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Leslie: You just do everything your boyfriend tells you to do? Make any pancakes lately?

Ann: He has two broken legs.

Leslie: Yeah, and he's got three crutches. And one of them is you. And the other two are crutches.

The Living Emotional Crutch is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin. This person, let's call her Betty[1], provides a troubled character, let's call him Alex, with the emotional, psychological, and/or moral support to function. Sometimes, to function at all. She might be his first good friend, a Love Interest, a psychiatrist/priest Confidant or a full blown Caretaker to Alex, serving as a Morality Pet or even Kid with the Leash to rein in Alex's darker tendencies and administer Cooldown Hugs.

Summed up, while she's alive and near him, Alex is a better, happier person.

... which is why she will usually get kidnapped or killed. Alex's reaction will go to one of two extremes, a psychotic Unstoppable Rage on par with The Hulk on the throes of withdrawal from Gamma-Cocaine, or near comatose gibbering. The middle road is a Tranquil Fury of deadly determination.

There are some dark uses of this trope though. If Alex is psychotically possessive he will go to any means to protect Betty from perceived threats, culminating in destroying everyone she loves so she becomes trapped in an All Take and No Give relationship. This is especially tragic since Betty probably does want to help him, but he's already sliding too far to help. When she inevitably leaves him/is rescued, Alex will not take it well.

Sometimes Betty will be able to introduce Alex to other friends, lessening his dependence on her. Very rarely, she will be able to cure him of his dependence entirely, or at least give him the necessary tools and resolve to survive when she's gone.

This trope has some basis in Real Life, people like Alex might be diagnosed with dependent personality disorder.

Examples of Living Emotional Crutch include:

Anime & Manga

  • Played very close to literally in Serial Experiments Lain, in which Masami Eri attempts to talk Lain into loving him because, as he claims, no one else is capable of doing so--but in order to even exist, he not only needs Lain's affection, but also *requires* that Lain *worship* him as a God, and the most powerful being in the Universe. When Lain turns on and criticizes his own manipulative logic in her Crowning Moment of Awesome on him and renounces her belief that Eri has ever been a God and is only a narcissistic wannabe created by the real God, Eri literally just disappears, blinking out of existence completely, since by that point in the story, Lain was the last person left in the world to believe he was God.
  • In Karano Kyoukai Mikiya Kokutou slowly becomes Shiki's crutch over the course of the series, although she doesn't notice it until the final moments of the last film. After being (falsely) informed of his death, she murders the culprit 7 times over in the space of a few seconds. She then falls over, and realizes that she really doesn't have any reason to get up. He then claws his way back to her. Of course, keep in mind that Mikiya is explicitly characterised as a literal bodhisattva. This relationship is one of the most complex possible, actually, since it mirrors the theoretical dynamic between Buddha (Mikiya) and Christ (Shiki).
  • In Tekkon Kinkreet, White and Black have been living together for years. When they are forcibly separated, White starts filling out his Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book (and the walls) and Black makes a White puppet and talks to it like it was White. It Gets Worse when the mooks shoot the puppet, which triggers Black's Despair Event Horizon and releases the Super-Powered Evil Side.
  • Kaede from Shuffle. As long as she can live with and take care of Rin, she's the nicest, gentlest person around. Its only when he starts shutting her out of his life that trouble starts. To her credit, she tries to keep it under control and feels shame when she can't. The difference between her and a regular Yandere is that she doesn't care how many girls are in Rin's life, as long as she's one of them.
  • In Code Geass C.C. was this for Mao. And he wants her back! Cue heavy, heavy drama with a bit of Squick thrown in.
    • More subtly, Nunnally for Lelouch. Compare how Lelouch is when Nunnally is around to when she isn't — or even more so, when she is his opponent or he thinks she is dead.
    • Euphemia is this for Nina. Just look at how Nina reacts when Euphemia dies.
      • Suzaku would also count in this case.
  • Casca is this to Guts in Berserk because without her around Guts would probably completely give in to his Super-Powered Evil Side.
    • During his time with the Hawks, Guts eventually became Griffith's crutch. Griffith trusted Guts with the seedier elements of his power plays and opened up to him more than anyone, even Casca. The downward spiral toward the Despair Event Horizon that would eventually result in Griffith becoming Femto started when Guts decided to leave the Band of the Hawk.
  • Kohta to Lucy in Elfen Lied.
    • Kurama to Nana as well. Sort of...
  • In Kaguyahime, Midori is very much this to Yui, who becomes a useless crying mess every time they're separated. Midori hates it. And you can probably interpret a lot of other pairs as having this dynamic (Akira as Mayu's, Kaede and Katsura as each other's, Miller as Nobuo's, Yu-Ling as Gao Li-shi's, etc)
  • In the second series of Black Butler, Claude appears to be this for Alois. It backfires. Horribly.
  • Both Simon and Kamina, from Gurren Lagann are interesting examples, as they are both crutches for each other. Simon is competent, but too timid live up to it. Kamina, meanwhile, knows how to inspire confidence, but can't do much by himself other then boast. For these reasons both believe they need the other to go on. After Kamina's death, Simon undergoes a Heroic BSOD, but eventually gets better.

 "Listen up, Simon. Don't believe in yourself. Believe in me! Believe in me, who believes in you!"


 Kamina: "Listen, Simon, never forget. Just believe in yourself! Not in the Simon that I believe in, not in the Kamina that you believe in, believe in the Simon... that believes in you!"

