"Love is when the other person's happiness is more important than your own."A bittersweet trope where Alice loves Bob but realizes that a relationship between them cannot happen, so she decides to put Bob's happiness above her own. Accordingly, she abandons her claim to Bob and encourages him to move on and live his own life, even if that means watching (or even supporting) a relationship between Bob and someone else. The trope is intended to show that Alice is noble and selfless, but it can fall flat if the plot hasn't shown that Alice and Bob had any real connection, or if Alice appears to have ulterior motives (i.e. is still trying to get with Bob by pretending she is letting him go). If Bob is the one who chooses to do this, this act of sacrifice may (paradoxically) be what causes Alice to notice his interest and/or decide she wants to be with him after all, thus rewarding his virtue. But even if she doesn't, Bob may still contribute to her Happily Ever After, usually in the form of an "If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her..." speech directed at her new paramour. Also see Romantic False Lead, Act of True Love, and Insecure Love Interest. Contrast Murder the Hypotenuse, Green-Eyed Monster, and Love Makes You Evil. Compare/contrast Loved I Not Honor More. Diametric opposite to If I Can't Have You.... In extreme cases, this can be paired with a Death Trope. You Have Been Warned.
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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Anime & Manga
- Tabby from .hack//Roots isn't actually in love with Haseo, but she wants to help him in any way she can. The already Jerk Ass Haseo starts going to every length possible to find who or whatever caused Shino, the only one he could really open up to, to fall into a coma, but his obsession quickly causes him to lose his way. Both Shino and Haseo are Tabby's friends, and she just wants to help them both in any way she can, in the game or in the real world. Haseo thinks she's just getting in the way, but that's HIS problem. Even after telling her to never show herself ever again, she continues to help him in any way she can, just to ensure his happiness. Things work out in the end for everyone though when Haseo comes to his senses and apologizes to Tabby and thanks her for everything she's done and sticking with him through everything he put her through.
- In the Asatte no Houkou manga, Amino starts off as a Stalker With a Crush, but ends up being this.
- Axis Powers Hetalia has Spain letting Italy leave him during the War of the Austrian Succession. Sweden briefly thought of letting Finland go during the Polish-Swedish wars. However, he couldn't bring himself to touch the subject.
- Battle Angel Alita has an odd example where a character sets her love interest up with herself. Or rather, a clone of herself, created using her original brain, which Alita does when she realizes that she may not survive the final leg of her journey and fulfill her promise to return to Figure Four.
- Yuzu Yamamoto in Bitter Virgin liked the main lead Daisuke Suwa. She was quick to notice that Daisuke was developing feelings for Hinako Aikawa, and after some wrestling with the issue decided to support Hinako. Up until she inadvertently learned Hinako had given birth to a child and ends up blurting this out to Daisuke. Unknown to her, Daisuke was fully aware of this already and it only cements her status as Unlucky Childhood Friend. Also, resident Yandere Kazuki also has a moment of this when she comes to the same realization as Yuzu. Though in her case she's only stepping aside temporarily as everyone is certain the relationship will ultimately fail. (Including Hinako and Daisuke, themselves.)
- Rentaro Satomi in Black Bullet. He only cares about other people being happy, especially Enju Aihara, Kisara Tendo, and Tina Sprout. He tried pulling this off with Ksiara in the Fugitive arch, but it bites him in the ass.
- Elizabeth from Black Butler to the point where's she is willing to give her own life away and drown just to see Ciel smile again.
- In Blood+, use of this trope could be attributed to several characters, the most notable being Mao and Haji.
- When Mao believes that Kai has fallen in love with Saya, she spends the next episode making sure they get to spend some Quality Time together. This after she stole money from her yakuza boss and chased him across the globe with a complete stranger too.
- Haji, meanwhile, spends the vast majority of the series doing whatever it is that will make Saya happy, and does his best to stay by the wayside (however, he also somewhat subverts the trope in later episodes, when Saya is nearly whisked off by the infatuated Solomon, and Haji makes it clear that he is not pleased).
- Hilariously enough, once Saya makes it clear that she returns Haji's unspoken feelings, Solomon invokes this trope, and decides that even though they'll never be together romantically, he'll still do his damnedest to protect her so she can get the chance to be happy with Haji. Not so hilariously, this gets him killed by his former comrades, with Saya being none the wiser.
- ‘’Cardcaptor Sakura’’ has Tomoyo perfectly content to be just Sakura’s best friend despite being in love with her. She even became a Shipper on Deck for Syaoran/ Sakura.
- Downplayed with Shizuku Kurogane from Chivalry of a Failed Knight, who is in love with her brother, Ikki, to the point of coming off as a Yandere at times. However, she prioritizes Ikki's happiness above her own and begrudgingly accepts that he's in love with Stella Vermillion.
- City Hunter:
- Ryo and Umibozu are willing to let Kaori and Miki go if they wanted.
- Mick Angel: upon falling for Kaori and realizing she is in love with Ryo and will stay that way, he entrusts her safety to Ryo and renounces to his job of killing him.
- Code Geass:
- This is an element of Lelouch's final Zero-Approval Gambit. While Kallen tries one last time to get a sign from Lelouch that he has not abandoned his ideals and they won't have to fight in a few moments, Lelouch stays quiet, not wanting to drag her down with him after everything he's already put her through. Ironically, this is in full compliance with her asking him to keep lying to everyone until the bitter end at the start of the season.
- Milly does this. She has a crush on Lelouch, but her ultimate goal during Cupid's day was to pair Lelouch and Shirley. But it was probably not for Lelouch, who has no obvious love for Shirley, but rather for her friend Shirley, because she has the true big love for Lelouch, compared to Milly's crush.
- In the manga Corsair, Sesaam takes in Canale who is an assassin assigned to kill him. He protects Canale and loves him dearly, and Canale eventually falls in love with him. However, Canale still feels he has no choice but to kill him, and after being stabbed Sesaam reassures Canale that he doesn't blame him, and tells him how to escape through the trapdoor under his bed, and tells him it's okay to move on after his death. 8 years later, Canale returns and finds out Sesaam survived but can no longer use his leg. He tries to seduce Canale again, but a Wrong Name Outburst leads to Canale sobbingly confessing that he found someone else. Sesaam accepts it, and says he stands by his former words. He then still tries to protect him and help him out after this.
- A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy considers himself to be Defiled Forever because of his stepfather and as a result his time as a teenage prostitute, so he constantly tries to push Ian to get back together with Nadia, although Ian refuses to buy into this.
- Much of the drama in the second season of Da Capo arises from one character refusing to accept this concept. It only makes the shipping wars worse.
- Dangan Ronpa 3 has Juzo Sakakura, who is heavily implied to have feelings either for Munakata or Yukizome, later revealed to be Munakata. He realizes that both are in love with each other, and accepts to just be their friend and never let his feeling be known.
- In the manga Descendants of Darkness, Tsuzuki accidentally winds up trapped in a magical self-writing romantic novel created by the pervy Count and featuring fictional counterparts of the main cast. The novel's plot mostly centers around the efforts of Tatsumi's fictional counterpart Butler to force the love of his life, Tsuzuki's gender-flipped counterpart Luka, into marriage with the rich His Lordship so that she might be financially secure. (Tsuzuki sees fit to interfere and ends up getting Butler and Luka together before he's finally rescued from the book world; Tatsumi, who is emotionally constipated to the point that Tsuzuki isn't sure Tatsumi gives a damn about him even though Tatsumi in fact cares very much, finds the whole experience very cathartic. Other onlookers among the cast, including Tsuzuki's partner Hisoka and the Count responsible for the whole mess, are mostly puzzled and amused to varying degrees.)
- In D.N.Angel we have Daisuke falling into this in regards to his unrequited love for Risa. And Mio Hio for Daisuke.
- A brief one in Dragon Ball when everyone believed that Androids #17 and #18 were a couple instead of twins. Krillin used the Dragon Balls on them so that they could live normal lives together, although he himself was falling in love with #18. Ironically, eavesdropping on Krillin's explanation of his wish is implied to be what led #18 to start returning his feelings and eventually marry him.
- The Familiar of Zero:
- Louise tries to do this when she finds Saito kissing Princess Henrietta after she confessed her love for him and thought he felt the same way, it turns out she was mistaken and he deeply regrets his actions going as far as saying that without Louise byt his side his existence is pointless; so they get back together.
- Every girl that was in love with Saito does this in the final episode of the anime except Louise who's his bride.
- In Fruits Basket, the Yuki Fan Club is rebuked for not wanting this, especially since their non-reciporated love would only make him loathe them. In the manga, their leader Motoko gives up on Yuki.
- In Future Diary, Yuno, of all people, does this in later chapters. She has near-death experiences in chapters 22 and 23, and both times she was ready to die in order to save Yukiteru from the 4th—either from blowing herself and the 4th up with a grenade or taking a missed shot from Yukiteru while being held as a human shield by the 4th. Later, when Yukiteru's parents die and he swears to kill the rest of the diary holders (and explicitly mentions killing her) so he can become a god and bring back his parents, Yuno, with a smile on her face, responds:
- Serves as one of the main Aesops for Gankutsuou. Franz teaches Maxamillian that the most important thing when you love someone is to make that person happy, whether you can marry that person or not. Both Franz and Peppo carry through with it, and it's implied that a failure to understand this is where the older generation went wrong and caused the tragic plot. Well, partially. It gets more complicated than that.
- Madarame of the Genshiken manga has a secret and rather intense crush on Kasukabe Saki, the girlfriend of his friend and fellow otaku Kousaka. Not willing to risk his friendship with both, he keeps his feelings to himself.
- In the manga Ginen Shounen, hero Matataki is extremely skilled and passionate about analog photography. The only thing he loves more is his childhood friend Mirai. As the story progresses and his attempts to win her heart fail, it comes out that she's really always loved him, but after seeing him destroy film he'd worked and worked for just he got her sick she decided that he'd be better off without her to hold him back. Made worse when, once he finally convinces her that his love for her is what makes his photos shine, his love rival Koda manages to convince her that staying with him will get him killed.
- Even Gintama has one of these moments for Hijikata and Mitsuba.
- In Girl Friends this may be the reason why Akko and Mari have trouble facing up to their true feelings for each other.
- Itta in Girl×Girl×Boy flat-out says that this is his intention - he'd sure be happy if Fuuka fell for him, but if Riri was willing to be with her, he'd be totally fine with bowing to her.
- In the Gungrave anime Brandon Heat left his sweetheart Maria so she and Big Daddy can be together. Some subversion occurred because he never thought that Big Daddy could ever hurt her.
- The Blonde in Gunjo kills a man among other things to make the woman she loves happy.
- Subverted in Hana Saku Iroha, Igarashi wants Ohana to let go of her co-worker, Ko. So she can date him.
- Shigeru, Sakurako, Rui, Kazuya, and Umi in Hana Yori Dango give up their pursuit of Tsukushi and Domyouji so the two of them can stay together.
- Subverted in Hanaukyō Maid Tai La Verite. Mariel appears to put Taro's happiness above her own, but it turns out that she's doing it because she's been brainwashed since childhood into being his perfect slave...er, maid.
- The fourth episode of Haré+Guu Marie attempts to do this for Haré and Guu (complete with a "schoolgirl walking through the autumn leaves" scene). Of course, that's not what Haré was trying to tell her at all. Naturally, when he tries explaining this, she assumes he's just trying not to hurt her feelings, and goes into Love Bubbles and sparkles mode.
- In Hayate the Combat Butler:
- Hinagiku chooses not to pursue Hayate because she has befriended Nishizawa who was interested first. She has so far made certain that Hayate returns Valentine's Day chocolate to Nishisawa; and has dressed up as a Power Ranger to stick her arms in frogs and stand on a tall building despite being afraid of heights. Hina even 'forces' Nishizawa to go deliver the correct chocolates to him to convey her feelings (Ayumu had given him 'obligation' chocolates, and then run away, but had intended on giving him 'romantic' chocolates). Subverted later as she does pursue her feelings for Hayate and is even encouraged by her friend Nishizawa (sort of a friendly competition).
- Athena plays this role (even though there isn't a counterpart romance, yet) after she's been saved, hearing Hayate's words of admiration for Nagi.
- Nishizawa works for Hinagiku's favor as early as Hina admits that she likes Hayate. Ayumu manages to convince Hayate to walk her home, and their conversation is about how Hayate feels about Hinagiku, which then gets related back to her. Almost as if both girls are frustrating the other's attempts to work this trope.
- Miki. Having stated pretty clearly that she likes Hinagiku, she plays out Batman Gambits that seem to be pointing Hinagiku into a relationship with Hayate.
- Subverted in-story in Heart Catch Pretty Cure. Ban has created a manga about Cure Blossom and Marine in which a story had Blossom discover Marine was in love with a guy named Ken, so she decides to help the two get together, only for her to realize that she had fallen for him as well. Ban has a brain fart and can't figure out what to do next, so Tsubomi and Erika act out an ending where they both drop their crushes and decide that their friendship and being Precures are much more important. He loves it and runs with it.
- Highschool of the Dead: Saya could see how close Hirano was becoming to Asami and decided not to stand in their way, despite her own feelings for him. She even went as far as to suggest taking Asami with them, so they'd be happy. Though it was cruelly subverted when Asami gets cornered by a mob of zombies, leaving Hirano no choice but to kill her before "they" got to her.
- Played with in Higurashi: When They Cry. Rena has a very obvious crush on Keiichi, but Mion has an even more obvious one. Rena says she was perfectly fine with Keiichi giving Mion the doll. Then again, Rena is pretty nice.
- Subverted in I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying. While the third party in Hajime and Kaoru's Love Triangle lied about her feelings so the two of them could hook up, this doesn't stop her from coming over to their house in hopes of sleeping with Hajime.
- Towards the end of the manga, Inuyasha realizes that he'd rather Kagome live forever in her world and he remain in his if it only means she'd be able to live in safety and peace. At the end of the manga, Kagome goes back to her world and the passage between their worlds closes, leaving them in their own worlds and separated from each other. Inuyasha puts a brave face on it, saying it's for the best since she will be safe and at peace. After three years, the passage reopens again, reuniting them permanently.
- In a filler episode, when wealthy nobleman Kuranosuke Takeda proposes marriage to Sango, Miroku spends most of the episode conspicuously refraining from offering any input whatsoever - much to the frustration of Shipper on Deck Kagome, who badgers him about it until he calmly points out that if it would make her happy, Sango would be much better off marrying Takeda than she would be continuing on with them on their quest to kill the Big Bad.
- In Junjou Romantica, Usagi trips over this trope when Misaki's brother (who doesn't know Usagi and Misaki are lovers) persuades him that Misaki would be happier living with him and his wife, since Misaki's never really known what a proper family is supposed to be like. Because Misaki has never been able to just ask for what he wants, he goes along with this, even though it's making him miserable (though Usagi figures it out in one of the series' most touching scenes).
- In Kaleido Star, ex-magician/now businessman Kalos Eido has been in love with his right-hand and companion Sarah Dupont for years, but since Sarah ditched her singing career to work with him, he feels horribly guilty and doesn't dare to ask her out.
- During the ending chapters of the manga version of Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl Yasuna says she only wishes for Hazumu to be happy, and thus she does not mind if Hazumu chose Tomari instead of her. That she ends this dialogue in tears might undermine her words, however.
- A platonic example in Kiznaiver, when Maki asks the group why they would try to help the girl who made them go through all the events of the plot, Nico headbutts her and pulls off an What the Hell, Hero? against her. She states that, she herself does not like Sonozaki, but Katsuhira does, and if her friend wants to help the girl he likes, then even if they don't like her, it's their duty as friends to help him. The finale implies that this got through all of them and they are trying to fit Sonozaki into their group.
- Up to Eleven with Mutsumi in Love Hina. She's been in love with Keitaro ever since she was a toddler, but she purposefully threw a game of Rock–paper–scissors when she competed with Naru to see who would form a Childhood Marriage Promise with him. She continued to ship the two of them when they met again 15 years later, even though Naru -and to a lesser extent, Keitaro- didn't even remember the promise. Naru didn't even like Keitaro for most of the series and it would have been easy for her to win Keitaro's affection, but in her mind their happiness was more important.
- Played with and then averted in Mahou Sensei Negima!. Yue starts out supporting a relationship between Negi and Nodoka, but ends up developing feelings for Negi herself. Since Yue's a chronic bookworm, she's read enough Japanese literature to know that Love Triangles never end well and goes through a Heroic B.S.O.D., eventually deciding that she would rather "disappear" and clear the way for her best friend rather than pursue him herself and risk disaster. When Nodoka gets wind of this, however, she chases Yue down, slaps her back to her senses, and declares that nobody would be happy if Yue disappeared, least of all Nodoka herself. The girls wind up choosing to preserve their friendship and pursue Negi independently (at least until Nodoka comes up with an alternate solution).
- Mifuyu in Maria-sama ga Miteru despite her obsession with Sachiko realizes that she is better off with Yumi.
- Mei no Naisho: Mikoto loves Mei but would rather help him with Fuuka than see him sad.
- In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Rain attempts this after two consecutive discoveries (namely, that Allenby is also in love with him and her own father sold Dr. Kasshu out to the Neo-Japanese government out of jealousy, and is thus partially responsible for everything wrong in Domon's life right now) which lead her to believe that she is neither needed or wanted in Domon's life. Domon convinces her otherwise. Epically.
- Toyed with Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. Cagalli more or less implicitly dumps Athrun (by removing the ring he gave her), and shortly after she asks Athrun's friend Meyrin to take care of him. However, there is no definitive word on Athrun and Meyrin actually having a Relationship Upgrade; it can be easily seen as them being Like Brother and Sister if you wish so.
- Nachi and Kaya in Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara: Dream Saga both concede to Yuuki.
- In the seinen My Balls, Minayo has finally encountered someone who doesn't get freaked-out by her drunk nymphomaniac side, however he's fallen in love with Elyse at this point. For a comedy/ecchi/romance manga it's kind-of a Tearjerker to see Minayo comes to work with her hair cut and Elyse arrives and admits she accepts Kouta's feelings in a stealthy love declaration. Kouta was after all the first person to accept this side of her.
- The early chapters of My Love Story!! feature Takeo trying to make sure Rinko Yamato gets together with his best friend Suna, despite his own feelings for her. Fortunately for Takeo, Yamato likes him, not Suna. Takeo is simply very slow to realize it because of a lifetime of seeing the girls he liked prefer Suna. Later, Suna's sister, older by about seven years, is revealed to have liked Takeo since they were children but held off until the age gap was less of an issue. She is shocked to find he has a girlfriend of his own but after seeing them together opts to stay out of their way.
- My Monster Secret: Nagisa is very much in love with Asahi, but he's already in a relationship with Youko. She tries to take this approach to the situation, but it turns out that it's a lot easier in theory than it is in practice. She does her best to support their relationship (as she's one of Youko's best friends), but is constantly conflicted between her own desires and her desire for her friends to be happy together. Shiho invokes this more successfully; her main issue was admitting to herself that she liked Asahi, and once she comes clean she's able to let go.
- In the second half of Nana, a really tragic case of both halves of a separated couple failing to reunite because they think the other would be happier without them forms the central conflict.
- Naruto's promise to bring back Sasuke for Sakura is rooted there. Though he also has personal motives as well. After Naruto outright rejects Sakura's infamous fake love confession in Chapter 469, his own motives overtake throughout the rest of the manga.
- Jiraiya and Tsunade also fall to this trope. After Tsunade lost both her little brother and her lover, Jiraiya never took that chance to get a Relationship Upgrade even after Dan was out of the way. Choosing to just stay on a friendship basis with Tsunade and support her in any way he can besides being lovers, fearing that becoming attached to her would just break Tsunade's heart again if she lost him. And she did.
- In The Last: Naruto the Movie, when Hinata mistakes Naruto's green scarf as a gift from another womannote , she tearfully wishes him well with the supposed owner of that scarf and decides to stop pursuing him. This is ultimately why, when Naruto realizes his love for her and starts being incredibly unsubtle with his feelings, she became, ironically, Oblivious to Love.
- Of all people, Karin is revealed to have done this in the end, by getting over her obsession with Sasuke. In the Post-Script Season, Naruto Gaiden, she even quotes the trope's name when asked about her past feelings for him, and it turns out that she was the midwife that helped deliver Sasuke and Sakura's daughter, Sarada, and that she also managed to strike a friendship with Sakura.
