It's time for the Second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest! Details here
Ignored Enamored Underling
Better not to mention this one's BDSM
When the The Hero
or the Big Bad
has an underling, potentially The Dragon
, an adjutant/secretary
or a Paid Harem
, it's often the case that she (though flipped genders aren't unheard of) goes beyond being loyal and both idolizes and
loves him. Her declarations of love will go unrequited
because, when he's not Oblivious to Love
, he will at best feel no (romantic) affection for her. A hero may try to let her down gently, a callous boss will say so outright, and the cruel one will play Master of the Mixed Message
to avoid telling her and string her along. Even if he says he doesn't love her, she'll interpret it as needing to work hard to earn said love.
If her boss is enamored with another woman, she will be positively livid with jealousy and may attempt sabotage or even to murder her rival.
If he finds out he will severely punish or kill her. In fact, as minions go she will frequently be the target of You Have Failed Me
, You Have Outlived Your Usefulness
and general abuse by her boss when he needs to let off steam. This is played as a sort of Kick the Dog
; while she's no dove, the mistreatment's undertones of domestic abuse will make most audiences uncomfortable.
This character can be Played for Laughs
and written as a one note Mad Love
, who will never waver from her devotion
or allow rejection to dampen her Perkiness
. More positively, she can be Played for Drama
as a misguided and intelligent woman who, once she sees how little she's cared for (abuse optional), is quick to reasses her (romantic) loyalties. Of course, she can be played for tragedy by getting betrayed or even killed by the man she loves, without ever getting a chance to learn from her mistakes. Should the hero kill their boss, (or the boss blatantly betray her) expect Woman Scorned
and contrast to Girl Friday
, who is an aide or secretary to the hero (UST
optional). Compare Subordinate Excuse
, when the underling is using the position to be near their object of affection while avoiding rejection.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- The final Big Bad of the original Slayers season, Copy Rezo, has Eris, who loves him enough to find a way to bring him Back from the Dead but is shot In the Back by him the moment when she stops being useful.
- Karin from Naruto, she used to be part of Taka (or Hebi), a group lead by Sasuke merely out of her infatuation for him. Not only couldn't he care any less for her (or his other teammates for that matter), but also he didn't hesitate to sacrifice her for one second in order to get to Danzo.
- Excel from Excel♥Saga is this to her boss. All her attempts to woo him are met with Comedic Sociopathy.
- Misa is one of these to Villain Protagonist Light in Death Note. The only reason he didn't just kill her was that she's useful (and, initially, because Rem would kill him).
- Last Exile has the XO in love with captain Alex Rowe, who is so dead set on revenge he couldn't care less for her one way or the other, and keeps her around only because she's professional enough to not let it get in the way of her work. This gets even weirder when you consider she's the princess of his nation. And it gets even more tragic when the "sonar" operator hears him call out a dead loves name with his last breath, and lies to the XO that he called out her name instead.
- Valkyria Chronicles: Selvaria Bles toward Prince Maximillion. She's feels deeply indebted to him, and eventually fell in love with him, for saving her from the research facility that was turning her and the other Valkyur into living weapons, so she thought. In truth, he uses for the exact same purposes. What makes it even more tragic is that Selvaria is fully aware Maximillion cares nothing for her, and only sees her as a tool. At the same time, it's also implied that Jaeger is in love with her, though she's either unaware of it, or chooses to ignore it. Despite all this, she served Maximillion faithfully..... even when he ordered her to die for failing him.
- Liang Qi of Canaan is quite insanely devoted to her "nee-sama", Alphard Alshaya. Alphard does not return Liang Qi's affection, instead being focused on her enemy, the title character. As you can quite imagine, Liang Qi murderously despises Canaan for this. Near the end of the anime, Liang Qi's mental state takes a turn for the worse when Alphard abandons her, resulting in the most horrific and heartbreaking Villainous Breakdown in the anime.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Both Maya's affection for Ritsuko and Hyuga's for Misato were revealed during Instrumentality.
- Tenchi Muyo War On Geminar: Emera is madly in love with Dagmyer and serves him even after it becomes clear that he doesn't care about her and he's turning into a lunatic.
- Featherstone to Herr Starr in Preacher. However, though she declares her love for him he doesn't care, and says so outright. Only at the very end does she finally realize what a monster he is.
- Depending on the Writer, Harley Quinn is this to The Joker. Usually he uses her as a figurative punching bag, counting on her Perky Female Minion nature to bounce back from the grievous Comedic Sociopathy he sends her way. Others, they're a Bonnie and Clyde style Unholy Matrimony that is nonetheless Happily Married.
- In The Mighty Thor, Amora the Enchantress's Dragon, Skurge the Executioner. He eventually despairs of ever receiving a sign of her respect, let alone love, and volunteers for a Heroic Sacrifice; she's been paying so little attention to him that she doesn't find out he's dead for another four issues. When she did find out, she burst into tears and mourned him, much to everybody's surprise.
