A Subtrope of the Harem Genre, a Romantic Comedy with one male protagonist, one female Love Interest, and a bunch of female side characters who also happen to be in love with the protagonist (or at least like him very much).
In these stories, the bigger emphasis is usually on the "romantic" part of Romantic Comedy, with the relationship building between the main Official Couple, and the side characters are only there for the viewer to like them, and maybe as a Romantic False Lead, to keep some drama between the main characters.
Certain character types like the Hot Teacher or the Ojou are likely to be members of this, as a straight romantic story with them at the center often wouldn't work at all, or at least it would invite too many unusual plot points for a standard series. Not that it hasn't been done; the Little Sister Heroine was nearly always a hopeless minor haremette before Oreimo made it popular to put her in the lead or let her win.
A romantic story with a Tsundere is usually very likely to get into this trope, as the authors like to use some of the support girls for Romantic Runner-Up in the love story between the protagonist and the extremely jealous main girl.
One of the causes for this set-up might be if it is the adaptation of a Romance Game, where every girl got the focus of attention in her own route, but only one route got an adaptation. In fact, even in Dating Sims and romance Visual Novels, this trope can still occur if the game is clearly biased in favor of a specific love interest.
Contrast with Balanced Harem, where several girls have equal prominence during the story. See also Top Wife, a further evolution of this trope, where there's clearly one girl at the top but the protagonist still gets to Marry Them All.
- In Ah! My Goddess, there's never any question that Keiichi and Belldandy are the only canon OTP, but that doesn't stop Skuld, Urd, Peorth, and Mara from being Pretty Freeloaders.
- Ai Kora is this, as it seems clear that Sakurako is in the lead, with Yukari trying to make this a Love Triangle but not quite. Tsubame, Kirino and everyone else is just there to have one of Hachibei's beloved parts.
- Ai Yori Aoshi is clearly this, as the lead girl Aoi has already won within the first few episodes. It's just that she and the male lead Kaoru feel the need to keep their relationship a secret for various and pretty complicated reasons, so the rest of the harem doesn't know this.
- Subverted by Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka, of all things. The entire series makes Yuuhi the main haremette and it's clear she'll win... But at the end, the main choses his sister Minato instead. There were some hints of this, but it mostly came out of nowhere.
- In Brynhildr in the Darkness, there's no doubt Kuroha is the only girl Ryouta truly loves. It doesn't stop the other girls from trying, but it's clear they can't win against Kuroha.
- CLANNAD made it very obvious in the first scenes who was the main love interest, and the harem concept was entirely dropped during the first season anyways. In the original visual novel, the alternate routes can still be pursued, but only one of them gets a substantial follow-up in After Story.
- Also true in the other two pieces of the Key/Visual Arts season trilogy. In Kanon, Ayu is the main girl throughout and in almost every adaptation, as well as the only one who shows up in the other girls' routes to notice and endorse Yuuichi's new relationship. In AIR, Kano and Minagi are usually entirely hopeless in adaptations when they're not flat-out excised from the story.
- DearS, especially in the anime, is primarily focused on Takeya and Ren's budding relationship, though he also has Miu and Neneko chasing his affections. The manga, however, is somewhat more balanced. Takeya eventually gets to "make babies" with the entire DearS race.
- El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, in both OVA and anime continuities, gives Makoto a main Love Interest, but the details differ.
- In the OVA continuity, Makoto chooses Ifurita, but Shayla Shayla and Nanami both make plays for his affection, and Ifurita is Put on a Bus after the first OVA, though we see that Makoto will be reunited with her later. In the third OVA, The Alternative World, Makoto attracts a fourth love interest, Qawool, and the harem antics are played up significantly; while Shayla Shayla, Nanami and Qawool have yet to have a love confession from Makoto (at least he hasn't outright rejected or discouraged them), that doesn't stop them from trying to Tenchi things up (and it is even Ship Tease in the special episode-end credits for both Nanami and Shayla-Shayla in the 4th season that Makoto eventually gives in).
- In the TV series, Makoto's Love Interest is Princess Rune Venus (who isn't in his harem in the OVA), and while Shayla Shayla and Nanami are both hot for him, he's not interested. Ifurita is a much different character in this adaptation (an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain instead of a deadly serious Person of Mass Destruction), and is not a Love Interest at all.
