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When a character can't bring themselves to properly confess their love, so they either make a statement to similar effect or one that is totally unrelated. The character on the receiving end of the pseudo-confession usually understands what they mean, often responding with something along the lines of "I [first character's statement] too."
- A recent advertisement for Bud Light has a man with trouble spitting out "I love you" to his ladyfriend but has no such problems when it comes to his beer.
Anime and Manga
- G Gundam: Domon Kasshu. Then again, when Domon DOES spit it out in the middle of an I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight to the Brainwashed Rain, it's BOTH a Crowning Moment of Awesome and a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. And it freaking saves the world.
- And let's not forget Garrod Ran from After War Gundam X, who's so scared of being rejected by the Barrier Maiden he has a crush on (since poor Tiffa's been treated like an object for most of her life) that he can't bring himself to spit it out, since he thinks he'll be no better than her previous abusive caretakers.
- School Rumble. Poor Tenma uses up an entire scroll trying to tell Karasuma she likes him, but never quite gets it out.
- She actually got it out. The problem is she forgot to sign it.
- Actually, the problem isn't as much not being able to spit it out as unrelated circumstances preventing them from spitting it out. This is how Tenma herself remains oblivious of Harima's feelings, for example (going so far as to misinterpret it when he actually spat it out to her).
- She actually got it out. The problem is she forgot to sign it.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, even in the very last chapter, some people still can't get over their chronic Cannot Spit It Out disorder.
[[spoiler:Ed: Winry! Uh... Um... How do I say this? Er... Like an appointment, or a promise, right?
Winry: Huh? Just spit it out.
Ed: Equivalent exchange. I'll give you half my life... so give me half of yours!
Winry: (Confused, then frustrated). Argh, why are alchemists like this?]]
- In Kodocha, Akito can't say "I love you" about anything. Sana finally realizes he's coming around when he tells her "I don't hate you" in the same way he talks about sushi.
- During the Golden Week vacations of the characters of Hayate the Combat Butler, Kaoru gets a chance to be alone with his crush, Yukiji, and tries to confess to her. He can't finish the statement, and so turns it into a question about her little sister's relationship status. It seems that Yukiji seems to understand what the statement was originally (and 'responds' later in the arc), but her immediate response is to turn to her Bottle Fairy ways and offer him a drink. She then (probably teasingly) asks him what he likes about Hinagiku (the younger sister), as if he had just confessed affection for her instead.
- Dragonball Z: Bulma and Vegeta may qualify as well. They blush and fumble with their words, a lot.
- In Snarfquest, the heroine couldn't quite get out the critical word when parting company with Snarf: "I really, really lu- like you."
- Badass Normal Han Solo: "I know." when Leia says she loves him in The Empire Strikes Back. Classy response. The originally scripted line was "I love you, too," but that sounded too sentimental, so Harrison Ford ad-libbed. There is a rumor Carrie Fisher was so drug-addled she kept blowing her lines, in a scene that was already having technical problems, so the line was in jest out of Ford's exasperation. Except the director loved it, proving...
- And, of course, the Dialogue Reversal in Return Of The Jedi in which Han says "I love you" and Leia replies "I know". Hers was a heartfelt confession at a moment when they might never see each other alive again, his was in response to her indicating to her hidden side-arm when some storm-troopers got the drop on them. Both are awesome.
- Parodied in Diary Of A Crazed Mimbanite #4 and in this xkcd.
- The Sense and Sensibility movie has Edward say something along the lines of "I would express my feelings, if I could" and Eleanor says that she understands. However, she thinks that he loves Lucy, so she doesn't press; and he thinks she loves Colonel Brandon, so he doesn't press.
- Ghost: "Ditto"
- Brotherly Example: In Brother Bear, after those two moose get in a fight, one is trying to make up to the other. He mentions how he always tells him where the juiciest grazing is because "I love... dew." The other responds, "I love dew, too."
- Mulan has Shang say "You...you fight good."
- During the infamous toilet scene in Lethal Weapon 2, Riggs and Murtaugh share a moment, the dialogue follows thus.
Riggs: I know. Come on.
- The Apartment has one of the most classic examples, at the end when Fran and Baxter are playing gin rummy:
Baxter: I love you. You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Fran: [Smiling] Shut up and deal.
- Hocus Pocus had a sweet, semi-example toward the end.
Dani: I love you, jerkface.
Max: I love you too.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: "I'm in lesbians with you." Counts as a subversion, due to Ramona's reaction.
- Happens in Far and Away, after Joseph and Shannon talk about their ideal futures.
Joseph: I pretend I love you.
Shannon: I pretend I love you, too.
- Kind of example from Apflickorna. After Emma and Cassandra has instantly hit it off and has spend an entire afternoon chatting with eachother, two guys tries to enter the conversation. Cassandra chases them of by accepting one of their phone numbers.
Emma: Are you interested in him?
Cassandra: [Laughs at the thought] No!
Emma: [Beat] I'm... not interested in him either.
Cassandra: [Freeezes in suprise, then smiles at her]
- Chimène to Rodrigue in Le Cid: "Go; I do not hate thee."
- In the last Percy Jackson book, after Percy fumbles through his feelings for several minutes, while Annabeth refuses to help:
Percy:"You are so not making this easy."
Annabeth:"I am never, ever going to make things easy for you, Seaweed Brain. Get used to it."
- She kisses him*.
