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The Not-Love Interest

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Watch as these two awkwardly flirt in the classic will-they-won't-they relationship, then, for the first time in movie history... WON'T.

The Not-Love Interest is the phenomenon in which the character fulfills a typical "Love Interest" role, but isn't intended by the writers to have that kind of relationship with The Hero. This trope often represents a Subversion of one or more Love Interest tropes, or tropes that normally lead to a character becoming a Love Interest, such as Rescue Romance.


This trope points out that certain roles and dynamics are frequently shared between the hero(ine) and the Love Interest, or that characters in these dynamics frequently evolve into a Love Interest. With media featuring a male-female duo, a teased or obvious relationship is so common it can be a surprise when expectations of romance are Averted or Subverted.

With other kinds of pairs, such as those of the same gender, this often takes on a different connotation. The relationship between the hero and this character is often written with the same role and dynamic as the Love Interest, but never get the same fulfillment. Unfortunately used to draw audiences, and likely due to that, unfortunately a common occurrence, possibly even more than the former.

This can also happen between an adult and a child, in a Parental Substitute or Older Sidekick / Kid Sidekick situation. The relationship is a mutually supportive one that forms the emotional center of the story, but for obvious reasons never becomes romantic.


The Hero may have an actual love interest, but they will usually be less significant than this character.

It's a common source of Shipping fuel, often spawning Fan Preferred Couples. Frequently happens with Heterosexual Life-Partners and Platonic Life-Partners. It appears prone to being pointed out in interviews, DVD commentaries/special features, and other things in the manual.

Compare Heterosexual Life-Partners, Platonic Life-Partners, Like Brother and Sister, Just Friends and Tragic Bromance. Has nothing to do with She Is Not My Girlfriend, though somebody might say this (with actual sincerity). This trope is to UST as oil is to water vapor. Pseudo-Romantic Friendship is a subtrope. Platonic Writing, Romantic Reading is what happens when the writers try to do this and it doesn't work.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • ×××HOLiC:
    • Doumeki can potentially be considered this to Watanuki. Early on it was determined the two of them would have some sort of connection and practically everyone around them in-story was Ship Teasing them (and so were the fans). They also wind up doing a number of Heroic Sacrifices for each other, Doumeki especially. But at no point does Doumeki ever explicitly express any romantic interest to Watanuki, and Watanuki never fully gets over his distaste for Doumeki. Also, for the first half of the series Watanuki's intensely crushing on his classmate Himawari, and then spends the rest of the series pining after his boss Yuuko for the next 100 years after she dies, and ultimately Doumeki's married to someone else aka Kohane Tsuyuri... a girl who also was implied to be in love with Watanuki.
    • Yuuko is also this to Watanuki. They form a close mentor-student/mother-son relationship, one that evolves in strength and importance over time. When Yuuko dies, Watanuki is so affected by it that he makes the decision to take over and be made unable to leave the shop so he can wait for Yuuko to return someday. However, there's nothing that explicitly indicates that they love each other romantically.
  • The Anthem of the Heart devotes the most screentime to Takumi and Jun's relationship, but while Takumi admits to caring about and feeling concern for Jun, as well as being grateful that she inspired him to say things he couldn't bring himself to say, he doesn't love her romantically . Jun, for her part, is in love with him but accepts that he's in love with someone else.
  • In the Area 88 manga, Shin and Mickey have this dynamic. The two men are frequently in each other's company and confide in each other. Mickey protects Shin on several occasions, and when he hears that Shin has been shot down, he immediately rushes off to find him. Shin's relationship with Mickey seems much deeper than his relationship with his girlfriend, Ryoko.
  • Abe is this to Mihashi from Big Windup!. Mihashi's two main cares are sports and Abe's approval. One of the Signature Scenes of the series involves them holding hands and they have a close friendship.
  • In Black Cat, Saya is Train's Not-Love Interest. Her function in the plot is similar to that of a traditional dead lover / love interest; in fact, Train's affection for her is enough to cause Creed to "take drastic measures". But it's later revealed, perfectly and seriously, that Train never contemplated any romantic involvement with her.
  • Bleach:
  • Count Cain:
    • This is Riff and Cain's relationship. Cain has a number of Love Interests over the course of the series — and they all have a noticeable impact on him — but Riff is the person with whom all his trust and strongest feelings lie. And Cain is the only significant person in Riff's entire life. It's played around with quite a bit towards series end, though The Grand Finale managed to play the trope straight once more.
    • Cassian is this to Jezebel, though the latter only acknowledges Cassian as being the "one who saved him'' moments before dying in his arms.
  • In Death Note, L is this for Light. L evokes feelings in Light that he feels for no one else. L is the most important person in Light's life even after he is dead. And in the anime L is the only person on Light's mind when he's dying. Light has two canon love interests, Misa and Takada, who he cares nothing for, and neither are as important to Light or to the plot as Light's rivalry with L.
  • Eyeshield 21: At the beginning of the series Anezaki Mamori joined the football club for the sake of Sena, her childhood friend and Not-Love Interest. More specifically, she joined to protect him from the bullying of the football club’s captain, Hiruma Yoichi. Initially, Sena is all Mamori cared about, getting worried over his injuries and yelling at Hiruma for picking on him. However, as the series progressed, Mamori started spending more time with and getting closer to...the aforementioned Hiruma Yoichi. It got to such a point that at the end of the manga, although Sena is still a dear friend to her, Mamori completely intends for her and Hiruma to play seriously and defeat him, since he's on a rival team now. So while Sena remains the Not-Love Interest and important to Mamori, it's hinted that at the end of the day, sticking by Hiruma is higher on her priority list.
  • Gals! has Ran and Otohata. They come across each other when Ran tries to steal Otohata's bag, and their first meeting is framed like a Meet Cute moment. They cross paths several times afterwards, and Otohata often serves as Ran's savvy guy, frequently calming her down when she gets too worked up. Even though Otohata admits having a crush on her at one point, and Ran's boyfriend Tatsuki frequently feels threatened by their continued interactions, their relationship never becomes romantic.
  • Gamers! has Keita Amano and Aguri Sakurano, whose example lines up pretty much exactly with the way it’s described in the "Deconstructed” part of the Playing With page. They repeatedly demonstrate how important the other is to them, eat out at a restaurant together on a regular basis, and have a much more playful Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic than he does with his Sitcom Archnemesis Chiaki. Ironically, their friendship was founded on a mutual Romantic Wingman support for each other’s respective love lives, yet that same friendship is itself one of the greatest sources of strain on their relationships. It eventually gets to the point that Tasuku temporarily breaks up with Aguri because he wants to be as close to her as Keita is, and both of Keita’s actual love interests view Aguri as their biggest rival to his heart more than each other.
  • Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku:
    • Gabimaru and Sagiri. Sent as a pair to the highly dangerous Kotaku Island in search for the elixir of life, the two develop respect for each other's strength/resolve, and care for one another's well-being. However, Gabimaru is Happily Married to someone else (in fact, his entire motivation throughout the plot is to be reunited with his wife), and while Yuzuriha often teases Sagiri over her closeness with Gabimaru, she denies any romantic attraction towards him, and even manages to get along with his wife, Yui, when the journey is over.
    • Shion and Nurugai. Shion is the mentor of Tenza, whom Nurugai falls in love with, and takes Tenza's place as her guardian after he dies. He is similarly dedicated to ensure Nurugai's safety, and even promises to leave the Yamada Asaemon clan in order to better keep her safe, and promises to help her find her now scattered tribe. Unlike with Tenza, however, Nurugai never expresses any romantic desire for Shion, and a later chapter shows that their relationship is more like a father and daughter than a romantic couple.
  • Hunter × Hunter:
    • Gon is this for Killua. He cares for Gon even more than his family barring one exception, becomes Tsundere whenever Gon compliments him and calls him his best friend, constantly puts his wellbeing and desires first over himself and was ready to die by Gon's side than live without him. Hisoka even says that Gon is Killua's "most beloved" and the one he "spent the most time with" when talking about how Nanika's victims include the wisher's loved ones who fit the mentioned criteria. That said, they are only extremely close friends and he shows the same devotion for his sibling Alluka.
    • Meruem and Komugi over the course of the Chimera Ant Arc. At first, he's dismissive of her before gradually respecting her as she beats him in Gungi over and over, eventually learning to care for her that he begs for Pitou to protect and even save her when she's injured. When Meruem learns that he's dying, he has no qualms kneeling before Palm to ask for her help in finding Komugi so he can spend his dying moments playing Gungi with her. Komugi decides to stay with him and die alongside him and both died holding each other's hands. Despite this, there's no confirmation if what they feel for each other is romantic or not.
  • Kagerou Project: Shintaro and Ene start with a dynamic that would imply a romantic relationship will develop (she's his sole companion as a Hikikomori, and — Trolling aside — is constantly trying to get him outside and participating in things), but when Ene's backstory as Takane Enomoto is revealed, it turns out that she was in love (and still has feelings for) Haruka Kokonose — a.k.a. Konoha, while Shintaro is revealed to have a mutual She's Not My Girlfriend dynamic with Ayano Tateyama, but no one believes them when they say it.
  • Kill la Kill: Senketsu is this to Ryuko. As her father's last creation, they end up sharing a bond akin to nagging parent and child. Yet Senketsu is always there to reassure and work with Ryuko.
  • KonoSuba: Aqua is this to Kazuma. Despite being the first girl he meets on his adventure, setting her up as the Magical Girlfriend, Aqua is the only one in Kazuma's party who doesn't fall in love with him. As for Kazuma, he states quite clearly that he just can't find anything about Aqua attractive, even when he was actually trying to. They eventually become as close as two people can be without being in love.
  • Hatori is Ayumu's not love interest in Life (2002). They spend a lot of time together, Hatori is Ayumu's Living Emotional Crutch, Hatori is always there for Ayumu, and they spend a lot of time holding hands.
  • Akemi and Yotsuya in Maison Ikkoku. Not only are they partners in crime in tormenting Yusaku, but there is frequent touchy-feeliness between the two during their regular booze parties. Akemi has on one occasion coldly declined to join the other tenants in spying on the mysterious Yotsuya, suggesting that she has feelings towards him, or at least a respect for his privacy, given that her own background contains a few skeletons. A romance between the two was never meant to be, however, since it would undermine the mysterious aspects of Yotsuya's character. And besides, Akemi ended up marrying her boss aka the Master of Cha-Cha Maru.
  • Maken-ki!: Himegami is the manga's deuteragonist and lead female character. But, despite the early chapters making it seem she would become part of Takeru's harem, she plainly states that she has no romantic feelings for him when Minerva asks about it (chapter 12). However, she accidentally lost her First Kiss when she fell on top of him in chapter 1 and it happened again during chapter 5note . She eventually gave him his first real kiss at the end of the same chapter, as thanks for defending her, but they remained friends throughout the manga.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam 00: Despite several characters making jokes and comments about it, Setsuna and Marina genuinely seem to not have any romantic interest in each other. Their connection comes more from the fact that they are from neighboring countries and are both searching (in very different ways) for answers to the same questions. When outright asked if they were dating, they both deadpanned "We are not a couple" in unison, without any of the embarrassment or blushing this kind of situation usually entails. If anything, their relationship is more akin to that between a mother and child — and it's not helped by how Marina looks scarily like a younger version of Setsuna's Missing Mom. In the manga version of the epilogue, they actually do get married, though the author claims it's a platonic partnership and is more symbolic of their finding understanding in each other.
  • My Hero Academia: The Rival Bakugo to The Hero Midoriya. Bakugo is a source of inspiration to Midoriya, and more than one arc revolved around Midoriya trying to save or protect Bakugo. Both characters' personal arcs are intimately intertwined and advance together with the plot of the manga.
  • Naruto:
    • Naruto is somewhat attached to Sasuke, even after he leaves Konoha to join Orochimaru, then goes rogue and basically becomes an international criminal. Before then, the show devotes not insignificant amounts of time to the two rivaling each other at becoming better ninja; both is (partly) the other's inspiration. However, Sasuke is not as much Naruto's friend as Naruto would like him to be.
    • Sakura plays this trope straight (and in romantic sense) for Naruto, to a point where even Naruto replies his father's Mistaken for Romance with "Kinda." The canon movie The Last: Naruto the Movie revealed that Naruto's attraction to her was driven in great part because of his aforementioned rivalry with Sasuke — which was implied back in Chapter 3. Kishimoto has also stated in several post-series interviews that Naruto and Sakura's close friendship was nothing more than a deliberate Red Herring for the true Official Couple, Naruto and Hinata, and further explained that Sakura was never intended to be Naruto's main love interest to begin with, while Hinata always was, since the early stages of the manga.
    • Hinata becomes the most important person for Neji after his Heel–Face Turn, as one of his most important — if not the most important — priorities is to take care of her and always look after her as a brother figure. They exaggerated this so much in Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth, that Neji practically worships Hinata there. He even spazzes and has fits of despair when he finds out she actually shits like a normal human being.
    • Played With and deconstructed in regards to Kakashi and Obito. Obito fulfills all the requirements of a platonic Lost Lenore to Kakashi. Everything that makes Kakashi who he is in the present storyline is an extension or product of his relationship with Obito and his grief over Obito's death. Suffice to say, Obito, dead or alive, is the most important person in Kakashi's life. The deconstruction is the fact that this isn't a good thing — while Obito's "presence" in Kakashi's life made him a better person who valued his comrades, it also served as fodder for Kakashi's raging guilt complex and self-loathing. Prior to Team 7, Kakashi could barely count as a functioning individual, and was dangerously close to the Despair Event Horizon. That's where the Played With part comes in, as Team 7 is what finally manages to open Kakashi up. They ultimately pave the way for Kakashi to finally move on from Obito, especially after Obito turns out to be one of the main villains.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Asuna is Negi's partner and the girl closest to him out of all the students in his class, and at least half of them are in love with him. Despite getting a lot of Ship Tease, their relationship remains familial for the most part and never turns to serious romance. This is definitely settled near the end of the manga when Negi tells Asuna who is the girl he likes that way and Asuna's reaction confirms it's not her (not that she cares, she in fact tries to get Negi to confess to the other girl right away). It should be noted that Negi also admits that while he isn't in love with her, Asuna will always be his most important person. Interestingly, the finale of the sequel series UQ Holder! shows that Negi had a child with her.... And most of his other closest companions.
  • PandoraHearts:
    • Alice and Oz. They first meet when Alice saves Oz from a dangerous Chain, and forms a contract with him via a kiss. Oz adores Alice to no end, calling her "his sun" and taking his devotion to Yandere levels early on. In fact, it was Alice who gave Oz life and a conscience of his own through love and care back when he was her stuffed rabbit. Their closeness leads many people to believe they are in love, but eventually Word of God confirms their relationship isn't of a romantic nature.
    • Lacie seems like the standard deceased love interest/lover when it comes to her relationship with Jack; he was charmed by her when she met him by chance, he spent 8 entire years looking for her after they were separated and soon after he found her, he lost her again when she was thrown into the Abyss, which is his motivation for wanting to bring the world down into the Abyss. However, it was noted by Lacie herself that what Jack feels for her isn't love; he wanted to always be by her side but never sought to become her lover. It's eventually revealed Jack's feelings for Lacie are far more complex than they seem; Jack was indeed fascinated by Lacie at first, but over the 8 years it took him to find her, Jack grew to hate Lacie for tying him down with the desire to see her again. However, that very hatred makes Jack feel alive and lets him know who he is, which is why he has to be by Lacie's side.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Madoka and Homura. Homura is willing to rewind time again and again all to save Madoka.
  • The Quintessential Quintuplets: Amongst the five Nakano sisters, Itsuki is the only one who doesn't seem to develop romantic feelings for male lead Fuutarou, unlike the other four, developing more of a Vitriolic Best Buds dynamic with him. At least until the final chapters, she wonders if she might have fallen for him after all, but by then he's already made his choice.
  • In the TV series of Record of Lodoss War, Spark becomes highly commited to his mission to save Neese, as he's the leader of the group. It's even made fun of by Leaf and Raina, who put quite an effort into getting them together. In the end it seems he only manages to rescue her with The Power of Love, but once she is freed from the dark magic and awakens in his arms, she just hugs him in thank and there's never any indication that Spark wasn't just trying to protect a good friend.
    • Orson and Shiris are very close, and Orson ultimately goes out like a champ to save her. But their relationship isn't necessarily romantic, just very intimate, in the technical sense.
    • Rune Soldier Louie is set in the same verse as Record of Lodoss War. At first Melissa is dismayed by being ordered by her god, Mylee, to serve Louie as her "valliant champion", as he is the complete opposite of what she always hoped for. Regardless, she gradually helps him to overcome some of his worst traits and comes to appreciate his genuinely good nature and desire to help people in need. She eventually stops being embarrased by having to serve him and even stands up for him, when others call him a useless idiot. Despite all this, they never show any actual romantic interest in each other.
  • Mokuzu to Nagisa from Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai. Mokuzu outright insists she's a mermaid who must befriend someone within a set period or she will turn to sea-foam. The two hold hands in splash pages and Mokuzu only attends a "date" with a boy to spend time with Nagisa.
  • With Snow White and Seven Dwarfs obviously being based off of the fairy tale of the same name and Takeru being something of a Knight in Shining Armor to Shirayuki, the series is occasionally mislabeled under romance—but given that Takeru is a 16-year-old teenage boy and Shirayuki is a little girl, there's zero romantic context between them, needless to say.
  • Maka and Soul from Soul Eater. They're inseparable partners, their connection is really deep, they share a lot of intimate moments and they even live together. Ship Tease aside, their relationship always remains that of very close Vitriolic Best Buds and Word of God states he intends to keep it that way.
  • Reina is this to Kumiko in Sound! Euphonium. Reina is a mysterious, aloof peer from Kumiko's middle school. Over the course of the first several episodes they become close friends with heavy overtones of something romantic. Despite this nothing concrete has been confirmed and Kumiko and Shuuichi become the Official Couple... However, due to differences in focus and adaptation, his role is be reduced until the final film and Season 2 ends with an emotional outburst from Kumiko to Asuka. Any prominent changes to close relationships are to be seen, of course, considering that it's KyoAni.
  • Yui in Strawberry 100%. Though considered one of the four main heroines in the series, Yui is never considered a love interest nor does she ever show Manaka any affection outside of their sibling-type relationship, although she acts at times like an overprotective big sister.
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, Lag found his first companion, and eventual bodyguard, in Niche, whom he rescued from a freakshow. She, in turn, is very dedicated towards him and acts like a Clingy Jealous Girl whenever he gets too close to someone else. However, their relationship never turns into romance, as Lag's true Love Interest is Sylvette.
  • Tenchi and Kiyone of Tenchi Muyo! often drift into this kind of relationship, notable because she's one of the few regular female characters not infatuated with him. Kiyone does drop that she might be interested in Tenchi in Tokyo to Ryoko and Mihoshi, saying that Tenchi could use a more serious, down-to-earth girl like Kiyone (and really, it's hard to blame her). Though given the context of the scene, and that Kiyone puts her job with the Space Police above everything else, she could have been saying it just to push Ryoko's buttons.
  • Tiger & Bunny: Barnaby shows up in Kotetsu's life at a critical point in the latter's career and fits into so many "love interest stereotypes" (a Troubled, but Cute/Tsundere/Broken Bird Defrosting Sugar and Ice King who bears some suspicious parallels to the widower hero's late wife and was mentored by the show's Big Bad) that the writer/artist for the manga adaptation has even joked about him being the show's 'heroine'. The creators' fondness for teasing their "wonderful relationship" doesn't help.
  • Komatsu of Toriko is one of the most crucial people in Toriko's life, being the one chef that becomes talented enough to cook and prepare the former's Life's Full Course Meal. While physically weaker than Toriko and needing to be saved by him on multiple occasions, Komatsu also plays a very big emotional role for Toriko as well, to the point where his presence or encouragement can make or break certain situations. The process of making Komatsu Toriko's personal chef is even framed like an important milestone for a Gourmet Hunter, not unlike choosing a life partner (and there has been a prominent Hunter/Chef pair that was married too).
  • Voltes V: Megumi doesn't fall in love with anybody, not even with Kenichi or Ippei (whom she got a little bit of teases with), they all strictly kept their relationship as Just Friends (and professional team members). This contrasts with her fellow heroines in the Robot Romance Trilogy (Chizuru ended up tying the knots with Hyouma in the end of the series, Kazuya's relationship with Erika is basically one of the main purposes of their story.)
  • Elsie from The World God Only Knows is introduced as a typical Magical Girlfriend and soon moves in with Keima under the ruse of being his long lost half-sister. They work together to capture evil spirits that are possessing girls in the real world and Elsie gets to spend more time with Keima than any of his conquest targets and official haremettes. However, their relationship always remains sibling-like and they never show any serious romantic interest in each other. And thanks to a Cosmic Retcon at the end of the manga, they are real blood-related siblings now.
  • Despite Anzu being the closest to an actual Love Interest for Yugi of Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi himself also cares a lot about Atem and Jonouchi, and both of them are his heterosexual life partners, if not almost more than her. Jonouchi will love his sister and his best friend more than any girl or guy who enters his life.
    • Kaiba only cares about his little brother and Atem, as Atem's existence 'fills him with an enthusiasm like no other' (for duelling). Taken Up to Eleven in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Dimensions — while his actions could be seen as someone distraught over losing a lover, Kaiba is obsessed with Atem because they're rivals. The ending could even be interpreted as Kaiba leaving the human realm for the Egyptian afterlife.

