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File:Unwanted Spouse 3632.png

Happiest day of their marriage.


My friend's got a girlfriend and he hates that bitch.

He tells me every day.

He says: "Man, I really got to lose my chick

In the worst kind of way."
The Offspring, "Why Don't You Get A Job?

The Unwanted Spouse is a character, usually in an Accidental Marriage or Arranged Marriage, who is completely unwanted by his/her spouse, so much so that it becomes a plot point.

This character can be heroic--unhappily married to a villain, and made so miserable by the marriage that she turns around and betrays him, joining the heroes--or villainous (often the case if she's the woman standing between the story's two main lovers).

This character is female more often than male.

Note that when an action hero's wife is like this, she usually ends up Dying for the Ship.

Examples of Unwanted Spouse include:


  • Ranma of Ranma One Half has no unwanted spouse, so much as a dozen unwanted fiancées (and the one he DOES want is super Tsundere to him). Several storylines revolve around getting rid of the majority of them.
    • As far as Shampoo and Cologne are concerned, Shampoo is already married to Ranma, all they need is to have an official ceremony for him to admit it too. Shampoo even outright states that they're married in her home village's newspaper.
  • Urusei Yatsura, another series by Rumiko Takahashi, centers on a young man who accidentally marries an alien princess right when he's about to more or less hook up with a local girl. He's not okay with it since no matter how hot she is, commiting to her only would mean he cannot chase after other girls. He wants ALL the girls, not JUST Lum herself.
  • The Anime Final Approach goes beyond using this for characters — it actually uses it as plots.
  • In Rizelmine, the main character is the one with an unwanted wife. He is 100% positive that, no matter what she says, he never got married to anyone.
  • In Gankutsuou Eugenie warmed up to the idea of being in an Arranged Marriage with Albert, but her father eventually decided to cancel the engagement and arrange for her to marry Andrea instead, whom Eugenie did not like at all. Not to mention that he's her half-brother.
  • Used for laughs in Baka and Test. Shouko repeatedly tells Yuuji that she wants to marry him, and tries forcing him to sign marriage papers, and threatens to kill/hurt him if he refuses. She often goes into Yandere/Clingy Jealous Girl mode if other girls are around him, or she feels he's getting a little too friendly with male friends.
  • Asayo Katsuragi from Sakura Gari is a pretty tragic example, since her husband Tomohiko is a Domestic Abuser to her and she's clearly aware of his obsession with Souma. She even lampshades it when Souma expresses sympathy for her situation and she says "I'm his wife... in name only". Souma easily uses Asayo's resentment over all of this to seduce her and then get the info he needs to brew his revenge on Katsuragi for abusing and raping the person he cares for, Masataka. A Revenge that Asayo magnificently finishes via setting Katsuragi on fire.
  • Kasei Yakyoku has Kiyokuni Saionji, Akiko's fiance through an Arranged Marriage. Akiko plans to hook him up to her maid and Lady in Waiting Sara, who has a crush on the guy. It ultimately happens - just NOT how anyone expected.
  • In the second season of Lion Voltron, Prince Lotor and Queen Merla are this to one another.
  • In Fate Zero (both the novels and the anime), Sola-Ui Nuada-Re Sophia-Ri does NOT want to marry her arranged fiancé Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald since she's bitterly aware of how said arrangement was made only to benefit their clans PLUS it puts lots of pressure on her. Even worse, the guy she actually falls for is Kayneth's Servant Lancer (aka Diarmuid of the Love Spot).
  • In RG Veda, Taishakuten's Dragon Bishamonten is married to the local Fallen Princess Kisshouten, who heavily resents him because he was a part of Taishakuten's coup that ended with the death of her beloved father Tentei. (Even more so because she did love him beforehand.) Plus Taishakuten forced her to marry Bishamonten use her as a hostage against anyone still loyal to Tentei. Almost at the end, as Bishamonten lays dying, he uses his Famous Last Words to explain himself to Kisshouten: he always returned her feelings and only joined the coup because it was the only way for him to marry her, even when he knew she'd hate him; he was fine with her resenting him, as long as he could be by her side.


  • Ava Lord in Sin City starts off hating her mafia-tied husband and begs Dwight to do something about it. He does but it turns out to be a setup for Ava to inherit her husband's estate.



