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"Hold on, I have to appease the shippers now."—Tommy Oliver, Truncated Power Rangers
Many fans 'ship. These fans often do it all the time (context or no) especially in certain Demographics. Producers, especially those who keep their finger on the pulse of the audience, not to mention their eye on the fan Fora, know this. So, they decide to tease the fans with hints about possible romantic entanglements, and thereby build that emotional attachment between the show and the audience as much as they can.
If the writers are particularly impish, they'll tease a relationship that either never comes up or takes a hard right just as it gets going. Like a sudden death.
Probably the cruelest method of Ship Tease is the Moment Killer.
Contrast Ship Sinking.
Not to be confused with Striptease (see here for that).
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