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" cleaned his tonsils with your tongue! That's not a very 'motherly' thing to do!!"
Amanda Winn-Lee on Shinji and Misato's relationship in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Most people, after reading enough fiction, begin to have an idea of how relationships begin to fit together, and can spot a budding romance a mile off. Sometimes, though, the writers break away from these conceptions and do something entirely unexpected.

This trope isn't about writers fumbling the treatment of some relationship they meant to put in canon- making it more sympathetic or less sympathetic than they intended (in nine times out of ten, the trope you get in that case is Fan-Preferred Couple). This is about a writer fumbling their treatment of something that wasn't supposed to be a relationship at all, so fans look at it and go "huh, seems like there's something there."

Perhaps they accidentally made the protagonist and antagonist a bit too chummy, or put too much Slap Slap Kiss into Sibling Rivalry, or even slipped off the tightrope of Heterosexual Life Partners. Regardless of how it happened, the fact is that they managed to pull off a Relationship Writing Fumble and now the writers are stuck dealing with the consequences.

Normally the writers figure out what the relationship between two people should be in a series, then they take the stock derivatives and toss in cues to clue the viewer into how things are between those two people. When this trope crops up, however, it's usually the result of a writer breaking from the established relationship types and attempting to forge unusual bonds. To do this, they need to either re-use existing cues (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions) or create new ones (and risk the viewer drawing the wrong conclusions). Although sometimes a writer will pull it off, it more often leaves people with the completely wrong impression.

In either case the average (of course everyone assumes their own opinions represent the average!) viewer winds up not seeing eye to eye with the writer on a pairing. If the characters in question are actually related, this can result in Unfortunate Implications. In minor cases, it will just be popular Fanon, but sometimes you'll have entire fanbases assuming that's what the writer "really" intended. Naturally, Squicking can ensue.

The best ways to spot these fall into two groups — Word of God meddling and series dissonance:

This is highly subjective, of course. What may seem like obvious subtext to you might not be the case to another. (In particular, a lot of plain old Sibling Rivalry gets interpreted as Slap Slap Kiss these days.) See also the various "Yays:" Ho Yay, Foe Yay, No Yay, and Incest Subtext.

Examples of Relationship Writing Fumble include:

