All Love Is Unrequited

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"Lonely men seek companionship. Lonely women sit at home and wait. They never meet."
—Attributed to Abraham Lincoln

This is the state in which nobody seems to be allowed to reciprocate any romantic interest showed in them; since having some sort of love interest is standard for characters, this necessarily leads down the path toward Love Dodecahedron-dom. Often, a story will begin with this trope, which then evolves into Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends and/or a less restrictive sort of Love Dodecahedron. Also, as the series ends all bets are off and there might be some resolution here.

This doesn't count for minor characters, as they can pair up without affecting the status quo significantly.

Any type 2 or type 5 Love Triangle falls into this category. May be because everyone's Oblivious to Love.

And what makes things even sadder is that often there will be at least one exception, with two characters who are actually mutually fond of one another. Unfortunately at least one of these characters will either...

  1. Have less and less screentime with their beloved, or in general...
  2. Not have that much screen time to begin with.

After all, love that is actually mutual? We can't have that now, can we?

This is extremely common in Shonen mangas and YA works directed at boys in general. Works directed at girls feature it much more sparely.

When fans support relationships that involve unrequited love, you're looking at Starboarding. This might be resolved—or, alternately, made even more awkward—if the unrequited makes their feelings known. If all the unrequited love is directed at the same character, they just might be a Mary Sue.

To prevent misuse, note that this trope is "*All* Love Is Unrequited", not just one unrequited relationship.

