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Third-Option Love Interest

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Can't choose between Betty and Veronica? Take a Third Option! Sorry, girls.

Bob is in a Love Triangle with two girls, Alice and Carol, who often have a Betty and Veronica dynamic. He likes both of them, and both of them like him, and he can never, ever choose between them. While this dynamic has plenty of dramatic potential, on occasion the writers will want to shake it up a bit. To avoid showing favoritism to either of Bob's existing love interests, they may have him fall for a third girl: the Third-Option Love Interest, Donna, whose job is to shake up the status quo of the relationship and breathe new life into it by tempting the vertex of a love triangle to Take a Third Option. From the perspective of fan reaction, this can be very risky. Alice and Carol are likely to both have established fanbases, and as such pairing Bob with some new girl who lacks this built-in support runs the risk of alienating everybody.

The Third-Option Love Interest can be of either gender depending on the initial triangle. They can sometimes even overlap with the Gay Option.

May lead to a Love Dodecahedron… or, since Status Quo Is God, Donna may be Put on a Bus, leaving the original two Love Interests to duke it out. Sometimes Alice and Carol will lay aside their rivalry and unite against the interloper—each would rather lose Bob to the other than to anyone else. However, in some cases Donna/Bob will become the Official Couple.

In Fan Fic, the Third-Option Love Interest is a frequent target of Die for Our Ship, since both Alice/Bob and Carol/Bob shippers will descend on her with the fury of Hell. Also, expect accusations of the character being a Canon Relationship Sue (which may or may not be true). May also be Third-Option Adaptation. Often the result of being a Chick Magnet.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Air Gear:
    • The love interests Ringo (the Betty), and Simca (the Veronica), (and Akito) for Ikki were shaken up by the arrival of Kururu.
    • There's also Kazu. When all three girls (Simca, Ringo & Kururu) find out a way how Kogarasumaru can still participate in the Glam Scale tournament they all hasten to tell Ikki about it thinking 'whoever manages to tell him first will secure their future at Ikki's side'. So, who's the one who gets to tell Ikki first? Kazu, of course! It's played for laughs but it does make one wonder... He's a speed freak, so it only makes sense that he would beat the girls.
  • In Ai Kora, Yukari and Ayame are the Betty and Veronica, respectively, to Hachibei's Archie, but he ultimately ends up falling in love with Sakurako.
  • Bleach:
    • Senna from Memories of Nobody. By the end though, Ichigo/Rukia shippers and Ichigo/Orihime shippers can rest easy.
    • On the canon side, another potential choice is Tatsuki Arisawa, a childhood friend of Ichigo's and Orihime's best friend. She has little effect on the overall plot, but she has had a few Ship Tease moments with Ichigo. The other most popular secondary love option is the arrancar Nel, who's quite affectionate towards Ichigo (though there's a good chance that's just because she's a touchy-feely person, not necessarily because she's romantically interested in him).
  • In Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure, Yayoi, Mitsuki Sanada, and D's chances with Katsuki are apparently ruined when he meets Mitsuki Rara. The girls themselves (apparently) come to an unspoken mutual agreement to all share him by living together, even in the newly created combined world. For his part though, Kazuki only really shows any reciprocated feelings for Mitsuki Rara.
  • A rather marginal example, as well as a subversion, pops up in Elfen Lied with manga-only Nozomi, who provides a third alternative of a girl who has feelings for the male lead Kouta that isnt Yuka or Nyuu/Lucy/Kaede. It's ultimately Averted in the anime (as she's not even included there!) and subverted as per the manga's rather... messy ending.
  • Qawool from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. The male lead, Makoto, has already chosen his girlfriend ( Ifurita) and has other girls still chasing after him (Shayla and Nanami), but when Qawool meets up with him, she immediately snags a spot in his harem. Incidentally, she's also The Scrappy for other reasons, so the Die for Our Ship gets especially toxic.
  • The first two seasons of The Familiar of Zero saw a wide variety of love interests for Saito, but by the end of season two it was pretty much narrowed down to Louise and Siesta. Enter the buxom Tiffania and Louise's reaction in particular could be heard from space. And then Tiffania was pushed to the back and replaced by Princess Henrietta, whereupon both Louise and Siesta were simply dumbfounded and stricken with worry: Louise had a Heroic BSoD and Siesta finicked about how she could easily remove all opposition and be alone with him.
  • In FLCL, Naota plays the "Archie" role to Haruko's "Veronica" and Mamimi's "Betty", but it's eventually shown that his classmate Eri is also interested in him. She's actually the only one interested in him: Haruko is using him for her quest for power, and Mamimi is trying to pull a Settle for Sibling. Both of them think better of it by the end, leaving Eri as the only remaining love interest.
  • Ayase from Guilty Crown gets Ship Tease with Shu, but not nearly as often as Inori and Hare who are treated as his main romantic options. At the end of the story, both Inori and Hare are dead while Ayase is still alive, but Shu doesn't act interested in her because he's still mourning Inori.
  • Hayate the Combat Butler pretty quickly establishes a basic Love Triangle with Hayate as the "Archie", Nagi as the rich "Veronica", and Nishizawa as the ordinary "Betty". Maria, who was introduced in Chapter 1 unlike Nishizawa, typically plays the role of Harem Nanny but early on was teasing enough that Nagi seemed more concerned about losing Hayate to Maria than Nishizawa.
