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When someone is too shy or inarticulate to pursue his dream girl, he has a friend (the Cyrano) supply his words for him. Like most Simple Plans, this naturally never works. The Trope Codifier is Edmund Rostand's classic play Cyrano De Bergerac.
The plot generally plays out with the dream girl discovering the true author of the poetic courtship, and deciding that it's the Cyrano who's really interested in her, though, unlike in the play, usually he isn't.
The story will often include a direct reference to Cyrano de Bergerac, which makes it very clear that the character making the reference (or, more likely, the writer) has only a very passing knowledge of the play. If there is a Cyrano on each side, hilarity may ensue. In such a double Cyrano, Pair the Spares may be invoked.
Anime and Manga
- Subverted by the two female "Cyranos" in School Days, due to the Matchmaker Crush situation. The first one, Sekai Saionji, ends up becoming the "mistress" of Makoto Itou, the boy she was trying to hook up with Kotonoha Katsura. The other, Setsuna Kiyoura, tries to force Makoto to break up with Kotonoha and stay with Sekai.
- Axis Powers Hetalia: In the famous Valentine's day strip, Austria gives Germany advice on his confused feelings towards Italy.
- Kyou in Clannad acts like this towards her twin Ryou, trying to hook her with Tomoya. This either ends in success (her bad end in the game), or both of them give up about pursuing Tomoya for the sake of Nagisa (anime), or her realizing that she also liked Tomoya and causes lots lots of Wangst within herself and Tomoya (in the end...Tomoya breaks up with Ryou, and Kyou won) (her good end)
- Similarly to Clannad above, we have Hinagiku acting as the Cyrano for Ayumu Nishizawa in Hayate the Combat Butler. In the same vein as Kyou, Hinagiku falls in love with Hayate (or at least stops denying it).
- Similarly, once Ayumu finds out that Hinagiku realizes she's fallen in love with Hayate, by way of her own confession, Ayumu plays this much better for Hina herself. This doesn't stop her from pursuing him herself though. In fact, Ayumu plays this better by specifically continuing her interest in Hayate.
- Used recursively in Zoids New Century Zero. The Ditzy Genius Steve Toros was asked to be the Cyrano by his friend Leyon -- but Toros didn't feel up to the job himself, so he asked their mutual friend Oscar to be the Cyrano to his Cyrano. Unfortunately for Leyon, Oscar accidentally signed the resulting love letter as Toros, causing the girl to fall in love with Toros instead of Leyon.
- Occurs in the Evangelion fic Once More With Feeling, with Kaji playing Shinji's Cyrano. Unlike most examples, it goes off more or less without a hitch: Kaji is in no danger of loving Asuka as anything other than a daughter surrogate (and is already in love with Misato), Shinji repeats his given lines to himself to the point where he can quote them perfectly, and Asuka is genuinely interested in Shinji. Plus...with Ryouji Kaji as your Cyrano, how could you possibly lose?
- The made-for-TV movie Kiss My Act starring Camryn Manheim was a variation on the Cyrano story set in a comedy club.
- In Blades of Glory, we do get two Cyranos, but the characters having the conversation both stop listening at the right time.
- Another two women example: The Truth About Cats and Dogs, where JaneaneGarofalo uses Uma Thurman as her unwitting Cyrano (let's just say that the first time we see Uma Thurman, a speaker stack is involved).
- Roxanne is a modern retelling of the original play, in which small-town fire chief C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) helping Chris, a hunky yet dimwitted newcomer to the department, woo the titular beauty (Darryl Hannah). The insult fight in the bar is a classic lesson in How To Bring The Funny.
- In Back to The Future, Marty McFly acts as a Cyrano for his teenaged father George with the inevitable result that his teenaged mother Lorraine becomes even more attracted to Marty than before.
- In Whatever It Takes, Shane West and James Franco are Cyranos for each other. The nerdy accordion player (West) helps the school jock (Franco) woo his nerdy (but hot) best friend, by making him seem intelligent and sensitive. As a quid pro quo, the jock helps the nerd get the popular girl by showing him how to be a total jerk to her. In the end, the nerdy main characters end up with each other.
- In Short Circuit 2, Number 5 the sentient robot, who has scanned through a library's worth of novels, suggests being The Cyrano for his nerdy scientist friend. During the latter's date, Number 5 hacks into an electronic billboard's system and flashes the lines the friend is supposed to tell the girl. The hacking goes wrong, resulting in the nerdy scientist saying nonsense, but he turns a potentially embarrassing situation around by admitting the ruse to the girl, who thinks it's sweet.
- Somewhat inverted in The Ugly Truth, in which Gerard Butler's character instructs Katharine Heigl's on how to ensnare and hold on to the handsome, and comparatively charming doctor of her dreams. Instead of being interested in the Roxane of the scenario, however, Butler's Cyrano ends up falling for Heigl's Christian.
