Will They or Won't They?

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"Pam is very attractive, no question. If I didn't have an award show to host, I could easily see having two or three seasons of will-they-won't-they sexual tension that ultimately goes nowhere."
Conan O'Brien, Emmy 2006 opening skit, after crashing The Office

Two characters, often combative but with obvious Unresolved Sexual Tension (or UST), resist going into a full blown relationship for a rather long time. Usually the two characters will be presented so that "they will" is the conclusion to root for; only rarely is the question of whether the writers think they should in any real doubt.

Actually ending the dance is a tricky business. It is difficult for shows to recover from the loss of a major source of dramatic tension represented by an unrequited relationship. Many shows Jump the Shark or suffer Shipping Bed Death when the two characters finally get together. A common problem is that the show suddenly becomes about the relationship rather than remaining true to its original premise. Sometimes an attempt is made to introduce a new source of dramatic tension, but it is frequently cheesy and lame. To avoid this, many shows choose to answer the question and end the show nearly simultaneously via a Last-Minute Hookup.

Of course, the opposite can also occur. Shows can go out of their way to avoid resolving the relationship, making ever-more-desperate narrative leaps until, by the time they finally let the characters get together, the show has lost its viewership anyway. Belligerent Sexual Tension is often a victim of this.

Sometimes a Love Epiphany can be used to have a character realize his/her feelings, but still not resolve the question, just add a new dynamic to it.

A fundamental Shipping-inducement strategy.

See also Almost Kiss, Relationship Upgrade, Like Brother and Sister, Moment Killer, Everyone Can See It. When a series ends without even a hint of resolution to will-they-or-won't-they, it's No Romantic Resolution. Contrast Friends with Benefits, where they definitely do it, but without the emotional baggage.

Compare Just Friends and They Do.

Also, if it's a major plot point, see Just Eat Gilligan

Contrast Platonic Life Partners—they won't.

Examples of Will They or Won't They? include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Integra Hellsing and Alucard had this going on. Whether They Do or They Don't is left relatively ambiguous, though Word of God said they were an Official Couple in the anime.
  • The star of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, for the love of god. He and Miu have been at it for almost 400 manga episodes now, and it doesn´t look like it will be solved anytime soon...
  • Welcome to The NHK has the complex relationship between Satou and the girl acting as his "saving angel", Misaki.
  • (Only the manga) In Elemental Gelade, Coud and Ren have yet to enter into a real couple relationship. Coud wants it badly but is too shy to confess his feelings to her during their journey to Edel Garden, and Ren did not show any strong romance towards Coud.
  • Most of the characters in School Rumble. Nuff said.
  • Maison Ikkoku is all about the question whether the Unlucky Everydude and the Landlady will get together—which takes 96 episodes in total. Phew.
  • In the same vein, Kimagure Orange Road, which took 48 episodes, 8 OVAs, and a movie before ever resolving it. The second movie tried to revive it.
  • Ranma ½ has this between Ranma and Akane; in fact, it's what the entire manga is about aside from wacky martial arts. Same with Tofu and Kasumi, to a lesser extent (and mostly in the TV series).

Ryōga: Quit wasting our valuable screentime with your will they/won't they antics!