    • However, the two biggest contenders for Third-Option Love Interest by far are Hinagiku and Athena. Athena was mentioned by Hayate as his "ex-girlfriend" (they were 6 at the time) in an early chapter, and it's clear there are still some feelings on both sides by the time they reunite. Hinagiku was initially more of a supporting character that turned up periodically, but she was a huge target for Nagi's jealousy and insecurity due to how easily Hinagiku and Hayate got along (and how easily he started flirting with her and doing things to impress her...). Due to Hinagiku's all-eclipsing popularity and both her and Athena being the two most popular ships for Hayate (although leaning pretty heavily in Hina's favor), the "third options" have actually become pretty much the main Love Triangle by the later parts of the manga. Humorously, Athena and Hinagiku both pre-date Nagi as Athena was set up to be the main heroine originally and Hinagiku was the main heroine, along with her sister, of Hata's even earlier pilot that was turned into backstory for the manga.
    • There have been other additions to the so-called harem but for the most part they never stick or are just comedy characters to begin with. The two exceptions are Chiharu and Ruka. Chiharu got quite a bit a Ship Tease with Hayate after the Golden Week arc, even moving into the Violet Mansion but it has largely tapered off. Ruka was initially pretty tame what with first meeting Hayate while he was cross-dressed and believing him to be a girl but began to heat up along with her rivalry with Nagi, even going so far as to steal a kiss from Hayate and use a vaguely-worded promise he made to get him to agree to marry her if she won the doujinshi competition against Nagi, and was subsequently Put on a Bus after her loss.
  • Hetalia: Axis Powers:
    • Russia's part of a canon Psychotic Love Triangle, harboring Mad Love for Lithuania and being chased by his sister Belarus, but he also seems to display some interest in his southern neighbor China in a couple of strips (if "putting on a panda suit and stalking him" or "inviting him to live at his house in a very creepy way" can be considered Ship Tease, which it probably can given Russia's nature). Many fans happily take this third option, especially given the two countries' extensive real-life history together, to the point where Russia/China is actually more popular than Russia/Lithuania and Belarus/Russia combined. Russia gets plenty of other love interests in fanworks, of course, but China is the one who has the most canon support after Lithuania and Belarus (even if he probably isn't very happy about it in canon).
    • Thailand's also a viable option for Russia's Third-Option Love Interest based on their mostly positive relationship, although this fandom is MUCH smaller than the others. The unique thing is that it's often portrayed that he likes Russia back as well and that his 1 percent hidden personality completely(or at least, almost) shutoff any sort of Ukefication that may appear. Similarly, Poland is a viable third option for Lithuania who's actually way more popular than the other two options. He's also a pretty popular option for Hungary below, considering their good relations.
    • Greece and Turkey are the most canon-supported Betty and Veronica pair for Japan. However, fans almost never view Turkey as having a real chance to get Japan's attention and hence almost always treat England as the Veronica instead (making him a technical third option) and bring up America as a plausible third (fourth?) option too. In fact, an entire article could be devoted to all the *other* "third options" chosen for Japan in fanworks, but England and America are the ones that have the greatest fandom support and actual canon interaction with Japan.
    • Also, in regards to England's "love life", we have America, Japan and France. Then Himaruya reveals that he's working on sketches for Portugal. Cue to fangirls latching onto Portugal and hoping they become this in one, two, three... But Wait, There's More! India has entered the fray as well, having been one of the more important English colonies in the past. While the fandom tends to pair him up with Prussia due to their Bollywood dancing scene that's easy to see as a Dance of Romance, some people have also added him to England's list of possible love interests...
    • While Hungary is more often than not paired up with her ex-husband Austria or her old friend/enemy Prussia, some fans think that her other enemy Turkey shouldn't be completely discarded. And now that Romania has received a face and profile, fanarts of him and Hungary are springing up too...
    • Although less popular, she also playfully flirts with Ukraine in a bonus strip in the fourth volume.
    • Korea himself might find the way into this too. As even though he groped Japan and China, he does take interest in Taiwan and is surprisingly nice to her. To summarize, both are actually the third option for each other, considering Taiwan's own share of ship tease also related to China and Japan...
    • Spain, who's mostly trapped between chosing Romano and Belgium, has the option of being paired off "rather" easily with Netherlands. The bonus is in form of Ship Mates that shipped of Romano and Belgium sweetly.
  • In the Kimagure Orange Road manga, Sayuri Hirose attempts to be the third option for Hikaru's Betty and Madoka's Veronica. The catch is she means nothing to Kyousuke, so her attempts to seduce him are unsuccessful.
  • Naruto:
    • Sasuke Uchiha has two girls that have a crush on him pre-time skip, Ino and Sakura. Post-time skip he gets another admirer in Karin, while Ino stops crushing on Sasuke and moves onto Sai who she marries. At best, Sasuke never shows romantic interest in any of the girls. At worst, he stabs through them to further his revenge. He ends up with Sakura in the end.
