"Two girlfriends will only end up fighting with each other, but twenty girlfriends will become competitive, and the target of their rage will be directed toward each other, not me. Always works for me."Some people think you can't have too much of a good thing, and that this extends to romantic and/or sexual partners. If one is good, then two is twice as good, and five is better still! The harem seeker is a character who is openly trying to date and/or marry multiple Love Interests as part of a scheme to have lots of attractive partners all to themselves. They have a different goal from the Casanova Wannabe, who aspires to become The Casanova by sleeping with a lot of different people with no commitment, and are also different from a person with a cheating heart, who is in a nominally exclusive relationship but actually sleeps around without their partner's consent. The harem seeker's goal is to keep their multiple partners in the long term, and have them explicitly agree to share. They will typically be characterized as a Lovable Sex Maniac or a Chivalrous Pervert. This character can be female, but is more likely to be male; the assumption is that All Men Are Perverts, and that this character will reflect the desires of a male audience. A harem seeker can be portrayed either positively or negatively, depending on whether having a harem is depicted as a worthy goal, and depending on whether they have a realistic chance of success. If having multiple partners is depicted as desirable, a harem seeker with the skill to succeed might get involved in Polyamory or even achieve a Marry Them All ending. This can be Wish Fulfillment for audience members who fantasize about having a harem but consider it unattainable to them in real life, and who get to live vicariously through the fictional harem seeker. In contrast, an unsuccessful harem seeker is likely to be depicted as a comedic loser who doesn't know their own limitations. If the work depicts getting a harem as an immature or unrealistic goal, then giving up on it and deciding to focus on getting just one partner may be a sign of Character Development. A harem seeker who isn't the protagonist may be relegated to the role of comic relief in a manner similar to the Casanova Wannabe. The Harem seeker can be used as the protagonist of a Harem Genre work or a Romance Game that has a Marry Them All route, since it gives them an obvious motivation to interact with the different love interests and get into the kinds of risque situations that the audience wants to see. On the other hand there's a certain fear by creators that such a character might come across as crass or unrelatable to the audience, and a harem seeker protagonist who's poorly written or given no characterization beyond this trait will just become flat or annoying. Nevertheless, any harem seeker protagonist who manages to have some depth or whose escapades prove fun to watch can seem like a refreshing change from the now well-worn formula of setting up a decent guy with an Unwanted Harem of pushy girls so that all sorts of contrived Accidental Pervert situations ensue. Polyamory is a related concept, but there are some differences. Not everyone who ends up in a polyamorous relationship is necessarily a harem seeker to begin with, and a harem seeker might initially care more about the sexual than romantic aspects of having multiple partners, though this can change with character development. A harem also tends to be construed as a bunch of concubines or spouses gathered around one central figure to whom all the others are bonded, while the term polyamory is broad enough to include relationships that are more evenly balanced and in which any member, and not just the central figure, is allowed to form romantic bonds with more than one person.
— Kuze, ef - a fairy tale of the two.
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Anime and Manga
- Ataru of Urusei Yatsura fame makes this actually older than the harem anime genre. It's ultimately Defied, though, as he gave his goal up upon seeing a possible future where he succeeded and discovered that obtaining this harem would mean that Lum would leave him. He then physically destroyed that future.
- Variation: Hachibe from Ai Kora is only this because the traits he's seeking are spread out over several girls.
- When Kuroko of A Certain Magical Index hears rumors that her onee-sama has clones running around, she gleefully fantasizes about constructing a harem of 108 Mikotos. Note that there are actually around ten thousand of the clonesnote , a fact that might literally blow Kuroko's mind if she learned of it. Mikoto, for her part, has quite wisely kept their existence hidden from Kuroko. And the issue is only aggravated when Kuroko met Mikoto's mother.
- Date A Live plays with this. Shido Itsuka learns that he has the power to drain a Spirit's powers into himself, rendering them harmless, but they have to fall in love with him and share True Love's Kiss with him for it to work. While a bit uncomfortable with this, he wants to keep the world safe. Thus, he has to work hard to get all of them to fall in love with him and keep them all happy, since they get their powers back and tend to go on rampages when they get upset. Complicating matters is the fact that many of them get jealous of the other harem members.
- Walker might qualify. In one scene, he rescues a girl from some thugs that kidnapped her. He sets the thugs on fire while rambling about being an anime hero and wanting a harem ending.
- Introduced later on in the series is Rokujou Chikage, a man who's actually reasonably successful in his goal of having multiple girlfriends at once. He owes his success to being open and polite about it, putting entirely too much effort into making women happy regardless of whether he expects to sleep with them, and packing something special below the belt.
- And Masaomi is always gushing about polygamy, and at the very least he had a crush on Anri while still being hung up on Saki.
- There's a dark variant in the Evillious Chronicles; The Lunacy Of Duke Venomania has the titular duke, Sateriasis Venomania, who seeks out multiple love interests and adds them to his harem via mind-control powers. This includes already taken women and girls fundamentally unattracted to him as well, not like he cares.
- Cuuko from Haiyore! Nyarko-san develops into this. At first she's a Psycho Lesbian Stalker with a Crush for Nyarko, and plays Shipper with an Agenda to get Mahiro (the guy Nyarko actually loves) out of the way. She gradually warms to Mahiro thanks to his being a genuinely nice person, and by the time of the second season Nyarko-San W, Cuuko's plan has changed to "I bear Nyarko's child, the boy bears mine". She later tells him "My party system supports up to four people."
- High School D×D:
- The series messes with this. The reason Issei is so quick to adjust after his First Episode Resurrection is that Rias tells him he can get his own harem. He then somehow manages to miss the fact that most of the girls he interacts with fall for him. Then we figure out that the reason he doesn't realize is that being killed by his first girlfriend (long story) left him with huge self-esteem issues. Issei also defies the usual attitude of a Harem Seeker. His perverted self-indulgent babbling is starkly at odds with the vast respect he actually has for any woman he meets; and when Issei does meet a successful devil with a harem of his own, the way he so callously treats the women around him makes Issei furious.
- Issei's father is Happily Married, but admits that he's a little jealous of his son, because he tried and failed to get a harem when he was Issei's age.
- Iono the Fanatics provides a female version with Iono, who has succeeded to the tens of thousands of haremettes level. That's an order of magnitude more than Solomon. It's strongly implied her country has been reduced to a Ruritania mainly due to the cost of supporting so many free-loading lesbian love-slaves, to say nothing of all the women she's removed from her own populace to serve her as haremettes.
- The kicker? She has a place in her heart for each one of them, including the women she made promise with years ago. This can't always be said of people who are this trope in real life.
- Bell's original goal in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? was to, well, pick up girls in a dungeon. He gives up on this goal after falling head over heals in love with Aiz Wallenstein. Predictably, several girls start falling for him after this and he's none the wiser.
- In Magika no Kenshi to Shoukan Maou, Kazuki Hayashizaki needs a harem to grow stronger. His summon diva Leme gains power from the harem members' summoned creatures. According to Leme, Kazuki needs a massive harem to gain enough power to save the world from something that's coming.
- Takeru enrolled at Tenbi Academy because it used to be an all-girl school. But since it's turned Co-Ed, the student body is predominantly female; making it his dream come true. So he's signed up for all the eye candy and as much female attention as he can get.
- Jigoku secretly aspired to attain godhood so he could use his power to make all women of his choosing submit to him; including Haruko and Love Espada. But Yan-Min kills him during the climax of chapter 97, before he gets the chance.
- Phantom Quest Corp.: Ayaka accuses Bosco of being one when she realizes his tea shop specifically caters to late teen-early 20's female clientele only. Which he explains isn't the case at all. The reason he caters to that particular age group is because older women are less likely to be virgins; adding that it'd become increasingly difficult for vampires to find any in the modern era.
- Lord Papacha of Photon has hundreds of wives and is always looking to add more, particularly beautiful and prestigous girls.
- In the novel continuity of Queen's Blade, this trait is given to the much sluttier Nanael, who wants to bang every guy she can get, including little boys like Rana, despite her being an angel — and, more importantly, despite her being openly bigoted against humans in that continuity.
- Ken from Seitokai no Ichizon is pretty much the poster child of this genre. His stated objective from the beginning is that he is building a harem from the student council.note
- In Seitokai Yakuindomo, Shino thinks all guys who enters Ousai academy, a former All-girls' school that has been changed to co-ed and still has a gender ratio of 28:524, are these. While Takatoshi, the main protagonist, isn't, it seems Shino's guess is true for a large part of the remaining 27 guys.
- Eruna Ichinomiya, the main character of Mikagura School Suite very openly express her desire to have a harem of cute girls. her attempt are results in mitigated success, while she can easely make friends both male and female, with a ocasional bit of Les Yay, but not more.
- You probably wouldn't expect this trope to pop up in To Love-Ru of all places, primarily because Rito is about as far from being The Casanova as you can get. And you'd be right; it's Momo who inverts this trope by acknowledging that she's unlikely to win Rito away from the lead females and instead starts plotting for a polyamorous relationship between Rito and nearly every named female in the series, including Saki (who is in "love" with Zastin) and Mikan.
- Oddly enough, Charlotte B. Lord, the school principal in Unlimited Fafnir, is a Dirty Old Woman who wants Yuu, the main hero, to join in on her escapades in peeking at the girls while they're having a physical exam. Made more hilarious because she looks like a ten year old girl, and she is usually kept in check by her assistant Micah.
- Anita Blake: In the later novels, the main force driving the plot is Anita's need to add more men to her harem.
- Wei Xiaobao of the Jin Yong novel The Deer and the Cauldron.
- In The Bible, King Solomon has 700 wives and 300 concubines.
- The Tale of Genji: Prince Genji is always in the market for an addition to his (long) list of lovers.
- Journey to Chaos: Eric teases Kasile about wanting a "knight harem" when he hears about her backstory with Siron and Culmus. She was hoping they would become Bash Brothers instead of falling to Cockfighting.
Live Action TV
- The League of Gentlemen's Papa Lazarou.
- Frasier: This happened twice here. The first time it was Frasier himself, as he managed to get three different women's numbers at the same benefit party he hosted at his place. He scheduled each date one evening after the other and deliberately tried to date them all at more or less the same time, but this was when his father Martin was knee-deep into his relationship with Sherry, whose gabby tendencies torpedoed at least the first two dates. The second time, Martin tried juggling two different women and saw nothing wrong with it, at least until one of them called his cell phone and the other answered since Martin was unavailable. Frasier and Niles were forced to help him maintain appearances because one of the two girlfriends had the potential to help the duo save their childhood school from closing down as long as she was in a good mood.
- Launcelot Gobbo from The Merchant of Venice. "...here's a small trifle of wives; alas, fifteen wives is nothing! A 'leven widows and nine maids is a simple coming-in for one man..."
- Any game that gives you a choice of Romance Sidequests and lets you pursue them all at the same time. Especially if there are cumulative tangible bonuses to keeping each relationship active.
- DLC character Red from Hyperdimension Neptunia wants a lot of wifeys. IF becomes her first one (much to her surprise) and she's downright giddy when she learns the party is all-females.
- Tink in the Tink ending of Disgaea 2. Being the Butt-Monkey he is, he gets the crap beat out of him.
- The player character (if male) can flirt with Elanee, Neeshka, and Shandra all at once in Neverwinter Nights 2. And then end up settling down with Safiya at the end of the expansion.
- Make a team of all females as the male main character in Persona 3 Portable and Yukari will accuse you of being this.
- Taiga in Duel Savior Destiny basically accepts the role of trying to be the world's savior because he thinks it will make him even more popular with girls. The final route even has him pursuing this rather successfully.
- Rance isn't happy til he has...pretty much every beautiful woman in existence, only making exceptions to things that could kill him instantly (and that doesn't always stop him). The (current) harem he has is too large to list.
- Fenoxo's NSFW (But really famous) text-based role-playing games (Corruption of Champions and Trials In Tainted Space). In Corruption you can obtain over a dozen different long-term lovers, and a dozen more friends with benefits. Trials has less but is still in beta.
- Geralt in the third part of The Witcher have sex with both romantic interests. As a result, he gets a threesome promise later in the game, but ends chained to a bed and left alone, ending with none of them.
- Rod from Out There is rarely seen not hitting on Miriam, Araceli, Sherry, or some other nameless female who works in his office. He's successful far more often than he deserves to be.
- Beavis And Butthead's Casanova Wannabe behavior often ventures into this. In the episode "Impotence," Beavis asks "Which of these lucky girls will be fit to join my harem?" in a faux Arabic accent, while Butt-head imagines himself in a parody of The Brady Bunch where he lives with three women in the episode "Dream On."
- Some practitioners of Polyamory. (Not all, and in fact most people in the lifestyle look down on this sort of attitude.)
- The mating habits of polygynous animals are basically like this; males will seek to mate with as many females as they can, with the strongest, most virile male often getting the most females. This ensures to the females that their offspring will be strong enough to survive to adulthood. Examples of animals that have this mating behavior include seals, certain birds and even prehistoric pterosaurs. The opposite extreme, polyandry, also exists, though it's rarer in nature. Phalaropes (a type of bird that is basically nature's answer to the Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy trope) are an example of polyandry.
- Humans are, according to Jared Diamond's book The Third Chimpanzee, a "mildly polygynous species", which is suggested by our level of sexual dimorphism. To put us in perspective, gibbons are one of the most monogamous species on Earth, forming lifetime bonds and almost never committing adultery, and the males and females are so equal in size and appearance that it's difficult to tell them apart. On the other end of the scale, elephant seal males are much larger than the females, and the dominant males are the ones that round up the lion's share of the females into their harems and keep other males away through superior strength. It's a winner-take-all system, because having the strongest males hog all of the females means that most males in a given generation don't get to mate or pass on their genes. Human men are, on average, just a little bit bigger than women. This suggests we are not quite as monogamous as gibbons, but still much more so than gorillas or elephant seals whose sexual dimorphism is far more extreme. Because human offspring require so much parental care compared to other animals, a human male has to invest a lot of resources into taking care of his children. This makes supporting more than one set of wife and kids too burdensome for those of ordinary means, but the creation of hierarchical societies based on agriculture allowed certain individuals to become more prosperous than the rest and therefore support multiple wives and their children. For this reason, polygamy is a sign of status in many cultures where it is practiced. There can also be economic incentives for polygamy, such as in 19th century Commanche bands where buffalo robes were produced as a surplus commodity to sell, and the necessary process of scraping the animal hides was considered women's work. A man could increase his income by getting more wives to do the work for him. As the buffalo herds were destroyed and the Commanche were driven off their lands, the practice of polygamy went into decline because the economic incentive was gone.
- Ottoman sultans and Chinese emperors are just two examples of historical rulers who used their wealth and power to maintain large numbers of concubines. The former was the Trope Namer, although in reality the royal Harem was not so much a sexual playground for the sultan as it was a protective environment for all of the sultan's female relatives, including his mother. A sultan would typically stop having relations with a concubine after she gave birth to a male child, in order to make her focus her attention on grooming that one boy for power.