Created By: KingZealMay 28, 2013 Last Edited By: KingZealSeptember 14, 2013
Troped

Cuckold

A man whose Love Interest has sex with another man.

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In fiction, a "cuckold' is a a man whose Love Interest has sex with someone else, either to his dismay or without his knowledge. The overall theme is an Adult Fear of being the loser in a Cock Fight. This can be portrayed for drama, for fetish, or even for laughs, but its core relies on the "Bull" (the woman's lover) being triumphant in some way, or every way, to the detriment of the cuckold. The deeper the shame, victimization, or deception of the cuckold, the stronger the trope. This is typically highlighted in three ways: the despair of the cuckold, the triumph of the Bull, or the corruption of the woman. Or all three.

When portrayed as fetish, focus is typically placed on the sex and sensual aspects. When portrayed for drama, it' a painful situation that NO ONE would want, and the sensual and prurient elements are downplayed for emotional angst. Sometimes the cuckold will be both aroused and hurt by the experience, which only fuels his torment. For this reason, female "Bulls" are uncommon, but not unheard of. Some stories involve the nonconsensual rape of the woman, with her hating the experience every bit that her man did. However, the momentary conquest of someone else's woman is more than sufficient to qualify as a "triumph". Sometimes the cuckold initiates it (for example, pimping out his love for money or letting her take a lover with his blessing). The execution varies, as the trope is a sliding scale, with anywhere from very few, or nearly all, of the aforementioned elements included.

Needless to say, this is an extremely polarizing trope, but one that demands we emphasize that Tropes Are Not Bad.

WARNING: By virtue of our site's Content Policy, DO NOT add porn examples, and maintain No Lewdness No Prudishness for all entries.

See also: Cuckold Horns.

May involve Forced To Watch, Wife Swap, Sexual Extortion, Villainous Crush, Law Of Inverse Fertility, Mamas Baby Papas Maybe, Romancing The Widow (bonus points if the husband isn't actually dead, or comes Back From The Dead), Chocolate Baby, Go Seduce My Archnemesis, and Did Not Get The Girl.

See our Analysis Page for more information (detailed below in the YKTTW).
The literal definition of a "cuckold" is a man whose wife has sex with other men. And that's it.

In everyday use, it is almost always considered a perjorative reference to men whose wives have extramarital affairs without his consent, but it is not unheard of for it to be used for men who willingly allow their wives to sleep with other people.

However, in fetish circles, "Cuckolding" is not limited to cheating, need not involve an actual married couple, and (believe it or not) need not be negative. The actual application of the fetish varies from situation to situation, but it typically involves a man who has strong romantic feelings for a woman, but her finding greater sexual and/or romantic satisfaction with someone else.

When portrayed as fetish, focus on the sensual acts are played up, but this variation is very Love It Or Hate It, as almost everyone outside of the niche audience shows utter comtempt for it. For male opponents, the idea that a woman they love could betray them is extremely painful. For female opponents, the idea that they are just someone's "property", to either be pimped out, or conquered, is disgusting. Harsher interpretations often accuse any man who fails to satisfy his woman, or fails to protect her fidelity, to be no real man, and any woman who dares have her body used by anyone except her husband to be a filthy, debase whore, even if she was forced.

The Distaff Counterpart to a Cuckold is called a "Cuckquean". However, due to gender stereotypes, cuckqueaning is not nearly as invested a trope as cuckolding. For one thing, there's the male > female sense of "ownership" that fuels the trope. Further, in many circles, men were almost expected to have mistresses, but women were punished harshly for straying. Mamas Baby Papas Maybe is yet another factor—many cuckold stories involve a man raising a child that isn't his without ever knowing his wife had an affair. That's not possible with a cuckquean without either some real clever plotting, or delving into Speculative Fiction.

Some theories have touted the fear of Cuckoldry as the Bigger Bad that controls every single form of misogyny. Women can carry and give birth to their children, and men can't, thus before the Daddy DNA Test was invented (which means, for more than 99.9% of humankind's existence) the only way to be certain of paternity was to avoid cuckoldry at all costs. This is why cuckoldry is seen as the ultimate insult for a man and the ultimate triumph for his nemesis. And thus, women are reduced to objects valued solely for their domesticity, virginity and purity. Many societies saw this as a fair trade-off: the woman's certainty over the maternity of her children is a privilege and power she holds over men, so men are "entitled" to other forms of power to compensate.

