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A situation that occurs when one or both potential partners in a relationship refuses to get involved with the other or take the relationship to the next level for personal reasons, often seemingly intractable ones. For example, Bob is in love with Alice, but unfortunately, he is also a widower, and is concerned about honoring the memory of his dead wife Carol. Therefore, while neither has rejected the other, their relationship isn't going anywhere.
Unlike Ship Sinking, this can be reversed, but several different outcomes tend to happen:
- Type 1: The characters overcome their problems and fall in love. In the above case, Bob may decide that Carol would want him to be happy, and fall in love with Alice.
- Type 2: The relationship never comes to be as a result of the problems.
- A) The problems prove too great and sink the ship for the person who has them. Bob decides that it would not be right to go out with Alice too soon after Carol's death.
- B) The problems drive away the unburdened partner or the one that has gotten over his or her problems. Alice realizes that she cannot help Bob deal with his issues and goes out with David instead, even while Bob claims he is willing to get together with her.
- Type 3: The problem is resolved, but the ship does not go forward for unrelated reasons, often the result of one of the two characters dying. Bob tells Alice he's in love with her, but Alice does not feel the same, for reasons unrelated to either's personal situations.
- Type 4: Nothing happens. This is often the case in ongoing works where this trope is present, or ones where the author concludes without revisiting the romance.
Compare Cannot Spit It Out, in which one of the people in the relationship merely cannot work up the nerve to confess to the other; in many Anchored Ships, the other partner is aware to some degree of how the person with the problems feels. See The First Cut Is the Deepest, It's Not You, It's My Enemies and I Don't Want to Ruin Our Friendship for some of the reasons why this happens. Ship Sinking is the permanent variation of this, and typically the result of Type 2 or Type 3.
As this often discusses the final outcome for couples, there will be spoilers.
- A mix of this and Maybe Ever After for Mustang and Hawkeye from Fullmetal Alchemist. It's been revealed that the reason they aren't married is the anti-fraternization rules in the military. That doesn't stop them emotionally though, and having the rules change after Roy is Fuhrer is perfectly possible. At the very end, Roy's mentor General Grumann becomes Fuhrer... and according to notes, he is Riza's maternal grandfather. So they'll probably ger their Maybe Ever After.
- Naruto is dealing with this in a few cases, all currently unresolved. Naruto has vowed not to tell Sakura how he feels until after he has fulfilled his promise to bring Sasuke back, and when Sakura claimed that she had given up on Sasuke and was in love with Naruto in an attempt to get him to give up on his promise, he told her he didn't believe her. Sakura appears to harbor at least some feelings for Sasuke in spite of what he has done, as evidenced by her inability to bring herself to kill him. Hinata has confessed to Naruto, but he has not responded. As a result, the Ship-to-Ship Combat rages on. A whole movie, The Last, is dedicated to his answer... Naruto DOES love Hinata, plus Sakura is a Shipper on Deck for them. And the two are VERY Happily Married at the end.
- Inuyasha The title character is still in love with undead former girlfriend Kikyo, and Kagome leaves him after seeing the two talking (Type 2B) but then she remembers the party needs her and returns (Type 4). Sango & Miroku are Type 1.
- However, near the end of the series, after Kikyo dies (this time for good), InuYasha finally gets over Kikyo and finally realizes he can allow himself to love Kagome, making this a case of type 1.
- Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler is unwilling to start a relationship because the massive debt his parents dumped on him makes him feel he can't fulfill the duties of a boyfriend. (His first girlfriend really screwed up his way of thinking.) It seems to be a type 4 - the girl who confessed to him is just happy to understand his reasoning and the series throws plenty of other blocks into the Love Dodecahedron.
- Although it does seem like it's transformed into a Type 2b of sorts, she's never going to accept him, but that's because she wants her beloved to be happy, both of them.
- Ken and Jun are a textbook case of Type 4 in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Jun clearly has feelings for Ken, and he often appears to have some for her despite his utter cluelessness when it comes to romance in general, but because of their duties and the importance of the Science Ninja Team's unity above all else the status of their relationship beyond friendship remains undecided. (And then Battle of the Planets averts this entirely with Mark and Princess.)
- The Wallflower: Kiyouhei/Sunako are supposed to be the official couple, but because advancing the relationship would require both to suddenly resolve their crippling issues with dating, thus ending the series, the relationship progression is forever stuck in "Denial". The number of times Kiyouhei has said "I don't care" or Sunako's been distracted by the creepy, just to string the reader along, is approaching Once Per Episode.
