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Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage
Very few people would want to be part of an Arranged Marriage, but it's not all bad. After all, usually your parents are the ones selecting your spouse, and they know you and love you and want you to be happy. Or at the very least, they don't want you throwing a tantrum at the altar and destroying the alliance they've been planning for years. They may have other, higher priorities than your happiness, but your happiness does usually matter. Therefore, there is at least some prayer that your spouse will be someone you could grow to love.

Not in these types of marriages. The people arranging this marriage don't care about your feelings. In fact, they probably don't even know you. To them you're just an ID number that needs to be paired up with another ID number, and you're going to be, whether you want to or not.

Maybe the government needs you to marry someone in order to secure an important alliance. Maybe you're the next link in the super-solider breeding program. Whatever the reason, the powers that be have declared that this marriage has to happen.

A subtrope of Arranged Marriage. Note that whether or not an arranged marriage qualifies for this subtrope depends on who is arranging the marriage and the relationship between the arranger and the people getting married. The person arranging the marriage needs to be an impersonal force, not a close relative. If the King is ordering the marriage of two of his subjects, that may be this trope; if he's ordering the marriage of his daughter the Princess, it isn't. Also note that this can overlap with Perfectly Arranged Marriage: sometimes, the bureaucracy's computer is pretty good at pairing compatible people. And if not, there's always plain luck.


Examples

Anime

Film
  • In the movie version of Harrison Bergeron, the government chooses spouses for people in order to increase the odds breeding average children.
  • In the Don Knotts movie The Reluctant Astronaut, the titular character has a hastily arranged marriage so he and his bride can become the first married couple on the Moon.
  • Implied in THX 1138 with the arranged "roommate".
  • The plot of the 1930's sci-fi musical Just Imagine (well, that and a Swedish comedian who's a Fish out of Temporal Water). The hero goes on an Interplanetary Voyage to Mars to prove himself worthy of his Love Interest whom the courts are going to marry off to his rival, judged as being more socially valuable.

Folklore
  • In a rabbinic midrash, a Roman matron asks Rabbi Yose bar Halafta what God's been up to since He created the world in six days. He tells her that God's been making matches between people. The matron scornfully claims she can easily do the same thing, and lines up a thousand of her manservants facing a thousand of her maidservants, telling each pair they're to get married. The next day, all her servants come before her with serious injuries, each complaining about the one she matched them with. The matron admits to Rabbi Yose that arranging marriages on such a wide scale is indeed a job for God, not human beings.

Literature
  • The Bene Gesserit from Dune arrange marriages for the members of their sisterhood, either to gain influence, cement political alliances, or aid in the breeding of the Kwisatz Haderach. Somewhat subverted in that some of these marriages do turn out well. This is partly due to design: Bene Gesserit bred for this role are trained in the arts of seduction, so that the male partner is guaranteed to fall in love. It's just that sometimes, the Bene Gesserit falls in love, too.
  • In David Weber's The War Gods series, the King of the Sothoii has the power to force marriages in cases of nobles who don't have a male heir. It's seen as a last resort, admittedly hard on only-daughters, but worth it in order to insure that the Kingdom isn't destabilized by having important lands and titles fall into dispute.
  • In The Giver, all couples are arranged this way, although, in this case, some mention is made of how couples are arranged so that the people involved complement each other and work well together, though it's still loveless and sexless.
  • All marriages in the Delirium Series are arranged by the government, because all people over the age of 18 have been "cured" of the ability to love.
  • In 1984, all marriages have to be approved by a committee, and approval will not be given if the man and woman show any signs of being sexually attracted to each other because sex for pleasure is not allowed.
  • In Plato's Laws, this is what happens when they have a fatherless heiress. They even admit:
    And if a man dying by some unexpected fate leaves daughters behind him, let him pardon the legislator if he gives them in marriage, he have a regard only to two out of three conditions - nearness of kin and the preservation of the lot, and omits the third condition, which a father would naturally consider, for he would choose out of all the citizens a son for himself, and a husband for his daughter, with a view to his character and disposition - the father, say, shall forgive the legislator if he disregards this, which to him is an impossible consideration.
  • Similarly, in Plato's Republic, all "marriages" among members of the ruling "guardian" class are arranged by the state. We say "marriages" in quotes, because it appears that these are one-time things rather than permanent relationships. Also, although the selection of pairings is officially either random or the work of the gods, it's actually the philosopher-kings who make the decisions, breeding citizens according to the needs of the state.
  • In the Doctor Who novel Doctor Who and the Doomsday Weapon, many people on Overindustrialised Future Earth work for faceless megacorporations that "take care" of their employees, arranging their accommodation, education, and, if the Company considers it necessary, marriages. They do try to arrange compatible matches, but probably only because unhappy employees are bad for productivity, and the matching process involves a stack of employee profiles and a computer in the personnel department, as opposed to, say, people getting to meet people. One character recalls agreeing to be married as a condition of his next promotion, and then hearing no more about it until he returned from a business trip to find his new wife waiting for him in the kitchen. At first he's much more interested in his new apartment ect. but as she cheerfully chatters away, informing him that they are likely to be in debt to the Company for the rest of their lives, he notices she's very pretty....Resulting in a Perfectly Arranged Marriage.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free, the company is trying to breed the newly created quaddies. When a young couple, with a baby, is told whom they are assigned to have their next children, they revolt.
  • Matched: The government controls every aspect of your life, including who you will marry based on compatibility measures.
  • This is one of the life-in-the-future tropes played with in "Tomorrow Town" by Kim Newman. The apparent motive for the murder of Asshole Victim Varno Zhoule is that he had been matched with one of the women of the town by the master computer, even though she was already happily married to someone else, and it's suspected that Zhoule arranged to have the result come out in his own favor.
  • Isaac Asimov had the whole Solarian way of marriage (for a given definition of "marriage") in his Robot books - which impacted in later Empire ones. People were assigned their spouses by a board. And, presumably, a lot of AI. This is a major plot-point in The Naked Sun.
  • In the Deryni novel In The King's Service, King Donal Haldane chooses his loyal human courtier Sir Kenneth Morgan for his ward Lady Alyce deCorwyn. Alyce's parents and brother are dead, and she is a royal ward as the heiress to a wealthy duchy, so she knows that politics is involved and accepts that Donal will decide who she marries. She is in fact more than fine with it as Kenneth is the father of her best friend, she's known him for years and has a bit of a crush on him. Better still he is rather embarrassedly in love with her.
  • In the second book of The Hunger Games, the Capitol plans to do this to Peeta and Katniss. This is later subverted in the end of the third book, where they voluntarily decide to marry.
  • Subverted in the Honor Harrington series. The Mesan Alignment practices this as part of its breeding program, but compatibility is a major factor in their decisions - partly because the Mesan Alignment cares about its own people, and partly because spousal murder can really mess up their plans. At minimum, they try to ensure that their couples can at least tolerate each other enough to produce children.