  • Inuyasha. I think Rumiko Takahashi just loves this trope.
    • Subverted in the Final Act Kagome marries Inuyasha. Sango marries Miroku.
  • Most of the plot in Lovely Complex revolves around the question whether the Huge Schoolgirl female lead can get a hold of the shorter guy she's in love with.
  • Hagino and Mari in Blue Drop get into a complex love/hate-relationship which leads to a lot of drama for most of the series. When they finally do declare their love for each other, their happiness doesn't last long though.
  • Quite possibly the entire point of Revolutionary Girl Utena. Only The Movie finally resolved it, but considering what an Mind Screw it was, confirmed Les Yay was the least of the audience's thoughts.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has several: Setsuna and Konoka though the latter got kind of resolved recently, what's with the pactio and all that. Nagi and Eva was regarded as one for some time but it as it turns out it didn't have a chance from the start. Negi and Asuna was regarded as one for a while, but for the most part, since Negima started as a harem series, many of Negi's potential love interests could fall under this trope.
    • Negi friend/Rival Kotaro seems to have something like that with his roommate Natsumi; since chapter 262 came around, it seems that Kotaro does indeed have feelings for her (Though they still appear to be mostly brotherly).
  • This applies to Hana Yori Dango in every adaption, mainly between Tsukushi and Tsukasa and Tsukushi and Rui. This is thanks largely to the huge difference in social class between Tsukushi and almost every possible love interest that shows his face—though Tsukasa's personality certainly doesn't help matters.
  • El Cazador de la Bruja appears to be the only series in Bee Train's "girls with guns"-trilogy where the two female leads wind up with each other in the end.
    • Noir also seems to end this way, but Koichi Mashimo tacked on an ending suggesting that wasn't real, which led to Internet Backdraft.
  • Naruto and Sakura fall into this trope quite nicely. Or badly, depending on your point of view.
    • And Hinata always had a Will She Tell Him or Not. She told him, but he hasn't had a chance to respond.
  • In Shakugan no Shana Yuji and Shana should have probably been making out by the fifth episode. Two seasons later they're still making gooey eyes at each other and wondering how the other one feels.
  • Code Geass is full of this. The protagonist Lelouch is really popular with the ladies, even without anyone knowing that he's royalty, but he's too busy secretly leading a revolution to actively pursue romance. Nevertheless, he gets plenty of Will They or Won't They? with Shirley (a classmate with a borderline-obsessive crush on him), Kallen (a Tsundere terrorist who would do anything for Lelouch's charismatic Zero persona), and C.C. (the Kuudere witch he made a deal with in exchange for power).
  • The closest to this in Axis Powers Hetalia are the relationships between England and America, and then Germany and Italy. Oh god, the Ship Tease.
  • Mariasama ga Miteru is littered with hints that Yumi and Sachiko might get a Relationship Upgrade, which kept many yuri fans hooked. Nothing of the kind ever happens though, despite many opportunities.
    • The basic premise of a girl wooing another girl into becoming her soeur also has something of this.
  • Ah! My Goddess can be seen as one long Will They Or Won't They between Keiichi and Belldandy, even though it's a foregone conclusion that they will be together in the end. The number of times they've kissed can be counted on one or two hands and the manga is currently on volume 37 (more than a hundred chapters)! If you count in all the animated series, you'd only need to use fingers and toes to count.
  • The sneaky bastards behind Lyrical Nanoha took a different approach to this regarding the Nanoha-related ships by jumping ten years forward then cranking the Ship Tease all the way to the max without saying anything definite. Suddenly, the question mutated from "Will They Or Won't They?" to "Did They or Didn't They??"
  • Aoi Hana revolves around the growing relationship between childhood friends Fumi and Akira, although the issue is often obscured by Fumi's romantic entanglements with other girls.
  • Ai Yori Aoshi starts as if it will follow this trope and then takes a hard right turn into Perfectly Arranged Marriage. At the very end, finally, they do.
  • Digimon Adventure had Tai and Sora, who were "very close friends", and were always looking out for each other. The biggest moment of "Taiora" was when Tai actually cried because he might have killed Sora because he's an ass. Then there's the movie. Then there's the second season ending where she marries his best friend.
  • Sunako and Kyohei from The Wallflower, to ridiculous heights. So far, they've risked their lives for/saved each other countless times, kissed twice, confirmed they don't hate each other, gone out on a date and lived together for a period of time. And, yet, what is there for them to say at the end of the day? "We aren't in a relationship." Ugh.
  • Shiki and Mikiya in Kara no Kyoukai. He confesses to her early on, and is welcome to regularly drop in on Shiki, and its clear that Shiki feels something towards him, and yet in four years nothing happens; rather frustrating considering the lack of UST. Especially strange considering the games Nasu later came to be known for.
    • Well... they have a daughter in Mirai Fukuin, named Mana. Said daughter has an Oedipus Complex (or Electra, if you prefer), and wants to "beat her mother to get her father back." Personality and appearance-wise, she resembles Arima Miyako, the other Shiki's cousin in Tsukihime. Oh and she uses her mother's surname.
  • Pokémon Special does this with Ruby and Sapphire. Even after the confession, Ruby ignores the topic, much to Sapphire's anger.
  • Pointed out in School Rumble Z when Yakumo visited Tenma in the US. When Yakumo still cannot define her relationship with Harima, a very frustrated Tenma threatens to crash the car she's driving.
  • The central question in Shoujo Sect is whether Shinobu will get a hold of her childhood friend Momoko. She does, but not before going through a harem of other girls.
  • There was a minor case of this with Ed and Winry in Fullmetal Alchemist, since there hardly were any other potential Love Interests for either (they do marry in the final chapter). Now, Roy and Riza or Al and May, on the other hand...
  • In Scrapped Princess, the viewers keep expecting something to happen between Pacifica and Chris. But it never happens. Pacifica is with Leo, and Chris is with Winia. Nothing happens between Pacifica and Chris- but the UST seems to be there.
  • Spice and Wolf, full stop. There are only two main characters. One of them is both a tease and a woobie. The other is a Nice Guy with a hint of snark. They spar with words all the time, but it's pretty clear that they deeply care about each other. It still counts, though, because of an important obstacle.
  • In Black Lagoon, Revy and Rock. They even share an Almost Kiss (lighting a cigarette) in Chapter 9 of the manga and the equivalent anime episode.
  • Ghost in the Shell features this to a painful extent. While the tension is obvious in the movie adaptations, Stand Alone Complex takes it even father. Even the voice actors have been known to make jokes regarding the tension between them. And yet, no real resolution is ever reached, aside from a very faint Maybe Ever After in the end of Solid State Society. Batou puts him arm around her and she doesn't throw him into the pool
  • In Yamanko, Neneko and Makoto show definite signs of being attracted to each other (especially from Neneko's side), but both of them have trouble showing their feelings. The fact that they are both girls might be a big factor in this.

Comics[edit | hide]

