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Hermione: "I've just escaped--I mean, I've just left Cormac under the mistletoe."Hermione: "I thought he'd annoy Ron most."
Harry: "Serves you right for coming with him!"
A specific type of Zany Scheme: Two characters, Alice and Bob, are an Official Couple... or they would be, if Bob wasn't so mired in the river of denial that he insists that the water flowing all around him is solid ground. Alice, who is not in denial and very aware of Bob's feelings, gets fed up with his refusal to spit them out and takes matters into her own hands. Confronting him directly with the evidence might cause him to run for the hills, so Alice gets into a faked or temporary relationship with Convenient Charley, to make Bob insanely jealous enough to come clean first.
Hopefully, the operation succeeds. Hopefully, Charley isn't too insufferable or bland and drives Alice insane first. Hopefully, Bob doesn't take this as a sign that he doesn't have a chance with Alice. Hopefully, Bob doesn't just want his beloved to be happy. Hopefully, Bob doesn't fail to notice because he has the awareness of a brick. Hopefully, Bob doesn't fall for it so thoroughly that he pulls a Counter Zany that Alice thoroughly falls for! And hopefully, Alice doesn't actually fall for Charley...
See Green-Eyed Epiphany for when Alice is in denial too and her relationship with Charley is only part of that.
Very unlikely to be Truth in Television for anyone with serious feelings, as most people who believe they are in love try to avoid upsetting the people they think they're in love with. Also using people is a mean thing to do especially when the person doesn't know. Then again....
Anime & Manga
- Ginta and Arimi attempted to pull this on Yuu and Miki. Considering the series that they're in, the results were inevitable.
- It was also done in Sailor Moon Abridged:
Serena: Hey, Melvin. If I go on a date with you, Darian will get jealous....well, maybe not "jealous"...
- It is revealed later in the manga series Otaku no Musume San that Nozomi Yukimura only hung around Kouta Morisaki in an attempt to get her long time crush and childhood friend Chihiro Nitta jealous, even going as far as to have sex with Kouta as Chihiro watched. This only ended in failure as Chihiro was a hardcore Lolicon and couldn't find her attractive. She later reveals, a bit quite coldly, to Kouta that she never loved him.
- Akira tries this with Kei in Special A, and it backfires in the worst way. Not only can Tadashi see all the little clues (like Kei doing all he can to avoid physical contact with Akira) that show that the two are barely tolerating the other, he and Hikari end up ignoring their feeble attempts and just have a good time, making Akira and Kei the ones growing jealous.
- Ranma ½: During her more manipulative moments in the manga, Akane has used Ryoga in order to make her fiancée jealous. Be it accepting a date or clinging to Ryoga's side, if it will ignite a fire in Ranma's eyes, she's probably done it. Ironic, since a lot of people consider Akane to be the more Tsundere of the two when it comes to accepting their feelings for each other.
- Sometimes, Ranma realizes what she's trying to do, but refuses to take the bait out of stubbornness.
Ranma: Akane, you idiot. You're doing this just to torture me, aren't you?
- When Shampoo starts acting like she despises him, an upset Ranma acts cozy with Akane to make Shampoo jealous.
- In the Insecticomics, Thrust tries to talk Dreadmoon into dating someone else to make Starscream jealous. When Thrust suggests he be the Convenient Clancey, it becomes rather obvious that the Zany Scheme is at least half a plot to hook up with Dreadmoon himself.
- Played with in Spider Girl. May's best friend, Davida, started to date Wess, because May was the only person in the school unaware that Wess was in love with her and Davida wanted to give him a chance to get her attention.
- Played with in the Firefly/Doctor Who crossover The Man With No Name. Kaylee pretends to like the Doctor in order to make Simon jealous, but it's only to screw with his head. Well, that and she's quite happy to stare at his butt on general principles.