Anime & Manga

  • It should be noted that, while Neon Genesis Evangelion is used in the quote above, that sort of thing was very much intended to add to the weirdness of the show and the psychological problems of the cast.
  • Masashi Ikeda, the director of Gundam Wing, said in an interview that he didn't intend a romantic relationship between main characters Heero Yuy and Relena Peacecraft, considering the political and symbolic relationship between the two to be much more important. Yaoi Fangirls love to hold this interview up as proof that Heero is gay to support their shipping him with Duo Maxwell. However, this completely ignores a few other things Ikeda said: that he considered all romance in the series ancillary to the overall plot, that it's only due to his own inability to write male-female relationships, and that it doesn't mean Heero and Relena will never be a couple (he even admitted that he could see it happening in the future after things have settled down). This is further aided by the fact that every official sidestory has a strong emphasis on their romantic attraction to one another, and most of the cast (including Duo himself) tries to get them to admit their feelings for each other.
    • Likewise Gundam Seed Destiny, where the writers intended a romance between protagonist Shinn Asuka and teammate Lunamaria Hawke. Unfortunately, Luna only ever acted as a sort of sister figure to Shinn while openly crush on returning character Athrun Zala. In fact, they never hook up until Athrun (and Luna's sister Meyrin) are apparently killed, the whole thing coming off more like survivor's guilt. And then in post-series interviews, the director called Shinn and Luna's relationship the only "pure" one in the whole show.
    • Gundam0083 has a notorious example of this. The whole series develops a relationship between protagonist Kou Uraki and Wrench Wench Nina Purpleton, and it does this well enough. But then in the penultimate episode, Nina reveals that she's in love with The Rival Anavel Gato completely out of the blue (and does so by shooting Kou, who's trying to prevent a Colony Drop). The only foreshadowing viewers are given is an extremely brief scene in the first episode where Nina seems to recognize Gato, but it could easily be written off as her just having an Oh Crap moment. This moment, combined with her early abrasiveness and seemingly valuing machines over people, has made Nina one of Gundam's biggest Scrappies. The manga adaptation handles this much better by having a Flash Back that shows how Nina and Gato first met and develops their relationship a bit before the betrayal.
    • And while we're at it, let's talk about Amuro Ray, the original Gundam hero. In Mobile Suit Gundam he has a vague romance with Sayla Mass which is thrown off when he meets his apparent soulmate Lalah Sune (who he then kills accidentally). In the sequel Zeta Gundam, he got a new love interest, Hot Scoop Beltorchika Irma. Unfortunately, she became a Clingy Jealous Girl in record time, so much so that fans ignore other characters (including Amuro) calling her on it, or her later Character Development. Then in Chars Counterattack, Amuro got a Disposable Woman, Chein Agi, whose relevance to the plot was basically nil. In fairness, a good bit of this was Real Life Writes the Plot (Sayla's actress being unable to return for Zeta, for example, but she made a small cameo in Gundam ZZ — the series in which Amuro doesn't appear).
      • Yoshiyuki Tomino averted this somewhat in his novelizations, having Amuro and Sayla hook up in the original series novels, but the relationship is screwed up because Sayla is fixated on protecting the family name and begs Amuro to kill her brother right after they finish having sex. He wrote an alternate version of Char's Counterattack where Beltorchika is still around and is in fact pregnant with Amuro's child, but this was a novel based on the anime based on his first novel.
  • In Eyeshield 21, Mamori and Sena are supposed to be platonic friends, but apart from various references to Mamori's feelings for him being practically maternal, some moments can be misinterpreted as Ship Tease.
    • Apparently they were supposed to be romantic at one time, but they eventually wrote that out and made them Just Friends.
    • Agon's jerkass behavior towards his brother is limited to teasing and noogies while his brother, Unsui, wants nothing more then for Agon to live up to his full potential. In the anime this is Flanderized into Agon being almost violently abusive to his brother and Unsui declaring that his sole reason for existence is to serve his brother. So a relationship that was meant to be fairly normal (Agon being a jerkass and Unsui being a bit of a prude), ended up having parallels to an abusive relationship.
  • Word of God reveals that this trope occurred between CLAMP members in the early chapters of Cardcaptor Sakura. The artist thought that Tomoyo had a crush on main character Sakura's older brother Touya, while the story writer actually meant for her to be in love with Sakura herself. When the artist found out her mistake, they quickly retconned the instances of Tomoyo blushing around Touya to be due to Touya (specifically, Touya's ears) reminding her of Sakura. CLAMP had a good laugh about this in a post-series interview.
  • After Code Geass ended, the show's staff used post-series materials to pretty much answer the Ship-to-Ship Combat between the fans of Kallen and C.C. by saying that Lelouch had feelings for Kallen and viewed C.C. as an equal. The problem came when they implied that C.C. essentially used Lelouch for her own emotional satisfaction, which blatantly contradicts her actions throughout the series, especially late in the series but especially in the final episode, where she's shown crying as he's murdered, and happily speaking to his spirit in the final scene.
    • Another writing fumble comes from the potential pairing of Kallen with Gino; A few scenes throughout the show seemed to establish a relatively friendly rivalry between them, which could have served as the starting point for an eventual relationship, but they just didn't interact enough to properly develop it. The overall result looked more like Gino went from viewing Kallen as a Worthy Opponent to having a crush on her, but Kallen herself never visibly reciprocated. Fans weren't pleased, especially given that Gino was Out of Focus except for being Suzaku's Lancer, making him seem a bit flat. Though considering that Kallen's focal relationship was supposed to be between Lelouch and herself, then Gino's advances falling short might be intentional. It really didn't help that what lines Gino did get smacked of "generic Britannian Noble." His opinion on war was summed up in one Picture Drama as "Strong guys win, weak guys die," as opposed to Suzaku's "The strong should protect the weak," his actions during the festival at Ashford involve him helping out in a way that is completely unhelpful, and his monologue about joining the Black Knights sounds like he's against the revocation of his own position as a noble, (though it's more likely about his loyalty to Charles, and the death of the other Knights Of Round) so it's hard to believe their characters would mesh well for a long term relationship. The only example of Gino being a good person is his stopping Luciano Bradley from assaulting Kallen - and in that case, allowing Luciano to do so would be Gino's Moral Event Horizon, so there's really no choice.
    • Also, Rolo claims he sees Lelouch as his older brother, but in some scenes it seems more like he's in love with him. This is to the point where some viewers saw his killing Shirley as a case of Murder the Hypotenuse when in fact it was because he wanted to murder Lelouch's real sibling Nunnally, and Shirley, who remembered Nunnally's existence and wanted to reunite Lelouch and her, was a threat to that happening.
  • Tezuka's Lost World originally had a plant woman and Kenichi as the Official Couple, but Executive Meddling made him have to portray them as Like Brother and Sister. It doesn't work because of how the story invokes the Adam and Eve Plot at the end, and the art and body language still make it obvious they're supposed to be falling in love romantically.
  • This trope is probably the reason why the Kazuki/Soushi pairing is so popular among the fandom of Fafner in the Azure: Dead Aggressor
  • Kubo Tite, creator of Bleach came out and said that Ichigo and Rukia's relationship, as it stands, is very close but not romantic. The anime inserted original pro-Ichigo/Rukia Ship Tease upon Ship Tease, which means that if Ichigo does get together with someone else instead, there are going to be some very angry fans out there.
    • Altough Kubo in that same interview said he isn't looking to turn Bleach in to a romance series so no romantic pair-ups is to expected. Then again, Kubo is as Kubo does.
  • Naruto and Sasuke. They share an accidental kiss in the third episode, have what can be interpreted as UST pre-Time Skip, and have been declared "like brothers." Naruto also seems to have a "broken heart" thing going on after Sasuke leaves.
  • Another Ho Yay example: Game X Rush, big time. It doesn't help that there are almost no major characters besides the two main guys, who spend the first volume in a platonic Slap Slap Kiss states and the second volume having Deep Emotional Confrontations and Meaningful Looks and Intimate (not that intimate!) Physical Contact.
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight made it look like the brother and sister were incestuous.
  • A slight variation: In the Sailor Moon dub, the translators tried to hide lesbian couple Haruka and Michiru by making them "cousins." Unfortunately, they didn't think they needed to remove any of the obvious subtext between the two, which was clear enough to be picked up on even by children who barely had a concept of homosexuality to begin with. So all they effectively did was to turn a lesbian couple into a furtively incestuous lesbian couple.
    • In a late episode of the original manga, Venus and Mars have a discussion about how they can't seem to hold down normal romantic relationships. After the foe of the day is vanquished, they realize that with their duties to the princess, they will never truly have the freedom to be devoted to someone romantically. Mars makes the comment "We don't need men. We have each other." Takeuchi obviously meant it to mean that they had a close relationship and would support each other emotionally in place of a lover. The fandom however...
  • Hiei and Kurama from Yu Yu Hakusho. Their relationship is depicted as very close. Inevitably, of course, people take it farther than that. The evidence for them liking girls (or at least not liking one another) are put out there, but are extremely thin. It also didn't help that the producers of the anime seemed to like playing up the idea of them being together(probably for the Ho Yay). The author said he never intended them to be a couple, but when fans asked him about it, he speculated that maybe he should have made them one. In the end, he said it's up to fans to decide.
  • Some Genshiken fans feel that Saki and Kousaka's relationship was written badly. Kousaka has shown himself to be genuinely caring when he is not wrapped up in his hobbies, but because the reader never gets to see this much, many felt that their relationship was based solely on them being physically attracted to each other. That, and some fans just want Saki to get together with Madarame.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Jounouchi and Mai are "Just Friends." Right. [1]
  • Ho Yay example in 07-Ghost: Teito and Mikage. Mikage tells Teito that he considers him to be as important as his own family (possibly meaning he considers Teito "family") before declaring "I love you, Teito." There's other suspect hints pointing to Ho Yay as well. Such as Mikage's running Glomp upon meeting Teito again (complete with sparkles) and sleeping in the same bed together in the first episode.
  • Soul Eater: Word of God says in an interview in the "How to make a deathscythe" guidebook that he doesn't plan to take any of the main characters' male-female relationships beyond "normal" trusting relationships. Never mind that the way they're written, many fans are convinced that Maka and Soul (for example) are already well beyond that point. Though the way it's worded does lead to some considerable Ho Yay potential...
    • Canon's depiction of meister/Weapon pairings amongst the adults boils down to - one divorce, one stable not especially romantic pairing, and the Christmas Cake's crush on the resident Heroic Sociopath, plus various kinds of ho yay. Yet fandom still tends to portray the 'couples' as long-term and commonplace amongst the main cast.
  • Even though One Piece is a strictly No Hugging, No Kissing series as stated by the creator, Eiichiro Oda, himself, fans (especially certain ones) were quick to notice a few... interesting facts. Luffy, a Chaste Hero by default, nosebleeds after having seen a naked Nami, but he is not affected at all by witnessing the much more buxom Boa Hancock in that same state of undress (who is also nothing short of head over heels in love with him!). Oda's explaination for this? Something along the lines of "Luffy only acts this way around Usopp, who is a bad influence". That is not a very convincing reasoning.
  • Word of God in the Pokémon anime, Misty and Ash were not supposed to be a couple. Their relationship does often come off as romantic though, be it unrequited on Misty's side or not.
    • In later seasons, Zoey and Dawn had a noticeable fumble early on. Zoey constantly appears to be flirting with Dawn (especially in the Japanese version), Dawn's reactions don't help (especially the blush), and neither the "Prince and Princess" motif of their Contest clothing. Numerous fans thought that they were intentionally writing in a Girls Love pairing, or at least a heavy Hide Your Lesbians slash Romantic Two-Girl Friendship case. They eventually toned it down though.
  • Roy and Riza from the Fullmetal Alchemist manga are probably the champions of the ambiguous relationship. They're obviously two people who are very devoted to one another and the cause they share, but there's conflicting evidence on just how much. The manga ended with absolutely no confirmation of what their relationship really is, leaving fans to argue whether or not they're Heterosexual Life Partners or an Official Couple.
    • Word of God has it that if not for the Amestris military's law against fraternization, they would have gotten together.
  • This fits Working's Takanashi and Poplar well. Poplar is completely Takanashi's kind of girl and he shows a great deal of caring for her, and Poplar likewise seems to like him as well, though to be fair Poplar likes everyone, but she still seems to hold him dear a little more. This is even more noticeable when compared with Takanashi's Official Couple Inami, which feels like an abusive relationship in which he gets Strangled by the Red String to justify just why he's with a girl that is everything he doesn't like and punches him all the time.
    • This also goes for Inami, whose Romantic False Lead Kirio loves her lots and seems like the perfect match for her as he's the only guy able to block her punches, and in fact his love comes from her trying to punch him. She doesn't seem to dislike him either, but they don't get anything going on just because.
  • Did Mawaru Penguindrum fumble in revealing that Himari and Shouma are soulmates? Or was the entire show a precisely choreographed web of relationship fumbles? If intended to pain and frustrate shippers, Penguindrum advanced the apparent relationship fumble into an art form.

