Relationship Upgrade

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The moment when two characters become an Official Couple.

There may have been Unresolved Sexual Tension earlier, romantic feelings on either side or even an unmistakable Held Gaze or two, but that was all on paper. This is it, the actual relationship. It's happening, starting now. In a work, it's that point where until further notice there's no more sense in asking Will They or Won't They?. In Real Life, it's that point beyond which you'd feel justified calling the other person "my boyfriend/girlfriend".

For many shows it is a natural part of the ongoing narrative. For some it's a twist. For still more it's a season Cliff Hanger or standard ploy for the series finale to be employed at the very end. For others it triggers a specific type of Jumping The Shark, especially if it breaks the Relationship Ceiling.

Most commonly broadcasted with a First Kiss, but every once in a while you find a more...drastic variant ("Glad to Be Alive" Sex comes to mind). Compare Relationship Reveal—a moment where an implied but existing couple becomes canon. Also compare They Do- the point past which the Romance Arc is concluded and the relationship becomes a constant that feeds other plot threads. Though they often coincide (e.g. in a Last-Minute Hookup) the two are far from synonymous; a Relationship Upgrade can be the beginning of hardships, trials and tribulations that the relationship may not survive at all.

Not to be confused with characters upgrading their abilities by socialization.

Beware: this page might contain spoilers.

Examples of Relationship Upgrade include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • For Digimon Adventure 02, the Christmas Episode was an opportunity to upgrade some relationships—i.e. Ken and Iori could from that moment on converse with each other in a friendly, civil way rather than with constant unease. Also, Ken laughed for what was pretty much the first time—much to everyone's amazement.
  • In the last episode of Candy Boy, Yukino and Kanade's relationship appears to get an upgrade from a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship to something more—not hindered by the fact that they are fraternal twin sisters.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima:
    • Chapter 252. "With ultimate love and ultimate power, the ultimate duo is finally born!!" And lo, did the Konoka/Setsuna fans Squee.
    • Chapter 262 sees Kotaro and Natsumi forming a Pactio and admitting how much they care about one another. Whether this shoves them into Official Couple is up for interpretation, but they made some kind of progress.
      • And now, as of the finale, Kotaro and Natsumi are married. They have achieved Official Couple Status.
  • Karin, when Usui finally acknowledges the millions of hints given to him that Karin and him were meant to be and does what Karin herself was too scared (for good reason) to do and confesses to her. This drives Karin to tears.
  • Aoi Hana has Akira asking Fumi out, after learning Fumi has feelings for her.
  • Rebuild of Evangelion appears to play this trope straight with Shinji and Rei in the second film finale. Appears because with Hideaki Anno's habit of Mind Screwing the viewer, we can never be sure... Rebuild 3.0's trailer didn't even show Shinji so until the film comes out, we're in the dark.
  • The kiss between Jean and Nadia may be treated as the moment where this upgrade takes place. Unfortunately, it was very inconveniently placed in the middle of an arc, with about 20% canon material. Regardless, they end up as an official couple in the epilogue.
  • Toradora! is a good example of this trope. With a confusing Love Dodecahedron and twice your daily serving of Will They or Won't They? , Taiga and Ryuuji finally get upgraded from ...whatever they were, to a couple in episode 24, where Ryuuji proposes to Taiga.
  • At the end of Virgin Love Kaoru and Daigo upgrade from Fuck Buddies to lovers after Kaoru overcomes his commitment issues.
  • In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, Ed and Winry play out this trope well. Before leaving for the west, Ed somewhat "confesses" his feelings to Winry at the train station, using the words: "It's equivalent exchange! I'll give you half of my life, so give me half of yours!" Though he corresponds alchemy with love, Winry acknowledges what he really means, resulting in her agreeing to give him all of her life. Then, she quickly corrects herself, being flustered when those words dawned on her. Depending on how you want to interpret it (some say this was a proposal, while others say it was merely a confession), Ed and Winry end up with two children anyway, not to mention a wedding ring on Edward's finger. After spending their entire life denying any romantic feelings, they pass their comfort zone and hit home run!
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam Seed, Mu la Flaga and Murrue Ramius manage to upgrade from Unresolved Sexual Tension into an actual relationship only after they've defected from the Earth Alliance and are thus no longer officially constrained by the military's rules against fraternization.
  • At the end of Happy Lesson, Chitose's mothers decide that he's a grown man and doesn't need mother figures anymore...he needs wives. They all change into bridal gowns and marry the poor guy on the spot.
  • Done very methodically in Psyren between Ageha and Amamiya, after quite a length of implied Two Guys and a Girl and light harem.
  • Occurs at the end of episode 18 of D.N.Angel between Daisuke and Riku.
  • In Fairy Tail, Alzack and Bisca are revealed to have gotten married after the time skip. Sherry is also engaged to Ren after the Oracion Seis arc hints at them getting together.
  • In Zero no Tsukaima Louise and Saito start getting serious with their relationship at the beggining of the fourth season, they also marry at the end of the series.
  • Guts and Casca from Berserk go from teeth-clenched comrades to Fire-Forged Friends in volume 8 and then finally to Official Couple status when they share their first kiss in volume 9 progressing to much lovemaking soon after. And then it all started to come tumbling down in volumes 12-14 when they were demoted from Battle Couple to Star-Crossed Lovers.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Pictured above is Scott Pilgrim & Ramona Flowers finally declaring their love for one another in Vol. 4.
  • In Garfield, Liz has somehow fallen for Jon after years of begrudgingly dating him and the two are now the Official Couple. This can be considered a good thing given Jon's status in life.
  • Clark and Lois were casually dating already, but the Relationship Upgrade happens in "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite", when he proposes. Word of God is that originally she was supposed to turn him down because of her torch for Superman and status quo would be God, but then they realised that simply wasn't the Lois they were writing any more.
  • Marvel Comic characters Rictor and Shatterstar spent a few years seeming like Heterosexual Life Partners, with the author planning to reveal that they weren't so hetero after all. He got moved off the book before this could happen, and it wasn't until much later that another writer had them finally start dating.


