It's like she's a Barbie with two perfect Kens
But wait, it just occurred to me
Maybe I can solve this with geometry
Yes, smarts can help this sitchywation untangle
So professors, teach me the math of love triangles..."
The first assumption in a relationship described as a Love Triangle is that someone's got to go. There is a lot of good drama/comedy in that little conundrum.
Even if the writer chooses to challenge that assumption,note there will be some pretty tricky footwork required to make it all come out to a resolution.
Here are the possible triangles. Put one to work.
Note: These are all point-in-time snapshots. It could be the situation at the beginning or it could evolve into this situation. These are often used to construct different faces of Love Polyhedra. A common Relationship Writing Fumble is to attempt one type of triangle but end up creating a different one (usually a less heteronormative one).
1. Alice wants both Bob and Charlie, but cannot decide which. Both are unrequited or their wishes are unimportant at this point.
- The classic Betty and Veronica trope. See that page for details.
2. Alice wants Bob, Bob wants Claire, and Claire wants Alice. Sometimes referred to as a Bizarre Love Triangle, after the New Order song. It can involve as many people as you like, turning it into a square, pentagon or more, but ultimately the love remains unrequited.
- The manga Girl×Girl×Boy has one of these triangles most of the way through. Although it later turns out to have by type 4 all along.
- Natalia (Belarus), Ivan (Russia) and Toris (Lithuania) from Hetalia: Axis Powers. With a twist: Belarus and Russia are siblings. Completely, utterly, and hilariously insane siblings. Poor Lithuania...
- Juri, Shiori and Ruka in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
- In Sgt. Frog, Ms. Furbottom loves Giroro, Giroro loves Natsumi, and Natsumi loves Ms. Furbottom's regular cat form.
- Strangers in Paradise, most of the time. David longs for Katchoo, Katchoo for Francine, and Francine for David.
- A Carousel of Agony is a RWBY drabble involving this. Pyrrha has a crush on Jaune, who has a crush on Weiss. Weiss, however, likes Pyrrha and asks her out to the dance. Pyrrha had actually wanted to go with Jaune, but she agrees to Weiss' request.
- Who's Got My Gum: Hiro, Honey, and Gogo have this sort of relationship; Hiro loves Honey, Honey loves Gogo, and Gogo loves Hiro. They decide the best course of action is for the three of them to date each other since they'll all get what they want and no one will get their heart broken.
Film — Live Action
- The 1994 movie Threesome uses this setup with two men and a woman.
- She's the Man: Viola becomes Sebastian, and falls in love with Duke. Duke then falls in love with Olivia, and Olivia falls in love with Viola disguised as Sebastian. There's a bit more to it than that—the real Sebastian, Viola's brother, is dating Monique so she hates Olivia, but Olivia goes out with Duke to make Viola jealous. Coupled with the reason why Viola crossdresses in the first place, it's also a Love Dodecahedron.
- Fight Club features one with the narrator, Tyler and Marla. Although things start to get... Complicated.
- The main three characters in The Rules of Attraction, though they also each have several side-flings.
- In the Xanth novels, Dolph, Nada, and Electra have this relationship. One of the books spells out the problem (with the solution not in sight, even though it is eventually resolved): "Electra loved Dolph, and Dolph loved Nada. Nada didn't love Dolph, and Dolph didn't love Electra."
- Fight Club features the quote "Tyler wanted marla, marla wanted me and I wanted Tyler". Although things get skewed in the third act as certain things unravel.
- An episode of The Thin Blue Line uses this plot:
Habib: So you're telling me that Kevin fancies me, I fancy you, and you fancy Kevin?
- Family Matters: Steve Urkel has an unrequited love for Laura. Myra has a love just as great for Steve, but Steve doesn't really reciprocate, because any love he has for Myra is always limited by the fact that he make it painfully clear that he values the possibility of a romance with Laura more than any more attainable relationship with his girlfriend who actually loves him already.
- In the Dutch series Zenith, Fay is in love with Ricardo, but despite her best efforts, he has eyes only for her best friend Soraya. Unfortunately, Soraya turns out to be in love with Fay.
- Udo Lindenberg from Berlin made a song about one: A conductor loves a soprano, she loves a dancer from the ballet, who loves the conductor.
- A four-part version is described in the They Might Be Giants song "Withered Hope", whose characters are (in typical fashion for the band) rather abstract: a "Very Sad Sack", the Withered Hope of the title, a picture of a crook, and a motorcycle.
- See Twelfth Night: Orsino (A) loves Olivia (B), who falls for Cesario/Viola (C), who loves Orsino.
- A Midsummer Night's Dream temporarily becomes a variant of this involving four parties instead of three, once Puck goofs up at applying the love potion.
- Jean-Paul Sartre makes this one of Hell's tortures, in his play No Exit, when the members of this relationship are put together in a room for all eternity.
- The Normal Heart: Implied to have existed before the play, when Ned (A) unrequitedly loved Bruce (B), who loved Craig (C), who had a crush on Ned. However, the play opens with Bruce and Craig happily in love in a long-term relationship, while Ned's one-sided crush on Bruce continued.
- The situation in the prologue of Chrono Clock. Miu likes Shuuji, who likes Michiru, who loves her brother Rei to a worrying degree. Rei discovers Miu's feelings, by happening upon a botched confession, and helps her overcome her social anxiety in order to confess properly, by talking and doing couple-like things together, but in the process develops his own feelings for her, thus completing what he calls a "love rhombus". She also starts to like Rei, but he tries to prevent that and pushes her to go ahead with the original plan.note
- Three of the main characters in Pixie Trix Comics. Aaron wants Zadie, but she doesn't want him back and just uses his obvious attraction to her for her own benefit. Then Julian (previously of Sticky Dilly Buns shows up, and Zadie is instantly smitten, but he's more attracted to Aaron (and neither Aaron nor Zadie seem to have realized that Julian's gay yet).
- Marinette and Adrien in Miraculous Ladybug somehow wound up with a strange, two-person variant. The problem arises from the fact that they are not allowed to reveal their alter egos as Ladybug and Cat Noir to anyone, even each other, and they both act significantly different in their civilian identities. Thus, Adrien likes Ladybug, but not Marinette, and Marinette likes Adrien, but not Cat Noir.