  • The least controversial interpretation of Nanoha and Fate's relationship in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise is that Nanoha serves as Fate's Living Emotional Crutch in the late first and most of the second season, following Precia's abuse and abandonment of Fate. Fate herself later serves as this to other characters, e.g. Erio. A recurring theme of the franchise is that while anyone can require an emotional crutch at some point, they will eventually be healed of their traumas and live a happy and satisfying life, if given enough warmth and care. And firepower.
  • Played straight for Eureka in Eureka Seven episodes 24 to 26. She is constantly in grief at Renton's absence and determined to see him to the point that she departed from Gekko behind everyone's back, including the three kids, to find Renton. She was finally emotionally at ease when she was reunited with Renton.
    • Also, Anemone starts off as a violently psychotic Tyke Bomb, but grows much stabler in the presence of her handler/guardian Dominic. Late in the series, he manages to restore her sanity completely through the Power of Love.
  • This is essentially stated to be the case with Hawkeye and Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist. When she's told that he's dead, she loses the will to live. Later, when he threatens to be consumed by his own desire for revenge, she - fulfilling the oath she made before the start of the series - prepares to shoot him; the fact that she intends to kill herself afterward keeps him from crossing his Moral Event Horizon. Later still, when she's on the brink of death, he begs her not to die and leave him alone. They're an unfortunate case of Love Hurts, but they'd still rather be together.
  • Light to Misa in Death Note (whether he wants to be or not).
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Madoka Kaname is basically the only reason Homura Akemi keeps going. She also sort of acts as this for Sayaka, at least at first.
  • In Saiyuki the four main characters are arguably this to each other, as due to their pasts no one in the group functions at all correctly when they don't have the others to fall back on. This was best demonstrated when Gojyo left the party and More specifically though, Goku is Sanzo's (before he met him, he was pretty much emotionally dead) and Gojyo is Hakkai's. Both those relationships work the other way around as well, though Gojyo and Goku have much less volatile personalities so it isn't as apparent... Though it could be argued that without Sanzo, Goku becomes Seiten Taisen, and you don't get much more volatile than that.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Earlier on, when Yugi and the Other Yugi are still extremely dependent on each other, Dark Yugi can really only "sense" the difference between right and wrong when he's with Yugi. So when the Orichalcos arc rolls around and Yugi's gone for a while...
  • In Tiger and Bunny, Kotetsu eventually becomes Barnaby's Only Friend and confidant. It's because of his influence that Barnaby is able to adjust to having any sort of life after spending twenty years socially withdrawn and preoccupied with revenge. According to the creators, if Kotetsu had actually died in the final episodes, Barnaby never would have recovered.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia Russia is normally an Ax Crazy Stepford Smiler. It's also hinted that Russia has feelings for his "favorite" Lithuania. Additionally if you ask the fandom, Lithuania is the only one who can keep Russia relatively sane.
    • Also, Russia truly loves his older sister Ukraine as much as his insanity lets him.
    • Germany for Italy, with the latter having fits of panic and depression whenever it's even hinted that Germany might stop being friends with him.
      • It's also likely that North Italy is one for Germany, as he mentions that Italy is one of the first friends he has had.
  • In Mawaru Penguindrum, what keeps Shouma and Kanba united despite their differences and the absence of their parents is their common care and affection for their sister Himari. Also, according to the flashbacks of episodes 19 and 20, Shouma used to be one for child!Himari, and he may still be.
  • In School Days, Setsuna is this to Sekai. Setsuna knows it clealy, too; hence why she wants her to be with Makoto, so he can protect her because she's soon moving abroads and doesn't want Sekai to be all alone.
    • And Makoto is one for Kotonoha. When she found out that he was cheating on her, poor Kotonoha started falling into denial and despair... and then It Got Worse.
  • In No. 6 its hinted that Sion and Nezumi are this for each other. Nezumi for Sion especially. Take for example Sion's reaction to a guy almost killing Nezumi in episode 10.
  • Pandora Hearts: Elliot to Leo. Leo by far appears to take Elliot's death the hardest, blaming himself entirely for Elliot's death and losing his sanity in the days that follow. Elliot's also the only reason that Leo was even friends with Oz with Leo stating to Oz that now that Elliot is dead there's no reason for them to be friends anymore but rather enemies.
    • Alice to Oz. Oz goes into Love Makes You Crazy mode over Alice when he thinks she died and when she's feeling pain.
    • Oz for Gil. Big time. Also, Gil for Vincent. Though sometimes even Gil isn't enough to rein in Vincent's Ax Crazy tendencies but its implied he would go completely and irreversibly Ax Crazy if Gil ever died.
  • In Naruto we have Itachi being the Living Emotional Crutch for Sasuke with Sasuke not realizing it until Itachi dies and Sasuke learns that Itachi had done everything to protect him in an HORRIBLY convoluted way; he then goes mad with grief and has a huge moment of Sanity Slippage. And right now Sasuke's pretty much Ax Crazy. Thank you sooooo much, Itachi.
    • It's implied that Orochimaru was this for Kabuto.
  • In Revolutionary Girl Utena Touga is this for his sister Nanami. She's very attached to him and he even managed to stop her from killing Utena in one duel.
  • In Koharu no Hibi Akira is this for Koharu. Very much so.
  • In Saint Beast, the half-human, half-angel brothers Kira and Maya are this for each other.
  • In One Piece Ace is definitely this for Luffy. Notice Luffy's reaction when Ace died.
  • In Ranma 1/2 although neither would admit it both Akane and Ranma are this to each other. Case in point, when he thought Akane had died Ranma went into a Heroic BSOD so bad that he only came out of it when he learned that Akane was still alive.
  • Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest: Aoshika and Inugami are this to each other.
  • In Bleach Ichigo is this to Orihime and Orihime is this to her brother Sora. For Orihime, her feelings for him are at first a cause of pain, and later a reason for self-imprevement.
    • Every single of Ichigo's friends and relatives is this for him, to the point that when his sisters and human friends were brainwashed by Tsukishima and pined agaisnt him, Ichigo fell in despair. Orihime and Yuzu seem to be special triggers for the dude, however. In the case of Orihime, when he heard her cry and scream, Ichigo brought himself Back From the Dead (and Came Back Wrong for a while); in Yuzu's, he went totally ballistic when her soul was imprisoned in Hell in the fourth movie.
  • Lina from Cyborg 009 is this for Phil, despite his protests. When she's thrown into the Bad Future alongside Joe/the titular 009, Phil is devastated to the point of an Heroic BSOD, and Mai lampshades the trope by saying that without Lina, the child simply will NOT survive.
  • Ed and Al are this for each other in Fullmetal Alchemist. As well as Roy and Riza to each other.
  • Hatori serves as one to Chiaki in Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. Despite their personality types being reversed, Chiaki is unable to function without Hatori who has been taking care of him all of his life. Without Hatori by his side, Chiaki loses the will to do anything. And Hatori technically takes advantage of this by brutally raping his best friend. The dependancy is so strong that Chiaki is willing to ignore what happened to him just so Hatori will stay by his side. Naturally, this dependancy is shown to actually be more harmful than good.
  • Tsuna is this for Gokudera in Katekyo Hitman Reborn. He reacted quite fiercely to learning Tsuna died and was the only one to visit his grave and did it quite often too.