Film[edit | hide]


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry and Ginny.
    • Same with Ron and Hermione in Book 7.
  • Book four of The Immortals has Daine and Numair realizing that they were meant for each other. The previous books give a few clues to this end, but not all that many - the fact that Daine was in her early teens and Numair in his late twenties, and her teacher, would have made that a bit...squicky.
    • Luckily for the author's observing Moral Guardians, Daine was already at an age where she would be considered an adult in her time period before this happened, and by that time Daine and Numair were no longer teacher and student, but friends and co-workers.
  • Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade. Han and Leia went through it a bit. So did Jacen and Tenel Ka. Let's not even get started on Jaina. No one can seem to catch a break. Even Ben looks like he's going to get his own version of his parents' relationship in the person of Vestara Khai.
  • In the Nightrunner series, Alec and Seregil get upgraded to Official Couple after almost two books of Ho Yay.
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, just before Percy releases his power on the telekhines at Mount St. Helens, Annabeth kisses him.
    • Except that was a "if you don't get out of this alive" kiss. The real Relationship Upgrade happens after the final battle at camp, when she gives him his birthday cupcake.
  • In Jack Chalker's "In the Dowaii Chambers," two characters had a very abrupt one thanks to Applied Phlebotinum. They'd been nothing more than acquaintances, then had "Glad to Be Alive" Sex, and then an Exposition Beam gave them the entire life memories of a long-ago couple who were happily married for some four or five decades.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Scrubs dabbled with this repeatedly in the relationship between JD and Elliot. At one stage they even became no-strings-attached "sex buddies", which JD says is the best thing a man can hear from a female friend. They receive their true Relationship Upgrade into Official Couple during the final (well technically there's another season, but in truth it's really more of a spin off setting/content-wise) season, one that is clean and without any drama mucking it up (aside from one bit of drama that arbitrarily arises during the two-part episode, but that is mostly to make way for a strong Crowning Moment of Heartwarming at the end).
  • In the middle of the final season of I Dream of Jeannie, Major Nelson finally drops the Idiot Ball and confesses his feelings for and to Jeannie.
  • In the final episode of the first series of Torchwood, Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto finally (and very dramatically) kiss in front of the team—not quite a Last-Minute Hookup if you've been paying any attention whatsoever, but it's their first on-screen kiss, and it officially ups the ante. In the next episode, Jack asks Ianto out on a date (dinner and a movie) and they become an Official Couple from that point on.
  • Jim and Pam on The Office (U.S. version) got a Relationship Upgrade between seasons three and four, and then another one later on.
  • Harry and Christine in Night Court. A bit of a subversion in that they don't date for very long before deciding they work Better as Friends.
  • In Battlestar Galactica, after 3 and 1/2 seasons of subtle growth and development, Laura Roslin told Bill Adama that she loved him, to which he responded "About time."
  • In Hannah Montana Oliver and Lilly had been friends since kindergarten and now are an official couple.
    • A milder example than others, since the actual moment of upgrade happened off-screen with very little build-up. Needless to say, the shippers of this couple felt rather cheated.
  • As of season 3, The Big Bang Theory. (Boy, considering how central UST is to the show, even posting this is practically a spoiler!)
  • Topher and Bennett, just before Saunders shoots Bennett in the head.
    • And Echo and Paul, just before Alpha makes him brain-dead.
  • Odo and Kira finally got this late in season six of the show after nearly a decade of UST. Miraculously the show avoids Shipping Bed Death and they're still madly in love in the series finale.
  • Sonny and Chad go on their first date in Falling For The Falls.
  • Mulder & Scully are a weird example; they spent five seasons as Platonic Life Partners, then had an Almost Kiss in the first movie, and the UST became more and more overt in season 6. For the last few seasons of the show it's hinted increasingly strongly that they're already together, and in the second movie it's finally made explicit. It's not clear when the Relationship Upgrade actually took place, though. (The leading candidate is season 7's "all things," which features Scully evaluating her past choices about life and relationships, leading up to a scene where she's getting dressed in Mulder's bathroom while he's asleep in bed, apparently naked.)
  • Olivia and Peter from Fringe.
    • Which was instantly railroaded by AltOlivia switching places with the real Olivia, and an oblivious Peter continuing his relationship with (and impregnating) the wrong one. When the real Olivia found out...she didn't take it too well. It's up in the air right now whether the upgrade will hold.
  • This was originally presented as Zach & Flo's story line in Season 3 of The Amazing Race. They came on as Just Friends looking for more; only they ended up averting it when Flo left the race dating a racer from another team.
  • On leg 8 of Season 17, Chad proposed to Stephanie in Oman while they were waiting for their departure time to continue their leg. Their title was subsequently upgraded from "Newly Dating" to "Engaged".
  • It's not really clear whether the scene at the end of the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles with John and Cameron in bed together is supposed to be this or the opposite, with John realizing how much of a machine she really is and understanding the sexual tension between them isn't real.
    • Since he commits a Heroic Sacrifice and dives into the future to get her chip back, it seems pretty confirmed he doesn't think of her as a machine.
  • In Community episode Interpretive Dance Jeff and Slater have to fill out official paperwork with the college so that they can have a relationship.
  • On Boy Meets World, Cory and Topanga officially get together in the first episode of season three.
  • What Brody wants from Abby in Against the Wall. She wants them to stay as Friends with Benefits.
  • Booth and Brennan in Bones, despite several false starts, finally achieved their relationship upgrade at the end of Season 6.
  • Glee: Occurs in "Original Song" between Blaine and Kurt.
  • In Season 3's "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", Chuck and Sarah dropped the Will They or Won't They? pretenses and got their relationship upgrade by episode's end.
  • Grissom and Sara on CSI in the season 6 finale-the last scene showed them in bed together.
  • Babylon 5: John Sheridan and Delenn get theirs in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" when he tells her, "...I can no longer imagine my world without you in it." Although they don't get their Big Damn Kiss until eight episodes later, from that episode on, they are for all intents and purposes together romantically.
  • The writers and actors of Castle didn't even try to hide the fact that Beckett and Castle were eventually going to become a couple; the tension (which was arguably the primary driving force behind the show) was in seeing how. As of season four's finale, "Always", it finally happened. It remains to be seen how future seasons will handle their relationship upgrade


