Wet Blanket Wife
A female character that constantly reminds us how much fun we SHOULDN'T be having.
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(permanent link) added: 2013-09-21 15:45:10 sponsor: KingZeal (last reply: 2014-07-17 07:05:26)

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"Clara Murphy looks like the most terrible female stereotype in movies, an estrogen-soaked wet blanket. There is not one scene in that trailer where she's not cooking or crying. She literally runs into the middle of the road just to stop RoBroCop from being rad on his motorbike: "You listen here, Mr. Robo, you stop being cool and go in and have a glacial, emotional scene with your son! I don't care how many cops die fighting armed felons that your indestructible ass could collar in an instant, we're stopping this action right here and won't move another inch until there are emotions!"

The Wet Blanket Wife is the Love Interest (not necessarily a married spouse) that is a constant reminder of how uncool or troubling events in the story are supposed to be. In The Caper, she reminds The Hero that he promised to retire after that One Last Job, or is trying to get him out of the game to begin with. In a War Film or Fighting Series, she's often an Actual Pacifist who wants her love to stop fighting because she doesn't want to see him hurt or killed. In a Superhero story, she chews the main character out for spending too much time crimefighting, or perhaps doesn't even know his Secret Identity and angrily wonders where he's run off to. In short, the character exists to slow the pace of the story and provide emotional heft.

This trope is often paired with the Hen Pecked Husband or Parenting the Husband, and sometimes the arguments form an Awful Wedded Life between the couple. However, the overlap isn't necessary. A woman tearfully begging her Action Hero husband not to go do whatever dangerous thing he wants to do to avoid being widowed can be Happily Married, but she's still trying to get him not to do the awesome thing that the audience paid to see (however justifiably). Scenes involving this kind of wife will involve her fretting or angsting over the events of the story and otherwise reminding the audience how "awful" this is supposed to be.

This is an Always Female trope, but that doesn't mean there aren't rare male versions. Because of tropes like Men Are Tough and Men Act, Women Are, it's usually just assumed that a husband or boyfriend in a heteronormative relationship will be the one advancing the plot.

Compare and contrast The Obstructive Love Interest, who is against anything their significant other tries to do, as a result of misunderstandings, personal insecurities, and any other number of reasons.


Examples

Anime & Manga
  • Dragon Ball Z. The only thing Chi-Chi is known for is yelling at Goku and Gohan for fighting instead of doing better things with their time. After the seven-year Time Skip, she mellows out a bit with their second son, Goten, and she really can't yell at Goku anymore because he's already dead.
  • Bleach. This describes Orihime, especially during the Hueco Mundo arc.
    "You don't have to win...you don't have to try your best...but please, don't get hurt anymore!"
  • Rurouni Kenshin. Kaoru is another example, epitomizing a Japanese woman with extreme purity. She's a Martial Pacifist and spends most of each conflict reacting with disdain and horror at the violence going on.
  • S-CRY-ed. Mimori and Nanaly do little else than watch the events of the story unfold and show displeasure at the protagonists' Blood Knight and Spirited Competitor tendencies.

Comic Books
  • Spider-man. Mary-Jane Watson developed a reputation for being this. Since Spider-man is intended to be a downtrodden Everyman, writers were constantly looking for ways to make being married to a supermodel suck. Many comics involved MJ being little else than a Damsel in Distress, constantly nagging Peter for spending too much time superheroing, or interrupting the action by cutting back to her just so we could watch her angst. Some speculate this to be part of the reason the writers and some portions of the fandom tried so hard to break them up.
  • In Alan Moore's Miracleman, Mike Moran's wife ends up as a sort of deconstruction, since she stubbornly clings to her humanity and begs her husband to remember his own, even as he embraces an increasingly distant and terrifying superhumanity. In the end, he and his allies take over and completely transform the world into a posthuman benevolent dictatorship, but she still refuses to become a superbeing.

