant where she works at to her home, because he's determined to get to know more about her.
  • In Kissing Jessica Stein, Jessica ends up with Josh who quite obsessively went through her personal files (including letters) at work. Apparently, because he was motivated by jealousy from their past relationship, this is fine.
  • Gary, the eponymous character in The Last American Virgin stalks Karen by leering at her at the ice cream parlor, by letting the air out of her bike's tires so he can give her a ride to school, following her around and watching her have sex with Rick.
  • The 1992 French movie L'Amant (The Lover, adapted from the eponymous novel by Marguerite Duras). The protagonist, a fifteen year-old French schoolgirl, is given a lift (with heavy Unresolved Sexual Tension) to her school by a wealthy Chinese man who fell in Love at First Sight with her. The next days she's surprised to see his limousine parked outside the school, so she walks up to the car and sensuously presses her lips to the window where he's sitting in the back seat. Later when his family forces him to break off the scandalous affair, she turns up at his Arranged Marriage, and he turns up one last time in his limousine at the docks to watch her departing on the ship to France. In this case the trope has a lot to do with the fact that neither party is willing to admit any romantic attraction in an affair that violates every social norm of their society.
  • A blatant example in Major League, Jake stalks his crush several times after Willy's character says to follow her home (Since he didn't know where she lived) and she seems to take this all with just a shrug of her shoulders despite telling him it's over several times. They end up together at the end of the film.
  • The Romantic Comedy Management was completely undermined by the fact that Steve Zahn and Jennifer Aniston's otherwise sweetly quirky relationship consisted of him stalking her across the country.
  • Trinity in The Matrix likes to watch Neo as he sleeps. This is complicated by the fact that she'd been given a prophecy by the Oracle that she'd fall in love with the One.
  • In P2, Thomas expects Angela to be attracted to him even after he kidnaps her, chases her through the parking lot, kills two of her coworkers, locks her in the trunk of a car, and sics his dog on her.
  • In the film version of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, it's noted in one review:
    Scott falls in love with roller-skating, punk-haired Ramona Flowers at first sight, across a public space. He stalks her in a way that’s apparently meant to be adorable... To be fair, it's lampshaded right off the bat ("And then... he stalked her...") and played for laughs. She agrees to go out with him the next time they speak and is never really aware of his previous stalking, but neither does she seem to like him any more than "meh, he's a nice guy."
    • From what is shown of her various exes, she also has a tendency to date psychotic people. This includes Gideon, who creates The League of Evil Exes to keep her from dating anyone else and return to him, brainwashes her into being with him again, and hits and shove her down some steps in a decidedly non-comedic way. Compared to that, a guy who shyly follows her around at a party would be normal.
  • In Smosh: The Movie, Ian seems to think that he's "seeing" Butt-Massage Girl because he leaves creepy comments on her videos, seeing him flagging all of his comments as "playing hard to get." Subverted when it's revealed that Ian was correct and she actually does like him.
  • In Superman Returns the Man of Steel spends some spying on Lois at her house after finding out she's married now.
  • Played for laughs in There's Something About Mary, in which the title character has several men who are stalking her and plotting to win her love. It's actually portrayed as creepy, especially from the supporting "suitors", but even main character Ted realizes what he's been doing is not OK and has an I Want My Beloved to Be Happy moment and is willing to walk away.
  • In Untamed Heart, Adam and Caroline's relationship really begins because he rescues her from attackers while stalking her. He also enters her room while she's sleeping which he somehow pulls off without her calling the police.
  • Wish Upon: Paul, under the influence of the wish box, falls madly in love with Claire. So madly that he starts breaking into her house and taking photos of her while she sleeps.
  • In Written on the Wind, Lucy eventually falls in love with Kyle and marries him despite initially trying to get away from him several times.
  • In Youth in Revolt, Trent eventually comes to believe this.

    Literature 
  • The plot of one book in The Baby-Sitters Club series featured the girls fearing the actions of a prank caller/prowler roaming the neighborhood. One night when two of the girls are sitting together, they're frightened by mysterious phone calls and noises outside. When one of the girls actually sees someone running away from the house at one point, she gets fed up and calls the police, who bring in one of her classmates. When she and the cops demand to know why he's been harassing her, he shyly admits that he was trying to work up the nerve to ask her out—and she accepts. This isn't Played for Laughs or made out to be adorable like so many other examples, this is flat-out creepy and scary behavior that still results in the guy getting the girl.
