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Deadlock Clock: Jan 8th 2019 at 11:59:00 PM
Oct 25th 2018 at 4:20:11 PM

This trope in its current form is almost nothing but Die for Our Ship and Complaining About Love Interests You Don't Like, and everything in its definition is already covered by Strangled by the Red String, Token Romance, Satellite Love Interest and Romantic Plot Tumor. I can't think of a reason for a character to be on this page over any of those other four. In fact, the entry on Matilda's husband from Last Scenario is repeated almost verbatim on the Satellite Love Interest page.

The Laconic description of this trope is "A romance that exists solely to advance the plot." Barely any of the page's examples fit this. A true example of a "romance that exists solely to advance the plot" would be if True Love's Kiss is needed to break a spell, and the writers say "welp, the lead needs a love interest then". Now let's look at the actual examples:

  • First of all, there's Akari Unryu; apparently, the demand for Ryoga to get a happy ending led to the creation of this girl, who is so perfect for Ryoga, and shows up so few times in her subsequent appearances that she has been derided as a canon relationship sue.

Already mentioning Mary Sue Tropes, which are Flame Bait. Definite air of bashing. No mention of why this romance is necessary to the plot. "Demand for Ryoga to get a happy ending" implies Pandering to the Base, not plot necessity.

  • While Cain of Count Cain flirts with (and presumably sleeps with) as many women as possible throughout the series, when he finally gets paired up with Meridiana it feels ridiculous, since she's just as vapid as any other woman he's met and slept with. She has nothing to distinguish her; she is the least unique character in the entire series. Even the author admitted that the fans didn't like her; she seemed surprised.

Nothing but bashing.

  • Bulma and Vegeta basically got together because "a kid from the future said so." They had exactly two on-screen interactions before the three-year time skip when for some unknown reason Bulma dumped her previous love interest in favor of having a baby with the guy who'd once tried to massacre the planet. The implication seems to be that she simply had sex with him once, and that any actual romance between them didn't come until after another time skip...but even then no explanation is given for why she hooked up with him on any sort of permanent basis.

This one is a better argument and doesn't feel like bashing... but the situation it's describing fits better under Strangled by the Red String. The first sentence might qualify for the "exists to advance the plot" portion of the trope, but the rest falls under Strangled.

  • The relationship between Max and Milia in Super Dimension Fortress Macross — as well as their Americanized counterparts in Robotech — was hardly romance at its best. This is somewhat deconstructed in Macross 7, where is showed that Max and Milia's marriage is mainly unstable and troubled.

Vague. "Hardly romance"? Explain how? Nothing here about necessity to the plot either.

  • The relationship of Ariel and Eric obviously needs to exist because it happens in the original fairy-tale and it gives Ariel her main motivation to want to become human. However, the whole thing is complicated because they really only know each other for three days, and she's unable to speak for almost that entire time.

The first sentence actually fits the definition. But then in devolves into Strangled by the Red String again.

  • Serge and Kid of Chrono Cross. The player can have Serge treat Kid like crap, ignore her at every turn, leave her to die a slow death by poison, stab her in the chest, apparently use and manipulate her and then kill her again, and finally leave her in a coma reliving the single most traumatic day of her life, and she'll still be in love with a man she barely knows who already has a girlfriend.

"The player has the option to have Serge treat Kid like crap and she's still in love with him" seems tropeworthy (probably falls under Gameplay and Story Segregation), but not for this because there's no mention of why Kid's love is essential for the plot.

  • Similarly, Dragon Quest V gives you the choice of two heroines, three on the DS remake, but the game greatly favors Bianca. That said, the other girls aren't that much more developed either, but at least the game doesn't shove them on your face.

Pure complaining about Story Branch Favoritism, classic case of this trope degenerating into "Bashing love interests you don't like".

The Last Scenario example of a love interest only existing to pre-emptively sink ships involving another character is tropeworthy... under Satellite Love Interest. The "case of the not-gays" example from Red Letter Media listed under "Film" falls under this too.