- M or F? by Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbets uses the "double-Cyrano" variant with text-messaging. There's a slight twist: both of the Cyranos involved are gay, but the girl did not realize that the boy she was after was also using a Cyrano and so thought he was gay and in love with her Cyrano, with hilarity ensuing when she tries to test this in the most ridiculous ways possible after seeing "symptoms."
- In Unseen Academicals, Nutt pens a poetic love letter on behalf of his friend Trev, whose romantic compositional skills are limited to "I think you are really fit, want to go out?". Subverted in that, while Juliet is impressed by all those fancy words, she doesn't really understand their meaning, so her friend Glenda summarizes its message as "I think you are really fit, want to go out?".
- A Marca de uma Lágrima (The Trace of a Tear Drop) is the teenager version of Cyrano de Bergerac, where a girl with no confidence helps her best friend to get the guys she's in love with by writing poems.
- Only In The Movies has main character Jake's unattractive female friend Vanni acting as his Cyrano, while he pursues the very attractive Alba. She even has the big nose. It doesn't work, and Alba falls for another guy, and asks Jake to be her Cyrano, leading to a situation where Jake is standing behind a curtain, whispering lines to Alba, while Vanni stands behind another curtain whispering lines to him. In the end, Alba ends up alone while Jake ends up with Vanni.
- This trope is combined with Gold Digger in Exile's Valor, when Prince Karenthanel of Rethwellan successfully courts Queen Selenay of Valdemar due to coaching by both an experienced rake and someone with considerable inside information about the young monarch's insecurities.
- In The Wise Man's Fear, Kvothe is asked to help the wealthy Maer Alveron court Lady Meluan Lackless. He succeeds and they get married, but afterward he's quietly sent away when Meluan learns that Kvothe is an Edema Ruh. Of course, she hates Ruh because her sister ran off with one, and it's no stretch to conclude her sister is Kvothe's mother.
Live Action TV
- Newman is Kramer's Cyrano on Seinfeld when the latter pursues Jerry's girlfriend, revealing a rarely seen poetic side. The scheme nearly derails when she mentions junk mail, and, fed by Newman, Kramer launches into a rant that so-called junk mail takes as just manpower to deliver as "precious little greeting cards."
- Deconstructed--oh, God, is it ever deconstructed--in Bones. The victim of the week ghostwrote love letters for the romantically shy, generating complications and love triangles so tricky she ended up dead.
- In an episode of Picket Fences, when the girl realizes what's gone on, she accuses those involved of rape.
- Greg is Peter's Cyrano on The Brady Bunch. It fails when the girl, who already fancied Greg a bit, fell madly in love with him.
- in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf trains Quark in how to woo Klingon matriarch Grilka, the Ferengi's one-time wife. (Worf is infatuated with her himself, but he is an exile, disgraced in the eyes of Klingon culture.)
- Brian is Jordan's Cyrano in the last episode of My So-Called Life.
- Blackadder is the Prince Regent's Cyrano in Blackadder the Third.
Amy: What about Georgey-Porgey's lovely poems that won my hearty-wearty?
Blackadder: All writteny-witteny by me-ee we-ee, I'm afraidy-waidy.
- In an episode of Lizzie McGuire,"The Courtship Of Miranda Sanchez", Lizzie is Miranda's Cyrano.
- This happens in an episode of Will & Grace, in which Will is Jack's Cyrano and tells him what to say to an attractive customer at the department store where Jack is working, using the headsets worn by the staff there.
- Done in Friends, where Ross trains Joey up for Charlie.
- Charmed has Coop helping a man court Phoebe. He realizes he loves her as he is feeding the lines.
- This happened twice in Family Ties, with Alex P. Keaton. The first is where he gives very unhelpful (and sexist) advice to Mallory's French tutor, Jeff. He's a little more helpful with Skippy, until he himself falls for Skippy's love interest.
- Subverted HARD in Yo Soy Betty, la Fea: After Mario Calderón and Armando Mendoza decided that the only way of ensuring the safety of the company they screwed was seducing and romancing Betty, the person who they left in the financial control of everything, Mario assumes the role of planning and writing a lot of little notes, cards and letters destined to melt the woman's heart. He does that because Armando was too repulsed by Betty to do it himself, and although Mario neither likes her, at least has a cooler head and some level of "professionalism" in womanizing issues. In a tragic turn, Armando falls in love with Betty genuinely, and when he realizes that he ditches Mario's "help" and began to write himself notes with his true feelings, hoping to stop the scam and win her or real before she realized even that something was wrong. Unfortunately, when Betty (who was in love with Armando before all the scheme was even planned, and had no intention to keep the company, for begin with) eventually discovers their plan and realizes the whole ruse both men put her into, she becomes understandably enraged, and convinces herself that the "real" letters by Armando were also written by Mario. That wound lasted a lot to heal, to say the least.
