"Hodel, oh Hodel,Out of all Arranged Marriage tropes, this one is particularly striking. It combines the Dirty Old Man trope with the trusting helplessness of a young girl, and is bound to raise all kinds of hackles in the audience. Today, it is generally considered an awful thing. However, there are cultures who consider a daughter to be the property of her parents, and believe that they have the right to give her away in marriage to whoever they choose. Sadly, this often goes hand in hand with the idea that a husband has the right to have sex with his wife, regardless of how she feels about it and regardless of how young she is. A Sub-Trope of Arranged Marriage. Note that this trope only covers the marriage itself; Marital Rape License applies only to the same situations it would under normal circumstances (a simple lack of a Jail Bait Wait doesn't cut it). Contrast Wife Husbandry and Jail Bait Wait, where the much older guy wants the child but waits until she's old enough. Compare May–December Romance, the less extreme (and more consensual) version of this trope. More information on The Other Wiki available here.
Have I made a match for you!
He's handsome, he's young!
...alright, he's 62."
Have I made a match for you!
He's handsome, he's young!
...alright, he's 62."
— Tzeitel mocking Yente, "Matchmaker, Matchmaker", Fiddler on the Roof
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Anime & Manga
- Code Geass:
- Schneizel and the Chinese eunuchs set up an Arranged Marriage between Crown Prince Odysseus (around 30), and Empress Tianzi (13).
- Supplementary materials indicate that, prior to Britannia curbstomping Japan, Genbu Kururugi was considering marrying Nunally (she was 8 at the time), thinking this would deter Britannia from invading. Neither Lelouch nor Suzaku were particularly happy with that idea (Suzaku proposed marrying her instead of his father, but since he was already engaged to his cousin Kaguya, that didn't work out). Lelouch talks Genbu out of it offscreen, apparently offering him top secret information about the Brittanian military in exchange for calling the marriage off.
- In The Bride of Adarshan, Prince Alexid, in his 20s, weds Princess Justinia, age 10, in a political marriage. It's less squicky than it sounds, because he's self-imposing a Jail Bait Wait and it is implied that as she grows up he will genuinely fall in love with her. For the most part, their relationship is platonic in nature.
- In Rose of Versailles, the duke of Guiche (mid 30's at least)'s Arranged Marriage to Charlotte de Polignac (as much, 13) gives off these vibes. It's no wonder that the girl goes completely bonkers and commits suicide.
- Seems to be what went on in regards to Ay and Princess Ankhesenamen in Anatolia Story.
- While it doesn't appear on-screen, the Pokémon novelization Pocket Monsters: The Animation mentions that ten-year-olds are legally adults who must pay taxes and can get married. While this does explain early episodes where the cast gets arrested, the anime itself ignores the idea and presents them as children.
- Gender-inverted and portrayed positively in A Bride's Story. In the late 19th century, a woman named Amir is married to a boy eight years her junior. Amir herself is only twenty, but in the setting is considered a Christmas Cake already.
- McGillis Fareed from Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans is engaged to the 9-year old Almiria Bauduin. To be fair, the marriage itself is not supposed to take place until she's of age, and there's a lot of political baggage on the situation.note
- Lucy Steel ne Pendleton (aged 14) and Stephen Steel (age 51) are married in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run, but it turns out that it's really an Intergenerational Friendship. Stephen promised that he would never lay a hand on her, and he always intended for her to marry a nice young man her own age.
- The movie Osama ends with the main character, a female child, getting married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather or even her great-grandfather. The scene right before the last scene is on the wedding day, focusing on how terrified the girl is and how much the other wives hate their husband. The very last scene is at night, showing the old man happy and content, performing the holy cleansing ritual that he had earlier in the movie taught a class of young boys that every good man is supposed to do after he has screwed his wife.
- You can also see this in the film version of Wisconsin Death Trip.
- The film Child Bride is about an idealistic teacher campaigning to stop child marriage in her home in the Ozarks. The film is more widely remembered for its infamous skinny-dipping scene involving then 12-year-old Shirley Mills, who played an 11-year-old girl who is targeted for this trope by one of the locals.
- Deepa Mehta's Water features an 8-year-old girl who was married so young she barely remembers it, has not seen her husband in years, and is now a widow sent to live in an ashram for the rest of her life. Some of the other characters are implied to have been married at least as young, if not widowed quite so early.
