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"He's nice," said Tawneee. "And he's very dependable," said Tawneee. And, as if dimly aware that this was still not sufficient, she added sadly, "If you must know, he's the first boy who's ever asked me out." ... There were goddesses who'd kill to look like Tawneee. Angua and Sally exchanged a glance. Light dawned. Ah, that was the problem. And this one's a baaaad case.
This is when a character is seen as so attractive that she is never asked out, because anyone with half a brain would realize that a girl like her would reject a guy like him out of hand. It's obvious she's out of his league, so why bother to ask?
The girl, on the other hand, feels unable to ask him herself, whether because of social custom, historical imperative, or some other reason. However, she isn't out of his league at all. In fact, so many guys have refused to ask her out on the grounds that she's out of their league that she begins to feel unwanted and ask if there's something wrong with her. She will also often feel inadequate and very lonely, and this in turn compounds the problem of her not being able to ask for herself; obviously there is a reason nobody wants her, and she too is afraid of rejection, making this cyclic.
Related to I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me, but that trope is when a girl feels very ordinary next to a hero, yet he wants her anyway. This is when a guy feels too inadequate or ordinary to have a chance with the girl, and how she feels as a result of so many guys feeling this way.
This trope is not Always Female, but because an important part of the situation is that she cannot simply ask him, it tends to be a female trope. Leads to I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me if she does simply ask him. Related to So Beautiful It's a Curse, and also to Beauty Is Bad and Green-Eyed Monster when other females act bitchy to the girl just because they think she's pretty and therefore a bitch.
On whether or not this is Truth in Television, one view states that this happens in real life because of unconscious social cues sent out all the time, causing others to modify their behavior accordingly. The other view, however, states that because Most Writers Are Male, and therefore unable to fully empathize with the female mind, that the girl's loneliness and desperation for male company may be used wrongly, instead of introducing real-life complexities.
- In Azumanga Daioh, Sakaki is an extraordinarily tall and athletic girl with several Crowning Moments of Awesome under her belt. But she's also very shy and affectionate. Other students are scared to talk to her either because they think she's too awesome or because she's intimidating. She wind ups often wishing she'd get invited into club activities, since she's too timid to reach out for them herself.
- Happens to Iori Yoshizuki from I''s, who's so pretty and popular that pretty much nobody approaches her at school.
- One of the reasons why Kotonoha Katsura from School Days is bullied or ignored by other girls is her Tall, Dark and Bishoujo appearance.
- Himemiya Chikane from Kannazuki no Miko. Lampshaded by a character, who says that "simply having the courage to directly ask her out makes one a hero". Even the girls feel intimidated by her charm.
- To a milder extent, Kotobuki Tsumugi from K-On! suffers this trope. There is an episode about her trying to make her bandmates closer to her. She ends up making Mio cry.
- Sawachika Eri from School Rumble.
- Himemiya Yukio from Gokujou Drops. She's jealous about how her girlfriend/servant Komari can get close to people so easily. As Komari put it, "Yukio-chan's fans are weird".
- Hinagiku of Hayate the Combat Butler knows that she gets this, though one character has asked her out and got rejected, and likely Miki won't ask because she knows that Hina isn't lesbian on top of this trope, she settles for being one of her closest friends instead.
- Also, Hayate seems to be playing this card when he tries to convince others that Hinagiku couldn't like him, while she thinks I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me about him.
- Hinagiku's sister, Yukiji also seems to have gotten this when she was younger, though only Kaoru seems to still be hanging on to it.
- Invoked in Half Prince by the titular character Prince, whose good looks attracts mobs of girls to swarm him. To defend himself from this, he adapted a look of self confidence and intimidation so that even though he'll still turn heads and have on lookers constantly, they'll feel too intimidated to approach him.
- Kurimiya suffers from this and more in Glass no Megami. She has also spent a lot of her life traveling from place to place abroad so that when she finally comes back to Japan it just adds to her feeling lonely and isolated.
- In the Korean manhwa Cynical Orange the beautiful protagonist embodies this trope. The girls hate her and spread nasty rumours about her and only the delinquents actually ask her out. She does not have any friends until she meets her Love Interest.
- One Archie Comic involved Reggie lying about knowing a supermodel to screw Archie out of a date with Veronica for himself. He offered to set Archie up, but the model reveals she didn't know any Reggie. Archie soon finds out that she is dateless at the moment, and when asked, she reveals everyone always assumes she's already hooked up.
- This serves as the premise of the film She's Out of My League
- Embodied by a nameless blonde in a bar in A Beautiful Mind, where John Nash arrives at a mathematical reason for it happening.