- In the film version of Grease, pretty much all the main-main characters do this. Sandy begins seeing Tom to provoke Danny, and dumps him as soon as Danny asks her to the big dance. Later, Kenickie brings Cha-Cha to the dance after a fight with Rizzo, while Rizzo brings the leader of the rival street gang in a counter-effort to provoke Kenickie. Cha-Cha, for her part, cuts into Danny and Sandy's dance, which causes Sandy to storm out--after Rizzo has already done so due to seeing Kenickie with Cha-Cha.
- In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett marries a random man to make Ashley jealous. It doesn't work, mainly because Ashley wasn't really in love with her in the first place, and had already courted Melanie.
- In Sky High, Layla started a fake relationship with Jerk with a Heart of Gold Warren Peace in order to annoy Will. Warren, who thought Will was a prick, was happy to oblige, but ended up getting sick of Layla clinging to him and talking Will into asking her out.
Warren: Dude, you are so stupid. She's totally into you.
Will: Not after tonight. I wouldn't be surprised if Layla or any of the other guys never talked to me again.
Warren: You must've been a real jerk, because no matter what I do, I can't get them to stop talking to me.
- In The Thomas Crown Affair, Thomas the Gentleman Thief likes Catherine the Hot Detective, but he doesn't know if he can trust her. So, he lets photos leak of him dating a supermodel to see if he gets a rise out of Catherine. It does. They hook up.
- The main characters of Drive Me Crazy form a fake relationship to make the people who dumped them jealous. Predictably, by the end of the film they can both have their respective love interest, but they no longer want them and have fallen for each other.
"So who are we making jealous this time?"
- In "The Empire Strikes Back", Leia kisses Luke on the mouth to invoke jealousy on Han's part. Squick ensues in "Return of the Jedi".
- L. M. Montgomery loved to use this trope.
- Anne of Green Gables has the idea of hurrying along a couple by having the woman pretend to be dating somebody else. This forces the guy to propose. This is made all the better by the fact that the patsy brought in to pretend to court the woman hints that he fell in love with her, too.
- She then attempts this strategy with another couple. It backfires because she didn't know that the guy was trapped by a promise not to marry anybody.
- She even used it herself. She has rejected Gilbert, who is now seeing Christine Stuart. She's not really in the mood to go to a party, and acts rather distant on the walk there, but the very minute she enters the room she starts pretending to be the most fascinating and wonderful girl present, drawing all attention (including Gilbert's) to herself.
- Jane Eyre has Mr. Rochester pretending to be in love with Rich Bitch Miss Ingram because he knows that Jane is emotionless and placid on the outside but fiery on the inside, and that jealousy will be the best way to bring her feelings for him to the surface.
- Jane later snaps Rochester out of his melancholy self-pity by arousing his jealousy of St John Rivers. It enables him to finally spit out that he still loves her and wants to marry her.
- Hermione of Harry Potter dates Cormac McLaggen in Half-Blood Prince solely to make Ron jealous. She later tells Harry that she purposely chose the person who would annoy Ron the most. Ron has also been doing just this with Lavender Brown, or because she was very easy. Harry correctly pegs the whole situation as one big sequence of bad ideas.
- And it should be noted that Hermione's effort fails pretty spectacularly when she finds Cormac unbearable.
- Also of note, when Harry finds out that Hermione had asked Cormac to a party, he said that he had assumed the two of them would go together as friends. Hermione says "Why didn't I think of that?"; it's not clear, but given her stated reason for dating Cormac was finding the person who would annoy Ron the most, perhaps she realized that the most obvious red flag for Ron would be to go with his best friend.
- Obviously, "Why didn't I think of that?" has one meaning directed to Harry ("It would prevent us from being embarrassed") and one directed to the reader ("Operation Jealousy would have worked even better").
- It's worth noting that Hermione was not doing this with Viktor. As far as Harry (and the readers) see, she actually liked Viktor, and he her. Which is probably why she got so angry when Ron accused her of "snogging the enemy." She was trying to move on from worrying over Ron, and he was being petty about it (out of his own jealousy).
- In PG Wodehouse' books, Bertie Wooster would often use this technique to speed up marriages, although they were never meant to be his own. He himself would play The Beard, usually without asking anyone's permission first.
