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Sweet on Polly Oliver

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"That young man fills me with hope. And some other emotions that are weird and... deeply confusing."

No matter how flawless the Sweet Polly Oliver's disguise at fooling her male peers, there is some primordial part of a man's brain that sees through the disguise even though he consciously doesn't... and is also attracted to their new drinking buddy.

For the unwitting male admirer, this can be very confusing and distressing. Perhaps it must be Sweet Polly Oliver's suspiciously feminine features that turn him on the same way an attractive woman does, but he doesn't know why, and if they're not too bright might say, "Have I met you before?" (Which they have, only as a woman.) This is especially true for The Casanova, whose refined "babe-dar" can detect estrogen even when the eyes can't.

Expect the poor lech to have a lot of sexual confusion about his "feelings" for "another guy", and be incredibly relieved when she stops masquerading. Polly Oliver, if not oblivious to her effects, will (depending on the jerkiness of her admirer) feel guilty or gleeful. If she would normally pursue this guy romantically, she may reveal the ruse to mixed relief and feelings of betrayal.

It's rare for the man to actually be gay or bi in this situation and he will heave a huge sigh of relief upon learning that his love interest was actually a woman. He will likely take the opportunity to mention he is heterosexual today.

Compare Attractive Bent-Gender and Unsettling Gender-Reveal (for when finding out the love interest's actual gender makes them the wrong orientation). A subtrope of Gender Reveal. Compare If It's You, It's Okay and Closet Key if the person of their affections helped them discover their orientation and that first person may no longer care about the genders or the disguise, they just want the person they love. If the person crushes on said Polly Oliver whilst already taken, it may or may not result in a Bisexual Love Triangle.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In ½ Prince Gui falls in love with Prince, Feng Lan's male avatar in a game world that doesn't usually allow Cross Players. In a slight subversion, he just rolls with the idea that he might be gay and declares that he'll love Prince no matter what sort of person 'he' is in real life.
  • Upon Sou's and Mashiro's first meeting in After School Nightmare Sou thinks of Mashiro as a cute girl — despite Mashiro's act as a normal man. Sou is, however, not troubled by his attraction to Mashiro. Of course, Mashiro is not necessarily a man nor a woman.
  • Agent Aika: A Blue Delmo named Valerie decides to disguise herself as a man named Pierre Valimore to seduce Aika and lure her into a trap. Aika actually falls for it, and she's naturally not happy afterwards.
  • Despite the appearances, it happens only once in Classi9. Both Tchaikovsky and Salieri like Rentarou, but Tchaikovsky doesn't care about her gender much and is only interested in her weakness, whereas Salieri really is puzzled by the effect Ren's smile has on his heart and tries to fight them at first.
  • Doctor Slump played with this trope in an episode of the original anime. Where Arale and her friends go to Water Strider Island to rescue Chin Tiku Lin, Tsukutsun's old friend, Akane becomes jealous thinking that there was something between them, and she gets even more angry when she sees that Chin Tiku Lin doesn't want to shake her hand. In the end, it is revealed that Chin Tiku Lin is actually a boy, only that he dresses as a girl because his father raised him as one because he wanted to have a girl, and the reason he didn't shake hands with Akane is that he suffers from the same problem as Tsukutsun and transforms into a dragon every time a girl touches him.
  • While he's not sweet on her, Gintoki's, um, trusty radar knew that Kyuubei was really a woman in Gintama.
  • Chiharu Eniwa of Girl Got Game finds himself feeling something for Kyo Aizawa, a girl who is cross-dressing as a boy in order to join the school's famous boy's basketball team. While he doesn't outright question his sexuality, he does freak out over how cute he finds "him."
  • Subverted in Girls Saurus, where the entire student body of the boys' school Tsubasa goes to is attracted to him because they think he's really a girl masquerading as a boy. Later, a lesbian completely falls for him... even though she actually knows he's really a guy.
  • Kodaka in Haganai has to keep reminding himself that Yukimura is a boy every time he thinks that he's cute. Coupled with Kodaka's increasingly obvious Selective Obliviousness, this results in him expressing more attraction to Yukimura than the girls in the club who are all generally more important. Upon the reveal, his first reaction is actually irritating at Rika for some gibberish she told Yukimura that kept making her believe she was a boy when she wasn't.
  • In Hatsukoi Zombie, resident ladykiller Koigaura falls in love with Ibusuki and develops his own Zombie for "him" despite not knowing anything about Ibusuki. While initially dealt with a tinge of drama in the subplot's introductory chapter, it's played for laughs later.
  • Inverted and combined with Hot for Teacher in I My Me! Strawberry Eggs. Student Fuko is sweet on Wholesome Crossdresser Hibiki-sensei.
  • In Hana-Kimi, Nakatsu feels conflicted because he thinks he is falling in love with Mizuki, but he also believes that Mizuki is a boy. Unfortunately for him, when Mizuki is finally revealed as a girl, Nakatsu finds himself in the loser side of the Love Triangle. Some would argue that he was always on the loser side of the triangle. Nanba, the ladies' man Dorm RA, on the other hand, proclaims that he knew he was right about Mizuki being a girl all along because his ladies radar never lies.
