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Will They or Won't They?

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"And now, rather than admit these feelings, you're dancing around one another with this mind-numbing and frankly boorish mating ritual. So please, for my sake, either quit your bickering, or pull over, tear off those clothes, and GET IT OVER WITH ALREADY!"
Murray Bauman, Stranger Things, "The Bite"

Two characters, often combative but with obvious Unresolved Sexual Tension, resist going into a full blown relationship for a rather long time. Usually the two characters will be presented so that "they will" is the conclusion to root for; only rarely is the question of whether the writers think they should in any real doubt.

Actually ending the dance is a tricky business. While there are works that can and have had the characters get together long before its conclusion, you'll find that most are very reluctant to risk losing the valuable source of dramatic tension that is the (seemingly) unrequited relationship. After all, without that lovely source of drama, your audience could cry that the work is either Jumping the Shark or suffering Shipping Bed Death depending on whatever replaces it. As such, the Last-Minute Hookup tends to be the most common endpoint of this trope, with writers keeping the romantic tension building throughout the series, only revealing that they do (or alternatively, that they don't) in the midst of concluding any other major plot threads during the Grand Finale.

Of course, keep this plotline going for too long, and you may encounter complaints that the show suddenly has become about the relationship, with that element overtaking everything else; including the very premise.note  In addition, a series (Long Runners especially) can go out of their way to avoid resolving the relationship, making ever-more-desperate narrative leaps, or may even have the characters hook up for a little while, only to split up over and over again, until by the time they finally let the characters actually, finally get together for good and/or married, the show has lost its viewership anyway. Belligerent Sexual Tension is often a victim of this.

Sometimes a Love Epiphany can be used to have a character realize their feelings, but still not resolve the question, just add a new dynamic to it.

A fundamental Shipping-inducement strategy.

Generally a supertrope to:

See also Almost Kiss, Held Gaze, Relationship Upgrade, Like Brother and Sister, Moment Killer, and Did They or Didn't They?. When a series ends without even a hint of resolution to will-they-or-won't-they, it's No Romantic Resolution. If it's more ambiguous, it's Maybe Ever After. Contrast Friends with Benefits, where they definitely do it, but without the emotional baggage.

Compare Just Friends and Relationship Upgrade. Contrast Platonic Life-Partners and Ship Sinking — they won't. See Just Eat Gilligan if it's a major plot point. See also Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario when they separate for some dramatic reason, spend a time apart, then reconcile (usually with a kiss, which breaks the Will They Or Won't They)