Examples of All Love Is Unrequited include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In Urusei Yatsura, this accounts for virtually every single romantic relationship, and at least half of all interpersonal relationships of any sort.
  • As it does in Ranma ½.
    • According to Takahashi, this is because all the side characters in the Love Chart were merely obstacles to Akane and Ranma's eventual hook up. Yes, even Mousse. The only reason Ryoga became the lone exception was because the fans demanded his happiness.
    • In the series itself, even Ranma and Akane's relationship could be seen this way; Akane doesn't know if Ranma is in love with her and Ranma's feelings about her remain a mystery, which is just as much a reason for their squabbling as the outside interference. Between Ranma "explaining" or otherwise denying any claims of attraction to Akane, and Akane's own combination of never even making a claim to deny and her Tsundere attitude covering up her more subtle signs of affection, it's no wonder that the manga canonically ends with them going right back to their usual behavior (claims that the manga's final line is a note that they do get married shortly afterwards is a falsehood, spread by the existence of a poorly translated online fan-dub).
  • Rumiko Takahashi also does this in Maison Ikkoku. Until the final season which finally untangles the complex relationships virtually all the love is unrequited. Even poor Kentaro (a minor character, the ten year old Only Sane Man) doesn't escape it. The first season ending song exemplifies the angst that can develop from this trope. Although in this series all of Takahashi's characters get a happy ending. All though to be fair, by that point I think most of them had earned it.
  • Peacemaker Kurogane: Saya has a thing for Tetsunosuke, Tatsunosuke is very protective of his little brother "Tetsu", Suzu was fiercely devoted to his late master Yoshida, but is now obsessed with Tetsunosuke, Tetsunosuke is the only person, other than his sister, that Susumu can relax around and show emotion towards, Okita is very fond of Tetsunosuke, Heisuke adores small cute things and frequently fawns over Tetsunosuke's cuteness, Yamanami takes a shine to Tetsunosuke, Hana tries to be a "mother figure" to Tetsunosuke...To sum everything up, the entire series is rife with Ho Yay and other implications, all of it focused on Tetsunosuke and all very much unrequited, though Tetsu tries to be a equal friend to everyone.
  • In Full Moon o Sagashite, Izumi loves Meroko who loves Takuto who loves Mitsuki who can't get over her dead childhood friend. Cue large helpings of Wangst (which isn't helped by Mitsuki's certain death in almost a year's time).
  • In Princess Tutu Drosselmeyer loves this trope. To explain: Ahiru has a crush on Mytho, who is loved by both Rue and Fakir but has no feelings of his own, and later in the series Fakir develops feelings for Ahiru. The couples do sort themselves out in the ends.
  • For the most part Neon Genesis Evangelion uses the dread Love Dodecahedron with several Love Triangles sprinkled around for good measure, but there are a least a few cases of clear Unrequited Love:
    • Asuka proclaims her love openly to Kaji (and harbors a rather unhealthy obsession with him), despite his protesting because of her age.
    • Gendo Ikari never moves on after the death of his wife, Yui, but this doesn't stop both Ritsuko and her mother from falling for him. He uses them, both professionally and physically, but never returns their affections.
    • Hikaru had a shy girl kind of crush on Toji and made him lunch every day, but he always remained oblivious. If he returned her feelings, he never showed it, either to her, or on-screen.
    • Fuyutski had feelings for Yui from the start, but soon enough she and Gendo were happily married.
    • It was implied in The End of Evangelion that Maya held feelings for Ritsuko, but, like Toji, if she did return her feelings she never showed it.
    • Makoto has a big crush on Misato, which she obviously doesn't ever return, and in fact sort of uses him for favors and such.
  • School Rumble. The entire series revolves around a number of Love Dodecahedra, all of which are never fully resolved by the time the series has reached its end.
  • Light in Death Note was using Misa and Takada's affections for his own purposes. And that's all the romance any of the main characters see. Chief Yagami and Aizawa are married, but their wives are almost never seen, and the flirting between Matsuda and Light's sister Sayu never goes anywhere (not that the Chief would have allowed it to).
    • Rem goes as far as to die out of unrequited love for Misa, despite the fact that Misa is disgusted by her, and has apparantly attempted to kill her with the death note for no stated reason.
    • Jealous does the same before her, and for the same person.
  • Honey and Clover.
  • Naruto during part I and arguably part II.
    • Part I: Kiba may or may not be sweet on Hinata, who pines for Naruto, who has a crush on Sakura, who pursues Sasuke, who's not interested in romance. Ino also pines for Sasuke, who's still not interested, while Tenten may or may not be interested in either of her teammates, but especially Lee, who tries to win Sakura over.
    • Part II adds Karin being hot for Sasuke though as of recent chapters she seems to have given up on him, Ino blushing at Sai, and the revelation that Jiraiya liked Tsunade all along. Also we have Shiho who has a major crush on Shikamaru who is Not Dating Temari. And that's not even getting into Hinata's grand ignored confession and whatever the hell is supposed to be going on between Naruto, Sasuke and Sakura now (really, words fail). According to Word of God, Part II is supposed to have all the romance in it. In practice, this probably means from here on things are going to get even more complicated.
  • One Piece thrives on this trope. There will never be any actual romance in the series, every romantic interest in the series is unrequited and Played for Laughs. Camie at the very least has a serious crush on Hatchan that he either hasn't noticed or generally ignores, Hancock is head over heels for Luffy but Oda is not shy about emphasizing the feelings are unrequited, and Sanji seems to fall for every attractive woman he meets, and the ones he's been friends with for the longest haven't come any closer to even remotely taking his flirtations seriously.( though this is subverted later when the mermaids, especially one named Ishilly, seem to take a shining to him)
  • From Mobile Suit Gundam 00... The fact that Tieria Erde came to have feelings for the first Lockon Stratos (Neil Dylandy) has been pretty much accepted by fandom; the exact nature and extent are heavily debated, though romantic love is a rather viable possibility. But while Lockon did care for Tieria, even if he'd survived the first season finale, his own issues would've made very hard for him to fully reciprocate his teammate's love for him.
    • Emotionless Girl Feldt Grace also had feelings for one of the characters mentioned above, but not only was there an insurmountable age difference, he also had some Revenge problems. Then he died.
    • And we can't forget Andrei Smirnov, whose feelings for Dark Action Girl Louise Halevy make him very awkward due to his own Mommy and Daddy issues * and* for the fact that Louise and Saji are Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • Video Girl Ai is filled with this, just about every character has a case of this. It's done so well that it qualifies as a Tear Jerker.
    • The author, Masakazu Katsura, LOVES this trope. His next work, I's featured more instances of unrequited love.
  • The majority of Code Geass characters' loves are unrequited. Kallen, Shirley, Rolo, Milly, and Kaguya are all in love with Lelouch, in their own ways. Lelouch had a crush on Euphemia, who was falling in love with Suzaku, who was falling in love with her. However, Lelouch accidentally causes Euphie to die and Suzaku went bonkers for that. Lelouch also apparently loves his full-blooded sister a bit too much, but Nunally, in addition to loving her brother just as much, has a bit of a crush on Suzaku, who still mourns for Euphemia and has lots of Foe Yay going on with Lelouch. And then there's Mao, who is obsessed with C.C. who tries to push him away...with a gun. And Milly, even though she secretly loves Lelouch, is engaged to Lloyd who is pretty much Married to the Job ( she later manages to break the engagement off, though). Not to mention Nina's psychotic love for Table-kun Euphemia or Rivalz's own crush on Milly... And let's not even start on the Lost Colors Dating Sim.
    • Mao's case is eventually averted, however, when C.C. admits she really did love him. He still dies soon after though, so he only has a few moments to enjoy it.
  • Black Cat has a lot of this. Kyoko, Rinslet, Saya, and Creed all fell in love with Train, though Train is mentally / emotionally immature and apparently asexual, therefore rendering all of their feelings for him unrequited. And then there's Echidna who loves Creed, but Creed is too gay for Train to care. And then there's Janus' feelings for Rinslet, but Rinslet (at least in the manga) seems to be hesitant about returning his feelings due to her crush on Train. And then there's hints that Charden might like Kyoko, who explicitly states that she would like Charden if not for Train. And then there's Eve's crush on Sven, but Sven is much more concerned with Train (being Train's Heterosexual Life Partner and all)... it's all a mess.