  • Invoked in Watchmen, where The Government employs young women (Janey Slater and later, Laurie Juspeczyk) as Living Emotional Crutches for the Physical God Dr. Manhattan, realizing that this is pretty much the only thing that can preserve the last shreds of humanity within him (and also incidentally, keep him on the planet and working for the right people). True enough, as soon as Laurie dumps him, Dr. Manhattan moves to Mars with no intent of ever visiting humanity again. And it's Laurie again who manages to renew his interest in humanity and come back to Earth, however briefly.
  • Rick Jones to The Incredible Hulk. Also Betty Banner and (on a good day) Doc Samson.

Fan Works

  • More Shinji/Asuka fics in the Neon Genesis Evangelion fandom employ this trope than not, but especially The Ghosts of Evangelion, the latter in which Shinji comes dangerously close to resenting their daughter after Asuka nearly dies giving birth to her, and when he dies only three days after she does from sheer despair.
  • The Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle fic Shatterheart deconstructs this with Syaoran and Kurogane. Initially Kurogane realizes that Syaoran is getting worse after they hook up, and ends the relationship over it. However, Syaoran turns out to be just as much of a crutch to Kurogane, and they get back together. Things get a lot worse before they get better.
  • While Shiro is initially this for Keith in Voltron: Legendary Defender's canon, Keith gets over it when he learns to open up to the others and meets his mother Krolia. A lot of Sheith fan works conveniently forget this fact and have Keith pathetically dependent on Shiro to the point where he'll die without him. It's especially evident in the fic Across the Multiverse, where it goes as far back as their original incarnations Akira "Chief" Kogane and Takashi "Quiet" Shirogane.
  • Alan and Anne Chan are this for each other in one author's Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan fics, to the point where if something remotely bad happens to one of them the other will have a meltdown. At times it's so bad that anyone reading the fics who didn't know they were siblings would think they were a pair of love interests from a romance novel or a soap opera.
  • Many Winx Club fics have Timmy and Tecna as this for each other.
  • This is big in Fire Emblem shipping fic, RP, and fan comics:
    • Kent/Lyn from The Blazing Blade. One fan even RPed Kent vomiting himself into a coma when he found out that in the future, Lyn died during Bern's invasion of Sacae. After marrying Rath.
    • Seth/Eirika from The Sacred Stones. Seth will spend more time fretting over Eirika than doing much else, while Eirika will weep her head off if she has to be separated from him. Especially to marry Innes.
    • Chrom/Robin from Awakening. At worst, Chrom vehemently protests the idea of Robin sacrificing themselves, and Robin seems to feel more comfortable around Chrom than most others, but it's well established that the two can live without one another.
    • Leo and either Corrin are this to Niles or Takumi in many Fates fics. Granted, both Niles and Takumi have their reasons to be clingy at times, but many fics tend to make them into total wilting lettuce leaves who would cry themselves into comas if Leo or Corrin weren't there to coddle them.
    • Some fans view Dimitri as this to Felix in Three Houses, based on how his endings are somewhat darker in the non-Azure Moon routes. While he does express regret and sorrow over Dimitri's death in the Verdant Wind route and his non-AM ending with Sylvain is pretty depressing, his other endings have him able to settle down after losing himself for a while.
  • Many Frozen fics make Anna and Elsa into this for each other. Sisterly love was a huge part of the movie, with Anna refusing to give up on her sister and Elsa's tears of sorrow being enough to bring Anna back to life near the end, once again, fanfic takes it to extremes. Especially incest fic or AUs where they're unrelated and become love interests.
  • Klavier and Apollo are this for each other in the Ace Attorney fic Dirty Sympathy, to the point where Klavier completely broke down when he thought Apollo had died. They've got damn good reasons for this, though.
    • Many Clay/Apollo fics portray Clay as this to Apollo. While the guy did have quite a breakdown over Clay's death, a good chunk of that came from believing Athena, whom he'd become close friends with in the short time they'd been working together, was Clay's killer.
  • Very common for the Steve/Bucky pairing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom. The former is usually the latter's crutch but the roles are also frequently inverted.
  • Around the mid-2000s, it was very popular to write the Dan/Adrian pairing this way in Watchmen fandom. Dan's role in such fics basically amounted to, as one fan put it, "a full-time Adrian Emotional Support System."
  • This is fairly common in Kirk/Spock fics in the Star Trek: The Original Series fandom, going back as far as the 70s. The fic Forever Autumn in particular has Kirk a massive wreck after Spock dies, going so far as to seek comfort in a replica of him on another planet.
  • White Pearl/Pink(ish) Pearl/Earl to Steven in Steven *AU*niverse: Ask WhitePearl and Steven (almost!) anything. Justified as she's his Only Friend in Season 1, and was his first friend period. Raising even a finger against her is the closest thing Steven has to a Berserk Button. He openly cries after she's poofed protecting him.
    • To a lesser extent, she also functions as this, mixing it in with Morality Pet, for Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond as Earl was once Pink Pearl. There's clearly very little that Rose wouldn't do for her.
  • Beck Oliver becomes this to Jade West in Victorious fandom, where many a Bade fic portrays her as a weepy mess who would easily throw herself out a window or swallow cyanide and die if she even thought Beck was going to leave her.
  • Many a Kara/Lena fic in the Supergirl fandom has the two being this to each other.
  • This is a staple of Rocketshippy fics in the Pokémon fandom. Usually Jessie's the one in peril while James falls apart fearing for her life, but sometimes Jessie's the one angrily panicking over James when he gets hurt or nearly killed. Cori Falls took this one to an extreme, especially in stage two. (Including a fic where Jessie breaks down over a dream about James dying.)


