Minor Flaw, Major Breakup
I thought after all these years of searching around
I'd found my soulmate finally.
Then one day I found out she actually owned a copy of Joe Dirt on DVD.
A Guy or Girl of the Week
that is otherwise perfect in every way, but has one glaring flaw that any normal person would probably be able to live with, but the protagonist feels is too much for him or her to handle. The 'glaring' flaw is often something incredibly minor, and may be used to show that the protagonist is a pretty shallow, self-absorbed and petty character. Other times, the writers just wanted to hit the Reset Button
A frequent subversion used is for the character to eventually get over their partner's minor little flaw, or finally decide to dump them — only for their partner to dump them
first over something equally small and petty.
For the sake of comedy, the more that one of these breakups sounds like an example of a tale from Cloud Cuckooland
, the better. Usually.
Compare: Derailing Love Interests
, Girl of the Week
. See also Toilet Seat Divorce
and Second-Act Breakup
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Anime and Manga
- When the pedophile Dr. Shiouji of Excel Saga gets the young girl Cosette in a love hotel, she unwraps her large breasts and declares that she is a fully consenting adult, at which point he loses interest and leaves.
- While not being a romantic situation at all, one Soul Eater episode has Hero, the one student mentally capable to have Excalibur as a partner (because he was the only one that didn't find Excalibur's behavior annoying). While they were perfect Meister and Weapon, the former dumped the latter because he sneezed too much and in a very disgusting manner.
- In Shallow Hal, Hal's friend Mauricio breaks up with a gorgeous woman far out of his league because her second toe is longer than her big toe. At least, he claims that - but later, it's revealed that he avoids closer relationships because he has a vestigial tail that embarrasses him. It's so upsetting that he turns her down when she invites him to a Beatles reunion — an event so exclusive that only 70 people are allowed to attend. (And which included George Harrison less than a year before he died.)
- In So I Married an Axe Murderer, this is something of a recurring gag for the main character, and it even foreshadows things that are to come later in the movie.
- Eddie Murphy's character in Boomerang spends most of his relationships doing this to women due to an unconscious fear of commitment. He waits until after they've had sex, then breaks up with women because they don't have tiny feet and other such jackassery. Then he finally meets a woman he can't find fault in and falls in love. And she leaves him.
- One could argue Rob's character did this — rather abruptly — to one of his teenage girlfriends in High Fidelity, dumping her on her doorstep with the line "What's the point — it never goes anywhere", after being firmly denied any boob action for several weeks.
- Inverted in Love Actually, wherein everyone goes on about how fat the girl who makes the tea for the Prime Minister is (she isn't) and how she has 'huge thighs' — except for the Prime Minister himself, who can't see what they're going on about at all.
- In My Blue Heaven, Barney's wife leaves him for a younger man because Barney eats his pancakes in an unusual way.
- Mentioned briefly in What About Bob?. Bob claims that he left his wife because she liked Neil Diamond; his psychiatrist sees through this and points out that the relationship probably ended for another reason:
Dr. Leo Marvin: Are you married?
Bob Wiley: I'm divorced.
Dr. Leo Marvin: Would you like to talk about that?
Bob Wiley: There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.
Dr. Leo Marvin: I see. So, what you're saying is that even though you are an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic, your wife did not leave you, you left her because she... liked Neil Diamond?
- Reese Witherspoon's character in Sweet Home Alabama leaves Patrick Dempsey's loving and caring character to return to her abusive and downright awful ex-husband...because she didn't like his mother.
- In the Nathaniel Hawthorne short story The Birth-Mark, the Mad Scientist protagonist Aylmer obsesses over a tiny port-wine stain on his wife's cheek and eventually attempts to remove it with science. This is by Hawthorne, so you can probably guess what happens.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ron finds trivial reasons not to ask girls that are suggested to him to the Yule Ball. In this case, it's not to show Ron is shallow, but to subtly hint at his feelings for Hermione and that he wants to go with her but can't pony up the courage to ask.
