This man is beloved, and rules another's soul."
A man and a woman coo over each other. A bystander turns to another and says, "What does she see in him?" Or, conversely, "What does he see in her?"
May also inspire comments about how love is blind — sometimes justly, sometimes unjustly. Common with Romantic False Lead and the Love Triangle. Ugly Guy, Hot Wife may inspire it. So may Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy, if she actually gets him. When jealously motivated, may be coupled with What's He Got That I Ain't Got?! If either member of the couple Has a Type, True Love Is Exceptional is often in play.
In Single Woman Seeks Good Man, likely to be said by less mature characters than the woman; in All Girls Want Bad Boys, the characters who say it are prone to have a better view than the girl, who is prone to dismiss it with You're Just Jealous.
When one of the couple wonders "What do you see in me?" it's I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me. When the questioning comes up about a friendship, it's Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders. When it's not the attraction but the relationship that leaves people wondering, see Nobody Thinks It Will Work. When the audience has its doubts about the relationship, see Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?. And when what she sees in him is a sucker who's gullible enough to fall for a Honey Trap, that's The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction.
- This is many people's reaction to the general Harem Genre and shojo romances, as the majority of them feature a Ridiculously Average Guy or Featureless Protagonist who gains the undying affections of multiple far more gorgeous and talented members of the opposite sex.
- In A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun, Kuroko Shirai is in love with Mikoto Misaka, but she's in love with Touma Kamijou. Kuroko doesn't understand why; she thinks he's just a dumb brute and is completely unaware that he saves the world a lot and has saved Mikoto and her sisters.
- Azumanga Daioh:
- Platonic example: Pretty much every single character in the main cast wonders how Yomi could ever end up becoming best friends with Tomo. Especially confusing since "best friends" here translates into Tomo acting like an idiot and pushing Yomi's Berserk Buttons, with Yomi retaliating with physical violence in kind, not to mention the fact that Yomi is more belligirent towards Tomo than any of the other girls, but Tomo actually studied hard for the final test at their last school specifically so she could transfer to the same school as Yomi... which she explicitly did in order to spite Yomi and so that she could continue teasing her.
- Some students wonder what their literature teacher's wife saw in him. To elaborate, said literature teacher is Mr. Kimura, who openly ogles girls half his age and once answered the question of why he went into teaching with a shout of "BECAUSE I LIKE HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS AND STUFF!" His wife appears to either not notice this or not care; given the amount of ditziness she displays in her appearances, it's more likely the former. It helps he's a decent guy when not being perverted (he donates large amounts of money to charity).
- Detective Conan: Sonoko sees Shinichi as a mystery otaku. What does Ran see in him?
- Dragon Ball Z: This was pretty much everyone's reaction (in-universe and out) to the idea that Bulma and Vegeta would end up together. Especially during the Android/Cell saga, where Vegeta more or less ignores Bulma's very existence despite having fathered her child. Future Trunks, however, thinks he has an inkling:
Trunks: I don't think you realize how much honor means to my father. It's the only thing that keeps him going. It's what makes him a warrior. Oh sure, some might see it as arrogance, but I think down at the core, it's much more noble than that. I believe that's what my mother saw in him. And it's what I see too.
- In Dr. Slump, all the citizens of Penguin Village are bewildered when the Hot Teacher Midori decides to accept the marriage proposal of Senbei.
- In Full Metal Panic!, Leonard, the jealous Romantic False Lead, says something along these lines to Kaname about her love for Sousuke. He comments on how it's ridiculous that she likes Sousuke more than him, since Sousuke killed hundreds of people. Little does Leonard realize that he's fighting a losing battle when the object of desire is Sousuke.
- Occasionally asked of Kousaka and Kasukabe in Genshiken. As it happens, Kousaka is actually a loving, caring guy…it's just it only comes up when his otaku switch is set to "off", and during ninety percent of his screen time it's "on".
- In the Gravitation anime, Suguru is surprised when he learns that the famous novelist Eiri Yuki, an emotionally reserved guy to say the least, is going out with the hyper, bubble-brained Shuichi and asks Hiro why Yuki would be interested in someone like Shuichi. Hiro replies, "That's what I'm trying to figure out."
- In Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyon decides on a whim to try and talk to the eponymous girl (who is extremely beautiful and fiercely rejects any social interaction). The rest of their class do not disguise their shock when she talks back.
- The resident Lovable Sex Maniac Issei Hyodo in High School DXD gets this from all sides at his school, thanks to having many of the school's greatest beauties competing for his attention. What these humans don't see is that Issei will unflinchingly go though absolute hell (even by Devil standards) for those around him and very much earned their affection.
- In the beginning, Tooru asks what Hori sees in Miyamura. He "sees" it, later on. After the Relationship Upgrade, the other kids in school don't even try to be subtle when expressing their disbelief. Sawada, who also has a crush on Hori, asks this as well.
- Inverted with Yanagi. He had confessed to Yuki and she wants no part in it, but everyone can't help but wonder what she doesn't see in him— he's smart, kind, humble, and incredibly handsome. (Yanagi is a bit too perfect in Yuki's eyes. She wants someone normal.)
- Averted in I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying. Despite Hajime being an Otaku who's more interested in anime than the real world, no one ever wonders why Kaoru fell in love with him (they're more surprised that she got married at all). Her friends do ask what he sees in her, but that was more to tease her.
- Christine "Chris" Robbins from Itazura Na Kiss has terrible taste in regards to men's looks Really terrible taste◊. She finds guys like Naoki ugly and guys like Kinnosuke sexy. It is implied that she got her tastes from her mother.
- Looks aside, Kinnosuke is a pretty decent guy.
