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Some people claim that you are to blame as much as I.
—"People Will Say We're in Love", Oklahoma!
This is when an older character comes across a graffito he wrote when he was young or when a younger character writes a graffito, intending to go back and look at it when he's old.
The most common form of this is childhood sweethearts carving their initials into a tree with a heart around them, hence the trope name. Alternately, the initials may be under an umbrella. Saving the tree in question is a common element of Green Aesop plots.
A variation has the graffito written by a third party as a form of visual gossip; this may also be revisited by either or both sweethearts later on.
- Kuno of Ranma ½ does this in a tree, using the Together Umbrella variation. Too bad it turns out to be a cursed dating tree...
- There's an infamous example in Superman fandom with "L.L. ♥s C.K." The joke, of course, is that Lana Lang, Lois Lane, Lori Lemaris and Lex Luthor all have the initials "L.L."
Film - Animated
- In Fern Gully Zack carves Krista's name in a tree with his pocketknife, to her dismay.
- Appears in Disney's Robin Hood.
Film - Live Action
- The Ghost Rider movie uses this.
- Anne of Green Gables has a subplot regarding the writing of these on the schoolhouse wall. The children refer to each Sweetie Graffiti as a Take Notice (as in "Extra Extra! John likes Jane!"). Note that said children are about twelve, thus they are hovering between cooties and dating; thus reactions to the Sweetie Graffiti change as they mature. As the narration puts it, you'd rather die than be featured in a Take Notice, but it's embarrassing knowing there's no danger of it ever happening.
- A non-romantic variant occurs in the Aubrey-Maturin series, where Jack carves his initials into the mast of a ship as a small boy and sees them there years later as the ship's captain.
- The Giving Tree features this.
- One of the illustrated Discworld books features a tree at the edge of a scene that's covered in these, all apparently created by Nanny Ogg for her various lovers.
- Including "L.d.Q" in flowing mirror writing, which explains the Mona Ogg.
- Played with in Where the Red Fern Grows. The main character got the names for his dogs from one of these.
- The Kite Runner: Amir carves, "Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul," into a pomegranate tree with Ali's kitchen knives.
- In The Catcher in The Rye, Holden meets an old man who came to the school to see if his old grafitto is still on the bathroom door. Holden thinks it's weird.
- Another non-romantic version is in one of the Anastasia Krupnik books, when Anastasia's family moves. Battling her sadness over this, Anastasia writes, This is my room forever. Anastasia Krupnik in small letters on her bedroom wall, then goes downstairs to her father's study to have a conversation with him, during which she acts like nothing is wrong. As she's leaving, she notices his name on the wall.
- Graham Greene deconstructs this trope in one of his short stories: An old man comes back to his town and wants to see a graffiti where he painted the mystery of undiscovered sex when he was a teen. When he sees it, he only can see a gross caricature. The point is that for a teen, that graffiti really was glorious art. For an old man, is disgusting garbage.
- On Frasier, they return to their old summer cabin and it's revealed that Niles carved the Latin for "always wear underwear" someplace.
- In an episode of Home Improvement, Tim lets his oldest son, Brad, make an appearance on his cable TV show, "Tool Time". Brad carves a perfectly shaped wooden heart for his girlfriend, Ashley, while he's on the show. Tim tries, too, but he screws it up (as always) and, as Brad puts it, "It looks like a kidney."
Tim: While a heart says "I love you," a kidney says "I gotta go!"
- This was a clue in an episode of Jonathan Creek.
- On 3rd Rock from the Sun, a character played by Harry Morgan brought this up while trying to guilt trip Mary into giving him her new office:
Prof. Sutor: Ah, the bay window! And the apple tree. My wife and I used to picnic under it all the time. She's dead now. Mary, you have better eyes than I. Do you see anything carved on the trunk out there?
- This happened on Phil of the Future but it wasn't quite romantic yet. Phil just carved "Phil + Keely Friends Forever" onto a young tree. Fast forward about one hundred years, and Phil's parents carve their names on the same tree.
- Remington Steele: Laura escapes police observation by hiding near a wall with a large graffiti heart and the initials MK and LH. As she emerges, she comments, "You may not have been much of a kisser, Marty Klopman, but you sure knew where to do it."
- In an episode of The George Lopez Show, he brings Angie to see some graffiti that he made of her when their relationship began for their anniversary. It's scheduled to be torn down, and it's revealed that George was taking credit for someone else's work.
- In the Mork and Mindy episode "Old Fears" (where Mork turns himself into an old man and dates Grandma Cora for a while), Cora says she suspected Mork was an alien when he carved their initials into a tree with his finger.
- In a later episode ("There's A New Mork In Town"), Xerko, a very popular, egotistical Orkan, plans to take both Mork's job... and Mindy. Mork, feeling defeated, goes outside to change the to change the carving on the tree to say "Xerko + Mindy".
- DICK + ANNA '64
- A video clip from Pink for the song "So What" has her dealing with this post-breakup by chainsawing down the tree.
- The '60s hit "Walk Away Renee", by the Left Banke:
Your name and mine inside a heart upon a wall
- Gary Larson parodied this in The Far Side, with the tree being sentient and threatening the couple.
- In an early Peanuts strip, Violet gets Charlie Brown carve their initials into a tree. It doesn't end well.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask does this with the Skull Kid.
- Kingdom Hearts features chalk drawings by Sora and Kairi in a hidden cave that they revisit years after they were drawn.
- Reforming demoness Fuschia makes a F + C heart on the back of Criminy's favorite tree in Sinfest.
- Brawl in the Family pairs Kirby and Jigglypuff, and, in this strip, Kirby scrawls his affection for her... into Whispy Woods.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, "S & B" graffiti show up occasionally on trees, desks, or bricks. Word of Tom is that the couple in question are named Spinach and Beanhead; it's also speculated that the letters S and B were chosen because "Sb" is the symbol for the element antimony.
- In All Grown Up!, Kimi was the one who carved "TP+KF" on the wall of the Finsters' garage.
- Used by The Simpsons in the golf castle where Marge and Homer first made love.
- There are two in the "Lovestruck" Valentine's ep of The Fairly Odd Parents. One was anti-love, however.
- Happens in an episode of Hey Arnold.
- There was a Cartoon Network bumper for Codename: Kids Next Door that featured Nigel and Lizzie's names on a tree.
- On Kim Possible when Shego was under the influence of the Moodulator she used her plasma blasts to carve one of these into the wall. Of course seeing "D.D.+S.G." creeped out Drakken immensely.
- In Jimmy Neutron, the supremely Shipper satisfying episode "Stranded" Cindy is seen carving one of these into a tree after she and Jimmy finally admit their feelings for each other. Despite a bit of a Snap Back once they're back to Retroville, it does serve as a turning point in their relationship development.
- Parodied in Home Movies:
Walter: We're trying to save the old oak tree!
- Ben 10 Alien Force: Max Verdona
- In an episode of Mighty Max, Max travels to ancient Egypt and tries to translate some hieroglyphs. The heiroglyphs turn out to be ancient Egyptian sweetie graffiti.