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I ♥ _____
Apparently, the heart (being the organ responsible for powering the circulation of blood around the body) is an extremely romantic thing. Hence, "hearts" are equated with emotions such as love and caring. It follows that someone that lacks ability to love and care sufficiently is "heartless," and someone that has recently experienced a romantic tragedy is "heart-broken."
In Animation and Graphic Novels, a cloud of hearts is sometimes used to indicate falling in love and/or lust. Eyes popping out in the shape of a heart, oversized heartbeats and the like are all some of The Oldest Ones in the Book. See Heart Symbol for more examples.
A possible explanation for this may be the increase in heartbeat when in the presence of someone you have a crush on. Or maybe the fact that for a good part of history, the heart was known as the "main life organ".
It should be noted that not all cultures equated love with the heart. In Elizabethan England, for instance, it was believed that the passions were seated in the liver, and in Ancient Israel it was the bowels (hence "gut feeling").
See also Heart Symbol.
- Apparently, a heart that was two sizes too small was responsible for the Grinch's lack of fondness for Christmas. The trope is played straight in the most literal sense possible.
- The main plot point in The Wizard's Hairy Heart, a short tale and Book Within a Book in the Harry Potter universe: A twisted wizard seeks to remove all emotion from himself in order to become stronger, and so uses dark magic to physically extract his heart and store it in a container. It works better than he ever intended.
- Averted (or possibly subverted) on The Wire with the gangster "No-Heart" Anthony: he got his nickname not from a reputation for cruelty, but because he once tried to escape arrest by shooting himself in the chest.
- Lampshaded on Red Dwarf with the song Tongue-Tied.
- In the Pushing Daisies episode Corpsicle, a boy who was waiting on a heart transplant (because he initially had no heart) was rather mean. A played straight example.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel talks about this at length at one point. Buffy embraces him, and they have this exchange:
Buffy: That's beautiful...(she opens her eyes) Or, taken literally, incredibly gross.
- In Power Rangers Ninja Storm, the Big Bad's TV show in one episode (whoever watches gets brainwashed) was a sitcom called "I Love Lothor," with a heart for the logo... as in the actual, not-very-romantic-looking organ.
- Countless Boy Band songs like "I'll Never Break Your Heart," "Quit Playing Games With My Heart" and "Deep In My Heart."
- Parodied and deconstructed in Tom Lehrer's The Masochism Tango, "My heart is in my hand... yeeech!" (hence acknowledging that the heart is a rather sticky and ugly thing, hence isn't the best symbol for romantic love).
- Most Silly Love Songs mention the heart in their lyrics.
- In "Follow Your Heart" from Urinetown, the entire song has to do about following your heart more or less metaphorically, but one of Bobby's verses walks the line between romance and Squick.
Bobby: Someday I'll meet someone
- The duet "My Heart" in PDQ Bach's Oedipus Tex uses a series of increasingly awful animal metaphors for the heart.
- Typing "love" into Scribblenauts makes a realistic human heart appear. Said heart does nothing.
- Kingdom Hearts: the "Heartless" are composed of the darker and more instinctual emotions, and the "Nobodies" are almost Straw Vulcan-type beings with only logic and no feelings. A played-straight example, since the heart is still equated with the "warm and fuzzy" emotions.
- The animation for the infatuation status and the Attract move in the Pokémon games is a small floating pink heart.
- The love-symbolizing Pokemon Luvdisc is basically a living Heart Symbol with a face.
- In The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess, hearts appear to symbolize the love between the Yetis, and Link can pick them up to heal himself. Link's fangirls from the STAR game also make recovery hearts appear whenever he's nearby.
- Averted in Katawa Shoujo; the game logo has a bandaged heart, but while it is a Dating Sim with five disabled love interests, but it represents the protagonist's heart condition.
- Averted in this Dresden Codak strip; when one of her friends makes a reference to "matters of the heart," Kimiko points out that "[her] heart is nothing more than an engine forged from the remnants of a dead star."
- Subverted by the hyenas in Digger, who view the liver as the most important organ.
Grim Eyes: So let me get this straight... you go to the camp of your beloved, and you take you blushing lover in your arms, and you whisper 'My darling, my carrion-scented flower, you gnaw my liver...'
- Played annoyingly straight in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, "heart" refers to warm and fuzzy feelings and is also a (rather lame) superpower.
- A Valentine's Day episode of The Simpsons also deconstructed this by having the school cafeteria serve beef hearts for lunch on Valentine's Day. Needless to say, this did not make things more romantic.
- Another parody is when Moe sees a beautiful woman, mutters "You're BEAUTIFUL," and his heart flies forward from his chest like a cartoon. He immediately says "Excuse me, this is a serious heart condition, I gotta go!"
- A Valentine's Day card made by Jimmy to Cindy in The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron included a holographic realistic heart.
- Lampshaded in SpongeBob SquarePants. When Spongebob gives Squidward a shirt with "I ♥ U" woven into it, Squids reads it as "I Heart You."
- Valentine's Day plays this trope straight. (Thankfully for the cynics, there are chocolatiers that sell anatomically-correct chocolate hearts (e.g. here).)
- ThinkGeek.com offers heart themed items of geeky romance, including a pair of T-shirts with a bar of Zelda-esque hearts that light up when their wearers are near, and an anatomically correct gummy heart. It also features items with the "less than three" (<3) netspeak variant.
- The ancient Egyptians took this trope one step further: they believed the heart was not only the center of the soul, and thus the "seat of emotions and will", but also the center of the nervous system.
- The heart has long been thought of as the seat of the emotions, while the brain was regarded as little more than "head stuffing". This thinking goes back to the ancient Egyptians, who preserved the heart of the dead but threw out the brain. It wasn't until the 6th century BCE that the idea of the brain as seat of intelligence was even forwarded, and Aristotle believed that the brain served to cool the blood (humans being superior to animals because, since our blood-coolers were larger, we were less hot-bloodedly irrational). Head wounds bleed profusely, so that being a good way to kill people was no contradiction.
- Since heart transplants became viable, some recipients have reported changes in their personalities, tastes and desires that seem to mirror the donor's lifestyle.
- In biblical literature:
- Older translations of The Bible use not only the heart, but the kidneys as a metaphor for centers of human thought and emotion. If you're not used to it, it can feel mildly sacrilegious to read passages where the original word for "affection" (NIV) is "bowels" (KJV).
- A Christian comedian Mark Lowry once commented on this, resulting in "Oh, baby, you MOOOVE me! You move my bowels!" He then proceeds to sing exerpts from several songs, replacing "heart" with "bowels."
- Starting with the ancient Greeks, the liver was claimed to control human passion. Later, medieval Europeans developed the idea that "humor,"—blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile—controlled health and temperament, and that a lack of yellow bile (anger, courage, spirit) would make the liver pale as a side effect. This is the origin of the insult "Lily Livered" since a pale or white liver was a weak one thus without emotion or courage. Humors are the justification behind blood-letting, as well.
- The one that means instant death if lost; nowadays it's the brain, since you can live for up to four minutes if your heart stops.