Shallow Love Interest

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A love interest for the main character whose personality is rather vague and shallow. It doesn't matter what their life was like beforehand; their entire personality revolves around the sole fact that they dig said main character, and the main character digs them. A staple of Harem Series. When part of a movie, it's usually because the plot revolves around a second love interest that is used to show how much better the Shallow Love Interest is for the protagonist.

Oh, and of note. Please don't use this trope as an excuse to bash characters whom you dislike for X/Y/Z motives. Being a love interest doesn't immediately equal to being shallow, and many accusations fit less in this trope and more in Die for Our Ship and Real Women Never Wear Dresses.

Contrast with Designated Love Interest, in which a character's characterization isn't involved enough with loving another character and thus making the "love interest" moniker seem tacked-on.

Examples of Shallow Love Interest include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • At the end of Digimon Adventure 02, this trope can be applied to any one of the unseen wives that the main protagonists, Tai and Davis end up marrying, since they both lose out with their respective love interests, Sora and Kari. It is also very likely that these women are non-Digidestined, who have no involvement the series whatsoever.
  • Shino from the manga Ichiroh is a comedic example, as it's a gag series and can get away with it. She's never seen away from Nanako and almost all she does is lust over her. It doesn't help that she's also a mix of Clingy Jealous Girl and Stalker with a Crush with a pinch of Psycho Lesbian at her worst.
  • Outer Moka from Rosario + Vampire. However, this is entirely justified, as she is an artificial person created to protect the true Moka.
    • Inverted, as Outer Moka is aware of this, and she even does her best to put aside her own feelings to pair up Tsukune and Inner Moka, albeit this is far more explicitly done in the manga as opposed to the anime. And, to further the inversion (again, in the manga at least), the two of them have worked together to support each other in regards to Tsukune, while Inner Moka's wishes and intents are kept the primary consideration.
  • Chii in Chobits is literally this since she's a Robot Girl without an operating system and her entire personality starts from scratch. Later flashbacks to when she wasn't yet a Love Interest show that can be much deeper (and possibly would become like that again).
  • Onidere is special because both protagonists could be defined as Shallow Love Interest. Literally no action, thought or monologue in the entire Manga is in no way not connected, even a little, to please and/or become more intimate with their loved one. Hell, the first true show of love in the manga is Saya nearly fainting because Tadashi praised her food while Tadashi fainted because a single spoon of said food can cause pain equally to a full session of torture and he ended the entire meal to make Saya smile.
  • Nyu in Elfen Lied; like Chii, Nyu is a blank slate, picked up by Kouta from a beach. Possibly a subversion, in that Nyu's attraction to Kouta is a reflection of her true personality Lucy, a borderline psychopathic mass murderer with real, complex, and disturbingly heartbreaking reasons for loving him.
  • Ren in DearS—a particularly extreme example, given the series enjoys the term slave.
  • Sakura in Naruto starts as one in the manga, but begins to grow more well defined around The Forest of Death Arc. The same can be said of Karin, who started out as the usual blank slate love interest, but became a more thought out character shortly after her introduction. Hinata is sometimes accused of being one, despite having a detailed backstory and character, because most of her character focus is on or related to her love for Naruto.
  • Belldandy in the earlier OVA of Ah! My Goddess. She comes off as a more Rounded Character in the original manga and its other adaptations, something Yamato Nadeshiko usually have difficulty doing.
  • Subverted in Gunnm. In an argument with Gally over her choice to become a Hunter-Warrior, Ido lets it slip that he revived her with the expectation that she would be one of these. Gally, like any sane person would be upon hearing this, is pissed.
  • Himawari of xxxHolic comes off like this for a good while. There's a very good reason for this given later.
  • Fatina from The Tower of Druaga. She spends the first 3/4ths of the first season as a character whose sole character traits were being a bitchy Neeba fangirl. This changes later on, where we get an episode where she and the main character are stranded together and bond a little, removing her from Neeba and giving viewers a bit more insight into her character. She never really goes back to being a complete Neeba fangirl after that. To add to things, Neeba offers Fatina and Fatina alone an invitation to join him and Kaaya after they betray their groups. She turns down his offer and stands by Jil's side.
  • Saya from Peacemaker Kurogane. She pretty much exists only to be Tetsunosuke's love interest. She fits very much with the question, "What would her personality be if she never met the male lead?" Nothing. Come on, we know she's mute and all, but even mute people have personalities and quirks.
  • Midori from Green Green. If she weren't allowed to squeal "Yuusuke" every ten seconds, she would lose her reason for existence.
  • Hojo from Inuyasha is a male example of this. Of course, we don't see him enough for him to have much of a personality...
  • In Honey Crush it never becomes very clear why the two other girls are so heavily in love with Madoka (one of them even continues to do so after her death, turning her into a ghostly Stalker with a Crush). Sure, Madoka might be pretty, but her personality remains elusive throughout the series.
  • Kyoko from Katekyo Hitman Reborn. Her main personality trait is... she's a good Girl Next Door. And a huge reason why Tsuna has a crush on her is because she was the only girl who bothered being nice to him in 12 months.
