[blog] the second lead syndrome

So I’ve been reading a lot about this so-called Second Lead Syndrome from some blogs I follow like my drama tea and it’s been amusing me. I seldom go for the second lead because if I don’t like the OTP that the drama is trying to sell me, then I drop it. But that’s just me. But then again, I thought about it and realized there were indeed instances that I could not help but root for the second lead.

This site gives a very clear explanation of what Second Lead Syndrome is:

Second Lead Syndrome (SLS) is known as the overwhelming support and admiration given to the second male lead of a drama or an anime to win the lead female and succeed in whatever endeavor undertaken…

So here are what caused that syndrome in my case:





One name: Won Bin.

I watched this drama for him. I rooted for him.

Of course he did not get the girl.

And Won Bin really needs to go back to work, either in a drama or film. Surely, he’s not too busy dating Lee Na-young all the time? And fo’ sho he’s no longer second lead material now.

2. Tachibana Rintaro (LAST CINDERELLA)




God. How can she choose that wishy-washy younger guy who looked like he hasn’t washed his hair in months?! Oh this drama really vexed me till the end. And till the end, I was hoping that common sense would prevail on Sakura but the writer and I were not on the same page. Unfortunately.

How can someone reject Fujiki Naohito? Lol yeah, he’s been rejected many times in dramas and there are some things in this world I can never understand.

To this day, when I hear LAST CINDERELLA, I want to toss a glass slipper. Three months of my life I can never get back.

3. Seo Hyun-Woo (IRIS 2)




Yoon Doo-joon’s earnest portrayal as the reliable comrade and loyal friend, the back-up guy just in case you know something happens to the lead since this is an action drama, had me rooting for him. I wasn’t exactly hoping that he’d get the girl, it was pretty obvious from the get-go that he won’t (I mean, who can win against Jang Hyuk?), but I wouldn’t have minded either if he did. I didn’t even know the dude is part of a Korean idol group;  I don’t want to go there but if for anything, this B2ST has decent actors ei.

4. 8th Prince (BU BU JING XIN)




I wasn’t on the Ru Xi x 4th Prince boat. For some reason, I found the 8th Prince more appealing so much so that this drama led me to GHETTO JUSTICE and my Kevin Cheng phase. Yeah, how could I root for the very much married prince who had a suffering and lovely wife, and want him to be together with his sister-in-law?! I plead Second Lead Syndrome. Guilty as charged.

Given the definition for Second Lead Syndrome, it may entail that you want the character to end up with the lead (with some hate to the other lead pairing). But that is not the case below:

5. Lee Whi-kyung (MAN FROM THE STARS)




Park Hae-jin plays Whi-kyung with so much vulnerability and earnestness I oftentimes want to pat his head or give him a hug even if I am not exactly rooting for him to end up with Cheon Song-yi. I just hope that he will get his own happy ending, whatever that is given the circumstances (a charismatic and good-looking alien for a rival and an evil older brother). But no, I don’t want him to end up with the second female lead; he deserves someone who’s not scheming nor resentful. Bok-ja, Song-yi’s reluctant but steadfast friend, maybe?

I just realized that the characters I have listed are all males. Surely, the syndrome applies to females too? Which makes me wonder, have I rooted for second female leads before? Kaoruko and Erena of the ongoing SHITSUREN CHOCOLATIER come to mind. Anyone between them, as long as it’s not Saeko. And in this instance, yes, I’m really cursing the female lead. Sota deserves so much more.

Or maybe…



photo 1


Yes, why not????

© Yasminka Lee (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in Orange Jasmine Purple Yam without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Yasminka Lee/Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.

10 thoughts on “[blog] the second lead syndrome

  1. why do you have to open my han tae suk wound arggh!!!

    anyway, i ship souta with erena! more than the sex, their rshp is lovable and fun.
    i know a lot of fans want kaoruko coz she’s tamed… but she bores me and i dont really have the patience for one sided love…plus erena inspires souta… the healthy kind of inspiration of course. ep 5 showed that their rshp is deepening… and im hoping that this ship will sail hahaha.

    and the hard core japanese jun wotas are saying this is “kimochi warui” hence the low ratings *sigh*. im surprised the jun+whoever shippers arent as noisy… im happy kiko doesnt get attacked. i guess those GD rumors are true then lol.