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    Comic Books 
  • This was a very persistent question for the fans of Cable & Deadpool who were wondering if one of the writers would hook them up after their series was full of Homoerotic Subtext between them.
  • DC Comics:
    • Dick Grayson with Barbara and Kori. Dear God, Barbara and Kori. Interestingly, Convergence solves this problem: the Dick Grayson of New Teen Titans wins Kori's heart while the Dick Grayson pre-Flashpoint wins Barbara's. Everyone wins! Currently Barbara and Dick have gotten back together again.
    • Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. They do — just then she dies, comes back and then... Almost every meeting has a flashback to them meeting/hooking up, or a reference to that, or nearly hooking up. Combined with Tim's oft-jerkiness or dark and broodiness after Steph's return note , and Stephanie trying to impress Batman, or otherwise prove herself as a hero, this trope is pretty extreme for 16-18 year olds. Notable that they have this after already being in a relationship together.
    • Cyborg and Sara Simms were originally intended to be a couple, but Marv Wolfman changed his mind. Instead, we were met with one of the longest "will they, won't they" segments in comic book history.
    • Basically, if they are a popular teenage or young adult pairing in the DC universe, they will almost never get a happy ending together and will be subjected to a never-ending 'Will They or Won't They' loop for years and years on end. Case to point: Every teen pairing in the New Teen Titans and Young Justice.
    • Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris have had this dynamic since they were both introduced, spending long periods of time together and just as long periods of time separated (and sometimes, one of them is technically a supervillain and/or dead). While they do both love each other, Hal's job as a Green Lantern means that he often has to choose between her and his duty, and since said duty usually involves the fate of the universe... While he inevitably gets back together with her, circumstances just as inevitably break them up again.
  • Justice Society of America featured Like Brother and Sister grouping Atom Smasher and Stargirl, implying they got married in the future. Subsequently, he quit the team and she started dating Fan-Preferred Couple-style with Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson. When they broke up, she openly moped about Atom Smasher's later Face–Heel Turn and near-death experience to the point where that seemed like a reasonable coupling once more, but after another near-kiss with Billy, it's been fully revealed that Courtney and Al love each other. Then the team elders put the kibosh on the whole thing because of Al's age.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes
    • Supergirl and Brainiac 5 first met in 1961. Querl fell for Kara at first sight and she liked him back, but she couldn't stay in the 31st century permanently. Both teenagers spent twenty-three years, real time, dancing around each other and wondering whether they should or could get together until they hooked up. Unfortunately, Kara died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths one year later.
    • Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad also spent many years pursuing and dodging each other before getting married.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • This went on between Sonic and Sally for a long time. Then they started an official relationship, but had a fight, and broke up. Now they're doing it again. Knuckles and Julie-Su had hints of this in the early stages of their relationship, and Shadow and Rouge had this at points as well.
    • Fortunately Archie opted to appease fans during this period by adding the AU Mobius: Twenty Five Years Later storyline as a back-up strip just to keep anyone from ditching the lead title as it went to hell creatively. This gave Sonic and Sally a more positive and progressive piece of character growth regardless of its canonicity. Two follow-up storylines set in this universe have since followed, though it could ease off a little on the constant time-travel plots...
    • UNfortunately, though, writer Ian Flynn ultimately got tired of the Shipping Wars caused by the two and, when the series went through a Continuity Reboot (and executive demands) made them Just Friends.
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy do this straight starting from her first appearance. They broke up once, but would've, if not for the fact that she had an affair with Norman Osborn, had his children, pissed the Goblin right off and died for her trouble, though she was brought back through cloning and dumped Peter when it was strongly implied that he had always been in love with Mary Jane even when he'd been dating Gwen (MJ made her debut BEFORE Gwen in the comics as the "blind date" foil for Betty Brant and Liz Allen), but because of Gwen's emotional problems, coupled with a promise to look after her to the dying George Stacy, he stuck with her out of principle, which seems like an attempt to settle the decades-long feud over whether Peter loves Mary Jane or not.
    • All throughout Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter and Mary Jane have an on-again-off-again relationship. They've just barely reconciled before his "death". Then he got better, and the last they were seen, the two ran off together.
  • X-Men:
    • Since 1963, Scott Summers "Cyclops" and Jean Grey "Marvel Girl/Phoenix" live in a constant cycle where they're unsure whether a relationship is a good idea or they should stay just friends, then they get together and are happy for a while, then one of them dies temporarily or something makes them break up, and the cycle begins anew. In All-New X-Men, their time-displaced teenager counterparts (nicknamed Tyke and Jeen by fans) are stuck in the "unresolved sexual tension" phase due to this.
    • Rogue and Gambit have been in a constant state of ‘on-and-off’ ever since Gambit first joined the X-Men, to the extent that it's practically a permanent sub-plot. While they both have declared love and devotion for one another on multiple occasions, the relationship never lasts too long before something happens and they end up separating again, only to reconcile at a later stage. This is partially due to the strain on the relationship caused by Rogue’s mutation, meaning the pair can never make physical contact, but also both partners carry some serious emotional baggage which surfaces every so often, sometimes leading to a break-up, whilst other times bringing the pair together. Finally ends when they marry.
    • Though not as iconic and prevalent as the above, Sabretooth and Monet St. Croix have stepped into this territory. They had a Ship Tease in Uncanny X-Men (2016), with Word of God confirming their relationship was romantic in intent. Six characters have pointed out how they seem to have feelings for each other. Monet has had moments of ogling Creed, and he tends to be very protective of her. He also had a possible Interrupted Declaration of Love moment with her. But they haven't gotten together yet, and it's unknown if they will.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust:
    • Subverted with Shinji and Asuka. At the beginning, they seem to be stuck in the "oblivious to each other's feelings" phase. Then it was revealed that they got together in secret a while ago.