- No Bra has a really sweet one of these done by the resident (sort of) Gonk. He doesn't like that Yuki needs to be with Masato to be happy, but damn it, he'll do his best to make sure nothing separates them. Including threatening the teacher who tries just that.
- Ouran High School Host Club has this in both the anime and the manga. In the anime Eclair lets Tamaki jump off the bridge after Haruhi. In the manga Kaoru tells Haruhi that he loves her, but that he loves his brother more. In the end he tells Hikaru he'll step out of the battle for Haruhi's heart and support him in trying to win it. And, Hikaru tells Tamaki to finally realize his feelings for Haruhi because he wants to fight for her on equal ground, even though he would have an advantage with Tamaki still Oblivious to Love.
- In chapter 76 Tamaki has had to cut all ties with Haruhi at his grandmother Shizune's wishes. Haruhi took it a bit hard initially, skipping school to think. This short dialogue goes on while Hikaru and Kaoru go to Haruhi's apartment to drop off her bag:
Hikaru: By the way, don't you think it's good? If the rift between Tono and Haruhi opens more, thinking carefully about it, it will be all to my advantage.
Hikaru: Just joking! ... Don't you think it would be a waste... if I said that I don't really wish for this to happen?
- Kasanoda. He protected Haruhi's secret even if that made people think that he was gay, and gave up his first love without even really declaring it so it wouldn't cause problems for Haruhi. The anime version has Umehito Nekozawa crawling off into the dark, saying some variation of this line... referencing his beloved (much) younger sister Kirimi, who had just deemed Tamaki her older brother... keep in mind that Kirimi thought Umehito was a monster her entire life.
- In chapter 76 Tamaki has had to cut all ties with Haruhi at his grandmother Shizune's wishes. Haruhi took it a bit hard initially, skipping school to think. This short dialogue goes on while Hikaru and Kaoru go to Haruhi's apartment to drop off her bag:
- Platonic cases recurring happen in the Pokémon anime, in which trainers release their Pokemon so they can achieve happiness elsewhere. Ash released his Butterfree so he could mate, as did Jessie her Dustox (the latter was an exceptional case since Dustox really didn't want to abandon Jessie). Cases are also recurrently attempted but refused due to the Pokemon's Undying Loyalty, Ash's Pikachu, and Meowth, Wobbuffet and Inkay of Team Rocket were all given options to leave their trainer for brighter destinies but pointedly refused.
- Volume 3 of Poor Poor Lips has Ren learning about the cause of Nako's debt and deciding to do something about it at the cause of her own chance to live a happy life with Nako. She tells Nako through her goodbye letter to take this opportunity to make all of her dreams come true. However, what Nako really wanted in the end.... was Ren.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, this is one interpretation of Homura Akemi's actions. The movie confirms this and also deconstructs it- Homura decides that if her beloved isn't going to let herself be happy, then she'll just have to make her happy. And Madoka already was happy as a goddess, but poor communication between the two meant that Homura didn't know that.
- Queen's Blade: Hide & Seek presents an incestuous Les Yay variation of the trope with the Vance Sisters. Which has the eldest sister, Claudette, being in love with her younger half-sister, Elina, while unaware that the feeling was mutual, due to Elina's love/lust for their other sister, Leina. Thus, when Elina falls into a state of depression after being defeated by Leinanote , Claudette resolves to defeat Leina on her behalf and force her to return home, for Elina's sake. Except she gets defeated, and is shocked when Leina tells her she shouldn't hide her feelings for Elina. Which is when she finally realizes her love wasn't unrequited after all.
- Ranma ˝:
- Disturbingly enough this happens after Ranma falls in love with Ryōga (long story, don't ask) leading to the bizarre scene of Ranma willingly kneeling down to allow Ryōga to kill her as Ryōga is so disturbed and horrified by the situation (and wants to kill Ranma anyway). Love potion stuff is scary.
- Ranma does this in the manga after Akane slaps him in order to protect Shinnosuke from him in a fight. At that point, he's completely convinced she's in love with Shinnosuke, so he tells her goodbye and leaves, thinking that he'll never see her again. In the manga, this is milked for all the angst it's worth, whereas in the anime, a lot less focus and time are spent on this trope. He tries to do the same exact thing later on in the arc. When they're all out of danger, he tells Shinnosuke to take good care of Akane and attempts to leave them together once more. Considering he's the Crazy Jealous Guy type, this is actually rather significant.
- Re:Zero's Rem devotedly supports protagonist Subaru, holding his happiness as her top priority, even though she knows his love already belongs to Emilia.
- Subverted in Revolutionary Girl Utena in regards to the Love Triangle between Ruka, Juri, and Shiori. Whereas Juri is struggling with her unrequited love for Shiori, Shiori believes Juri is making fun of her and only associates with her out of pity, leading to extreme bitterness, making Juri believe that her cold demeanor and fencing skills are unlikable assets. When Ruka arrives after recovering from illness, he dates Shiori for a short spell, sleeps with her, and uses her for a duel against Utena. It turns out that he used his duel to humiliate Shiori and call her out on her behavior, and then he breaks up with her in front of the entire school. But even if he did intend to help Juri realize that she had hurt herself a lot... he does terrible things to both her and Shiori - aside of ruining Shiori's standing at school when he could have just called her out in front of Juri, he sexually assaulted Juri as well.
- Sailor Moon:
- Mamoru did a form of this in the second series, in which he was receiving rather disturbing messages that Usagi would die if they continued to be together and he forced himself apart from Usagi.
- In one episode of the first season, Minako had left England, allowing her big-sister figure and her love interest to be together after seeing them cry in each others arms because they thought Sailor V was killed in an explosion.
- For Shi Ryuuki in Saiunkoku Monogatari, wanting his beloved to be happy means bootstrapping his country's progress toward gender equality ahead about a century, making it possible for women to serve as government officials so that Shuurei can fulfill her lifelong dream of doing just that. Conveniently, this also turns out pretty well for Saiunkoku as a whole.
- In Sakende Yaruze!, Misao pulls a form of this when she leaves Shino after she gets pregnant to not get in the way of his potential career. Nakaya, their son, does the same thing 17 years later when, after coming to live with Shino for a while, he decides to move out to make way for Tenryuu, his father's Love Interest.
- School Rumble mixes this trope liberally with All Love Is Unrequited, especially after Cerebus Syndrome kicks in:
- There's the resolution to the Karasuma/Tenma/Harima arc, which ends with Harima driving Tenma to the airport so she can join Karasuma in America, which also allows him to indirectly confess to her after 20-odd volumes of the manga.
- Also, there is another instance towards the end of the manga where Max, Eri Sawachika's childhood friend who invokes this trope when he convinces Harima to stop Eri's arranged marriage.
- In S Cryed, Scheris' last moments can be considered part this, part Heroic Sacrifice. She knows damn well that Ryuhou loves Mimori, not her, but she can't stand to let him die, even if that means losing her own life and another woman getting him. Possibly subverted in that Ryuhou later cites her death as an example of why it's a bad idea to love him, when he tells Mimori that starting a relationship won't be happening.
- Serial Experiments Lain toes the line between text and Subtext with a lot of Lain and Alice's relationship, but it's hard to read Lain deleting herself from existence for Alice's peace of mind, arranging things so that she can marry her high school crush, and spending eternity watching over her from the Wired in many other ways.
- In Sgt. Frog, the normally cheerful Ninja Koyuki once wished to be an ordinary high schooler. Without her ninja skills, however, she was no longer able to see her friend Dororo. Still, Dororo was perfectly willing to let her live an ordinary life, even if it meant she'd never notice him again.
- SHUFFLE!: A possible interpretation for the acceptance of three of the other four girls of Rin's decision to choose Asa Shigure.
- Tadase from Shugo Chara! stepped back after realizing the feelings Amu harbours for Ikuto and vice-versa.
- Paraietta in Simoun has been desperately in love with Neviril since childhood, but stands aside in favour of Aaeru once she's sure Aaeru is worthy of Neviril.
- For all her Stalker With a Crush tendencies, Suki × Suki protagonist Touka is prepared to go this route when it looks like a girl is prepared to openly confess her feelings to Ryoutarou with a gift of cookies when Touka herself can only do so while using her invisibility. Then it turns out the girl wanted Ryoutarou to give her cookies to his buddy Utsumi on her behalf.
- A very strange example happens in the anime version of To Love-Ru. A cat/wolf-like alien wants to take Saruyama back to her planet as a 'souvenir', seemingly having affection for him after he helps her give birth. In the end however, she goes back alone, wanting Saruyama to be happy.
- When Lala finds out that Haruna also has a secret crush on Rito, she decides that Haruna and Rito need to be together so they will both be happy. Although that doesn't mean Lala has changed her plans for her and Rito to also be together.
- Tokyo Ghoul and its sequel in particular like to explore this trope on multiple occasions.
"Smile, Mado. I'm bringing Amon home."
- Touka and Tsukiyama argue over whether they should take action to help Haise Sasaki regain his memories. She wants him left alone, because she'd rather lose him forever than take away his chance for a happy life.
- Seidou Takizawa opts out of the Love Triangle with Amon and Akira, leaving immediately after he's managed to save them both. During battle, he even draws strength from imagining watching them gaze lovingly at each other.
- It's deconstructed to some extent in Toradora! with the platonic versions that Taiga and Minori attempt. Each of them are aware of the other's feelings for Ryuuji, and try to hook Ryuuji up with them despite their own feelings for him. Eventually, Minori tires of the situation, admits her feelings for Ryuuji, and demands that Taiga do the same. When Taiga cries that she only wanted Minori to be happy, Minori responds that her happiness is not anyone else's responsibility, and that assuming responsibility for someone else's happiness over one's own is actually quite self-centered and arrogant. This ultimately leads to Ryuuji and Taiga getting together. Minori also pulls the romantic version with Ryuuji and pushes him to be with Taiga, as she knows that he loves her too.
- In the beginning of Kotoura-san, Hiyori was jealous of Haruka that the latter won over Manabe despite being a New Transfer Student while she became a Hopeless Suitor, eventually asking a few thugs to attack Manabe, causing him to be hospitalized. Haruka then ran away out of guilt after reading Hiyori. After a week of an obviously unhappy Manabe, Hiyori planned on bringing Haruka back.
- What Reito from World's End Harem originally intended for Erisa, he only confessed his feelings to get it out of his heart before his imminent death by succumbing to multiple sclerosis, urging her to find someone else, reminding her that she is very popular and has been confessed to by a popular senpai not long ago; Erisa doesn’t comply to Reito’s wish and says she will wait for him to be cured during cryostasis, in hopes that their advanced society will find a cure during his cold sleep.
- A Romantic Two-Girl Friendship type one happens in You're Under Arrest!. During the "Bike Troopers" episode, Miyuki plays this up when it comes to her best friend being welcomed into another cop group. Due to their Les Yay ridden relationship it was probably written as a "Does This Remind You of Anything??" type episode.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yugi, believing that Yami Yugi was the only version of him Anzu Mazaki was attracted to, once tried to switch with him while he was in a private romantic moment with her, although he himself had a huge crush on Anzu. She stopped him, insisting that his regular self was perfectly fine for her.
- In Yurara, both Mei and Yako attempt to do this during the course of the story. Neither of them handle it particularly well.
- Alluded to several times in Zetsuai 1989: Kouji feels guilty for not feeling this way about Izumi. But despite his frequent statements that he'd like nothing better than to lock Izumi away from the world and have him all to himself, his actual behaviour is closer to this than If I Can't Have You....
- Akatsuki no Yona: Hak has been in love with Yona for years, but never acted on his feelings because he knew she was in love with Su-won, his best friend and her cousin. Su-won was equally important to him as well, and his wish was for Su-won and Yona to marry so the former could be king. Even after Su-won murders King Il, Yona's father, Hak cannot find it in himself to pursue Yona as he believes she still has feelings for Su-won.
- Pictured above, Kitty Pryde and Caliban, one of the Morlocks. Short version: In one early encounter with the X-Men when most of the team was taken prisoner, Caliban fell in love with her, and she promised to stay with him forever if she helped them escape. He agreed, and they escaped, but she didn't keep her end of the bargain. Later, Callisto (the former leader of the Morlocks before Storm wrested that title away from her in ritual combat the first time) found out about the broken promise, and ordered Kitty kidnapped to make her own up to it. Eventually, Kitty decided she was bound to do as she promised and agreed to marry him, but he realized by then that she didn't love him, telling her he wouldn't hold her to that. (They became close friends soon after. On a related note, Kitty was using the alias "Ariel" at the time, making this an unsubtle Shout-Out to The Tempest)
- Zhantee is hopelessly in love with Leetah even though she already has a lifemate, Cutter. When Zhantee develops the power to generate a protective shield he uses it on a number of occasions to save Leetah from attacks. The irony here is that the elves have open marriages and both Leetah and Cutter would have been happy to allow Zhantee into their relationship. Zhantee was just too shy to ask. Zhantee later dies in Cutter's arms during a human-elf conflict, and as he dies he shows Cutter a vision of the child that he and Leetah could have had.
- A non-romantic version between Cutter and his son Suntop. Cutter considers sending Suntop away to Sun Village where he would be safer.◊
Suntop: You want me to go away?
Cutter: I just want you to be happy. Even if you must be happy far away.
- David Qin in Strangers in Paradise realizes that Katchoo loves Francine more than she could ever love him, and retreats to Japan. When Tambi tries to confront David concerning why he hasn't gotten Katchoo pregnant (in order to produce a family heir), he proposes that Tambi could carry this heir, on the condition that she leave Katchoo alone with Francine. Tambi then proceeds to fall in love with him herself, but still wants him to be with Katchoo since that's who he loves.
- There's a Little Archie comic story in which Veronica finds out she's moving away. When Betty hears this news, she's at first ecstatic, believing she'll now have Archie all to herself. But after seeing how majorly depressed Archie is about Veronica moving, Betty convinces the oil dealer Mr. Lodge is selling his house to that there are ghosts inhabiting the mansion, causing him to call off the deal. When Jughead asks why she's glad that the Lodges are staying, Betty replies, "If Archie's happy, then I'm happy."
- Immediately after finding out that Sonic the Hedgehog loves Princess Sally and not her, Mina the Mongoose takes a bullet for Sally. In a later issue, Amy, whose intense crush on Sonic is one of her major character traits, insists that Sally and Sonic be allowed to have a nice date without interference; when a confused bystander asks why, her response is this trope almost word for word.
- In The Legend of Zelda comic book adaptation, Zelda decides that to save her kingdom from future attacks by Ganon, she'll take the Triforce of Wisdom to a faraway place where he can't find it. She begs Link to help her, and while the thought of her leaving clearly devastates him, he agrees. He has the chance to prevent her from going by lying and saying that the magic item she needs isn't in the hidden chamber, but he can't bring himself to do it. Fortunately for him, while he's in the chamber collecting said MacGuffin, Zelda comes to the realization that she and the Triforce are safest wherever he is, and decides not to leave. He even gets a mini-glomp for his trouble.
- Scott Pilgrim:
- The comic gets some of this from both Kim and Knives, during the last book. How much Kim is still in love with him is up for debate, but her response to him is that he should seek out Ramona. Knives less so (than in the film), but she's still realized whatever she felt for Scott, Scott isn't her true love.
- In the third book, Knives Chau (17 years old) saves her arch-rival Ramona from a coup de grâce by Envy. She states that she just wants Scott to be happy.
- Spider-Man comics post-One More Day put Mary Jane in this role. After decades being depicted as Spider-Man's one true love, recent stories like One Moment in Time have her walking away from Peter so he can be with someone who is "stronger" and has actively been working to hook Peter up with girl-of-the-week Carlie Cooper. Needless to say, this sort of thing hasn't gone over well with the fanbase. Later the emphasis of this shifted slightly; following Superior Spider-Man both MJ and Carlie reckon that being with Peter, much as they love him, isn't conducive to a stable life. And Peter, who just wants them to be happy, can't disagree.
- In an earlier story called "I Remember Gwen", told in flashback and set shortly after the death of Captain Stacy, Gwen Stacy angrily broke up with Peter when he tried to defend Spider-Man, whom she falsely blamed for her father's death. When Gwen announced their break-up, MJ initially thought this would leave the field clear to hook up with Peter. When she realized how Gwen's heart was breaking, MJ instead advised Gwen to give Peter a second chance, saying he only spoke up for Spider-Man because he didn't want Gwen to spend the rest of her life being bitter. MJ was as happy as anyone when both her beloveds (the man she loved and her best friend) reconciled.
- Secret Six: Catman]], fresh from a Trauma Conga Line that made him relive his accidental murder of his mother and not so accidental murder of his father and made him realize that he would be an even worse father, enacted a complicated gambit to make Huntress hate him so that she would be free of any lingering doubts and "what ifs" about their Foe Yay.
- Lemont's aiming for this in regards to Susan in Candorville. Of course, he's completely unaware that Susan's attempting an Operation: Jealousy.
- In the X-Books Mystique's relationship to her son Nightcrawler and her adoptive daughter Rogue is often coloured by the non-romantic version of this trope. This is especially obvious in the case of Rogue, with whom she had a by all accounts happy family life. At first Mystique thought that Professor X had brainwashed Rogue into joining the X-Men, but once she found out in UXM #178 that this was what Rogue actually wanted, she came to accept her decision and never once tried to make her reverse it. In UXM #185 story Mystique seriously considers allowing Rogue to be shot be Forge's Neutralizer to strip her of her powers, which would enable her to touch people, lead a normal life, and, not least, to return to live with her adoptive parents. However in the end Mystique decides against this because this would have happened without Rogue's consent. And so she manipulates events so that Storm, not Rogue, is hit by the Neutralizer (Mystique is after all a villainess).
- Clea, Doctor Strange's lover and student, left him when she became aware of a woman who had met Strange and fallen in love with him in several of her past lives. Feeling that he deserved to have that endless love, she left him to return to her home dimension. He was completely shattered and spent a week in isolation, mourning her loss, and was nearly Driven to Suicide as a result.
- Loki invokes this, in a far happier example, with Leah in Gillen's run of Journey into Mystery.
- In Astérix The Legionary, when Obelix learns that the lovely Panacea (on whom he has a major crush) has a fiancé who has been forcibly recruited and sent to Caesar's legionaries in Africa, he immediately declares that he and Asterix will go and rescue Tragicomix. However, just as Asterix is applauding Obelix for being so mature, Obelix bursts into tears.
- The Batman Adventures: Mr. Freeze is being treated by a team of doctors, courtesy of Bruce Wayne. Dr. D'Anjeou, the man whom Mr. Freeze's wife married after leaving him, is called in as he is proficient in this field, but he is kidnapped by a man with a similar disease to Freeze from the shownote . He freezes Wayne, steals the doctors, and leaves, while Freeze, now just a head, merely laughs at Wayne's misfortune. However, he becomes serious when he realizes who the doctor was, and demands to be put in his suit to rescue him because Nora loves D'Anjeou. Even when he Nightwing and Batgirl are almost killed, he ignores them and all danger to himself (considering Barbara saving him to be a worthless gesture), and fights his way through to free the man his ex-wife loves.
- In the Vampirella story "Into the Inferno" we learn that Pendragon agreed when his wife wanted a divorce because of this.
- Astro City: After a medical exam reveals that he is sterile, the Silver Agent gives up his dreams of marrying his longtime sweetheart, allowing her to eventually marry his brother and have the family she's always wanted.
- Even though she still loves him, Starfire encourages Nightwing to propose to Barbara Gordon in Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1.
- A more familial version is what's going on in the post Batman: Endgame Batman comics. Bruce Wayne survived his should-have-been fatal encounter with the Joker, but has no memory of Batman or anything else related to it. Alfred is doing everything in his power to keep Bruce from going back into the cape and cowl, not wanting to see him hurt anymore. Sadly, when Bloom's rampage forces Bruce to remember, Alfred is forced to relent, though incredibly reluctantly.
- Even though Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are in a romantic relationship, Poison Ivy encourages Harley to go on dates and see other people, to the point where she stands on the sidelines smiling while Harley is making out with someone. When asked if she doesn't get jealous, Poison Ivy responds "No, if she's happy, I'm happy.". Jealousy just doesn't appear to be her thing.