  • Marlin to Dory in Finding Nemo. Normally she's a Cloudcuckoolander with all the long term memory of a sieve, but when she met up with Marlin on his quest to rescue his son, she could focus and remember the address of the dentist who kidnapped Nemo. When Marlin loses faith in finding Nemo, he leaves her to avoid remembering. Her speech pleading him to stay is one big Tear Jerker, as was her state when Nemo later finds her swimming to and fro trying desperately to remember what exactly she lost.
  • The 2007 Halloween plays Michael's obsession with Laurie this way, being the only person in his family he loved other than his dead mother. It doesn't end well.
  • The movie May had the eponymous May form a close relationship with Adam and ever so gingerly crawls out of her Shrinking Violet pot... only for things to Go Horribly Wrong when they later break up. She descends into full on Horror-movie Serial Killer mode and proceeds to make the friend of her dreams from the most beautiful body parts of those around her.
  • In Adam, Beth Buchwald tries to become one of these and use The Power of Love to help poor Adam be just like All of the Other Reindeer. It doesn't work.
  • The Steven Soderbergh remake of Solaris implies this is the reason for Rheya's suicide.
  • This trope is guaranteed to (albeit not always) come up in any Lifetime Movie of the Week.
  • In Disco Pigs Runt is this for Pig. When she starts showing interest in other people, things go south very quickly.
  • Watson to Holmes in Sherlock Holmes.
  • Per Word of God, Bucky is this to Steve in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, the only reason Bucky hasn't killed himself is because he knows how torn up Steve would be. At the same time however, the fact that protecting Bucky turns Steve into The Unfettered, at best, prompts Bucky to keep his distance for everyone's sake.


  • In many interpretations (and certainly in the 2009 film), Watson is Sherlock Holmes' emotional crutch. He is, at the very least, the only friend he's ever had (or, apparently, ever wanted).
  • Jacob is this, very much, to Bella during most of New Moon.
  • Patroclus can be interpreted as this for Achilles in The Iliad.
  • In the Novelization of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan and Padme are both this to Anakin, to a point. A point which diminishes steadily as the story progresses and he turns increasingly to Palpatine; even at the beginning, he saw and sometimes resented their influence. Without them - after he kills Padme and drives Obi-Wan irrevocably away - he turns into Darth Vader.
  • Cathy was this for Heathcliff growing up amidst the abuse and prejudice of Wuthering Heights.
  • Karan of The Three Worlds Cycle has an excuse for this--half-breed characters in this setting are prone to serious psychological issues, and as a Heinz Hybrid she shouldn't even be functional. Her friend/love interest Llian somehow manages to stabilize her, and when she's separated from him, things go badly, to say the least.
  • Kate is this for her mother Sara in Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper, and Willow is this for Claire in Handle with Care.
  • Lucie in A Tale of Two Cities is pretty much the only thing between her father and solitary-confinement-induced insanity. He soon progresses from needing her presence to simply needing her happiness, but when Charles falls under the shadow of the guillotine, that kind of backfires.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Lily Evans was quite arguably this for Snape.
    • As well as James for Sirius, considering his reaction to James and Lily's murder-- attacking their betrayer in the middle of a crowded public street.
  • Jeeves is this for Bertie Wooster, who "rel[ies] on him absolutely" at all times and has actually suffered anxiety as to what he'd do if Jeeves ever left for good. When the Zany Scheme of the week separates them, the poor Upperclass Twit has a breakdown and loses interest in everything. He does figure out how to dress himself, if only because Jeeves carefully packed all his clothes.