Film
  • Rosie Perez in White Men Cant Jump shows extreme displeasure at Woody Harrelson's character being a basketball hustler. When he breaks his promise to quit one time too many, she leaves him.
  • Face/Off. Eve Archer, wife of protagonist Simon Archer, is one of those "you promised to quit after one last job" types of wives. As noted by The Nostalgia Critic, what makes this example particularly strange is that not only does she seem to show no interest in bringing to justice the Big Bad responsible for killing her son, but Archer doesn't even try to explain to her that there's a nuclear bomb threatening to blow up their city. The movie just sets up Archer as a workaholic cop with a distant marriage and expects it to fly.
  • In School of Rock Ned Schneebly's girlfriend is this in spades; she frequently reminds both Ned and Dewey of their responsibilities during the film, and discourages any sort of fun that goes outside of their adult duties. She even blows the whistle on Dewey's charade.
  • Both mothers in Bend It Like Beckham, and for basically the same reason. Jess' mom doesn't want her playing football/soccer because of Punjabi Sikh/British Culture Clash (read: Indian girls aren't supposed to play football). Jules' mom doesn't like Jules' tomboy tendencies and thinks she isn't feminine enough, and gets mad at Dad for encouraging her:
    Jules' mom: (to Dad) When are you going to realize you have a daughter, with breasts, not a son?

Literature
  • From Discworld he have War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has a retired Valkyrie wife, who mostly henpecks him. In Thief of Time when she objects to him riding out, he stands up to her, and she blushes and murmurs about it reminding her of him when he was younger...

Live-Action TV
  • Skyler White of Breaking Bad: she starts out as a wet blanket who forces her husband to eat soy bacon and reminds him which credit card to use, but as Walter slides into increasingly erratic, destructive, and criminal behavior, she looks more and more like she has a point. Word of God and more than a few Author Filibuster scenes intended to drive home the point that she's trying to get herself or her children away from an increasingly violent, delusional criminal. The series finale flat out has Walter say this to her.
  • Fred Yokas from Third Watch represents a gender flipping of the trope. He was both worried for his wife Faith's safety on the force and jealous of her partner Bosco. Eventually this leads to the end of their marriage.

Videogames
  • Grand Theft Auto series
    • Kendl Johnson, sister of protagonist CJ and lover of CJ's ally, Caesar Vialpando, constantly acts as an exasperated voice of reason between the two macho Gangbangers in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. She usually has some sort of gripe against their lifestyle, but she's often right, such as when one of them plans to plans to run off and do something stupid.
    • Tanisha, Franklin Clinton's ex-girlfriend in Grand Theft Auto V is pretty much the Only Sane Woman in the entire game. She's certainly the only person in Franklin's life that wants no part of the criminal or hood lifestyle. She broke up with Franklin because he wouldn't get his act together, and continues to yell at him about it throughout the game. The thing is, GTA is a game about being a criminal, so her protests do nothing except provide Angst for Franklin.
    • Amanda De Santa, wife of the other protagonist Michael, eventually leaves him and leaves behind a note basically saying that she's afraid for herself and their children after Michael returns to a life of crime and brings back all of their old baggage. When the two start reconciling at the end, her primary complaint is that she hates his behavior and lifestyle because she doesn't want Michael to get killed.
  • Far Cry 3. Liza Snow, girlfriend of protagonist Jason Brody, constantly expresses concern over how Jason is becoming more and more of a bloodthirsty killer. The rest of Jason's friends also get on his case for the insane things he does, but at the same time, they'd be dead if he didn't, and more importantly, we'd have no game if he didn't. However, Liza is by far the most blatant example. She turns out to be totally right, as Jason almost sails off the deep end (or actually does, if you choose the Bad Ending).
  • Ciel in Mega Man Zero at times reminds Zero that he shouldn't fight too much, out of worry for his safety (and worry that he might be bothered by helping her so much). Zero counters this by saying that he has battled his entire life that it's basically his purpose to do the dirty work.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • In The Simpsons, Marge started off more as a Closer to Earth spouse for Homer, though was eventually Flanderized into a more dull and neurotic character who tends to find the least enjoyable way of doing things the most acceptable. One episode Lampshaded Marge needs Homer's reckless antics for any excitement in her life, to the point she ended up taking his place when a Jerkass Realization made him this trope instead.
  • Princess Sally of Sonic Satam is a downplayed unmarried example. She's humorless, uptight and constantly on Sonic's back for showing off, but in a dystopian world where his recklessness often risks getting him robotocized or worse by an sadistic Evil Overlord, she's usually in the right to. She started off similar in the comic books, though became more easy going after a while.
  • Dan Vs. subverts this in "Dan Vs. The Wolf-Man". The start of the episode paints Elise as this, with Chris mentioning that she doesn't like him hanging out with Dan. But a scene shortly afterwards clarifies: Elise just wants her husband to be less of a doormat, and apparently he mistook "Stop letting Dan step all over you" for "You can't hang out with Dan anymore."

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