Parental Marriage Veto
Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life?
Say yes, say yes, 'cause I need to know.
You say I'll never get your blessing till the day I die.
"Tough luck my friend, but the answer is no!"You are a grown adult. You've found your true love, and he or she loves you back. You want to get married. Everything's great, right? Wrong! Your parents are convinced that you've picked the wrong person, and will do almost anything to prevent the marriage. This is different from an Arranged Marriage. Your parents don't want the right to pick your spouse. They just want to veto your choice. In some societies, your parents may have a legal right to such a veto. Maybe your true love is penniless (or Unable to Support a Wife), or is in a lower social class. Maybe your true love is of the "wrong" race, religion, ethnicity, or gender. Or maybe his or her family is somehow disreputable. Or maybe your parents just don't like your true love. (Especially if they have a Betty they prefer to your chosen Veronica.) But all is not lost. If you and your true love can stay true to each other, and be persistent, your parents will eventually notice your true love's good qualities, and will change their minds. Alternatively, you may hear the words "I Have No Son" (or daughter, depending) addressed to you in no uncertain terms. Sometimes, it will turn out that your parents are attempting to see whether or not your feelings are genuine. If you cannot overcome the obstacles put up by your parents, then they were wise to delay things. If you and your true love find a way around the obstacles, then that's becomes proof that it really is true love. In rare cases, your parents are right. You really have picked the wrong person to marry. If you are in a Fairy Tale or a fantasy story, your parents may give your true love an Engagement Challenge. In extreme cases, your parents will be not be above Offing the Offspring. In appropriate settings, they may instead take the slightly less drastic step of packing you off for Taking the Veil. You may have to fight in order to be together. Even though most people in the western world choose their own spouses, this isn't a Dead Horse Trope. It can still appear in historical fiction, fantasy, in stories not set in the western world, or in any story where parents believe that they have a right to meddle in their grown children's lives. Contrast Child Marriage Veto.
— "Rude", MAGIC!
open/close all folders
- An episode of Planetes inverted this when it turned out that Edel had to stay away from her husband for five years to prevent her parents from vetoing their divorce.
- Happens more than once on Maison Ikkoku. One is in the backstory, where Kyoko's parents objected to her marriage to her former teacher Soichiro, another is at the end, where Kyoko's father again objects to Godai's impending proposal. He gets over it in the end. A minor one is Godai's cousin, who ends up deciding to elope. Her father catches on and decides that if she and her boyfriend are willing to elope, then he'll give his blessing.
- In the original Gundam series, Garma Zabi believes that his father will try and pull this trope on him and becomes desperate to find a way to force him to accept. Possibly subverted, as Garma was Degwin's favored son and it's doubtful the old man could have refused him anything.
- It's then played straight in the case of Iserina Eschenbach, Garma's sweetheart. Her father was a rabid Zeon hater, after all.
- Ai Yori Aoshi has Aoi and Kaoru's childhood Arranged Marriage being canceled, due to him leaving the abusive Hanabishi clan. As a young adult, Aoi sets off to find him, leading to their reacquaintance and later decision to override the veto. They get their happy ending and ultimately marry.
- In Cardcaptor Sakura, Nadeshiko falls in love with her teacher, and her parents and specially her grandfather disown her when she marries him after graduation. They disapproved of him partly because of their age difference and mostly because he wasn't rich like them, thus either feared he was a Gold Digger or disliked his lower social class. Years later, Sonomi still hates Fujitaka. (although in Sonomi's case, it's less that he's older and poorer and more that he took her beloved cousin away from her.)
- A whole episode of the anime is dedicated to actually fixing this, with Nadeshiko's grandfather Masaaki apologizing to Fujitaka for the Amamiya family's shabby treatment of him. And Fujitaka forgives him.
- In Ai Shite Night, Overprotective Dad Shige forbids his daughter Yakko from marrying her rock-star boyfriend Go when they ponder getting married as soon as he returns from the USA. When they persevere, Shige finally gives in.
- Brutally used in a Detective Conan case in which the Jerk Ass father of a rich girl not only forbids his daughter from marrying her pianist boyfriend, but he stomps on the pianist's hand and breaks it, which ruins his career. The poor piano man commits suicide and the Broken Bird daughter runs away. And the new family butler, who was the pianist's dad, kills the old man.