    Comic Books 
  • Green Lantern: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are this to each other. Two rookies left behind by Hal Jordan to guard Earth while the rest of the Corps handle cosmic threats. During their time together they become incredibly close, help each other with their problems, provide mutual emotional support and call each other “partner”, all without a hint of romantic or sexual interest on either side.
  • Iron Man and War Machine. Despite canonically having both a wife and daughter, James Rhodes' relationship with his boss/ally brings to mind an old married couple, complete with Tony falling Off the Wagon with alcohol and going "Now you go be Iron Man for me, alright?" and Rhodey going "Why do I even bother with this unappreciative jerk *goes be Iron Man*". Whenever Rhodey finally gets pissed off enough to leave, his dialogue is usually a long speech about how Tony sabotages every relationship he's in that sounds like it could be a very angry "Dear John" Letter.
  • Lenore, from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl, becomes this for Ragamuffin.
  • Robin fulfills this role to some extent for Batman. Especially the first Robin (and later Nightwing), Dick Grayson. He often serves as an emotional crutch to help the Dark Knight through his darkest periods and provides constant support when needed. Because of this, many Real Life critics interpreted Batman and Robin as a gay couple, and this was used as propaganda against them and, by extension, comic books as a whole, though the pedophilia aspects that relationship would have are understandably disturbing. In canon Batman is either presented Dick's father figure or an older brother, Depending on the Writer.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Bolt has Mittens, a stray cat who meets Bolt after he gets separated from his owner Penny. Initially, Bolt takes her prisoner because he is deluded into thinking she is an agent of the fictional villain Dr. Calico. Ultimately, though, this leads to them getting to know each other in what strongly resembles a romantic subplot, culminating in a pseudo-Falling-in-Love Montage and them ending up as Platonic Life-Partners. Despite how close they end up being with each other, however, the possibility of it being anything other than platonic is never even hinted at, presumably because the animals in this setting are just "realistic" enough for an interspecies pairing to be weird.
  • The Captain Underpants movie plays this sort of relationship between the two leads, focusing on their immense bond with one another and how separating them would be devastating. Some scenes, like their brief reunion in the bathroom, are even given romantic comedy clichés, so the writers did know what they were doing. But for the most part, it's one of the very few things treated seriously in the story.
  • Finding Nemo has Dory, a blue-tang fish with short-term memory loss who befriends Marlin the clownfish on his quest to find his son. Most of the movie consists of their dialogue with each other, they share body contact often, and even though she's not attentive most of the time, she truly worries for him. Yet they never hook up, probably because interspecies dating is really weird. Word of God (aka Audio Commentary) states that Dory was introduced to serve as a surrogate child so Marlin could re-adapt his parenting approach.
  • Sisters Anna and Elsa in Frozen are each other's Not-Love Interests. The movie centers around their relationship more than any romance and Anna is Elsa's Living Emotional Crutch. The twist at the climax is based on this trope: Anna is told that her heart can only be unfrozen by an Act of True Love. Right as she's about to freeze to death, her love interest is coming in to save her — but she denies him the chance, catching a sword blade meant to kill Elsa. Thissaving Elsa — ends up being the act of true love that breaks her curse.
  • In Megamind, Intrepid Reporter Roxanne Ritchie is always being saved by superhero Metro Man and is quite emotional when he's no longer there to protect the city. However, it turns out they were never actually involved, to the surprise of Megamind (Roxanne's real Love Interest).
  • Maui is this to Moana in Moana. Moana and Maui start off disliking each other but development an Interspecies Friendship over the film as they go on an adventure together. They, however, show absolutely no romantic attraction to each other, even ignoring the fact Moana is a teenager while Maui is a Semi-Divine adult who is Really 700 Years Old.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) has a few:
    • Rainbow Dash to Captain Celaeno. She inspires the captain to abandon the Storm King's orders and reclaim the crew's former glory as pirates.
    • Rarity and Capper are a downplayed example. A selfless act of kindness from her is enough for him to pull a Heel–Face Turn and help the Mane Six. As they're the only mixed sex example in the movie, their scenes are prone to a bit of Ship Tease.
    • Pinkie Pie and Princess Skystar bond over being similar Genki Girls with weird interests, and Pinkie is the only one who finds the princess's habits adorable rather than creepy. Their duet is quite close to a love song.
    • Twilight Sparkle ends up being this to Tempest Shadow, teaching the pony about friendship and bringing about her Heel–Face Turn.
  • In The Road to El Dorado, Miguel and Tulio are each other's Not Love Interests — not only do they hide their friendship by fighting, confess how much they mean to one another as they think that they're slowly dying, but they even have a painful break-up! According to some, the original script had them more explicitly be lovers — no wonder their Ho Yay factor is so high.
  • Toy Story:
    • Woody has this dynamic with Jessie in Toy Story 2. The two got very close upon their introduction due to coming from the same line of cowboy toys, and Jessie fulfills the typical role of the female lead in the installment. But Woody already has Bo-Peep, so their relationship with each other is mostly platonic, and Jessie has more of a love-interest in Buzz.
    • Woody and Buzz serve as each other's main motivations in the first 2 movies. In Toy Story 2, Woody tells Buzz "I'll have old Buzz Lightyear to keep me company ... for infinity and beyond."
  • Wreck-It Ralph has Vanellope, a little girl Ralph meets when she steals his golden medal. They make a deal so he helps her win a race and he can get his medal back in exchange. They soon bond and become close friends because they're both outcasts in their own games. Ralph's attachment to her is strong enough for him to decide he doesn't need a medal to prove he is a good guy and he even tries to sacrifice himself for her.
  • Anna and Marnie from When Marnie Was There. Anna is the reserved Ill Girl protagonist who meets a pretty, mysterious girl her age when staying over at relatives. They become quick friends, go row-bowing together, hold hands, and Anna is compared to Marnie's future husband, however their friendship is familial. Marnie is Anna's deceased grandmother as a ghost child.
  • Zootopia puts a lot of focus on the developing relationship between deuteragonists Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. Of course, as a Buddy Cop Show, this trope is pretty much to be expected and the writers specifically focused on them becoming best friends. However, future romance is possible, given they get something of a Maybe Ever After and the creators are quite aware of the intense Shipping of the two in the fandom.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The most important relationship in Attack the Block is that between Sam the nurse and Moses the teenage delinquent. The film actually begins with Moses mugging Sam just before the alien invasion starts, and the progress of the film is marked out by their silent Held Gazes and growing trust in one another. By the end, Moses gives her back the ring he stole and they work together in order to defeat the aliens.
  • Axel and Jenny never become more than just friends in Beverly Hills Cop, even though Jenny otherwise filled the role of love-interest. Axel even had to storm the villain's castle to rescue her at the end of the movie.
  • Edmund and his sister Lucy, from the film adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia, become this in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, due to the fact that they always look for one another and desperately call each other's name when they are separated.
  • In the film adaptations of both The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, the love interest aspect of the female leads Sophie and Vittoria are removed, when they were quite present in the books. In Da Vinci Code, Robert is kind of an uncle figure/protective older brother to Sophie, and in Angels and Demons he and Vittoria are pretty much strictly business. Tom Hanks explains that the frantic pace of the plot of the latter led the filmmakers to excise the romantic subplot.
  • The previous page picture is from the 2005 Doom film adaptation, which took a certain pleasure in subverting the typical hero/heroine love interest angle (as well as other tropes). Samantha and John Grimm are estranged but loving fraternal twins, and form a surprisingly effective Brother–Sister Team in the film's second half as they both learn to take better care of their relationship with one another. There's even a scene where John testily corrects one of his squadmates who had assumed that because of them sharing the same last name, Sam is John's ex-wife.
  • Barney and Sandra in The Expendables. He ultimately decides to return to Vilena with his crew and rescue her, but it's because he respects her courage in standing up to the Big Bad, not because he's fallen in love with her. The sequels ditch the "love interest" role completely, with the female teammates being there not to give the heroes someone to rescue in Act III or kiss at the end, but rather to kick ass and make quips, just like the guys do.
  • Wendy and Kevin of Final Destination 3 become closer to one another after losing both of their dates, and work together to try and save the rest of the cast for most of the movie. It can be easy to interpret this as a growing relationship, but they both are still mourning for their losses after the roller coaster crash claimed them. Then it's implied that they both die in the subway crash at the end of the film.
    • Averted in the novelization. Wendy and Kevin discover that they do have feelings for each other, and even come to kiss. But they decide that they will talk about their relationship after they finish dealing with Death's plans.
  • invoked Danny is this to Nicholas in Hot Fuzz. Word of God says that in the original script Nicholas had an actual love interest, but she was cut and some of her storyline and actual lines were given to Danny.
  • In House of Wax (2005), Nick and Carly seem very much like estranged ex-lovers who will reconcile at the end, since everyone else is dead, and their entire character arc in the film is about them reaffirming their relationship with one another following past estrangement thanks to lingering childhood trauma Nick suffered through and which Carly was trying to help him deal with. There's also Nick's jealousy over Carly's new boyfriend Wade getting to spend so time with her. But as Nick and Carly are actually twin brother and sister, any Relationship Upgrade won't happen.
  • Ariadne and Dom in Inception. Ariadne is the Naïve Newcomer whom Cobb personally mentors when he manages to convince his father-in-law (and Ariadne's professor) to let her in the team, and she accompanies him to the limbo when their mission goes awry, and almost single-handedly saved his soul. However, Cobb is still a little hung up on his deceased wife and Ariadne gets more Ship Tease with Arthur, and there's a tiny bit of an age gap too.
  • Calvin and Spooner's relationship in I, Robot shows all the classic signs of them becoming love interests — even a Scar Survey — but by the end, there's nothing to suggest they're going to be more than friends.
  • James Bond:
    • Quantum of Solace: Despite Camille Montes nominally being a "Bond girl" and a major female ally to Bond throughout the film, in a rare subversion for the series she and Bond neither sleep with each other nor seem to have any overt romantic or sexual tension. Which makes sense, since she spends the entire film on an obsessive revenge quest against the man who raped and murdered her family, and Bond himself is clearly not even remotely over his trauma from the death of Vesper Lynd.
  • In The Kissing Booth, Lee and Elle actually stay best friends in the end. They have a Platonic Life-Partners type relationship.
  • Life Partners: Sasha is this to Paige. She plays a more significant role in the story than Tim, but Tim is the real love interest.
  • Snow and Emilie in Lockout. The former is sent on a mission to save the latter when she is held hostage onboard a giant orbital space prison. The two bicker and banter and Snow basically acts like a jerk towards her the whole time, but they grow to genuinely care for each other. The epilogue when they arrive back on earth teases a romance and includes an almost-Almost Kiss, but the movie ends with them still just friends.
  • The relationship between Max and Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road never gets an upgrade. Probably in foresight of a Furiosa-less sequel.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In general, Black Widow is a Not-Love Interest to most of the boys:
      • Her closest bond is with Hawkeye. He's the main reason she joins the team, and they have by far the closest relationship of the group, but they're never shown to be anything beyond extremely close friends. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we find that Clint Barton is married and with a family, sinking the Clintasha ship, though Natasha was the only member outside of Fury to know and is even viewed as an aunt by Clint's kids. Even in Hawkeye, Clint is completely devoted to his wife and kids, but still thinks of Natasha constantly and every episode has some reference to her.
      • In addition to Hawkeye and Captain America (explained below), she was the one who recruited Banner to the team, is the only one Tony had a past connection with, she's shown to be close with Coulson and Fury, but so far every relationship is completely platonic. It makes her something of One of the Boys. Though Age of Ultron teases Natasha/Banner. She's attracted to him because "he is the only man who will run from a fight he knows he can win", and they bond over their sense of isolation (as well as being robbed the opportunity to have a family). But it doesn't last, as they're split up at the end of the movie; and their past relationship is given only token acknowledgements later.
    • The Captain America movies in particular indulge in this:
      • In The First Avenger, Cap does have a Love Interest, British Agent Peggy Carter, but the actual catalyst for his heroics comes from Bucky Barnes. It's for his sake that Cap raids the Red Skull's base, and that leads to him forming the Howling Commandos to finish destroying HYDRA, and it's to avenge him that Cap takes the mission that ends with him freezing to not-death in the Arctic. Peggy serves as a supportive, encouraging mentor — her affirmation steels his resolve both times he goes to bat for Bucky — but Bucky is his motivation.
      • In The Winter Soldier, the lack of a Love Interest is almost a running gag. Steve still loves Peggy, but she's well into her 90s and suffering from dementia. His post-war comics Love Interest, Sharon Carter/Agent 13 is introduced in this movie, but they speak to each other exactly thrice (and the last occasion has Steve upset at her). Instead, the Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson, and Natasha Romanoff all take different aspects of The Not-Love Interest: the Winter Soldier serves as Steve's primary motivation, because he's actually a brainwashed Bucky Barnes; Sam Wilson is his emotional support, with whom he's able to talk about his feelings for once; and Natasha is his character contrast, companion through most of the action, and gives the movie its flirty banter, though it's made subtly clear that the two of them have a platonic "work wife/husband" type of relationship and most of that banter revolves around her trying to set him up with other women.
      • In Captain America: Civil War, while Steve has more interactions with Sharon Carter, including some clear sexual tension between them which was somewhat resolved with The Big Damn Kiss early on, his primary motivation and catalyst for his actions is again, Bucky Barnes, who, by this point, is cemented as the second most important character in the Captain America films, after Cap himself. Steve is so loyal and devoted to Bucky that he's willing to split up the Avengers, become a fugitive, desecrate his name and legacy, and more-or-less take on the entire world for him. Bucky, on his end, seemed to stay away from Steve for so long because he didn't want to cause his best friend any more pain. Natasha and Sam also reprise their roles in this film as well, with Natasha proving Steve emotional support at Peggy's funeral (thus the literal rather than the trope form of Comforting the Widow) and particularly Sam, who quickly engages in a semi-friendly rivalry with Bucky that feels an awful lot like interactions between one's first and second wives.
      • Steve's relationships extend into The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, where Steve is gone and both Sam and Bucky are still struggling to deal with the loss in the way that one would with The Lost Lenore, despite Steve technically being only a friend of theirs.
    • Mantis to Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. While they do form a tighter emotional bond than either has with the rest of the team, he makes it clear that he finds her utterly hideous to look at.
    • Valkyrie and Thor in Thor: Ragnarok, according to Word of God.
    • In Captain Marvel (2019), Maria Rambeau is Carol's Not-Love Interest. Maria and her daughter Monica are Carol's Family of Choice, and Monica calls her "Auntie Carol". The actresses even refer to their characters' relationship as the movie's non-romantic "love story" and explicitly compare them to Steve and Bucky in Captain America.
    • In Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Katy serves as Shang-Chi's Muggle Best Friend and emotional support; but the romantic tension between them is almost zero. Katy's grandmother may think they're romantically involved (and in a deleted scene, so does Shang-Chi's sister Xialing before Katy corrects her), but they're firm in confirming that they're Like Brother and Sister instead.
  • On Mary Poppins, Bert. He's the titular protagonist's best friend, but their relationship is platonic. Bert/Mary is still the Fan-Preferred Couple, however.
  • The plot of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Greg even notes the fact that if it were a different kind of story, there would've been more romantic tropes instead of a strong friendship. Nevertheless, Greg's growing friendship with Rachel is the main focus of the film.
  • Mako Mori for Raleigh Becket in Pacific Rim. The two of them quickly go from wary apprehension to mutual respect, culminating in the dojo sparring scene, which was intentionally shot in such a way as to invoke a lovemaking scene instead. It is at this point that Raleigh realizes that Mako is "drift-compatible" with him (the film's Techno Babble for "our brains are similar enough to be directly linked together" — the only other person thus compatible with him was his late brother Yancy) and insists on her as his mech co-pilot for the rest of the film. Despite all this, however, their physical intimacy never goes beyond tightly hugging each other and both smiling with a Headbutt of Love at the end of the movie, suggesting that their relationship will only be platonic. Hasn't stopped them from becoming a popular ship, of course.
  • In Scanners, there's never a hint of romance between hero Cameron Vale and his ally Kim Obrist, because they're too busy fighting for their lives to fall in love. Also, Cameron is terrifying and emotionally stunted because of his psychic affliction.
  • Holmes and Watson in Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard and Lily’s relationship hints at a possible romantic interest between them, but ultimately amounts to Picard giving Lily a peck on the cheek before returning to the 24th century.
    • Dr. Gillian Taylor is similarly this to Captain Kirk in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The character was changed from a male biologist when William Shatner demanded Kirk have a love interest, but nothing ultimately happens between them aside from a kiss on the cheek.
  • Star Wars:
    • In the original trilogy, Leia is this to Luke Skywalker. He's fixated with rescuing her from the moment he sees her, she's the one whose name he screams when he is dangling off a Bespin tower, she's his main confidant and comforter, and threatening to turn her to the Dark Side is his Berserk Button. She's his sister, natch. Of course... other people have interpreted their relationship in other ways. Of course, in this case it's because she was set up as his Love Interest early on, with Luke's sister being planned as a completely different character.
    • In Rogue One, Cassian is this for the protagonist Jyn. They get off on a very wrong foot from the start, but gradually warm up to each other while facing one perilous danger after the other together, and the last we see of them in the movie is a tight hug for courage as the Death Star obliterates them and a good chunk of the planet they're on.
  • Quorra to Sam in TRON: Legacy. She rescues him, they battle together and defend each, she confides to him her desire to see a real sunrise, and the two sometimes have awkwardly cute moments with each other. At the end of the film, though, Quorra and Sam are not dating: a deliberate choice by her actress Olivia Wilde, who knew such a romance would feel unbelievable.
  • Nancy to Max in The Final Girls. While Max does have a romantic relationship with another of the film's leads, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the central relationship of the film isn't between her and the character her mother played in the movie-within-a-movie.