  • For some weird reason, Caska is treated this way by many fans, just because she becomes Guts' love interest. To be specific, that weird reason would be a chronic case of Real Women Never Wear Dresses. Caska is actually a subversion, because Guts fell in love with her as a complex, fully-rounded woman, but soon afterwards the Eclipse happened and her mind broke, leaving her a shell of her former self. It's actually addressed at several points that Guts loves her for what she used to be, and also because she's the only think stopping him from completely losing his humanity.
    • Princess Charlotte, on the other hand, fits this trope to a T. And the Crapsack World punishes her for being such.
  • Kämpfer's Natsuru Senou is the rare case of a Shallow Love Interest who is the main character. He is primarily defined by his rather shallow crush on Kaede. When someone asks him in episode 8 why he likes Kaede so much, he first refers to her beauty and elegance. When it's brought up that most of the girls he knows are also beautiful and elegant, all he can do is shrug his shoulders and say that you "don't need a reason to love someone". Seriously, the guy has no personality outside of his crush and his frustration with his new Gender Bender status. On the other hand, Kaede herself has some Hidden Depths...
    • In an example of a shallow love interest falling in love with another shallow love interest, Kaede herself doesn't have any personality other than being a nice girl, pretty, having a weird obsession with Creepy Dolls, and being a lesbian. Natsuru is head over heels in love with her anyway. Turns out that there is a very good reason for all this.
  • In Shugo Chara, Amu's crush on Tadase started out based on looks and really nothing more because she'd never spoken to him. Later on in the series, Amu's feelings for Tadase develop into her liking him based on his personality once she gets to know him.
  • Brutally subverted in Deadman Wonderland. Main character Ganta is trapped in a prison whose inhabitants are, by and large, not very nice people, when he meets a painfully shy and sensitive girl who clings to him from the word "hello." Minatsuki is actually a psychopathic killer who puts on the nice-girl persona and then gets sexual pleasure from the look of betrayal on her victims' faces right before she kills them. She is starting to get a little better, though.
  • Miharu from Girls Bravo.
  • A lesser-known example outside of Japan is Millina the treasure hunter from the second half of the Slayers novel series. While it's subverted in that she does not romantically like her pursuer, the Hot-Blooded Luke, she pretty much serves as his Morality Chain, a given, considering that Luke has a fragment of the verse's Big Bad inside of him. The finale of the novel series is triggered by Luke going crazy over her being assassinated. Like Zelgadiss before her, she's a Deadpan Snarker and a Magic Knight...with no given reason. Of course, Luke himself isn't much better.
  • Mayu from Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun.
  • School Days: In the anime the two main female love interests get reduced to only being known for their obsession with Makoto. And that is the point, actually: the series shows the psychological strain and the extremes that being completely centered on a single person can bring... specially when said person is a Jerkass who uses both of them and others for his own pleasure.
  • Tsunetsuki Matoi from Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei Crosses the Line Twice with this. Literally, her whole personality is about stalking her love interest (hence her name). What would she be like if she didn't meet the protagonist? Stalking other guys that catch her interest.
    • Since she molds her personality to mirror that of whoever she's stalking, she might fit the darker trope of Empty Shell more than this one.
  • Yoshida in Shakugan no Shana seems to only exist to perpetuate a Love Triangle between herself, Yuji and Shana. She doesn't seem to have any other interests outside of him, and is markedly different from the Tsundere Shana. She isn't well liked in the fandom, who see her as an annoying obstacle in Shana and Yuji's relationship.
  • Shizuki from Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan. Justified Trope, sorta: every character in that show is a parody/deconstruction of some character archetype. Sakura: The Chew Toy / Ordinary High School Student parody, with an embarrassing feminine name to boot. Dokuro: Magical Girlfriend parody, Tsundere deconstruction. Zakuro: Parody of Younger Than They Look and her Eyepatch of Power, which is never even mentioned, let alone explained. Etc., etc.,
  • In Telepathy Shoujo Ran, Ran has much more chemistry with Midori than with her boyfriend Rui.
  • Something similar happens in Kamichu!, where Yurie is much closer to Matsuri than her supposed love interest Kenji.
  • Yuno basically has no personality outside of her devotion to Yukiteru. This is played as straight as possible to make her scary. It's clear that she has other issues.
    • Yuno is supposed to be a deconstruction of the trope. Her entire world revolves around Yukiteru, and if anyone threatens to take him away from her, she flips her shit and equates it to her entire future being taken away. This is with good reason. Before meeting Yukiteru, Yuno had just killed her parents, who were sitting dead in her house for three weeks. She had absolutely no hope for her own future, and was moved when Yukiteru's hope for the future was for his family to get along. So when Yukiteru jokingly accepted her offer to become his bride, she was thrilled since she finally had a reason to keep living her life. So her life very literally depends on having Yukiteru there for emotional support. He is her future.
    • It gets even more interesting in that Yuno recognizes this fact and basically gives a The Reason We Suck Speech about how it was "pretend love" and she would have been fine with anyone as long as she could emotionally depend on him. Fortunately, it turns out that maybe their love isn't that meaningless after all.