  • From Suzumiya Haruhi, it is widely believed that in the chapter "Snow Mountain Syndrome", where each member of the SOS Brigade was visited in their rooms by another Brigade member, the visitor was the one that the visited was attracted to the most. Keeping this in mind, it could then be said that Kyon likes Mikuru, Mikuru likes Haruhi, and Haruhi, Yuki, and Itsuki all like Kyon. No reciprocated feelings to be found.
    • This is further complicated by the fact that Itsuki uses who was seen in what room to form a diagram of the number to solve the formula and let them out of the mansion and then theorizes that it was Yuki who made the fakes to give them a hint. However this may not be true as the mansion they were in was set up to provide them with everything they wanted as soon as they thought about it, such as instantly finding stuff to make sandwiches in the fridge or an ice pack that wasn't there before...and right before fake!Mikuru appears in Kyon's room he was thinking about her coming in to see him.
      • As it so happens, the diagram Itsuki drew also doesn't actually work. He drew an arabic "4" which couldn't be made given the positioning of the rooms, but a digital four (like an upside-down/flipped "h") still could have if different people had been in different rooms.
      • Even ignoring the Snow Mountain Syndrome episode, it's heavily implied in the main series (and confirmed for the alternate universe) that Itsuki has feelings for Haruhi. Which means Itsuki likes Haruhi while Yuki and Haruhi both like Kyon.
  • In regards to Axis Powers Hetalia:
    • England's got a 100-years-long and currently non-returned crush on America. The most obvious hint is the Valentines strip where England gives America some chocolates while blushing and being all embarrassed. America giving mixed signals (mocking England in one moment, claiming to be hurt because England didn't give him Valentine's chocolates in the next) doesn't exactly help matters, and neither does the fact that they're both Tsundere and * heavy* on the "tsun".
    • Unrequited love is the basis of the whole Belarus/Russia/Lithuania love triangle as well. Belarus likes Russia, Russia likes Lithuania (sorta), Lithuania likes Belarus, and it goes downhill from there.
      • There's also some degree of speculation about Poland's feelings for Lithuania being not 100% platonic...
    • Korea's incestuous affections towards China and Japan aren't exactly requited either.
    • If you read a bit more on it, cases can be made for Prussia and Switzerland being Unlucky Childhood Friends for Hungary and Austria, respectively.
    • It's also worth noting that according to the author's notes on the Greece/Japan/Turkey Love Triangle, both arrows pointing to Japan are one-sided. Even if you take the common view that Japan does reciprocate Greece's feelings, that still leaves Turkey in the lurch.
      • In fact, it's pretty hard not to see Turkey as a third wheel in the strips he gets with Japan and Greece, considering how almost all the Ship Tease for the triangle goes to Japan and Greece. Add to that the beta version of the Drama CD revealing Turkey to have been in love with Ancient Greece who he eventually killed, and his potential Foe Yay with Greece who loathes him and is sweet on Japan in at least half of all fanworks and goes "I don't completely hate you..." at best in other fanworks, and well... let's face it, the poor guy is a Hopeless Suitor.
  • In Sorcerer Stabber Orphen, Azalie was in love with Childman but he rejected her. Ellis is in love with Majik, but he's Oblivious to Love. Cleao struggles with her feelings for Orphen towards the end of the first season, but their relationship in the second one is more Like Brother and Sister. A case can be made for Hartia being in love with Orphen, too.
  • Though it's much more subtle, Bleach has a lot of this with the most obvious and canon example being Orihime and her love for Ichigo, who is oblivious to it. Arguably, there's proof for Rukia to Kaien and Renji to Rukia while all the other pairings are based on how the audience sees it i.e Ichigo/Rukia and so on and so forth.
  • Ghost in the Shell. Batou clearly has feelings for The Major, but she never responds to them, and Batou is too loyal to force the issue.
  • Heck, the whole Fighting Shounen Anime Genre can be very fond of this trope, as there are even known cases of characters whose only true purpose in the plot is to be a Hopeless Suitor. (Most of them are female, but males can qualify as well.
    • But in all fairness, Shounen Anime is not the only type of anime to do this, as Tenjho Tenge is also quite fond of this trope as well. The only known exception is Bob Makihara and his girlfriend Chiaki Kounoike are the only exceptions, with the former getting relatively little screentime and the latter being a fairly minor character to begin with.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima can hardly avoid this when the object of affections is a ten or elevenish year old Adorably Precocious Child Oblivious to Love who thinks of them all as students/sisters/friends. The only other love relations seen so far are Tsukuyomi -> Setsuna, Asuna -> Takamichi, which he feels too inferior for, Evangeline -> Nagi and Natsumi -> Kotarou, who is also oblivious to love... mostly. Actually there are probably more examples, such as Fate's minions, but they still all fit.
    • And the Foe Yay between Fate/Negi. Negi is apparently the only person who interests Fate enough for him to smile slightly during their battles together. Not to mention how entertained he appears when Negi starts to prove himself to be a worthy opponent, his penchant for invading Negi's personal space, or how he apparently thinks about Negi when they're not fighting sometimes...
    • As of chapters 252 and 262, we actually get requited love with Konoka/Setsuna and Kotarou/Natsumi. Of course, the Unwanted Harem surrounding Negi is far from being resolved any time soon...
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Tsuna has a big crush on Kyoko, who only seems to see him as a really good friend. Kyoko herself is a whole lot more concerned with her Hot-Blooded brother Ryouhei (though she has also expressed slight interest in Gokudera). Gokudera, in turn, is obsessively devoted to (and very heavily implied to be crushing on) Tsuna, who sees him as a good friend (but is also scared of his aggressiveness). Yamamoto wants Gokudera to "open his heart to him" and obviously wishes to... further their relationship; Gokudera really dislikes Yamamoto, however, and hates how Tsuna seems more comfortable with him. Ryouhei mainly just cares about living life TO THE EXTREME (though he did have a small crush on adult I-Pin). I-Pin has a big crush on Hibari (who reminds her of her sensei). Hibari really only cares about having Foe Yay with Mukuro (and later, some with Tsuna). However, Mukuro is obsessed with having his Foe Yay with Tsuna ("I want to possess your body" indeed). Ken and Chikusa are crazed fanboys over Mukuro, who tends to treat them like crap (save for one Pet the Dog instance). Haru loves Tsuna, who really doesn't see her that way, and constantly tries to discourage her. Hana has a crush on the future Lambo, but he barely knows her since, well, 99% of the time he's stuck ten years in the future, leaving her to interact only with his infant self (to whom she's literally allergic). While Dr. Shamal may run after every girl who's ever passed within fifty feet of him, he has significantly more of a crush on Bianchi, who responds with a plate of Poison Cooking to the face. And then there's Bianchi herself, with an unrequited love for Reborn. Oh, and Levi's undying devotion to Xanxus is as unappreciated as Genkishi's is to Byakuran. Don't forget Squalo's very loud love for his boss, Xanxus. Gamma is also rather protective of Uni.
  • Depending on the canon, Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask fall into this for the first season just with each other. In the manga, specifically, Usagi loves Tuxedo Mask and begins to love Mamoru. Mamoru loves Sailor Moon and begins to love Usagi, while also having memories of Princess Serenity. It takes the rest of the first arc for them to learn they are all the same people.
    • Good Guys:
      • Hina of PGSM loves Mamoru.
      • Rei loves Kaidou in the manga. She had a thing for Mamoru in the first season and was deeply hurt when it was revealed he and Usagi were meant to be but she got over it.
      • Makoto loves her sempai and had a deep crush on Motoki in the first season.
      • Minako loves Ace's alter ego in the manga and Alan in the anime.
      • ChibiUsa has some... confused feelings about Mamoru.
      • Setsuna may have feelings for Endymion.
      • Seiya loves Usagi and possibly loves Kakyuu.
    • Bad Guys:
      • Queen Beryl wanted Endymion/Mamoru in the manga, which was apparently her reason for going to the darkside.
      • Villains Ali and En love each other but also fall for Usagi and Mamoru, respectively.
      • Fiore is the Ho Yay option and loves Mamoru, or is at least VERY protective of his "friend."
