It used to be thought that superheroes had to be single in order to be interesting protagonists. After all, a single superhero is a mobile superhero; it's easier to suddenly drop everything to go fly into space and have adventures with the Space Princess of Neptune when you don't have a wife and kids waiting at home. And besides that, everybody knows that comic book readers are lonely, single guys anyway. So why bother them with something they can't relate to, like a committed relationship?

As such, superheroes afflicted with this trope are never, under ''any'' circumstances, allowed to settle down with anyone. ([[AlternateUniverse At least, not in the main canon]].) Unlike the CelibateHero, they may actually date, but expect them to say "ItsNotYouItsMyEnemies," and other excuses of varying plausibility. If they actually do show signs of planning to settle down with someone, expect the CartwrightCurse to rear its ugly head, resulting in the love interest getting killed off, PutOnABus or otherwise removed from the hero's life before story's end or somewhere further down the line.

Compare CartwrightCurse, TrueLoveIsBoring, and ShippingBedDeath, which may lead to this in more romance-focused works such as ''Series/LoisAndClark''.

Related to TheMasqueradeWillKillYourDatingLife.



[[folder: Comic Books]]
* UsefulNotes/{{The Silver Age|of Comic Books}} Franchise/{{Superman}} stories ran on this.
** Eventually averted by the marriage of Lois Lane and Superman.
*** [[ZigZaggingTrope Zigzagged]] later: in {{ComicBook/New 52}} universe reboot, [[spoiler: because first, said reboot sent Superman back to unmarried status. Then, the situation came back to normal (married to Lois with a son as a bonus in ''Rebirth'')]].
** Averted in UsefulNotes/{{the Bronze Age|OfComicBooks}} by the marriage of the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane.
* Superman's cousin ''Comicbook/{{Supergirl}}'' has never had a stable, long-lasting relationship. Her love interests usually are: cheaters; assholes; creeps; stalkers; manipulative bastards who are using her; or actual nice guys who break up with her and are put on a bus shortly after meeting her.
* This was the mentality behind the destruction of the SpiderMan[=/=]Mary Jane relationship in ''ComicBook/OneMoreDay''. We'll just say this is one of the most iconic and well-known examples in the entire genre. [[FlameBait Please refrain from adding further commentary on the subject.]]
** Spider-Man is still married in the daily comic strip.
** Before Peter and Mary Jane tied the knot, a marriage had been put off by killing off Gwen Stacy and by putting Mary Jane on the bus ca. 1980.
* The ComicBook/IncredibleHulk ran on this for decades. Even after he was married in the early 1980s, most of the time he was estranged/separated from his wife (and then she died). But now he's got a whole family of Hulks.
* Averted in ''ComicBook/FantasticFour'': barring the occasional character [[ComicBookDeath death]], Reed & Sue have been more-or-less happily married for quite a long time.
** Played straight with Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters, their marriage was undone by having Alicia [[{{Retcon}} Retconned]] to be a Skrull spy.
* Franchise/{{Batman}} and family:
** Bruce himself falls squarely into this trope in nearly all incarnations. He's usually depicted as being MarriedToTheJob, and his two most famous romantic prospects are [[DatingCatwoman Catwoman]] (a professional sneak-thief) and Talia al Ghul (the daughter of one of his mortal enemies.) In 2017, however, Bruce ''proposed to Selina'', and she accepted. How this will work out long-term has yet to be seen.
** Batman's proteges suffer from this trope as well. Dick Grayson and Starfire's marriage ceremony in a New Teen Titans issue was cut short by an invasion, and later on his engagement to Barbara Gordon fizzled out for no reason at all.
** Tim Drake's long-term relationship with Stephanie Brown ended after she got brutally killed in War Games. She came back to life and they briefly restarted their relationship, but soon after she was sent back into limbo in the {{ComicBook/New 52}} reboot.
** Like Superman, averted by the wedding of Batman and Catwoman's Earth-2 counterparts.
** Most attempts to give [[ComicBook/Batgirl2000 Cassandra Cain]] a love interest failed miserably, and usually resulted in said love interest being killed off. Given her bad luck (and some would argue [[AllGirlsWantBadBoys bad taste]]) with men, it's no surprise that most {{Shipping}} involving her is centred around her female friends.
** ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'', by contrast, completely averts it by introducing its [[LegacyCharacter protagonist]] in a serious dating relationship that he maintains throughout the series. [[spoiler: "Epilogue" reveals that they will marry.]]
* ComicBook/GreenArrow and ComicBook/BlackCanary ''tried'' to avert this but the Mike Grell era signaled the end of their relationship. Their 2007 marriage proved to be unpopular and was quickly ended by the events of ''ComicBook/JusticeLeagueCryForJustice''.