  • Yuuno Scrya from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Yes, yes. Before anyone starts anything, let me point out that his character had potential for development. He was a strong Barrier Warrior, his departure on his own from his family, that he had some kind of dealings with the Space-Time Bureau that allowed special privileges, he originally had Raising Heart. But...it was never explored. Who he was to anyone other than Nanoha, why he was so intent of solving the Lost Logia case, his career in the Infinite Library; all of these things could have had plot, but did not. If he wasn't a romantic possibility for Nanoha, then the writers simply were not interested in depicting it. And when it became clear he wouldn't be a romantic possibility, he disappeared from the plot.
    • It's more like that as the focus shifted more toward action, there was less room for the Non-Action Guy. Despite the emphasis it gets among fans (and despite its roots as a Spin-Off of a Dating Sim), romance isn't a focus of the Lyrical Nanoha franchise. Other than a few side characters (a category that Yuuno falls into), it doesn't go further than Ship Tease.
  • Miho Azuki of Bakuman。, whose only goal apart from becoming a voice actress is getting together with Moritaka Mashiro, and even then, those two goals are intertwined because of her promise to only marry Mashiro when they both achieve their dreams.
  • Zero from Kurohime. Hime herself even realizes it. And arguably it is at that moment when we realize that Zero isn't quite what he seems. Also, Yashahime, who seems to have no thoughts or personality beyond being an Ax Crazy Evil God Yandere.
  • Koutarou Azumamiya of Hayate the Combat Butler used to be this for Hinagiku originally, and the anime even added a few episodes of this to him, but since the second year started, he's actually gotten some character of his own.
  • There are two of note in the Dragon Ball franchise, both of them intentional examples. First is Marron, Krillin's first girlfriend in Z (and practically a clone of Bulma) that appeared during the Garlic Jr. Saga, only for her to dump poor Krillin in the only stand-alone episode in the series. Then in GT, Goten was seen on a date with Pares, a girl that got perplexed by ice cream... on a cone.
  • Misa Amane is a deliberate example, devoted completely to Light to the point of psychopathy (as he avenged her parents' murders, filling the void in her left by their deaths), and it generally helps make up her personality rather than detract from it. Kiyomi Takada, on the other hand, doesn't have any personality even after meeting Light, never mind before, and she pays dearly for it in the end..
  • Risa Harada from D.N.Angel.
  • Sayama in Karakuridouji Ultimo.
  • Koharu in Koharu no Hibi, so very much. Deconstructed, but with no lasting effects.
  • Homura Akemi in Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Her entire life revolves around Madoka. She has no past outside of being a Shrinking Violet who devoted her life to saving Madoka, and not a thing is said of her family or life prior to meeting Madoka.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Sadie in Starman has no character outside of her relationship with Jack and worry about her brother.
  • Deconstructeud with Laurie Juspezyk from Watchmen, who was essentially employed by the US military to be one of these for Dr. Manhattan after she quit her old job in the Superhero business. She isn't really one in the story itself, though.


Film -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • Taken to its logical extreme in Don Bluth's Anastasia. Bartok the Bat abandons Rasputin near the end, and is rewarded with a pink bat who flies in and kisses him. She has no name, no dialogue, and apparently only exists to demonstrate, as The Nostalgia Chick put it, that "Do the right thing; karma will get you laid."
  • Irina, the Greek princess in Asterix at the Olympic Games, whose entire personality is pretty much 'I love poetry, I love Lovesix, I don't want to marry Brutus'. The person chasing after her, Lovesix, is pretty shallow as well.
  • Bo Peep from Toy Story. Sure, she's sweet and has a bit of a naughty side, but both those traits are used in order to demonstrate her affection for Woody (grabbing him around the neck with her shepherdess's crook, for example). She never really interacts with any other toy on-screen and she exists mainly as a sympathetic ear to Woody. Bo Peep's lack of development -- and the popularity of the other female characters, Jessie the Cowgirl and the tour guide Barbie doll from the second Toy Story movie, and the logistics of having Bo Peep actually be involved in the action of the third movie (given that she wasn't actually a toy at all, but a china figurine) -- were the reason why she didn't appear in the third movie
  • Subverted HARD in Shrek Forever After. We actually get to see what Fiona would have become if she had never been rescued.
  • Disney Animated Canon-
    • Sleeping Beauty. Both the Prince and Princess are shallow non-characters. Phillip does try to get out of the mold, but fails as the fairies still end up as the more interesting ones.
    • Both Snow White and her Prince (who doesn't even get a name) apparently pine for each other before they even meet. The movie was really short they didn't have much time to develop either of them, and there was originally a planned subplot where he was captured by the witch and had to escape from her dungeon, but it was one of many things that they had to cut.
    • The Prince in Cinderella was also ridiculously bland and didn't even have any lines. Disney appeared to have noticed this, and well made up for it in the third movie.
    • Somewhat averted by Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, though he still pales in comparison to the vitality of Ariel.
