|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Some people get into a Love Triangle with themselves. Sometimes this gets resolved, if it's a case of Mistaken Identity; sometimes it really doesn't, if they have to maintain a Secret Identity. A very common, very old form is two kids, each chafing against their separate Arranged Marriages, meet and fall in love before they realize their betrothal is to each other, clearing up any and all moral ambiguity or conflict of duties that had driven the story up till that point.
Anime and Manga
- Onidere has a variation. Saya dresses up as a new student in order to attend class. She still can't resist flirting with Tadashi though. Tadashi immediately sees through her disguise, but Saya doesn't know that...
- And then Saki does much the same thing, and a new student falls for Saya's disguised alter ego, making it a Four Person Love Hexagon. It is exactly as confusing as it sounds.
- In Kämpfer Natsuru loves Sakura who loves Natsuru's female persona, then the school council president spreads a rumour that Natsuru and his female half are in fact already dating each other. Hilarity Ensues.
- In one of the stories in Senno Knife's Sepia, there are also four roles and two people. He's a young man; she's a prostitute who is nearly out of debt. As it happens, she's been writing him anonymous love letters, and he's been seeing her while wearing a mask to be with her. So, to recap, young man, prostitute, letter writer, man in mask. At the end of the story, he says next time he'll go without the mask.
- Sailor Moon uses this a lot. Usagi is love with Tuxedo Kamen and (depending on the version) Mamoru Chiba, but for a while she's unaware that they are the same. Mamoru, on the other hand, is in love with Princess Serenity, Sailor Moon, and (once again depending on the version) Usagi. And once they learn about one another's identities, they properly fall for one another.
- In Arata Kangatari, two men named Arata from different worlds change places. Kotoha loves the Arata she knew, and doesn't notice he's a different person now. The Arata she knew only thinks of him as a sister, while the new Arata returns her affections but Angsts over the fact she doesn't like him.
- MAR has an odd example of this. Ginta is clearly in love with his childhood friend, Koyuki. He even protects her when he gets a chance to go to his dream world. He's not entirely clueless about her liking him as well. While in MAR Heaven, he meets Snow, who looks exactly like Koyuki and has much the same personality. There is much UST between them as the story progresses. The twist comes during the occasional times we see what's going on in the real world, and find that Koyuki is seeing the 'show' through Snow's eyes. Eventually we find that Snow is also able to learn about Ginta's world through Koyuki's eyes. In the end of the anime, Snow and Koyuki merge, thus saving Ginta from having to choose between them. It's implied that both girls are in fact the same person, just alternate world versions. And none of the characters are aware of this.
- In Code Geass, Kallen admires and has fallen for Zero, but does not know that he is Lelouch, who she's Tsundere to. She's extremely conflicted when she does finds out.
- Happens in Yu-Gi-Oh!. Yugi likes Anzu, who cares lots for Yugi and might love him... but has fallen for the ancient pharaoh who shares his body, Yami Yugi aka Atem.
- The titular character of Nurarihyon no Mago is in such a situation. His night side is a lot more popular than his day side, and his Muggle friends don't know it is the same person.
- In Dengeki Daisy, Teru has strong feelings for Daisy, her faceless protector she only has contact through email, and falls in love with Kurosaki, who she secretly wishes were Daisy. Luckily, he is.
- Superman has the classic version of this. While it's varied over the years, the traditional triangle is Clark loves Lois, while Lois loves Superman and won't see Clark as more than a Co-Worker/Rival. As of the last decade or so, they've finally gotten over this in the comics. The DCAU played it straight.
- In the Spider-Man comics, Black Cat barely tolerated Peter Parker's presence, but was hot to trot for Spider-Man any time. The catch is that Black Cat knows that they are one and the same person.
- Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane has the more traditional version, where Mary Jane has decided to somehow ask Spider-Man to take her to a school dance only to find herself falling for Peter Parker at the same time.