    • Touji and Hikari danced around each other for a while until their friends played matchmaker and helped them to get together.
    • Misato and Kaji spent several months pretending that they weren't together again until Misato got tired of their self-denial and they got back together.
    • Maya had a raging crush on Ritsuko that the older woman spent months trying to ignore.
  • The Child of Love: Shinji and Asuka loved each other but due to their multiple psychological issues did not dare to display openly their feelings. Then they slept together and Asuka got pregnant, which made their relationship harder for a while. In chapter 5, after several months of arguments and keeping an uneasy relationship, they got together.
  • In Child of the Storm and its sequel, Harry and Carol spend an increasing amount of their shared screen-time dancing around each other, developing UST and increasingly Flirting Under Fire, all while insisting throughout the first book that they're Just Friends and Platonic Life-Partners, then grudgingly admitting in the sequel that they do have feelings for each other that go beyond friendship. However, both of them have absolute stacks of issues - Carol's got a long running problem with 'nice guys' who try and befriend her with a view to getting in her pants, plus generalised trust issues, and prizes her and Harry's friendship above anything else. Harry, meanwhile, has been through such an epic Trauma Conga Line that it's a genuine miracle that he's still sane, with Carol sometimes serving as his Morality Chain. Carol doesn't want to lose their friendship, and Harry doesn't want to date her simply as part of trying to stay sane. By this point, though, Word of God has hinted it'll be more of a matter of 'when', not 'if'. The 'when' turns out to chapter 46 of the sequel, when they seal a Relationship Upgrade with a Big Damn Kiss.
  • Children of an Elder God: Shinji and Asuka spent months dancing around each other until they got together in episode 16.
  • A Crown of Stars: At the beginning of the story, Shinji and Asuka are so emotionally burnt-out that they believe they can't possibly have a relationship. After over twenty chapters of therapy, talking and being gently coached by their friends, they open up to each other and Shinji says he loves her. Fifty chapter later, Asuka manages at last to say she loves him back.
  • Evangelion 303: After thirteen chapters and hundreds of pages of fights, dog fights, arguments, paranoid behaviour, separations, reconciliations, suicide attempts, Shinji and Asuka get together definitely.
  • The promised (eventual) Official Couple of WIP The Fledgling Year, Cor and Aravis, have been in love for some fifty chapters and counting, without outright admitting their feelings on the subject (they’re usually too busy arguing). In the background, the Beta Couple (Corin and Hana) are giving them a run for their angst, with Corin being too impulsive and irresponsible to allow the steady, sensible Hana to accept her own feelings for him. The Ship Tease is flying thick and furious, and it’s fluffy as all-get-out, but no Relationship Upgrade yet.
  • The Flower Princess and the Alchemist: Edward and Orihime. The only obstacle getting in their, besides their inability to admit their feelings, is Orihime’s feelings for Ichigo.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: After three years of fights, arguments and reconciliations, Shinji confessed Asuka and -after arguing once again- they get together and stay together.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Supergirl and Dev-Em spend a long while bickering, arguing and fighting until Kara admits out loud she likes him.
  • Higher Learning: Shinji and Asuka danced around each other for several months, not daring to confess or acknowledge their feelings. Boldened by their new teacher's advice -and a bottle of sake- they finally opened up to each other.
  • Hitchups: Once Hiccup is back to Berk, he engaged into that sort of relationship with Astrid.
  • In Last Child of Krypton, Shinji and Asuka spend several chapters dancing around each other until they opened up to each other and kissed.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: Most girls Danny shows the mutual interest in make it ambiguous which one he chooses.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: Shinji and Asuka spent a good number of chapters arguing, fighting and hurting each other until they finally got together.
  • Once More with Feeling: Per Word of God, if the story reaches that point, Shinji and Asuka will get together after going past the “bickering and caring phase”.
  • The ongoing Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic Prison Island Break is simply packed with this, thanks to the large number of relationships developed. There's definitely romance in the air; the author "Breech Loader" seems to be perpetually torn between who's going to get Doctor Amy Rose Blossom, and who's going to get Shadow.
    Breech: As ever I continue to work hard on this story, occasionally flipping a three-sided coin on which pairings to end with.
    • It doesn't improve a whole lot as the story goes on, either...
      Breech: Now I know how to do it. I can quit flipping a three sided coin; instead, I’ve bought a four-sided dice! What you do to decide on your random pairing is… uh… Oh, Crap!. Got any ideas?
  • Lampshaded in Ranma ½: The Abridged Chronicles:
    Ryōga: Quit wasting our valuable screentime with your will they/won't they antics!
  • Subverted in The Second Try due to time-travel craziness. Shinji and Asuka had this in chapters 2 and 4 when they were trying to learn to live and work together, and after a while they fell in love. However, they were together in chapter 1.
  • Tales of the Otherverse: At the end of the second story arc, Kara and Rogue get officially together after five chapters of angst, repressed feelings and sexual tension.
  • In Thousand Shinji, Shinji and Asuka spent several weeks arguing and fighting before start getting along. They got together shortly after.
  • In A wand for Steven, Steven and Hermione are implied to have something, but it is only ever implied. Steven invites Hermione to the Yule Ball were they accidentally fuse. They fuse later during the climactic battle.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Loving Annabelle: Annabelle and Ms. Bradley. The film toys with whether they'll act on their mutual attraction for most of its length. However, near the end they do and it leads to Ms. Bradley's ruin.
  • In Plan B, the initial "Will they or won't they?" dynamic seems to be between Bruno and Laura who broke up in the past but are still sleeping together despite the latter having a new boyfriend. However, it gradually becomes clear that the true "Will they or won't they?" tension is between Bruno and Laura's new boyfriend Pablo with their friendship that Bruno initially started as only part of a scheme to win Laura back becoming increasingly homoerotic. They do, with the ending shot being them dragging each other into the bedroom.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • Iceman and Rogue. Iceman seems disappointed that Rogue "cured" herself, even though she did it for both of them. It's unknown what their relationship is now, especially since the cure is temporary.
    • Iceman and Kitty is hinted at, especially during the ice skating scene.