- Tom and Becky do this in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, making it Older Than Radio.
- Kitty tries this on Jack in Georgette Heyer's Cotillion. A subversion, in fact, since it works, to a point, but by that point Kitty's in love with Freddy.
- Daisy Miller: An Alternate Character Interpretation that Daisy was using Giovanelli all along to make Winterbourne jealous after she felt he let her down in Vevey, or that she decided to mess with Winterbourne's head when she saw how much her flirting with Giovanelli annoyed him, started such a heated Fan War that Henry James had to write his friend and assure her that Daisy was never planning anything of the sort; she was too clueless in the politics of romance to plan such a thing. Not that it matters, anyway...
- In The Sword of Truth, Richard's former girlfriend didn't like their relationship developing too slowly. So, she let him catch her screwing his brother and invited him to join. Got a blank stare, and that was it.
- In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett attempts to use other men's interest in her (Charles's, specifically) to get Ashley to break off his engagement to Melanie and propose to her instead. It doesn't work.
Live Action Television
Drake: I hate your girlfriend, but her idea to make Tori jealous was really smart.
Josh: Not that smart. They've done it on every sitcom since the 1950s.
- On Chef!, Savannah tried to attract Gareth by inventing a boyfriend. She sent herself flowers in the mail and everything. It was almost sad, but mostly hilarious.
- Miss Piggy tries this on the Avery Schreiber episode of The Muppet Show. It seems to work, except that Scooter spills the beans.
- In Parks and Recreation, April convinces Andy that if she puts several hickeys on his neck, it will make Ann jealous and want to get back together with him. Which totally has nothing to do with any feelings April has for him...
- April tries to use Operation Jealousy AGAINST Andy too, by flirting with Jean-Ralphio, and later with her new boyfriend Eduardo. The first fails because Jean-Ralphio is a douche, the second because Eduardo and Andy actually get along really well.
- In Seacht, after Eithne slept with MÃcheÃ¡l, his girlfriend, Paddy, came to the show and shagged Pete, who was Eithne's boyfriend at the time. Drama ensued. Oh, and to make matters worse, Eithne and Paddy are sisters.
- On an episode of Gilligan's Island, Mr. Howell and Lovey split up, and they both attempted this plan to make the other jealous; Mr. Howell with Ginger and Lovey with The Professor.
- On Gossip Girl Blair brings home a British lord from her vacation in Europe to make Chuck jealous. Later on Chuck and Vanessa team up to make Blair and Nate jealous.
- Maddie on Jonathan Creek tried this to make Jonathan jealous; unfortunately, she was going on a blind date based on a photo which did not entirely match the goods, so to speak, and the guy ended up being several decades older than his photo and, personality-wise, "the bastard son of Forrest Gump." Needless to say, Jonathan not only clocked exactly what she was doing (and that it had gone badly wrong) but enjoyed himself enormously at her expense.
- In Hannah Montana, Miley attempts this on Jake to get him to break up with his girlfriend. It later turns out that the "girlfriend" was just Jake using Operation: Jealousy on Miley... and succeeding.
- Been done a couple of times on Glee:
- Rachel said the main reason she agreed to date Puck was in the hopes that it would make his best friend Finn jealous - it worked a bit, to go by Finn's facial expressions during Puck's song performance to her.
- After being spurned by Santana, Brittany recruited Artie to be her new duet partner/boyfriend in the hopes of making Santana jealous - this also worked, though not quite in the way Brittany hoped.
- Artie only got with Brittany originally to make Tina jealous after she left him for Mike.
- Played with in How I Met Your Mother: after Marshall confesses that a coworker jumped him at work, Lily thinks he's just trying to invoke this trope and doesn't believe him. However, when the coworker drops by to apologize to Lily and confirms that it did happen, Lily beats the snot out of her in a jealous fury.