  • Inverted, sort of, in HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. Tsubomi was quite smitten towards Itsuki before learning about "his" real nature.
  • Inverted in the anime adaption of Karin, where a flashback shows Ren thinking this was the case with his roommate, based on how he felt attracted to him. It turns out the guy was really a guy, and Ren was just reacting to his stress. At least that's what we're told.
  • In the historical manga Kaze Hikaru, the main character Sei (disguised as a male samurai) has a large number of men chase after her with varying degrees of seriousness. In an interesting twist, most of them don't sense she's a girl; they are unrepentantly chasing after 'him' in the hope of a homosexual relationship, following the historical samurai tradition of homosexuality. Early on in the manga, one of the men enamored with her almost discovers her gender — by way of Attempted Rape.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1999): It's implied that Link is attracted to Sheik. He even gets flustered at one point from staring at him for too long. Sheik is actually his childhood crush Princess Zelda in disguise.
  • Subaru Konoe from Mayo Chiki!.
  • In the hentai Midnight Panther, the Big Bad King Bad murdered his parents the king and queen in the backstory because he found out he was adopted, meaning his younger brother Lukish would get the throne instead of him. When Lukish saw him, he freaked out and fell off the castle's roof and into a river. King Bad was distraught because he had always been fond of his little brother. Very fond, to the point that years later he can't get it up because he keeps thinking of Lukish. He starts laughing maniacally when he wonders if this means he's not straight. As it turns out, Lukish was actually a girl raised as a boy all along. She also survived the fall and was rescued by the old lady who is in charge of the titular group of assassins.
  • Inverted in Mint na Bokura, where the hero Noel, posing as a girl, befriends Sasa, a boy who usually doesn't get along with girls at all... and thus believes that his feelings of friendship for Noeru mean that he's in love with "her". Noel reveals his secret in an extreme way after Sasa takes him by surprise and kisses him.
  • In Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation, while Rudeus is suffering from impotence, he's baffled when he feels a stirring in response to Fitts. He eventually susses out Fitts is a girl, though the reveal that she's Sylphy and sweet on him takes longer.
  • A lesbian version in My-Otome when it's hinted that Shizuru feels something for "Prince Takumi"; but since she's not into guys she (correctly) suspects he's actually his female bodyguard posing as him.
  • In one of the chapters of Nononono one of Nonomiya classmates has a rather vivid dream with her visiting him in his room, after waking up he is greatly disturbed by a realization that he just had a wet dream about someone he considers "a perfect male specimen".
  • Ouran High School Host Club's Haruhi is mistaken for a boy by the Host Club in episode one and is recruited as their newest member. Even before she's revealed to be female, their leader Tamaki shows signs of having begun to fall for her, enough so to make one of the few unpleasant girls at the host club get jealous of her. The rest of the girls that visit the club all continue obliviously fangirling over Haruhi.
    • Kasanoda gets hit hard with this in his intro episode, as he's confused as to why this "guy" is so femininely pretty and why he feels so attracted to her. He finds out the truth rather quicklynote , but chooses to keep playing along with the Polly Oliver routine because he thinks she's in trouble with the Host Club and is being blackmailednote . Predictably, everyone who finds out about Kasanoda's feelings for "him" assume he's gay.
  • It takes a bit of prodding from a Trickster Mentor before Penguin Revolution's Yuzuru Narazaki recognizes his attraction to Yukari Fujimaru for what it is. Once he does, he decides that If It's You, It's Okay and confesses his feelings to "Yutaka," still completely oblivious to the fact that Fujimaru isn't actually male.
  • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire:
    • Inverted in the episode "The Ribbon Cup Caper". Brock is able to identify a man (specifically, the master thief Brodie) dressed as Officer Jenny because, despite the disguise being flawless, he isn't attracted to "her."
    • Another episode from the Advanced season, however, had him fall in love with a girl...who was actually Ash cross-dressing as her as part of a ploy. Ironically, the previous time Ash had been forced to cross-dress, Brock wasn't attracted to "her".
  • Ranma ½ references this trope in one storyline that occurs shortly after Wholesome Crossdresser Ukyō joins the series as Ranma's final Arranged Marriage. As part of her "masquerade" as a boy, Ukyō attended an all-boys junior high school. There, she came to the attention of another Wholesome Crossdresser, a boy named Tsubasa Kurenai... who promptly declared he was in love with Ukyō and harassed her in pursuit of a relationship. Until the storyline in question, she had no idea that Tsubasa had actually seen through her disguise and believed him to be the homosexual version of this trope, attracted to "his" Bishōnen looks. Akane and Ranma, meanwhile, believed a straighter version of this trope — that Tsubasa was a girl who had fallen for Ukyō under the mistaken belief that the Bifauxnen was actually a guy.
  • In The Rose of Versailles the female main character is disguised as a boy to be a bodyguard of the princess. Her fellow bodyguard develops a crush on her and gets rather confused.
  • There's an example with Nagisa in Urusei Yatsura. He looks just like a girl, but Ataru and Mendo actually get suspicious by the fact that they, despite going after everything in a skirt, aren't attracted to "her". Ataru instantly realizes Ryuunosuke's real gender as well and goes after "him" along with all the girls.