- In Alan Grant's adaptation of Frank Miller's Robocop 2, Robocop finally accepts reprogramming when he meets his re-married and pregnant wife Ellen. Robocop annuls his marriage and accepts that he is a machine and not Alex Murphy.
- In 9 Chickweed Lane, Edie is not happy that her rediscovered-love-turned-fiancé Kiesel is about to "haul off and be honorable" after they both learn that Edie's other love interest, Bill, is in fact alive but didn't contact Edie for ten years, even after he physically recovered from World War II and his amnesia supposedly wore off. Not helping Kiesel's case is the fact that he's an ex-Nazi and Bill was sent to Omaha Beach as punishment for defending Edie's honor against a superior with his fists. It's a foregone conclusion since this is a flashback, and it's implied Edie and Bill's marriage wasn't perfect ("You used dad's name and 'passion' in the same sentence!").
- A dark version in The Little Mermaid. The title character, now a tongueless human, needs to marry the prince in order to gain an immortal soul; if he goes through with his Perfectly Arranged Marriage to another girl, the mermaid will dissolve into sea-form and get no afterlife. She's given an out: if she kills the prince with a magic dagger and puts his blood on her legs, she'll turn back into a mermaid and at least retain her natural 300-year lifespan. She can't go through with it, dies, but gets an afterlife in reward for her sacrifice.
- In "Sweetheart Roland" by The Brothers Grimm, a shepherd picks a flower who's actually the protagonist. He proposes to her when she becomes human again, but she's still in love with the titular Roland; nevertheless, the shepherd continues to let her live with him until she eventually wins Roland back.
- A Crown of Stars:
- Played straight with Kaworu. When he realized Shinji and Asuka had gotten together he was delighted because Shinji was finally happy, even if it was with another person.
- Subverted with Rei. She feels Shinji is happy now he and Asuka are patching their relationship up but due to strong jealousy she refuses to realize Asuka cares for him and interferes as much as possible.
- Advice and Trust:
- Rei falls in love with both Shinji and Asuka but she renounces to try to have a relationship with them because she does not want to interfere with their love bond:
"I... love you both," the blunette said softly. She raised her eyes with a noticeable struggle. "Shinji, you showed me care and compassion when no one else ever had, not even the Commander. Asuka, you helped free me from the drugs that clouded my mind when you had no reason to do anything but dislike me. And you both came for me and saved me in this battle. I... I look at you and I know I love you both."
"Rei, we..." Shinji trailed off. What could he say? He looked over at Asuka. She shrugged too, at an equal loss.
Rei waved her hands defensively at their shocked expressions. "No! I do not want to intrude! I... I will never try to... intersplice myself in your bond! It is too beautiful to disrupt! But... I wanted you both to know. I understand what this feeling is now. It is love. I will protect that feeling, and you. I will not allow any harm to come to you or your bond if I can ever do anything about it."
- Subverted with their female classmates. They have guessed what something is happening between them and Asuka has kind of claimed Shinji, but they will not stop trying to seduce him.
- Rei falls in love with both Shinji and Asuka but she renounces to try to have a relationship with them because she does not want to interfere with their love bond:
- Evangelion 303:
- Jessika liked Asuka, but she never told her because she knew that Asuka liked Shinji (presumably she did not want to cheat on her girlfriend, either).
- Shinji tried to talk Asuka into returning to Distler and getting together again, but he also intended to respect her choice if going away was what would her happy.
- Averted with Saburo. He knows that his relationship with Kaworu is over and that he should leave Kaworu alone, but he is unable to do it.
- Averted with Kurumi, who for a long time was after Shinji, even though he had made it clear he did not love her and he got married. After baby-sitting Akiko, though, she stopped hitting on him.
- Played straight with Rei, who even encouraged Asuka to open up and hook up with Shinji.
- Shinji And Warhammer 40 K: Shinji did not make anything about Asuka seeing Kaworu because it made her happy and that the most important thing to him. Even after Kaworu had revealed his true self, when Asuka asked him if he was not going to try and convince her to not be tempted, Shinji still told her: "Decide what you want." Subverted when he said he was not afraid to lose Asuka because she was his.
- In TSA The Amazing Spider Man After Gwen and Peter break up due to Peter keeping secrets from her, she starts dating Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. which Peter accepts despite wanting to be with her, because Gwen is with a guy she likes, who can be honest with her.
- In New Feelings, Jade (originally The Mole sent by her brother Peridot to kill Garnet to get back at Pearl) decides to move on after Pearl gets engaged. Unfortunately, this doesn't end well for her.
- James Potter does this in the James Potter Chronicles series by Mean St. When Lily and Snape have a major fight in fourth year, it's James who convinces Lily to talk to Snape and give him another chance. When asked why he did this by Lily, James explains that her happiness is more important to him than his feud with Snape; as much as he hates Snape and would prefer it if Lily stopped being friends with him, he can tell that Lily is miserable and wants her to be happy again, even if that means helping her to make up with Snape.
- A Discussed Trope in A Growing Affection: Sakura asks Naruto to leave Hinata to be with her, claiming Hinata will be fine because she would want Naruto to happy. Naruto tells Sakura he knows she is not in love with him, because she did this with Sasuke, but she is not doing it with him now.
- In the Star Trek fanfic Safe and Sound, Christine Chapel, who has feelings for Spock, pulls one of these towards the end of the story, upon realizing that his heart belongs with Uhura.
- In The Tangled Princess Bride, Prince Walter to Rapunzel, especially since it's implied that this King Edward was the one from Enchanted and takes place after that film's events.
- In the Avengers/Hunger Games fic Fire and Lightning, Peeta eventually does this by falsely telling Katniss he lied about being in love with her, so that she doesn't feel guilty pursuing a relationship with another boy.
- Escape From The Hokage's Hat: Subverted in that Sakura just sees Naruto as a friend. Naruto has a crush on Sakura. However after seeing Naruto bleeding, broken and dying from fulfilling his promise to bring Sasuke back, she practically BEGS him to find someone else. Her reasons being that for all the times she says she "loves" Sasuke, he ended up committing treason and abandoned her while Naruto was always there for her due to his crush and it would be unfair to Naruto for him to do so much for her while all he gets is Unrequited Love in return.
- Fai has feelings for Kurogane but decides to help R!Syaoran with his relationship troubles because being with R!Syaoran makes Kurogane genuinely happy.
- Sakura breaks down in tears when Syaoran tells her that he loves Kurogane more than her, but is happy that Syaoran will not be alone when he has to continue to dimension-travel to not cause a paradox.
- This is subject with one Touhou fankoma, in which Yukari encourages Rinnosuke to pursue a romance with Reimu, despite having a crush on him herself. The twist with this being is that, at the end, she is shown to have outlived them and her heart is shattered.
- At the end of the Kim Possible retelling of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Drakigo, Ron comes to accept that Kim is more in love with Shego then she is with him and allows her to be with Shego. But he only lets Kim go after making Shego swear that she'll look after Kim or else.
- In Confessions of an Angel, Erebus - despite being trapped in a Sibling Triangle - resolves to destroy the darkness that has corrupted his brother and bring him back to Nyx's side. He also acknowledges that Nyx will never love him romantically.
- In The Power of Love and Magic Charlie Weasley is in love with Harry but remains supportive of his relationship with Charlie's brother Bill - right up until Bill becomes engaged to Fleur Delacour without telling Harry it's over, at which point Charlie proceeds to kick Bill's ass.
- Saetwo's Story: In practically the same breath that Uloobu admits to Saetwo that he has a crush on her, he tells her that Echae cares far more about her than anyone else, and that she should make up with him after their earlier fight.
- Deconstructed in Candy For Your Thoughts: Cody begins a relationship with Courtney, but realizes that she still has feelings for Duncan and moves aside for them to reconcile. (See under "Western Animation" that this is a habit of his.) Duncan, meanwhile, gets manipulated by Alejandro and Heather into voting Courtney off before she has the chance to tell him. During Cody's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Duncan, he has a revelation:
Cody: If someone like her is willing to break down whatever lone wall of solitude that they've built up in order to give you a chance to be with them, you take it AND YOU DON'T LET GO! And...you don't let go. (sigh) I should have never let her go...
- In the Pokémon fanfic Olivine Romance: Erika harbors a lesbian crush for Jasmine. Realizing Jasmine's heterosexual preference and the impossibility of reciprocation, Erika conspires to give Jasmine happiness by setting her up in a relationship with Volkner. Only in a moment of extreme torment does Erika reveal her feelings for Jasmine with a kiss. Jasmine turns her down gently.
- In the Katekyō Hitman Reborn! story Sehnsucht, the main character's former incarnation, Cervello Cynthia, was in love with Daemon Spade. However, he was in love with Elena, her adoptive sister, so Cynthia refrained from ever telling him her feelings out of respect for their relationship.
- Harry Potter and the Four Founders:
Ginny: I love Harry Potter. I love him so much, that all I want is for him to be happy. And if he's happy with [Hermione and Luna], then that's the best I can hope for.
- The Vow: When Lord Shen is forcing Lady Lianne to marry him, he's suddenly hit with massive compunctions when she tells him that she'd have accepted him if he had simply proposed. Realizing that he'd rather see Lianne happy than chained to him on the dark road he doesn't believe he can step away from, Shen releases her when it's her turn to say the marriage vows. Lianne obliges when Shen tells her to leave, but not before she finalizes their marriage by her own will.
- A Senseless Sacrifice example occurs in the backstory An Alternate Keitaro Urashima. Keitaro confessed his feelings to Mutsumi, who turns him down because she thinks he belongs with Naru. Instead Keitaro ends up dating someone else and can't stand Naru once he meets her.
- In I'll die before I lose you again, Sif, who's in unrequited love with Thor, uses a magic sword given to her by Amora to save the life of a mortally wounded Jane, sacrificing her own in the process.
- Seen in Skyhold Academy, a Dragon Age: Inquisition AU, but the trope doesn't appear for a while because Varric does a masterful job of hiding his feelings. Not only is he fairly sure that his Love Interest wants someone else who (he thinks) would be better for her, but she's also extremely sick; he outright tells his confidante that as long as she's alive and happy, that's enough for him.
- The RWBY/The Hobbit Fusion Fic Rise of a Star Knight has an interesting version. Throughout the story, Jaune has been talking to a spirit version of Pyrrha, eventually said to be (partially) a manifestation of his guilt over her (apparent) death. It's revealed that Pyrrha is actually alive, and that spirit Pyrrha is actually a piece of her aura that was transferred during their kiss before Pyrrha apparent death (part of his aura also ended up in her, which saved her from that death, and from torture). At the end, it's revealed that, while it is part of her, it's a copy, having a mind of its own, and it sacrifices itself to save Jaune so that he can be happy with the living Pyrrha.
Films — Animation
- Happens briefly in Anastasia when Dmitri decides to go back to Russia without the massive monetary reward offered to him for reuniting Anastasia and her grandmother because, as he says, "princesses don't marry kitchen boys." But of course, he comes back when she gets in danger, and she goes and makes her beloved happy by renouncing her crown and eloping with him.
- Near the end of the Disney film Beauty and the Beast, the Beast releases Belle from the castle so that she can help her father. Because the only way for him (and his entire castle) to return to their human forms is for the Beast and Belle to fall in love (to which she has not yet confessed), by allowing his beloved to be happy, he's [temporarily] doomed them all. Oh, irony.
- Joaquin from The Book of Life, really does want Maria to be happy, even if he is not the one to provide said happiness. This is probably why he gave Manolo the medal during the final battle; he cared more that Manolo survived to be with Maria than about his own safety.
- Brother Bear 2 has a Friend Vs Lover version, when Koda asks the spirits to turn Kenai back into a human, so he can be with Nita. They turn Nita into a bear instead.
- In Cinderella III: A Twist in Time, Lady Tremaine gets Anastasia engaged to the Prince by magically turning back time a year, brainwashing the Prince into thinking he danced with Anastasia at the ball, and then transfiguring her daughter into Cinderella's likeness when all of the previous fail. Ultimately, Anastasia realizes that no matter how much she loves the Prince and wants a man to love her, the Prince really loves Cinderella. This prompts her to defy her mother and undo all of the damage they'd done. Anastasia is later rewarded when she and a baker fall in love.
- At the end of the Disney adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where Quasimodo realizes Esmeralda would actually be happy with Phoebus, despite the longing he has for her and the rather petty dislike he initially has for Phoebus. In the end he fully accepts their love and is content to be their friend.
- There's a variation in Disney's The Princess and the Frog. Our hero, Prince Naveen, is ready to ask Tiana to marry him and help her get the restaurant she's always dreamed of, despite not having a penny himself. "I'll get a job. Maybe two. Maybe three!" Then the riverboat they're sailing on flows past the very site Tiana wants, and she reveals to him that if she doesn't have the money by the very next day, she loses it to a higher bidder. So Naveen sadly scraps his plans and decides to marry Tiana's stinking-rich best friend, Charlotte, so that he can get the money she needs. He's spared having to make this sacrifice when Tiana admits that her dream "wouldn't be complete without you in it," and Charlotte shows her true colors as a rare rich, blonde ditz with a heart of gold in one of the most beautiful Disney climaxes to date. Though she'd always loved princes and wanted to marry one, she was happy just to end at a kiss so Tiana could have her dream.
- This occurs in Tangled: Rapunzel promises to be Mother Gothel's prisoner forever if she is allowed to first save Flynn's life. Aware of how seriously Rapunzel takes keeping her promises and not wanting her to be trapped forever by someone who only wants to use her for the healing properties of her magical hair, Flynn cuts Rapunzel's hair off before she can heal him, causing it to lose its power.
- Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa plays it straight when Melman the giraffe agrees to let King Julien feed him to the volcano gods so that Gloria and Motomoto can survive.
- More like "I Want My Beloved to Be Safe", but almost everything Elsa does is what she perceives as protecting her sister. Her desire for Anna to be happy is more evident in the reprise of "For The First Time in Forever" where she tells Anna to go back home and enjoy her life.
- Kristoff also does this for Anna when, upon hearing that only an act of true love can save Anna from being frozen from the inside out, he immediately tells her that he's taking her back to Prince Hans, her fiancé, despite Kristoff being in love with her himself and and having disparaged her Less Than One Day Engagement previously.
- In a platonic example of this trope, Olaf sacrifices his own personal safety to comfort Anna in what is presumably her final moments while she is freezing to death. He risks melting in front of the fireplace to console her because, in his own words, "some people are worth melting for."
- In the climax of the film, Anna tries to sacrifice her life to protect Elsa from getting killed by Prince Hans.
- In Shrek 2, Shrek's desire to make Fiona happy drives him to the point that he is willing to let her go to be with Prince Charming. It also drives him to take a potion so that he and Fiona can live out their Happily Ever After in more widely accepted human forms than the ogre forms that are hated by the rest of society, even though he very much prefers being an ogre.
Donkey: But you love being an ogre!
Shrek: I know! But I love Fiona more.
- Also an example of parental love is with her father King Harold. He strongly opposed the marriage of Shrek and Fiona and was under threats from the Fairy Godmother to fulfill his promise that Charming and Fiona would be together in return for her turning him into a human years prior. But when he sees how much Fiona hates Charming, he decides to go back on his promise and not let her be miserable.
- A smaller example comes in the climax. When midnight comes and the potion is about to wear off, turning Shrek and Fiona back into ogres, Fiona turns down the kiss that would make it permanent, letting Shrek be happy as an ogre.
- Storks: The platonic version of this is apparently the hardest part of the storks job. They have to carefully move a baby across large distances regardless of the danger, but in the end, giving up the baby they've come to love hurts the most. Junior doesn't hesitate in delivering Diamond Destiny to her family, though he struggles with not crying on the way back home.
- Early in Strange Magic, Sunny is helping Dawn in her attempts to hook up with various guys despite his obvious crush on her. It's his inability to keep doing this and a poisonous friend's suggestion to retrieve a love potion that drives the plot of the movie.
- In Tarzan, when Tarzan is conflicted about where he truly belongs, Kala shows Tarzan his birth parents' old treehouse to show him his true human heritage and lets him decide for himself.
Kala: Tarzan, I just want you to be happy, whatever you decide.
Films — Live-Action
- The climactic scene of Casablanca. In fact this trope could simply be renamed "We'll always have Paris."
- Rick gets all the recognition, but Victor Laszlo actually does the same thing earlier — it's because he asks Rick to use the letters of transit to take Ilsa to America that it's a surprise when Rick sends the two of them instead.
- Rick makes it quite clear that he wants Ilsa to go with Laszlo not to make her happy, but because Laszlo's work fighting the Nazis is more important then they are. And her going with Laszlo will help him do his work better. But Laszlo fits, as he wants Rick to keep Ilsa safe, even if it means Rick and Ilsa go off without him. Rick says that the happiness of all three of them doesn't count:
"I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that."
- Still, Rick does fall into this trope a bit when he warns Ilsa that if she doesn't leave with Laszlo, she'll eventually come to regret it.
- Also The Reveal in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
- As well as the (far less) climactic scene of Bruce Almighty:
God: Grace. You want her back?Bruce: No. I want her to be happy, no matter what that means. I want her to find someone who will treat her with all the love she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who will see her always as I do now, through Your eyes.God: Now THAT'S a prayer.
- The Constant Nymph surprisingly gives our antagonist depth by making her realize that she wants Lewis to be happy even if it means losing him forever.
- Cover Girl (1944): Danny McGuire always wants Rusty Parker to be happy, but he struggles with the question of whether she would be happier staying with him or having a glamorous career.
- The end of There's Something About Mary shows Ted redeem his earlier behaviour by going out of his way to ensure Mary's happiness by reuniting her with her ex-boyfriend, with the twist that Mary realizes that she'd ultimately be happiest with Ted after her brother DOES NOT FREAK OUT from Ted touching his ears, which is usually his Berserk Button with anyone outside of family. And throughout the film, he was the one person to finally realize that he wanted her to be happy more than he wanted her to be with him. Of all the men who were in "love" with her, he was the only one who put her needs before his own desires.
- In Bedazzled (2000) (at least the 2000 remake), Elliot uses most of his wishes trying to make Alison fall in love with him. He uses his final wish to give her a happy life instead. He then asks her out normally, and she turns him down. However, he does wind up with someone else who looks identical to her. It also turns to be a contract breaker, since a Selfless Wish nullifies it; like everyone else, Elliot didn't bother to read the Door Stopper contract.
- This put the "bitter" in the Bittersweet Ending of Imagine Me & You.
- Han Solo makes a heroic effort in this direction in Return of the Jedi when he thinks that Leia is in love with Luke. Leia quickly disabuses him of his Relative Error, much to Han's relief.
- In The Reckless Moment, crooked Martin Donnelly sacrifices himself by admitting to a murder he didn't commit to protect Lucia from her blackmailer, and therefore, from the police.
- Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, gently admonishing Will to attend to Elizabeth with every ounce of care and devotion (and then some) that Will put into making Norrington's sword.
- Until the sequel, when he became a vengeful and slightly ridiculous drunk who went back on every single thing he said during the first movie.
- At least he gets some redemption in "At World's End." (Our destinies were intertwined, Elizabeth...but never joined.") This is his rejection to Elizabeth's offer to join them in their escape from the Flying Dutchman, made the more poignant and heartbreaking when she sees him killed by Bootstrap Bill moments later. This was a man she contemplated marrying, after all.
- Plus note his vengeful-drunk situation stemmed mostly from having destroyed his fleet in pursuit of Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl, and most of his anger is directed at Jack for having (in Norrington's view) turned him into the thing he hates, a pirate. That, and he's drunk at the time.
- The main character of The Butterfly Effect spends the whole movie going back in time to try to end up with the girl, mucking things up more and more, before figuring out that this is the only way to go. In fact, this Aesop is taken to an extreme, as in everyone in the world would be better off without knowing you at all. In an alternate ending, the character figures that out as well, and strangles himself in the womb. God knows why they don't show that one on TV... It's also strongly implied that this alternate ending has happened MANY MANY times before to his mother with previous pregnancies...
- In the climax of Pixel Perfect, Loretta fully accepts the fact that Roscoe is in love with Samantha and sacrifices herself to save the latter.
