Love Is a Weakness

"Let me tell you one thing, and then let us speak of it no more. Love is a weakness. Love is a cancer that grows inside and makes one do foolish things. Love is death."
Morrigan, Dragon Age: Origins

Love can make you do stupid, irrational things, and if you happen to be a good person, can make you suspectible to the Dark Side. Things you'd never in your sane mind do. Whether hero or villain and whether or not they can actually have the object of their affections, if they can't have them, or if they even try to, love is forsaken because it's an undesirable weakness. These people often try to separate themselves from their loved one, try to remove the feeling, or, in an extreme case, a villain may choose to kill off the one they love. If the object of their affections loves them anyway knowing their turmoil, they become a Love Martyr. Unlike a Celibate Hero, this person can be someone who does fall in love—but doesn't want to.

This trope is invoked to avoid any number of Love Hurts tropes—especially if a villain decides to take advantage of it in the meantime. If a villain decides to finally accept the love and it's not reciprocated, it might be Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny, Stalker with a Crush, or Mad Love. Requited, they may also be redeemed through the Power of Love, or an Unholy Matrimony may be born. If a hero was wrong about love, a Happily Ever After might be in store.

While gender-neutral in terms of occurrence, this trope often has a very different flavor if the subject is male or female: a male character believing this is often a Celibate Hero or an asexual thinking poorly of romance in general and usually has never been in a relationship. By contrast, a female is usually a Broken Bird who was shattered so hard by previous relationships that she doesn't want one anymore. If the character is a villain, gender usually has no impact on their reasoning.

A variation of Allergic to Love. Related to It's Not You, It's My Enemies, where a hero gives up the love of their life so the Big Bad can't strike at them through their Love Interest. Subtrope of Virtue Is Weakness. Contrast to In Love with Love.


Examples:

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    Anime And Manga 
  • Fist of the North Star: Most of the reasonings of Souther's atrocity is that he thinks of this trope. He was overstruck with extreme weakness and guilt due to his love for his beloved master that he accidentally killed, leading him to believe that Love Is a Weakness and one must be devoid of love to be strong and successful in the Crapsack World he's in.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Utilized to great effect by the Big Bad when the heroes get themselves into trouble. Mustang tries and fails to use the trope against Wrath, who turns around and uses it right back on both him and, later, Edward Elric by holding the lives of their Love Interests over their heads. Wrath even invokes the trope almost by name when telling Mustang what he's going to do.
    Wrath: Selim will never work as a point of weakness in my life. But you, on the other hand...I know exactly who to use as your weak point. [later] It's as simple as that. She'll be under my watch from now on.
  • In Death Note Light believes this. In the manga when he meets Misa who is madly infatuated with him he thinks "I can't develop feelings for her. That's how idiots get caught."
  • In A Certain Magical Index:
    • An unnamed assailant attacks Shizuri Mugino, mocking her by saying that she was once one of the most awesome villains, but now that she's fallen in love with Shiage Hamazura and pulled a Heel–Face Turn, she's lost her edge and will be easily crushed. Mugino easily massacres him. The assailant is shocked and doesn't understand what went wrong. Mugino gives a "World of Cardboard" Speech, saying that contrary to what he thought, her love for Shiage has made her stronger than ever.
    • Ollerus declares that Touma Kamijou is Othinus' weakness and vice versa. For this reason, he will not kill either of them, because this will undoubtedly make the other become more powerful and go berserk on everybody.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, a particularly savvy enemy of Kenshin's invoked this. He sent Tomoe to act as a Honey Trap for Kenshin, ostensibly to learn his weaknesses. At the time, Tomoe wanted revenge against Kenshin for killing her fiance, so she agreed. Gradually, she fell in love with Kenshin for real. Then the guy who recruited her kidnapped her to lure Kenshin into an ambush. Tomoe realized at that moment that she hadn't been sent to Kenshin to learn his weakness, she had been sent to Kenshin to become his weakness.
  • In Soul Eater, Asura turned on and killed Arachne when he realized he loved her, saying he had to eliminate his weaknesses (this is anime only; they never meet in the manga).
  • In Shakugan no Shana, Shana's growing feelings for Yuji caused her to become troubled and easily distracted in battle. Alastor and Wilhelmina considered getting rid of Yuji because of this. However, it turns out that The Power of Love helps Shana reach her full potential, and she and Yuji eventually become a powerful Battle Couple.
  • In The Circumstances Leading To Waltraute's Marriage, the Valkyrie Waltraute marries the human Jack Elvan. Odin opposes their union, saying he can't afford to have any of his Valkyries distracted and weakened. It is revealed that when the Valkyrie Brynhildr and the human Seigfried fell in love, Odin mentally manipulated Seigfried into cheating on her, causing her to kill him in a rage and forsake love.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Applies to the Priestesses, at least according to Taiitsukun. The priestess is not only not allowed to have sex with anyone, but also is not supposed to fall in love during her time as Priestess.
  • Dragon Ball Z: During the Buu Saga, Vegeta allowed Babidi to turn him into a Majin in part because of this trope; he believed his love for Bulma and Trunks to be a hindrance to his goal of surpassing Goku.
  • Love Hina: Motoko thinks this way at first; it isn't until the second half of the series that she realizes that love can be a source of strength as well.