- It happens in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody with Maddie acting as the Cyrano for London via hidden microphones and headsets. This is because the guy London is trying to woo (played by Zac Efron) is intelligent and London is... well... not. Falls apart when the guy says something that upsets Maddie (he's a conservative, she's a liberal) and yells so loud as to uncover the ruse. Which leads to a Slap Slap Kiss between he and Maddie.
- Subverted in Thirty Rock, when Tracy and Jack meet C.C. on the Clinton campaign headquarters. Jack tries to talk to her, and Tracy, mimicking Cyrano, spouts Non Sequiturs from under the balcony.
- Heroes has Hiro do this in an attempt to get his childhood hero together with the Princess. She sees right through it and falls for Hiro, making the childhood hero quite upset.
- Smallville plays with this: Clark, who is implied to have feelings for Lois, reads Jimmy's wedding vows aloud to her. However he wasn't trying to win Lois over or pass Jimmy's words off as his own, which she realizes only as she sees the vows in his hands. Lois's next line provides the Shout-Out to the trope, when she refers to Jimmy as "a regular Cyrano".
- Boy Meets World has an episode NAMED "Cyrano", in which Cory and Shawn are forced to help Frankie in his "wooing" of Harley's girlfriend. They succeed, and Harley ultimately decides to be a better man and let his girlfriend have what she wants, which is Frankie (the girl naturally goes on to never be seen again). In the ending when Cory and Shawn brag about having played Cyrano for Frankie, Mr. Turner lampshades the misinterpretation of the phrase as they had not had feelings for the girl themselves.
- Twisted in Home and Away, where Romeo encourages (the fully literate) Jai to write love poems to Annie. Annie believes Romeo is the source of the poems, although whether or not Romeo is fully honest has yet to be properly revealed.
- In Flight of the Conchords, Brett receives conflicting and humorously terrible instructions from his friends while trying to woo a pet store clerk.
- An episode of Roseanne had Jackie as the female lead in a production of the trope naming play, but she had gotten ill and hadn't had time to memorize the lines, so Roseanne shows up at the last minute and starts feeding her the lines. Immediately lampshaded when, after Jackie tells her they can't do that, she points at that Cyrano is doing it for Christian.
- In the Glee episode "Hairography," Kurt, who is in love with Finn, pretends to help rival Rachel get Finn's attention by encouraging her to dress sexier. However, the episode subverts the trope: far from helping her, Kurt is actually trying to sabotage Rachel's chances with Finn, knowing that he prefers girls who dress more modestly and will be turned off by Rachel's new wardrobe.
- On Stargate Atlantis, Lt. Cadman plays Cyrano for Dr. McKay from inside his own head.
- A sketch from That Mitchell and Webb Look revolved around Cyrano himself popping up to help a man woo a woman in the modern day. However, the man in question is a sensitive, good-nature fellow and the woman is crass and rude. Cyrano's advice is to be brash and offensive, and downright insulting, which the man in question takes only grudgingly. As the scene progresses, he realizes that he has absolutely no interest in going out with this unpleasant woman, and her responsiveness to his abrasive come-ons indicate that she has some real self-confidence issues and should probably seek help with her self-loathing, but Cyrano convinces him to go on anyway, since at least he can sleep with her tonight. Eventually the man refuses to continue, but Cyrano keeps shouting out the advice anyway and actually jams a small packet of cocaine into his hands, which the girl mistake for his continued efforts and she drags him inside.
- In How I Met Your Mother, Barney asks Robin to play Cyrano when Nora finally calls him, afraid of messing things up again. Robin agrees to this, but what Barney is not aware of is that she has a Matchmaker Crush on him, and instead of exactly playing Cyrano, she's expressing her own feelings for him. Unfortunately for Robin, it works on Nora.
- White Collar has a brief but strange example. Peter finds himself needing to flirt with a woman in order to get access to the building where she works. His wife Elizabeth thinks this is hilarious ("you hate flirting!") and ends up feeding him a bunch of lines when he calls the woman to arrange the rendezvous.
- When Lilly and Oliver of Hannah Montana find their relationship on the rocks, Rico finds that Oliver's moping is bad for business. In order to shut him up and bring the customers back, Rico helps mend their relationship by sending Lilly a love letter in Oliver's name.
- Seemingly deconstructed in Mozart's Don Giovanni (which predates Cyrano De Bergerac by over a century).
- Mephistofele serves as this to Faust in Gounod's Faust.
- In the AA Milne play The Ugly Duckling, a prince and princess, both regarded as rather plain, each hire a Cyrano to impersonate them during the marriage negotiations. At the wedding, the prince plans to wear full armor with the visor down, while the princess wears a face-obscuring veil.
- Played at in Much Ado About Nothing when the Prince woos Hero for his friend Claudio.