  • Isabella of France falls (somewhat) into the heroic category in Braveheart when her awful marriage and clear unwanted status leads her into the arms of William Wallace...and into literally bitching Longshanks to death at the end of the film.
  • In The Joy Luck Club, we get two unwanted spouses:
    • Lindo is put into an Arranged Marriage at the age of 16 to a 12-year-old boy. Neither of them wants the other, and the situation is ultimately resolved quite humorously.
    • Ying-Ying, on the other hand, is the abused and unwanted wife of a man she thought she'd be happy with.
  • Wyatt Earp's laudanum-addicted wife in Tombstone is another heroic example.
  • This was essentially the plot of the Eddie Murphy film Norbit.
  • Sita in Deepa Mehta's film Fire. The movie opens with her on the honeymoon of her arranged marriage to Jatin, who remains involved with his girlfriend Julie. The trope also manifests, albeit with a twist, in the character of Radha - her husband loves her but because she's infertile and he's deeply religious, refuses to have sex with her and pretty much keeps her around to test his devotion. He doesn't want to get rid of her, but she's deeply unhappy that he doesn't want her as a wife.
  • The Roseanne Barr comedy She Devil is a revenge story from the perspective of the Unwanted Spouse.
  • Carry On Henry posits that King Henry VIII (Sid James) had another wife (Joan Sims), a garlic loving wife he alternately wanted and unwanted as the political climate changed around him.
  • Abusive, controlling, big baby of a husband Earl in Waitress. The whole movie is about the protagonist trying to get away from him.


  • Jane Parker of The Other Boleyn Girl is the deeply unwanted wife of George Boleyn, and often creates plot-relevant mischief to alleviate her marital boredom and unhappiness.
  • Prince Dolph in the Xanth novel Isle of View has two fiancées. He is under an obligation to marry them, but he can't marry both, and the one he wants to marry isn't in love with him.
  • In the Sword of Truth book, Temple of the Winds, Nadine spends most of the story as a Clingy Jealous Girl, only to become an Unwanted Spouse near the end.
    • And then there's Du Chaillu, who declares herself to be Richard's wife in the second book (part of a Prophecy), and follows him around in the fifth book.
  • In the Incarnations of Immortality book Being A Green Mother, we have a male example. Niobe has an Arranged Marriage to Cedric, a handsome, strong and highly intelligent man who is a few years younger than him. Due to his youth, she is not at all happy. Later, she completely changes her mind about him.
  • Mr. Rochester's literally insane wife, Bertha, in Jane Eyre.
  • In the novel The Princess Bride (rather than the movie), Prince Humperdinck is marrying Buttercup purely because he's going to be king and he'll "have to." In both the book and the movie, he's looking quite forward to killing her on their wedding night. Give him credit, in the book he intended to marry the princess of Guilder, but she turned out to be bald. Good hat collection though.
  • A Rare Male Example exists in the Harry Potter series, though more implied than actual. Rudolphous Lestrange is so unwanted by his wife, Bellatrix (who, according to Word of God, is actually in love with Voldemort) that he never warrants a mention from her and doesn't appear on-page at all.
    • He appears during the trial in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, along with his brother, Bellatrix and Barty Crouch Jr. But then, he's so unimportant that the narration never even tells us which Lestrange man he was, and he has no lines.
    • Judging by the fact that the Blacks are aristocratic pure-blood fanatics it was probably an arranged marriage.
  • A couple of unwanted marriages are in A Song of Ice and Fire: Cersei and Robert, and Sansa and Tyrion. The former fits better, since they actively hate each other. In the latter example neither want it, although Tyrion is willing to try and make it work while Sansa retreats behind her Stepford Smiler mask.
  • Sarima and Fiyero in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West are this to one another, hasving been were promised to each other as children without even meeting each other.
  • David Copperfield's first wife Dora Spenlow subverts this. Both David and Dora were portrayed as too immature to be adults, and he called her his "child-wife.", but they did love one another. And while Dora did die to make way for the more appropriate choice of Agnes, she never was unwanted and David, who had to go through a Parental Marriage Veto from her father, suffers quite the Heroic BSOD over her demise.
  • Lillian Rearden in Atlas Shrugged.
  • How's this for an example? There's guy named Jacob who is working for his uncle Laban. (Everyone probably sees where this is going, huh?) He notices his daughter Rachel, who is quite beautiful...enough so for Jacob to offer to work seven years for Laban in order to marry Rachel (don't ask). He does the work, gets married and learns (after the fact) that he just got hitched to Rachel's older sister, Leah, because Laban is a Manipulative Bastard using his two unmarried daughters and his nephew/son-in-law as pawns. And then he works seven MORE years to get Rachel. And in the meantime, God decides to mess up things a bit more...
  • In The Emigrants this trope is the reason why Jonas Petter emigrates to America.
  • In the Horatio Hornblower series, the main character marries Maria, a girl he considers a bit silly and overly emotional, out of guilt, because he can't bear to hurt her feelings by turning down her largely unwanted affections. He spends as much time at sea avoiding her as possible and sets himself up for misery at home by never once correcting her on any of her habits that annoy him, such as calling him "Horry" or cooking food he doesn't like.
  • Faye Weldon's novel, 'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil' (source of the Roseanne Barr movie mentioned, and an English miniseries with that title), tells the sometimes funny, often disturbing, story of the title character's revenge on her husband.