This trope's definition seems to have drifted to "the work says they're a couple but they don't have chemistry". The problem is chemistry is extremely subjective, and Strangled by the Red String already covers this ground. (Even this trope's description practically calls it "Strangled by the Red String, but less extreme")

Ironically, a better description of this trope is found in the Satellite Love Interest description: "Contrast with Designated Love Interest, in which a character's characterization isn't involved enough with loving another character, thus making the "love interest" moniker seem tacked-on." The problem is most of the page's examples don't fit this either. For example, the Tales of Graces Cheria example. Cheria's character is extremely involved with being in love with Asbel. Fans just think it wasn't done well. That's not the same as "not obviously being in love with someone but being called their love interest anyway."

In summary, I propose this trope be deleted as I don't think there's any reason for it to exist as long as Token Romance, Strangled by the Red String, Satellite Love Interest and Romantic Plot Tumor do. Anything it could cover already falls under one of them.

Edited by BigKlingy on Oct 25th 2018 at 4:29:54 AM

SeptimusHeap MOD from Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
thatsnumberwang Relationship Status: I-It's not like I like you, or anything!
Dec 4th 2018 at 2:01:00 PM

I would argue that Designated Love Interest is a worthy trope just not with its current definition. For example, Designated Hero and Designated Villain are tropes whereby the author is TELLING US the reader/viewer that the hero is heroic or the villain is villainous without actually showing it. IMO, Designated Love Interest should run along very similar lines: the author is TELLING US that these two are madly in love, and yet all evidence available runs completely contrary to this. Anakin and Padme from Star Wars are a good example of this (see Red Letter Media/Plinkett's Episode 2 review for a detailed explanation).

I think that in this form the trope would be markedly different to the other tropes described and it shouldn't be lost when it can be repaired.

PhiSat Planeswalker from Everywhere and Nowhere
Planeswalker
Dec 4th 2018 at 2:10:26 PM

[up]I agree with this. Hell, that's what I thought the trope was supposed to be in the first place. Which would make definitions:

Token Romance: Characters are paired up because of demographic reasons (requiring a romance to attract an audience) and the subsequent romance has nothing to do with the plot.

Strangled by the Red String: Romance Ex Machina, the romance comes out of nowhere.

Satellite Love Interest: A love interest exists only to be another character's love interest.

Romantic Plot Tumor: The romance arc engulfs the whole rest of the plot, kind of the antithesis to Token Romance.

Die for Our Ship: The fans don't like the ship and kill/pair off/write out a character to facilitate a ship of their preference.

Designated Love Interest: The characters don't seem to be in love for whatever reason but the author and plot says they are. Not necessarily Strangled by the Red String because there could be attempts at showing build up, but for whatever reason it just doesn't work.

Edited by PhiSat on Dec 4th 2018 at 3:23:24 AM

Oissu!
Pichu-kun ...
...
Dec 4th 2018 at 2:35:57 PM

[up][up] That sounds like an inversion of Relationship Writing Fumble. "The writer's tell us these two are in love, but they act more like friends/siblings/enemies".

Edited by Pichu-kun on Jan 5th 2019 at 8:13:59 AM

PhiSat Planeswalker from Everywhere and Nowhere
Planeswalker
Dec 4th 2018 at 4:48:03 PM

[up]That Laconic really needs to be changed, by the way, since it applies to platonic relationships coming off as romantic. The Laconic just says "Accidental subtext makes a relationship come off differently than intended."

Oissu!
SeptimusHeap MOD from Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Jan 5th 2019 at 2:04:21 AM

Extending clock.

Jan 5th 2019 at 5:51:21 PM

I changed the Laconic to "Romance without solid buildup or basis for it." That seems more in line with it. Feel free to change.

Jan 5th 2019 at 10:49:38 PM

[up] I honestly can't think of and example that isn't this.

Unless someone can list a Designated Love Interest example that isn't Strangled by the Red String, I see no reason to even keep it.

StarSword You are of Bajor. from somewhere in deep space Relationship Status: In denial
You are of Bajor.
Jan 6th 2019 at 10:02:47 AM

I'm wondering if Strangled by the Red String and Designated Love Interest shouldn't both be merged with Relationship Writing Fumble: I'm having trouble seeing any distinction and RWF has a better title IMHO.

