Ignored Enamored Underling
aka: Ignored Enamoured 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.
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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.
- Deadman Wonderland: The twins are fiercely loyal to a dispassionate madman because he was the only one who didn't pass over the twins as comatose vegetables. They recognize that their master doesn't love him but have accepted this. Also, his sidekick hates his guts but wants to bring back the kid whose body he possessed.
- In Millennium Actress, Young Genya is this to his beloved film star Chiyoko when he worked in a minor position on her films. She never found out until years later and and the now-elderly Chiyoko was being interviewed by him and his assistant.
- 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 Three Ten 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. The fact that he's gay means that even if he did notice he'd never return her feelings the way she wants, and she's unaware of his orientation.
- 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 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 harassing 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 Homestuck, 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.
- Zhu Li in The Legend of Korra is hinted to have a crush on her overly demanding boss Varrick, who's so self-centered he doesn't notice, and it's his mistreatment of her that eventually leads her to betray him and pledge her loyalty to Kuvira instead in season 4, and Varrick seems genuinely shocked when she lists off all the ways he's mistreated her over the years. In the end this was shown to have been a ruse so she can sabotage Kuvira's plans from within, though it's implied she drew on her real feelings for Varrick to make it more convincing, and they end up getting married after everything's over.