3. The classic love war set up. Bob and Charlie want Alice. Alice is neutral toward, or not initially thinking in romantic terms of Bob and Charlie, or thinking about them at all. Not a bad situation to be in, if you are Alice, though obviously a bit less so for Bob and Charlie. Some Alices will be tempted to see if there is any Type 7 (below) potential in the situation.
Anime and Manga
- The entire Harem Genre (almost exclusively found in anime/manga/Light Novels) is an exaggerated version of this type of triangle.
- The manga Ichiroh! gives us A as main character Nanako with B as her childhood friend Shino and C as her brother. Nanako is painfully aware of their feelings, but can't seem to discourage either of them, leaving the two to fight between each other for her.
- Ren (A) and his two best friends (a guy and a girl) in Kaze no Stigma, who are quite jealous of each other.
- Both versions of My-HiME contain type 3 triangles involving the main character(s):
- (anime) Reito (B) and Yuuichi (C) are both attracted to Mai (A).
- (manga) Yuuichi (A) is sought after by Mai (B) and Natsuki (C), since he is the "Key" to both of their HiME powers. Eventually, Shiho also tries to claim him.
- In the Mazinger trilogy (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer), Sayaka and Maria both want The Hero (The Lancer in the third series) and Chaste Hero Kouji Kabuto, who is usually too busy to think about romance (and is usually too dense to notice).
- In Hetalia: Axis Powers, Greece and Turkey both like Japan who backs out of telling them which one he prefers. Word of God even defines their relationships as Greece → Japan ← Turkey. However, considering that the ratio of Ship Tease is heavily skewed towards Greece and Japan, many fans see this as more of a Type 4 triangle with Turkey at A, Japan at B, and Greece at C.
- In Naruto in Part I, the two tsunderes Sakura and Ino (B and C) both like Sasuke (A), who shows no romantic interest in either. Both Naruto and Lee (B and C) have feelings for Sakura, who is in love with Sasuke and thus strongly rejects their initial advances.
- In Digimon, Davis and TK are in love with Kari, or at least Davis is. Many fans support either, and the pairings have been known as dakari (for Davis) and takari (for TK). It is unclear who her husband is at the end of Season 2, or if it even either of the two.
- In My-Otome, Arika(B) and Nina(C) over Sergay (A).
- In Gakuen Babysitters, Inomata and Ushimaru have crushes on Ryuuichi.
- A developing case in Attack on Titan, with both Ymir and Reiner having feelings for Krista. The former is officially stated to be in love with her, while the later has a crush that may or may not be serious. Krista, for her part, hasn't shown that she considers either one of them as anything more than a friend.
- This type of triangle pops in Akuma no Riddle, with Chitaru Namatame at A, Hitsugi Kirigaya at B, and Shiena Kenmochi at C. It ends with all three of them dying.
- During the first half of Fruits Basket, Yuki and Kyo both develop feelings for Tohru, and subconsciously bicker over her time and attention. An interesting take on the trope though, Tohru's friend Saki notes that they both have too much chaos in their hearts to have room for love, so they remain unaware of their true feelings for her for a long time (while they sift through all the issues caused by their abusive upbringings). By the time the dust settles, the triangle is resolved when Yuki realizes that he had wanted a "mother" figure in Tohru note so he happily stands aside so she can end up with Kyo.
- Some of the sub triangles of School Rumble. Harima (A) is too focused in his love with Tenma and is unaware of Eri (B) and Yakumo (C) feelings. Eri has some kind of rivalry with Yakuno, but it's a friendly one.
- as of the end of volume four of Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina, Elaina's relationship with Saya and Amnesia is like this. Both have stated that they love her, while she has shown no romantic interest in either. At most she'll give a bemused or slightly disturbed reaction to their individual advances, but largely she tries to brush them aside or ignore them. Saya and Amnesia, meanwhile, don't get along very well due to their respective attractions to the eponymous wandering witch.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: During the Silver Age's "Impossible Tales" most stories had the winged boy "Wingo" and merboy Renno vying for a largely disinterested Wonder Girl's attentions, as she viewed them more as friends. Due to the lack of continuity in the "Impossible Tales" their relationship was occasionally presented as a type 7 as she would agree to dates with both of them, but she was never as interested in the boys as they were her.
- This is how Hetalia: Axis Powers fanfic Gankona, Unnachgiebig, Unità began as with Germany as B and Japan as C. They both vied over Italy who was A yet didn't know if he requited either of their feelings.
- In Ancient Languages, Elhael and Glorfindel compete for access to Lyla.
- Evangelion 303: Kaworu/Rei/Saburo are a Type 3: Saburo and Rei both want Kaworu, but he wants to be single for now (and he wants nothing with Saburo).
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has this dynamic when Iris joins Ash's group, with her and Misty both attracted to Ash, while Ash only sees them as his friends. However, it ceases to be a triangle when Anabel joins their group (and that's not even taking Serena into account).
- See Sabu: Osue is at 'a', in the sights of both Sabu and Eiji, two friends from childhood.
- Paint Your Wagon starts off as this, with Ben winning Elizabeth at auction but with the Stranger longing for her as well. Rectified temporarily when Elizabeth proposes turning this into a Type 7.
- Star Wars appears to set up this scenario with both Han and Luke being potentially interested in Leia, but later it becomes apparent that it's Han she has feelings for and Luke is her long-lost brother.
- Anne (A), in Anne of Avonlea, with Charlie Sloane (B) and Gilbert Bylthe (C)—although it is hinted that she was in denial of a type 4 towards Gilbert all along, or even a type 7 with Roy and Gilbert in Anne of the Island.
- In the earlier part of Kushiel's Dart, Phèdre and Alcuin are both completely in love with their Sexy Mentor Delaunay. Delaunay is Oblivious to Love and has no idea until he's told—he thinks they see him as a Parental Substitute.
- Smallville middle season two: Both Chloe and Lana want Clark, who is with someone else.
- The Best Years has both Devon and Trent in love with Samantha in the first season. This triangle is repeated in the second season with Rich and Jake.
- From Season 3 of Angel, Fred is A, Wesley and Gunn are B and C.
- Peanuts starts here. Peppermint Patty and Marcie are both shown interested in Charlie Brown. Chuck/Charles isn't quite noticing of them...