- Naoki's own mother wonders why girls like him, due to his cold personality. Also, a gender swapped verison often occurs after people find out that Naoki married Kotoko due to her seeming to have no talents. That's likely because he has a "cold personality." (Looks aren't everything you know? Okay, maybe it is.) And yeah, Naoki is quite the Jerk Ass.
- In the beginning of episode 2 of Kotoura-san, other girls in class are puzzled on why Manabe is in love with the "creepy" New Transfer Student Haruka.
- It's what all the male students at Tenbi wanna about Takeru's girl magnetism. As far as they can see, he's a dumbass and a Grade A lecher. Yet, it hasn't stopped several of the hottest girls at the academy from falling for him; including Love Espada!
- The female students ask the same question about why all the guys drool over Ms. Aki, except they already know the answer. It's because she's got the biggest rack among them, on top of being an older woman and the school nurse.
- Mazinger Z: When Boss realizes that Sayaka likes loud-mouthed, arrogant, tactless Kouji, he wonders why she fell for him.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, this is some people's reaction to the uber-serious, professional, and competent Kati Mannequin falling in love with an ineffectual goofball like Patrick Colasour. Some scenes in the series imply that she enjoys the fun he brings to her life: having him around helps her unwind and stop taking everything so seriously all the time.
Patrick: Colonel! I've come to ask you on a date!
Kati: At a time like this!? The world is currently on the verge of a revolution. You don't have any thoughts on this?
Patrick: No! None at all!
Kati: [sigh] (smiles) Wait, right here. I need to go change.
- Yamato introduces her friends to her boyfriend Takeo for the first time in My Love Story!!, they have a hard time that the boyfriend Yamato had bragged was so cool was the big muscular brute of a man they meet. When they witness Takeo selflessly risk himself to save two of them who had gotten caught in a burning building, they begin to see just what attracted Yamato to him.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, this is Asuka's reaction to hearing that Hikari has a crush on Touji.
- Several characters in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu (especially students who attend the same high school Nogizaka Haruka and Ayase Yuuto do) wonder what the popular, talented and wealthy Nogizaka Haruka sees in average-looking Ayase Yuuto.
- In Oreshura, practically all of Eita's classmates wonder this when Masuzu gives him a Love Confession, since he seems completely focused on studying, while she's the most popular girl at school who's rejected numerous boys. His Childhood Friend Chiwa wonders about this as well...
- During one episode of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Stocking falls in love with a guy who's incredibly disgusting, foul, sexist and just all-around vile. Panty (and every single onlooker) wonders what Stocking sees in him. Even worst, the guy is quite obviously a ghost, raising even more questions. The question might have finally been answered during the Gainax Ending, when Stocking revealed herself to be a demon before she sliced Panty into 666 pieces.
- In RaButa, Hiromi is completely baffled by the fact that her best friend Kurume is attracted to the local lazy, overweight, delinquent Harundo. And she's even more baffled by the fact that he initially isn't interested in her.
- In Say I Love You, a few characters, particularly girls, wonder what Yamato Kurosawa, the most popular boy at their high school, sees in Mei Tachibana, a friendless outcast who keeps to herself. However, his interest in her is genuine, and keeps trying to get to know her more until she finally opens up to him. And despite that, several characters still try to sabotage the relationship, such as Megumi.
- In the Distant Finale of Stellvia of the Universe, Kouta's doctor wonders what Shima sees in a "blockhead" like him.
- Urusei Yatsura:
- No one seems to understand why Lum is in love with Ataru, particularly her many admirers. For the record, Ataru has no idea either.
- In the second film, Beautiful Dreamer, Shinobu outright ask Lum this very question. Of course she's being a Hypocrite, because she used to be Ataru's girlfriend herself.
- Played with Spider-Man. In an high school reunion, this is reaction from Peter's old schoolmates (and jocks) when discover that Peter (they remember him just as a nerd Butt-Monkey) is married with Mary Jane, a super-model.
- Played with in a crossover between Spider-Man and Invincible: after the latter meets MJ, Spider-Man expects him to bring up the trope, but Invincible points out that Spider-Man is attractive, highly intelligent, and a pretty nice guy so it makes sense that someone like MJ would be attracted to him.
- A mind-controlled Supergirl tells Lois Lane that she doesn't know what her cousin sees in her in Justice #8:
Supergirl: I don't know what Superman sees in you, Miss Lane. And don't tell me "X-Ray Vision". I have, too. And I don't see anything.
- Used almost word-for-word in Runaways.
Victor: If I live to be a hundred, I will never understand what you see in him.
Gert: None of us is going to live that long, Victor. That's the one thing Chase knows better than anyone...
- In Trinity (2008) some heroes meet Thomas Tresser and find out Wonder Woman is dating him. Their reactions are: "That's Tresser? And Wonder Woman's really going out with him?"
- In Ultimate Fantastic Four, both Strange Josie and Namor have wondered enviously why Susan Storm is dating Reed Richards.
- In Zodiac Starforce, Kim and Emma can't figure out why Savanna is interested in jerkass Darren.
- In a rather long arc of Bloom County, Opus became engaged to a young, attractive human woman named Lola Granola; Opus himself wondered what she saw in him, especially after Opus discovered that her former boyfriend was a real hunk with far more secure finances. (Lola's only stated reason for wanting to marry a penguin was that she believed "men are jerks".) Because Status Quo Is God, this didn't last, but in Breathed's third strip, Lola started dating Steve (the strip's resident chain-smoking Jerkass who was much older than her, who most would agree was an even worse match), suggesting she simply has Horrible Judge of Character.
- A Crown of Stars: As stated in chapter 55, a while ago Asuka asked Hikari what she saw in Touji. Hikari replied that it was his compassion.
Hikari:"A while back, Asuka asked me what I saw in you. I told her it was your compassion."
