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"I've heard relationships based on intense experiences never work..."
Jack (prophetically) in Speed; echoed by Annie (ironically) in Speed 2

So you have come to the end of the story. The plot is wrapping up. The villain is vanquished. The good guys are in the lead. And lo and behold, Alice and Bob finally admit to their feelings for each other. The verdict is in, they will. Roll Credits.

Ah, what a great story. And look, there is a sequel, which opens with Alice and Bob... not together. Wait... What? For some reason or another, between the two stories Alice and Bob have broken up. But Alice and Bob are still both involved in the story, and are so obviously still in love. So now you get to watch them dance the Will They or Won't They? tango all over again.

This is a way for the writers to capitalize on what worked in the first film (book, season, etc.) From the audiences perspective, the couple has spent very little time as a couple. Sure, we may sometimes be given background that they were together for some time between stories, but we don't get to see it. In other cases, the original "hookup" only lasts a day or so. Sometimes the audience is shown the breakup. Sometimes it truly happens between the stories. In any case, the result is that we can now spend more time getting the same couple back together.

Involves an Off-Screen Breakup. Compare Super Couple, which is this repeatedly over a long period of time. Contrast Girl of the Week where the main character finds a new love interest.


Anime and Manga

  • To the irritation of many, the main couple's relationship is reset in the second season of Shakugan no Shana because the guy didn't hear the Tsundere's declaration of love at the climax of the first season.
  • Likewise the OVA of Please Teacher, the Love-Obstructing Parents show up to "help" the main couple in achieving the level of relationship they had already achieved in the first season, no explanation given.
  • The Ruby/Sapphire arc of Pokémon Special ends with Ruby telling Sapphire that he "likes" her. Skip forward to the Emerald arc and we find out that Ruby is pretending to have amnesia and now he doesn't remember admitting he has feelings for Sapphire. What makes it worse is that Sapphire practically manages to get Ruby to admit he remembers, but it goes unmentioned for the rest of the arc.
    • A little subverted, in that Ruby actually begins pretending not to remember it at the end of the Ruby/Sapphire arc.
    • Justified in that he admitted his feelings when it looked like it's The End of the World as We Know It and he was freaking out in realizing that Sapphire was his Forgotten Childhood Friend. After things cooled down, well, they're only 12 you know.
  • The situation in Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy is an unusual example in that it's a downgrade without a breakup. Keiichi and Belldandy had a They Do moment at the end of the first season, where Keiichi confessed his love to Belldandy with no intervention, tricks or other means of keeping the UST unresolved. Come Flights of Fancy, however, the anime switched from being a Broad Strokes adaptation of the manga as a whole to a direct adaptation of several manga arcs, and in the manga, Status Quo Is God and Keiichi and Belldandy's relationship is frozen at UST. Accordingly, Keiichi attempts to confess his love to Belldandy several times in the second season, and the fact that he already did so is not addressed.


  • Raiders of the Lost Ark ends with Indy together with Marion Ravenwood. This is followed by Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which begins with Indy and Marion having been separated for the intervening seventeen years.
  • National Treasure ends with Ben and Abigail living happily in a historic mansion. National Treasure 2 opens with Ben having been thrown out of the house.
  • Alejandro and Elena are married with a child at the end of The Mask of Zorro. The sequel begins with Elena filing for divorce. Oh and dating the villian.
  • Happens between Dana Barrett and Peter Venkman in between Ghostbusters 1 and 2. In this case between the two movies she has a baby with something else, though that doesn't stand in the way of their relationship basically restarting.
  • Averted in the Hellboy films. The first ends with Hellboy and Liz Sherman as a couple. When Hellboy II begins, they're still a couple, but they're going through a rocky point in their relationship.
  • The theatrical trailer for The X-Files movie "I Want to Believe" had fans believing that this happened to Mulder and Scully in the six year interim between the end of the series and the movie.
  • In Die Hard, this is a running gag.

Live Action TV

  • Ross and Rachel of Friends did this so many times it was painful. Specifically:
    • They are together the first time for one episode before Ross' list ruins things.
    • They are together for a season and a half before taking a much debated "break".
    • They get back together for a whole episode after spending the weekend at the beach.
    • They conceive a child together after a one night stand.
    • At the birth of said child, they agree to try again, before something wrecks it again... Is anyone else tired yet?
    • It finally ends with them getting together in the series finale
  • As do JD and Elliot of Scrubs.
  • Leonard and Penny of Big Bang Theory spend all of season one working up to a first date only to have it fall apart in the first episode of season two. Season two, with a few detours, manages to slowly bring them back together.
  • Aeryn and John on Farscape do seem to bounce back and forth a lot
  • Shaz and Chris in Ashes to Ashes. At the end of season two, they were getting happily married. By the start of season 3, they are separated with barely a single line from Shaz about being sick of Chris's immaturity or some such reason stupidly contrived by the show's writers.
  • Veronica and Logan after the first season of Veronica Mars.
  • Justified in Episodes; Sean and Beverly were Happily Married in the first series, but it ends with her having an affair. In series two they're separated, but still working together and clearly in love, so it plays out as a Will They or Won't They?.

Video Games

  • Star Fox Official Couple Fox and Krystal become romantically involved at the close of Adventures and even have an engagement teased during Assault; however, the intro to Command explains that Fox ended the relationship out of the fear that Krystal might be harmed on one of their missions. Depending on which path the player takes through Command's branching storyline, the two of them may reconcile, retire to raise a family, or become permanently estranged.
  • at the end of the first .Hack:// game series, Natsume openly sends a mail to Kite admitting she has a huge crush on him. By the time Natsume is met in GU which is set years afterwards, Natsume makes no mention of Kite whatsoever, and seems to be chasing after his avi.
  • Subject of near-interminable discussion among the Mass Effect fan community. Justified given that (a) you were dead for a while and (b) are now working for an organization who were side-quest villains in the first game.
    • Not only that, Complete Monster sidequest villains, who murdered an Admiral of the series. And, the 'break-up', occurs specifically for reason b, when you try to get back together.
  • At the end of every Uncharted game, Nate and Elena hook up. And at the start of the next game, they're apart.
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