    Comic Books 
  • The Bluecoats: Captain Stark falls in love with a Battleaxe Nurse named Bertha who rules with an iron fist over her squad of nurses to ensure the soldiers coming in for treatment are actually wounded and not looking to flirt. When said nurse is discovered to be a soldier (named Burke), the nurse reveals that Stark asked "her" to marry him... and threatens to say yes if the general sends Burke back to the frontline.
  • Marvel 1602 has a rather interesting subversion with a Love Triangle involving the Expys of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, and Angel. Jean is posing as a boy to avoid rousing suspicion about Javier's school (no such thing as officially educating girls in the real 1602 England, much less co-ed schools), and is romantically involved with Scott. When she tries befriending newcomer Inquisition-escapee Angel, Scott becomes jealous, figuring that Angel like everyone else knows she's really a young woman. (He gets gigantic-size hints, but fails to parse them.) Eventually, Scott discovers he didn't, and apologizes for being such a jerk about his mistaken territoriality... and Angel responds, "You were not wrong. I saw a boy... but I believe I was in love with that boy."
  • The Punisher MAX: In the Barracuda miniseries, the South American druglord Leopoldo Luna falls hard for Barracuda's obviously crossdressing associate Fifty, not noticing his gender even after they have sex. He's also a raging homophobe with issues (if his girlfriend claiming she has to dress up like Che Guevara to arouse him is true), to the point where the Internal Reveal that he had sex with a man causes him to jump out of a helicopter.
  • Varmints: A Pinkerton Agent falls for Derrick Stafford, who's disguised as a woman, because he looks like said Pinkerton Agent's old flame.
  • Happens in an issue of Weird War Tales with an officer in a POW camp during the American Civil War being extremely relieved to learn that the "drummer boy" he was attracted to was actually a girl. And then the zombies show up...

    Fan Works 
  • Danny Phantom: Lost Episodes Series: In "Gender Defender", Danny is transformed into a girl by the story's villain Misa Andry. Danny's female form, "Danika Fenton", is a total Dude Magnet that gets a lot of attention from boys, including resident Jerk Jock Dash Baxter, who usually bullies Danny in the canon series.
  • In Only Hope, Harry goes missing during a Death Eater attack and Dumbledore has Harry's secret twin sister pretend to be him. After a while, Ron falls in love with her.
  • Played with in The Rigel Black Chronicles.
    • Subverted with Arcturus Black and Hermione; Archie pretends to be his cousin, Harriett Potter, while away at school, but rather than conceal his gender, he just goes by "Harry" and tells people that the school records had a mix-up; his public claim to be male is perfectly true. However, Hermione does a bit more digging and finds out that Harriett Potter was definitely born female and lives as a female when at home. Rather than reveal the deception and put the real Harry in danger, he covers by telling Hermione that he identifies as male. Hermione is supportive of his choice, but left very confused about her own attraction to him.
    • Played straight with Draco Malfoy being attracted to "Rigel". (On the other hand, the population crisis and existence of suitable fertility potions has made the Wizarding world quite open-minded about same-gender relationships.)
  • Sanctuary (The Legend of Zelda) is a oneshot where Malon falls for a mysterious traveler named Sheik. Sheik turns out to be Princess Zelda in disguise. In this case, Malon learned that Sheik was a woman in disguise (but not her identity) the night they met. She still felt infatuated with Sheik nevertheless.
  • Surface Tension:
    • In a rare f/f variant, the Zelda one-shot Surface Tension revolves around Sheik and Ruto traveling through a water dungeon together after the former rescues the latter. They end up with a good chunk of Unresolved Sexual Tension, but Ruto is unaware that Sheik is really Zelda. Zelda ultimately reveals it later on. Ruto doesn't have any issue with being in love with Zelda, stating that "Sheik" was just a costume and being in love with a woman isn't any odder than a Zora loving a Hylian.
    • Zelda implies that Link fell in love with Sheik.
  • In the Zelda fanfic The Weekly Hyrule News, this happens between Link and Sheik. Played with in that Link realizes he wasn't sweet on Sheik/Zelda because he picked up on her real gender subconsciously, but because he's bisexual. Incidentally, it's well-written.
  • Some Mulan fanfics have used this trope with Shang and "Ping" since the film avoided it.
  • The Bet, a SasuSaku fanfic by Blade Redwind is the epitome of this trope, questioning-his-sexuality and all.
  • A Very Potter Musical subverts this in the sequel when Dumbledore is only attracted to Umbridge because he thinks she's a man in drag.
  • A Thing of Vikings subverts? Inverts? Zig-zags? this with Heidrun and Snotlout. She's a Sweet Polly Oliver, and actually becomes attracted to Snotlout before he does to her, but he's bisexual so he would have been attracted to her even if she really was a man. And then they both become part of a four-way Polyamorous relationship.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Mulan, we have Captain Shang, who grows close with young soldier Fa Ping, an awkward klutz who eventually Took a Level in Badass and earns everyone's respect and friendship. When he finds out that "Ping" is in fact a girl (namely Mulan), he is of course shocked, particularly because during those times, a girl joining the army is a crime punishable by death. Fortunately, Mulan has saved his life earlier and he repays the debt to her by merely abandoning her. When she manages to save the day a second time, Captain Shang's feelings for her become obvious to everyone except perhaps himself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Plot point in Brand Upon the Brain!. The young hero falls in love with Wendy. Wendy however is after the hero's sister. She disappears and returns as Chance, a teenage boy. The hero instantly develops a 'boy crush' on this stranger.
  • Played with in Hussar Ballad. Lieutenant Rzhevsky considers the main character, Shura, to be a close friend, yet very quickly develops feelings for her after her real gender is revealed.
  • In Just One of the Guys, Sandy finds boy-Terry much to her liking.
  • The Mexican film Los Rivales is based around this. There is also a minor character who is a man disguised as a woman; since "she" is an heiress, a local landowner sends his two dimwitted sons to court "her". (Because "she" makes a rather homely woman, each of the boys talks about what a great guy his brother is.)
  • The live-action movie version of The Rose of Versailles shows Fersen being extremely relieved at discovering that Lady Oscar is, indeed, a lady — and admitting that "I was beginning to wonder about myself."
  • The entire plot of She's the Man, seeing as it's a modern update of Twelfth Night.
  • A rare bisexual version happens in Sorority Boys, where three frat boys dress in drag to infiltrate a rival sorority. The sorority's president falls in love with one of them as a woman and is extremely upset when the ruse is up. However, she's more bothered by the trickery than the fact that he's a man, and they get back together in the end.
  • Victor/Victoria plays it differently than the usual Gayngst of this trope. Marchand (the guy) is initially repulsed by the idea of having a relationship with another man but eventually decides that it doesn't matter. He tells Victor he doesn't care if Victor is a man and kisses him. Victor then reveals herself to be a woman. Marchand says he still doesn't care and kisses her again. While it's true that he's happier to be with a woman, there's no sense of extreme relief when he finds out because he loves Victor/Victoria as a person either way.
  • Yentl: After the heroine reveals her, ahem, "self" to her love interest, he bitches her out for a while, and then reveals the following to her:
    "I didn't want to touch you. I didn't know why. I thought there was something wrong with me. I loved you...
  • Happens in the Hong Kong film Hes The Woman Shes The Man, with Leslie Cheung playing a record producer looking for new male talent and ending up falling for a girl who got an audition disguised as a boy.
  • In the Israeli cult film Kuni Leml in Cairo, the eponymous Kuni Leml, a Hasidic rabbi, finds himself attracted for a fake distant relative by marriage named Yona, and is very disturbed by the idea, prompting an Imagine Spot with a song about not knowing himself anymore. When he discovers the truth, he is relieved, saying, 'Oh, so I'm OK!' This remark somehow goes without comment.
  • Trick or Treats: While Malcolm, still in his nurse disguise, is walking down the street, he gains the attention of a guy who starts asking him out. He even offers Malcolm his bottle of alcohol, which Malcolm just takes and runs.