- Used earlier when a diplomat with a shady past has a Freak Out over seeing a photo of his son's girlfriend, the daughter of the old rival he sent to jail on false testimony... and of his second wife, the poor guy's stepmom. Even better/worse/whatever: said second wife/the girl's estranged mom had no idea of her second hubby's Uriah Gambit up until then - and once she found out, she killed said husband as punishment.
- In Final Approach Ryo learns late in the show that this is why his fiance was given to him at the start of the story. His grandmother and her grandfather were once in love but were torn apart by her grandfather's family for being from a poor family. He relented to his family's wish and married another woman. It turns out the entire setup for the series is her grandfather using his tremendous wealth to create a situation where his granddaughter can marry the grandson of the woman he lost to Parental Marriage Veto.
- When Anasui asks Jotaro for permission to marry Jolyne near the end of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean, Jotaro asks him if he's insane and completely refuses to justify the request with an answer. Then Anasui asks again, and he responds by snatching his daughter away from him. Perhaps Anasui would have had more luck if he popped the question when the world wasn't about to end — and if he wasn't a bit Axe Crazy.
- Two in Sand Chronicles:
- Ann's maternal grandma Misayo didn't approve of the marriage of Ann's parents Miwako and Masahiro as it also meant moving from Miwako's home village to Tokyo, but she couldn't stop them. She still doesn't like Masahiro when he sees her again post-Miwako-death.
- Fuji's mother is against his intention to marry his cousin Mariko due to their prestige as well as unfortunate implications she thinks it'll bring, which is why she wants to get him into an Arranged Marriage with someone more appropriate. Volume 10 shows that his parents finally gave in and the final chapter gives a glimpse of their wedding.
- In The One-Handed Girl, the king's son begs his parents to let him marry the heroine, and they are unable to bring themselves to do this.
- In The False Prince and the True (included by Andrew Lang in The Lilac Fairy Book, the true prince saves his life by learning that he really is the prince, and the purported one is not, which requires him to promise to marry a very old woman. When he recounts this to his father, he tries to get his father to invoke this: he would rather marry a bride of his father's choosing, he says. His father has none of it — he will keep his promise.
- The first words Megatron ever says to Sarah in Shadows Of The Past are along the lines of "Break up with Will or die."
- A Growing Affection: Hinata's grandfather rejects her relationship with Naruto and tries to force her into an Arranged Marriage. It doesn't work. Shino's parents are able to prevent him from marrying Sasame, but not from fathering her children.
- Red Fire, Red Planet: Was apparently attempted by Ba'woV's great uncle Chel'toK, the head of the House, when she went to marry Brokosh, a Lethean mercenary. Fortunately for the happy couple, in Klingon tradition the right to Marriage Veto belongs to the lady of the House, and Lady K'Ronu didn't have a problem with it. Chel'toK resorted to trying to kill Brokosh. Twice.
- Parodied in the remake of Battle Fantasia Project, where Mariam's father initially opposes her relationship with Kai because he's terrified by the possible results of the love between his daughter (whose personality is often compared unfavourably to a shark) and Kai (who has more than one similarity with her). He kinda had a point...
Films — Animated
- In Shrek 2, Fiona has already married Shrek, and the king tries to get rid of him, partly because he doesn't approve on his own and partly because Fairy Godmother is manipulating him to put her own son Prince Charming on the throne.
Films — Live-Action
- In The Lord of the Rings movies, Elrond tries to keep his daughter Arwen from marrying Aragorn, since this would require her to give up her elven immortality. Unlike most examples of this trope, he makes a very sound and very logical argument against it, and has no quarrel with Aragorn himself (Quite the contrary! He thinks "He's Like a Son to Me"). Emotionally, Elrond wants his daughter to be happy, but he understands the the very serious consequences (his brother gave up immortality), and he wakes her up to reality. Arwen marries Aragorn anyway, and accepts the consequences.
- Bend It Like Beckham is set in present-day England. The groom's Sikh parents try to break his engagement because the bride's younger sister has joined a women's football team and has been seen hugging a 'boy' in public (the 'boy' is Keira Knightley).
- Meet the Parents centers around this. Although technically they are not yet engaged and Ben Stiller is just trying to preemptively win their approval so this trope won't come up when he proposes/asks for permission to propose.