- This goes back a long way with him; at the end of a very early adventure, Peter Parker calls Liz Allen on the phone to ask for a date only to have her tell him she's already told off his rival Flash Thompson and wants him off the line as well, since she's anticipating a call from Spider-man. As she slams down the receiver, he laments that "Only a guy with my nutty luck could end up being his own competition!"
- In early Daredevil comics, Matt covered up his secret identity with his partner Foggy and their secretary Karen by pretending that Daredevil was his twin brother Mike. For a while there was a love triangle where Karen couldn't decide if she loved Matt or Mike.
- The Argentine comic Cybersix has an interesting variant where Cybersix deliberately engineers one - wherein her secret identity, the male Adrian Seidelman, is, briefly, a rival for her own affections, in order to prompt her love interest, Lucas Amato, to actually make a move (after establishing he doesn't already have a girlfriend).
- One Sailor Moon Fanfic, Destiny's Child, had two people occupying four roles. Made more complex by the fact that one of them had two more identities, one of whom was believed to be the destined true love of identity #2, and one of whom was believed to be a sibling of identity #1. In total, therefore, there were six identities: Ranma Tendo, Saturn Knight, Hotaru Tomoe, Sailor Saturn, Rei Hino, and Sailor Mars.
- In the Danny Phantom fanfic Gender Confusion: The Saga of Sam, Sam feels conflicted because she gone on a couple dates with both Danny Fenton and Danny Phantom and things might be getting serious. As a bonus, Danny is unaware that the nice girl he's been running into is also his male roommate (though there's no romance involved with that persona).
- In the Axis Powers Hetalia fic New Horizons, due to time travel shenanigans, a past and present version of England end up competing over America's affection with both thinking he's romantically involved with an unknown party. America himself, of course, is completely oblivious to all of this.
Film -- Animated
- In Disney's version of Sleeping Beauty: Prince Phillip was not enthralled with his future bride Princess Aurora when he saw her as a baby (and he was a little boy no older than five, taking peeks on her cradle), and still isn't looking forward to it, when suddenly he meets a beautiful "peasant girl". Simultaneously, she falls madly in love with the mystery man as soon as she meets him and is devastated to learn that she can never see him again because of her arranged engagement to Prince Phillip. She has no idea that the two are one and the same. Which, technically, makes this a Two-Person Love Square
- Again with Disney: Aladdin takes on the rich persona of Prince Ali to woo Princess Jasmine, who was already interested in his genuine persona.
- Subverted in The Incredibles, when Mr. Incredible flirts with Elastigirl when briefly distracted by some unfortunate events on the way to his wedding. The subversion being that when he gets to the wedding, he turns out to be marrying her "mild-mannered alter ego", and the two of them already clearly know the other's superhero identity. Apparently they just flirt like they don't know each other in costume because they like it.
- Happens in Megamind - Roxanne hates Megamind, the alien villain who conquered her city, but starts falling for "Bernard," the guy she's drafted into helping her overthrow him. Guess what he's keeping from her.
Film -- Live Action
- Batman Forever: Chase falls in love with both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and doesn't realize they're both the same guy until she's kidnapped.
- The Arranged Marriage plot shows up in the short 1926 silent film Crazy Like a Fox and its "talkie" 1937 remake The Wrong Miss Wright.
- Any of the many movies based on The Parfumerie (see the theater section below). These include:
- You've Got Mail, where Meg Ryan falls for Tom Hanks in person and his AOL alter-ego simultaneously.
- The Shop Around the Corner.
- The Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy Pillow Talk. The two share a two-party telephone line. This one adds the complication that the she despises him in person, and he deliberately creates the second persona in order to win her over after recognizing her voice in a nightclub.
- In Abbott and Costello's version of Jack and the Beanstalk, this was part of the basis for the romantic subplot. Princess Eloise is supposed to marry Prince Arthur, but they've never met. They both get kidnapped by the giant, call themselves Darlene and Arthur, and fall in love.
- Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi has a variation on the Arranged Marriage theme: Taani falls in love with Raj, who is actually her husband Surinder with a lot more hair gel and a little less moustache. Surinder is hiding his identity to get to know Taani better; when he realisez that Taani could cheat on him with Raj, he becomes jealous of himself.
- Brand Upon the Brain has two of these--Guy is primarily in love with Wendy, but also has feelings for Wendy's male alter ego Chase, and at the same time Wendy is in love with Sis, who's in love with Chase. Wendy reveals her identity to Sis, who doesn't care. Guy walks in on them having sex, and he faints from shock. Even decades later he hasn't gotten over it.
- The Incarnations of Immortality novel Wielding A Red Sword has a Two Person Love Quadrangle. In it, the main character Prince Pride has an Arranged Marriage with Princess Rapture. Both people already have someone they love. However, once they are both locked in a magical Honeymoon Suite for a month, they eventually fall in love.
- In the book Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, the main character Lucy is infatuated with 'Shadow', an extremely talented graffiti artist whom she's never met but feels she understands though his art. Shadow graffitis the down they live in, while he paints his accomplice Poet does the writing because Shadow has imparingly unlegiable hadwriting. One night Lucy and her two friends hook up with these three guys, two of whom are Poet and Shadow, but Lucy and her friends don't know it. Additionally, Lucy gets stuck with Ed, who is both a guy she one broke the nose of when he touched her arse unexpectedly on a date, and Shadow. Again, Lucy doens't know this so she spend the whole night running around town 'looking for shadow' while blabbering about herself and her appreciation of the art, even metioning at one point that she would have sex with Shadow to Ed. You guessed it, she finds out in the end who he is only after deciding she was in love with Ed too
- This is a common plot device in romance novels. From This Moment On by Lynn Kurland, The Imposter by Celeste Bradley, The Forest Lord by Susan Krinard...
- In Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, the prince, suffering an Arranged Marriage, insists he only ever wishes to marry the temple-pledged girl who found him washed up on the beach. Turns out his fiancee is her. Of course, the eponymous Unlucky Childhood Friend makes this a Three Person Love Quadrangle.
- When Disney -- again -- used this basic element in their version in a much less tragic way, Ariel can't get Eric to believe she's the girl he's looking for, as the only attribute he knows is her voice, which she'd just given up in her Deal with the Devil. This turns into a regular Love Triangle when villain Ursula takes on the third role using Ariel's voice and some really superfluous old-fashioned Mind Control.
- The Host by Stephenie Meyer was quite literally marketed as "A love triangle with two bodies." It involves a body-controlling alien, her human host and the host's significant other.
- The book version of Ella Enchanted, when Ella attends the ball in disguise. This is lampshaded when Ella uses her magic book to read one of the prince's diary entries. He writes about how he enjoyed dancing with the mysterious girl at the ball, and accidentally writes the girl's name as "Ella", having no idea why he did so.
- L. M. Montgomery did this in The Pot and the Kettle. Subverted in that the man knew the whole time that the woman was his fiancee, and set up an elaborate charade to make it seem as if they had fallen in love without realizing each other's identities.
- Played straight and to the letter with the Goose Girl.
- In the short story The Dandelion Girl by Robert F. Young, the middle-aged and married protagonist falls in love with a girl half his age who claims to be a time-traveler from the future. As it turns out, after their encounter the girl travels further back in time, and had become his wife all along.
- In the oldest known version of Beauty and The Beast, Beauty's attraction to the Beast is conflicted because she keeps on dreaming of a handsome young man who pleads with her to rescue him. It was, surprise surprise, the beast.
- Kobo Abe's novel The Face of Another. A scientist's face is disfigured by liquid nitrogen, and his relationship with his wife becomes strained. In secret he creates an artifical face, assumes the identity of a stranger -- and seduces his wife.
- "And we poor husbands ... we have to stand by ... while they worship a demmed shadow."
- In John C. Wright's Count To A Trillion, Menelaus realizes the princess is interested in his own personality.
