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And Now You Must Marry Me
No, Bowser...just no. note
Ice King: You said you'd marry me, if I was the last person in Ooo.
: I'm pretty sure I never said that.
The villain's Evil Plan
isn't just to take over the world, or to kill the hero. His goal is far more personal and sinister – he's going to force the heroine to marry him.
This is often a G-rated version
of Rape as Drama
— in fact, the whole concept usually carries at least an implicit threat of rape when you think about it
. (This can be a common source of Fridge Horror
for adults looking back on the many, many beloved works aimed at children that use the trope.) It's an intensely personal threat to the heroine, one that plays up her femininity and vulnerability, especially since the marriage is assumed to be permanent and irreversible. If the heroine has a heroic male Love Interest
, as she usually does, it serves as a threat to his masculinity
as well. It also provides a convenient excuse for scenes where the villain puts the heroine in compromising positions
. And it can lead into all sorts of Wedding Tropes
— Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace
is almost mandatory.
Often, the villain is motivated by twisted affection or at least lust
, but it can also just be about getting legal access to her money, property, or title
. On the other hand, he might just be the kind of sick bastard who enjoys the idea
of keeping someone trapped in a legally binding relationship that they find repulsive for the rest of their life. Or maybe the heroine herself is pretty much irrelevant
, and it's really just about claiming ultimate victory over the hero by stealing his woman
If the villain does this by kidnapping his desired bride, it's a subtrope of I Have You Now, My Pretty
; when combined with Villainous Crush
, it's also Abduction Is Love
. If he threatens someone else and offers to relent if the heroine agrees to marry him, that's the G-rated variant of the Scarpia Ultimatum
. In cultures with Arranged Marriage
he might convince the heroine's parents or guardians to force her into marriage. Evil Sorcerers
will use their powers to Hypnotize the Princess
. The villain might even attempt to trick the heroine into unwittingly doing something that counts as a legally binding wedding
. (The Shotgun Wedding
, where a third party forces the couple to marry, is only an example of this trope if one of them planned the whole thing
Female antagonists who use this trope are much less common than male examples, and are usually portrayed a bit differently. They're almost always motivated
by a Villainous Crush
(since Villainesses Want Heroes
), and may even verge on being a really unstable Abhorrent Admirer rather than an outright villain
; for some reason, female Gold Diggers
are more likely to rely on seduction rather than coercion. Their male victims are also much more likely to foil the villainess' plan on their own, while female victims almost always have to be rescued by their male love interests
There is even a trope for the special Big Damn Heroes
moment when it prevents this kind of marriage: Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace
Not to be confused with Shotgun Wedding
or The Baby Trap
Related tropes: Villainous Crush
; I Have You Now, My Pretty
; Disposable Woman
; Damsel in Distress
; Hypnotize the Princess
; Mad Love
; Abhorrent Admirer
; Abduction Is Love
; Save the Princess
. Often Truth in Television
— in fact this one's a very old real-world practice — but it's way more depressing in Real Life
For in-depth information on the subject, see the article
on That Other Wiki
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Anime & Manga
- In Sailor Moon, Queen Beryl's obsession with Endymion/Mamoru is her motivation for almost everything she does, though by the end of the Dark Kingdom arc she's rather expanded her villain goals. This is most evident in the manga, where her unrequited love for Endymion and jealousy of Princess Serenity is what drew Metallia to her in the first place.
- In Speed Grapher, Kagura is forced to marry Suitengu after her mother dies, giving him control of the family fortune.
- Played for Laughs in Princess Tutu, where the ballet instructor will threaten his students that they will have to marry him if they fail their task.
- Prince Lotor's main goal in Go Lion, the Americanized Voltron, and all the sequel series, aside from taking over the galaxy, is to get Princess Allura to marry him.
- In Shinzo, the Reptile King Ryuma (one of the seven Enterran generals) decides to do this to Yakumo to prove his superiority over her.
- In Infinite Stratos, Ichika saves Laura's life. Being Ichika, he doesn't think much of it. She, however, doesn't so much melt as go up like a torch, saves his life, then sticks her tongue down his throat and declares him her wife.
- Happens all the time in various versions of Flash Gordon, with Ming the Merciless trying to make Dale Arden marry him.
Films — Animation
- Jafar tries to force Jasmine to marry him in Aladdin by hypnotizing her father so that he'll set up an Arranged Marriage. It's not entirely clear why he doesn't just Hypnotize the Princess; her father's rather Weak Willed, and Jasmine is definitely not, so this way might have just been easier. (Even the Sultan does manage to snap out of Jafar's hypnosis on his own at least once.)