    • Faline in the first Bambi movie doesn't really have a personality, especially when she grows up into a Doe. The midquel fleshes her out. Likewise neither Thumper's nor Flower's love interests have any personality, though they only appear very briefly.
    • Vixie from The Fox and the Hound (film) has barely any personality, due to being introduced around the time Tod was put in the nature reserve, and meeting and immediately triggering Tod's affections within two minutes of her first appearance. She is implied to have known Big Mama for some time from the sound of her introduction, but that's pretty much all we know about her besides the fact she and Tod love each other.


Film -- Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Moira McTaggert in X Men First Class. She has absolutely nothing in common with her namesake from the comic and her re-imagining as an American CIA agent tracking a conspiracy led by the primary villain seems to serve mainly as a reason to hook her up with Charles.
  • Pretty much every so-called "Bond girl" in any of the James Bond movies. While some effort is usually made to give them some kind of useful character trait, by and large their function in the movies is to be the Damsel in Distress, and of course to sleep with James.
  • Jennifer from The Eighties kid-hacker movie WarGames.
  • From the same decade, Jennifer in Back to The Future. She appeared very little in the first movie and apparently existed only so that Marty would have someone to spill exposition on in the opening scenes. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale tried to write her out of the sequels, but the way they ended the first movie made that difficult; she did get some development in the second and third movies.
  • In Cherry 2000, the title character is a Robot Girl with a very limited AI (she probably wouldn't pass a Turing Test). The whole plot of the movie is the hero's trek to find a body to replace her lost one. She only appears for a few minutes of the movie, and is unceremoniously dumped to save the female tracker who the hero fell in love with during the journey.
  • John Tucker Must Die is an example of the male lead (John Tucker) being the guy who shouldn't end up with the main character, so that the Shallow Love Interest can come in at the end.
  • Padme Amidala of Star Wars becomes one of these in Revenge of the Sith, much to the annoyance of those who preferred how she was in the previous movies. She did have a subplot revolving around the creation of the Rebel Alliance, but it was cut due to time constraints. Her daughter Leia thankfully avoids it.
  • Jane from Puma Man. A character so lacking in personality that she barely qualifies as a cardboard cutout.
  • Marianne from The Boat That Rocked has no consistent personality in her ten minutes total screen time except to be an object of adoration for the teenage protagonist. She almost immediately breaks his heart by sleeping with another guy on their 'date', but they get back together in the last 15 minutes with practically no apology and no explanation from her.
  • Justin Timberlake's girlfriend in Edison exists only to remind everyone that he's a hip, sexy twenty-something and get beaten to a bloody pulp by the corrupt cops he's investigating.
  • Jocelyn in A Knight's Tale. She's beautiful, rich, likes clothes, loves William...and that's it. All the poor girl gets to do is stand on the sidelines and then have either a love scene or a fighting scene with Will.
  • Link Larkin in the original 1988 film version of Hairspray had no personality whatsoever outside of being a love interest to Tracey. The musical adaptation gave him a lot more character.
  • Tina Carlyle in The Mask. To the point that they had to reveal that the other half of the Betty and Veronica was The Mole for the Big Bad in order to find a good, non-sexual reason why Stanley should prefer her in the end.
  • Oliver in Whip It plays this trope straight. Later we learn that it's all an act; he really only wanted to get into the heroine's pants. She later tells her best friend that she feels stupid for falling for it.
  • Joanna and Elizabeth, the Royal Princess Babes from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. While this was somewhat justified in the first movie due to their brief screen time, they remain featureless in the second movie, even with their more prominent role in the heroes' lives.
  • Katie Deauxma in the Kick-Ass movie, who is every bit Dave's dream girl to the core, even to the point of immediately forgiving him for pretending to be gay and having sex with him right afterward, plus having sex just about anywhere--including on a dumpster. She is given an occupation and her interest in comics is touched upon, but her entire character ultimately centers around being Dave's perfect girlfriend. The most important role she plays aside from that is sending Dave after Razul, which leads to him meeting other important characters. Ironically, in the comics, she ditches him when he tells her the truth and disappears from the comics entirely.
  • Aaron from Mean Girls is a rare male version. He pretty much solely exists to be a pretty (and gullible) face and stuck in the Love Triangle between Cady and Regina.
  • In Tron: Legacy, Olivia Wilde went out of her way to ensure that her character Quorra didn't get saddled with this. We see the beginnings of an attraction between the Sam and Quorra once they get to know each other a bit better on the Solar Sailer, which is probably a more natural true-to-life progression than this trope: they only recently met.
  • Prince Edward from Enchanted parodies it from the usual Disney Princess. However, it was averted in one scene where after his kiss didn't wake up Giselle, he realized he wasn't the one for her and immediately asked Robert to do it, showing he is open-minded. And after Giselle woke up, he was genuinely happy for the two of them.
  • In-universe in The Truman Show. Truman's wife Meryl doesn't really love him and is only acting the part of his love interest. At one point, he even asks her "Why did you marry me? You can't stand me." After she leaves the show, the studio was set to have Truman start a new relationship with a hot new co-worker.