Live Action TV

  • In "Everybody Loves Raymond", Frank and Marie make you wonder if they ever even LIKED each other.
  • Saffron of Firefly is one of the rare women unwanted by a protagonist, due to the protagonist not knowing about the wedding customs of the planet they were on and her stowing away on the ship. Mal Reynolds spends most of the episode desperately trying to unload her (Justified, however, when she turns out to be a villainous con artist that married him in order to steal his ship.).
  • Lauren Reed of Alias.
  • Tess on Roswell.
  • Dr Robert Kelso's marriage to his (unseen) wife in Scrubs.
    • Bob Kelso even seems to do the same thing with his mistresses, or maybe that's a subversion. Though to be fair, it appears he did love her at first, even writing a song about her when he was younger.
  • This was the basis of most of the comedy in Married... with Children, what with Al's dislike of his oversexed wife, Peg.
  • Maris on Frasier eventually turned into this before the divorce storyline.
    • Not sure if this counts, since she was supposed to be pure evil.
  • Londo of Babylon 5 is married to 3 women (via Arranged Marriage). Londo makes jokes about how his work on Babylon 5 keeps him away from his wives is a good thing. He manages to divorce two of them, but not before those two try to have him killed. The last one is the most openly antagonistic of him (which he prefers to the transparently feigned affection of the other two), but at least she didn't try to kill him.
  • Jack Shepherd of Lost started off being wanted, but his lack of focus, constantly needing to "fix something" resulted in his wife leaving him for another man that sent him spiraling out of control, to the point he accused his own father of being the "other man".
  • Sam of Australian serial Neighbours was this to estranged husband Dan. Seemingly brought in for no other reason than to complicate his relationship with Libby, she hung around, trying to persuade him that they could give it another shot. Dan being the honorable man he is, agreed to try, but it was clear that, though he by no means hated her or wanted her to leave, he would have much preferred it if she had not come back. This is much clearer the second time it happens; after giving up and leaving for a while, Sam reappears heavily pregnant just in time to spoil Dan and Libby's upcoming wedding.
  • Another Rare Male Example is from Robin Hood: Isabella's abusive husband Thornton is creepily obsessed with his wife. She flees from him, and when he tracks her down she stabs him to death.
  • Charlie is this to Stella in The League of Gentlemen. Although he has grown to despise her too, the extent of her hatred (and verbal abuse) is much greater. While he still tries to make peace with her (especially in the Christmas special) she sees him as little more than a burden and never misses an opportunity to say so.
  • Poor Anne of Cleves on The Tudors. It's still not entirely clear what she did wrong that Henry took such a dislike to her. In Real Life, while Henry may not have liked the look of her and did divorce her, she was arguably the best off of all his wives; he called her his beloved sister, loved her truly (brotherly love, not romantic), invited her regularly to the palace, and swamped cooks with her. They were dear friends for life.
  • In the Star Trek the Original Series episode "Amok Time", Spock and T'Pring are essentially this for each other, due to an Arranged Marriage. Spock is only going through with the marriage because he'll die if he doesn't, and T'Pring is involved with another man and would much rather marry him instead. Her efforts to avoid marrying Spock very nearly lead to Kirk's death.


  • Meat Loaf's song "Paradise by the Dashboard Light". Long story short, he swears to a girl that he'll love her till the end of time so he can get some. Fast forward, and now he's praying for the end of time to hurry up and get here, because he can't stand her but he won't break his word.
    • And the girl apparently can't stand him either, so it's played straight on both sides.
  • There's also a Newfoundland song called "The Scolding Wife", covered by Great Big Sea, whose refrain goes:

 And if the Devil would take her, I'd thank him for his pain,

I swear to God I'll hang meself if I get married again!

  • The 50% of Country Music that isn't composed of "She left me" songs seems to consist almost entirely of these. Example title: "How can I miss you if you won't ever leave" by the Shirtless Biddles.
  • "Why Don't You Get a Job" by The Offspring, quoted at the top of the page. The final verse tells about another, female, friend who has the same problem with her boyfriend.

 My friend's got a boyfriend and she hates that dick

She tells me every day

He wants more dinero just to stay at home

Well, my friend, you gotta say...


