->''"My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."''
-->-- '''Maximus''', ''{{Gladiator}}''

What a glorious day! Officer Bob has just [[{{Retirony}} retired]], and can spend time with his [[TooHappyToLive happy and completely innocent family!]] Just in time too, [[MarriedToTheJob his job was driving a wedge]] between him and his family. Yep, [[TemptingFate nothing could possibly go wrong!]]

In what is possibly the mother of {{Dark And Troubled Past}}s, this guy[[note]](and yes, the character is pretty much AlwaysMale)[[/note]] will have [[DisposableWoman his wife]] and children die. This may be because the author wants to go for broke in creating a hero with "nothing and no one to live for". After all, the lack of emotional attachments [[TheUnfettered holding him back]] and the burning drive for {{revenge}} makes for a singularly terrifying protagonist. When a family member ''does'' survive, it's usually a child rather than the wife, since a child is someone that [[{{Protectorate}} has to be protected]] and couldn't [[MoralityChain stop daddy]] from making a whole mess of people into a holey mess. Or better yet, the child is someone daddy can [[SideKick mold]] into a [[TykeBomb weapon of vengeance.]] Of course, he might abandon the child to be raised by someone else, or do the revenging in secret. If the spouse survives, they will very likely have divorced rather than [[BattleCouple teamed up to seek revenge.]]

The causes behind the death vary: his family may be murdered by an enemy while he was ForcedToWatch, die because of a mistake he made, or through some random act of human violence. In rare cases, they die in a horrible but (mostly) blameless accident. The "mostly" comes from the fact that he will somehow find a way to blame himself for their death in a form of SurvivorsGuilt, or better yet, blame {{God}}.

On the upside, this senseless and painful tragedy is a great [[TheLostLenore personal motivator.]] The Crusading Widower will earn the "crusading" part of his name by hunting down and killing (at best apprehending) those responsible, however tangentially. ''Or'' [[RefusalOfTheCall he will try to drown his sorrows]], only to be "rescued" by a friend who will motivate him with an offer to somehow [[TheAtoner atone]] or catch the culprits.

If it's a fantasy or sci-fi setting, a third goal may present itself: [[{{Necromantic}} bringing them back to life.]] This is [[CameBackWrong rarely a good thing]]. His loved ones will probably beg him not to, or he will choose not to resurrect them as part of a FriendOrIdolDecision. Alternately, he may contemplate suicide or [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence ascending to a higher plane of existence]] in order to rejoin them, though they will likely convince him to wait.

For obvious reasons, this character is usually on the low end of the [[SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism Idealism/Cynicism scale]], tending towards AntiHero, AntiVillain, or outright {{Villain}}. Very, ''very'' rarely will the Crusading Widower be a straight up [[TheHero Hero]].

Compare TheyWereHoldingYouBack. See also DisposableWoman.

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''{{Berserk}}:'' Guts, whose TrueCompanions were slaughtered by demons and his LoveInterest sent insane during the Eclipse.
* Himura Kenshin from ''RurouniKenshin'' (though he's very much ''not'' an anti-hero).
* Ogami Itto in ''LoneWolfAndCub''.
* Quent in ''WolfsRain''.
* Heito in ''DaimonsHate''. Poor guy had all of his former "friends" turn on him and kill his wife and daughter because he wouldn't join the plot to use the nanotechnology they developped for warring purposes. After barely surviving the ColdBloodedTorture that cost him his two arms, he suggested himself to TrainingFromHell under a MadScientist, developped PsychicPowers with the PowerOfHate, and learned to control mechanical arms through it. Before going on a crusade to murder all of his former "friends".
* Heroic example in ''TigerAndBunny'', in that widower Kotetsu is inspired by his late wife to continue his work as a superhero, because he promised her that he would. This choice causes serious conflict with his daughter Kaede - who doesn't know what her father does - and later in the series [[spoiler: when Kotetsu's promise makes it even harder for him to face the prospect of giving up his heroics as 'Wild Tiger' due to the gradual loss of his powers.]]