- In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Knives Chau spends the length of the movie obsessing over Scott, to the point where she dyes her hair partially blue and starts dating Young Neil to try making Scott jealous. The change happens when she attacks Ramona at the Chaos Theatre - not because Ramona is dating Scott, but because Ramona broke Scott's heart. At the end, when Ramona decides to leave Toronto, it seems Knives will get him back in the end. Instead, she urges him to go with Ramona, even joking that she has become too cool for him. In the alternate ending though, it appears that Scot and Knives do end up together again.
- Played with in Strange Days: Mace is vocally dismissive of Lenny's pathetic pining for his ex-girlfriend Faith, and is quick to remind him that she doesn't love him anymore and that he needs to move on. However, Mace herself is in love with Lenny and ends up reluctantly helping out with his attempts to protect (and win back) Faith because ultimately she wants him to be happy, and he so clearly isn't.
- A particularly excellent example is in the film Witness. Even though Detective John Book has fallen in love with the Amish widow Rachel, he knows that he would never fit in with her people. He gives his blessing to her union with his rival Daniel (an Amish man who has loved Rachel long before Book arrived), knowing that in the long run he is the man who would make a better husband for her. An example of how affecting this trope is if written well.
- Some Kind of Wonderful is an instance where a woman decides that she wants her beloved to be happy. Keith Nelson has spent the entire movie pursuing the hottest girl in school, and by the end she's fallen in love with him. But she also realizes that he'd be much happier with his tomboyish best friend Watts (who is very obviously in love with Keith). In the end, Amanda tells Keith to go to Watts and tell her about his feelings for her.
- Weebo in Flubber. Which is just as well, as she's a non-humanoid robot in love with an (engaged) absent-minded professor.
- Aggravating example in Jab We Met when Aditya tries to reunited Geet and Anshuman. Subverted because Geet is in love with Aditya at this point, and lets him know it. They then get married and presumably live happily ever after.
- In The Lord of the Rings Aragorn encourages Arwen to go to the Undying Lands, claiming that they can't be together because he is mortal and she is an elf and eventually, they will part in death. Keep in mind that humans and elves have a different afterlife. Even in death, they will not be together. But in the end, Arwen chooses to live as a mortal, meaning that when she dies, she will go to the human afterlife.
- Used in Prime. While there's no "other person," Rafi breaks up with Dave, despite his desire to have a baby with her, knowing full well that it's not the right choice for him (he's only 23, much younger than she). Ironically, his willingness to take a step that he KNOWS he's not ready for (he loves her so much he's willing to make that sacrifice) makes her love him even more, but because she loves him so much, she doesn't want to tie him down like that and knows he'll eventually regret the decision.
- Spoofed hilariously in Hot Shots! the Romantic False Lead insists on putting on a big show of how he's magnanimously letting his girlfriend go so she can be with Charlie Sheen, oblivious to how she's long since fallen out of love with him and just wants him to go away.
- In the Spider-Man Trilogy film series, Ursula Ditkovich is clearly infatuated with Peter, but when she senses he's in trouble, advises him to call Mary Jane and does what she can to help him.
- Kal Ho Naa Ho: Aman fixes all the problems of the Kapur household and helps Rohit seduce Naina because he wants her to be happy.
- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam - Vanraj spends half the movie helping his wife search for the man she loves.
- Dosti: Friends Forever: one of the weddings you expect in the first part of the movie is cancelled for this reason. Raj thinks it's unfair to marry Nandini given that he's dying.
- The artist's story in Love Actually is essentially this. It wasn't the saddest of the storylines.
- Tinkerbell does this in Hook, where she helps Peter (who's regained his memories of Neverland, but regressed to the point where he's forgotten his adult life) remember his children, rather than letting him remain "her" Peter.
- Unfaithfully Yours did this as one of the ways Alfred planned to deal with his wife's apparent affair.
- Going the Distance: Garrett breaks up with Erin in order not to make her choose between him and her dream job.
- Proxy example in noir film Out of the Past: the hero instructs his deaf sidekick to tell his good-girl love interest that he had planned all along to leave her for The Vamp, when in fact he knew that he was going to end up dead, so she didn't have to live the rest of her life in his shadow.
- Ted: Ted, a magically animated sentient teddy bear, is willing to abandon his lifelong friendship with John, the boy (now man) who wished him to life, because he knows that he is holding back John's emotional development, which led to John's break-up. John himself wants this for his ex-girlfriend, after he fully accepts responsibility for the behaviour that led to their break-up.
- In Cyrus, the title character is jealous of his mother's new boyfriend, so he does everything he can to drive him away. He succeeds, but at the cost of making his mom miserable - so he apologizes to the now ex-boyfriend and begs him to get back together with his mom.
- It was revealed before the film's release that in Thor: The Dark World, Sif would make a large sacrifice for Thor, out of love for him. This turned out to be helping him save Jane and free Loki. She was branded a traitor for her actions, but they helped save Asgard and the rest of the Nine Realms.
Jaimie Alexander: She does sacrifice quite a bit for Thor, because she is so very much in love with him, so you do get to see that... She cares about him. They grew up together, you know?
- R.I.P.D.: In the end, Nick decides to let Julia go so that she can live her life.
- In The Circus, the Tramp convinces Merna to marry Rex so she can escape the authority of her abusive father.
- In the movie Away From Her, Grant's wife Fiona is placed in a residential facility after developing Alzheimer's. While there, she forgets who Grant is and develops a relationship with another man. Grant is devastated at first, but when the other man is discharged and Fiona begins to pine away for him and deteriorate, he attempts to arrange for the man to return and see Fiona again.
- Platonic version in X-Men: First Class —Charles sends Mystique off with Erik at the end, knowing it's what she really wants.
- In Marianne, Andre comes home after having been blinded in World War I, and having spent four years in a German POW camp, to find that his intended Marianne has fallen in love with an American serviceman. He steps aside, joining the priesthood.
- In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Gale is the first to volunteer for the Victor rescue mission, knowing that rescuing Peeta is the thing Katniss wants most.
- Enchanted has Prince Edward. When he sees his former fiancée get True Love's Kiss from another man, his only response is a giant grin at how happy they are together. And he gets a Second Love by the end of the night.
- Geek Charming: Although Dylan shows signs of liking Josh, she does play The Matchmaker for him and Amy.
- In A Girl Named Sooner, Mam Hawes ultimately allows Sooner to go with the McHenrys, and is shown to be privately sad about it.
- In The Book of Masters (2009), Yangul doesn't arrive at this trope right away: at first he attempts to Murder the Hypotenuse, stopping when his beloved Katya pleads with him, then he considers Scarpia Ultimatum (twice), and when Katya actually agrees to it, he states that she doesn't love him and orders her and her intended to leave before he might change his mind again. He never gets a chance to.
- In Hail the Conquering Hero, Woodrow has been turned down for the Marines because of his hay fever, and being ashamed of this (for a number of reasons), writes letters to his mother, where he lies and says he's in combat. He also lies to his girlfriend Libby, writing her that he's found another girl, and she should feel free to move on. When he comes back home, he's upset about having to keep up the pretense of being a war hero, but he's overjoyed when he finds out Libby is engaged to another man, because it means she'll never know Woodrow's a fraud. Subverted in that Libby doesn't take the fact Woodrow's happy about her engagement very well, because she still loves Woodrow.
- Done devastatingly in Animorphs when Jake proposes to Cassie and she tells him to wait, then ask her again in a year if he still wanted to be with her. She knew herself and she knew Jake and she knew that as much as they loved each other, their relationship was never going to end happily.
- The E. E. Cummings poem "it may not always be so".
- In Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera, Erik/The Phantom allows Christine to go off with Raoul and be happy. In the movie, he becomes a Stalker With a Crush and has to be brutalized.
- This is the whole plot of Cyrano de Bergerac, and the inspiration of the imitators of his method.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's novel The Curse of Chalion Cazaril, the protagonist, decides he's not young or rich enough to be a good match for Betriz, who's half his age, and tries to set her up with his friend Palli. She however is having none of it. It's Cazaril she wants, especially if she can persuade him to shave off his beard.
- In The Brothers Karamazov, Dmitri Karamazov plans to commit suicide due to the circumstances immediately surrounding him and the disgrace he perceives is upon him, and decides that before he goes he's going to make her happy one last time. He ends up with her, but those aforementioned circumstances really bite him in the ass later.
- In Anne McCaffrey's The Rowan, Designated Best Friend Afra Lyon pines away for the title character, only to wait too long and watch Marty Stu Jeff Raven swoop in and claim her. (Though, being a powerful telepath, The Rowan knew that nearly all along, but doesn't want to ruin their friendship, admitting that she would've turned to Afra eventually.) Made creepier by the fact that Afra's loyalty is "rewarded" by hooking up with The Rowan and Jeff's youngest daughter, Damia. (Does anyone know if Stephenie Meyer has ever read McCaffrey?)
- This situation develops in Dragonriders of Pern's Harper Hall Trilogy: Masterharper Robinton starts to get intimate with prized pupil Menolly, despite Menolly being involved with his other prized pupil, Sebell. He immediately nips it in the bud, citing their ages, positions, and her other attachment. This is despite the fact that, as Menolly states, "[She] loved [him] first." And later it's shown that Sebell not only knew all about Menolly's feelings but understood and accepted them.
- In the semi-historical romance novel The Lady Royal by Molly Costain Haycraft, Princess Isabel of England (daughter of Edward III) is engaged to marry Bernard d'Albret, a young man with whom she is deeply smitten. However, she learns that Bernard has a strong religious vocation and longs to become a monk, against the wishes of his tyrannical mother. Isabel breaks off the engagement in such a way that it allows him to enter the monastery under the pretense of a broken heart. When he later dies, he tells his brother the truth on his deathbed, and blesses the princess for setting him free.
- Pride and Prejudice:
- Elizabeth deconstructs this as she realizes that her calm response to Mr. Wickham courting Miss King means that, while she cares about him, she was never in love with him. Were she in love with him, she would have nothing but contempt for him for choosing another girl.
- Played straight by the considerable lengths Mr. Darcy goes to save Lydia Bennet from her own idiocy before she and the rest of her family are Defiled Forever. He's motivated in part by a sense of responsibility in not having spoken up about Mr. Wickham's true character before, but the rest of his motive is to protect Elizabeth and make her happy. Then he swears Lydia and the Gardiners to secrecy regarding his involvement, and when Elizabeth finds out anyway and tries to thank him, he refuses to accept her thanks on the rest of her family's behalf: "Much as I respect them, I believe I thought only of you."
- In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor is the master of this trope. Her love interest is engaged to someone else. That someone else informs her of it in confidence (while harboring deep — and correct — suspicions that Elinor is in love with him too, and so warns her off and keeps tormenting her in subtle ways for the greater part of the book). Elinor not only keeps the secret and endures the indirect attacks with aplomb, but there's a scene where she actually leaves them together on purpose so that they can have private time. It's especially painful because she knows perfectly well that her beloved will not be happy in this situation, but she also knows that societal expectations mean that he has to go through with what he intends.
- One of the more classic examples occurs at the end of Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities when Sydney Carton, knowing his beloved Lucie will never love him as she loves Darnay uses his near identical likeness to Darnay to take his place on death row, allowing Lucie and Darnay to escape together while he is executed in Darnay's place.
- Troy, in the V. C. Andrews Casteel series, after finding out that he and Heaven (the protagonist) are uncle-and-niece (oh those wacky V. C. Andrews incestuous relationships), cuts off contact with her for her own good, then inadvertently fakes his own death, then leaves Heaven alone for a while, believing he's dead, so she can date and marry Logan, then after a few years they get together for a last fling, during which Heaven's daughter is conceived and Heaven returns to live the rest of her life with Logan.
- In Captain Blood: His Odyssey, Blood believes Arabella to be in love with another man and is willing to let her go. When he realizes that she is not going back to England with this man, it dawns on him that he has hope.
- In the Twilight series, Edward leaves Bella for these reasons.
- Beautifully subverted in the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. Dirk spends about half his time pining over Talia and the other half trying to get her together with his best friend Kris, and ends up thoroughly exasperating both Talia and Kris - who happen to love each other dearly but are quite positive they're Better as Friends, thank you very much. Not to mention that Talia is madly in love with Dirk and Kris really would just like to see his two dearest friends happy, preferably with each other. Shame about Ancar, really.
- In the last two books in the Harry Potter series, Remus Lupin does this regarding Tonks. Subverted in that he's the only person who ever thinks it's necessary, because Tonks wants to be with him and most of the people they know want them to be together too. Also, Lupin doesn't act the way he does because he thinks Tonks should be with a specific other person - he just thinks she deserves better than himself.
- In Beastly, Kyle allows Lindy to go rescue her sick father despite it possibly meaning losing his chance to turn human forever. In fact, he nearly releases her several times since he finds it very hard to believe that anyone can love a monster.
- Bridge of Birds: Henpecked Ho sets his own concubine up with her (mutual) crush, because he loves her so much he doesn't want her to be stuck with an ugly old "worm" like him.
- Agatha Christie used this in quite a few books:
- Probably the straightest example is Jefferson Cope from Appointment with Death. He only asks Nadine Boynton to run away with him because he believes she can't possibly be happy with her current husband. Once the situation changes and Nadine decides to stay, he is willing to go back to being friends.
- Bella Duveen from The Murder on the Links is willing to set her fiancé free so that he can marry the girl next door. She also falsely confesses to the murder to try to protect him, even after finding out he wants to marry someone else.
- This trope was combined with Love Makes You Evil in Death on the Nile. Jacqueline was willing to let her one true love Simon marry her best friend Lynette when she realized that Lynette was in love with Simon and Simon was in love with Lynette's money. When Simon insisted he wanted both Jackie and Lynette's money, Jackie helped him with his plan to marry and then murder Lynette.
- This appears to be the case in Towards Zero with Neville Strange, who pretends to run away with another woman after his wife Audrey leaves him, so that Audrey can keep all public sympathy in the divorce. However, it is subverted when it turns out Neville only takes the blame for the divorce because his pride won't let him admit to the world that Audrey had left him. He spends the next several years plotting Audrey's murder.
- In The Secret Adversary, Tommy eventually reveals that he would have been perfectly willing to bite his tongue and let Tuppence marry someone else—for money, no less!—simply because he loved her so much that he wanted her to do whatever made her happy.
- In Howl's Moving Castle, when Miss Angorian, the pretty teacher that Howl was courting, is kidnapped by the Witch of the Waste, Sophie goes to rescue her even though she is herself in love with Howl. It turns out that Miss Angorian is the Witch of the Waste's fire demon and faked her kidnapping so that Sophie, Howl's true Love Interest, would fall for it.
- Forever Amber has a particularly demented version of this trope. Queen Catherine, depressed at the realization that she likely won't be able to give King Charles II an heir, falls sick and wishes to die, since if she does, Charles can marry Frances Stewart and get the legitimate heir he's always wanted. When she tells this to Charles on her deathbed, he is horrified to realize that she's driven herself to suicide on his part, and begs her to live. He does not, however, give up his extramarital affairs, which were probably what mentally damaged Catherine so badly in the first place.
- In the original Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan and Jane are separated (seemingly for good) when Jane chooses to honor her obligations and stay with Clayton. Tarzan by this time has discovered, and has the evidence necessary to prove, that he is the long-lost heir to the late Lord Greystoke, thus the title and wealth Clayton claims are his by right. Rather than using this newfound status to go fight for Jane, he chooses to go back to Africa, reasoning that enriching himself at Clayton's expense won't do anything to sway Jane's sense of honor, only reduce the chances that her marriage to Clayton will be a happy one.
- In The Iron Hand of Mars Marcus Didius Falco discovers that his patrician Love Interest Helena Justina is being courted by the Emperor's son Titus. Falco knows that she doesn't love Titus, but out of a belated sense of patriotism — and feeling that he can't stand in the way of her getting such a tremendous social advancement — urges Helena to accept. Helena calmly responds that she's already turned Titus down.
- In one of the side stories of the Shared Universe that is the 1632 series, Franz, a downtimer (from the 17th century), tries to refuse a confession of love from Marla, an uptimer (from the future), even though he loves her back, on the grounds that his left hand is crippled. It's a minor injury by uptime sensibilities, but a major deal breaker by 17th century standards - especially for a former musician.
Franz: [thrusting his crippled hand at her face] Because of this! Because I am crippled! I cannot hope for you or anyone to marry me. Your family would not allow it. I cannot support you. I cannot provide for a family, when all I can do is translate for one person here today, another person there on Thursday, or write two letters for someone next Monday. I cannot give you what you deserve, a husband sound in mind and body. I cannot protect you from the ridicule that people will heap on you for marrying a cripple! I love you more than my life, Marla, and because of that I cannot do this!
- I loved you, one of Alexander Pushkin's most famous love poems, ends in this note. The narrator bows out not because of a specific romantic rival, but out of the realisation that his love is unrequited and will remain so:
I loved you so sincerely and tender/God bless you with such love of someone else.
- Slote in The Winds of War. Later he ends up dying bravely and conveniently in battle. Of course he does.
- Viciously subverted with Petyr Baelish in A Song of Ice and Fire. While he didn't plan on his beloved, Cat, getting killed, then resurrected as a merciless, grief-stricken zombie hell-bent on revenge, he didn't seem to much care about her feelings over the fate of her husband. While he'd prefer her to be happy, he mostly just wants her.
- In the Sword of Truth series, Nicci decides on this, both because her love was already fully in love with someone else before she met him, and because of her shame over formerly being a villain. This becomes a source of particular anguish for her in the last three books, as several of the other characters begin shipping them and encouraging her to be with him, leading her to repeatedly tell them that she is the Romantic Runner-Up Atoner, not the pure-hearted love interest.
Nicci: It is because I love him that I could never betray his heart.
- The Picture of Dorian Gray: Basil to Dorian.
- In the short story "Antinomy" by Spider Robinson, Tom Higgins has spent decades trying to revive his lover Virginia Harding after she fell into a coma. When Virginia does eventually wake up, she initially doesn't remember him. Even worse, she develops an interest in his friend and younger co-worker Bill Mc Laughin — an interest that is reciprocated. Tom eventually has an epiphany after he is unable to tell a good joke — one of the things Virginia always loved about him was his sense of humor. His monomaniacal obsession with her over the years has made him someone far less than the man she once loved. When Virginia starts to recover her memories, Tom pretends not to know her so she can start a relationship with Bill, who is everything Tom was and more.
- In P. G. Wodehouse's Hot Water, when Packy recovers from Oblivious to Love, he realizes it is his duty to help the woman he loves and her fiancé.
- Wodehouse used this trope quite a bit. In Thank You, Jeeves, Bertie and Pauline are being forced into marriage; Bertie appeals to her love interest Chuffy to help him, but Chuffy refuses, since circumstances have convinced him that Pauline loves Bertie instead. He even gives Bertie a speech about doing the right thing and not breaking Pauline's heart.
- Other times women think Bertie is doing this for them, when the truth is that the idea of marrying them horrifies him. He goes to great lengths to get them back together with their other love interests, something they see as evidence of his pure and self-sacrificing nature rather than him desperately trying to get out of their engagement. Not that he isn't also pleased to ensure the happiness of people who inexplicably want to marry people like Madeline Basset.
- In Catching Fire, Peeta is afraid that Katniss will sacrifice her life to save his; he shows her a picture of her family and Gale, telling her that she has something to live for. The implication is that he assumes she'll eventually marry Gale if she survives. A particularly tear-jerking example of this trope as Peeta isn't just planning on giving up his feelings for Katniss, he's planning on dying so she can be with Gale.
- Sherlock Holmes:
- In The Sign of Four, Watson, ever the Nice Guy, works hard to help Mary Morstan gain the fortune that is rightfully hers, even though he knows that having so much money will put her even more out of his league and prevent him from telling her how he really feels.
- In the backstory to "The Adventure of the Abbey Grange", Captain Croker fell in love with Mary Fraser but "It was all love on my side, and all good comradeship and friendship on hers," and he's pleased that she made a good match to a nobleman. It's not until he learns her husband is a violent alcoholic that he gets involved.
- Ayn Rand's first ever short story is about a woman who, realizing that her husband is in love with another woman, fakes an affair so that he will divorce her and marry his true beloved. (This looks very much like Values Dissonance compared to her later belief that self-sacrifice was the root of all evil, and her literary executor went to great lengths to try and demonstrate that the wife was actually pursuing her own self-interest.)
