"Then she puts her head upon your shoulderChildren have a bit of a strange understanding in regards to sexual relationships between adults. If you don't know about the intricacies of all that kind of stuff, it just seems like the husband-wife relationship is between two people who love each other a lot. Never mind what kind of love it is. Obviously, since we're talking about little kids here, the effect is usually sweet and endearing rather than creepy. This trope is the observation of that childhood fantasy, usually but not always made in reflection on past events, as from an adult (or at least teenage) woman's perspective. Usually, the character in question looks back on this attitude and laughs — a boatload of Squick and concern elicited from viewers if they still have this attitude and mean every word of it. Bear in mind that a lot of the time, fans take things a little too literally. The usage of this trope is more common in Japanese-themed works than in Western ones, although it does appear in the West from time to time. Related to Brother–Sister Incest, Big Brother Worship, Big Brother Attraction, Like Parent, Like Spouse, Precocious Crush, and Wife Husbandry.
Says she'll marry you when she gets older"
Says she'll marry you when she gets older"
— Peter Cetera, "Daddy's Girl"
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Anime & Manga
- In Non Non Biyori, Natsumi said in a home movie that she wants to marry her big brother, Suguru. When she and her friends saw said video years later, she was mortified and quickly ejected the VHS.
- Angel Sanctuary's Setsuna and his sister Sara. Carried a bit further because they actually got together.
- Code Geass:
- Euphemia and Nunally talk about how they fought over who would marry their brother Lelouch when they were little girls and laugh about it. Incidentally, in the entire series, those two are the only characters Lelouch explicitly admitted loving... though in regards to the "incident" itself, by the next day both Euphemia and Nunnally had basically forgotten about it and thought Lelouch sitting up worrying who to pick was very amusing.
- A flashback Shirley has about her father Joseph also sees her saying that she'll marry him when she grows up, which leads to a good-natured lecture on how Shirley will eventually meet someone she loves differently from him. She was a toddler at the time, so it's all innocent. Of course, she's reflecting on this after learning that the boy she "loves differently" is the terrorist who unknowingly killed her father with a weaponized mudslide.
- Guilty Crown's Mana Ouma made her little brother promise to marry her. This, of course, quickly gets into squicky territory when she's driven mad by an alien virus and attempts to rape her own little brother...
- Paranoia Agent: One flashback shows how a young daughter told her dad that she wanted to marry him when she grew up. Incidentally, when this girl became a teenager, this father would install hidden cameras in her room so he can watch her undress.
- What makes the whole thing even more crazy and horrible is how the man is no twisted monster, but genuinely loves his daughter and wants best for her, and finds his more physical feelings just as repulsive as anybody else, yet can't entirely resist them. Their phone conversation after she finds out is one of the most messed up, heartwrenching things in the whole messed up, heartwrenching series.
- As a child, Yuna Akashi in Mahou Sensei Negima! once told her mother that she wanted to marry her daddy when she grew up. She still says she wants to be her father's bride when she's already in middle school, but now this only freaks her father out as that sort of comments stopped coming off as cute when his daughter graduated elementary school.
- In Aishiteruze Baby, Yuzuyu declares that she is going to marry Kippei when she grows up (a variation in that Kippei is an older cousin that was assigned to be her caretaker).
- In Papa To Kiss In The Dark, the main character Mira says when he was a kid, his dream was to marry his 'Papa' who ends up being Mira's uncle Kyousuke, which the story for some reasons treats as being better.
- In Girls Saurus, Shingo's little sister wants to live as a married couple with him. They already share the same surname, after all, they'd just have to move far away and keep up the charade.
- During a quick flashback splash page in Great Teacher Onizuka, class 3-4's resident troublemaker Miyabi remembers a moment where she declared a wish to marry her father.
- A more serious version of this happens in Chobits when Freya, a robot, decides that her "father" (the man who built her) is her "one special person", and decides to have her memory erased rather than deal with her feelings.
- Liz in Kamen no Maid Guy hates large-breasted women because, as a child, she wanted to marry her older brother, who humored her until she turned out to be flat chested.