  • The Ship Tease has been amped up in Artemis Fowl's sixth book, The Time Paradox, especially when after saving Artemis from a gorilla attack, Holly kisses him in her relief.
  • In the Aunt Dimity series, Lori's repeated flirtations with men other than her husband Bill are often handled this way. To date, nothing more than the occasional kiss has happened, but there have been a number of close calls, often when one or both characters has gotten wet from rain and needs to dry off and/or warm up.
  • Harry and Murphy in The Dresden Files.
  • Emma - Emma and Mr. Knightley, with a few Romantic False Leads along the way.
  • Gaunt and Curth from Gaunt's Ghosts are strongly implied to have feelings for each other in The Traitor General. As of The Warmaster, they continue to dance around the issue, with Gaunt dating two other women in the interim while Curth seeks brief (platonic) solace from his old friend.
  • Older Than Radio: Jane and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. first.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ron and Hermione, starting in Goblet of Fire and ending in a Last-Minute Hookup in Deathly Hallows. (In the movie adaptations, hints are dropped about Ron and Hermione's mutual interest as early as Chamber of Secrets.)
    • Harry and Ginny. They do: as of the "fast forward several years" in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, Harry and Ginny are married with children.
  • Early on in the Honor Harrington book, In Enemy Hands, Hamish Alexander (the Earl of Whitehaven) suddenly gets interested in Honor, and Honor feels his interest through her empathic treecat. This is complicated by the fact that Hamish is also still very much in love with his wife, to whom he has been married longer than Honor has been alive. Two books later we're still getting this:
    "No other 'cat-human bonding had ever been so close, ever spilled across to the actual communication of emotions, and the depth of her fusion with her beloved companion was worth any price. Even this one, she told herself. Even the knowledge that Hamish Alexander loved her and of what might have been had the universe been a different place. Yet just as he would never tell her, she would never tell him ... and was she blessed or cursed by the fact that, unlike him, she would always know what he had never said?"
    • They do. Late in the series, they even marry as both Grayson and Manticore allow polygamous marriages.
  • Left ambiguous throughout The Hunger Games series if Katniss will end up with anyone at all. For one thing she doesn't want to fall in love, get married and have babies that might end up in the Hunger Games. For that reason she resists her budding feelings for Peeta. Gale professing his romantic feelings confuses her and a minor triangle plays out for a few chapters of the second book. Ultimately she chooses to be with Peeta but doesn't start a family with him until fifteen years after the end of the war. The movies play it up like a big triangle by adding scenes that allude to Katniss having feelings for Gale and remove the majority of the scenes that shows she's falling for Peeta, presumably to cash in on the shipper war hype of Twilight but it's mostly lead to a negative response and was toned down for the third film.
  • Jenny Ng and Calvin McGuirk in Lovely Assistant: pretty obvious UST from the first night they meet (Calvin insists she could stay at his place and nothing would happen, but they don't take the chance), and as Heckler points out when Jenny is kidnapped by the Big Bads, Everyone Can See It. Unsurprisingly, they do...but only for a moment, in The Climax, because fate has other plans (which also neatly sidesteps any Shipping Bed Death).
  • In Loyal Enemies, this is the question Shelena's and Veres' storyline ultimately points towards, what with their constant fighting but also obvious enjoyment of each other's company, even though they're nominally mortal enemies and remind each other of that regularly. Everyone Can See It, though (that is, everyone except Rest), and reactions vary from Delirna's "So, how's he in bed?" to the villain's "Get your monster girlfriend away from me!". It doesn't get any better after Shelena has a Love Epiphany right before the final battle and is only resolved via Last-Minute Hookup in the epilogue.
  • Jace and Clary, to ridiculous levels in The Mortal Instruments. Nothing much ever seems to happen until they figure out they aren't related.
  • Percy and Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It's pretty bad when even the daughter of the god of war thinks that it's about time when you finally get together.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Not just Elizabeth and Darcy but Jane and Bingley.
  • In Sense and Sensibility it's Elinor and Edward Ferrars.
  • Brienne and Jaime in A Song of Ice and Fire - they've got plenty of Belligerent Sexual Tension, with an interesting twist on Beast and Beauty thrown in, but it's as yet unresolved. Were the series less infamously grim, the odds might be more in their favour.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe does this with Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade a bit.
    • And it absolutely uses it to death with Jacen and Tenel Ka.
    • And Jaina and Jagged.
  • In War and Peace, this tends to happen a lot. The Love Triangles don't really help in sorting it out. This trope applies most to Pierre and Natasha, as that one's foreshadowed relatively early in the book, and Nikolai and Marya.
  • The Wheel of Time series brings us the relationship between Rand Al'Thor and Aviendha the Action Girl, which lasts for an astonishing length of time. This is primarily motivated by Aviendha's own stubbornness, combined with the Honor Before Reason stance of her culture and the cultural differences between her and Rand and the fact that Rand is in love with two other women and is very queasy about it. Until later anyway. The three women get together and basically force Rand to accept a relationship with all of them.
  • Dorn and Kara in The Year of Rogue Dragons