- Skip Beat: Kyoko and Ren had a lot of Ship Tease, and Ren's manager always takes the chance to imply their relationship. However, both have an aversion to "love", so until they get over their problems, serious romantic relationship is impossible.
- Oh My Goddess!' Keiichi/Belldandy is an interesting case. Between the Manga's "Lord of Terror" and "Mystery Child" arcs, both Keii and Bell had their reasons for not pushing their relationship beyond its sweet, innocent, and gentle early stages, even though both seemed to want to. Unfortunately, later in the series, the two were Flanderized to exaggerate Keiichi's Cannot Spit It Out tendencies, and Belldandy's naïvete, throwing away what could have been an interesting case of Unresolved Sexual Tension.
- In the TV series, Keii/Bell originally began as one of these, then a Type 1 resolution occured in Episode 19... and again in Episode 24. The second season, sadly, went back to the later manga's format, making it look like Keii and Bell never "pulled in anchor" in the first place.
- It turns out that there's a GOOD reason in-story: the Gods had their hand in this, deliberately suppressing Keiichi's libido as much as they could because relationships between humans and gods can get EXTREMELY messy in this universe. Poor Belldandy knew it and, very understandably, felt terrible about it and believed herself to not be worthy of him.
- Gunslinger Girl. Fourteen-year old cyborg girl Triela knows full well that a relationship with her adult handler Victor Hilshire is out of the question.
- Rito and Lala are in a state of this in To Love Ru Darkness. Lala has long ago confessed her love to Rito, and Rito has recently done the same. However, Rito's feelings for his first love Haruna haven't changed, and Rito can't bring himself to go forward with Lala until his feelings for Haruna are resolved. On the other hand, Lala is all for Rito and Haruna getting together, because she believes that OT 3 is the best solution and that that way they can all live together happily.
- Gundam Wing is a rather...complicated example. Relena admits (in her Image Songs) that she's in love with Heero, but Cannot Spit It Out because she doesn't want to risk ruining the relationship they already have and is okay being Just Friends as long as he's nearby. Heero's feelings are less clear but there are strong signs that he feels the same way, especially in the Expanded Universe works penned by the show's writers, one of which has an implied off-screen kiss. So far this one is a Type 4, but the still-ongoing sequel novel Frozen Teardrop might change things, especially since pretty much every other ship related to these two was sunk thanks to their being turned into Human Popsicle for a good 30 years.
- Out of universe, the director said the show was No Hugging, No Kissing because he thought romance was less important than other elements of the plot, and because he can't write romance. However, he did also say that he could see Heero and Relena getting together somewhere down the line when things have calmed down a bit.
- Jellal and Erza from Fairy Tail. Though they've finally both confessed to one another that they like each other, Jellal feels undeserving of Erza and is thus pretending he has a fiancee. Erza's letting him. The end implies that they'll eventually get together, however.
- In Voltron's USA-made second season, Sven and Princess Romelle are in risk of a 2A due to Romelle's reluctance to actually talk about her Bodyguard Crush on him and Sven being an Insecure Love Interest to her. They Do, however, going into a Type 1.
- Batman Begins Bruce is in love with Rachel, but his career as Batman precludes their getting into a relationship. In The Dark Knight, Rachel gets into a relationship with Harvey Dent, and then Rachel gets blown up by the Joker and dies. She leaves behind a note stating that she was choosing to marry Dent, which Bruce never reads, making this Type 2B.
- Rick and Ilsa famously don't get back together, making it type 2B.
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Li Mu Bai is in love with Shu Lien, but because he failed to protect her fiance and his best friend, he cannot bring himself to tell her. He dies after confessing his love to her, making this a Type 3.
- Jeffrey The title character, though very attracted to Steve, is unwilling to have a relationship with him because of his fears about AIDS (Steve is HIV positive). In the end he decides love is worth the risk, making it a Type 1.
- Spider-Man At the end of the first film and for most of the second film, Peter loves Mary Jane, but is unable to get closer to her for fear that if his Secret Identity were to be compromised, she would be targeted by his enemies. Toward the end of the second film, she finds out his identity and says she is willing to take that risk with him at the very end, making this a type 1 outcome.
- Team America: World Police Lisa is in love with Gary, but was in a relationship with Carson before he died, and is worried about getting hurt by getting into another. Gary, however, convinces her to not worry about controlling her feelings, and the two soon have sex together, making this a Type 1. Well, to be more accurate, he gets her to sleep with him by declaring, "I WILL NEVER DIE!"