  • Played all over the place in A Certain Magical Index. Mikoto is being stalked by the grandson of her school's dean. While he's pretty attractive, she still finds him creepy and she can't just zap him because of his status, so she enlists Toma to pretend to be her boyfriend long enough to throw him off. This doesn't work—because he's actually a spy sent to keep an eye on Toma's growing list of powerful True Companions, specifically Mikoto. Except that he really is in love with her, and volunteered for the mission so that they wouldn't send someone else, who wouldn't have a problem killing her if she got difficult (and "difficult" is a pretty good way of summarizing Mikoto).
  • Spoofed in Durarara!! when Anri (jokingly) implies that she's been stalking Mikado. Upon hearing this, Mikado's brain starts zig-zagging the hell out of this trope (complete with Mikado's Inner Puppet Theater) like only a hormonal teenager can before Anri finally tells him she was kidding.
    Mikado: Oh, crap! Is she a stalker? Wait. If she's cute it's okay, rig—No, this is bad. It might go like... She might stab me! Or set my house on fire! And what if she takes my parents hostage?... But, maybe she has a nice personality. Then it would be okay, right?... Wait. If she did, she wouldn't be stalking me!
  • This happens in the Twilight-ripoff Fifty Shades of Grey. The title character actually tracks Ana via her cellphone, which, in addition to being creepy, is kind of illegal. In the same book, Grey also stalks Ana Steele across state lines when she goes to visit her mother in Savannah, Georgia. Ana calls it stalking, too; she's just unable to grasp that stalking is a bad thing.
  • Full Metal Panic!:
    • Sōsuke is assigned a mission in which he must follow Kaname around and protect her from terrorists, all the while not letting her know. Although his actions are way overboard by any normal standards and could easily be constructed as stalking, Kaname seems to view it with a mixture of curiosity, annoyance, attraction, and a bit of amusement. The reasons are probably a mix of the factors that Sōsuke's actions are extremely outlandish even by stalking standards, he appears to have as much grasp of romance and sexuality as her hamster, and of course that he is extremely attractive. This disappears when she finds Sōsuke on her balcony with a pair of her panties in his hand (which, in fact, were snatched back from Shinji, who was the one trying to steal it because some bullies put him up to it), at which point she attempts to beat him to death with a baseball bat and completely refuses to trust or talk to him until he explains the truth behind his actions. Once Kaname is in on the whole secret and can relate to Sōsuke better through an understanding of his background, it's the beginning of a friendship that develops into love.
    • Leonard, a Pretty Boy antagonist, seems to believe this trope justifies his pushy advances towards Kaname, but this is treated very differently from how Sōsuke acted. Sōsuke never had any ulterior motives besides protecting Kaname to begin with, and he spent a long time learning from Kaname how to behave properly in society and respect her feelings. That she started to fall in love with Sōsuke — and he with her — is because they truly value each other as people, whereas Leonard acts like he's entitled to have her as his conquest just because he's ostensibly more suave. He only succeeds in getting Kaname to hate his guts, especially since he stole her first kiss, which she wished she had given to Sōsuke.
  • The Hunger Games: While he doesn't flat-out stalk her, Peeta Mellark admits to Katniss Everdeen during the 74th Hunger Games that he used to watch her walk home from school every day.
  • In Hush, Hush, Patch constantly stalks Nora. Her being flustered and bothered by this is treated like a Meet Cute, even though we later learn that he initially was stalking her to learn how best to murder her. We also later learn that he decided that he loved her during said stalking before they even met once.
  • In the Kate Daniels novel Magic Strikes, Kate learns that Curran has been breaking into her apartment to watch her sleep (and eat her snacks). While she calls him a stalker to his face and threatens to call the cops on him, the shapeshifters consider this normal courtship behavior.
  • November 9: In the fifth year, Ben stalks Fallon to a nightclub where her friend Glen told him they'd be after she doesn't show up at their restaurant (she'd made it clear the previous year that she wouldn't) and tries to seduce her. Surprisingly, it works and Fallon goes back to his house with him despite her being there with a different date. The following year, Ben ups his game by violating the restraining order Fallon had put out on him to follow her to her house and leave a box with his manuscript on her doorstep; it's later confirmed he hid nearby and watched her take the box inside before leaving. Despite being initially creeped out, the incident eventually convinces Fallon that she and Ben are truly in love.