- In both sequels, her father keeps trying to tear them apart, believing Greg to be an inadequate husband. Both times, his conclusions turn out to be totally wrong (Greg is not the father of his parents' maid's son, and Greg is not cheating on his wife). In the second sequel, Greg and Pam already have kids, yet Pam's father suggests that she seriously consider leaving Greg for her Old Flame.
- In It Happened One Night, Ellen's father is trying to annul her marriage to King Westley. Of course, this turns out to be moot after Ellen meets Peter, who is played by Clark Gable.
- In the Bollywood film Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gham, adopted son Rahul marries Anjali against his father's wishes and is disowned. The father's main objection against Anjali - implied, rather than specifically stated - is that she is from a lower class. Also an example of I Have No Son.
- Letters to Juliet: this was the reason the romance stopped in 1957.
- This is essentially what Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is all about.
- Something New: Its made pretty clear that Kenya's mother would disapprove of a relationship with Brian. Her father gives his support to her unconditionally, however, giving her the strength to pursue their relationship.
- Psycho IV: The Beginning has shown Norman Bates disapproved his mother of being engaged to Chet Rudolph. This results him murdering the both of them.
- In Scarface (1983), Manny and Gina are married behind her brother Tony's back. When he finds that out right after he kills Manny, he finds regret for it.
- The Godfather Part III: Although Vincent/Vinnie and Mary are cousins and didn't get married, Michael shows disapprove of their relationship because it would endanger his daughter. When Vincent becomes the new head of the family, he tells him the price: give up his relationship with Mary. It doesn't matter later, since Mary gets shot to death.
- In Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams, Ingrid's parents are this. After Gregorio saves them, they come around; they claim that no man on Earth is good enough for Ingrid, though Gregorio comes "pretty close".
- In Dodsworth, Kurt's mother is an Ice Queen who flat out disapproves of the marriage between her son and Fran for concerns about Fran's reproductive capabilities.
- There's an old joke based on this:
One Sunday morning William burst into the living room and said, "Dad! Mom! I have some great news for you! I am getting married to the most beautiful girl in town. She lives a block away and her name is Susan."After dinner, William's dad took him aside. "Son, I have to talk with you. Your mother and I have been married 30 years. She's a wonderful wife but she has never offered much excitement in the bedroom, so I used to fool around with women a lot. Susan is actually your half-sister, and I'm afraid you can't marry her."William was heart-broken. After eight months he eventually started dating girls again. A year later he came home and very proudly announced, "Dianne said yes! We're getting married in June."Again his father insisted on another private conversation and broke the sad news. "Dianne is your half-sister too, William. I'm awfully sorry about this."William was furious! He finally decided to go to his mother with the news."Dad has done so much harm.. I guess I'm never going to get married," he complained. "Every time I fall in love, Dad tells me the girl is my half-sister."His mother just shook her head. "Don't pay any attention to what he says, dear. He's not really your father."
- There are a couple songs based on this joke, see the Music section.
- Many of Anthony Trollope's novels contain this trope.
- In Doctor Thorne, Frank Gresham's parents don't want him to wed Mary Thorne, who is illegitimate and poor. However, illegitimate and rich is fine.
- In Framley Parsonage, Lady Lufton doesn't want her son to marry Lucy Robarts, whose brother has become involved in someone else's financial scandal. But mainly because she doesn't think Lucy's is 'significant' enough (character-wise) to be the wife of such an important man.
- In The Last Chronicle of Barset, Major Grantly wants to marry Grace Crawley. The Major's father is appalled at this, because Grace's father has been accused of forgery and theft.
- In The Duke's Children, the Duke of Omnium is trying to stop two marriages. His daughter wants to marry a poor man. His eldest son wants to marry an American.
- In The Way We Live Now, Lady Carbury is trying to prevent her daughter from marrying Paul Montague, who is apparently already engaged to an American widow.
- J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth:
- In The Silmarillion, Thingol doesn't want his daughter Lúthien to marry the mortal Beren. While he doesn't know at the time that that would eventually result in her choosing to become mortal, he had premonitions of Doom around the whole matter. So he set Beren an impossible task to get rid of him (breaking into Angband and stealing a Silmaril), no doubt hoping he'd give up or die, which of course completely backfired in horrible ways for generations to come. (Don't mess with the Silmarils. Seriously.)
