In fiction, a "cuckold" is a man whose Love Interest
has sex with someone else, either to his dismay or without his knowledge.
The overall theme is an Adult Fear
of being the loser in a Cock Fight
. This can be portrayed for drama, for fetish, or even for laughs, but is typically highlighted in two ways: the triumph of the Bull, or the corruption of the woman.
Or both. The trope's core relies on the "Bull" (the woman's lover) being triumphant in some way, or every
way, to the detriment of the cuckold. The deeper the shame, victimization, or deception of the cuckold
, the stronger the trope.
When portrayed as fetish, focus is typically placed on the sex and sensual aspects. When portrayed for drama, it's a painful situation that NO ONE would want
, and the sensual and prurient elements are downplayed for emotional angst. Sometimes the cuckold will be both aroused and hurt
by the experience, which only fuels his torment.
For this reason, female "Bulls" are uncommon
, but not unheard of.
Some stories involve the nonconsensual rape of the woman, with her hating the experience every bit that her man did. However, the momentary conquest of someone else's woman is more than sufficient to qualify as a "triumph". Sometimes the cuckold initiates it (for example, pimping out his love for money or letting her take a lover with his blessing). The execution varies, as the trope is a sliding scale, with anywhere from very few, or nearly all, of the aforementioned elements included.
Needless to say, this is an extremely polarizing trope, but one that demands we emphasize that Tropes Are Not Bad
WARNING: By virtue of our site's Content Policy, DO NOT add porn examples, and maintain No Lewdness, No Prudishness for all entries.
See also: Cuckold Horns
May involve Forced to Watch
, Sexual Extortion
, Villainous Crush
, Law of Inverse Fertility
, Scarpia Ultimatum
, Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe
, Uriah Gambit
, Romancing the Widow
(bonus points if the husband isn't actually dead, or comes Back from the Dead
), Chocolate Baby
, Go Seduce My Archnemesis
, Cheating with the Milkman
, and Did Not Get the Girl
For a genre revolving around cuckoldry, see Netorare
See our Analysis
Page for more information.
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Anime & Manga
- Nozoki Ana: A very huge, hurtful example that many readers were predicting for ages. Not only was Yuri Kotobuki, the girl in this situation, cheating on weekends, but she decided she'd rather have sex with her rich boyfriend instead of spend Saturday with her other boyfriend, the lead male Kido. On Kido's own birthday.
- Alluded to in Air Gear, with Hako referring to Ringo as "NTR # 1" and accusing her of cockblocking either her or Kururu, as they both squabble to become Ikki's link turner. Ikki chooses Ringo anyway.
- In the DC Universe Multiverse, the Crime Syndicate are mirror duplicates of the Justice League, right down to Evil Twins of Superman (Ultraman), Batman (Owlman), and Wonder Woman (Superwoman). In this reality, Superwoman is in a very explicit affair with Owlman. Ultraman is very aware he's being cuckolded; he just can't do anything about it because of Owlman's blackmail material on him.
- This actually occurs to the canon Superman, too. No, really. In the New 52 universe, Superman (as Clark Kent) visits Lois Lane's apartment and finds her very obviously post-coitus with her new boyfriend. A shocked and humiliated Clark can't do anything but walk away, and as he leaves, his Super Hearing picks up Lois telling her boyfriend that she has no feelings for Clark whatsoever, and the two start to resume their love-making. In the New 52, Clark and Lois have never had a romantic relationship, so Clark just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- In one Post-Crisis storyarc written by Joe Kelly, Lois spends a lot of nights away from home, telling Clark "not to wait up" as she leaves out in a sultry outfit, usually gone until morning. A cliffhanger later shows her being very cozy and romantic with Lex Luthor...until it's later revealed that this was actually The Parasite, in Lois's form. Much Brain Bleach was passed afterward.
- This was the initial fate of the protagonist of Wanted, which is what prompts him to become a misanthrope and turn to a life of crime. When he becomes a supervillain, he cuts up his friend into little pieces before telling his girlfriend that he knows everything and walks off.
- In Spawn, the eponymous character is a mercenary named Al Simmons that comes Back from the Dead after a Deal with the Devil to find out that his wife has remarried his best friend, had two children with him, and is much happier with him than she ever was with Al.
- Indecent Proposal is all about this trope. A couple desperate for money agree for the wife to have sex with a billionaire, and the experience tears the two of them apart. She winds up temporarily living, and having a sexual relationship, with the billionaire, and he is portrayed as an overall better man than her husband in most ways.
- Played for horrible, horrible drama during the infamous rape scene in A Clockwork Orange.
- The Ladies Man has a whole gang of cuckolded men called the "Victims of the Smiling Ass" who are out for revenge against Leon for bedding their wives.
- The beginning of Wanted has the protagonist Wesley in a relationship with a girlfriend who is blatantly cheating on him with his best friend, and him being powerless to do anything about it. He later makes out in front of her with his new girlfriend.