  • In Ovid's The Metamorphoses (specifically the Daphne and Apollo chapter), Apollo tells Daphne that he chases her not as a foe, but from love (although she certainly didn't see it that way), making this trope at least Older Than Feudalism.
  • In the musical's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, Christine realized long ago that she wasn't "looking with her heart" when she chose Raoul over the Phantom. So stalking and murder IS love in this version! It's especially sad considering that in the book Erik realizes that he's a sick, psychopathic, horrible stalker, but can't stop himself, eventually choosing suicide as the solution. He may be The Woobie, but the kind of Woobie who doesn't mind killing hundreds of people to get the attention of his love interest.
    • Fans of the Broadway Musical are also unaware (or at least don’t acknowledge) that in the book while Christine does care for Erik and pity him, she’s still horrified and disgusted by him and how he haunts her steps. In fact when faced with the prospect of marrying Erik in the book Christine literally bangs her head against the walls trying to kill herself, but she only succeeds in knocking herself out. The musical and other adaptations have made the relationship between Christine and the Phantom Lost in Translation, by glossing over the darker aspects and just how tormented Christine is by him.
    • Also in The Phantom of the Opera, Raoul's claim to Christine's love is that he's been obsessed with her since he met her when they were children, becomes jealous and possessive the moment he suspects she's seeing someone else (Note: that at this point he hasn't even spoken to her since they were teenagers). And then he waits in the darkness outside her dressing room so he can sneak inside and search for The Phantom. Christine does call him on this creepy behaviour and Raoul does eventually cool down by the end of the book. Christine also choose not to speak to him before since Erik was close by and murderously jealous of Raoul, so she was actually protecting him.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • In the second book of Song of the Lioness, Alanna explicitly calls George's behavior "stalking" while he's doing his Dogged Nice Guy routine, and in the third he has a couple of his spies follow her into the desert (where she is trying to get away from this and other complications of Corus). Although Alanna is annoyed with these things at the time, she eventually marries him. Tamora Pierce has since acknowledged this as a major case of Values Dissonance, as stalking was much less understood in the '80s, and even says it's the one thing about the franchise she'd like to go back and change.
    • The Immortals has Numair stealing a lock of Daine's hair without permission while she's suffering from a debilitating illness, which she doesn't mind at all since she suddenly realizes she's in love with him. It was actually so he'd have a way to magically track her if she went missing, but given the fact that Pierce had previously given us George and Alanna, many fans cried Unfortunate Implications. There's also the whole thing about her being 16 and him 30, and a teacher and student - which was why he initially rejected her, pointing to the age gap and his reputation (also, she was kind of concussed at the time).
  • In The Twilight Saga, Edward Cullen starts out by flat-out stalking Bella and watching her as she sleeps. Does she mind? No. Even as he tells her how dangerous he is, she finds him more and more attractive, eventually allowing him to entirely isolate her from her old life and friends (even granted that she wasn't particularly happy with them to begin with, her sheer passivity can still come across as disturbing). Edward even lampshades this in the prequel Midnight Sun (2020), becoming disgusted with himself when he sneaks into Bella's window to watch her sleep and berating himself as a creepy stalker who should not be doing this. It doesn't stop him from going ahead and doing it anyway. Repeatedly. When he does finally confess that he has been watching her sleep, she is actually flattered by it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 30 Rock this is played with. Jenna is upset after her creepy stalker loses interest in her — not because she loved him but because his obsession inflated her ego. Their "break up" is played for Does This Remind You of Anything?
    Maynard: I don't think I can stalk you anymore.
    Jenna: No! You don't mean that!
  • Beverly Hills, 90210. Brandon's ex-girlfriend Emily stalks and harasses him after he breaks up with her—calling him repeatedly, following him, etc. When he finally gets fed up and blows up at her, she whines, "I can't help it, I love you."
