[[quoteright:350:[[Anime/TigerAndBunny http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/romancing_the_widow.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:Trying a bit too hard there, girl.]]

Behold the young bride, [[HappilyMarried blissfully happy]] with her husband (or sometimes [[DomesticAbuse not...]]) until he dies before his time. Now she's single again, but disinterested in romance. Either her former husband was a jerk, and she no longer trusts men, or she loved her husband so deeply that no suitor can compete with his ([[NostalgiaFilter possibly rose-tinted]]) memory.

But lo! Enter our protagonist, who wins her heart with his patient ways and teaches her to love again. This is of course a romance trope. Can be a way of bringing in an "older woman" love interest. Once she moves on, the old husband will rarely--if ever--be mentioned again.

Can face complications when dealing with the FalseWidow.

If it's a RescueRomance, she's probably also a DeterminedWidow. See WidowWoman for more widow tropes.

A form of SecondLove. Compare ComfortingTheWidow, when the lover starts putting on the moves ''way'' too early, and the BlackWidow, where she's single and there's a very good reason for that.

Word of warning to all time-travelers: This ''could'' result in you becoming your own Grandpa.

Often TruthInTelevision today and especially in past centuries, when shorter lifespans meant that it was common for people to remarry at least once in their lifetimes due to the death of their spouses. To cite just one famous historical example, UsefulNotes/JamesMadison hooked up with Dolley Payne Todd this way after her husband died during the yellow-fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia in the mid-1790's.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* The main plot of ''Manga/MaisonIkkoku'' is centered on the trope, since the LoveTriangle involves a beautiful WidowWoman who works as a landlady and is courted [[RichSuitorPoorSuitor by a penniless would-be college student and a rich tennis coach.]] There's even a huge lampshade when she gets together with [[spoiler: the first]]:
-->"Promise me that even if it's by one day... you'll outlive me. [[PleaseDontLeaveMe I don't want to be alone again.]]"
* [[spoiler:Karina]] from ''Anime/TigerAndBunny'', who [[spoiler: has a crush on the widowed lead male Kotetsu, despite him being around twice her age. The scene is from the GrandFinale]].
* This is the plot of ''Manga/NatsuyukiRendezvous'' in which Hazuki is in love with the widowed Rokka-chan, unfortunately for him her late husband is a very clingy ghost only he can see who promptly tries to get in the way.


[[folder: Comicbooks ]]

* ''ComicBook/ElfQuest'' has two very different examples: Clearbrook's husband One-Eye is murdered during a sneak attack, and their old friend Treestump immediately takes care of Clearbrook emotionally during her HeroicBSOD to make sure she doesn't go insane with grief. When it turns out One-Eye is in a kind of magical coma, Treestump makes sure his friend's soul gets all the closure it needs, and he and Clearbrook gradually become lifemates after One-Eye is put to rest. A second, less conventional example happens when Cutter's family is kidnapped 10000 years into the future (far beyond his own natural lifespan) and he decides to at least keep on living normally for as long as he can. His childhood friends Nightfall and Redlance ask him to become their lovemate and live with them for as long as he wants, because the loneliness would otherwise consume him completely. (Interestingly, Nightfall is the best friend of Cutter's kidnapped lifemate Leetah, and it was thought by the entire tribe that she would end up with Cutter because they were born around the same time. Also interestingly, Nightfall's daughter Tyleet ends up becoming the lifemate of both Treestump's daughter Dewshine and Clearbrook's son Scouter.)
* The ''ComicBook/SinCity'' story ''A Dame To Kill For'' has a subplot involving one of the few honest cops in Basin City getting involved in an affair with a recently widowed FemmeFatale. It ends tragically for him [[spoiler: and his partner, whom he kills before committing suicide.]]
* Gender inverted and without actual marriage (even if they were seriously considering it) in the ''ComicBook/SpiderMan'' comics. Gwen... [[ILetGwenStacyDie named a certain trope]] and left Peter heartbroken. Enter Mary Jane whom helps him by being a supportive friend and the two become closer. A few years after her death, they share a kiss and begin to contemplate a relationship. Then this being comics, a Gwen clone shows up (and of course he spend a good deal of the arc believing it was genuinely her). The clone eventually helps him realize that his relationship with Gwen was NOT as perfect as he thought, her hatred of his alter ego ran too deep, and it was MJ he really in love with. However, he never really stopped angsting about Gwen, leading MJ to sometimes question if she really was his second choice (it's mostly entirely baseless, and they have never shown to have anything but unconditional love for each other, but the "what if I managed to save her thing" gets dragged out A LOT).


