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File:Child link zelda 2636.jpg

Who knows?

Our hero certainly spends a lot of time rescuing that princess, so he must really care about her. And it's a safe bet that she really cares about him, so it's only natural to assume they're more than Just Friends, right?

But wait...had anyone actually said that the two of them are together, or are you just assuming? Is the character denying the truth or stating it when he says "She Is Not My Girlfriend"? Is it Not What It Looks Like - Or is it? We could ask questions all day.

Either way, in a serial work, this allows the author to gently cover their bums when it comes to either Ship Sinking ("Hey, the ship never set sail in the first place") or Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends ("The potential was there from the start"). Expect there to be some fans who pair the couple up regardless - and the writer may state that they Hooked Up Afterwards, or leave it to the reader's imagination. Naturally, this goes hand-in-hand[1] with Ship Tease.

If the characters are of the same sex, it's Hide Your Lesbians.

Examples of Implied Love Interest include:

Anime & Manga

  • Tower of God: Baam chooses to follow Rachel where ever she may go, even if that includes fighting sea monsters even though he had to be taught why people would use violence at all few months prior. Many note that this has a romantic notion to it and the author (of course) hasn't said a thing about their relationship status. She could be a mother figure, big sister, best friend or love interest.
  • Fairy Tail does this a lot: Natsu/Lisanna, Gray/Juvia, Lyon/Sherry, and Gajeel/Levy to name a few.
    • Lucy has multiple potential love interests, the most prominent being Natsu and Loke.
      • Lyon and Sherry has been busted for Sherry and Ren
    • Erza/Jellal gets this too. When they almost passed the point of being implied they suddenly backpeddled, so it's still a big if.
    • At this point though, Natsu/Lucy, Erza/Jellal, Gajeel/Levy, and perhaps Gray/Juvia are fairly solid, as far as Shonen goes. The only thing to be seen is if Lisanna is gonna do something about it.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has an interesting variation: despite the tons of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Shinji and Asuka, it is heavily implied in Rebuild 2.0 that he chose his half-sister Rei over Asuka (both had a close encounter with an Angel: Shinji didn't even try to save Asuka yet when the same happened to Rei... it turned out to be Shinji's Berserk Button). It is clear that Rei reciprocates his feelings (her monologues; the fact that when Zeruel attacked, she carried his SDAT player into battle instead of Gendo's glasses), yet S/A shippers argue that the S/R ship is not viable due to obvious reasons. A counterargument: any kind of romantic relationship between Shinji and Rei is NOT incest because while she is a clone of Shinji's mother, Rei is also a human-Angel hybrid and as such, dodges any moral barriers regarding the matter. Of course, Your Mileage May Vary; especially since Shinji doesn't have the slightest idea about Rei's origins.
  • Subverted with Taichi and Sora of Digimon Adventure: according to Hiroyuki Kakudou, the director of the first series, Yamato was supposed to be her boyfriend from the beginning. Other media pieces that Kakudou didn't work in (namely Tri and Our War Game) inserted Ship Tease between her and Taichi, leading to believe the contrary.
  • In Pokémon, Misty was this, to an extent, for Ash in the Original Series. It varies between translations - the original writers stated that the two are too young to recognise their feelings, and most of the dialogue implying attraction in the Japanese version leaned more towards Platonic Life Partners than romance. In contrast, the English dub pushed this to the point of writing a song about Misty's feelings for Ash. The latter is a point of controversy, and not merely among shippers - many instances of dialogue were rewritten in an attempt to push the couple, and even more notoriously, Misty's farewell sequence had the scenes depicted in the flashback completely changed (the original focused less on her as a Love Interest, and more on her as a trainer and as a friend).
  • Setsuna F. Seiei of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has two; Rebellious Princess Marina Ismail and Bridge Bunny Feldt Grace. This leads to a hilarious moment in the second season when Mileina asks Setsuna and Marina if they're in a relationship, which causes them to deny it simultaneously in a perfect, disinterested monotone. The manga based on the movie, however, gives this spot to... Marina. To the point that, when Setsuna returns to her when she's an old lady, one of the first things she does is restoring her youth with his powers before they embrace.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia is a confusing case. While there are undoubtedly several potential pairings who get enough Ship Tease to justify calling it this, some characters are involved in more than one of these pairings, which leaves a situation where a character can have numerous other characters where a hook-up would have received enough subtext to not come as a surprise.
  • Inuyasha: Sesshoumaru and Kagura. Rin's observations and Kagura's thoughts imply Kagura's in love with Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru's confirmed to have feelings for Kagura, but Takahashi leaves their exact nature open to interpretation. The manga confirms the following: after rescuing her from a river and staying with her to make sure she was ok, he watched her depart with a deeply worried expression. He was openly trying to protect her from Mouryoumaru. He sacrificed the chance to destroy Naraku's heart to rush to her side when she was dying and attempted to use Tenseiga to save her. It failed but he stayed with her to the end and was touched by her smile. When Mouryoumaru mocked her death, he lost all control and attacked, ignoring Inuyasha's warnings the sword would break, and the force of his assault shattered his sword and cracked Mouryoumaru's armour (both had a reputation for being unbreakable) - Mouryoumaru was flooded with Sesshoumaru's compassion through the breaking blade. Toutousai then reforged Tenseiga to be a weapon because an empty hole in his heart had been (for the first time) filled leaving him full of anger and sorrow for Kagura. Sesshoumaru vowed over the new blade to make sure Kagura hadn't died in vain. Shortly afterwards, he began protecting Kohaku - the child Kagura had died to save.