- The Parent Trap uses this trope as an indirect accusation, delivered with Sugary Malice. When the father tells his daughter that Meredith is about to become part of the family, she surely understands right away that he's talking about marriage. However, she pretends to innocently misunderstand him and gets all ecstatic about how he's finally getting one more daughter by adopting her.
- Marianna Ucría is forced to marry her uncle when she is 13.
- Referenced in Ella Enchanted, wherein 15-year-old Ella’s father wishes to marry her off to a rich man to regain his former wealth. Ella’s suitor turns out to be considerably older than her father is. The marriage doesn’t go through, however, and to the suitor’s credit, he didn’t actually know how old Ella was and is rather turned off at first when he realises she's that young.
- Nearly happens to poor Violet as part of Count Olaf's first plot to steal her fortune in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
- In The Jewel Of Medina, the Arranged Marriage between the prophet Muhammed (who was in his 50s) and the 9-year-old girl Aisha is portrayed as the coolest thing ever. The story practically casts her as a young superheroine on team righteous, under the benevolent leadership of her husband. The book subscribes to the theory that they waited a few more years before starting having sex, reducing the squick although not removing it completely.
- But in 7th century Arabia, such marriages obviously weren't unheard of. Sunni Muslims also still say that Aisha, despite the age difference, really was Muhammed's favorite wife. (Shia Muslims tend to look at her in a less positive light though.)
- A Song of Ice and Fire, which is happy to portray just how weird medieval times were, does a bit of this.
- When Catelyn finds out that her sister Lysa (teens at the time) was promised to Jon Arryn (early sixties at the time) in a political marriage, she realizes that may be one of the reasons why Lysa's so fucked up.
- At the start of the series Lord Walder Frey recently married his eighth wife, on his 90th birthday. For the record, she's younger than some of his great grandchildren, and pregnant.
- Played with in the case of Arianne Martell, who while still unmarried at the time we meet her, has been proposed as a potential bride for a number of men, all of whom are old enough to be her grandfather. She's informed her father that if he wants her to actually marry, he's going to have to find her a husband young enough to still have his own teeth. As it happens, he doesn't want her to marry just yet—but can't tell her why—and is suggesting old men precisely because he knows she'll refuse them.
- Sansa meets a girl not much older than her who is the widow of a man so old he had a fatal heart attack on their wedding night.
- Gender-flipped in Daughter of the Lioness, where regents attempt a political match between the 6-year-old king and a 15-year-old girl, and later her 12-year-old sister when the elder elopes with a noble from a neighboring country. The marriage never happens, though.
- The Last Days of the Jannissaries, Villain Protagonist Pasha Ali Tepelini is married to a young girl, whom he loves very much. Incidentally, she loves him too, until she discovers that he's being a complete jerkass, and betrays him. She's willing to forgive her husband towards the end, though, and is genuinely worried for his safety when the sultan's assassin shows up to take his head.
- In the Honor Harrington novella "Promised Land" (in The Service of the Sword), Ephraim Templeton (55) adds kidnap victim Judith (12) to his collection of wives. That's the least vile thing he does. It comes back to bite him hard by the end.
- Subverted in The Chronicles of Narnia, where Tomboy Princess Aravis Tarkheena is betrothed to an older man...but she escapes in time, and eventually marries someone her age whom she comes to truly love. Aravis's case wasn't helped by the facts that a) her prospective older husband Ahoshta is absolutely repulsive both inside and out; and b) the marriage was arranged upon the suggestion of Aravis's much hated Wicked Stepmother.
- Aravis's best friend Lasaraleen, on the other hand, goes through with her Arranged Marriage and doesn't seem to understand why Aravis wouldn't want to. However, she's sort of a Lovable Alpha Bitch more concerned with her husband's money and position. And we actually don't know how old her husband is; he could be either a super old dude or a man in his twenties. We do know he talks to her—she's always quoting him—and by all indications they are both happy with their match.
- In Crime and Punishment, Svidrigrailov, a man in his 60s, gets engaged to a 14-year-old girl. Although it wasn't too unusual for people to get married that young back then, such a huge age difference definitely was, and the whole thing is very much played as Squicky. Even Svidrigrailov himself seems to realise it, as afterwards he has a dream in which a 5-year-old girl attempts to seduce him, which thoroughly creeps him out, and soon after he commits suicide.