- This example is somewhat unique in that Jafar harbors no attractions to Jasmine, and is simply using the marriage as a way to become Sultan. In fact, Jafar's original plan was to simply kill both Jasmine and the Sultan once the marriage had been carried out.
- In Beauty and the Beast, Gaston uses the Scarpia Ultimatum version on Belle when her father is going to be committed to an insane asylum.
- In Shrek, Lord Farquaad winds up attempting one of these in order to become king.
- In The Adventures of Tom Thumb And Thumbelina the Mole King tries to marry Thumbelina and fails.
- Didn't make it into the final version of the film, but this trope was very heavy in one scene that was cut from The Lion King. Scar was going to attempt to force Nala to marry him . Later, a similar scene found its way into the Broadway version.
- The evil penguin Drake from The Pebble And The Penguin demands that Marina choose him as a husband during the mating ritual, or go to a watery grave ("Right this way to the Drake estate / or write your epitaph!")
Films — Live-Action
- Humperdinck tries to do this to Buttercup in The Princess Bride, because he needs a popular queen to murder so that he can pin the crime on a neighboring country and use it as a pretext for war. She was initially willing, but only because she believed her Love Interest was dead; when he returned, Humperdinck turned it into a Scarpia Ultimatum.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham tries to do this to Maid Marian in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, and even tries to rape her during the ceremony as Robin and crew are beating down the door.
- Big Trouble In Little China. David Lo Pan originally wants to marry and sacrifice Miao Yin so he can become solid again. Eventually he decides to marry both Miao Yin and Gracie Law, sacrifice Gracie instead and live out his Earthly pleasures with Miao Yin.
- Beetlejuice. The title ghost's ultimate goal is to marry teenaged Lydia (a move that has Squick written all over it), because this will apparently allow him to stay in the world of the living indefinitely.
- The Spanish Main involves a Dutch captain turned pirate king who discovers that the ship they're... procuring... has the bride-to-be of the Spanish governor. He marries her to get back at the governor for putting him in prison.
- Flash Gordon. Emperor Ming forces Dale Arden to agree to marry him by promising to spare the lives of Prince Barin and Hans Zarkov if she does.
- Matai Shang's plan to help Sab Than take over Barsoom in the John Carter film adaptation involves having Sab force Dejah Thoris to marry him.
- The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. The Skeleton declares that he will marry the alien woman Lattis and tries to have a wedding ceremony.
- Many, many versions of the Robin Hood legend have the Sheriff or some other villain trying to do this to Marian.
- This happens in the first A Series Of Unfortunate Events book (as well as the Film of the Book), in which Count Olaf tries to marry Violet. Bizarrely, even though the series is aimed at kids, even though Olaf is clearly a Gold Digger, and even though Violet is underage and Olaf is her much older legal guardian, the possibility of rape is actually more explicit than usual, with Violet imagining what it would be like to sleep beside Olaf and Olaf at one point declaring that they were “off to have our wedding night.”
- In the Incarnations Of Immortality book Being a Green Mother, Natasha rescues Orb from a forced marriage to Satan, where he is using a magic song to destroy her will, embodying this trope. Then, Natasha courts Orb through several Rescue Romance scenes. She falls in love with him for this, his handsome appearance, gentle demeanor and his lovely singing, and agrees to marry him. Then comes The Reveal...
- The Scarpia Ultimatum is used for this in The Phantom of the Opera. It's an unusually sympathetic version, though — it's pretty explicit that Erik has no intention of raping Christine (the man seems to think of wives as pets or accessories that one takes on walks and buys pretty things for, rather than as sexual partners), and he actually calls the whole thing off himself.
- In J.R.R. Tolkien's "Tale of Beren and Lúthien" (from The Silmarillion), Celegorm imprisons the heroine with the intent of marrying her, wanting to advance his political power in Beleriand. Fortunately, Lúthien manages to escape with some assistance from his dog.
- In the Sixteen Thirty Two novel 1634: The Baltic War, Eddie Catrall has fallen totally in love with a 15-year-old Princess, but fears his love to be hopeless due to her jailbait age (he is 20) and social standing. When escaping a destroyed prison, he and the Princess do a great deal of This and That for two days, leading the person to believe he is going to be executed, as the King reads a huge scroll of serious charges against him. But, when he realizes this trope is being offered, he is ecstatic.