  I don't know when I've felt so rotten. Somehow I found myself moving about the room softly, as if there had been a death in the family. If I had anybody to talk to I should have talked in a whisper; in fact, when the telephone-bell rang I answered in such a sad, hushed voice that the fellow at the other end of the wire said "Halloa!" five times, thinking he hadn't got me.


Live Action TV

  • Simon to his sister River in Firefly. It's very much reciprocated, as the movie Serenity shows us exactly how dangerous River can get when Simon's life is threatened.

 River Tam: You take care of me, Simon. You've always taken care of me. My turn.

    • In Serenity, Wash turned out to be this for Zoe. When the Reavers kill him near the end of the movie, she goes into a disturbingly calm Tranquil Fury that involves her trying to engage them in melee, the sheer death wish of which horrifies even Jayne, who has to take command after she gets hurt. She gets better by the end though.
    • Every person on Serenity to Mal. They each represent some emotional aspect or part of his life he's become dissociated from.
  • Peter to Walter in Fringe. Peter can somewhat focus Walter, calm him down, and ground him in reality. However, Peter is very critical of Walter (and oddly overprotective), leading to bouts between them or Olivia.
  • In House MD, Wilson is this for House. And while their relationship may appear to be of the All Take and No Give variety, it actually goes both ways as Wilson is not as well-adjusted as he seems, and probably needs House just as much as he is needed by him.
  • Sam is this for Dean in Supernatural. The boys definitely have their troubles when they are together, but when Sam is gone, Dean falls apart. Case in point: "All Hell Breaks Loose Part 2." Dean is also this for Sam to a slightly lesser extent; when Dean went to Hell, Sam practically destroyed himself (and probably would have ended up killing himself had Ruby not stepped in).

 Zachariah: You know Sam and Dean Winchester are psychotically, irrationally, erotically co-dependent on each other, right?

  • In The Gunslinger Wild Bill Hickock is one for Calamity Jane in Deadwood. Then he gets shot in the back of the head, and she goes on a drunken binge that lasts about a year.
  • Blair Waldorf to Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl.
  • Doctor Who:
    • To one extent or another, every companion can be considered this. They work as a combination of friendship, a Morality Chain, and lets the Doctor see the beauty of the universe again. Amy Pond even says that the Doctor becomes more of a jerk the longer he goes without companions. In fact, the Doctor seems to be dependent on these crutches, but unlike many of the other examples on this page, is doomed to outlive all of them.
    • Rose Tyler was a more explicit example during Series One and Two of the new series. When they were separated the Doctor spent the next season depressed and implicitly suicidal. Pretty much the last time we saw the Tenth Doctor genuinely happy for any extended period of time was during season two. And as a result of the Ninth Doctor's regeneration into the Tenth, he became hers in Series Two as she felt that she'd already lost him once.
    • Although he loved Rose, he was just as disappointed when Martha left him, completely devastated when Donna's memory was wiped, and went into pure fury when Amy was kidnapped (to say nothing of his Heroic BSOD when they were trapped in 1930's New York, unable to be rescued). Even in the classic series, the death of Adric tore him apart.
    • Clara Oswald serves as this to the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, arguably to an extent that outdoes Rose. She becomes this after the Eleventh Doctor loses the Ponds and the mystery of her breaks him out of his funk. After his regeneration, there's literally nothing the Doctor won't do for her. When she dies, the Twelfth Doctor makes Ten's "Time Lord Victorious" phase look downright humble in comparison as he's hell bent to get her back and will do literally whatever it takes, even fracturing time itself.
  • On Torchwood Jack Harkness emulates the Doctor by also assembling his own teams of people who help to ground him and give him purpose. He is virtually immortal and without companionship tends to go into bouts of depression and self-destruction.