- Jim Carrey's character in Me, Myself, and Irene is an Extreme Doormat that the opening makes explicitly clear has a wife having sex with and bearing children from a black man. He raises their children himself and she eventually leaves him for her lover, but this has a somewhat positive note in that the boys (obviously black), all grow up to unconditionally love him, and consider him their real father.
- In 8 Mile, the protagonist Jimmy Smith (Eminem) walks in on his Love Interest (portrayed by the late Brittany Murphy), having sex with Wink, one of his friends. After a Cock Fight that Jimmy wins, Wink makes a Face-Heel Turn and joins a gang that later beat up Jimmy. During the rap battle at the finale, the fact that he was cuckolded is used to attempt to humiliate Jimmy. Jimmy comes out on top, anyway.
- Naturally, for a film about hypermasculinity, Fight Club touches on this trope.
- The first example is the speaker during the support group for men with testicular cancer. One man breaks down into tears talking about how, after his surgery to remove his cancerous scrotum, his wife eventually found another man and bore him children.
- The Narrator himself constantly experiences this by hearing Tyler and Marla's loud, passionate banging while he's nearby doing something else. After The Reveal that Tyler is just a Split Personality of the Narrator, the trope is not as clear as we once thought.
- As noted above, A Clockwork Orange plays this trope heavy on the drama with a disturbing rape scene.
- In Lady Chatterley's Lover, Lord Chatterley's wife is cheating on him, partly because he is impotent from an injury sustained in World War One, and even more than that because he has been emotionally distant from her. He knows about it, too.
- In The Scarlet Letter, Roger Chillingworth becomes obsessed with Reverend Dimmsdale for having slept with Hester (when she thought her husband was dead), even though Roger has become estranged from her.
- Apparently, Luca from Pippa Passes knew that his wife was screwing her music teacher. It doesn't stop them from murdering him.
- In Go On, the Extreme Doormat Danny was serving in Afganistan and so missed his wife giving birth—and also missed the conception. After he came back his wife made him accept her Bull living with them while they continue their affair. He finally files for divorce towards the end of the first season.
- In an episode of M*A*S*H there's a threat of an air raid so the nurses are sent away. It turns out it's just a "propaganda bomb," with leaflets dropped including "Harry Truman is sleeping with your wife."
- In other episodes it's played more dramatically (if hypocritically) as Henry, Trapper and some of the other married personnel worry that their wife is cheating on them, even as they carry on dalliances at the 4077th.
- In another episode, a soldier receives a letter from a (former) friend, congratulating him on his wife giving birth to a baby. BJ starts to reminisce about his own daughter until the soldier tells him that he's been in Korea for more than a year.
- This formed part of the conflict between Spike and Angel back when he was Angelus. Despite being in a relationship with Darla, Angelus slept with Spike's lover Drusilla solely to mock him. Ironically, they would both have the same done to them by The Immortal, who ended up bedding both Darla and Drusilla.
- In an episode of Stargate SG-1, Teal'c returns to Chulak only to find out that his wife has since dissolved their union and married a friend of his. Master Bra'tac warns Teal'c not to commit kelmar'tokim, which literally means "revenge by the wearer of horns" (historically, a cuckold would be seen as a wearer of horns). Teal'c visibly restrains himself from attacking the guy. Eventually, Teal'c and his ex-wife reconcile, but her new husband catches them (another example) and decides to betray the team to Apophis, requiring O'Neill to Murder the Hypotenuse.
- Grimm: The Naiad (merpeople) race of Wesen procreate by having their females mate with human males because the Naiad males are sterile. The males dislike having to raise another man's child but realize they have to in order to continue their bloodlines. Cuckoldry is their hat. The traditionalists also kill the humans once conception happens.
- In the first season of The Bletchley Circle, one of the clues the women find, in regards to the identity of the serial killer they're tracking, is that he was involved in printing pornographic messages in German, meant to shred morale by preying on German fears that their wives and girlfriends were cheating on them while they were out fighting. The killer's messages, however, were accompanied by incredibly graphic images that wouldn't have been out of place in a snuff film and, more importantly, all depicted the same woman, showing his first target.
- The Three Days Grace song "Last to Know" is about a man whose girlfriend left him for a former friend of his (whom the song is sung to). The song makes it clear that the affair had been going on for a long time before he found out, but he was clueless about it until she actually left.
- The Irish ballad "Seven Drunken Nights" is sung from the perspective of a man whose wife is cheating on him. The Dubliners' version of Seven Drunken Nights only covers the first five and apologises for the remaining two being too hot to perform in public. In a more permissive age and country, Northern English folk singer/comedian Mike Harding resets the song in Rochdale, Lancashire, and provides the two missing verses.
