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The ultimate writer's guide to the One Hero Falls First trope

The image shows two people, a man and a woman. He's very clearly smitten with her. He's looking at her like she is made of literal magic. She has that messy bun and fringe aesthetic, and has shy girl appeal. His tie is loosened. It's a vibe.

What is the One Hero Falls First trope?

The "One Hero Falls for the Other Much Earlier" trope features a dynamic where one character develops romantic feelings for another character long before those feelings are reciprocated or even recognized. This unbalanced awareness and emotional investment often lead to a complex interplay of longing, secret admiration, and internal conflict as the story unfolds.

Characteristics of the One Hero Falls First trope

This trope explores themes of unrequited love, patience, and the evolution of relationships over time. It highlights the depth of the character's affection and loyalty, often portrayed through acts of kindness, protection, and support in the absence of an immediate romantic return. This dynamic sets the stage for character development, revealing vulnerabilities and strengths as the character grappling with their feelings navigates their relationship with the object of their affection. It's categorized by its focus on the emotional journey of love that starts unnoticed or unreturned and the transformative impact this journey has on both characters involved.

Where did the One Hero Falls First trope come from?

While hard to pinpoint its exact origin, this trope has classical roots in literature and drama, where unrequited love was a common theme used to explore the complexities of the human heart. Over time, it has evolved to include a broader spectrum of scenarios beyond the traditional unrequited love story, incorporating elements of modern romance, friendship turned to love, and the slow realization of mutual affection.

Genres & the One Hero Falls First trope

  • Romance: Central to its plots, focusing on the development of the relationship from one-sided affection to mutual love.
  • Young Adult (YA): Explores the trope in the context of coming-of-age stories, where characters are often experiencing first loves and the growth that comes from them.
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction: Integrates the trope into broader narratives, using it to add depth to character relationships against a backdrop of adventure or speculative worlds.
  • Drama: Utilizes the trope to explore emotional depth and complexity in relationships.

Cross-genre Usage: This trope can also be effectively used in genres such as mystery or thriller, where the emotional subplot adds layers to the characters' motivations and actions.

Examples of the Falls First trope

  • "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" by Jenny Han: Lara Jean has been in love with her sister's boyfriend for years before the dynamics of their relationship begin to change.
  • "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen: Mr. Darcy falls for Elizabeth Bennet well before she begins to see him in a romantic light, setting the stage for a classic tale of evolving perceptions and love.
  • "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens: Pip's unrequited love for Estella serves as a central theme throughout the novel, influencing his actions and personal growth.

How to use the Falls First trope in creative ways

  • Avoiding Clichés: Add complexity to the trope by giving the character with earlier feelings their own arc and growth that isn't solely dependent on their love interest's reciprocation.
  • Innovative Twists: Consider scenarios where the character who falls first moves on or their feelings evolve before the other character realizes their own, creating a dynamic shift.
  • Character and Plot Integration: Use the unbalanced emotional investment as a driving force for plot development or to highlight character growth, ensuring it significantly impacts the narrative.
  • Examples of Creative Use: A fantasy setting where the character's early love is part of a prophecy that affects the fate of their world; a mystery where the character's long-held affection leads them to protect or save their love interest, revealing their feelings in a climactic moment.