- Advice and Trust: In chapter 4 Asuka thinks this of her friend Hikari after Touji has been acting like a pervert idiot:
Asuka:Jock-Stooge, sharp as a brick as always. I have no idea what you see in him, Hikari.
- Doing It Right This Time: After considering his mother got absorbed into Unit 01 on purpose to become an eternal reminder of humankind’s existence and she actually wanted him to watch how she seeming died, Shinji wonders what his father saw in her. Asuka can not figure it out either.
Shinji:"It's just that I'd repressed the memory as thoroughly as possible because I saw my mother die horribly when she tried to synch with it and succeeded a bit too well. Or so everyone thought; if I didn't hallucinate everything between seeing you go down to the Mass-Production Evas and waking up on the beach, she actually did it on purpose so that Unit-01 could become an eternal monument to mankind's existence... or something. I don't know all the details and I'm not sure I want to, especially why she found it necessary to make me watch."
Shinji:"So, yeah, [...] That's the woman my father is planning to cause total human extinction to reunite with. No accounting for taste, I suppose."
- Hail To The King: In a scene Zone Fighter tells Asuka that he has no idea that Shinji sees in her.
- Hellsister Trilogy: Neither Superman nor Supergirl's adoptive parents understand why a sweet, kind-hearted, mature woman like Kara fell in love with a rude ass like Dev-Em.
- Kurumi never understood what Shinji saw in Asuka or why they got married.
- For that matter, her older sister does not get what Kurumi sees in Shinji.
Natsume:"Oh, your darling Shinji-kun! You know, I never really understood what you saw in him."
- Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 4 Touji has realized Shinji likes Asuka and he says: "I don't know what you see in her,"
- The One I Love Is: In chapter 6 "Friends" Asuka tells Shinji her best friend has a huge crush on his best friend... and she has no idea of why she likes that pervert idiot:
Shinji:"Are you really sure she likes him?"
Asuka:"Sure! I asked her. I don't know why, but she has the biggest crush on that baka. Personally, I think she deserves better, but if she want him that bad..."
- In Wreck-It Ralph this Fan-Art, Felix 2.0 is confused by the fact that a "high-def chick" like Calhoun would be married to anyone like his original.
- In Suzumiya Haruhi No Index, several characters wonder why both Haruhi Suzumiya and Shizuri Mugino are in love with Kyon, commenting that he's plain-looking, has no powers, that there's nothing special about him at all. Mugino's reason is that he saved her life.
- Hitsugaya has this kind of reaction in On Life, On Death, On Everything In Between when he finds out Ichigo's father Isshin had gotten married, even without knowing anything about the "she" in question.
"What kind of person would willingly marry Shiba-taichou?"
- In the fifth chapter of Thousand Shinji, Asuka ponders that she cannot figure out what her best friend Hikari sees in Touji.
- In chapter 9 of Children of an Elder God, Asuka and Hikari argue because Asuka doesn't like Touji and doesn't get why Hikari likes him. Ironically, Hikari thought Asuka's then-current crush on Kaji was bad because Kaji was an older man and a playboy.
Asuka started to retort, then sighed. She didn't want to fight with Hikari about this. He was bad for her, but she just wouldn't ever see it. I can't believe she likes this guy, Asuka thought. "Okay, okay, I'll try to get along with him, but..." He's a butthead, she thought.
I'm not too fond of your date either, Hikari thought. How can you like that guy? He's just a playboy. This is gonna be one big mess. But it gives me an excuse to ask Touji out, so... "Right. I'll talk to Touji as soon as I can."
- A gender inverted and kind of variation in Sol Invictus. Johnny finds himself wondering how Zoro, who is pretty much sexist because of some circumstances the last time he checked, would pledge his allegiance to Luffy.
- In Bring Me Back Home, this is Marinette's reaction when she meets Felix, her parallel universe counterpart Bridgette's crush, and immediately picks up on his cold indifference to her. After getting into an argument with him later, Marinette notes that she's probably ruining Bridgette's chances with him, but wonders if that might be doing her a favour.
- It's a Running Gag in the Skyhold Academy Yearbook series that Varric doesn't understand Bethany's taste in men. He jokes that it's her only real flaw. He doesn't start making this joke until after she's in a relationship with him.
- Yu Mustang in Mother Arc is at a loss as to why her son is so enamored with Edward, who comes off as hot-tempered, immature and arrogant.
- The "Stepsisters' Lament" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella:
Why would a fellow want a girl like her,
A girl who's merely lovely?
Why can't a fellow ever once prefer
A girl who's merely me?
- In Happily N'Ever After, Rick wonders what in the world Ella sees in the Prince, because while the man is pretty, he's a complete moron.
- InThe Haunted Mansion, when Jim learns from Ramsley the butler that Edward Gracey thinks Sara is the reincarnation of his love interest and wants to marry her, he protests that she is his wife. Ramsley calmly admits that's true, but adds he can't see what [Sara] ever saw in [Jim].
- The King's Speech. Winston Churchill growls, "What is her hold over him?" on watching from the sidelines as Wallis Simpson orders around the future King of England. He's told the (quite likely untrue) rumor that she learned sexual skills in a Shanghai house of pleasure.
- In Mean Girls, Cady asks this of Aaron about Regina. He asks the exact same question of her, except in a more friendship-oriented way.
- In My Best Friend is a Vampire, Ralph has no clue why Jeremy ignores Candy, who's a blonde cheerleader and obviously very attracted to him, in favor of Darla. Jeremy cheerily ignores Ralph's commentary on the subject, as Darla does with her own best friend, Gloria, who can't figure out why Darla has any interest at all in Jeremy.