    Comic Books 
  • In Judge Dredd, it's Justice Dept.'s view that love corrupts a Judge's better sense of judgment. As such, "extrajudicial liaisons" are illegal and Judges are not allowed to marry or raise a family.
  • In The Brat Pack, Moon Maiden is extremely clear on her view of relationships -a woman warrior doesn't need a man for anything but her own amusement. When her sidekick Lunar Lass turns up pregnant, she flips out and pressures her to give herself an abortion with a wire hanger.
  • In the Batman Beyond comic book the hero, Terry McGinnis, has to fight the whole Justice League Unlimited of his era, one by one (short story: he needs to handle an hostage situation alone, and the League wouldn't simply leave Gotham). While he manages to subdue most of the heavy hitters, he's left to face... Marina, the then current Aquagirl— the cute, meek, adorable Girl Next Door who everyone likes and always eschews unnecessary fighting. Bruce Wayne, on radio contact with Terry, has only a suggestion for him: "Fear the one you love most", suggesting he consider Aquagirl with extreme prejudice because of the crush every male hero, including Terry, usually has on her.

    Fanfiction 
  • In the Hunger Games fanfiction Some Semblance of Meaning, we can gather from Obsidian's point of view that Careers have this drilled into their heads. ("In the arena, your life comes first and foremost. If you have a choice between saving your best friend’s life and your own, leave the poor sucker to get eaten by mutts.") We can also gather that Obsidian wasn't listening.
    • His district partner, Amber, is definitely of this mindset, partially due to the fact that her older sister was killed at the end of the 40th Hunger Games by her district partner, who she had fallen in love with. Amber herself does not believe in love or compassion, and she is thus convinced that this will give her the strength to win.
  • The Facing The Future Series shows this is Walker's opinion on Danny's feelings for Sam, stating she is one of the few weaknesses he really has.
  • In The Bridge, Xenilla acknowledges The Power of Love as a great force, but declares that feeling love for another person will only limit and control you, which is why he loves no one. Deep down inside, he loves his brother Godzilla Junior. When King Sombra forced him to hallucinate Junior dying, he went berserk.

    Film 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Davy Jones is an aversion. He cut out his own heart because Calyspo's rejection hurt him so much but his romantic feeling is not his weakness. The physical, still beating, heart is literally a weakness.
  • Back to the Future Part III: When told he will fall in love, Doc Brown insists that falling in love would be an unacceptable distraction from his scientific labors. His protestations don't last long when he meets her. Ironically, it does prove to be a distraction that nearly gets them all killed... in a fun, romantic way of course.
  • One of the twisted ironies of 'Star Wars'' is that both the Jedi Order and the Sith have similarly negative opinions of love. The Jedi attitude to love sits between this trope and Love Makes You Evil, as they believe it not only leads to attachment, but opens up a potential conduit for the Dark Side. The Sith, meanwhile, hate love because it can douse the negative emotions they are taught to draw upon for strength, inclines them to sympathise with others, and creates a weakness that others can exploit.
    • In the Legends continuity of Expanded Universe, Luke Skywalker's New Jedi Order did not believe this, as Luke had witnessed firsthand that love can damn a person, but also that Love Redeems. The various stories taking place thousands of years prior to the movies also showed that the Jedi Order's position on this trope varied greatly from era to era, and sometimes even just depending on who the current Grand Master was.
  • In Hercules, Megara tells Hades Hercules has no weaknesses, to which Hades replies "I think he does, Meg, I truly think he does" and grins evilly, burning the flower he gave her. Cue I Have Your Wife.
  • In The Avengers (2012), Loki claims this at every possible opportunity. He’s talking from personal experience.
  • Bell, Book and Candle establishes early on that a witch loses her powers if she falls in love. Guess what happens to witch Kim Novak at the end.