- The main thing being illustrated by Nash in the scene is a common Game Theory model known as Prisoner's Dilemma, which essentially states that two competitors' greed - and incentive to not lose - dooms them to fail in their pursuit. It's not about the blonde being ignored so much as it is about the group of men working together to not step on one-another's toes.
- Played straight in Discworld (where it's known as "jerk syndrome"), with both Juliet in Unseen Academicals and Tawneee in Thud. Juliet eventually pairs up with Trevor and becomes a model. Angua and Sally also delicately introduce Tawneee to the idea that she's "settling" for Nobby (a chronic petty thief and watchman who smokes constantly, doesn't bathe, is occasionally mistaken for a monkey, and carries papers from the ruler of the city stating that, after consulting with the midwife, he's concluded that the balance of probability is that he's a human being.)
- Ayla and Jondalar do this to each other during The Valley of Horses.
- Less because of beauty and more because of assumptions that had nothing to do with beauty. Jondalar assumes that, because of Ayla's isolation and silence, she's a shamen on a quest to commune with the Earth Mother; Ayla doesn't realise that the feelings she has for Jondalar are sexual. When she finally does realise it, she tries everything she can to get him to sleep with her, but Jondalar, under the impression that it would be improper, doesn't make a move. It's more mutual misunderstandings that come from being from different cultures that separates them, not their good looks.
- Lena from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is said by many different characters to be strikingly pretty, but to the point people are intimidated by her. Her personality makes this difficult as well.
Live Action TV
- Discussed in Scrubs, when J.D. asked the gift shop person if this applied to her, and then she said no.
- In one episode of Welcome Back, Kotter, all of the Sweathogs except Vinnie Barbarino, the ladies' man, are asked out to the dance.
- Arguably, Mulder and Scully in The X-Files. It's obvious quite early on that they have feelings for each other - while Scully is just in denial, Mulder assumes she's out of his league anyway, since he's an obsessive, loner conspiracy nut in a career black hole and she's, well, Scully. Despite the fact that she hasn't been on a successful date in all the years they've been working together.
- Psyche from Classical Mythology thought she was an example of this trope, but the real reason for her loneliness was because she was so beautiful that the goddess of love and beauty herself kept her from finding a respectable husband out of spite.
- Happens in The Longest Journey when one Alatien woman is apparently very attractive among her kind, and despite her crush on an Alatien warrior, she is too shy to court him. Turns out that he's thought her out of his league all along, and hasn't even bothered asking her.
- In Planescape: Torment you can meet a Harmonium guard in the forum who has a nascent crush on one of the regulars, but has never dared approach her because he always sees her chatting and being social with other people and thinks this trope is in effect. She, on the other hand, is actually terribly lonely because she has a problem with being a Motor Mouth, which means that none of the people she talks to ever comes back to talk with her more. The Nameless One can, depending on inclination, either tell the guard this particular piece of info (which gives him the resolve to confess) or tell him that she's actually incredibly popular with men (which breaks his heart). As with many of the game's side quests, Fell makes a unique tattoo out of either resolution.
- Mentioned in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, during one of the repressed memories. Ezio's older brother tells him men are afraid of attractive women, and thus the first person to actually talk to them has the advantage.
- Rin Tohsaka from Fate/stay night is the school idol and mutually 'off limits' to all the boys because she's so clearly out of their league. This really doesn't bother her much as it leaves her more time for her own studies and magus training, and means she won't have to reveal her true nature to anyone.
- This Subnormality strip, especially in the first panel.
- There actually is a recurring female character in Subnormality whose whole character is this. She is an extremely attractive girl who is interested in various traditionally geeky stuff, like comics and video games. This in turn causes an extreme version of this trope, to the point where one guy she talks to spontaneously aborts himself from reality because the concept of a girl that attractive liking nerdy things and showing interest in him is apparently so alien to him that he can no longer sustain his form in our universe.
- Done to each other in this Questionable Content strip.
- The prom episode of Generator Rex makes a mention or two of how "hot girls don't get asked out". Rex is skeptical until Dr. Holiday confesses no one ever asked her to prom.
- Real Life example- He's hardly ugly himself, but Andy Lee of Hamish and Andy managed to snare a date (and later the heart) of Megan Gale, a real life Wonder Woman clone renowned for being one of the most beautiful women in the world (and dating Italian male models) by, in her own words, "being the only boy brave enough to ask me out." Aaaaaaaawwwwww. Curse you, Andy Lee.
- Pretty and beautiful women often suffer from "somebody's girl syndrome" (SGS) in which they are perpetually single while cute and average looking girls have boyfriends or are hanging around guys. That's because many guys think the hot chicks already have gorgeous boyfriends and are out of their league and won't approach them. Therefore, the hot chick contracts SGS as a result.