Weddings are kind of a big deal
in human society and the newlyweds are expected to live Happily Ever After
together. Except sometimes, they don't.
This trope is about characters whose spouses die during or just after their wedding, either naturally or violently, leaving them widowed before they were even really married and heavily traumatized for the rest of their life. The violent death variation is often used for a sudden Downer Ending
, though it can be foreshadowed with It's Not You, It's My Enemies
. May involve a Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress
Subtrope of Wedding Day
. See also Black Widow
for when the death is at the hands of the bride. Out with a Bang
might also be the cause, if it's on the wedding night (and is often used if the groom is much older and might have a heart condition). May lead to The Lost Lenore
and Crusading Widower
. A distant relative of Retirony
Since this is a Death Trope, spoilers ahead!
Anime and Manga
Film -- Animated
- In the end of Gurren Lagann, Simon and Nia finally get married but she Disappears into Light immediately after their kiss. Notably, the bridegroom knew this would happen all along but it only made him want that marriage more.
Film -- Live-Action
- Wreck-It Ralph: Calhoun's husband was killed by a Cy-Bug when she forgot to run a perimeter scan on her wedding day. When she marries Fix-It Felix at the end of the movie she takes extreme precautions to make sure history doesn't repeat itself.
- James Bond is briefly married and immediately widowed in the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, when Blofeld tries killing him in retribution for him foiling his plans earlier but kills his wife instead. Bond is still reeling from the trauma as late as For Your Eyes Only
- Almost happens in Kill Bill, where Black Mamba's fiance is killed during their wedding rehearsal, so technically she is not a widow and henceforth calls herself "the Bride".
- In the movie Tommy Boy, Tommy's father dies at his own wedding, presumably of a heart attack, leaving his new wife a widow. Later it is discovered that she was a scam artist who was already married.
- In High Noon, the Miller gang is due to arrive at any moment to kill Sheriff Kane, on his wedding day. Everybody, including his newlywed wife, thinks the trope is going to be played straight and beg him to flee, but Kane defies it successfully.
- In François Truffaut's film The Bride Wore Black five men make a young bride a widow on her wedding day. She takes her revenge, methodically killing each of the five men using various methods. Tarantino was asked if Kill Bill intentionally borrows key and minor details from it, but he has stated that he has never seen the movie.
- Erast Fandorin marries at the end of The Winter Queen but his wife is killed as a retribution for him breaking his earlier promise to the late Big Bad. This event is responsible for most of Fandorin's later quirks, such as stuttering, grey-haired temples, and inability to maintain lasting relationships with women.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Joffrey is murdered during his wedding feast, leaving Margaery widowed for the second time--and her first husband was also killed very soon after their wedding.
- In Nemesis, Verity dies right before she is about to marry Michael Rafiel.
- In Vorkosigan Saga, this nearly happens to Miles in "Winterfaire Gifts", as an enemy of his sends Ekaterin a poisoned necklace as a wedding gift.
- In The Bishop's Heir, the wedding mass barely finishes before Sidana is murdered by her brother (who can't bear the thought of her being wed to a Haldane).
- In one episode of Two And a Half Men ("Fish in a Drawer"), Charlie and Alan's mother marries an older gentleman who is found dead on Charlie's bed during the wedding reception.
- In the Knight Rider episode "The Scent of Roses", Michael quits the Foundation after being shot and nearly killed on a case. He asks Stevie Mason to marry him, but right after the wedding the Criminal of the Week comes by to kill Michael and Stevie takes the bullet for him. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge ending with Michael nearly beating the Big Bad to death.
- In the short-lived sitcom Stacked, a woman plans to marry an elderly man for his money. Unfortunately for her, he dies during the ceremony, before their marriage was made official.
- Narrowly averted on CSI: New York, when the team discovered that an undertaker was re-selling tuxedos that had been used to dress corpses, not realizing that this was transferring toxic embalming chemicals to the purchasers. Mac and his team interrupt a wedding in progress to warn the groom to change clothes before he succumbs to his toxic tux. The previous client of the undertaker, a young bride, wasn't so lucky, however.
- The aforementioned The Bride Wore Black served as inspiration for Kate Bush's "The Wedding List" in which a woman widowed at the wedding hatches her revenge
- There's a classic ghost story where during the reception at their home the bride, groom and their guests decide to play hide and seek. When the game is over, no one can find the bride and after searching the rest of the night they decided she must have run away. Years later the husband goes into the attic and sees an antique chest in the corner, he opens it and finds a skeleton wearing a wedding dress. His wife had hidden up here and the lid of the chest had fallen and locked her in. Her fingers are bent and twisted and her mouth is open in a silent scream.
- In one possible ending of Grand Theft Auto IV, an assassin is sent to kill Niko Bellic as he attends his cousin Roman's wedding. The assassin fails to kill Niko, but Roman is shot and killed instead, leaving his wife a widow.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, this kinda happens to female City Elf player character. She is abducted during her wedding and Nelaros, her spouse, dies while attempting to rescue her.
- Futurama parodies this when Bender marries Calculon to scam him. When he decides he can't go through with the scam, Leela and the others help him stage his elaborate death at the wedding because "if there's one thing [Calculon] can handle, it's soap opera pain."
- This is either Runaway Groom or this, but a real life example: In 1906, an hour after their wedding, William McKeekin told his bride he was going to get a carriage. That was the last anyone heard or saw of him, and after seventeen years of searching for him his "widow" sought an annulment instead.
Will go under Wedding and Engagement Tropes
and Death Tropes