- In The Other Guys, evident when Detective Terry Hoitz and the audience are introduced to Detective Allen Gamble's wife, Dr. Sheila Gamble (Eva Mendes), amplified by dialogue where Allen denies to Terry that his wife is hot.
- In a review of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it's said of Decker that it's clear what he sees in an alien character: "his reflection in her (bald) skull. What she sees in him is never made clear."
- Strange Magic: Marianne is shocked by her sister's adoration of the Bog King until she finds out about the Love Potion. Roland has the same reaction when he finds out Marianne and the Bog King have fallen in love naturally. The Bog King is less than impressed with Roland being Marianne's ex-fiance himself.
- In Wedding Crashers, Claire is engaged to Sack Lodge, who cheats on her and inflicts multiple acts of savage brutality on the protagonists. Subverted as Sack makes extensive effort to keep his true self hidden from Claire and her family.
- Eddie Valiant's reaction to Jessica Rabbit being married to Roger in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. (Betty Boop's reaction, note, is "What a lucky girl.") In due course, Eddie does ask, and gets told why. "He makes me laugh!"
- She also seems to imply there are other reasons...
Eddie: Better lover than a driver, huh?Jessica: You better believe it, buster.
- Note that from the Toons' perspective, it's the other way around: they're trying to figure out what Roger sees in Jessica.
- She also seems to imply there are other reasons...
- In Wolf Creek, Ben is travelling with two girls, hot, curvy blonde Kristy, and skinny brunette Liz. Guess which one he has a crush on.
- In The Wedding Singer, Robbie remarks to Holly that he can't figure out why her cousin Julia is with Glenn. It's a legitimate query, since by this point Robbie knows (but Julia doesn't) that Glenn is a serial cheater.
- Birgitte Silverbow in The Wheel of Time series elicits this from almost every female character she gets to know. Birgitte is a blonde warrior, and many men find her attractive, but she has a stated preference for ugly men. The man to whom she is fated to love in every one of her lives, Gaidal Cain, is nobody's idea of handsome—with the exception of Birgitte.
- In the Darkest Powers series, anyone who sees Derek and Chloe together, especially other supernaturals, is very likely going to think this (Chloe's aunt certainly does) about them. Chloe is very pretty, petite, and blond-haired and blue-eyed. She also tends to be very sweet, kind, and friendly to people who aren't total dicks. Derek, on the other hand, is hulking, not attractive, riddled with acne, generally unfriendly and mostly standoffish with people he doesn't know, and has a bad temper. (He does have good qualities. Seriously.) He's also a werewolf, which are considered by most people to be evil (unfortunately, a stereotype that most of them fulfill), or, at the very least, dangerous animals to be avoided with great prejudice, and killed if necessary.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Ron asks this about what Hermione sees in Krum. Harry immediately points out that he's a famous international Quidditch player, to which Ron responds "Yeah, but besides that!"
- In John Hemry's Relentless, after a conference with Rione and some officers, the officers' reaction to Rione's acts is to comment on how it explains things. Duellos explains to Geary that they had wondered what he saw in her; now, they know.
- The protagonists of Warrior Cats often wonder why the arrogant Berrynose attracts Poppyfrost and Honeyfern.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Jill The Reckless, Barker wonders this about Jill's engagement to Derek. Mrs. Barker urges his good looks.
- Jane Austen's Mansfield Park: Fanny Price often wonders at what Edmund can possibly see in Mary Crawford. She admits that Mary is beautiful, spirited, and witty, but she's aware that he's blind to her faults and twists facts so that they would fit to his ideas. Of course, Fanny is the jealous variety since Edmund is her only friend and teenage crush.
- The narrator of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey observes this about Mrs. Allen: "Mrs. Allen was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them."
- Just about everybody in The Worm Ouroboros wonders why on Mercury the beauteous Prezmyra picked Corund of Witchland - at least a decade her senior and frequently compared to an ox in appearance - out of a score of suitors. She is clearly devoted to him to the point of committing suicide after he is killed.
- On Arrested Development, the rest of the Bluth family has no idea what George Michael sees in Ann Veal.
G.O.B.: That's his girlfriend? What, is she funny or something?
Michael: And most importantly, Dad, my son does not like to be seen in [the family's Alleged Car].
George Sr.: (laughing) But he's okay being seen with that girl?!
Michael: It makes no sense, I know.
George Sr.: (serious again) It doesn't.
- Howard (a perverted Casanova Wannabe) with Bernadette (a cute, bubbly, sweet girl) in The Big Bang Theory. The funny part was that they met due to a promise between Leonard and Howard years prior if either got girlfriends they would set the other up on a blind date; Penny set them up and was dumbfounded that it worked out as well as it did.
- Nick & Vicki in season 17 of The Amazing Race. Vicki was a tough, yet friendly Determinator who regularly creamed her male competitors in physical-oriented challenges even with her asthma and despite her an Nick's consistently low placements, she kept an optimistic outlook on the race. Sadly for her she got stuck with Nick who contrary to his appearance, a wimp. He was easily their anchor, and contributed next to nothing. If that's not bad enough he was easily the most hated racer than season by being a Bastard Boyfriend to Vicki constantly verbally abusing her. Heck not even just her, even other contestants. Even worse, was in the 10th leg he forced Vicki to quit the Roadblock thoroughly obliterating any chance they had at catching up, not that the viewers wanted them too. By the end of the season, everyone was asking themselves this
- Sam and Diane in Cheers. In both directions.
- Friends: After discovering Monica and Chandler are dating, Phoebe and Rachel comment that "she could do better". Played with as Chandler, despite his neuroses, is actually a great boyfriend and he and Monica are very happy together. (Plus she has plenty of her own issues so they're well-suited.) As Rachel and Phoebe have failed to establish a successful relationships themselves at this point, it's more of a justified case of You're Just Jealous than them having any reasonable criticisms.