- In The Lord of the Rings, when Elrond (Beren and Lúthien's immortal great-grandson) finds out that his daughter Arwen and his mortal adopted/foster son Aragorn are in love, he sets down what seems to be a impossible set of restrictions on their marriage: Sauron must be vanquished, Aragorn must unite the ancient kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor and become High King over them. This puts a great deal of stress on Elrond and Aragorn's relationship, but when Aragorn helps fulfill every single one of these conditions, Elrond allows the marriage to happen and Love Conquers All. Those nearly impossible tasks had the bonus effect of ensuring Middle-Earth would at least theoretically be habitable for them and their descendants.
- In The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne Boleyn furiously banishes Mary from court when Mary admits that she has secretly married William Stafford and is carrying his child. Although not technically her mother, since Anne was Queen at the time, she could be considered a defacto guardian.
- A more straightforward example comes earlier in the book, when Anne secretly marries Henry Percy. The marriage is annulled by Cardinal Wolsey, and Anne is banished from court by her family as punishment, while Henry Percy is forced into marriage to a woman closer to his social standing. It is implied that this early loss is what drives Anne to be as cold and ambitious as she is for the remainder of the book, and that she never is quite over it.
- The A-plot of every Blandings Castle book by P. G. Wodehouse, to the point where Wodehouse himself had his own names for all the character tropes involved. The "parent" was always one of his governess sisters, and the resolution almost invariably ended with the Hon. Galahad Threepwood (or sometimes Uncle Fred) blackmailing said sister into letting the marriage through, generally using an element of the B-plot.
- In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the Dowager Marchioness (basically "queen mother") of the Sun family subverts this trope by blessing the marriage of her daughter to Liu Bei, then upbraiding her son Sun Quan and his right-hand man Zhou Yu (son-in-law of the State Patriarch who also supports the marriage) for plotting to kill the groom, since after word got out it would make her daughter unweddable (in a "what man who want her now?" kind of way).
- Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey uses this as the backstory and a running plot thread: when Agnes's mother chose to marry a poor parson, she was disowned by her father (despite annual visits with her daughters to her childhood home, they never even saw him); after Mr. Grey's death she receives a letter from her father telling her she can come back and her daughters will be heiresses if she will just say that she regrets marrying. All three Grey women (she would have done it had her daughters wanted the money) tell him to go to hell.
- In Little Women, Aunt March tries to do this to Meg when she wants to marry John Brooke, a poor Englishman and Laurie's tutor, mistakenly believing that he's a Gold Digger who wants to use her to get Aunt March's riches. It backfires, rousing Meg's anger and turning her reluctant 'no' into a defiant 'yes.'
- In Jo's Boys, Meg won't let her daughter Daisy marry Nat because — besides his being an ex-homeless nobody — Meg (a Widow Woman by this point) doesn't think the sensitive, very young and inexpert musician will be able to man up and provide for Daisy. However, when he returns to the States after two years' European study as an established violinist with a steady income and excellent future prospects, Meg relents. (The beard he grows in the meanwhile helps.)
- Jane Austen really loved this trope. Then, it was the law of the land in her day, unless you escaped to Scotland.
- In Pride and Prejudice, Mr Darcy's aunt Catherine attempts to veto the marriage... which ends up helping to bring it about, since at the time that Lady Catherine declares her veto, Elizabeth and Darcy are each separately convinced that the other no longer wants anything to do with them. Hearing that Elizabeth has refused to promise not to marry him is what gives Mr. Darcy enough hope to try proposing to her again, with rather better results than his first attempt.
- The lovers of Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion also face this.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's Freckles, McLean tells Angel she can't confess her love to Freckles for fear of her father's disapproval. She assures him afterwards that Freckles would not take her even with her father's consent, owing to his fear of disgracing her.
- Somewhat subverted in Anne Fine's Fly in the Ointment. The parents disapprove of the match and upset/insult their daughter by not coming to the wedding. The father is a petty tyrant who the daughter is glad to ignore. However, she soon concludes that they were right to dislike her husband and if they had not upset her so much by missing the wedding she soon would have run home to them.