    • I haven’t watched ep5 of ChocoJun yet but am glad to know there’s progress between Sota and Erena. They are cute and easy on the eye together. But I am scared the writer will pull a twist on Saeko’s marriage plot. No no no!

      Oh Jun + xxx shippers we very noisy when this drama started but I bet they have since exhausted themselves lol

      And lol at Han Tae-suk!!!


      • oh pls… even if saeko gets divorced that doesnt make her “good” for souta.

        go watch ep 5 and then tell me why i shouldnt be shipping souta and erena hahaha.


  2. Ah… list of second leads is a long one! I can think of a number of others, like Bae Soo-bin in “Shining Inheritance,” or Jung Yonghwa (of FT Island) in “You’re Beautiful.” But no matter how strongly you fall for a 2nd lead, as in “Last Cinderella” (and I know what you’re talking about there), I always have to remind myself that in dramas, as in real life, one can’t predict how one’s pheromones will respond to another’s. Our super good guy of “Last Cinderella” is the clear winner in OUR books, but what if she sees him and responds to him in that primal chemical way as nothing more than a brother? From personal experience I had this happen to me in reverse; a former beau I’d been passionate about years earlier attempted to rekindle the romance but the chemistry changed; it was really and truly like kissing someone just 1 non-incestuous step above a brother and no amount of mental gymnasticsl could change that!

    So maybe this is why, even when I scream at the tele that the lead is picking the wrong one, the logical me knows that one doesn’t always choose with one’s head.

    Oh, and I’m still smarting for the choice of Yoon Shi-yoon’s Enrique in “Flower Boy Next Door!”


    • I haven’t watched FLOWER BOY NEXT DOOR lol but a big YES to Shin-woo in YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL!!! Btw it was played by Jung Yonghwa indeed but he’s from CNBlue lol I did not really finish that drama coz I was distracted by all the plastic done on Jang Geun-suk’s face it was spoiling my watching pleasure. Had I watched it in full I would have included Shin-woo in here hands down, at No. 1 hahahahaha

      Well you do have a point. It’s actually interesting to hear other people talk about dramas and OTPs and see that not everyone have the same views. All a matter of taste, and yes, chemistry!


      • Ack! Yes of course he’s from CNBlue! (D’oh!) Lee Hong-ki who played Jeremy in the same drama (and who also had a lovely crush on Mi-nam/Mi-nyeo) is from FT Island. I was thinking of both as I was writing this and merged the two, which is shocking as I’m a huge fan of both groups.


  3. BWAHAHAHA. You have joined me in my SLS!!!!! And yeah, I think 8th prince is like a classic example of SLS. He was totally out of the picture in the 2nd half of the drama. But I was actually second-lead shipping 14th prince with Ruo Xi HEHEHEH…


  4. no! dont skip ep 4… you’ll know why. aaah it has been a long time since jun made me giddy in a drama. i hope they do end up together… souta and erena i mean… not jun and kiko hahaha.

    i deactivated my fandom twitter & tumblr as of Jan 2. actually i’m trying to cut down on my jun obsession. ill still watch his dramas, movies, arashi shows and concerts though, just like ancient times hehe. ogling at jun screencaps and gifs is starting to be unhealthy for me lol. reading bout fandom drama and delusions on twitter is giving me indigestion hahaha.


  5. Buahahaha WTH???
    That was my exact reaction after I finished scrolling down.
    And just that “Yes, why not?”
    yes, why not? XDDD

    You’ve got good sense there XDDD

    I only know 3, okay 4 out of 6. Had to make Rikudo-chan in on it. LOL

    That #2. I’ll help you throw mine too. Grrr…….what a useless use of material! Human, money, time, imagination!!!!

    WonBin. I never had this distinct hate for lead characters (male+female) for choosing the wrong choice! The lead casts, they (the brother+sister act) werent even convincing in building the chemistry of forbidden-love!
    Freaking wrong casted casts!


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