- Most noticeable of late is the situation in which Daniel Bryan found himself with Monday Night RAW's resident twin tag-team teases/terrors, the Bella Twins (until they found him making out with Gail Kim—they didn't take that well).
- This is how Touhou Project fanon portrays Marisa's effect on pretty much every other character she meets, but especially so with Patchouli and Alice. Marisa steals the precious things.
- Final Fantasy VII Tifa and Aerith both have feelings for Cloud, but he is unaware of this fact. One death and one (optional) Relationship Upgrade seems to resolve this later, but all subsequent storylines deliberately keep things up for debate. Even Tetsuya Nomura outright states that "I have no idea" if Cloud ever made his choice.
- Mega Man Legends: Volnutt is A, with Roll Caskett at B and Tron Bonne at C.
- Mega Man Star Force: Both Luna Platz and Sonia Strumm have feelings for Geo Stelar, who may or may not like them back. It is never resolved by the end, so it's all open to debate.
- Persona 4: The NPCs you can meet in the shrine include a young boy who is being fought over by two young girls. The boy, who the text refers to as "Weak-Willed Boy", gets dragged along with whatever the girl that got to him first that day wants. For his part, he just wants to play soccer. Towards the end of the game, both girls get sick of his milquetoast attitude towards them and ditch him, becoming BFFs in the process.
- This is how most of the weeks and rivalries in Yandere Simulator will be portrayed: Yandere-chan is in love with Senpai. So is the rival of the week. Senpai is oblivious to both their affections. Yandere-chan must find a way to get rid of her rival before she confesses her love to Senpai. (Exceptions are Muja, who Senpai seems to mutually crush on, Hanako, who's instead Senpai's clingy little sister, and possibly Megami, as it isn't clear at this time whether she actually has a crush on Senpai or not.)
- Girl Genius:
- Agatha (A), Gil (B), and Tarvek (C). Bit of a cross with Type 1, as Agatha likes both of them, and oscillates between which one she wants, but has not committed either way. An added twist is that Gil and Tarvek are each aware of the other, and hate each other (for reasons unrelated to Agatha).
- Agatha and Gil have started to express their feelings for each other, making this somewhat type four-ish (With Tarvek as A and Agatha at B).
- Castle Heterodyne clearly supports type 7, and if Gil and Tarvek resolve their issues, it would go to a type 8.
- Trudy and Ki of General Protection Fault are both attracted to Nick, who is struggling with his feelings for the two of them and his own attitudes toward relationships. After Nick and Ki get together, this turns into a Type 4.
- In Homestuck, both WV and AR are infatuated with PM, but PM either is oblivious/doesn't have a preference.
- In the ABC/Disney version of Doug. Patti (A) is unaware of Doug's (B) feelings and the triangle is completed when Guy (C) debuts (he falls in love with Patti pretty quickly). Both want Patti both have some kind of rivalry and Patti has a good friendship with both. The triangle is dissolved when Guy gives up, but is uncertain if Doug an Patti ended together.
4. Alice wants Bob, who is already in a relationship with Claire. Bob is unaware/neutral (leaving Alice as a Hopeless Suitor), or is aware of the interest and can't/won't reciprocate (leaving Alice in the "friend zone"). As the most complicated set of relations which is compatible with both monogamy and heterosexuality, this is very common.
5. Alice loves Bob, but Bob loves Claire. Claire doesn't have feelings for either. Alice might try persuading Bob to give up on Claire. If Alice is Ax-Crazy (or otherwise extremely jealous), she might attempt to Murder the Hypotenuse. Alternatively, Alice might just want her beloved to be happy, and try to set Claire up with Bob. This is the smallest situation directly involving at least three characters where All Love Is Unrequited.
This can potentially involve more than three people, with Claire having feelings for David, David having feelings for Eric, and so forth (perhaps even looping around to Zeke loving Alice in a dodecahedral version of Type 2.)
6. Alice wants Bob and Claire, who are already in a relationship. In this one, the "want" may or may not be sexual in nature—this could just be a platonic thing. Pair the Suitors is what happens when a type 1 or type 3 turn into a type 6.
Anime and Manga
- Snow White with the Red Hair: Shirayuki and Zen are in a relationship and Obi confesses that he loves Shirayuki and makes a more ambiguous confession of "liking" Zen. The fact that he ends up frequently staring at Zen and flirts with him constantly to see him flustered makes this like less ambiguous. He refuses to come between them as he is dedicated to their happiness and safety.
- Tatewaki Kuno in Ranma ½ is the "a" in this scenario (although he doesn't know/won't admit it), with Ranma (as a girl) and Akane as "b" and "c".
- Sailor Moon Fanon theorizes that Rei Hino (a), Mamoru Chiba (b), and Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon (c) are in this stage. In canon, their relationship was more of a type 4 triangle.
- Kyon and Mikuru (B and C) are mutually attracted to each other, while Haruhi (A) lusts after both. And Oharuhi-sama gets what she wants... Hilarity Ensues.
- In Love Hina, it's (humorously) implied that Mutsumi is in love with Keitaro and his destined love Naru, but that she wants to see both of them be happy together.
- Ouran High School Host Club: Kyoya's English voice actor thinks Kyoya is in this type of scenario as the A with Tamaki and Haruhi as the B and C, and that Kyoya is okay with this, and would rather see them happy with each other than be with either himself.
- Rosario + Vampire plays with this a bit. Yukari is into both Tsukune and Moka, who are pretty much an Official Couple. Her plan? Push them that last mile and get in on the action.
- In Clover, Suu has a crush on both Ora and Kazuhiko, who are in a relationship with each other.
- Nyaruko: Crawling with Love! starts off as a Type 4, with Nyarko head-over-heels for Mahiro, who likes her but is Tsundere and Cannot Spit It Out, and Cuuko having an unrequited Psycho Lesbian crush on Nyarko. Cuuko eventually warms up to Mahiro after he treats her with genuine kindness and decides she's totally okay with their becoming one big happy threesome.
- Suzu and Matsuri of Ayakashi Triangle have a mutual (and mutually reluctant) love for each other, even after Matsuri is turned female. Soga is attracted to both in different ways: He unhesitatingly loves Suzu, which he's able to confess to Matsuri, but can barely talk to Suzu or girls in general. Soga also has feelings for Matsuri's female form, which Soga rejects because Matsuri still identifies a male—yet for the same reason, Soga is much more talkative to Matsuri than any other female, furthering his infatuation.
