Created By: Koveras on November 4, 2012 Last Edited By: Koveras on November 8, 2012
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Widowed At The Wedding

A character gets married but the spouse dies/is killed before the wedding is over.

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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!

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • 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 -- Animated
  • 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.

Film -- Live-Action
  • 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.

Literature
  • 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).

Live-Action TV
  • 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.

Music
  • 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

Urban Legends
  • 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.

Video Games
  • 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.

Western Animation
  • 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."

Real Life
  • 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.
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • November 4, 2012
    Astaroth
    • 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.

    • If you join The Dark Brotherhood in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, one of the quests they give you requires you to assassinate a woman at her wedding ceremony.
  • November 4, 2012
    reub2000
    Opps, replied to the wrong one!
  • November 4, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    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.
  • November 4, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Black Widow would be a related trope, 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).
  • November 4, 2012
    KTera
    • In Dragon Age, this happens to female City Elf player characters. They're abducted during their wedding and Nelaros, their spouse, dies while attempting to rescue them.
  • November 4, 2012
    StarSword
    TV:
    • 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.
  • November 4, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Orpheus when a snake kills his new bride Eurydice.
  • November 4, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Orpheus and Eurydice were married, alright, but I am not sure she died on the day of their wedding.
  • November 4, 2012
    JoeG
    • 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.
  • November 4, 2012
    SKJAM
    I seem to recall this is the start of the plot in the book and movie The Bride Wore Black by I think Cornell Woolrich.
  • November 4, 2012
    Met
    In the movie Tommy Boy, Tommy's father dies at his own wedding, presumably of a heart attack. Later it is discovered that the woman he married was a scam artist who was already married.
  • November 4, 2012
    Sheora
    • 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."
  • November 5, 2012
    Topazan
    • 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.
  • November 5, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    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.
  • November 5, 2012
    Stripeycat
    There's another Bond film where his friend's wife is murdered at her wedding reception, which kicks off the main plot. Someone who's seen the film in the last decade had better write this example, though.
  • November 5, 2012
    gamerex27
    Subverted in Kill Bill: The Bride is shot at the altar, but ends up surviving.
  • November 5, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Her husband-to-be is killed, however.
  • November 5, 2012
    CarrieVS
    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.
  • November 5, 2012
    beltorak
    Frasier episode "Where There's Smoke, There's Fired"

    [Bebe's wedding with an elderly millionaire was canceled]

    Martin: What went wrong?

    Frasier: Well, they were halfway down the aisle - Big Willy beaming proudly, Bebe radiant, supporting Big Willy on her arm - when suddenly he clutched his heart, and his head slumped against Bebe's shoulder. Of course we were all concerned at first, but then suddenly it seemed like he was all right because they kept moving on down the aisle. But if you looked carefully, you could see Bebe's little biceps bulging through her wedding gown, and I swear I noticed daylight between Big Willy's dress boots and the carpet. Well, once they got up to the minister the jig was pretty well up, despite Bebe's valiant attempts to animate his features by twisting the loose skin at the back of his neck. You know, I've never seen a woman more crushed.

  • November 5, 2012
    MissAnnTrope
    In Gone With the Wind. *( I don't THINK spoiler alerts are necessary here??) Scarlett marries a young boy off to join the Confederate Army. Within weeks, she is a widow after her husband sucumbs to the measles (or chicken pox, not sure after all these years)before ever seeing battle.
  • November 5, 2012
    MissAnnTrope
    Oh and also, in A Song of Ice and Fire, don't forget "the Imp's" disasterous relationships. One he relates and the other we witness. Does Jane Eyre count?
  • November 5, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^^ Can you please reword that to fit within 3-4 lines?

    ^^ "Within weeks" is too long. The death must happen on the wedding day to qualify.

    ^ AFAIK neither of Tyrion's two wives is confirmed dead (at least, at the end of AFFC, which is as far as I got). Also, who is Jane Eyre?
  • November 5, 2012
    CarrieVS
    Jane Eyre isn't in A Song Of Ice And Fire, if that's what's confusing you. She's the title character of Jane Eyre. (I haven't read it and I don't know what MissAnnTrope was referring to or if it counts.)
  • November 5, 2012
    StarSword
    I might be misinterpreting the scene, but I always thought in the On Her Majestys Secret Service example that Blofeld was aiming for Bond and missed him because of his Plot Armor, and that the wife was collateral damage.
  • November 5, 2012
    SharleeD
    • 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.

    • In the Ravenloft setting, Strahd von Zarovich murdered his brother Sergei just minutes before the latter would have married a woman Strahd was obsessed with having for himself. To top it off, Strahd slaughtered many of the wedding guests in a blind rage after the grief-stricken bride killed herself.
  • November 6, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ In your second example, the woman is technically not a widow, so she is not so much widowed at her wedding as killed at her wedding along with her husband... This trope is more about the trauma sustained by the widow/widower than the death of their spouse.
  • November 6, 2012
    Prower5656
    In the book, Nemesis, Verity dies right before she is about to marry Michael Rafiel
  • November 6, 2012
    92
    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.
  • November 6, 2012
    JoeG
    • Vorkosigan Saga: This nearly happens to Miles in "Winterfaire Gifts", as an enemy of his sends Ekaterin a poisoned necklace as a wedding gift.
  • November 6, 2012
    Topazan
    Just want to be clear, how was the example from Stacked I mentioned a subversion?

    It's different from the other examples, since her motivations for marrying him were selfish and she had no real emotional attachment to him as a person, but other than that it seems like a straight example.
  • November 7, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ She is not a widow at the end.
  • November 7, 2012
    Topazan
    ^ I see. Makes sense.
  • November 7, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    May lead to The Lost Lenore and Crusading Widower. A distant relative of Retirony
  • November 7, 2012
    chicagomel
    Re the CSI NY one, it was averted at the end, however, the first case was played straight. The bride died because of the toxic dress and that lead to the clothing seller's practices coming to light.
  • November 8, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    Subtrope of Wedding Day

    • 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.

    It's an aversion, so its relevance is debatable , the song provides a good quote though
    Do not forsake me O my darlin'
    On this our wedding day.
  • November 8, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    • In Francois 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.

    • The abovementioned 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
  • November 8, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ Technically, that is exactly what a Subverted Trope is (everyone thinks it will happen but it doesn't). But that quote is a bit too generic IMO.
  • November 8, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    Right, in-universe subversion, I was thinking more in meta-terms, Gary Cooper riding into the sunset with Grace Kelly is a foregone conclusion, even in this slightly deconstructive film, Plot Armor for a big 50s star and so

    I meant the quote as a coda to the possible example, not for the page, it's a legendary Expository Theme Tune associated to the movie, perhaps worthy of mention but it's fine without it, brevity is wit.
  • November 8, 2012
    robinjohnson
    How about Just Widowed?
  • November 8, 2012
    Antigone3
    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).
  • November 8, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ Non-indicative of the "at their own marriage" part. Or at least, a non-native English speaker like me is unable to pick up the subtlety.
  • November 8, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    The Naked Gun 33 1/3 has a gag where Frank Drebin accidentally kills his bride on their wedding day. He felt heartbroken, torn apart and figured she'd fallen for another man... She fell off a cliff and into shark infested waters after Drebin unknowingly opens a door on her.
  • November 8, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    The Bond film mentioned by Stripeycat up there is Licence To Kill, Leiter's wife is raped and killed on their wedding day at the beginning.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=l03zagcuji2fxa55jtoplr0l&trope=WidowedAtTheWedding