    • The two most prominent girls in Shikamaru Nara's life pre-Time Skip are Ino, his female teammate, and Temari, with whom he has Belligerent Sexual Tension. Post-Time Skip, a girl named Shiho from the cypher team develops a crush on him, not that Shikamaru even notices. He ultimately ends up with Temari, which had been pretty obvious for quite some time.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kaworu is arguably one for the tangled Asuka/Shinji/Rei dynamic, with the twist that he's a guy and Shinji is ostensibly heterosexual. (How ostensibly varies by continuity.) The Lighter and Softer adaptation, Shinji Ikari Raising Project, plays this whole thing much straighter: the relationship between Shinji and the girls is explicitly a Love Triangle, and they're willing to team up against Kaworu. (There are a few other girls who temporarily hold this role for Shinji, but none are as threatening as him.)
  • In Onani Master Kurosawa, does Kakeru end up with Takigawa, who he had a crush on, or Kitahara, the one he eventually defrosts? Neither of them. He actually ends up with Sugawa, the bully and his first victim, since by the time they start getting together, she has become much less mean and more Tsundere.
  • Ukyo Kuonji in Ranma ½. Until her arrival, the primary contenders for Ranma's affection had been Akane (Betty) and Shampoo (Veronica). Although she never escaped Unlucky Childhood Friend status, Ukyo was still a relatively plausible third option and remains a popular choice in the fandom; she's even hit with Die for Our Ship less often than Akane and Shampoo are, in direct contrast to the common trend of the third option getting hit by the hardest with Die for Our Ship.
  • The second anime season of Shakugan no Shana introduces Fumina Konoe, a New Transfer Student who Shana and Kazumi see as a potential love rival for Yuji. However, nothing actually happens because Fumina isn't even a real person, but a puppet created by one of the villains.
  • In the SHUFFLE! anime the main character, Rin Tsuchimi is being pursued by Lisianthus (Gods) and Nerine (Demons), and his childhood friend Kaede. He falls in love with the close buddy and tease, Asa.
  • In the 11th volume of the Sorcerer Hunters manga, Carrot fell into a serious relationship with a girl named Mousse, leading Chocolat and Tira to confront him with their true feelings. However, it turns out Mousse wasn't even real (?) and the plot turned out to be a set-up for the epic Final Battle in which Carrot eventually chose Tira.
  • Satsuki Kitaouji in Strawberry 100%. She is introduced as the third love interest of Junpei Manaka, the main character, after Aya Tojo and Tsukasa Nishino. However she is reduced to an Hopeless Suitor in the second half of the story, when Junpei is clearly between Aya and Tsukasa only.
  • While there's half a dozen girls after Tenchi Masaki in Tenchi Muyo!, the relationship map stabilizes relatively quickly with six girls chasing Tenchi. Until Tenchi in Tokyo, which introduces Sakuya Kumashiro into the equation. She's probably one of the biggest examples of the Die for Our Ship effect relating to this. Though she eventually succeeds in winning Tenchi, she doesn't survive to the end of the series.
    • The third OVA introduces Noike who shows up already arranged to be married to Tenchi by a very powerful matriach of the Jurai royal family. Ryoko and Ayeka are not amused. Fan reaction, oddly enough, is less extreme than what Sakuya faced, but that's probably because the third OVA seems to get even more Fanon Discontinuity than Tenchi In Tokyo (the latter being treated as relatively more acceptable because it's just an alternate universe anyway).
  • In Vandread, romantic tension is developing between Hibiki and his three love interests, and then in the second season a girl in a box shows up and decides he's cute.
  • For the first few volumes of Wandering Son there's Saori with her crush on Nitori and Nitori with her crush on Takatsuki. In the end, Nitori doesn't end up with either Saori or Takatsuki: she begins dating Anna, her sister's friend and co-worker, in middle school.
  • In ×××HOLiC, the Double Subverted Love Triangle between Watanuki, Himawari, and Doumeki has a monkey wrench thrown into it when it turns out that for all his intense crushing on Himawari and numerous bonding moments with Doumeki, the one Watanuki cares the most about is... his boss and mistress Yuuko Ichihara, for whom he sacrifices the right to leave the shop indefinitely, in hopes he will one day see her again. Doumeki is... less than pleased about this arrangement. However, this has not discouraged Doumeki from still acting like he's his husband.
    • Watanuki's feelings for Yuuko and the pairing itself is becoming more and more canon. Especially after chapter 193, where Haruka pretty much comes out and has a heart-to-heart talk with Watanuki, giving him a relationship-advice pep talk ( "If you truly believe you and she will meet again, then you mustn't do anything that will make her cry."). Which prompts Watanuki to go into one of his melancholy worshiping moods of Yuuko, holding her pipe and saying her name.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • Vivian Wong is this in the fifth season of Yu-Gi-Oh!. There is an unspoken rivalry over Yugi between his close friend Téa who cares for Yugi a lot but is mostly interested in Yami Yugi and the aggressive Bratty Half-Pint Rebecca who is quick to shower him with affection. When Vivian starts trying to shoehorn in, Rebecca and Téa are quick to unite against her, including Téa cheering Rebecca on in her duel against Vivian.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Jesse and Yubel are both is this to Alexis’s Betty and Blair’s Veronica. At first, the two aforementioned girls are both interested in Jaden, but in season 3, Jesse comes as an exchange student who immediately becomes close to Jaden and Yubel as a villanous Stalker with a Crush toward Jaden. In the end, due to Jaden making them good, Yubel wins.

