Better as Friends

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There are a lot of tropes for platonic relationships between men and women.

This trope is for when it happens once and won't happen ever again.

Two people date for a while, realize they're Better As Friends, and use that as their excuse when asked. Sometimes this leads to a UST plotline, but not always. The phrase "Let's Just Be Friends" is usually uttered at some point.

Note that this isn't just people who stay on good terms after a break-up, but who really do remain good friends to the point where the plot uses them as an Odd Couple at times.

Examples of Better as Friends include:

Anime and Manga

  • Michiru and Aso from Zombie Loan, after one date. He kept affectionately rubbing her head, like how a parent would do to a child, and she even referred to him as a "father" once.

Comic Books



  • Alanna and Jonathan in Tamora Pierce's Tortall series, due to intentional Ship Sinking by the author after she realized the relationship didn't work. Alanna becomes Jonathan's King's Champion and they both marry other people.
  • Zeb and Maggie from Robert Heinlein's Revolt In 2100. The hero sort of wants to pursue a relationship with her but doesn't want to get in the way, at which point he's told laughingly that by now they're great friends but that their personalities are far too aggressive to ever be stable together.
  • Jo feels this way about Laurie in Little Women. She says that the two of them are too much alike ever to pursue a romantic relationship successfully. Laurie disagrees until he marries Amy, after which he tells Jo he's happy to love her as his sister. As the Like Brother and Sister analogy was used to describe both his relationships with Jo and Amy, this has done nothing to convince shippers from the 1860s onwards that they are not better as friends.
  • The Where Are They Now? Epilogue to Dave Barry's novel Big Trouble has this as the fate of Jenny and Matt, after her mother and his father getting married makes them feel a bit Like Brother and Sister.
  • Happens several times in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, most notably to Kris and Talia of the "Queen's Own" trilogy and Daren and Kerowyn of "By the Sword." They all go on to relationships with other people, and very happily so, without losing their friendships. Except for Kris, who gets killed.
    • Subverted with Talia and Skif, who never actually get beyond the platonic (due to various comic interruptions), but everyone else thinks they did, so they assume this trope is in play.
  • One of Gerald Morris' Arthurian novels, The Ballad of Sir Dinadan, has the hero end the book by going to find his female companion, who is currently training to be a nun. He proposes to her. When the Mother Superior comes out and realizes what has happened, she prepares to go pack her pupil's bags.

Dinadan: Yes, I asked her. And she's made me the happiest man on earth.
Mother Priscilla: Ah, she has, has she?
Brangienne: Yes, I have. I turned him down.

  • What Dex and Emma initially decided on in One Day.

Live Action TV

  • Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine. One UST episode that doesn't actually seem to be canon. It's Played for Laughs in the last episode as they seem on the edge of a Dying Declaration of Love during a plane crash, only to quickly backpedal once they survive (Elaine claims she was about to say "I've always loved U...nited Airlines").
  • Willow and Xander in Buffy, whose Unlucky Childhood Friend and Oblivious to Love statuses only give way to romance when they're both in other relationships. Willow chooses her relationship with Oz (and then, after they break up, discovers she's a lesbian) and she and Xander remain best friends.
    • Also Cordelia and Wesley, whose smoldering UST when they met in Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to a head with their first kiss—which quickly became their very awkward and physically uncomfortable last kiss. Their friendship continued to grow in Angel, but they aren't above playfully making fun of each other over which one's the worse kisser when recounting the story for others.
  • On Criminal Minds, JJ and Reid go on one date . . . and end up close friends, and nothing more.
  • Harry and Christine in Night Court (lampshaded later where, after Christine turns down an invitation from Harry, Harry responds giddily "Isn't it great? We can say 'no' again!")
  • Frasier Crane and Roz Doyle in Frasier.

Roz: You've always been just like a brother to me. Which is weird, I know, because we slept together and...

  • Ted and Robin from How I Met Your Mother. Although they hooked up in Slapsgiving and Benefits.
  • Dan and Serena on Gossip Girl. Might have also had to do with his father and her mother getting married.
  • Margaret and Rain in Naturally, Sadie.
  • On Bones we have Booth and Cam. Dated before the show started, broke up, hooked up briefly after she joined the cast, broke up again, and seem determined not to mention it ever again. Since he's obviously in love with Brennan, the fans are mostly willing to accept this.
  • George and Izzie from Grey's Anatomy.
  • Boy Meets World has Jack and Rachel becoming this after briefly dating each other.
  • Bernard and Fran on Black Books. Fran has told Bernard he's not allowed to remember that night.
  • iCarly had Sam and Freddie date for 5 episodes. It was pretty horrible, constant fighting, hurting each other and so on. In the 5th episode they mutually break up because they were forcing a platonic friendship into something more. Freddie says he loves Sam, but it's clearly as a friend.
  • ER has Doctor Kovac and Nurse Sam after they dated and decided to remain friends. Likewise with Abby and Carter.
  • The Wonder Years ends like this for Kevin and Winnie.

Still we never forgot our promise. We wrote to each other once a week for the next eight years. I was there to meet her when she came home...with my wife, and my first son, eight months old.

  • On Smallville, Chloe lusted after Clark Kent in the earliest seasons, and it initially looked like her status was going to be as the Romantic Runner-Up and Unlucky Childhood Friend, but ultimately she got over her infatuation and moved on with her life; and she and Clark ultimately decided that they were Better as Friends and developed a Like Brother and Sister relationship.
  • The Adventures of Pete and Pete tried to pull this with Big Pete and Ellen, though the show's reluctance to bother with continuity meant it didn't stick and Big Pete was back to pining for Ellen a mere seven episodes later.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Bree and Daniel from Lonelygirl15, after much arguing, much Will They or Won't They?, and a fair amount of Wangst.
  • This is the theme in Luka Megurine's song Just be friends. The man in the song (from whose viewpoint is sung) it's still in love with the girl and wishes he could get back to the past to begin again, but also recognizes that the relationship now is going nowhere and prefers to split and saves whatever remains of friendship can be salvaged.
  • Thalia and Hephaestus in Thalia's Musings. Hardly anyone remembers that they used to date. Hephaestus is in love with Aphrodite in spite of her constant cuckolding, and Thalia is totally not in love with Apollo.

Western Animation

  • Trixie and Spud from American Dragon: Jake Long.
  • This is one-sided in Danny Phantom when Valerie gives Danny the It's Not You, It's My Enemies speech and declares they should just be friends. Danny is visibly upset for a time, but gets over it by Season Three.
  • In El Tigre, despite the romantic persistence of Manny's father Rodolfo, his ex-wife Maria keeps insisting that they should remain Just Friends.
  • Nelson Muntz and Lisa Simpson in The Simpsons.
  • Jen and Alex from MTV's Downtown skirt very close to sleeping together in one episode, but decide that it makes more sense for them to remain friends than romantic partners.

Real Life

  • Lou and Peter Berryman, who met in college, started performing and writing wacky songs together, got married, got divorced, married other people, all the while (and still) writing and performing together.
  • Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo were a couple for a few years in the mid-Nineties, but continued to work together after they broke up. They even wrote a book about it, as a parody of celebrity self-help books.