    Literature 
  • An old story of Alexander the Great and Aristotle has it he teaches Alexander that love is a weakness: Aristotle advised Alexander the Great not to love Phyllis too much, as too great a passion corrupted the reasoning faculty. Phyllis resolved to make a fool of the philosopher, and so wooed him. She then entreated Alexander to hide himself and watch secretly as she induced the old man to allow her to saddle him and ride him like an ass. Alexander laughed heartily at Aristotle, until the philosopher countered: "You see—if passion can so humiliate an old man and one accounted not the least wise, what could it not do to one younger and less experienced?" And so Alexander honored Aristotle, and held the more by his teachings.
  • A Brother's Price: Trini thinks this is true. She has bad experiences with her sisters being in love, and doesn't trust their judgement on men. She expresses quite clearly that she thinks this is partly because of more ... physical desires.
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard has a story about a wizard who believed this, and therefore removed his own heart.
  • Callahan's Crosstime Saloon: The Cockroaches, the rampaging evil aliens that created the cyborg Mickey Finn in consider love to be a disease deserving of nothing but eradication wherever they find it.
  • Quantum Gravity: Zal considers the possibility of loss inherent in allowing one's self to love to be too great, and so will not build a relationship with anyone but Lila, who is too underconfident to leave and too tough to be taken.
  • In The 39 Clues, Isabel seems to realize this, because she practically forbids her son Ian from "having an inkling of a shadow of a thought..." (or, I think that's how it goes) about Amy.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen has this frame of mind from her childhood. Her parents were Happily Married and her mother crumbled completely when he died - in other words made her weak. In the first book she more or less says outright that she needs to keep emotional distance to Peeta to protect herself from that kind of weakness. Romantic love would also lead to marriage and children and she believes maternal love to be an even greater weakness, desperately wanting to protect herself from being a mother on Reaping Day.
  • Journey to Chaos: Ordercrafters find love to be the most useful of openings for their Mind Control, and Order himself uses to sweeten a Deal with the Devil. For instance, in A Mage's Power, Duke Selen Esrah's loyalty to his country was corrupted into treason and sedition with the idea that his beloved son would be the best prince-consort the country could wish for. Further, in Mana Mutation Menace, Nolien agrees to become Order's mole in the Mana Mutation Summit in return for help in rescuing his Love Interest. Just moments prior, he effortlessly refused a similar deal when it was just his own life on the line.
  • In Warrior Cats Crookedstar is afraid that having a loved one will make him soft. This is further pushed by his spirit mentor Mapleshade, who tries to convince him that his relationship will turn him weak, and push him away from his great destiny, and so this trope becomes one of the central conflicts for Crookedstar.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one Fringe episode, Newton poisons Walter and when cornered by Olivia, looking to bring Newton into custody, he reveals a three-step antidote process to counteract the poison, but he'll only agree to give Olivia the correct order for administering the antidote if she lets him go. Having to choose between arresting her target or saving her colleague and friend, she chooses to save Walter. As promised, Newton upholds his end of the bargain and Walter is saved, but before he makes his break, he tells Olivia, "Now I know how weak you are."