[[folder: Films -- Animated ]]

* The film ''WesternAnimation/BebesKids'' starts with Robin Harris dating the newly widowed Jameeka, but it turns out he bit off more than he could chew, as he ends up babysitting her friend's incredibly rambunctious kids.


[[folder: Films -- Live-Action ]]

* In ''Film/FindingNeverland'', rumors of this arise as a result of all of the time that James Barrie spends with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (a rather scandalous situation, considering that he is married). The reality is a platonic variation, and Sylvia's mother, Emma, is rather annoyed with James because his attentions are keeping this from legitimately happening to Sylvia.
* The FilmOfTheBook to ''Film/FlightOfTheIntruder'' has a subplot where the main character ends up getting into a relationship with the widow of his bombadier/navigator, who died in the film's opening.
* In ''Film/KeyLargo'', Frank with Nora, although it's mostly on her part. Frank is still dealing with the guilt of surviving the war where his friend--Nora's husband--hadn't.
* In ''Film/TooManyHusbands'' (1940), when Bill was declared LegallyDead after a boating accident, his business partner Henry helped the widow "in a million little ways," leading her to marry him six months later. This causes awkwardness when Bill returns from being shipwrecked on a DesertedIsland.
* In ''Film/MiracleOnThirtyFourthStreet'' she's a divorcee, not a widow, but it's the same principle.
* Sarah and Hull's relationship is like this in ''Film/PaleRider''. Sarah's husband dies before the plot begins, but it's implied that she's the "loved her husband dearly" variety of widow.
* ''Film/TheMagnificentAmbersons'' is about a ([[ManChild grown-up]]) SpoiledBrat with MommyIssues who is [[ParentWithNewParamour horrified]] that his widowed mother is falling for her ChildhoodSweetheart. Everyone else thinks he's making a fuss about nothing.
* Edward towards Angela in ''Film/SevenFacesOfDrLao''; it takes a little magical assistance from the eponymous wizard for her to finally come around.
* Alec wants to marry Julie, a young widow, in the film ''Film/{{In Name Only|1939}}''. They both fall deeply in love, but the only problem is that his current wife, Maida, won't give him a divorce.
* ''Film/WildRiver'' has Chuck the TVA man falling in love with beautiful Carol, whose husband died three years ago and who was left with two small children. Complicated in that Chuck, on behalf of the federal government, is trying to get Carol's family off their land so the badly-needed dam can proceed.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* In ''Literature/EnochArden,'' Philip [[LoveConfession declares his love to Annie]] after Enoch has been [[LegallyDead missing for several years.]] He has to be [[DoggedNiceGuy very patient,]] as she is reluctant to give up on Enoch, and even when she finally marries him, it is mostly RemarryingForYourKids at first. (She does finally come to return his feelings, however.)
* Ista in ''Literature/PaladinOfSouls'', by Creator/LoisMcMasterBujold; she does a lot of the romancing herself, being the POV character.
* Clive Cussler's ''[[Literature/DirkPittAdventures The Mediterranean Caper]]''. Dirk Pitt does this with Teri von Till, who is still in mourning for her car-racer husband. It later turns out that [[spoiler:she's actually an undercover Federal Bureau of Narcotics agent named Amy, so her story may have been fake]].
* ''Literature/VorkosiganSaga'':
** Miles Vorkosigan's love interest Ekaterin is widowed in ''Literature/{{Komarr}}'', freeing her up for Miles' courtship in ''Literature/ACivilCampaign''. Given the five-to-four male/female ratio on Barrayar, however, he quickly finds that he is not her only suitor. And given the unstable and classified circumstances under which the husband died, Miles finds himself slandered of [[MurderTheHypotenuse creating a widow]] for himself...
** In ''Literature/{{Barrayar}}'', Count Vidal Vordarian had been courting the recently widowed Princess Kareen as part of his scheme to become RegentForLife for her four year old son Gregor. Emperor Ezar saw through him and arranged for his grandson's regency to be assigned to Lord Aral Vorkosigan instead.
* Somehow subverted in Jorge Amado's novel ''Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands'', where the titular Flor is the widow who is eventually romanced, and who has to learn how to open to love again. Of course, things become more complicated, what with the ghost of her first husband coming back...
