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Strangled by the Red String

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Liu Kang: My heart belongs to another.
The Nostalgia Critic: Your heart belongs to another? Who? Kitana? That chick you've known for less than an hour? How does she own your heart? True, you just met this other woman, but give her a few minutes and you'll have known her just as long.

Deus ex Machina as the flop of a Romance Arc. "Amor ex Machina," if you will.

Not every Romance Arc gets the luxury of being played out fully to the last detail. Sometimes the writers decide that the important part is getting those two characters into a relationship, and the rest will somehow sort itself out. The result is that the two characters go through a leap of characterization all the way to a Relationship Upgrade without any of the usual in-betweens; apparently Cupid forgot to tie the Red String of Fate on the lovers' pinkies at birth, and in a desperate attempt to save face he ended up garroting them with it in a back alley while he thought the audience wasn't paying attention.

Possibly the two characters have had little to no interaction prior to their sudden onset of romantic involvement, or they had, and even plenty, but it was never romantic in nature, and seems to have spontaneously transformed into such without any apparent reason. In more borderline cases, this can happen even when the two characters have shown interest in each other, in some form or another; it's the placement, pacing, and timing that are off. An audience tends to know the kind of emotional process a person goes through when entering a romantic relationship, and will not be happy past a certain line of too little of this process and too much conveniently dramatic payoff. This goes double if it sinks a pairing that is better built-up; expect that to quickly become a Fan-Preferred Couple.

Remember, Tropes Are Tools: By itself, a relationship that doesn't get painstakingly detailed development is not automatically bad, and like any other plot development, there are cases where it just needs to be done with and make place for more important things. Sadly, the case is often the opposite — the romance is the important thing, and, in spite of that, the author just didn't figure the "how it comes to happen" part was very important. The subsequent lack of "volume" in the Romance Arc, in turn, begs for compensation: having characters fall for each other out of nowhere can make any romance come across as a Token Romance, and hence what often happens is that the writers start firing every possible drama cannon so as to impress upon the viewers that this is important and they should care. The characters don't merely start dating nor just fall in Love at First Sight; they are thrown into a state of immense amorous passion, starry-eyed, Intertwined Fingers, kissing passionately, and promising each other an eternity of happiness simply Because Destiny Says So.

Characters may be derailed, and competing love interests particularly so; Narmy moments and Relationship Sue transformations may become a frequent sighting; chemistry and interaction are prone to be reduced to the Sickeningly Sweethearts sort if there was any to begin with. In more degenerate cases, the relationship may undergo a malignant mutation into a Romantic Plot Tumor, taking the focus off the more important aspects of the story. Cue one part of the audience sighing happily, since those two were obviously made for each other, and it's about time, while the other part of the audience scratches their heads in bewilderment and disdain, since this "development" just asked for too much Willing Suspension of Disbelief and feels suspiciously like the writers just pulled it straight out of their hindquarters- especially if it sunk a more popular and well-developed ship in the process. Arguments may break out regarding how well-foreshadowed and well-handled the whole thing was.

A Last-Minute Hookup can result in this, or serve as damage control. The potential problems are all still there, but at least they're not going to grow out of control throughout the rest of the plot since there's no rest of the plot left. Still, this can make unexpected sequels rather awkward, even assuming that the audience can stomach the original strangulation. If the work is an adaption, it may be an Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole. The couple may have evolved over time at the original work, and the adaption may rush things into the romance, because it's one of the key aspects of the original work and has to be included, no matter what.

May be caused by The Dulcinea Effect. For when the build-up takes place before the series, see New Old Flame. When this happens to minor characters and is less noticeable, it's a case of Pair the Spares. Can crop up when the writers want to quickly counteract Ho Yay, Incest Subtext, or Platonic Writing, Romantic Reading. Often results in an Audience Reaction version of I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me or What Does She See in Him?. Compare Ships That Pass in the Night for fanon couples like this. Compare and contrast Designated Love Interest.

Note: While some of the examples are universally agreed upon, this Audience Reaction can get very subjective due to Ship-to-Ship Combat, Shipping Goggles, or plain disagreements. Keep a few points in mind when editing:

  1. Refrain from using this to whine about a pairing that you personally don't like.
  2. If you add an example, be sure to explain why you feel the couple fits. Make sure it fulfills both requirements; it fits the description of ways development can be "off" and leads to at least one of the consequences listed above.
  3. If you feel a certain pairing is badly handled, that doesn't mean it's a case of this. If the pairing took a long time to build up and execute, it does not belong here, no matter how badly written the actual romance is. That's more likely a Romantic Plot Tumor.
  4. Most importantly, a couple falling into this does not automatically mean they are a bad couple, so there is no need to go ballistic and start an Edit War if you see your favorite couple on here. A couple can elicit this reaction and still be a very great couple, just like a Deus ex Machina does not automatically make a plot twist bad.

Has absolutely nothing to do with The Red Stapler or String-on-Finger Reminder. If someone literally uses a red string on someone else to make them fall in love with them, it's a Love Potion.

This trope can bring in a major twist or event, so beware of unmarked spoilers!

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    Asian Animation 
  • In the Simple Samosa episode "Spa Wars", Samosa's gang tries to stop a rivalry between two spas. Their efforts lead to Appa, one of the dueling spamasters, trying to grab his spa equipment remote from Jalebi's sticky head when the other spamaster, Amma, sees what's happening. Appa quickly explains that the whole reason he built his spa so close to hers is that he had been searching the whole world for her and wanted to be with her, leading to the two quickly becoming Sickeningly Sweethearts and get married. The official Simple Samosa website's character bios, which were released before the episode did, actually do make mention of them as "long-lost lovers", but there's still nothing in the episode itself that so much as implies a possible romantic relationship between them. In-universe, even Samosa's gang themselves are surprised the moment Amma calls Appa "Jinjilu."
    Samosa: [does a Jaw Drop with an Overly-Long Tongue] "Jinjilu?!"
    Dhokla: Oh, I can't believe this!
    Jalebi: Samosa, put your tongue back in your mouth.