- In the second Apprentice Adept trilogy: Stile and Lady Blue object to Bane (or rather his Photon doppelgänger, Mach in Bane's body) marrying Fleta the unicorn. Not for any species hangups but because Fleta wouldn't be able to provide an heir to the title of Blue Adept. Since this was a case of Reason Before Honor in a Piers Anthony work, this bites the good guys hard in the ass later. Conversely, Stile and Lady Blue's Proton counterparts, Blue and Sheen, had no problem with Bane-in-Mach's-body being an item with the alien Agape. Since Mach was a Ridiculously Human Robot, producing heirs were never an issue.
- Sorta used in Andersen's The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep. The Chinaman isn't the Shepherdess's father for obvious reasons (they're porcelain figurines), but he still wants her to "marry" the mahogany satyr instead of the chimneysweep she fancies.
- A fact of life in Funny Boy. One character was completely cut off from her family for marrying outside her ethnic group. Radha's parents and siblings definitely act as though this power is a given, and although Radha is willing to defy them, this is a very serious decision.
- Elsie Dinsmore's father vetoes two proposals. The first is from a sickly childhood friend; Horace is afraid he won't reach twenty-one (and he doesn't). The second is from a con man after her inheritance. Elsie honors her father's wishes both times and ends up marrying the man who exposed the second candidate as a drunk and gambler.
- In the Agatha Christie novel The Murder on the Links, Paul Renauld forbids his son Jack from marrying Marthe Dubriel, and cuts him out of his will. It transpires that Marthe is the murderous daughter of a blackmailing murderess, so he had a point.
- Another Agatha Christie example comes from the Miss Marple novel A Pocket Full of Rye. Rex Fortescue threatens to cut off his daughter Elaine without a cent if she marries the Communist Gerald Wright. Elaine would have married him anyway, but Gerald was only interested in Elaine for her money and promptly dumped her. At least until Rex died, leaving Elaine a large amount of money... Interestingly Miss Marple is convinced the marriage will turn out well as she sees the gold-hunting groom as a man who will respect and be kind to the woman who made his dreams (a school) come true where he's resent a poor girl married for love for ruining his life.
- The Lord Darcy story "A Matter of Gravity" by Randell Garrett. Count de la Vexin forbids his son from marrying the daughter of his chief guardsman. The Count's daughter believes that because he is a "psychically blind" rationalist, he is incapable of recognising or understanding True Love. As in Murder on the Links, which may have inspired this, he actually recognises the woman is a nasty peice of work, and gets murdered by her.
- In George Eliot's essay on trope, "Silly Novels by Lady Novelists", one novel has a mother ready to curse her son because her marriage plans are not obeyed until his true love tells her that she will not, in fact, marry him without her blessing.
- In David Copperfield, David's boss Mr. Spenlow isn't thrilled when he shows interest in his daughter Dora. (It's not helped by the intervention of Jane Murdstone either.) And in the same chapter, Spenlow dies in an accident.
- Part of the backstory in Kathryn Hulme's The Nun's Story. Gabrielle/Sister Luke's much-adored father refuses to let her marry her longtime boyfriend, Jean, because he fears that insanity runs in Jean's family. It's one of the reasons, although not the only one, that she takes vows.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Prospero explains that he forbade Ferdinand to Miranda in hopes of getting her to defy him.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, though he and Virginia can marry without it, von Horn knows he must either get Professor Maxon's consent, or have him murdered to prevent his changing his will.
- In Gene Stratton Porter's A Daughter of the Land, the Bates sons were too intimidated to marry against this, except Adam. The father's technique was to give them farms, but keep the title himself.
Adam was the one son of the seven who had ignored his father's law that all of his boys were to marry strong, healthy young women, poor women, working women. Each of the others at coming of age had contracted this prescribed marriage as speedily as possible, first asking father Bates, the girl afterward. If father Bates disapproved, the girl was never asked at all.
- In L. M. Montgomery's The Blue Castle, Olive's romance with the town Bad Boy was broken off because of familial disapproval. Not, whatever those outside the family say, because the Bad Boy was losing interest.
- Twisted around in A Brother's Price. Males in this world are rare, so a family lucky enough to have a son will either trade him for another family's son - men marry every sister in a family - or sell him. Jerin is approaching the age of marriage and is anxious, because he might be traded for the son of the huge, possibly-incestuous Brindle family. He reflects that if it were up to his mothers, they wouldn't want him to be unhappy, but in these cases the decision is up to the sisters who are looking to marry someone, and some of his sisters are interested in the Brindle son. His sisters don't approve of his falling in love with Princess Ren, since in their eyes she tried to rape Jerin.