  • Played with in Pamela Kaufman's historical novels, in which Richard Coeur de Lion (who may well have been gay in real life) falls for the disguised heroine because he thinks she's a boy. Strangely, actually having sex with her does not disabuse him of this notion.
  • In Lev AC Rosen's All Men of Genius, complete with awkward kiss and blackmail. As the feeling is mutual, this averts the Second Law of Gender-Bending. But as another woman has a crush on Polly, too, you still get an Unsettling Gender-Reveal.
  • In Ann Pratchett's Bel Canto, a group of young paramilitaries take a bunch of hostages, and over the weeks, relationships form between the two groups. Interpreter Gen is attracted to one of the paramilitaries, a pretty young boy. The boy turns out to be a girl. Gen is relieved.
  • In Soman Chainani's The School for Good and Evil, in the second book of the series, A World Without Princes, Sophie takes a potion to disguise herself as a boy, "Filip", to infiltrate the boys-only School for Boys. Tedros, under the impression that Sophie is a boy, falls for and kisses "Filip".
  • Poor Jamie Fletcher, the teenage ship's boy in L.A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series, beats himself up mentally for quite a while thinking that he is inappropriately attracted to fellow shipmate Jack (actually Sweet Polly Oliver Jacky). Luckily, she likes him too and eventually reveals herself to him.