  • Whatsherface, Joan, from The Starfighters. The whole movie is an endless stream nothing of interest happening to incredibly uninteresting people, and she does not disappoint.
  • Casey in Chronicle is notable in that being a Shallow Love Interest was a cover for her actual role in the film; to provide another camera for the film's Found Footage style.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Aldous Huxley's Brave New World has an intentional example in Lenina.
  • Margaret Blair from the Mobile Suit Gundam novels. She's a chubby redhead who works as Kycillia Zabi's secretary and she's sleeping with Char... and that's all we ever get to know about her. Egregious as most female love interests in the novels get considerable character development, especially when you consider the level they already got in the anime, which was quite generous for its time: just compare her with Lalah Sune, Sayla Mass or even Frau Bow.
  • Ada from Dickens' Bleak House falls under this trope. She is sweet and so beautiful that Even the Girls Want Her and completely in love with her cousin, Richard. And that's it.
    • Ditto for Lucie in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens was at such a loss to develop her that her most memorable attribute is her ability to arrange furniture nicely.
  • One of the most bizarre examples of this trope can be found in the concept of "imprinting" in Twilight, in which males "recognize" the females that they are destined to fall in love with - which can occur as early as child-birth(In fact, Jacob imprinted on Bella's child BEFORE SHE WAS EVEN CONCEIVED). Many of these female imprintees are "shallow" by default considering they're infants or toddlers and thus have no fixed personalities at all. Their lives revolve entirely around their future husbands considering the teenage boys appear to become their caregivers until they're of marriageable age, and whether the girls want to be in these relationships is treated as somewhat irrelevant in the text. They are future wives, nothing more.
    • The most horrifying display of this was when Jacob came across his friend Quil (a teenage boy) on a date with Claire (a two year old) at the beach. Did the date involve long, meaningful discussions about their mutual interests and common goals? No, Quil just watched as Claire played in the sand.
    • Even more bizarrely, Bella and Edward seem to be this for each other. There is very little story regarding their lives before they meet each other and the instant they lay eyes on one another, there is very little they do or think about that doesn't somehow tie back to the other.
    • The Fan Fiction, Luminosity provides an interesting take on the subject: vampires "mate" by an irrevocable, indestructible, invariably mutual Love At First Sight: ALL vampire couples are this trope, and Sickeningly Sweethearts for the first decades after meeting each other. As for imprinting, it is revealed as not being a romantic relationship at all, and in fact not fitting any human or vampire mold whatsoever. While a romantic relationship may happen on top of it all, it's basically a sort of Promotion to Parent / Bodyguard Crush / Dulcinea Effect unique hybrid. And wolves don't think of their child imprints romantically, and the Hikaru Genji Plan prospect is, to them, completely irrelevant: they just don't think about it. This proves that good writing can fix even the creepiest works...
  • Harry Potter has Cho Chang, who shows why a relationship like this can't actually work in real life. After Harry finally dates her, he learns they have nothing in common, their interest in each other was based on her being physically attractive and their relationship falls apart. Cho's role in the books diminishes significantly after this, since she no longer interacts with the main characters (something she didn't do before Harry dated her either).
    • This is arguably a very accurate reflection of most teenage relationships - fueled by hormones, mostly based on good looks or other allure, and rarely lasting. Contrary to romantic literature, most kids do not find their true love in junior high, or even try to.
    • Not to mention, Cho has many other problems herself. More exactly, by the time Harry got to date her, she was very emotionally damaged after her boyfriend Cedric was horribly killed by Lord Voldemort. And Harry was the last person to see him alive, on top of being The Chosen One. Maybe, just maybe, it would've worked in other time and settlement.
  • Daisy from The Great Gatsby is actually pretty well developed, she's just actually genuinely shallow. Jordan Baker is thought to be this trope, though some believe her to be a lesbian.
  • Ramandu's daughter in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader only appears in the last chapter and exists largely to be beautiful and provide exposition. She doesn't even warrant a name of her own. She marries Caspian and we're informed that they live happily ever after.
    • Until she gets nommed by a snake and provides the inciting incident for The Silver Chair.
  • In Aaron Allston's Galatea in 2-D, Kevin had divorced because Donna was not this, and painted Julia this way. In the end, after he killed Kevin, Roger paints Julia a new Kevin, who will treat her better—it wasn't after all her fault.
  • Lin Carter's Cthulhu Mythos tales have a variant of this in the form of the Great Old One Idh-Yaa, whose only purpose is to be Cthulhu's mate and the mother of his three sons. This may be one of the reasons why some fans disregard Lin Carter's Mythos.
  • Samson's infatuation with an unnamed Philistine woman in The Bible.
  • Many of these in Sweet Valley High and its spin-offs. It was almost guaranteed that once a book Elizabeth, Jessica or both would meet a new love interest who led her into some sort of scheme or caused her to become torn between him and her loyal regular boyfriend. Steven and other supporting characters got Shallow Love Interests too.
  • Bart and Robert in the Babysitters Club series, whose only purpose is as love interests for Kristy and Stacey respectively.