  • Farscape: Aeryn warns John that "personal indulgences can fracture a small crew" and later when they admit that they love each other complete with Big Damn Kiss, she says they can't act on it because emotional attachments distort one's judgment. This also becomes a plot point in season 4 when John and Aeryn have to hide their relationship because Scorpius would eagerly exploit John's weakness: his love for Aeryn and their unborn child. Unfortunately for them, Scorpius isn't fooled...
  • Gossip Girl': The underlying reason why Chuck and Blair broke up in the third season (not to mention one of the main reasons why it took them all of season two to get together) is this trope. In episode "312" Chuck had visions of his dead father telling him he was weak for loving Blair and even mocking his feelings for her. Later that season Evil Uncle Jack showed up and made full use of this trope to manipulate Chuck and destroy their relationship.
  • An episode of Star Trek: Voyager flashed back to Tuvok as a boy, learning to suppress his emotions. His teacher emphasized the suppression of "love", in particular.
  • The second series of Sherlock puts the emphasis on this. Sherlock considers love a "dangerous disadvantage". When he starts to develop affection for his friends and allies, it inevitably gets used against him.
    Sherlock: (As he and Mycroft watch a grieving family from afar) Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there's something wrong with us?
    Mycroft: All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.
  • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue has an inversion. Vypra believes love to be the Blue Ranger's weakness, despite the fact that it motivated him to kick her team's butt (Lokai brings up the contradiction).
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Played straight with the villains; in the second episode, Regina says this to Maleficient. "Love is weakness, Maleficent. I thought you knew that?",
    • Cora, Regina's mother, tells Regina this after she kills Regina's boyfriend, a nice Meaningful Echo to Regina saying it in the earlier episode Cora says it again, this time to Emma, but it doesn't quite go as she expected: Emma does a No Sell to Cora's heart-stealing attack, and is able to repel it by quietly retorting that love is strength, because Emma is basically the embodiment of True Love.
    • Rumplestiltskin rejects Belle's love because it will cost him his power, and rages to Regina through a mirror, saying "You think you could make me weak? YOU THINK YOU COULD DEFEAT ME!?" In his case, love as a weakness is quite literal; true love's kiss would have broken the curse that made him the Dark One, and he would have been an ordinary, mortal man. A crippled one, no less.
      • Later on in season two, Regina points out that Gold has a disadvantage against Cora now because he has Belle and therefore has something to lose.
      • Cora herself was first told this by her father-in-law, King Xavier.
    • The villains regularly claim that love is a weakness, while the heroes insist it is strength. Interestingly, young Regina was the one that first told Snow White (and was possibly the first one to say it) "True love is the most powerful magic of all."
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand - Spartacus Vengeance: Ashur mockingly points out how love has led to ruin for Gannicus, Crixus, and Oenomaus. Gannicus later laments this as well. Ironically Ashur meets his downfall for trying to wed Lucretia.
  • In Supernatural, the love that the Winchesters have for each other is often used to manipulate them.
    • Castiel and Dean, Uriel being the one to point it out: "Castiel? Oh, he, uh… He’s not here. See, he has this weakness. He likes you."
  • The 100:
    • Commander Lexa's life philosophy, as her way of coping after her girlfriend was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by an enemy clan in order to get to her. She now shows little to no emotion in front of her people, and implores Clarke to do the same, which she is all too willing to do after Finn's death.
    • However she is finding it hard to hold true to that philosophy as she is falling in love with Clarke, telling Clarke she didn't let her die with everyone else for this reason.