  Sesshoumaru: 'Whether or not her death was in vain... is for me to decide.'

    • Ironically... In Hanyou no Yashahime, the animated sequel, Rin ended up becoming Sesshoumaru's actual wife and the mother of his kids, Towa and Setsuna. Once she grew up, that is.
  • While possibly not the case with their counterparts in GoLion, Keith and Princess Allura in Voltron are widely considered the show's Official Couple, but their feelings for each other are never stated to go beyond friendship. It's possible that they are in love with each other and just don't realize it, but aside from a ton of Ship Tease and especially in the Western-only second season, the show doesn't explicitly confirm them as a couple. (On the contrary, in the USA-made Voltron: Legendary Defender she has far more Ship Tease with Lance and Lotor, whereas he has it with his best friend Shiro and the Action Girl Acxa) Voltron Force, on the other hand, straight-up confirms their mutual feelings.
    • In GoLion, one could see Ryou and Princess Amue as this to one another before he dies in an Heroic Sacrifice to kill the Big Bad, Sincline.. In Voltron and especially the aforementioned second season, since Sven does not die, he and Romelle do get together.
  • Suzuna and Sena of Eyeshield 21. The two have a Meet Cute introduction to each other, people often think they're a couple, and Suzuna states that she doesn't view Sena as a brother (unlike Mamori). Sena's feelings for Suzuna are left rather ambiguous as well, other then the fact that he's rather protective of her.
  • Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye are pretty much considered to be the Beta Couple in Fullmetal Alchemist. It's very clear they care very deeply for each other but it was never confirmed if they were in a relationship on-page or on-screen. Supplementary material states that if they weren't both in the army, they would be dating.
  • In The Brave Fighter of Sun Fighbird, it's not too hard to see Dr. Yoshiko Kunieda as one for Yuutaro Katori / Fighbird. They work quite well together when it's needed, she appreciates his kindness and love of people and he greatly admires how hard she works for the good of everyone, both opening sequences give her some archetypical "love interest" visual cues, she becomes his and the Amanos's Secret Keeper around the second half of the series and by the end she's all but admitted that she's in love with Katori; he asks her on-screen about the differences between The Four Loves and then straight-up asks if she is in romantic love with him before Hiroshi accidentally interrupts them; later he angsts heavily over the Baron and Guard Teams leaving to fight Draias on their own and she's the one he confides to about it, etc, etc. They don't reach Official Couple status... but there's no explicit Ship Sinking either, so who knows.
  • In Assassination Classroom, Kaede is this to Nagisa.
  • Arguably, Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kougami are this to each other in the first season of Psycho Pass. Things get rougher when Shinya must leave Japan after he kills the Big Bad at the end of Season 1, but almost at the end of Season 3 and the First Inspector movie, they look up again a little for the two.

Comic Books

  • Vic Video from Yoko Tsuno is this for Yoko. Roger Leloup has apparently stated that the big reason for the lack of a Relationship Upgrade lies on him not wanting to upset or alienate male readers, rather than Vic and Yoko being a bad couple.


  • Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope. The original advertising even said that she and Luke were "in love", which, given how that worked out, is now Hilarious in Hindsight. Even today, people who haven't seen all the Star Wars movies tend to assume that she is Luke's Love Interest, rather than Luke's twin sister who gets together with his best friend Han Solo.
  • In Megamind, Roxanne mentions that she was never in a relationship with Metroman, despite the public assumptions and the way he kept saving her from Megamind's schemes. She does appreciate him for his kindness, of couse, but he's simply too bombastic for her. She falls in love with... Megamind, actually.