- The Aeneid is perhaps the earliest appearance of this trope. Aeneas and Queen Dido are in love with each other, but he has to fulfill his destiny and create the Roman Republic, whereas Dido is still grieving her dead husband and is dealing with a severe emotional deficit. Dido overcomes her issues, but Aeneas does not. In the context of the origin myth, this is the source of the Punic conflicts that Rome and Carthage engaged in, and serves to eulogize the Carthaginians as being Worthy Opponents.
- The Dresden Files, Harry and Murphy have been this for the last several books. In the early books they were headed in a romantic direction, but in Proven Guilty morphed into Platonic Life Partners when Murphy shied away from the idea--she said she could handle something more casual, without totally deep (and thus emotionally dangerous) commitment, but is right when she says Harry "doesn't do casual". Neither one has given up their feelings for the other, and Harry has admitted in his narrative that he wishes there weren't so many things in the way (especially since his other attempted forays into romance have ended quite disastrously). It looks like the ship is going to stay anchored for the foreseeable future, though, because of all the impediments. Harry's half-brother has told him repeatedly they're both complete idiots, so far to no avail.
- In Changes the stresses of their respective lives finally makes them willing to have a romantic rendezvous, except, 20 minutes before their planned meeting, Harry gets shot dead.
- Also, in a short story written by Jim Butcher, with Murphy as the protagonist, set 40 minutes after the events of Changes, shows she has definite interest in him.
- The 39 Clues has Amy Cahill and Ian Kabra. Ian pretended to like Amy so he and his sister could run off with a clue, but as she began to think that she was getting over him, he actually developed feelings for her. Even if he wanted to tell her how he felt, it is unlikely that his mother Isabel would let them be together. At the end of the series, this is a Type 3, but the Sequel Series offers a chance for things to change.
- Battlestar Galactica: Lee Adama and Kara Thrace fit type 1 of this trope fairly well with elements of type 2 as well. As Kara was once engaged to Lee's dead brother and she and Lee nearly had a drunken hookup while Zak was still alive, they subsequently felt that hooking up later was disrespectful to his memory. They did hook up briefly but personal issues (like the fact that they were both currently married to other people and Kara didn't believe in divorce) prevented it from sticking.
- Bones: Booth and Brennan. He confessed his love for her in the 100th episode but she... well, it's not too clear. Currently a Type 4.
- As of Season 7 with Brennan and Booth living together and having a baby together, they are now a definite Type 1.
- Castle: Castle and Beckett, currently a Type 4. Beckett states that she's free to put it into Type 1 once her mother's murder is resolved, but not before. As of the finale of season 4, they are together and are a Type 1.
- Chuck: Chuck and Sarah, due to the complexities of spy life. It gets resolved midway through season 3.
- Dark Angel: Season one at least. Max and Logan don't get together and strongly deny it despite both of them hallucinating the same dream of them dancing... Until The finale, in which, a dying Max hallucinates the two finally getting it on, before flashing back to reality and admitting her love to Logan before dying... Don't worry though. Zack commits suicide to give her his heart.
- Downton Abbey bounces between Type 1 and Type 2 of this trope for all of Season 2 between Bates and Anna, due to Bates' having previously been married. Bates' wife Vera causes them problems for ages, starting out by turning up in the kitchen at Downton in episode 1 and threatening to sell the story of Lady Mary and Pamuk to the newspapers unless Bates returns home with her. Much angst and tragedy ensues; Bates and Anna think they have finally succeeded in buying her off, but Vera appears to win in the end by committing suicide and framing Bates for her "murder."
- Gossip Girl: Happened with Blair and Chuck in the second season. First because of Chuck's fear that him and Blair needed the thrill of the chase and would be boring as a couple. Later on because he didn't believe he could make her happy. Eventually he realizes he can't keep running from his feelings and we get a Type 1.
- It also happened once with Blair anchoring the ship, after the disastrous brunch in Gone with the Will.
- Dan and Serena ended their romantic relationship for good when they discover that they share a half-brother together and it would be far too weird and awkward for them to continue their romantic relationship..
- ICarly: Carly and Freddie get together in iSaved Your Life, but break it off at the end of the episode because Freddie can't be sure of Carly's true feelings for him, as they may be a result of hero worship. Type 4, as it's still an ongoing work and they have yet to come back to it.
- Sam and Freddie break up after a 5 episode arc in iLove You. It's not a total sinking, they could come back to it later, making it yet another case of a Type 4.