- The Wife of Bath from The Canterbury Tales was first married to an old man when she was 12 years old. Notably she is so pleased with the arrangement—indulgent, manipulable old man, short marriage, and wealthy widowhood—that she goes on to willingly marry three other "good old men."
- 15-year-old Kaede from Tales of the Otori is first engaged to a man who dies of old age before they are even officially married.
- The Eyes of the Dragon has a rare positive example: the old and somewhat sex-phobic King Roland has a Perfectly Arranged Marriage with 17-year-old Sasha, and the two seem quite happy before her Death by Childbirth. (The fact that she knew nothing about sex before their wedding night actually helped matters.)
- In Warbreaker, teenage Siri is sent off to marry the God King Susebron, who is over half a century older, even though his godhood makes him look like a young man in his twenties. Fortunately for her, he turns out to have no idea how sex works, so they don't end up consummating the marriage until after she's grown to love him.
- the author himself indicates that he actually had to pay more attention to making sure the relationship didn't come off as squicky because of Siri being uncomfortably more mature than Susebron, in an interesting reversal.
- Gender-flipped and downplayed in A Brother's Price, where the boys are married at 16 to whole families of sisters, the oldest of them tend to be his senior. Of course, the brides aren't really old (the have to get married before they hit menopause, after all); they tend to be in their twenties and the boy is a teen. It's an age difference, with the genders swapped, at which no one reading, say, Jane Austen's novels would bat an eye. But all of the implications of this trope still follow: a young groom is put at mercy of his adult spouses, he's considered their property and there's a need for offspring, so Marital Rape License is at play. Or even Marital Gang Rape License, if you will. The trope is played straight (age-wise) when Kij Porter—presumably in her late thirties, old enough to be his mother—takes an interest in the not-quite sixteen years old Jerin and wants to "sample" her potential husband. Jerin is understandably horrified.
- Also in this world, when a man marries, he marries all the sisters in the family, even the ones who aren't yet conceived when their husband marries into the family. It's quite possible for a husband to be old enough to be his wife's father in this setting, as well as the inverse.
- In The Last Wish, Princess Pavetta has to choose her husband on her 16th birthday and ends up picking a man who is at least twice her age and cursed to turn into a monster at night. She already had a secret relationship with him and and was already pregnant. And sixteen years later the same man (under a different identity) tries to arrange a marriage between himself and their daughter.
- This is standard in The Chemical Garden Trilogy—all the Arranged Marriages are to older, rich men. In particular, one of Linden's wives is 13.
- Holes: Myra Menke is 14, almost 15, and her father decides she should get married when she turns 15. Elya Yelnats (15) and Igor Barkov (57) both want to marry her. Thanks to Madame Zeroni, Elya is able to bring a bride-price just as valuable as Igor's, and Myra's father lets her pick which man she wants. Myra is a Brainless Beauty and doesn't immediately pick Elya, but kept going back and forth between them. Elya realizes she's a fool, and he decides he doesn't want to marry her and leaves. Myra marries Igor.
- A common thing in The Mists of Avalon. One example is Igraine's marriage to Gorlois; he is in his late forties and she isn't even twenty. They married several years ago and Igraine reminisces how scared she was as a 15-year-old girl when he ignored her by day but visited her at night to do his husbandly deeds to her.
- Ouida had these in several books, most notoriously Moths, where a woman arranges her daughter's marriage to a rich old coot so she can live well and pay off her own debts. There's another one in Signa, where a young musician finds the girl of his childhood dreams living as a courtesan with his own father.
- Chronicles of the Kencyrath takes this to the Logical Extreme with Gerridon (who's immortal and 3,000 years old, but doesn't look it) and Tieri, who's only one year old. (Although to be fair, no one is raping babies. The whole point of their union was to have a child. He waits to consummate it, and if you do the math, their son was conceived when she was about 22.)
- This is a Discussed Trope in Lolita, in which Humbert Humbert tries to justify his attraction and sexual relationship with his step-daughter Dolores (also known as Lolita) claiming that in the past it was normal seeing old men marrying young girls (without realizing this is an Appeal to Tradition fallacy).