  • This was a very persistent question for the fans of Cable and Deadpool who were wondering if one of the writers would hook them up after they spent a series chatting each other up.
  • Justice Society of America featured Like Brother and Sister grouping Atom Smasher and Stargirl, implying they got married in the future. Subsequently, he quit the team and she started dating Fan-Preferred Couple-style with Billy "Captain Marvel" Batson. When they broke up, she openly moped about Atom Smasher's later Face Heel Turn and near-death experience to the point where that seemed like a reasonable coupling once more, but after another near-kiss with Billy, it's been fully revealed that Courtney and Al love each other. Then the team elders put the kibosh on the whole thing because of Al's age.
  • In the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comic, this went on between Sonic and Sally for a long time. Then they started an official relationship, but had a fight, and broke up. Now they're doing it again.
    • Fortunately Archie opted to appease fans during this period by adding the AU Mobius: Twenty Five Years Later storyline as a back-up strip just to keep anyone from ditching the lead title as it went to hell creatively. This gave Sonic and Sally a more positive and progressive piece of character growth regardless of its canonicity. Two follow-up storylines set in this universe have since followed, though it could ease off a little on the constant time-travel plots...
  • X-Men: Rogue and Gambit have been in a constant state of ‘on-and-off’ ever since Gambit first joined the X-Men, to the extent that it's practically a permanent sub-plot. While they both have declared love and devotion for one another on multiple occasions, the relationship never lasts too long before something happens and they end up separating again, only to reconcile at a later stage. This is partially due to the strain on the relationship caused by Rogue’s mutation, meaning the pair can never make physical contact, but also both partners carry some serious emotional baggage which surfaces every so often, sometimes leading to a break-up, whilst other times bringing the pair together
  • Spider-Man: Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy do this straight starting from her 1st appearance. They broke up once, but would've, if not for the fact that she had an affair with Norman Osborn, had his children, pissed the Goblin right off and died for her trouble, though she was brought back through cloning and dumped Peter when it was strongly implied that he had always been in love with Mary Jane even when he'd been dating Gwen (MJ made her debut BEFORE Gwen in the comics as the "blind date" foil for Betty Brant and Liz Allen), but because of Gwen's emotional problems, coupled with a promise to look after her to the dying George Stacy, he stuck with her out of principle..
    • Which seems like an attempt to settle the decades-long feud over whether Peter loves Mary Jane or not.
  • Batman:
    • Dick Grayson and anyone he's dated.
    • Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown. They Do - just then she dies, comes back and then... this trope Up to Eleven. Almost every meeting has a flashback to them meeting/hooking up, or a reference to that, or nearly hooking up. Combined with Tim's oft-jerkiness or dark and broodiness (and being chaste and a man-slut simultaneously), and Stephanie trying to impress Batman, or otherwise prove herself to be a hero, this trope is pretty extreme for 16-18 year olds (post-relaunch). Notable that they have this after already being in a relationship together.
    • His skills at avoiding commitment seemed to rub off on the rest of the The New Teen Titans. Beast Boy and Raven have been going through this a lot lately.
    • Cyborg and Sara Simms were originally intended to be a couple, but Marv Wolfman changed his mind. Instead, we were met with one of the longest "will they, won't they" segments in comic book history.


Films -- Animation[edit | hide]

The Nostalgia Chick: "Ah, animosity! It must be love!"


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Jane and Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre. Well...at first.
  • In War and Peace, this tends to happen a lot. The Love Triangles don't really help in sorting it out. This trope applies most to Pierre and Natasha, as that one's foreshadowed relatively early in the book, and Nikolai and Marya.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ron and Hermione, starting in Goblet of Fire and ending in a Last-Minute Hookup in Deathly Hallows.
      • In the movie adaptations, hints are dropped about Ron and Hermione's mutual interest as early as Chamber of Secrets.
    • Harry and Ginny. They Do: as of the "fast forward several years" in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, Harry and Ginny are married with children.
  • Harry and Murphy in The Dresden Files.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe does this with Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade a bit.
    • And it absolutely uses it to death with Jacen and Tenel Ka.
  • In most Jane Austen novels.
  • Percy and Annabeth in Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It's pretty bad when even the daughter of the god of war thinks that it's about time when you finally get together.
  • The Ship Tease has been amped up in Artemis Fowl's sixth book, The Time Paradox, especially when after saving Artemis from a gorilla attack, Holly kisses him in her relief.
  • Gaunt and Curth from Gaunt's Ghosts are strongly implied to have feelings for each other in The Traitor General. However, since the author never mentions any such relationship again (three books on and counting), this is probably more a case of the author forgetting rather than Will They or Won't They?.
  • To the point of vast irritation and confusion, The Wheel of Time series brings us the relationship between Rand Al'Thor and Aviendha the Action Girl, which lasts for an astonishing length of time.
  • Early on in the Honor Harrington book, In Enemy Hands, Hamish Alexander (the Earl of Whitehaven) suddenly gets interested in Honor, and Honor feels his interest through her empathic treecat. Two books later we're still getting this:

No other 'cat-human bonding had ever been so close, ever spilled across to the actual communication of emotions, and the depth of her fusion with her beloved companion was worth any price. Even this one, she told herself. Even the knowledge that Hamish Alexander loved her and of what might have been had the universe been a different place. Yet just as he would never tell her, she would never tell him ... and was she blessed or cursed by the fact that, unlike him, she would always know what he had never said?

    • They Do. Late in the series, they even marry on Grayson (which, conveniently enough, allows bigamy).

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Dragged out to a ridiculous extent on Friends with Ross and Rachel.
    • How ridiculous, you ask? It took from the first episode of the ten-year show til the very last episode for them to finally get over the Will They or Won't They?.
      • Well, they ended up together in the last moments of the series finale. They got together in season 2, broke up in season 3, and from that it was an on-again-off-again thing.
      • Neatly summed up by Ross's sister, Monica.

Monica: I'm Rachel. I love Ross! I hate Ross! I love Ross! I hate Ross!