- Kings: Michelle is in love with David but can't be with him because she made a vow to devote her life to God after recovering from a near-deadly illness. Eventually she decides that God didn't save her life for her to be miserable, making this a Type 1.
- Lost: A variation with Sawyer/Kate in the final season. They both make it off the island and their respective love interests both die, making it entirely possible that they eventually get together. However, the sideways world makes it very clear that Juliet and Jack are their respective soulmates.
- The Mentalist: It is strongly implied that this is the situation with Jane and Lisbon. They clearly care about each other, and considering the fact that the last man Lisbon loved was another co-worker, it's unlikely to be the rules keeping them apart; but Jane is still very much married, though his wife has been dead at least three years, and he seems incapable of moving on until he has had his revenge.
- Of course, now that he's had his revenge, it's possible that they'll move forward as a couple. Still, it seems that neither of them actually want to admit true feelings for each other, as much of the "romance" that the shippers see is Jane being his charming self. Currently a Type 4.
- The Nanny: The reason why Max and Fran don't get together at first is that he has loads of emotional baggage (including a dead wife). It becomes a Type 1 when Max proposes to her at the end of the fifth season, and they get married, staying so for the final season.
- Scrubs: Happened to JD and Elliot every time they almost got together. The end of Season 3 and beginning of Season 4 seemed to sink the ship permanently, but towards the end of Season 6 it suddenly resurfaced and became an anchored ship, accompanied by the retcon that JD and Elliot's problems were due to a mutual fear of commitment. This slides into the area of a Type 2a or 4 anchoring, but they become comfortable enough that by the eighth season they get together, resolving themselves with a Type 1.
- Stargate SG-1 Jack and Sam. A Type 2 as fraternization regs are still in practice.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Picard and Crusher have the shadow of Crusher's dead husband Jack, who was also one of Picard's close friends. It's a Type 4 in canon, but a Type 1 in the Expanded Universe.
- Interestingly, it became a type 1 at some point in the Grand Finale's alternate future, and they got married... but they eventually divorced and went their separate ways again.
- The Vampire Diaries: Elena and Stefan. Almost constantly.
- Caroline and Tyler become one in season 3, because of Tyler getting sired by Klaus. They break up but still have feelings for each other, and Tyler gets Put on a Bus to try to break Klaus' mind control.
- Veronica Mars has this with Veronica and Duncan in season 1 ((eventually they get back together and then break up for good) and later with Logan and Veronica, which ends in type 2 B, mostly due to the show's cancellation.
- Niles and Daphne were like this for five solid seasons in Frasier: Niles was helplessly in love with Daphne, but he was married and refused to cheat on his wife, and wouldn't divorce her since he loved her too (though why he loved her, no one will ever know). So he never mentioned his love, and though Daphne had mad chemistry with him, she remained oblivious to his feelings, never even considering him due to his marriage. They finally de-anchored when Niles' marriage fell apart for unrelated reasons, but went through a long period of Will They or Won't They?, Cannot Spit It Out, Unrequited Love, Poor Communication Kills, Romantic False Lead, and Unrequited Love Switcheroo before they finally hooked up.
- Danny and Lindsay on CSI: NY. At first, she pushed him away because of her emotional problems with having survived an incident that took the lives of her friends. Then, he pushed her away while he grieved for a young boy who'd been shot and killed while out with Danny. Ended up a Type 1.
I gaze into your eyes of blue
But their beauty is not for me
You're dreaming of someone who's gone
You're dreaming of the one you really love
You're dreaming of...the corpse you really love!
- Arguably, in the Ace Attorney series: none of the possible (or believed) romantic relations involving main character Phoenix Wright come to a viable end, due to several reasons: Iris went jailed (not to mention she is actually a religious vowed maiden in disguise, and apparently returns to her duties at monastery after imprisonment time), Maya left to her village, Edgeworth apparently left the country again and Mia and Dahlia are both dead.
- The most remarkable, however, is that after the gap of seven years passed between the timelines of Trials and Tribulations and the sequel Apollo Justice, none of these characters return to the story: Phoenix in Apollo Justice is portrayed as a single and decadent man, in charge of taking care of an adoptive daughter. No romantic relation or Ship Tease related to him and any of these characters (or any others) is even mentioned.
- As said before: is arguable. Not just because some of these characters are often considered as cases of The Not Love Interest (Maya, Edgeworth), but also there is still a chance that any of them reappear in a next sequel of Ace Attorney. Anyway, until then (and if occurs), these existing ships about Phoenix Wright are nominally anchored, some as Type 3 (Iris, possibly Maya), some as Type 4 (Edgeworth), and some just as Ship Sinking (Mia, Dahlia).