* In the ''Literature/IncarnationsOfImmortality'' novel "Being a Green Mother," after the stunning Niobe loses her husband, she [[spoiler:becomes the immortal Clotho]]. Some 40 years later, she meets and falls in love again with a different man, many years after his wife also died. He even comments (paraphrased) "It's almost like Fate has been saving you until the time was right."
* Atretes, the hero of ''[[Literature/TheMarkOfTheLion As Sure As the Dawn]]'', is an ex-gladiator embittered by a failed DestructiveRomance who strikes up a partnership with a widow named Rizpah who had previously adopted the child whom he had thought his previous lover had aborted. Despite [[BelligerentSexualTension hating one another's guts at first]], they eventually fall for each other; she [[LoveRedeems pulls him out of his nihilistic cynicism]] and he is able to help her experience true love for the first time (she was a prostitute as a child and her first husband was a kindly older man for whom she never had romantic feelings).
* Gender inverted in ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''. Indis loved Finwë from afar even before he married. After he visits her when his first wife dies, she openly declares her love for him.
* ''Literature/{{Messenger}}'' has a sinister version. Mentor [[DealWithTheDevil trades away his true self]] to become young and handsome in order to romance Stocktender's recently-widowed wife.
* In Creator/DavidWeber's ''Literature/{{Empire From the Ashes}}'', Star Marshal Tsien Tao-ling does this for Amanda Givens, who lost her first husband in the battle of [[spoiler:Zeta Trianguli Australis]] and subsequently completely shut down emotionally. Happens in the time gap between ''The Armageddon Inheritance'' and ''Heirs of Empire'', meaning the romance is recounted in the narrative of the latter:
-->'''Narration''': Amanda Tsien feared nothing that lived, but she was also an orphan. She'd been only nine years old when she learned a harsh universe's cruelest weapon could be love... and she'd relearned that lesson when Tamman, her first husband, died at Zeta Trianguli Australis. Colin and Jiltanith had watched helplessly as she hid herself in her duties, sealing herself into an armored shell and investing all the emotion she dared risk in Tamman's son. She'd become an automaton, and there'd been nothing even an emperor could do about it, but Tsien Tao-ling had changed that.\\
Many of the marshal's personnel feared him. That was wise of them, yet something in Amanda had called out to him, despite her defenses, and the man the newsies called "the Juggernaut" had approached her so gently she hadn't even realized he was doing it until it was too late. Until he'd been inside her armor, holding out his hand to offer her the heart few people believed he had... and she'd taken it.
* ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' has Jerin with [[spoiler:the princesses]]. Since the former husband was a jerk, the widow status is not much dwelled on, though--it is only important insofar as [[spoiler:Trini]] does not really want to remarry, for fear she could get such a jerk again.
* As they did in RealLife, the heroines of Susan Higginbotham's historical fiction often end up remarrying after their first husband comes to a historically sticky end.
* In some of the later ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' books, the long-widowed Lady Jessica Atreides is said to have found love with Gurney Halleck, although given that they have by that time become the rulers of Caledan and Giedi Prime, respectively, their relationship is kept very low-key to avoid scandal.