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Cheryl Blossom, the character in the page picture and the former Trope Namer. She was a bombshell redhead introduced in the '80s who saw the original Betty and Veronica going after Archie and decided it would be fun to show them up. She makes her big return in the 90s in the Love Showdown storyline, where Betty and Veronica escalate their competition for Archie, which ends in Archie choosing Cheryl Blossom instead (although the Status Quo is restored in a follow-up special). Archie's tried to retcon Cheryl in the early 2000s due to her being too provocative, to the point where Ginger Lopez was created in order to replace her in reprints, but that was quickly forgotten and Cheryl is back to being a staple Archie character. Since then, however, she has apparently started going out with the nerd of the cast after getting to know him on the internet, in a Throw the Dog a Bone moment.
    • Cheryl is also shown as being in the way of Reggie too. A humorous issue shows her winning a talent contest (with Archie and Reggie as the judges) over Betty and Veronica. What'd she do? Batted her eyelashes at them.
    • Valerie from Josie and the Pussycats has also become a possible alternative for Archie's lover. Archie Comics even released a four-part What If? story in which Archie marries her instead of Betty, Veronica, or Cheryl.
  • With Batman this tends to happen. Usually torn between Catwoman and Talia al Ghul, writers have sometimes added Wonder Woman to the mix, although Batman doesn't like to acknowledge it.
  • Spider-Man
    • Early in The Amazing Spider-Man Betty Brant (brunette) and Liz Allan (blonde) are competing for Peter Parker. Then Aunt May introduces them to her best friend's niece, Mary Jane Watson. They are both aghast at the thought of having to compete with this knockout beauty. Mary Jane's face is only shown several issues later, but fitting in with this trope, she turns out to be a redhead.
    • Occasionally, Black Cat is played as the third option to the other loves of Peter's life, MJ and Gwen.
    • Although not to the extent between Wonder Woman and Batman, Spider-Man has had at least strong feelings at one point toward fellow heroine Ms. Marvel whom she reciprocated. Out of all the superheroines, she's arguably the one with the best chance with Spider-Man.
    • Ultimate Spider-Man for a time went with this trope; at the end of Ultimatum arc in Ultimate Spider-man, Kitty accidentally revealed to MJ that she still had romantic feelings for Peter. 6 months of unresolved plot development, Peter was now in a romantic relationship with Gwen Stacy. It didn't last.
  • Superman:
    • Many Happy Returns: In what is a hilarious and awesome example, when the '90s Supergirl goes to an alternative Earth to take the original Silver Age Supergirl's place (it's long and complicated), she ends up marrying the original Superman. In the wedding splash panel, you can see Lois Lane and Lana Lang saying "Please oh please— let it be a hoax! Or a dream! Or an imaginary tale!"
    • During the Silver Age, Atlantean boy Jerro was Supergirl's third option alongside Dick Malverne and Brainiac 5.
    • Lori Lemaris, a mermaid, was Supes' original third option, alongside Luma Lynai and Lyla Lerrol.
    • For a time in the 80s, Cat Grant was definitely in the running. Lacking any L's in her name probably doomed her.
    • During the New 52 relaunch, Wonder Woman become Superman's third option, until DC Rebirth retconned their relationship out.

