The will they/won’t they couple
This trope is possibly the most ubiquitous of the list, which is saying something considering how common these tropes are, and it exists in almost every single show that has ever been made. It’s practically become part of the canon TV law to position a couple into a scenario in which audiences know they should be together, but they themselves refuse to acknowledge the fact.
For faithful viewers of any given show, you know how maddening this can be. It’s like the characters are the only two people on the planet who can’t see how right they are for each other, and they continue to make choices that move themselves further away from each other. Until they don’t, and then we get our hopes up once more. Of course our hopes are dashed as soon as they act ridiculous again.
This trope is filled to the brim with unresolved sexual tension, and it plays out as the two characters do the tug of war with each other. Usually, the two characters end up together, but ending the will they/won’t they situation is really the tricky part. Sometimes it’s as satisfying as we hoped it would be, but sometimes it can be really disappointing, making us question our ‘shipping hopes and dreams from the start.
Examples: The Mindy Project, Friends, Cheers, The X-Files, The Office, and Moonlighting