A woman who falsely claims widowhood. Usually to avoid the stigma of having a child with no husband
, or to escape a loveless marriage, or to play on people's pity for widows. The colloquial term "grass widow", which properly means a married woman who lives away from her husband, is often used as a euphemism in this context.
Can be depicted as a Wicked Widow or a Wonderful Widow
, depending on the circumstances.
- In a bizarre twist on this trope, Victor Mancha of the Runaways comic books thinks that his dad was a marine who died in the first Gulf War. It turns out that he never had a dad in the traditional sense at all—Victor is a cyborg created by the evil robot Ultron using his mother's DNA.
Live Action Television
- Inverted in Bounce: Gwyneth Paltrow's character is a widow but claims to be divorced because she was sick of people pitying her. Since, in her words, "everyone is divorced these days", they don't pity her as much when she tells that lie.
- Inverted in the movie Mr. Belvedere Goes to College. A young woman (Shirley Temple!) who really is a widow still hides the fact that she has a son because she's afraid everyone would think her story was bogus and she'd be expelled from college.
- Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood is a male version, to explain where his "son" came from and present himself as a respectable family man to prospective clients. The truth is that he adopted the son of a deceased employee.
- When he's looking to adopt the girls in Despicable Me Gru claims to be a widower dentist. Leads to some hilarity when he quickly comes up with the name "Debbie" for his alleged wife and later asks "Who?" when the head of the orphanage references her later in the conversation before quickly correcting himself.
- In The Baby, we're set up to believe that Ann Gentry's husband is dead from an accident. However, at the end of the movie, we find out that he survived, but due to said accident, his mental capacities have been reduced to that of an infant's.
- A male version in an episode of CSI: Miami had the Villains of the week being a group of con artists posing as a widower and his two children (actually a 30 something married couple) murdering a man in order to use his wife as a means to get into a yacht club and steal gold from another of its members.
- In an episode of Carnivāle, Sophie pretends to be a widow in order to get into bed with a random stranger in town.
- Ethel Parks, one of the housemaids from Downton Abbey, uses this to explain away the child she had by one of the officers convalescing at Downton (who is actually dead, but was never her husband). This is easier than usual, as the child was born in 1918: both the War and the Spanish Influenza provided convenient causes of death for the father. Ethel chooses to claim flu, as it saves her the trouble of explaining why she doesn't get a war widow's pension.
- In Supernatural, after Sam gets involved with Amelia Richardson, he finds out her husband did not really die in the war, but in this case Amelia really believed her husband was dead.
- Mrs. Arbuthnot of Oscar Wilde's play A Woman of No Importance.
- Another male example: In The Rainmaker, File falsely claims to be a widower.
- Played for Drama in Alice Isn't Dead, as, at a loss to explain her wife Alice's sudden disappearance, and unable to conceive that she might've been left, the Narrator initially assumes (admittedly without evidence) that Alice is dead. She's so unshakeable in this belief that she attends grief support groups, right up until she sees her wife on TV.
- On South Park Mrs. Garrison claims that Mr. Garrison is dead when trying to date Richard Dawkins. In actually, she is Mr. Garrison.
- Inverted in King of the Hill: when Bobby sees his grandfather holding a photo of a Japanese woman, he claims that it's the wife of someone he killed in World War II and that he got the picture from Robbing the Dead. It turns out she's actually a nurse whom he had an affair with before being forced to return to the States. (And yeah, she did have his child, though Cotton doesn't realize that yet.)