  • The Mighty Boosh, between Howard Moon and Vince Noir. Their relationship was a source of major speculation, but during it's three season run, it was never really resolved.
  • Cheers. Sam Malone and Diane Chambers, and later Sam and Rebecca Howe.
    • After Sam and Diane did it, the show rapidly went downhill. The show underwent a reboot where Diane went off and a new UST with Rebecca was added.
  • The X-Files: Mulder and Scully.
  • Moonlighting, a popular '80s action/comedy starring Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd, tanked immediately after Bruce and Cybil "did it". The lesson was probably not lost on The Powers That Be, with the result that fewer Will They or Won't They? questions will be answered with "They Will". The last major Writers Guild of America strike torpedoed TV production right in the middle of this arc; a lot of Moonlighting's decline in quality came from the disruption this caused, and it's arguable that the change in relationship might have been handled considerably more successfully if the strike hadn't happened. Also, they couldn't get Bruce and Cybill together at the same time to make the show for ages. Also, Cybill's real-life pregnancy with twins.
  • Niles and Daphne on Frasier, which rose, fell, switched back and forth, found new ways to express itself every few episodes, and progressed through Daphne's obliviousness; both of them being unwilling to even communicate their feelings, much less act on them, because Niles was married to Maris; the slow, lingering death of Niles and Maris's marriage, complete with much backsliding, temporary reconciliations, and emotional and psychological abuse; heartwrenching silent years of Unrequited Love on Niles' part; and Daphne coming within an inch of marrying her Romantic False Lead; all before they so much as expressed their attraction to each other. It took another couple seasons for them to finally stabilize and marry.
  • Caroline and Richard on Caroline in The City. By the time they finally got around to it, no one cared.
  • Robert and Amy on Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • Lois and Clark (a.k.a. The New Adventures of Superman). They did, in a marriage storyline that crossed over with the comics.
  • Lieutenant Colonel (eventually) Samantha Carter and General (eventually) Jack O'Neill on Stargate SG-1. They did, but only in Alternate Universes. In the normal continuity, the fact that military officers are forbidden to be romantically involved with their subordinates always prevented anything from happening.
    • Word of God says that Jack and Sam are romantically involved after the Season 8 episode "Threads".
    • To a lesser extent, Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran. Vala flirted with most of the main male characters, but more with Daniel than anyone else. Towards the end of the series we even learn that this has apparently grown from light-hearted teasing to actual affection, but what held the relationship back was that Daniel thought she was just doing it all for a laugh. They did, but again only in a reset timeline.
  • Fran and Max on The Nanny, but surprisingly, the show stayed funny even after they got together.
  • Subverted in News Radio, wherein Dave and Lisa DO immediately before the second episode. (Creator and head writer Paul Simms states in DVD audio commentary that he hates this trope.)
  • JAG, in which Captain Harmon Rabb and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie finally hooked up at the end. JAG can be considered to be the example of the second kind of this trope. Most all of the fandom of the show was incredulous at the pathetic "reason" that they couldn't be together until the last five minutes of the series finale.
  • The new Battlestar Galactica has two of these: one between Lee "Apollo" Adama and Kara "Starbuck" Thrace, and one between Admiral Adama and President Roslin.
  • Firefly prominently placed two of these: one between Mal and Inara, another between Kaylee and Simon. As of the end of the Wrap It Up, Kaylee and Simon have, while Mal and Inara... actually, nobody's quite sure about them.
  • Numb3rs: Charlie and Amita. They had to stay Just Friends as long as Charlie was Amita's thesis advisor, but after she graduated and became a fellow professor They Did.
  • The Office in both versions with Tim and Dawn and Jim and Pam. Jim and Pam eventually did get together and got married early season 6. The show now has the tension with Andy and Erin however the other couples (Dwight/Angela, Michael/Holly, Michale/Jan) have faded into the background.
    • Tim and Dawn got together too in the Christmas special that wrapped up the series.
  • Glee has had Rachel and Finn singing and dancing circles around each other since the Pilot.
  • The West Wing had Josh and Donna from episode one. The two finally got together in the final season (seven seasons after the show began, and three after Aaron Sorkin left).
  • By contrast, Sorkin didn't do such a good job with the same trope on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Or Sports Night, for that matter (notably the infamous "dating plan").
  • Grissom and Sara on CSI, until they finally did.
    • Now replaced to a point by Catherine and Vartaan.
  • Danny and Lindsay on {{CSINY}), until they eventually did.
  • Fred and Wes on Angel
    • They finally get together, and in the next episode Fred dies.
  • In Who's The Boss?, Tony and Angela danced around the subject for so long (and in such increasingly ridiculous ways) that the supporting characters more or less hung a permanent Lampshade Hanging over it. It seemed they finally hooked up out of the desperation of the producers (they were an official couple only for half of the show's final season) than out of any real dramatic intent.
  • Farscape had John and Aeryn. Notable as perhaps the only time where officially getting the couple together actually improved the show, as the writers found numerous ways to keep the tension going that wouldn't have worked if they weren't sleeping together. (Also unusual in that they had sex well before they officially got together.) However, Ben Browder had suggested that Aeryn and John have sex immediately, only to spend the rest of the series denying it.
    • To a lesser extent (as the relationship is dragged out over much a much shorter period than John/Aeryn), we have D'Argo and Chiana - there are several Will They or Won't They? moments throughout the early episodes of Season 2, before they finally kiss and eventually start sleeping together several episodes later (then it happens all over again when they break up in Season 3, before getting back together in Season 4).
  • House, with Cameron in Season 1 and Stacy in Season 2. He also had a "Did They Or Didn't They" with Cuddy.
    • The current season is playing with two of these, one between House and Cuddy and one between Foreman and Thirteen.
      • In fact, the only two female characters House hasn't had this with are Cutthroat Bitch (who started dating his best friend, and then died) and Thirteen... yet.
        • He even seems to have some sexual tension with his best MALE friend...
      • Foreman and Thirteen did.
      • As did House and Cuddy, in the season's second-to-last episode. Or so it seemed at the time.
        • They seem to sleep together in the season 5 finale (just a dream) and then again in the season 6 finale (for real this time, though it doesn't last)
  • Picard and Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was there from Season 1 but didn't really become much of an issue until the last few seasons. They never did (except in an crazy alternate future) and, honestly, that never seemed strange or convoluted, making this a pretty unusual example of the trope.