Ron: I'd rather go alone than with — Eloise Midgen, say.
Hermione: Her acne's loads better lately — and she's really nice!
- In Thud! Nobby Nobbs manages to convince Tawneee, an exotic dancer, to go out with him despite the fact he is required to carry a piece of paper to prove he is human. The girl is described as being so ridiculously beautiful that a bar was destroyed just because she gave one guy a look, but by the end of the book, he considers breaking up with her because she can't cook. However, it turns out she only weznt out with him because he's the only guy who ever asked her, seeing as he has zero chance with other women he might as well, but the fact that she has a body goddesses would kill for means every man she ever met was out of her league. As a result she's terrifyingly sheltered.
- Make what you will of the fact that Nobby was remarkably comfortable with being Disguised in Drag for a considerable portion of Jingo, to the point of coming off as Ambiguously Gay, or at least certain of his gender identity than previously suspected.
- In Woody Allen's humorous short story "The Lunatic's Tale", the narrator breaks up with a woman because she "made the fatal mistake of defending candles shaped like Laurel and Hardy".
- Inverted in the Jeeves and Wooster story "Jeeves Takes Charge". Bertie's engaged to Florence Craye, a girl with a terrifyingly bad temper who bosses him around, treats him like garbage, and forces him to read improving literature. He stays with her because she has such a lovely profile.
- In the fifth Captain Underpants book, Ms. Ribble is briefly engaged to Mr. Krupp, but calls it off. This is not because he's her boss, or the fact that he's a sadistic Child Hater, but because he has a stupid-looking nose.
- Variant: Marry Him: the Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough, discusses women whose standards are set so high that they frequently reject men over trivial reasons (such as not being tall enough) only to look back 10-20 years later, wishing they hadn't. By that time, the men they had rejected are often married or no longer interested and the women are still single. A study in the book added that, when rating potential partners out of 10, the average man would consider dating a woman with a 7 out of 10 rating to be 'a catch', while the average woman would consider dating a man with an 8 out of 10 rating to be 'settling'.
- In The Mortal Instruments, Valentine convinced Stephen to divorce Amatis because of her "undesirable family connections" — her brother was a werewolf — and convinced him to marry Celine instead.
Live Action TV
- Seinfeld had one of these just about every episode.
- This trope used to be known for the episode "The Bizarro Jerry". In it, Jerry eventually parts with a girlfriend with because she has huge, man-like hands ("...like George "The Animal" Steele!") which poorly complement her otherwise modelesque looks.
- Elaine breaks up with a man because of his scarce use of exclamation points. This was somewhat justified, as the specific incident that drove her over the edge was him not using one on a note about her friend giving birth: she thought he dismissed something very major as unimportant.
- In one episode, Jerry resolves to stop ending relationships over minor things. Then he finds out that his Girl of the Week eats her peas one at a time. Then we find out that Jerry's real problem is with her inconsistency. She only does it with peas. With similar foods like corn niblets, she scoops them.
- Jerry dates a girl who is absolutely flawless. The fact that she has no flaws unnerves him enough to want to break up with her.
- Half-mocked in another episode where Jerry is angry with his current girlfriend because she wouldn't eat a piece of pie Jerry offered her.
Jerry: There was no reason for her not to taste that pie.
Elaine: Dump her.
Jerry: Well, I've never broken up with anyone for not tasting pie...
Elaine: I once broke up with a guy for not offering me pie.
- Most of the episodes had an example of "Major Flaw, Major Breakup." A character would seem perfect in every way but then reveal himself to have a flaw that would be taken to cartoonish extremes, and an immediate breakup would ensue.