Edited by StarSword on Jan 6th 2019 at 1:03:26 PM

Gatehead Warsie Browncoat X-Fan.
Jan 6th 2019 at 11:35:58 AM

[up] Relationship Writing Fumble is for when relations are interpreted differently than intended, this trope is about something different, relationship that come off intended but is forced.

Hows this Laconic? "The plot calls them a couple but they don't act like it."

Hows this distinction?

Should we start removing or trimming misuse (anything about the nature of the relationship as opposed to its plot relevance) and see if there's enough to be worth keeping?

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jan 6th 2019 at 11:57:26 AM

Jan 6th 2019 at 12:24:47 PM

[up] I'm still not clear on what "said to be falling in love" means. Who's saying it? Maybe it would to have an example that would fit under this definition.

Jan 6th 2019 at 2:26:19 PM

The narrative. An example is "The relationship of Ariel and Eric obviously needs to exist because it happens in the original fairy-tale and it gives Ariel her main motivation to want to become human" and "Bulma and Vegeta basically got together because "a kid from the future said so." The narrative calls for there romance.

I just realized they're not examples since it doesn't explain the lack of romantic interaction. Should I start removing misuse to see if there's enough to be worth saving? Or should we have a more solid definition to work with first?

Jan 6th 2019 at 3:37:27 PM

[up] But everything that happens in a story is motivated by the narrative. I don't think we can start cutting until we have at least one example of what does count.

Jan 6th 2019 at 8:58:39 PM

[up] How's this as an example?

  • In Batman Beyond, Dana was Terry's girlfriend from before the series started and is continuously Terry's girlfriend for the entire run of the series. However, the audience doesn't really get to see much onscreen romance between the two due to the series's focus on superhero action and Dana's lack of screentime. Most of the time their romance is shown either by being arm-in-arm when together, or when Terry has to break a date. In the later episodes, Dana gets Demoted to Extra as Max fills her role of a normal person that Terry talks to.

Jan 7th 2019 at 8:33:01 AM

[up] But how does that line up with "the plot says so"? From that description, the romance seems pointless to the plot.

WarJay77 from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Jan 7th 2019 at 10:58:39 AM

Mind if I jump in?

So I was going to say that [up][up] that example doesn't read like Designated Love Interest to me, but that was before checking the page and realizing I don't know what Designated Love Interest actually, really is. It seems like it's just... "writers think the story needs a love plot so they shove two characters together and claim they're in love".

I'm with you guys, any example that wouldn't be covered by Strangled by the Red String just sort of reads like complaining about love interests or romantic subplots the fan doesn't like.

Problem is that proving the love interests are together "because the narrative says so" is hard. The trope assumes creator intent to just have a romantic subplot, which is impossible to prove, leading to the confusion at what "the plot says so" even means.

I'm not really seeing much worth salvaging here.