- Game of Thrones: Tyrion and Bronn are puzzled about just why the whores of King's Landing consider Pod a Sex God, and they are helpless to explain.
- Regarding the relationship Ivy of Good Luck Charlie previously had with Emmet, Ivy can only plead temporary insanity.
- iCarly: In iEnrage Gibby, Carly, Sam and especially Freddie are dumbfounded that Gibby can get someone hot like Tasha as his girlfriend. They all agree in the end that "There's something wrong with that chick."
- The reality TV show Is She Really Going Out With Him? takes this question and runs with it, picking out a couple where the guy can, generally speaking, be referred to as a "tool" with no objection. In most episodes, the guy is shown as being uncaring (or having very messed up priorities regarding his relationships), insensitive, and an all-around jerk. Whether this is the reality of the situation, or the result of post-production editing is sometimes debatable, but when the boyfriend shows up to a formal dinner with his friends (who weren't invited) wearing very casual clothing (including muscle-shirts), it tends to be pretty clear why he and his girlfriend are on that show.
- Played with in Keeping Up Appearances, where Hyacinth often wonders what her sister Daisy sees in Onslow (who, apart from being a lazy slob, is a fairly decent guy), despite the fact that Hyacinth herself is loud, brutish and unbearable to be around, to the point where her husband Richard dreads retirement because it would mean spending more time with her.
- Married... with Children plays this both ways. One could wonder (and in fact, Marcy has openly questioned her about this on multiple occasions) what Peg sees in her balding, homely, minimum-wage earning loser of a husband, when she's been hit on by more attractive and wealthier men. Al, on the other hand, could be asked why he continues to stick with Peg when he'd be fully justified in kicking her out for her ridiculous sense of entitlement and freeloading without contributing to the family. The question is never really answered, since whatever the headaches Al and Peg give each other, they're still too attached to break up their relationship even when they could profit materially by doing so.
- Lee and Dawn in the British version of The Office. Lee is constantly shown to be miserly, misogynistic, joyless and a bully who, on various occasions, talks down to Dawn, outright offends her and belittles her ambitions. Done on purpose, since Lee is the Romantic False Lead who comes between Dawn and Tim, with whom she is clearly besotted. Given the show's aspiration towards low-key realism, it's odd that the show never explains why Dawn stays with Lee for as long as she does.
- The writers freely admitted in this case that they had intended to make the Lee vs. Tim romantic rivalry more a battle of equals, each with their own merits, but fell into this trap partly because owing to the nature of the show Tim naturally had more opportunity to be presented as a more appropriate match for Dawn than Lee did. Although it didn't help that, when they were on together, Tim naturally ended up being more likable than Lee anyway.
- The Christmas Special and Grand Finale somewhat answers this, with Lee being shown to have repeatedly squashed Dawn's hopes and dreams, to the point where she finally gave up having any dreams whatsoever and settled for the simple humdrum of day-to-day living. Tim's encouragement for her not to give up her dream of being an children's illustrator, leads her to finally stand up for herself and dump Lee's worthless hide.
- This dynamic is replicated in the US series with their respective counterparts, Pam (Dawn), Jim (Tim), and Roy (Lee). After leaving Roy for good, she acknowledges in her Love Confession to Jim at the beach games that she never should have been with Roy as long as she did, but never gave much thought to the reasons why until she met Jim.
- In the U.S. series, this is Erin's reaction to Michael's pining for Holly Flax.
"I don't get it. I'm sorry, I just... I don't get it!... Is she an amazing cook or something?"
- Considering Erin clearly came to see Michael as a father figure, it might have just been her being a jealous Daddy's Girl.
- Also in the U.S. series, when Andy was engaged to Angela, Oscar flat out asks him what he sees in her.
- It's a running gag in Parks and Recreation that no one can figure out how Jerry ended up with his insanely hot wife. The fact that he's a genuinely nice person and that they seem to be very much in love doesn't seem to satisfy anyone.
- Please Like Me: Josh's mother wonders what exactly fit and conventionally attractive Geoffrey sees in her son Josh, who looks "like a fifty-year-old-baby". Josh wonders the same thing.
- This happens in Popular when Josh the "cool" jock hooks up with the unpopular "fat girl" Carmen, and everyone is completely horrified, Harrison (for reasons best known to himself) writes a song about the absurdity of Josh finding Carmen attractive and performs it in front of everyone). It's basically an in-universe example though, as Carmen is blatantly a very pretty girl - albeit in a quirky way - and is only really "fat" by Hollywood standards. To the unbiased observer they don't seem an ill-matched couple at all (if anything, she's better-looking) but whether the makers of the show did this deliberately to demonstrate how pointless generic standards of "beauty" are, or whether they just couldn't bring themselves to cast a genuinely obese or unattractive girl in the role, is open for debate.
- This came up in Royal Pains. When Hank started dating Dr. Emily Peck, everyone (including other characters) couldn't understand it. She constantly tried to steal all of Hank's business, and whenever he even bothered to bring any of her faults up, she would start to undress and they'd end up having sex. Hank ''never'' saw any of her faults. Many were convinced that he had swallowed the Idiot Ball.
- In Seinfeld, Jerry starts dating a girl that is perfectly ok by his standards, but everybody (and that is everybody, including the girl's friends, the girl's family, Jerry's friends (that even go as far as staging an intervention), random passerby and even Newman) treats her like some kind of incredible loser and Jerry is, at best, doing her a favor. Jerry can't understand what is it that is making them treat her like that... up until the moment that Jerry's parents meet her, and are the only other people in the whole episode that treat her like a human being. Jerry dumps her immediately.