- Chandler in particular had a habit of breaking up over nothing: he refuses to date one girl because she "has a big head", and talks about breaking up with other women for such reasons as large nostrils and "not hating Yanni". He does end up giving the girl with the "big head" a chance, but finds that he still can't get past it. This was only mentioned once, in the episode "The One Where Heckles Dies", until "The One With Phoebe's Ex-Partner", when Chandler gets freaked out by the fact that his new girlfriend has a prosthetic leg. He gets over it, but then she discovers that he has a third nipple and breaks up with him.
- Discussing this with Chandler, Joey says he once broke up with the perfect girl because of her gigantic Adam's apple. The others explain to him that women don't have Adam's Apples - but at his confused expression quickly backtrack and pretend they were joking.
- Averted early in Monica and Chandler's relationship. The two have a fight over Monica obsessiveness and Chandler watching car chases prompting Chandler to thinks they're this trope. Monica reassures him they're not broken and can work through it. He's delighted.
- In "TOW Ross's Thing" Phoebe dates two guys - a kindergarten teacher and a firefighter. Eventually they find out about each other. The teacher dumps her because she had had sex with the firefighter but not with him, but then the firefighter dumps her because she had made the teacher a candlelight dinner in the park... a severe fire hazard.
- Inverted in Black Books: Fran finds an old boyfriend incredibly annoying but can't resist him because he has a sexy voice.
- Danny Tanner from Full House. Earlobes that were different sizes. Though it turned out this and his other reasons were just excuses; he was reluctant to get close to another woman as he was still in mourning over his deceased wife.
- Scrubs lampshaded this when Turk and Eliot stage an intervention for J.D. because of his tendency to do this (specifically, because of a problem he has with how his current girlfriend reacts to his jokes). He manages to overlook her saying "that's so funny" instead of actually laughing, then realizes that her hopes/plans for the future aren't quite compatible with his, so they split because of that. Curiously, this was a Compressed Vice example, as it had earlier been established that J.D. finds it impossible to break up with girlfriends no matter the reason.
- On Just Shoot Me! Elliot can't handle that his girlfriend is in a hemorrhoid cream commercial. Then she breaks up with him because he wiped his nose with his handkerchief.
- Just about every girlfriend Frasier ever had fell under this trope. He eventually became Genre Savvy about this and began to force himself to ignore flaws in his love interests, leading to him dating horrible women with flaws no sane person would put up with. A good example of the latter is when he wanted to break up with a woman because he knew they were entirely different people and had no mutual interests except having sex, but decided to roll with it and just enjoy the fun of having an active sex life...which lead to him forcing himself to ignore "minor" quirks such as how she howled at the moon, and liked to spontaneously cut her hair, and used the trimming to stuff pillows in her apartment.
- One episode revealed that what Fraiser was doing was a subversion. Subconsciously he actually had a habit of dumping the women who were perfect for him and dating the ones whose flaws would have ruined to relationship eventually because he suffered so much heartbreak that he developed a fear of relationships.
- Parodied in the episode "Out With Dad", when Niles has to dump his father (as he's pretending to be gay).
- Will and Grace has this every so often. One episode has Karen falling for a servant and pretending to be one, worried he'd leave her if he found out she was rich. When he does find out, he accepts her regardless, and she gets excited and calls for champagne.
Servant: I don't drink.
Karen: It can't work. We're from two different worlds.
- The IT Crowd:
- In the third season, Jen finds herself unable to continue dating a man because he "looks like a magician". He tries to rectify this by learning magic ("would it be less weird if I actually was a magician..?"), but he's hopeless at it.
- There was the time she dumped her boyfriend Peter after finding out his last name was File. If you don't get it, say the full name out loud a few times.
- In iCarly, there is a "horrible" fact about the bad boy in "iDate a Bad Boy" that shocks and disgusts Carly about her otherwise perfectly fine boyfriend. The horrific, awful, scream-inspiring fact is that he... collects Beanie Babies. Of course, the main character is not considered at all shallow for dumping him based on a fact that had not come up until she commented on it. And none of the other characters call her on it. Even Freddie thinks it's weird, and he's pretty nerdy/subjected to odd things via his mother. Like tick baths. And anti-bacterial underwear.