- In the fanfic Twilight Sparkle: History's Greatest Monster, Twilight is transported to an Alternate Universe where she apparently rules with an iron hoof as the Lord Librarian, with Trixie as her enamored underling. While trying to keep appearances while avoiding actually doing evil, she pretends to return Trixie's affection and is briefly horrified at what she might have just set in motion.
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- In American Psycho Patrick Bateman has a relationship a bit like this with his secretary. She isn't aware that he's a serial killer but he makes very rude comments to her and she still seems to carry a torch.
- In the 2003 version of 3:10 to Yuma the eyeliner-wearing bandit Charlie Prince is implied to be in love with his boss Ben Wade, who never shows any interest in him.
- 2014's Maleficent has strong implications that Diaval has this in regards to his mistress. It's played even stronger in the film's novelization.
Behind her, Diaval let out a sigh. Once, just once, it would be nice if Maleficent were able to see what was really going on. It would be nice to hear her say, “Please come with me, Diaval. We can do anything as long as we’re together.” But Diaval knew those were words he would never hear.
- Erin in What Women Want is a Plucky Office Girl which is secretly in love with her boss who is oblivious to her affection and ignores her.
- Bellatrix Lestrange from Harry Potter. She definitely fits the requirements about idolization and obsessive loyalty, and, according to Word of God Voldemort "never loved a girl, only valued people he could use to advance his own objectives." (The relevant quote is near the bottom of the linked page.)
- In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, Mazda Lorvale. The man they thought she had murdered had instead exploited her sexually and for his spy work, then murdered two neighbors and vanished himself after giving her his belongings and encouraging her to sign his checks, to frame her for murder.
- Brienne is this to Renly in A Clash Of Kings.
- In Making Money, Chief Cashier Miss Drapes is one to bank manager Mr. Bent, who probably thinks love is silly. They do get together in the end, though.
- Both the Duchess of Abrantès and General Paul Thiébault agree in their respective Mémoires that General Junot (the Duchess's husband and Thiébault's superior in the Peninsular War) was more or less this to Napoleon.
- Pushing Daisies subverts it with Olive and Ned, who as a hero is simply too oblivious, nice and timid (it alternates) to tell Olive he doesn't love her. He later mans up and tells her very explicitly, but she continues to carry a torch for him (despite her own wishes) until she meets a traveling potion salesman (no Love Potion was involved).
- In Sherlock, Molly Hooper is infatuated with Sherlock, but he ignores and often insults her, only being nice to her when he needs a favor from her (e.g. complimenting her hair when he needs to see a body from the morgue where she works). In the second season, Sherlock undergoes a bit of Character Development to show he genuinely cares about her, in his own way. He even apologizes to her when he accidentally made her look like a fool at a gift exchange. In the season's finale, she's one of the very few people who never lose faith in him and is the one he comes to for help with faking his death. During the events of the third season, the relationship between her and Sherlock grows into an awkward (especially when her new BF is revealed to be a Replacement Love Interest) but genuinely trusting friendship. It helps that Molly is a bit of a conscience to Sherlock, and doesn't mind occasionally chewing him out for his insensitive behaviour towards others or even himself.
- Lyta Alexander to both Vorlon ambassadors in Babylon 5. Done both ways, as Kosh apparently treated her well, although we don't see much of them interacting alone, but Ulkesh blatantly physically and emotionally abused her.
- This occurs with Delenn and her ambassadorial aide, Lennier, in a fairly benign example. He became enamored with her but was afraid to say so, especially as he was fully aware that he was a Hopeless Suitor. She seemed aware of this, at least to some extent, and was heartbroken when he chose to separate himself from her after she became married. Though Delenn tried to handle the situation with grace, and Lennier tried to accept it, it didn't end well for him.
- Quite a few Doctor Who companions had this with the Doctor, but it becomes really blatant with Tegan and Martha.
- Once Upon a Time: Sidney Glass (a.k.a. the Magic Mirror) is this to the Evil Queen Regina.
- On Whitechapel, Emerson Kent is (increasingly transparently) in love with his boss, Joseph Chandler. Signs include the subtle but open hostility towards any woman who shows affections towards Chandler, to the point that he accuses Joe's love interest of murder in a fit of jealousy.
- In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's heavily implied that Andrew was this to Warren. It was pretty much made canon with Andrew's Last-Second Word Swap.
- Agravaine to Morgana in Merlin, even though she's never anything but blatantly scornful and dismissive of him.
- Orsino in Twelfth Night is painfully oblivious to "Cesario's" infatuation.
- LaGuardia in Fiorello! was so ignorant of his assistant Marie's attraction to him that when he finally realized at the end that he was attracted to her he started babbling on about how he hoped she could "learn to love" him.
- Aumerle in Richard II is often played this way.
