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Diane Court: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?

Lloyd Dobler: No. You just described every great success story.

A trope frequently seen in Sit Coms and Romantic Comedies. The hero and his love interest are obviously all wrong for each other. They have little in common as far as interests or hobbies are concerned, their personalities are built to clash, and it's obvious that once the shine has worn off the apple, they're going to break up and break up hard. Maybe he's a serious-minded businessman and she's the daughter of two aging hippies who never left The Sixties behind. Maybe he's an unambitious semi-jock who has never really done anything in his life, and she's a genius bound for a life of intellectual achievement. Whatever the case, friends, family and casual acquaintances point out that "This will never work" at every opportunity, because nobody in his right mind thinks that the two belong together.

Except they do. And when they live Happily Ever After, they prove everyone wrong, because True Love Is Exceptional.

There is often a scene where the primary naysayers express their incredulity over the situation, or sometimes even recant their disbelief. When the story starts out with the couple married, a recurring plot is one or both spouses getting doubts or clashing, only to reconcile and learn An Aesop about True Love.

Often a romantic version of the Odd Couple, though the two romantic leads don't need to literally be opposites. Also frequently involves an Uptown Girl. Compare with Star-Crossed Lovers.

Examples of Nobody Thinks It Will Work include:

Anime & Manga

Comic Books

  • Green Arrow and Black Canary, after years of relationship issues (cheating, abusive behavior, etc.), finally got married. When they sent out invitations to the wedding, the reactions from most of the superheroes was somewhere between hysterical laughter and taking bets on how long it would last.
  • Howard Mackie's final Spider-Man story attempted to go this route with M.J reflecting that apparently everyone had said they would never last. Of course, anyone who's read the older stories should know that pretty much everyone was trying to hook her and Peter up, particularly Aunt May.

Fan Fiction



 Diane Court: "Nobody thinks it will work, do they?"

Lloyd Dobler: "No. You just described every great success story."

  • Ben Stone and Allison Scott in Knocked Up. He's an overweight pothead layabout. She's a hot media figure. They are both the best thing to ever happen to each other.


  • In Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, the passionate, loud, lusty, and rather promiscuous Jack Aubrey falls deeply for Sophie Williams, a proper, virginal, and as it turns out rather undersexed young lady. His best friend wishes them well, but privately predicts woe; her cousin, Diana Villiers, doesn't bother to be private about it.
  • Deltora Quest: He's the handsome, brave, heroic and renowned king of a massive country. She was raised by trees.
  • Georgette Heyer's Sprig Muslin and Venetia both contain this trope.
  • The Frog King by Adam Davies.
  • Vampire Academy
  • This is the general reaction of the Summer Court to Aislinn's relationship with Seth in Wicked Lovely.

Live Action TV

  • The core premise of Dharma and Greg, Bewitched, and possibly I Dream of Jeannie. In Dharma and Greg they have clashing personalities where they're family thinks makes them uncompatible, in Bewitched, pretty much all of Samantha's relatives think she's crazy for marrying a mortal and in I Dream of Jeannie... she lives in a goddamn bottle. Since the former two series have romantic tension since they start out married, and the last has them start out in a master/more-powerful-servant relationship, a recurring plot is one or both spouses (or whatever) getting doubts or clashing, only to reconcile and learn An Aesop.
  • The CSI episode "$35k OBO" begins with a couple leaving a restaurant, wishing one another happy anniversary and remarking, "And they said it would never last." Since it's CSI, it doesn't come as all that much of a surprise when the trope is almost instantly violently subverted in more ways than one: Not only are they both murdered, but it turns out they each hired the same hitwoman to kill the other.
  • In Home Improvement, Jill has occasionally mentioned that people tried to talk her out of marrying Tim.

 Jill: Our wedding was so beautiful. I am so glad that I didn't let anybody talk me out of marrying you.

Tim: Who would try to talk you out of marrying me?

Jill: Oh, no one, you know, just my mom, my dad, my sisters, my family, the minister, the postman, some guy down at the mailbox...

  • Hal's family believed this about his marriage to Lois in Malcolm in the Middle.
  • This was the general attitude, at first at least, about the pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber on General Hospital. This sort of romantic pairing is actually pretty common in soap operas.
  • I Love Lucy: CBS initially responded to Lucille Ball's insistence that Desi Arnaz play the husband in her TV show by saying they weren't sure if audiences could believe that a celebrity like Lucy had a mixed marriage with an obscure Cuban bandleader. In response, Lucy and Desi gave a vaudeville tour across the country. The tour became a success, proving to the networks that a TV show of the duo would be huge.


  • Shania Twain's song "You're Still the One" is all about this trope.
  • Adding to the list, "Anniversary" by Voltaire.
  • As is Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract".
  • And Celine Dion's "Everybody's Talking My Baby Down."
  • And touched on in Sonny and Cher's "I've Got You Babe" (They say we're young and we don't know; won't find out until we grow...)
  • George Gershwin's song "They All Laughed" is about a couple who had to go through this trope. It's the Trope Namer, in fact.
    • The original working title of this trope "Let Them Say This Isn't Love" comes from "Niech mowia, ze to nie jest milosc" by Piotr Rubik, a Polish symphonic pop song which also exemplifies this trope. (Major Ear Worm warning!)
  • The song "Two Sparrows in a Hurricane" by Tanya Tucker.
  • Chuck Berry's Never Can Tell (you may recognise it from Pulp Fiction) is titled after the refrain the old folks use to recant their naysaying while the song describes the kids going on to live happily.

 "C'est la vie", say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

  • Tracey Ullman's "They Don't Know About Us".
  • One of two options presented by the protagonist in "Who's To Say" by Vanessa Carlton — the other being that everybody is right and it won't work, and the point being that there's only one way to find out.


  • In Much Ado About Nothing, Don Pedro proclaims that Beatrice and Benedick are a good match for each other. Everyone else is highly skeptical due to their constant bickering, but they still agree to help him try to set them up.

Web Original

  • Two Guys A Girl And An Aversion To Sunlight.

Western Animation

  • In Family Guy, Lois, the bright, attractive daughter of a very wealthy Rhode Island family, married Peter, a not-so-bright jock, although this is more of an Odd Couple.

Real Life

  • Lois Duncan, author of many famous suspense stories, described her husband Don Arquette, as being an engineer and so different from her that many family members thought they would not be able to talk about anything besides the weather. Yet they have been married since 1965.
  • Lord Roseberry commented that the marriage of Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier wouldn't last more than six months. It lasted 56 years, until the former's death.
  • Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon are another Real Life. When they got married, everyone expected his hard-driving rock and roll lifestyle to destroy any chance they had of staying together. 28 plus years later, they're still together.
  • Patti and Robin Lee Graham (the sixties teenager who sailed round the world alone) were not shockingly different but they did have a marriage that no one would have bet on. She was a teenage beach girl, he was a crazy( if not really as crazy as some when you think of it) boy who wanted to sail around the world. They met at 18 and eloped and are still together. That is more awesome than sailing round the world.