[[folder: Live-Action Television ]]

* Patrick Jane of ''Series/TheMentalist'' lost both his wife and his daughter when they were brutally murdered by a serial killer, which was [[NiceJobBreakingItHero kind of his fault]]. He feels incredibly guilty about it and continues to wear his wedding ring years later, all while bent on revenge. Consequently, any woman attempting to date him in the series falls into this, as he has a lot of issues and is extremely cagey about starting up with anyone new. Eventually [[spoiler:he gets past this and starts a relationship with Libson. It ends very, very well.]]
* In the ''Series/DoctorWho'' Series 3 episodes ''Human Nature/Family of Blood,'' the humanized Doctor falls in love with a widowed nurse working at the school where he teaches. She remarks at some point that it's not fair how the world expects widows to just disappear after their husbands die.
* In the British thriller series ''Series/TheLastEnemy'', Stephen and his brother's widow, Yasim, fall in love. Things get a bit more complicated when it turns out that [[spoiler: his brother was FakingTheDead. Not that their marriage was in the best of states beforehand.]]
* In ''Series/SingleFather'' Dave and Sarah's burgeoning romance is taut with the presence of Rita's memory and how quickly they seem to have gotten together after her death. Rita was also Sarah's best friend and further complicates things by having a boyfriend at the time when she and Dave first get together.
* ''Series/{{Frasier}}'': Martin starts dating the widow of a friend and wonders whether he should feel guilty about it.
* Mary Crawley of ''Series/DowntonAbbey'', after Matthew dies. After a short bout of deep depression, she recovers surprisingly quickly.
* Lucrezia Borgia of ''Series/{{Borgia}}'' is surprisingly distraught after the death of her husband, [[spoiler:Alfonso de Calabria. Lucky, her longtime lover (the other Alfonso) is still around to marry.]]
* In the second season of ''Series/{{Tyrant}}'', Molly, having been led to believe that her husband Bassam Al-Fayeed has been executed, pursues a short-lived affair with Sammy's lawyer.


[[folder: Music ]]

* Music/GarthBrooks's "That Summer" is made of this trope. It tells the story of a young farmhand hired by a widow who then falls for him.
* The Music/GreatBigSea song "Widow in the Window" is about a young bride who refuses to believe her husband died at sea, much to the disappointment of the narrator, who is in love with her.


[[folder: Myth & Religions ]]
* In ''Literature/BookOfCorinthians'' from [[Literature/TheBible New Testament]] , the only circumstance where one can legitimately marry a widow is if the widow's spouse was deceased, which the widow is no longer bound to the spouse and can seek a SecondLove as they want.
** A widow, by definition, has their spouse deceased.
* Even earlier than that, there's a strange case in the book of Deuteronomy: If a married man dies without leaving behind a son, the man's brother has a responsibility to marry the widow. If this brother then has a son with the woman, the son is considered to be of the deceased's lineage, to carry on his family name. Furthermore, if the brother refuses to marry the widow, she can take him before the town elders and have him publicly humiliated. (This was to ensure that a widow was properly cared for, as women in those days didn't have much means of supporting themselves without a husband or son.)
* In the Literature/BookOfJudith, the title character (who herself is a widow) becomes so famous for her HeroicSeductress role in defeating Holofernes, the leader of the Assyrian army, that many tried to marry her, but she ended up turning them all down and lived the rest of her life as a widow.


[[folder: Theatre ]]
* Theatre/TheMerryWidow is about a baron from the same [[{{Ruritania}} small country]] as the title character trying to get her to marry a fellow countryman and not a Frenchman, so that her husband's money doesn't leave the country. They choose her old flame Count Danilo for the job, and SlapSlapKiss ensues.