* Comicbook/{{Cyclops}} married Madelyne Pryor, and their marriage went down the toilet and he became a widower soon after. He then married Jean Grey who is currently dead.
* Creator/GrantMorrison {{deconstructed}} this in Comicbook/AnimalMan, killing the titular character's family for drama only to bring them back at the end of the story.
* ''[[Comicbook/WonderGirl Donna Troy]]'''s husband and child were murdered in a car wreck, arguably for this trope to be justified.
* Cartoonist Lee Falk defies this trope. ComicStrip/ThePhantom married Diana back in the '70s (granted, this ''was'' after one of those decades-long NewspaperComics courtships), had two children, and the family is still together today. As for ComicStrip/MandrakeTheMagician, Falk got him and Narda married off in a huge storyline than ran shortly before Falk's own death (and heck, Mandrake and Narda's 60-odd year courtship makes the Phantom's look like a Vegas wedding by comparison!). Mandrake and Narda are still together in their comic.
* ComicBook/CaptainAmerica has rarely had a long-lasting relationship since at least the GoldenAge. In the 1980s he was with Bernie Rosenthal long enough to become officially engaged to her; however she was eventually put on a bus. In the film ''WesternAnimation/NextAvengersHeroesOfTomorrow'' [[spoiler:it is revealed he married Black Widow and had a son.]] These days, most people talk about him and ComicBook/Agent13 as the best bet, but unfortunately both of them are MarriedToTheJob, so it hasn't really been played up in recent years - except for some serious drama, [[spoiler:like Sharon stabbing herself in the stomach and killing [[MySecretPregnancy the baby she had hidden from Steve]], because she had been captured by the Red Skull, the Skull figured out that she was pregnant, and she was sure he was going to use it for evil.]]
* Franchise/WonderWoman:
** Diana and Steve Trevor dated steadily from the GoldenAge until the 70's. He then spent the next 15 years getting killed or PutOnABus, and then [[TheBusCameBack brought back,]] repeatedly. After the [[ComicBook/CrisisOnInfiniteEarths Crisis,]] George Perez retconned away their relationship completely and married Steve off to supporting castmember Etta Candy.
** As of ''ComicBook/WonderWomanRebirth'', Diana and Steve are together again.
** On Earth-2, Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor married, resulting in their child [[ComicBook/InfinityInc Lyta Trevor (Fury)]].
* ''Franchise/TheFlash'':
** Barry Allen had his marriage to Iris West undone as part of the {{ComicBook/New 52}} reboot, with the fact that it would open up more story possibilities cited as the main reason by [=DC=]. [[spoiler:He is now with Patty Spivot]]. An unfortunate consequence is the removal of fan-favorite character Bart Allen in favor of his DarkerAndEdgier counterpart Bar Torr.
** Wally West had ''his'' marriage undone by [[RetGone being removed from canon.]] Even when [[TheBusCameBack he returned]], the ContinuityReboot meant that his wife doesn't recognize him.
* [=DC=] wouldn't let [[ComicBook/{{Batwoman}} Kate Kane]] marry Maggie Sawyer and not because of their sexual orientation, due to an editorial mandate that their characters cannot be married or have happy personal lives in their New 52 continuity (the reason Creator/DanDidio personally said was that [[TrueArtIsAngsty personal happiness should be sacrificed by the heroes for the sake of focusing on their "work"]]). It's one of the many issues Williams III and Blackman had that made them decide to leave their run on the comic (and in a twist of irony, DC had to make this mandate public knowledge to stave off accusations of homophobia).
* ComicBook/DCRebirth lampshades and deconstructs this, calling out the New 52 on the throwing out of old relationships and marriages. It begins steps towards mending this by having ComicBook/{{Aquaman}} propose to his pre-Flashpoint wife Mera, and bringing [[ComicBook/GreenArrow Oliver Queen]] and [[ComicBook/BlackCanary Dinah Lance]] back together. Also, the (married) Pre-Flashpoint Superman is now the main one.[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fanfiction]]
* Elizabeth Carson of the Literature/WhateleyUniverse has been married three times: two divorces and one husband killed by a supervillain. One of the divorces was apparently caused when one of their kids got superpowers and died from a burnout. She's single now, but has at least one (living) child and at least one granddaughter. (She's over seventy at the start of the series).