      • Prince Diamond is obsessed with Neo Queen Serenity and, by extension, Usagi.
      • Emerald is infatuated with Prince Diamond and insanely jealous of Usagi.
      • Cooan loves Rubius, who just uses her for his own gain.
      • Kaorinite wants Tomoe's pants.
  • Almost everyone in S-Cry-ed who is in love is unrequited or otherwise prevented - several make Heroic Sacrifices for a beloved they know is in love with someone else. One minor character has a Static Character girlfriend (who he loses and later wins back without her ever getting a single line), and Ryuhou, who does reciprocate Minori's feelings, won't act on them because of Scheris who is also in love with him. Straight Cougar practically quotes the trope name at one point in the Anime.
  • The manga Hatsukoi Limited is essentially a massive love 20-or-so-hedron. There are all these middle schoolers, and some high schoolers, and other random people... and almost all of them have an unrequited crush. Also, for much of the series, a character/unrequited love gets one chapter of screentime before being in the background for a long while; it feels really disjointed for the first few chapters. Despite this, a pretty good romantic manga.
  • In "Stop!! Hibari-kun!" Hibari is in love with Kohsaku, Kohsaku is in love with Rie, Rie is in love Shiina, Shiina is in love with Hibari. Needless to say, a lot of rejection occurs.
  • In Kämpfer, Shizuku, Akane and Mikoto all like Natsuru, who is hopelessly in love with Kaede, who in turn lusts for Female Natsuru. Probably the only reason why the girls haven't given up on him is that they know that hell will freeze before Kaede likes Male Natsuru. It's also not helped by the fact that there's certainly some amount of Mind Control going on and Kaede is revealed to be The Big Bad. It doesn't look good for anybody ...
  • In Digimon Adventure/Digimon Adventure 02 Tai/Taichi really likes his close childhood friend Sora, and for a while it seemed that she shared his feelings ... until she starts dating his best friend Matt/Yamato and marries him at the end of the series. Similarly, throughout the first half of Anime/Digimon Adventure 02 Gogglehead Davis/Daisuke crushes on Kari/Hikari but it is unrequited as she seemed to like her close friend T.K./Takeru—Davis' rival—moreso. Digimon Frontier also had it's share of unrequited love. J.P. really likes Zoe and while she seemed to value him as a friend she has a crush on Takuya instead.
  • Rampant in Saiunkoku Monogatari: Emperor Shi Ryuuki loves Kou Shuurei, who refuses to consider marriage because she's focused on her political career. Ran Shuuei loves Shusui, who loves Kou Shouka, who loves his dead wife Shokun. Emperor Shi Senka loved a woman he couldn't marry and had six concubines he couldn't love, leading to masses of resentment from all of them. There are a few instances of couples who manage to have requited relationships - To Eigetsu and Kourin, Sa Kokujun and Sa Shunki, Tei Yuushun and Sai Rin - but they're all secondary characters and they still have to work for it.
  • In Project A-ko, basically every character's love of another is unrequited. Hilarity Ensues.
  • An explicit example in Hayate the Combat Butler combines this with a Gender Flip of Dogged Nice Guy in the form of Ayumu Nishizawa. Hell, one of her Image Songs is entitled Ganbare Kataomoi, which roughly means "Good luck with my unrequited love".
  • One of the story arcs in Uzumaki has a the local girl who all boys are drooling over fall desperately in love with Shuichi, the main character's male friend. He couldn't care less. It... doesn't end well for her.
  • In Slayers, the shrine maiden Sylphiel has feelings for Gourry, who in turn is: a) oblivious to them, b) too stupid to notice anyway, and c) beginning to fall for Lina, the heroine, who he's been traveling with. There is also the sorceress Eris, who loves Rezo, the Disc One Final Boss of the first season/first several novels; he is far too obscessed with trying to cure his blindness to love another; another unrequited one for him is the anime-exclusive mechanical doll Ozzel. Meanwhile, Amelia has notable feelings for Zelgadis in the anime (not in the novels, given the No Hugging, No Kissing Rule by its author), but he either doesn't care or tries to avoid them. He does show care and concern for her at times and can talk to her casually, but he also gets fed up with her easily. Manga and game adaptations, however, have him somewhat reciporacate them. Also, in the novel, Luke loves his partner Milina, who doesn't give a flying crud. In the Hourglass of Falces manga, though, she sort of returns his feelings.
  • Full Metal Panic!: Kaname and Tessa both love Sousuke. Sousuke has huge mental problems (including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Intimacy Issues) that prevent him from returning anyone's feelings until after three whole seasons, where he finally realizes he's developing feelings for Kaname. And then there's Nami, whom Sousuke later starts developing feelings for, except she dies, so so much for that. And Lemon had feelings for Nami, but she likes Sousuke. Then there's Tsubaki, who has a crush on Kaname, and feels a great rivalry towards Sousuke, who doesn't care. And Mizuki, in turn, has a (very) unrequited crush on Tsubaki. And then there's Leonard, who is in love/lust/whatever with Kaname, who dislikes him. To add to the mix, there's Ena Saeki, who had a crush on Sousuke, who thought she was a terrorist. More weirdly, Gauron, Sousuke's Ax Crazy psychopath Arch Enemy, is obsessively in love with him. In a creepy, violent way. And the two twins Gauron raised, Yu Fan and Yu Lan, desperately love Gauron (and each other). Then Gates has an unhealthy pedophile obsession with the twins. This whole thing gets a lot worse when you add how a huge portion of the students at school have secret crushes / are lusting after Sousuke into the mix.
  • Initial D coined the term "lonely driver" referring to guys who spend most of their time working on their cars and either never get a girlfriend or have a relationship go bad on them. Takumi seems to be exempt from this, but his friends have had it happen to them (at least Itsuki had a good relationship going for a while before Kazumi dumped him for an older guy she once loved)
    • Keisuke may fall under this because he turns down Kyoko due to his duties as an ace of Project D
    • And in recent chapters of the manga Ryosuke was revealed to have had a relationship with a girl named Kaori who also liked another guy and was eventually driven to suicide
  • A cute slice-of-life gag manga called Wa! by Mahoraba's Kojima Akira eats, breathes, and sleeps this trope - the founding premise of it is that each character has a crush on another character, who in turn has a crush on another character, and so on until it makes a neat loop (with the addition of those two girls who eschew romantic hijinks for Seinfeldian Conversation). Notably, though, the Love Dodecahedron in this series is more comedic than dramatic, at least so far.
    • Chapter 9 is a summary of all the unrequited feelings of the characters up to that point. It is this trope in its entirity.
  • Tenshi ni Narumon ( Noelle loves Yusuke, who loves Natsumi, who loves her deceased brother Fuyuki-meaning Raphael, who loves Mikael, who... seems to be interested in Noelle in 'that' way, but is he?. And it's just the beggining. There's also Muse, who loves Eros, who loves Silky, who... has weird fixation on Noelle. Yeah.)
  • In Karakuridouji Ultimo, there's Akitsu, who loves Rune, who loves Yamato, who loves Sayama, who later turns out to love Akira, one of the Evil Doji masters. Basically, you can't get anywhere with anyone in Ultimo, because they're either gay, straight or evil.
  • Nurse Angel Ririka SOS has no shortage of super-powered grade-school students, and thus no shortage of Precocious Crushes that are mostly just for texture. Ririka has a crush on Kanou, but he is in love with Princess Helena. Seiya is in love with Ririka, but she is oblivious.
  • A staple of the Harem genre since the main guy can only choose one girl, usually. Though almost all love is unrequited in Harem, relationships are much less complicated and messy than the Shoujo genre, which does have its own Harem. Given the fact that many Shoujo characters tend to be more fickle (inculding and sometimes escpacially the main heroine), love may acutally only be halfway-requited; the result though, is one hairy mess.
  • In order to maintain the No Hugging, No Kissing environment of Daily Lives of High School Boys, the creator actively sinks any possible hints of romance pairings — so Hidenori thinks Literature Girl is a weirdo, the Convex Mirror Girl is an illusion, Emi is Hidenori's counsin, and Karasawa is Habara-phobic. This does not prevent others to ship, though.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The ad campaign for the comic Young Heroes In Love explicitly plays with this trope, as does the comic itself.
  • Peanuts is this trope incarnate: unrequited love is nearly[1] the only kind that exists.
  • The Super Young Team of The DCU has a love triangle (that's really more of a love line segment) along these lines; Big Atomic Lantern Boy loves Shiny Happy Aquazon who only has eyes for Well Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash who isn't interested in relationships.