  • The X-Files: Mulder and Scully are this for each other. In the beginning, it was more that Scully was an emotional crutch for Mulder, who is introduced as brilliant but troubled. As time goes on, however, it becomes just as hard for Scully to function without Mulder as it is the other way around. There isn't really a dark side to this aspect of their relationship; rather than trying to keep Scully around forever, Mulder urges her at several moments in the series to leave him, to have a normal life away from his quest and problems. They are each other's Berserk Button.
    • In fact, it's kind of the opposite of being played darkly; once Mulder seems to have decided once and for all that Scully really is more important to him than his rather self-destructive obsession with his quest, he's able to resolve a lot of his personal issues and becomes a lot more stable.
    • During Scully's abduction in Season 2, Mulder essentially falls apart. When offered a hotel room in "3" while working a case, he tells the local investigator that it wouldn't be needed because "I don't sleep anymore." He also wears Scully's cross around his neck. When she is returned in "One Breath", he bursts into the hospital and demands explanations as to how she got here, having to be forcefully dragged out by security.
      • This works the other way around, too. When Mulder is abducted in Season 8, Scully goes almost immediately from her hospital room to launching an non-FBI sanctioned search for him, despite the fact she's pregnant. When he's returned dead, Scully has her own version of a Heroic BSOD
    • It becomes even more striking when Doggett and Reyes are introduced into the series to replace Mulder and Scully on the X-Files. They clearly have feelings for each other (in season 9, anyway), but aren't nearly as dependent on each other as Mulder and Scully.
  • In Monk, Sharona is this for Adrian, until she leaves the show; the very next episode shows him finding her replacement, who continues in this role for the rest of the series.
  • This trope WILL happen at some point in any Soap Opera (English or otherwise).
  • Liz was this to Jenna in early seasons of Thirty Rock, but it mostly fell by the wayside after Jenna was Flanderized into a crazy Attention Whore.
  • In Degrassi, when Ellie starts dating Sean, she insists on bringing her Pet Homosexual Marco with her on their dates, and he is explicitly called her security blanket. This is largely because she's never been in a real relationship before, and had only been someone's beard up till then.
  • Jin is this for Sun in Lost. Notice Sun's reaction when she thought Jin died.
  • Boy Meets World:
    • Cory Matthews is this for Shawn Hunter, with Cory being an enabler at times due to his intense worry about his troubled friend and his history of downward spirals every time his life takes a wrong turn. Ironically, this makes Shawn something of a crutch for Cory, too, as Shawn's problems cost Cory a lot of sleep and the ability to focus; Shawn being okay is what keeps Cory sane. Thankfully, both of them get better with time.
    • Sometimes Topanga is this for Cory, too, and it creates some of the conflict in their relationship throughout the series. Topanga even alludes to this trope in the episode "Resurrection," when Cory begs her to hold his hand and tell him everything's going to be okay when his baby brother Joshua is born prematurely. "I don't like it when you use us to hide from the rest of the world." Most of the time, though, Topanga is optimistic and supportive and does her best to reassure Cory when he's panicking.
    • Mr. Feeny becomes this for Eric in the later seasons, due to the former having been the latter's academic mentor and coach throughout high school. Eric is so used to leaning on him for study help and advice that he freaks out the first time Feeny's not hanging over his shoulder before a test, and he does not take it well when he finds out Feeny plans to retire once Cory and his friends graduate high school.
    • The sequel series Girl Meets World downplays this with Riley and Maya. While Maya relies on Riley to keep her from sinking into despair and cynicism and Riley is obsessed with making her friend's life better, they don't take it quite as far as Cory and Shawn did. It helps they have a strong circle of friends and Riley's parents to look after them, too.
  • In Season 3 of Supergirl, J'onn J'onzz gains one in the form of his father M'yrnn J'onzz. When M'yrnn is forced to pull a Heroic Sacrifice, J'onn has a Heroic BSOD that lasts a good chunk of Season 4.