  • That's a big part of the plot in João Guimarães Rosa's The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, a classic of Brazilian literature.
  • Discworld:
    • From Jingo, "One of the minor laws of the narrative universe is that any homely featured man who has, for some reason, to disguise himself as a woman will apparently become attractive to some otherwise perfectly sane men with, as the ancient scrolls say, hilarious results. In this case, the laws were fighting against the fact of Corporal Nobby Nobbs, and gave up."
    • Twisted all over the place in Monstrous Regiment, where everyone is a Sweet Polly Oliver (except the rather feminine commanding officer, of course). The Prince of Zlobenia tries to hit on Polly, who's a woman pretending to be a man dressed up as a woman and gets a Groin Attack for it. It only gets better. Late in the novel, the squad has to infiltrate a castle dressed as serving girls. The only one who can convincingly pass for a woman is the male captain. Many of the castle guards find him to be a very pretty lady.
  • A rare example of a disguised man in one of the Judge Dee stories by Robert van Gulik: a young woman came to the judge, asking for advice because she'd lately found herself strangely attracted to another girl living close to her. As it happened, Judge Dee already knew that "the other girl" was actually a young man who'd gone undercover to investigate the suspicious death of his sister — and the young man had admitted to the judge that he was quite attracted to the girl who was now (needlessly) worrying that she might be a lesbian.
  • Théophile Gautier's 1835 novel Mademoiselle de Maupin is probably the first work to spell out this situation and use it as a major part of the story. The book itself is loosely based on the life of 17th-century swordswoman and opera singer Julie d'Aubigny, who didn't disguise her sex, but did dress in men's clothing to put on fighting exhibitions and engage in duels, and enjoyed affairs with both male and female lovers.
  • In Mary Stewart's The Merlin Trilogy's The Last Enchantment, Merlin is puzzled by his attraction to his new boy apprentice, Ninian, who turns out to be a girl, Niniane.
  • Subverted in the historical novel Patience and Sarah. Sarah decides to go westward from her home in Connecticut. She pretends to be a man named "Sam" (though almost everyone takes her for a boy) and befriends a traveler dubbed "Parson". The two travel together but eventually Parson admits his attraction to Sam, which causes Sarah to reveal her gender. She isn't interested in men anyway. In Parson's case, he loved Sarah as a man and grows detached from her upon learning she's female. He already has a wife, so he doesn't want to cheat with a woman.
  • Subverted in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Hawkmistress!, where Orain has feelings for Romilly when she is dressed as a boy. However, it turns out Orain is actually gay and he is repulsed when he discovers Romilly's true gender during lovemaking. His assurances that 'he will not touch her' of course only make Romilly cry harder.
  • Averted in Pocket in the Sea; Tagget doesn't have a crush until after the reveal.
  • An unusual example in the thirteenth-century Chivalric Romance The Romance of Silence. The protagonist, named Silence, is a woman who was raised as a man. Silence is so attractive that a queen attempts to solicit her. Silence is put in a very uncomfortable situation as the queen locks her in a room and sexually harasses her, since she cannot submit or refuse without revealing her secret.
  • Subverted in Delia Sherman's Through a Brazen Mirror (based on The Famous Flower of Serving Men). The king had been denying to himself that he was gay; initially, he was delighted to find out that his crush was a woman — now it was okay to admit he was attracted! So he required her to dress in woman's clothes (which she was uncomfortable doing); but that only made him realize, wait, that really wasn't what interested him, and finally face the truth.
  • In The Thurb Revolution by Alexei Panshin, hero Anthony Villiers' old friend Fred Fritz confesses to Tony that he's become oddly attracted to young David Clodfelter. Villiers, more perceptive, or at least more consciously perceptive, realizes that David is not only a girl, but Gillian U, the girl Fred's father (the Emperor) has been trying to fix him up with. A snatch of conversation in the next book indicates the engagement has been made formal.
  • Played a few ways in Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, since the world's Background Magic Field makes fairy tales come true — including the ones where princesses fall in love with the knights who save them.
    • More-or-less invoked in The Fairy Godmother, where Godmother Elena disguises herself as a knight to rescue a princess. Said princess is married already, so having her fall for a male rescuer would be awkward; Elena saves her, quickly reveals herself as a woman, and says firmly that the princess's husband sent her, which cuts off any Traditional 'love' before it can get rolling.
    • Inverted in One Good Knight, where Princess Andie starts falling for Sir George after he saves her from a dragon. She puts a stop to it by having them become Sworn Brothers (the Tradition won't let siblings fall in love). 'George' turns out to be Georgina, though she couldn't reveal it earlier because she was evading a "No Man Shall Enter" clause.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Several The Benny Hill Show skits, like the double cross-dressing spies skit.
  • Edmund Blackadder (in Blackadder II) towards "Bob".
    • Inverted in the same episode when Percy mistakes a bearded Baldrick in a bridesmaid's dress for a fair maiden.
    • And inverted again in Blackadder Goes Fourth, as Colonel Melchett falls for "Georgina", George's drag-show alter-ego, while never making the connection.
  • There was a Colombian mini-series called "Cartas de Amor", about the rocky relationship between Cupido, a very convincing Bifauxnen who works as a matchmaker thanks to her talent to write the titular Love Letters and was called to solve all the romantic conflicts in a little neighborhood, and Manuel, an unrepentant The Casanova who likes the state of romantic indefinition in his neighborhood (because he can get the unsatisfied women for himself) and sees Cupido's actions as opposed to his own interests. When all their conflicts are solved and her real gender is revealed, many neighbors are not very convinced of either her femininity or his manhood, so they want proofs. Then, Cupido says something in the line of "the main proof of his manliness is that he could see the woman in me behind all the costume and the farce."