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live Action 
  • The Layover: Kate and Meg spend the movie pursuing Ryan. Eventually, Kate sleeps with him. However, it turns out he was engaged to Genevieve whole time and this was just a one night stand.
  • Jannah to Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. In the first two films, Finn gets a bit of Ship Tease with Rey (though they're mostly presented as Platonic Life-Partners) and The Last Jedi sets up a romance between him and Rose Tico; he then meets Jannah in The Rise of Skywalker and soon becomes close with her, while he and Rose decided they were Better as Friends offscreen. John Boyega did express a belief that Finn and Rey would eventually hook up.

  • In the Disgaea Novels, Laharl is given a rather big harem of girls as the novel series goes on, but Flonne and Etna are his closest friends and therefore his primal love interests, and he is not all that fond of the rest. But in the 3th novel we are introduced to Ozonne, Flonne’s little sister, and she & Laharl hit it off pretty well.
  • In the Gone series, over the first three books there were hints at a possible love triangle between Quinn, Lana and Edilio. In Plague Sanjit and Lana become a couple.
    • And in Lies, Edilio and the Artful Roger become a couple.
  • Through most of the Hannah Swensen mysteries, Hannah is unable to choose between the two men she dates, Norman (Betty) and Mike (Veronica). But eventually she strikes up a romance with her old college friend Ross and marries him in Wedding Cake Murder. But just two books later, he leaves her to go back to his first wife, and later becomes another of the series' murder victims.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sansa Stark is initially infatuated with both her betrothed Prince Joffrey Baratheon and pretty boy Loras Tyrell. It's later revealed that the former is a sadistic psychopath and abuses her terribly, and the latter is gay for Renly Baratheon, but in the meantime she's developed an odd chemistry with the much older and more obviously  violent Sandor Clegane.
  • Cindy Wakowski a.k.a Red Riding Hood is this in the love triangle (square?) of The Supervillainy Saga. She's Gary's ex-girlfriend that long broke up with him before the series but stands as a middle-point between his vampirized wife Mandy and ex-fiance Gabrielle. Cindy is also bisexual and falls in love with both of the other women at various points in the series.

