Created By: johnnyeSeptember 27, 2012 Last Edited By: johnnyeOctober 1, 2012
Troped

Fallback Marriage Pact

If we're both single when we're forty, let's marry each other.

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Robin: Let's make a pact. If we both turn 40 and we're both single...
Ted: Robin Scherbatsky - will you be my backup wife?
Robin: A girl always dreams of hearing those words. Yes, yes, a million times, yes!

Two unlucky-in-love Platonic Life Partners or Friends With Benefits, not wanting to grow old alone, agree to marry each other if they're still single after a certain age. Can be played either sincerely or for laughs, but either way it's likely to be a Friendship Moment.

If the pair have been going through a Will They Or Wont They plot, it's a handy way to bring it to an amicable close without irreversibly deciding that They Don't.

Sometimes this trope is seen from the other side; an Old Flame shows up to remind a character that they once made such a pact together, and they're here to collect on the deal. Hilarity Ensues, especially if they've aged into an Abhorrent Admirer.

A Defied Trope of Christmas Cake / Old Maid. See also Honorable Marriage Proposal.

Closely related to Childhood Marriage Promise, which is a similar agreement made by kids too young to really understand what marriage is.


Examples:

  • Ted and Robin make one in How I Met Your Mother, which pretty much (but not entirely) marks the end of their Will They Or Wont They arc. Apparently the term "Ted & Robin pact" has entered the vernacular.
  • My Best Friends Wedding where this trope, and the main character's attempt to wreck her best friend's relationship so that she doesn't end up being the Unlucky Childhood Friend form the central plot. She fails, nearly wrecking her friendship with the guy in the process.
  • Something of a parody in Drawn Together: Captain Hero and Unusually Flexible Girl were friends in college and promised that if they were still single at 30, they'd get married.
  • Discussed on Friends; Rachel suggests making one with Ross, who claims he already has one with Phoebe... who is the one who suggested it to Rachel in the first place, claiming she has one with Joey. By the end of the episode, they settled on Ross being Rachel's backup, and Joey being Phoebe's.
    • A variant in another episode; Chandler suggests to Monica that if neither of them are married by the time they're forty, they could have a child together. (This was before they were dating). It doesn't go like he expected.
    Monica: Why won't I be married by the time I'm forty?
    Chandler: No, no. I just meant hypothetically.
    Monica: Okay. Hypothetically, why won't I be married by the time I'm forty?
  • Carla Noll in Reunion is Aaron's best friend and hidden secret admirer for years. She's happy to hear him say that if they're still single in a few years that they'll marry each other.
  • In one episode of Frasier, it sounds like Roz is about to suggest one of these, and Frasier agrees to marrying her if they are both indeed single at the time. Turns out Roz was going to suggest they kill each other instead.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • September 27, 2012
    johnnye
    ignore
  • September 27, 2012
    DaibhidC
    • A variant in another episode of Friends, Chandler suggests to Monica that if neither of them are married by the time they're forty, they could have a child together. (This was before they were dating). It doesn't go like he expected.
      Monica: Why won't I be married by the time I'm forty?
      Chandler: No, no. I just meant hypothetically.
      Monica: Okay. Hypothetically, why won't I be married by the time I'm forty?
  • September 27, 2012
    lexicon
    Carla Noll in Reunion is Aaron's best friend and hidden secret admirer for years. She's happy to hear him say that if they're still single in a few years that they'll marry each other.
  • September 28, 2012
    TBeholder
    what it have to do with one-instance classes? :]
  • September 28, 2012
    Omeganian
    I think I read a Teen Titans fic about that. Or was it Star Wars?

    Edit: Found an iCarly fic.
  • September 28, 2012
    johnnye
    ^^ what do you mean, one-instance?
  • September 28, 2012
    Khantalas
    In one episode of Frasier, it sounds like Roz is about to suggest one of these, and Frasier agrees to marrying her if they are both indeed single at the time. Turns out Roz was going to suggest they kill each other instead.
  • September 29, 2012
    Xtifr
    ^^ In computer programming, "singleton" means "one-instance class".

    I admit that I have no idea what the word singleton is supposed to signify in this name. And I am aware that it has other (rare) uses outside of computer programming. But none of those seem to fit here. I think Marriage Pact would be sufficient.
  • September 29, 2012
    MorganWick
    Backup Spouse? Fiance Of Last Resort?

    The disclaimer made me think this trope fit the name Childhood Marriage Promise and that therefore if anything that trope needed to be expanded and the anime trope split out. Instead it just means that this trope kinda sorta resembles a Childhood Marriage Promise if you really squint.
  • September 29, 2012
    Kellor
    Also on Friends: Rachel asked Ross to be her backup, but Ross had already promised Phoebe, who had also promised Joey without telling him. By the end of the episode, they settled on Ross being Rachel's backup, and Joey being Phoebe's.
  • September 29, 2012
    johnnye
    ^^^I thought it meant "single person", but according to Wikipedia it means "person who has made a choice to remain single", which obviously doesn't fit here. Changed working title to "Marriage Pact", but those suggestions are both good.

    Maybe Backup Spouse Pact or Last Resort Marriage Pact.

    ^^ "If you really squint"? They're both about two people promising to get married later in life, seems pretty closely related to me. Anyway, disclaimer removed after discussing that trope on TRS.
  • October 1, 2012
    johnnye
    So, any better name ideas? I don't like "Marriage Pact" on its own; it could refer to a mutual The Beard arrangement, or simply to an engagement (especially an I Will Wait For You one).

    Fallback Marriage Pact? (That's nicely assonant, actually.)

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