Film -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Easter Parade: At least until about a half hour before the end, Hannah loves Don, Don loves Nadine, Nadine loves Johnny (for his money), and Johnny loves Hannah. Then, of course, Don loves Hannah ("Why didn't you tell me I was in love with you?"), Johnny gives his blessing, and everyone forgets about Nadine.
  • In the Japanese DVD Sea Of Dreams, one short centers around a group of five friends spending a day together at Tokyo Disney Sea park. The story is narrated by a boy who has unrequited feelings for a girl dating another guy in the group. Throughout the short, it is revealed that all five teens have unrequited love for another in the group, but no one really acts on these feelings and life goes on.
  • In She's the Man, Viola likes Duke who has a crush on Olivia who likes Sebastian (who is actually Viola in disguise). Stalker with a Crush Malcolm also likes Olivia. Eunice likes Sebastian (who is actually Viola) with Toby habouring a crush on her. Thankfully, this gets all sorted out in the end.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy, three men propose marriage to Bathsheba Everdene. Both of the first two men love her, but she refuses them both. She marries the third, then discovers that he's in love with another woman.
  • Steinbeck's entire East of Eden revolves around this trope, but with love in the general sense: father/son and brother/brother in addition to romance.
  • Bret Easton Ellis' The Rules of Attraction exaggerates this trope to the point of comedic ridiculousness, using a narrative which transfers constantly between ten or eleven promiscuous arts college students (though there are 3 central protagonists), all of whom have unrequited feelings for one another and/or more minor characters.
  • In Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, deformed bellringer Quasimodo, increasingly unstable priest Claude Frollo, and lazy poet Pierre Gringoire are all in love with La Esmeralda (Gringoire even ends up married to her, though that doesn't mean he gets to touch her), who loves the soldier Phoebus, who's engaged to another woman but fine with boning Esmeralda on the side so long as it doesn't inconvenience him in any way and he doesn't have to acknowledge her in public.
  • In the book Death Star, twenty years after the events of the Medstar Duology, the one character to feature in all three books is a surgeon who went from a teenaged prodigy to a cynical middle-aged man who's been permanently drafted. In Death Star he reflects that he still doesn't know if he loved Bariss Offee, a Jedi he'd known during the Clone Wars. Whether he did or didn't, her death hit him hard, and he thinks of her often. As the Medstar Duology featured Bariss as one of the viewpoint characters, the readers know that she was totally unaware - she'd known about another character who thought he loved her, and she'd spent a lot of time with the prodigy, but she never knew.
  • The Indigo series. Let's see: Phereniq loves Augon. Augon is oblivious to her feelings. Luk loves Jessamin. Jessamin is apparently infatuated with Augon...but, as she turns out to be a demon's avatar, it's academic. Forthright loves Indigo. Indigo thinks Forthright is a silly boy. Rimmi loves Veness. Veness loves Indigo...and she returns his feelings, meaning Veness is doomed. Lord Bray loves Moia. Moia loves Gordo, and it gets them both killed. Ryen loves Brythere—despite their marriage being an arranged one—and is worried that she doesn't reciprocate (she does). Vinar loves Indigo...but, when that doesn't work out, he eventually hooks up with Niahrin. Indigo loves Fenran (or at least her memories of him. Fenran, in the end, loves only his own ambitions. (And that's probably not a complete list.)
  • Great Expectations is chock-full of this. The protagonist Pip has unrequited feelings on Estella, who was raised by her mistress to be an unfeeling Ice Queen who breaks boys' hearts. Estella herself ends up in an abusive marriage. Pip, after realizing his feelings for his childhood friend Biddy, tries to start a relationship with her, only to learn that she was already in relationship with his Parental Substitute.
  • In the Disgaea novels, Laharl is given a harem of girls, none of them will even get what they want, because our “hero” is Allergic to Love and a Celibate Hero.
  • Tons of unrequited love exists in A Song of Ice and Fire. The most notable case is probably Littlefinger's crush on Catelyn Stark, which lasted from their childhood into both characters' middle age, and may have been the root cause of The War of the Five Kings.
  • I Capture the Castle: Stephen is in love with Cassandra, who's in love with Simon, who's in love with Rose, who's in love with Neil.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ginny likes Harry, who has a crush on Cho Chang, who is dating Cedric Diggory. After Cedric dies, Harry and Cho try to date. It fails miserably. By this point in time, Ginny has moved onto Dean Thomas... Just in time for Harry to realize that he likes Ginny after all. Romilda Vane also tries to feed Harry a love potion.
    • Severus Snape has always loved Lily Evans. Lily eventually marries James Potter, who also has an unrequited crush on her for quite awhile.
    • Bellatrix quite clearly loves Voldemort, who isn't really capable of feeling or comprehending love.
    • Hermione and Ron love one another, but each has a few throw-away Love Interests; Hermione (along with the rest of the girls at school) has a crush on Gilderoy Lockhart, goes to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum (who retains feelings for her after the fact, as well as expresses interest in Ginny at the wedding), and takes Cormac McLaggen as her date to the Slug Club party specifically to annoy Ron. Ron, on the other hand, has a thing for Fleur Delacour (who marries his older brother, Bill) and Madame Rosmerta, and dates the thoroughly obnoxious Lavender Brown to get back at Hermione for dating Krum. He also hilariously becomes infatuated with Romilda Vane after accidentally ingesting the love potions she put in Harry's chocolates.
    • Per Word of Gay, Dumbledore once had a crush on Grindelwald. It was unrequited, but that didn't keep the latter from exploiting it for his own gain.
  • Wicked: Melena cheats on Frex constantly, with her most persistent lover being Turtle Heart, whom Frex also seems to have a thing for. Whether or not Melena and Frex actually care about one another is debatable. Also, Boq has a long-time crush on Glinda, who seems to be in love with Elphaba, who may or may not return those feelings. Later on, Elphaba is in love with Fiyero, who is altogether confused about the concept of love (he was betrothed at the age of seven, so that's understandable), but seems pretty convinced that he feels the same way. His widow, Sarima, doesn't care about him too much, but seems to be furious when confronted with the fact that he was cheating on her (but she thinks it was with Glinda).
  • Sad Cypress: Peter loves Elinor, who loves Roddy, who loves Mary, who finds him annoying and tells him to go back to Elinor.
  • Tales of Kolmar has the Vilkas<-Aral<-Will situation.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Step by Step: Al Lambert was admittedly the hottest girl in Port Washington, Wis. (thanks to the stunningly beautiful Christine Lakin playing the role), and in the later episodes never was in want of a boyfriend. But during the first two seasons, Al was the tomboy (being only 12 at the time, and Lakin just entering her puberty period) ... and one of the earliest episodes—one where Urkel crash-landed in the Lamberts' yard—had her trying in vain to catch the eye of a good-looking sixth-grade classmate to take to the dance. Urkel helps her to realize that the boy didn't want her (because she was too tomboyish ... just wait five years and he would have been sor-ree!) and there were others more worthy of her time.
  • Early Buffy the Vampire Slayer is like this, through somewhere in the middle of season 2. Oz is interested in Willow, who has a crush on Xander, who likes Buffy, who's in love with Angel (who proves the exception to the trope by loving her back, though his vampirism and his curse provide obstacles of their own). Then Willow falls for Oz, Xander and Cordelia hook up, etc.
  • Babylon 5 is not an pure example of this trope, but it is the Trope Namer. Several major characters (Delenn and Sheridan, with each other; Garibaldi, with Lise) do end up Happily Married, but Ivanova claims that life itself is unrequited love, after Marcus, whose sweet, shy crush on her she had been ignoring, gives up his life to save hers.