[[folder: Film]]
* ''Film/TheMask'' movie ends with Stanley seemingly having hooked up with Tina. [[Westernanimation/TheMask The animated series]] ditched the character of Tina, and both Stanley and The Mask rarely have luck in love. (and that's not counting [[Comicbook/TheMask the original comic]], where just the fact that [[spoiler:Stanley is killed by his girlfriend]] shows no one in their right minds would remain in a relationship with [[AxCrazy Big Head]]...)
* The ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderManSeries'' took some serious heat for the fact [[spoiler: ILetGwenStacyDie was played straight]]. Given the fact the relationship was one of the most popular things about the pairing and it was already on the rocks, many fans were angered and thus contributed to the series reboot.
* The ''Film/{{Highlander}}'' movies are notorious for killing all of Connor Macleod's love interests, including one love interest ''twice'' due to the soft reboots.

[[folder: Literature]]
* Zig-zagged with ''Literature/TheSupervillainySaga'' as Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless starts HappilyMarried with his wife Mandy, only to have severe strain on his marriage occur due to his new life as a supervillain. He also has a lot of tension reignited with his ex-fiance, Ultragoddess, and old girlfriend turned henchwoman, Cindy. Similarly, Mandy's own exes play a role in the book as well as villains attracted to her. [[spoiler: Mandy ends up killed, raised as a vampire, and then Gary has a child with Cindy due to a one-night stand while grieving. Gary gets back together with Mandy after her soul is restored but their relationship is never the same.]]

[[folder: Live Action TV]]
* During the original run of ''Series/DoctorWho'', this trope generally applied to the Doctor (and to most of the other characters too, as per Creator/TheBBC's policy of "[[NoHuggingNoKissing no hanky-panky in the TARDIS]]").
* ''LiveActionTelevision/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' and ''LiveActionTelevision/{{Angel}}'' had a series of relationships throughout the show but as of the ending of the series, ''no one'' had a stable romantic relationship and quite a few characters had suffered the deaths of a partner.
* Dexter in ''LiveActionTV/{{Dexter}}'' suffers this as his long-term love interest [[spoiler: is killed off after five seasons]], only for him to begin long term relationships with two other women [[spoiler: that don't work out.]] This is a contrast to the books where Dexter is HappilyMarried despite being a SerialKillerKiller.

[[folder: Video Games]]
* Terry Bogard in the OVA and movie adaptations of the ''VideoGame/FatalFury'' series get this UpToEleven as they all end in the overly dramatic death of his love interest after he just gets over the deaths of the previous one. This is notable because the video games have him in a happy stable relationship with Blue Mary with no sign of his dead lovers.

[[folder: Web Comic]]
* Webcomic/HeroByNight - Jack's girlfriend Roz just isn't happy being with a superhero. David's love life, from what we've seen of it, looks just as bad.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Supermom}}'', this is averted in Liza's happy marriage, but she's very unhappy to find out that the comic book based on her exploits has turned her single again in its pages.