  • Ampris and Elrabin from Alien Chronicles are very close, go through a lot of traumatic times together, and get the odd Ship Tease. But the fact that they are of different species (Aaroun and Kelth respectively) proves an insurmountable barrier, with Ampris especially being unwilling to take a non-Aaroun mate. They end up as close Heterosexual Life-Partners instead.
  • Jason and Rachel in The Beyonders. They're the only two people in Lyrian from our world, they develop a deep bond over the trials they face in that world, and Rachel eventually comes to harbor a bit of a crush on Jason. However, for the most part, their relationship is entirely platonic — Jason even has a separate love interest, and Rachel's crush never comes up during the story.
  • The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, Henry and Vlad. The two are extremely close and often act more like love interests than any of the girls (many girls, in Henry's case) that they are interested in. Vlad seems to be Henry's only serious relationship.
  • In Dragon Bones, the hero, Ward, takes the escaped Beautiful Slave Girl Bastilla with him on his own escape (which was only necessary because he refused to deliver her to those wanting to re-enslave her), after having tended to her wounded feet beforehand. No Rescue Romance ensues, even though the woman tries to invoke it; Ward says he just isn't interested in casual sex, and has no deeper feelings for her. There is also Oreg, who due to some ancient evil magic is Ward's slave (Ward inherited him), and Ward's foremost priority when some of the group (which also includes Ward's sister Ciarra and his brother Tosten) are in need of help. Ward says it's due to the fact that everyone will readily help Ciarra, but Oreg has no one but him. There is some, possibly unintended Ho Yay, but Oreg never becomes a love interest.
  • Rachel and Notak from SG Night's Attrition: the First Act of Penance have a relationship like this. They are virtually inseparable, spend nearly every waking hour together, and occasionally exhibit a certain chemistry. Despite this, and despite the assumptions of several fans, Word of God has stated that the two are Better as Friends, and/or Like Brother and Sister. The same is true of Racath and Alexis, although the platonic nature of their relationship is a little more blatant.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry's relationship like Thomas is like this sometimes. Thomas Raith the incubus is Harry's friend and half-brother and they never have any doubts about the relationship, but when Harry is between girlfriends, Thomas takes on that role in the story a little bit: He's closer to earth in some ways and has needed to be rescued more than once. Although Harry does pretend to be "Toe-moss"'s gay lover once, to keep someone from questioning why he was searching Thomas's apartment ( since nobody else knows that they're half-brothers)
    • Molly Carpenter has this duty when the narrative isn't focused on Thomas. As the daughter of his closest friend and later his apprentice, Harry feels personally responsible for her safety and well-being and blames himself when he fails her. She is in many ways his Distaff Counterpart and Foil and their interactions emphasize how they bounce off of and affect each other. Despite Molly's crush on him, Harry refuses to consider a romantic relationship partly because he doesn't feel that way, party because of the Squick (he knew her when she was a kid and there's the power imbalance of a student-teacher relationship)
  • Harry Potter:
    • Even after Harry fell in love with Ginny Weasley, her brother Ron was the first Weasley he met and the one we see more; indeed, Harry almost never began dating Ginny in out of fear that it would tick Ron off. Perhaps the clearest example of this for Ron is in Goblet of Fire, when the Second Task consists of each Champion rescuing one of their closest loved ones from the merpeople's village. Two of the Champions had to rescue their Love Interest, one their sibling, and Harry had to get Ron.
      Dobby: Harry Potter has to go into the lake and find his Wheezy—
      Harry: Find my what?
      Dobby: —and take his Wheezy back from the merpeople!
      Harry: What's a Wheezy?
      Dobby: Your Wheezy, sir, your Wheezy—Wheezy who is giving Dobby his jumper!
      Harry: What? They've got… they’ve got Ron?
      Dobby: The thing Harry Potter will miss most, sir!
    • Hermione also takes this role with Harry sometimes — notably when the trio were separated in The Deathly Hallows.
      Harry: [to Ron] She's like my sister. I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It's always been like that. I thought you knew.
    • Luna. She was the only one who could successfully comfort Harry after the death of Sirius, and the two later went to a dance together in what was legitimately Not a Date. Word of God even notes that Harry's friendship with her (as well as Neville) is meant to mark his Character Development between books five and six.
  • Honorverse: In the wake of the battle of Lovat, Thomas Theisman and Eloise Pritchart become this to each other, as the man Eloise loved, her de facto husband Javier Giscard, was killed there. With her lover gone, Eloise drew ever closer to Theisman, who quite literally held her hand as she agonised over the decision to authorise the operation that would result in the First Battle of Manticore and became her closest confidant, friend, and supporter. If they were romantically involved, they would fulfill the Ruling Couple trope to a tee.
  • Gale Hawthorne fills this role to Katniss in the first two books of the Hunger Games series, being her best friend, her hunting partner and quite handsome. The Capitol realizes this is a possible problem in selling Katniss' sort-of fake relationship with Peeta and try to pass Gale off as her cousin. It gets more complicated when Gale turns out to have romantic feelings for Katniss, and while she doesn't reciprocate those feelings the situation does confuse her and she wonders if she would have ended up dating him by default if she hadn't gotten to know Peeta.
  • Ozma is this to Dorothy in the Land of Oz books. They're extremely close friends who regularly hold hands and kiss. They also both rule over Oz together. Due their young ages (with Dorothy being vaguely twelve and under while Ozma is no older than physically sixteen) and the time period the books came out during, their relationship is simply a platonic girlish bond. One non-Baum book, Kabumpo in Oz, depicts Ozma as outright disgusted by the idea of romance.
  • The Lord of the Rings.
    • Frodo and Sam. There's obviously strong affection and emotion between the two, and incredible devotion, especially on Sam's side. Sam winds up marrying Rosie Cotton (who seems to have no problem with their bond and even tells Sam to take care of Frodo in the books) and becoming mayor of the Shire, and he and his wife take care of Frodo until he leaves the Shire itself. One of the appendices at the end of the book reveals that after Rosie's death, the elderly Sam ultimately ends up taking a ship to the West, where Frodo is presumably waiting.
    • Merry and Éowyn. He's devoted to her, treats respectfully and commends her courage when everyone else puts down her desire to fight in battle, and the two even kill the Witch-King together. However, Éowyn falls in love with Faramir over their similarities and Merry returns to the Shire with Frodo, Sam, and Pippin.
  • Conn and Rowan in The Magic Thief. They form an incredibly close friendship, to the point where the people around them are even jealous of how close to Rowan Conn is. Conn confides in her, comforts her in times of stress, and she likewise helps him get out of scrapes. But they're Platonic Life-Partners through and through, with nary a hint of romance between them.
  • This practically defines the relationship between Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin. They understand each other without words, and completely trust each other — but both feel that having sex would somehow undermine their relationship. Stressed in the novel where the Big Bad brainwashes Willie, making him believe his lover to be Modesty and the real Modesty to be an evil enemy bent on getting the couple apart. Not knowing about their special relationship, the Big Bad doesn't realize that 'this person had sex with you' and 'this person is Modesty Blaise' is so contradictory it makes Willie doubt his preconceptions and it ultimately helps him fight off the brainwashing.
  • Tal and Milla, the two leads of The Seventh Tower, are this to each other. A boy and a girl, both decently good looking and about the same age (teenagers at that!), whose relationship forms the emotional backbone of the series and who start out hating each other but gradually develop an incredibly strong rapport — and they never make the slightest move towards getting together romantically. Tal at one point admits that Milla is pretty (albeit after another character brings the subject up, and he admits to have not really given it much thought before that) but that's as far as he takes it; Milla never even goes that far. The (admittedly small) fandom still ships them sometimes, though, and neither has an actual Love Interest.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Because Sherlock Holmes isn't that close to his brother Mycroft and eschews the possibility of friendships and romantic interests as things that might get in his way, Dr. Watson is literally the only important person in his life. It's shown most clearly in ''The Three Garridebs'' when Watson is wounded, since he begs him not to be hurt and calmly tells the idiot that if his friend had died on him, he wouldn't have left the room alive, but it's apparent in subtler ways throughout the series. For his part, Watson, despite being a more emotional and social person than Holmes, has few friends, no surviving family, and is unmarried or a widower for most of the series, so that Holmes is the most important person to him.
  • Sword Art Online finds this trope in the Alicization arc character Eugeo. Because Kirito spends so much time in Underworld mentally, he treats Eugeo as if he were a lifetime companion and becomes his brother in arms on the battlefield. Their bond becomes so great that on multiple occasions after the first half of the arc, Eugeo's ideas, supportive words and his Tragic Keepsake, the Blue Rose Sword keep Kirito in his right mind and motivates him. In the climax of the arc Eugeo is even elevated to the importance of Kirito's other love interests, but it is only the former who is able to give the latter a Heroic Second Wind.
  • The Meg Cabot novel Teen Idol is all about a small town girl who has to show a glamorous movie star around her high school while he's preparing for a role. The movie star kick starts the plot, helps her start to come out of her shell and gain some confidence, the two develop a close relationship, he takes her to prom, and then... they both hook up with other people. The Just Friends excuse they were using throughout the book was genuine.
  • This Is Not a Werewolf Story is loosely based on Bisclavret, but it's Raul's best friend, Vincent, who fulfills the role that the wife had in the poem (namely, betraying him). Raul's crush, Mary Anne, provides character motivation but little direct effect on the plot.
  • Meg McCaffery to Apollo in The Trials of Apollo. She's the first one he meets after being expelled from Olympus, and quickly becomes his closest friend during his latest bout of mortality. He is also distraught when she betrays him to her abusive stepfather, Emperor Nero, at the end of The Hidden Oracle, and half of his motivation for defeating the Triumvirate thereafter is to free her from Nero's grasp.
  • In Uprooted, Kasia fills this role for Agnieska — they're childhood friends, and a large fraction of the book's plot is about Agnieska trying to rescue her, first from the Wood, and then from the laws which say that her life is forfeit because she was taken by the Wood.
  • In Spindle's End, Robin McKinley's retelling of Sleeping Beauty, secret princess Rosie and her best friend Peony fill this role for each other. Though they both have male love interests and describe themselves as "sisters," theirs is very much a Pseudo-Romantic Friendship with more than a little Les Yay. After Peony saves Rosie from the evil fairy's curse by masquerading as the princess, pricking her finger on the spindle and falling asleep in her place, Rosie takes on the role traditionally played by the prince in the fairy tale, defeating the evil fairy, rescuing Peony and waking her with a kiss. On the lips.
  • Isaac Asimov's "The Ugly Little Boy": Miss Fellowes develops a crush on Dr Hoskins, but his wife and family are used to clearly shut down the possibility of a romantic relationship developing. Despite that, Miss Fellowes must struggle with her feelings for him, seeing an ersatz relationship through the way they created Timmie (it was his mathematics and company that "gave birth" to Timmie, while she's been taking care of his physical and emotional needs).