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl: One way to see Mike and Lucy ever getting together.
- General Protection Fault: Fooker admits to Sharon that he loves her, but while they are in a relationship, he's hesitant to get married, having seen many bad marriages like that of his parents. Sharon accepts this, and decides to let him decide when or if he's ready to marry, making this a Type 4 for now (Then again, she did catch the bouquet at Nick and Ki's wedding).
- Housepets: Peanut and Grape are currently idling in Type 3. Peanut has strong feelings for Grape, and she insists that they are mo;re than Just Friends, but also admits that she is not romantically attracted to dogs.
- Order of the Stick Therkla is in love with Elan, but he is still faithful to Haley. As she is fatally poisoned and dying in his arms, she refuses to come back to life after he is unwilling to be with her, making this Type 2A.
- Questionable Content gives us Marten and Faye. The UST drives much of the first five hundred strips, but Faye's issues stop this from going anywhere. About strip 500, Faye tells Marten why she isn't ready for a relations;hip, and not to spend his life waiting for her. Type 2A.
- Sluggy Freelance Torg is in love with Zoe, but Oasis loves him and is willing to kill any potential romantic rivals, preventing him from getting closer to Zoe until he finds a way of dealing with Oasis. Oasis attacks Zoe, causing her to figure out both that Torg loves her and that she loves Torg, only to be killed mere seconds later by Oasis, oddly enough for reasons that had nothing to with hypotenuse removal, making this a Type 3.
- But wait, with the newest chapters It turns out Zoe wasn't killed after all but kept alive by nanomachines that rebuilt her without memories until Riff restores them by copying her memories the night prior to her 'death' by Oasis via time travel. Now they've gone back to the status quo with him in love with her and her remaining oblivious.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- During "The Ember Island Players," the final episode before the finale, Aang and Katara are forced to assess their relationship. When Aang expresses his desire to "be together" with Katara, she is still unsure about her own feelings and worried about the final battle looming ahead of them. Only after the war is over does she feel secure and safe in pursuing the relationship, and is the one to initiate their Big Damn Kiss.
- Also, Jinko, one of the few anchored ships that remain so, is mostly due to Jin's being a one-time character. Zuko and Jin go out once in book two, and after the initial awkwardness, Zuko seems to actually enjoy their date. There is speculation that Zuko truly cared about Jin, going so far as to use firebending to light lanterns so she wouldn't be disappointed, and even returning her kiss. It can be inferred that this is also why he left so abruptly. Jin is never mentioned in the show again, and the finale strongly implies that Zuko eventually marries Mai.
- And Zuko/Mai had been completely open for a long time as well. It was entirely unclear if their childhood crush would develop to anything when they first met again after years and when things seemed to get resolved after The Beach, everything was out in the open again up to and during the volcano prison. Only when she attacks Azula to save him does she commit to accepting his decision to join the Avatar. But then she vanishes again until the finale.
- Phineas and Ferb, Isabella Cannot Spit It Out that she has a crush on Phineas. He seems oblivious, despite how obvious it is. Word of God says they're destined to date one day, even if it never happens on the show.
- Also, Ferb has a crush on Vanessa, which is slightly problematic since she's sixteen and he's "less than fifteen" according to the creators; some evidence would make him as young as nine. Some fans like to think they could get together when they're both adults, or just use some Applied Phlebotinum to equalize their ages.
- Adventure Time has Finn and Princess Bubblegum, whose relationship has been teased and (seemingly) sunk so many times that it's hard to predict the outcome at this point, as the series is still ongoing. All throughout season 1, Finn was just crushing on PB, with nothing significant happening (so it's not a big surprise many fans went on to enjoy shipping the much more edgy and exciting Finn/Marceline). Season 2 was mostly teasing their relationship, up until the last episode of it, in which Princess Bubblegum got de-aged to 13, making her the exact same age as Finn and setting up a situation for some genuine romance. That lasted until the season 3 episode "Too Young", in which PB returned to her original age (18) and dumped Finn, claiming that whatever was between them, it was "5 years ago". Seems that at this point, we can expect anything.
- This one may be shifted into pure Ship Sinking with the Season 3 finale where Finn meets and falls for the Fire Princess, apparently getting over his feelings for Bubblegum at the same time.
- Ultimately, Finn/Bubblegum was sunk by the finale. Bubblegum gets back together with her ex Marceline and Finn remains single.