Caught the Heart on His Sleeve

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In many an Anime, The Protagonist (usually male) is left alone in a romantically charged situation with a Love Interest (usually female). When this happens, an awkward silence usually ensues, followed by the guy suggesting some banal activity to fill the time. He takes a step, only for the girl to grab his shirt sleeve, stopping him in his tracks. Indeed, we will often be treated to a several second pan over the motionless duo. The girl's eyes will likely be hidden as well. This often heralds a plot-significant, romantically related conversation.

The trope name is derived from the phrase, "(wearing a) heart on your/his/her sleeve," which means to display one's emotions and feelings openly, despite acting contrary to it. An example of this is not being able to tell someone that they like him/her, even though everybody else (including the Love Interest) could see it already.

This isn't always romantic, and any character desperate for another not to leave may do this.

Related to Please Don't Leave Me. Don't confuse it with Security Cling. See also Standard Female Grab Area for when a heroine is subdued through a somewhat similar method.

Examples of Caught the Heart on His Sleeve include:


Anime & Manga

I nearly bumped into Nagato who was coming out from the kitchen. In Nagato's hands was a stack of small plates, with chopsticks and a tube of ground mustard on top.
"I am leaving. Sorry for intruding. See you."
I was about to walk off, when I sensed a tug as soft as a feather on my arm.
Nagato was pulling my sleeve with her fingers. The tug was very soft, just like how much force one might use to pick up a newborn baby hamster.

    • The movie adaptation is even more so, as we get to see how she really doesn't want him to go.
    • Invoked by Haruhi in part six of Melancholy [1]. Kyon's lampshading is prompt as always, with the US dub hitting a two for one.

"Well if you're scared just go ahead and grab my arm, why don't ya? I'm sure it'll help get me in the mood."

  • Two examples in the same episode in the second season of White Album done to the same guy.
  • In Hayate the Combat Butler (episode 12), complete with Love Bubbles and an Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Male version. In the Gundam Wing side manga Blind Target (whose story is written by series scenario/scriptwriter Akemi Omode) this happens. Relena tells Heero that though she knows he's a strong person, she wishes he'd let her worry for him more and turns to leave. Cue Heero grabbing her sleeve and pulling her in for what is implied to be an offscreen kiss.
  • In Spice and Wolf Season 2 episode 8, Holo grabs Lawrence's sleeve before he leaves her alone so she can sleep off her drunkeness.
  • Luna/Shiori does this to Negi in Mahou Sensei Negima! before him going to find a solution to his problems.
  • In Kaichou wa Maid-sama episode 4, Aoi uses this as part of an attempt to seduce Usui. It doesn't work.
    • Also in episode 26, from Misaki to Usui, of course.
  • In Kiss×Sis episode 6, Keita and his sisters' teacher are discussing his inappropriate relationship with his sisters (while in old military cosplay). When he turns to go, she grabs him by the hand in approximately this manner and... accidentally pulls him down on top of her. Naturally the sisters walk in at this point.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club Tamaki turns to leave the room until Haruhi grabs the bottom of his shirt after hearing a crash of thunder. She quickly lets go after realizing what she had done.
  • In an early episode of Keroro Gunsou, Momoko does this to Fuyuki repeatedly in failed attempts to confess her love to him.
  • Taiga to Ryuuji in episode 16 of Toradora!.
  • In Arakawa Under the Bridge, Nino grabs Ric's sleeve and then kisses him under pressure from Star and Ric's secretary.
  • Done to a T in Welcome to The NHK, by Misaki to Sato, in front of a fountain starting.
  • In the Suzuka anime, when Yamato reaches the point where he has had it with Suzuka putting down his efforts at track, and yells at her "Cut it out already! What is it that you don't like about me?!" (Can't you just stop it!! Ever since earlier...What exactly do you feel resentful about me?! in the manga) [2] [dead link] then decides he doesn't care about her answer and turns to leave, she gets a surprised look on her face like she realizes she crossed the line and rushes after him, grabbing the back of his shirt as she apologizes [3]. Of course, Yamato just accepts her apology and tells her not to worry about it, and so leaves himself open to more of the same abuse.
  • In the final episode of B Gata H Kei, Yamada tells Kosuda she wants to fuck him, and then tries to walk away in embarassment, but he grabs her arm.
  • Ho Yay example found in Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru. Yuki does this to Zess in episode 3/chapter 3.
  • 5 Centimeters Per Second has a particularly heartbreaking example. Kanae does this to Takaki with the intention of confessing her feelings to him but ends up unable to do so.
  • In episode 3 of Potemayo, Sunao grabs Mikan's hand as she stands to leave the table he and his father are sitting at... and she faints.
  • In episode 6 of Highschool of the Dead, between Takashi and Rei, followed by a "Shut Up" Kiss of sorts.
  • In episode 17 of Kimi ni Todoke from Sawako to Kazehaya, followed by an Almost Kiss. It was set up by Pin as a prank. And then in episode 20, from Ryuu to Chizu.
  • Eureka grabs Renton's sleeve at least once in Eureka Seven.
  • Narue of The World of Narue grabs the fold of Kazuto's shirt (the bulge above his belt), but the expression and intent is the same.
  • Kyoko does this to Godai in Maison Ikkoku. Followed by their first attempt at lovemaking by spending the night in a sex hotel.
  • Risa from Lovely Complex does it to Otani to physically stop him from walking over to talk to his ex-girlfriend.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Iori tries to stop Yuuichi from leaving for good but actually fails. It's not because Yuuichi doesn't love him or doesn't care, however, but because he loves him too much to face the consequences of staying.
  • Koharu no Hibi Koharu does it to Akira a few times.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Before his fight with Saito, Kaoru grabs Kenshin's gi to prevent him from going on with it.
  • During the Griffith rescue operation in Berserk, Casca grabs Guts's cape and trails behind him when suspense is rising.
  • Mayo Chiki, as the protagonist escorts the Sweet Polly Oliver through a men's locker room in episode 3. Romantic in the overall context of the show, though non-romantic in that specific case.
  • Occurs in chapter 62 between Ciel and Sebastian of Black Butler.
  • Occurs in chapter 4 between Gil and Oz of Pandora Hearts.
  • Occurs in chapter 17 of No. 6 between Nezumi and Shion.