Examples

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Nozoki Ana: A very huge, hurtful example that many readers were predicting for ages. Not only was Yuri Kotobuki, the girl in this situation, cheating on weekends, but she decided she'd rather have sex with her rich boyfriend instead of spend Saturday with her other boyfriend, the lead male Kido. On Kido's own birthday.
  • Alluded to in Air Gear, with Hako referring to Ringo as "NTR # 1" and accusing her of cockblocking either her or Kururu, as they both squabble to become Ikki's link turner. Ikki chooses Ringo anyway.

     Comics 
  • In the DC Universe Multiverse, the Crime Syndicate are mirror duplicates of the Justice League, right down to Evil Twins of Superman (Ultraman), Batman (Owlman), and Wonder Woman (Superwoman). In this reality, Superwoman is in a very explicit affair with Owlman. Ultraman is very aware he's being cuckolded; he just can't do anything about it because of Owlman's blackmail material on him.
  • This actually occurs to the canon Superman, too. No, really. In the New 52 universe, Superman (as Clark Kent) visits Lois Lane's apartment and finds her very obviously post-coitus with her new boyfriend. A shocked and humiliated Clark can't do anything but walk away, and as he leaves, his Super Hearing picks up Lois telling her boyfriend that she has no feelings for Clark whatsoever, and the two start to resume their love-making.
    • In one Post Crisis storyarc written by Joe Kelly, Lois spends a lot of nights away from home, telling Clark "not to wait up" as she leaves out in a sultry outfit, usually gone until morning. A cliffhanger later shows her being very cozy and romantic with Lex Luthor...until it's later revealed that this was actually The Parasite, in Lois's form. Much Brain Bleach was passed afterward.
  • This was the initial fate of the protagonist of Wanted, which is what prompts him to become a misanthrope and turn to a life of crime.
  • In Spawn, the eponymous character is a mercenary named Al Simmons that comes Back From The Dead after a Deal With The Devil to find out that his wife has remarried his best friend, had two children with him, and is much happier with him than she ever was with Al.

    Film 
  • Indecent Proposal is all about this trope. A couple desperate for money agree for the wife to have sex with a billionaire, and the experience tears the two of them apart. She winds up temporary living, and having a sexual relationship with, the billionaire, and he is portrayed as an overall better man than her husband in most ways.
  • Played for horrible, horrible drama during the infamous rape scene in A Clockwork Orange.
  • The beginning of Wanted has the protagonist Wesley in a relationship with a girlfriend who is blatantly cheating on him with his best friend, and him being powerless to do anything about it.
  • Jim Carrey's character in Me Myself And Irene is an Extreme Doormat that the opening makes explicitly clear has a wife having sex with and bearing children from a black man. He raises their children himself and she eventually leaves him for her lover, but this has a somewhat positive note in that the boys (obviously black), all grow up to unconditionally love him, and consider him their real father.
  • In Eight Mile, the protagonist Jimmy Smith (Eminem) walks in on his Love Interest (portrayed by the late Brittany Murphy), having sex with Wink, one of his friends. After a Cock Fight that Jimmy wins, Wink makes a Face Heel Turn and joins a gang that later beat up Jimmy. During the rap battle at the finale, the fact that he was cuckolded is used to attempt to humiliate Jimmy. Jimmy comes out on top, anyway.

    Literature 
  • As noted above, A Clockwork Orange plays this trope heavy on the drama with a disturbing rape scene.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Go On, the Extreme Doormat Danny was serving in Afganistan and so missed his wife giving birth—and also missed the conception. After he came back his wife made him accept her Bull living with them while they continue their affair. He finally files for divorce towards the end of the first season.
  • In an episode of MASH there's a threat of an air raid so the nurses are sent away. It turns out it's just a "propaganda bomb," with leaflets dropped including "Harry Truman is sleeping with your wife."
    • In other episodes it's played more dramatically (if hypocritically) as Henry, Trapper and some of the other married personnel worry that their wife is cheating on them, even as they carry on dalliances at the 4077th.