- In The Walking Dead, Carol (a) grows feelings for married couple Rick (b) and Lori Grimes (c), constantly telling them both she is in love with them, and suggesting to make a polygamous relationship work and raise one another's children together. However, she is shot down by both Rick and Lori on this idea, and berated for not focusing on being a mother to her daughter Sophia.
- In Empowered, Emp is in a relationship with Thugboy, and Ninjette has feelings for both of them... Which, since they're her friends, she mostly keeps to herself.
- Wonder Woman Vol 1: Diana and Steve Trevor are the official couple, and Keith Griggs spends most of his time preoccupied with both of them. He flirts openly with Diana, but pays more attention to Steve.
- Advice and Trust: Asuka and Shinji are in a relationship, and Rei has comes to love both of them, but Rei is unwilling to rock the boat by trying for the "Israfel Special". Much to the frustration and disappointment of many of the readers!
- In Pokémon: The Series fanfic Symbiosis, Captain Torch has feelings for Sabrina and Atsushi, whom are both in a relationship with each other.
- Played for (very uneasy or extraordinarily guilty) laughs in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which Dr. Frank-N-Furter (a) seduces both Brad and Janet (b, c) with practically the same dialogue in back-to-back scenes. Yes, it's that kind of movie.
- Sophie's Choice—Stingo loves Sophie and Nathan dearly, even if not sexually in the case of Nathan.
- In Plan B, Bruno (A) tries to seduce Pablo (B) as part of a scheme to get him to break up with Laura (C). His ultimate goal is to switch places with Pablo in this triangle as he's actually straight and Laura is his ex-girlfriend he wants to get back together with by hook or crook. Except that it turns out he's not as straight as he thinks he is and Laura is the one who ends up switching places with him as he and Pablo develop genuine feelings for each other to the point where they're forced to tell her that neither of them can be with her.
- Barbarella: The Black Queen wants both Barbarella and Pygar, who reject her. Barbarella and Pygar have already had sex, and while it's dubious to call their relationship romantic (it's a sex comedy), they do feel some loyalty for each other.
- It's very easy (and entertaining) to read the Sid/Michelle/Tony triangle in Skins this way.
- There has been more than one gay-themed dating show where two of the contestants chose each other over the bachelor.
- Mulan is heavily implied to have fallen for both Philip and Aurora (who are married) in Once Upon a Time
- Evoked for laughs in the Fred Godfrey song "Now I Have to Call Him Father" (the protagonist is "A"):
He used to come and court his little Mary AnnI used to think that he was my young manBut Mother caught his eye and they got married on the slyNow I have to call him Father
- In Mass Effect, Tali'Zorah seems to be in a bad case of this in regards to Female Shepard and Garrus. She gets flustered and nervous when telling Shepard she'd be willing to link suits with her, one of her species' most intimate shows of trust. Likewise, if she was not romanced by Male Shepard or if Garrus was not romanced by Female Shepard, Tali hooks up with Garrus at the end of Mass Effect 3.
- Comes to a head in the Citadel DLC, where, if she gets drunk enough, she mumbles as though in the middle of a threesome fantasy between herself, Female Shepard, and Garrus.
- In the webcomic Boy Meets Boy, Tybalt (a) tries to seduce Harley (b) away from Mikhael (c), who used to be his boyfriend. It's implied that Tybalt still has residual feelings for Mikhael, so his fixation on Harley probably has to do with jealousy as much as with desire.
- Happens in Homestuck with Eridan (A), Feferi (B), and Sollux (C). Feferi and Eridan were originally moirails, until Eridan developed flushed (romantic) feelings for her and wanted to transition their moirallegiance into a matespritship; however, not only did Feferi reject him, she also broke off the moirallegiance, since it had become emotionally exhausting for her. Feferi and Sollux later end up dating, and as a result, not only does Eridan's one-sided crush on Feferi remain, he also develops caliginous feelings (a hate-crush) for Sollux, who definitely does not feel the same way.
- Misfiled Dreams uses Jenny in A with Ash and Emily at B and C. As Emily puts it, Jenny is attracted to Ash, Emily, and the relationship Ash and Emily have.
7. The classic "affair" set up. Alice is in a relationship with Bob, but she's also in a relationship with Charlie. Either Bob and Charlie don't know about the other's involvement at all or Charlie knows he's the secret lover and acts accordingly. Much of the drama/comedy comes from all the work needed to make sure that the space between B and C stays free from any sort of information flow. A lot of geography between the two helps, or maybe a good social divide.
8. When all three parties are devoted to each other in some manner. This needn't be sexual, but this is the type that's the most compatible with polyamory in its various forms. The most obvious example is a straight-up threesome: Alice, Bob, and Charlie are happily in a relationship together. Or two of them are in a relationship and the third is a Friend With Benefits that they occasionally fool around with. Or Bob is in a relationship with both Alice and Charlie, while the latter two are friends but not intimate, possibly due to Incompatible Orientation.
9. Bob and Charlie are attracted/loyal to each other but are also attracted/loyal to Alice. Bob and Charlie might be best friends or siblings, and much of the conflict comes from wanting to pursue Alice but not wanting to hurt the other.
Anime and Manga
- In Macross Frontier, Sheryl and Ranka are both in love with Alto and are good friends (sometimes acting quite sisterly) with one another. The last scene in the TV series even has Ranka declaring to Sheryl that she's not giving up on him, to which Sheryl smiles and nods encouragingly.
- In Touch, twins Tatsuya and Kazuya are both in love with the same girl, Minami Asakura, who loves them both. Unfortunately, this one loses a leg early on in the series. Fortunately (well, fortunately-ish), it's not the leg she's interested in romantically.
- Just one of many situations in Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Yue and Nodoka are best friends who are both attracted to Negi. Being bookworms, both the girls are incredibly Genre Savvy as to how its likely to end and the presence of a triangle is even Lampshaded by them at one point.
- Konoka and Setsuna both initially showed interest in Negi (enough to pactio, at least), but as the series continues it's become increasingly obvious that the two will end up together. At this point, the pairing is one step short of canon. It's heavily implied (but not confirmed) that the two of them got married in 2017.