    Live Action TV 
  • Arrested Development has a short-lived and hilarious version of this when Lindsay and Tobias both meet a Michael who turns out to be a prostitute.
  • Many fans felt that Nina filled this role on Angel. Of course, Cordelia was MIA at the time and Buffy was busy with her own series… but when has that ever stopped anyone?
  • Aquí no hay quien viva: The beginning of the end of Lucía's Love Triangle with Carlos and Roberto came when she met Yago, who became her official partner until she was Put on a Bus for the final season. In Lucía's absence, Yago stuck around and ended up having a daughter with Natalia.
  • At the end of the 1964 Archie pilot, Archie doesn't go to the get-together with either Betty or Veronica. He goes with Mildred.
  • The season 1 finale of Community had Jeff in between Granola Girl Britta and Hot Teacher Slater. He ends up choosing Annie, although he hasn't been romantically involved with any of the three in season 2.
    • It is revealed by the end of season 2 that he has been secretly seeing Britta but they break up once others find out about it.
    • In season 2 Annie still has feelings (including a lot of resentment) towards Jeff but there are hints that she and Troy might get closer. In the season finale Abed becomes a third option out of the blue.
    • Season 3 seems to run with this pairing, however. From the episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" onward, the show hints that Annie and Jeff are being groomed to be the Official Couple of the show, with Troy and Britta paired together concurrently.
  • During Season 7 of Degrassi: The Next Generation, we had the love triangle of Holly J (Veronica) and Mia (Betty) going after Sav. The two girls brutally tear into each other for Sav's attentions, finally leading to Mia thinking Sav picked her... until it turns out he likes Anya.
  • Kurt from Glee spent most of season one deluded that he was a mix this trope and Gay Option to Finn. He wasn't. Kurt hooked up with Blaine instead.
  • On Gossip Girl, Colin was this to the Dan-Serena-Nate triangle.
    • Also, fans were crazy in Season 4 to know who Blair would pick—Chuck (Vanessa) or Dan (Betty)? Turns out she picks Louis. No one was happy.
  • Haven plays the trope straight in season 2, when the Love Triangle between Audrey, Nathan (Betty), and Duke (Veronica), is briefly interrupted by Chris Brody, whom Audrey dates for a couple episodes before realizing he doesn't like her, he likes that she's the only one unaffected by his Charm Person Trouble.
    • Played With in season 4 with Jennifer. It's subverted in that she's a Love Interest for Duke, not Audrey, and being a Love Interest is not her only reason for being on the show, but she fills the same narrative function in disrupting the Love Triangle. Or rather, finally putting that Romantic Plot Tumor to rest, since it had been going on for at least a season after the writers made it clear Audrey and Nathan were the Official Couple. Rather than be angry, however, the fandom embraced Jennifer as an Ensemble Dark Horse and were outraged when she was Killed Off for Real at the beginning of the following season.
  • Jane the Virgin: Jane is in a love triangle with Michael and Rafael, who are each both Betty and Veronica in some ways. Jane—briefly—sets them both aside to pursue Hot Teacher Jonathan Chavez. She returns to the love triangle soon enough though and makes a serious decision, picking one of them for real.
  • Lost Girl: Bo has been in a long running love triangle with Lauren and Dyson. And then she picks… Rainer, whom no one's even met. She calls him "her destiny;" not a single person in the main cast was pleased with that announcement. He gets killed off before too long, and then it's back to the love triangle.
  • A curious case on Monarch of the Glen. The first season sets Archie up in a love triangle with local schoolteacher Katrina (Betty) and city girlfriend Justine (Veronica). In the supporting cast is Lexie, the family's cook, who he has a vaguely flirtatious relationship with but doesn't seem a serious contender. However, by the third season, Katrina and Justine have both been Put on a Bus and Archie ends up marrying Lexie.
  • The Nanny: In "The Bobbi Flekman Show", C.C. Babcock notes to Fran Fine that Bobbi Flekman is the blend of both of their attributes. Though this is subverted by the fact that, despite C.C.'s insistence, Maxwell Sheffield has never seen her as anything more than his business partner.
  • The Office (US): In the final season, Pete became a Third-Option Love Interest to Erin, who had spent most of her time on the show caught in a love triangle with Gabe and Andy. Michael had foreshadowed this outcome, telling Erin in an earlier episode that if she couldn't choose between Gabe and Andy, it probably meant that deep down she knew neither man was right for her.
  • Invoked in the season five finale of One Tree Hill, where the audience sees Lucas call a girl and propose to her. The show gives three options for who he could be calling- either Lindsey and Peyton, who had been part of a season-long love triangle, as well as high school ex-girlfriend Brooke, who hadn't even really been part of the equation until the finale threw her in as an option. It was Peyton.
  • Revenge: Season One introduced Emily/Amanda's two major love interests: Honey Trap victim Daniel Grayson and Childhood Friend Jack Porter, resulting in a Love Triangle. Emily had strong feelings for Jack, but had to stay with Daniel for her plan and is implied to have some feeling for him as well. Season Two introduced the third option: Aiden Mathis, who met Emily at "revenge school" and is the only one of the three that knows all sides of her. While her feelings for Jack were strong, there is no doubt she was in love with Aiden. Any chance Daniel had with Emily died by Season Three, and between Jack and Aiden, Aiden would've won (if only because Jack stepped aside), but he was Killed Off for Real in the Season Three finale. After that, it became obvious that Jack was going to be the winner, though Season Four did try to throw in some red herrings by introducing a fourth love interest in Ben Hunter, Jack's police partner, and redeeming Daniel. Both were promptly Killed Off for Real, and the series ended with Jack and Emily marrying and sailing off into the sunset.
  • Season 3 of Robin Hood had the title character in a Love Triangle with outlaw Kate (Betty) and villainess Isabella (Veronica). If you're wondering where his traditional love interest Marian is, she'd been Killed Off for Real at the end of the previous season, and became the third option when Robin also dies and is reunited with her in the afterlife.
  • Early seasons of Smallville had Chloe (Betty) and Lana (Veronica) as possible love interests for Clark, naturally leading to Ship-to-Ship Combat from fans when Lois Lane showed up, although the "Clark is either with or crazy over Lana while Chloe secretly still loves him" formula lasted several more seasons before Lana is Put on a Bus and both Chloe and Clark end up with others.
  • This Is Us: After his ex-girlfriend and former co-star Olivia comes back, Kevin gets in the middle of a love triangle between her and Sloane, the writer of the play they were to perform in and Olivia's replacement as lead actress. Kevin still has feelings for Olivia, but he wants to do the "right thing" and continue dating Sloane. He has a Love Epiphany later on in the episode, realizing he's still in love with his ex-wife Sophie.
  • In What I Like About You, Holly leaves for England, while Vince (Veronica) and Henry (Betty) both expect her to choose one of them. She comes back from England with a new guy, Ben. Henry eventually moves on and goes to Princeton and Holly ends up with Vince.