  • The Doubleclicks have a song called "Will They or Won't They", comparing the narrator and some guy to multiple fictional couples. The joke is that she always looks good in the comparison, he comes across as a Jerkass, and as to the titular question — they won’t.

  • Dino Attack RPG had quite a bit of UST between Hertz and Naomi Carver, as well as Frozeen and Gromtin, with the question of whether or not they will get together in the end.

    Video Games 
  • Ara Fell: Adrian has an obvious crush on Lita, but she seems oblivious. When they finally do share a romantic moment it's during a very emotional and confusing time for Lita, and they agree to work out their feelings afterwards. They do in the epilogue.
  • In Broken Sword, George and Nico seems to have a thing for each other, but never confess to each other and they never even contact each other in between the games timeline. George said in the beginning of the 3rd game that "things between them don't work out".
  • Bugsnax: Snorpy's subplot involves him trying to work up the nerve to confess his feelings to Chandlo, who himself constantly talks about his obsession with getting stronger so he can always protect Snorpy.
  • Celestian Tales: Realms Beyond: Isaac and Lucienne spend the entire game in what Reynard calls an "ambiguous relationship." They finally get together in the ending.
  • Clandestiny: Will Paula and Andrew get married? Paula really wants to, Andrew seems not so sure. Comes to a head when the two are about to drown and he finally asks her to marry him. Her answer: "Hell no!", given everything she's been through that night.
  • Criminal Case: Pacific Bay: Amy and Russell quite obviously have feelings towards one another: they constantly praise each other's works, and get exceedingly worried whenever the other is in trouble (in Deadly Legacy Amy freaks out when Russell went missing, while Russell gets uncharacteristically infuriated when the Utopians brainwashed Amy in Dead Carpet). However, aside from their occasional flirtings, nothing explicit ever happens between the two. Until A Killer Among Us, that is.
  • Dungeon Maker II: The Hidden War has one between the female main character and Greg the apothecary. She thinks he's too much of a genius to approach. He's too bumbling and shy to tell her how he really feels. Despite this, they're clearly crazy about each other.
  • Gabriel Knight: It's obvious from the start that Gabriel and Grace care for each other, but they don't start to show this until towards the end of Beast Within. Their first actual consummation in Gabriel Knight 3 is followed by very awkward periods between the two, as well as with those around them.
  • Lorelai: The decision of whether or not Lorelai has the same feelings for Zack as he does for her is left up to the player. Thus, the game can end on either side of the question.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 had this almost all the way through with Naked Snake and EVA. They end up having sex after the mission. EVA is later artificially impregnated with his clones. However, they never actually develop a relationship.
  • SLAMMED!: Part of Ecstasy's romance line is how you're both interested in a relationship but never have the right time for one, leading to this.
  • Usually with Tales Series games, the canon pairing is right there as the lead male and female.
    • Tales of Vesperia however, goes to great lengths of implying a will they/won't they relationship between ill tempered sorceress Rita and sheltered Princess Estelle as well as an Are They/Aren't They one with childhood best friends Yuri and Flynn. The PS3 version only intensifies it.
    • Tales of Hearts: Kohaku and Kor spend the whole game on an "Unresolved Romantic Tension" dynamic. at the very last second of the post-credits sequence, they do
  • Tenchu fans have been at war since the beginning on whether Ayame and Rikimaru are just partners, clan brother and sister, or secret lovers. The extra futon in what certainly LOOKS like Rikimaru's house in Tenchu Z suggests the latter.

    Visual Novels 
  • From Ace Attorney we have Detective Gumshoe and Maggey Byrde. It's all but said explicitly the Gumshoe has a huge crush on Maggey, going so far as to have Phoenix smuggle weenies into the Detention Centre when she's accused of murder (again) and 'confessing' to have committed a murder when he can see the evidence piling up to frame Maggey (again).