    • Actually, there is a vague very-late-80s subtext in those early episodes that Picard might have been Wesley's biological father, hence why his relationship with both Crushers seemed a little strained at times. Though this was completely dropped when Dr Crusher left the show for the second season, and wasn't picked up when she returned in season three.
    • A couple things to consider is that Picard was a long time friend of Dr. Crusher and her dead husband. A later season episode combined Chained Heat and Applied Phlebotinum to make it very clear why it never happened.
      • In the post-Nemesis continuity in the books, Picard and Crusher marry and Crusher falls pregnant with their child. Though this is probably only because the Trek universe has rebooted and thus the books have been given more-or-less carte blanche when it comes to carrying on the TNG version of the universe, since it's highly unlikely we'll ever see it on screen again.
    • And again with Riker and Troi, they did a couple of times and broke up a couple of times too.
      • After settling into the "just very good friends" mold for most of the last couple of seasons of TNG and the movies, Riker and Troi finally get married immediately before Star Trek: Nemesis, with Picard as the best man.
  • Well before any of its spin-offs played with the idea, Star Trek: The Original Series experimented with the idea with the relationship between Captain Kirk and Yeoman Janice Rand: both had a mutual attraction to one another, but Kirk's position as Captain, and his feelings of responsibility as her commanding officer, were explicitly stated as the reasons why they didn't.
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Brisco County Jr: it looks like Brisco and Dixie are being set up for it, then they immediately jump in the sack. However, it's still more than halfway through the season before Brisco actually confesses that he loves her.
  • Arguably, Gene and Alex in Ashes to Ashes; they're conscious of the mutual attraction, but have both backed out at least once when acting on it seems like a possibility.
  • How I Met Your Mother did this fairly believably for the first season with Ted and Robin, even though we know from the first episode that they won't, ultimately, end up together. Currently, the Will They or Won't They? torch has been passed back to Barney and Robin, after they had dated, broken up and passed it on to Robin and Don.
    • Barney and Robin's Will They or Won't They? is currently cleverly framed with a flashforward: we know that soon (it has to be soon, because Ted meets the mother at the wedding and the time limit for their first meeting, given their kids' ages, is running out), Barney will get married. We don't know to whom, but the bride will presumably be revealed by the seventh season finale.
      • The bride was revealed and They Will. Now it's only a question of how they get there since he's engaged to someone else.
  • Scrubs wrung every last drop of acceptable Will They or Won't They? juice out of Elliot and J.D. They did after two seasons of it, then broke up in excruciating fashion, cooled off for a few years, then picked back up very briefly again then dropped it again. They finally made up their minds and stayed together for good.
  • Spinelli and Maxie on General Hospital now have a year and a half of sexual tension that has only been broken twice for all the wrong reasons. The question here isn't really "Will they or won't they?", it's "Will they or won't they as an official couple?" A good portion of the fan base at this time would rather they stayed friends.
  • Booth and Brennan on Bones. According to Word of God, they will eventually in the season finale.
    • Yeah, right. Just like they said for the previous season finale, which turned out to be All Just a Dream (although, in this case it was obvious from the outset that it was one).
    • They did at the second to last episode of season 6, it wasn't made very clear until the next episode when she announced she was pregnant with his baby... Very well played in this troper's opinion.
    • Bones loves this trope. Even more so than Booth and Brennan (who, after all, until the 100th episode are just a severe case of UST), there's Angela and Jack. They started off as friends, moved to UST, went on one date, decided it was too perfect and would end terrbly, changed their minds, got engaged, found out she was already married, stayed together for awhile, broke up, dated other people (in Angela's case mainly) and almost got engaged again because she thought she was pregnant with another man's child. Turns out she wasn't, but this prompted a Love Epiphany that lead to a spur-of-the-moment jail cell wedding. Finally resolved now and they seem to be Happily Married. Will They or Won't They? indeed...
    • As for Booth and Brennan, they finally do, when they sleep together (off-screen) and Brennan gets pregnant.
  • Psych's Juliet and Shawn, before finally getting together at the start of season 5.
  • Dawson's Creek had two of these: Dawson and Joey, and Pacey and Joey. They dragged out that triangle until the last few minutes of the last episode.
  • The Avengers, between Steed and Mrs. Peel.
  • Mike and Catlin on Spin City. They did it in less than a year, then Michael J Fox had to leave the show.
  • Jeeves and Wooster has this in spades, although it's really more like They Should But Why Aren't They? What usually happens is that a couple will go in and out of engagements, seemingly to be made for each other in the end, only to eventually wind up with someone completely different. If a pairing only appears in one episode or a two-parter, they are much more likely to stay together, such as with Biffy and Mabel in "Pearls Mean Tears".
    • The Gussie/Madeline relationship is probably the most on-again off-again engagement in the whole series. In the last 2 episodes, despite all the hoops that Bertie spends four seasons jumping through to keep them together (18-mile bike ride in the rain, anyone?), Gussie winds up with Pauline Stoker's sister Emerald, who elopes with him the same episode she shows up, and Madeline marries Spode, of all people, in the last episode. Although, in his defense, he was actually in love with her. She just married him for his title.
  • Torchwood initially tried to set this up between Jack and Gwen. Jack and Ianto are an aversion of this trope, as they went from threatening to kill each other to sleeping together in four episodes with very little lead up.
  • Particularly irritating in Century City, which started as more Did They Or Didn't They, and proceeded to take the Unresolved Sexual Tension in no particular direction.
  • Rigsby and Van Pelt in The Mentalist. Well, until They Do in the fifth episode of the second season. Which is good, since he confessed that he loved her and that might have been awkward.
    • And then they broke up. But the UST has yet to go away, despite Van Pelt dating someone new.
    • It's back on when Rigsby tells her that he still loves her and Van Pelt's fiance turns out to be the Mole and then is shot dead.
  • Blair Waldorf and Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl had a "will they/won't they" plot for a season and a half. The whole thing started with them having sex, then they were friends-with-benefits, they she ditched him and went back to his best friend. Cue half a season of will/won't that ended in the season one finally where they get together - and the episode ends with him standing her up for their trip to Europe. Season two had them in a constant struggle over pride and power, starting with who should say "I love you" to the other first. After a while Chuck pointed out they both know they love each other, but can't say it because they don't know if they can make it work as a couple at this point. A few episodes later they take the will/won't in a new direction when Blair tells Chuck she loves him, only to be blown off and mocked for it (his father had just died and he was too self-destructive to accept her love). The rest of the season then consists of Blair trying to move on and Chuck getting in the way, loving her deeply but not believing he can make her happy. The season two finally has her once again declaring her consuming love for him only to be rejected once more. He then returns in the last two minutes, finally telling her he loves her too, and all the hurt they've caused each other is forgiven and forgotten. Interestingly enough what kept these two apart was more about their own insecurities than about actual hurtful things they did to one another. For example when he learns that she slept with his uncle, whom Chuck loathes he was angry but it wasn't an obstacle between them as a couple.
