Desperately Craves Affection

Sarah Packard: "I love you."
Eddie Felton: "You need the words?"
Sarah Packard: "Yes, I need them very much. If you ever say them I'll never let you take them back."

In general, it's assumed that we all need affection (physical mostly as well as verbal) to thrive. This is essentially the opposite of Hates Being Touched (or sometimes the person is a combination of this trope and Hates Being Touched) where a person has perhaps been deprived of affection for so long that they desperately crave it. May or may not lead to the person exhibiting No Sense of Personal Space. May overlap with Because You Were Nice to Me. Due to this they may be Not Good with Rejection.

Compare Love Hungry, where the character wants to force others to love them, and Attention Whore, where a character acts out, but not necessarily for affection.


Anime Manga
  • Black Butler II's Alois Trancy. His tendency to act out is because his demonic servants are completely incapable of providing the type of affection he needs.
    • Ciel is implied to be like this at times too, stemming from the loss of his parents at a young age and being put to torture in a cage before Sebastian rescued him. Although he claimed to hate being touched there are times where he seeks attention from Sebastian and also from his fiance Elizabeth. In particular, he misses his parents incredibly and still loves them, wanting to get revenge for them.
  • Naruto at times. Probably came from his attention starved youth.
  • Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion is an odd mixture of this trope and Hates Being Touched. Generally, much of the cast fits this.
  • Lucy in Elfen Lied stemming from her attachment to a puppy and to Kohta who were kind to her.
  • In Axis Powers Hetalia it's implied that Russia is this. Unfortunately, he tends to scare people away.
  • Quite a few characters in Fruits Basket.
  • Guts and Griffith (before he became Femto, anyway) in Berserk are both painfully starved for genuine affection and intimacy. Guts is also a combination of this and Hates Being Touched, though he makes an exception for Casca.
  • In One Piece Baby-5, one of Doflamingo's top fighters, has this to an insane degree. She was abandoned by her own mother for being useless, so anyone showing her kindness and interest, even if it is blatantly false, will receive her loyalty. If a person says they like her and asks for a load of cash, she will give them that cash without hesitation. Another member of her own crew admits this fact makes her easy to manipulate and keep in line. She is finally defeated and turns away from Doflamingo when a man named Sai, not knowing the depth of her condition, inadvertently showed her some kindness in their fight and she fell for him. At his words, those who serve Doflamingo should die, she is willing to blow her own head off. Sai stops her and says he will take her away, make her his wife, and always treat her with respect.
  • Rolo in Code Geass seems to be this way in his relationship with his brother Lelouch. He's really clingy towards Lelouch, tries to Murder the Hypotenuse so he can remain Lelouch's brother, and sacrifices himself for Lelouch telling him that even if Lelouch betrayed him their relationship was real to him.
  • No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!: Tomoko. To the point of making Brother-Sister Incest overtures, with Tomoki none too pleased. Also part of why she's so attached to her only real friend Yuu, besides the Homoerotic Subtext.
  • In Adekan Kojiro appears to be a Living Emotional Crutch for Shiro with all the Ho Yay implications attached and Shiro actively allows Kojiro to get close to him most of the time stemming from his Dark and Troubled Past and as a kid was very close to Anri who served as a Living Emotional Crutch for him before Kojiro came into the picture. It's even said outright that since Shiro had his humanity stripped away from him he's learning to be kind and care about people again ever since he got close to Kojiro, given how Kojiro himself is such a kindhearted guy.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • Karren desires affection from Tsukiyama and even sacrifices herself at the cost of her own life to save him after he acknowledges her feelings. She even thinks about how she wants to be loved.
    • Kaneki more or less requires his loved ones around him to maintain his resolve and well being. Hide in particular is his Living Emotional Crutch.

  • Mukuro in the Katekyo Hitman Reborn! fanfic "Homecoming" due to him being kept asleep for so long since he's a prisoner. This leads to him frequently sexually harassing Tsuna.
  • Syaoran in Shatterheart becomes desperate for any sort of affection after being kept isolated for years and because his friends started to shun him for his clone's betrayal.
  • In Lucina Reacts, Tharja is revealed to be this.
  • In Sol Invictus, Garp secretly yearns for open affection, which makes him especially close to Fem!Luffy.

  • Seemingly the case in The Sure Thing for the eponymous Sure Thing. Gib is thrown at the end of his 3000-mile Quest for Sex when the Sure Thing asks him to say that he loves her before they have sex.
  • WALL•E. Evident in his relationship with EVE.
  • Frozen has Anna who is so love-starved from her palace isolation that she agrees to marry Prince Hans the same day she meets him, right after Love at First Sight and a duet with him. Both her sister and new acquaintance Kristoff are aghast at her impulsiveness, though Anna seems rightly afraid she'll never get another chance to meet someone like that. Elsa and Kristoff had every right to be worried, as Hans was the real Big Bad and manipulating Anna.
  • Sarah Packard from The Hustler, whose desperation is only held in check by her constant drinking. It becomes more obvious when she starts falling in love with Eddie.
  • Lillie in Wild Orchids can't get her Married to the Job husband to give her affection or even attention. She winds up succumbing to the handsome prince that's been chasing her, mostly because he's the only one showing interest.

  • Gone Girl: Both Amy and Nick seem starved for affection in their dysfunctional relationship.