  • Silverstream from Warrior Cats plays this straight. She never appeared in Into the Wild (not even as an apprentice or at least in the allegiances); and her first appearance in the second book was only to rescue Graystripe from drowning. They really didn't have any chemistry besides her having saved his life, and when described, she was constantly stressed as Graystripe's "true love." She never had an appearance where it didn't involve her father; Crookedstar, Fireheart, Graystripe, Feathertail and/or Stormfur, or just some other more important character, and the only notable thing she did outside of bearing Graystripe's kits was getting Firestar in touch with cats who knew something about Redtail's death. If you think of her life if she had never met Graystripe; it's hard to come up with much.
  • Bryce Loski of Flipped is a subversion. Juli is only interested in him for superficial reasons, and her family sees him as a pretty shallow person. In reality he's got lots of Hidden Depths, he's just also a raging Stepford Smiler who deliberately projects his shallow image to cover up how bad things are at home. A major theme of the book is Juli learning to looks past appearances and Bryce learning to act like a decent human being.
  • A Princess of Mars has John Carter do things beyond the impossible all for his relatively shallow love for Dejah Thoris.


Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Dr. Peyton Driscoll in CSI: NY has hints of this. She had the potential to be a great character, as an ME she was obviously smart, but the writers ruined this by making her very first scene one of her in bed with Mac. Later on, it seemed virtually every scene with her had to be connected to Mac in some way.
  • Lana Lang from Smallville rarely gets a storyline that isn't about her relationship with Clark on some level.
  • Kate in the BBC's Robin Hood. She does nothing but wander into trouble so that Robin Hood can rescue her, and serves no other purpose but to be his rebound girl. Or more accurately, the rebound of his rebound girl. As Television Without Pity puts it: "If she's only there to be Robin's love interest, what's the point of her now he's dead?"
  • An interesting subversion with Jo in the second season of Supernatural. She made her first appearance as an obvious love interest for Dean, complete with an "adorably" feisty demeanor, a tragic backstory that mirrored the Winchesters', and - despite her tiny frame, lack of muscle tone, and dearth of any special powers - the ability to somehow best Dean in a physical altercation. However, by the time her subsequent appearances rolled around, the writers dramatically scaled back on her Sue tenancies, having her pull an inconveniently timed "I'm coming with you" on the Winchesters, idiotically deciding to go alone into the lair of a Monster of the Week whose MO was known to be the gruesome slaughter of young, attractive blondes, and having to be rescued by Sam and Dean, both of whom found her presence a burden and were only too happy to hand her back to her mother as soon as possible. She pretty much disappeared from the season after that, making only one more appearance which existed mainly to establish that the idea of any romantic relationship between herself and Dean was ridiculous, and that he would never come close to caring for her as much as he cared for Sam. Word of God states that Jo was originally conceived as a love interest for Dean, and that she was phased out of the series due to negative fan reaction, which explains the rapid scrapping of her original characterization.
    • Deconstructed in "Wishful Thinking". In this example a guy uses a magic coin he inherited to create a wishing well, so he can make the girl who he's been in love with since high school, but is oblivious to him, love him over anything else. At first he's happy with the new situation, but eventually gets disheartened from the fact that she literally has no personality other than pleasing and loving him, even killing others for him to maintain their "love".
  • Mellie from Dollhouse starts out as this as she is just Paul's neighbor/girlfriend. Later it is revealed that she is a doll and the whole Mellie personality was made just to be Paul's Love Interest. Her real persona, Madeline, actually has much more going on in the story.
  • Cindy Sanders was sort of an unrequited one of these for Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks. Then they actually started dating, and she turned out to be something of a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Austin from Ugly Betty has no last name and is more of a plot device to get Justin to realize his sexuality than an actual character.
  • Once an Episode on Seinfeld.
  • Heroes: West, Caitlin, Yaeko, Simone. Most of these examples are so egregious as to be almost Bond girls (boys?) with how little we see of them if at all after the season they're introduced in. One of these lucky ladies is introduced and then retconned out of existence in show.
  • The Secret World of Alex Mack has Scott, Alex's first crush. He doesn't really have any personality beyond sending mixed signals to Alex, dating the Alpha Bitch, and being a Big Man on Campus. In fact, when Alex gets closer to him, she realizes that his actual personality isn't a very nice one, and she gets over her crush.
  • Kennedy from season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer appears to be interested in Willow for two reasons: she's cute, and she's willing to have sex with girls. At one point Willow asks her flat out what Kennedy knows about her, and Kennedy is barely able to come up with anything. But by the next episode, they're in a relationship.
    • Also Anya, who managed to turn "shallow" into an endearing quality.
    • Scott Hope, Buffy's incredibly forgettable high school boyfriend. The writers probably made him shallow deliberately to contrast with Buffy's vampire boyfriend Angel who had just been killed.
  • Blaine Anderson from Glee. He also never gets any real plots or scenes for himself; even the few that don't directly involve Kurt nevertheless end up being more about Kurt than Blaine. In this case, it seems like he's more an accidental Shallow Love Interest, and the writers have caught on, since later on we find out his dad and him don't get along, and he ran from his old school because he was attacked. Let us hope he gets more character moments in season three.