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* ''VisualNovel/DreamDaddy'':
** The Main Character that can date any of the dads has lost his previous partner a while before the events of the series.
** [[spoiler:Robert]] had a wife, but she died in a car accident. He is a romantic option for you to date.
** Another romantic option, [[spoiler:Mat]], also had a wife who passed away before she even [[spoiler:saw the coffee shop they opened]].
* Jaheira in ''VideoGame/BaldursGateII''
* Creator/BioWare gender-inverts the trope into Romancing the Widow''er'' quite a few times across their various games:
** Carth Onasi in ''VideoGame/KnightsOfTheOldRepublic''
** Sky in ''VideoGame/JadeEmpire''
** Thane Krios in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', and Steve Cortez (as a GayOption variant) in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3''
* ''Waaaay'' too many H-games to count.
* Ramon wanted to do this to Vanessa in ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters''. Never got further than being her DoggedNiceGuy.
* In ''VideoGame/MitsumeteKnight'', this is the scenario of one of the winnable girls, [[spoiler: Claire Majoram]].
* [[DummiedOut Looking at the game code]] reveals that this was going to be an option in ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim'', but was cut. The Dragonborn would be able to romance [[TheHighQueen Jarl Elisif the Fair]], whose husband was murdered at the start of the Civil War, but there's no way (without using the developer's console) to reach the romancing dialogue.
* The trope is genderflipped in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemFates'' if a Female Avatar successfully romances [[spoiler: Gunther]], a man whose wife and child perished [[spoiler: alongside his DoomedHometown.]]
* ''VisualNovel/LongLiveTheQueen'' begins with player character Elodie's mother, Queen Fidelia, suddenly dying. Her father, Joslyn, is subsequently approached by multiple suitors throughout the game; as the King Dowager and the Duke of Caloris, he makes an attractive partner to anyone looking. By default he remains uninterested in remarrying despite having no heir to his title (since Elodie is the crown princess, she can't also inherit Joslyn's title), but if Elodie's choices have gotten the nobles talking about the importance of heirs, he may be pushed into marrying in order to ensure the succession remains safe.
* ''VideoGame/HarvestMoon'':
** In ''VideoGame/HarvestMoon1'' Ann's father is a widower and Nina's mother is a widow. They have their ShipTease. If you marry Nina (but oddly, not Ann), then they will get married.
** A gender-inverted version is the optional bachelor [[spoiler:Jin]] from ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonTreeOfTranquility'' and ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonAnimalParade''. He is the first love interest who was in a previous marriage and ended up a widow/widower.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* Gender-inverted in ''Webcomic/SomethingPositive'' by Davan's parents. Fred was a widower who had lost his wife ''and'' son, which didn't stop Faye from falling in love with him. Despite harsh criticism from Fred's side of the family, Faye and Fred got married and had children of their own.
* ''Webcomic/{{Monsterkind}}'': A same-sex example. Wallace starts to develop a crush on Ben, his landlord who is still grieving his past love interest. [[spoiler:Chapter 4 implies this to not be really one sided anymore, as they AlmostKiss]].


[[folder: Western Animation]]
* Several ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' cartoons revolved around this plot, usually the result of the would-be suitor discovering that the widow in question had inherited a fortune.
** "At Your Service, Madame" - A mother sow is almost robbed blind by a con-man... er... pig [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed (patterned after W.C. Fields)]] posing as a suitor, and her kids team up trying to stop him.
** "Hare Trimmed" - Yosemite Sam attempts to woo Granny (called Emma in this cartoon) after discovering she inherited 50 million dollars. Bugs Bunny overhears about the plot, and poses as another suitor in an attempt to keep Granny from being conned.
** "Honey's Money" - Yosemite Sam (in his only solo cartoon) marries a wealthy widow, but quickly becomes a HenpeckedHusband, and to make matters worse, has to put up with his new big-as-a-house stepson, leaving him to wonder if the money's even worth it. [[WorthIt He ultimately decides "yes".]]