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel is a Deconstruction. He sees and falls in love with Buffy when she is fifteen. He expresses this love by stalking her for a year before revealing himself. In one sense, his devotion is played straight: Buffy herself is flattered to have the intense affection and protection of this Bad Boy. It is simultaneously denied: other characters, especially Buffy's male friends, think that his behavior is creepy and dangerous. They are justifiably suspicious of Buffy's vampire boyfriend and it takes Angel time to earn their trust.
    • In self-aware moments, Angel himself seems to understand that this behavior is unhealthy. He seems aware that stalking is not good, but it is better than what he was doing before. The series never justifies it, only asks latitude for the Tortured Monster Angel is.
    • On the other hand, his Superpowered Evil Side also stalks Buffy. In this case it is completely predatory and abusive. The feigned affection is merely Terms of Endangerment to get under her skin.
    • Arguably deconstructed further by Spike in season 5. After falling in love with Buffy, as he's soulless and thus chaotic evil by nature, he begins exhibiting exaggerated stalking tendencies. This culminates in a twisted attempt at a Grand Romantic Gesture where he tries to "prove" his love by kidnapping Buffy so she can watch him stake Drusilla, his ex-girlfriend and sire. Justifiably, Buffy rejects him and is disgusted by the depth of his obsession, revoking his invitation into her home. It's not until a few episodes later, when he endures nearly being beaten to death by a god in order to protect her and her sister's safety that he proves a meaningful interest in her, and his feelings are granted a some acknowledgement. For the rest of the season, he drops the stalking all together in favour of Courtly Love, and is treated far more kindly by Buffy in return.
  • Stephen Colbert's character on The Colbert Report thinks this way about his cousin Charlene, as best exhibited in his song on the subject: I'm right behind you now, Charlene, waiting, watching, oh so close...
  • Usually averted in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is a whole series deconstruction of Romantic Comedy tropes, but played straight in season two when Josh realises that Rebecca has always been there for him and falls for her, despite all the creepy stuff she's done towards him. However, it's implied that he was just desperate to find a rebound relationship as he hates being single, and while they seem happy together at first, by the end of the season he has some very cold feet.
  • In Criminal Minds, "Crazy" Jane was nearly a murder victim of Frank Breitkopf, a sexual sadist and murderous sociopath. She gave him a compliment on his eyes and this caught him by surprise. He failed to properly torture and kill her like he had done before and let her go. Since then, he had been dropping by her house and let her gifts... made from the bones of his previous victims. Neither this nor the reason revealed behind his visits to her home town are enough to frighten her. In fact, when she saw him again, she ran towards him instead of away.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Blink": Kathy gets sent back to 1920 by one of the Weeping Angels. Ben is the first person she meets; they later get married. Ben does have an interest in being curious and concerned about Kathy since she's clearly not from around the area and is quite distressed.
      Kathy: Are you following me?
      Ben: Yeah.
      Kathy: Are you going to stop following me?
      Ben: No, I don't think so.
    • Played for laughs with a one-shot WWII-era couple in "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe".
      The Doctor: How did you meet? You and Reg, tell me how you met.
      Madge Arwell: He followed me home. I worked in the dairy, he always used to follow me home. He said he'd keep on following me until I married him! I didn't like to make a scene.
    • Zigzagged in "Eve of the Daleks". When Nick admits that he's had a crush on Sarah for the past couple of years which is why he's her only customer on New Year's Eve, she's freaked out and describes him as "stalkery" whereas Nick prefers to think of himself as "unrequited or shy". They do end up together, but that's because his willingness to sacrifice his life for her makes Sarah realise he's a decent person.
  • Dollhouse is a complex example.
    • In the first season, Paul serves as a deconstruction of The Dulcinea Effect, so while he is trying to save Echo, his actions come across as obsessive and weird at times, especially as he ignored a (seemingly) healthier romantic partner in Mellie. Eventually, Paul and Echo get together.
    • Alpha gets a bit of this, too, with a lot less subtlety. He's Ax-Crazy and obsessed with Echo, but in The Finale he's apparently reformed, and it's hinted he still loves her (though he would rather see her happy with Paul). So he apparently did really love her, despite his earlier psychotic actions.
  • Family Matters. Urkel's behavior towards Laura, even though it's played for laughs and seen as annoying even at its worst. Though a handful of incidents—his locker combination being equivalent to her measurements, him asking for a lock of her hair—leave her genuinely creeped out, by the end of the series, they're together. The Double Standard comes into play here also—his behavior is considered romantic and endearing, but Myra and Myrtle' s identical behavior towards him and Eddie, respectively, is portrayed as the craziness it truly is.
