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Act Of True Love
Operative: The boy spent his entire fortune developing the contacts to infiltrate this place.
Dr. Mathias: Gave up a brilliant future in medicine as well. It's madness!
Operative: Madness? Have you looked at this scan (holo recording) carefully, Doctor? At his face? It's love, in point of fact; something a good deal more dangerous.

The Act Of True Love proves beyond doubt that you are ready to put your loved one's interests before your own, that you are truly loyal and devoted to them. Usually this involves a sacrifice on your part, at the very least a considerable effort and/or a great risk. The action must be motivated, not by morals or principle or expectation of future reward, but by sheer personal affection.

When your beloved is in dire need of your help, or in great danger, and you do something, at great expense to yourself, for the sake of their safety, their welfare, or their happiness, thus proving beyond any doubt that you put your interest ahead of theirs.

The love that motivates this does not need to be romantic: any of The Four Loves may be involved, from the friendship of a True Companion to the devotion of a brother, to a messianic, all-embracing love.

Compare and contrast with Thicker Than Water, Undying Loyalty, or True Companionship, or a sense of obligation or duty, which can be devotions to roles or positions rather than to people. A mother can be emotionally distant from her children, a vassal can think their lord mad and evil, two squadmates can hate each other's guts, yet still fiercely and unconditionally stand by them. The Act Of True Love, however, is always driven by sheer personal affection to the person.

Contrast with Grand Romantic Gesture: showboating, parading or boasting of how much you love the other person, being dramatic or spectacular, all that shows that you're very interested in (furthering) the relationship, but it says absolutely nothing of your commitment to the person, no matter how much effort and resources went into it. The Casanova and the Serial Romeo make such displays as a matter of routine.

On the same topic, compare with True Love's Kiss; kisses, while a great expression of affection, are, in and of themselves, rather unreliable indicators of love, as anyone who's had casual or hate sex can testify. Compare also with Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other, where characters who are not normally affectionate towards each other are seen to demonstrate their love in unequivocal ways, usually by enacting this trope.

An Act Of True Love may well involve a Heroic Sacrifice: this can often be a Death Trope, so beware any Unmarked Spoilers ahead. However, the sacrifice need not be heroic: sometimes Love Makes You Evil or Crazy.


Examples

Anime And Manga
  • In Kill la Kill, Mako does several of these for Ryuuko, usually in the form of a Cooldown Hug, and Senketsu sacrifices himself to protect her. Gamagoori takes a sword stab for Mako. The Elite Four would do anything for Satsuki. Satsuki defied the most powerful woman in the world to avenge her father and sister, but, much more touchingly, ran to catch her beloved sister falling from space, screaming her name with no restraint or shame.
  • In Samurai Flamenco, Moe Morita proves willing to die in ignoble suffering for the sake of Maya. This act of grace on her part prompts a heartfelt apology from the villain, who in turns delivers a scathing Breaking Speech to Maya for not being sincere in returning the favour.
  • There are many of these in One Piece. Many, many, many. Some of them are about as flashy as it gets, like when the Strawhats declared war on the entire world for the sake of one comrade, or when the Whitebeards went to rescue Ace in similar circumstances. But just as many are discreet and hidden, like Soldier-san's devotion to his protegee.

Comic Book

Film - Animated
  • In Frozen, the prophecy is that the only thing that can save a frozen heart is an act of true love. It doesn't come from whom you'd expect, nor in the way you'd imagine. There are at least two Acts Of True Love in the film — Olaf's determination to get Anna cured, even if it means he melts ("some people are worth melting for") and Anna's Heroic Sacrifice, neglecting a possible cure to save her sister from the Big Bad..

Film - Live-Action
  • In Titanic, Jack does everything he can to save his beloved's life, culminating with his letting her float on one of the few available planks, while he froze to death with most of his body in the water.
  • Serenity starts with Simon breaking his sister out of the Alliance research facility where she was being experimented on. On viewing a recording of it, the Operative and the lead researcher discuss Simon's motives, and the fact that he pretty much threw his life away to do it. The scientist thinks it's insane, but the Operative points out that he's motivated by love, which makes him even more dangerous.

Literature
  • In Harry Potter, there are several of these, many of which are truly beautiful. The setting is very rewarding of those: in the right circumstances, a Heroic Sacrifice can make your protectorate invincible to your enemies!
  • The entirety of Lord of the Rings (book or film) is one of these for Samwise Gamgee. He followed Frodo into Mordor, being his keeper for the whole trip.
  • Throughout The Princess Bride, Westley's True Love for Buttercup motivates nearly every effort and sacrifice he does, but where we have an Act Of True Love is when he practically comes back from the grave and struggles against extreme pain and weakness for the sake of rescuing her from the grisly fate that would await her, were he to allow himself to succumb.
  • An Act of True Love was the only thing that could remove the eponymous object in the Goosebumps novel The Haunted Mask.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time", Kirk sacrifices his career to save Spock. He gets it back, of course, but he didn't know that that would happen.
  • Sherlock's friends are willing to go to extreme lengths to help and protect him, and, much to his surprise, so does he.
  • Doctor Who has many, many Heroic Sacrifice moments, quite a few of which are for the sake of a beloved person. A particularly egregious example in recent memory is the Plastic-Man-which-thinks-it-isRory's absolutely epic and yet secret two thousand years of warding of his beloved while she was... stuck.
  • Vicious has a minor but significant example in Stewart secretly working at a clothes shop to earn enough extra money to pay for a new suit for his old life partner Freddie (the old one literally fell apart). He keeps it secret in order to preserve Freddie's pride, as he's the provider and breadwinner... and has fallen on hard times. But here is when it gets a bit grander; when Freddie finds him in the shop advising another man on clothes, he assumes he Stewart was cheating on him... and Stewart takes it in stride, preferring to take the abuse that would come from being caught "almost cheating" than to embarrass Freddie with the truth. Given that this show isn't called Vicious for nothing, when Freddie does surreptitiously discover the truth, he keeps it quiet, characteristically using the situation to heap as much abuse, bile and vitriol at Stewart as his viciously sharp tongue lets him, gleefully enjoying every minute.

Music

Theatre
  • Swan Lake: Late-Arrival Spoiler: Prince Siegfried needs to choose a bride at the ball. He encounters a group of swans who are really enchanted maidens. They have been placed under a sorcerer's spell where they can only appear in human form at night by the side of the enchanted lake. He falls in love with the main swan, Odette. The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever. At the ball, Siegfried is not interested in any of the princesses that his mother wants him to marry because he has fallen in love with Odette. Suddenly the black swan, Odile arrives. She is the sorceress' daughter in disguise. Siegfried announces to the court that he plans to marry Odile. After the sorcerer reveals the truth, Siegfried rushes back to the lake. Siegfried apologizes to Odette but the sorcerer demands that Siegfeld marry Odile, condemning Odette to spend her life as a swan. Siegfeld's Act of Love is to jump into the lake with Odette. They drown and this act of sacrifice breaks the sorcerer's spell over the other swans and the sorcerer dies. Siegfeld and Odette are united in heaven. The ending changes depending on the production, though.

Video Games:
  • Probably-platonic example: A background conversation on the Citadel in Mass Effect 3 slowly reveals that a human woman has sold her car, which she loved, in order to buy a suit of armor for a salarian friend who's about to head off to fight in the Reaper War.
Accidental HugFriendship TropesBand of Brothers
    Selflessness TropesAll-Loving Hero
Accidental Hand HoldLove TropesAdaptational Sexuality

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