Live Action Television


Western Animation


Anime & Manga

  • In Claymore a young Clare does this to Teresa of the Faint Smile. Teresa isn't eager to return her friendliness however...
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, after Zest and Lutecia rescue Agito. Zest considers his duty fulfilled but Lutecia grabs him by the sleeve and after a long awkward pause, asks if they can take Agito with them, because basically, Agito is the same as herself in that Lutecia lost her mother and Agito, her master.
  • Early in the Azumanga Daioh manga, Chiyo-chan and Osaka are on the school roof and Osaka makes comments about how you could just jump off and fly away. Chiyo-chan, well aware of Osaka's Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, grabs Osaka's sleeve to stop her doing anything.
    • In the next strip, everyone agrees that the higher up you are, the better lunch tastes. Osaka looks towards the top of the stairwell they came in through... and then realizes Chiyo-chan's grabbed her sleeve again.
  • The Shrinking Violet in Onani Master Kurosawa does this to the protagonist.
  • In Angel Beats! episode 5, Angel catches Otonashi by the shirt just as he's leaving an exam to find out what her name is. He ends up introducing himself and getting her name in return.
  • While they are Love Interests, this particular example is more that they're in mourning than anything else. In Fullmetal Alchemist, Winry grabs Ed's hand as he's about to walk away after finding out that Hughes is dead.
  • In Shinkon Gattai Godannar episode 4, Anna grabs Shizuru's wrist from her hospital bed to keep Shizuru from avoiding answering whether or not she intends to quit.
  • Elsee to Keima in the first chapter of The World God Only Knows, warning that not fulfilling his contract will mean he'll lose his head, courtesy of an Explosive Leash.
  • Gender Flipped in Full Moon o Sagashite, when Izumi grabs Mitsuki's dress when she tries to leave, thinking he needs space. Debatable whether this is romantic or not, since they are not Canon and have their own respective love interests.
  • At the beginning of episode 5 of Ore Imo - any more would constitute a spoiler.
  • Sawako to Kurumi at the beginning of Kimi ni Todoke episode 11.
  • Otome Youkai Zakuro: Susukihotaru to Zakuro in one of episode 6's flashbacks.
  • Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru episode 10, Kon to Arashiyama (who was being petulant at the time).
  • In the Tenchi Muyo! manga, after Ayeka is kidnapped by Yakage, Sasami wants to join the rescue mission, pointing out that Ryoko's going even though she's wounded. Ryoko slaps her, causing Tenchi to step in... but before he can call Ryoko out, Sasami catches his sleeve, giving Ryoko enough time to defuse the situation without making it worse.