- Shakespeare has a field day with this in Twelfth Night, when the "Cyrano" Orsino sends is a girl disguised as a boy who's actually in love with him.
- In Kevin and Kell, Rudy once acts as his uncle's Cyrano while his girlfriend Fiona is her mother's. Both feel guilty of starting to fall in love with "that other person", but everything works out well when they learn the truth.
- In Cheer, the spinoff of The Wotch, when a character tries this, the girl easily notices the Cyrano behind the bushes and asks her date, "Max, why is Xander hiding in a bush giving you bad advice?" Max, being The Voiceless, doesn't answer (or repeat any of Xander's lame lines).
- Oglaf has an one-off strip where a guy wooing a young woman seeks advice on what to say from his friend. It ends in... a unique fashion (Warning: like most of the stuff from Oglaf, NSFW).
- Futurama, "Why Must I Be A Crustacean In Love?". Zoidberg returns to his home planet to spawn and must convince Edna, a childhood friend, to receive his genetic material.
Fry: Start with a compliment. Tell her she looks thin.
Dr. Zoidberg: [calling to Edna] You seem malnourished. Are you suffering from internal parasites?
Edna: [pleased] Why, yes. Thanks for noticing.
- From The Simpsons, when Homer is supplying Principal Skinner with the lines to win Edna Krabappel back:
Skinner: So you'll be my Cyrano?
Homer: Hey, if this thing works out, I won't have to.
- A variation of this occurs in The Little Mermaid with Ursula tricking Ariel into giving her her voice.
- A non-romantic example: In The Flintstones movie, Barney switches test scores with Fred so he gets the promotion instead.
- In the Pinky and The Brain episode "The World Can Wait", the Brain falls in love with a female lab mouse, but she has trouble understanding his usual mode of speech. So Pinky becomes his Cyrano.
- In Yogi Bear, Yogi once played The Cyrano for Boo-Boo. He even made Boo-Boo dress up like in Cyrano De Bergerac, though Yogi should've been the one wearing the big fake nose.
- Spoofed in a cutaway gag on Family Guy, where "woo" quickly becomes "anti-semitism."
- Played with in an episode of Muppet Babies, in which Gonzo woos Piggy with the help of the actual Cyrano De Bergerac. And Steve Martin.
- On Total Drama Island, Cody seemed to think he needed to play this role for Trent. He really didn't.
- In the South Park episode "Erection Day" Cartman helps Jimmy woo a girl on a date using this method. Subverted in that it actually works, until Jimmy messes it up by being too forward and deviating from Cartman's plan.
- Top Cat: Top Cat does it for Choo choo. As usual with this plan, it does not end well.
- Done in 101DalmatiansTheSeries, with Cadpig giving Rolly the words. However, Rolly mishears her, causing him to throw insults at the object of his affections.
- Done in the All Dogs Go to Heaven TV series, with Charlie giving Itchy cues via an earpiece. It all goes wrong when Charlie starts playing poker, and Itchy starts repeating his game talk.
- In the video game Baldur's Gate II, the character Garrick recurs from the first game, aided by a gnome named, unsubtly, Cyrano, trying (and failing) to woo a noblewoman.
- In Fable, a quest requires you to deliver a poem across most of the main continent. On its own, this wouldn't qualify, but you can claim to be the Cyrano.
- In Dragon Age, you can be the Cyrano to your party's resident drunk dwarf. It succeeds... kind of.
- In Tales of Monkey Island: Lair of the Leviathan, Guybrush has to play this for a giant manatee to help him conquer an even bigger female manatee, who is very angry and would eat him if something went wrong.
- Author Harlan Ellison got through his Army service by volunteering to help other soldiers write letters to their girlfriends. As a result, the other soldiers looked out for him and often helped him with his duties.
- Averted, or reversed, in a famous love triangle from the earliest days of Plymouth Colony: Captain Miles Standish sent his friend John Alden to court Priscilla Mullins on his behalf. But John was also in love with Priscilla, who, perceiving this, asked, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" John and Priscilla married. Narrated in Longfellow's poem, "The Courtship of Miles Standish."
- The Real Cyrano de Bergerac history: there really was a French literary style called préciosité ("preciousness") that arose in the 17th century from the lively conversations and playful word games of les précieuses, the witty and educated intellectual ladies who frequented the Paris’s salons to talk about literature. This style was based in a
tropeidea that literature must be suffused with feminine elegance, exquisitely correct scruples of behavior and Platonic love that were hugely popular with a largely female audience. The “preciouses” ladies reunited in literary salons, and talked about this new style, but some of them decided to take this style out of the field of literature and right into Real Life: They asked her suitors for love letters that expressed their feelings with nothing less than excellent poetry. Obviously, those suitors chose to pay recognized poets to ghost write the letters. One of those poets was the real Cyrano and those love letters had been published.