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Brave to be a King", Manse, having lost in the Love Triangle, wrestles down the temptation to obey the Time Patrol rules in the easiest way, which would leave his rival stuck in the past.
- In Edith Wharton's novelette "Bunner Sisters," about two unmarried sisters in 1800s New York City, the eldest sister Ann Eliza rejects a proposal of marriage from Mr. Ramy, a man who had been visiting the sisters regularly for a time, but who she (and everyone else, including many readers) thought was interested in her younger sister Evelina. Ann Eliza's sacrifice was more on her sister's behalf than Mr. Ramy's, however: Ann Eliza felt that Evelina deserved what Ann Eliza thought would turn out to be happiness more than Ann Eliza did.
- Happens with a minor character in The Pillars of the Earth. When Jack works in Toledo, his employer's daughter Aisa falls in love with him, and her father also wants to marry her to Jack. After he leaves and Aliena arrives, Aisa is the only one who is nice with her and tells her to go after him because she realizes that Aliena loves him.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millenia, Oenoe recounts how when she was unable to move her beloved to come with her, she consented to let her beloved biochemically induce Love at First Sight in her, at the first person she saw, because her beloved wanted to make her happy that way.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Four Loves, he discusses how this trope is not found in either erotic love or affection, both of which are jealous. Only agape can induce either type of love to do it.
- Near the end of Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love, this is done by both halves of the Official Couple, due to a misunderstanding: Angel, thinking Michael would be happier if he could take a wife who is able to give him children, runs away, unable to bring herself to even say goodbye; Michael, thinking all his attempts to win Angel's heart have failed, decides not to go after her and resigns himself to lifelong bachelorhood. Luckily, their sister-in-law realizes how catastrophically mistaken they are and concocts a plan to get them back together for good.
- In The Host, Wanderer gives up on retaining Melanie as a host for Melanie's sake, effectively trying to commit suicide because she doesn't even want to take over another host (she now sees it as cruel and unfair to the host)... but also largely to give Melanie back to Jared and vice versa, making it a sort of double "I Want My Beloved to Be Happy".
- In The Tamuli, Kalten manages to convince himself that Alean, the woman with whom he's fallen in love, loves his fellow knight Berit instead. Sparhawk has to force Kalten to promise not to try and get himself killed in battle to resolve the issue. (Sparhawk then tells Alean what was going on, and she tells Kalten off for being an idiot. It's implied that Kalten and Alean will marry as soon as they get back to Elenia.)
- Meravyn in The Hour Before Morning not only gives up her husband out of love for him, but also commits murder and is condemned to death so that he can escape persecution.
- Warrior Cats:
- Thrushpelt is in love with Bluestar (Bluefur back then), but she doesn't like him back in that way. When he finds out that Bluestar was pregnant with Oakheart's kits, what does he do? He offers to pretend to be the kits' father, and he shows great love for them even if he's not their real father.
- Spottedleaf towards Firestar. She sees that Sandstorm is his mate...and it doesn't bother her at all. In fact, she admitted that the relationship between her and Firestar wouldn't have worked out since she was a medicine cat (and medicine cats can't have kits). In fact, when Mapleshade almost kills Sandstorm because she "stole" Firestar from Spottedleaf, the latter of them says that there was nothing left to steal and that Sandstorm made him happy. She ends up getting killed for this. Word of God says that Spottedleaf died again so that Firestar wouldn't have to choose between her and Sandstorm when he died.
- Feathertail with Crowfeather. While Crowfeather fell in love again with Leafpool after her death, Feathertail supported their relationship because she didn't want Crowfeather unhappy. This stretched out further when Crowfeather had kits with Leafpool and Feathertail cared about them as if they were her own.
- Feathertail's mother Silverstream was also like this towards Graystripe after he got another mate and kits. When Millie and Briakit were deathly sick, Silverstream in Star Clan viciously protested this, saying that Graystripe couldn't bear any more heartbreak.
- In Stephanie Burgis's A Most Improper Magick, Elissa is willing to sacrifice herself in marriage to Sir Neville to protect Mr. Collingwood. Mr. Collingwood tries to argue her out of it — she reads too many Gothics, though.
- Dave the Dude in Damon Runyon's "Romance in the Roaring Forties" may be the sort of guy who will get sored up at a man for taking a second peek at his doll Miss Billy Perry, but when she says she loves Waldo Winchester, he plans them an elaborate surprise wedding. However, it turns out that Waldo Winchester is already married, and his wife crashes the party, so Dave the Dude gets Miss Billy Perry in the end, but it is the thought that counts, after all.
- Ladylord features a non-final, sexual (rather than emotional) version. In the culture in question, it seems to be accepted practice for a woman who would like to sleep with a man but is currently unable to do so (such as because she's already married) to arrange a courtesan for the man instead. The protagonist does this for her own husband, since she feels she must keep herself virginal, but is more angsty about the mental image of it than she had expected to be. It turns out, however, that her husband didn't ever enjoy the courtesan's intended service, and they get together themselves in the end.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium, there is the tale of Finwe, Miriel and Indis. Miriel dies in childbirth, and refuses to reincarnate, which leads to Finwe marrying Indis. Because Elves marry for life, this means Miriel can never reincarnate, since it would mean Finwe would have two living wives. Ages later Finwe is killed, and meeting Miriel again tells her all that occurred while she was dead. She then regrets her refusal, and wishes to be reincarnated, and Finwe chooses to stay dead forever so she can do so.
- In The Clockwork Prince, Will pulls this for both Tessa and Jem when they announce their engagement.
- Mercedes Lackey’s Beauty & the Beast retelling The Fire Rose features a double-barreled example in the same chapter when Jason Cameron and Rosalind Hawkins both realize that they have fallen for each other, decide that the other at best regards them as a respected friend, conclude that once Jason is restored to humanity they will be a millstone interfering with the lives that the other has earned and honestly enjoys (Railroad Tycoon and Scholar, respectively), and thus resolve to put on a brave face when they go their separate ways.
- The narrator of If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love by Rachel Swirsky realizes that, if her fiancé were a dinosaur, he would want to marry another dinosaur. And she would be sad about that, but also happy for him.
- In Alien in a Small Town, Paul isn't remotely human, and knows that as much as he cares for Indira, he isn't sure it can be called "love" in the human sense, so he steps aside when she wants to marry Tendai. He's tormented by jealousy for years afterward.
- Les Misérables:
- The book has Eponine, who almost invokes the trope verbatim because she finds Marius sulking alone, and responds gleefully when she can provide him with the whereabouts of Cosette. She then subverts it by expressing, quite sadly, that he is so happy because she told him. Later on, she subverts it even more when she lures Marius away to the barricade.
- Jean Valjean goes to painful lengths to secure Cosette her happiness as well, though this is a non-romantic example; Cosette is his adopted daughter.
- Happens in Almost Like Being In Love Travis, though penniless, travels across the country to find his first love, Craig, only to find Craig apparently Happily Married to another man (or close to it). When Craig's relationship seems to fall apart, Travis does everything in his power to save it, so that Craig could be happy.
- Early in Frankenstein, one of Walton's letters to his sister recounts how his ship's master had been a wealthy man engaged to wed a young Russian woman. When she tearfully begged he not marry her, insisting she loved a poor man whom her father had forbidden her to see, the ship-master not only released her from their Arranged Marriage, but he gave the farm he'd intended for their new home to the man she did love, along with enough money to satisfy her father's standards.
- Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive): "Beloved" is pushing it, but once Kaladin develops feelings for Shallan, he concludes that she would be much happier with Adolin than with him.
- Oathbringer (third book of The Stormlight Archive): Similar to the Words of Radiance, except this time it's Adolin trying to give up Shallan to Kaladin.
- The Sharing Knife: Passage: Fawn's younger brother, Whit, has a massive crush on their boat's captain, Berry. When Fawn informs him that she's on the lookout for word of her lost betrothed (along with her father and older brother), Whit resolves to be there for her, as a crewman or a shoulder to cry on.
- Played in a Lighter and Softer way in Girl Meets World when Farkle, who has a Running Gag of being in love with his female friends Maya and Riley, offers to help Riley learn to flirt so she can win the affections of her crush, Lucas. When Maya mentions that she thought Farkle loved Riley himself, he says, "I do, and that's why I want her to be happy."
- In Smallville, there tends to be a lot of this going around. Typically, whenever Lana has moved on from Clark and entered a new relationship, Clark will often be seen sadly saying something along these lines. Meanwhile, this is also Chloe's attitude towards Clark's attraction to Lana. Taken Up to Eleven in season five, in which both of them complain to her about their sex life, then Clark decides to tell Lana his secret and proposes to her. Clark thinks Chloe would say they are too young and whatnot, but instead she provides her support and encouragement. Chloe supportively says "If there's anyone who deserves to be happy, Clark, it's you."And this, in turn, was also Pete's attitude towards Chloe's teenage crush on Clark during the early seasons of the show. Thankfully, everyone involved eventually moved on to much healthier relationships.
- For the first five episodes of Pushing Daisies, Olive pursues Ned relentlessly, to the point of considering blackmailing Chuck, the girl he's interested in. By the sixth episode, though, she's decided that she just wants him to be happy, even though she's still hoping he'll wind up being happy with her.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Tara tells Willow "you have to be with the one you love." Tara is convinced that Willow will go back to her ex-boyfriend Oz, and is astonished and happy when Willow's answer is "I am."
- Interestingly, Oz's reaction (after the dust has settled) is the same as Tara's. One of the things he wants to know for sure before leaving is that Willow is happy.
- This is Angel's reason for leaving Buffy: he doesn't think she can be truly happy with him. This is an extreme case of this trope: there is no "other guy" in sight at the time. Angel just wants Buffy to have the opportunity to have a normal relationship.
- Angel does this again in the comics. He's jealous over Spike, who was now in official relationship with Buffy and does not approve of it all. Nevertheless, he puts aside his feelings and eventually accepted her decision because Buffy seemed happy with him. (He does, however, admit it was easier because he knows they won't last)
- Spike briefly did this to Buffy in Season 9 for the exact same reasons as Angel, ironically enough. He thought she'd be happier without him in her life and wanted her to be with some normal guy, even though, once again, it was very clear Buffy still had feelings for him. Though, once again, like Angel, he seemed to cast this aside at some point in favor of being with her.
- Xander eventually reconciles himself to Buffy seeing him as a friend. In Season Eight, Buffy briefly comes onto him. However, Xander recognizes that she's looking for a warm body, not love, and reaffirms that they are friends only.
- Riley Finn turns down two separate opportunities to kill Spike in Season 6 & 7, knowing that Buffy is now involved with him. Even though Spike was responsible for him breaking up with Buffy in the first place.
- Angel: Angel is jealous of the Groosalugg because he's usurping his role as The Champion, plus Cordelia's interest in him as a Lust Object. Nevertheless, at the end of "Couplet", he tells them to take a long holiday together, "some place in the sun". At the end of the season, after realizing that Cordelia truly loved Angel and not him, the Groosalugg chivalrously steps aside to let Cordelia pursue him.
- Subverted in "A Hole in the World". Knox makes it clear that he's not going to interfere in Fred being with Wesley. Turns out he has another fate in mind for Fred, not out of revenge, but because Knox regards it as an honor for Fred's body to be used as a host for the demon god he worships.
- Understated and not melodramatic in Eureka. Jack Carter wants the best for Alison, even to the point of walking her down the aisle to marry another man even though he thinks she's making a mistake.
- Doctor Who:
- The Doctor does this in a non-romantic sense whenever a companion leaves the TARDIS (or whenever he leaves a companion behind). It generally doesn't work, though: Sarah Jane, Jo, and Jack were all deeply hurt by him leaving them. He eventually apologizes to them all after decades.
- Rose Tyler and her boyfriend Mickey both go through this, when they realize that Rose's love for the Doctor makes their relationship impossible. Rose wants to be fine with Mickey dating other women, and Mickey wants to be fine with Rose's feelings for the Doctor, but it's hard on both of them. Eventually, The Doctor himself breaks off all ties with Rose, since he doesn't want her to have to experience a painful Mayfly–December Romance with him. He pairs her up with his half-human mortal clone and tells them to go live happily ever after like regular humans. Mickey leaves Rose forever after a sweet goodbye and goes to live his own life.
- This also turns out to be the reason Amy broke up with Rory between Series 6 and Series 7. She knew that he had always wanted children, but due to something the Silence did to her on Demon's Run, she'd become infertile. Luckily, the two later reconcile.
- There's a more platonic take on this between the Doctor and Clara. It seems to be mutual. Played for Drama in the finale of Series 8, where they both misunderstand and lie to each other in order for both of them to (seemingly) move on with their lives and start anew. Though it gets subverted after that...
- Played for even more drama (whether romantic or platonic is up for debate, with Word of God offering contradictory views) in Series 9 when Clara is killed, but the Doctor breaks the laws of time to extract her from the moment before her death after spending 4.5 billion years formulating a plan to do so out of grief for her loss. Knowing that the Time Lords will find her if she has any memories of the Doctor, the Doctor plans to erase her memories of him and leave her somewhere safe on earth, never to encounter him again. Ultimately, this doesn't go as planned and the Doctor accepts the Mind Rape upon himself, allowing Clara to live as long as she wants, albeit without him by her side.
- This is a recurring theme across both versions of TheOffice. Just about every version ends happily:
- Tim gracefully lets go of Dawn in the Christmas special, but gives her some words of encouragement. This finally compels Dawn to ditch her unsympathetic fiancé and passionately kiss Tim. Pam does something similar for Jim in the American version. He drops a promotion in New York just to take her out to dinner.
- For the first two seasons, Jim tries to be this with Pam, but ultimately fails due to Roy's poor treatment of Pam (i.e. he'd probably be happy that she's happy, except she isn't happy). Ultimately subverted when Jim confesses his love for Pam and kisses her. A selfish moment on his part, but it does coax Pam out of her shell.
- Repeated in season 9 when Erin has to choose between Andy and Pete. Erin intends to break up with the less-than-considerate Andy, but Andy convinces her to fake it for his benefit and he'll (probably) try to be better. She later confesses this to Pete, knowing he'll be disappointed. Pete simply states that he wants Erin to be happy, which prompts her to kiss him and run off to dump Andy.
- Red Dwarf:
- The episode "Camille" ends with Kryten losing his love interest, the titular Camille, in a spoof of the Casablanca scene.
- Played both straight AND subverted by Arnold J. Rimmer as he realizes that Nirvana Crane has willingly surrendered her existence on the hologram ship so that he may get a position in her place. He immediately turns in his resignation to return to the Red Dwarf, stating that "we won't be apart, we just won't be together" and in doing so quoting exactly a romantic movie he saw at the start of the episode. He instantly realizes this and adds "I can't believe I just said that!"
- Averted by Lister, who pursues his dream girl Kochanski through a time hole after finding a picture of himself marrying her. When he finds her hotel room and he sees another man's shoes, he realizes that the groom in the photo is not himself, but the other guy. As he abandons the idea of getting together with her (and bemoaning the yuppie type of man she probably married), she opens the door and invites him to meet her new husband, who turns out to be himself from several years in the future.
- iCarly: Freddie for Carly in "iSaved Your Life". Quite an unusual example, because Freddie himself pulls out of the relationship in order to make sure Carly would be happy, instead of potentially taking advantage of a situation where she might not really like him but just thinks she does.
- An interesting subversion occurs on In Plain Sight with one of the witness couples. They were a very unhappy but very devout Catholic couple when they see a priest murdered. Because of their faith they cannot get divorced, even though it is quite obvious they hate each other at this point. To make a long story short, she has found someone else that she likes and they both know this, but she wouldn't dare cheat. He ends up faking his death so that she can move on. She is not his beloved, but she is his wife and he admires her very much, and in order for her to be happy she can't be tied to him. So he fakes his own death and gets WitSec to help him get relocated again. At the end, the man she really loves is comforting her as he sneaks out the back.
- On Battlestar Galactica:
- Sam Anders does this, but Kara ultimately sticks with him.
- In "Rapture", Lee orders Dualla to undertake a risky rescue of Kara Thrace. Dualla knows perfectly well what motivates this order and is not happy about it, but obeys her husband and superior officer anyway.
- Patrick from Coupling almost does this to Sally: "You need Mr. Amazing, Mr. Incredibly-Superbly-Fantastic-Ness. In your heart, I'm sure you know I'm right." Subverted because he was talking about himself.
- On Guiding Light, Olivia decides Natalia's faith and happiness would suffer if they ever got together, so she decides to talk her into marrying the good man Frank. Much angst was caused.
- Queer as Folk:
- In the U.S. version, Brian refuses to try to dissuade Justin from leaving him for Ethan, but at the same time continues to lend Justin money for college and pushes him to keep working on his comic with Michael. He even punches Michael when Michael attempts to take Brian's side in the split. Of course, Brian still can't tell Justin he loves him.
- The platonic(ish—more so in the US version) variation occurs in both the UK and US series', when Brian/Stuart outs Michael/Vince in order to piss him off enough to make him leave, because he thinks he's holding Michael/Vince back and preventing him from finding true happiness with David/Cameron.
- Subverted in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the episode "Birthright" with a woman and a little girl. The little girl is the woman's biological daughter. As Novak practically harasses the little girl on the stand, the little girl denies that the woman is her biological mother and cries for the mother that raised her. In the end, the woman loves her "daughter" too much to see her upset so, she quits fighting for the custody of the little girl and moves out of New York. It was a pretty upsetting episode.
- On Gossip Girl, Chuck tells Blair he has no romantic feelings for her and is only playing a game, and sends her off to be with his best friend. When Serena asks why he would say that his reply is: "Because I love her. And I can't make her happy." The following episode he goes out of his way to make sure Blair has the perfect prom as envisioned in her secret prom scrapbook, without even telling her he is orchestrating it, just to see her be happy. He takes things a step further at the end of season 4 where Blair is about to break her engagement with Prince Louis only to have Chuck cut in saying that he had been giving Blair his blessing for the marriage...because although Blair and Chuck were in love in an insane crazy way, he knew she needed something different at that point, something she could only have with Prince Louis. In season five, Chuck spends the entire season doing everything to make Blair happy, almost always at the cost of his own happiness. Examples include letting her think he's turned bad so she can feel confident in choosing Louis, giving food poisoning to the priest who planned on ruining Blair's wedding to Louis and nearly bankrupting himself to get her out of her marriage by paying her dowry without her knowing about it, even though he knew that she would choose to date Dan Humphrey instead, a guy Chuck hates (this after she's made out with Dan in Chuck's bedroom). In the season finale he finally gets to the point where he can't sacrifice his own happiness for hers anymore. He tells her he's moving on with his life which causes her to break up with Dan to get back together with Chuck but he rejects her in what Word of God suggests is a Gone with the Wind homage. The first scene of the following season depicts them having wild sex in a hotel room.
- On Dollhouse, Alpha, of all people, does this in the finale, allowing Echo and Paul to be together forever. Sort of.
- On Heroes after learning that Charlie was sent back to 1944, and has lived a fulfilling life, complete with grandkids, Hiro decides not to go back in time to "rescue" her, despite being in love with her.
- On Alice, the increasingly-smitten Hatter continues to help Alice throughout all her tribulations, despite knowing that it's all in a bid to save her fiancé. He wins her in the end though.
- An odd variation of this happens in Robin Hood, in which Marian is coerced into marrying Guy. Robin tries to persuade her not to go through with it, but Marian insists in order to keep her father safe. Despite the fact that marrying Guy obviously won't make Marian happy, Robin eventually respects her opinion on the matter and leaves her to it. Though of course she doesn't go through with it.
- The fourth season finale of Friends has Rachel realizing she loves Ross and rushing to London to stop him from marrying Emily. As she arrives at the church, however, she witnesses a tender moment between Ross and Emily. So when Ross sees Rachel and asks why she's there, Rachel replies, "I just needed to tell you...congratulations."
- Previously, Chandler to Janice when she can't decide between him and her almost-ex-husband. They had a child together, so Chandler says he'll walk away so she can go back to her family. Extra heartwarming as Chandler explains his own parents split up when he was young and he doesn't want any other child to go through what he did. It then gets subverted in their last scene of the episode where Chandler takes back everything he'd previously said and pathetically begs Janice to ignore her husband and stick with him instead. It doesn't work. But the sentiment is definitely there and a heart-wrenching moment for Chandler.