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Jack and Liz Lemon. They even get married, accidentally for one episode and still don't see each other as anything but best friends.
  • American Housewife: Oliver's best friend Cooper Bradford functions as his love interest in many plots, in parallel to his sisters' actual love interests, Trip and Franklin. Although Oliver and Cooper are both straight and have had girlfriends, they tend not to last very long, and Oliver's relationship with Cooper is always given much greater prominence. Their bromance is so strong that it seems everyone in Oliver's family ships them together, meaning that much Mistaken for Romance and He Is Not My Boyfriend abounds.
  • Angel: When Spike in Season 5, he quickly takes on a role like this, as their complicated history and relationship drives a lot of drama, far more than anything to do with Angel's actual love interest for the season. Again it's noted by Joss on the DVDs. "We finally found the right girl for Angel — Spike." Hilariously, the in-universe movie adaptation of After the Fall, called "Last Angel in Hell", gender-flips Spike into Angel's love interest.
  • Babylon 5: Susan Ivanova's relationship with most of the male leadership of the station can be described as a form of very affectionate professionalism. Her relationship with Sheridan, in particular, is one of the most important relationships in the show, and despite the complete lack of sexual tension — and it is a complete lack — the storyline makes it painfully clear that they do love each other deeply. Interestingly, in Sheridan's case, this trope is in play despite the fact that he does have a love interest — Ambassador Delenn — with whom he has an equally important and believable relationship. He truly does care equally for both women, simply in completely different ways.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): Apollo and Starbuck to the point that Starbuck is dismayed upon learning that Apollo and Serina are getting married. The relationship is especially obvious in "War of the Gods".
    Apollo: It's me, Apollo. Remember? We talk about things.
  • Body of Proof: Peter is this for the lead character of Megan Hunt. Despite them both being straight, single, and non-family type of partners in a crime-solving drama, there is no hint of them being anything more than friends and co-workers. The writers pull it off quite successfully with very few people passionately shipping them.
  • Boston Legal: While midgets, their mothers, foxy judges and prostitutes aplenty will come and go, Denny Crane and Alan Shore will always find themselves back on the balcony sipping Scotch and smoking a cigar at the end of every day. And then they got married. Denny and Alan... well, they are to The Not-Love Interest what The Not-Love Interest is to UST.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In Season 5, Buffy's newly-created little sister Dawn fulfills this role, to the point where Buffy says, given a choice between killing Dawn, and letting the apocalypse happen — well, goodbye world, it's been fun. Joss Whedon said on the Season 5 DVD "[Buffy's] love interest for the season was her sister."
    • It sometimes seems like any woman Xander dates is doomed to play second fiddle to the two very important women in his life, Buffy and Willow. Cordelia senses it ("When you're not babbling about poor, defenseless Willow, you are raving about the all-powerful Buffy"), and Anya seems to as well ("When things get tough, he/ Just hides behind his Buffy"), hence her fight with Willow in "Triangle" (An imperfect example because both women were in fact love interests for him, but in Willow's case it was only briefly.)
    • Buffy serves as Willow's not-love interest. After Tara's death, before she embarks on her quest for vengeance, Willow visits Buffy, who was shot, and saves her life.
  • Chuck: Chuck and Ellie (his sister) seem to do a lot more hugging than Chuck and Sarah. A good example of that was shown at the end of the Season 5 episode the Santa Suit. Sarah had been captured and kept hostage by Shaw — a man that had vowed to kill her in the past to avenge the death of his wife — for the entirety of the episode. Once Chuck beats Shaw though, he runs over to give Ellie a hug rather than checking to make sure that Sarah, his wife, is alive and unharmed.
  • Criminal Minds: Derek Morgan and Penelope Garcia. This conversation from the Season 3 episode "Penelope" (that takes place after Garcia got shot) says it all:
    Morgan: I'm not going anywhere.
    Garcia: I'm fine, I've got my goon squad parked out front.
    Morgan: Goon squad or no goon squad, until we catch this guy, that couch is gonna be my new best friend. Now leave it alone.
    Garcia: Okay, but if you plan on using this to take advantage of me, let me call my doctor so he can come and revive me.
    Morgan: Hey, silly girl — I love you. You know that, right?
    Garcia: I love you too.
  • Dexter: Dexter has his sister Debra. He even notes in one episode that if he could have feelings for anyone, they would be for her. However it's revealed that Debra has supressed feelings of the non-platonic kind in Season 6 and later she admits it when Dexter gets a new love interest in Season 7.
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor has this kind of dynamic with the majority of his companions. Especially notable are Sarah Jane Smith from the classic show, Donna Noble and the Tenth Doctor in New Series 4, and (once the ship was sunk) the Eleventh Doctor with Amy Pond & Rory Williams. He even went so far as to call them "the people I LOVE!!!" in one episode (to date the only time he has ever invoked the L-word with his companions as usually The "I Love You" Stigma is in place, even with regards to the handful of companions he unambiguously falls in love with — including one he marries. Humorously enough, the companion he did marry is actually Amy and Rory's daughter, so they are technically his in-laws (Amy more so since Ten once got engaged to Elizabeth I and Amy accidentally to Beth's dad in a Noodle Incident). Ian and Barbara also warrant a mention, as they are the companions who teach the Doctor to be less of a Jerkass and he becomes far closer to them than most others — being forever damaged by their departure much like the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors are by losing their companions.
  • Downton Abbey: In the sixth and final season, Mary Crawley and Tom Branson became this to each other. They're technically brother/sister-in-law, and after the deaths of their respective spouses they became inseparable (not counting Tom's brief sojourn in America). Together they manage the estate of Downton Abbey, and became a surprise Fan-Preferred Couple within the fandom thanks to the warmth and solidarity of their scenes together.
  • Elementary: Joan Watson now portrayed as a woman, many viewers expected Joan to be paired together with Sherlock. They share a very close bond, are near inseparable, and live in the same apartment... But Word of God is they will not fall for each other, and shippers aside they do not seem attracted to each other outside the norm for Sherlock and Watson. Joan is Sherlock's Living Emotional Crutch and he cares for her, but not in a romantic way.
  • Eureka: Sheriff Carter and his Deputy Jo Lupo, but instead of a romance developing with those two, Carter ends up being involved with Doctor Blake. Partly subverted, when Allison seemingly travels several years into the future and learns that Carter has moved on after her disappearance and has hooked up with Jo, but this is revealed to be a computer simulation, possibly based on her fears.
  • Firefly:
    • Kaylee seems to play this role for most of the crew (with the writers even admitting that the easiest way to create drama for everyone was to threaten her), with the exception of her actual Love Interest Simon.
    • While Simon and Kaylee are an Official Couple, he has his own not-love interest in the form of his sister River. Part of the reason Simon and Kaylee took a long time to get together was because Simon was busy taking care of River.
    • Mal and Zoe. One episode centers around Wash's complaints that there's UST between them. However, at the end of the episode Mal and Zoe's attempted kiss (to "defuse" this so-called tension) is painfully awkward. Even the resident badass Jayne, normally the most lecherous member of the crew, is unnerved.
      Zoe: (dead monotone) Take me, sir. Take me hard.
      Jayne: Now somethin' about that is just downright unsettlin'.
  • The Flash (2014): Caitlin Snow is the best friend of Barry Allen and Cisco Ramon since the pilot, and she has never shown any love interest in either at any time. They have never shown any romantic feeling for her either.
  • Frasier has the titular character and Roz, his producer and eventual best friend. Despite being the likelier candidate of the two female leads to become Frasier's partner in a game of Will They or Won't They? (the other female lead, Daphne, is quickly established as the Love Interest for Frasier's brother Niles), nothing ever really happens. Their commitment to being Just Friends even survives them actually sleeping together towards the end of the show's run. There's no Last Minute Hook Up, either: in the end they remain best friends, with Roz focusing on her daughter and her career, while Frasier gets with the final Girl of the Week.
  • Friends:
    • Joey and Chandler especially in early seasons when they were roommates. Before Chandler starts dating Monica in Season 5, he and Joey were considered to be "the other couple of the series" (along with Ross/Rachel) by some interviewers and even the producers.
    • Joey and Phoebe. Also a Fan-Preferred Couple and often hinting about potentially being together in a future. Besides some isolated kisses, they never actually dated or had sex. Lisa Kudrow and Matt Le Blanc even wanted to throw in a line during Phoebe's wedding episode that implied the two had been having casual sex throughout the show's run but the producers denied them.
  • Glee:
    • Kurt Hummel has a perfectly good boyfriend to whom he is devoted, in the form of Blaine, but his father Burt will always, always be more important than anybody else in his life, especially after Burt's heart attack.
    • Kurt also has another one in his "Brassy Hag" Mercedes. They're always there for each other, they do basically everything together, they're incredibly close...but Kurt just happens to be gay and not interested. Early in the first season, though, Mercedes was none the wiser and actually thought they were going out, until Kurt turned her down and later came out to her.
  • The Goldbergs: Emmy fits this role to Adam. While they make it clear that they do love each other Adam states that she's like a sibling, and there's no romantic feelings between them whatsoever.
  • The Good Doctor: Shaun Murphy and Claire Browne. They have worked together in the hospital since the pilot and she was the first co-worker with whom Shaun befriended. Their friendship goes beyond the merely professional, and even so, they have never shown any romantic interest in each other. Instead, it is Shaun's neighbor, Lea, who ends up becoming his Love Interest.
  • Meredith and Cristina Grey's Anatomy. Despite having romantic relationships with men, they are the most important people in each others' lives. Meredith calls Cristina "her person" and, occasionally, her soul-mate. They always go to each other first for help/advice, don't keep secrets from each other, and sometimes sleep in the same bed. Their romantic interests know that they can never get between them and they would always choose each other over them. After Cristina's departure from the show, Alex becomes this for Meredith, yet there isn't an ounce of romantic attraction between them. They clearly treat one another as brother and sister, and Meredith sees nothing wrong with barging into his room and flopping into his bed, when she's upset and wants to talk (even kicking out Alex's actual Love Interest).
  • Henry Danger: Unlike most Kid Coms, there are no romantic feelings between Charlotte and Henry. They fill the role of Platonic Life-Partners, and think the idea of dating each other is disgusting.
  • House: House and Wilson, given that they're based on Holmes and Watson. Much like Sherlock, there is no doubt that they would die for each other, and House would definitely kill for Wilson. Wilson is the most important person in House's life, everyone else who comes close eventually leaves. He's also the only person House seems to genuinely care about. Wilson even describes them as "a couple", both in terms of the roles they fulfill for each other and how devoted they are (even if he expresses this in a rueful, jokey way). The endgame of the series is their relationship, whether you want to interpret it as romantic or not, as along the way we see them make huge sacrifices for each other, House *spectacularly* so in the series finale.
  • In the first series of Kamen Rider Amazons, Mizuki fills the standard "heroine" role for protagonist Haruka, complete with the Will They or Won't They? element. The show and promo material also draw deliberate parallels between her and Nanaha, the girlfriend of the other titular Kamen Rider. Although Mizuki and Haruka are presented as stepsiblings/adoptive siblings, the final episode reveals that they're really blood related after all, since they share the same genetic mother. The potential romantic angle is then dropped in the second series.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent has police partners Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames. Eames is Goren's Berserk Button and Most Important Person; being something of a Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder, she's the one person who really loves and understands him, and he's shown on several occasions to be lost without her despite his brilliance. They are either Love Interests or this trope; YMMV.
  • The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: No one will ever be as important to Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers as they are to each other, to the point where they have explicitly called each other their reason to get up in the morning. Lynley's relationship with Helen consistently takes a backseat to his relationship with Barbara. If they're not in love with each other, they're this trope.
  • Dr. Cal Lightman and Dr. Gillian Foster on Lie to Me, partners who own the Lightman Group and have serious Will They or Won't They? going on. Made explicit in "The Whole Truth", when Cal talks to the fiancee of a man who engineered his own assisted suicide with the help of his best friend (named Leo):
    Clara: What about Dr. Foster? What is she to you?
    Cal: She's my Leo.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Agent Carter gives Peggy Carter a Not-Love Interest of the same sex, Angie Martinelli. She provides Peggy with emotional support after a fellow agent's death, gets upset when Peggy's double life keeps them from spending time together, and helps her escape the SSR agents hunting her without questioning her innocence.
    • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
      • Coulson seems be the only lead character with no potential love interests among the main cast. In relation to the two women on his team who potentially fill the typical role of the hero's love interest, he's more of a Parental Substitute to Skye, and while there are hints of a long-ago history between him and May, they seem to be Just Friends these days. Of course, The Avengers established that he did have a love interest before the show started, but there's a good reason why he and Audrey can't be together just now and an episode was devoted to Ship Sinking them, with Coulson declining to reunite with her so she can get on with her life. He finally gets an actual love interest in the third season, but she gets gunned down midway through. After that, he and May get more Ship Teases and they consider rekindling their old relationship, but for various reasons it stays an Anchored Ship and they don't pursue it further. Even when they finally get together late in Season 5, the fact that Coulson is dying due to his deal with the Ghost Rider puts a damper on it.