  • Super Sentai has had many instances of this trope in the course of its 35 series history, most of them being one-shot interests to the resident playboy on the team.
  • Skins sets up several of its characters as this before eventually subverting the trope - for example, Michelle in the first generation, and Mini and Nick in the third.
  • Subverted in one episode of Malcolm in the Middle. Malcolm accuses his then-girlfriend of only dating him for the thrill of sneaking around. She retaliates by explaining why she genuinely likes him, citing reasons that actually make sense (e.g. he's funny, even when he's complaining.) Malcolm then figures out that he actually likes her as well, again citing reasons that she actually demonstrates. Double subverted two episodes later, when she dumps him for being self-centered.
  • Clara in Sanctuary. She is the last descendant of the original Invisible Man, so the Sanctuary team has to recruit her to complete a mission. She and Will hook up pretty quickly despite the fact that they have absolutely nothing in common and she really has no purpose in the show other than Fan Service (she has to be naked to turn invisible.) Despite the fact that their relationship lasts all of four episodes, Will later describes it as one of only two "serious" relationships he's ever had. Abby has shades of this, though she does have her own job (which conflicts with the Sanctuary sometimes) and she and Will have a history together that makes their instant relationship a bit more palatable. She's still something of a Scrappy, though.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Aaron Hill, Luann's long time crush object. Very pretty... and that's it. Even attempts at giving him depth (the revelation of his relationship with legally-adult Dianne) only served to underline what little personality he had.
    • There was an arc where Luann was spending a lot of time with Gunther, only for the end of the arc to reveal that it had been Aaron in disguise the whole time, trying to teach her a lesson about judging on appearances vs. actual merits. It's telling that, aside from disguise time, the most interaction the two had was Aaron berating Luann for missing the point when she asked to try on the Gunther mask.
    • Aaron ended up getting more depth with later stories, though that ended up being negated when he was Put on a Bus. But he has nothing on the blandness of Quill, who is handsome and... Australian. And that's about it.
  • A prime example is The Little Red Haired Girl from the Peanuts comics. We hardly know a thing about her, she didn't appear in the strip (Her first on screen appearance was in an animated TV special in 1977) or even her name (the special called her "Heather") Of course the whole point of this romance is about Charlie Brown's one-sided affections and inner emotional turmoil for her rather than actual interaction.


Theater[edit | hide]


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Many early video games featured a Damsel in Distress as part of the backstory who didn't even manage to rank as high up as shallow, since she spent the whole game imprisoned somewhere and possibly said thanks at the end.
  • Beth in Shin Megami Tensei II was intended as such for the hero, but she also proves useful in battle, thus giving her a useful purpose. Is totally subverted because she also does a Heroic Sacrifice and gives you her power in death, as, even though you find out she was created to serve you, her love for you was quite real.
  • Persona 3 has Aigis, whose development leads her to become a Shallow Love Interest as part of her Become a Real Boy plot. Her role in FES expands on this, but her relationship with the protagonist is still the core of her character.
    • Justified: She is a Shadow destroying robot. The protagonist fights shadows and has the worst one sealed inside him so naturally she joins him.
  • Rika Shiraki's "path" in Bible Black. Minase is only slightly interested in her at first because she's the popular "school idol". After he puts a love spell on her, she only exists to have lots of sex with not just Minase, who she is now obsessively in love with, but anyone Minase tells her to have sex with.
  • Decus in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World is pretty much motivated only by his love for Alice. Of course, she did save his life, but it does come off as rather extreme nonetheless.
  • Fox and Krystal, complete with cheesy Sexophone music and negligible character development.
  • Li in Aquaria due to the fact that we only ever hear Naija talk, and in the past tense.
    • Naija to Li, as well. When she was on her own, her desire just to figure out what the hell happened to everyone made for a pretty compelling motivation; when she meets Li, the story utterly derails as she loses all interest in solving the mystery or exploring; she's so happy that she's not completely alone anymore that as long as she doesn't have to be alone ever again, the game could end right there for all she cares. She literally only continues along to find the answers and beat the final boss because there's a mouse cursor telling her where to go and what to shoot.
  • Rosa Joanna Farrell from Final Fantasy IV is often criticized for her only noticeable character trait being her dedication to Cecil.
  • Aggra from World of Warcraft, who seems to have been invented solely for the purpose of getting Thrall laid and ensuring that he procreates. Or, perhaps more maliciously, sinking the Thrall x Jaina ship.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Molly in Achewood semi-averts this at first, with her introduction giving her plenty of reasons to find interest in Roast Beef. However, this development (such as her interest in computer programming) was more or less dropped when she moved in with him. She then pretty much played this trope to a tee, getting defined only by her relationship with Roast Beef (to the point where she almost never even interacted with the other characters). As of recently, though, she's been getting more development.
  • Pretty much every female character in Sonichu.
  • Alex in Candi. He seems to be getting more shallow and more dense with every appearance. Not that he was ever much more than "Candi's boyfriend" before.