    Comic Strips 
  • 9 Chickweed Lane: Gran/Edna's flashback arc ends with a subversion: She chooses to stay with Bill (whom she hadn't seen in over a decade and only days earlier thought was dead), rather than Peter Kiesl, whom she was days away from marrying at that point. This is portrayed as a massive mistake by all parties, Edna for choosing to honor a promise made a decade ago rather than stay with her true love, Peter for letting said love go without a fight (then spending half a century pining for her), and Bill for accepting her choice —even after they find out she's pregnant with Peter's child — rather than send her back to the man she truly loved.
  • Elizabeth and Anthony in For Better or for Worse. It was bad enough that Elizabeth dumped two other boyfriends that she had better chemistry with for Anthony. It was worse that Anthony was still married when they got together for good. It was even worse when Anthony's ex-wife was villiainized as a horrible woman for daring to avert Stay in the Kitchen and suspecting that Anthony was cheating on her (Even though he was, and even though he promised he'd be a House Husband when he convinced Therese to get pregnant, then went back on his word.) What probably puts it in this trope the most is how everyone talked up this pairing, from Elizabeth's parents to their mutual friends to the author, with the only person with reservations being The Un-Favourite of Elizabeth's family. And don't even mention the "going after" if you want to avoid a Flame War.

    Fan Works 
  • The Gossip Girl story An Affair to Remember. It follows Nate and Jenny's storyline from season, but rather than develop it for a season as the show did, Nate is suddenly in love with Jenny to the point where Jenny is confused by it.
  • In Angel of the Bat, protagonist Cassandra Cain is only shown to be with her girlfriend Sadie (who had only had a few scenes beforehand) in the epilogue. Word Of God is it's still early in their relationship and it's just puppy love, which works... Until the story's second epilogue which shows them getting engaged two years offscreen later. The writer admitted its canon status was sketchy and he mostly just wanted to celebrate the ban on same-sex marriage being unconstitutional. Despite all that, a later fic in the same universe does depict them happily married without much said about how they got there.
  • The Dread String of Fate AU plays this literally: Marinette's Red String of Fate that ties her to Adrien is wrapped around her neck, causing her to literally choke up around him.
  • In The Elements of Friendship, one common complaint is that Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash's romance came out of nowhere. This got an Author's Saving Throw where it's stated they got together quickly when NightMare Moon's reign started, and they decide to cancel their wedding.
  • Happens in the Inheritance Cycle fanfic From the darkest of Shadow, a Light is born between the main protagonist and Elva. They go from just meeting each other for the first time in 11 years in one chapter to attending a party together in the next, before then diving full into a relationship in the same chapter as the party. The relationship equally quickly took a turn for the worse with a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, quickly followed by the male protagonist. The use of a Time Skip means there's 9 years of living together between the first reunion and the time when the relationship became romantic, and 12 years between the start of the relationship and the lovers' spat.
  • In Knowledge is Power Harry and Hermione have a soul bond that comes with dire consequences for anyone who messes with it, but aside from that we're not shown why they're so good for each other.
  • The Last Prayer: Naruto's relationships with most of his future wives are built up fairly organically over time. Most. Despite being a future wife, Tenten disappears from the story for roughly twenty chapters, leading many readers to forget she's even present, and is only in the harem because she's ordered to be. Meanwhile, Hinata makes functionally zero progress with Naruto even after she learns he's getting married. It's not until she learns he's marrying several women and is already in a relationship with at least two that she admits her feelings, at which point Naruto not only immediately reciprocates but insists that he'd abandon all the other women he loves if she wants him tonote . Notably, latecomers like Samui and Mei saw more development in only a few chapters than Hinata or Tenten saw in over thirty.
  • The Pokémon fic The Longest Road attempts to be a retelling of the original series, albeit tweaked to make Ash and Misty into the Official Couple. The author has Ash and Misty fall in love with each other within the span of about two months of real time, and from then on, they just become Sickeningly Sweethearts, as the story can't stop rubbing in the readers' faces how much they gush about each other.
  • Lightning Dawn and Starla Shine from My Brave Pony: Starfleet Magic, who fall in love immediately for no reason besides that the main character needs a love interest. Ditto for Rhymey and Fluttershy, and The Grand Ruler and Princess Celestia.
  • My Immortal is not seen as a bastion of compelling romantic writing, and as a result, ends up very prone to this. The largest is the Love Triangle at the story's center: Ebony gets involved with Draco and Vampire Potter almost immediately after about two conversations with either and spends the rest of it pining for them, going on dates with them, having sex with them, and struggling to choose between them for no apparent reason other than them being hot goffick boys that she loves having sex with. Not much better is when she time-travels back to meet Tom Riddle, whom she immediately hooks up with for very little reason (and while skating over the above Love Triangle).
  • Link and Jenna's relationship in My Inner Life. Indeed the first words out of Link in the entire story are him calling Jenna beautiful and he asks her out on a date immediately after. Aside from some sex and a few mentions of being sad about Jenna having to leave there is absolutely nothing else between the two between their first date and Link proposing to her. Though the story frequently harps on how perfect the pair are for each other, there's pretty much no actual examples of why they are.
  • Pretty much all the couples in The Prayer Warriors. Perhaps the most notable is Jerry and Mary, who are introduced as a couple like this. ("We are not dating, in case you Satanic scum think there is something Satanic going on. We are dating, but...") Worse, the author apparently forgets who's paired with whom from time to time. For example, late in Battle with the Witches, Draco and Ebonynote  get married and consummate their relationship, but by the end, three chapters later, Draco is abruptly married to Hermione.
  • In this Sherlock Holmes and The Sentinel crossover, Holmes is a Sentinel, a type of human with superior strength and enhanced senses that needs to "bond" with an empathic Guide, such as Watson, to survive for any extended length of time, or else the sensory overload will drive him mad. While most of the time, a bonded pair knows each other for a while before they actually bond, there are instances where spontaneous bonds occur, such as theirs.
  • Sara and any one of her love interests in Supper Smash Bros: Mishonh From God. As noted by reviewers, she has more chemistry with her female co-leads than any of the below characters (which is odd, since she's a proud homophobe).
    • In the first story, she immediately hooks up with Marth upon meeting him, dumps him with little to no mourning after he performs a Face–Heel Turn, promptly starts dating Link, then starts dating Cloud after Link dies (and she outright admits that the only reason she dated Link was because he's a guy and she's straight), then Cloud performs a Face–Heel Turn and Link comes Back from the Dead for her to date again, and finally Marth performs a Heel–Face Turn and she dates him again (Link is perfectly okay with this because Zelda is presented to him as an alternate option).
    • In the sequel, Sara promptly forgets about all of them and takes Shulk's offer to become his queen if he wins the next election for the king of England (don't ask). This offer is made when they've known each other for a minute, tops. Unlike the above examples, she sticks with him for the rest of the story.
