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Love Will Lead You Back
Something happened between Alice and Bob and they broke up, and Bob is long gone. Even though Alice still loves Bob more than anything in the world, she isn't torn up about the break-up, because she is committed to the belief that sooner or later he's going to return. If there are other characters around, they are likely to perceive this as denial and encourage her to start seeing other people, but she won't hear of it, because she has to be available when he returns.

A popular topic for songs but can be found in other media as well. This is Truth in Television, and can be particularly tragic when Bob is not merely gone, but actually dead. Done well, this can evoke a sense of sadness and an admiration of the character's dedication. Done poorly, the pining character may leave the audience saying "get over it!" Done really poorly, the pining character comes off as a Stalker with a Crush.

Compare Love Nostalgia Song, where the narrator reminisces fondly on a past love but has since moved on. See also The Mourning After.


Examples:

Anime And Manga
  • Inverted in The Secret Agreement, where Iori isn't worried about Yuuichi running away from him because his own love will always lead him towards Yuuichi.

Film
  • This is basis of a good bit of the plot of The Princess Bride. Westley is rather miffed to find that Buttercup fell into despair upon hearing that he'd been murdered by pirates, and asks why she didn't wait for him instead of agreeing to marry Prince Humperdink. When Buttercup protests that as far as she knew he was dead, Westley gently reproaches: "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while." Buttercup takes this to heart, and through the rest of the film remains calm and secure in her conviction that, no matter the situation, Westley will always come for her.
  • Gone with the Wind.

Literature
  • Subverted in Washington Square: Catherine starts off feeling this way about Morris, but soon comes to terms with the fact that she had been exploited, and when he does return twenty years later, she has no longer has any interest in him.
  • Subverted in William Faulkner's A Rose for Emily, where it is strongly implied that Emily murdered her lover and spent her time in "mourning" sleeping next to his corpse.
  • This is basis of a good bit of the plot of The Princess Bride. Westley is rather miffed to find that Buttercup fell into despair upon hearing that he'd been murdered by pirates, and asks why she didn't wait for him instead of agreeing to marry Prince Humperdink. When Buttercup protests that as far as she knew he was dead, Westley gently reproaches: "Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while." Buttercup takes this to heart, and through the rest of the film remains calm and secure in her conviction that, no matter the situation, Westley will always come for her.
  • Subverted in Twilight, where in the second book Bella is convinced Edward will never love her, never did love her and will never come back... after he said he was leaving for her safety only.
    • In fairness, he did say she would never see him again and would be better off forgetting about his existence entirely. (Though Bella did do a pretty lamentable job of listening to anything beyond the "I'm leaving you forever" part.)
  • Ginny Weasley, for Harry Potter, when he goes on his quest during Book 7. Although she was "pretty cut up" about their breakup, as any sixteen-year-old girl would be, she knew perfectly well that Harry only broke up with her because he wanted to keep her safe, and never gave up on him.
  • There's a Cornish myth in which a princess falls in love with a nobleman from another country; he has to return home to protect his lands, and they cannot be together because she's already engaged. The princess inherits her father's throne and starts a war with her betrothed so she will be free to marry her lover when he returns for herů even though he promptly got married to someone else after returning home.

Live-Action TV
  • Rachel, Friends, on Ross marrying Emily: "You know how Ross and I were on again, off again, on again, off again? I guess I just figured that somewhere down the road, we would be on again."
  • Rose on Two and a Half Men.

Music
  • The Trope Namer is Taylor Dayne's "Love Will Lead You Back".
  • Tim McGraw's "Can't Be Really Gone"
  • Jewel's "You Were Meant for Me":
    Dreams last for so long
    Even after you're gone
    I know you love me, and soon you will see
    You were meant for me
    And I was meant for you
  • Music/Jennifer Lopez. "He'll Be Back"
  • Lee Ann Womack. "He'll Be Back" (Same title, different song.)
  • Marianne Faithfull. "He'll Come Back To Me"
  • Vaya Con Dios. "I Don't Want To Know"
    He'll come back to me in the end
    Isn't that so?
    I don't want to know
  • A.C.T.'s "The Money Tree" is a cynical take on this trope:
    The day will come
    He'll come running to me
    The day the sun turns black
    And there's a money tree
  • Matchbox 20's "Bright Lights" is made of this Trope.
  • The Script's "The Man Who Can't Be Moved" is a strange take on this trope. The man literally won't move until she comes back.
    'Cause if one day you wake up and find that you're missing me
    And your heart starts to wonder where on this earth I could be.
    Thinking maybe you'll come back into the place that we meet.
    And you'll see me waiting for you on corner of the street.
    • "If You Ever Come Back" by The Script is a more straightforward version of this trope.
  • Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby", if you don't think too much about the stalkery undertones.
  • "Every Light in the House is On" by Trace Adkins is about a man whose wife has gone off 'to find herself.' He promised to leave a light on in case she ever decided to come home. When she finally does, she discovers that he's turned on every light in the house (and then some; the front yard is described as lit up like a runway) so she'd know he still wanted her back. A happier ending than this trope frequently gets.
  • The Dixie Chicks' "Travelin' Soldier":
    Our love will never end
    Waiting for the soldier to come back again.
  • Widow in the Window by Great Big Sea is from the perspective of a guy who'd like to be the 'someone new' the woman goes out with:
    And he won't be back,
    Can't you realize that?
    And he's laughing at your sorrow
    How can I explain,
    Your love is all in vain.
    While he wastes your precious hours,
    I could fill your days with flowers.
  • Delta Goodrem - "I Can't Break It to My Heart" (If I still believe you love me / Maybe I'll survive / So I tell myself you're coming home...) also Lost Without You.
  • Blake Shelton's Austin
  • David Cook - "Come Back to Me"
  • Adele - "I'll Be Waiting"
  • "Little Bird Lost" by Get Set Go
  • Marillion - Out of this World, referring to the real life tragedy of Donald Campbell's death during a water speed record attempt. The Tear Jerker is knowing that love didn't turn him round.
    What did she say?
    I know the pain of too much tenderness
    Wondering when or if you'll come back again
    Wanting to live for you
    And being banned from giving
    But only love will turn you around
    Only love will turn you around
    Only love
    Only love will turn you around

Theatre
  • Miss Saigon has the duet ''I Still Believe'' about this trope where both Kim and Ellen sing about their love for Christopher and the hopes he'll return (in Kim's case that he'll literally come back for her, and Ellen wants him to trust and tell her what's upsetting him).

Video Games


Love TriangleUnrequited Love TropesMad Love
The Love Slap of EpiphanyExample as a ThesisThe Main Characters Do Everything
Serial RomeoThe Ex IndexMinor Flaw, Major Breakup
Two-Person Love TriangleLove TropesLove You and Everybody

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