    Web Comics 
  • Check, Please! has this situation between the main leads Bitty and Jack. The first year has their relationship going from Jack screaming at Bitty to an eventual mutual respect, trust and friendship with lots of Ship Tease sprinkled once they get closer. Year 2 tunes it way up by Bitty falling for Jack and possibly vice versa, but both being very Oblivious to Love, nobody does anything with it. In the finale of Year 2, Jack runs across campus to find Bitty and kiss him, as off Year 3, they are the Official Couple of the comic.
    • The situation is downplayed, but still very much present between their best friends Lardo and Shitty, who overflow with Unresolved Sexual Tension and dance around each other even more than Jack and Bitty.
  • Viana Doesulen and Thomas Millwood are in this situation throughout Deer Me. It's pretty clear the attraction is mutual, but each initially thinks the other isn't interested (or in the case of Thomas, fears that Viana would beat him up if he tried anything). While the webcomic has really presented several chances for a Relationship Upgrade, it never reaches that point.
  • Ellen and Nanase from El Goonish Shive. They get together after Grace's birthday party.
    • This trope is referenced in the commentary of this page regarding Agents Cranium and Wolf, with Dan Shive's answer to the question being: "there is no 'will they, won't they' issue with Wolf and Cranium. They have, they will again, and they utterly fail at hiding it."
    • Elliot/Susan. The latter's issues with intimacy and physical contact are probably the biggest obstacle to this ship setting sail.
  • Dr. Kinesis and Alice in Evil Plan. It's not for lack of trying, though. Alice is clearly attempting to make moves, but seducing a sexually-repressed mad scientist is about as tough as it sounds.
  • Faux Pas has this with Randy and Cindy. Miscommunication and Randy's innocence keep getting in the way. They eventually do get together and start a family.
  • Lampshaded in this strip of Girly, while playing the trope straight (no pun intended).
    • They do. BOY do they ever.
    • It's also good to know that the majority of the comic is the main couple together with very little romantic problems, most of the stress comes from other weird things happening and other characters getting together.
  • In Homestuck, this is what Karkat and Terezi's relationship adds up to. It's been going on since before we knew those characters by name. They were never officially in a relationship, but they have had plenty of romantic tension. For example, Dave has stated once that he believes Karkat is jealous that his "girlfriend" (Terezi) has a thing for him, though neither Karkat nor Terezi (especially the former) like to talk about their relationship.
  • In Keychain of Creation, this is a major background element to Misho and Marena's relationship. Misho is of the "won't" mindset, while Marena... let's just say she's not entirely in agreement.
  • In an early Leftover Soup strip, Ellen makes it absolutely clear that she and Jamie won't. Naturally, this doesn't even stop her best friend from betting it will.
  • Any and Professor T.X. from M9 Girls! The tension comes from the obvious age difference, but mainly because the Professor's allegiance is still doubtful. Any does not seem to mind, though.
  • Magick Chicks: Faith and Tiffany have had UST since the beginning of the comic. Tiffany's been fighting it because she thinks of Faith as her nemesis and because she's straight, though she's finally reached the point where she can no longer deny the attraction. Faith has repeatedly made her feelings clear on the matter and awaits Tiffany's decision.
  • MegaTokyo: Piro and Kimiko for the longest time. With their relationship now on pause, Piro/Miho are also on the list. Yuki and Kobayashi.
  • Ménage à 3: Gary interactions with pretty much anyone, especially Zii, DiDi, Sonya, and Yuki, tend to involve this trope. Sometimes, this is eventually answered, and sometimes it isn't. At some points, the trope manifests in the relationships between DiDi and Sandra and DiDi and Matt, too.