* ''KenichiTheMightiestDisciple'': [[spoiler: Tsutomu Tanaka is hell-bent on revenge against Isshinsai Ogata for murdering both his father-in-law martial arts master and his pregnant wife.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ComicBook/JonahHex.
* Big Daddy from ''{{Kick-Ass}}'':
** The ''[[Film/KickAss film version]]'' trains his daughter to get revenge on the drug lord who sent him to prison and left his depressed wife to OD on drugs.
** The comic version trains his daughter to get revenge on the drug lord who murdered his wife. [[spoiler:It's a lie: she's really alive and he made the whole thing up to brainwash his daughter into becoming a vengeful superhero out of boredom with his pathetic life]].
* ComicBook/ThePunisher, where the protagonist seeks vengeance then effects genocide on the American criminal element for the murder of his family during a botched mob hit.
** Creator/GarthEnnis took this concept in an interesting direction during the miniseries: "Widowmaker" for the [[ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX Marvel MAX imprint]] of the character. In that arc several wives of high-level mafioso Frank Castle had brutally murdered come together to take vengeance on Frank. Unfortunately before Frank can come up against the potentially morally interesting decision of how to deal with them, they are interrupted by another Mafia widow. This widow is thankful to Frank for killing her husband, who she regarded as a diabolically vile monster, and has nothing but contempt for the other widows who cruelly abused her. Thus this apparently exonerates Frank of any blame or responsibility.
* ''[[{{Shazam}} Captain Marvel]]'' foe BlackAdam. He's an interesting variation, because he was originally (in ancient Egypt) a hero, but then the power went to his head and he had a FaceHeelTurn. After several thousand years of being a villain, he had a HeelFaceTurn... sorta, several thousand years of being a villain apparently twists your understanding of "heroism" a bit. Still, he was at least ''trying'', a lot of which was for the sake of his new wife, whom he'd shared his powers with and who was genuinely a good person. And then she got killed. Adam didn't take it well.
* ''{{Preacher}}'' has The Saint of Killers while he was alive. [[spoiler:He finally gets his vengeance in the final book, two hundred-odd years after the fact.]]
* Kal-El in ''SupermanAndBatmanGenerations'', after his first wife Lois Lane was killed by the Ultra-Humanite posing as Lex Luthor. He also loses his daughter Kara to his son Joel, who dies shortly afterward on the same day.
* In the second ''ComicBook/AtariForce'' series, Martin Champion becomes a widow when his wife Lydia died giving birth to their son Christopher, and spends much of that series going after her real killer, the Dark Destroyer.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* John Freeman in FanFic/HalfLifeFullLifeConsequences
* In ''Fanfic/DeadOfNight'', this is how [[Webcomic/HannaIsNotABoysName Finas]] met Casimiro. His wife and daughter were killed in the night by vampires, leading to him joining Casimiro as a full-time vampire hunter.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Maximus in ''Film/{{Gladiator}}''.
* Clyde in ''LawAbidingCitizen.''
* Damon / Big Daddy in ''Film/KickAss''. He actually trains his daughter to help him seek revenge.
* SweeneyTodd.
* LeonardoDiCaprio seems to be getting these roles lately; both ''Film/ShutterIsland'' and ''{{Inception}}'' had shades of this.
* ''Film/StarTrekGenerations''. Dr. Tolian Soran's family was killed during the Borg assimilation of El-Auria. He spends the movie trying to get into the Nexus so he can be with them again, even though doing so requires destroying a star and killing hundreds of millions of sentient aliens.
* The 2009 ''Film/StarTrek'' had Nero, who lost his family and planet in the old timeline, and is out for revenge in the [[TimeTravelTenseTrouble new/different/whatever]] one.
* ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'': Khan blamed Kirk for the death of his wife while his people were marooned. He expressed his bitterness enough to make it an overshadowing motivation. Despite his loathing for Kirk and all of Starfleet, he wears a Starfleet badge around his neck - because Marla [=McGivers=] was a former Starfleet officer.
* Paul Kersey in the ''Film/DeathWish'' series.
* Gordon Brewer in ''Collateral Damage''.