    • Early on in the third story, Sara and Shulk end up breaking up because Shulk joined the Faith Militant from Game of Thrones. Sara briefly angsts that no one will know she's straight if she doesn't have a boyfriend before happily taking Roy as her new lover when he volunteers himself. Again, they stick with each other for the rest of the story (or at least, until she finally accepts that she's a lesbian and hooks up with Haley).
    • In the reboot, Male!Corrin declares his love for Sara at one point, but it's only used to prove that he's not the Antifa Dragon (It Makes Sense in Context. Maybe.) and promptly forgotten about. Sara instead hooks up with Joker after he rescues her from the villain's lair, even though they've only known each other for a few hours and Sara knows absolutely nothing about his home series or the character himself.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Adventures of the American Rabbit: Rob and Bunny hook up at the end, mostly because he's the hero and she's the only girl.
  • Beauty and the Beast (Golden 1999): The romance in this film, while already pretty shady, is portrayed horribly. The Beast just yells at Beauty and barely shows any signs of changing his monstrous behavior, especially considering that he selfishly let a whole village die when they came to him for help.
  • The Dalmatians: Tuepfelchen spends most of the first movie putting down Kruemel, even flat out saying at the end that she didn't like him. Despite this, they decide to start a family together. The crow narrator even lampshades it at the beginning.
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • This is the case with earlier movies, particularly ones like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. It can be chalked up to Disney trying to keep to the source material, which in those cases were mostly fairy tales meant to teach morality and not build a believable love story. Later movies fix this, by giving the couples more interaction and personalities beyond "She's the girl of my dreams!". Even in The Little Mermaid the relationship of Ariel and Eric, occurred between two people who did not know each other for more than three days, and she couldn't even speak at first, yet after those three days, they're already getting married.
    • Simba and Nala from The Lion King (1994), to some. When they find each other as adults they goof around for a little bit and fall in love within a night.
    • A number of fans perceive Anna and Kristoff's relationship in Frozen as such. They do have a fair bit of interaction, but none of them, aside from the "Fixer Upper" song, can be perceived as Ship Tease without some serious Shipping Goggles, especially since Anna was still engaged with Hans throughout those scenes, and didn't even realize that Kristoff has feelings for her until Olaf pointed it out in the finale. On the other hand, it's arguable that's the point. Her attraction to Hans was also classically contrived, and we saw how that ended up. As of the end of the film, Anna and Kristoff are merely dating, and they're actually taking their time to see where it goes. Of course, that doesn't stop "Frozen Fever" and other works from treating their relationship as fait accompli.
    • Fix-It Felix and Sgt Calhoun from Wreck-It Ralph. The film presents Felix and Calhoun's relationship as thus: they meet (and Felix comments on Calhoun's high definition), they have a Slapstick routine that ends with them gazing into each others' eyes (and are shipped by the Laffy Taffy), Felix calls Calhoun a dynamite gal (which doesn't end well), they share The Big Damn Kiss, and they get married in the epilogue (presumably after a year or so has passed offscreen). That's it. Apparently, Word Of God admits they paired the two together because they found it cute/funny (and because it was hard to work out Felix's odd proportions without a realistic reference), so it could be intentional, in addition to the fact that Ralph and Vanellope's stories were the central focus of the movie. The removal of several Hero's Duty scenes from an earlier scrapped plot meant less screen time for them, which resulted in a few confirmed Felix and Calhoun interactions (and likely Calhoun's formal introduction as well) being omitted.
    • Chicken Little at one point features a scene where the eponymous character suddenly decides to tell Abby Mallard that he always thought she was "extremely attractive" (despite her being a blatant gonk) and gives her a kiss, much to her delight. While Abby's shown hints of having a crush on Chicken Little, accidentally calling him "cute" early on, there was no hint that he reciprocated her feelings. Even afterwards, they have exactly one other romantic interaction near the end of the film where they accidentally touch hands while both reaching for the same bucket of popcorn.
    • Encanto: Mariano and Dolores. He spends 90% percent of his screentime mooning over her cousin Isabela, and through the first half of the film, they are basically engaged-to-be-engaged. We have no idea Dolores is even attracted to him until he shows up at the house to propose to Isabela, where Dolores sings that her psychic uncle told her the man she loved would be engaged to another. Even after that, and after it’s revealed Isabela doesn’t really love him, they have no direct interaction with each other throughout the whole movie until literally five minutes before the credits role, where she confesses she loves him, and he returns her love immediately. Justified as in the main focus of the film was Mirabel saving the miracle and uncovering family secrets. Plus, Mariano did have some time to get over Isabela not loving him during the rebuilding of Casita, which must have taken a few months at the longest, given how they were halfway done when Dolores confessed. In Dolores' defense, when Mariano asks her to marry him, she tells him to slow down.
    • Dinosaur: Aladar and Neera's chemistry isn't established much despite being an Official Couple in the end.
    • Home on the Range: Maggie and Bob. Considering she's openly disgusted by the bulls in every earlier encounter, it comes out of nowhere.
  • DreamWorks Animation:
    • The relationship between Oscar and Angie in Shark Tale starts out one-sided on the latter's part, with Oscar not noticing Angie's feelings — and indeed, not even caring about her well-being in general for most of the film. Fast forward to the film's climax, he suddenly does care about Angie in a romantic light and the two share a kiss, as if the writers felt it was mandatory for them to become a couple.
    • Hiccup and Astrid's relationship in How to Train Your Dragon can be seen as this. In the beginning, it is established that Hiccup has a crush on her, but Astrid spends the first half of the movie either completely ignoring Hiccup or being extremely rude to him, and right before meeting Toothless, she is about to beat him up. Then they go on a ride on Toothless' back and apparently that was all it took for Astrid to realize she likes him back. Although they are confirmed to be a couple in How to Train Your Dragon 2, they don't properly confess their love until How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which does spend most of its arc developing their relationship and ends on their marriage.
    • The Trolls franchise had a variant pertaining to Branch and Poppy, who are treated like a couple in the first movie after "True Colors" despite there only being one indication of any feelings between them beforehand (Branch telling Bridget to compliment Gristle's smile while looking at Poppy). There's some very mild Foreshadowing when it's shown that Branch has kept all of Poppy's party invitations over the years, but this can just as easily be taken as a desire for all the social life he cannot enjoy and not outright for Poppy's love. In general, the opinion that the movie would work better under the interpretation that they remained as platonic partners was interestingly popular at the time. The franchise after the first movie rectifies this trope, still treating Poppy and Branch as close friends and Trolls World Tour addressing how they truly feel for each other, rendering the "love confession" in "True Colors" completely platonic... until the ending, when they finally become an official couple. Fittingly, the time of the movie's release coincided with the overall opinion shifting to total shipping support between the two.
    • Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas: To a degree. Marina goes from disliking Sinbad to realizing he's her true love after just a few days. Also, Sinbad once had a Love at First Sight with Marina and still loves her after what's approximately 10-15 years later, despite never having known her.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Golden Films): Quasimodo and Melody barely known each other and then they're singing a song about love, and even more, they get married a few days after having met.
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Jetlag Animation): While Quasimodo's love for Esmeralda was clear, there was no unambiguous clue that Esmeralda was into Quasimodo, so their romance seems rushed.
  • In the rather forgettable The Invincible Iron Man, the romance between Tony and Li Mei suffers from this. Tony and Li Mei are supposed to be madly in love in spite of the fact they never have an actual conversation or ever really have any time together.
  • The Iron Giant: Some feel this way about Dean and Annie hooking up at the end, because other than the connection through Hogarth, there's never really anything romantic between the two throughout the movie. This in particular plays a huge part as to why an unfinished coffee house scene with Dean and Annie was worked into the 2015 Signature Edition as it better establishes why the two would eventually become a couple.
  • Isle of Dogs: Tracy suddenly develops a crush on Atari partway into the film despite not actually having met him, and it barely results in anything other than a brief moment of just-as-abrupt reciprocation in the film's climax.
  • In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, new character Rose Wilson has a crush on Martian Manhunter. The Martian inadvertently discovers they're "attuned" when he accidentally reads her thoughts (something he'd never do by accident with a non-attuned person). He then Mind Melds with her so that they can get to know each other instantly and fall completely in love. Martians apparently have no need to date.
  • Justice League: War: Wonder Woman and Superman falling in love can basically be summed up by Wonder Woman seeing him in action, saying he is strong, flirting for one second with him, and then the two acting more or less as if they are in a relationship for the rest of the movie.
  • Alva and Jesper's relationship in Klaus (2019) has been cited as one of the film's few flaws. In only their second interaction together, Mogens claims that they're in love despite their argument being nothing but vitriol, as if their being a man and a woman who interact instantly means they're a couple. While they spend more time and build chemistry later, the film's insistence makes it feel rather clumsy.
  • The Legend of Su-Ling: Chen and Su-Ling spend very little time establishing any real chemistry with each other. Literally all that happens between them is a misunderstanding when Chen tries to make up for losing the net full of fish and then they suddenly sing a romantic song together.
  • A Monster in Paris: Lucille and Raoul. Raoul's feelings for her are easily seen throughout the movie, but the final scene where Lucille says she's always loved him seems to come out of nowhere. Many fans feel that it was only added in to shoot down the potential for Francœur×Lucille to be canon due to the Squick their relationship would imply.
  • Playmobil: The Movie: Rex Dasher is supposedly Marla's Love Interest, however they don't share a lot of scenes clarifying that. And even if they did, Rex is a toy while Marla is a real person.
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure: Babette and the Captain. The Captain falls in love with Babette at first sight and kidnaps her while Babette never shows any sign of returning his feelings and even rebukes him for his actions when she takes over his ship. When the toys are all brought back to the nursery, the Captain once again proclaims his love for Babette and she suddenly reciprocates.
  • Robots: The movie ends with Rodney and Cappy as a couple despite there hardly being anything beforehand that shows these two developing feelings for one another. The most egregious part being the moment where Bigweld assumes that Rodney is Cappy's boyfriend despite there being no romantic interest in one another beforehand, yet they just go along with it afterwards.
  • The Secret of the Hunchback: Esmeralda and Pierre have only known each other for about a day, yet by the second night they're singing about how much they love each other.
  • The Secret of Mulan: While Mulan has known the Prince for a while, he's only been aware that she's a woman for a few minutes before calling her beautiful and wanting to marry her.
  • Strange Magic:
    • While the romance between Marianne and the Bog King happens in a course of a few hours, they are shown to be well suited for each other: they have Belligerent Sexual Tension right from the start, share a distaste for sugary, romantic displays, and bond over their respective heartbreaks. Of course, YMMV on how it works out.
    • Marianne's sister Dawn is broken out of the effects of a Love Potion when she she realizes she loves Sunny, even though she's showed no interest in him at all the entire film except as a friend.
  • The Swan Princess clearly tried to avoid this, but didn't quite know how. Odette and Derek are being pushed to marry from childhood, but grow up being Friendly Enemies at best. Then they suddenly fall in love as adults upon seeing how good-looking the other is. The movie tries to deconstruct this part—Odette actually calls off the engagement when Derek can't think of anything to compliment but her beauty—but once she gets captured by Rothbart the two act like they're engaged again, their conflict forgotten except for a throwaway line at the very end of the movie.
    • Some viewers have theorised that the pair actually did grow to like each other and were in denial over their feelings until they both grew up. Despite allegedly hating each other, they actually make an effort to spend time together (in particular Odette), some of their passive-aggressive behaviour could be interpreted as Belligerent Sexual Tension, Derek gets annoyed that she's flirting with castle guards (jealousy, perhaps?) and Brom outright tells teenage Derek that he thinks he likes her really. Of course, the film doesn't really explain this clearly so the aforementioned scene of them falling deeply in love upon sight comes across as a bit jarring.
  • Thumbelina has a definite example of this trope with respect to the main character and her love interest Prince Cornelius. They only spent one night together flying around in the starlit sky and singing about how much they loved each other. This is made even more poignant when you take into account that the night they did all that was the night they met for the very first time. To be fair, Thumbelina can be excused because she was literally born as a teenager and complains to her mother about how there's nobody else her size and daydreams about meeting someone like the prince in her fairy tales, so it's not unbelievable that Thumbelina would be instantly attracted to the first ever person she's met who is compatible with her. Given some throwaway dialogue from Cornelius's parents and how hard he tries to find her over the course of the movie, it seems like fast, intense courtship is common for fairies. Also, she and Cornelius at least spent some time together, whereas in the original story, Thumbelina didn't meet the fairy prince until the end.
  • Done painfully in both Titanic: The Legend Goes On and The Legend of the Titanic. The former involves the hero and heroine deciding they were made for each other... after sharing about three sentences. It becomes hilarious when we're shown flashbacks to their meetings... one of which was accidentally bumping into each other. The latter plays this even worse, as the heroine's love interest realizes they are meant to be after sniffing her glove.
    • In the epilogue of the former, the wicked stepsisters (Gertrude's daughters) have married Kirk and Dirk. Not only did the pairs have no relationship prior to this, but they never actually interacted at all. It's clearly meant as some sort of punishment, as if the prospect of dying lonely and alone because you're a douche isn't enough of a punishment.
    • In the latter, Connors and Stella only share one or two scenes of any meaningful interaction yet still end up getting hitched.