  • Chuck Bass does a lot of stalking of Blair on Gossip Girl. Though sometimes he leaves it up to his PIs to do the actual legwork.
    "There's a fine line between surveillance and stalking."
    "Yeah, getting caught."
    • Dan ends up being Gossip Girl, running an intel scam that would make the Shadow Broker proud, all because he had the hots for Serena.
  • Heroes: West, toward Claire. He flew around outside her window (gee, can't imagine why). She is at first irritated but accepts him a little too easily. Then again, Claire has a lot of issues. And whether this is stalking in the romantic sense is debatable since he seemed to be doing this to find out if she has powers, not in order to see her naked.
  • Season 8 episode of How I Met Your Mother "PS: I Love You" explores this and Stalker with a Crush, and basically says the difference between being a stalker and being romantic is whether the stalkee is interested in the stalker.
  • Deconstructed on an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. When the detectives interview the business partner of a man they suspect of raping and murdering an assistant DA, she mentions that the man had sent her flowers the day after they met, presumably to entice her into going into business with him. Rather than seeing it as a sweet gesture, she admits that the fact that he knew her address scared the hell out of her.
  • In Oz, Ryan O'Reily gets his brother to murder Dr. Nathan's husband, forces kisses on her, kills her rapist to avenge her, and out-and-out stalks her. At first, Gloria isn't happy when she learns that Ryan had her husband killed, and initially suspects that O'Reily was the one who arranged for her to get raped after she rejected him. But after she learns Ryan had nothing to do with her rape and killed the guy who did attack her, her opinion of him starts to change. So it works (eventually), and she ends up falling in love with him. Though the show lampshades this as not being a very healthy relationship.
  • Mark from Peep Show goes to great lengths to win Sophie's heart during the first two seasons of the show. This includes hacking her personal email to keep tabs on their relationship, following her on dates and rushing up to the bus she's on to "bump into her". He eventually ends up marrying her, but they immediately file for divorce. He continues this type of behavior with Dobbie, even after she leaves him.
  • In Pushing Daisies Ned impersonates someone from a temp agency so he can get a job at the same place as his girlfriend Chuck. She says it's sweet. Emerson, watching them says "He's stalking you."
  • Displayed in the recurring Saturday Night Live skit "The Denise Show", in which a teenage boy obsesses over his ex-girlfriend and contrives ways to get her back. Despite the comedy setting, it's made clear that his behavior is wrong—his father yells at him about it, Denise herself repeatedly tells him to leave her alone, and another girlfriend dumps him because he can't get over her. By the final skit, he mentions that a restraining order has been filed against him.
  • Seinfeld: Elaine briefly dates an NBC executive. He becomes obsessed with her and refuses to take "No, I'm not interested in a relationship with you." for an answer and spends several episodes harassing her with constant phone calls. It gets bad enough that she won't even come to the taping of Jerry's show because she doesn't want to run into the guy.
  • Sex and the City: Big's behavior towards Carrie after he's married someone else—constantly calling her, lurking outside her apartment waiting for her to come home, then continuing to lurk waiting for her boyfriend to leave, showing up uninvited and unannounced and only leaving when she tells him her boyfriend is coming back, following her to the hotel where she's staying, following her into the elevator and grabbing and kissing her repeatedly, telling her, "I love you". Throughout all this, she repeatedly and explicitly tells him to leave her alone and during the kissing scene, repeatedly pushes him away and tells him "Fuck you" (in other words, "No"), before finally responding to his kisses. The next shot is of them in bed. The Double Standard is glaring—throughout their on-again, off-again relationship, any pursuing behavior of Carrie's was viewed as pitiful and worthy of ridicule and ended with her being dumped, whereas Big's harassment and essentially forcing himself on her is portrayed as sexy and romantic and results in him getting her back.
    • To a lesser extent with Steve and Miranda. From the moment their one-night stand is over, she makes it clear that this is all she wants. He responds by constantly calling her, showing up at her place—at one point, threatening to make a scene if she doesn't let him in—and overall, repeatedly ignoring her numerous requests that he leave her alone. This is never made out to be bad, despite Miranda's obvious annoyance with his persistence, just a case of the "Wild" guy trying to win over the "Uptight" woman and get her to let her defenses down.