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • This is essentially the point of all Dating Sims and most Visual Novels.
  • Subverted in Tales of Legendia. Senel and Shirley want to have a Relationship Upgrade, it's just... weird, since he treated her like a sister for a long time.
    • Kind of one-sided actually. It's only Shirley who wants the Relationship Upgrade. Senel just wanted to be with her again, most likely as family, while he pines over her dead sister. Yeeeeaaah.....
  • In the Mass Effect series, Tali and Garrus have forged a strong bond with Commander Shepard due to the events in the first game to the point where they both trust him/her unconditionally. Depending on both Shepard's gender and choices, the relationship he/she has with these two characters can turn into a romantic one.
    • By the third game, if you've played it the right way, male Shepard and Kaidan can make this upgrade as well.

It does. It does feel right. After all this time. You and me.

    • The third game also had a moment that left nearly every fan in roaring approval: if neither Tali nor Garrus was romanced and both survived the suicide mission in ME2, you can walk in on them hugging. Their embarrassed attempts at making up an excuse (she asked him to check her helmet for a rupture) to Shepard are both hilarious and heartwarming.

Garrus: Guess it helps to have something to come back to.
Tali: What do you mean, 'something to come back to'? (in a flirty tone) This is just a fling, Vakarian; I'm using you for your body...!
Garrus: You're so mean... and I'm okay with that.