- In Smallville, Clark does a variant by telling Chloe he can't see what she sees in Davis. She denies being with him at all. Kind of justified given that he is Doomsday...
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax occasionally had dinner with Captain Boday, an alien with a transparent skull, leading to this exchange:
O'Brien: Personally I don't know what Jadzia ever saw in the man.Bashir: Well, his brains.
- In That '70s Show, Eric doesn't understand how his friend, Hyde, can be attracted to Jackie, whom Eric can't stand (even calling her "the devil"), because she's shallow, self-obsessed and annoying. On the flip side, many people (including Eric himself on occasion) don't understand what the heck Donna is doing with Eric.
Eric Donna? I just have to ask... why me? I mean there are so many other guys who are way better looking.Donna You know you're right, if only I could be with some handsome jock who was mean and shallow and didn't make me laugh.
- Subverted when Hyde tries to explain his attraction to Jackie to Eric, making Eric realize it's not so much that Jackie isn't hot as much as her attitude is so annoying that it distracts him from her hotness.
- Watching had a theme tune that addressed this trope, sung from the perspective of the female lead. She reels of a substantial list of all his faults and asks herself what she sees in him, but then she's forced to admit that she's not exactly a prize catch herself and wonders what he sees in her. It's actually quite sweet in a dysfunctional kind of way.
- Victorious: Given how mean she is to everyone even him, it's a genuine wonder to viewers what Beck sees in Jade.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, every supposedly decent girl that Justin falls for - first Juliet, and then, Rosie.
- This is pretty much everyone's first thoughts when they learn about Schmidt and Cece on New Girl. He's a loud and obnoxious jerk and she's a gorgeous model. Turns out they're both quite insecure about themselves and he's actually kind of nice deep down.
- This 2016 sketch from Saturday Night Live.
- "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" by Joe Jackson is the passive-aggressive version of this trope.
- Not to mention Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know".
- Gender-flipped version in Adele"s "Rumour Has It".
- Comedian Graham Fellow's One-Hit Wonder song "Jilted John" is all about the 'moron' called Gordon who's stolen his girlfriend, although the song then subverts itself by saying "Just 'cos he's better looking than me, just 'cos he's cool and trendy".
- Gets a mention in the Train song "Mermaid":
Sharks green with envy
They wonder what she sees in me
Funny but sometimes can't help but wonder that as well
- The Smiths' only-live song "What Do You See in Her", which was recorded with different lyrics and theme as "Wonderful Woman".
- In one Fred Basset strip Fred wonders what a poodle could possibly see in the large, scruffy-looking male dog accompanying her.
- In Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro, Joseph Taylor Jr. is about to walk down the aisle with Jenny Brinker, and the guests express their concerns in "What a Lovely Day for the Wedding":
The Taylor Group: What can he see in her?The Brinker Group: What can she see in him?The Taylor Group: The Brinkers are all stinkers!The Brinker Group: All the Taylor crowd is grim!
- Although not explicitly stated in A Very Potter Musical, Harry clearly wonders this of Cho Chang's relationship with Cedric Diggory.
- Sung word for word in ‘’The Little Mermaid’’ when the servants are trying to figure out why Prince Eric invited Ariel who can’t talk to dinner.
- Another Rodgers and Hammerstein example is from Cinderella, "The Stepsisters' Lament.'' The twist of course is that the ugly stepsisters can't figure out why the prince would turn them down for the much more attractive Cinderella.
Oh, why would a fellow want a girl like her,
A girl who's merely lovely,
Why can't a fellow ever once prefer
A girl who's merely me?
- This is Noce's attitude toward Alicia's relationship with Welkin in Valkyria Chronicles.
- All over the place in Dragon Age:
- From Dragon Age: Origins, this is pretty much what Alistair says if you continually gain approval with Zevran.
- Amusingly, he asks this of Leliana, who invokes All Girls Want Bad Boys and implies that she can also see the attraction.
- Oghren will also ask Morrigan this in exact words, if the Warden is in a romance with her. Going by some other things he says to her, he's probably at least a little jealous. That and likely intends to steal your moves to pick up the ladies.
- Morrigan herself will pose this question to a male Warden that romances Leliana instead of her. To a female Warden who romances Alistair, she will remark that he must be very good in bed, because she can't imagine any other reason why a woman would want him.
- Leliana will pose this question to Alistair if a male Warden pursues a relationship with Morrigan.
- Alistair poses this question to Wynne if a male Warden romances Morrigan. It's not out of jealousy, but more him likely wondering if he should find a straitjacket for his fellow Warden, as they have quite clearly gone crazy.
- In Dragon Age II should Hawke romance Fenris instead of Anders, the latter will stop them and outright ask why, likening him to a dog. He will also ask this if Hawke romances Merrill, worded differently.
- If a male Hawke romances Merrill, a rivaled Isabela will ask her what she could possibly see in Hawke, not knowing where to even begin listing his flaws. This is not a straight example, as Isabela actually rather supports the relationship, so long as Hawke understands that breaking Merrill's heart would have unfortunate consequences, so she's probably just having a little fun at Hawke's expense.
- Implied to be the case with many outsiders (though not really anyone in the inner circle) in Dragon Age: Inquisition, should the Inquisitor romance Dorian. One noble even sends a letter to Vivienne complaining about the unsuitability of the match, though she assures the pair in party banter that she effectively told off the offending party.
- On the other hand, should the Inquisitor romance Sera, this question does seem to be on the minds of a few of their companions.
- From Dragon Age: Origins, this is pretty much what Alistair says if you continually gain approval with Zevran.
- Although never explicitly stated in-game, this must have crossed the minds of many characters in Monkey Island when Elaine, the rich, intelligent, gorgeous and independent governor, who turned down proposals of marriage from many eligible suitors, married a goofy-looking, dorky nobody like Guybrush Threepwood.