Comic Books

  • The fan community of the Marvel Universe has long had rumblings of accusations that twins Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were more than a little too close to be "just" siblings. This has become canon in the Darker and Edgier Ultimate Universe.
    • Which is Squick, yes, but makes a large (read: frightening) amount of sense, and is Fridge Brilliance as far as characterization goes for both of these characters. They were raised to believe they were part of a superior species, which makes incest seem better than what they'd consider to be congress with something subhuman.
  • Iron Man and Captain America had a tendency to go on about each others eyes, risk life and limb for each other, do "buddy breathing," and that's not even touching on the time Cap rescued Tony from a burning building and the cover made it look like a romance novel.
    • Or Tony's speech to Steve's dead body in Civil War: Confessions, many a reader almost expected to turn the page and see a love declaration from Tony, but "it wasn't worth it" is pretty damn close.
    • The writers may have started having some fun with this, given that in an Alternate Continuity Captain America married a female version of Tony Stark. Not only that, but Civil War never happened because they were together, and the world was actually a better place with their combined awesome.
  • X-Men characters Juggernaut and Black Tom practically lived in Ho Yay territory. Their concern for each other was unusual for villains and went beyond concern for a friend. Cain was so frantic when Tom's powers went haywire that he went to the X-Men for help, and Wolverine even called him out for caring more about his "boyfriend" than his own stepbrother. When he slept with She-Hulk (Retconned into an alternate Jennifer), the way he said "Sometimes women are just plain better" made at least one reader wonder if he had really... done the research at some point. And yes, it's far more enjoyable to speculate on Cain's sexuality than Tom's, who was Squicky even before he became a walking tree.
  • Carl Barks was apparently stunned by the Unfortunate Implications the censors found in Back to the Klondike, wondering how he could have missed it all.
    • In the original, Scrooge kidnapped Goldie and made her work in his gold claim for a month to pay off a debt. As the censors rightfully questioned, what did they do at night? Watch television?
  • Batman and Robin, the original Ambiguously Gay Duo? Or Batman and Superman?
    • And similarly to above there was an Elseworlds set in medieval-ish Japan where "Superman" made out with a female "Batman."
  • Lenore and Ragamuffin from Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl. Ragamuffin is portrayed as a Complete Monster at first, a vampire who massacres and eats people alive. He also wants to kill Lenore in the very first episode in which he appears, even though he doesn't succeed because he's trapped in a rag doll. In the later volumes, he cares for her so much that he becomes overprotective and focused only on defending her when she gets in reckless situations. Even when he returns to his old vampire self, he remains by her side and puts himself in danger for her.
  • Marv Wolfman SUNK the Cyborg/Sarah Simms relationship in Teen Titans down to the Friend Zone after a single black fan bemoaned the frequency of interracial relationships over completely black ones; Wolfman eventually hooked Cyborg up with black scientist Sarah Charles instead (at least for a while).


  • Deserving manages to do this with two toddlers.
  • Caitlin and Emily of Hogwarts Exposed are basically sisters through adoption. They are constantly enjoying each other's company, sleeping in the same bed, and engaging in oral sex with each other. Word of God is that the oral sex is meant to be seen as a sign of the strength of their bond as sisters. It's very easy to see otherwise, to the point where a sporker of the series honestly couldn't tell if it was a joke or not when the girls declared themselves to be dating.
  • This author's Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan fics veer dangerously close to this with Alan and Anne. They're supposed to be twins with a close relationship, and each one even has their own love interest. But many moments, especially in the author's earlier works, have them behaving like love interests. (Alan has a breakdown when Anne won't be playing the role of Sleeping Beauty to his prince in the school play, for example.) One now-deleted fic has them actually kissing, only for it to turn out one of the villains was posing as Anne while she kissed Alan. But until that reveal, no one could blame readers for thinking it was actually going there.


  • Sky High: Layla has apparently been crushing on Will since both their ages were in single digits. On-screen, it's stated that she only dated Warren to try and make Will jealous. It was probably unintentional that the actors playing Warren and Layla had such great chemistry and appeared to be eyeing each other throughout the movie, making Layla's Last-Minute Hookup with Will look rather out of place. Maybe if they had cast the very-much-intentional Estrogen Brigade Bait as The Hero instead of The Rival...
    • Word of God is that they hooked up later in their high school career.
  • In Freaks, Hans and Frieda — a romantic couple — are played by brother and sister Harry and Daisy Earles. To prevent things from getting too freaky, their romance is very very much downplayed. There isn't even a kiss between them. We've got the Beta Couple for that.
  • Anakin and Obi-Wan are hit by this trope hard. The most overt examples are Anakin showing more affection to Obi-Wan than he does to his wife and Obi-Wan's continued reluctance to off the homicidal brat even after witnessing his deeds first hand.
    • The most famous example, however, is Luke and Leia, and their behavior towards each other in the first movie and half of the second. Whether they were intended to be siblings from the beginning has numerous conflicting sources, but the end result is that many reacted with Squick. The Westermarck effect doesn't get a chance to kick in when you separate twins immediately after birth.
  • The Mad Hatter and Alice are a bit on the edge in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. It's some weird crossbreed between platonic affection for a savior and romantic affection for someone Hatter is confusedly attracted to. Actually, it was a full-blown romance in the original draft of the screenplay.
    • Doubt it helps any that in Sci Fi's version of Alice, there is definite romantic tension between the two and Burton's has a similar feel.
  • X Men Origins Wolverine is mostly about a heterosexual relationship, but the relationship between Wolverine and Sabretooth is too strong to be unintentional. While both characters repeatedly talk about how they're 'brothers', the constant Something Else Also Rises, playful flirting, eyeing each other, phallic symbolism, and grappling each other while yelling "Feels good, doesn't it?" kind of ruins the 'brothers' vibe. It's possibly intentional on the part of the director, whose previous work was mostly arty foreign films, though it's worth noting that the comic-book version of Wolverine's childhood featured a significant redhead named Rose as his first love interest. The first scenes in the movie are copied almost directly from the comic, except with a young Sabretooth in Rose's place.
  • If Ryan and Sharpay Evans weren't intended to attract a shipping fandom, then maybe the writers should have thought first before creating a pair of twins who are always hanging on and around each other, make a habit of playing romantic partners in theater, and are even implicitly marketed in the franchise's posters and imagery as being a main couple.
    • Though Ryan is most likely gay.
  • Nine--9 and 5, and how! The look on 9's face when he first meets 7 and the ending of the film seem to indicate he's in love with her. But he has far more chemistry and Ship Tease moments with 5. Let's see, 5 clings to 9 a lot and 9 doesn't resist (actually clinging back a few times), there are several meaningful looks between them, it's 5's death that visibly devastates 9 the most...
  • Push: If the reviews and fan reactions are anything to go by, whatever relationship thirteen-year-old Cassie and twenty-three-year-old Nick were supposed to have wasn't what the audience saw. I think the worst offender was the hotel scene when Cassie leaves, "powers her use" by getting drunk, then returns to curses out Nick's actual love interest, Kira, and fall asleep in a provocative position.
  • In Breaking Dawn Part 1, during the wedding, the dance between Bella and Jacob had looked more natural with more connection and romance than the dance between Bella and Edward.