- At the end of the Temps story "Sortilege and Serendipity" by Brian Stableford, Dr Sweetland tells his assistant Carol that he wouldn't wish his recent adventures on anyone, "especially someone I ... like". She looks at him oddly and replies "I ... like ... you too." Since she's Happily Married, they leave it there.
Live Action TV
- In the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica Reimagined, Laura Roslin finally tells Bill Adama that she loves him. His response? "About time." Which is, to be fair, what the audience was saying at that moment, so it's understandable.
- In one episode of Boston Legal, Alan attempts to express his appreciation for Tara by telling her "You really smell great." She answers "You smell great too," in an understanding tone of voice.
- In The Middleman, Tyler says to Wendy "I think I kinda love you." She gives him grief for it, but eventually admits that she kinda loves him too.
- In That 70s Show, Donna loves Eric. Eric loves cake.
Eric: I love you... *punches Donna's shoulder*...man.
- In Press Gang, Linda and Spike, unable to express their true feelings, resort to using anagrams, leading them to profess that "I vole you".
- How I Met Your Mother, Episode "First Time in New York", Ted and Robin. "Ted?" "Yes?" "...falafel."
- In Leverage, During the Double Blind JobParker has feelings for Hardison.
Parker:So the thing is, I think I might be having feelings, like weird weird feelings for (beat) pretzels.
Hardison: Well, they are right here when you want them.
- Later on during the Big Bang Job she adds that she's craving pretzels.
- Prue suffered from this in Charmed; the last thing she said to her mother before she died was 'I love you'. As such, she avoided saying the same to her sisters, lest the same thing happen to them.
- Wire in The Blood's first three seasons are full of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan dancing around their feelings for each other. In the third episode of season three, Carol asks Tony if he's ever loved another living thing:
Tony: I've been close.
Carol: How close?
Carol: Why can't you answer? It's a simple question. Are you ashamed?
Tony: You. (After which he starts talking to the poster behind her.)
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Gravity" Tuvok mindmelds with an alien girl to show her the feelings he can't put into words.
- In The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Big Pete cannot spit it out to Ellen ("I...I"), to which Ellen responds "It's OK, I know" and smooches him in the middle of a packed high school stadium.
- Parks and Recreation subverts this. When April tells Andy she loves him, he responds with "Shut up! Dude, that is awesome-sauce!" and tries to hi-five her. It eventually turns out that he can say it, he just genuinely thought that was an appropriate response.
- Said more then once in Red vs. Blue. (emotionally) "I hate you too"
- Mass Effect has this when romancing Ashley.
Shepard: I guess I "want to make you happy" too.
- Despite how she feels being rather obvious, Tohsaka in Fate/stay night never really DOES get around to telling Shirou how she feels. In any route. She admits to liking some of his personality traits (usually to a third party) but when put to it responds to 'I love you' with roughly 'And like you said, I... I also don't hate you.'
- Yo-Jin-Bo has a couple of instances of this, due to the fact that the guys Cannot Spit It Out.
Zuko: You're so beautiful when you hate the world.
Mai: I don't hate you.
Zuko: I don't hate you, too.
Babs: Oh, Buster, I didn't think that I'd get a chance to tell you...
Buster: Shh! I feel the same way.
- Daniel and Arcee in the Grand Finale of Transformers Generation 1. He Can't Spit It Out and she takes mercy on him, simply saying that she feels the same way.
- Futurama has a subversion: Fry assumes this is the case, but:
Bender: I'll kill you!
Fry: I'll kill you too, buddy. I'll kill you too.
Bender: *throttles Fry*
- King of the Hill has a variation on the episode where Peggy finds Bobby is a better homemaker and assumes Hank doesn't need her any more. Hank wins her back by inviting her back home and showing her he cooked dinner for her himself, to a very competent degree. Of course, Hank is so boxed-in emotionally, he has trouble actually saying "I love you" to anyone except his dog.
Hank: I didn't marry you because you can cook or clean for me, Peggy. I married you because... Y'know. ..... The love.
- He managed to say it when he thought he was about to die.
Hank: (hanging on to a pole during a tornado) Peggy, I love you! Oh yeah, I love Bobby and Luanne too, to a lesser extent!
Boy I love shooting a nail gun...
I love shooting a nail gun too.
- The best part is that Hank and his dad were fighting because Hank actually blurted out "I love you!" to his boss in front of everyone when Strickland finally promoted him to full manager. Everyone is aghast, Cotton is furious/disgusted (but won't admit he's actually just jealous of his son's affection), and Strickland ends up taking back the promotion the next day because it was so embarrassing.
- In Family Guy's The Empire Strikes Back parody, Something, Something, Something Dark Side:
Leia/Lois: I love you.
Han/Peter: Fuck off.
- An earlier episode had Meg telling Lois she loves her. Lois just mumble something at the "love" part. Nice mother she is neh?.
- A semi-example from Justice League Unlimited between The Question and Huntress in "Double Date":
Huntress: Then why do all that? Why risk your life for me?
The Question: Because I...(he turns his head, muttering) like you.
- Phineas and Ferb: 'Cause when I say "I love you", she says I gitchi gitchi goo you too!
- The Gargoyles season two finale.
Elisa: You know how I feel about you, right?
Goliath: How ... we both feel. Yes.
Elisa: Good. *kisses Goliath*
- In the Sci-fi arc of Dubious Company, this may have been Sal's response to Leeroy. Or she was just trying to answer his innocent but awkwardly worded question without getting more snickering from the rest of the crew.
- In the Lonelygirl15 episode "Back Home", Danielbeast, who is recording a message for Bree, says "I still l... care about you."