Created By: Earnest on October 23, 2012 Last Edited By: Tuckerscreator on October 29, 2012
Troped

Ignored Enamored Underling

She loves her Bad Boss, but he doesn't reciprocate and uses her.

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When the The Hero or the Big Bad has an underling, potentially The Dragon, an adjutant/secretary or a Paid Harem, it's often the case that she (though flipped genders aren't unheard of) goes beyond being loyal and both idolizes and loves him. Her declarations of love will go unrequited because, when he's not Oblivious to Love, he will at best feel no (romantic) affection for her. A hero may try to let her down gently, a callous boss will say so outright, and the cruel one will play Master of the Mixed Message to avoid telling her and string her along. Even if he says he doesn't love her, she'll interpret it as needing to work hard to earn said love.

If her boss is enamored with another woman, she will be positively livid with jealousy and may attempt sabotage or even to murder her rival. If he finds out he will severely punish or kill her. In fact, as minions go she will frequently be the target of You Have Failed Me, You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and general abuse by her boss when he needs to let off steam. This is played as a sort of Kick the Dog, while she's no dove, the mistreatment's undertones of domestic abuse will make most audiences uncomfortable.

This character can be Played for Laughs and written either as a one note Mad Love, who will never waver from her devotion or allow rejection to dampen her Perkiness. More positive˝y she can be Played for Drama as a misguided and intelligent woman who, once she sees how little she's cared for (abuse optional), is quick to reasses her (romantic) loyalties. Of course, she can be played for tragedy by getting betrayed or even killed by the man she loves, without ever getting a chance to learn from her mistakes. Should the hero kill their boss, expect Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned to follow.

Sister Trope and contrast to Girl Friday, who is an aide or secretary to the hero. Compare Subordinate Excuse, when the underling is using the position to be near their object of affection while avoiding rejection.

Anime and Manga
  • The final Big Bad of the original Slayers season, Copy Rezo, has Eris, who loves him enough to find a way to bring him Back from the Dead but is shot In the Back by him the moment when she stops being useful.
  • Karin from Naruto, she use to be part of Taka (or Hebi), a group leaded by Sasuke merely out of her infatuation for him, not only, couldn't he care any less for her (of his other teammates for that matter), but also he didn't doubt to sacrifice her for one second in order to get to Danzo
  • Excel from Excel Saga is this to her boss. All her attempts to woo him are met with Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Misa is one of these to Villain Protagonist Light in Death Note. The only reason he didn't just kill her was that she's useful (and, initially, because Rem would kill him).
  • Last Exile has the XO in love with captain Alex Rowe, who is so dead set on revenge he couldn't care less for her one way or the other, and keeps her around only because she's professional enough to not let it get in the way of her work. This gets even weirder when you consider she's the princess of his nation. And it gets even more tragic when the "sonar" operator hears him call out a dead loves name with his last breath, and lies to the XO that he called out her name instead.

Comic Books

Fan Fiction

Film
  • In The Incredibles Mirage is, by her own words, "attracted to power" and the misunderstood. There is the implication she and Syndrome are in a relationship, but once he gambles with her life when Mr. incredible threatens to kill her she sours on the relationship. When he reveals the extent of his villainy she switches sides.
  • In American Psycho Patrick Bateman has a relationship a bit like this with his secretary. She isn't aware that he's a serial killer but he makes very rude comments to her and she still seems to carry a torch.

Literature

Live-Action TV
  • Pushing Daisies subverts it with Olive and Ned, who as a hero is simply too oblivious, nice and timid (it alternates) to tell Olive he doesn't love her. He later mans up and tells her very explicitly, but she continues to carry a torch for him (despite her own wishes) until she meets a travelling potion salesman (no Love Potion was involved).
  • In Sherlock, Molly Hooper is infatuated with Sherlock, but he ignores and often insults her, only being nice to her when he need s favor from her (e.g. complimenting her hair when he needs to see a body from the morgue where she works).

Web Comics
  • In Magick Chicks, Sandy is hopelessly in love with Faith, but never receives any attention. It's even more of an insult, as Faith regularly womanizes the entire student body.

Western Animation
  • Lakshmi in Kaijudo is incredibly devoted to the Chotun, even as he becomes increasingly condescending to her due to her failures.
  • Page in TRON: Uprising is non-romantically fanatically devoted to General Tessler, which is understandable since she believes he saved her life from ISO's, when in fact he was responsible for the massacre that killed her friends.
  • Smithers to Mr. Burns in The Simpsons.
  • Wuya to Chase Young in Xiaolin Showdown, for a while. Then she lost interest in him and betrayed him.

Video Games
  • In Asura's Wrath Olga is fanatically loyal to Deus even when he telekinetically slams her into the ceiling, preferring the traitorous Yasha to her.
  • Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles, towards Maximilian. To the point that she blows up herself after she has a failure and she wants to redeem herself.
  • Courtney Gears from Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is a good example, almost perfectly mirroring the usual relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker.

Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • October 23, 2012
    WaxingName
  • October 23, 2012
    Chabal2
    Featherstone to Herr Starr in Preacher. However, though she declares her love for him he doesn't care, and says so outright. Only at the very end does she finally realize what a Complete Monster he is.