- An episode of Still Standing had Bill, Judy, and Linda attend a high school reunion. Linda hits it off with a guy she always liked in school, but then can't get over the fact that he doesn't like The Beatles.
- An episode has Helen deciding to dump her boyfriend because of his Annoying Laugh; however, he ends up dumping her first, because he cannot stand her Southern accent.
- A subversion occurs with Lowell.
Lowell: Sometimes a person has annoying habits that you just can't overlook. Take my wife Bunny, for instance. Every morning as she read the newspaper, she would drum her fingers on the table. That's what broke up our marriage.
Helen: I thought it was because Bunny slept with other men.
Lowell: Okay, make that two annoying habits.
- In Drake & Josh, Drake dumps his girlfriends over an annoying laugh and toughness. The laugh probably wouldn't have been so bad if she didn't laugh at every single little thing, which is closer to Drake's actual grievance.
- On The Suite Life On Deck, Miss Tutweiller refuses to date Mr. Moseby because he likes The Three Stooges. They get back together though. And get engaged in the finale.
- Played with in Castle; Martha offers some of these kinds of reasons for breaking it off with her boyfriend. Castle explicitly notes that these are 'sitcom reasons' for breaking it off with someone, and it's later revealed that this is just Martha's insecurities establishing themselves.
- How I Met Your Mother:
- On Sex and the City, Charlotte breaks up with a seemingly compatible guy when she discovers that he has different preferences for china patterns.
- One episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had a similar scenario to the Full House example above- Will convinces Hillary to date his professor as part of a plan to keep him from flunking the class, but she decides to break up with him due to the size of his Adam's Apple. Will confronted her on this, pointing out that she was still recovering from Trevor's death and just looking for excuses to not date. She got over that, but then started fixating on his mole (or perhaps the mole was first), leading to a great line:
Will: You're making a mountain out of a mole, Hill!
- Joan dates a man who while fairly attractive, has girl hips. Her constant obsessing over this causes them to break up.
- Toni refused to date a guy because he was darker than her. Although this type of behavior is typical due to her being shallow, it's quite hypocritical since she herself is dark-skinned. Eventually it's revealed that when she was young, she was teased for being dark-skinned and doesn't want her children to go through the same thing.
- A two part episode of Good Luck Charlie had a fortune teller tell Teddy that she'd meet the love of her life on a ski trip. She meets two guys, the first is ignored before he even gives his name because he laughs weird. The second guy, who gets to talk long enough to tell them that he's a professional chef and model, is ignored because he tells his mom they aren't prettier than her. Her friend agrees that these boys are not good enough.
- Leslie had a brief relationship with Leonard in The Big Bang Theory, but she broke it off over philosophical differences regarding their preferred model of spacetime (Leslie supports loop quantum, and often clashes over it with Sheldon, who goes in for string theory, but Leonard doesn't actually care, and would have let their hypothetical children decide for themselves).
- In Jonathan Creek, Jonathan decides that a girl he's dating wouldn't work out because of her habit of sticking out her tongue when she eats. Later, he had a much more legitimate excuse not to date her: she turned out to be that week's killer.
- 30 Rock:
- In "St. Valentine's Day", Kenneth meets a stunning—if blind—redhead, and Kenneth is so awestruck that he he literally cannot speak. Tracy helps him out by saying everything Kenneth would. Near the end, Kenneth breaks his silence, and the girl seems not to mind, and all seems wonderful...until she feels his face. Then hers. Then his again. She considers herself out of his league and dumps him.
- In a plot arc in the third and fourth seasons, Liz writes a sketch in which a fictional relationship expert advises women to break up with or reject advances from men based on inane criteria such as wearing an Atlanta Falcons jersey to a wedding with the Catch Phrase, "That's a dealbreaker, ladies!" The sketch is defictionalized in-universe as Liz starts giving out such advice in real life, culminating in a book deal and a short-lived talk show.
