From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Trope · Genre
Synonyms: yearning, longing, (maybe) unrequited love
Related: Angst
See Also: Eye Sex, UST
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Pining is a very popular trope in many ship-focused fanworks. It appears often in fanfiction, but also shows up in vids and fanart.

In fanfic, "pining" is when one character spends a significant portion of the story loving another character in their secret heart, but not saying anything, usually because they assume the other party isn't interested. Meanwhile, the other party is sometimes written as oblivious (sometimes to a ridiculous extent) to the pining character's feelings. (Often until they get hit by the clue bus.) Variations include both characters pining for each other while being oblivious and one character knowing all along.

In some pairings, one character is more likely to be cast as the one pining for the other.

Many, though not all, fanworks that use the pining trope end up with the pined-for party getting clued in, returning the piner's affection, and finding their way to a happy ending.

A fan in 2016 wrote:
listen, there is absolutely nothing that gets me going like mutual seemingly unrequited pining like? i live for both people losing their minds over the other person in bitter silence. savoring every single accidental brush of their fingers, elbows, thighs, every stray glance, memorizing every gesture or expression they catch while the other isn’t looking, all while being absolutely convinced that it’s one-sided only to finally!! finally find out it wasn’t in a triumphant moment of bliss after years and years of delicious, soul-rending, torturous, heart-wrenching pining. i literally don’t care about the fact that this trope is predictable af and always plays out the same way i will still go wild over it every single time like they’ll be doing the same reveal scene i have seen a million times and i’m still on the edge of my seat gasping “are they gonna kiss???” [1]

Example Fanworks





Fire Emblem series:

Girl Meets World:

Hawaii 5-0:

Kimi ni Todoke:




Stargate Atlantis:

The Sentinel:

Starsky & Hutch:

Teen Wolf:



Stargate Atlantis:




  1. hermanngottliebs.tumblr, Archived version