      • Another example is Mack for Fitz during Season 2: As Fitz and Simmons go through their Romance Arc, Mack fulfills the role of the Romantic False Lead for Fitz. He and Fitz bond while Simmons is undercover in Hydra and the drama that plays out between the three seems very much like a Love Triangle with Simmons acting very jealous and Mack appearing as a tempting potential partner.
    • Daredevil (2015) and The Punisher (2017): Although Frank Castle and Karen Page do seem to have a lot of chemistry, and a number of their scenes have romantic undertones, and they care for each other, they both have their own personal issues to deal with that mean that they have no chance of getting together. Namely, that Frank is not over the death of his family, while Karen is in love with Matt, and in The Punisher is still mourning Matt after he "died" in the finale to The Defenders (2017).
    • Moon Knight (2022): Even though Marc Spector and Steven Grant are clearly devoted to their wife Layla, Marc's efforts to push her away and keep her at arm's length results in Steven assuming a lot of the story duties a love interest typically would in her place, especially since he's a meek Non-Action Guy who is initially kept out of the dark as to Marc's superhero activities, traits typical of civilian love interests to superheroes. Steven provides an emotional bedrock for the troubled Marc, while Marc tries his hardest to keep Steven separate from his dangerous life as a crimefighter, resulting in their relationship being the most intimate of the ones shown onscreen.
  • M*A*S*H: Hawkeye Pierce was a notorious casanova, but in the later seasons his relationship with BJ was his closest, to the point where their goodbye became the final scene and emotional climax of the entire series. Hawkeye flat out tells him he's the best friend he's ever had. They have also gotten (platonically) jealous of each other's friendships with other men, from Hawkeye subtly distrusting Leo Bardanero in "Last Laugh" to BJ's ongoing jealousy of Trapper. They bicker like an old married couple and their REALLY intense fights ("Period of Adjustment," "Preventive Medicine") are WHAM episodes. They "get back together" before the rolling credits both times.
  • Merlin: No matter their differences, the insults flung between them, or the abuse heaped upon one another, Merlin and Arthur are destined to be together. Just not together together.
  • Miss Sherlock: Since the series is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Wato Tachibana (aka Wato-san) naturally fulfills a lot of roles in her dynamic with Sherlock that would go to a love interest in another work. While their dynamic is colder than most versions, their growing bond forms the emotional core of the series. Wato is even kidnapped at one point to get Sherlock's cooperation in an I Have Your Wife situation. Sherlock even gets out of her funk in the finale for the specific purpose of saving Wato and sacrifices herself to save Wato from the Big Bad, with Wato shown to be devastated by her death in the way a Love Interest would normally be.
  • Monk: Monk's closest relationship is with his nurse Sharona and later on her replacement Natalie. They are not romantically involved. Given that they were inspired by Holmes and Watson, it's a given. However, in Monk's case, it's because he never really got over his wife's death, which is what messed him even more so. To Monk, he's still gonna be married to Trudy and even takes her daughter as kinda his own.
  • Nikita: Nikita and Alex share this role on the titular show in that much of the main emotional arc involves the two of them despite their independent romantic entanglements.
  • Once Upon a Time: Emma Swan often ends up fulfilling roles in her dynamic with Regina Mills that would go to a love interest in another work. While the first three seasons strongly focus on the two having trouble navigating how to raise their son together, once they get the hang of it, both admit a couple of times that they can't imagine raising him without the other. Emma is often seen providing Regina with emotional support, such as comforting her when Robin leaves by having shots with Regina, easily agreeing to help her find the Author, or believing her multiple times even when no one else does. When the Darkness tries to claim Regina, Emma sacrifices herself to save her, saying that Regina had worked too hard to have her happiness destroyed. When Emma is trapped in the Wish Realm, it's Regina, not Emma's love interest Hook, who goes to the other Realm to save her. Even the final scene sees the two reunited after years, with the final two shots being of the two smiling at each other.
  • In Once Upon a Time in Wonderland Alice is on a quest to rescue her Love Interest from the villains, but she's joined by her old friend Will, the Knave of Hearts. It's clear that the two of them have a (platonic) history together, and they have the central relationship of the show.
  • Parks and Recreation:
    • Ron and Leslie are very close friends despite their wildly different personalities and Ron's general antisocial nature. But there's no hint of romantic subtext in their relationship. Ron's eventual wife Diane reveals that she feels far more threatened by Leslie than Ron's ex-wife Tammy (who he is immensely sexually attracted to but also hates).
    • Donna and Tom provide another example. Donna describes Tom as "her little prince" and the two made up a holiday where they do nothing but try fancy things together. However, other than a possibly flirtatious moment in Season 2 and a single kiss in Season 3, neither ever seem to regard the other in a romantic fashion.
  • Proof has Cat Tyler and Ivan Turing. Turing has recruited Cat to help him find hard evidence of the existence of an afterlife, but since he has cancer, it's already likely that he has no romantic feelings for her. Her husband, Leonard Barliss, has to be convinced, so Turing tells him that he's dying, though he wanted it kept secret, so that he wouldn't get the wrong idea about his wife.
    Turing: If things were different... you'd have a fight on your hands.
  • Psych: Girlfriends may come and go, but Shawn and Gus will always be the most important people in each others lives. Though the hit slash pairing is Lassiter and Shawn.
    • Hell, the series finale had Shawn, when proposing to Juliet, more or less admit that Gus is along for the ride, even when he meets "his Juliet" in a hilarious speech. Gus and Juliet more or less nod, knowing that being married to Shawn means Juliet is gonna be with Gus (platonically) as well.
  • The US version of Queer as Folk has Michael Novotny and Brian Kinney. While they don't get the explicit romantic pairing of their British counterparts, it's clear that they're it for each other. Twinks come and go, husbands and children and family are important, but when it comes down to it, the comic-book addicted geek and the slutboi-with-issues are the love story of the show.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, the above-mentioned Sarah Jane Smith finds her Not-Love Interest: her adopted son, Luke. Their relationship is the heart and foundation of the show.
  • Scrubs has Heterosexual Life-Partners JD and Turk, who lived together for over ten years since meeting in college. They've acknowledged the fact that they're practically married, even after Turk is actually married to Carla. When Turk went on his honeymoon, JD secretly went to visit him there since they couldn't stand to be away from each other, and he couldn't wait to come back home to see JD. Carla has accepted the fact that Turk will apparently never love her as much as he loves JD, and JD told Carla (while drunk) that she can never love Turk like he does. This is why it was such a big deal when JD told Elliot he loved her more than Turk after they finally became an Official Couple.
  • In The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg serves as this for Jim Ellison, serving as a support to deal with Jim's physical and emotional problems as a Sentinel and also needing Jim to rescue him every other episode.
  • Sherlock:
  • Skins had this with Emily and JJ in the latter's S3 episode. They helped each other overcome their problems and became close friends and, at the end of the episode, they even slept together. However, Emily made it clear from the beginning that it was a pity screw, simply a response to JJ's earlier statement that if he got to be normal for a day, the first thing he'd do was lose his virginity. The viewers know it's not going anywhere since, like the Kurt/Mercedes example above, Emily just isn't into boys that way.
  • Sleepy Hollow has Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills. The former is married and the latter has a quasi-love interest of her own, but the two of them are the Witnesses mentioned in the Bible's Revelation and their relationship is the centerpiece of the show. That said, neither the actors or the writers have discounted the possibility of a hook-up later down the track. However, her death at the end of Season 3 puts a crimp in the prospect.
  • Smallville: Up until around early Season 8, Clark Kent and Chloe Sullivan, to the point where real-world journalists who hadn't kept up with the series assumed they were a couple in Season 6.
  • Tim and Daisy in Spaced. One of the series's main subplots is the slow-but-steady erosion of the "not" from the phrase. The last scene in the "Skip to the End" documentary demonstrates this, showing them as a couple with a child.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk and Spock are each other's Not Love Interests, so much so that they inspired the first Slash Fic. Roddenberry himself declared about a romantic relationship: "...we certainly believe that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." Played more straight in the 2009 movie, with Kirk and Spock re-enacting the basic pride and prejudice hate-turns-into-love story... only platonically. Damion Lindelof (producer) even commented on the DVD that the heart of the story was Kirk and Spock "falling in love with each other, in a way, but not in a romantic way, in a Butch and Sundance way."
  • Starsky & Hutch are often this towards each other, especially when in danger.
  • Strong Medicine:
    • Lu's friend Peter. Never an ounce of Will They or Won't They? tension, just good friendship. With Dana also. Even though he insists on sleeping with her when she asks him to be her sperm donor, it's not the consummation of Unresolved Sexual Tension, just his belief that the natural way to conceive a child is best.
    • Also, Dr. Dylan West. He and Lu can't stand each other, which usually means Belligerent Sexual Tension. Actually, it just means that. . . they can't stand each other. When they finally do start to get along, it's not because they're developing feelings for each other, just that they're learning to work together.
  • Supernatural:
    • Sam and Dean make it clear that, no matter what, they are each other's #1 priority. In the Season 8 finale, Dean flat-out tells Sam "Don't ever think that there is anything I would put before you, ever!" while trying to stop Sam from sacrificing himself to trap all demons in Hell permanently, and Sam tells Dean that his biggest regret in life is all the times he's let Dean down. Sam initially gets pissed at Dean for stopping him from shutting the Gates of Hell (never mind that he stopped of his own volition) but eventually admits that he would have done the same thing. They've also been Mistaken for Gay many times in-universe. Dean notes in "The Chitters" that the old married couple bicker in much the same way Sam and Dean do (though he doesn't know the former are a couple yet)."
    • Castiel also fills this role for Dean and vice versa (at least, until it's confirmed in the final episodes that Castiel is in love with Dean after all). Dean spends almost a full year in Purgatory trying to save Castiel and praying for him every day, snaps Castiel out of insanity/brainwashing multiple times by telling him he needs him, mourns him like a lost lover whenever he dies to the point where Sam compares it to the way their father grieved over their mother, and Castiel has given up his life and the favor of Heaven to protect Dean too many times to count. In fact, pretty much the main reason Castiel ended up becoming the closest thing Dean had to a long-term love interest outside of Sam was that he clearly wasn't intended to be a love interest for Dean; as this summary of early Supernatural fandom details, the fans vehemently rejected the show's attempts to create a female love interest for Dean because they feared that a romance would take focus away from Dean and Sam's relationship but they embraced Castiel who was male and thus not a romantic threat to the brothers' bromance, which ironically led to Castiel getting almost the same amount of screentime and emotional energy with Dean that a traditional female love interest would have had.
  • Teen Wolf: Life-long best friend Stiles is this to Scott. While Scott does have a Love Interest Allison, their relationship is pretty intermittent and she's often off dealing with other issues or even on opposite sides of the conflict. Meanwhile Stiles is almost constantly by Scott's side, makes it his personal responsibility to hold him together, is Scott's confidant for his secrets and worries and they both use The Power of Love to save each other. Stiles is also the only member of the pack without training or supernatural powers so often needs Scott's physical protection. At one point the season villain pulls the classic I Have Your Wife move and has Stiles kidnapped and beaten because he knows that's the best way to scare Scott.
    Gerard: You have a knack for creating a vivid picture, Mr. Stilinski. Let me paint one of my own. Scott McCall finds his best friend bloodied and beaten to a pulp. How does that sound now?
  • In The Tunnel, Karl Roebuck and Elise Wasserman team up in order to hunt down the Truth Terrorist, but never become an item. Ironically, Elise is perhaps the only woman that Karl (currently on his third marriage) doesn't flirt with, cheat with, or show romantic interest in over the course of the show.
  • Wallace to Veronica Mars. Of course, Executive Meddling said it would never happen.
  • Tori and Andre from Victorious. Made more interesting that they've done two love duets, but they're best friends and don't see each other as anything more. The only real moment of Ship Tease between the two resulted from Andre's crush on another character, which had Tori dress up and pretend to be the other character and that only results in an Almost Kiss.
  • In Warehouse 13 You have Pete and Myka, in a show like this normally the two main characters have UST, but Pete and Myka have purely platonic feelings for each other and don't think of each other in a sexual way, which Myka states in one episode after they think they had sex.
  • The West Wing
    • President Jed Bartlet and Leo McGarry. They act and bicker exactly like an old married couple, spend all the time possible together, tease and flirt (in a joking way), and play a blatantly spousal/parental role in the staff's nuclear family-modeled True Companions. While Jed may have an excellent wife and family outside of the west wing of the White House, Leo is for all purposes the love interest in Jed's "other" family inside the west wing, with the thrill of politics in place of sex and romance.
    • For the vast majority of the series this seemed to be the case with Josh and Donna. They have an extremely close bond and often act like an old married couple; even the press core knows how much they mean to each other (when Donna and Toby's ex wife/baby mama are involved in a terrorist bombing the reporters call Toby for information out of respect for how upset Josh must be). Yet it's not until midway through the last season that they show any actual romantic interest in one another.
  • Wire in the Blood had Dr. Tony Hill and his Most Important Person DCI Carol Jordan. Seeing as Tony has difficulty being a real boy on the best of days, Carol kept him grounded and reminded him there was life outside work and serial killers.
  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files were this for each other from the get-go, and they were supposed to stay that way; the original idea was that they would never be more than platonic work partners. However, the chemistry between the actors caused their platonic relationship to look pretty non-platonic in the eyes of the fans, and by Season 5, the writers started playing with the idea that they could be more than friends. By Season 7, they were.