Ivanova: "All love is unrequited, Stephen. All of it."

    • Well, to be fair, there's plenty of it in Babylon 5. Apart from Marcus for Susan, we have Lennier for Delenn, Garibaldi for Talia, Zack for Lyta, and Corwin for Susan (at least on a crush scale).
      • Ivanova at the least had a right to be bitter about romance, after what happened to Talia Winters.
  • In ER, Rocket Romano pines after Elizabeth Corday for a whopping seven years, from their first meeting until his death.
  • Frasier:
    • "The Ski Lodge" features the cruelest punchline of all these examples; after all the running around, Frasier is left to come to the painful realization that absolutely no one was interested in him.
    • On a more long-term basis, for the longest time Niles' crush on Daphne was firmly unrequited, long enough for him to finally give up on her and move on with someone else... just in time for Daphne to learn of his feelings and realize that she really was in love with him. Oy.
  • 24's seventh season seems to have a pint-sized version of this going on: Janis likes Larry Moss, who likes Renee Walker, who likes Jack Bauer, who... probably likes Renee, or possibly only loves killing terrorists. Then season 8 shows that, yes, Jack does indeed like Renee. Shame about that, really...
  • Grey's Anatomy.
  • Every soap opera ever.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney spent the entire fourth season secretly pining after Robin. Then, in the season finale, she says that she loves him back. Instantly, Barney's completely over his feelings for her and goes back to hitting on random bimbos. Then, when he finds out Robin lied about being in love with him, he goes right back to wanting her again. This all eventually leads to them doing a rapid-fire version of this trope.

Barney: Why are you so afraid of giving this a chance?
Robin: Because I'm scared of how much I like you!
Barney: Whoa, this is a bad idea.
Robin: Uch, you're right, it's a mistake.
Barney: Yes ... No!
Robin: I love you.
Barney: Let's be friends.
Robin: Okay, friends then.
Barney: I love you.
Robin: Let's get married!
Barney: No, you're smothering me!