- A Type 9 forms the core of My Monster Secret's conflict. Asahi is very much in love with Youko, but she's Oblivious to Love for a good part of the story. Aizawa develops feelings for Asahi, and briefly tries to sabotage his attempts to confess to Youko, but feels guilty about it and quickly stops. She and Youko are good friends and start cheering each other on, though Youko doesn't realize her own deeper feelings for Asahi until the sight of him with Aizawa starts making her feel sick and upset. Eventually Aizawa throws her full support behind Asahi and Youko (which leads to their finally confessing and becoming a couple), and finally gives up on him or at least tries to, but her body has a hard time following her mind.
- Two intertwined cases in Ouran Highschool Host Club. On one side there is Haruhi-Kaoru-Hikaru. Haruhi likes the twins (platonically though), both twins are in love with her and the brothers love each other just as much. It breaks when Kaoru willingly gives up his love so Hikaru can have a real shot at getting Haruhi's attention. The second triangle is Haruhi-Tamaki-Hikaru. While the relationship between Tamaki and Hikaru is very strained especially during the main arc of this conflict, they always hold respect for each other. By the point that Tamaki finally manages to confess and date Haruhi, Hikaru is ready to give up and fully supports the couple. In general it has been implied that (almost) every member of the club had at one point fallen for Haruhi while staying very loyal to the others and the club.
- Pick a Mary Sue fic (more specifically, any Relationship Sue fic). Mary Sue is at 'a', of course, and B and C are occupied by lesser mortals who have been enchanted away from their sexual identities, loyalties, duties, and all other responsibilities by the mesmerizing beauty of her violet eyes. Naturally, Mary Sue is too noble to allow them to depart the Righteous Path.
- In My Immortal, Harry/Vampire (b) and Draco/Darko/Drako (c) are both utterly in love with Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way (a), but that doesn't stop them from having an active sexual relation with each other.
- In Lost in Camelot, Bo, Merlin and Morgana form a Type 8 by Chapter 30. At first, it was simply that Bo and Morgana were each attracted to Merlin while Merlin was attracted to the two women, with Bo interested in Morgana while Morgana was just willing to consider the idea of a more-than-friends relationship with Bo, but after Bo was abducted saving Morgana from kidnappers, by Chapter 35 Morgana has accepted her romantic and sexual desire for Bo as well as Merlin.
- The relationship between the main characters in Being John Malkovich. Maxine (A) gains the affections of both Craig (B) and Lotte (C) who are married to each other but she doesn't care for either of them nearly as much as they do for her, treating Craig with disgust and Lotte with indifference unless one of them is inhabiting John Malkovich's body... long story there.
- My Father the Hero, where a girl tells the boy she likes that her father, who has taken her on a holiday, is actually her lover. Wackiness ensues.
- In silent comedy film Hands Up!, the protagonist, a Confederate spy in The Wild West, falls in love with each of a pair of daughters. Each daughter nobly offers to step aside for the other one. He resolves this dilemma by marrying them both.
- In Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione are a case of Opposites Attract. But one thing they do have in common is their shared loyalty/affection toward Harry.
- Delia(A), Eric(B) and Fitz(C) in Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult, only Delia and Eric are engaged, which makes it also have elements of Triang Relation #4(with Fitz as as A, Delia as B and Eric as C). Fitz eventually gets Delia, though.
- In Vampire Academy, Dimitri and Rose are in love, but worry that their relationship will get in the way of their mutual duty to protect Lissa.
- In Shanghai Girls, sisters Pearl(C) and May(B) both want Z.G Li (A). In Pearl's eyes, she is Z.G.'s true love, but that is not the case. Z.G. and May have a relationship and May ends up getting pregnant. In the sequel Dreams of Joy, there is a partially platonic one going on, with both Pearl and her daughter Joy actually May's child with Z.G. both wanting love and affection from him.
- This variant occurs in Doctor Who. The Doctor at A, Jack at B, and Martha at C. The Doctor, wary of relationships to himself and Jack, tries to keep all three relationships platonic.
- In the Korean Series The First Shop of Coffee Prince, you have this trope bordering on Love Dodecahedron. Cousins Choi Han Kyul and Choi Han Sung both crunch on same two women (but not at the same time). It all sorts itself in the end.
- In Darkest Powers, in pure Sibling Triangle fashion, Derek and Simon are brothers and best friends, but both are very attracted to Chloe. Despite this, they don't fight about it and neither wants to hurt the other. It's to the point where Derek tries to push her away and over to Simon so that his brother can be happy, but then Simon turns around and does the exact same thing upon realizing that the one Chloe likes is actually Derek. Not that Chloe is aware of this at the time, however, and remains in denial about it for a while even after Simon tells her so.
- On Glee, this happens with Jake and Ryder, who go from bitter enemies to frenemies to best friends due to their shared interest in Marley. Some might argue that the two boys had better/more interesting chemistry with each other than either of them had with her.
- In Peanuts, Peppermint Patty and Marcy are both fond of Charlie Brown but are often perceived to be more than just friends. Charlie, for his part, is pretty oblivious to anything but their friendship.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer's henchmen, Fujin and Raijin, are utterly loyal to him. As he grows more distant, they start to depend more and more on each other, eventually parting ways with their leader.
- In Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side, activating Rival Mode with a female friend causes this. The strength of the B-C bond (and how persistent you are in making up) determines whether she steals your guy or decides I Want My Beloved to Be Happy and tells you to take care of him for her.
- Occurs twice in the Persona 2 Duology, both times with Maya Amano as A and Tatsuya Suou as B. Word of God says that Maya was Tatsuya's first love; he is fiercely determined to protect her, but due to the nature of their relationship does not see her as an eligible romantic option. Maya's feelings for him are unconfirmed. The role of C is filled by Jun Kurosu in Innocent Sin and Katsuya Suou in Eternal Punishment. Jun is Tatsuya's best friend who shares his devotion to Maya, but is also romantically interested in Tatsuya himself. Their pairing has been borderline confirmed and the promises they have made to each other drive the plot. Katsuya, on the other hand, is Tatsuya's older brother who falls in love with Maya over the course of the second game, though his devotion to the former prevents him from acting on his feelings for the latter.
- A downplayed example in El Goonish Shive. Ellen and Nanase are devoted to each other, but both of them have expressed attraction to Grace. Downplayed because neither have any intention of seriously pursuing that relationship, as Grace is already in a committed relationship with Tedd.