    Music 
  • The Breaking Benjamin song "Last to Know" is about a man whose girlfriend left him for a former friend of his (whom the song is sung to). The song makes it clear that the affair had been going on for a long time before he found out, but he was clueless about it until she actually left.
  • The Irish ballad "Seven Drunken Nights" is sung from the perspective of a man whose wife is cheating on him.
    • Is it OK to directly edit here? If it isn't I apologise and will delete.Thank you The Dubliners' version of Seven Drunken Nights only covers the first five and apologises for the remaining two being too hot to perform in public. In a more permissive age and country, Northern English folk singer/comedian Mike Harding resets the song in Rochdale, Lancashire, and provides the two missing verses.
  • Jairo, "Para verte feliz" ("To see you happy"). It's sung from the POV of a guy who knows his beautiful girlfriend's old flame is coming to town and chooses to rather have them almost tongue-kissing in front of him rather than confronting and then losing her, since he's that much of a Love Martyr towards her.
  • The Rhianna song "Unfaithful" is written from the perspective of a woman that's cheating, and feels guilty about it. She specifically sings about how the affair is hurting him because he knows she's happy with her lover.
  • In Buddy Holly's "Midnight Shift" Annie is dressing up in tight clothes and going out late at night. The implication is either that she's partying or she's prostituting herself.
  • Blues, Country, Bluegrass, and Western music have a lot of songs with this subject matter. Kenny Rogers, for example, has used it often in his career.

     Tabletop Games  

    Theater 

    Videogames 
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko Bellic discovers his cousin Roman's girlfriend has been sleeping with a small-time gangster in exchange for protecting Roman. Roman is clearly upset by the revelation, but he relents in order to avoid making his situation worse. Niko, however, is horrified by his cousin's failure to act and flat out kills the gangster for what he did.

    Web Original 
  • In Dragon Ball Abridged, Yamcha (the typical Butt Monkey of the group) is dumped by Bulma and becomes distressed when Vegeta (the man indirectly responsible for his murder, and who bullies and flexes his muscle against Yamcha constantly) starts a sexual relationship with her, where she becomes pregnant by him. In a Bad Future timeline, he is Driven To Suicide when he finds out.
  • In Sailor Nothing, Seiki is forced to watch while his Yamiko rapes Himei.
  • Gaia Online has this item. It's notable for being one of the earlier items on the site.

     Web Video 
  • In Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, this is the entire Conflict. The Villain Protagonist is distraught as the girl he secretly pines for falls for his Arch Nemesis, the Jerk Ass Captain Hammer. Hammer even taunts him about it, and makes it clear that the only reason he's having sex with her is to antagonize him.
  • This is a central plot point of Doug Walker's movie, Dragonbored. The protagonist creates a barbarian character in a thinly-veiled Skyrim spoof that gets brought into the real world and begins to live his life better than the videogame-obsessed protagonist. This includes being a better companion to his girlfriend, Amanda. Highlights include flat out telling her to her face that he considers women to be property (to which she responds "I Can Change Him"), sweet talking her into fetching beers for a party (while o she's naked from the waist down), and changing her from a staunch feminist into someone who likes being won over by a more dominant man.

    Western Animation 
  • In Futurama: Benders Big Score, Hermes temporarily loses his body and has his head put in a jar. During this time, his wife Labarbara leaves him (along with their son) and goes back to her ex-husband, Barbados Slim, who is superior to Hermes in just about every possible way, including being Hunkier, more athletic, and a better sexual partner. However, Labarbara later leaves Barbados again when Hermes helps save the world, and later episodes reveal that this situation is actually reversed for Barbados, who is jealous of Labarbara's pure affectionate love for Hermes.
  • Justice League Crisis On Two Earths is a retelling of the Crime Syndicate, above. But in this version, Ultraman is unaware of Superwoman's affair.