  • Half the Star Wars novels written after 1999 could be described as Star Wars fan Hell. They introduce the new, cute, smart character Danni Que. She's very likable, until they force her relationship with Jacen down the readers' throats, just because she's a Damsel in Distress. What happened to Jacen's clearly honest feelings for Tenal Ka? Fans were already sold on him being with her!
  • At first, in the Inheritance Cycle, Eragon's feelings for Arya seem forced. But, as the series progresses, Eragon becomes very responsible and respects her wishes to simply remain friends.
    • This was a problem in Eldest, but he does improve in Brisingr. The two share more natural moments together. It helps also that Arya seems to be returning his feelings somewhat.
    • This was twisted and turned at the end of the series. Arya has developed feelings for him, but decides the only proper thing is a Jail Bait Wait. Eragon, meanwhile, thinks that'd be nice, and might give that a try, if he didn't have some important business to do--whoops look at the time!
    • Not to mention the entire scene in which Eragon and Roran compare muscles and bruises... pant less.
  • The Lord of the Rings: When J.R.R Tolkien made Sam and Frodo one of fantasy's signature BFFs, he probably didn't realize that there would be serious consequences many years later. The whole world he created in fact has different standards, standards that would normally be respected today. People are openly, emotionally and physically affectionate without it being perceived as emasculating or sexual. At the time he was writing, especially considering Tolkien's own life experiences, this sort of friendship was common and even encouraged — although playing it for Ho Yay was not unheard of either.
  • In Twilight, Bella/Jacob has a pretty popular fanbase due to the fact that Meyer actually took the time to develop their relationship and stated that they knew each other as kids. Yet Jacob still ends up as the Unlucky Childhood Friend, where as the Official Couple Edward/Bella has its haters because no matter how much Meyer states that what they have is "true love," it doesn't hide the fact that she wrote their relationship as creepy and obsessive. Also there's the fact that she tried to write Edward and Bella's relationship as the best one ever (even putting down classic relationships from stories that have been around for centuries and relationships that had just shown up in recent years in favor of Edward and Bella) but almost every other relationship in that book could be considered better had they just been given more screen time.
    • There's also some scenes that can easily support Bella/Alice. As she is a Mormon, this was not intentional on Meyer's part, but it's still there.
    • Better yet, in the much hated Breaking Dawn, Jacob/Leah seemed to be the obvious direction for the Unlucky Childhood Friend(s), especially because of the Slap Slap Kiss involved. However, Jacob imprinted on Bella's two minute year old child, and that was that.
    • In The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, Bree spends a lot of time wondering if Diego (her love interest) has some special bond with Riley (the leader of their coven) that means that he would be willing to betray her to Riley. This, plus a scene where it sounds like Victoria is suspicious that Riley's loyalties might be swayed from her (keep in mind that she controls Riley via his feelings for her) to Diego, makes it sound very much like Diego and Riley are lovers and his relationship with Bree is just platonic affection. It really doesn't help that Diego's interactions with Bree (a peck on the cheek, holding hands, etc) could just as easily be done between friends and that Bree's constant insistence that Diego trusts her over Riley sound like she's in denial.
  • How Not to Write A Novel warns against this, calling it "The Deafening Hug." It goes on to tell us what those who are Genre Savvy already know: people will see love interests everywhere so you'd better be careful when, say, writing cousins Ben10 style.
  • Nick and Gatsby. Probably unintentional, but one of Nick's first descriptions of Gatsby was "there was something gorgeous about him." Then again, since there's more than a little evidence that Nick is gay (including an ambiguous encounter with another man at a party), whether this was a Relationship Writing Fumble or deliberate Subtext is a matter of considerable literary debate.
  • It seems like Kristin Cashore does this in Fire with the titular character and Prince Brigan, with his nearly 180 regard of her, going from (understandably) absolutely despising her for being the daughter of a Complete Monster to honestly trusting her. It becomes Fridge Brilliance, however, once it's revealed that Brigan learned early on in the book that Fire killed her own father in order to save Brigan's life — because Brigan's survival meant the difference between the kingdom's survival and the kingdom falling into complete ruin. Needless to say, it's a good enough reason for Brigan to seriously reconsider his initial hatred of her.
  • Harry and Hermione. Rowling has even said (in an interview for the book "Harry, A History," that came out in late 2008), "Now the fact is that Hermione shares moments with Harry that Ron will never be able to participate in. She shared something very intense with Harry. So I think it [the relationship thing - who Hermione would end up with] could have gone that way." Of course, in other reviews, Rowling said Harry and Hermione are incompatible, so it's a bit vague-ish.
    • Harry and Luna get this, too — of all his friends, she's the only one who's able to cheer him up after Sirius dies. Then the next year in a desperate need for a date he takes Luna to Slughorn's Christmas Party.
    • J.K. Rowling insists that she was never trying to imply Neville/Luna, despite plenty of background moments between the two that are easily interpreted in a cute shippy way. (They stare at each other on the train, at one point she helps him into a chair...) This apparently was enough for them to get sorta-paired up in the movies.
  • David Eddings seems absolutely incapable of writing a sibling relationship without getting a bit eyebrow-raisingly emotionally intense — Polgara and Beldaran in the early parts of Polgara The Sorceress, especially, read rather more Twincesty than not.
    • Although, how much of this is David and how much can be attributed to his Co-Ghost Writer and wife, Leigh Eddings, is really anyone's guess.
  • Lampshaded in Sense and Sensibility — The two Official Couples are Elinor/Edward and Marianne/Colonel Brandon, yet Marianne gets all the interaction and conversations with Edward on the proverbial screen (because he and Elinor are Twice Shy), and Elinor and Colonel Brandon become such close friends and spend so much time together that the Shippers On Deck understandably soon believe they are the Official Couple. Jane Austen frequently mocked Shipping in her books (see Emma).