- Richard has this in his final appearance. After coming back asking Monica to get back together while she's with Chandler (even offering her marriage and children), he ultimately bows out when he sees that Chandler is also prepared to offer these things (and more willing to have children than he is) and that he himself wouldn't even be in the running if he hadn't messed up Chandler's proposal.
- Played for Laughs between Chandler and Monica after they're married. Chandler, playing on his fears as an Insecure Love Interest, is led to believe another guy is Monica's "soulmate" and he's not good enough for her. (Well done Phoebe and Rachel). Caught in an Imaginary Love Triangle, Chandler tells Monica he won't stand in her way if she wants to get a divorce and run off with her "soulmate". Naturally Monica—after she figures out what the hell he's talking about—tells him she's not going anywhere and doesn't want anyone but him.
- House: The patient of the week was a polygamist in an open marriage, so she and her husband have sex with people outside the relationship. One of the theories is that the disease was sexually transmitted, and when they check up on the wife's lover it comes up empty. The husband's lover is the next candidate, only he doesn't have one. Turns out he never wanted to have sex with other people, he just wanted his wife to be happy.
- Lennier in Babylon 5 is a curious example. He tries to be this for most of the show. The time he fails, he is so ashamed that he runs off to become The Atoner. The shame is perhaps not so curious when you consider his failure was an attempt to Murder the Hypotenuse.
- In a non-romantic example, in "Wheels" Kurt gives up a chance at a solo he desperately wants—he actually throws the all-important high note at the audition—because his father is getting anonymous homophobic phone calls and he doesn't want to make the situation worse by drawing attention to himself. In a more standard romantic example, in "Silly Love Songs" he supports Blaine in his attempt to woo Jeremiah with a public serenade even though he is in love with Blaine himself. He's not so generous when Blaine gets a bit confused and briefly tries dating Rachel, though...
- And then when they finally get together, Blaine returns the favor by letting Kurt transfer back to McKinley.
- Blaine does it again in "I Am Unicorn," deciding not to try out for Tony in the school's production of West Side Story because he knows Kurt wants the part, even though he really wants it too.
- Finn to Rachel at the end of Season 3 when he breaks off their engagement and sends her to New York to follow her dreams of stardom instead of her staying in Lima to help him and Kurt.
- Played with in Psych. Shawn wants Jules to be happy and wants to be okay with her dating Declan, but he also wants to be happy himself, and can't picture being happy without her.
- On Merlin, both Lancelot and Arthur reveal to Merlin in separate conversations that all they want for Guinevere is her happiness. It's also something of a subversion, since between the two of them, the actions they take to secure her happiness usually end with her in tears.
- Downton Abbey does this with the Mary-Matthew-Lavinia triangle. Initially, Mary supports Matthew's relationship with Lavinia for this reason, despite still being in love with him. At the end of series two, after seeing Matthew and Mary kiss and hearing that Violet asked Matthew to marry Mary, Lavinia tries to convince him to go back to Mary in the belief he'll be happier that way. Then she dies of Spanish flu before he can argue with her.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- Ted does this when he falls in love with his new friend Zoey, a married woman, and noticing their mutual chemistry, tries to ensure he won't accidentally ruin her marriage by pretending to hate her, hoping she'll break off their friendship. However, he is unaware that Zoey is in fact getting divorced, so he doesn't have to do it at all.
- Ted also did it earlier for Stella, the woman who left him at the altar, when he has an opportunity to confront her and imagines delivering a devastating "The Reason You Suck" Speech to her for breaking his heart. However, when he sees her greet the man she dumped him for, his anger dissapates and he leaves them be, noting that "It was the perfect end to a perfect love story. It just wasn't mine." And several months later, he even gets the two of them back together (on Stella's request!) when they temporarily break up over the guilt about what they did to him. Talk about Up to Eleven.
- Way back in season 2, Lily did this for Marshall while they were broken up. After making a fool out of herself in front of Marshall and his date, she apologizes, promises she'll stay away from him from now on, and tells him to go after the girl, but Marshall (of course) picks Lily in the end.
- Ted and Robin's breakup basically boiled down to a mutual case of this: they were both still in love with each other, but realized that to fulfill their dreams the other would have to sacrifice theirs, so they decided to part amicably instead.
- Robin does it in season seven with regards to Barney (who she is desperately but secretly in love with), even Playing Cyrano for Barney and his crush Nora.
- After their roles are reversed in mid-season seven, Barney does it for Robin, saying that even though her choosing Kevin over him made him mad, she's his bro and if she's happy, he's happy, regardless of who she is with. And Ted does it back to Barney in the same conversation, encouraging Barney to go after Robin after he realizes what happened between them that caused the aforementioned role-reversal even though Ted himself had been in the middle of asking Robin to consider getting back together with himself, until Barney insists that Robin's not in love with him, so if she's happy with Ted, he'd be fine with it. When Robin rejects him, he quite calmly assumes it's because of Barney, and doesn't seem to believe her denial, possibly setting him up for this trope again given that Robin and Barney are set on a Will They or Won't They? track. Seriously, this entire group is so concerned about making each other happy to the detriment of their personal desires they seem to keep accidentally screwing up each other's lives due to Poor Communication Kills.
- Ted did this again when he finally let go of Robin right before her wedding.
- Jessie: This occurs in the third season finale where Tony is jealous of Jessie's new relationship with Brooks as he still has feelings for her. He tries to tell Jessie how he feels about her, but when Brooks proposes he takes a step back and accepts her decision to marry him, even volunteering to officiate the wedding. However, this proved to be unnecessary as the engagement breaks off at the altar when Brooks leaves for a new job in Africa. This is followed by a Continuity Nod in the fourth season premiere Jessie invokes this trope as well after find out that Brooks has moved on very easily and is now dating the vetenarian at his animal sanctuary.
- In the Chinese drama Chinese Paladin Yue Ru settles for this after realizing there's no way in hell the hero is going to abandon his true love for her.
- 'Star Trek: Enterprise'':
- T'Pol has to go through an Arranged Marriage with her childhood fiancé, Koss, to help preserve her mother's career. While T'Pol had no significant feelings for Koss, he may have harbored some for her. In particular, at the climax of the Vulcan arc, he gives her transporter codes to get into the Vulcan capital city - which, given that she's being hunted by the Vulcan government, is a risky thing for him to do. He then decides to annul the marriage, saying that with her mother dead, there is no point in remaining married.
- Trip. Vulcan law allows for a "challenge" to be issued at weddings (basically if "speak now or forever hold your peace" was allowed to include duels to the death). Trip refuses, even at the bidding of T'Pol's mother, because even though he loves her, he understands why T'Pol is marrying Koss and won't interfere.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Price," a negotiator named Devinoni Ral threatens to take Counselor Deanna Troi away with him to get the upper hand on Commander Riker, who he knows has feelings for her. Smiling sardonically after Ral issues his ultimatum, Riker makes his feelings on the matter very clear.
Riker: That's the first bad play I've seen you make. If you can bring happiness into Deanna's life, nothing would please me more. You know, you're really not such a bad sort, Ral. Except you don't have any values—beyond the value of today's bid, that is. Deanna is just the woman to bring some meaning to your sorry existence, if you're smart enough to take it. I doubt that you are.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Inheritance," Data discovers that he has a mother, Doctor Juliana Tainer (formally Juliana Soong). He later discovers that she is an Android too, created by his father Noonien Soong after the real Juliana slipped into a coma and died. She has her memories and personality but is unaware of this fact, believing herself to be the original Juliana. When Data also discovers a Holographic recording of Doctor Soong in her Positronic Brain he questions him about this. Soong reveals that this trope is both why he let her leave him and why he did not tell her what had happened to her, as he believes that she could not be happy living with the knowledge that she was no longer human. Data and the rest of the crew aren't so sure about this (especially since Soong programmed her body to shut down after a "normal" human lifespan), but eventually they decide to go along with it..
- Played with in Princess Returning Pearl. Yong Qi would have given up Xiao Yan Zi and allowed Er Tai to woo her, in order to both allow Er Tai—his best friend—to be happy and to get Xiao Yan Zi out of an unwanted engagement. How happy Xiao Yan Zi would really have been with Er Tai is unclear as at the time Yong Qi has no idea how Xiao Yan Zi feels about him. But the fact that he gives her up so that his friend could be happy is pretty adorably heartwarming.
- Scandal: President Fitzgerald Grant to Olivia.
- In the Frasier episode "Visions Of Daphne", Niles does this for Daphne when she gets engaged to Donny.
- In The Vampire Diaries, Damon to Elena when he tells her he loves her, then compels her to forget it so it won't ruin her relationship with his little brother.
- Tyler to Caroline, deciding she'd be better off with Matt.
- Stefan always wants the best for Elena and wants her to be happy, even if it's not with him.
- In 30 Rock, Kim Jong-Il says this about Avery Jessup. It Makes Sense in Context.
- In Wizards of Waverly Place, there is an unusual inversion in that Alex stays in the family wizard competition so that she can stay in her relationship with Mason (because Muggles and magically-oriented beings can't have relationships).
- My Babysitter's a Vampire: This is the reason why Sarah sucks out the venom from Ethan. She would rather become a full vampire herself than let Ethan die and become a vampire.
- Murdoch Mysteries:
- At the end of Season 3, Dr Ogden moves to Buffalo because she can't have children and knows Murdoch wants a family. She even marries another man, Dr. Darcy Garland, at the end of Season 4.
- At the end of Season 5, Darcy says he's not going to stand in the way of Julia getting back together with Murdoch. Then he changes his mind in season 6, because drama.
- Late in season 8, Edna's supposedly deceased husband returns just as she and George and her stepson are talking over their new life together as a family. (George proposed marriage after spending much of the season courting her, and she accepted.) Shortly afterwards, she and George meet, and he tells her to return to her husband and "be happy" rather than worry about his feelings.
- In the Supernatural episode "Crossroad Blues" (S02, E08), Evan Hudson sells his soul, facing eternal damnation, to save his wife from dying of cancer.
- Whether his motivations were romantic or not is hotly debated, but this trope is why Castiel didn't ask Dean for help with the civil war in Heaven between seasons five and six. We see in "The Man Who Would Be King" (S06, E20) that Cas actually went to Lisa's house, where Dean was staying, and stood outside watching him rake leaves, unwilling to drag him back out of his normal life by asking for the help that he knew that he needed and Dean would give. Instead, he went along with Crowley's suggestion. It didn't end well.
- In The Hour, Isaac's infatuation with Sissy and inability to do anything about it leads to her starting a relationship with another man, and the two are very happy together. Isaac is understandably disappointed, but tries his best to be supportive of them, even when they get married. It's subverted with Bel and Freddie. They try to be happy for each other when they find other lovers at separate points, but it never ends up working and they always end up back with each other, though not romantically until the Season Two finale.
- The third series of Sherlock is a platonic (or one-sided romantic, depending on your interpretation) example of this trope. Upon returning from his two-year absence, Sherlock initially thinks he can simply return to a life of solving crimes with John Watson, but finds that John has gotten a girlfriend and is now living with her. Sherlock, instead of being bitter, throws himself into helping plan the couple's wedding to the point he abandons taking on new cases. He ends up killing a man threatening to ruin the couple's lives even though it means condemning himself to certain death.
- Subverted in Will & Grace, where, hoping to get Grace's support about something he wants to do that will affect her, asks her if she wants him to be happy. She smiles at him and replies that she doesn't care about his happiness if it affects her negatively in even the slightest way.
- Patricia of all characters does this in House of Anubis at the end of Season 3. Despite obviously still liking Eddie and having been insecure and jealous about his relationship with KT all throughout the season, she told him he could be with her if he really wanted to. Eddie's response? Jokingly agree to it and admit Patricia is the one he still wants to be with.
- Towards the end of the first season of Queen of the South, Camila arranges for her daughter Isabella to be brought to her in order to head off her husband Epifanio's threats to use his governorship to take away her parental rights. However, after Isabella expresses her vehement opposition to being kept as a prisoner, Camila finally sends her back to her father.
- Oliver Queen supported his ex-girlfriend Laurel Lance's relationship with his best friend Tommy Merlyn, even though he still was and always would be in love with her, because he felt he didn't deserve her love and couldn't give her the life she originally wanted with him. Laurel was still in love with him and when he seemingly moved on with Felicity Smoak, she wished him the best in their relationship on her deathbed. Even though they never got back together, it becomes very clear that Oliver and Laurel were each other's One True Love, and that all they ever really wanted was for the other to be happy.
- Tommy also broke up with Laurel towards the end of Season 1 for this reason — he knew Laurel was still in love with Oliver, and knew it wouldn't be fair to either of them for their relationship to continue because of that.
- Nyssa releases Sara from the League of Assassins when she realizes that her former lover will never be happy there. She reaffirms this when Sara goes to rescue her in Legends of Tomorrow, telling Sara to not let the past hold her back and find happiness, even if it isn't with her.
- The Flash (2014)
- Barry Allen has been in love with Iris West all his life, and all he has ever wanted was for her to be happy. That's why, even though he knows that she loves him more than she does Eddie (even if she herself hadn't realized it yet — Time Travel was involved) and knows that in both another timeline and their own future, they were Happily Married, he stepped aside and allowed her to make her choice and be with her Season 1 boyfriend Eddie Thawne. Unfortunately, it becomes a moot point when Eddie commits a Heroic Suicide to stop that season's Big Bad, his descendant Eobard Thawne.
- Ironically, Eddie tried to do the same with Iris when he briefly broke up with her. After learning that Barry and Iris are married to each other in the future, he is forced to confront what he's always known but refused to acknowledge: that Iris is in love with Barry, and that, when it comes down to it, she loves Barry more than she loves him, even if she has yet to fully realize and/or accept it. Iris, in turn, responds with Screw Destiny: even if she unwittingly loves Barry, even if it's him she's supposed to be with, right now the only person she knows she loves is Eddie, and she wanted to be with him. Of course, as Barry's own example shows, it simply wasn't meant to be.
- In Season Two, Iris finally realized that she was in love with Barry, and probably always has been. However, her acceptance of this revelation came after Eddie's death. Since she was too emotionally compromised to give an honest go at another relationship, she supported Barry's relationship with Patty Spivot.
- The standard "I Wish You Love", recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Rod Stewart.
My breaking heart and I agree
That you and I could never be
So with my best, my very best
I set you free
- The Arthur Alexander song (Covered Up by The Beatles) "Anna (Go To Him)" could be an example of this, with an engaged man breaking it off with his fiancée Anna because another man loves her more. However, it could simply be that he's used to every woman he loves leaving him.
- "You're in Love" by Wilson Phillips is definitely an example of this, though.
- "Diary" by Bread appears to be this, as well, though it could simply be a man giving in gracefully to the impending loss of his love to someone else.
- ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All".
- Frankie Valli's "Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me)" where the narrator tells his girlfriend to go ahead with that guy instead of loving him in sympathy yet he assures her he'll deal with it.
- Belle and Sebastian's song "Jonathan David" is an example of this, though the Biblical theme in the song ("I was Jonathan to your David") gives way to another interpretation.
- Ne-Yo's song "Fade Into The Background" is about the singer attending the wedding of the woman he loves, deciding he's just going to let her be happy with somebody else and "smile and fade into the background." Also Back to What You Know from the same album deals with this. He even sings in the bridge "I'd rather you be happy\Then you be miserable with me".
- Subverted in Mariah Carey's song "Butterfly"—she sings that she'll allow her lover to fly away and experience other things because if he's truly hers, he'll come back to her eventually.
- In Chiodos' "Lindsay Quit Lollygagging" the singer is coming from the second version of this perspective.
Bite my tongue, right now the perfect time
Do anything to make her happy
Even if it means my being miserable
As long as she's loving life
- Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" subverts this trope with the opening lines: "I want you to know/I'm happy for you/I wish nothing but/The best for you both." followed by an extended F-U to the guy she's singing to.
- "Teardrops On My Guitar" by Taylor Swift. Inspired by a guy she knew in Real Life before she became famous.
- Almost Lovers by A Fine Frenzy. The narrator dumps her boyfriend because she believes he's un-happy.
- The Frou Frou song "It's Good To Be In Love" is about the long, slow path toward this.
- Cat Stevens' "Wild World," though it is mainly about finding peace in such a crazy world.
- John Mayer has an unreleased song called "Man on the Side" that invokes this:
I fell in love with the dream that I built of youPlaying the part of the queenTaking my own adviceI'm giving up tonightGood luck to you and the king
- Snow Patrol's "You Could Be Happy".
- This trope is implied in the chorus of Journey's "Separate Ways":
Someday, love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched and went our separate ways
If he ever hurts you
True love won't desert you
You know I still love you
Though we touched and went our separate ways
- "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5.
- "Say Good-bye" by Skillet is a man begging his girlfriend to put off "saying good-bye", but the bridge says
But if it's overIt hurts but I'm giving you my wordI hope that you're alwaysHappy like we wereHappy like we were
- Robert Schumann's setting of Antonio von Chamisso's Frauenliebe und -leben, in the second song "Er, Der Herrlichste von Allen". Some of the lines translate as:
Hear not my silent prayer, consecrated only to thy happiness,thou mays't not know me, lowly maid, lofty star of glory!Only the worthiest of all may make happy thy choice,and I will bless her, the lofty one, many thousand times.I will rejoice then and weep, blissful, blissful I'll be then;if my heart should also break, break, O heart, what of it?
- The pathetic thing here, though, is that at this point in the narrative, the Man of her Dreams has made NO indication that he was interested in, or involved with, anyone. The protagonist is merely assuming she's unworthy a priori.
- Sister Hazel's "Champagne High" both uses and subverts this trope. It's about a man who's realized that he still loves his ex-girlfriend, but he's realized this at her wedding to someone else. He says he'll "smile and remember" the good times they had, then turn and go. However, he also won't toast to the couple's future, suggesting that he may hope things won't work out for them.
- Blue October's "Hate Me" is this in spades. The whole song is the speaker leaving his girlfriend, asking her to hate him because he recognizes that he's a terrible person, and he'd rather her be happy than let him drag her down. In fairness, it sounds like he's right.
- "She's in Love" by Mark Wills, as indicated in the second verse:
Told everyone I'm doing fineLearned to get on with my lifeI just want what's best for her, so I lied...
- Chuck Berry's "Have Mercy, Judge" is about a guy who knows his girlfriend will cheat on him while he's in jail; he's okay with it, and says he'll love her all the more once he gets out.
- "Smile" by Lonestar:
I'm gonna smile 'cause I wanna make you happyLaugh, so you can't see me cryI'm gonna let you go in style'And even if it kills me, I'm gonna smile''
- Death Cab for Cutie's "Someday You Will Be Loved".
- Adele's "Someone Like You". The whole song is heartbreaking—how much she wants her love back—then includes these lines at the start of the chorus:
Never mind I'll find someone like youI wish nothing but the best for you two
- "I'll Be Around", by The Spinners:
This is our fork in the road. Love's last episode
There's nowhere to go
You made your choice. Now it's up to me
To bow out gracefully
- David Cassidy's "I Think I Love You" mentions this toward the end of the song:
I only want to make you happy
And if you say, "Hey, go away," I will
But I think better still
I'd better stay around and love you
- "Good Life" by Francis Dunnery. The first verse is about how he cares about her but the relationship clearly isn't working out. The second is about how she's now married, and that's great even though how he feels hasn't changed.
- "I Will Always Love You," originally by Dolly Parton and covered by Whitney Houston.
- "Your New Beloved" by Lovelife implies this. The singer seems resigned to the fact that they can't be together anymore, and seems selflessly, helplessly in love rather than outright depressed or angry.
And one day we will meet after everything
And we will drink and make amends
Raise a toast to your old beloved
- A-Hole by Bowling for Soup, while mostly being about a guy reminiscing about how he messed up his relationship, features this.
And I can’t help but think of how things could be (how things could be)
And I hope shes happy, happy without me
And please don’t think I'm complaining
I was just happy to have her for a time
And if you see her tell her I said
"hello" and that I'm doing just fine
- "Anything for You" by Gloria Estefan ("I'd do anything for you/I'll give you up/if that's what I should do/to make you happy"). She also hopes her ex-lover finds someone new, and pretends to be over them in order to spare their feelings.