Live-Action Television:
  • In Babylon 5, the Psi Corps arranges marriages between powerful telepaths in order to facilitate the breeding of even more powerful telepaths. If the people involved try to refuse, the Corps is perfectly willing to arrange rapes instead - apparently having never heard of artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization.
  • In Supernatural, Heaven of all things arranges these. Angels use Cupids to make people fall in love but it comes across as more of a breeding program with the goals of preserving vessel bloodlines or needing certain children to be born.

Tabletop Games
  • Halruaa of Forgotten Realms, as described in Counselors and Kings. And they for most part really did believe eugenics applied to wizards will improve the situation.
  • In Warhammer40000, the Tau Empire has a system of arranged breeding. Couples are selected on the basis of genetic advantage and sent a summons from a "Procreation Committee" to spend a day together trying to concieve. After conception, both partners will go their seperate ways, and any children from the union will be raised communally by trainers of their caste (though parents may take an interest in and visit the children).

Theatre
  • Arguably, Hermia's situation in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The original arrangement with Demitrius doesn't qualify, since that was arranged by her father and Theseus was just enforcing the existing law allowing an Arranged Marriage. However, once Theseus expanded his ruling to allow Hermia the option of joining a convent instead, it could be considered this trope.

Video Games

Web Video
  • In one episode of Ask Lovecraft, the horror writer is asked how one might make a Lovecraftian wedding. He suggests that all weddings are inherently Lovecraftian, simply because the practice of marriage has traditionally originated with this trope and is, thus, spiritually and emotionally hollow. But you can still add an extra tentacle or two if you want it for aesthetic reasons...

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: In the episode where the family joins the Movementarians, there's a group wedding.
    Marge: This is ridiculous, we're already married!
    Homer: But Marge, we're not mass married!
    Barney and Otto appear
    Barney: At least you got to choose your mate, we got matched up on the printout!
    Otto: Remember our agreement. I'm the man!
    • And Comic Book Guy is seen awkwardly asking a beautiful redhead (who seems creeped out by him) "So...do you like comic books?"

Real Life
  • Sun Myung Moon matched up many of the couples who took part in his mass weddings.
  • Alexander the Great attempted to do this, in order to get a unified empire, ordering his men to marry local women. The marriages, for the most part, did not last his reign. His successors instead simply gave Greek settlers land to build new cities, from Turkey to Pakistan, and let nature take it's course.
  • The Romans were more successful, although they did not attempt to do this on such a large scale. Rome's wars often resulted in prisoners being obtained from amongst the upper class and elites of the recently conquered. Those that Rome did not simply kill were often married off to client rulers (Cleopatra's children were married off to Libyan royalty), given to influential men as concubines (which wasn't that different from marriage) or were married amongst similar captives from other nations- essentially making them someone else's problem.
  • The Incas also did this.
  • North Korea practices this in its massive system of prison camps: male and female prisoners are "matched" by camp guards to produce children who will spend their entire lives in the prison camp, guaranteeing the government's supply of prison labor.
  • This is essentially the point of online matchmaking services, though with the distinction that the two people so paired up aren't strictly obligated to marry.


Perfectly Arranged MarriageWedding and Engagement TropesBest Woman
Perfectly Arranged MarriageMarriage TropesAwful Wedded Life

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