  • "Sk8er Boi" by Avril Lavigne. The song opens with the lines, "He was a boy. She was a girl. Can I make it any more obvious?" According to the song, the girl actually wanted to date the boy but rejected him because of judgment from her friends who "had a problem with his bad clothes"; for rejecting someone she actually liked just because of the shallow judgment of her friends, the girl is treated like an idiot by the narrator.
  • The American Celtic-Rock band Tempest has a number of songs that go this way, either because they're folk songs that have been set to a rock beat or because they're written in the style of such songs. For example, "The Journeyman" is about a journeyman tinker who stops in a town and within three days the mayor's daughter has declared her love for him. They promptly get married and set off for life together against the protestations of her parents.

    Pro Wrestling 

  • Survival of the Fittest v4 pre-game has the "relationship" with Jonathan Jarocki and Anna Chase, which seemingly came out of nowhere when they took each other to prom and started dating afterwards. Most of their scenes were kind of awkward, despite the fact that both of them had rather dark interests. This wasn't helped by the fact that one of them (Jonathan) has actually been confirmed to be a self-insert, bringing No Yay into the picture. A lot of handlers expressed disgust at the pairing, which led to this being fixed once v4 actually started by the two of them having an Offscreen Break Up.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Invoked in Changeling: The Lost; one of the more powerful breeds of Hobgoblins is a race known as the Crimson Weavers, faeries of the Moirae breed who appear as diminutive ancient Asian women and men with strands of red string dangling from their fingers. As their name implies, they are born from the aspect of Fate that gives rise to the Red String of Fate, and they have both the power to connect others with that self-same Red String and the drive to do so. The thing is, this being the World of Darkness, they are not infallible and, indeed, often tend to completely screw things up by forcing people to be together, just because they "looked so right" through their permanent Shipping Goggles. Thus leading to the trope in question... sometimes literally; couples arranged by Crimson Weavers have been known to end in suicide and/or murder, or complete insanity. Crimson Weavers never take responsibility, see themselves as responsible or consider it their fault; they merely gave each person a guaranteed soul mate, it's the people involved who refused to accept that.