- Fushigi Yuugi has a Gender Flipped version, with Tamahome as the lead, and the other Seishi as supporting members. Tamahome actually marries Miaka later, as a reincarnation by the name of Taka.
- Heaven's Lost Property: Ikaros is in the lead, but Tomoki still has Nymph, Sohara, Astraea and Chaos as candidates.
- Shirogane from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War does, by technicality, have a harem since there are at least three named girls interested in him. However, Kaguya is clearly the only one who has a chance with him, and not just because it's her name in the title. Of the other two, one of them is a hardcore Kaguya/Shirogane shipper, and the other has her feelings revealed less than a week in-universe before the Relationship Upgrade.
- In the anime of Kamigami no Asobi, Apollon is clearly the lead, though Takeru also has potential with Yui. Tsukito and Hades don't seem to be all that interested in her, and Loki and Balder have each other. It's half way between this and a Balanced Harem.
- Love Hina is a very good example of this. It was obvious by the end of the first manga volume that Naru was Keitaro's "Promise Girl" and not even the "complications" that came with Mutsumi (who also made a promise with Keitaro... and another with Naru...) and Kanako could put a dent in it. The author did try by having Naru be a couple of years younger than Keitaro (while not really a big deal by the time Keitaro moves into the Hinata Inn, it would have been a substantial age difference when they were pre-schoolers) and having her state flat-out that she wasn't the "Promise Girl" (using pretty much exactly that reasoning), but by that point Naru is clearly Keitaro's favorite regardless of whether she's Promise Girl or not. Turns out she actually is; she just doesn't remember it because she was so young, and Keitaro has retconned Promise Girl's age in his own mind since he was too young to remember it properly.
- The h-mangaka Mahiro Ootori specializes in these type of stories:
- My Harem in Another World has a Salary Man being sucked into a video game, where he accrues a harem consisting of a human maid, and over a dozen other women ranging from humanoid dragons, bunny-women, cat women, angels, succubi, shinigami, etc. At the very end, when he returns to his world, he becomes a successful publisher, and while the maid becomes his legal wife, since she becomes pregnant with their child, the other women happily take turns with him.
- In Slutty Elf Sisters Seeking a Husband, at the very end, the male protagonists, a human, ends up with a harem of four elf women, comprised of two sisters, a member of a neighboring tribe, and a middle aged matchmaker, as well as a human woman who had a crush on him. They decide that the eldest sister, since he met them fist when they were transported into his world, would be his legal wife, but the other women would be his concubines. When he says that he'll make them as happy for as long as he lives, the elf women respond that since elves live for so long that they sometimes end up becoming "magic trees," so the harem informs him that they'll just take a magic medicine that will shorten their lifespans to that of a human's so there's no worries of them far outliving him.
- In My Wife Started Experimenting, married couple reignites their marriage after his sister in law trained his wife to be more proactive in the bedroom, and at the very end, he ends up with a harem of five women, consisting of his wife, sister in-law, two foreign exchange students, and a coworker who's had a crush on him since they were in college.
- Another gender-inversion is Marmalade Boy, where from very early it's clear Yuu will win, no matter how much Ginta and the others try. At least they get their own girlfriends. It's also a straight example from Yuu's point of view. It's that kind of show.
- Medaka Box: Both Medaka and Zenkichi get a few admirers of their own; Medaka attracts the attention of Akune, Oudo, Kumagawa, and a few other enemies, as well as Zenkichi himself. Zenkichi gets his own best friend Shiranui as well as Emukae. Despite this, it's fairly clear that the primary relationship is between Medaka and Zenkichi.
- In My Bride is a Mermaid, it is very clear that the male lead Nagasumi only has eyes for his fiancée, Sun, despite some other females also harbor interest in him. Sun has her own admirers as well, but is extremely devoted to Nagasumi.
- In My Monster Secret, it's clear from the start that male lead Asahi only has feelings for female lead Youko, but their female friends still have feelings for him, with one adopting the attitude that she'd be okay being his "rebound girl" if things don't work out. This state of affairs doesn't really change even after Asahi and Youko's Relationship Upgrade, but none of the girls actively resort to trying to break up the relationship. Things get really complicated when Grandkids from the Future start showing up and referring to members of the supporting harem as "Grandma" or when a mysterious figure appears and claims that Asahi and Youko don't get married in the end.