    • As of season three they are now together, happy and aware that they belong together.
      • It didn't last and we're back to square one.
    • Blair and Dan as part of the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Luke and Lorelai in Gilmore Girls.
    • Much like Friends, this was introduced in the first episode and was not resolved until the very last scenes of series finale. They finally got together in the 5th season only for it to be dragged on for the last two seasons. Unfortunately, because of this, it felt like a Last-Minute Hookup.
  • We can expect a couple seasons' worth of UST between Cal Lightman and Gillian Foster of Lie to Me, especially now that Gillian's single. She's the only one he trusts, he's afraid to hurt her like his ex-wife, and his daughter even sees them as an odd sort of family.
  • Tony and Ziva in NCIS, with the ramped-up UST since Tony helped rescue Ziva from Somali terrorists suggesting they will, while the fact that Tony shot and killed Ziva's Mossad-agent boyfriend, precipitating her return to Israel that lead to her imprisonment in Somalia, suggests they won't.
    • And then there was Paris. Is there a Did They or Didn't They trope?
      • Well, there was only one bed, and both of them lied about taking the couch. This doesn't mean anything.
    • And the current season has clearly progressed beyond UST and Will They or Won't They? into "taking the piss out of the shippers" territory. They've brought up Tony's ex-fiancee, Ziva's Romantic False Lead "C.I. Ray", Tony's fear of children, and every other guest character either assuming Tony and Ziva are a couple or explaining why they'd make a great one...either they're setting up a case of "they will" or they're setting up the biggest chain yank in TV history.
  • Kevin and Winnie in The Wonder Years, though in the final episode Adult Kevin, the series narrator, reveals they didn't
  • Castle and Kate Beckett. It's assumed that they eventually will, being the Official Couple and all. Castle even responds "Not yet" when someone asks if they're together.
    • In interviews, the actors themselves cheerfully admit that the two will end up together eventually; the fun is in seeing how.
    • As of season 4's finale, "Always", they finally get a Relationship Upgrade. It remains to be seen how this will play out in the next season. The fake Richard Castle website included an article the week before where Castle talks about the perils of having long, dangling, unresolved plot arcs, which he calls, "Ponzi Plots".
    • Andrew Marlowe, creator of Castle, has talked about the Moonlighting case in particular when discussing the "Caskett" plot. Like this page, he doesn't believe resolving the UST screwed up the show. He also talks about other, unnamed shows (though fans always discuss "Bones" right about here) where the UST isn't resolved in time and the fans loose interest.
  • The Carly/Freddie and Freddie/Sam pairings on iCarly averted this. Carly and Freddie got together in iSaved Your Life then broke up at the end, and then Sam and Freddie got together in iLose My Mind, which was 1 episode and 3 days in-universe after Sam revealed her feelings for Freddie in iOMG. Whilst both sides had some obvious Ship Tease, it was never UST as neither couple could really qualifiy for UST since Freddie liked Carly but she didn't like him back until iSaved Your Life, and Freddie didn't like Sam until iLose My Mind, and Sam had shown no indications she liked Freddie until iOMG.
  • Sonny and Chad in Sonny With a Chance danced around their obvious attraction to each other, and the Season 1 finale seemed to indicate that movement was happening. Season 2 has brought on this, and alot more Ship Tease. They Do.
  • When Goren and Eames left Law and Order: Criminal Intent at the end of season 9, this was left deliberately ambiguous, since they are very much life partners, and for some fans, a Last-Minute Hookup would have been upsetting, while others are free to imagine a Happily Married type scenario. They did have a very intimate, very touching Anywhere but Their Lips kiss before they left, and no one was unhappy about that.
    • They returned for the final season, and again, the finale left the whole issue very open-ended. Given the nature of the final episode, however, with its emphasis on 'everyone wants to believe in true love' and Goren calling Eames by her first name while she smiles at him, the implication seems to be that eventually, they will.
  • In the middle seasons of Law and Order Special Victims Unit, there did seem to be a bit of this between Elliot and Olivia, particularly after Kathy left Elliot; even before she did, there were some moments where Olivia seemed hopelessly in love with him. The later seasons, however, stomp all over this, particularly as on Alex Cabot's return, the Les Yay is stronger than ever. Having avoided a potentially disastrous plot twist, Olivia and Elliot are back to doing what they do best - being Platonic Life Partners and kicking ass.
  • Emma Tutweiller and Marion Moseby in The Suite Life On Deck, they're the only major adults on the show!
  • Jeff and Britta, in Community. Invoked, lampshaded, and resolved in the "Modern Warfare" episode.
    • This is played with again in season two until we find out that they did hook up again but the thrill was gone after it is no longer a secret
    • Jeff and Annie have a bit of it in season one and more in season two. They kiss at the end of season one but it goes nowhere and Jeff tries to pretend it never happened.
    • As of the end of season two there is the possibility of one with Abed and Annie
    • Thus far season 3 seems far more focused on the Jeff and Annie UST than Britta/Jeff.
  • Played with in Series 5 of Doctor Who with Amy and Rory; they're already engaged, but the question is Will They or Won't They? get married as planned, what with Amy leaving with the Doctor the night before the wedding, Amy saying that she's running from the wedding, Amy kissing the Doctor once they return to the night they left, Amy expressing surprise at seeing them still together in future timelines, Rory dying, Amy dying, and the universe being erased. By the end of the season, They Do, and it seems their honeymoon will be traveling with the Doctor.
  • Rizzoli and Isles - you imagine that they won't, because the producers are terrified of alienating a huge pack of their viewers by following through on it, but a girl can hope that all that Les Yay will go somewhere.
    • It's less likely the producers are terrified of alienating people and more likely that they won't do anything like that because it would be a massive deviation from the books the series is based on.
    • No, the TV characters are very different from the book characters already and the author of the books has expressed interest in the idea as applied to the show. It probably is more about alienating people.
  • Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker in Chuck throughout the first two seasons.
    • Lampshaded by Chuck well after They Do get together when he, Sarah and Casey are trying to bluff their way past a security guard:

Chuck: Excuse me, sir? Look, I don't mean to bug you, but the cute little number that came in with me... the two of us have kind of had this will-they-won't they burgeoning office romance going; I'm really trying to impress her so could you help me out a little bit?

  • Jaye and Eric in Wonderfalls: a woman who is terribly afraid of intimacy and a man who was so badly traumatized by his wife cheating on him on his honeymoon that wedding paraphernalia makes him faint. Naturally, this combination does not make for the smoothest sailing. The last episode seems to indicate that they will.
  • Alex and Dave in Happy Endings despite the fact that they already did, lived together for years, got engaged and Alex left Dave at the altar. There are still plenty of sparks between them but they rightfully fear that they will just repeat the same mistakes that led to the humiliating and public breakup of the original relationship.
  • Jerry and Bobbi from Raising the Bar. Every time they look to get going, they get thwarted by her divorce, her ex's suicide etc. Finally, they do.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of That '70s Show when, after Eric tells his friends hat he and Donnahad sex for the first time, Hyde happily declares that he'd "Just about had it with all the 'will-they-or-won't-they?' crap!"
  • Andy and April on Parks and Recreation, as well as Leslie and Ben.
  • Duncan and Nicole on The Class.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Final Fantasy VII, there is a bit of this between Cloud and Aerith or Tifa. Events in the game and the material that follows makes it clear he does. With Tifa.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 had this almost all the way through with Naked Snake and EVA. They end up having sex after the mission. EVA is later artificially impregnated with his clones. However, they never actually develop a relationship.
  • In Broken Sword, George and Nico seems to have a thing for each other, but never confess to each other and they never even contact each other in between the games timeline. George said in the beginning of the 3rd game that "things between them don't work out".
  • "Tenchu" fans have been at war since the beginning on whether Ayame and Rikimaru are just partners, clan brother and sister, or secret lovers. Though the extra fouton in what certainly LOOKS like Rikimaru's house in Tenchu Z makes this troper believe the latter...
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Shadow and Rouge.
  • Usually with Tales Of games, the canon pairing is right there as the lead male and female. Tales of Vesperia however, goes to great lengths of implying a will they/won't they relationship between ill tempered sorceress Rita and sheltered Princess Estelle as well as an Are They/Aren't They one with childhood best friends Yuri and Flynn. The Play Station 3 version only intensifies it.