Live Action TV

  • Having arrived on and departed from the TARDIS at the same time, and already sharing something of a history, the Doctor Who fandom generally assumes this about Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright. Ben Jackson and Polly, while not knowing each other as well before their travels, is also on the receiving end.

Video Games

  • The best example would have to be Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros., and it may extend to Princess Daisy from Super Mario Land. No romantic connection was made explicit, yet everyone assumes.
    • This is actually lampshaded by Luvbi in Super Paper Mario, and it's shown that the other characters seem to be just as clueless about whatever's going on between Mario and Peach, which leads Luvbi to think it is an unrequited crush.
      • The various games and other sources seem to go back and forth with how "official" Mario/Peach is. Some outright confirm their relationship, others only imply it.
      • The Paper Mario game before that seems to have NPC's throw out plenty of Ship Teases and the things Peach says while in captivity seem to imply that she thinks of Mario as a lot more than a friend, however the interaction with Luvbi is probably the only time where Mario and Peach's relationship is explored beyond the two knowing each other, unless you count Bowser accusing Mario of "trying to get between he and Peach."
  • The eponymous Princess from the Legend of Zelda series of games. Note that technically this is more than one princess and more than one Link. The romantic connection between varies greatly depending on the game from strongly implied (like in Spirit Tracks and Skyward Sword) to practically non-existent (like in Twilight Princess), to canon feelings from at least one side plus the chance to have the other reciprocatr (like in Breath of the Wild).
  • In Kingdom Hearts, it is implied Riku has feelings for Kairi. Nevertheless, he lets Sora and Kairi be together.
  • Disgaea has a few of these, the most telling is the ambiguous relationship between Laharl and Flonne. While Laharl repeatedly claims to not like her, his actions in the game suggest otherwise, going as far as to attempt a Heroic Sacrifice. At the time, she was Not Quite Dead in the canon ending while in the normal ending he really does go through with it.
  • Yellow Thirteen and Yellow Four in Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies. It's heavily implied after Yellow Four is shot down by you.
  • Thanks to the continued non-existence of the sequel to confirm or deny their theories, fans are still debating what Double H means to Jade in Beyond Good and Evil. On one hand, he's extremely devoted to her, treats her with chivalrous kindness, and even gets to kiss her once. On Jade's side, she even gets in a He Is Not My Boyfriend moment. One could even interpret certain parts of the ending as him moving in with her. On the other hand, he's more than a decade her senior, and while they do grow very close, the lack of any real statements on the nature of their relationship (Battle Couple, or just Fire-Forged Friends?) will leave fans debating until the sequel actually arrives.
  • Fire Emblem has several of these:
    • Genealogy of the Holy War has Julia for Seliph, especially since she already has LOTS of love points with him from the beginning while the other girls (including Lana and Larcei, his childhood friends) must build them up over time. Subverted: Julia turns out to be Seliph's younger half-sister, and their love points are reduced by turn unless the player keeps them glued to one another through the game.
    • Fire Emblem the Blazing Blade has Ninian for Eliwood. While he can marry Lyn or Fiora, Ninian canonically has feelings for him and he's very kind and affectionate towards her outside their supports. Lyn seems to be this for Hector on Hector's story path, as they have a quite emotional scene together in the opening of the pirate ship chapter and two special conversations late in the game if the player gets them to A support.
    • The sequel, Binding Blade, has Roy and Lilina. Roy can potentially marry five other girls, but he and Lilina are childhood friends and have a few emotional scenes together once they reunite and she joins the party. He also basically proposes marriage to her in the ending cutscene if you get them to A support.
    • Subverted with Ike and Elincia in Path of Radiance. The two have many scenes together and share a close bond, with Elincia seemingly developing a crush on him and others making comments about the two being an item. They even share the ending cinematic. However, the direct sequel set three years later drops all of their Ship Tease and gives Elincia's only romantic ending to Geoffrey, her loyal knight who actually is in love with her...and the feeling is implied to be mutual in their PoR supports.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening gives two to Chrom: Sumia and the Female Avatar. On one hand Sumia has the highest marriage priority out of all of Chrom's prospect girlfriends and is the only of them who appears with him in the OP sequence. On the other it's very easy to override Sumia's aforementioned marriage priority to let a Female Avatar marry Chrom instead, and she is the only "Chrom bride" whose romantic bond to him retains importance in the plot aside of mothering Lucina and her sibling.