- Jairo, "Para verte feliz" ("To see you happy"). It's sung from the POV of a guy who knows his beautiful girlfriend's old flame is coming to town and chooses to rather have them almost tongue-kissing in front of him rather than confronting and then losing her, since he's that much of a Love Martyr towards her.
- The Rihanna song "Unfaithful" is written from the perspective of a woman that's cheating, and feels guilty about it. She specifically sings about how the affair is hurting him because he knows she's happy with her lover.
- In Buddy Holly's "Midnight Shift" Annie is dressing up in tight clothes and going out late at night. The implication is either that she's partying or she's prostituting herself.
- Blues, Country, Bluegrass, and Western music have a lot of songs with this subject matter. Kenny Rogers, for example, has used it often in his career. All of them more or less inherited the subject matter from their common ancestor, Appalachian folk, which in turn got it from the traditional ballads of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
- "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars, about an inattentive guy whose girlfriend has left him for another man.
- "Lyin' Eyes" by The Eagles is about a wife that finds a lover and sneaks out night after night to be with him, but starts to feel guilty about the deception.
- The Macarena has a verse that's about a boyfriend with the last name "Vitorino", who joins the military and meanwhile at home, his girlfriend is "giving it up to two of his friends".
- Simon & Garfunkel's Cecilia has a verse which takes this Up to Eleven, where the singer gets out of bed with the eponymous girlfriend, goes to "wash his face", and when he comes back to bed "someone's taken [his] place".
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko Bellic discovers his cousin Roman's girlfriend has been sleeping with a small-time gangster in exchange for protecting Roman. Roman is clearly upset by the revelation, but he relents in order to avoid making his situation worse. Niko, however, is horrified by his cousin's failure to act and flat out kills the gangster for what he did.
- Grand Theft Auto V
- In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, this is the entire Conflict. The Villain Protagonist is distraught as the girl he secretly pines for falls for his Arch-Nemesis, the Jerkass Captain Hammer. Hammer even taunts him about it, and makes it clear that the only reason he's having sex with her is to antagonize him.
- This is a central plot point of Dragonbored. The protagonist creates a barbarian character in a thinly-veiled Skyrim spoof that gets brought into the real world and begins to live his life better than the videogame-obsessed protagonist. This includes being a better companion to his girlfriend, Amanda. Highlights include flat out telling her to her face that he considers women to be property (to which she responds "I Can Change Him"), sweet talking her into fetching beers for a party (while she's naked from the waist down), and changing her from a staunch feminist into someone who likes being won over by a more dominant man.
- In Futurama: Benders Big Score, Hermes temporarily loses his body and has his head put in a jar. During this time, his wife Labarbara leaves him (along with their son) and goes back to her ex-husband, Barbados Slim, who is superior to Hermes in just about every possible way, including being hunkier, more athletic, and a better sexual partner. However, Labarbara later leaves Barbados again when Hermes helps save the world, and later episodes reveal that this situation is actually reversed for Barbados, who is jealous of Labarbara's pure affectionate love for Hermes.
- Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a retelling of the Crime Syndicate, above. But in this version, Ultraman is unaware of Superwoman's affair. Also, Superwoman is the evil alternate of Mary Marvel instead of Wonder Woman, just to turn up the squick.
- The Real Life "Tokyo Rose" allegedly used this trope against American GIs fighting against Imperial Japan during World War II. The legend was that she would come on radio stations between songs and berate the soldiers for leaving their wives and girlfriends at home, where other men would be there to "comfort" them (especially if they died). However, in truth, there was no "Tokyo Rose"—and the only known equivalent was actually broadcasting pro-Allied messages to BOOST their morale.
- This was a common Axis tactic used to demoralize Allied soldiers and to divide British and American soldiers. British soldiers on the Italian front, by 1943, had in many cases been fighting continuously since the beginning of the North African war in 1940 and had not seen home for up to four years. There had already been at least one mutiny from long-serving soldiers who felt strongly that being sent to Italy after three years fighting in Egypt and Libya was not fair. They felt they had done their bit and that new units being raised in Britain should be sent out to relieve them. Anxiety as to what their wives and girlfriends were doing in a Britain perceived as full of bone-idle war-avoiding Americans with money to spend note - while they were out there fighting the war - was fertile ground for German propaganda. British morale was not helped by German propaganda leaflets pointing this out.
- American soldiers received similar leaflets asking if they knew what their wives and sweethearts were up to with men at home who'd avoided the draft. The Germans also played on commonly held fears about black men, Mexicans, and especially draft-dodging Jews who were taking good care to stay at home, make money out of the war, and exploit a surplus of gentile American women who were suddenly available.
- The Axis Powers weren't alone in this, however. The Allies, especially the Americans, also preyed on this fear to encourage resistance among conquered nations by saying that the Axis military was preying on their women. They also demoralized Axis troops by saying that high-ranking officers and bureaucrats were seducing their wives and girlfriends while they were out fighting.