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Determined Widow
Particularly common in The Western, this is often the widow's version of the Damsel in Distress. However, due to more life experience, the Determined Widow is usually more assertive and less passive in combating her foes. She might even tell The Hero that she doesn't need his help, even though, unlike the Damsel, she often has children dependent on her and therefore also in danger. Usually a young widow if she is in distress, as older widows are more likely to be depicted as competent enough not to need saving.

The Hero (or The Protagonist) protects the widow from a dastardly villain attempting to take advantage of her (either romantically, or simply stealing from her because she has no man to protect her). Sometimes the villains were the ones who killed her husband, and so the goal is to avenge her husband. This is particularly common in The Western, especially when the hero is The Drifter.

Often the Hero ends up getting to marry the widow at the end, and this can be a reason for The Drifter to finally settle down. In fact, widow Love Interests have a better chance at getting to keep The Drifter than other Love Interests, who tend to win his love, "But Now I Must Go" because he wants his beloved to be happy.

Older Determined Widows are more likely to appear as advisers to the Heroes.

Determined Widows also often insist on achieving their dead husband's dream. If their husband was a warrior and he fell in battle they might even "take up his sword" and become an Action Girl or Lady of War and continue his fight.

Compare House Wife and Determined Homesteader's Wife, which is what they were likely to be before being widowed. Her Heart Will Go On for the widow's strength in dealing with the loss. Do NOT confuse with Yamato Nadeshiko which is an aspect of Japanese culture; while they can overlap, all they have in common is the inner core of iron will. Does not necessarily have anything to do with another type of widow.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • There was one of these in Kyo Kara Maoh!.
  • Shun Mitaka seemed intent on viewing Kyoko of Maison Ikkoku as one, (and himself as the hero of course).
  • Male version: Faust VIII from Shaman King, a Necromantic whose goal in life is to revive his dead wife and Spirit partner Eliza.
  • Suzumi Aogiri from Ayashi no Ceres doubles as this and Yamato Nadeshiko.
  • The title character in The Legend Of Mother Sarah lost her husband and her kids in a riot. Subverted in that her husband has actually survived the riot... only to die in the finale, making Sarah a widow for good.
Comics

Film
  • Jill McBane from Once Upon a Time in the West, although she's somewhat of a deconstruction since she was a Hooker with a Heart of Gold looking for a new life and arrives on the scene after her new family is massacred.
  • Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, however she is the (anti)hero. She doesn't take up the role of her husbands (she was widowed twice), but rather the role of her father as leader of the farm.
  • Sarah McKlennar in Drums Along the Mohawk: when the Mohawks come to burn her house, she actually gets them to take her bed downstairs instead of setting it on fire. She also takes part in the climactic battle, suffering a fatal wound in the breast from an arrow.
  • Rob's mother, Lady Margaret Campbell MacGregor, in Rob Roy The Highland Rogue, uses her kinship to the Duke of Argyll in terms of political influence. She also takes up a pistol to fight to defend her home against an attack by Montrose's men. She shoots a man dead, concealing her own wound in the side (or possibly breast being Disney, the film avoids showing bleeding or bullet hole) so that Rob can get away. She then dies in her daughter-in-law's arms.
  • Hannie Caulder.
  • In Roger Corman's film Gunslinger (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000), Beverly Garland's heroine is the widow of a U.S. Marshal who takes up her husband's badge to keep hunting down the ones responsible for having her husband murdered.
  • In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Sarah Connor was a fighter who would do anything to protect her son, John, from the machines. She was only figuratively a widow (she and John's father never having had the benefit of clergy), but fits the trope in every other way.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, Mrs. Brisby is a widowed mouse who's family has to move in order to avoid the farmer's plow but her son Timothy has come down with pneumonia and can't be moved for a few weeks. She will do whatever it takes to move her whole house in order to protect him.
  • Used in the indie-western/horror film Shroud, the heroine discovers she's a widow after arriving in the titular town, and later literally takes up her husband's sword to fight evil.
  • Rosanna Arquette in Silverado who, after her husband is killed during the movie, agrees to work her land with her neighbor. She is Genre Savvy enough to realize that, although she was pretty when she is young, that will "fade in time," but her farm will last.