Jan 7th 2019 at 1:13:53 PM

  • Some of the Young Justice romances fell into this trope.
    • Aqualad and Rocket were the most obvious victims, and their relationship didn't even get far beyond her kissing him on the cheek at the end of season 1.
    • Tim Drake and Cassie Sandsmark didn't even get that. They barely interact with each other, but by the end of the second season, they're a couple.
  • Beth and Fisk from Better Days fall into this. Never do we see the characters discussing their hopes, dreams, or fears together. They become sex friends about a day after they meet with little provocation. Then while Fisk is serving his time in the military, Beth somehow falls deeper in love with him during his absence. Even though she is actively dating two other men who are more financially secure, physically and emotionally available to her than Fisk is. If they aren't having sex then they are talking to each other in bed right after sex but it's never about anything important. Sans one time when Beth desperately wants Fisk to live with her, these two characters never express how much they supposedly mean to each other and the reader is supposed to assume that their relationship is deeper than just their sex drive. She does eventually give up on him and settled down with her boyfriend Aron instead, so this could arguably be a deconstruction of the whole concept.
    • Less when there's a few lines about how Beth and Fisk broke up because she 'wouldn't accept his job'. Except....that wasn't what happened at all. Beth asked Fisk to make their relationship more than sex, a huge risk for her, and he decided to accept his much-hated assassination job. Beth never said she didn't accept the job, or indicated she knew what the job actually was at all, only that the guy who said he'd live with her suddenly said he wouldn't to go do a job he had no desire to do a week before.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Ilia. As she is something of a combination of Saria and Malon from Ocarina of Time, she is stated to have a close relationship with Link, and many characters take note of their closeness (though no one outright states that they are romantically involved). In spite of this, Ilia and Link's romantic interactions are limited to one moment prior to one of the last dungeons where Link finally restores her memories after she gets inflicted with Easy Amnesia. During the prologue, which is otherwise meant to show Link's domestic life, Ilia seems to care more for Link's horse Epona rather than Link himself. The aforementioned Malon ultimately has more chemistry with her Link than Ilia with hers, despite the former being a minor character.
  • Castle Vania III Draculas Curse: This game introduced the ability to recruit and switch between Trevor Belmont and three other characters: Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, and Alucard. None of the characters share any dialogue except normal greetings when being recruited, and said recruitment is optional. When recruited, Sypha is misgendered as "him" (in the English version), which led to a lot of head-scratching confusion when Sypha is revealed as a woman at the end and Trevor places a romantic arm around her. There is absolutely nothing in the game that suggested they were a couple.
  • The Talia-Batman romance of Batman: Arkham City suffers from this. Their past together is not elaborated upon, the only mention being that they spent one night together years ago. They are constantly at odds with each other, neither can stand the way the other deals with criminals, and they don't even interact with each other that much... yet her death is shown to be a major Despair Event Horizon for Batman, and Joker's ghost and/or Batman's subconcious brings it up several times in the sequel. It can be argued that Batman has a better romance arc with Joker than with Talia who is meant to be his one true love.
  • Justified in Digital Devil Saga. Mysterious Waif Sera latches on to Heroic Mime Serph, and Hot-Blooded Heat has an obsession with Sera, who does not reciprocate. It seems shallow, since Serph shows no personality, and Sera barely talks to Heat... until the Wham Episode. Serph and Heat are AIs that Sera designed for her ideal world. Serph was based on someone she had a crush on, and Heat was based on someone she though had a crush on her.
  • While most couples in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations are clearly shown to care for each other, Mia and Diego is an exception. Diego being Mia's boyfriend is literally the first thing we learn about him and it provides Mia with motivation to hunt Dahlia and for Diego (as Godot) to hate Phoenix for being unable to save her two games earlier, but when we see them actually interacting with each other they don't seem any closer than co-workers, aside from Diego using an Affectionate Nickname. This may be more due to the Japanese view on romance, where public affection is frowned upon, than an actual lack of romance, however.
  • Ninja Gaiden:
    • In the NES version, the page quote comes from the very last scene. The only onscreen interaction between Ryu and Irene goes like this: she shoots him with a tranquilizer in the first mission, frees him and gives him the MacGuffin in the second level, and gets kidnapped offscreen at some point before the fifth level, forcing Ryu to choose to save her life during a Sadistic Choice. And... that's it. The quote above is the first time any romantic affection or the prospect of a relationship is ever brought up.
    • The Ancient Ship of Doom and The Dark Sword of Chaos are a little bit better about fleshing out their relationship, but then Irene disappears for a long time, with only a small mention in Ryu's Dead or Alive profile (as "Aileen") confirming that they're Happily Married.
  • In Carmen, it's implied that she seduces Don José mostly to make him release her from custody, which leads to him being taken to jail for a while. The day he's out of jail, when Carmen's friends ask her why she won't go to the smuggling business with them, she replies that she's madly in love with Don José and wants to stay to wait for him. Earlier that scene, she rejected the superstar bullfighter Escamillo claiming that her heart was taken, implying that she had been staying "faithful" to him. Nothing in the libretto indicates what made Carmen fall in love with Don José in such a way.
  • White Collar: Kate in season one. It would have been nice to see the one woman who made Neal Caffrey want to commit; unfortunately, Kate is not given a personality, motivation, or even charm. With no material to work with, the role was also tragically miscast with an actress who seems too sweet. In short, she's far too bland to pull off the unforgettable Woman in White or One True Love that Neal keeps saying she is. We finally get to see them together in the season two Flashback Episode "Forging Bonds"; whether this made the relationship more convincing is up to the individual viewer.
  • Avatar. The romance between Jake Sully and Neytiri is given almost no real buildup and no reason beyond, "Hey, they've been spending a lot of time together and Jake needs a way to get into that culture. Let's hook them up because that is What Those Types of Characters Do."