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had a case along these lines in the episode "Charisma", with a cult leader in his fifties or so being married to a girl who's maybe twelve. The marriage was not legally binding, but it was treated as a real marriage by the cultists. It also produced a pregnancy, which is what kickstarted the whole episode, when the child was checked into a hospital. Even more disturbing, having been raised in the cult and basically "programmed" to trust the leader at all times, the girl thinks this is entirely normal and is worryingly blase about the whole matter. Which is part of what makes it so satisfying when, at the episode's climax, she finally gets sick of his delusions of godhood and manipulations, and shoots the bastard in the skull.
- Not "old" per se, but in season one of Blackadder, Prince Edmund marries the 8-year-old Princess Leia of Hungary, much to his own dismay. Subverted somewhat as the marriage is purely political and completely platonic, with Leia even serving as something of a Morality Pet for Edmund. They spend their wedding night with Edmund reading her a bedtime story.
- In the Police Squad! episode "Testimony of Evil" (a.k.a. "Dead Men Don't Laugh"), Ed Hocken describes a man as "Married, one child. That didn't work out so he married a grown woman."
- Series 1 of Big Love introduces us to Rhonda, the 16-year-old girl promised to fundamentalist Mormon prophet Roman Grant; the marriage doesn't go ahead, but such marriages are presented as common on the Juniper Creek compound. Later in series 3, Nicki manages to prevent her 14-year-old daughter Cara Lynn from being married off to a much older man.
- In Resurrection, Margaret mentions that she married her husband when she was 17 and he was in his thirties; it was largely an Arranged Marriage, since he was the heir to the town's major factory. She admits that she never really loved him, but that he was a nice man in general (despite being an alcoholic who needed her to run the business for him).
- In I, Claudius, the empress is appalled that young men are not bothering to get married and orders that there better be some marriages soon. She then warns them that there better not be any engagements to children just so they can put off marrying them for a decade.
- In the Criminal Minds episode "Minimal Loss", cult leader Benjamin Cyrus (played by Luke Perry) marries a 15-year-old girl, and has his way with whatever woman he wants in the cult, as per his own decree.
- In Doctor Who, teenager Ping-Cho was set to marry an old man she'd never met. Although she's resigned herself to it, she's quite relieved when he dies.
- Game of Thrones: While in the book series Tyrion was in his early twenties, here he is a good twenty years older than the fourteen year old Sansa. Unusually for this trope, he is as much forced into this marriage as she is, and is moral enough not to exercise his Marital Rape License (especially after learning Sansa's age).
- In Fiddler on the Roof, Tzeitel is placed in an arranged marriage to Lazar Wolf, who's actually older than her own father. She mocks this in the song "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," which implies this arrangement is common from the matchmaker of the village.
- Little Apple Dolls: Animula was betrothed to a warlord prior to her birth, who pillaged her parents village and threatened to take her mother. He came back for her when she turned seven.
- Mitsuru Kirijou's Social Link in Persona 3 involves the board of directors arranging for her to marry a much older man (she's about to graduate from high school, he's at least in his thirties) to stabilize the Kirijo Group after her father's death.
- In Suikoden the vampire Neclord makes a habit of abducting young women to make them his bride. After building his castle near the Warriors Village, he visits said location and demands a new bride every year.
- The backstory of Captain Lorimette, in Queen at Arms, is only learned if Marcus really befriends her. She eventually reveals that when she was 14, she was married off to a lord who was old enough to be her grandfather—and widowed two years later. She does note that he said he married her for more than just her considerable beauty, but he never elaborated on what he meant.
- In Tsukihime Akiha Tohno was engaged to one of her cousins, a perverted older man named Tonami Kugamine, but once her father died and Akiha took over she immediately evicted him from the mansion.
- Subverted by Doctor Irie (late twenties/early thirties) from Higurashi: When They Cry; he expresses his wish to marry Satoko (between nine and thirteen years old), but quickly follows up by saying he'd wait until she's of age. It's also heavily implied that his wish to marry her is a joke.
- In one Chick Tract called "The Little Bride", the marriage between Aisha and Muhammed is used to condemn Islam, highlighting that she was only 6 when they got engaged and only 9 when they got married. The tract draws the conclusion that Muhammed was a pedophile rapist.
- Weg from Fairy Dust has no taste for children, but bought two eight- and six-year-old wives for political gain.