Editorial

Keep Calm, Trope On: Will They or Won’t They?

Comments (2)
  1. Kristiana says:

    The “will they or won’t they” trope is definitely my favorite out of all of them. I still remember watching Booth and Brennan getting together and feeling immense joy (and shouting “finally!”). One of my recent favorites when it comes to “will they or won’t they” couples is Thomas and Juliett from Magnum P.I. It will definitely be satisfyingly when (hopefully!) they get together.

  2. Blue Ice-Tea says:

    “Law & Order SVU’s Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler was the epitome of this trope. For seasons, the writers built up their partnership to imply that maybe one day they could be more than just fellow officers in blue. Not only did they save each other’s lives repeatedly, but they also shared longing looks and continuously expressed how much they meant to each other.”

    Um, I’ll admit I haven’t watched SVU in a very long time, but I never thought Elliot and Olivia were being teased as a “Will They or Won’t They” couple, and I certainly don’t remember any “longing looks” between them. My memory is that they were partners and friends who shared more of a sibling-type relationship.

    I know there were fans who wanted Elliot & Olivia to get together, but it seems that this article is conflating two separate phenomena: fans shipping characters with each other, and creators deliberately teasing a romantic relationship between those characters. And it’s important to distinguish those things – especially when talking about how the relationships ended up. I agree that it’s frustrating for creators to “tease a couple to have them not end up together”, but are the creators in the examples you give always teasing the couples, or are they just the couples the fans happen to be rooting for? And if the creators don’t intend to tease the characters as a couple, is it fair to say they’re being “cruel”? I mean, name any two characters and chances are someone has shipped them. Were the creators also being “selfish” when they didn’t get Mulder together with Krycek, Kirk together with Spock, or Hermione together with Draco?

    Maybe part of the problem is that relationships like Mulder&Scully’s and Elliot&Olivia’s were the ones that fans decided to root for without any “teasing” on the creators’ parts. The creators of subsequent shows saw how important these relationships were to the fans and started deliberately teasing characters in their series. Because shows like The X-Files and SVU helped to inspire the Will They or Won’t They trope, they get lumped in with users of the trope. But The X-Files didn’t start teasing Mulder and Scully as a couple until Season 6, and if SVU ever did it, it must have been long after I stopped watching.

    Of course, now the Will They or Won’t They trope is ubiquitous, an expected part of each new series. And, as a result, I think it’s becoming rather tiresome. I think fans are probably getting cynical about it, partly because, as you say, it so often leads to frustration, and partly because it’s frequently obvious that the creators are just using the trope as a ratings grab. So I think it probably will fade away – or, at least, I hope so. I’d rather writers created interesting characters in interesting relationships than manufacturing potential romances just for the sake of “teasing” us.

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