Are any of these examples? What about these?

If they show the relation doesn't happen because of this, is it an example (Flash is Strangled by the Red String before Legend of Everfree, which is an after the fact fix)? If not, what trope is it?

If Strangled by the Red String is about romances with no basis, there's no difference between Designated Love Interest. I then say make Designated Love Interest a redirect to Strangled by the Red String (which has far more wicks and inbounds).

Edited by Ferot_Dreadnaught on Jan 7th 2019 at 1:36:37 AM

Pichu-kun ...
...
Jan 7th 2019 at 3:27:22 PM

[up] I don't think llia fits. She's just a clear-cut example of Childhood Friend Romance. Their relationship is developed just fine.

Jan 7th 2019 at 5:32:30 PM

[up][up] The first Young Justice example isn't demanded by the plot, it's pointless to the plot. Rocket is also only a Love Interest to Aqualad in that one episode, after which there is no reference to a romance between them. The second is just Strangled by the Red String.

Edited by TheMountainKing on Jan 7th 2019 at 8:32:47 AM

WarJay77 from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Jan 7th 2019 at 5:56:27 PM

The Avatar one reads like Strangled by the Red String with a good dose of complaining.

Jan 7th 2019 at 6:01:44 PM

Removing them. Should I remove the ones we've deemed not examples from the main page?

Thoughts on these?

  • Beth and Fisk from Better Days fall into this. Never do we see the characters discussing their hopes, dreams, or fears together. They become sex friends about a day after they meet with little provocation. Then while Fisk is serving his time in the military, Beth somehow falls deeper in love with him during his absence. Even though she is actively dating two other men who are more financially secure, physically and emotionally available to her than Fisk is. If they aren't having sex then they are talking to each other in bed right after sex but it's never about anything important. Sans one time when Beth desperately wants Fisk to live with her, these two characters never express how much they supposedly mean to each other and the reader is supposed to assume that their relationship is deeper than just their sex drive. She does eventually give up on him and settled down with her boyfriend Aron instead, so this could arguably be a deconstruction of the whole concept.
    • Less when there's a few lines about how Beth and Fisk broke up because she 'wouldn't accept his job'. Except....that wasn't what happened at all. Beth asked Fisk to make their relationship more than sex, a huge risk for her, and he decided to accept his much-hated assassination job. Beth never said she didn't accept the job, or indicated she knew what the job actually was at all, only that the guy who said he'd live with her suddenly said he wouldn't to go do a job he had no desire to do a week before.
  • Castle Vania III Draculas Curse: This game introduced the ability to recruit and switch between Trevor Belmont and three other characters: Sypha Belnades, Grant Danasty, and Alucard. None of the characters share any dialogue except normal greetings when being recruited, and said recruitment is optional. When recruited, Sypha is misgendered as "him" (in the English version), which led to a lot of head-scratching confusion when Sypha is revealed as a woman at the end and Trevor places a romantic arm around her. There is absolutely nothing in the game that suggested they were a couple.
  • The Talia-Batman romance of Batman: Arkham City suffers from this. Their past together is not elaborated upon, the only mention being that they spent one night together years ago. They are constantly at odds with each other, neither can stand the way the other deals with criminals, and they don't even interact with each other that much... yet her death is shown to be a major Despair Event Horizon for Batman, and Joker's ghost and/or Batman's subconcious brings it up several times in the sequel. It can be argued that Batman has a better romance arc with Joker than with Talia who is meant to be his one true love.
  • Justified in Digital Devil Saga. Mysterious Waif Sera latches on to Heroic Mime Serph, and Hot-Blooded Heat has an obsession with Sera, who does not reciprocate. It seems shallow, since Serph shows no personality, and Sera barely talks to Heat... until the Wham Episode. Serph and Heat are AIs that Sera designed for her ideal world. Serph was based on someone she had a crush on, and Heat was based on someone she though had a crush on her.
  • While most couples in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations are clearly shown to care for each other, Mia and Diego is an exception. Diego being Mia's boyfriend is literally the first thing we learn about him and it provides Mia with motivation to hunt Dahlia and for Diego (as Godot) to hate Phoenix for being unable to save her two games earlier, but when we see them actually interacting with each other they don't seem any closer than co-workers, aside from Diego using an Affectionate Nickname. This may be more due to the Japanese view on romance, where public affection is frowned upon, than an actual lack of romance, however.
  • Ninja Gaiden:
    • In the NES version, the page quote comes from the very last scene. The only onscreen interaction between Ryu and Irene goes like this: she shoots him with a tranquilizer in the first mission, frees him and gives him the MacGuffin in the second level, and gets kidnapped offscreen at some point before the fifth level, forcing Ryu to choose to save her life during a Sadistic Choice. And... that's it. The quote above is the first time any romantic affection or the prospect of a relationship is ever brought up.
    • The Ancient Ship of Doom and The Dark Sword of Chaos are a little bit better about fleshing out their relationship, but then Irene disappears for a long time, with only a small mention in Ryu's Dead or Alive profile (as "Aileen") confirming that they're Happily Married.
  • In Carmen, it's implied that she seduces Don José mostly to make him release her from custody, which leads to him being taken to jail for a while. The day he's out of jail, when Carmen's friends ask her why she won't go to the smuggling business with them, she replies that she's madly in love with Don José and wants to stay to wait for him. Earlier that scene, she rejected the superstar bullfighter Escamillo claiming that her heart was taken, implying that she had been staying "faithful" to him. Nothing in the libretto indicates what made Carmen fall in love with Don José in such a way.
  • White Collar: Kate in season one. It would have been nice to see the one woman who made Neal Caffrey want to commit; unfortunately, Kate is not given a personality, motivation, or even charm. With no material to work with, the role was also tragically miscast with an actress who seems too sweet. In short, she's far too bland to pull off the unforgettable Woman in White or One True Love that Neal keeps saying she is. We finally get to see them together in the season two Flashback Episode "Forging Bonds"; whether this made the relationship more convincing is up to the individual viewer.