    Notably, Gary and Zii were clearly developing an increasing mutual attraction during the last few volumes of the comic’s run, complicated by the facts that (a) Gary thought that Zii was out of his league, (b) Zii thought of Gary as a hopeless geek and a little brother figure, and (c) they were both usually involved with other people (not that this tends to stop anyone in this comic). But then the comic ended. The creators have acknowledged that they set the pairing up as a serious possibility, but then decided not to do anything with it — but the fact that the option was never even discussed and rejected in the comic left it looking like an annoying dangling plot thread.
  • Yun-lee and Dong-whi in Nineteen, Twenty-One. Dong-whi does openly like her but after that and some slight jealousy it doesn't come up until it's resolved at the end.
  • No Pink Ponies Jess and... unnamed guy (Fanon states his name is Cute Comic Guy or CCG for short)) in No Pink Ponies. They do
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan and Haley. It goes between them for a very long time, until their lives depend on it.
  • Although it's far from a central plot element, the title characters of Penny and Aggie are an example, with speculation and shipping occurring both in-universe (Sara, from the early arc "The Ticket" to the present) and within the fandom (which also has many Penny/Aggie anti-shippers). Complicated by the attraction being entirely one-sided at first; Penny has erotic dreams and occasional daytime "twinges" for Aggie, but not vice versa, although Aggie's dream in "The Lady and the Tiger" suggests she's subconsciously aware of the other's feelings. Also complicating matters is that, despite Word of God confirming that both title characters have "bisexual leanings", their principal romantic plotlines for the vast majority of the comic so far have all involved boys. That Aggie did eventually decide she was homosexual doesn't appear to have cleared up the issue. Later, Penny made increasingly clear overtures to Aggie, and the interest was now seen to be mutual, and they've now shared their tentative First Kiss. Then, judging from their action, and their friends' discussion of it in this strip, they do. And now confirmed.
  • Punch an' Pie plays with this by starting the two leads as a couple, breaking them up, and then leaving it deliberately unclear whether or not they will get back together. They don't.
  • Questionable Content was entirely built on the Unresolved Sexual Tension between Faye and Marten for the first 500 comics until the talk, which killed whatever might have happened between them. However, the strip managed successfully to continue from that point and become arguably something different entirely. Will They or Won't They? also occurs in various other "relationships" that Faye lands into.
  • Red String: Eiji and Reika seemed poised to dancing around the issue until eternity, until they finally hooked up. And there was much rejoicing.
  • Kat and Art in Sequential Art have been shown here and there throughout the series to have mutual interest in each other, but both seem unaware of this and too hesitant to do anything about it. Every time it gets brought up it feels like it's about to go somewhere, then doesn't.
  • Sluggy Freelance. Torg's been pining after Zoe for years. He even hooked up with the Zoe from an alternate dimension. However he never tells her how he feels, and if he did Oasis might kill Zoe for stealing Torg's affection. To be fair, alternate dimension Zoe did die, and Torg still blames himself for failing to keep her safe. So he's developed his fear of Oasis killing Zoe into more then just an excuse and well into realistic territory.
    • And it is realistic. Oasis's jealousy lead her to kill ice-cream after Torg said he loved chocolate ice-cream.
    • The question was answered when Zoe was confronted by an old enemy, and she was forced to come to terms with her relationship with Torg. Zoe realized not only that Torg loves her, but she loves him back.
  • In Something*Positive, Pee-Jee and Davan were like this for quite some time — but as it turns out, it's just the author messing with his reader's heads. (The Ship Tease has dialed back considerably since Davan found a new girlfriend, of whom Pee-Jee is quite fond.)
  • This Is Not Fiction has the main characters Julian and Landon. They have so much Ship Tease that a lot of people, including their mutual friend Isaiah and Julian's mother think they are dating. It's eventually revealed that Landon is indeed in love with Julian, and it's reciprocal. They dance around the subject a lot and the situation eventually made the whole "Quest for Sidney Morgan" a background plot, something recognized in-universe. Eventually, during a party, they finally kiss, though whether they are boyfriends now is still discussed.
  • After years of Belligerent Sexual Tension, Keith and Natani from TwoKinds seem to be slowly inching towards a Relationship Upgrade. Justified in that both of them have boatloads of mental issues to work through.
  • A.J. and Miranda from User Friendly were like this for a very long time. They finally got together several years after they met.
    • It would've happened sooner, but Miranda deleted a "love e-letter" A.J. had sent. Very forgivable, as the real "ILOVEYOU" e-mail worm was propagating at the time of that comic.