- That said, while mothers have little to do with the decision-making process on Jerin's side, Ren still has to get permission from her Mother Eldest to marry Jerin, because she is a princess and the Prince Consort must have good genes and a good history for the sake of the realm.
- Gleefully invoked in Anne of Windy Poplars: Anne helps a timid young lady elope with the young man she loves and takes on the responsibility of breaking the news to the girl's intimidating father, who sternly forbade the couple from having anything to do with each other. When Anne informs the father of the elopement, he takes the news with deep relief and satisfaction - he'd wanted the two to marry all along and issued his veto on the accurate assumption that the boy would be much more interested in Forbidden Fruit than in having a girl pushed at him, but had feared that his daughter would end up being too spineless to go through with it. With the matter finally settled, he promises to "grudgingly come around" in a suitable period of time.
- There are three plot lines in Michelle Magorian's A Little Love Song (which is set in 1943), and they all deconstruct this trope in one way or another:
- The first one happens in the book's present day, where seventeen-year-old Dot has been kicked out by her parents for getting pregnant out of wedlock and is facing the stigma of becoming an unwed mother. Dot states that if her stubborn father had just let her marry her childhood sweetheart Jack when they had asked for his permission, this never would've happened.
- The second one happens about 26 years earlier and is told through a diary that the main character Rose finds. The diary belongs to a woman named Hilda, and tells the story of how she was a volunteer nurse during the First World War and fell in love with one of her patients, Matthew. Hilda's family refused to let them get married, partly because Matthew was six years younger than her and worked at a publishing company while Hilda herself was firmly upper-class, but mostly because her parents and brothers had decided that as the only daughter, she would remain unmarried and stay at home and take care of her parents until they died.
- The third one is just a short conversation during which Rose expresses concern that their mother might not let Rose's sister Diana marry Robert because he's from a lower class. Diana just states that if their mother won't give her permission, she will just marry him anyway, and that she's pretty happy that he's from a different class because if she married someone from their own class she would just end up being a decoration at a dinner table, while Robert actually treats her like a person.
- In Stephanie Burgis's A Tangle of Magicks , Mrs. Carlyle breaks into the opening wedding to declare her son is underage and can not marry without her permission. Revealing that he is not the bridegroom but the best man does not slow her down at all in her tirade.
- A more or less Justified example kicks off the climax of A.L. Phillips's The Quest of the Unaligned. While King Kethel vetoes Crown Prince Alaric's desire to marry Laeshana, this is because Laeshana is a mage of fire, and the law requires that the Crown Prince marry an elementally unaligned mage.
- A few pages later, we have a completely Unjustified example. After Alaric uses the secret powers of the Prince's Crown to change the nature of Laeshana's magic, rendering her unaligned Queen Tathilya tries to veto the mairriage on the grounds that Laeshana is a peasant, which on top of being irrelevant isn't even true. (Laeshana belongs to the Order of the Open Book, and members of that order are the social equals of the nobility, no matter their birth.)
- Kindling Ashes: Tilda's father was fine with Corran courting her because Corran was his favorite pupil. It was Lord Dunslade who issued the veto because he disapproved of his son marrying down.
- In Jorge Isaacs's María, while Efrain's father/María's uncle and adoptive father does not hate María (in fact, she's pretty much another daughter), he'd rather have Efraín focus only on his future university studies than romancing his cousin. It ends tragically when Ill Girl María dies from her illness while Efraín is studying abroads on the patriarch's instructions; the dad blames himself heavily and even calls himself her murderer, and he ends up tearfully apologizing to Efraín for having separated them.
- Inverted by the Thomas Hardy short story The Son's Veto (published in the collection Lifes Little Ironies). The protagonist is a widow, who's first husband was a wealthy parson whom she married because she didn't dare turn down his proposal; their son was raised as a member of the upper class, but she still thinks of herself as being beneath them both. As a result, her son is able to forbid her from marrying her Unlucky Childhood Friend (it's made clear he's not against her remarrying; he just doesn't want a commoner for a stepfather).
