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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. A Genre Savvy person—hero or villain—knows this. 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 (they are not Genre Savvy enough to know about the Power of Love, however). 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.

Love Is a Weakness 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 occurence, this trope often has a very different flavour if the subject is male or female: a male character believing this is often a regular 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 just 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:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • 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.
  • Utilized to great effect by the Big Bad in Fullmetal Alchemist, 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.
    • This of course backfires however, yeah they have feelings for each other. But also know how the other thinks and able to coordinate without arousing suspicion. If anything putting said love interest under his watch only wound up benefiting Mustang as she's able to pass along information to him to plan a better counterattack.
  • 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 Dangerously Genre 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 though, 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 Medaka Box, Zenkichi freaks out when he finally figures out he is in love with Medaka and wants to date her, because he thinks the fact he has these feelings makes him a despicable and horrible person who barely deserves to live, as they mean he has only been supporting Medaka the majority of both of their lives for a selfish reason.
  • 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.

    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 need 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 almost every male hero, including Terry, usually has on her.
  • Dr. Doom holds this belief.

    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 friendís 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.

    Film 
  • Davy Jones of Pirates of the Caribbean cuts out his own heart when it caused him too much pain, after Calypso stood him up.
  • When told he will fall in love in Back To The Future III, 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.
  • In Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, the Red Queen loathes her little sister the White Queen because of the latter's ability to make everyone love her. The Dragon, the Knave of Hearts, inquires whether it's not better to be feared than loved. Later, when the Red Queen discovers that nearly every member of her court has been deceiving her as to their regard for her, she coldly declares that he's right - it is better to be feared than loved.
  • Both the Jedi and the Sith from Star Wars consider love a weakness to be avoided, but for two very different reasons. The Jedi discouraged love because it led to attachment, and Jedi are supposed to be free from all emotions and materialism. The Sith however hate love because it leads to mercy, which was anathema to them.
  • 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.
  • In The Avengers, Loki claims this at every possible opportunity. Heís talking from personal experience.

    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.
  • The Cockroaches, the rampaging evil aliens that created the cyborg Mickey Finn in Spider Robinson's Callahans Crosstime Saloon 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.
  • Cersei Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire tells Sansa Stark something along the lines of this.
  • This is Torison's attitude towards love in Chronicles of the Kencyrath, largely do to his indoctrination at the hands of his insane father.
  • Katniss Everdeen appears to have this frame of mind. 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.

    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."
  • On The X-Files, Scully is Mulder's weakness. Without fail. And everyone knows it.
  • Crops up often in 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...
  • The underlying reason why Chuck and Blair broke up in Gossip Girl's third season (not to mention one of the main reasons why it took them all of season two to get together). 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 the Chair 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.
  • Inverted in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue 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).
  • Played straight with the villains of Once Upon a Time. 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 Call Back 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!?"
      • 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 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.

    Video Games 
  • Darth Sion declares to a female Exile in Knights of The Old Republic 2 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.
  • 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.
  • Viconia from Baldur's Gate 2 is pretty much identical to Morrigan in this aspect.
  • 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. The Dark Side Ending reveals that Vader made a "perfect" clone of Starkiller, one that doesn't care about Juno at all.
  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi from the Sengoku Basara series 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.
  • Bill of The Last of Us was once with a man named Frank until the latter ran off. The experience seems to have only 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 
  • Lord Entropy in Nobilis maintains that this is the case, and as a result there's pretty much 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles: Xanatos loves Fox, even if he doesn't want to admit it. 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.
  • Megara from Hercules even sings a song about it (and it's awesome).
  • The sociopath Azula of Avatar: The Last Airbender 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.
  • Derek Powers of Batman Beyond told one villain, "It's better to be feared than loved."
  • 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 
  • That's the reason NASA won't allow couples into space together.
  • Likewise, it's 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."

Like Brother and SisterThe Singles IndexOblivious to Love
Love Imbues LifeLove TropesLove Is in the Air
Love HurtsCynicism TropesLove Makes You Crazy

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