Live Action TV

  • David Shore (series showrunner) had to Word of God nix the canon likelihood of House and Wilson becoming a couple on House in a semi-famous interview with the TV critic Mo Ryan after the Amber arc made the subtext nearly text.
    • One has to wonder how many kicks the writing staff get from the House/Wilson fandom. Even though it's been discredited by Word of God, the fact that House recently pretended Wilson was his gay lover and even was proposed to by Wilson in a crowded restaurant keeps the flames a-goin'. Given that the two are deliberately based on Holmes and Watson, the writers will never stop milking the Ho Yay.
  • Cam Mitchell and Samantha Carter on Stargate SG-1. Word of God said that the Carter/O'Neill ship was Official Couple, nonetheless at one point the Suspiciously Similar Substitute page referred to Mitchell picking up where O'Neill left off with Carter. Particularly the macaroons scene from Line In The Sand.
    • Even early, like all the way back in Season 1, there was Samantha and Daniel, who seemed to hit it off and share several very shippy emotional scenes. These dropped off significantly later on, so this can probably be chalked up to Early Installment Weirdness.
  • Elizabeth Weir and John Sheppard of Stargate Atlantis. They're written like they're the show's blooming romance, and actors Torri Higginson and Joe Flanigan certainly play it like they're a couple. In spite of the relationship's popularity, the writers completely deny any such thing.
  • Most people just assumed that Star Trek: Enterprise's Captain Archer and Science Officer T'Pol were intended to be each other's main romantic interests since that's how they were written (arguably as an homage to Kirk/Spock Slash Fic)... until the writers put a stop to that by grabbing hold of T'Pol's Belligerent Sexual Tension with Trip.
    • The Deep Space Nine writers famously stopped giving Bashir and Garak so many scenes together when they found out the characters had a huge slash following. The same thing happened shortly thereafter with Bashir and O'Brien, but this time the writers realised the slashers were gonna slash anyway, so they continued to emphasize that friendship. Near the end of the series they even commented to like each other more than the people they love, rather awkwardly.
    • It didn't help that the Bashir and Garak subtext was (according to Andrew Robinson, Ron Moore, and Robert Hewitt Wolfe) put there deliberately with the expectation that nobody would really notice. Boy, were they wrong.
    • Kirk and Spock are either in love with each other, or this trope.
    • It's possible they started out as the latter, but the writers were certainly aware of the former interpretation by the time The Motion Picture was filmed - the novelisation reveals that there are rumours about the relationship even in their universe. Instead of attempting to de-slash the relationship, the movies seem to take the subtext and run with it, to the point that the two of them can arguably be read as a married couple. "The noblest half of myself," anyone?
  • On Chuck, Chuck's interaction with Sarah is constantly shown as being platonic, but the way Chuck and his sister Ellie interact around each other is flat-out "friends who want to be lovers" writing. He even does the falling-over-himself and stuttering bits that you expect from a TV show's portrayal of geek romancing. The writers caught this after the first season aired, and then started taking corrective measures.
    • His stammering around her does make more sense when you consider that she's sort of his mother figure.
    • Also, Chuck was originally intended to have a love interest in his civilian life, but when it was decided that complicated matters too much, she was dropped... and many of her lines given to Ellie.
  • Claire and Peter in Heroes have a whole lot of sexual tension going on, despite being related. This is made even worse in the upcoming season 3 episode. It was originally unintentional, and they backed away pretty quickly, but now that the actors are dating in Real Life, they're definitely doing it on purpose. "I always loved you, Peter." Of course, now that the actors are broken up in Real Life, we'll see if they continue to play up that relationship. Lately, their interaction is pretty much them talking about how everyone else is stupid and/or leaving them out of the loop, so, yeah...
  • Writers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer realized they were writing waaaay too much Slap Slap Kiss into Cordelia and Xander's interactions, so they just went with it and made them a couple.
  • The writers of Wizards of Waverly Place seem to have given Justin and Alex, who are brother and sister, an almost Slap Slap Kiss-like dynamic. It stems, just like the example from Chuck, from the fact that Justin was intended to be a next-door neighbour only for it to be switched late on in pre-production. Of course, fans who don't mind Brother-Sister Incest lapped it right up. It doesn't help that one episode featured Alex accidentally wishing that everyone forgot Justin was her brother, causing their own mother to comment that they'd make a cute couple. A look at the show's section in will yield a very large number of Jalex fics.
    • They've tried to remedy this by giving them both relationships and the Justin/Juliet one almost works. On the other hand, in the movie it almost makes Jalex come off as canon.
    • And they got rid of Juliet, as well, when they made her an eternal mummy slave. And right after Juliet left, Alex came and comforted Justin, giving him a big, consoling hug.
    • The fumble is so big that the show had an entire page dedicated to the incestous subtext until the various incest name spaces were deleted for Squick reasons.
  • iCarly has fumbles all over the place:
    • To start with, Carly and Spencer had an incestuous dynamic similar to Justin/Alex or Ellie/Chuck.
    • Then came the even more blatant Sam/Carly undertones. Although the fumble may have been deliberate considering Dan Schneider and his penchant for including hidden Ho Yay and Les Yay in his supposedly teenage focused shows.
    • Also, Spencer/Sam. People would ship it anyway, but he's nearly twice her age, with her being between 14 to 17 during the show's run and Spencer being 26 to 29. A recent episode had Spencer lean over and tongue Sam's ear so she could hear his pop rocks crackling. In a later episode stated that she had a crush on Spencer.
    • A meta fumble, with the writers creating two opposing Shipping sects, with the Just Friends Carly/Freddie romance vs the Belligerent Sexual Tension couple Sam/Freddie, and then pushing each in multiple episodes, only to turn around and tell the audience they were watching the show wrong.
  • In Doctor Who, at least for the latter's first few appearances, the relationship between the Doctor and the Master was far too amiable for The Hero and his Evil Counterpart. As mentioned in Foe Yay, their respective actors were good friends and this entered into their performances, but most later appearances extrapolated this into straight Ho Yay.
    • Made essentially canon in Last of the Time Lords, what with the Doctor weeping over The Master's dead body and all. And again in "The End of Time." Doctor in a bondage chair. 'Nuff said.

  Master: "I love it when you say my name."