    Role-Playing Games 

  • Annie and Daddy Warbucks from Annie. Daddy Warbucks even has a Heartfelt Declaration of Love song, complete with waltz and their final duet is entitled "I Don't Need Anything but You."
  • The musical Baker Street has Irene Adler as Sherlock Holmes's Not-Love Interest. Though a few of Irene's numbers could be called love songs, and Holmes does go Undercover as Lovers with her, he remains a decidedly Celibate Hero.
  • Mark and Roger from RENT. Exemplified by the fact that the big reconciliation after Roger leaves New York for Santa Fe, and then comes back is not between Roger and his girlfriend, Mimi — it's Roger and Mark, who get an entire song ("What You Own") dueting about how similarly-miserable and yet still devoted to each other they are.

  • Several in BIONICLE, in part due to most characters being asexual and aromantic. For example, Gali tends to fill this role for Tahu, as she often argues with him and he is more protective of her than the other Toa. The two address each other as "brother" and "sister", although, this doesn't stop the shippers since they're Not Blood Siblings.

    Video Games 
  • Ao Oni: Mika/Megumi for Hiroshi. Her core motivator in the games (from Version 5.0 onward, anyway) is to find Takuro — or wait for him to find her — so they can leave together.
  • This is actually enforced in Aveyond, as the lead producer, Amanda, claims to prefer "unusual" pairings, and deliberately makes the most obvious Love Interest archetype non-Canon.
    • In Ahriman's Prophecy, Childhood Friends Talia and Devin are the only two Required Party Member in the game. Talia is sent out from her tiny village to become The Chosen One, and Devin is the only one willing to accompany her in her quest to keep her safe. The game then gives the option for Devin to either marry Talia or Alicia. Despite Alicia not being too relevant plot-wise, the sequel reveals that Devin does canonically marry Alicia, while Talia marries an unnamed priest.
    • In Rhen's Quest, Rhen's first and most steadfast companion is Lars, whom she shares a tumultuous history with (he was her master when she was Made a Slave, and he used to bully her when they both attended Shadwood Academy). Throughout the journey, he grew out of his selfish immaturity and even apologizes to Rhen for his past behaviour. He also shows some hints of jealousy when Dameon flirts with Rhen. But while Rhen acknowledges Lars's growth, she doesn't fall in love with him, choosing Dameon instead.
    • Word of God states that the Canon Official Couple in the Aveyond 3 series is Edward/Stella, even though Edward spends more time and shares a lot more interaction with the series's main protagonist, Mel.
    • Shadow Of The Mist has Myst, the Deuteragonist whose mission to save her little brother triggers Boyle's Redemption Quest to become a hero. Despite having the typical role of a Mystical Waif Magical Girlfriend, she explicitly says that she can't stand people like Boyle, and has more of a Ship Tease with Robin.
  • In the "This is not a Meet Cute" department, there's Double H to Jade in Beyond Good & Evil. After Double H's rescue, he becomes Jade's loyal sidekick, following her everywhere. His single-sided devotion to her slowly deepens to a real friendship between the two of them. However, there's no overt romance between them, though they are frequently shipped.
  • Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite has many cute moments with Booker DeWitt, including one early in the game where she near-coyly asks if he has a "woman in his life". Nothing comes of it, but seeing as he's her father it's probably for the best.
  • In Disco Elysium, there are various characters your detective has obvious attraction to and a crippling breakup in his backstory. However, the character whose opinions you will be most concerned about over the course of the game is your partner, Kim Kitsuragi, who has Relationship Values with you and becomes more of a Defrosting Ice King as the story progresses. (Or, you can be racist and horrible and make him unable to defend you.)
  • Kian and Likho from Dreamfall Chapters are both gay and can become very close during the game depending on player choice. Despite this, there is no hint of romantic or sexual attration between the two and they will only refer to each other as "brothers". There is a good reason for this though: Kian killed Likho's father, so the fact that they can go from sworn enemies to brothers in arms is remarkable in and of itself.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Alistair and Morrigan are the most obvious ones, provided you're outside of their preferred gender, but pretty much anyone in your party can become this.
    • In the City Elf origin, Shianni serves this role for the protagonist. She's given a lot more characterisation that the Player Character's bride/groom and she shares more emotional dialogue with him/her, leading one to infer that the only reason she's not the love interest is because she's supposed to be one of their many cousins.
    • Dragon Age II follows suit with Aveline and Varric, neither of whom can be romanced. However, the game actually does go out of the way to Ship Tease Aveline and Hawke (if the player chooses) before sinking that ship. Word of God has mentioned they originally thought about including a scene where an unromanced Hawke would have met up with Varric at the end, revealing the two were in a secret relationship.
    • Dragon Age: Inquisition:
      • Felix for companion Dorian Pavus. He's Dorian's best friend and helps him by infiltrating the Venatori, but Dorian states that there was never anything between them as Dorian would not have betrayed the trust of his then-mentor, Felix's father, by seducing his son.
      • Dorian can also be this for a female Inquisitor, as there are a number of opportunities for the characters to flirt as their friendship grows stronger. Due to Incompatible Orientation, they can never be a ship, but (depending on player choices) this doesn't in the slightest hinder their flirtations.
  • The Dawnguard expansion of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim gives us Serana, the Friendly Neighborhood Vampire. She's easily the NPC with whom the Dovahkiin can have the most emotional scenes, has plenty of unique dialogue, and exudes plenty of Ship Tease in their interactions. However, because of her unusual circumstances, she is not a candidate for marriage and will let the Dovahkiin down gently if they try to propose. (Unsurprisingly, fans of the pairing responded by creating mods that allow her to be married.)
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Terra in Final Fantasy VI is upset that she can't feel love, and, in the second half of the game, finds it — looking after a town of orphaned children.
    • In Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core, Zack's main love interest is Aerith — but his friend Cloud is the one who he ends up rescuing, fighting for, and dying for.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has this with Noel and Serah. They have basically the same dynamic as any other male and female lead of a JRPG, but Serah is engaged to Snow, and Noel has Ship Tease with Yeul.
    • Final Fantasy XV:
      • The primary relationship is between Noctis and his best friends, especially Prompto, who is the closest to Noct out of all of them and has the most prominent emotional plotline, including needing to be rescued.
      • Episode Ignis clarifies that Ravus's Face–Heel Revolving Door is all in the name of protecting his beloved sister, to whom he is completely dedicated, to the point of obsession. This is justified, as he lost all his other family members due to Regis's actions.
      • Episode Ignis: Extra Verse shows Ignis able to Screw Destiny and bring about a Golden Ending out of his love for his best friend, Noct.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • This is actually a possibility for any game where ships are decided by the player. Of note are lord character with a teased relationship and many love interest options; e.g. Eliwood and Ninian or Roy and Lilina.
    • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn:
      • Princess Elincia is one for Ike. When we first meet Elincia in Path of Radiance, it seems possible, even likely, that she'll end up together with Ike due to Rescue Romance conventions, Ship Tease, and the fact that she's the most important female character in the game. Not helping is how much the English version played up the Ship Tease, and the fact that the two practically walk into the sunset holding hands at the end. In Radiant Dawn, not only do the two spend less time around each other, but Ike has paired endings only with Soren and Ranulf, and Elincia only with Geoffrey.
      • Mist and Rolf would seem like an obvious pair to new players. They are introduced and recruited together. They clearly share a very close bond. And both appear too young to be paired with anyone else but each other. Many players were surprised to learn that Mist's only paired ending is with Rolf's older brother: Boyd.
      • Aran and Laura. The two have all the hallmarks of a Childhood Friend Romance, but don't have a paired ending.
    • Chrom and The Avatar, AKA Robin of either gender in Fire Emblem Awakening. If you don't choose a Female Avatar as one of Chrom's possible brides, they remain as each other's best friends and "two sides of a coin".
    • A similar case to the above is Azura and The Avatar, AKA Corrin of either gender, in Fire Emblem Fates. While Male Corrin and Azura receive heavy Ship Tease, it is entirely possible for them to end up as Platonic Life-Partners instead.
  • Spiritual Successor TearRing Saga has Sasha. She's a blue-haired pegasus-riding princess of a nation allied to The Hero, who is introduced early in the story, making her an extremely blatant Expy of Fire Emblem's first love interest, Caeda... and she and The Hero have no romance at all. He always hooks up with Enteh, and while one recruitable character has a crush on Sasha, nothing comes of it and she has no explicit romance in the epilogue.
  • Hitman's Agent 47 and his handler, Diana Burnwood. The two have worked together in the ICA for years and they both place a great deal of trust on each other, but their relationships and interactions are mostly strictly profession, not to mention 47 is just an absolutely stone cold man. Still, there is a tiny bit of Ship Tease sprinkled here and there.
  • In Kingdom Hearts:
    • Sora's devotion to his friend Riku and determination to find him is one that you would normally expect to see an RPG hero express towards a Damsel in Distress Love Interest.
      Sora: Riku... It's Riku. Riku's here! I looked for you. I looked everywhere for you!!
    • Roxas and Xion. The latter fills the traditional role of a JRPG protagonist's love interest, but there does not seem to be romantic love involved. It is probably since they are too young to understand what love is.
  • Elisabeth Blanctorche from The King of Fighters is this to Ash Crimson, specially since she's also his Only Friend and the person whom he did... well, everything he did in the Tales of Ash saga for.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Rean has a rivalry with Crow who betrays them at the climax of the first game. Come the second game, Rean is very insistent in bringing Crow back to the academy. And when they finally meet each other face to face in a long while, Crow's first action is to cook breakfast for him, then tells his past towards Rean after the latter really insisted on it with lines that wouldn't look out of place for the hero and his love interest. Add their duels which are so over the top their friends call them out on it with the resident Little Miss Snarker claiming that they're in their "own little world", and the fact that they have the only Combination Attack in the entire saga, and it's really hard to not see Crow as Rean's sorta love interest, despite the game having a dating sim of sorts (which really did little to curb the notion as Crow's events in Cold Steel II and beyond are mandatory to the plot).
  • In The Legend of Zelda, while there are titles where Zelda and Link are romantically interested in each other, there are just as many where the two are never implied to be or become anything more than friends, or are little more than acquaintances throughout. The biggest example of this in the series is Twilight Princess, where Link has two Implied Love Interestsnote  that he frequently interacts with, neither of whom is Zelda, who is entirely stoic and professional in her brief dealings with him.
  • Mass Effect:
    • For a player who chooses not to have Shepard (of either gender) enter into a relationship with her, Liara falls into this role during the second and third game. While Shepard has their coterie of True Companions, Liara's loyalty and devotion to Shepard takes her beyond that of a mere friend and teammate.
    • Male Shephard has Tali comes to this level in the second game if he manages to negotiate her loyalty mission with her father's reputation intact.
    • Thane can fill this role for female Shepard, to the point that his death scene makes it quite clear he loves her deeply, as she does him.
    • Garrus fulfills this role for Shepard when not romanced. He respects Shepard greatly and relies on them for moral guidance; his introduction quest in the second game is basically a Rescue Romance; and during their goodbye before the final battle, they both pull a Try Not to Die on each other, and Shepard even admits "There's no Shepard without Vakarian." Garrus is also shown to be pretty good at seeing through Shep's heroic persona and offering them moral support when they're breaking down.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Otacon is Solid Snake's Not Love Interest. In Metal Gear Solid, they have what could be described as a Meet Cute in a warped sort of way, exchange some emotionally loaded dialogue, and, if Meryl (the actual love interest) dies, Snake leaves with Otacon instead. In Metal Gear Solid 2, they're best friends for the whole game, tease each other and support each other emotionally when things get rough. In Metal Gear Solid 4, they're raising a kid together, Otacon is supporting Snake through his serious illness, and the game ends with an emotional declaration from the both of them that they will stay together until the end of Snake's life. Hideo Kojima even stated, with some irony, that Otacon was Snake's 'love interest' in 4. The voice actors have some fun with how "Not" Otacon actually is (see the lengthy MGS entry under Ho Yay). In canon, though, MGS4 tried to sink the Snake/Otacon ship and make it clear he was the Not Love Interest and Snake's Platonic Most Important Person. It didn't work.
    • Meryl counts, too. Even though she canonically survives, she never does become Snake's love interest. Hell, she actually hooks up with the series' dedicated Butt-Monkey!
  • The story of Monster Hunter 4 sets this up between the Player Character (who has a Purely Aesthetic Gender) and the Ace Commander. He has a general Tsundere attitude towards the Player Character, admires their accomplishments over the course of the story and saves them from drowning at sea at some point. There's even a victory cutscene during which a mutual friend pats the Ace Commander and the Player Character on the shoulder at the same time with a big smile on his face while they're shaking hands.