    Real Life 
  • The Real Life "Tokyo Rose" allegedly used this trope against American G Is fighting against Imperial Japan during World War II. The legend was that she would come on radio stations between songs and berate the soldiers for leaving their wives and girlfriends at home, where other men would be there to "comfort" them (especially if they died). However, in truth, there was no "Tokyo Rose"—and the only known equivalent was actually broadcasting pro-Allied messages to BOOST their morale.
  • This was a common Axis tactic used to demoralize Allied soldiers and to divide British and American soldiers. British soldiers on the Italian front, by 1943, had in many cases been fighting continuously since the beginning of the North African war in 1940 and had not seen home for up to four years. There had already been at least one mutiny from long-serving soldiers who felt strongly that being sent to Italy after three years fighting in Egypt and Libya was not fair. They felt they had done their bit and that new units being raised in Britain should be sent out to relieve them. Anxiety as to what their wives and girlfriends were doing in a Britain perceived as full of bone-idle war-avoiding Americans with money to spend note - while they were out there fighting the war - was fertile ground for German propaganda. British morale was not helped by German propaganda leaflets pointing this out.
    • American soldiers received similar leaflets asking if they knew what their wives and sweethearts were up to with men at home who'd avoided the draft. The Germans also played on commonly held fears about black men, Mexicans, and especially draft-dodging Jews who were taking good care to stay at home, make money out of the war, and exploit a surplus of gentile American women who were suddenly available.
Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • May 28, 2013
    Discar
    Sorted and folderized. The folder code will work when it gets pasted onto the main wiki.
  • May 28, 2013
    KingZeal
    Much appreciated. I just didn't have time.
  • May 28, 2013
    KZN02
    See also Cuckold Horns?
  • May 28, 2013
    KingZeal
    I ported examples from Netorare Genre that were about incidents of cuckolding, not specifically the genre.
  • May 29, 2013
    DunDun
    "A man whose Love Interest has sex with a man superior or dominant to him."

    You mean:
    • A man whose Love Interest has sex with a man more superior or dominant than him."

    To him means the other man dominates him.
  • May 29, 2013
    KingZeal
    That was intentional, but either wording works.
  • May 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Go On Extreme Doormat Danny was serving in Afganistan and so missed his wife giving birth - and also missed the conception. After he came back his wife made him accept the bull living with them. He finally files for divorce towards the end of the first season.
  • May 30, 2013
    KingZeal
    Someone added a "Description needs help" tag but gave no specifics. Can any problems be pointed out?
  • May 30, 2013
    DunDun
    The description reads a little as a Useful Note for the first three paragraphs. That might have been why they added it.

    Also, being more dominant than someone is in practice very different from being dominant to someone.
  • May 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    The first part is added to avoid confusion. This is a very specific trope with a wide amount of interpretations, and every time a TRS thread starts over it, we first have to go over the definition of a cuckold and how it relates to the trope. So, I figured I would get that out of the way.

    And on the second thing: Not in this trope it isn't. For this specific trope, either wording will work.
  • May 31, 2013
    Sackett
    This is using the word cuckold to means something more narrow then what the word cuckold means. That is a bad idea.
  • May 31, 2013
    KingZeal
    It's a pre-existing term, and long-standing trope which uses the same name.

    And actually, you have that backwards. The literal definition of cuckold is "a man whose wife has sex with other men". The trope, however, is all over the place and far more broad.
  • June 4, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    An inquiry, but for the purposes of this YKTTW would the crowner option here work?
  • June 5, 2013
    VoixOff
    Seems to me that the presentation is suggesting this is an (almost) always Male trope, but is get the feeling that any occasion when an Alpha Bitch who gets the boy at the expense of the less alpha ones fits the "superior/dominent" part. Exemples includes Ariel the Little Mermaid (When Ursula is disguised as human and is on the verge of marrying the prince). But i feel like Mean Girls (Regina getting back with her ex) and that the clip of "You Belong to me" by Taylor Swift fits the "dominant" part. I think if you look for it in girls and women dominated medias you will find it. It's often enough for a character to be neglected in favor of someone else to get the feeling this other character is the "superior one", even if that's just circonstances.

    I am somewhat annoyed by how infused this whole presentation is by PUA 's vocabulary and philosophy but maybe that's just me... another title maybe ?
  • June 5, 2013
    KingZeal
    ^^ I guess that works.