Are any of these examples? What about these?

If they show the relation doesn't happen because of this, is it an example (Flash is Strangled by the Red String before Legend of Everfree, which is an after the fact fix)? If not, what trope is it?

PhiSat Planeswalker from Everywhere and Nowhere
Planeswalker
Jan 9th 2019 at 11:53:47 AM

My understanding of Strangled by the Red String is that it doesn't necessarily have the characters not acting like they're in love, but usually that the strangling happens as the result of Unfortunate Implications or with little justification to suddenly pair two characters up. Designated Love Interest has the characters not acting romantic yet the story telling us that they're a good couple.

An example that I'd say fits under both for different reasons would be Tales of Graces: Asbel and Cheria. In the base game I'd consider them Designated Love Interests because while the game tells you they'd make a good couple through Character Shilling, they have a total lack of chemistry and come off more like they're childhood friends who went sour and now dislike each other.

In the Lineage and Legacies arc though, written after the main arc, they've suddenly been given massive amounts of predictable supertext, blushing, and dialogue. People felt the writers went too far and strangled them (note that this arc takes place after the main story, making it all the more jarring) because of this.

Edited by PhiSat on Jan 9th 2019 at 12:54:22 PM

Oissu!
WarJay77 from Upstate New York Relationship Status: Armed with the Power of Love
Jan 9th 2019 at 12:12:09 PM

My biggest problem is still that the current description assumes creator intent by claiming that the romance exists because "the creator just wanted a romantic subplot", which may be true in some cases but sets the tone for a complain-y article, because people already go in with the mindset that the relationship exists purely because the creator wanted it to and was lazy in making it and not, say, for a variety of other possible reasons.

While I can see a trope where the love interests are said to be in love despite not acting like it, which is what I had thought Designated Love Interest was, the description doesn't reflect that, so I'm not sure if that's actually what the trope is supposed to be about or not.


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