- Ally McBeal: Ally would often dump a guy after one awkward date over a minor flaw. One guy could not eat properly and put salad on his face, or once a guy had Annoying Laugh.
- Gilmore Girls usually had fairly realistic relationships for their main characters, but it seems like side characters couldn't catch a break, specifically Rory's closest friends Lane and Paris.
- Henry, Lane's first major romantic interest is, in her own words, perfect for her. The flaw that worries her is that she's falling for a guy that her parents would approve of and she never tells them about Henry until it's too late.
- Jamie, Paris's first boyfriend on the series is likewise seemingly a perfect match for her. He's an attractive Princeton student who accepts Paris's neuroses and can even keep up with her intellectually, but she breaks up with him after having an affair with one of her professors at Yale. Even Rory calls her out for being out of character.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic's 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood features the song "Close, But No Cigar," which is all about a lecherous guy who dumps otherwise perfect girlfriends for idiotic reasons (like owning Joe Dirt on DVD, or having an earlobe that's "just a little tiny bit too big"). In other words, the guy in the song makes Jerry Seinfeld look like James Bond.
- Another Weird Al example: In "Albuquerque" the singer dumps "the girl of [his] dreams" because she asked him if he wanted to "join the Columbia Record Club" and that was too much of a commitment. This was after years of marriage and two kids.
- For those who don't get the joke, the Columbia Record Club was notorious for being impossible to leave. The joke is that it's much easier to walk away from a wife, two kids, and a mortgage then that.
- Paul Simon's "You're Kind" from the album Still Crazy After All These Years (1975):
So goodbye, goodbye
I'm gonna leave you now and here's the reason why:
I like to sleep with the window open, and you keep the window closed
So goodbye, goodbye, goodbye
- The Arrogant Worms song She Talks During Movies is about a case of this, although what attracts the narrator to the girl in the first place is a hilarious varient of Shallow Attraction:
She had beautiful eyes; two of them,
A nose on her face and arms of equal length.
She walked pretty well
And had most of her teeth.
That a girl like her could like me was beyond belief!
So we went on a date and had dinner.
Man, you should've seen the way she ate those chicken fingers.
We went to the theatre; I was feeling loose ...
Then I discovered the terrible truth!
She talks during movies!
- ''Mein Baby war beim Fris÷r'' (My baby's been to the hairdresser's) by German Punk Rock band Die ─rzte. It's exactly what you think it is: A guy breaks up with his girlfriend because he can't stand her new look.
- There was an entire story arc dedicated to somewhat shallow Jeremy from Zits obsessing over a large mole he never noticed on the back of his girlfriend Sara's neck. It gets to him so much he begins to start seeing her as a mole herself. Eventually, he confesses to Sara and "forgives her" for her imperfection.
- Tom Leykis once told the story of a graphic artist he knew whose girlfriend dumped him when she found out that he occasionally used Microsoft Paint in his work.
- Alex, the spineless protagonist of Stephen Bond's Interactive Fiction story Rameses, goes on a double date with a girl named Claire. Toward the end, he meets her by the quay and is about to kiss her but gets distracted by a mole on her face. It's enough for him to ruin the moment until, it's implied, he regrets it for quite a while after.
- In "Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave", the cheese-loving Wallace and a possible love interest realize that it will never work out because she's allergic to cheese. Wallace didn't seem to mind because that means there's more cheese for him.
- In an episode of The Weekenders, Carver's new secret admirer is minor recurring character Nona, who is significantly taller than all her peers. This eats Carver up at first, but he eventually gets over it... only for Nona to suddenly realize that Carver's head looks like a pineapple, get weirded out by it (she had a fear of pineapples), and nervously back away.
- Leela from Futurama has trouble keeping boyfriends because of her single large eye. (She also has large feet, but most people who get past the eye can accept that.) Not that she's any better; in one episode, she dumps a guy because of his long reptilian tongue.