- It is part of Celimus' plan to take over the world in Fiona McIntosh's Quickening Trilogy. He first sends the hero to ask the princess of the neighboring country's hand in marriage, but also sends mercenaries to kill the king so she has no choice but to marry him, since her country is too weak and she's too young for a war. Of course, the main character falls in love with her, but he only manages to save her in the nick of time between her marriage and the wedding night, due to a rather annoying curse.
- A Song of Ice and Fire
- Sansa is at first thrilled about her betrothal to Prince Joffrey, but it quickly turns into this trope when it becomes clear the Lannisters intend to hold her to the bargain even after Joffrey has her father executed in front of her. Wide-Eyed Idealist though she is, Sansa is very much aware of the Marital Rape License and what it means for her situation. She gets out of marrying Joffrey once they realize Margaery Tyrell is a better political match... so they marry her off to Joffrey's uglier uncle Tyrion instead. Fortunately, Tyrion is a much nicer guy than his nephew, and refrains from raping her on their wedding night.
- It seems like Sansa might fall victim to this trope yet ''again'', this time with Littlefinger. In the most recent book, A Dance with Dragons, it's mentioned that Littlefinger's first attempt to do this happened when Sansa was eleven.
- Also done to Jeyne Poole, who was forced to masquerade as Arya Stark and marry Ramsay Snow, so as to more firmly establish the Bolton claim to the North.
- And Ramsay did the same thing to Lady Hornwood before that.
- In the Brother Cadfael novel The Virgin in the Ice, a young heiress fights off the Big Bad, knowing that if he succeeds in raping her she will be forced to marry him and her life and fortune will be in his hands.
- The heroes (sort of) of the Deryni novels pull this one — in The Bishop's Heir, the rebel princess is kidnapped, held captive, and then told she must marry protagonist King Kelson (so that her claim to lands will be once again joined to his royal line). He tells her he wants her to agree "willingly", but it's made clear to the user that he will apply Mind Rape if necessary. She's killed instants after saying her vows, so the issue of sex is never dealt with. It's presented as the only way to end a protracted and bloody civil war, which continues in the following book until all possible rival heirs are dead.
- In The Innocent, the lead Elinor fights off a rapist with the help of a serf. The creep was the cousin and lover of the wife of Elinor's dying brother; if he had succeeded, he could have claimed Elinor as his wife, giving him access to her lands. The cousin and the sister-in-law had further plans that would have ended with them married and in control of the lands.
- Near the end of A Brothers Price, Kij Porter and her sisters kidnap Jerin Whistler for this purpose. With his Royal Blood, they'd have a shot at the throne if the women already on it were all killed. He promises that if they don't kill his companion, a thorn in their side for ages, that he will marry them willingly, please them in bed, never run away or tell the sordid tale to anyone, and care for their children.
- In the Old Icelandic Saga of Hrolf Kraki, King Helgi of Denmark takes Queen Olof of Saxony hostage and tries to force her to marry him. It doesn't work.
Myths & Legend
- Classical Mythology: As the ancient Mediterranean is one of the places where marriage by abduction was a perfectly acceptable real-world practice, it's referenced all over the place in Greek and Roman mythology.
- Hades, the Greek god of the underworld, kidnapped Persephone to be his wife, persuading her to bind herself to the underworld by eating the food of the dead. However, Alternate Character Interpretation applies.
- The traditional account of the founding of Rome has Romulus kidnap the women of a neighboring tribe, the Sabines, so that his followers could have brides. As Romulus explains to the kidnapped women, this is perfectly justified and really all their fathers' fault, because the Romans had come as respectable suitors and the Sabine men had rejected them for no good reason.
- The Trojan War supposedly started this way, with Paris' abduction of Helen, although the ancient accounts differ on whether Helen was actually kidnapped or went along willingly.
- Shakespeare does it more than once:
- In The Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio forces Katherine into an arranged marriage by telling her father that she had agreed to marry him but they had made a bargain that she would pretend to hate him around other people. Her father buys it, taking the idea that characters in comedies are always gullible Up to Eleven.
- In All's Well That Ends Well, Helena, a lovestruck commoner woman, saves the king's life and is granted a boon. She asks to marry the snobby nobleman Bertram, and the king orders him to go along with it against his will. In this case Helena isn't actually a villain at all, as (a) Arranged Marriage was pretty normal at the time the play was written, and (b) Bertram manages to be such a massive tool that it's pretty much impossible to feel sorry for him; if anything most people pity Helena for having such bad taste.
- In Castle Crashers, the leader of the Coneheads is attempting to marry the Green Princess against her will when you show up.