  • In a BBC version of Casanova starring David Tennant, Casanova reaches the point of confessing If It's You, It's Okay to a "man" he met at a party. "He" then removes a prosthetic from her trousers.
    Casanova: Mine doesn't do that.
    • This relationship really happened, it's in his memoirs. Casanova insists he isn't sinning (in that particular way, that is) because he can tell she's a girl, but she (still claiming to be male) points out that he doesn't know that and is in love with her already. In real life, there was quite an interval between perceiving that bulge in her pants and learning that it was fake, during which time the poor bastard was terribly confused. He records a lengthy lecture she gave him on what would happen if she let him check and he found out he was wrong, namely that he wouldn't be able to stop loving her and would come up with all kinds of arguments about male homosexuality being purer and more intellectual than heterosexuality, citing historical examples, until he wore her down — and he pretty much admits it. He also continues calling her Bellino (her masculine alias) interchangeably with Teresa (her real name) in the narrative for some time after revealing her actual gender; make of that what you will.
  • The first episode of Brazilian miniseries Copas de Mel had Mel disguising as a man to travel with the Brazilian team for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. She develops a crush for the wardrobe boy Jiló, and after Brazil wins:
    Mel: I love you!
    Jiló: I love you too, Melchiades!
    Mel: No, not Melchiades... Amelia! (They later marry)
  • Plot of the Korean drama The First Shop of Coffee Prince, with the added twist that the Polly Oliver of the story gets mistaken as a man by the (heterosexual) male lead, and hired to pretend to be his gay lover so that his mother will stop trying to fix him up with women. Oh, and then she starts working at the coffee shop he owns, which features attractive male waiters as a selling point.
  • Used in the Swedish mini-series The Girl At The Stone Bench note  when fraternal twins Arid and Rosilda both fall for the new servant "boy" Carl. Problem? Carl is actually Carolinnote , who seems to really enjoy to flirt with the girls who think she is a boy. Played to some really dark irony:
    Head-Maid: (Noting that Berta, Carolin's sister, sees that Arid ignores her in order to chat with "Carl") Arid is not that interested in girls. I mean, he is not like Berta's brother. (Cut to "Carl" giggling over something Rosilda wrote in her "conversation-book" and kissing her hand)
    • Played even better when Arid finally comes out to Berta. Because she thinks his love for her "brother" is because Arid somehow notices the female Carolin inside (he doesn't), it gives him the most open-minded acceptance any gay teen could hope for in 1914, focusing on that "Carl" was a charlatan, not worthy of him. Contrast when his sister told her about her perfectly normal True Love and was instantly pushed back, with her using words like "That's impossible!" and "That is Wrong!". Poor girl.
  • In the short Mr. B Natural, shown on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the titular character (a man played by a woman, a la Mary Martin) has this effect on Joel:
    Joel: Mr. B, you're hot!
  • Happens in The Nanny episode "Stock Tip", when Fran dresses up as a guy to get into a men's only club to talk to Maxwell Sheffield. After a while she reveals who she is, resulting in this classic:
    Maxwell: Oh, thank God. I thought all those years of working in musical theater had finally caught up with me.
  • In one episode of Northern Exposure, Chris the DJ takes a sabbatical at a monastery and finds himself overwhelmed with lust for one of the other monks, in spite of "him" always wearing "his" hood up in a largely shapeless robe and having taken a vow of silence. Near the end, the monk breaks her vow of silence to help soothe Chris's inner confusion. (In spite of being pretty relaxed in every other way he has apparently always been all about women prior to this.)
  • Inverted in an episode of Reno 911!. Lieutenant Jim Dangle, who is gay, finds himself having an inexplicable attraction to the female homeland Security agent Suzy Kim. At the end of the episode, we discover Suzy Kim is a male in drag and is not a Homeland Security agent, but a con artist.
    • This revelation also prompts a discussion by the force (brought up by Garcia) whether or not jacking off thinking about a guy who looked like a girl makes you gay. Jones insists that it does, of course, even if most of the men on the force liked Kim.
  • The Rise of Phoenixes: Shao Ning falls in love with "Wei Zhi", unaware "he" is really Zhi Wei in disguise, and tries to make "him" marry her.
  • One Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode finds Quark strangely attracted to his waiter (who turns out to be a female disguised as a male).
  • In the Kdrama Sungkyunkwan Scandal, both the male lead and the local Hooker with a Heart of Gold fall for the cross-dressing heroine before finding out her disguise.
  • Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms: Yan Zhi and Li Jing fall in love with Bai Qian/"Si Yin". Li Jing realises she's a girl at once; Yan Zhi doesn't.
  • In Will & Grace, Jack (who's gay) finds himself attracted to a woman at a party. He starts doubting his sexuality until it's revealed that the "woman" was actually a man all along.
  • In Young Americans, Hamilton, who's straight, is a little confused and bewildered by his attraction to his schoolmate, Jake, who is really a girl in disguise. Then again, Jake is played by Kate Moennig (aka Shane on The L Word), a real-life bifauxnen who is known for inducing such feelings in straight women.
  • In the kdrama You Are Beautiful, Jeremy is shown to fall in love with Go Minam, who is actually a girl, Go Minyu, who is taking the place of her brother while he is overseas. As he believes he has fallen in love with a man, something very taboo at the time, he freaks out, providing for a very relieved reaction when he finds out she's a girl.