    • For a continual example of this trope, look no further than the Doctor and his numerous "companions" in the original series. While the writers avoided any outright romance, the actors quite intentionally didn't always play it that way, most notably with 4 and Sarah Jane Smith. The twist to the typical invocation of this trope is the fans (or a faction thereof) who are insistent that romance is out of the Doctor's character, a feeling that's only heightened by the new series putting the dynamics front and center.
    • During the Fifth Doctor's run, there was a no touching rule between the Doctor and his female companions to dispel the notion that he could be having a sexual relationship with either of them. It just made fangirls think he was having one with the token male companion of the time, who wasn't subject to those restrictions. Peter Davison noticed this himself during a DVD Commentary, musing that Turlough was created so that the Doctor would have someone he could "put his arm around"...
    • Inverted in the serial "The Mark Of The Rani." The novelization of the story makes it quite clear that The Rani wants absolutely nothing to do with The Master and sees him as a nuisance (it almost seems as if Pip and Jane are expressing how they feel about The Master being added to the story in the first place). However, in the actual televised serial, Kate O'Mara and Anthony Ainley (especially Anthony Ainley) were clearly playing up the characters' UST for all it was worth.
  • On So Weird, the writers devoted a lot of screen time to the close relationship between Carey and Molly, for whatever reason. The writer's admit that Carey came off as too mature for it to have a mother/son vibe, and could easily be seen as a May-December Romance.
  • In Supernatural Sam and Dean are unusually co-dependent (to the point of it being unhealthy) for just being brothers. They risk their lives for one another countless times, and both of them readily admit they are each others' greatest weakness. Even Eric Kripke, the creator, has admitted that he can see why so many fangirls see the homoerotic subtext between the brothers, and even lampshades it several times during the series. This also applies to Dean and Castiel now.
    • There's also the fact that one of the Exec Producers herself has been known to refer to the show as The Epic Love Story of Sam and Dean.
  • It could be the acting, but watching Michelle and David on Kings is like watching two inexperienced people who think that mutual values and an appreciation for the other's attractiveness means a relationship is a good idea, never mind if the agreement and appreciation actually equals genuine sexual/romantic attraction or not. Friendship-wise, they actually have good chemistry. Romantic-wise, they come across as children playing house.
  • In Life with Derek, the titular character and his step-sister have a very flirty relationship with each other. A lot of moments between the two that may have been intended to be family-like are...not family-like . Huge emphasis on the may. Recently the writers have become the Masters of the Mixed Messages and aren't really clear what the relationship between the two really is. Word of God states that Derek and Casey care for each other more than anyone, but whether it's on a family level or romantic level has yet to be stated (much to the displeasure of the Dasey fanbase). And it doesn't help that the actor and actress who play Derek and Casey (Michael Seater and Ashley Leggat respectively) seem to support the Derek/Casey pairing and (most likely due to being real-life chums) have great chemistry on screen...
  • Sci Fi Debris has pointed out in his reviews of Star Trek: Voyager how scary it is how much chemistry Harry has with Tom than with any of the show's other characters. But I'm sure there's nothing gay about this.
  • The TV Show Flash Forward Featured a gay couple on their first date discussing getting married, having children, and saying things like 'I'd never leave you'. That doesn't happen the first time you go out for dinner. Although, Janis does end up being put-off by the obsessiveness that her date ultimately displays.
    • Not to mention Janis (the lesbian FBI agent) having more chemistry with Demetri (who has a fiancee, with whom he had not a terrible amount of chemistry) than with the aforementioned date.
    • And Olivia making a much better pair with Lloyd than with Mark...
  • Mulder and Scully of The X-Files are a classic example; the idea that the characters would have an intense platonic relationship but not be sexually or romantically interested in one another was firmly established in the original idea for the series, and the writers repeated it in interviews for years. But by around Season 5 or so the characters seemed to have different ideas, and eventually the writers went with it.
  • More than one article covering the Smallville special "Justice" made the mistaken assumption that Clark's jealous guarding of Chloe from The Flash--er, Impulse was on his own behalf rather than Jimmy Olsen's. Given that this behavior has been happening all the way up to and including Season 8, it's difficult to blame people for the Chlois theory when they keep doing this.
    • Clark and Lex in earlier seasons. There was a lot of unintentional(?) innuendo in their relationship. Starting with Clark performing CPR on Lex in the Pilot. Director's commentary for the pilot suggests that they either invoked this intentionally or can see how they started it. They joke about the CPR being Clark and Lex's first kiss.
  • Happened frequently on Gilmore Girls. At first we have the normal Betty and Veronica dynamic for Lorelai and Rory's romantic interests. The Will They or Won't They? gets resolved between Luke and Lorelai for the 5th season. Dean gets awkwardly Put on a Bus and Logan Huntzberger complicates Rory and Lorelai's relationship for the first half of season 6. Then Luke suddenly finds out he has a daughter and most of the show gets shot to hell, drawing the Will They or Won't They? out painfully until the series finale. Due to Executive Meddling on the part of the CW merger, series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband's contracts ended and many fans agree that the final season was the worst. In an attempt to "fix" the mistakes from the sixth season, Logan doesn't even end up with Rory while Luke and Lorelai finally get together in the finale, yet it feels more like a Last-Minute Hookup and the series goes out on an unsatisfactory note.
    • Also fitting into the trope is the character Marty, a sweet fellow Yale classmate of Rory who seemingly combines the positive traits of Dean and Jess. Yet nothing ever happens and Marty gets written out to make room for Logan. Rather than giving the character a proper sendoff, Marty unexpectedly returns during the last season, having become a Jerkass seemingly only to strengthen the friendship between Rory and her two new Yale friends, who were mostly devoid of personality.
  • The Mentalist has Jane and Lisbon, who the writers insist have a platonic version of Belligerent Sexual Tension. Epic, epic fail, because they're generally more popular as a couple than the completely, 100% canon Rigsby/Van Pelt. This season, it looks like the writers are just running with it.
  • In Neighbours, the characters of Libby Kennedy and Stephanie Scully are meant to be 100% heterosexual. Now look at the way Kym Valentine and Carla Bonner actually play the parts...
  • On account of the Slap Slap Kiss and the prettiness of the actors involved, many Merlin fans liked to ship Arthur and Morgana despite the fact that they were kinda like Flirty Stepsiblings considering that Morgana was King Uther's foster daughter. In series two, the writers immediately backed off this ship considering that they were leery about Brother-Sister Incest implications and the fact that they needed to justify the increasingly marginalized Gwen by upgrading her to love interest for Arthur. But as of the third season, things have gotten rather more Squicky with The Reveal that Morgana is Uther's biological daughter and Arthur's half-sister, throwing past Arthur/Morgana interactions into a whole new light.
    • The Arthur/Morgana shipping was also encouraged by the fact that it's a relationship that's in most of the well-known versions of Arthurian legend. Normally, Mordred is their son, not a kid who they rescue together.
    • Of course, in all of THOSE they're usually brother and sister as well. Mordred generally turns out to be a Bastard Bastard and attempts to get revenge on Arthur as a morality tale against out-of-wedlock relationships and incest.
    • In the first season of the show, before Arthur got roped into a for-life Official Couple, most of the fans thought that Arthur/Merlin was a legitimate thing, what with the long poignant gazes, the Belligerent Sexual Tension, and the Slash Dragon saying things like "A half cannot truly hate that which makes it whole," every two seconds. Not to mention the following dialogue between Merlin and his mother:

 HUNITH: He must care for you a great deal.

MERLIN: Arthur'd do the same for any village. That's just the way he is.

HUNITH: It's more than that. He's here for you.

MERLIN: I'm just his servant.

HUNITH: Give him more credit than that. He likes you.


... or the following exchange between Merlin and Arthur...


 Merlin: I know it's hard for you to understand how I feel... [Arthur frowns in a sudden Wait, what??? moment] but I care a heck of a lot about that armor, I'm not going to let you mess it up. [Arthur laughs, and the two proceed to stare at each other in obvious affection for about five seconds.]


    • Of course once Merlin became the biggest Arthur/Gwen shipper in existence, the hope that Merthur would become official died down, but the two boys remain to this day the Fan-Preferred Couple.
  • Allegedly, the writers of Tin Man were going to ship DG and Cain, but Neil McDonough is very adamant about his characters not getting into romantic encounters, so they backpedaled it into an Intergenerational Friendship.
  • Season six of Dexter has a guy named Travis, who has a rather close relationship with his sister. A few lingering glances, asking her to stay home from work, and the Big Bad talking about Travis wanting to "play house" with her makes their relationship seem... off-kilter.
  • Some people feel that inSuburgatory, Tessa and her father George's chemistry is more like that of a couple than a father and daughter.