- A viral Tumblr/DA comic shows Mario and Bowser both being rejected by Peach, at which point Bowser puts on the Super Crown from the Switch version of New Super Mario Bros. U (which normally turns Toadette into Peach), turning him into a version of Peach, and the two go off together.
- In Total Drama World Tour Courtney (B) and Gwen (C) are good friends but both want Duncan (A). Since Courtney and Duncan are in relationship and Gwen has been hiding her feelings from both this has elements of Triang Relation #4. Very recently this has become a #10 with Duncan revealing he wants Gwen, while at least for the moment still being with Courtney.
10. Alice and Bob are in a relationship, but Bob is attracted to Charlie. How sympathetically Bob is played depends on their gender. Similar to Type 4, but with a different point of view.
Anime and Manga
- Maison Ikkoku: Kozue (A) is dating Godai (B) who is too wishy-washy to break up with her, while he pines over Kyoko (C).
- The last major conflict of the series to be resolved is that Kyoko is B to Godai's A and her late husband Soichiro's C. Godai decides it's Type 8.
- School Days starts out like this. Makoto and Sekai are childhood friends, and Makoto has a crush on Kotonoha. (And Sekai has a secret crush on Makoto.) Sekai helps Makoto and Kotohona get together, turning it into a Type 7 or 8 depending on how you want to interpret Sekai and Kotohona's relationship. When Sekai and Makoto take their relationship to another level, however, things go bad and then get worse. Much, much worse.
- Vampire Knight Yuki (B) chooses Kaname (A), but admits to still having feelings for Zero (C). Could also be a number seven, if Zero (still) feels the same about Yuki.
- Interestingly done in the original Spider-Man comics. For a while, Peter and Mary Jane were in a relationship, but Peter wanted to be with Gwen. At the same time, Gwen and Harry were in a relationship, but Gwen wanted to be with Peter. Interestingly, both Peter and Gwen are seen sympathetically, despite their gender. Then again, the male is Spider-Man.
- Shaun of the Dead: Dianne (A) and David (B) have a relationship but it turns out that David has an unrequited crush for Shaun's girlfriend Liz (C).
- Ethan Frome revolves around this kind of triangle, with Zeena at A, Ethan at B, and Mattie at C. It ends tragically.
- In Wings of Fire, Starflight (B) falls in love with two other dragons: Sunny (C), and later Fatespeaker (A). Sunny gently turns him down when he confesses because she sees him like a brother, and nudges him towards Fatespeaker, who reciprocates his feelings, and whom he eventually ends up with.
- Smallville late season one: Chloe is in a relationship with Clark, but Clark also wants Lana.
- Very briefly in the finale of season five: Chloe gives Clark a passionate Now or Never Kiss and he definitely reciprocates... but he never, ever gets over Lana.
- Simon's attraction to Jenny despite being in a relationship with Maggie in Teachers
- Early Niles and Daphne again, this time with Maris at A, Niles at B and Daphne at C.
- Angel: Lilah as A, Wesley as B and Fred as C.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike seemed to have trouble remembering that Harmony was his girlfriend.
- In Downton Abbey, Mary and Matthew are clearly attracted to each other despite each being engaged to other people. This doesn't last; Matthew's fiancee dies of Spanish flu, and Mary breaks it off with her fiance when she decides the dirt he plans to blackmail her with isn't enough to risk a miserable marriage to him.
- In Poldark, Demelza (A) and Ross (B) are married, but Ross also loves Elizabeth (C).
- Finale has this with Tyler as B, Dylan as A, and Alex as C. A slight mix with this and type 4, as Alex reciprocates Tyler's feelings.
- Fanon likes to paint the Snake/Otacon/Naomi mess in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots as this. Snake(A) and Otacon(B) are even raising a child together and Naomi(C) acts as a foil for their happiness right up until she dies. Naomi is usually portrayed as only using Otacon's affections to further her own goals.
- Jak and Daxter: Both Torn and Jak end up the target of Ashelin's affections, but only Torn shows romantic attraction towards her in return, even though he's not good with women. They become an Official Couple in Jak X: Combat Racing, while Jak is paired with Keira Hagai.
- Manic Pixie Dream Wife: Chance and Simone are married and they love each other, but Chance begins to feel attracted to Serenity who seems to enjoy flirting with Chance.
11. The classic affair set up with a twist. Alice is in a relationship with Bob and Charlie, but Bob becomes attracted/loyal to Charlie. Bob and Charlie may or may not know about the other's involvement with Alice. This situation is clearly the fault of Alice, who failed to control the information flow properly. Bad philanderer! No biscuit!
Anime and Manga
- In Toradora!, this is the case with Ryuuji (A), Minori (B) and Taiga (C). This is a very strange twist of Matchmaker Crush. Taiga is trying to set up Ryuuji (who starts to take care of her) with Minori (who is Taiga's best and initially only friend). Taiga develops an emotional dependence on Ryuuji, who develops feelings as well. It turns out that Minori already had a crush on Ryuuji, but also had strong feelings for Taiga. Taiga remains good friends, but doesn't quite reciprocate Minori's feelings. Since the Official Couple is actually the title of the show/novels, bummer for Minori. Since everyone in this triangle is too nice to betray anyone, this draws out for a while.
- Death Note
- L (A) is obsessed with his suspects, Misa (B) in love with and obsessed with Light but teases / flirts with L, and Light (C) obsessed with L and pretending to have a relationship with Misa.
- Another one crops up later with Takada (A) seeing both Mikami (B) and Light (C) but Mikami is also VERY loyal to Light...
- There is a complex relationship dynamic going on between Nanoha, Subaru, and Teana in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS: Subaru (B) is Nanoha's biggest Fangirl (following a Heroic Fire Rescue that turned her life around) and is about as straight as a rainbow for Teana, her longtime partner and soulmate. Teana (A) will never admit liking that baka Subaru and simultaneously has a Rage Against the Mentor-turned-Rivalry relationship with Nanoha (C), who seems to acknowledge said rivalry (if ViVid is any indication, the two of them still have a bone to pick over who is better at Shooting magic) but does not pay much mind to Subaru's fangirling beyond encouraging her to follow her dreams (which boil down to being more like Nanoha, anyway). And just to make the parallels between Subaru's relationships with Nanoha and Teana more blatant, Sound Stage X has Teana rescue Subaru by creating a Dungeon Bypass in a manner very similar to her aforementioned Heroic Fire Rescue by Nanoha.