Live Action TV
- Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman which provides the top photo on this involves this. Eventually Lois falls in love with Clark, learns that Superman is him, and they even get married. This allows for the creation of accusations of adultry and a love triangle, when in fact the man Lois is claimed to have been cheating with is actually her husband.
- Done literally in Farscape when John gets split into two identical copies. One goes on a ship with Aeryn, and one without. The John with Moya loves Aeryn who loves the John with Talyn who also loves Aeryn. Guess which one dies.
- A situation very similar to the above-mentioned Sleeping Beauty example is used in Jim Henson's Hey, Cinderella!. In it, Cinderella meets Prince Charming while he's gardening, and they fall for each other immediately. He promptly tells her that he's the castle gardener, just because he's afraid that Cinderella will turn into a snob if she knows who he really is ("nothing makes a girl a snob more than saying she personally knows a prince"). They plan to meet at the masked ball, wearing geraniums to recognize each other. This plan fails and the result is that they meet at the ball and dance, but Cinderella doesn't realize that Arthur the gardener and Prince Charming are the same, and he doesn't realize that Cinderella is the mysterious "princess" he met. In a bit of a subversion, while the two hit it off very well at the ball, both are quite determined to hold out for the "original" identities.
- In the fourth season of Eureka, Henry accidentally hops timelines, discovers that in the alternate timeline he's married to a woman he barely knows, and falls in love with "his" wife. At first she naturally resents him for displacing her real husband, but she seems to be falling in love with him as well.
- In S3 E2 of Misfits, Curtis is testing out his new power which is he can change his sex at will he ends up sleeping with the same girl as both Curtis and Melanie", his female alter ego without her knowing it. With Curtis, it doesn't go well. But the girl hits it off with Melanie, and they start dating. Things get messy when she finds the dress she lent "Melanie" at his house causing her to think that "Melanie" is cheating on her with Curtis. It only gets more complicated from there.
- In Power Rangers Samurai, Spike first develops a crush on the Pink Samurai Ranger, and later develops one on Mia, making him a little conflicted on which to pursue. That said, not only is Spike something of a Hopeless Suitor, Mia herself has no clue Spike lusts after either of her identities.
- The Kate Bush song "Babooshka" is this gone very, very wrong.
- Rupert Holmes' song "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" is about a man "tired of [his] lady" who arranges to meet a woman he finds in the personal columns -- only to find that the advert was placed by his lover.
- "Un ramito de violetas" ("a bunch of violets") song is about a humble Housewife who starts getting anonymous love letters and flowers from a secret admirer. Said lover is her Grumpy Bear husband, who loves her a lit but has chronic No Social Skills and doesn't know how to truly tell her; she has no idea and fantasizes about who this guy could be.
- The Musical Camelot: Arthur and Guenevere are betrothed, and she's not happy about it because she has never met him and wanted to be married, or at least fought over, for love. She meets him while he is trying to hide from his people; she doesn't recognize him because she's never met him, he gives her a childhood nickname, and they fall in love in a Slap Slap Kiss manner. Only after they're in love does Guenevere learn who "Wart" is.
- AA Milne's play The Ugly Duckling
- The obscure Hungarian play The Parfumerie is about a pen-pal relationship where this occurs. As a result, its many far less obscure adaptations are also examples, including the musical She Loves Me as well as several movies (see the "Film" section above).
- The play The Rivals, first performed in 1775. Lydia likes the idea of being in love with a man her guardian disapproves of, so Captain Absolute courts her under the name "Ensign Beverly" and pretends to be a poor sailor. Later on, his father arranges for him to marry Lydia, who refuses because she's in love with "Beverly". To make things even more complicated, at one point Captain Absolute actually impersonates himself.
- Colonel Fairfax (disguised as Leonard Meryll) and Elsie Maynard in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard. They were married while Elsie was blindfolded and Fairfax was on death row, but Fairfax escaped. Once he discovers Elsie's identity, he sets about wooing her so that she falls in love with "Leonard". Once his name is cleared he reveals that they're already married.