  • The Russell T. Davies-era Doctor Who. Mickey loves Rose, but Rose loves the Doctor, who Rose's mother Jackie flirts with on their first meeting, but he won't allow himself to fall in love, he is later loved by Martha (who the Doctor rejects at every chance), was loved by Sarah Jane Smith, and had been (at least one side of him) loved by the school Matron Joan. Oh, and Jack loves everyone. This is not at all the case in the classic series (even Sarah Jane's attraction for him is a Retcon), and becomes much less true in the Steven Moffat era.
  • The tradition continues in Torchwood. Tosh is in love with Owen, who is either not interested or too proud to give her a chance. Gwen loves her boyfriend, but she loves Jack even more. Jack loves Gwen too, but is aware the she's taken. He is, in turn, casually involved with Ianto, who is pining for much more than that.
  • In Smallville, Clark with Lana in the first season. (Most fans wished it had stayed that way) Chloe with Clark for pretty much the whole series though she seems to be over it.
  • In Glee Ken falls for Emma who pines for Will who's married to Terri. Until Will finds out Terri lied about being pregnant and then falls for Emma although Ken is still out in the cold.
    • Mercedes likes Kurt, who likes Finn, who is both interested in Rachel (who likes him back) and dating Quinn, who is cheating on him with Puck, who is dating Santana, who also has little side-flings with Brittany.
    • Kartofsky likes Kurt, who likes Blaine, who likes some random guy at the Gap.
    • Artie has a fling with Brittany because he still likes Tina, who has moved on to Mike Chang.
    • Artie misses Brittany the second time they break up. He tries (unsuccessfully) to win her back). At the same time, Santana is in love with Brittany, but is dating Kartofsky, who also seems to have a thing for Sam.
    • Will likes Emma but makes out with Shelby, has a sleepover (strangely, a literal one) with April Rhodes, and is in the process of divorcing Terri. Emma likes Will too, but is tired of trying to make their relationship work...so she moves onto Carl the dentist. Sue also develops a one-episode crush on Will.
    • Rachel likes Finn who is dating (and eventually breaks up with Quinn), so Rachel moves onto Jesse while still having feelings for Finn who ultimately decides he wants to be with Rachel. And this happens twice.
    • Quinn dates Sam, cheats on Sam with Finn, and then Santana breaks Sam and Quinn up so she can date Sam. After Sam and Santana break up, Rachel tries (unsuccessfully) to ask him out.
    • Jacob Ben Israel likes Rachel, which never changes. Also, Puck's crush on Lauren goes unrequited for quite some time.
  • In Primeval, the main character Nick begins to fall for Claudia who is then erased from the time line and replaced with an alternate version called Jenny who Nick also falls for until he's shot. Likewise, Nick's ex-wife Helen tries to seduce him but fails and then tries on his best friend Stephen who leaves her after he finally realises the sort of person she is - and then sacrifices himself. Abby falls for Stephen at the beginning of the show's run but is discouraged when she learns he already has a girlfriend (who is not Helen). Of all the relationships in the show, only the Connor/Abby arc comes to something - and even that took two whole series and the better part of a third.
  • The Vampire Diaries: Damon is the epitome of this Trope. He loves Elena, she doesn't love him back. He loves Katherine, who also doesn't love him back, but instead loves Stefan. Who is in love with Elena. Hoo boy...
  • Community: The first few episodes seemed to offer a fairly predictable version of this, with Official Couple Jeff/Britta and Beta Couple Annie/Troy. But it eventually averted this, in that after a while the characters decided to move on to other people instead of fawning over someone seemingly uninterested. There is still occasional Ship Tease between these pairings, but it's not a primary focus (and there's just as, if not more, Ship Tease between other pairings, such as Jeff/Annie).
  • As of the season 4 finale of iCarly, Sam has fallen for Freddie who has fallen for Carly who could be harbouring her own feelings towards Freddie due to a breakup after he saved her life in an earlier episode eventually lead to them breaking up because of Freddie was unsure if Carly really loved him and not just because he saved her life. In the season 5 premiere, the sequel to the season 4 finale has Freddie kissing Sam and returning the feelings Sam has for him.
  • C-drama Holy Pearl (loosely based on Inuyasha) has this in spades. To begin: Mo Yin loves Rong Di who loves Xian Yue who loves Wen Tian. Wen Tian manages to buck the trend with Xian Yue's reincarnation Ding Yao, who loves him back. Until the very last episode, at which point it is played depressingly straight.


Music[edit | hide]

  • There's a strong argument to be made that the entire sub-genre of Pop-Punk is built on this trope.
  • The They Might Be Giants song "Withered Hope" is about about a Love Pentagon that's like this. A Very Sad Sack loves Withered Hope, who has a soul mate, who loves a picture of a crook, who loves a motorcycle, who loves Very Sad Sack...
  • Maybe the world would be a better place if we all gave up and admitted that the J. Geils Band was right all along when they wrote "Love Stinks."

You love her, but she loves him. And he loves somebody else, you just can't win.

She can't see the way your eyes light up when you smile
She'll never notice how you stop and stare whenever she walks by
And you can't see me wanting you the way you want her
But you are everything to me

  • How could you guys forget some of Supercell's works?
  • Vanessa Carlton's song Rinse is about all unrequited love, and it states that the girl in the song should give up her love for a guy who doesn't love her back but can't.
  • Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour":

In the cafe or sometimes on a crowded street
I've been near you, but you never notice me.

  • "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meat Loaf: The singer can't love the girl he's singing to, because he's in love with another woman who, true to the trope, doesn't love him.
  • "Everybody Plays the Fool", a song with famous versions by R&B group The Main Ingredient and by Aaron Neville.
  • The Submarines' Xavia puts sit quite succinctly;

Why is it that no two people feel the same way at the same time?

  • The Korean Vocaloid See U's song Mission is a fine example of this trope;

My heart weakens as I think of you in the middle of the night
Yet you wouldn't even realize my feelings towards you even in my dreams.

Theater[edit | hide]

  • The Seagull: Medvedenko for Masha, Masha for Treplev, Treplev for Nina, Nina and Arkadina for Trigorin. Well, technically, Trigorin returns Arkadina's advances, as well as Nina's, eventually, but the ending results aren't pretty.
  • Patience by Gilbert and Sullivan: the soldiers love the maids, who love Bunthorne, who loves Patience, who loves nobody.
  • Twelfth Night, up until Sebastian says "madam, I will".
  • Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw: Raina does start out in love with Sergei, but she's more in love with the romantic ideas she holds about what he's doing out on the battlefield, and once Bluntschli shatters her notions of romantic battle (in the first scene), we've got... Raina starting to want Bluntschli, Bluntschli thinking she's far too young to pursue, Sergei still thinking he's going to marry Raina but really more lusting toward housemaid Luca, and Luca seemingly going to marry a fellow servant. Of course, near the end, Luca pulls the rug out from under this arrangement, and everyone falls over into the right arms.

Bluntschli: 23? 23?! If you were 23 when you said those things to me, I shall take them very seriously indeed.