Leela: I could have liked Zapp Brannigan if he wasn't a pompous nitwit who threw me in prison.
Bender: You really are too picky!
- In 6teen, Caitlin often dumps guys over minor flaws. However, she is rather hypocritical about this as she fears that she will be dumped for her own minor flaws.
- A non-romantic example with King of the Hill, when Hank suddenly loses faith in then-presidential-candidate George W. Bush after finding out that he has a weak handshake. Even his friends realize how dumb it is.
Dale: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of nonsense.
- Bill tries to invoke a romantic example the episode he dates Reverend Karen Stroup. After she quits her job and is no longer Forbidden Fruit, he becomes bored of the relationship. Boomhauer suggests he get her to break up with him, resulting in one of the weakest attempts in television history.
Bill: If I want to drink beer with my friends in the alley and talk about—the Devil! Then I will! Now, do you want to break up with me? Please say you want to break up with me!
Stroup: I don't want to break up with you! I love you! *smiles*
Bill: *sighs* Of course you do.
- Real-life example: Glynn Wolfe, who famously remarried and divorced 29 times in his life, once divorced one of his wives because she kept eating sunflower seeds in bed.
- He also divorced a woman after she used his toothbrush.
- The recent discovery that Megan Fox (yes, her!) has "toe thumbs" was apparently enough to disgust many male fans (although it's equally possible that a lot of people are just plain sick of her, and the "toe thumbs" are just an excuse or a joke.)
- Non-dating example - in the 2007 series of Celebrity Big Brother (UK version), when several of the other female housemates were picking on Shilpa Shetty, they resorted to making fun of the fact that her second toes were "almost as long" as her big toes. Yes, something that was actually a joke in a comedy about this very topic was all they could come up with. It should be noted that the ladies in question were not up to Shilpa's level looks-wise, and a close-up showed her feet to be rather yummy (if you're into that) despite this crippling handicap, so they sounded pretty hypocritical from the off. Then the racist remarks started...
- A somewhat popular JPG has a Fark.com post of someone looking at a supermodel and complaining that her knees are too pointy; superimposed over this is a photo of the stereotypical ugly nerd one imagines posted it.
- This has spawned the meme "2/10 would not bang", in which a photo of a supermodel or other attractive person is heavily annotated with complaints about minor or even completely imagined flaws about them or the setting of the photo (and by extension what living there implies about them).
- Some of the entries on the "Dealbreaker" blog, the whole purpose of which is to list those irritating things which can derail a relationship from the start, can come across as this; there's lots of significant reasons why someone might be turned off by someone else, but there's also a few tiny things which suggest that the author in question has standards that are just a little too high (or superficial, or Control Freaky). Such as the person who complains about the type of .mp3 player the other person bought. And the person who breaks up with their partner because the other person doesn't like sushi (and they had this whole thing planned about about sharing sushi on the first date and the other person ruined it...).
- The blog also appears to contain some inversions, where people appear to have put up with a hell of a lot of crap for fairly superficial reasons (i.e. he's gorgeous so I can live with him being a complete sponger) only for their personality faults to eventually grow way out of control.
- Subverted by stand-up comic Adam Ferrara when talking about getting a wedding ring proportional to his girlfriend's hand. He did marry her, but while checking her hands for the ring, he was thinking thusly:
"Oh, my God... I'm marrying Dan Marino... Look at those mitts... Is the left one bigger?... What is she, a fiddler crab?... When I bought the ring I was so mad, I almost proposed by throwing it at her and saying, 'Put this on your flipper, you harbor seal.'"
- This secret◊ from Post Secret confesses to leaving someone because of the way they put forks in a drainer... although the poster seems aware that this is ridiculous.
- One writer has called this the Taquito Moment, after a date who bought and ate some gas-station taquitos at 3 a.m.