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Azura, who is very close to the Male Avatar no matter what (and also to the Female Avatar but they can't marry) and has three different support chains with him (one per path), plus some Ship Tease in other sources. The Golden Path reveals that they're cousins, but does NOT block their prospect marriage.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses is unique in that the prospect ILI changes according to which route one gets. Black Eagles / Crimson Flowers has Edelgard von Hresvelg (while she can marry others, she's still VERY close to Byleth no matter their gender and their presence keeps her humanity intact as she cuts an extreme path to a better Fodlan - plus she's implied to love him/her even in other routes), Azure Moon / Blue Lions has Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd (he can only marry Female Byleth, but still has Ho Yay with the male one; he can also marry others but it's Byleth who is able to snap him out of his madness for good), both the Silver Snow / Church of Seiros AND Verdant Wind / Golden Deer routes have Lady Rhea (to the point that to save her life one must have at least an A support with her, and her only happy ending (and solely in Silver Snow) will take place with her married to either Byleth) and the extra story Cindered Shadows / Ashen Wolves has Yuri Leclerc (he openly flirts with the Byleths whether he's chosen or not, plus he has the advantage of being the only House Leader avaliable in every route as long as the player buys and plays the DLC). Claude von Riegan isn the odd duck: in the ball cutscene late in White Clouds, Claude invites Byleth to dance with him regardless of whose class they chose, and in Verdant Wind the pair form an extremely tight bond that allows Claude to follow through with his dream and show a more vulnerable and serious side. However, he's also not completely dependent on Byleth choosing him to survive or keep his sanity. So while they give off ILI vibes, it's not quite as strong as with the others.
    • In Fire Emblem: Heroes, as of Book VI it seems Veronica and Alfonse might be this to one another. It's really not helped by their alternate selves, Líf and Thrásir, getting a Duo Unit whose shared dialogue all but shouts they're an Official Couple.
  • While Bianca from Dragon Quest V does NOT have her life completely ruined if she isn't the chosen girl (despite what rumors said), she's still the girl favored by the plot as the wife for The Hero. As bonus, whenever the Hero's kids show up in promotional stuff, they're blondes like Bianca (Nera has blue hair and Debora is a brunette).
  • Persona:
    • Persona 3 is quite heavy with two of the Love Interests, Yukari and Aigis. Yukari gets quite a few scenes with the Protagonist in the begining of the plot and Aigis is a full-blown Stalker with a Crush, though it's justified since she sealed Death into the Protagonist but doesn't remember. Aigis is better/worse in that even when playing as a Female MC in Persona 3 Portable she still gets subtext, Gayngst included.
    • Persona 4 averted it until the Updated Rerelease The Golden, which added Marie. She's a cute amnesiac girl who becomes a sort-of assistant in the Velvet Room, she and Yuu/the Protagonist are in She Is Not My Girlfriend positions once in a while, she does kiss Yuu onscreen if she's the chosen girl, and even if not romanced she does hold clear feelings for him.
    • Persona 5: Kasumi Yoshizawa from Royal has quite a bit of Ship Tease with Ren/Joker and, out of all the girls he can romance, she's the only one who will openly speak of her feelings for the guy before they actually start a relationship or not.
  • 9S and 2B are this to one another in Nier: Automata, since they have buttloads of Ship Tease but Word of God has said "no comment" when asked about the specifics of their relationship.

Western Animation

  • Raimundo/Kimiko from Xiaolin Showdown is a very popular ship on fic sites, and while there are indications that they might like each other in the series (Rai dreaming about being on a date with Kim, Rai being the only one of the guys that Kim kisses on the cheek), it is never outright stated that they like each other, and they aren't an Official Couple by the end of the show.
    • The third season episode "Dreamstalker" confirms Rai does indeed have feelings for Kimiko (making a thousand shippers go squee). However the Kimiko half has never been stated.
  • On Fillmore, Fillmore and Ingrid.
  • Did anyone ever watch Handy Manny and not assume he and Kelly had a thing for each other, despite no real evidence?
  • Arguably, Raven and Beast Boy in Teen Titans. Bumblebee and Cyborg come at a close second.
  • Spongebob and Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Mac and Goo from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Admittedly Goo's first appearance was filled with She Is Not My Girlfriend and a few bits of Mac accidentally Ship Teasing himself with her, but throughout the rest of the series their relationship seems to be completely platonic.
  • Connie Maheswaran is this to Steven Universe. Though there's been plenty of Ship Tease between the two, she's never been explicitly labelled as Steven's girlfriend.
  1. Though whether palms cupped or fingers laced, we couldn't tell you