* This is the basis of ''Film/KillBill'', demonstrating that women get a shot at nihilistic murderous despair at least once in a while.
* Creator/MelGibson seems to play this kind of role a lot -- for instance, in ''MadMax'', ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'', and ''ThePatriot'', although in the latter his widowerhood and his crusading weren't directly related ([[PapaWolf he's avenging the death of his son]]). Creator/HeathLedger's character in the latter film also counts, except he's not very good at it.
* Creator/ClintEastwood as ''Film/TheOutlawJoseyWales''.
* In the film ''Film/PatriotGames'', while they're not killed, the near-fatal attack on his wife and daughter spurs Jack Ryan to rejoin the CIA in order to find the people responsible.
* Dr. Richard Kimble of ''Film/TheFugitive''.
* Mr. Incredible in ''WesternAnimation/TheIncredibles'' develops this, despite it not actually being the case. Regardless, he still believes that his family is dead and for a little while, he definitely becomes the angry, vengeful, miserable Crusading Widower.
* A rare gender inversion: Creator/JodieFoster's character from ''Film/TheBraveOne'' becomes a vigilante after her fiance is killed.
* ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'' features [[spoiler:Film/JamesBond losing his new wife at the end of film]].
* In ''HarryBrown'', the title character is specifically avenging the death of his friend, but the death of his sick wife early in the film frees him up to act, as he has nothing left to lose.
* Subverted in ''RollingThunder''. While Major Ranes' wife and son are both murdered by the gang, he says to his friend Johnny he found the men who killed his son. While he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Rane's wife started a relationship with another man, and he seems to feel she's already dead to him prior to her actual death.
* The Mariachi becomes this in ''Film/OnceUponATimeInMexico'' following the murder of Carolina and their daughter by Marquez.
* Riggs in ''Film/Lethal Weapon'' is reasonably heroic, but he's also suicidal and is considered crazy by everyone who knows him. He slowly becomes less unhinged as he opens up to his partner Murtagh.
* Manfred ("Manny") the mammoth from WesternAnimation/IceAge. The death of his mate and child at the hands of human hunters leaves him grumpy and miserable at the beginning of the film, and it's possible that he was heading north to commit suicide since life wasn't worth living without them. The tragic nature of his [[DarkAndTroubledPast backstory]] is finally revealed when the ragtag misfit "herd" that he's found stumble across a series of cave paintings that bring it to light. Notably, the VillainProtagonist, Diego, is highly moved by seeing this, especially since this moment causes him to forgive his murders because of the baby he is protecting - from Diego himself.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Michael Edwards in ''Literature/RedStormRising'' intervenes [[spoiler:to stop the rape of Vigdis Augustdotir]] in part because of the brutal murder of his fiancee when he was attending the US Air Force Academy.
* Lucas Trask in Creator/HBeamPiper's ''Space Viking''. He pays for his crusade by a) nuking and looting cities, and b) offering cities the chance to pay him not to nuke them, and sometimes to nuke and loot someone else. [[spoiler:As he begins to recover from the trauma, he begins working on c) trade and d) lighting the blue touch paper on what might become [[TheFederation a new Federation]].]]
* Catelyn Stark from ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire''.
* Canoc Caspro barely averts this in ''[[Literature/AnnalsOfTheWesternShore Gifts]]'' by Creator/UrsulaKLeGuin. It's only his responsibilities as brantor that keep him from riding up to [[spoiler:Drummant]] alone to avenge his wife's murder.
* Neshi, the Tech Detective and lead character of ''Literature/TheWandering'', becomes this after the death of his wife Etarina, made all the more heartbreaking when he found out that she was pregnant.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/HellOnWheels'' has
** Bohannon, for the first season at least, who opens up the show with tracking down the Union soldiers who killed his wife and son
** Lily Bell as the rare Crusading Widow who following her husbands murder (right in front of her - she avoided the same fate by killing his murderer minutes after) makes it her mission to see that the railroad he died making plans for is completed.
* Series/{{Spartacus}} in the Starz series of the same name. So much so that he is offered the life of the wife responsible for his wife's slavery in order to stop his crusade and "balance the scales".