- Etna asks Flonne this in Disgaea 3 when they start arguing over who gets to be Laharl's "wife" when they pretend to be Mao's parents.
Etna: Then tell me, what part of this made you want to marry him?Flonne: Um, uh. Well... How everything revolves around him?
- Everyone in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn wonders how Astrid can defend lazy, drunken gambler Makalov. Even Makalov himself says she's wasting her time, but she refuses to listen to reason. If they have A support in the previous game, they'll get married and their ending states that he never changes.
- Nah in Fire Emblem Awakening is a rare case of a Kid from the Future wondering this about her own parents! Though given that her mother Nowi is not only a Cloud Cuckoo Lander but a 1000 year old dragon with the body of a pre-teenage girl, it's kinda understandable. To wit, her first assumption on why her folks got married is that she's under the assumption that her father got Nowi pregnant.note
- In BlazBlue: Continuum Shift EXTEND, Hazama literally asks Tsubaki Yayoi what she sees in Jin Kisaragi at one point during Slight Hope, making it clear that he knows she's in love with him. To be fair, he could give a shit less, and is looking for ways and/or reasons to exploit their relationship for his own ends. Any manipulation would have to be done in another iteration of the past century, however, as Tsubaki's friend Makoto Nanaya broke all his plans in this one.
- Done tragically in Overwatch. Because Ana doesn't know the full story of how her old friend Amélie became Widowmaker, she assumed that Gérard married a complete bitch who killed him once she was done stringing him along. Widowmaker is furious once she heard Ana's version of the story.
- In Gal*Gun Double Peace, the angel Ekoro asks what the main character sees in his childhood friend, Shinobu, should he choose to romance her. Considering Shinobu actively avoided any contact at all for three years and was very cold to him when they talked again (which happened primarily due to outside influence), she has a point.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Kodah questions her daughter's taste in men after she hooks up with a Hylian, though she notes that she's not one to talk given that she used to have a crush on Link.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials & Tribulations:
- A plot point in first case. Mia questions why would someone like Dahlia Hawthorne, who's described as incredibly beautiful by practically everyone, be interested in someone like Phoenix, who at the time wasn't really anything great. Phoenix claims that she's simply in love with him, while Mia says that the only reason she was dating him was a necklace that was evidence of her earlier crime. The truth turned out to be much more complicated. Neither of them knew that Phoenix was actually dating Dahlia's Nice Girl twin sister Iris, who while indeed started dating him to get that necklace for her sister, genuinely fell in love with him over time.
- Nobody has a clue what attracted Desirée DeLite (extremely attractive Biker Babe) to her husband Ron (a high-strung, nebbishly girly-boy) at first. Turns out it was a Rescue Romance.
- At the end of Sunrider Liberation Day, Icari starts to question why almost every woman in the crew is suddenly expressing their interest in Kayto after all the times he screwed up throughout the plot. Thanks to a Freudian Slip, however, she ends up doing this to herself:
Icari: Aah, what is this stupid love fest... Hmph! I can’t believe you guys still even like this guy! Just look at him! Totally got backstabbed by his new girlfriend, like literally just days after going out! Totally ruined everything we fought for the past year! And on top of that, completely vaporized our ship! Ah, the most unreliable space captain in the history of space captains! I can’t believe I like a guy like him! (realizes what she just said) U-uck... I-I-I-I-I MEAN… I-i-i-i-it... IT’S NOT LIKE I LIKE YOU OR ANYTHING!!! (runs off screaming in embarrassment)
- If you follow Ittosai's Good ending in Yo-Jin-Bo, this is the general reaction of the other guys. However, due to their tendencies toward jealousy, it comes off as "What does she see in him that I'm not better at?"
- Girl Genius: about Agatha and Tarvek. Played with when a character who knows better honestly answers "Probably nothing."
- James can't understand why Ash is with Rumisiel in Misfile. Of course, he doesn't know that Ash is only pretending to be with Rumisiel so her father will allow him to stay at her house.
- This trope is deconstructed by Bug.
- MegaTokyo: Meimi somehow got it into her head that you were dating this walking disaster. To be followed by a stunned reaction.
- In Endstone, Cole doesn't know what her mother saw in her father.
- In Sinfest, Slick grumbles about Monique's lack of taste.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Bunbun and Gwynn see Zoe's relationship with Torg as this, since she is (usually) the Only Sane Woman, and Torg is an Idiot Hero and a Genius Ditz at best.
- In a Gunnerkrigg Court flashback, Sir Eglamore literally asks this question when he learns that Surma has left him for the stoic and aloof Anthony Carver.
- Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog: "She called him sweet. How is he sweet?"
- Played with by The Nostalgia Critic, The Nostalgia Chick and Todd in the Shadows. Critic doesn't care about Todd either way, what he's wary of is the Chick driving herself crazy over him.
- In RWBY, Weiss is noticeably shocked that Pyrrha doesn't share her disgusted reaction when Jaune tries to flirt with them.
- This is also used in reverse: in Pyrrha's song "Dream Come True", she is wondering what Jaune sees in Weiss.
- Movie Rehab: One of the main problems that Sag has with Being John Malkovich in which he doesn't understand why Craig is keep trying to hit on Maxine if she frequently treats him like crap.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, during their team up, Poison Ivy asked Harley what she ever saw in the Joker, and throughout the series appeared to be annoyed (with hints of jealousy) whenever she went back to him. Even Batman once tried to convince her that the Joker didn't see her the way she saw him.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman says it almost word-for-word in reference to Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor in the Cold Opening for "Scorn of the Star Sapphire!"