- The plot of Don Juan Triumphant, the show-within-a-show on the musical The Phantom of the Opera. A man intends to dress up as a stranger and seduce his girlfriend, in order to create a situation where he can punish her for her infidelity.
- In Mega Man Star Force, Luna has a huge crush on Mega Man, her Mysterious Protector. She sometimes asks for Geo's help in her efforts to win Mega Man's affection, unaware that Geo is Mega Man.
- She keeps maintaining that her crush is only for Mega Man even after she finds out his identity.
- Though it becomes pretty obvious after the reveal that Luna likes Geo and is just avoiding that fact by saying she only likes Megaman.
- She keeps maintaining that her crush is only for Mega Man even after she finds out his identity.
- In Monster High, Frankie has a crush on both Jackson Jekyll and Holt Hyde.
- Boy Meets Boy, as exemplified by this comic. "I'm jealous of myself. Leave me alone."
- The webcomic Red String.
- Doubled in Kevin and Kell, twice: first with the eponymous married couple falling in love with each other again in a chatroom without knowing, and later with Fiona helping her mom hook up with Ralph, who is also getting help from his nephew and Fiona's boyfriend.
- El Goonish Shive, to a degree: Gay Justin is in love with straight Elliot. Elliot gains a magically-induced female alter ego that somewhat alters his/her personality...and said alter ego finds Justin rather attractive.
- Dumbing of Age, Amber is in love with Danny - unfortunately Danny is in love with Amazi-girl. seriously.
- Jem/Jerrica and Rio in Jem and The Holograms. This one is particularly weird as Rio openly has a relationship with both Jerrica and her alter ego, and she never seems to mind that he's essentially cheating on her with herself or feels the need to enlighten him.
- Cybersix contains an interesting example: the eponymous heroine has a male normal identity, with the character Lucas having feelings for the female and Ho Yay with the male. This gets more complicated by a female student with a crush on the male, and ridiculously cyclical when she comes to the wrong conclusion that the male and female identities are seeing each other (they aren't, of course).
- The animated series tones this down a little, by having it pretty much that Lucas and Cybersix love each other and Lucas just being friends with Cybersix's male identity. On the other hand, he also asks "Adrian" to see a romantic comedy movie, so yeah.
- Played for laughs in an animated, non-canon short for Avatar: The Last Airbender, "School Time Shipping", in which Chibi Zuko (and several other suitors) lose Katara to Chibi Blue Spirit. In the actual show, the Blue Spirit is Zuko's masked alter-ego.
Chibi Zuko: I did not see that one coming.
- Winx Club did this between Layla and Nabu.
- On one episode of Phineas and Ferb Isabella gets annoyed that her usual crush, Phineas, keeps disappearing whenever she needs him, though she seems quite enamored with the town's new triangle-headed superhero who keeps showing up right after Phineas leaves. (Yeah, we don't get how she missed it either, she's usually smarter than that.) Fits this trope even better because it's arguably the first episode where Phineas is shown returning Isabella's affections, as he clearly is more distressed about lying to her than he is to his family.
- Danny Phantom did the good ol' fashioned Loves My Alter Ego, but in two different ways. The first is a pretty straightforward example: Danny likes Paulina, but she likes his superhero form, Danny Phantom. The second is a Dating Catwoman-style inversion: Danny and Valerie like each other, but Valerie despises Phantom and wants nothing more than to destroy him in numerous painful ways. She nips their romance in the bud, ironically to protect Danny from his own alter ego.
- One episode of American Dad had Francine annoyed by how undependable Stan could be, specifically that he planned to be turned into a cyborg by the CIA after death rather than be buried with her. Then cyborg!Stan comes back from the future, miserable after spending a thousand years without her and far more attentive to her than his present self. Hilarity Ensues.
- Futurama: In "Bender's Big Score," Leela falls for Lars, to the ever-snubbed Fry's frustration. It turns out that "Lars" is an older version of Fry after some complicated time-traveling.
- In a somewhat more straight-forward example, Bender seduces his own girlfriend by pretending to be her ex-boyfriend Flexo.