  • In the Harvest Moon series, this is an important, but usually optional part of the game. However, in Rune Factory 2, missing a Relationship Upgrade means you miss 2/3 of the game.
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud and Tifa's night under the Highwind.
  • In the Persona series, it's reaching a certain rank in your social link with a girl (or boy, if you're playing P3P). You're given the option to pursue a closer relationship. This can happen with every girl you Social Link with, and if you're already dating one, there's no reason why you can't date more. Christmas Eve is also sort of like this - one of your girlfriends (or the girl you have the highest s-link with) will call you and invite themselves over, and...
    • Persona 4 and the Female Protagonist route in Persona 3 Portable are unique in that it's optional and you the player can choose to take the upgrade.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • In this page of Dresden Codak, Kimiko and Yvonne literally upgrade their relationship (the gadget she uses even reads FRIENDSHIP UPGRADED: CHUMS), in order to allow use of nicknames.
  • Elan and Haley in the 400th Order of the Stick strip.
  • Torg and Zoe from Sluggy Freelance, after years of Torg having unspoken, unrequited feelings her, have slowly gotten to the point where they frequently go on what may or may not be dates.
  • Yori and Ina in No Need for Bushido have finally gotten to this point.
  • Aubrey and Jason in Something Positive. For a long time part of the group of friends the comic centres on, they're now married and have adopted a daughter.
  • At the end of Scary Go Round, Amy and Ryan are friends likely to get together. After a three-year Time Skip, the follow-up strip Bad Machinery sees them recently married.
  • Penny and Aggie:
    • Sara and Daphne go from friends, to not on speaking terms (when Daphne, bitter over her Unrequited Love, decided to believe the "rape" slander against Sara), then back to friends again, and finally to lovers.
    • Brandi and Stan go from Friends with Benefits to an exclusive relationship.
    • The title characters go from enemies to friends to lovers.
  • In Slightly Damned, Buwaro and Kieri finally kiss after Buwaro gets seriously injured trying to defend Kieri.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: After a lot of Ship Tease, Parley's experience with the ghost of Jeanne leads her to finally admitting her feelings for Andrew.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Kim Possible:
    • In what was meant to be the end of the series, So The Drama, Kim and Ron become officially "More Than Friends" (complete with cheering section).
    • Shego and Drakken too. Although theirs happens during the second Grand Finale of the series.
      • It was only implied on that one however.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, The two Beta Couples pretty much just happened, without any proper upgrades. Meanwhile, the main couple had this no sooner than in the very final scene of the very final episode. The one beta couple was a case of New Old Flame, so they didn't need an upgrade, just a reunion after Zuko was finally un-exiled from court. As for the other, their upgrade was in the prior season, during 'Serpent's Pass'. She just got Put on a Bus for the rest of the season shortly thereafter.
  • The (no longer) final episode of Futurama implied this for Leela and Fry, however the first of several movies made it more complicated. In turn the fourth movie made it look like they will finally be receiving the Relationship Upgrade. And in the first episodes of the 6th reboot season they now are a proper couple, although it's uncertain just how stable their relationship will be during the rest of the season.
    • It's actually vaguer then that - Leela specifically refers to herself as single in "Those Darn Katz!", and Word of God have confirmed that they aren't really together at the moment.
    • In the sixth season, they finally had sex. In Zoidberg and the Professor's bodies
  • Presumably, Robin and Starfire after Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo.
  • Predictably, Danny and Sam in Danny Phantom got together by the Grand Finale.
  • Casey Jones and April O'Neil (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) have had a series of relationship upgrades in the 2003 animated series, beginning as acquaintances, and later friends, until the third season, when they become a couple. In the latest, seventh season, Casey has proposed to April, and the two are now married. Other incarnations of the couple have gone through the process as well.
  • While Candace and Jeremy from Phineas and Ferb were an Official Couple from the get-go, they don't refer to each other as boyfriend and girlfriend (and share their First Kiss) until the episode, "Summer Belongs to You." (Although the timing of their Relationship Upgrade is made more complicated by the fact that the episodes don't air in the same order they take place. In some episodes, Candace is still only crushing on Jeremy; in some episodes, they are de facto dating; and in some episodes they are "officially" boyfriend and girlfriend.) Season 3 starts with them being unquestionably canon though, as Candace tries to find out what Jeremy likes about her.
    • Subverted in the movie. Isabella kisses Phineas at the end but then they're both exposed to an amnesia ray that wipes both their memories of the event.
  • Duncan and Gwen from Total Drama World Tour, who unfortunately got together by cheating on Duncan's current girlfriend Courtney.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Singer Melissa Manchester told why she got married. One day her live in boyfriend gave her an ultimatum: he wanted more out of the relationship or he was going to end it. So they got married.
  • MTV's "Friendzone" is a show where various men or women seek to get into relationships with their best friends with... varying results