    Web Original 
  • Sasha Hunter and Daichi Hashimoto from Greek Ninja.
  • Jaune and Pyrrha from RWBY. They do, but is sadly cut short by Pyrrha's untimely death at the hands of Cinder Fall.
    • Nora and Ren have this dynamic in spades, with Nora clearly crushing on Ren big time, and Ren being utterly oblivious to her feelings. Nora finally kisses Ren in Volume 7, leading to a proper Relationship Upgrade for the two of them.
    • An unusual case involving Blake and Sun and later Blake and Yang. Blake and Sun follow this setup with clear attraction on Sun's part and a lesser degree of reciprocation from Blake. Over the course of several volumes they grow closer together but a romance never fully materializes. Starting in Volume 6 this is repeated with Blake and Yang. They rekindle their friendship and grow much closer over the course of several volumes but unlike before they do end up together by Volume 9.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Sterling and Lana Kane of Archer. Lampshaded in part three of "Heart of Archness":
    Noah: Oh my God! Just screw already!
    Buckey: Seriously.
    Rip Riley: Then kill each other. Then shut up. Then kill each other again. Then call me, so I can watch.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Katara and Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang had a blatant crush on Katara from the first episode, while Katara was generally too focused on the ongoing war to figure out her feelings on the matter, not even realizing Aang liked her in that manner until the final season. Katara would only allow herself to return Aang's affections in the final episode.
    • In the Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, Korra and Mako take this role for the first season. They're attracted to each other from the moment they meet, but then constant bickering, Mako getting a girlfriend despite his UST with Korra, and the main plot involving the Equalists and Korra getting kidnapped keeps them from getting together until the last episode. Then came the second season, where their conflicting personalities and life goals prove to be too much for their relationship and they break up.
  • Ant-Man and Wasp in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Three attempts he made during the first season to confess his love for her didn't go as planned, and his quitting the Avengers further harmed their chances of starting a relationship.
  • Batman and Catwoman in Batman: The Animated Series, despite Selina's countless attempts to seduce Bruce with her catty double entendres.
  • Ulrich and Yumi of Code Lyoko. Their 4-season long on-again-off-again-green-eyed-monster-just-friends-not-just-friends-vague-implications dance makes even their shippers cringe. At the beginning of season four, we had the "I dump you but we're still friends and it's not dumping because we were just friends all along" scene (yes, this sums up how exaggerated this trope was) just after the only really dangerous rival was turned into a Big Bad's minion. It's even more ridiculous when you consider that everyone but them considers the two a couple despite their constant denials.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has Numbah 3 and Numbah 4 filling this spot.
  • Sam Manson and Danny Fenton/Phantom from Danny Phantom have this throughout the entire series starting in the first few episodes. Continuous hints and leads point to this, to even a scenario where they both have the exact same dream of them dating, but nothing comes from it until the last episode, where they have a Last-Minute Hookup.
  • Futurama: Fry and Leela. They (technically) married twice, but both marriages were very brief, albeit for non-personal reasons. One involved time going at accelerated speeds, due to one of Farnsworth's "brilliant" ideas, and the other an aged version of Fry under an alternate persona who dumps Leela at the altar after realizing it will cause a time travel paradox. Fry claims to have been fallen in love with Leela at first sight, but that didn't stop him from dating or having sex with other women. Meanwhile, Leela very often snubbed his advances, sometimes rather harshly. After a decade, she finally admitted she loves him and they had an on-again, off-again relationship for a season before becoming an official couple in the last season.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures gives us Pepper and Tony. Though YMMV with the last episode of Season 2 where Tony kisses her on the cheek.
  • Justice League:
    • Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. After they finally admit their feelings for each other (at the end of "Wild Cards"), the very next episode ("Starcrossed") involves a big reveal that causes them to break up and Hawkgirl to leave. By the time she returns from her 10-Minute Retirement, GL is dating another superhero. In spite of this, the two still have feelings for each other. They still aren't a couple by the end of the series, but the existence of their Kid from the Future, Warhawk, implies that they do eventually end up together. Word of God says they'll get together eventually.
    • We also have Batman and Wonder Woman dancing to this, from Batman's insistence that they are Just Friends and frantically digging the rubble that had apparently buried Diana (even hiding his dirt-covered hands from her afterwards) and Wonder Woman herself flirting often with Batman and getting a bit shy after their Fake-Out Make-Out in "Starcrossed".
  • Kaeloo: The relationship between Kaeloo and Mr. Cat is this in seasons 1-3. Even the other characters have figured out that they're in love with each other, but they're both oblivious to the fact that the other likes them. From season 4 onwards, this was replaced with a situation where it is extremely ambiguous whether the two are just friends or already in a romantic relationship.
  • In ReBoot, Bob and Dot. It took them until the end of the last season to get together and engaged — but it wasn't even the real Bob anyway. In the comic continuation, they keep trying to get married but something always comes up.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Fred and Daphne. As of episode 26, Fred broke off their engagement because of drama. As of the ending, they admitted that they love each other and are apparently engaged in the new timeline.
  • Steven Universe had a bit of this with Sadie and Lars, who obviously care about each other but are frequently at odds. Both go through separate Character Development arcs and become friendlier afterwards. Steven Universe Future shows they decided they were Better as Friends. Sadie is dating a new character, which legitimately upsets Steven who's in the middle of a Heroic BSoD and had for ages assumed Sadie and Lars were meant for each other.
  • Sprx and Nova in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!. They spend 4 seasons with the routine of him teasing her and flirting to then get punched by her, saving each other in battle, getting jealous when the other shows interest in someone else and occasional near confessions on Sprx's part. They don't get some sort of resolution until the final episode where Nova confesses her love for him to break him out of his Brainwashed and Crazy state.
  • Starfire and Robin of the Teen Titans, from the day they first met (and beat each other up), for the entire series.
    • Beast Boy and Raven in the comedy-focused Spin-Off series Teen Titans Go!. The show routinely teases their relationship, even devoting a whole episode to them almost getting married.
  • Babs and Buster Bunny (No relation) in Tiny Toon Adventures.
  • Total Drama has Alejandro and Heather. The two are perfect for each other and Everyone Can See It, but their competitive natures prevented them from having an actual relationship which they both realized in All Stars. Once they were both eliminated, they could finally be together, and are confirmed to to be a couple in the finale.
    • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race has Carrie and Devin, a.k.a the Best Friends. She's been in love with him since they were kids but he's completely oblivious to it. Eventually she decides to try and give up on him...just in time for him to realise he's in love with her. In the end he confesses his feelings and they end up together.