    ^ I'm using the terms that are used in fetish circles. If that overlaps with PUA, then that was unintended.

    The Distaff Counterpart to a Cuckold is called a "Cuckquean". However, due to gender stereotypes, cuckqueaning is not nearly as invested a trope as cuckolding. For one thing, there's the male > female sense of "ownership" that comes from the trope, which has been common for about as long as humans have existed. In many older societies, men were almost expected to have mistresses, but women were often put to death for cheating. Mamas Baby Papas Maybe is also another factor--many cuckold stories involve a man raising a child that isn't his without ever knowing his wife had an affair. That's not possible with a cuckquean without some real clever plotting.

  • June 7, 2013
    OmarKarindu
    In the Crime Syndicate example, Ultraman is very aware he's being cuckolded; he just can't do anything about it because of Owlman's blackmail material on him.

    There's a whole genre of songs in which a woman gets revenge on a bad ex or partner by cheating on him with his best friends or telling him he's been cheated on by his new girlfriend. See Lily Allen's "Not Big," Dido's "Don't Think of Me," and
  • July 1, 2013
    KingZeal
    Launching within 24 hours if there are no objections.
  • July 2, 2013
    GoldenDarkness
    Where does the Netorare Genre fit in?
  • July 2, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    That is being turned into a fanspeak definition.

    Speaking of that, do the examples on Netorare Genre fit this YKTTW completely or only some?
  • July 2, 2013
    KingZeal
    Most of them will need to be rewritten.
  • July 2, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    By removing Zero Context Examples, you mean?
  • July 2, 2013
    Madrugada
    I object to launching this, King Zeal. It has No hats at all -- not one other person thinks it is ready to launch, including me.

    • The explanation of cuckolding in the real world (in and out of fetish circles) is precisely what the Analysis page is for. The trope page needs to start off with a clear, concise definition of the trope.

      • If there are multiple ways it can be played out within the work, they need to be clearly and concisely stated.

    As it is right now, first comes an essay, then a garbled trope definition hidden in more essay. Then several more paragraphs with related tropes sprinkles throughout. That's a recipe for people using the trope name for whatever they think it might mean, without taking the time to slog trough all the verbiage.
  • July 2, 2013
    KingZeal
    It had hats. They were removed, but with no reasons why.

    • If the first and second paragraph need to go into the Analysis page, so be it. No big deal.
    • How would you more clearly and concisely state it? As stated in the description, the trope is a sliding scale with the only common element being "woman whom guy likes has sex with someone else". After that, there are three common elements: cuckold despair, Bull triumph, and corruption of the woman, with the individual story choosing to play with those three elements as it sees fit.
  • July 3, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    I am not seeing the problem - providing that this trope is about cheating in general.
  • July 3, 2013
    Madrugada
    First off, there's no reason to make it a sliding scale. "Can be handled in different ways" is not enough to make it a sliding scale. And "sliding scale" pages tend to become reeking messes quite quickly unless both the end points and several points along the spectrum are very clearly defined.

    Second, it still needs a clear definition as a trope.It can't be as vague as "Girl who a guy likes has sex with someone else" -- that covers situations where he has no valid reason to expect that she wouldn't have sex with someone else as well as those that are true cuckoldry.
  • July 3, 2013
    KingZeal
    I'm not seeing the specific disagreement. The example you describe is, indeed, often used in cuckold plots.
  • July 3, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    "often used" implies "sometimes it's not an example". We can't have a description that allows for examples that aren't examples at all.
  • July 3, 2013
    KingZeal
    No, the only times when it wouldn't be an example is cases where the guy is aware of her relationship, isn't affected by it, and it also fails the three conditions below. The point of the trope is stated right in the top paragraph, as requested. A guy's Love Interest is having sex with other guys which either signifies his detriment, the lover's triumph, or her debauchery, or all three.
  • July 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In Moliere's The School For Wives Arnolphe, who is engaging in Wife Husbandry in order to keep from becoming a cuckold, is advised by a friend that cuckoldry can be lived with as long as you avoid the two extreme responses (raging against the heavens or bragging about it).
  • July 4, 2013
    KingZeal
    Hey Sackett, what did you change besides the laconic?
  • July 9, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    No changes besides the laconic.