- Horimiya sets up this type of relationship with Miyamura (A), Sawada (B), and Hori (C). Hori and Miyamura are dating, Miyamura and Sawada have a brother-sister dynamic, and Sawada has a crush on Hori. It was initially type 4, but Hori was annoyed watching Miyamura and Sawada compete over her and basically forced them to hang out and get along.
- Kaguya-sama: Love is War has Kashiwagi (A), Maki (B) and Tsubasa (C). Maki and Kashiwagi are best friends, while Tsubasa is Kashiwagi's boyfriend. Maki has also had a crush on Tsubasa since before they started dating (the relationship having only started in the first place because one of their other friends' attempt to get her to confess had Gone Horribly Wrong), but both Kashiwagi and Tsubasa are oblivious to her feelings. To complicate things further, there are hints that Kashiwagi is actually bisexual and is in love with both Tsubasa and Maki.
- By the conclusion of Cross Ange, Ange (A) has become the primary in a bisexual polyamorous relationship: she's consummated her relationship with her male Love Interest Tusk (C) but has also expressed a mutual interest in Hilda (B), who prefers women but also once offered to sleep with Tusk in exchange for him helping her rescue Ange (he didn't take her up on it).
- Karla, Daken, and Lester of Marvel Comics Dark Avengers seem to be dancing around becoming this. Adding Daken's emotion controlling pheromones into the situation just complicates things further.
- Crystal Robots Invader Zim fic, A ZADR Story, starts off with this love triangle. Dib is dating Original Character Cassie, Cassie is Zims sister, and Zim is attracted to Dib. Later on, Zim and Cassie switch places, until eventually, Cassies relationship with Dib dwindles to a close friendship, turning the love triangle into a type 7a.
- Katawa Shoujo Blooper Reel, which sets up the game as having Animated Actors, sees Rin (B) and Emi (C) fall the hardest for Hisao. Rin makes it well-known that she not only wouldn't mind sharing, she'd prefer it. Hisao is perfectly fine with this idea, but Emi isn't, hence the placement (although Rin and Emi still are friends just like in canon).
- Sho, Kei, and Yi-Che in Moon Child.
- In Too Many Husbands, (a comedy version of Enoch Arden), Vicky loves both Bill (her first husband, who returns after being declared Legally Dead) and Henry (her second husband, Bill's business partner). They both love her, and they are best friends with each other, but each wants Vicky exclusively.
- The Secret Garden: The 1993 film plays this way up. You can almost feel the U(non)-ST coming off of Dickon and Mary (swing scene particularly), and Colin flat out says he wants to marry her.
- Some versions of the Tristan and Isolde story portray the love triangle this way: Isolde (A) is married to Mark (C) but in love with Tristan (B), who is in love with her, but is also loyal to Mark, who is his uncle.
- Same thing happens in Arthurian Legend: this is how the relationship between Guinevere (A) is married to Arthur (C) but in love with Lancelot (B), with Lance torn between his attraction to Gwen and his loyalty to Arthur.
- In Enoch Arden, Enoch (B) and Philip (C) both love Annie (A); all three are also childhood friends. Annie first marries Enoch and then, after he is lost at sea and presumed dead, she marries Philip.
- The interpretation of the Arthurian triangle that Marion Zimmer Bradley gives in The Mists of Avalon.
- The overarching plot of Tabitha King's Pearl: Pearl develops a romantic relationship with both Reuben and David without knowing that the two men have a had a decades-long, extremely painful history with one another before Pearl's arrival. David has only recently forgiven Reuben, while Reuben, out of guilt, is now highly protective of David. Pearl realizes that telling either that they are now romantic rivals might push both over the edge.
- Water For Elephants, kind of: Jacob feels guilty about his attraction to Marlena at first because he is loyal to August, but when he realizes how dangerous August is and how he mistreats Marlena, he grows to hate him. However, he has to pretend to still be loyal to him to protect the two of them, as well as his other friends in the circus. Marlena struggles with her residual feelings for August before finally realizing that he's terrible and Jacob is far better, but must also keep up pretenses so they don't all get fired and/or killed. Phew.
- The Secret Garden: Mary, Colin, and Dickon. Make of that what you will.
- In Fear of Flying, Isadora and her husband Bennett go to a conference in Germany, where Isadora starts having an affair with Adrian. It's strongly hinted that Adrian is interested in Bennett as well—the narrative comments on it several times—and at one point, it's implied that the two men slept together.
- In The Wheel of Time once Egwene (C) leaves the White Tower and realizes her feelings are for Gawyn (A) and not his brother Galad (B) it turns to a type 11. Both brothers are loyal to each other and both have feelings for Egwene, but she only reciprocates Gawyn's feelings.
- In Seraphina, Lucian and Glisselda have an Arranged Marriage necessary to ensure the stability of their country, but are Like Brother and Sister. Lucian and Seraphina fall in love and eventually begin an affair. Glisselda also has feelings for Seraphina, which she realizes are unrequited, but decides to support Lucian and Seraphina. While the details are left ambigious, they seem to end in a stable polyamorous relationship, and the companion novel implies that Glisselda will raise Seraphina and Lucian's child as her own child by Lucian.
- Doctor Who: Rose, Jack, and the Doctor. Rose would be A, Jack would be B, and The Doctor would be C. Rose and The Doctor are heavily implied to have feelings for one another in the first season of the new Doctor Who series. When Jack shows up, its obvious that there's something between him and Rose as well. However, while Jack initially simply seems to feel competitive towards The Doctor, the feelings seem to develop into... something else. However, it's clear that things won't go beyond flirting where Jack is concerned, and the Doctor tends to flirt back at him, making this an oddly chaste and playful 8.
- Nothing "odd" about the chasteness. The Doctor had previously been presented as asexual so they didn't want to upset the old fans. Plus, it's a family show with a primary audience of kids. The fans of this OT3 normally see it as a case of a blooming relationship tragically cut short by character death.
- Cook/Effy/Freddie in Skins (B/C/A respectively) reaches this point at the end of series 3. Effy loves Freddie, and he loves her back, but Cook also holds affections for her, and Freddie does not want to betray Cook by going out with Effy.