  • In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jekyll loves the proper Margaret while Hyde lusts for the earthy Hettie. Jekyll eventually decides on a third option, his nurse Helen.

  • Be More Chill has Brooke, who had previously been dating Jeremy and unwittingly competing with Chloe for his attention, end up with school gossip Jenna.
  • In the ballet Rodeo, the Cowgirl and the Rancher's Daughter are both in love with the Head Wrangler, who in turn is interested in the Rancher's Daughter. During the final movement, "Hoedown," the Cowgirl gets the Head Wrangler's attention—but instead winds up with the Champion Roper, leaving the Head Wrangler and Rancher's Daughter to pair up.

    Video Games 
  • In .hack//G.U., Haseo can romance almost any character, though the two canon options would probably be Atoli (Betty) and Shino (Veronica). However, play your cards right, and Endrance, who is a dude, will win Haseo's heart, much to the chagrin of every female in the party.
    • There's also Alkaid who is unlike Shino or Atoli in that she's firey and agreesive. While she and Haseo are initially at each others throats, they warm up to each much much faster than Haseo does with the other two, probably because Alkaid doesn't have psychological issues like them and is actually able to communicate effectively.
  • Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia and its sequels start with two potential love interests and add a third one in the mid- or late-game. The third love interest is always Really 700 Years Old.
  • The Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate introduces the half-elf wild mage Neera as the fourth romantical option for the male protagonist.
    • It also includes Dorn Il-Khan, a male half orc Blackguard. Overlaps with gay option, though the women can romance him too
    • For female protagonists, it adds a second, third and fourth option. One of which is a gay option, and also a vampire.
  • The Full Body version of Catherine adds Qatherine/"Rin", who mostly exists outside of the drama between the two main women. Unlike the realistically grounded but controlling Katherine and the sultry but dangerous succubus Catherine, Rin is sweet, kind, supportive, and calming despite being an amnesiac and a bit of a klutz. These aren't just personality quirks, either; the True Ending reveals that Rin's piano playing slows down the nightmares and opens the listeners' minds, allowing them to see new possibilities and opportunities. Unlike the others, Rin never tries to manipulate Vincent, nor has any hidden agenda related to their relationship. It's rather telling that out of all the potential romances, Vincent ends up the happiest and grows the most because he feels like he can be himself around Rin. What makes this especially interesting is that Rin is actually male, which results in an Unsettling Gender-Reveal and an initially panicked Vincent. Once he gets over it and apologizes, he realizes that gender doesn't matter, and even outs himself as bisexual publically to his friends and the rest of the bar he frequents. Everyone aside from the villain ends up being totally on board with it. Rin's True Ending reveals that they're actually from a race of shapeshifting Angelic Aliens and their human form is that of an androgynous male, so there might not even be a word that accurately describes Rin's true gender. Of course, Vincent no longer cares by that point.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, men have their choice of Leliana (Betty) or Morrigan (Veronica), with Zevran overlapping with the gay option. For women, he's the Veronica to Alistair's Betty, and Leliana serves as the third option.
  • The DS version of Dragon Quest V introduces Debora, who functions both as this and as the 'Veronica' to Bianca and Nera's Betties. After showing no interest in the hero's actions or his completion of the Engagement Challenge he completed in order to possibly marry her sister, and turning an indifferent eye upon Bianca's entrance into the equation, she breezes in and offers herself as a third option at the last possible moment — although, naturally, she views herself as the ONLY real choice. Even her dad is surprised should you choose her! But not displeased, since he'd previously resigned himself to never being able to get anybody to marry Debora.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII has Aerith and Tifa being the main Betty and Veronica for Cloud, although the date scenario has Yuffie as a Third-Option Love Interest. You can also go for the gay option with Barret.
      • The Final Fantasy VII Remake has Jessie (who just flirted with Cloud in the original) be a genuine Third-Option Love Interest for Cloud after Aerith and Tifa. Depending on the player action’s Cloud can reciprocate Jessie’s advances or turn her down gently, choosing the former makes her death at the hands of Whispers of Fate all the more tragic.
    • Final Fantasy X: Played with. At the start of the game, Tidus meets Rikku (Veronica), and then Yuna (Betty); an early cutscene implies he is conflicted about his feelings for the two of them (he invites Yuna to see Zanarkand with him, only for Rikku to jog up and claim he invited her first), but about midway through the game he has the option to tell Lulu he'd rather be with her instead, invoking this. It's all subverted from about Macalania onward when Tidus and Yuna get a definite Relationship Upgrade, however.
      • And it should be noted that the Lulu dialogue option is Played for Laughs:
        Lulu: Interesting. I suppose I could add you to my list.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War:
      • Tailtiu could easily be this for Prince Lewyn: Serious, honorable Erinys and flirty, clingy dancer Silvia compete for Lewyn's affections (well, Silvia does most of the competing), but the player can easily push them aside and pair him with Tailtiu, a girl with no prior plot connections to him. Erinys' Cool Big Sis Annand could have also been this if she'd survived. Conversely, Lewyn could be seen as this to her, rather than either of her two childhood friends Azelle or Lex.
      • Arden for Ayra; Lex and Chulainn both have canon crushes on her, but Arden is her third predestined lover even if she never speaks to him outside their chapter five love talk.
      • Lachesis has... two of these, actually. Her most "canon" love interests are Finn and Beowolf, to the point that in Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 her son Diarmuid is Beowolf's kid and her daughter Nanna is Finn's. However, if she gets enough love points with either Dew or Noish, she can have love talks with them as well.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, the main lord Eliwood's potential wives are fellow lord Lyn, the Mysterious Waif half-dragon girl Ninian, and... Fiora, a pegasus knight mercenary who is an optional recruit and has no plot significance.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones:
      • Eirika has two "main" love interests in Seth and Innes, and two "third options" in Forde (whose primary job is serving her brother Ephraim) and Saleh (whom she meets last).
      • Innes himself, meanwhile, has L'Arachel as his third option, after his childhood friend Eirika and his loyal knight Vanessa.
      • The other Lord of the game, Ephraim, can end up with either Tana or L'Arachel... or, if you're willing to go for the Brother–Sister Incest path, Eirika.
    • In Awakening:
      • Tiki is this for a Male Robin, due to only being recruited to your army if you complete Paralogue 17, the last paralogue that isn't Spotpass-based at that, without her dying, and her paralogue doesn't appear until the main game is three-quarters over.
      • Out of Chrom's potential girlfriends, Olivia is set up as this since she's recruited in Chapter 11, aka right before Chrom must get married. Even more, under certain circumstances, she can potentially become the girl with the highest marriage priority, beating out even Sumia and the Female Avatar.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda has an interesting variation, the Veronica on each gender and sexual orientation combination is often the last one met, while the second option combines both aspects of Betty and Veronica. Bettys would be either Cora (for straight males), Liam (straight females), Gil (gay males), or Suvi (lesbians) and Veronicas would be either Peebee (straight males and lesbians) or Reyes Videl (straight females and gay males). Combining both aspects on all sexual orientations would be the good-hearted turian smuggler Vetra and the very openly emotional angaran Jaal (after a patch made him a bisexual option).
  • If the player restores the deleted romance with Neeshka in Neverwinter Nights 2, Safiya can become the third option with Elanee as Betty and Neeshka as Veronica. Similarly, if you restored the deleted romance with Bishop, Gann becomes the third with Casavir as Betty and Bishop as Veronica.
  • Persona:
    • It's possible for Tatsuya to either romance Maya (Betty) or Lisa (Veronica) in Persona 2: Innocent Sin. However, it is also possible for him to start a homosexual romance with Jun.
    • Elizabeth from Persona 3 is an in-universe example, since none of the characters aside from the protagonist even know that she exists, though she isn't an example to the player, since she appeared around the same time as most of the other romance options.
    • Ryoji Mochizuki in the female route from the portable version of Persona 3 in another example since he is like a mixture of a Cheryl Blossom type and a Veronica type.
  • In Tales of Legendia, the two women who were fighting over Senel most aggressively were Shirley and Chloe. Unfortunately for them, it's revealed that the one Senel loved was Shirley's dead sister, Stella.
  • In Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism, those playing as Marisa had to choose between the two biggest contenders of her harem (in fanon, at least) Alice and Patchouli...and Nitori, a character that had only been introduced the previous game and had little, if any, connections with Marisa prior.

