Despite the conflict, there is an attraction. This is obvious to everyone around except the couple. Confront them with the obvious, and they'll deny deny deny. Sometimes they will progress to admitting their friendship, but insist they are Just Friends. If there is a Love Epiphany with one of these characters, expect it to change almost nothing, at least in the short term.
Belligerent Sexual Tension might involve a Can't Live with Them, Can't Live Without Them situation, or even Domestic Abuse (but usually Played for Laughs). Such tension is also often a component of Screwball Comedy.
This trope is Older Than Steam, occurring as early as Much Ado About Nothing, and has varying degrees of popularity at different times. (Alternate Character Interpretation often makes it Older Than Dirt, by way of The Epic of Gilgamesh and other Mesopotamian Mythology.) In anime-centered fandoms, such a pairing is sometimes referred to as a "Takahashi Couple" for its prevalence in her works such as Ranma ½ (which is the current page image).
Note that "belligerent" need not necessarily mean "Hot-Blooded" — the trope is just as valid if one or both of the pair is a Deadpan Snarker who enjoys taking potshots at the other with their rapier wit, specifically to get a rise out of them.
Sometimes an effort to avoid a Shipping Bed Death, but might end up in the same place anyway. Compare with:
- Twice Shy, where the partners are hampered from admitting their feelings due to both sharing an entirely different personality type.
- It Meant Something to Me, where one side of a couple vehemently denies feeling anything for their partner.
- Strangled by the Red String.
May lead to Destructo-Nookie or Literally Falling in Love. Either Slap Slap Kiss or Kiss Kiss Slap tends to be involved at some point. If the Unresolved Sexual Tension is sustained over some time, expect a "Take That!" Kiss or "Shut Up" Kiss in one or both directions, too. If the two character don't stop fighting even after they become an actual couple, then they've joined The Masochism Tango.
Given how entertaining they are, expect this couple to be popular with the fandom.
- Anime and Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Comics
- Web Original
- Western Animation