Literature
  • Catelyn Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin becomes this when her husband is killed, mostly as a result of Honor Before Reason, she is determined to get her revenge by waging war against the Lannister family and supporting her son as King of the North.
    • Goes further after the Red Wedding where many of the surviving Starks, including Catelyn, are killed. She Came Back Wrong as a Knight Templar and moves closer to a Determinator Lady of War in her revenge.
    • Daenerys becomes an example after her husband Drogo dies.
  • Mary Breydon in The Cherokee Trail by Louis L'Amour.
  • Emily Pollifax from the Mrs. Pollifax novels by Dorothy Gilman becomes a spy for the CIA when she's a widow.
  • Judith from the book Judith of the Bible: when her village is under siege, she puts on some make-up, goes to Holofernes, the enemy general, takes him to his tent, makes him drunk, cuts off his head, sneaks out of the enemy camp and goes back into her village, with the head of Holofernes in her bag.
  • Technically, the Princess Rennsaeler and the other princesses in A Brother's Price. They're part of a world where women are the people who fight and rule, so it's pretty well expected of them. Odelia does end up in distress and needing Jerin to rescue her at the start of the book.
  • Mrs. Pemberton in the Temeraire novel Crucible of Gold. She is of the "Older advisor" variety - specifically, on tutoring Emily Roland on being a "proper lady." (Roland, for her part, would rather not bother).
  • Victoria Lipan in Baltagul (The Axe/The Hatchet) chases her disappeared husband, backtracking his long trip obsessively. She finds his skeleton in a ravine and pursues his killers with equal stubbornness and success.

Live-Action Television
  • Alma Garrett from Deadwood.
  • In Supernatural, they meet the widow of a hunter, Ellen Harvelle, who is running a bar for hunters. She is an adviser to the boys. Later Sheriff Jody Mills takes up the fight against the supernatural, after her husband's horrific death.
  • Lily Bell from Hell on Wheels embodies this trope to a 'T' in every regard. She wants to see to the completion of the first Transcontinental Railway, a project which her late husband (a surveyor) had been working on.
  • Mags Bennett from Justified is a villainous version. After her husband died she raised her three sons and built a massive marijuana growing operation. When Raylan returns to Kentucky she is one of the most feared and respected criminals in the area.

Religion and Myth
  • Khadijah, the first wife of Muhammad, was a wealthy and successful businesswoman (having taken over her late husband's business). When she married Muhammad, she helped him out a lot financially, as well as in other ways, and continued to run her business.

Video Games
  • The entire point of the Planescape module for Neverwinter Nights 2 is for the PC (who must be female) to find a way into the Abyss and get her husband back.
  • Ashelia B'Nargin Dalmasca of Final Fantasy XII is a widow while still in her teens and determined to ensure Archadia feels her wrath of justice.

Web Original
  • In The Gamers Alliance, Marya becomes a dark version of this after her husband Kagetsu bites the dust. She doesn't take his death well, and after a long period of mourning she becomes fixated on making Kagetsu's dream become real, going so far as kidnapping and corrupting a prince to do her bidding while acting as his Evil Mentor, setting the stage for a brutal civil war in Maar Sul, and subtly opposing the Grand Alliance which she had once called friends. Once she has done all this and made sure that the prince will carry out her mission, she is overcome by guilt of all the horrible things she has done to achieve her husband's dream, and she commits suicide to be reunited with Kagetsu in the afterlife.

Real Life
  • Susan McSween, who after her husband and friends were murdered during the Lincoln County War, went on to become a prominent cattlewoman in New Mexico.
  • Life Imitates Art: Lillian Moller Gilbreth continued the time/motion and efficiency studies of her husband, Frank, after his death in the 1930s. While raising eleven children (all of whom eventually graduated college). The story is recounted in Belles On Their Toes, and was fictionalized in the 1950 novel and film Cheaper By the Dozen.
  • Corazon "Cory" Aquino, wife of Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., and probably one of, if not THE most Determined Widow in recent history. Her husband was the primary political opponent of the dictator (though his official title was "President") of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos. Ninoy had been exiled to the United States, and on the day of his arrival back to the Philippines, he was assassinated via Boom, Headshot. Ninoy's death was the catalyst that drove the people of the Philippines into a non-violent revolution against the oppressive regime of Ferdinand Marcos, led by Cory herself. Long story short, Marcos was booted out of office, and Cory became the 11th President of the Philippines, and returned the country back to democracy. Ninoy later had the Manila International Airport renamed in his honor, and it is now officially known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The anniversary of his death was made into a national holiday, and his portrait is on the 500 peso bill along with one of his most famous quotes "The Filipino is worth dying for." His wife's portrait later joined his in a reprinting of the bill after she passed away in 2009.


Bold ExplorerSteampunk IndexGadgeteer Genius
Crusading WidowerThe Singles IndexDid Not Get the Girl
DeterminatorStock CharactersDirectionless Driver
Defrosting Ice QueenLove InterestsDivine Date
Determined Homesteader's WifeAlways FemaleDirty Harriet
Determined Homesteader's WifeWestern CharactersThe Barber

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