- Nisekoi: The series is built around Raku and Chitoge going from fake lovers to truly falling in love with each other. Raku may have about 5 other girls vying for him, but only Onodera seems to actually have a chance against Chitoge. Even then, no matter how much he tries to deny it, Raku's preference for Chitoge becomes painfully obvious even to him.
- Ouran High School Host Club: Nearly every boy who knows Haruhi's a girl falls for her, but it's obvious she's going to end up with Tamaki, the host club president. Only one or two actively seek to win her over, and even for them it's more of a journey of character than anything. It's Lampshaded by Tamaki in one episode in which he famously (and unwisely) pegs himself and Haruhi as the romantic leads and the rest as the homosexual supporting cast.
- It's pretty clear from the start of Ranma ½ who is going to be Ranma's love interest. While Shampoo and Ukyo get screen time here and there, Akane is on screen almost as much as Ranma is, and he actually lives in her house. Akane also attracted affection from Ryoga, which she never notices, and by the manga's end he's found another girl he's begun to move onto. Both also have a number of suitors whose affections are outright rejected, including Kuno, Kodachi, and many one-shot antagonists. At the end of the series, Ranma inwardly declares his love for Akane and there is a Maybe Ever After ending.
- Rosario + Vampire has Moka as the only girl Tsukune clearly loves. The other girls try (with one of them aiming for a threesome with Moka and Tsukune), but there's nothing they can do. Until someone suggests he Marry Them All, that is. Other than the Official Couple, everyone thinks it's a great idea. At while point Moka tells them to know their place and knocks them all out with one kick. The manga gets the trope deconstructed with Kurumu refusing to give up her love for Tsukune even though she knows succubi can literally die from unrequited love, but it gets reconstructed because even though Tsukune only loves Moka romantically, he also cares a great deal for all his female friends and they care for him in return, while the girls also form genuine bonds of friendship with one another.
- Also subverted in Strawberry 100%; while Junpei does initially express feeling in Satsuki, Tsukasa, and Aya, it becomes clear that Aya is his primary love interest. In the end, he chooses Tsukasa instead. Fans weren't happy.
- Tales of Wedding Rings: Krystal got out of a magical Arranged Marriage by marrying her childhood friend Satou instead. The problem is that this means that Satou is now the Ring King, and must gather a harem of four more princesses so that he can gain enough power to defeat the Abyssal Lord. Satou explicitly tells the other princesses that Krystal is far and away number one; they are mostly fine with it, and just want the two idiots to hurry up and have sex so the rest of them can have their turns. After various delays, Krystal finally tells the other girls she's not going to insist on being first any more. She's still going to try to be first, but she's going to try to win on her own merits instead of just bashing her way through by enforcing First Girl Wins.
- Tenchi Universe is actually this in comparison to the original OVA series. While the OVA establishes that all the girls are attracted to Tenchi, and keeps his affections fairly balanced and ambiguous towards them, the TV show goes with a love triangle between Tenchi, Ryoko, and Ayeka, and also makes it pretty clear that Tenchi is leaning towards Ryoko, with the second movie making it official.
- Yona of the Dawn may qualify as a gender-swapped version of this, though its status as a reverse harem is arguable. Yona has Hak, Kija, Jae-ha, Tae-jun, and even possibly the series' antagonist, Su-won, all in love with her to varying extents. Despite this, Hak is pretty clearly pegged as the main love-interest from the very start. Ironically though, he actually spends a sizable chunk of the story as a Hopeless Suitor.
- Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs: As the series' title makes it obvious, Yuuna is the female lead and main love interest. Kogarashi cares about all the girls who love him, but Yuuna is the only one he consistently shows romantic feelings for. The final arc of the manga takes this to its logical extreme: it's revealed the entire reason why the supporting haremettes are even in the story is because Yuuna needed them to save Kogarashi from being killed like he was in the prophetic dreams she saw before her death. Yuuna was Kogarashi's destined lover before he was even born and he won't fall in love with any other woman unless Yuuna passes on to the afterlife. Once the other girls realize they were never a match against Yuuna, they immediately back down and Kogarashi marries Yuuna.
- Although there are other romantic possibilities open for exploration in Racer and the Geek, the focus on the relationship between Rainbow Dash and Sunny Breeze puts the alternatives firmly on the back burner. However, given the presence of polyamory being commonplace and the norm in the story, this appears to be changing in the latest chapters.