Video Games

  • In the Kingdom Hearts series, they have a strong tendency to overdo the scenes with Sora and Riku. Most people seem to agree that the actual fumble comes when they reunite in Kingdom Hearts II. At the same time, though, the series makes it very clear that Sora loves Kairi. At one point, he even goes as far as to dream about dancing with her.
    • There was also the Axel/Roxas subplot, which was absolutely dripping with Ho Yay. The Japanese dialogue even has Axel say during his death scene that Roxas was the only one he ever loved.
      • Has that feel to it in 358/2Days, with some Ho Yay still attached. However, KH 2 made Axel look like a needy ex-boyfriend and Roxas more aloof and mature, thus lacking the big/little brother aspect to their friendship. Seeing as the first time we're introduced to their relationship is in KH 2, their pre-character development selves in the prequel make any "brotherly love" feel more like Author's Saving Throw.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics features the same problem as Ogre Battle 64: Agrias Oaks is a conflicted bodyguard to the princess. The princess gets captured, so Ramza offers to go along to help, despite his superior's objections. When his superior turns on Agrias in an attempt to kill said princess, Ramza fights him off. Later, the princess is captured once again and Agrias is forced to flee, getting saved by... you guessed it, Ramza. At this point in the game, however, she joins the rest of the generic player characters and can die permanently... Whereupon she gets a few lines of dialogue in the next fight, and then nothing whatsoever.
    • The War of the Lions rerelease then went and added an optional "mission" (rather, mini-event) where Mustadio reveals his previously-unmentioned crush on Agrias, with the possibility that she might reciprocate. So, which character is supposed to be her romantic interest, again?
  • In Suikoden V, the relationship between the main character and his younger sister — who is the crown princess and heir apparent of the queendom — is, perhaps, depicted as being a little too close. While it does work the way it was probably planned — making the player care for her, and providing a real motivation to rescue her when she becomes the prisoner of rebellious nobles early on — it can easily be misconstructed as Brother-Sister Incest (and Lolicon, too, just for good measure). Especially considering that the two of them share a bed at one time, and that the "Good Ending" has you, following her coronation as Queen, take on the position of General of the Armies, which is reserved for the Queen's Consort.
    • If you talk to NPCs in Sol Falena before the final dungeons, they will say that your sisterly queen intend to radicaly reshape the state: turning the Queendom into a constitutional monarchy and abolishing the whole "tournament winner becomes Queens' Knight Captain and Queen Consort" tradition being at the top of her agenda. On the other hand, the good ending heavily implies that the prince ends up with Lyon, who also happens to be his sister albeit adopted... Well, at least, the children won't be inbred
  • The two main characters of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates are the (twin) brother and sister pair Yuri and Chelinka. Presumably their interaction was intended to be platonic, but when Yuri is swearing to always protect Chelinka and never to leave her side, this gets a lot harder for the players to believe...
  • Arguably a version of this exists with Baldur's Gate II. Some fans were upset when Imoen, the only character the protagonist had any real chemistry with (as opposed to just amusing interactions)--platonic or romantic--turned out to be the protagonist's half-sister, thus precluding any possible romance in T-rated game.
    • There's a good reason for this: it's a saving throw. Imoen wasn't supposed to survive Spellhold. A character popularity poll prompted the writers to change their minds on the issue. Other fans responded by writing and coding two separate Imoen romance mods for download, with a possible third on the way.
  • X and Zero from Mega Man X are infamous for being the biggest Ho Yay couple in the series, despite only being best friends in official canon. The biggest source for this is X5, which had some pretty heartfelt lines during the climax and especially this line from the ending.
  • Upon playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time, at least one player thought Barret and Tifa were a couple, and Marlene their daughter.
    • It takes less then an hour to realize they haven't known each other long enough for that to be the case.
  • While some players of Street Fighter like to turn Lovely Angels into full-blown lesbians, Heterosexual Life Partners into romantic couples, and fierce rivalries into Foe Yay, a more canonical example occurs in Super Street Fighter IV during Guy's storyline. His "Rival Battle" is against Rose, Bison's good side, expelled from his body and taken physical form. For the full story, click on the asterik. [2] It seems as if Capcom was trying to pair these two up, despite the fact that Guy is already married to Rena (at least by the time of Final Fight: Streetwise, if one considers it canon). You can check it out for yourselves here (the pre-battle conversation), here and here (the actual fight), here and here (Guy and Rose's endings).
  • In Millennium: A New Hope, an RPG by Indinera Falls, two of the main characters, Marine and Benoit, seem to have slight hints of Ship Tease in their dialogue, despite the fact that they are cousins. They even have their own mild Shipper on Deck, a fairy named Jeanne.
  • Isaac from the Golden Sun series, has a warning for his fellow Heroic Mimes: Don't have a talkative best friend who constantly reminds you that you have to rescue your girlfriend. The fealty to the pairing could easily be misconstrued as intent on him staking his own claim. Furthermore, don't make things worse by allowing another female on the team, no matter how useful she is.
  • In the Dynasty Warriors series, while Wang Yuanji is Sima Zhao's wife, she seems to show more affection towards his brother Sima Shi.
  • The sex scene in Six Days A Sacrifice was actually a double version of this; Yahtzee intended for it to read as the opposite of a romantic scene (thanks to his own unique hangups on the subject of sex), but it ended up being just plain a romantic scene (that's count one), in a situation where a romantic scene had no business being (that's two).
  • In the second Knights of the Old Republic, any and all RomanceSidequests were reduced to this. It appears the reason for this is that Obsidian's Chris Avellone is quite anti-romance, and even goes on record that he doesn't want one in his games unless it ends badly.
  • In Tron 2.0 (alternate continuity than Tron: Legacy), Monolith seemed to be trying to imply some interest between Jet and Mercury, but the pair had a critical lack of scenes together, and Mercury spending half that screentime under a memory wipe put a severe damper on it.

Web Comics

  • While Word of God has it that Miho from Megatokyo isn't gay, she does seem to have a very close, intimate emotional connection with Ping. It's unsurprising that the fandom would get the wrong impression. Rather, Ping has an emotional connection with Miho, but not vice versa. This is mostly caused by Ping being a naive cutie, and Miho being a Manipulative Bastard.
  • Davan/PeeJee, although it's arguable how much is legitimate fumble and how much is the author deliberately trolling the shippers.
    • Word of God claims it was fumble initially but turned into trolling the shippers after they started asking when they would get together.
  • Word of God has it that Hannerlore and Marigold of Questionable Content are 100% heterosexual, that their relationship is purely platonic, and that any perceived subtext is all in the shipper's heads. To give the fandom it's due, however, when two attractive characters who seemingly have no prior romantic prospects start spending the majority of their time together, it's only natural that people will ship them together, especially characters as Moe as Hanners and Marigold. Even Jeph Jacques shoots the ship down not because they aren't close, but because Hannelore would rather eat broken glass than so much as hug somebody.
    • Word of God and the fact that they have never done anything more suggestive than be in the same room without a chaperone. If anything Hannelore acts more like Marigold's mother than a potential lover, and they both freak out when one of Marigold's on-line gamer "pals" suggests they might be in a relationship (still based on nothing more than them being two girls in the same room).