  • Subverted in Angel Diary, in which Bi-Wal seems to see through Dong-Young's disguise but in fact they met long before the story began.
  • Kill Me Kiss Me is a manhwa originally created by Korean author Lee Young-you revolving around two identical cousins of different gender who end up switching places, so the girl can get near her crush. The boy agrees due to the fact that they each attend all-girl/all-boy schools. The girl is a much better fighter than the boy, attracting the attention of her crush, who has the exact confusion mentioned above. Meanwhile, the boy is tormented by all the girls that have a crush on 'her' that cannot be dated because of the true gender.
  • Love In The Mask has a tough girl who's forced into being a male bodyguard, apparently because a girl wouldn't be taken seriously. She has a crush on a boy who views her as his little brother who he's always tussling with... and napping with... and cares about more than anyone else... and at one point uses her toothbrush after they shared her bed and dreams he's kissing a girl who looks like his "brother". Later they play Romeo and Juliet in an all-guy school play, to the fury of another guy who knows her secret and has a crush on her. Oh, and another guy also develops a crush on her when she's dressed as Juliet. The girl she's guarding also has a crush on the first guy and often wonders why she's jealous of two male friends.

  • Much of the humor of the old sea chantey "The Handsome Cabin Boy."

    Myths & Religion 

  • Pops up frequently in the works of William Shakespeare, where Sweet Polly Olivers abound (and where all the female roles were originally played by young boys in the first place, making things that much more confusing for everyone).
    • Viola, protagonist of Twelfth Night, disguises herself as a young man and goes into the service of Duke Orsino. She develops passionate feelings for him, and he . . . gets very confused. This trope is MUCH more obvious onstage than in the text, but it's there. You can see the way it usually shakes out here.
      • In an inversion, Countess Olivia also falls for Viola when "he" is sent to woo her on Orsino's behalf.
      • Adaptations of the play tend to emphasize this, as seen in the Hippie Musical Adaptation Your Own Thing and the high-school adaptation She's the Man. In All Shook Up, Orsino is portrayed as a Lady Killer In Love . . . with a man. He explicitly has to deal with suddenly having "homosexual" feelings, and even fully accepts and chooses to act on them before the masquerade is revealed to him.
    • The exact level of this in As You Like It depends on the production, but it can get pretty extreme. Rosalind has gone into hiding as a young man called "Ganymede". She runs into Orlando, the man she secretly loves, who is also mooning over her (but fails to recognize her). Ganymede offers to "cure" Orlando of his lovesickness by pretending to be Rosalind—which at one point includes staging a wedding between the two.
      Rosalind: [as Ganymede] Come, woo me, woo me, for now I am in a holiday humour and like enough to consent. What would you say to me now, an I were your very very Rosalind?
      Orlando: I would kiss before I spoke.
      Rosalind: Nay, you were better speak first, and when you were gravelled for lack of matter, you might take occasion to kiss.
      • Also inverted here, when country girl Phoebe falls head-over-heels for the handsome young Ganymede.
    • Again, levels vary in The Merchant of Venice, where Portia dresses as young lawyer Balthasar and saves the life of Antonio.
      Bassanio: [to Balthasar] Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend
      Have by your wisdom been this day acquitted
      Of grievous penalties ...
      Antonio: And stand indebted, over and above,
      In love and service to you evermore.note 
    • Some productions of Cymbeline emphasize this between the main character Imogen and Cadwell/Guiderius (and Polydore/Aviragus). It's one of those situations where the princes have several lines expressing how noble Imogen is and how they truly love her. She's their sister. So arguably, they could be stating that they feel oddly close to her/him like a brother.
  • In Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), Constance loses her skirt, leaving only her pants, while entering Romeo and Juliet, which makes Romeo think she's a man, and yet he's still attracted to her, and makes Juliet think she's a man, which is why she's attracted to her. Then both of them crossdress because they think that's what "he" likes.

    Video Games 
  • More in the book than the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag game, but in the former Edward Kenway admits a definite attraction to Mary Read's male guise of James Kidd.
  • Final Fantasy V: Bartz and Galuf fawn over the sleeping Faris the pirate captain before they discover she's really a woman.
  • Persona 4: Kanji Tatsumi feels this way towards Naoto Shirogane upon meeting "him" for the first time, which of course only serves to make Kanji's already-present issues with his sexuality worse. Kanji's sexuality remains ambiguous at best for the rest of the game, but it's clear he still has strong feelings for Naoto, especially after Naoto's true gender is revealed.
  • It's a secret to everyone but her brother that Marcus, the player character of Queen at Arms, is secretly a woman. She has multiple potential love interests, some of whom are a little perplexed by their attraction to "him." One of them, however, figures out early in their acquaintance that she's really female (he has magic to help him), and another one subverts the trope because he loses interest when he finds out that she's not a guy. He can be convinced to stay with Marcus, however, if Marcus prefers to identify as male.
  • Joshua in Rule of Rose was in fact Wendy all along, forcing Jennifer to relive her childhood struggles and make her remember their mutual past. Or was it?

    Visual Novels 
  • Princess Waltz: Even before Arata realizes Chris Northfield is pulling a Sweet Polly Oliver, he finds himself extremely attracted to "him", causing everyone around them to wonder if they are committing Ho Yay. It only gets worse when Chris admits to really being a girl, which takes what was already strong attraction and kicks it into overdrive. Considering the game is an H-Game, and Chris is remarkably underendowed for a girl (Saber from Fate/stay night looks less manly than Chris, and she's arguably Saber's Expy), but Arata finds her incredibly hot anyway, which for this genre is an amusing but rather touching subversion. For the uninitiated, H-Game women usually have some variant of Ms. Fanservice or large breasts as a rule, making the subversion more jarring.

