Her Heart Will Go On
A (usually) male Love Interest (temporary 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
- Sesshomaru becomes a male version in InuYasha after Kagura's death.
- The first part of the manga JoJo's Bizarre Adventure uses a variant of this by making the dying lover be the main character.
- Happens in Silent M÷bius Just saying it is probably spoiler enough though.
- Occurs in the anime movie Like The Clouds, Like the Wind, with a rather effeminate prince in the role of doomed love interest.
- In Monster, though Martin dies almost immediately after he and Eva realize they're in love, he does leave a permanent impression on her character: After hearing of his death, the long-time alcoholic walks immediately into the nearest bar and, against all odds, orders coffee because she knew how much Martin detested liquor. She ends up quitting her ten-year habit altogether by the epilogue.
- Played straight by Murrue Ramius in the OVA epilogue of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, sans child; she's depicted as coping well with the Heroic Sacrifice of her love interest Mu La Flaga... until sequel series Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny turns it into a subversion halfway through the series: Mu returns as Criminal Amnesiac Neo Roanoke, and suddenly Murrue isn't coping as well as she'd seemed to be up to that point.
- In the first season of The Nineties Sailor Moon anime, Moon says her tearful goodbyes to the fallen Mamoru and walks with dignity to fight Beryl. In the manga... not so much.
- In Trigun, Wolfwood finally seals the deal with the girl (Milly), who he's been flirting with for a while... and bites it the very freaking next day. She, of course, is more of a main character, and stoically toughs it out with her pal, who's much luckier in the guy department. I guess.
- In the manga, this relationship doesn't exist, and an incredible amount of Ho Yay with two other male characters (Vash and Midvalley) did, and his death could have had more meaning as this - instead he was given the What Happened to the Mouse? treatment so much by the surviving one of those so much that it made most of the slash fanbase hate Nightow for what seemed an obvious Writer Cop Out paired with Bury Your Gays.
- In Rose of Versailles, Andre finally gets the girl after she gives up her unrequited love and realizes that she's in love with him. He bites it the next day, leaving her alone to apparently single-handedly win the day at the Storming of the Bastille, and dramatically die the day after he does.
- For such an otherwise uplifting show, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is pretty brutal about this. Not just one, but two of Yoko's potential lovers end up killed within 24 hours of only getting to first base. And it even works the other way: Nia experiences a Critical Existence Failure immediately after being officially married to Simon (as in, right there at the altar, not after the honeymoon). It's no wonder that both of them seem to be avoiding contact with other adults in the epilogue...
- Referenced in Mahou Sensei Negima! where Chisame suggests that Negi re-enact this trope with his older form by pretending to die in the Magic World's arena after he confesses his love for Ako and wins the last bout so that Ako won't get too heartbroken in regards to the truth.
Chisame: And so, Nagi is "dead" and their love lives on forever in Izumi's heart. It's beautiful...
Natsumi: No! No way!
Akira: That's not a "Happy End" at all!
- The manga adaptation of the spinoff game to the original CLANNAD, Tomoyo After. After Tomoya tells Tomoyo to be strong despite his imminent death, he dies, and Tomoyo lives on.
- Glass Fleet: One night of romance and all Michel gets out of it is her lover's psychotic brother for a friend after her lover decides to sacrifice himself. There may be a baby involved too.
- The manga of Gakuen Alice, with Yuka and Yukihara-sensei. He goes and dies the morning after they have sex the first (and obviously only) time. If it wasn't for Mikan flubbing with time traveling, Yukihara-sensei never would have known he had a daughter at all.
- This happens to Marvette Fingerhut and Elischa Clansky in Victory Gundam, after Marvette's New Old Flame Oliver commits an Heroic Sacrifice first, and later Elischa's boyfriend Odelo perishes in the Grand Finale. The first of the girls is pregnant in the end of the story, too.
- Final Fantasy VII's continuity, Advent Children, has a subplot involves Cloud Strife having a self-pity toward Aerith's death. It takes a good portion of the movie for him to get over it, and so the girl can finally move on to the next world with her also-dead first-love/boyfriend, Zack (who was also Doomed by Canon). Ironically, Cloud did a platonic version of this trope towards Zack in the original FF7 itself, as Zack was Cloud's Big Brother Mentor, who sacrificed his life to save a teenage Cloud in the prequel Crisis Core.
- Played with in Fruits Basket. After her husband dies, Kyoko Honda goes insane from grief and nearly kills herself to reunite with him in the afterlife. While she does pull through and continue strongly on, she is motivated to do so by her love for her daughter (though she does still remember and love her husband).
- In Aquarion Evol, Yunoha gets this when Jin dies. Her heart almost doesn't go on.
- Girls Love version: In Senki Zesshō Symphogear, when Kanade was alive, she was Tsubasa's sole source of strength. After Kanade's Heroic Sacrifice, Tsubasa become an Ice Queen to be able to continue fighting the Noise. When Hibiki comes into the scene inheriting (a shard of) Kanade's power, Tsubasa doesn't take it well (read:at all). It is a subversion because it shows that Tsubasa is still pretty hung up on Kanade's death and it ended up holding her true potential back. Once she started accepting Hibiki, and truly got over Kanade's death, that is when her heart truly went on and she became even more powerful than her Ice Queen days.
- This trope takes its name from the love theme and ending song of Titanic (1997) (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.
- An after-the-fact example in The Whales of August with Sarah, who still mourns the husband who was killed in World War I some forty years ago. On their anniversary she sets a table with two roses and his portrait, pours a glass of wine, and reminisces about how he undressed her on their honeymoon.
- 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 (1997).
- Decoded Feedback's "Another Loss" is a male example. "In my dreams you live forever, 'cause love will never die".
- 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.