  • Donte in the Ciem Webcomic Series is given his own story in Comprehensive Gerosha titled Of Emeralds and Sapphires for the sole purpose of rescuing him from being a completely one-dimensional plot device. He is rarely on screen or does much of anything while on screen. And if you take his "he's secretly the superhero Emeraldon" part out, his single most defining characteristic is that he's one of Candi's love interests.
    • The author eventually developed several pitches for several spin-off stories, realizing just how limiting Candi's point-of-view really is.
  • Ping of Megatokyo was programmed to start like this, and then slowly become an amalgamation of the favored love interests of her end user. But since no one has been "playing" with her (except maybe Miho), she's forced to grow naturally. It's actually a little beautiful, when you think about it.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Darwin's Soldiers has Aydin Marcos. His only defining personality trait is the fact that he loves Aimee.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Another male example: David of Totally Spies!, who is good-looking, a book smart genius, an artist, and an athlete—something that appeals to each of the three spies (and sometimes the Alpha Bitch too!), making him a universal love interest who exists solely to provide romantic B-plots.
  • AndrAIa from Re Boot has this problem, especially after she grows up & loses the naive Fish Out of Water characteristics that made her so endearing at the beginning. To be fair, she was originally created to do nothing more than try to kill a guy in a submarine, so it's not like she would have needed much of a personality. Also, she's a bit of an Action Girl, so it's not like she's totally useless.
  • Lola Bunny, because Bugs Bunny needs to be romantically infatuated.
  • Minnie Mouse certainly qualifies. Daisy Duck not so much, she's as close to an iconic Tsundere as Western Animation has.
  • Ruth MacDougal (the brunette sixth grader with braces whom Arnold had a crush on during the first season) on Hey Arnold! is an example, though Arnold stopped pursuing her on the Valentine's Day episode when Ruth talks and Arnold discovers that she's very shallow and boring.
  • In All Grown Up!, Rachel (Tommy's girlfriend) is this to a T. Not only doesn't she receive any character development, but she has no close connections with any of the Rats, nor is she seen with anyone else aside from Tommy. Compared to more popular fan pairings such as Tommy/Kimi and Tommy/Lil, Rachel generally contributes nothing to the series. In addition, their romance has had its share of complications. In the end, because of her family moving away, she generally breaks up with Tommy. But to make matters worse, when Rachel sees Tommy with another girl, she tells him that she never wants to see him again.
  • On The Fairly OddParents, Trixie Tang and in the opposite way, Tootie. Neither have much personality outside of either being liked by or having a crush on Timmy, barring some depressing backstory for Tootie, and some Hidden Depths revealed in one episode for Trixie.
  • Jeremy Johnson from Phineas and Ferb used to qualify. Earlier episodes gave him no purpose other than being a bright spot in Candace's life, but recent episodes develop him more. He's shown to have his own life and friends, and is savvy to Candace's freak outs. He's even got extensive interaction with other characters up to and including Dr. Doofenshmirtz.
  • Julie from Ben 10 Alien Force started out this way, but got better overtime.
  • One-shot girly girl Dawn from KaBlam! who showed up in the episode "A Nut in Every Bite!". As soon as he saw her Henry fell in love with her. However, she was rather boring personality-wise, especially compared to the snarky tomboyish June, and other than finding him hilarious, she didn't return his affections. He forgets about his crush on her at the end once he realizes that she wasn't worth it.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Jez and Saffi exist only to be girlfriends of Lucius and Beezy, respectively, and are ignored when these connections aren't important. This is notable in one episode involving Beezy being put in an Arranged Marriage, when he points out he has Saffi, she's wheeled out to say "I don't mind," then proceeds to disappear other than a cameo near the end.
  • Queen Rapsheeba, Snap's love interest on ChalkZone.
  • Betty Quinlan of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron.
  • Don Prima of My Life as a Teenage Robot for Jenny.
  • Tony in The Incredibles, who shows up in the beginning and the end of the film and mainly exists as Violet's crush.
    • In fact, he only really exists to demonstrate Violet's character development. At the beginning of the film, she's too shy to even remain visible in his presence. At the end, she's able to talk with him and get a date while he's stammering nervously.
  • Amanda Sefton from X-Men: Evolution. She's two-dimensional, has little to no personality, and exists solely to be Nightcrawler's love interest.
  • Parodied in Kim Possible, where Senor Senor Junior kidnapped a computer expert so he can find the perfect girl that matched his Shallow requirements. Turns out it's Bonnie.
  • In The Proud Family: Suga Mamma is attracted to Lasienaga's Grandpa, although the latter not only has no interest in her, but also seems to insult her every time, and in at least one episode also wished for her to disappear. Literally the only reason why she she continues with her crush anyways is because she doesn't understand Spanish (the grandpa always speaks in Spanish). Then again, in this case it's just a Running Gag so that the grandfather can insult her and laugh maniacally afterwards.
  • Angel from Lilo & Stitch: The Series has no noticeable personality traits outside of being a girl version of Stitch and being his love interest. Oh, there's also something to do with her singing being able to turn older Experiments evil and that's about it.


Other[edit | hide]