  • October 24, 2012
    atheist723
    Mercy Graves to Lex Luthor.
  • October 24, 2012
    AnEditor
    Do you think Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter might count? She definitely fits the requirements about idolization and obsessive loyalty, and, according to http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2007/0730-bloomsbury-chat.html, Voldemort "never loved a girl, only valued people he could use to advance his own objectives." (The relevant quote is near the bottom of the linked page.)
  • October 24, 2012
    SKJAM
  • October 24, 2012
    Bisected8
    This character is often a Perky Female Minion. Often involves Mad Love.

  • October 24, 2012
    shimaspawn
    It doesn't always have to be female. I've seen this with a male servant to a female boss. A male servant to a male boss. Never lesbians though but that doesn't mean they can't exist.
  • October 25, 2012
    Koveras
    Subtrope of Girl Friday?

  • October 26, 2012
    RoseBride
    Karin from Naruto, she use to be part of Taka (or Hebi), a group leaded by Sasuke merely out of her infatuation for him, not only, couldn't he care any less for her (of his other teammates for that matter), but also he didn't doubt to sacrifice her for one second in order to get to Danzo
  • October 27, 2012
    Earnest
    ^^^ Amended the description a bit.

    ^^ After you mentioned that I remembered a heroic example, and now I'm wondering whether to tweak the description to be hero and villain neutral, or list hero bosses as subversions.
  • October 27, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles, towards Maximilian. To the point that she blows up herself after she has a failure and she wants to redeem herself.
  • October 27, 2012
    MetaFour
    Regarding Mirage from The Incredibles: There's a scene where Mirage has started to sour on working for Syndrome, and he tries to get back in her good graces. Syndrome leans in like he's going to kiss Mirage, and she pushes him away. So I got the impression that they actually were in a relationship, and Mirage was pissed off to realize that Syndrome ultimately considered her expendable.
  • October 27, 2012
    Khantalas
  • October 28, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    In American Psycho Patrick Bateman has a relationship a bit like this with his secretary. She isn't aware that he's a serial killer but he makes very rude comments to her and she still seems to carry a torch.
  • October 28, 2012
    Mozgwsloiku
    In the fanfic Twilight Sparkle: History's Greatest Monster, Twilight is transported to an Alternative Universe where she apparently rules with an iron hoof as the Lord Librarian, with Trixie as her enamoured underling. While trying to keep appearances while avoiding actually doing evil, she pretends to return Trixie's affection and is briefly horrified at what she might have just set in motion.
  • October 28, 2012
    TheHandle
    Fan Fiction
  • October 28, 2012
    LancelotG
    • Wuya to Chase Young in Xiaolin Showdown, for a while. Then she lost interest in him and betrayed him.
  • October 28, 2012
    TBeholder
    dunno, looks like Subordinate Excuse But Not Reciprocated?
  • October 28, 2012
    Sheora
    In the Webcomic Magick Chicks, Sandy is hopelessly in love with Faith, but never receives any attention. It's even more of an insult, as Faith regularly womanizes the entire student body.
  • October 28, 2012
    spyergirl4
    Hmm. Does it always have to be a villain? I can think of one non-villainous example: In Sherlock, Molly Hooper is infatuated with Sherlock, but he ignores and often insults her, only being nice to her when he need s favor from her (e.g. complimenting her hair when he needs to see a body from the morgue where she works).
  • October 28, 2012
    Earnest
    ^^^ After thinking about it, I think I know the difference: a character using the Subordinate Excuse is using the excuse to avoid some form of rejection to their affection: that of society or their boss, and in fact they don't need to tell their boss they love them. In contrast, the Ignored Enamored Underling is up front about their love, and is unafraid of rejection.

    ^ That makes two heroic examples. It may be worth it to tone down the villain centric nature of the writeup.
  • October 28, 2012
    Lophotrochozoa
    In The Order Of The Stick Tsukiko serves Xykon because she thinks undead are good love interests. It is unclear if Xykon is even aware of her love.
  • October 28, 2012
    reub2000
  • October 29, 2012
    LondonKdS
    • Lyta Alexander to both Vorlon ambassadors in Babylon Five. Done both ways, as Kosh apparently treated her well, although we don't see much of them interacting alone, but Ulkesh blatantly physically and emotionally abused her.
  • October 29, 2012
    Koveras
  • October 29, 2012
    MiinU

    Anime

  • October 29, 2012
    captainpat
    You need to remove or expand on the examples that are just "character x to character y".
  • October 29, 2012
    MiinU
    I just noticed the video games entry for Valkyria Chronicles. Unless the anime version changed things drastically, Silvaria did not blow herself up as an act of redemption.

    She realized Maximillion wasn't in love with her, but she at least had value as a soldier. But after losing twice to Alicia, Maximillion no longer saw a use for her, especially since he had found a way to artficially harness the Valkyria's power. So he ordered her to use the 'Final Flame', which was ordering her to die, and he knew it. Silvaria went through with it out of loyalty, and because she had lost the will to live, now that Maximillion had turned his back on her.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=b6be68i901denl44pf5ag32v&trope=IgnoredEnamoredUnderling