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  • Gilbert and Sullivan are quite fond of these, mostly involving the chorus at the finale, but not always:
    • Played for laughs in The Pirates of Penzance, with Frederick and Mabel's ridiculously quick romance. Not quite Love at First Sight, but still. Also, the daughters and pirates pair up.
    • Ruddigore frequently ends with the newly-revived ghosts marrying the chorus of bridesmaids. Never mind that they never interacted, and most of the ghosts have been dead for centuries, it's more important to give everyone a wedding!
    • The Sorcerer takes the cake, though, as it's due to the Love Potion that everything happens.
    • Averted in Iolanthe. Although everyone gets married at the end, the Fairies have had the hots for the Peers all the way through Act II, the Queen is dotty about Private Willis and finally doesn't have to deny it anymore, the Chancellor gets his long-lost wife back and Strephon and Phyllis are able to be together after all. So for once absolutely every pairing is justified.

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  • In Les Misérables, Marius and Cosette fall in love having only seen each other once, for a few seconds, in the street. The next time they meet they're declaring undying love for each other (A Heart Full Of Love), much to the despair of poor Eponine who's fancied Marius for ages. This is made worse by the Adaptation Distillation: in the book, they know each other for much longer before either shows any romantic inclination.
  • Measure for Measure is (or could be, depending on how it's read) a particularly bad example of this: Duke Vincentio proposes to Isabella at the end even though they've known each other for about two days and the entire plot revolved around Isabella not wanting to give up her chastity and monastic life. Of course, she never explicitly says yes, so a director can play this any way he wants. This is one of the many clues that make people think this play is problematic on purpose — that Shakespeare was trying to make his viewers uncomfortable. It's technically a comedy (it has a wedding at the end), but it's a damn squicky and creepy comedy.
  • Romeo and Juliet is the Trope Codifier and possibly the Trope Maker. While it's considered one of Shakespeare's best plays as well as one of the greatest written works ever, let's face it; the title characters are the textbook definition of this. They fall in Love at First Sight and are immediately making out at the Capulets' party. Okay, not so bad. However, Romeo goes from wangsting over breaking up with Rosaline earlier that afternoon to being engaged to marry Juliet later that night, and Juliet is so in love with him that she's willing to fake her own death to keep from marrying Paris. Lampshaded by Friar Lawrence when he says "Young men's love lies not in their hearts but in their eyes." A popular interpretation is that part of the tragedy is these two kids mistaking their shallow youthful lust for true love and that the adults who should be helping them realize that are too preoccupied with their own petty, immature squabbling, ultimately leading to the two's deaths. The poem on which Romeo and Juliet is based, Arthur Brooke's "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet," had its action occurring over the course of nine months—Shakespeare cut it down to five days. Brooke's poem isn't very good, but at least it has a believable timeline for falling in love.
  • The Tempest might be even worse about this, with Ferdinand and Miranda. They declare their undying love for one another a full act before they even know each other's names, and never give any real justification besides Beauty Equals Goodness. It's even more obvious when Prospero is suspicious of Ferdinand and tests his love, but a few more proclamations of love and devotion later (none of which go much deeper than "but I really really love her"), and he pronounces them a perfect couple.

    Web Comics 
  • Alfie: Alfie/Ozge comes more or less out of nowhere, and is nearly immediately ruined by Alfie being Alfie.
  • The first half of Aoi House seems to build up to a will-they-or-won't-they tension between Alex and Elle, only to throw it out in favor of pairing him with fan-favorite Morgan in the second half, despite Morgan's crush being infantile at best and Alex ignoring her for most of the series.
  • El Goonish Shive has a pretty clear example in Ashley and Elliot. It takes 11 strips (here to here) to go from introducing each other to asking each other out. The next time we see them together, they're on a date that has an entire storyline dedicated to it, and after the third date, Elliot claims to love her. In the commentary of this strip, Dan explains that Tedd and Grace also fall into this category and that he wishes he had made the start of their romance more gradual. He explains that he had always hated "Will they or won't they?" plots and that he was going to be different, but that he may have ended up going too far in the other direction.
  • Girl Genius: Zeetha and Higgs' relationship. The Mechanicsburg story line lasted over six years so their romance had a decent amount of time to develop, but in-universe they had only known each other for less than a day before they declared their love for one another. Slightly subverted after the time skip where they are still just dating. All of the proper bonding after the initial "head over heels" phase presumably happened off screen.
  • How I Became Yours: All three of the couples, though Aang and Toph suffer slightly less than the other two (likely due to a lack of face time and over the top drama).
  • Played with in Homestuck: John and Vriska have known each other for all of six hours before she starts developing a crush on him. However, after a year's Time Skip, someone brings up the subject to John again... and he proceeds to go over all the problems that commonly accompany this trope, and concludes that ultimately, they'd have to know each other far longer before it could really mean anything. Indeed, during the Time Skip, Vriska dated an alternate version of John for a while, but since they were both dead, they had infinite time to get to know each other. And then their relationship fizzled out anyway.
  • Rhonda and Quinn in Kevin & Kell. Quinn literally showed up for a single storyline, as a threat to Lindesfarne because she was in an arranged marriage with him that she couldn't get out of. So, even though a storyline had passed very recently that revealed that Rhonda and Edgar had completely patched up their relationship problems and Edgar was now a good, attentive boyfriend willing to humiliate himself for Rhonda, for the convenience of the Lindesfarne plot, he suddenly underwent Aesop Amnesia and snapped back to nothing ever changing. This gave Rhonda an excuse to dump him and marry Quinn, as the story told us they'd been having an online relationship for years (this was the first time it ever came up). Also, the comic conveniently ignores that for all of Edgar's flaws, Rhonda was basically cheating on him the entire time they dated. The storyline was also used to put Rhonda on a bus with a massive whimper. While Rhonda made a cameo or two at Lindesfarne's wedding, Quinn the plot device didn't show up until the next Rhonda-centric storyline about whether to take a job at Herd Thinners or Kell's startup company.
  • Las Lindas:
    • SoulKat apparently decided that Miles and Rachael needed to be shoved together as soon as possible, with little other than ID holding him back from doing it within a few pages. The part with Miles showing Rachael his junked plane, with Rachael reacting inexplicably well to Miles calling her pet names and sharing his responsibility-dodging dreams with her, was the toned down version—the original, according to ID, was filled with juvenile flirting and completely unsubtle double-entendres from both characters. As Rachael has previously given every indication of absolutely despising guys like Miles, and as Miles has not shown a single sign of miraculously becoming the type of man she'd want to spend her life with, this trope is in full effect as she's steadily Flanderized into a stereotypical Tsundere to facilitate their pairing. On the forum, despite Chalo himself saying all that's changed is Rachael just hates Miles a tiny bit less, she's begun adopting his arrogant, myopic worldview that she's previously explicitly stated she hates, while he goes on about how close they are and how much time they spend together and refers to her as "[his] girl".
    • Randal and Taffy. They barely know anything about each other, rarely interacted with each other at all before this, and still end up deeply in love, holding hands while gazing into each other's eyes, and passionately smooching after one date, in a scene so overblown and rushed that it feels like a parody of the classic Disney formula. The entire thing makes it seem like it was done solely to get people to stop questioning Randal's sexuality ASAP, and it doesn't help that SoulKat has more than once expressed a desire for people to stop viewing Randal as so much as feminine and shown immense disgust and hatred for a number of fan-favourite same-gender pairings and those who like them.
    • Tootsie has frequently shown to have romantic inclinations towards her boss Alejandra, but those feelings haven't been reciprocated until very recently. What makes this ship highly improbable is the fact that Alejandra has never shown any hints/indications of being bisexual, in the closet, or even curious throughout the series up until that moment. The only time that she has ever been shown to have these sort of tendencies were in the dubiously-canonical & fanservice-heavy ask blog and in commissioned art pieces.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Zonoya's Revenge: Rapture's feelings for Zonoya come out of nowhere in the second chapter, whereas in the previous chapter he was acting like a typical minion.
  • Lore Olympus: The first sixty chapters take place over course of about five days. Despite this short time frame, everyone in the comic takes Hades and Persephone's mutual attraction for one another as a sign that they want to get married or that they're lusting heavily for each other. It's Hades himself who is the first person to acknowledge that his attraction to Persephone is mostly superficial at the moment.
  • Almost immediately after Gabby from Namir Deiter realizes she's over her longtime crush on the main character (a straight girl), she's seduced by her never-before-seen academic partner Jacinda, and they're joined at the hip from then on. The relationship later falls apart and Gabby hooks up with Joan, a New Old Flame.
    • In the Spin-Offspring sequel, Nicole and Derek, in her first storyline focus, we find out Cerise (cousin to title character Derek) is deeply in love with someone. She runs out to meet them clandestinely, and we find out it's Daisy, another now-grown-up character from ND. We also find out that Twix, Cerise's father, Does Not Approve of the relationship, though we're not told why at the time.
  • Questionable Content:
    • Marten and Claire's Relationship Upgrade can come across as this, with Marten and Claire not having much organic time together, resulting in feelings that the relationship was done just to appease people, while featuring some particularly saccharine dialogue that comes across as cheesy. On top of that, barely a dozen strips later, Faye and Angus have broken up as Angus is about to move to pursue his dream of acting. Given the timing, it's hard not to conclude that one relationship forced the other one right out of the plot.
    • Faye and Bubbles, despite hundreds of strips developing their relationship, felt more mandated than organic to some readers. Their relationship for a significant amount of time was purely platonic, and Faye had fairly firmly established herself to be heterosexual. Their transition from good friends to bed-breaking sex occurred in just a few ships. While later strips had Faye confronting past decisions and personality traits that may have been signaling that she was bisexual, it can come out of left field. It didn't help that it was preceded by other characters pushing the ship, including a psych major and Faye's sister overtly trying to push Faye into the relationship, while Faye was oblivious to the subtext and talked about a friend she valued and wanted to help get past trauma.
    • Clinton and Elliot. Somehow they went from both crushing on an oblivious Brun to becoming boyfriends. While Elliot was established as bisexual, Clinton was not. Much like Evie trying to force Faye to see Bubbles in a romantic light, Claire did something similar, which may have people thinking Clinton was coerced into a relationship.
  • In Red String, Makoto never really gives any reason why he is so obsessed with dating Miharu. The only time we are given insight to this is that he fell in love with her photograph before ever meeting her and the rest of the comic is him basically refusing to leave her alone. Miharu basically falls for him because the story implies she's supposed to, then never really spends any time on developing them as a couple. It's just Makoto doing things like freaking out about losing her and making all her decisions for her and Miharu apologizing to him when he instigates conflicts. Yet even Miharu, after a whole four months of dating him, feels they're in a "serious" relationship in spite of them doing nothing more significant as a couple than sexting and feeling each other up. The comic ends literally with Makoto quitting his job to date Miharu full time and then after she declares she truly loves him the most, he immediately proposes marriage, which she accepts. The marriage proposal? Originally, it was just the words "Well?" The author got so much flack for how awful this dialog was that she stealth rewrote it, but it still doesn't consist of an actual proposal...and at no point in the entire comic, not even during his marriage proposal, does he ever tell Miharu "I love you."
  • In Sailor Moon Cosmos Arc, despite Chibiusa and Helios never even meeting in this timeline (thanks to a Temporal Paradox), Usagi, Mamoru, and the other senshi are convinced that they will eventually get together. It seems even fate is determined that they'll get together, as Helios still has his connection to Chibiusa and Chibiusa eventually gets her memories of her past time-traveling incarnation. Ultimately, after Usagi ascends to godhood as Sailor Cosmos, Mamoru abdicates his claim to the throne to take Helios's place as priest of Elysian so Helios could go to Chibiusa's side, though Helios notes that he's not sure if that's what either of them wants. It's left open-ended whether they get together or not.
  • Sinfest: Monique and Absinthe. The two are supposed to be seen as a cute, happy couple, but some readers feel that the two didn't receive enough buildup or focus before getting together. Another criticism contends that they don't really have much chemistry as a couple and only exist as a pairing to serve as a counterpoint to Monique's old relationship with Slick. Not helped by this strip, in which the two are praised by their fans online... and anyone who doesn't like their hooking up is represented by Devil Slick/Sleaze, who mocks them and demands "Old 'Nique" back.
  • Pretty much every couple in Sonichu. It's made worse by the fact that Chris-Chan considers the romance to be the best part of the comic. This is perhaps enforced to ensure that none of them get into a Ho Yay ship.
    • Punchy is hinted to have a crush on Angelica. Then he ends up with Layla Flaaffy.
    • Meanwhile Reginald Sneasel (another Self-insert of Chris thanks to Him being trapped in the time void) tries to get hooked up with Layla, only to end up with Angelica.
      • Both of the above examples are quickly snuffed out in Issue #11, when Reginald evolves thanks to a razor claw, making him more violent, and Punchy brings home a "Bananasaurus" that mooches off of him and Layla, causing the latter to become enraged at Punchy and break up with him. Afterwards, Layla finds Reginald on the street and immediately shacks up with him, despite no chemistry between them whatsoever having been seen before.
    • Bubbles is with Blake. They hide their relationship for no clear reason.
    • When Reldnahc is about to be cured of his homosexuality, there is talk of him getting back together with Kel. There is no mention of this in earlier chapters.
    • This is especially true of any of comic!Chris's girlfriends. The most drastic example is Ivy, who is introduced mere pages before God Himself contacts her and tells her Chris is her true love, which she immediately accepts despite having never met Chris at that point. Then the next mention of her is her death, rendering the strangling pointless.
    • Magi-Chan simply announces in Issue #10 that he will fall in love with Silvana. It seemed to serve no purpose other than shutting down the common interpretation of him as Ambiguously Gay — if so, it didn't work, considering that Silvana is intersex.
  • Suicide Boy: After spending most of their screentime together with Hooni afraid of Harim and then spending at best two occasions calmly together which were quickly overshadowed by him getting scared again after Minseon beats up both of them, Hooni suddenly comes to the realization Harim likes him and that he likes her back in less than five pages.
  • Kyle and the Annihilator of The Young Protectors. Before the comic even progressed past the prologue, the two are all but professing their undying love for each other with Kyle insisting that he wants to have his first-ever sexual experience with the world's most notorious supervillain and has absolutely no doubts about it (in spite of being terrified for years of even masturbating due to his fire-based powers being fueled by emotion, which includes orgasm), and said notorious supervillain declaring that he wants to reform himself for Kyle even though he's never had any second thoughts about his supervillain career before. Before this, they had a single kiss in a back alley and a single dinner date. Add to that Kyle being only seventeen years old and the Annihilator being fifty-eight years old, something that doesn't give either of them more than the slightest hesitation... which was entirely the point. The comic, up through half of the second chapter, was busy invoking, subverting and exploiting all things Love at First Sight, particularly of the standard Boys' Love variety. Kyle, being a lonely, closeted seventeen-year-old with self-enforced celibacy, lacks much experience with adult life and any with romance, leaving him extremely susceptible to seduction from the resident Manipulative Bastard, who abandons him the moment he gets what he wants.