- Frasier had a variation on this with Frasier playing the role of (C). Being romantically interested in a woman (A) who was in a romantic relationship with another man (B), but is herself at least very open with Frasier. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, has no idea that Frasier is a romantic rival and thinks his constant presence is a result of his undying loyalty as a friend.
- Downton Abbey has this with Matthew (A), Mary (B) and Lavinia (C). Matthew and Lavinia are engaged, but Matthew and Mary are still in love with each other. However, Lavinia turns out to be a sweet girl and she and Mary become close, causing Mary to feel torn between her love and her friend. (It's worth noting that Mary and Lavinia's friendship is strong enough to make them one of the more popular non-canon ships.)
- Sasami's route in Little Busters! has this going on with Riki (A), Sasami (B), and Kengo (C). Kengo and Riki are Childhood Friends, and throughout the route, Riki starts to develop feelings for Sasami, who likewise starts developing feelings for Riki. However, Sasami already had feelings for Kengo before the start of her route, and Riki starts out trying to play The Matchmaker between the two of them, which develops into a Matchmaker Crush. Kengo admits that he is aware of Sasami's interest in him, but he rejects her feelings when Riki pressures him into admitting how he feels about her.
- Incredibly, this is the resolution of the love triangle in Fans! (at least where the original ending left things). By the time of The Revival, they've graduated to type 8, as Rumy and Aly both decided that If It's You, It's Okay.
- High Class Homos: This occurs between princess Sapphia (A), Odette (B), and Marla (C). Sapphia and Marla are dating, while Odette has an interest in Sapphia that she mistakes as being for Marla. At the same time, Sapphia shows at least some interest in Odette. Eventually, Marla breaks it off with Sapphia, leaving Sapphia and Odette in the running to become an Official Couple.
- In King of the Hill, this is the general idea of the Dale-Nancy-John Redcorn triangle. Dale and Nancy are married, Nancy has had a years-long affair with John Redcorn (and has had his son, who Dale believes is his, being oblivious to the obvious clues), but Dale has generally positive feelings about John Redcorn who he believes merely treats his wife's headaches. Comes to a head when Dale assists John with his suit to gain land as reparations from the government, and John decides to end the affair since he cannot screw over someone who has treated him as a friend.
12. Alice and Charlie are in a relationship, often married, but Alice likes Bob and Bob likes/is loyal to Charlie. Depending on genders this can be a hilarious or very tragic set up.
Anime and Manga
- With all the Ho Yay floating around, it's hard not to read the main Love Triangle in Berserk this way, with Casca serving as A, Griffith as B, and Guts as C. After some developments, this setup evolves into a Type 11, then reverts back to 12 in the most tragic way possible before being ripped completely apart by the events of the Eclipse. If you haven't figured it out yet, relationships between people in Berserk are kind of screwed.
- In Revolutionary Girl Utena, Kozue, Miki, and Anthy have this relationship. Kozue is in love with her brother Miki who is in love with Anthy. Anthy manipulates Miki but doesn't return his feelings and it eventually leads to Kozue and Anthy making out in a car in front of him.
- The backstory to Slings & Arrows, with A being Ellen, B being Oliver, and C being Geoffrey.
- The relationships between Johnny, Lisa, and Mark in The Room.
- A variation on this takes place in the Vocaloid song "The Butterfly, Flower, and Spider" by Hitoshizuku-P. The flower (C), a knight, and the butterfly (A), his childhood friend, are in love, but the spider (B), a prince, catches sight of the butterfly and wants her for himself. The butterfly begs the flower not to let the spider take her away, but the flower, who swore his loyalty to the spider, is unable to save her from the royal's clutches. It is essentially the regular type 12 except the arrows between B and C and between A and B are pointing in the opposite direction.
- Hisao, Misha, and Shizune respectively, in Katawa Shoujo. What makes this situation particularly interesting is that one bad choice on Hisao's part (when the unfortunate Misha comes to ask Hisao for "comfort") can unravel all three's relationship.
- Flowers has an all Girls' Love version. Rikka likes Suou. Mayuri likes Rikka, but also ends up falling for Suou. Suou can end up with either, but Mayuri is her canonical love interest.
- BoJack Horseman features a Type 12 love triangle from the point of view of B. BoJack (B) falls for Diane (C), who's in a relationship with BoJack's rival, Mr. Peanutbutter (A), who in turn wants to be BoJack's friend.
13. Alice must choose between Bob and Charlie, but Bob is also attracted to Charlie. Could arise in a gay/bisexual situation, or could be non-sexual in nature. The non-sexual setup might be something like a boy having a family member get in the way of his relationship.
Anime and Manga
- Hayate the Combat Butler has this with the titular butler at point C, Hinagiku at B and Nishizawa at A. Of course, this being a Harem Series, there's a much larger Love Dodecahedron involved.
- In YuruYuri Kyouko is A, being interested in both Childhood Friend Yui and Mirakurun-lookalike Chinatsu (although it's more lust than love). Chinatsu in turn is head over heels in love with Yui, while Yui doesn't show any such feelings to anyone and is happy with being friends with both.
- Eric in That '70s Show was in the second situation for an episode. He was dating Donna and loyal to his mother, Kitty. Kitty and Donna then start going out shopping and lunching, cutting down on Eric's intimacy with Donna.
- In season one of Merlin, Gwen has a bit of a celebrity, would-never-admit-it crush on Arthur, but spends most of her time pining over Merlin. Too bad Merlin is too preoccupied with his Completely Platonic Destiny Says So Soul Mate Arthur.
- Penny and Aggie: Put Michelle at A, Stan at B, and Rich at C.
- Candi: Bisexual Trevor is at A, having to choose between Laura at B and Matt at C. Laura is attracted to Matt, though she won't admit it.
- Downplayed in Questionable Content where Elliot (A) and Clinton (B) are both somewhat interested in Brun (C). Each feels outclassed by the other, while Brun is at least somewhat aware of their interest but doesn't reveal whether she sees either as more than friends. Elliot later reveals that he's bisexual and also interested in Clinton, while Clinton, unaware of Elliot's interest, says that he might be amenable to "the right dude".
- All Grown Up!: in "Lost at Sea", Tommy is A, Didi, his mother, is at B, and his girlfriend Rachel is at C.