    Web Comics 

    Web Videos 
  • An odd example in Video Game ConfessionsZelda often goes around in her Sheik outfit, feeling that she has more freedom as both a man and a commoner. She's explaining all this to Dominic when Link shows up and starts hitting on her. Link explains that yeah, he's still dating Zelda, but he likes to "swing his sword both ways." Link assures "Sheik" that Zelda is cool with it. Oddly, "he" doesn't seem to believe that.

    Western Animation 
  • At the end of the Atomic Betty episode "No Business Like Snow Business" Betty gets on the boys' hockey team, unbeknownst to Penelope and her friends who swoon over "him" from the stands. Then Betty takes her helmet off. Penelope storms off angrily while her friends just laugh it off.
  • Blue Eye Samurai. It's implied that Taigen gets sexually aroused while playfully wrestling with the title character Mizu, to their mutual embarrassment. Taigen awkwardly excuses this as missing his Love Interest Akemi. Mizu looks like she's going to confess to being a woman in disguise, but instead reveals that she stood by and let the shogun's soldiers drag Akemi away to Edo to be married to the shogun's son. Taigen's angry response kills the mood for both of them.
  • Clone High:
    • Joan dresses up as "John Dark" to play basketball. She adds a mustache. Kennedy begins to feel attracted to her. As Kennedy's adoptive parents are a gay couple, he has a lot of soul-searching done.
    • Cleopatra (the show's Alpha Bitch) was also attracted to "John Dark" (although she was MUCH more aggressive about it than JFK). At the end when Joan reveals herself, Kennedy shows relief at not being gay, while Cleopatra is just intrigued.
  • In Code Monkeys Mary feels that she isn't being respected enough by her boss so she decides to dress up like a man and call herself Mitch. She tells everyone at work that Mary died, and that she wanted Mitch to continue his work. Her co-worker Jerry showed signs of having a crush on Mitch the moment he showed up, fantasized about him, and even admitted he was gay for Mitch in front of a crowd before he kissed him and blew her disguise when her mustache came off.
    Jerry: I'm not gay?
    Dave: No dude, you're totally still gay!
  • Cybersix:
    • Never outright stated, but Lucas really, really likes Adrian, Cybersix's "male" alter ego.
    • Flipped around with Lori, a female student who's madly in love with Adrian and has no idea that "he" is really a beautiful woman. This gets very awkward in one episode when she follows Adrian home and catches a glimpse of "him" (now dressed as Cybersix), talking to someone out of sight. Cybersix was actually talking to Data 7, but Lori figured it was Adrian. She tells Lucas that some woman named Cybersix is dating Adrian on the sly, much to his displeasure.
  • The Duckman episode "Forbidden Fruit" has a gender inverted example. Duckman and Bernice hire a new babysitter for Charles, Mambo, and Ajax, named Regine Poulet. After she accuses Duckman of sexual harassment, he's run out of town, leaving Regine and Bernice to start their own Straw Feminist tirade. Bernice finds herself becoming more and more attracted to Regine over the course of the episode, and is relieved to find out that she was actually King Chicken, Duckman's arch-nemesis, in disguise.
  • In Family Guy Chris Griffin becomes infatuated with a tomboy he completely believes to be male, and after she kisses him he writes in his diary that he kissed "him," but didn't want a serious relationship. When she revealed herself to be a girl to the dimwitted Chris, they became a couple after some disbelief, exacerbated by the fact that Chris is incredibly awkward around girls but wasn't this time until the reveal.
  • Zapp Brannigan in the Futurama episode "War is the H-Word". He finds private "Lee Lemon" intriguing in very uncomfortable ways, to the point that he's visibly relieved when Leela drops the disguise and punches him in the face.
    Zapp: Leela! So it's you I've been attracted to! Oh God, I've never been so happy to be beaten up by a woman!
    Leela: Let's do it again sometime.
  • Hoze Houndz: When Squirt dresses up as a woman to get into Club Olympus in "Club Fever", he finds he's stuck in the disguise. When all the men in the club (including his friend, Crash) see him, they all immediately become infatuated with him.

    Real Life 
  • Inverted with Anne Bonny and Mary Read, a legendary pair of 18th-century female pirates. When they met, Anne Bonny was openly female, but Mary Read was a Sweet Polly Oliver. Mary eventually revealed her gender when Anne developed a crush on her. They later went on to become Back-to-Back Badasses. Though it's not known how far their relationship went after that, by the time their ship was captured and the crew brought to justice, both women were pregnantnote .

  • Norah Vincent, a feminist famous for going undercover as a man in the nonfiction book "Self Made Man", at one point infiltrated a religious order composed only of male monks. During this time the monks began to suspect she was gay (which happened to be true, she was a lesbian) despite her very thorough disguise.


Video Example(s):


"Lee Lemon" beats up Zapp

"Lee Lemon" beats up Captain Zapp Brannigan then drops "his" disguise to reveal "he's" actually the very female Leela. Zapp is elated as it means he's been attracted to a woman all along.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / SweetOnPollyOliver

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