    Also, I still have to ask what will happen with the examples on Netorare Genre.
  • July 9, 2013
    KingZeal
    Most of the examples there are:
    • Zero Context Examples
    • Not An Example (many of them are cases where someone ALMOST was cuckolded, or it was mistaken for cheating, etc.)
    • Not exactly zero context, but automatically assumes we know what happened. "X character NTRed Y character" or "X character overheard Y character saying Z" doesn't tell us anything.
  • July 9, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Then we can move only the good examples over, and ditch the bad ones altogether.
  • July 9, 2013
    KingZeal
    I pretty much did that already. I'll take another look when I have a chance, though. Anyone else is welcome to edit them in, if they feel like it.
  • July 11, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    I personally think the only thing this lacks is a Related Tropes paragraph.
  • July 17, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Bump. Can we get more hats, or reasons why we aren't getting any?
  • August 13, 2013
    KingZeal
    Yet another bump.
  • August 13, 2013
    AgProv
    Ref. Tokyo Rose: this was a common Axis tactic used to demoralise Allied soldiers and to divide British and American soldiers. British soldiers on the Italian front, by 1943, had in many cases been fighting continuously since the beginning of the North African war in 1940 and had not seen home for up to four years. There had already been at least one mutiny from long-serving soldiers who felt strongly that being sent to Italy after three years fighting in Egypt and Libya was not fair. They felt they had done their bit and that new units being raised in Britain should be sent out to relieve them. Anxiety as to what their wives and girlfriends were doing in a Britain perceived as full of bone-idle war-avoiding Americans with money to spend [[note]]yes, not the whole truth and a slur on American soldiers who did fight hard, often without even seeing Britain. But it was very widely held[[/note]]- while they were out there fighting the war - was fertile ground for German propaganda. British morale was not helped by German propaganda leaflets pointing this out.

    American soldiers received similar leaflets asking if they knew what their wives and sweethearts were up to with men at home who'd avoided the draft. The Germans also played on commonly held fears about black men, Mexicans, and especially draft-dodging Jews who were taking good care to stay at home, make money out of the war, and exploit a surplus of gentile American women who were suddenly available.

    primal fear of being cuckolded
  • August 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    • In an episode of MASH there's a threat of an air raid so the nurses are sent away. It turns out it's just a "propaganda bomb," with leaflets dropped including "Harry Truman is sleeping with your wife."
    In other episodes it's played more dramatically (if hypocritically) as Henry, Trapper and some of the other married personnel worry that their wife is cheating on them, even as they carry on dalliances at the 4077th.
  • August 13, 2013
    CluLegacy
    The Superman is not really an example as they crappily undid his marriage with Lois.
  • August 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Music: In Buddy Holly's "Midnight Shift" Annie is dressing up in tight clothes and going out late at night. The implication is either that she's partying or she's prostituting herself.
  • August 14, 2013
    KingZeal
    ^^ That doesn't discredit the listed examples, though.
  • August 14, 2013
    AgProv
    Music Not every Country and Western song is a lament about faithless wives. this genre of song accounts for a good 60% of C&W, though.

    Examples:

    Kenny Rogers' Ruby (Don't Take your Love to Town), about a crippled Vietnam vet whose wife nurses him as best she can, but in the evening goes out to town to get from others what a crippled husband is incapable of giving her. There is a suspicion she is waiting for the little problem to resolve itself
    I've heard them say it won't be long until I'm not around....

    Kenny had a fascination for this sort of song. Lucille is written from the point of view of the woman's pick-up for the night who meets the cuckolded husband.

    You picked a fine time to leave me,Lucille;
    With four hungry children and a crop in the field.
    I've had some bad times,
    Lived through some sad times,'
    This time the hurtin' won't heal.
    You picked a fine time to leave me,Lucille.
  • September 13, 2013
    Discar
    I think we can launch this.
  • September 14, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Same for me. Go ahead and launch it.
  • September 14, 2013
    KingZeal
    Launching today. Thanks for the heads up guys.
  • September 14, 2013
    yisfidri
    Theater

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable