A (usually) male Love Interest
or otherwise) is killed off to show the (usually) female survivor's strength, perhaps as a Heartbroken Badass
Note that the dead party doesn't have to be completely disposable: they often become The Lost Lenore
, and continue to have an impact on the heroine. There may also be Someone to Remember Him By
For lovers who exist solely
for this trope, see Disposable Woman
As this is a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked. Consider yourself warned.
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Anime and Manga
- The Total Drama story, Legacy does a gender flip with the bereaved Trent. He starts out in deep mourning after the death of his first love and continues to make annual gestures of remembrance, but he otherwise goes on to live a normal life.
- This trope takes its name from the love theme and ending song of Titanic (performed by CÚline Dion), where Rose keeps her promise that she'll survive. In Jack's honor, she makes a new life for herself, marries, and has a family.
- Somewhere In Time reverses this trope as the story is told from the man's perspective and he can't go on living without her.
- The classic version with a child would be Cold Mountain.
- The popularizing template for the "left with child" version is The Terminator.
- Planet Terror kills off almost all the male characters (and the fate of the one who isn't killed off on screen is never resolved), and only one female character, although she gets her brain eaten soon enough in the film that she barely qualifies as a character at all.
- Inverted in the first Mission: Impossible film.
- Subverted (kinda-sorta) in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End because Will becomes the Captain of the Flying Dutchman, which means he must serve for 10 years at sea and Elizabeth can't join him during that time. They get one day together on the beach before he leaves and The Stinger after the credits shows Lizzie with a child, so you do the math. As Lizzie and the kid stand there, the Dutchman appears, with Will standing on the rigging. Word of God says that since Will fulfilled his obligation of ferrying souls to the afterlife and his love would be waiting for him by the time he's allowed to go ashore (a detail cut out of the movie) he will be coming back for good.
- Grief for her boyfriend Glen helps turn Nancy from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) into an Action Girl, and this revealed inner strength lets her cope with chronic nightmares until the third film. She goes on to become a professional dream therapist, kicking Freddy's ass once herself and becoming The Mentor to the third film's characters.
- In The Dark Knight, this happens to a positive, strengthening effect with Bruce and Rachel, though it doesn't work out so well for Mr. Dent.
- In Premonition the main character manages to reconnect with her husband and does try to save his life before ending up pregnant with their third child.
- Winnie in Tuck Everlasting learns through Jesse's love that it's better to live a limited life to the fullest then be stuck like a rock in a stream.
- In Becoming Jane, she leaves him to he can take care of his family but she ends up with some priceless writing material.
- Cho Chang from Harry Potter. In fourth and fifth book she still grieved for Cedric's death, but by the end of the story she was able to move on and got married. This could be said the same with Harry as by the seventh book she become friendly with him once more.
- The version with the child is played straight in the Sally Lockhart trilogy.
- When Janie of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God finally finds a man who loves and respects her after two failed marriages, she gets only about a year of happiness with him before he contracts rabies and goes crazy, forcing her to shoot him. Not to worry, though; Janie's now independent enough to stand on her own without a man to support her and she'll always have fond memories of Tea Cake.
- At the end of the first book of Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles, the elderly hero's daughter marries the secondary hero. At the beginning of the second book, he's died and left her with a baby-and enough money to be pursued by multiple suitors.
- This is partly because Trollope hated John Bold, but also because he originally envisioned the second book to be more Slope vs. Arabin than it eventually turned out to be. If you read the book carefully, it changes form and direction at the end of Chapter Eight, which is where Trollope put it away for almost a year. When he returned to it, he'd found he'd written himself into a corner but didn't want to expend the energy to rewrite the first eight chapters.
- Happens to a character in Maggie Furey's Aurian books. Complete with kid, and coming back as a ghost. Multiple times, until Death gets cheesed off and puts a stop to it.
- Totally subverted in The Dead Room by Heather Graham. Leslie is still mourning the death of her fiance Matt, and then she meets his cousin... who she does NOT get together with. She also gets murdered by the killer, and happily reunites with Matt in the afterlife.
- If it's a Death Trope, the Malazan Book of the Fallen has it. In this case Seren Pedac (pregnant) and Trull Sengar (killed almost as an afterthough) in Reapers Gale.
- Referenced in American Gods. Jacquel mentions how the widower of the dead old lady he and Shadow are carting off to the morgue will soon be dead himself, since women are much better at surviving their men than the other way around. Considering he's actually a death god, he presumably knows what he's talking about.
- Subverted in the Apprentice Adept series. Stile discovers a prophecy promising him a child, so he puts off romancing the Lady Blue until after the big battle to ensure his own safety.
- Variant in the Kate Shugak mystery series. Kate's dead lover doesn't leave her with a baby... but she does wind up raising his teenage son from his previous marriage (the biological mother isn't dead; the kid just prefers Kate, and with good reason).
- In Suzanne Collins's Catching Fire, Peeta tries to persuade Katniss that this trope will come into play if he dies. It only makes her more determined to save him at her expense.
- Happens in the Black Magician series by Trudi Canavan. In the last book Sonea falls in love and has an... intimate moment with the Good All Along Akkarin (which didn't really seem to make sense as this all happens in like 5 pages and they barely knew each other, but I digress...) and at the end (which is literally like 20 pages later) he has to sacrifice himself so that Sonea can defeat the real Big Bad. She gets over him and is left pregnant, since she didn't know that witches can use magic to prevent getting pregnant. And all this is supposed to make you see her as a strong person.
- Lucy Snowe in Charlotte BrontŰ's Villette. Poor girl has less than a chapter to be happy with the love of her life.
- Played for horror in The Fly-by-Night, where the girl in question happily informs her father that it doesn't matter he killed the beast, because she's about to bear its spawn.
- Averted in Romeo and Juliet where she doesn't even want to live without Romeo.
- In Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet novel Dreadnaught, Rione tells Desjani that if anything happens to Geary, she may have to play this trope, as a grieving widow, to the hilt to save the Alliance. In Invincible, Geary has Anxiety Dreams of Desjani's death, and Desjani tells him that this would be his duty, that she doesn't want people to look at him and think she ruined him by dying, and that she herself would soldier on.
- At the end of Marcus Pitcaithly's The Hereward Trilogy, Torfrida fits neatly into this trope.
- In The Kingdom and the Crown the Greek girl Livia's Jewish husband is killed during a Roman ambush. Rather than return to her home, she opts to remain in his home village.
- In At All Costs, Admiral Javier Giscard, de facto husband of President Eloise Pritchart of the Republic of Haven, is killed in battle, which quite simply breaks her heart. Never one to give in to grief, she eventually makes a dramatic midnight dash to the Manticore System, clears up several years' worth of misunderstandings with the Star Kingdom, and seals the deal by signing a political and military alliance with Manticore. Never will Eloise Pritchart allow the man she loved to die for nothing. This example is also notable for utterly and comprehensively averting Stuffed into the Fridge; Giscard's death was written to be a Sacrificial Lion, and Eloise's grief is secondary to that end (though still incredibly important to her character arc).
Live Action TV
- Played with in Angel with the death of Wesley. Even though Illyria is not his girlfriend, it's later revealed in the comic continuation that she cared about him enough that his death made her even crazier. This is a brilliant example of the "finishing off the Big Bad by herself" subtrope, as immediately afterward Illyria is given "one free shot" by Wesley's killer, who thinks she's the powerless human Fred and not the angsty hellgod that she actually is. Her rapid transformation from one to the other as she punches the bad guy is priceless.
- Played straight in season 3 of Eureka.
- At the end of Dollhouse, Echo and Paul.
- In Alias season 5, played with when Vaughn is "dead".
- Played straight in The Sarah Jane Adventures. You didn't think they'd actually marry off the main character, did you?
- It's "his heart will go on" in Smallville when Clark finally loses Lana.
- Xena: Warrior Princess, Season One: Xena and Marcus.
- Touched upon a few times in LOST. A character dies in the final episode, and his long-time love goes on for years without him. But he, not she, is the main character. A closer example would be the characters Sun and Jin. After losing Jin, Sun goes on, delivers their baby and reinvents herself as a celebrity and a businesswoman. It later turns out, however, that Jin did not die after all...
- We'll have to see how well Mary plays this out in Season Four of Downton Abbey.
- At the end of Merlin, King Arthur died, leaving Guinevere as the sole ruler of Camelot. Although the show ends before we get a chance to see how she managed things on her own, Word of God states that she brought about the Golden Age of Camelot, and actor Bradley James went on to say that Arthur actually had to die so that the kingdom could be passed on to a ruler who was a peace-maker rather than a war hero. So presumably, she had a long and successful reign.
- The Decemberists' song "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" is about a young couple where the man has gone off to war, and is now "in the ground with the wolves and the weevils", leaving his wife alone and pregnant.
- The Trope Namer: "My Heart Will Go On" by CÚline Dion, the main theme and love theme to the aforementioned Titanic.
- This is pretty much the entire point of the ending of Final Fantasy X and the beginning of Final Fantasy X-2. Said female tries to make sure Everybody Lives when she becomes the protagonist.
- Happens in Neverwinter Nights 2: the potential romantic interest invariably dies in the ending. The PC, on the other hand, goes on to romp around the distant country side (with their new boy/girlfriend, no less) on an epic quest of personal discovery and soul-eating in the Expansion Pack. Sucks to be you, Casavir, Bishop, and Elanee.
- You can actually tell your new love interest "Sorry, I'm taken." though.
- The second expansion pack suggests that Casavir lives, but he is a prisoner of an enemy country.
- But Neeshka does survive, and it is relatively easy to put her romance plot back into the game
- In Baldur's Gate 2, if the PC is female (or male but chooses to romance someone else) Jaheira can be seen as an example of this.
- And more clearly in Throne of Bhaal, at the very end, actually in the "epilogue", a Player Character who had been in a relationship with Viconia becomes a male version.
- Subverted in Fate/stay night "Heaven's Feel" Normal Ending, Shirou dies in the final battle. Sakura moves into his house and remains in mourning for him right up until the day she dies. Also, despite doing the deed three times during the Grail War, Sakura does not become pregnant.
- A defining part of Guard-Captain Aveline's character in Dragon Age II. She gets past the loss, but it takes her a lot longer to get over her fear of failing those she cares about again, and she's only more Badass for it.
- In He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and its 2002 reboot, this is The Sorceress' backstory (with Teela as the kid). It should be noted that in the reboot, the father was actually still alive, but doesn't know about the little gift he left her. The series itself hints that it's Teela's adoptive father Man-At-Arms, but Word of God states they meant it to be Fisto (who's Man-at-Arms' brother).
- At the end of the first season finale of Wakfu, Evangelyne says that her heart will not in fact go on, as it has been thoroughly destroyed by Idiot Hero Sadlygrove's death. And at the beginning of Season 2 Sadlygrove comes Back from the Dead and they both resume their relationship, averting this trope.