 I have to be with you to live, to breathe

You're taking over me


Newspaper Comics

  • A lot of the relationships in Peanuts are arguably this, since the characters are brimful of neurosis. (Just temporarily take someone out of the picture and place your bets on who will have a breakdown. Someone always does.) Even Linus' blanket is an example, as it often takes on a life of its own.



 Enobarbus: Why, then, we kill all our women. We see how mortal an unkindness is to them. If they suffer our departure, death’s the word.

    • It should be noted, Antony has quite the opposite opinion, at least for Cleopatra.

Video Games

  • Your player character in Dragon Age is pretty much everyone's emotional crutch, but bonus points go to Zevran, who goes utterly to pieces if he loves and loses you, and whose shot at redemption hinges on whether you build up a strong relationship with him or not and Alistair (who counts on you to lead the team, deal with his parental issues and with a little luck, follows your leadership example and become a good king. Most characters will show development and stop using you as an emotional crutch once you've slain their personal demons/dragons...
  • In Dragon Age II, Hawke fulfills this for a Friendship path Anders and Merrill. Fenris has elements of this as well. Over the course of the seven years the game covers, Hawke can help them work through their troubled pasts and personal issues but will be unable to save Anders from crossing the Moral Event Horizon. On the Rivalry path, the companions take a more proactive stance in their life, and rely less upon Hawke. Whether this is a good thing is a personal matter.
  • Commander Shepard of Mass Effect is pretty much the only reason most of his/her crew do not kill each other.
  • In Blaze Union, Siskier was the first person to befriend Garlot when they were little kids, and worked hard to ensure that he had a place to enjoy himself and act his age so that his father's abuse wouldn't destroy him completely. Even now, he sees her as something of a mother figure, and relies on her support whenever he has doubts. In the route where she is killed, Garlot nearly goes berserk on the spot, with the only thing stopping him being the seal on his powers, which cuts his rampage short as soon as it starts. He develops severe PTSD afterward, his personality becoming quite a bit harsher, although the rest of his True Companions still serve in this role. In Yggdra Union, he really does go berserk after every single one of them is killed.
  • In Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time/Darkness, you are one for your partner, to the extent that after you are removed from time and space, the boss sees fit to make an unstable paradox by putting you back rather than have your partner sad.
  • .hack//G.U. had Endrance, whose entire world reflects around Mia and only Mia while everything and everyone else were too ugly, weak and boring to care for. After Haseo reveals his cat as an AIDA and destroys her while fishing for Endrance to get back on his feet, Haseo becomes this for Endrance instead. However, his views on the rest of existence slowly become more positive in doing so. Also do note, Endrance is played by Elk's player. His dependancy on Mia goes all the way back to the original games, though not to this extent, and possibly put Kite in this role After Mia awakened as the Phase Macha
  • In Solatorobo, Elh becomes this to Red when he starts Hearing Voices, providing another voice to focus on instead of the one trying to convince him to kill everyone.
  • Ike is this to Soren throughout Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Justified in that Ike was the first person who ever actually cared about him; everyone else either looked after Soren out of obligation or rejected him due to his being a Branded (half-Laguz). It's more toned down in Radiant Dawn, as Soren has mellowed out a bit, but it's clear Ike is still his favorite person.
    • Pelleas is this to Lady Almedha, to the point where if he lives, she becomes so clingy he eventually gets sick of it and pushes her away. She's also not really his mother, which she doesn't learn until the epilogue when Pelleas tells her he doesn't have the laguz blood Almedha's real son would have.
    • Emperor Vigarde is this to his son Lyon in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, to the point where when he died, Lyon literally could not accept it and turned to dark magic to revive him. Unfortunately, Vigarde was revived as a soulless zombie and Lyon was possessed by the Demon King, leading to the events of the story.
    • Anyone Henry marries in Fire Emblem Awakening will be this to him, as will his best friend Ricken. In the past, he also had a wolf friend who served as this when his parents abandoned him-so much that when she was killed by the villagers, Henry suffered a Traumatic Superpower Awakening and killed them all.
    • Princess Sakura of Hoshido becomes this to her big brother Takumi during the Conquest route of Fire Emblem Fates. Him discovering she's been taken prisoner is what leads him to snap completely, and then his Psychic-Assisted Suicide after Corrin defeats him at the Great Wall
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, player character Byleth is this for all but one of the principal characters. Depending on which house they choose, Edelgard or Dimitri will succumb to their Fatal Flaws and die without Byleth to support them and help them keep their head above water. For Lady Rhea, she only lives if the player not only picks the Church route, but marries her. The only one to avert this is Claude, who has his own issues and is always grateful to Byleth for being there, but is well-adjusted enough not to slide into insanity and die. The only way he won't survive all four routes is if the player actively chooses not to spare him in Crimson Flower.
  • Shin Megami Tensei V: Both Tao and Lahmu are this to Sahori, the girl who is mercilessly (literally) bullied by two girls over a petty grudge. At first glance, it appears that both of them want to help her. But truth be told, only one of them truly does. Tao indeed wishes for Sahori's life to be wonderful...but Lahmu is a sexual predator in both appearance and behavior. And when he combines with Sahori, it turns out that it was a terrible decision for her to combine with her, because merging with a demon causes her to lose her humanity. Luckily, she realizes her mistake and allows the player to kill her if it means killing Lahmu.
  • Clementine is this in The Walking Dead: The Final Season for Violet; the two can be best friends or join together in a relationship.

Visual Novels

  • Ace Attorney: Justice for All. Adrian Andrews has co-dependency, meaning she always needs someone to fill this role. She forms this with Franzizka von Karma and in this case's backstory her former mentor Celeste Inpax. Some fans (of both genders) have interpreted this as Les Yay, understandably.
  • In Fate/stay night Shirou is a crutch for Sakura, though this is not immediately evident. He's the only one she'll let kill her, even after she loses it completely.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Shizune is one for Misha, as seen in her route.
    • Hisao becomes one for more than one of the girls in their respective routes. Also viceversa, as in Lilly's route he comes to emotionally relay on her. Deconstructed in Hanako's Bad Ending: he aims to become this to Hanako so he can protect her, which can end up pissing her off if you keep it.
    • Also, Emi keeps people at arm's reach to avert having someone become this. And specially, to not suffer if she loses someone else she loves, like it happened with her father who died in the accident that took her legs.
  • Ryo serves as this for Hibiki in Lux-Pain. Hibiki crossed the Despair Event Horizon in his backstory and it was Ryo (and the nurse Honoka that brought him back to almost complete health...only for it to shatter when Ryo gets a new, beautiful assistant who Hibiki gets jealous of as she serves as a better caretaker of his best friend than him. And of course, Ryo being unaware of his best friend's feelings also makes him completely lose it. Once you beat the game again and you get the cutscene where Ryo tells him not to disappear on him again, you can see that Ryo is what keeps Hibiki from completely going insane. Ironically the normal ending implies that they serve as an emotional crutch to each other as in the normal ending when Hibiki is killed by a crazed Honoka, you don't get to talk to Ryo anymore as the game implies he locked himself in the library shocked that he lost the last person that was important to him.
  • Nageki was this to his older brother Hitori Kanzaki in Hatoful Boyfriend, as revealed in the Bad Boys' Love route, so much that when he committed suicide, Hitori lost his mind and his sense of morality. He even went so far as to trick another bird into committing suicide and stealing his identity, and when a piece of Nageki's liver wound up in Ryouta, he tried to cut Ryouta open to get it back.