Video Games

  • On the unwanted fiancée side, Ruto from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
    • She's not so much unwanted as, when she forked over the Sapphire and said her mom told her to give it to the man she intended to marry, you were too young to really grasp what she was talking about. When she confronts you about it seven years later, you're not so much disinterested in marrying her as surprised she's in the Temple at all.
  • In Fallout 2, you can get a shotgun wedding. Your spouse is useless except as a very frail meat shield.
  • In a Nonstandard Game Over of King's Quest IV, Rosella ends up marrying the hunchbacked son of the game's antagonist.
  • In Dragon Age II, a major plot arc begins from a dissolute husband seeking his runaway libertine wife. It's quickly apparent that they mutually unwant each other.
  • Henpecked Hou of Jade Empire only stays married to his wife because he's terrified of her. She's pretty much ruined his life.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In the Archanea games, while Prince Hardin had a Bodyguard Crush on Princess Nyna and they did get into an Arranged Marriage for the sake of the continent, Nyna appreciated him but was in love with the Black Knight Camus. Things went quickly From Bad to Worse...
    • In the original Fire Emblem Gaiden, Clair's normal ending openly stated that she only married Alm's childhood friend Gray because he was her Dogged Nice Guy and Alm was never "avaliable" to her. However, the ending she gets when Gray dies says otherwise: she laments that he died right when she was about to "let him win", and stays single forever. Echoes averts the trope via saying he legitimately won her heart over if both live, and gfiving more details on Gray being The Lost Lenore if he dies.
    • Queen Hellene and King Desmond were this to one another in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade thanks to an Arranged Marriage. He wasn't allowed to marry his true love due to her being of lower birth, but he kept her as a mistress and let her and their illegitimate daughter live in the castle while Hellene and his legitimate son and heir Zephiel were exiled to the manse. On one hand Desmond resents Hellene deeply, and is not shy about letting everyone know how much he hates his son; on the other Hellene is just as resentful of Desmond and spitefully tells Desmond that outta the kids, only the much hated Zephiel will be able to inherit the realm. While Hellene repented in the end, Desmond did not - and boy did he pay for it.

Tabletop Games

  • In samurai RPG Legend of the Five Rings, this is a disadvantage that characters can take. Considering that wives are in charge of the man's finances, this can be especially painful for male PCs, while the male domination of most marriages makes it physically painful for many wives. It's not a nice setting sometimes.


  • Hunding in Wagner's Ring cycle (Die Walküre), who is killed for the incestuous Siegmund/Sieglinde ship.

Western Animation

  • Happens in The Simpsons when Homer and Ned drunkenly marry a pair of cocktail waitresses in Vegas. They're unable to divorce them, and the ladies show up in a later episode. The trope is played straight with Homer all the way, but by this point Ned is a widow, so he subverts the trope by trying to make it work with the lady, reasoning that God would want him to honor his vows. In the end, Ned is the unwanted spouse to his lady while the Simpson family tricks Homer's Vegas wife into marrying Abe. The ladies flee back to Vegas.
  • The Powerpuff Girls has the Mayor's wife. Rarely mentioned and almost never seen, but on the few occasions she does come up it's made abundantly clear that the Mayor doesn't care for her much. He was willing to give her up to a bunch of thugs for them to spare Miss Bellum.
  • In The Critic, Jay was an unwanted spouse of his ex-wife Ardeth. She even admitted to his face about regretting marrying him during their wedding day.
  • In Moral Orel, Clay and Bloberta Puppington are in a completely loveless marriage that is explored in the third season. In the episode that explains the circumstances of them getting married, it's shown that Bloberta was desperate to be with someone and ended up with Clay after driving him to alcoholism by justifying to herself that he would need someone to help him. They cannot get divorced due to the hyper-Conservative environment of their town and in the epilogue it's hinted that they grow old and miserable together.

Real Life

  • This is also Truth in Television: plenty of royal marriages were like this, the most recent example being Charles and Diana Windsor. As the Prince of Wales he couldn't marry his long-time girlfriend (Camilla Parker-Bowles), Diana was a schoolteacher of noble origins who fitted in the stadards that a Princess of Wales had to fill, so they got married even when neither of them really wanted to and ended up mutually cheating on one another for years (Charles had Camilla as The Mistress and apparently had other flings as well, Diana had her own lovers, etc.)
    • Isabelle of France, mentioned above under Braveheart, was not adverse to becoming queen of England, but with another king. Her and Edward II's relationship was pretty unstable: at times they seemed to get along quite well, but at others Edward cheated on her with his squires and other (male) "friends". There are various theories that she may have murdered him, possibly in retaliation for this, though the popular story that the method of assassination was being buggered to death with a red hot poker has no basis in contemporary accounts.
    • Another example, though quite humouristic, is the marriage of Philippe d'Orleans and Charlotte de Baviere. He was, let's say, rather effeminate, she was a very strong, loud and quite manly woman, and each was horrified at the prospect of marrying the other. They got better, however.