- In Asura's Wrath Olga is fanatically loyal to Deus even when he telekinetically slams her into the ceiling, preferring the traitorous Yasha to her.
- Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles, towards Maximilian. She realized Maximillion wasn't in love with her, but she at least had value as a soldier. But after losing twice to Alicia, Maximillion no longer saw a use for her, especially since he had found a way to artificially harness the Valkyria's power. So he ordered her to use the 'Final Flame', which was ordering her to die, and he knew it. Selvaria went through with it out of loyalty, and because she had lost the will to live, now that Maximilian had turned his back on her.
- Courtney Gears from Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal is a good example, almost perfectly mirroring the usual relationship between Harley Quinn and The Joker.
- Ospina to the Haruspex in Pathologic. Her name in Russian means 'pock' and she's about as romantically appealing. She says that an odong and a woman of the Order are forbidden, so there was never any chance of reciprocation anyway. (What exactly she meant by calling Burakh an odong is not clear - the word is mostly used for the cloth-covered entities (and therefore could be an interesting allusion to the reveal on Day 12), or it could be a general term for twyre-gatherers which aren't part of the Order, which describes Burakh at that point. Even after Burakh returns to the Order as Elder he doesn't seem interested, though.) All the same, she's completely loyal to the Haruspex and lives to serve the Burakh family.
- Apparently, Tali from Mass Effect had a crush on Shepard since the first game, in which she was not a romance option. You learn this if you romance her in the second game, potentially subverting it.
- Liara as well, considering her devotion to you regardless of if you return her affection or not. Shepard can subvert this early on, as she's romanceable in all three games.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, it's hinted through Codec conversations and her own dialog that Mistral is in love with Senator Armstrong, the man who gave her ideals to fight for. However, the game never reveals what exactly Armstrong thinks of her.
- : Izebel in Tears To Tiara 2 was personal secretary to the Governor-General of Hispania Hasdrubal, and also guardian to his son. She was very much in love with him. Hasdrubal actually has feelings for her, but wants to follow his late wife's wishes by raising Hamil first. Unfortunately, The Empire messed everything up while Hamil was still a very young child.
- Belleza in Skies of Arcadia towards Galcian. Downplayed in that she's pretty much aware that he feels nothing for her but can't help loving him, and Galcian treats their relationship as entirely professional with one exception (he uses her crush as motivation to undertake a personal mission for him). When it turns out said personal mission was intended to get her killed, she turns face and kills Galcian in a Taking You with Me Heroic Sacrifice.
- In Cucumber Quest, Lettuce to Tomato. For once, she just wants her beloved to be happy. The problem arises in that she doesn't care that he's harrassing a helpless prisoner who's in love with someone else; she thinks Princess Parfait should be honored by his attentions.
- In Magick Chicks, Sandy is hopelessly in love with Faith, who's known for having slept with much of the student body at Artemis - excluding Sandi, who's been permanently "friend zoned".
- In The Order of the Stick, Tsukiko serves Xykon because she thinks undead are good love interests. He finds it as unsettling as the rest of Team Evil does, since she's lusting over a friggin lich. When Redcloak kills her with her own wights, Xykon's only really annoyed that he lost a useful minion and doesn't even remember her name. Not to mention that Redcloak's killing her was clearly because she found out something about Redcloak's ritual which clearly means Redcloak is untrustworthy.
- In Sandra on the Rocks, Tatiana is a textbook case with the small extra quirk of bondage fantasies.
- In El Goonish Shive, Mr. Verres's assistant Lavender seems to be this. So far he appears oblivious.
- In Home Stuck, Nepeta has been shown several times to have a crush on Karkat, though she's too shy to make the first move. Given Karkat's expertise with relationships and romance, there's pretty much no chance he's unaware of this. He later admits to "tiptoeing around it" due to there just being too much else going on to deal with it, not least his own confused relationship with Terezi.
- Alakshmi in Kaijudo is incredibly devoted to The Choten, even as he becomes increasingly condescending to her due to her failures.
- Paige in TRON: Uprising is non-romantically fanatically devoted to General Tessler, which is understandable since she believes he saved her life from ISO's, when in fact he was responsible for the massacre that killed her friends.
- Waylon Smithers to Mr. Burns in The Simpsons, a trait that has received steady Flanderization as the show has gone by. While Burns is completely oblivious to Smithers being both gay and very in love with him, he's usually light on the abuse, with most of it coming from his wealthy, comically out-of-touch eccentricities.
- Wuya to Chase Young in Xiaolin Showdown, for a while. Then she lost interest in him and betrayed him... rather unsurprisingly.
- Mercy Graves to Lex Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series. He saved her from an existential gutter and got her undying loyalty, which was broken when, during an attack by Brainiac, Luthor chose to run away rather than save her from some fallen debris. Superman saved her, and she chose to rethink her loyalty to Lex, which panned out in Justice League, where she gains control of Lexcorp and later stops helping Lex altogether.