Western Animation

  • Ben and Gwen from Ben 10 are supposed to be cousins, but the writing style used is more like a persistent Slap Slap Kiss in a No Hugging, No Kissing world mixed with a bit of flirting. They obviously appear to like each other, helped by scenes like the Hands-On Approach slow-dance lesson — highly disturbing. This may be why the writers tried to set up a Gwen/Kevin relationship in Alien Force. But then they bungled that, too. Kevin, who went from a murderous sociopath to a dealer in black market alien tech. And Gwen still has lines like, "You'd think I'd go with you if Ben wasn't here?" (after Kevin hits on her, as if she's implying Ben's his competition).
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Azula's actions towards her brother are nothing short of seductive. (Okay, that's how she acts with pretty much everyone.) No Word of God whether or not this is intentional... except the creators did mention that they shipped that pair at a convention once, but they can't have been serious. Could they?
  • Flippy and Flaky from the Happy Tree Friends are victims of this trope, according to most fans. In spite of the fact that the creator has set two prominent official couples (Cuddles/Giggles and Handy/Petunia), a lot of fans still want to see Flippy/Flaky happening. There are many reasons this happened, but the most important ones are the fact that Flaky is the only one who has appeared to get closer to Flippy, becoming a potential good friend of him, which apparently determined him to stop killing her, and she even made him return to his normal self once, although Flaky has developed a phobia for him and she has started running away from him in the latest episodes.
  • Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure While they were siblings in the original book series, which started in 1918, the 1941 cartoon retconned them into lovers for the first time. Every subsequent adaptation tends to be ambiguous about it; as mentioned, the 1977 feature film falls into Squick territory - their duet 'Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers' comes off as heavily romantic, with Andy stroking her hand, hugging her from behind, and a weird segment where he's hidden under her apron(!).
    • Ann unambiguously introduces Andy to Babette as her brother. Eek.
  • Word of God says that the Teen Titans (with the notable exception of Official Couple Robin and Starfire) all love each other Like Brother and Sister. Yes, even Beast Boy and Raven. Ironically, Beast Boy and Raven are being set up as a couple in the comics now, although the author claimed that he had intended to do that without influence from the animated series. Beast Boy asked Raven out on a date. In the form of a giant green polar bear.
    • Although it has also been stated that Raven and Beast Boy were written as 'an old married couple' just without the relationship part. So really, the fumble was unavoidable.
    • Slade's obsession with making Robin, then Terra his "apprentice" was borderline pedophilia. It doesn't help that he actually slept with Terra in the original comics. (Not so with Raven, though — that crossed the line.)
    • Robin and Raven also have a few moments like this. Cozy talks in romantic settings, and Robin literally going to hell in order to save Raven, and telling her she's what makes him hope.
  • In addition to all of his other similarities to Spider-Man, Danny Phantom's relationship with his sister, Jazz, often resembles Peter Parker's with Mary-Jane (the red hair doesn't help). You half-expect Jazz to say, "Go get 'em, tiger," at the end of "The Ultimate Enemy," especially after the hug, lovingly touching his hand, and considering their dialogue sounds strikingly similar to Danny's and Sam's during their Last-Minute Hookup:

 Jazz: Don't think this means I'll stop being meddling and overprotective./Sam: I just have to warn you, I still have my own way of doing things.

Danny: Wouldn't have it any other way./That's what I'm counting on.

  • The Ruby-Spears Mega Man cartoon slipped up pretty damn bad in "Bro Bots." As an added bonus, in the last fight scene, Protoman ends up more-or-less straddling his younger brother, who then wraps his legs around Proto's friggin' waist.

 Megaman: You and me. One on one. No PANTS.

Protoman: You got it.

  • Bolt. Bolt and Mittens. Between some of their conversations, the way they are written together versus with other characters, and their body language around one another, it draws a fine line between a close sibling-like relationship and Interspecies Romance.
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures has this in spades. Pepper is always jealous whenever Rhodey looks at another girl and starts a fist fight over Rhodey wanting to hang out with another friend of his who's a girl. She also has a heart to heart and long, laughter filled date with Gene in one episode, after which she becomes his devoted Gene-can-do-no-wrong fangirl and texts/calls him constantly. Tony also comes across as flirting with Rhodey a lot of the time, made even more Ho Yay intensive whenever Rhodey yells at him to open up and stop blocking people out. They have so many heart to heart conversations and Tony apologizes to him so often it's more reminiscent of a squabbling couple than best friends. Then there's the way Whitney follows Tony around even when he's being an asshole to her (although given her abusive father, she might just be okay with it) and how far she'll go to save his life... And we're not even going to get into Tony's fanboying of Gene Khan. Oh, and in the last few episodes Rhodey seems to care a bit more about Whitney than he lets on.
    • But, to summarize: Every pairing has more hints and basis than the Official Couple of Tony/Pepper.
  • The Looney Tunes Show gives us a perfect example of Ho Yay over-shadowing the possible love interests. Bugs is shown to be in a some-what relationship with Lola (somewhat) but most of the dialog (and premise) can be seen as Bugs and Daffy being married. Episode 1...thats all.
  • Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash inadvertently give us a bunch of Les Yay in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Pinkie's dialogue in the first scene of "Griffon the Brush Off" in particular can be misinterpreted as a crush.
    • Same thing to Applejack and Rainbow Dash.
  1. idon'tbelieveyou.
  2. Back in Alpha 3, Guy lost to Rose and begrudingly allowed her to continue on her quest to defeat M. Bison. Unfortunately, Bison revealing Rose's origins caused a temporary Heroic BSOD for her, allowing him to knock her out and later possess her body when his was destroyed. Naturally, Guy, being Lawful Good and a kindred spirit to this Lady of War, doesn't want to see this happen again, telling Rose that "being prepared to die in battle is not the same as offering yourself to death willingly." She hesitates and asks him to move aside; Guy's expression pretty much says "Can't let you do that, Star Fox... er... Rose." Their dialogue in battle is more somber than most fights, with Rose proclaiming stuff like "I don't want to die.", "I don't wish to hurt you.", "It cannot be helped.", and "I'm afraid you'll never understand." Guy, on the other hand, strays between constructive criticism ("It's foolish of you to do this."), concern ("You seem troubled."), and a fierce resolve to stop Rose ("I don't want to do this.", "You don't have to do this.", and "I cannot allow you to continue!"). Both of them apologize before unleashing their Ultras. And this isn't the sinker. In their endings, which go hand-in-hand, Bison kidnaps and unconscious Rose. Then comes our favorite Nike-wearing Ninja, who in a rare break from his usual stoicism, threatens to rip Bison a new one with his kunai if he doesn't put Rose down. Bison complies, and Guy immediately rushes to her side, urging Rose not to give in to "the specter of death" because the world needs her. His words reach her, and Rose awakens. Guy, who has a visible sweat drop on his forehead, gives a sigh of relief.