- "When I Was Your Man" by Bruno Mars ends this way, with the singer hoping that his girl's new lover treats her the way he never did, but should have.
I hope he buys you flowers
I hope he holds your hand [...]
Do all the things I should have done
When I was your man
- Bobby Vee's "Take Good Care of My Baby" is mostly this, mixed with a slight hope for the situation to change.
So, take good care of my baby
Be just as kind as you can be
And if you should discover
That you don't really love her
Just send my baby back home to me
- The dying man in Johnny Cash's "Give My Love to Rose" tells the narrator to tell the man's wife to go find another man after he dies since it wouldn't be fair to her to force her to live alone after he's gone.
- Tim McGraw, "Just To See You Smile":
And yesterday I knew just what you wanted
When you came walkin' up to me with him
So I told you that I was happy for you
And given the chance I'd lie again
Just to see you smile
I'd do anything
That you wanted me to
When I can't hurt you anymore
- And "Please Remember Me", which can be summarized as "I want my beloved to be happy, so I'll Break His Heart to Save Him from myself."
You'll find better love
- Freddie Fender:, "Before the Last Teardrop Falls" (Similar to Bobby Vee's "Take Good Care Of My Baby", it includes an implication that he doesn't expect to ever love anyone else.)
If he brings you happiness
Then I wish you all the best
It's your happiness that matters most of all...
I'll be there anytime
You need me by your side
Myths & Religion
- Many tellings of the legend of King Arthur have him tolerate the love affair between his wife Guinevere and champion knight Lancelot because he loves them both too much to see them suffer.
- Likewise, Guinevere refuses to run off with Lancelot because she still loves Arthur.
- In the TV adaptation of The Mists of Avalon, Arthur's solution to this problem is a threesome.
- In season 2 of Merlin, Lancelot refuses to return to Camelot because he believes Prince Arthur and Guenevere are the One True Pairing. This is after they've agreed that a romance is out of the question.
- This is the central plot of the webcomic Arthur, King of Time and Space. At one point, Arthur had banished Guenevere and Lancelot in the Space and Fairytale arcs, but at least partly because he thought they'd be happier without him. He was wrong.
- In Celtic Mythology, Emer and Fand both loved Cu Chulainn so much that they BOTH were willing to give him to the other.
- King Solomon's judgment regarding a child in dispute by two women - he proposes to simply cut the kid in two for each mother to have an equal part, and one of the women says to just give the child to the other. This proved to Solomon that she was the mother, for being that selfless.
- In The Muppets episode "Swine Song", Denise sees Kermit and Piggy singing a duet, and even though Kermit insists it was just part of the show decides to bow out.
- Cyrano de Bergerac is about the original Cyrano helping the handsome Christian win the heart of the woman they both love, Roxane. He does this because Roxane is already fond of Christian (who's genuinely a decent guy, just lacking in wit), and Cyrano himself believes he's too ugly to ever have a chance with her. Unfortunately for them both, Roxane does fall in love with Christian, but only because of the words Cyrano gave him to use. She eventually learns the truth, but only after Christian has died in battle, and while Cyrano is dying from a mortal wound, denying it all.
- A Very Potter Musical lampshades this trope's presence in its source material with repeated references to the Spider-Man Trilogy.
- In Martin Guerre, when Arnaud is arrested for impersonating Martin Guerre and sleeping with his wife, a judge decides that Bertrade is still married to Martin, and leaves Arnaud's fate in his former friend's hands. Martin realizes that Bertrande and Arnaud really love eachother, and frees Arnaud from jail, and attempts to lead Arnaud and Bertrande away from the villiage to start a new life together.
- Used in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street when Mrs Lovett attempts to justify the lies she has been telling Sweeney. Her excuse is that she convinced him his wife was dead for his own good, because due to Lucy's insane state he could never have been happy with her. It's a chilling example of this trope invoked by a character on purpose to whitewash the machinations of a psychotic Yandere. Unsurprisingly, Sweeney buys into it about as much as the audience do.
- Twelfth Night: Viola loves Orsino, but tries her best to set him up with Olivia, the girl he professes to love, instead.
- The Phantom of the Opera: Most of the movie, the Phantom tries his hardest to keep Christine for himself, but when she kisses him at the end, he has a change of heart and tells her and Raoul to 'Go now and leave me!'
- An American in Paris: All the spares (Milo, Henri, and Adam) accept they aren't "true loves" and instead let their respective love interests find real romance with each other.
- The stage version of Les Misérables plays this trope completely straight regarding Éponine's love for Marius, unlike the novel and even the musical's film version, where her selflessness is much less consistent. Jean Valjean is also a parental example of this trope for Cosette, as in the novel.
- The Misanthrope gives you two for one. Philinte wants Éliante to be happy, and Éliante wants Alceste to be happy. Both are equally fine being the runner up to their beloved's preferred suitor.
- Hamilton: Angelica Schuyler has this platonically for her sister Eliza. Trapped in a loveless marriage, it's implied that she's considered an affair with Hamilton, but he's married to Eliza and Angelica would never hurt her like that.
- In the original Miss Saigon, the signature song of Ellen (the woman Chris (the titular character's lover) marries after returning home from the Vietnam War) makes it clear that she intends to fight to keep her husband. But in the revival, it's been changed to indicate that she'll give him up if that's what's needed for him to heal from his trauma.
- In one of the Cristina Memories of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio threatens to hunt down and kill Manfredo (Cristina's fiancé) if he ever does anything to hurt her. (Cristina had been Ezio's girlfriend 2 years prior)
- Both Bianca and Nera in Dragon Quest V do this with the main character when he chooses either of them, or Deborah.
- This is probably the reason Zelos Wilder is so intent on hooking Lloyd Irving and Sheena Fujibayashi up in Tales of Symphonia.
- While not quite the same, Colette cares so much about Lloyd, that's she's willing to give up her life so that the world will be Regenerated, so that he'll be able to live happily in a peaceful world. Doesn't work: Because Light Is Not Good, meaning what the Big Bad wanted would happen, and her "death" would hurt Lloyd more than anything- so he stops the salvation of the world by killing an Angel, fighting a former ally, however, his luck runs out against the Big Bad. Until Yuan's organization interferes. After she's restored to her former self, she never considers doing that again.
- Fire Emblem:
- It's more out of guilt than anything — Camus decides to leave Nyna be, probably feeling too guilty about what happened to Hardin, her husband...thing is, Hardin died during the events of Mystery of the Emblem, and Nyna has nowhere to go. Instead of appeasing her, he has this in mind and vanishes, presumably returning to Valentianote and be with Tatiana, a priestess he himself fell in love with. This actually backfires, as Nyna is so fed up with the utter shit that her life has been that she decides to pursue him and try having control of her own life, leaving Archanea in Marth's hands.
- In Blazing Sword, should Priscilla reach maximum support/fall in love with either Heath or Guy, both of them choose to leave her in their respective paired endings, as she's a noblewoman and they are a traitorous mercenary and a swordsman from the Sacae Plains, respectively. They have this in mind when leaving her, but she winds up sad anyway...
- Cordelia in Fire Emblem Awakening seems to want this at first for Chrom, as she feels unworthy to be with him. Bad thing, some of her quotes in-game related to Chrom are not re-written to reflect this... Played for Laughs after Chapter 13, if Chrom's wife is Olivia. She sees him hugging a beautiful girl and believes they're in cahoots, prompting her to step in and tearfully declare she will not stand between him and his Second Love. Things is... the girl is Chrom's Kid from the Future Lucina, so she's saying this to her own daughter. Once Chrom explains what's going on, Lucina and Olivia share a hug.
- Vincent Valentine does this in Final Fantasy VII to everyone on the planet's lasting regret.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Locke's beloved Rachel returns to life just long enough to release him and tell him to be happy with his new love, Celes.
- Snake's jealousy of Naomi for her relationship with his best friend is quite clear in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, but at the same time he becomes furious with her when she breaks his heart.
- In Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, Tia tries to talk Maxim out of being a warrior, because she cannot endure the thought of something happening to him in battle. She decides to give him up when she realizes that this is a part of Maxim which makes him happy, surrendering him both to his passion for battle and his future wife Selan.
- Mass Effect 2:
Shepard: You going to be okay? I know working with the geth will be difficult-Tali: I'm not staying. I'm coming with you.[pause]Shepard: I wasn't going to ask...Tali: Why not?Shepard: Because I respect you, dammit! You think I don't want you to come with me?Tali: So ask me.Shepard: Tali...Tali: I don't know how much time we have left. I don't know if we can beat the Reapers. But whatever happens, I want to be with you.Shepard: [smirks] I bet you say that to every guy who gets you a homeworld.Tali: [looks directly at him] Only the cute ones.Shepard: You know I'd understand if you needed to stay?Tali: I know.[...]Tali: [while watching the sunset] It is beautiful though. Isn't it?Shepard: [looking directly at Tali] Yeah... it is.
- Tali says this to Shepard if he tries to pursue a relationship with her due to her quarian physiology.
Tali: [voice breaking] You deserve to... be happy with someone. I can't do that. No matter how much I... I could get sick, jeopardize the mission.
- Subverted if Shepard chooses to pursue it anyway.
Shepard: Tali, if you're scared, I don't blame you. But I don't want anyone else, [takes her hands] I want you. And I'll do whatever I have to to make this work.
Tali: [nervously] I...I...I wouldn't blame you if, but... [quietly] Oh, thank you. You don't know what that... thank you.
- Link to the full thing.
- Mass Effect 2 has quite a few of these — Thane is reluctant due to his illness, Garrus due to the physiology differences, Jack because she had several bad personal experiences.
- Shepard actually attempts this with Tali in the continuation of their relationship in Mass Effect 3. There's no romantic rival or anything, but Shepard accepts that Tali must leave him (at least until the war is over) to stay on the planet that they just won for her people, as said planet has an almost religious significance in her culture, and she's wanted to live there all her life. Tali has other plans.
- If you romanced Liara in the first game, in the DLC Lair of the Shadow Broker, she will tell Shepard that she does not want to burden him/her and that if s/he wants to move on, she won't hold it against him/her. It's a part of Liara's character. She'll say the exact same thing when she thinks Ashley or Kaidan is in love with you, though her subsequent bout of Poor Communication Kills calls into question how truthful she was being.
- Liara gets this a lot; in the third game, if you romanced Liara in 1 and Tali in 2, then commit to Tali and take Liara on the Geth Dreadnought, after a few moments where it appears touch-and-go, she'll tell Tali that she simply hopes the two of them are happy together.
- Tali says this to Shepard if he tries to pursue a relationship with her due to her quarian physiology.
- Dragon Age II:
- If the PC takes up with Anders after Fenris breaks it off, the latter says simply to the former: "Be good to him/her. Break his/her heart and I will kill you." Considering that Fenris and Anders hate each other with the burning of a million suns, and that he's still very much in love with the PC, this is especially touching.
- A very similar thing happens if the PC initially goes for Isabela and then switches over to Merrill, but this is far less surprising since Merrill's cheerful, Cloud Cuckoolander, Moe, and somewhat naive personality tends to cause the rest of the party to have a Big Brother Instinct toward her.
- Eventually, Kain towards his best friend Cecil and his love interest Rosa in Final Fantasy IV.
- In Kingdom Hearts 1, Riku lets Sora and Kairi be together through four words: "Take care of her." Made funny at the end of his story mode in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories when he discovers Sora sleeping in a pod to regain his memories and he comments "I told him to take care of Kairi, and here he is taking a nap!"
- King's Quest IV: Despite being head over heels infatuated with Rosella, and with his kidnapper promising the Standard Hero Reward of marrying them, Edgar says it with a single red rose under the door of her prison - the key's attached. It works out for them in the end.
- In Persona 3 Portable, if you're playing as a girl you have the option to start a romantic relationship with Shinjiro Aragaki. He knows he's going to die soon in one of 3 different ways, so even though he loves the protagonist, he knows that starting a relationship would cause her nothing but pain, so he does his best to deter her for her own sake. With enough persistance you can get him to overcome this (ending in an implied Optional Sexual Encounter), but even when you talk to him after that he still tries to keep telling you that you're better off with somebody else.
- At the end of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Vivian and Goombella both almost confess their love to Mario, but think better of it and instead wish him and Peach the best.
- Implied to be the reason GLaDOS sends Chell away at the end of Portal 2; hints in the tone and contents of the ending songs indicate she lied about deleting Caroline to drive Chell out of the Aperture Science Testing Facility because she knew the machine would drive her into an amoral testing frenzy again, and wanted Chell out of her reach before she lost control.
- Hyrule Warriors: Lana is revealed near the end of the first act of the game to be Cia's good side made manifest, and thus shares Cia's feelings for Link, though in a far less yandere way. After the final fight with her, a dying Cia asks Lana how she can go on knowing that Link will never choose one of them, Lana tells her that you don't always get the person you think you deserve, and she can accept that.
- One of the three endings to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gives a rare non-romantic example, when Geralt and Ciri part ways so she can become the Empress of Nilfgaard, which is best summed up by one of the finishing lines.
Geralt: Traveled half the world to find you, but I never intended to force anything on you.
- In Chrono Cross, Perky Female Minion Harle ends up developing actual feelings for Serge during her travels with him in Lynx's body. When she realizes that her feelings cannot prevent her from completing her true mission (obtaining the Frozen Flame for the six Dragons), there's a scene where she breaks down crying and leaves the party. Later, after Serge's group successfully enters Chronopolis and defeats Lynx and FATE, Kid attempts to destroy the Frozen Flame. Harle suddenly reappears and begs Kid not to do it, as doing so could also harm Serge. She manages one last sad goodbye to Serge before disappearing to join the other Dragons and form the Dragon God.
- At the end of Azure Striker Gunvolt 2, Joule loses her memories of Gunvolt after she returns to her original being, Mytyl. Seeing Mytyl living the life of freedom and normalcy (which is what Gunvolt wanted for her in the first place), he doesn't have the heart to take her away from it.
- In Cursed by Jet Dogs Studios, you eventually discover that your husband from a long distant past life loved you enough to sell his soul to get you back. When confronted by the demon with whom both he and your current fiancé have signed a pact for your sake, you are suddenly interrupted as your long-past husband attacks the demon while yelling at you to run and undo his mistake.
- The Legend of Zelda franchise has a few.
- Played with with Groose in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. At first, Groose harboured a deep resentment for Link due to his close relationship with Zelda, and didn't even want to allow the pair some time alone for the Goddess Ceremony. But as the game goes on, he grows to see Link as a friend and that resentment all but disappears. When Link returns to the Sealed Temple to wake a long-time sealed Zelda from her stasis, Groose tells him Zelda is waiting for him and doesn't even try to follow. He seems to have completely come to peace with his Hopeless Suitor status, and merely wants to see his new friend and his crush happy.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has two examples:
- Paya, Impa's Adorkable granddaughter, has a massive crush on Link. However, she writes in her diary that, although she feels a pain in her chest at the thought, she believes Link and Princess Zelda would make a nice match. She also promises to support them if it were to happen, and writes that she was simply grateful to Link for allowing her to experience love, whether or not he returned it.
- An unnamed castle poet was in love with Princess Zelda 100 years ago. It's implied that he may have even attempted to confess to her, but was rejected because she already harboured feelings for her appointed knight, Link. At first, he resented the knight, because he believed the Princess of Hyrule belonged with someone of royal or noble lineage instead. However, when the Calamity struck, he witnessed Link nearly dying to protect Zelda, and Zelda's love for him awakening her dormant powers. The act inspired him to dedicate his life to write a song specifically to help the fallen knight once he woke, and this song becomes the song Kass later plays for Link in parts.
- If you complete a True Pacifist run on Undertale, and then reboot the game, you get a little surprise: Flowey appears, and begs you not to reset. He says that everyone is finally happy and got a perfect ending, and that only the player could ruin it now. He then asks of you, "Let them go. Let Frisk be happy." Believe it or not, a large amount of players had admitted to deciding to never reset and play the game again, unable to bring themselves to do it after that message. That's right, the game itself asks you to do this for the characters.
- Shima-kun from CLANNAD, who wishes for Misae to find her happiness, since he's worried about her. The Kyou route revolves around deconstructing this trope, showing just how awkward and painful it would be in reality.
- The ending of Fate/stay night's Fate route and the Anime falls under this trope, with Shirou allowing Saber to destroy the Grail even if it means their separation. In the game's last route, Sakura is shown to be resigned to Shirou and her sister, Rin, getting together, and is surprised at Shirou reciprocating her feelings.
- In almost all endings to Frozen Essence, Zareh helps Mina be with her chosen love interest and bids her farewell in spite of having been in love with Mina for a thousand years and being the one who unsealed her from her prison in the first place. This is the most prominent in Rune's path where he tells Mina that she will never be happy if she doesn't see Rune again, risks being captured and exposed to let Mina reunite with Rune, and tells Mina in the Light End to let go of him and focus on her future with Rune instead. What really makes this sad is that Mina doesn't even realize the full significance of this because she's lost all her memories of her past - and by extension, Zareh - so she doesn't even know who this person comforting her in her dreams is. However, this is subverted in Zareh's own Dark End where he snaps after being rejected by Mina and keeps her captive to prevent her from leaving him.
- Katawa Shoujo, this is the reason why Misha helps Hisao get together with Shizune in the latter's route. The big twist here is that her beloved is not Hisao but Shizune. Eventually however, especially after the first time Hisao and Shizune have sex, her feelings start to come to the surface and put a strain on everyone's realtionships with each other.
- Torahiko Ooshima in Morenatsu is shown to be this if you don't pick him. He is known by fans as the "Canon" Route of the story. The sad thing is, you can't pick his storyline yet.
- Every route in Princess Waltz ends with this. in the first half of the game, Chris sacrifices herself for Arata. And in the second half of the game, Arata and whichever partner you choose fall in love, but that girl ultimately steps out of the way so he can be with Chris after she is saved.
- Rather surprisingly, Saya in Saya no Uta displays this at one point: she reveals to Fuminori that she has the ability to restore his distorted senses back to normal and offers to do so for him. If Fuminori says that he wants it, she willingly does it even though she's visibly saddened by how this will effectively force her to separate from the one human who she could truly connect to forever because his normal human senses wouldn't be able to bear the sight of her true Eldritch Abomination form.
- Ambrosia and Arsenik do this for each other at various points in War: 13th Day. Near the beginning, Ambrosia succumbs to blackmail in order to keep Arsenik out of prison. In one ending, Ambrosia is framed for murder and Arsenik decides to take the blame for it.
- Happens in backstory of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations, although the "beloved" party doesn't learn about it until much later. Iris was dating Phoenix for 6 months while pretending to be her sister Dahlia to get a necklace Dahlia gave him earlier, which was piece of evidence that could put Dahlia in prison. During these 6 months she really fell in love with him, but Dahlia became impatient and tried to kill him to get it herself. After Dahlia was arrested Iris dissapeared without telling Phoenix the truth, because she felt she caused him enough pain already and he'll be better of without her.
- In Maji De Watashi Ni Koishinasai, Hideo's maid Azumi does her best to help him with his love for Kazuko. Also happens in Azumi's route, when Yamato helps Azumi confess to Hideo.
- Rumy in Fans! exemplifies this trope, having seemingly made it her life's mission to ensure that Rikk is happy with Alisin as a way of dealing with the fact that she's been hopelessly in love with him since before Rikk even knew Alisin's name. At the end of the strip, however, Alisin and Rikk care too much about Rumy to let her sacrifice her own happiness for them, and they convince her to join them in a three-way relationship, which works out well for all of them.
- El Goonish Shive:
- Gay Justin is in love with straight Elliot, and isn't quite sure what to do about it. One strip shows Justin, after an inevitable Gender Bender (this is EGS, after all) looking at Elliot's girlfriend Sarah and thinking "How dare you be someone I can't dislike..."
- Subverted with another character, Ashley. She approaches Elliot to warn him about her Manipulative Bastard ex-boyfriend trying to woo Susan. Despite liking Elliot herself, Ashley acts while believing that Elliot likes Susan. The subversion comes when Elliot explains he and Susan are Just Friends, and the scene ends with Elliot asking her out.