Webcomics[edit | hide]

  • Lampshaded in this strip of Girly, while playing the trope straight (no pun intended).
    • They do. BOY do they ever.
    • It's also good to know that the majority of the comic is the main couple together with very little romantic problems, most of the stress comes from other weird things happening and other characters getting together.
  • Sluggy Freelance. Torg's been pining after Zoe for years. He even hooked up with the Zoe from an alternate dimension. However he never tells her how he feels, and if he did Oasis might kill Zoe for stealing Torg's affection. To be fair, alternate dimension Zoe did die, and Torg still blames himself for failing to keep her safe. So he's developed his fear of Oasis killing Zoe into more then just an excuse and well into realistic territory.
    • And it is realistic. Oasis's jealousy lead her to kill ice-cream after Torg said he loved chocolate ice-cream.
    • In a recent arc, the question was answered. When Zoe was confronted by an old enemy, she was forced to come to terms with her relationship with Torg, and Zoe realized not only that Torg loves her, but she loves him back.
  • In Something*Positive, Pee-Jee and Davan were like this for quite some time—but as it turns out, it's just the author messing with his reader's heads. (The Ship Tease has dialed back considerably since Davan found a new girlfriend, of whom Pee-Jee is quite fond.)
  • Punch an Pie plays with this by starting the two leads as a couple, breaking them up, and then leaving it deliberately unclear whether or not they will get back together.
  • Questionable Content was entirely built on the UST between Faye and Marten for the first 500 comics until the talk, which killed whatever might have happened between them. However, the strip managed successfully to continue from that point and become arguably something different entirely, and nowadays Marten, Faye and a lot of the old gang have gone Out of Focus in favor of Hannelore and Marigold. Will They or Won't They? also occurs in various other "relationships" that Faye lands into.
  • In Order of the Stick, Elan and Haley. It goes between them for a very long time, until their lives depend on it.
  • Red String: If recent events say anything, Eiji and Reika will be dancing around the issue until eternity.
    • Update: They Do. And there was much rejoicing.
  • Ellen and Nanase from El Goonish Shive.
    • This trope is referenced in the commentary of this page regarding Agents Cranium and Wolf, with Dan Shive's aswer to the question being: "there is no 'will they, won't they' issue with Wolf and Cranium. They have, they will again, and they utterly fail at hiding it."
  • Megatokyo: Piro and Kimiko for the longest time. With their relationship now on pause, Piro/Miho are also on the list. Yuki and Kobayashi.
  • Although it's far from a central plot element, the title characters of Penny and Aggie are an example, with speculation and shipping occuring both in-universe (Sara, from the early arc "The Ticket" to the present) and within the fandom (which also has many Penny/Aggie anti-shippers). Complicated by the attraction being entirely one-sided at first; Penny has erotic dreams and occasional daytime "twinges" for Aggie, but not vice versa, although Aggie's dream in "The Lady and the Tiger" suggests she's subconsciously aware of the other's feelings. Also complicating matters is that, despite Word of God confirming that both title characters have "bisexual leanings," their principal romantic plotlines for the vast majority of the comic so far have all involved boys. That Aggie did eventually decide she was homosexual doesn't appear to have cleared up the issue. More recently, Penny made increasingly clear overtures to Aggie, and the interest was now seen to be mutual, and they've now shared their tentative First Kiss. Then, judging from their action, and their friends' discussion of it in this strip, They Do.
  • In Keychain of Creation, this is a major background element to Misho and Marena's relationship. Misho is of the "won't" mindset, while Marena... let's just say she's not entirely in agreement.
  • Dr. Kinesis and Alice in Evil Plan. It's not for lack of trying, though. Alice is clearly attempting to make moves, but seducing a sexually-repressed mad scientist is about as tough as it sounds.
  • Jess and... unnamed guy (Fanon states his name is Cute Comic Guy or CCG for short)) in No Pink Ponies. They do
  • In an early Leftover Soup strip, Ellen makes it absolutely clear that she and Jamie won't. Naturally, this doesn't even stop her best friend from betting it will.
  • Faux Pas has this with Randy and Cindy. Miscommunication and Randy's innocence keep getting in the way.
  • Yun-lee and Dong-whi in Nineteen Twenty One. Dong-whi does openly like her but after that and some slight jealousy it doesn't come up until it's resolved at the end.
  • Kat and Art in Sequential Art have been shown here and there throughout the series to have mutual interest in each other, but both seem unaware of this and too hesitant to do anything about it. Every time it gets brought up it feels like it's about to go somewhere, then doesn't.


Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Starfire and Robin of the Teen Titans, from the day they first met (and beat each other up), for the entire series.
  • In Re Boot, Bob and Dot. It took them until the end of the last season to get together and engaged—but it wasn't even the real Bob anyway. In the comic continuation, they keep trying to get married but something always comes up.
  • Futurama: Fry and Leela. They have (technically) married twice, but both marriages were very brief, albeit for non-personal reasons. One involves time going at accelerated speeds, due to one of Farnsworth's "brilliant" ideas the other an aged version of Fry under an alternate persona who dumps Leela at the alter after realizing it will cause a time travel paradox.
  • Green Lantern and Hawkgirl from Justice League / Justice League Unlimited. After they finally admit their feelings for each other (at the end of "Wild Cards"), the very next episode ("Starcrossed") involves a big reveal that causes them to break up and Hawkgirl to leave. By the time she returns from her Ten-Minute Retirement, GL is dating another superhero. In spite of this, the two still have feelings for each other. They still aren't a couple by the end of the series, but the existence of their Kid From the Future, Warhawk, implies that they do eventually end up together.
    • Word of God says they'll get together eventually.
    • We also have Batman and Wonder Woman dancing to this, from Batman's insistence that they are Just Friends and frantically digging the rubble that had apparently buried Diana (even hiding his dirt-covered hands from her afterwards) and Wonder Woman herself flirting often with Batman and getting a bit shy after their Fake-Out Make-Out in "Starcrossed".
  • Ulrich and Yumi of Code Lyoko. So much it's almost painful to watch.
  • Batman and Catwoman in Batman the Animated Series, despite Selina's countless attempts to seduce Bruce with her catty double entendres.
  • Sam Manson and Danny Fenton/Phantom from Danny Phantom have this throughout the entire series starting in the first few episodes. Continuous hints and leads point to this, but nothing comes from it until the last episode, where they have a Last-Minute Hookup.
  • Katara and Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Many shippers were waiting from the first episode to see them get together (or rooting for Zuko to take Aang's place) and finally discovered that they did get together in the last episode, and have a child in the future who will be present in the spin-off series The Legend of Korra.
  • Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated: As of chapter 22, Velma and Shaggy: no. As of episode 24, Fred and Daphne: yes.
    • As of episode 26: No to both. Fred broke the engagement because of drama.
  • Ant-Man and Wasp in Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes. Three attempts he made during the first season to confess his love for her didn't go as planned, and his quitting the Avengers at the end of the season further harmed their chances of starting a relationship.