  • Averted in Stargate SG-1, where the ascended Ancient Orlin falls in love with Samantha Carter on another planet and follows her home. Carter explicitly tells him he's stalking her and that what they have is not a "relationship". She eventually warms up to him (after he accepts her criticism and backs off) but never falls in love with him in return.
  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • Used with a twist regarding Stefan. He stalked Elena for a while after he saved her from the car crash that killed her parents, but this was for the quite sensible reason of wanting to find out if she was really his psychotic presumed-dead ex Katherine, and why exactly the two looked so similar. He didn't find out why, but was satisfied that Elena was a very different person, and realising he was starting to fall for her decided to stop the stalking and meet her properly.
    • Elena's younger brother Jeremy is seemingly stalked by Anna, as they constantly bump into each other. Jeremy jokes about this ("Well, I kinda miss my daily dose of cute stalker chick.") but ultimately seems charmed by it. It later turns out that Anna was only using Jeremy to save her mother, but later ends up Becoming the Mask.
  • Wings. Joe follows Helen to New York to stop her from accepting his proposal by proposing to her himself—breaking his promise to leave her alone and respect her plans to marry the other guy. He corners her in an elevator and refuses to accept her insistence that she doesn't love him and that a relationship between them won't work out, until indeed, she reciprocates his love and agrees to marry him.
  • Justified in the second season of You (2018). Joe, the stalking, murderous, panty-sniffing Villain Protagonist eventually has his stalker-tendencies revealed to his Love Interest Love... who turns out to be totally into that. However, it also turns out that not only has she known about his true nature for quite a while, but she manipulated their relationship in similar ways and even has a few murders under her belt as well. As it turns out, only a fellow stalker would find stalking romantic. Joe, however, is appalled by this revelation.

    Music 
  • "Stalker" by Goldfinger. Essentially, it's a guy that is being stalked by a woman he knows is totally insane (although nonviolent), but he falls in love with her anyway. In the last verse, she sends him a letter, saying that she's been arrested and sent to prison for going through his mail, and he's flattered that she says she'll keep tabs on him. It's Played for Laughs, though, and isn't half as creepy as some of the other examples on this list.
  • The music video for "Obsessed With You" by The Orion Experience plays this trope for laughs. The entire band constantly follows a girl around, the lead singers even get into bed with her. She eventually kicks them out, but gets lonely and invites them back in, happily singing along at the end of the video.
  • The music video for Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" features Jackson following some random woman around a city block, singing about how much he loves her, and performing lewd dance moves. Rather than being annoyed or creeped out by this behavior, the woman in question is amused and the video ends with them embracing.
  • Parodied and mercilessly lampooned in "Weird Al" Yankovic's Do I Creep You Out, in which the singer describes all the creepy things he's done in the name of "love", like digging the girl's gum out of the garbage can and carving her name into his leg with a knife. He gets arrested and sent to prison.
  • And for many people, the realisation that Every Breath You Take by The Police is not a conventional love song, but rather a declaration of intent by a stalker, came like the proverbial bucket of cold water in the face...
    Every breath you take, every move you make.... I'll be watching you...

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In TNA, Brittany stalked Samuel Shaw, who had repeatedly said he was not interested in her. She persisted though and eventually, he did fall in love with her.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Used in-universe in Mongrels episode "Nelson and the Human". While Neil's pursuit of a woman is clearly obsessive stalking, Nelson sees it as romantic and tries to come up with a scheme to get the two lovebirds together. In the end Neil shoots the woman and her boyfriend, then himself.

    Theatre 
  • In My Fair Lady, Freddy sends Eliza love letters every day and spends all his spare time hanging around in the street outside her house — at one point, she finds him out there at three in the morning. It's played for laughs, and Freddy is characterized as so ineffectual that he could never actually do anything, for good or ill. Eliza isn't especially impressed by his behavior, but she also isn't put off by it and seriously considers him as a possible marriage candidate.