- Marriage of Heaven and Hell forgoes the Balanced Harem of High School D×D and focuses on what is initially a Love Triangle that eventually is resolved to a single love interest. The rest of the harem usually doesn't pursue Makoto and even helps him when he struggles to make a confession.
- Haruyuki from Accel World is very clearly in love with Kuroyukihime. Not only does she reciprocate his feelings, but she was the one to confess her love to him right from the start. The only reason they are not an Official Couple right off the bat is because Haruyuki has too many self-esteem issues to believe any girl could ever love him. While Haruyuki is often put into various situations with many other girls, the series never acts like anything will come of them.
- The Asterisk War: From early on, Ayato chooses Julis as the girl he loves and wants protect the most. He may have several other girls vying for his attention, but it's obvious none of them have a chance.
- Chivalry of a Failed Knight has Ikki and Stella getting together by the end of the first volume of the light novel and the first arc of the anime adaptation. The other girls still develop romantic feelings for Ikki, but, while he cares about them, the romance is one-sided.
- Cradle Series: Lindon has a more subtle harem than most. While almost every named female character is crushing on him at least a little, not much comes of it. It's implied that he was supposed to marry Jai Chen in the original timeline, Akura Mercy is mistaken for his girlfriend, and Akura Grace offers an Arranged Marriage to tie him to the clan. It's immediately clear that none of them have a chance compared to Yerin, the first girl he met from outside his clan. They spend basically all their time together, get notably antsy when they're apart, and several people assume they're already together. Even Grace's marriage proposal is largely treated as a last-ditch Hail Mary that she knew wouldn't work.
- In The Familiar of Zero, "Louise The Zero" is not just the title character and female protagonist, but also connected to the male protagonist Saito with a magical contract sealed by a kiss. It doesn't stop other girls from chasing after Saito, but the narrative never pretends they ever got a chance. Saito marries Louise at the end.
- The Irregular at Magic High School subtly balances on the verge of this and Will They or Won't They?, because although Miyuki is the only girl who has a full-fledged Ship Tease with Tatsuya and more romantic moments than all the other girls put together, she is his own sister and he sees in her only his little sister, although he is ready to try love her like a woman, when the plot creates suitable conditions. Moreover, she is literally the only person to whom Tatsuya is able to experience real emotions, which initially almost leaves no chance for other girls.
- Mayo Chiki! has Subaru as the clear lead girl. How clear? Even the other haremettes love her!
- With Nyaruko: Crawling with Love!, you know that Nyarko's the one who's going to win in the end — she's the title character, after all. Unfortunately for Mahiro that doesn't spare him the affections of Hasuta and later Cuuko. The "budding romance" part is also given a twist in that Nyarko tends to do things "three steps forward, two steps back", annoying Mahiro by being too goofy and clingy, but pulling him back from the brink at the last moment with honestly heartfelt expressions of love.
Nyarko: "Cthuko! Except for me, no one is a leading role! All evil gods are supporting roles! You and Hasta are both supporting roles!"
- Arguably lampshaded in one episode where Nyarko and Cuuko paraphrase Heero Yuy and Zechs Merquise while brawling:
Cuuko: "I still don't acknowledge myself as a supporting role."
- Kirito and Asuna of Sword Art Online actually get married in-game before the end of the first book, with them continuing to date in the real world. This doesn't prevent each subsequent arc from introducing more and more girls who fall for Kirito, who are presented as quiet tragedies, since they never had a shot with him in the first place; the customary outcome is for them to accept being friend-zoned and root for him and Asuna. Asuna also has other men interested in her, but most of those with names are her husband's friends.
- The Twilight Saga: Bella has Eric, Tyler, Mike, and Jacob all in love with her, but her One True Love is Edward. Not even Jacob giving her a Forceful Kiss in a later book could seriously challenge this.
- sweet pool: Tetsuo, Makoto, and Zenya are all interested in Youji and have endings with him, but Tetsuo gets the most development and backstory with Youji, four endings with him including the game's True End and all his endings manage to have at least a bittersweet tinge to them, whereas Makoto and Zenya each get only one ending with Youji that can't qualify as anything other than a Guro Horrific Ending by any reasonable standard.