* Hercules in ''Series/HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys''.
* To a certain degree, Gibbs in ''Series/{{NCIS}}. ''
* Sam Winchester's fiancee-to-be's murder in the pilot episode of ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' makes him obsess over hunting her killer. Twenty-two years earlier, the boys' father, John Winchester became a widower when his wife died in the same way. And he spent the rest of his life hunting down her killer, including training his sons into the [[TykeBomb human weapons]] that make such fascinating television. He died first, but his spirit helped his eldest son off the bastard a season later.
* Michael in ''Series/{{Nikita}}'', all the way.
* Wyatt Cain in ''Series/TinMan.'' All he wants once he's been freed is to kill Zero, avenge his family, and die in a blaze of glory. Fortunately for him, his former boss forces him into a promise to [[{{Protectorate}} guard DG]] "[[LastRequest at all costs]]."
* The ''Series/CriminalMinds'' episode "Roadkill" features an unsub who targets people who drive red coupes, out of revenge for his wife's death. [[spoiler:The red coupe driver who caused the accident was ''him''. He was so twisted with guilt that it warped his memory.]]
* Patrick Jane on ''TheMentalist''.
* ''Series/TwentyFour'':
** Jack Bauer, who found his wife dead at the end of the first season, murdered by his mistress.
** For much darker examples, there's [[spoiler: Tony Almeida when he looks to avenge the murder of his wife and unborn son in season seven and Jack when he becomes one ''again'' in the final season after his current love interest is killed.]]
* Leo Dalton in ''Series/SilentWitness'', after a car crashed into a restaurant and killed his wife and daughter.
* Horatio Caine, from ''Series/CSIMiami'', who had his wife shot and dying in his arms.
* Two examples from ''Series/{{CSI NY}}'': Mac Taylor (who lost his wife on 9/11) and Don Flack (girlfriend killed in a robbery).
* Jack Halford in ''Series/NewTricks'' whose wife was killed in a hit and run prompting his retirement. When he comes out of his HeroicBSOD he uses his new job at UCOS to help him track down her killer.
* Adrian Series/{{Monk}}. His wife's murder is both the reason for the [[DefectiveDetective way he is]], and his motivation for his work. He finally solves her murder in the SeriesFinale.
* Homeland Security agent Mark Fallon, who appeared on two episodes of ''Series/{{Castle}}''. His wife was killed on 9/11.
* ''Series/{{Merlin}}'':
** GenderFlipped with Queen Annis, who seeks revenge for the death of her husband [[spoiler:at King Arthur's hands]].
** Also Uther and his anti-magic crusade brought on by Ygraine's death
* Cole in ''{{Tracker}}''
* Noah Bennet's backstory on ''Series/{{Heroes}}'' reveals that his first wife was killed in a botched home invasion by a special who had telekinetically flung her into a glass table. This sets him off on a quest to kill that special and others like him, which brought him on the radar of the Company. In the years since, he's cooled down a bit, but still harbors suspicious feelings about specials.
* William Boone in the first season of ''EarthFinalConflict''. He figures out pretty quickly that the Taelons had his wife killed in order to "free" him to work for them (he previously refused because he wanted to spend more time with his wife). He seems to have settled down after Sandoval admits that he was the one who ordered her death to "spare" her. The second season opener reveals that Da'an was the one who ordered Sandoval to do that.
* Judge Nicholas Marshall in ''DarkJustice''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Gabriel Belmont in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaLordsOfShadow''.
* Kratos from ''VideoGame/GodOfWar'' kills his own family and spends the rest of the series haunted by the memory and seeking revenge on the Gods for making him do so and for otherwise being colossal jerkasses.
* ''VideoGame/MaxPayne'' spends the first game on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge against the big conspiracy that killed his wife and newborn girl. It takes a while for him to get started (primarily due to spending most of the game trying to find out who murdered his partner and set him up to take the fall for it), but when he does...
* Carth Onasi in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic.'' His primary motive is killing his treasonous commanding officer who announced his defection to the Sith by bombing Carth's homeworld, and among the casualties...