    Video Games 
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, Elanee reveals that she was assigned by the druid circle of Merdelain to watch over your character, from birth (the story timeline was designed assuming a human character). Depending on your character's reaction, a male character can either play this trope straight or play it more realistically. In a variation, this seems to be a case of her falling in love with you while stalking, not stalking because of love.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the artificially intelligent computer, TEC-XX, expresses to Princess Peach (at the time, TEC's master's captive) that he has been overcome by strange feelings that compel him to continuously observe and eavesdrop on Peach. Peach's logical conclusion is that TEC is in love. Let's not forget that TEC first experienced these "strange feelings" when he observed her taking a shower.

    Web Comics 
  • Sam & Fuzzy has a strain of vampire, known as "Chronic Tragic Gothic Romanticism"-type, who all believe in this trope In-Universe and take to the knowledge that Vampirism does NOT make stalking attractive as though it's an Awful Truth. The trope itself, incidentally, is not in force for any of them: Most people find vampires incredibly annoying to deal with as a result.

    Web Original 
  • The Everything Wrong With series on CinemaSins has, among its many repeated jokes, that 'this movie suggests that stalking is an easy way to get girls to love you when I can personally vouch that this isn't true in real life'.
  • Liu Bei believes this in Farce of the Three Kingdoms when he's trying to recruit Zhuge Liang. It actually works.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Jane Foster doesn't seem to mind Thor following her around (although being from another time period and universe, Thor may not realize the Unfortunate Implications of doing so).
  • Played with in The Fairly OddParents!. Timmy casually references that Alpha Bitch Trixie has a restraining order against him but Timmy’s own disliked stalker Tootie is someone he considers creepy and Timmy has filed a restraining order against her. However, many episodes have Timmy come to the conclusion that Tootie is genuinely in love with him.
  • Marinette of Miraculous Ladybug is utterly obsessed with her friend Adrien, though it's mostly Played for Laughs. Her entire bedroom doubles as a Stalker Shrine, and she has a wall-sized copy of his schedule so she always knows where he is. In one episode, she gets jealous that he didn't come to a tree planting session with their friends, so she breaks into his house to see what he's doing. Every character who knows about this obsession, from her best friend Alya to a random fireman, encourages it and views it as sweet and quirky. For his part, Adrien is mostly unaware of the depths of her affection and doesn't return it, but when he does get a glimpse, he shrugs it off. It helps that nearly every teen girl in Paris is likewise obsessed with Adrien (he's a famous model), and Marinette at least treats him like a friend rather than an idol. It's less that the stalking is treated as romantic, and more like it's treated as a harmless comedic quirk, but it makes some viewers uncomfortable all the same.
  • Played with in Total Drama World Tour — Cody does not appreciate Sierra's torturous obsession with him for most of the season, but is generally touched when she remembers his birthday when not even he did. Finally having him return her affection seems to prompt her to tone herself down. Somewhat, at least. Funny, he had no problem with stalking Gwen. Then, when the roles get reversed, he's a bad guy...although to be fair, he left Gwen alone once he knew she was interested in someone else and only went after her again once she was unattached.

    Real Life 
  • Wal-Mart once sold a men's shirt with "Some call it stalking, I call it 'love'" printed on it. In a red font. That looked like dripping blood. Cute.
  • Gavin DeBecker's book The Gift of Fear discusses this trope at length, with many examples of how the media not only often portrays stalking in a romantic or humourous light, but the Double Standard that usually comes with it—when a man acts like this, it's romantic and he gets the girl he's been chasing. When a woman does, it's pathetic at best and dangerous at worst and she is always appropriately punished, whether it be being dumped, humiliated, or even killed.
  • An article on a study by a University of Michigan doctoral student shows that romantic movies and TV shows can indeed distort how the public views stalking.
  • Erotomania is a form of this, as discussed in the book I Know You Really Love Me. Typically the affected person believes that a secret admirer, usually a stranger, high-status individual, or celebrity, is sending secret signals of affection through significant glances or telepathy. The patient then returns this perceived affection with a flood of gifts and notes, believing that any denial of the relationship is a ploy to conceal their forbidden love from the rest of the world.

 
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Jack, Kyle and Lee

By the end of the band's Obsession Song about him, Lee admits that while it does scare him, he has never had anyone who cared so much about him, and the episode ends with Lee singing with them on stage about their friendship. Although JB takes pains to point out that he'll never be allowed to join the band.

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