- This is treated as a central plot point in Kagihime Monogatari: Kiraha wants to love her brother...in that way. However, she recognizes the repugnance of this desire and nearly allows a villain to take her story simply because it would remove her memories of this. The other main characters are naturally a wee bit bothered to discover Kiraha is a Clingy Jealous Girl instead of a clingy jealous sister.
- Princess Princess:
- Yuujirou's family comes to visit while the princesses have to perform. Because his toddler half-brother barely knows Yuujirou and is surprised to see him in girls' clothing, he's initially terrified by him, but accepts Yuujirou at the end by calling him 'Sister'. He then announces his intention to marry 'Sister', which everyone finds awkwardly funny and cute.
- Tooru's teenage cousin Sayaka has a massive crush on him, which is actually encouraged by her parents, who want them to marry. Tooru's friend has to step in to discourage her.
- In Sailor Moon, especially in the manga second arc, Chibiusa is (sort of) in love with her father, Mamoru, or more specifically his past self, who she seems to regard as a different person, up to the point where she brainwashes him as Black Lady, an aged-up evil version of herself, and remains with the Black Moon simply because this way she will have Mamoru to herself forever. She's mentally only 8 years old at the time and seems to get over these feelings later, especially when she meets Helios and develops a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship with Hotaru, suggesting this is the childish variant rather than an actual incestuous crush.
- The entire premise of the Sister Princess series. More explanation: An Unlucky Every Dude finds out he's related to 12 different sisters that are quite young and all wanting to marry him.
- Hayate the Combat Butler:
- There's the case of Izumi's dad. He doesn't approve of her liking Hayate, because he took his little girl's words too seriously, it seems.
- Wataru also made the same declaration to his mom when he was about Izumi's age. He grew out of it rather quickly, mostly thanks to Parental Abandonment.
- And using the 'child-not-understanding-what-marriage-is' side of the issue, Nagi 'marries' Isumi in one of the title pages. This is another that seems to have fallen to the wayside with age.
- A variation occurs in the manga of X1999 when a flashback shows Kamui announce to Kotori that he will become her bride when they grow up. Meanwhile, Kotori's actual brother Fuma thinks to himself that he's pretty sure it doesn't work like that.
- Boku Wa Imouto Ni Koi O Suru (I'm In Love With My Little Sister) has a flashback scene where young Yori makes a ring of flowers for his twin sister Iku. The parents call it a lovely crown, but he insists that it is a wedding wreath and that he will marry Iku one day. The parents think it's cute and simply smile. This being Exactly What It Says on the Tin when they're older the siblings sneak into the church where their parents were married and exchange rings which is as close as they can get to fulfilling their childhood promise to marry each other.
- The OAV adaptation of the bishoujo game Ko-ko-ro... plays host to a fairly Squick-filled and near-literal example of this trope; Asuka Kuonji, deeply in love with her brother, Souji, and who regularly initiates sex with him, becomes upset when Souji begins a relationship with his teacher, Mizuki. Fearing losing Souji both physically and emotionally, Asuka nudges him into revisiting the traumatic event that numbed him to the world around him and precipitated the start of their incestuous relationship, so that she can take him back from Mizuki. The plot works, and after Souji has fallen catatonic, Asuka fantasizes about raping his unresponsive body on top of a church altar, crowing and giggling that she and he are together forever. This may be an allusion to a scene from the game in which Asuka fantasizes about actually marrying Souji in a church ceremony, complete with her in wedding dress and him in a white tuxedo; the marriage is shown to be consummated before they take a single step from the altar as man and wife.
- In Oreimo, Kirino always wanted to marry her brother since she was a little girl. They eventually start dating and hold a fake wedding. They do break up and say they will be normal siblings though it is implied that they are still secretly together at the end of the novel.
- In episode 7 of No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, the mother finds a home video of Tomoko and Tomoki as a little kids, which the latter sees and is somewhat horrified because of how much more affectionate he was towards his weird sister. In it, he says "When I grow up, I'm gonna marry you, sis!" She's old enough to know at that point that siblings can't marry. Although in the present day, she occasionally tries to invoke Brother–Sister Incest, probably because of trashy video games she's played.
- In a Flash Back in episode 2 of Unlimited Fafnir, a young Mitsuki says this to Yuu as a means to stay with him until they grew old together.
- As a toddler one of the girls in Musume no Iede said she wanted to marry her father.
- Miyuki of The Irregular at Magic High School speaks directly about this desire in her internal monologues, because she is afraid of losing her brother if she is being married to someone else. Whether this includes not only romantic but also sexual feelings remains controversial. In the future, they are actually engaged, which became possible due to a number of the gimmicks of their aunt and previously unknown circumstances.
- Tragic example in an episode of Hell Girl. In one episode, a brother is taking care of his younger sister who is very slow in the head. However, he becomes tired of dealing with her because he sees her as a burden on him living his own life, especially since his own parents don't want to deal with her either. Its implied that he plans to send her to hell but she beats him to it by making a deal of her own. A flashback is shown, and when they were younger, he promised to marry her one day to cheer her up after she was being bullied in school. However, being slow minded, she took him seriously and felt betrayed when he tried to leave her behind to live his own life.
- Used in a joke in Larry Gonick's The Cartoon History of the Universe, where when describing how Egypt was merciful towards their conquered foes by educating them in Egyptian ways, a son asks his father to marry his sister (since Egyptian Royalty is decided by marriage to the royal woman). The father promptly thinks "You call this mercy?"
- The Family Circus had a comic where one of the little boys said something like, "When I grow taller than Mommy, I'm gonna marry her!"
- An Animorphs story involves Rachel and Jake falling in love with each other, but acknowledging that it probably can't work out with any sort of permanence. Rachel invokes this trope in her narration. "When you're seven, people think it's cute when you say you want to marry your cousin. When you're seventeen, they call you a redneck."
- In some Girls und Panzer comics, Maho, who cares more for her younger sister Miho than she lets on, is Flanderized into being in love with Miho in some comics, such as this one (beware of canon spoilers).
Maho: Together with Mother, I am a member of the Nishizumi school, but Miho... is too kind and too cute.
Shiho: ...? Very well, I shall go and watch the semifinal match. That girl should be informed of her disinheritance.
Maho: (excited) Does that mean I can marry Miho!?
- The Jojos Bizarre Adventure doujinshi Little Jolyne Visits Morioh (about Jotaro having Josuke babysit Jolyne for a day during Part 4's events) ends with Jotaro taking his daughter home, at which point she excitedly declares that when she grows up, she wants to marry Josuke. Unbeknownst to her, Josuke is her great-uncle. Jotaro's response, after he recovers from flying into a street sign out of shock, is a definite "No."
- In Pony POV Series, when the cousins Prince Blueblood and Princess Cadence were children, he once asked her if she would marry him when they grew up. In response, she slapped him. In the present, looking back on this moment, Blueblood is embarrassed he actually did that.
Film — Live-Action
- Shirley Temple example: in Poor Little Rich Girl, she played Barbara Barry, daughter of a high-powered soap magnate who was rarely home. She says she wants to marry her dad; it was treated as just something a little kid would say.
- The 2008 film Fireproof opens with the following exchange (heavily paraphrased):
Daughter: Can I marry Daddy?
Mother: No, because he's married to me.
D: How about when you stop being married?
M: We won't stop. Marriage lasts forever.
- Inverted in the French musical Peau d'Ane ("Donkeyskin" in English): A king decides to marry his own grown-up daughter; when she is reluctant, he asks a scholar whether that's normal. The scholar answers that it's strange because when asked whom they want to marry when they grow up, little girls always say they want to marry their dad.
- A squicky near-miss occurs in the schlock fantasy movie Ator: The Flying Eagle. The title hero and his sister fall in love with each other and tell their father of their intention to marry. The father then reveals that the hero was an adopted Chosen One who was sent to live with them for his own safety and he gives the kids his blessing to marry. No-one in the entire village seems in any way squicked out by this in spite of the fact that the hero and his adopted sister believed themselves to be blood-related, yet wanted to boink anyway.
- Wild Strawberries a movie about an old man afraid of well, being old, has a scene where the elderly character visits his even more elderly mother, who reads to him some of her children's keepsakes. One of which is a scribbled note from a daughter saying 'when I grow up I want to marry daddy'. The mom makes a comment about how sweet and innocent it was.
- This is brought up, but dismissed, in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Todd Pringle points out that, since he is just as much in love with Daisy as Doctor Chabot is, perhaps he (Todd) might make a suitable match for her. When Dr. Chabot points out that Todd is Daisy's brother, Todd responds with, "Only by marriage... she's my step-sister, not my blood-sister."
- In The Bad Seed, after losing her eight year old son one of the others mentions that he used to talk about wanting to marry her because she was the prettiest woman to him.
- In The Secret Garden, Colin insists that he will wed his cousin Mary when they grow up. He even tries to force her to promise him this. When she laughs and says they can't, he reveals that he thinks it is the only way to keep her from abandoning him someday. Of course marrying a first cousin was (and still is) completely acceptable socially in Britain.
- There's a joke in which a young boy announces to his father that when he grows up, he wants to marry Grandma. The father, aghast, replies, "You can't marry my mother!", to which the boy asks, "Then why did you marry my mother?" The original joke is about sex rather than marriage... and is present in the oldest joke collection we know.
- A joke in Readers' Disgest has a young boy ask if he can marry his mother then his sister. When told he can't marry a family member, he says: "You mean I have to marry a total stranger?"
- A female comedian said that her young son told her "Mommy, when I grow up I want to marry a girl just like you." She said she felt so good until, out of the corner of her eye) she saw her husband making the NO, NO, NO wave off gesture.
- It happens in The Forsyte Saga, with Irene's son. Admittedly, it's a little weird that he actually says he wants to be her lover, but he's plainly just picked up the word as meaning romance and love and nothing more.
- In The Bagthorpe Saga, Daisy is convinced that since her uncle Mr Bagthorpe is by far the wickedest man she knows, he must be responsible for 'putting the baby in Mummy's tummy'. Her grandma is alarmed and instantly sets the record straight.
- In the book For Your Eyes Only by Joanne Rocklin, Lucy's mother is depressed because a man she thought was romantically interested in her ends up dating someone else. Lucy's twin younger brothers try to cheer their mother up by joking that they can marry her when they're older.
- In The Locked Room in The New York Trilogy, the narrator reminisces that as a child he'd wanted to marry Fanshawe, so they could always live together.
- In The Sound and the Fury, Quentin tells his father he had sex with Caddie. His father doesn't believe him.
- Partially motivated by her fear of abandonment Ulyssandra from The Night Angel Trilogy proposes to her twenty year old adoptive father who she has a crush on days before her twelfth birthday.
- The younger brother in The Scarlet Ibis you know, the one that dies tells his older brother that they'll each marry one of their parents. The older brother brushes it off as "stupid things kids say."
- In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus tells Scout about some people who were "double first cousins," resulting when "two sisters married two brothers." This is too much for Scout to wrap her mind around, and the closest she comes is guessing that if she married her brother Jem and their friend Dill married his sister, their children would be double first cousins.
- There is a late dynasty Ancient Egyptian tale in which Pharoah's son and daughter fall in love and want to marry. This being Ancient Egypt their father's only hesitation is over whether it wouldn't be politically wiser to make marriage alliances with other distinguished families.
- The Ursula K. Le Guin short story "The Birthday of the World", from the collection of the same name, has a royal family (actually they're referred to as God) in which the eldest boy and girl siblings marry each other, in the manner of many royal dynasties of the ancient world. Ze, the only daughter, knows she is slated to marry her brother Tazu, but when she is little, she isn't overly pleased about this and expresses a desire to instead marry another of her brothers, Omimo.
- In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the other little girls in Francie's neighborhood play a game where they have to whisper the name of the boy they want to marry, and the only person she can think of to say if she's ever asked is her father.
- In the Jacqueline Wilson book Midnight, Violet remembers how as a little girl she wanted to marry her brother Will. She borders on Big Brother Attraction when she admits that she still (at age fourteen) harbours dreams of them living together.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Cersei and Jaime are an example of this type of relationship that continued well into adulthood, sex and all, plus Jaime secretly fathering Cersei's children. It's mentioned that their mother caught them behaving inappropriately with each other when they were children and moved Jaime's room to the other side of the castle to try and stop it, threatening to tell their father if it happened again, but obviously this didn't work, mostly because their mother died soon afterward giving birth to their dwarfed brother Tyrion. Cersei also says that despite knowing this relationship wasn't allowed they comforted each other with the fact that the ruling dynasty also practiced brother-sister marriage, though that backfired horribly when the incest produced "Mad King" Aerys Targaryen, who brought down said dynasty.
- Azaka Kokutou in Kara no Kyoukai has no qualms about admitting she's in love with her brother, Mikiya, and not as a sibling.
- In Mary Renault's first Alexander the Great book, Fire From Heaven, the four-year-old Alexander proposes to his mother. She treats it as just something very young kids say. What follows when dad Philip comes in, drunk and brutal, is an Oedipal scene that is so painful for Alexander he represses the memory until he's much older.
- Schroder features a six-year-old, Meadow, asking her father if she can marry him when she grows up. Her lack of understanding of adult relationships is emphasized when she also asks if she can marry one of her female friends.
- In Robert Heinlein's "To Sail Beyond The Sunset" Maureen Long is obviously sexually fixated on her father, who possibly responds, though he tries to discourage it. For that matter, Lazarus Long (Maureen's son) is really hot for her, and consummates this by traveling back in time as an adult in "Time Enough For Love" and dating and having sex with her. In fact, the incest theme seems a large motif in many of his works. Curiously enough, in a real sense this might also present an inversion, in that Maureen Long was apparently based on Heinlein's RL wife, Virginia.
- In The Belgariad's first book, the very-young Garion suggests that his adoptive mother marry Durnik (an adult friend of hers); then, when she refuses, offers himself. She laughs at the idea, and there's no mention of physical or emotional attraction on any side- Garion just believes that women are supposed to be married (he lives in a medieval society), so naturally Pol must resent being single.
"Don't worry, Aunt Pol," he said, wanting to put her mind at ease.
- In a Deleted Scene from the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds," River, in one of her more...whimsical moments, asks Shepherd Book to marry her to Simon. She then stuffs a pillow under her shirt and pretends to be pregnant to justify it. Of course, she is a Cloudcuckoolander and her brother is the only one she really connects with until the end of The Movie.
- Arrested Development:
- Among the numerous incest jokes in the show there's a flashback to a magazine cover featuring Buster and his mother Lucile at a dancing competition (I think) with the headline "Why I want to marry my mother".
- Lindsey, upon learning she's adopted, tells her mother she plans to marry Michael. He turns her down not because they grew up together and are like brother and sister, but because he doesn't like older women (though raised as twins, she's actually three years his senior).
- A Mystery Science Theater 3000 host segment finds Crow asking Mike for Servo's hand in marriage. Probably the least weird example, considering Servo and Crow are both robots.
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood once featured Fred singing a song about a little boy asking to marry his mother, who in turn makes an effort to explain their relationship.
- Mock the Week: Sara Pascoe claims that had she kept promises she made to herself as a child, she'd be the world's fattest ballerina, living in an ice cream van, and married to her dad.
- In one of the later seasons of Step by Step, Lily informs her father Frank that she's gay because she loves her mother Carol. He gives her a somewhat simplistic explanation of the difference between familial and romantic love and asks her if she wants to marry her mother. She tells him that she doesn't. Because she would rather marry him.
- In one episode of Home Improvement, Mark, who was about seven at the time, refers to his mom as his "woman":
Mark: I have a woman — Mommy.
Randy: Your mommy can't be your woman, doofus.
Tim: A lot of men pay a psychiatrist a lot of money to figure that one out.
- In the show Brothers and Sisters, Kitty mentions such a plan. During their childhood, she would pretend to marry her brother Kevin, and they would then be immediately the parents of five children just like their parents. Not quite an example since they were only playing.
- Played With in some Taiwanese dramas. Fortunately one side is an adopted child, so the two are not related in any way.