- In Code Lyoko Sissi says, "I wonder what he sees in her" referring to Ulrich and Yumi respectively.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: Many would wonder why such a sweet, kind, old lady like Muriel would marry an immature, selfish Jerkass like Eustace. The fact that he tried to have Courage killed by his foes at the end of the series has you wonder why Muriel never got a divorce after this.
- In Danny Phantom, Sam says these exact words to Danny in one episode as he drools over Rich Bitch Paulina.
- In Darkwing Duck, "U.F. Foe", Darkwing is shocked when Tia expresses interest in Launchpad. According to Tia, it's because he's kind, has a good heart, and taught her how to laugh and have fun.
- Brad of Detentionaire feels this way about Tina picking Lee over him.
- In one episode of Donkey Kong Country, Bluster Kong outright asks Candy Kong what she sees in Donkey Kong("...This big hairy ape?")
Candy: He's... a big, hairy ape! And you're not."Bluster: Ouch.
- American Dad!: While not really pointed out in-universe, Stan is a Jerkass who's incapable of learning any lessons and does such things as lie to and use his own family for his own benefit, and has forgotten his and Francine's wedding anniversary more than once. In at least one episode, Francine has actually thought about leaving him.
- Many characters (justifiably) have this reaction to Lois' marriage to Peter in Family Guy. In the episode "Petarded," Brian flat-out asks her, "Have you ever stopped to think, "Wow, I'm married to that guy?" Lois simply states that she represses such thoughts... and as it turns out, she has done so so often that she's developed a brain tumor. Death asks her this question verbatim after Peter asks him to elaborate on his previous sentence, even though he was obviously finished talking.
- Helga on Hey Arnold! utters this many time to all the crushes that Arnold goes through over the course of the series.
- In Justice League, it's revealed that thousands of years prior to the series, Wonder Woman's mother, Hippolyta had been seduced by Hades and tricked into helping him overthrow the gods of Mount Olympus. After the League defeated him when he was unleashed by Felix Faust, Wonder Woman asked her mother what she saw in him. Hippolyta merely replied, "Ancient history."
- In the fourth season of Kim Possible, Ron gets quite a bit of this when he starts dating Kim, even from the villains they're fighting.
- Surprisingly enough, especially Dr. Dementor, who pressed the issue more than Bonnie Rockwaller, even. However, it's subtly implied (in his final main appearance, along with the reappearance of Kim's cousin, Larry) that he may be projecting, specifically his frustrations when his younger sister, Hildegarde, gets married and, due to a promise, is forced to take his brother-in-law, Myron, in his scheme during the episode (where he voices a majority of said thoughts.)
- King of the Hill:
- Some characters (and fans) notably Peggy and Mihn wonder why Luanne hooked up with Lucky as he's a stupid, ugly, bucktoothed, middle aged, stereotypical hillbilly.
- Other characters wonder this about Nancy and Dale as they rarely show their love for each other and Nancy cheated on Dale with John Redcorn for years. In fact, this trope applies for many couples in the series.
- Played for laughs in The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. Peppermint Larry starts kissing Candy Wife, which causes this exchange:
K'nuckles: "There she goes again, givin' him kisses! What does she see in that guy?! Why doesn't she ever give ME kisses?!"Flapjack: "Maybe 'cause she's married?"
- Made funnier by the fact that Candy Wife is an inanimate lump of candy.
- Regular Show: Eileen, who's genuinely friendly (and Adorkable) has a crush on Rigby, who's a rude, lazy Jerkass towards her... at least at first. He slowly warms up to her and begins becoming a slightly better person.
- It's then revealed in a Wham Line during the season six finale that they started dating since at least the beginning of that season, but Eileen told Rigby to not mention it so Mordecai wouldn't feel so bad about his own romance issues.
- The Simpsons:
Lisa: Nelson's my new... friend.Bart: Are you nuts? I'll probably never say this to you again, but... you can do better!
- Marge and Homer Simpson. Some episodes answer the question. In The Movie Marge actually can't come up with an answer to this question after his latest and most extreme bout of jerkassery and selfishness, and leaves him as a result. He does make up for all the dickish things he did, though, and they got back together. Marge's sisters Patty and Selma never approved of their relationship throughout the entire series.
- In one episode, Bart questions what the baby sitter sees in Jimbo. "What do you like about him? He's just a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules." Which makes both the babysitter and Lisa sigh dreamily.
- In the episode where Lisa has a crush on Nelson, Bart has this reaction.
- Even Greg himself from Steven Universe wonders what the late Rose Quartz saw in him. A bumbling one man band/carwash owner, who lives in his van. It is later stated that Rose could see the inner beauty of living things, though it certainly doesn't hurt that Greg was an attractive young man when they met.
- This happens mutually with Steven and Connie. He considers himself a screw-up and can't see what a nice girl like her would see in him, whereas Connie wonders why a boy with superpowers who seems to be destined for bigger things would hang out with an ordinary girl like her.
- Cobra Queen once asked Steff what she saw in Freakazoid!, commenting that he seems so stupid. Staff explains he's only like that for TV and is actually normal off camera.
- Miraculous Ladybug: Copycat wonders this while believing Ladybug and Cat Noir are a couple.
- The Looney Tunes short, "Eatin' On The Cuff Or The Moth Who Came To Dinner", revolves around a goofy clothes moth marries a bee. At the end of the short, the narrator, a live-action actor at a piano, is left wondering what that bee ever saw in the moth, and muttered to himself, "What a dope!" Unfortunately, the moth heard him, and ate the narrator's pants in retaliation.
- In SpacePOP, Luna's crush on Captain Hansome is questioned by a couple characters, particularly for his Stay in the Kitchen attitude, but she's oblivious and continues to fawn over how handsome he is.