    Video Games 
  • Knights of The Old Republic 2:
    • Darth Sion declares to a female Exile that he hates her because she's beautiful to him, and for that she must die. In Sion's case, love literally is a weakness because The Power of Hate is what keeps his broken and decaying body from falling apart.
    • Potentially averted in Star Wars: The Old Republic as the light-side Sith Inquisitor points out (particularly to jedi) that the emotion of love has made them stronger rather than weaker. On the other hand side, played straight with jedi characters: initiating romance will give out dark side points.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins,
    • Morrigan grows intensely fearful of her strengthening feelings for the Warden, and repeatedly begs him to end their relationship to stop future suffering. At one point, Leliana expresses certainty that Morrigan must be happy to be in love: her response is the page quote. Only at the very end of the game will she relent and fully accept the Warden's feelings while admitting her own.
    • Inverted in Witch Hunt, where the Warden has traveled across Ferelden in their attempts to find her again, leading Morrigan to note the ironic role-reversal between them.
    Morrigan: And you once argued with me that love is not a weakness...
    • Also, a romanced Zevran will eventually grow uncomfortable with how strongly he feels about the Warden, even refusing to sleep with him/her at one point because he realizes he is in love and everything he's ever been taught tells him this is wrong. In addition, Wynne will warn any warden in any relationship that Love Is A Weakness, asking them what they would do if it came to a choice between saving the world and saving their love. She does, however, eventually change her mind and apologize if the love interest's relationship reaches love, even one with Morrigan of all people.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, Bishop betrays and possibly attacks the Knight Captain because he's afraid of being tied down to her and falling in love.
  • In Mass Effect 2, Samara is a Celibate Hero and regretfully stops her relationship with Shepard—not because the Justicar Order in which she belongs to insists, but because she can't be distracted from her duties as one. Contributing is also the fact that all three of her daughters are Ardat-Yakshi, or space succubi.
  • In The Force Unleashed 2, Darth Vader is absolutely disgusted that his apprentice, Starkiller, is in love with Juno Eclipse. Which is pretty hypocritical of Vader, given his history. The Dark Side Ending reveals that Vader made a "perfect" clone of Starkiller, one that doesn't care about Juno at all.
  • Sengoku Basara: Toyotomi Hideyoshi killed his wife Nene out of belief in this trope, and also to prove to himself that, if he was able to destroy what he loved the most to obtain his ambitions, nothing else would be able to stop him. It's implied Nene went to her death willingly out of love for him. He ends up imparting his ideals upon Katsuie in the fourth game, telling him that he must rid himself of his feelings for Oichi and end her if he ever wishes to become an equal to him and Nobunaga.
  • The Last of Us: Bill was once with a man named Frank until the latter ran off. The experience hardened him even more. However, he's obviously affected when he sees Frank's corpse hanging from a noose and is visibly heartbroken if Joel gives him a letter from Frank saying how much he despised Bill.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Nobilis: Lord Entropy maintains that this is the case, and as a result there's a blanket ban on Nobles openly loving other Nobles, mortals, or anything else. It's unclear whether this is seriously what he believes or if he just hates love for some reason.
  • This can be the case in Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies as "True Love" is recommended as a good Foible for a Player Character to take. Your choice of Foible is a huge waving flag to the Game Master as to what kinds of things you want to trip you up in play. The player who takes this is literally demanding love be their weakness, effectively affirming this trope even if the character doesn't believe it.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Young Protectors, the Annihilator spells it out after springing a Honey Trap on Kyle:
    Annihilator: Sentiment may be pleasurable to indulge in. But despite what Hollywood would have you believe, it is ultimately a weakness, not a strength. And I am nothing if not so very, very strong.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Xanatos loves Fox, and once gave up the Eye of Odin to get her back safely. At one point, he has this exchange with Goliath:
    Xanatos: So now you know my weakness.
    Goliath: Only you would regard love as a weakness.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: The sociopath Azula believes love is for fools and sees it only as a useful tool for manipulating people... only to learn that Machiavelli Was Wrong, courtesy of Mai.
  • In one episode of the late 80s/early 90s cartoon of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shredder capitalizes on the trope when hatching a plot against the turtles, taking advantage of their affection for April - whom he directly notes is "their weakest point." (He took advantage of that "weakest point" several times, but that was the only time he identified her as such.)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Queen Chrysalis views love as a source of food for herself, and worthless for anyone else. When Cadance mentions The Power of Love to her, she dismisses it as a "lovely, but absolutely ridiculous sentiment", this turns out to be a huge mistake.

    Real Life 
  • The reason NASA won't allow couples into space together is that it could compromise judgement.
  • This trope is one historical argument against allowing women in the armed forces into combat, and has been occasionally trotted out against allowing gays in the military as well. The fear is that romantic relationships will develop which will hamper combat effectiveness.
  • On a platonic (probably) level: An American soldier in Vietnam wrote home to tell his family about how awful it was when someone you cared about died. "The biggest mistake," he wrote, "is to get connected to someone personally."

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LoveIsAWeakness