    Visual Novels 
  • Acting Lessons has Rena, one of three girls that the player can end up seriously dating/marrying. However, the potential for a relationship with her is not explicitly known until the near end of the story, and even then only if the player has not explicitly rejected her and made certain other choices throughout the game. Played completely straight if the player decides to be with her after initially dating both Megan and Melissa.
  • Princess Evangile gives Masaya five other potential love interests in the W Happiness fandisc outside of the core four heroines. They are: Ruriko, Konomi, Mitsuki, Tamie, and Marika.
  • Aside from the Betty and Veronica dynamics with Kotonoha and Sekai, there are three potential Third Option Love Interests in the School Days games: Otome, Setsuna, and Hikari.
    • Cross Days, which is from the perspective of Yuuki Ashikaga, has Makoto himself, with Roka and Ai being the primary two.
  • In The Second Reproduction, Christina can choose between Lezette (Betty), Gardis (Veronica) and Jin (third option).
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Sayo's potential love interests are gentlemanly Second Love George (Betty), rebellious, perverted, longtime missing First Love Battler (Veronica), and free-spirited, longtime friend Jessica (third option).
  • White Album 2 Concluding Chapter introduces three: Chiaki, one of Haruki's schoolmates at the university he goes to; Koharu, a high schooler going to Haruki and Setsuna's old school; and Mari, Haruki's boss at the Hirasakura Company, where he works at. All three represent facets of what might help shake off the lethargy he's been living through, which can be summed simply as: looks like Kazusa (Koharu), acts like Kazusa (Mari, albeit more socially-adjusted), and is not like Setsuna (Chiaki, who has no ties to and cares little for Haruki's past).

  • In Bittersweet Candy Bowl, both Lucy and Tess were love interests for Paulo, but he ended up choosing Jasmine, a girl introduced at the last minute. However, it doesn't last..
  • In El Goonish Shive, after Elliot's breakup with Sarah, Susan and Diane both slowly develop feelings for him...only to get beaten to the punch by Ashley, a new girl he starts going out with right after he first meets her. (Although Susan never had intention of acting on it, due to her own discomfort with romance, and Diane had never knowingly met him at that point, but just thought he seemed like a nice guy based on his online review show.)
  • Homestuck has this with Vriska, who had romantic feelings for Kanaya, Tavros, and plausibly Terezi. She ends up asking John out, and dying before hearing a response. On the other hand, due to her species' romantic customs, she could have plausibly ended up with all of them in different quadrants..
    • Used for many other romantic entanglements as well. For example, John gets Ship Tease with Rose and Vriska only to settle on Roxy as his heavily Implied Love Interest, and Dave's options seem to be Jade and Terezi before he ends up with Karkat.
  • Ménage à 3: Zii tries to set up Gary with Yuki or Sonya, but due to a combination of events out of his control, he ends up sleeping with Kiley (Yuki's therapist). It doesn't last very long, but at least Gary got over one of his psychological issues.

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe example: Thunderbird has all four of Sizzle, Aztecka, Tesla, and Widget interested in him for almost a year, but he never realized it because they were all playing some sort of Kid Com style romantic gambits (e.g., Sizzle would parade new boyfriends around trying to make him jealous, Widget would show off her latest inventions to him to make him think she was interesting, etc.) trying to get his attention. This backfires on all of them, sending them to the Friend Zone in his mind. They all lose out when Chaka realizes Thunderbird is a total 'boy scout' type and snaps him up in about ten minutes.

    Western Animation 
  • In Archie's Weird Mysteries, a sea monster turns herself into one on purpose by using a potion to combine the traits of Betty and Veronica that Archie found most attractive.
  • Early on in The Legend of Korra, Korra is briefly at the centre of a Love Triangle with Mako and Bolin, and Mako becomes the centre of another one between Korra and Asami. Ultimately, though, Korra and Asami choose each other.
  • Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures started out with a feud between Cylindria (Betty) and Pinky (Veronica) over Pac. Cheryl was introduced late in the second season in the form of Ellitica (Elli).
  • Played for Laughs in Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars—during the Dance Party Ending, Leia is dancing with Perry as Luke and Han both glower on the sidelines.
  • In Regular Show, Mordecai spends much of the series pining after Margaret, then later Cloudy Jay, and ends up ruining his romance with both of them due to his indecision about who to choose. In the Distant Finale, he is shown to have married and had children with an unnamed bat woman who's a fellow artist he met after getting his painting career off the ground.
  • Subverted in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Marco finally begins dating his childhood crush Jackie, but finds out Star had developed a crush on him over the past year. He and Jackie break up, with her believing he reciprocates Star's feelings, something Marco later realizes to be true. But by that time, Star has gotten back with her ex-boyfriend, Tom. Marco gets a third love interest in Kelly after this revelation, but while they do date briefly, he and Star ultimately end up together.
  • In Thunder Cats 2011, Lion-O first falls in love with Cheetara (who rejects him for Tygra), then Pumyra (who turns out to be a traitor working for Mumm-Ra). According to Word of God, if the series had continued, he would have ultimately ended up with an adult Wilykit.
  • Total Drama Island originally featured a Love Triangle between Gwen, Trent and Trent's friend Cody, who stepped aside when it became clear Trent was the one she actually liked. By Total Drama World Tour, Gwen and Trent have broken up, but Gwen passes up Cody for Duncan instead. Cody just can't win, even more so when Sierra's involved.

Alternative Title(s): Cheryl Blossom