Live Action TV
  • Ryan O'Reily of Oz. Evident in his relationship with Dr. Nathan.
  • The Big Bang Theory: in the backstory Leonard was so deprived of affection from his mother as a child that he built a hugging machine... which his dad would borrow sometimes.
  • Footman Thomas Barrow of Downton Abbey is, for all his cold-hearted and dastardly ways, a lonely man in a world where people of his persuasion don't usually get a happy ending.
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of Scrubs: because he'd been single for too long or something, JD became so touch-starved that when he accidentally bumped into a random coworker in the hallway, he leaned in with a blissful look on his face and just sort of stopped to savor the moment for a bit.
  • Over the seasons of Breaking Bad, it becomes clear that this is one of Jesse's weaknesses - Jane, Gus, and most of all Walt are all able to manipulate him by giving him the mild signs of affection or praise that he lacks from anyone else in his life. It's particularly obvious with Walt - mid season 3, he goes into a long rant about how he's lost absolutely everything he ever valued in his life because of Walt and wants to quit and never go back... but ends up returning to cook with him just because Walt tells him that his meth was actually really good.
  • Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars has such a sucky home life that he tends to look to friends and love interests for comfort and affection. Which means that his girlfriend's murder and the subsequent unravelling of his close-knit clique really did a number on him.
  • Supernatural: It is clear that Dean is very co dependent with Sam and needs constant human contact, approval and love from others. Sam ends up dealing with the brunt of this.
    • It gets even sadder when you consider he's repeatedly told Cas he needs him and yet, from Dean's point of view, Cas keeps leaving him. In season 9, it's actually Dean who pushes Cas away in a (misguided) attempt to save Sam, which ends up worsening his already fragile emotional state even further.
  • Hannibal:
    • Franklyn mostly just really wants a friend, as shown when he becomes attached to Hannibal.
    • Will is desperate for attachment to people due to the loneliness brought on by his mental illness. It's evident also in his heartbroken expression when Dr. Bloom turns down his offer at a relationship because she thinks he's unstable. He appears to fall deeper into Sanity Slippage afterwards.

  • "Lovefool" by The Cardigans can certainly be interpreted as this, especially the chorus:
    Love me, love, say that you love me.
    Fool me, fool me, go on and fool me.
    Love me, love me, pretend that you love me.
    Lead me, lead me, just say that you need me.


Video Games
  • Oswald in Odin Sphere is driven by a desperate need for someone - anyone - to love him, after learning that the adoptive father he thought cared for him really only saw him as a tool. This need is what leads him to agree to slay the dragon Wagner for Odin once Odin promises him the hand of his daughter Gwendolyn in marriage.

Visual Novels
  • Haruka from Little Busters!, due to her Big Screwed-Up Family being pretty horrible to her and making her feel worthless, is absolutely desperate for any kind of reassurance. It gets to the point where, late in her route after she and Riki have been going out for some time, she admits that she feels terrible because she's not even totally sure that she actually loves him and isn't just with him because he's the only one who's ever properly shown affection to her. Riki assures her that he doesn't care and loves her anyway.
  • Mikan Tsumiki from Super Dangan Ronpa 2, who was bullied so severely throughout her life that she's become convinced that the only way anyone will pay her the slightest bit of mind is to humiliate herself in front of them. As a result, she exaggerates her Cute Clumsy Girl nature. It's also played much more darkly when she turns out to be the murderer in Chapter 3, and she claims that she murdered Mioda and Saionji for the sake of someone she loves. Later on, this person is heavily implied to be Junko Enoshima.

Web Original
  • The Nostalgia Critic hates being abandoned, and craves any kind of love or attention he can get.
    • Malcolm and Tamara are written as really wanting to be included (despite hating what they have to do sometimes) and in Christmas With The Kranks, 2007-Critic uses this to his advantage.
  • Similarly, Donnie DuPre of Demo Reel is notoriously insecure and will do almost anything for a scrap of positive attention.

Western Animation
  • A common fan interpretation of Luna from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (with some support in canon admittedly) is that she went slightly insane from isolation and snaps back at the end of the episode.
  • Family Guy: Meg Griffin. Meg is often shown as emotionally fragile or disturbed, derived from desperation for love and attention.
  • Helga from Hey Arnold! is so neglected by her family that when Arnold pays attention to her and is kind to her she clings to him and develops a crush on him. She'll deny she likes him though.
  • Elmyra of Tiny Toon Adventures: Elmyra has a cute crush on Max and one short called "Can't Buy Me Love" has Elmyra meet an evil little girl called Rhoda. Elmyra sees hearts and positively MELTS when Rhoda says she'll let her be her best friend, and spends the rest of the picture bending over backwards to make Rhoda like her. It plays VERY much like any episode where Elmyra chases Max, only way more seriously, and heck, Elmyra even lets Rhoda HAVE Max (who doesn't want him after mere moments). And after she learns her lesson about not needing to give someone something so they'll like you, Rhoda comes by her window and says she'll be her friend again if Elmyra steals her mom's car keys and drives her to Utah. Instantly Elmyra says "okay" and rushes off eagerly to Rhoda's side. So not only is Elmyra completely infatuated with Rhoda, but apparently Rhoda can't leave Elmyra alone for five minutes, even after Elmyra dumped her. Elmyra also had a thing for chasing Fifi around, a voluptuous female skunk which persisted even after Fifi skunked her and had Elmyra go as far as to pose as Fifi's crush Pepe le Pew. Its notable that during all these times she shows affection towards the above respective characters and they rebuff her she falls to pieces.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy: Nergal Jr desperately wants friends but if someone refuses to be his friend, he freezes them and takes their form.

Real Life
  • Children can be like this to some extent.
  • The same (usually) goes for people with certain forms of autism.