- The Borgias: A fourteen-year-old Lucrezia tells her brother that she'll never love a husband as she loves him. The siblings then find love interests with eerie similarities to one another.
- In an episode of Mongrels, Nelson asks his father for his sister's paw in marriage. Dad's response: "I think I'm going to be sick!"
- Little House on the Prairie: Laura mentions that she used to think she would grow up to marry her Pa.
- Combined with Dual-Meaning Chorus in Steve Wariner's "I'm Already Taken". In the first two verses, the narrator tries to ask out a little blond-haired girl and gets the title response. By the third verse, she's now the mother of their boy, who asks innocently, "mommy, will you marry me?"
- Adam Sandler sang a song on Saturday Night Live where he (as a child) plans to 'go out' with his mother. In the second verse, he's entered school and wants to go out with his gym teacher. By the third verse, he's grown up and decides he'd like to try for his mother again.
Myths & Religion
- In The Bible, King David's son Amnon lusts after his sister Tamar, and eventually rapes her. In that society, being an unmarried non-virgin generally meant being considered Defiled Forever, even for princesses. Tamar pleads with Amnon to marry her and "take away her shame," saying that their father would allow it, but Amnon pushes her aside, blaming her for his actions. It bites Amnon BADLY in the ass later — as Tamar's other older brother Absalom soon learns about this and "recovers" Tamar's dignity via murdering him.
- In The Legend of Dragoon, "Oh, my dear daughter, I miss those days when you used to say, "I'll marry you, papa.""
- In Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword, this shows up with Priscilla and her long lost brother Raymond, now known as Raven. The ambiguous context of their support conversation makes it unclear whether she is just observing their Childhood Marriage Promise or actually expecting Raven to deliver on it.
- Comes up in both Persona 3 and 4. In the former, Maiko, a girl that the Main Character can Social Link with will declare her intent to marry the protagonist if he maxes her out (in the Expansion Pack her father will accuse you of pulling Wife Husbandry on purpose). In the latter, the protagonist's seven-year-old cousin will state how she wishes to marry him at the end of the game before he goes back to the city, with her father laughing it off but also not-so subtly stating that he's against such a union (unless the player also managed to max his social link, in which case her father's objection is that she's too young. He has no problem with them getting married when she's an adult).
- Persona 4 Arena, where Yu's relationship with Nanako is repeatedly used as a Berserk Button; half the time he's provoked into a fight it's by hearing someone mock how close the two are, with implications that he's hearing truly disgusting things sometimes.
- Hatsukoi the half translated visual novel Anzu fills out a marriage license and has her brother sign it when they're kids. This is the start of her route when he finds it and realizes she's treasured it for years.
- Akiha in Tsukihime would very much like to marry her brother, the adopted one. In her own route, he reciprocates her feelings, while the blood-related one seems to very much want to marry her, or at least has plenty of subtext to that effect. Unfortunately he's some kind of killer demon vampire thing, and also a complete lunatic, and she makes it very clear that she does not return his feelings.
- Not Always Right: The well-mannered and charming boy in this story takes his mother on dates, apparently to practice his etiquette.
- In episode 14 of the Game Grumps Let's Play of Super Mario 64, Arin tells a story about how his mother explained that gay "means that you like to kiss boys," leading him to think he might be gay since he never kissed a girl before and liked when his dad kissed him good night every night.
- Muppet Babies: For some reason, Half-Identical Twins Scooter and Skeeter played the king and queen in the "Sleeping Beauty" Fairy Tale in 2 different episodes — one when Rowlf lost his voice, and one when Piggy had chicken pox.
- Phil and Lil also often cast themselves this way in the games the Rugrats imagine. While performing their own soap opera, they sound more like their characters are dating than siblings ("Oh, my, Lillian, I cannot live without you!"), and when the babies hold their own prom, the twins go together. Obviously, as babies, they don't fully understand what the relationships they're mimicking are. (3-year-old Angelica seems to have a better grasp of it — after attending a real wedding makes her want to hold another one, she makes Lil and Chuckie play the bride and groom. That doesn't work out so well either as all the babies decide to marry each other.)