  • Mortal Kombat: Jax and Sonya are partners in the Special Forces, and are usually seen together. Jax is very protective of Sonya and is not happy when he sees Johnny Cage flirting with her. However, Jax is already married, and Sonya goes on to marry Cage (yes, we know). It's possible their relationship is closer to a Mentor-Apprentice bond.
  • Kumatora to Duster (or maybe it's the other way around) in Mother 3. When Duster gets Easy Amnesia for three years), it's Kumatora who stays with him throughout it, even if only on the sidelines. And while she hides herself behind harsh words, she genuinely seems to care for him. But as for love? There's no real evidence of that.
    • This similarly applies to Lucas and Kumatora, which might be jarring for those who have played the previous two games in the series, in which the protagonist and lead girl are either outright confirmed to be a couplenote  or highly implied to be onenote . Kumatora is good friends with Lucas, but there's no indication that either feels anything beyond that.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2:
  • The Persona games often have this with the best friend character being pretty close.
    • Persona 3 has Junpei Iori being the best friend to the main character, either male or female. While he's initially resentful of his more accomplished best friend, the two become pretty close. This is more notable if the main character is female as he is more like an older brother figure and it never becomes romantic between the two (notably, Junpei is the only one with a solid love interest, albeit one who dies though the Updated Re-release has a way for you to save her if you know what you're doing.
    • Persona 4:
      • The protagonist and Yosuke. Both of them refer to each other as "partner" and there is a surprisingly deep and impactful friendship between them. This unusual relationship actually came about because Yosuke was originally supposed to be the Gay Option. Even with the relationship now platonic, the deeper elements are still notable.
      • Yukiko and Chie. During the quest to rescue Yukkiko, Shadow Yukiko reveals that she considered Chie a female version of Prince Charming. Chie's English voice actress has pointed out her thoughts that Chie may have a crush on Yukiko. Yukiko herself does admire Chie, but there's not much known on her side (though she does think Chie and Yosuke would make a cute couple).
    • Persona 5:
      • Joker and Ryuji Sakamoto. Unlike most examples, Ryuji is The Chariot (with Morgana being more the mascot despite being The Magician.) Ryuji serves as the rough right-hand-man to the more suave Joker. They're both each other's closest friends (more meaningful since both ignored the social stigmas surrounding them and became each other's first true friends). Heck, whenever there are events one could have with a romantic partner, Ryuji tends to be a default if romance wasn't pursued. While perhaps not as close to P4's protagonist and Yosuke, there is still a great deal of trust between them.
      • Interestingly, quasi-Honorary True Companion Yuuki Mishima is often roped into these situations as well (Yuuki trying to help Joker in whatever ways he can after he was forced into leaking Joker's criminal record). Hilariously subverted in the Valentine's Day event, where if Joker romanced no one, Ryuji comes in and both he and the protagonist realize that the only reason Yuuki is not there is because even he found a date, causing them to humorously declare him a traitor.
  • Rui to Wes in Pokémon Colosseum. Their initial meeting certainly seems like it's working up to a Rescue Romance, as Wes saves Rui from a band of kidnappers. The two team up, and Rui follows Wes everywhere. Without Rui's ability to see Shadow Pokemon, there isn't much Wes can do, so they depend heavily on each other. However, after that, there's not much evidence that their relationship is anything but platonic. Even the end of the game (which the viewer might expect to hold some kind of Love Confession) has... not much, really. Maybe Rui's just not into bad boys. Though it's hard to establish any kind of a relationship when Wes never says anything.
  • In Puyo Puyo, Ringo and Maguro have a close, supportive relationship that stems from them knowing each other since childhood, yet neither character has shown any sort of romantic inclination to the other, aside from several vague Ship Tease moments.
  • Queen at Arms has Nicholas, the player character's adopted older brother. Though Nick and his "brother" can potentially share a number of emotional scenes, there are no story paths in which they become a pair. The developers acknowledge that they originally intended for Nick to be one of the romance options, but ultimately felt that keeping the sibling relationship intact was more true to the characters.
  • Eruca in Radiant Historia. She and Stocke have a Lady and Knight relationship that's disproportionately close for how long they've known each other, he's constantly going through hell and high water to help and protect her, and they even get mistaken for a couple a few times. He's actually her older brother, so that would be a bit awkward. Hence, not much shipping from this one.
  • The eponymous Ratchet & Clank are extremely close and would do anything for each other. While Ratchet has a couple Girl of the Week love interests, and Clank is a general Chick Magnet, none of these relationships are as serious and enduring as their friendship (to the point that Qwark once referred to Clank as Ratchet's Only Friend — untrue, of course, but they're definitely each other's best friends).
  • Rune Factory 4 has Ventuswill. The first girl that the protagonist meets, the plot is actually centered around her for the first half, the first female Dragon God in the game series and, despite being a dragon, has a human-shape sprite to interact with at times... but is not an actual bachelorette to marry, despite what these signs may indicate, especially the last one.
  • Shining Force II reveals that Sarah has been this to Bowie the whole time. She shows a great affection for her childhood friend and leader, but at the end of the game, nothing has changed the fact that Bowie is in love with Princess Elis. When Bowie is selected to wake the sleeping princess with a kiss (who was put in a coma by the Big Bad, Zeon), Sarah tearfully concedes defeat in not being able to be with Bowie, but wants him to be happy regardless. Thankfully, Kazin goes after her to comfort her. It's later revealed in Shining Wisdom that they are romantically involved.
    • Surprisingly, though, Kazin becomes this to Sarah in the original Japanese version of Shining Wisdom. Despite Kazin having a genuine affection for Sarah, the elven girl blatantly refused to be in love with anyone else, her heart still unable to let go of Bowie. This was changed in the English Translation, as seen above, that they did get together.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour Murphy and Anne. The way she acts antagonistically to him because she mistakenly believes he killed her father can come off almost like she was a furious, hurt ex. In fact, in one Let's Play, the player believed that Anne would be revealed as Murphy's ex-wife who left him when he was sent to prison.
  • Stardew Valley has Krobus, who is a Relationship Values version of this. He acts like a marriage candidate in that he has heart events, and if you max out your friendship with him, you can give him a Palette Swap version of the Mermaid Pendant (the item you use to propose marriage) to get him to move in with you instead of getting married. However, he's stated to simply be a good, platonic friend and a roommate.
  • Street Fighter: Chun-Li and Guile are the most recognizable ones. They're very similar in lots of ways and have a close working relationship. Guile is, of course, a family man, so this ship really isn't sailing any time soon. Other instances are Guy and Rose (the married thing again) and Ryu and... everyone else.
  • Super Paper Mario: According to Luigi, Princess Peach is Mario's Not-Love Interest. However, most Mario games have Peach as an Implied Love Interest or outright have Mario and Peach be the Official Couple
  • Tales Series:
    • Jude and Milla from Tales of Xillia can be said to be this. Even though Jude seems to be very fascinated by her, to be the point of being a stalker, and despite the two being set up as the typical male and female lead roles, there is actually very little development that can be considered romantic. Tales of Xillia 2 gave them a bunch of Ship Tease, but still not nearly as clear as most other Tales lead roles.
    • Yuri and Estelle from Tales of Vesperia. They're the two lead roles and their circumstances and development leading to romance could be considered typical but there are no strong or explicit romantic development between the two. The two still develop a close relationship, but the game itself does not delve into any possible future romance.
  • Heavy and Medic have a platonic, quasi-romantic dynamic in Team Fortress 2. Medic is noticeably warm and jovial with Heavy in the "Meet the Medic" video, affectionately pinching Heavy's cheek at one point. The "End of the Line" video shows Heavy and Medic acting like a quasi-couple, with the two having a minor spat over a chess game, Medic desperately trying to save Heavy with an UberCharge as a train approaches him, and Medic falling to his knees when he believes that Heavy has died. Heavy rescues Medic from danger in the "End of the Line" video and "The Naked and the Dead" comic, and goes berserk when Classic Heavy kills Medic in said comic.
  • Sam is this to Lara in the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider. Lara becomes an Action Survivor in order to rescue her, fights her way through an entire island filled with madmen to rescue Sam, and even does a bridal carry at the end of the game. Despite all of that, they are never portrayed as anything but friends.
  • Yandere Simulator:
    • Hanako Yamada, the ninth and penultimate rival. She's your Senpai's adorable if clingy younger sister. She adores her older brother so much she transferred into his school to be with him, and her death or disappearance will take a huge hit out of Senpai's hidden Sanity Meter. Despite her presence in the game being a clear reference to the Little Sister Heroine trope in romance anime and dating sims, there's nothing incestuous about their relationship at all. The reason why Hanako is a rival is because she's so clingy she'd demand that Senpai not get a girlfriend for the forseeable future, simply because she's scared he'd stop paying attention to her. Unfortunately, that's enough to be targeted by Ayano.
    • The final rival, Megami Saiko, might also be this. Her potential relationship with Senpai has not yet been explored, but her segment of the Rival Introduction video has her making a Declaration of Protection towards Senpai against his unknown stalker (Ayano), with no flirting or 'blushing' pose.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Miles Edgeworth to Phoenix Wright. Old childhood friend, troubled past, Edgeworth's frozen prosecutor heart melted by Phoenix's honest's no surprise they're the most common ship in the fandom.
    • Maya Fey and Phoenix go everywhere together, they clearly care deeply about each other, and they've saved each other's hides on more than one occasion. But when someone suggests they're a couple, they respond with confusion.
    • In Dual Destinies there's Athena Cykes and Simon Blackquill. The last case reveals that they saw each other quite often when she was a child and he studied under her mother, and he ended up Taking the Heat and going to prison for seven years to ensure that she wasn't accused of murder. His incarceration was the main motivation for Athena to become a lawyer, with her striving to prove his innocence.
    • Player character's assistants in general except Diego Armando, who is Mia's boyfriend. Maya, Ema, Trucy, Kay, and Athena all share the same characteristic of being plucky, and everlastingly energetic in their happy days. Given their partners are Deadpan Snarkers, people tease them for being Odd Couple, even though it's usually comes off as brother/sister-like relationships. Which is literally true in Apollo and Trucy's case, though neither of them know it.
  • Deconstructed in Doki Doki Literature Club!, as there are four girls in the game, but Monika is the only girl without a route, and trying to spend any time with her causes the other girls to railroad you into spending time with them instead. Unfortunately for her and everyone else, Monika also happens to be the only character with Medium Awareness, and her frustration with not being a love interest eventually leads her to Mind Rape and delete the other characters and rewrite the game so that she not only has a route, but it's the only route.
  • Kyousuke for Riki in Little Busters!. It's constantly impressed on the audience how very close they are (often to ambiguously romantic levels), he gets an incredible amount of focus — though he doesn't have his own route, he's absolutely integral to Rin's route and gets even more plot focus in Refrain — and one of the biggest subplots in the game is the way their relationship changes over the events of the game, from friends to fighting to becoming even better friends. It's even more noticeable since this is Shoujo game, which tend to have only minimal male characters and even more minimal character development for them. He's even alone among male characters in a Key/Visual Arts game in having his own Leitmotif, something usually restricted to only the love interests.
  • In Virtue's Last Reward, Phi is the first girl that Sigma meets. They initially have a belligerent relationship, her ending is the Golden Ending of the game, and she has a lot of plot relevance... but she and Sigma are never even hinted to move in a romantic direction. At best, they go from Teeth-Clenched Teamwork to something resembling friends. Although there are some scenes with them when you fail to defuse the bombs, they're not exceedingly romantic. Word of God has also confirmed that the two will never be a couple at any point. And for good reason, as Zero Time Dilemma reveals: Phi is actually Sigma's daughter. Not only that, but ZTD also introduces Diana, who is Sigma's actual love interest... and Phi's mother.
  • In Your Turn to Die, Jou Tazuna is this to the main character, Sara Chidouin. They’re Childhood Friends who have a very close and endearing relationship, and they are each other’s primary confidants. When Jou is one of the first to be executed Sara is absolutely devastated, to the point where her severe guilt causes her to see and hear hallucinations of Jou. Jou will even give Sara a Platonic Declaration of Love both before he dies and in one of the endings for Chapter 2. However, while Sara’s feelings for Jou are left up to speculation, Jou is already in a relationship with his and Sara’s friend, Ryoko.