Web Comics/Web Original

  • In Drowtales, Ariel has this relationship with Faen, being the first person she called friend.
  • Fox Maharassa was a Living Emotional Crutch to boyfriend/best friend Collin throughout most of Friendly Hostility. When Fox loses the Emotional Crutch status, the relationship falls apart, although this is arguably only one of the factors that resulted in the Downer Ending.
  • Iriana and Mille are this to each other in Ilivais X. Iriana literally has nobody else, as while she's decent enough to the male members of the team, she's still quite afraid of men. The only reason she avoids constantly searching for ways to die is because she wants to figure out exactly what she feels. Mille, on the other hand, is so used to being a one-night-stand object of lust that she feels utterly unloved, and is utterly obsessed with earning the love of someone who doesn't just want to sleep with her. Granted, she's far more capable of independence and will act on her own, but if separated from Iriana she shifts all of her thoughts to bringing them back together, and can't stand to keep away even after a brief period of being abused by her.
  • Gamma is Zimmy's Emotional Crutch (among other things) in Gunnerkrigg Court.
  • In Homestuck, one of the four kinds of troll romance is moirallegiance, in which a relatively calm troll pacifies a dangerously hot-tempered one. There are several in-story examples.
    • Eridan and Feferi's relationship is practically a deconstruction of it. Feferi keeps Eridan's genocidal tendencies in check, but Eridan eventually wants to take things to a more intimate level. However, the chore of constantly keeping her moirail from killing off all the land-dwelling trolls has emotionally drained Feferi. Once they get into the Medium and she doesn't have to look after him anymore, Feferi sticks him in the friend zone and splits with her newfound freedom. Eridan - understandably - doesn't take it well.
      • She offered friendship, but he didn't react well to that offer. Later they seem to just barely be able to interact with each other. And in the end, Eridan goes on a rampage, but before Feferi can run him through with the culling fork to stop him, he one shot kills her with White Magic of Hopelessness.
  • Black and White from Grey Is are this to each other. Black needs White around to be able to think clearly and White needs Black to bring color into his world. Their friends and family however, saw this as unhealthy which eventually lead to White leaving for 2 years
  • In the now defunct Loserz, Jodie does not take her two friends leaving her alone for other activities well at all. It only takes about a day or two apart from them for her to go insane and try to replace them with puppets.
  • Dan becomes this to Michael in Agents of Cracked. According to Michael, if Dan left, "I'd get really sad - and then I'd die. Is that what you want?!"
  • In Sleeping with the Girls, Luna is this to the Self Insert main character according to Word of God.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl deconstructs this with Mike and Lucy's relationship. At the start of the series, she's extremely heavy on the Slap-Slap part of Slap Slap Kiss... but if anything happens to Mike that she's not inflicting, she breaks down. Mike is painfully aware of his LEC status, and secretly resents it — so much so that by the time Lucy's Character Development has made her less abusive and willing to admit her feelings, he rejects them, having been worn down into someone who's a lot less nice.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob--Even though she likes to seem aloof, Galatea clearly needs to believe her sister Molly is there for her. She comes close to having a panic attack at even the slightest suspicion that Molly might abandon her.

Western Animation

  • The Ren and Stimpy Show: It's implied that Stimpy is this to Ren, and that without Stimpy around Ren would become completely and irreversibly Ax Crazy and overcome by loneliness.
    • It's more than implied. In the very first episode, Stimpy leaves Ren (temporarily). Ren falls to pieces within the first five minutes.
  • The eponymous Jimmy Two-Shoes is this to Heloise to an extent.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Appa and Katara serve as this to Aang, to some degree, particularly in regards to his grief over the annihilation of his people, the peaceful Air Nomads (Appa is his only remaining link to his past while Katara gives him hope for the future).
    • In "The Runaway" episode, it's hinted that Katara might serve as this to Sokka and even to Toph on some level.
  • In Rugrats, Chuckie is this to his father Chaz. In one episode Chaz goes insane in a world where Chuckie doesn't exist.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender:
    • Shiro to Keith, to the point where Keith's emotional state declines anytime Shiro's missing or he thinks he might lose him. This fades later in the series, though, as Keith learns to open his heart to the others; Shiro remains his best friend and very important to him, but Keith's mental health no longer depends on the guy.
    • Allura is this to her Parental Substitute Coran, due to them being the only remnants of the Altean royal family. He panics anytime he thinks she's in trouble, and gets properly angry at Shiro when Allura gives herself up to the Galra to save him in the Season 1 finale.
    • Matt is this to his little sister Pidge, to a smaller extent. He was her only friend when she was younger, and when she thinks he died, she completely breaks down.
    • Voltron himself was this to the Voltron Coalition, giving them hope that the Galra Empire would one day be overthrown. When he disappeared for three years, the Coalition fell apart.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The title character was this to the Crystal Gems, mainly Pearl, in early seasons with much of their early interactions making it clear that they were keeping him safe for the sake of preserving the last remnant of Rose.
      • This is ultimately deconstructed in Steven Universe: Future. After having been a crutch for so long, Steven doesn't know what to do now that people don't need him anymore.
    • Rose used to be this for Pearl to the point that Rose seriously feared what it was doing to Pearl's mental health.
    • Pink Diamond was this to White, Yellow, and Blue, being the Comic Relief to the three and the sole comfort to the latter two. Deconstructed as her status as this led to her believing that the other three didn't love her for her and she hightailed it out of Homeworld. By the time of The Movie, the Diamonds try and have Steven fill this role before adopting Spinel for this purpose.
  • Discussed in Transformers Prime with regards to Arcee and Jack. Arcee has already lost two partners (Tailgate and Cliffjumper) and it wouldn't do her psyche good to lose Jack as well but at the same time, she admits that it's fully possible that Jack might be a Replacement Goldfish for Cliffjumper. As the series progresses, Arcee doesn't need Jack as much, which would suggest she grew out of this or it was indeed a Replacement Goldfish situation.
  • Fry to Bender in Futurama. The poor robot becomes very depressed whenever his best friend isn't around.
  1. (though gender is pretty much irrelevant to this trope)