- Herman's Head. Herman asks a girl to play along with this; she rightly describes the trope as "pathetic". It doesn't help that the ex-girlfriend Herman's after realises what he's doing and starts saying loudly to the man she's with things like, "Yes, I'm not wearing any underwear!" Eventually Herman and his ex start arguing directly and after a Slap Slap Kiss go off together, while the man and women they'd been using strike up their own conversation.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Spike does this on a couple of occasions when Buffy rejects his advances. Played for Laughs when the girl Spike chats up turns out to be a Robot Girl who responds by throwing Spike through a window. Played straight in "Hell's Bells" when Spike brings a Goth girlfriend to Anya's wedding after Buffy dumps him. Buffy acknowledges that she is hurt and Spike, no longer angry at her, just leaves quietly.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon tries to ask Penny out in an attempt to make Amy jealous. Penny sees right through it and convinces him to just go tell Amy how he feels.
- Part of BioWare's trimming of Amy's flanderized desire for Sonic involves this. Dexter is an imaginary boyfriend she invented to inspire jealousy in Sonic, but deep down she still cares about the Blue Blur - if Sonic is nice to her throughout the game, she tells all before the Nocturne invasion.
- Of course, if you're paying a fair amount of attention (and selecting the right conversation options), you can see this coming from fairly early on.
- In Star Fox Command this is the main reason why Krystal joined with Star Wolf and began a relationship with Panther, after Fox kicked her off Star Fox (out of concern for her safety). Judging from his reactions to her in the story... it worked.
- In Treading Ground, Wrong Genre Savvy Rose attempts this before her friend can explain this was not what she had in mind. It sinks her wrecked relationship even deeper.
- In this strip of Loserz, one girl (name's Carla) thinks this is the case.
- In Misfile, James and Cassiel are doing this to try and break up their exes Ash and Rumisel and reclaim them. Thanks to the main plot of the comic (Ash is a boy who was Gender Bender'd by cosmic screw-up, Rumisel's just pretending to date "her" to keep other guys away), it's extremely unlikely to succeed.
- In Danny Phantom, Kitty possesses Paulina and dates the main hero who has a crush on her, all in order to make her on/off boyfriend Johnny 13 jealous.
- An episode of Adventure Time had Jake attempting this when Finn and Lady Ranicorn started hanging out. It works better on Finn than Ranicorn.
- Johnny Bravo was the victim of this twice in the first season. Once by a antelope.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Beezy using Samy as a pet in order to get his real pet Rocky away from Jimmy.
- Heloise's Secret Admirer had Heloise date Peep to make Jimmy jealous.
- In American Dad episode "The Magnificent Steven", Roger enlists Hayley to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to make the girl at the liquor store, who he has a crush on, jealous. It horribly backfires when he falls in love with Hayley instead. In the end, it all turns out to be an elaborate plot to win a T-shirt.
- Parodied twice on Family Guy. The first time Stewie fell in love with a girl at day care and then held hands with another girl when he thought she was seeing someone else.
Stewie: Was it one? No, two. Yes. She's two weeks younger than you!
- The second time Brian wanted Jillian to notice him and Lauren Conrad suggests that he remind his ex how much she misses him. Stewie says the best way is by going on a date with a beautiful woman.
Brian: What is this gonna do?
Stewie: It's gonna make her jealous. You, out on the town with a hot date.
Brian: How are you a hot date?
Stewie:Whoa! You're angry at her, not me. No wonder you're alone.
- In Total Drama World Tour, Courtney attempts to make her former love interest Duncan jealous by flirting with Tyler, then Alejandro. It doesn't work.
- Done twice in Hey Arnold. One of these instances is when Helga attempts to rouse Arnold's jealousy by dating Stinky (she gets this idea by viewing an in-universe film that uses this very trope). The other instance is when Helga convinces Arnold to 'date' her in order to capture Lila's attention (who is dating Arnold's cousin, Arnie, at the time).
- The reason Pepper is dating Happy in Iron Man: Armored Adventures to get Tony's attention. For once it actually seems to work, as Tony seems to not like them together despite seeing it as an Operation Jealousy tactic, but never seems to act on it.