  • In Jean-Paul Satre's Huis Clos/No Exit, Estelle wants Garcin (more specifically, she wants a warm male body, and Garcin will do); Garcin, on the other hand, is attracted to the intelligence of Ines; but Ines is fixated on Estelle, who reminds her of her former lover Florence. The fact that they're stuck in a love triangle will never be resolved is their chief torment in hell.
  • In The History Boys: Posner loves Dakin, but Dakin is (if not in love with, then at least attracted to) Irwin. More amusingly, Scripps has a theory that this is the defining characteristic of Christianity.
  • Team Starkid loves this trope. In both A Very Potter Musical, the sequel, AND Me and My Dick, unrequited love is EVERYWHERE.
    • Just for the sake of listing, in A Very Potter Musical and its sequel, we have:
      • 1. Draco and Ron both like Hermione and are in denial about it.
      • 2. Pansy likes Draco, who's just using her to cover up his crush on Hermione.
      • 3. Hermione likes Ron (and, according to A Very Potter Sequel, Harry), but neither one is very nice to her.
      • 4. Snape liked Harry's mother, much to Harry's disgust. That, and Lily was married.
      • 5. Ginny likes Harry, who likes Cho Chang, who is dating Cedric Diggory.
      • 6. Ron is implied to be bisexual for Harry.
      • 7. Umbridge has a crush on Dumbledore, who's gay. Dumbledore also seems to have a crush on Snape.
      • 8. Bellatrix loves Voldemort, who seems to love Quirrel...
  • Wicked: Nessa loves Boq. Boq loves G(a)linda. G(a)linda loves Fiyero. The only requited love is between Fiyero and Elphaba, the latter of whom thought it was unrequited at first.
  • Arguably the entire point of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Amy Rose will try and try but she'll never get Sonic to return her feelings. However, the titular hero does like her as a friend.
    • A few bios state that Sonic probably doesn't dislike her as much as he appears to, hinting at a facade. But he's still 15 and she's 12 and she's very clingy. Sonic Chronicles, being a typical BioWare game, does actually allow the two to become an item if you play your cards right. Whether or not this will become Canon has yet to be determined.
  • Knights of the Old Republic manages to accomplish the trope backwards with the addition of the second game. Pursue romantic subplots in the first game all you want; your PC still takes off for parts unknown and never returns, leaving his or her love interest behind to wait indefinitely.
    • Also occurs with the Exile. While it's possible to have certain party members fall for you, you're never really given the option to return their feelings. At best, all your character can do is dance around the issue. Also a male Exile can make advances on Mira, but she turns you down.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Pursue the romanceable characters, you still get the Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies ending. Until Mask of the Betrayer, anyway. Though if you mod the game to restore Neeshka's romance, she is one of the characters confirmed to survive the ending...
  • Neverwinter Nights, for male characters: Of the three reocurring female characters, one has no interest in the player, one never progresses beyond occasional flirting, and one dies no matter what you do.
  • Though The King of Fighters mostly doesn't play this one, it does nod to it - in XI, you can get a special ending screen by playing as "Unrequited Love Team": Ramon (for Vanessa), Sie Kensou (for Athena Asamiya), and Robert Garcia (for Yuri Sakazaki).
    • Not necessarily; it use to be Ship Tease for Terry Bogard X Blue Mary (but to be fair that happened more in their respective series) and they still do that for Ryo Sakazaki X King.
    • The Robert-Yuri example comes off as strange, since their relationship was never depicted as truly one-sided. Mai-Andy remains a much more classic example (lovechild jokes and all), and in fact, in their origin series the ultimate fate of their relationship has been left a mystery, though Mai is said to be still in love with Andy but she seems to be more of an Unlucky Childhood Friend at this rate...
  • Galford D. Weiler from Samurai Shodown really really likes Nakoruru. Unfortunately, the girl has already devoted herself to the protection of nature, so his feelings will never be returned, even if she wants to. Both still maintain a good relationship, since Galford fights for justice, and at least he understands that protection to nature also means protecting justice. In fact, in Galford's SS 2 ending, she specifically asks him to not pine after her after her Heroic Sacrifice, and Galford accepts it very graciously.
    • Another example is that of Charlotte-Shizu-Haohmaru. Charlotte and Shizu were both in love with Haohmaru, but he is a Celibate Hero, dedicated entirely to fighting. While Shizu is depicted as being permanently interested in him and Haohmaru returning her feelings to a degree (he even kisses her in his SS 2 ending, thought he also also warns her she's better off without him), Charlotte eventualy renounces to her feelings (Important Haircut and all) once she finds Haohmaru and Shizu together at the end of the second game.
  • Early on in Persona 4, Saki Konishi, the girl that Yosuke Hanamura was crushing on is killed before anything really comes of it. Later on however, he learns that Saki actually hated him and his family for putting hers out of business (Yosuke's father is the manager of a Mega Corp supermarket that made things tougher for smaller businesses) and was only cordial to him since he's the boss' kid.
  • In BlazBlue: Present time (past time had Jubei and Nine together, so that doesn't count), Bang Shishigami is pretty much all-heels to Litchi Faye-Ling, but she pretty much puts him at the 'friends' box at best; or think he's a disgusting Stalker with a Crush at worst. Litchi herself is completely dedicated to Arakune, who's... in no condition to reciprocate her feelings, and during the times he was sane, he's too absorbed in trying to upstage Kokonoe due to inferiority complex and pretty much ignores Litchi's feelings. On the other side, there's Tsubaki Yayoi who's all heels for Jin Kisaragi, but Jin just saw her as a 'good cousin' at best, because he's an asshole. And has a questionable attraction for his brother Ragna the Bloodedge, who's got other business to deal about, not even caring for Noel Vermillion's small, growing crush on him...
  • Squaresoft's RPG Bahamut Lagoon has Byuu, who is suggested throughout the whole game to be a very close person to Yoyo who fell in love for Palpaleos during her captive time. Such thing ended in Palpaleos' Heel Face Turn.
  • In Dragon Age:
    • Cullen the Templar has quite the crush on a female Mage Warden, which ultimately ends quite disastrously. In Dragon Age II, as Knight-Captain Cullen, he implies that even by now he's still in love with her.
    • Carver of the second game holds a rather large crush on Merrill, but his blatant, if weak attempts to flirt with her constantly fall flat due to her distracted nature and crush on his older sibling.
  • Saints Row: The Third shows this in, of all people, The Boss, if you give her the Female Eastern European voice/personality. She often flirts with Pierce, ranging from offering to being his dominatrix to wanting to make love to him in front of a live studio audience. Pierce is...slightly creeped by the passes, maybe because he's insecure about having an affair with his boss. Or maybe it's because she's a brutal killer with a violent streak a mile wide.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl has a chronic case of this. Almost every character in the cast suffers from this trope at some point.
  • The webcomic Supermegatopia features Grease Monkey in love with Weasel Boy, Weasel Boy in love with Tiger Lass, Tiger Lass in love with Mighty Yak, and Mighty Yak... well, apparently he's too dumb to notice the Love Dodecahedron. More links on the chain get added over time.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Zoe cycles through this trope pretty darn quickly in this strip. Before she'd always rejected Sam's advances, finding him creepy. Then, when he goes missing, she laments how she let her "last hope of true love" slip through her fingers. Then, when Sam turns up alive and well, she's back to thinking he's disgusting. And then, no more thirty seconds later, she finds out Sam's gotten married. Instantly she's calling him her one true love again.
  • Vincent of Precocious is in love with Autumn... who can't even remember his name.
  • The gods in A Moment of Peace form a love conga line. The god of Trust and Betrayal loves the goddess of Stories, who loves the god of In-Between Places, who loves the goddess of Glory.
  • In All Roses Have Thorns, Galvan is in love with Auron, but Auron very obviously still has feelings for Collamair, and Collamair is in love with Faylin, but Faylin was in love with Isleen, but she rejected him. Wow.
  • Davey of Maggot Boy is hopelessly in love with Sam, which will never go anywhere because he's dead, and she has a huge crush on her boss Lazaro, but he just hates everyone in general.
  • Homestuck: Okay. Karkat has a confirmed one-sided crush on Jade, as does Tavros, and she has already rejected both. Gamzee at one point had a flushed crush on Tavros, and it's unknown how he responded. Vriska also had a very one-sided crush on Tavros and also had a crush on John that he seemed to return at first but has since grown out of. Kanaya had a one-sided crush on Vriska, and now may feel the same for Rose, whose own feelings are unknown. Dave seems to have some feelings for Terezi, who hasn't really responded yet and has something going on with Karkat. Nepeta also has a one-sided crush on Karkat, while Eridan was also after Nepeta for a while, as well as half the cast, but most dramatically a red crush on Feferi and a black crush on Sollux. Both Sollux and Equius had things for Aradia which were complicated after she died. Now that she's Came Back Strong, it's unclear what quadrants she has going on, but she's close to Sollux. Both WV and AR had things for PM which she never found out about before AR died and WV was, at the least, gravely injured. Now, PM has a black crush on Bec Noir, who has a red crush on her. Finally, all of the Alpha kids have a crush on Jake, plus Roxy also has an unrequited thing for Dirk, while Jake wouldn't have minded the idea of going out with Jane or Dirk, and is seriously considering going along with it when Dirk eventually confesses, but isn't really enthused either way, and also has a crush on Aranea, who seems to have a pretty similar lukewarm interest in him. Phew.
  • Happens between minions in Girl Genius. Violetta and Snaug both crush on Moloch, who goes after Sanaa instead, who finds it stupid. However, things seem to change in favor of the Moloch-Snaug pairing.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Family Guy: Played as a recurring gag with Meg. Virtually every boy she attempts to ask out rejects her, all of them making up wild excuses to get out of having to go out with the homely Meg.
  • Camp Lazlo: Patsy loves Lazlo, who may or may not love her. Clam loves Gretchen who loves Edward who hates her. Lumpus loves Jane loves Pothole loves Lumpus, until Jane gets engaged to Manfred. That last one is a source of much frustration and humor on the series, until on the final season Lumpus proposes to Jane.
  • Hey Arnold! is pretty fond of this: Helga likes Arnold, but he first likes Ruth and then Lila, who's also admired by several other boys in their grade, but she wants to be Just Friends with them and instead likes Arnold's similar yet somewhat creepy cousin Arnie. Meanwhile Brainy almost certainly likes Helga, as did Stinky in one episode, and off to the side you have Curly chasing Rhonda and other implied couples. Did we mention most of these characters are only about nine?
  • The Fairly OddParents: Timmy loves Trixie who ignores him. Tootie and Veronica love Timmy, who doesn't like them. Juandissimo loves Wanda, who is spoken for. Vicky loved Gah, who didn't love her, Ricky, who only loved her money, and Winston, who was too shallow. Mark loves Vicky, who isn't interested, and Mandie wants to marry Mark, but he's terrified of her. Only couples who were already established as dating or married ever get love.
    • Butch Hartman himself has stated that any of Timmy's potential love interests could be the mother of his future children (seen in a flash-forward scene of "Channel Chasers"), although Trixie and Tootie are the most probable candidates.
  • Gargoyles: Brooklyn loves Angela who loves Broadway. Brooklyn also loves Maggie who loves Talon. In the comics, Brooklyn also loves Delilah who loves Malibu. The Magus loves Princess Katherine who loves Tom. Iago wants Desdemona who loves Othello. Goliath loves Elisa who loves him back, but is hesitant to get involved in an Interspecies Romance. Meanwhile Demona loves Goliath and sublimates that by dating his clone Thailog, who pretends to love her while she pretends to love Macbeth, who loves her as long as he doesn't know who she really is. Leo loves Una who loves Griff. Halcyon still loves his ex-wife Anastasia, but she's back with her first husband, Oberon. As you can see, it's sort of a recurring theme here.
  • Undergrads: Kimmy's in love with Mark, who is gay; Nitz is in love with Kimmy, who doesn't realize it; Jessie is in love with Nitz, who also doesn't realize it, and Jessie's cool enough she probably has several admirers, as well.
  • Most of Clone High has Joan in love with Abe who is in love with Cleo who eventually dates him but was in between him and JFK for awhile (who still holds a torch for her while she dates Abe). The finale features Abe realizing he loves Joan, leaving Cleo unrequited, only to find her in bed with JFK, who has just admitted to liking her. Meanwhile in the beta storyline Marie likes Gandhi who doesn't realize it until it's to late and she's dating someone else. Unlike the main story though they actually do hook up.
  • Glenn Martin, DDS has this with Wendy having unrequited feelings for Glenn's daughter Courtney.
  • Phineas and Ferb provides a whole mess of examples. Ginger has a crush on Baljeet, but he seems to like both Wendy Stimplehoffer and Isabella, the latter of whom definitely likes Phineas, who's Oblivious to Love. Meanwhile Ferb has a Precocious Crush on Vanessa, who is with a guy named Johnny. Meanwhile Phineas and Ferb's sister Candace and her Love Interest Jeremy had a long-running Will They or Won't They? before hooking up, though Albert has a crush on Candace and Wendy (not Stimplehoffer, a different one) may like Jeremy too. (For added fun, Vanessa also flirted with him once, but quickly lost interest.) And Carl, apparently, would just be happy with any girl his age.
  • In Total Drama World Tour, Sierra has an obsessive Fan Girl crush on Cody, who still has feelings for Gwen, who wants Duncan, who is in a relationship with Courtney. Then Duncan chooses Gwen over Courtney, leaving the latter to crush on Alejandro, who likes Heather, who repeatedly rejects him despite sharing the attraction. Meanwhile Harold/Leshawna and Tyler/Lindsay spent most of the first two-and-a-half seasons this way, even though they are Official Couples (both couples hooked up briefly in season one only for it to quickly end). Combine that with lots of Ship Tease implying more one-sided relationships (Noah hugging Bridgette?!) and you have this trope all over the place.
  • In Young Justice:
    • Kid Flash has a one-sided crush on Miss Martian, who is more interested in getting closer to Superboy. Artemis also likes Superboy. In both cases, Superboy doesn't realize that he's being crushed on. At least for now. Meanwhile Artemis and Kid Flash clearly like each other too, but refuse to admit it.
    • Aqualad is now subjected to this too. He had a crush on his friend Tula, who was already in a relationship with his best friend Garth.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Peep loves Heloise, who has Single-Target Sexuality for Jimmy, who's Oblivious to Love. Lucius loves Jez, who only loves his money. Any one-off love interests usually don't last the episode.
  • Danny Phantom: Sam has had a long-standing crush on Danny, who bounces back and forth between not noticing and returning her feelings. Danny, in turn, likes Paulina, who in some episodes seems to be dating Dash and most definitely has a crush on Danny Phantom (the alter ego). He also likes Valerie, but they never really get together. Tucker, on the other hand, just likes girls. Oh, and Vlad Masters is in love with Maddie Fenton, who is married to Jack. An Unrequited Love Switcheroo also happens in a few episodes: for example, in one episode, Dash is hitting on Jazz, but this is never toyed with again; however in another one, Jazz has a dream in which she is married to Dash.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has Spike's crush on Rarity. While Rarity knows about it and as we find out in "Secret of My Excess," is flattered, she doesn't seem to return his romantic feelings. Rarity herself was once interested in Prince Blueblood, before she found out that his only love was himself.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • While (thankfully) not always the case, this trope is often true of Real Life. As a rule of thumb, people tend to be most attracted to people who are "out of their league": more attractive or talented or popular than themselves. As a result, almost everyone has had a lot more experience with unrequited crushes, both as the crusher and the crushee, than with actual successful relationships.
    • Admittedly though, there's a reverse-survivor bias to that. Once you have a successful relationship, your goal is generally to nurture and grow that relationship, not try to start a new one.

Notes

  1. (In the '90s, Charlie Brown had a girlfriend named Peggy Jean, and their feelings for each other were mutual. Until she broke up with him, anyways. Also, in the very early days of the strip, Patty and Shermy were a couple, but these strips are never considered canon by fans.)