  • In Red String, Ayu has been Makoto's best friend since they were little. She's easily the closest person to him since his beloved grandmother's death. There are absolutely no romantic feelings between them, despite what the fandom who wants him out of the way for Kazuo and Miharu might suggest.
  • Davan and PeeJee of Something*Positive. PeeJee even described herself as his "platonic life-partner". Davan canonically had a crush on her when they first met, and there was lots of Ship Tease when the creator got tired of people asking for them to hook up, but he's since gone on the record as saying they'll only ever be extremely close friends.
    Davan: Am I going to have carve "Davan loves you very much" backwards into your forehead?
    PeeJee: No, I think I got it this time.
  • Wilde Life: Oscar and Clifford are arguably the comic's central relationship, of a surrogate brothers/Parental Substitute sort. Aside from the age difference, both are seemingly straight and have Ship Tease with female characters. Nevertheless, it begins with Oscar doing a You Must Be Cold, and since Clifford never gives that hoodie back, it almost comes off like it's Her Boyfriend's Jacket. Plus he can come off like a Tsundere in general.
    • Some of Oscar's scenes with Eliza can come off like Ship Tease, except that Eliza is in a long-term relationship with a woman. Word of God even says that she did this so that people wouldn't ship her with Oscar.
  • Gertrude DuPont in Sam & Fuzzy. A morally corrupt Fallen Princess who's sworn an oath of vengeance against Sam, she is forced by circumstances to work together with him during the "Noosehead" arc. The two end up slowly relying upon and trusting each other more and more and begin to align more and more morally, there's a betrayal that causes a break in their trust, before Gertrude returns to dramatically rescue him... But neither side are interested in the other romantically. At all. When Mr. Blank refers to Sam as Gertrude's 'boyfriend' her reponse is essentially to tell him to stop thinking in cliches. During the second part of the NMS arc, Gertrude shows up to help Sam again, which causes some of Sam's subordinates to assume they're dating. The rumours only serve to annoy both of them.
  • Fred and Daphne (yes, really) from Penny and Aggie. They’ve been best friends since childhood, are very close and have been mistaken for a couple before. In fact, they’ve both stated that they would be together if they were straight.

    Web Original 
  • Henry of Nan Quest is a dark (and somewhat meta) take on this. He's the first character Nan meets face-to-face, and it's a silly, romcom-like introduction at that. He's also an innocent Pretty Boy who entered the hotel at the same time as Nan, and protects her at numerous points. So obviously they're soulmates, right? Nope! He's a serial killer who was trying to manipulate Nan into lowering her guard.
  • In Noob this is the relationship between Omega Zell and Fantöm. Both are male and more or less confirmed to be straight despite Omega Zell's Ambiguously Gay characterization, but he also shows behaviours virtually identical to Celeb Crush, Cannot Spit It Out and Gibberish of Love in Fantöm's presence. The consequences of the franchise's first Wham Episode eventually makes the in-game social barrier between them start crumbling and they become somewhat friendly. It's little wonder that Gaea is writing fanfiction with the premise of the two are having a secret affair in the comic version of the story.
  • RWBY:
    • Jaune Arc and Ruby Rose quickly form a bond through a shared feeling of social awkwardness when they're both new to Beacon. They then bond as leaders of their respective teams, and the two teams are very good friends. Jaune is also quick to offer back-up to Ruby if he thinks she's in trouble, and whenever the two reunite after their teams have been on missions apart they tend to hold hands and gaze deeply into each other's eyes. However, Ruby shows no romantic interest in any character, while Jaune's romantic interests have been directed elsewhere.
    • Sun Wukong and Blake Belladonna initially bond over being Faunus, with Sun initially being interested in Blake and also keen to help her with her problems. When she flees her team in an Heroic BSoD, Sun follows her, staying by her side while she works through the trauma her Psycho Ex-Boyfriend has left her with. Her ability to resolve her problems make both of them realise they need to return to their separate teams, so they part ways at the beginning of Volume 6 as friends. When Neptune tells his friend that it seems like Sun is letting Blake go, Sun clarifies that helping her had absolutely nothing to do with romance.

    Western Animation 
  • Sprig and Anne from Amphibia. They are not romantically involved, mainly because a frog-human romance would be really weird, but they frequently rescue each other and are as close as can be.
  • Animaniacs has Rita and Runt, a pair of homeless animals who are in search of a new home together. They are not romantically involved, mainly because a dog-cat romance would be really weird, but they frequently rescue each other and are as close as can be.
  • In The Batman, Batgirl and Robin are neonates/early teens at best and the two display almost zero romantic interest in each other, instead bickering and playing off each other as a brother and sister would, with a healthy dose of competition over who's the better sidekick thrown in. Although in the final season, Batgirl was shown to be in college while Robin was still in middle school.
  • Ben 10:
    • Gwen and Ben, who happen to be cousins. Depending on the series/incarnation, their dynamic hovers somewhere between close siblings, best friends, and best frenemies. While Gwen does get a love interest in Kevin during the classic continuity, Ben and Gwen still remain #1 Best Teammates until she moves out of town in Omniverse.
    • Oddly enough, Ben is also this trope for Kevin (whose love interest is actually Gwen) despite how close the two act sometimes.
    • Then, there is Ben and Rook, who tend to act unusually chummy at times, but they're always there for each other.
  • Terry and his Girl Friday Max in Batman Beyond, mostly because she's the only person his age who knows his Secret Identity. His actual love interest, Dana, is mostly there to prove that The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life.
  • Cricket and Gloria from Big City Greens, mainly because they're about 10 years apart. Their dynamic hovers somewhere between close siblings, best friends, and best frenemies.
  • Bunsen and Mikey from Bunsen is a Beast, a beast-human team who are always there for each other no matter what. They share everything and are viewed more or less as a unit by their enemies.
  • Daria:
    • Daria and Jane have this sort of relationship. The final episode (not counting the finale movie) has Daria note this while Jane helps her through an emotional crisis:
      "It would have been good to see Tom, but this way, I got to talk to the person I trust most."
    • Jane is probably this to Trent as well. She's the only member in his Big Dysfunctional Family he seems to really care for.
  • Naomi's role boils down to this for Elena on Elena of Avalor. They're always there for each other and Elena can especially count on her for support. No matter what, Naomi will always be the person Elena has to keep her company. Unsurprisingly, just have quite a bit of Les Yay.
  • Ingrid and the titular character of Fillmore! are opposite gender best friends and partners in the school's safety patrol; however, there isn't any romance between them.
  • In Futurama, Fry to Bender. And frequently Bender to Fry, albeit the latter has a more conventional Love Interest in Leela.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel Pines. No matter what, their loyalties lie with each other and harming one triggers the other's Berserk Button. Several episodes ("The Time Travelers Pig," "The Deep End" and "Sock Opera") involve one of them having to choose between their sibling's happiness and a Love Interest and they always choose the former.
  • Stormer plays this up to Kimber in the Jem episode "The Bands Break Up". Stormer is treated similarly to Kimber's rotating roster of male love interests, Kimber's friends fear Stormer is basically a "bad girl" corrupting Kimber, and they develop a bit of Pseudo-Romantic Friendship. Despite this nothing happens and they go back to being enemies come next episode. The Jem and the Holograms (IDW) reboot comic released thirty years later scraps the "not" part period.
  • Kipo And The Age Of Wonder Beasts: Despite there being no clear attraction between Wolf and Kipo, Wolf and Kipo often take the parts other stories would put their love interests. This is most prominent in "Mulholland", where she is the only one whose dream involves another person who they met in the party — her and Kipo as absurdly-muscular hunters capable of taking down Mega Bunnies — and is the one who gets back Kipo from her own dream. In season three, Kipo laments that Wolf isn't present when a band starts playing a song that Kipo considers to be hers and Wolf's song. At an event called the prahm, which Wolf then shows up in her new outfit for.
  • On My Life as a Teenage Robot, Brad. He's protagonist Jenny's best friend and usual foil, but their relationship is platonic. Brad/Jenny is still the Fan-Preferred Couple, however.
  • In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, the relationship between Jonny and Jesse Bannon becomes this, after it's heavily implied, especially in the second season, that Jessie is attracted to Hadji.
  • This is mostly what Ren & Stimpy's relationship in the original series is about. In the adult spinoff called Adult Party Cartoon, however, they are quite explicitly portrayed as a homosexual couple.
  • Tangled: The Series: Rapunzel and Eugene are the Official Couple, but the relationship between her and Cassandra is the one the show focuses on the most. Word of Saint Paul says Cass is gay, but Rapunzel is weirdly smitten with her also. This is at its most overt in the tie-in novel for the show. Later on in Season 3, Raps acts as a Love Martyr for Cassandra and refuses to let her go. Cass dies in the series finale after a Heroic Sacrifice and Rapunzel brings her back with her Magical Tears, just like she did with Eugene, which only makes Cass's status as this even more blatant.
  • Teen Titans:
    • While Terra is Beast Boy's official Love Interest in Season 2, he and his teammate Raven are a Fan-Preferred Couple and became canon in the DCU right around the time the show ended. Beast Boy's and Raven's relationship comes off like a stereotypical goofball guy trying to romance a stoic, reserved girl; however, Word of God confirms in the cartoon they're meant to be platonic best friends.
    • Some fans see this with Raven and Robin, who also share a few unusually close moments. They know each other well and have an extensive friendship however it's platonic.
    • Cyborg and Bumblebee are both black, both opposite genders, and are both fight a lot with the other. Most cartoons would pair them up but Word of God is that any subtext was unintentional.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Karai is a major supporting female character who shares a lot of screen time with Leonardo. They fight. They talk things out. Karai helps Leonardo and the Turtles out on several occasions and is reluctant to kill him when she has the chance. Leo gushes over how Karai is such a noble and honorable person. They go back-and-forth, with Leo trying to convince her to stop following the Shredder. Everything about their relationship plays out almost exactly like a Dating Catwoman romance story, except it doesn't get romantic and Karai eventually becomes an Official Couple with Dr. Chaplin.
  • On Total Drama, Max and Scarlett rarely have significant interaction with anyone but each other, and a few characters seem to think that they're dating; Max even suspects that Scarlett may be attracted to him. But no, Scarlett actually despises him, and he ends up reciprocating.
  • Despite having a history together (As well as being the primary Transformers: Animated turn-on) Blackarachnia always came second to Optimus in terms of importance when compared to Sentinel. He leaves the fembot behind behind to save Sentinel and himself which results in her transformation to technorganic, gets more episodes devoted to their rivalry, and in BA's last appearance he seemed more concerned about Sentinel than her. The ironic thing about this? The she-spider was the reason for their antagonist rivalry in the first place!
  • In Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), Harry comes off as this to Peter. Peter's constant ditching of Harry and inabililty to tell the truth puts considerable strain on their friendship. In "Venom" the spat between Peter and Harry comes off as a girlfriend temporarily leaving her boyfriend only to make up with him later and gets back together with him. Complete with a female friend giving the hapless "boyfriend" relationship advice and the "girlfriend" venting about the "boyfriend" to family.
  • In Voltron: Legendary Defender, Shiro is the most important person to Keith, to the point that Keith becomes unhinged when he thinks Shiro might be dead. A lot of Keith's motivation throughout the series is protecting Shiro and keeping him safe, to the point of jeopardizing crucial missions against galactic threats on the off chance that Shiro could be harmed or leave him. At one point Keith makes an explicit Declaration of Protection towards Shiro under intimate circumstances, which Shiro acknowledges and accepts. Keith even prefers dying along with Shiro to the prospect of living on without him, and gives him a (platonic) Anguished Declaration of Love. The show also compares and contrasts Shiro's relationship with Keith to his former lover. However, although neither have a proper love interest to speak of until Shiro's Last-Minute Hookup with a minor character in the ending, the result of a last-minute Author's Saving Throw, the series depicts it as a mentor/mentee relationship turned found family rather than a romantic bond.
  • Wander and Sylvia from Wander over Yonder, an inter-species nomad team who trot the galaxy in tandem. They share everything (including drinks) and are viewed more or less as a unit by their enemies.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men (2009) has a fascinating example of this between Wolverine and Emma Frost. Although the show features an ensemble cast there's always an emphasis on the prickly and distrustful (and completely platonic) relationship between Wolverine and new recruit Emma Frost. By the season's end, it becomes clear why: the entire future of the planet hinges on a simple choice Wolverine must make: whether or not he can trust her.
  • This was probably what was intended for teenage runaway Ro and robot assassin with a heart of gold Zeta on The Zeta Project.The fans had a different interpretation.

Alternative Title(s): Most Important Person, Not Love Interest