* Kivan from the first ''VideoGame/BaldursGate''.
* Ashe from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' was married to Prince Rasler, making her a Crusading ''Widow''.
* ''VideoGame/StarFox'': Main character Fox [=McCloud=]'s father James was this in the official backstory to the series.
* The PlayerCharacter's father in ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}''.
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'': Thane's work as an assassin led to his wife being killed. He was pretty changed by it.
** Gender-flipped and notable that even if she ''wasn't'' romanced in the first game, Liara ''still'' has a subtle vibe of this during the second. After Shepard's death, she handed his/her remains over to Cerberus in order to bring them back, then went and waged war for two years against The Shadow Broker for trying to sell Shepard's corpse to [[BigBad the Collectors.]] Keep in mind, [[TookALevelInBadass before this]], she was a shy and mild-mannered ''[[BadassBookworm archaeologist]]''.
* Boone from ''VideoGame/FalloutNewVegas.'' Interesting in that while he is motivated by his wife's death, it's not the strongest guiding force in his life or even the reason he feels that fate's only keeping him alive to toy with him.
* Varian Wrynn in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', though he's fortunate enough to keep his son as a {{Protectorate}} (if often enough a reluctant one). He still blames himself for not being able to save her, though a bit less so as of the novel ''Wolfheart'', and holds a very long and violent grudge against the Defias for their part in his wife's death. While, granted, he does tend to have [[DoomMagnet pretty terrible luck]] with loved ones in general, Tiffin's death much more than others really threw him into gritty AntiHero territory... at least once he finally snapped out of his depression from it.
* Cyan Garamonde in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'' goes berserk when his wife and son are killed, followed by a long period of soul-agonizing CornerOfWoe. But he eventually gets better, regaining his sense of purpose and becoming a [[InformedAbility formidable]] warrior. [[note]][[DontExplainTheJoke Yes, there was shades of snark in that last part.]][[/note]] The game's story plays this straight, but in game battles he can seldom outperform most of his comrades in special skills, except maybe as [[GoodBadBugs Psycho Cyan]].]]
* [[LoveMakesYouCrazy James]] [[UnreliableNarrator Sunderland]] of ''VideoGame/SilentHill2'' is a particularly dark example; after his wife [[IllGirl Mary]] dies ([[spoiler: [[UnreliableNarrator supposedly]]]]) of terminal illness, James is driven deeply enough into desperation to [[HesJustHiding believe she's still alive]], and seeks her in the monster-infested hellhole that is Silent Hill. Of course, the intensity of his SurvivorGuilt makes more sense when the player realizes [[spoiler: he killed Mary himself]].
** It gets even darker. Though it varies depending on the player's actions, most {{Fanon}} agrees that this crusade ends in [[spoiler: James's suicide]].
* RareFemaleExample and possible deconstruction: [[spoiler: the Tharja from the Bad Future]] in FireEmblemAwakening.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* In the ''Webcomic/CiemWebcomicSeries'', Candi Levens in the [[DistaffCounterpart Crusading Widow]] after Denny dies. (And [[ViolentlyProtectiveGirlfriend whenever Donte is threatened]].)
* Gender flipped in ''Webcomic/OurLittleAdventure'' with Pauline. She becomes a barbarian after her husband and son were killed, partly to deal with her rage and pain of it all, and partly to seek out an [[DeathSeeker opponent greater than her]]. Joining Julie's group was the perfect way for her to do this.
* Soon Kim in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', after his wife is killed by the Snarl.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* Dan Mason a.k.a. ''WebAnimation/TheAccuser''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SkyDancers'' gives us the female version of this with Queen Skyla, who takes up her husband's mantle after he is killed [[spoiler:but not really]] by his elder brother.
* Mr. Freeze in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' , though his wife did not actually die.
* While not exactly a widower (because his wife [[HumanPopsicle is in a stasis chamber]] until her [[SoulJar psychocrystal]] can be retrieved), Zachary Foxx in ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers Galaxy Rangers]]'' has some warning flags of this trope. Rare in that he is a straight-up heroic example, but the topic of Eliza is still his BerserkButton.
[[/folder]]
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