    Web Original 
  • There's a subgenre of Porn with Plot called "Naked in School". It combines sexual shenanigans with a side order of Character Development by positing a world where characters have to attend high school nude for a week because reasonsnote . The Extremely Short Timespan makes this trope tempting, and some stories have fallen for it; one of the worst examples involves two people meeting each other for the first time on Monday and declaring True Love by day's end.
  • The Neopets Lost Desert plot was about a cursed prince named Jazan whose only hope of breaking the spell on him was to marry a princess of Sakhmet. When Princess Amira refused, he planned to force her into marriage. Meanwhile, two thieves named Tomos and Nabile learned Jazan's backstory. The latter was especially moved and wanted to help save him from his curse. Nabile voiced her disapproval at the wedding, and as it turned out, at that moment it was discovered that she was, in fact, a descendant of an exiled princess. Having just met, Nabile and Jazan instantly fell in love and were married minutes later.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Suddenly Soulmates, The Love That All Of A Sudden, Ass Pull Romance


Frank and Lucy

While Lucy gives Frank the verbal slap he needs to get out of his BSOD, Nostalgia Critic interrupts to bring up how rushed the relationship is given how not only had they been on only two dates, but that Lucy just had her husband's funeral just a day or two ago.

How well does it match the trope?

4.56 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / StrangledByTheRedString

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