- Dragon Quest VII plays with this in Verdham, where this creates a Love Dodecahedron: Linda agrees to an Arranged Marriage with Iwan, the son of the richest man in town, in order to clear her late parents' debt to him. However, while Iwan loves Linda, Linda loves Pepe, who works as one of Borlock's gardeners. Interestingly, Borlock is shown to be a Reasonable Authority Figure who is completely unaware of the Dodecahedron, and it's outright stated that if made aware of the situation, he would probably cancel the marriage and find some other way of dealing with the debt. Unfortunately, that's not what happens.
- Final Fantasy VI
- Celes has to agree to marry Setzer to get the party access to an airship. Or rather, she makes a wager on a coin toss: Heads they get his ship, tails she marries him. When he loses and realizes she's using a coin with two heads he's so impressed he joins the party.
- A more straight example is in the opera in the game, where the princess Maria is being forced to marry the prince of the conquering kingdom for the sake of unification despite her beloved Draco still leading an insurrection to free them.
- Seymour forces Yuna to marry him in Final Fantasy X, though the implications of it are ignored (partially since he's dead. But then again, he was alive when he proposed to her in the first place). It gets worse when you consider that his reason for doing so is to be used as the basis for her Final Aeon, thereby becoming the next Sin and destroying the world.
- Kings Quest
- In the The Legend Of Zelda Four Swords, Vaati's plan to take over Hyrule starts with him kidnapping Zelda to make her his bride.
- LeChuck is always trying to do this to Elaine Marley in the Monkey Island games.
- In the Super Mario series, Bowser's schemes, more often than not, were made to forcibly marry Princess Peach, both to consummate his control over the Mushroom Kingdom and to be with his Villainous Crush.
- In Fire Emblem: Genealogy Of The Holy War, this happens several times. The first time trips off the plot of the game, when a thuggish prince kidnaps a childhood friend of The Hero with the intent of forcing her to marry.
- As you might expect, the Evil Overlord List has some advice in this area.
After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.
- Gorgeous Gal in the Woody Woodpecker cartoon A Fine Feathered Frenzy. She places a newspaper ad saying she's looking for a husband. Woody calls her and instantly gets turned on by her lovely voice, but when he meets her it turns out she's a featherless crow five times his size and three times his age. Although Woody's no longer interested, Gorgeous has fallen madly in love with him. Hilarity Ensues. After a long chase, she manages to trap him on a submarine with a priest who actually succeeds in marrying them despite Woody's protests. Gorgeous sails off with Woody for their honeymoon.
- The Ice King in Adventure Time is a rather bizarrely sympathetic character despite having this trope as pretty much his entire motivation. It's not like he's in love with his target — in fact he doesn't seem to really care which princess he marries as long as he can marry one. He seems to just genuinely want to be Happily Married, and he's apparently completely unable to comprehend that kidnapping or hypnotizing a random princess and marrying her against her will is not a way to achieve that.
- Ganon once tried using a mind control necklace to marry Zelda in The Legend Of Zelda cartoon.
- King Koopa tried to do this to Princess Toadstool on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show once. It didn't work out too well.
- In the first Futurama series finale, "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings," after the Robot Devil is forced to swap hands with Fry, he pulls off a complex Gambit Roulette in order to obtain Leela's hand...in marriage. Fry, out of concern for Leela, agrees to return the Robot Devil's hands — and since that was his real goal all along, the Robot Devil calls off the marriage.
- In X-Men, Bella Donna forces Gambit to agree to marry her by threatening his family in the Thieves' Guild. With the X-Men's help, the threat gets annulled, so Gambit is able to walk away.
- In the very first Popeye cartoon, Bluto demands this from Olive when he kidnaps her.
- The plot of an evil imp in one episode of The Smurfs, where Smurfette is given a pair of magical dancing shoes in exchange for being married to him. Fortunately, Papa Smurf saves Smurfette from this predicament by causing the dancing shoes to appear on the imp.
- In Superman The Animated Series, Lady Maxima, alien ruler of Alermac, selects Superman as her mate after he defeats her in a fight. Superman tells her point blank that she can't just force someone into marriage; her response is to use her alien tech to knock him out and drag him back to her home planet. Fortunately, a citizen uprising derails her marriage plans.
- In two episodes of Codename Kids Next Door King Sandy tries to force Numbuh Three to marry him.
- My Life As A Teenage Robot: Then there's one-shot villain Little Acorn in the episode "Puppet Bride", who falls in love with Jenny at first sight and tries to force her to become his bride.
- There's a rare gender-reversal in Alfred J Kwak when a Wicked Witch tries to force Alfred to marry her. The witch actually succeeds, but it thankfully turns out to a nightmare Alfred was having.