- Sarah and Susan's reactions to Ashley are straight examples of the trope. Although in their cases he's not exactly "my beloved", more "the person I've concluded probably isn't my beloved although we're still friends" and "the person who I might consider being my beloved if anyone was going to be, which is unlikely", respectively.
- Happens to Ping as she is programmed to help lonely young men gain confidence with women and support them in forming relationships. She briefly attempts to 'protect Piro from being hurt' and tries to convince him that a relationship with an android programmed to provide emotional support would be much safer, in the end however she is forced to stand aside for Kimiko.
- Also in Erika's Back Story. In which the person actually makes his beloved miserable by deciding he's not good enough for her. And eventually it turned out that was all bullshit, and he was just a Manipulative Bastard. It's unclear why he was even with her in the first place. Okay, there are at least two reasons...
- In Namir Deiter, Twofer (Hispanic lesbian) Gabby tries to fix her best friend, main character Tipper Namir, up with her Jerk with a Heart of Gold cousin, partially to ease the tension developed after Gabby confessed her feelings for Tipper and Tipper gently put her down. Resolved later when Gabby hooks up with a fellow Twofer art student (to whom she'd confided the previous situation). And Gabby proceeds to go through it again , when she endures Jacinda's Anything That Moves attitude, before finally getting fed up with being taken for granted and breaking things off herself.
- Occurs fairly early on in Questionable Content: Faye finally explains to Marten why she's been putting out such drastically mixed signals towards his romantic overtures and why she can't have a relationship with anyone right then, especially the kind Marten wants. She agrees to seek help for her issues, but only on the condition that Marten doesn't try to wait for her.
- There's an example in the form of Karkat Vantas. He doesn't have a very good relationship with Dave (at that time), but when his love interest Terezi chooses him over Karkat, he accepts it despite initially protesting and does his best to just be a good friend to her.
- Almost inverted with Dirk and Roxy. Roxy is in love with Dirk. He's gay and can't reciprocate — but he considers having a relationship with her anyway because he loves her (platonically) and wants her to be happy. Fortunately, he realizes that this would be a terrible idea.
- Torg has had a crush on Zoe for most of Sluggy Freelance, but he never tells her how he feels, and at one point even resolves never to speak to her again, because he's worried that Oasis (a crazy jealous, immortal assassin) will kill Zoe for getting between her and Torg. Currently, Torg is actively searching for a way to permanently stop Oasis, in part so that he and Zoe can finally be together.
- In 1/0 Ghanny helps Terra break her self-imposed fourth wall and come out of the closet to confess her love for Zadok as talked about here
- Sabrina Online: Zig Zag isn't so much in love with the title character as she's infatuated with her. And she knows it. There's also the fact that Sabrina is straight, a tad prudish, and is rather Squicked by Zig Zag's Anything That Moves attitude. Zig would settle for getting Sabrina to come out her shell and enjoy life.
- In General Protection Fault, Nega-Ki is shown developing some feelings for Nick, having been repulsed by Nega-Nick's cruelty, and after charging him to distract him and getting mortally wounded in the process, tells her counterpart to love him and promise her they will be happy together. Trudy also has this mindset for Nick, combined with being The Atoner, in the To Thine Own Self arc.
- In The Order of the Stick, Therkla confesses her love for Elan, who's already dating Haley, though she's been missing for months and may well be dead. Therkla says that if Elan will be with her now, she'll willingly step aside if Haley ever comes back into the picture. Elan still declines, however.
- Happens twice in Something*Positive — Davan lets Branwen leave to go to Canada, even though they are very much in love, because he knows that she really wants the journalism job she was offered. Pee Jee actively helps Jhim go to D.C., lending him $1,000, despite the fact that it's tearing her up to watch him go. In the second case, however, Jhim is gay, and oblivious to PeeJee's feelings.
- It happens often in Sonichu where Chris-Chan and some other characters say that.
- In Nerf NOW!!, Heavy Weapons Guy and Heavy Weapons Girl compete for the Medic's attention during a battle. Then they are shot at by a soldier, and Medic uses the medigun on HWGirl first, basically choosing her over HWGuy. During the celebrations after the battle, HWGuy spies on them...and his only reponse to seeing them kiss is a small smile before he leaves so as not to come between them.
- In an alternate story plot to the Mario Series by SylentNyte called Super Mario: Royal. Bowser, despite his many attempts to win over Princess Peach. Finally decided to let her go and allow her to marry Mario because he wanted her to be happy.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl has this in numerous characters; many members of the secondary cast, such as Sue, are okay with Mike being happy with someone else, but object to his long-distance relationship with Sandy, wanting him instead to date their friend Lucy. Lucy herself has this to some degree with Mike, though she still wants him as a friend - something he is now resisting after having the idea put in his head that Lucy was just using him rather than being clingy and Tsundre because she is in love with him. Augustus has this for Daisy, who in turn, like Sue, likes Mike but wants him to be happy with someone else - but preferably Lucy if not herself. Abbey expressed similar sentiments to Daisy before they started dating, though Daisy herself may be dating him to make HIM happy, as well as to have someone for herself - but she doesn't care for him the same way she does for Mike.
- In Cucumber Quest, Lettuce. Unfortunately, this means she thinks Parfait ought to be grateful for Tomato's attentions, because she does not want his beloved to be happy, only him.
- College Roomies from Hell!!!
- Margaret does this with Dave. He's madly in love with her, and while she does love him, it's mostly platonic. More importantly though, Satan enjoys murdering anyone who gets too close to her. So she does everything she can to drive Dave away, to the point of even calling up her love rival, Blue, to give him some Intimate Healing when he desperately needs it.
- Blue pairs this with Dogged Nice Girl. She makes no attempt to hide her feelings for Dave, and believes very strongly that they'd be happy together, but is also willing to wait and see if he'll be happier with Margaret. In the end, she was right. When they finally get together, he's the happiest he's ever been. Although, he's the comic's Butt-Monkey in a Crapsack World, so there is something of an upper limit.
- Split Screen: Jeremy is as in love with Jan as she is with him. He pretended not to notice (and just ended up giving mixed signals in the process), because he thought with his issues, he'd just drag her down. He feels this way even after she comes back to down a decade later as a successful fashion designer.
- Acheron's motivation for The Quest in Inverloch is to find Kayn'dar, the object of Shiara's Childhood Marriage Promise, even though he himself is deeply infatuated with her. Lei'ella later examines this and asks if he's not secretly hoping that Kayn'dar is dead so that Shiara will seek comfort with Acheron. Luckily, it turns out—long story—that he is actually Kayn'dar. So no problems.
- TRIPP: Tripp and Coco find out that before she left, Proxy (Tripp's bodyguard from the future and would-be lover) had Edgar (who, at the time, literally had the power of God) transfer her status as Tripp's sexual soulmate over to Coco.
Tripp: All we gave her was a bag with a People magazine and some shea butter.
Coco: For the record, that was some really awesome shea butter.
- Jack Hyland in Gunnerkrigg Court is in love with Zimmy, but recognizes that Zims has ... problems ... and "The last thing she needs is someone hassling her for a date". So he dates Jenny, who knows and understands about this (and also happens to look a bit like Zimmy if she had regular eyes and teeth).
- Suggested in this A Softer World comic, particularly the Alt Text.
- In the NSFW Oglaf strip "Performance Anxiety", a couple of gangly newlyweds retire to their bedroom for their first night together... and each reveals that they hired a high-class prostitute to give the other a good time in their place. They end up watching the prostitutes have (rather wild) sex, holding hands and smiling sheepishly at each other.
- In Greek Ninja, Dawson has his heart trampled on but pretends to be alright, as to not upset his love interest who was interested in someone else.
- In RWBY, Jaune Arc obliviously chases after Weiss and is seemingly unaware of Pyrrha's feelings for him. Despite her obvious reluctance, Pyrrha encourages him to continue courting Weiss. And later on, after seeing Weiss ask Neptune to a dance and learning that he turned her down because he was embarrassed about not being able to dance, Jaune encourages him to go talk to her and be honest, saying that it would make her night.
- In Twig, Sylvester and Mary have great chemistry and care a lot for one another, but Sylvester acts deliberately Oblivious to Love, because he knows that Mary also likes Gordon, a Mix-and-Match Man who is steadily deteriorating, and neither of them want Gordon to die before Mary can tell him. Later, Sylvester and Lillian, who have entered a mutually affectionate relationship, decide to break up for the sake of Lillian's career ambitions-as Sylvester is a Tyke Bomb Living Weapon, Lillian having a romantic attachment to him doesn't go over well with her superiors and both of them value her ambitions over their happiness.
- In the Thrilling Adventure Hour episode "Art Imitates Life," an ex of Sadie Doyle's uses the wish of a genie to remove her husband Frank from existence, in the hopes of freeing her up to be with him. He failed include that second part in the wish, resulting in Sadie becoming an art thief alongside a man named Basil. When Basil learns about Frank and that Sadie had married him, where she'd kept their engagement ongoing for years, he immediately pickpockets the lamp and undoes the wish so Sadie can be with the man she truly loves.
- The Legend of Korra: The series has this with Korra. Korra is often portrayed as stubborn and even a bit selfish. In a heartwarming gesture, she shows that she can be selfless by allowing Mako, who she is in love with, to be with his then-girlfriend Asami. Korra even goes so far as to befriend Asami and tell Mako to go to her when she needs him. Then, in a twist by itself, Mako admits to having strong feelings for Korra as well and knows how much it hurts her to see him with Asami. Finally, Korra and Mako break up because of their conflicting personalities and that they are better as friends, leading to Korra and Asami ending up dating each other at the end of the series. And one of the things that helped them bound was the fact that they both dated the same guy. And to twist it even further, by the series finale, Mako himself may have grown to feel this about Korra and Asami's relationship. The writers have stated that they think Mako will always carry a bit of a torch for Korra, and a fairly popular Alternate Character Interpretation is that Mako telling Korra that he's got her back, and he always will, was him saying that he understood and supported her and Asami's developing relationship. If you subscribe to that interpretation, his last scene in the series becomes this trope.
- In The Simpsons:
Krusty: You're the only woman I love enough to abandon at the altar.
- Near the end of the episode where a woman replaces Krusty. They're about to get married, when Bart shows her a compilation of clips showing how he used to treat his previous wives. She is unbothered by this, however Krusty realises he'd only hurt her and leaves the altar.
- In "Bender's Big Score", Fry acts at first to disrupt Leela and Lars' budding relationship, because he is desperately in love with Leela himself. He eventually learns the trope lesson to a T, and goes so far as to reunite the two even after they've broken up on their own. Complicated because it turns out that Lars is Fry, a duplicate created by time travel that lived in the past for twelve years before learning the lesson, having his hair burned, voice changed and freezing himself again.
- Ironically, Lars himself does this. Upon learning that as a duplicate created from time travel he was inevitably doomed to die soon, he calls off the wedding because he wished to spare Leela the pain of her husband dying. "Lars" also does this back in the past and the narwhal he bonded with, which is what helps him realize and grow as a person enough to start this whole chain of wanting his beloved to be happy.
- In the episode "Bendless Love", Bender dates fellow bending unit Angline long enough to drive her back into the arms of her ex-husband Flexo. After Flexo gets pinned under an unbendable girder, Bender bends it off of him so they can be happy together.
- In American Dragon: Jake Long, the Huntsclan has finally gathered together the artifacts they needed and in the configuration required for the Huntsmaster to wish away all magical creatures. Rose promptly interrupts him and instead wishes away all of the Huntsclan members in lieu of the magical creatures, in her ultimate act of betrayal. Jake obviously doesn't want Rose to be annihilated with the rest of them, so he takes over and wishes that Rose was never a part of the Huntsclan to begin with. Not only does Rose live, she gets to live a normal life with a loving family. While they meet again briefly, she moves to Hong Kong. Jake just smiles as she hugs her parents near the taxi and wishes a Happy Homecoming. The series finale has her re-remembering her former life when she sees the photo of her and Jake at a school dance.
- Danny Phantom in one episode where after much struggling to accept Danny and Valerie together, Sam slowly and silently lets the two pursue their relationship. Lucky for her, Valerie breaks up with Danny before the relationship could even start, giving Sam a lucky pass.
- In the Teen Titans episode "Things Change", Beast Boy encounters a Schoolgirl bearing a striking resemblance to his once petrified former girlfriend Terra. Eager to resume the relationship, he is met with considerable resistance on the part of the Schoolgirl when she repeatedly explains to Beast Boy that she does not wish to be associated with Terra, or Terra's bad deeds. Ultimately, Beast Boy realizes the strain he has put The Schoolgirl through when she explains that, though he may enjoy being a Titan, she just wants to be normal, and he leaves the Schoolgirl to enjoy a normal life, and attend to his responsibilities.
- A variant happens in the Teen Titans Go! comics continuing the series, when Terra's brother Geoforce shows up looking for her. Beast Boy tells him about the Schoolgirl and he goes to look at her from afar, recognizing her as Terra, he is amazed that she looks happier now than she ever did in her life. He leaves without speaking to her, but she notices him out of the corner of her eye and seems happy to see him.
- Discussed and ultimately defied in the 1947 Disney short "Donald's Dilemma". In it, Donald Duck gets hit on the head with a flower pot and becomes a successful singer — but as consequence he gains amnesia and forgets everything about his past life, including his girlfriend Daisy Duck. When Daisy consults a psychiatrist about what to do, he gives her two options:
Psychiatrist: Do you want the world to have him and his beautiful golden voice... or do you want him back again for yourself? It's either the world, or you.
Daisy: Me! Me! Me! MEEEEEE!
- AndrAIa couldn't leave her game world with the boy she fell for (that would be Enzo, in case you can't tell), so she created a copy of herself and hid her on him in icon form, making this a rare example of a character conceding their beloved to their self.
- Hexadecimal does this too in season 4. She is the only one that can stop Daemon's infection from destoying the entire Net, but only goes through with it because destroying the Net means destroying Bob. She even tells Dot to take care of Bob right before performing her Heroic Sacrifice.
- Total Drama Island:
- Cody. He liked Gwen, but didn't know that Gwen was clearly the Official Couple with his friend Trent. Once he figured it out, though, he decided to help set them up together. This is averted in Season 3. By this point Gwen and Trent have broken up, and Cody makes it clear that he's hoping she'll give him another chance. However, he's once again oblivious to the fact that she likes somebody else—Duncan, a friend of hers who's Troubled, but Cute at best and a Jerk Ass at worst, and already involved with someone else. When the two secretly kiss in the bathroom and later get found out, Cody's reaction is to punch Duncan in the face and continue flirting with Gwen.
- In Pahkitew Island, Ella gets her heart broken when she finds out that Dave likes Sky instead of her. When Sky asks her what's wrong Ella tells her about Dave's feelings without any hint of bitterness.
- Family Guy:
- In an episode where Peter was lost at sea and presumed dead, Lois ended up remarrying Brian (who has always held a torch for Lois), When Brian discovers that Lois and Peter are having an affair behind his back he goes to confront them, but overhears Lois breaking off the affair with Peter because of the commitment she made to Brian. In response, Brian promptly agrees to end the marriage so Lois can go back and be with Peter.
- When Peter was turned gay by an experimental gay gene treatment, he decided to leave his family and live with Scott, his new boyfriend. Brian and Stewie kidnapped Peter and sent him to a Straight Camp to turn him back. However, Lois learned about this and decided to get Peter back to Scott since he would be happy with him and she can't change who he is.
- There's a direct-to-DVD movie called "Pollyworld", which is based on the Polly Pocket toyline. When Polly and her friends find out that Polly'snote future stepmother was trying to trick Polly's father into having her sent to a boarding school, they catch the whole confession on camera and save it to a DVD. However, Polly invokes this trope be deciding not to show the DVD to her father, even though it would mean that she wouldn't have to leave her friends. She decides that it wouldn't be fair to get in the way of her father's happiness. Moreover, she drives this point home by destroying the DVD. Luckily, her father finds out anyway, and everything turns out right in the end.
- Galaxy Rangers has a heart-breaking one. Shane couldn't admit his feelings to his fellow Supertrooper, Darkstar. She ends up running off with Jerkass Stingray and becoming a wanted criminal while he was spared a de facto execution by becoming a Hunter of His Own Kind. A couple years later, Darkstar and Stingray are hired thugs for a corrupt Cattle Baron, and Shane is sent to take them down. Shane tries to rebuild things with Darkstar, but Darkstar makes it very clear that she's staying with Stingray. Shane and Stingray have a classic Showdown at High Noon (we ARE talking about a Space Western). Shane defeats Stingray...only to turn and walk away, sparing them both. Darkstar is holding her lover and sobbing, unable to understand why Shane isn't arresting them. Lucy Martin and Doug Pries managed to act the hell out of it.
Darkstar: Goose! Why are you letting us go? I don't understand...
Shane: I know, Darkstar. I know you don't. Take care of yourself, Darkstar. Take real good care of yourself... and take care of him, too...
- Mocked at the very end of season 4 of The Venture Bros.. When The Outrider tells Dean "you should be happy as long as she's happy", he curses him back with a Precision F-Strike.
- Kim Possible:
- In So The Drama, Ron Stoppable becomes increasingly jealous of Kim's new crush, Eric, leading him to the realization that he was in love with her, and had been for some time. On the night of the junior prom he decides to tell Kim how he really feels before realizing that if she did not feel the same way and wanted Eric instead, it could potentially ruin their friendship. Later on, he is visiting Bueno Nacho, apparently having decided not to go through with telling Kim, leaving her to attend the prom with Eric and him feeling sorry for himself. However, whilst there, he uncovers Dr. Drakken's latest scheme, leading to the revelation that Eric is a synthodrone, designed for the sole purpose of luring Kim into a trap and thus giving Ron his chance to confess to Kim. She returns his affections, and marks the Relationship Upgrade between the two.
- Yori, basically a Japanese version of Kim. She was really keen on Ron, who was oblivious to her affections. When Kim tells him he is blown away by the revelation, then after he and Kim are a couple Ron tries to tell Yori, who stoically accepts this. Kim does a better job of explaining, and Yori is perfectly happy for them.
- ThunderCats (2011): Lion-O has just found out that his crush Cheetarah prefers his older brother Tygra over him. He actually takes it amazingly well, publicly encouraging their relationship. In private however he calls Cheetarah out on her flirtatious methods of supporting and encouraging him, which led to the misunderstanding in the first place. He does want them both to be happy, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's happy about it.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: For the longest time, Spike has been close to Rarity; when she was attempting to win the heart of Trenderhoof, he decides to help her.
Rarity: Oh, Spike, how could you ever know what it's like to be totally obsessed with a pony only to find out they're obsessed with somepony else?
Spike: [aside glance]
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Deconstructed. Star has feelings for Marco, but she doesn't realize it until he's already in a relationship with Jackie. Star tries to invoke this trope, but finds that she has a hard time not being able to express her feelings, since she has no outlet with which to do so. Her unintentional jealousy causes her magic to go dark.
- Played straight in season 3 with Jackie breaking up with Marco because she knows he's unhappy with life on Earth, and implicitly because she knows he'd be happier with Star.
- Interpretations vary, but Søren Kierkegaard basically did this to his fiancée Regine when he abandoned her. He went as far as to destroy his own public reputation so that people would think that she had broken up with him, that he was the problem. In the time they lived in, a man breaking off an engagement with a woman reflected really badly on the woman, and could ruin her reputation for years. Kierkegaard didn't want to see this happen to Regine. The emotional fallout became the backdrop for his writings about philosophy and religion.
- This is a pretty common (and fairly painful) example of Truth in Television. One example which may be more relevant to TV Tropes as a whole is the case of fans following an actor's love life. While the Loony Fan who breaks into a celebrity's house may make the news, many other fans are simultaneously Squeeing over how cute the couple is and sad that it means their favorite crush is now off-limits (not that they were ever a realistic option, but don't crush the poor fan's dreams).
- This type of love for another is referred to as agape by most Christian churches: to love others to such a degree that you place their needs above your own, even if you don't benefit from it or suffer because of it. It is regarded as the highest form of love.
- "If you truly love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it's yours forever; if it doesn't, it never was to begin with." — an old proverb.
- People who are terminally ill or who know they may not return alive may encourage their significant others to start searching (example). Latter scenarios may overlap with If I Do Not Return.