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Gwen: I'm sorry, George.
"Why do I blame you, when it's me I can't forgive?"
—Metallica, "The Unforgiven III"
The oldest breakup line in the book, and still the favorite way to get rid of a Temporary Love Interest. However, there's a key difference on television: sometimes, it's actually true!
Usually, when true, it's because the breaker-upper has a Big Secret. For example, in season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy breaks up with a guy because his craving for excitement/death wish would probably get him killed if he kept hanging around Buffy. Sometimes, "It's my enemies." Other times it's the Last Het Romance for a newly out of the closet character.
- Joked with in One Piece, Chapter 489/Episode 381.
- Mixed with Sins of Our Fathers in Mawaru Penguindrum, when Shouma cuts off contact with his friend/potential love interest Ringo.
- This was Satsu's reason for leaving Buffy before their relationship could really start. Buffy was unsure of her feelings about Satsu, but Satsu was definitely in love with Buffy - so much that Satsu didn't trust her own judgement around Buffy. She solved the problem by getting transferred to Tokyo.
- In the Swedish comic Rocky, the titular character's girlfriend tells him that there are a couple thing she needs to tell him. Rocky, being Genre Savvy, predicts that the breakup clichés are going to pile up, and correctly enough, his girlfriend proceeds to tell him that "I don't know what I feel anymore" and "I need to be alone for a while", after this she, with tears in her eyes, asks him to say something, and he simply answers "You forgot 'It's not you. It's me'!"
- Subverted and inverted in Eurotrip.
Fiona: Scotty, it's not you, it's me. (Beat) There I go, lying again. No, it was you.
- Played straight in Hot Tub Time Machine, when Adam dumped his girlfriend. And also in the Alternate Timeline, when she dumped him.
- Jacob does this in the film version of New Moon, when he tries to distance from Bella after discovering he's a werewolf.
- Oblomov to Olga.
- Farscape plays it straight, sort of:
Aeryn: (after an unsuccessful pickup attempt by another character) Now, don't feel bad. It's not you, it's me. I don't like you.
- Used repeatedly on Sex and the City, in both of the ways described above. One scene showed the same bland guy being dumped by a series of women using the exact same lines.
- Prue in Charmed uses this line repeatedly when her boyfriend Andy gets upset that she's keeping secrets from him and missing dates, and also when she eventually breaks up with him.
- Ellen of Slings and Arrows gives this line to her much younger boyfriend Sloan shortly after he asks her to marry him, saying that he deserves better than a middle-aged woman caught up in a drama-filled world (the theatre) that she can't let him into.
- The IT Crowd plays with this when Douglas discovers that his Temporary Love Interest is a Transsexual:
Douglas: It's not you, it's me. No actually, it is you.
- Subverted in Coupling when Patrick tries to break up through her answerphone with one of his numerous conquests :
Um, I want to put this as gently as possible : I've been thinking a lot about the future, and you're not in it. So, sorry, it's not me, it's you...No, hang on, it's the other way around, isn't it?
- Steve does it in the first episode to Jane, who of course asks him why she's getting dumped instead of her dumping him. Steve runs with this, telling her to dump him, to which she replies "Noooooo! We can work on your problems!'
- In the Friends episode "The One with the Thumb", the characters discuss "dating language":
Joey: Y'know, like 'It's not you' means 'It is you'.
- Caroline in The Vampire Diaries manipulates her boyfriend Matt into breaking up with her since, as a young vampire, she lacks the self-control to not rip his throat out in an intimate moment.
- Simone of Dårfinkar & dönickar, masquerading as a boy, uses this line on a girl who's interested in her. The truth is, of course, that the attractive boy Simon is really a she.
- In That 70s Show, Nina breaks up with Fez using this line. When she wants to get back together later in the episode, he blows her off with a mocking "It's not me, it's you".
- On Boy Meets World Shawn says this to Cory when they "break up" their friendship in the episode appropriately titled "It's Not You, It's Me".
- George from Seinfeld claims to have invented this trope (see the quote).
- When Robin on How I Met Your Mother once broke up with a boyfriend, she also "broke up" with his 10 year old son. On realizing that nobody had broken up with him before, she was relieved that she could throw ever cliched breakup line at him and he would believe her. "It's not you, it's me." "I'm going through a lot of stuff right now." "I just want to focus on my career." etc. etc.
- In the third season finale of The Mentalist, "Strawberries and Cream," FBI agent Craig O'Laughlin uses this line on his fiancee, CBI agent Grace Van Pelt, just before trying to kill her. She and Teresa Lisbon get the drop on him and kill him instead.
- In Lady in the Dark, Liza says this to Kendall Nesbitt.
- Kanon tries this in the second arc of Umineko no Naku Koro ni. He does this to spare Jessica heartbreak from loving someone who can't love her back. After all, he is furniture.
- The Player Character can use this line to break up with Leliana in Dragon Age. She will call you out on doing so, however, and demand the real explanation.
- The Gods of Arr-Kelaan played this with a God dismissing his High Priest
- The second strip of Least I Could Do combines this with Brutal Honesty and Jerkass.
- Spoofed in Something Positive. "It's not you, it's me. I don't want to be involved with a pussy."
- Also referenced here.
- Used in Head Trip, without any romantic connotations to a demon.
Demon: Thank God you're still a bitch. That's a good start.
- In a Speedbump cartoon (by Dave Coverly), he gives an example of the worst use of this line, in which an angel tells this to her devil boyfriend.
- This is inverted in Wapsi Square where this phrase is used to start a relationship. The inversion is then promptly lampshaded.
- In El Goonish Shive, Susan uses this in an attempt to let Matt down easy after rejecting his advance. She goes on to justify the line though, explaining why it is probably her and not him.
- In No Rest for The Wicked, November assures the Boy that though she's not fit to marry, it's not that she doesn't like him.