- A variation in Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff. Annice, the younger sister of the King of Shkoder, is barred by royal decree from Joining or having children (which don't necessarily go hand-in-hand in this series) on pain of death, lest it imperil the succession. This was King Theron's revenge for her joining the bards rather than be married off to the heir of Cemandia. In the present day Annice decides to carry her Surprise Pregnancy to term pretty much to spite Theron and force the issue. Except that after he'd grown up a little more, Theron came to really regret doing this to her and wanted to lift the ban, but they hadn't been able to speak civilly ever since. Once he manages to get in contact with her after chasing her halfway across Shkoder on an unrelated matter, he forgives her and tells her he could never have his own sister executed, regardless of what he said way back when.
- In the backstory to Pan Tadeusz, mr. Horeszko did this in the most cruel way possible - simply ignoring his daughter's beloved feelings for her. Then asking his advice on an Arranged Marriage for her.
Live Action TV
- One plotline of That '70s Show had Eric and Donna planning to get married just after high school. Eric's very stern father Red is completely opposed to the idea and does everything in his power to dissuade Eric from going through with it, including threatening to not pay for Eric's college education and convincing others of not hiring Eric in part-time jobs. Eric persists and says that he's going to marry Donna no matter what Red does. Eventually Red gives his blessing and reveals that his obstruction was actually a Secret Test of Character for Eric, as he wanted to see if he was serious enough about all of this.
- In Waterloo Road, Tom is unhappy that Chlo wants to marry Donte. When she goes off to a registry office in secret to do it, he arrives, does the I Object thing (at the right time) then discovers he can't stop the marriage. He is not her legal guardian, her absent father has agreed to it (she's under 18, so he has to under UK law) and her mother is too dead to object, by virtue of having been murdered at the end of the previous season. Tom has now accepted the whole thing and the couple (having gone through a brief break-up) now intend to do the proper White Wedding thing.
- In one episode of House, a married couple had assumed the parental veto was because of the father's apparently racist tendencies, and eloped anyway. It's much squickier than that.
- The same plot was used on an episode of My Name Is Earl.
- In Mork and Mindy, Mindy's father is dead set against Mindy marrying Mork from Ork, citing practical considerations such as how Orkans age backwards. Eventually, he comes around and gives his blessing.
- Jeeves and Wooster used this all the time. Sometimes they had to get past this, at others they were accidentally or reluctantly engaged and went to some lengths to ensure that the parents vetoed the marriage. There's also the time Aunt Agatha forbade her brother to marry someone, though they got around it by running away from her.
- More or less every Korean Drama ever:
- Winter Sonata: Sanghyuk's mother objects to Yuujin. Yuujin's mother objects to Joonsang.
- Boys Before Flowers: Goo Jun Pyo's mother towards Guem Jan Di, to the extent of forcing an Arranged Marriage with a suitable bride. Comes from the original Hanayori Dango, where Tsukasa's mother Kaede does exactly the same to him and Tsukushi.
- One episode of Everybody Loves Raymond dealt with this. Robert tried to propose to his girlfriend, but asked for her parents permission first just out of respect. Given he's just doing this as a formality, he's shocked when they say "No." ("But thanks for asking!") When he goes ahead with the proposal anyway, which is very romantic and gets an enthusiastic "yes" from the bride-to-be, he's slightly distraught when she asks, "I know it's just a formality, but could you go to my father and ask for his blessing?"
- Boy Meets World:
- In the 6th season opener, Cory and Topanga want to get married after she proposed to him at their high school graduation. Everyone thinks they have eloped, though they didn't actually go through with it. Their families tries to fake being happy for them until Cory's mother reveals that she's completely against it ("This is a mistake, and I do not support it. Why couldn't you [Topanga] have just gone to Yale?") This leads to awkwardness when they reveal they hadn't gone through with it, and wish to know why exactly it would have been a mistake.
- Parodied when Erik tries to use the same speech (complete with telling Topanga she should have just gone to Yale at the end) to stop Mr. Feeney from retiring and moving away. It doesn't work. But he's still back the next season anyway, now teaching at the same college the main cast is all attending.
- On Married... with Children, one of Kelly's "loves" asks Al for "his hand in daughter-marriage". Al responds with a one-punch veto.
- In Lost, Desmond gets harshly, brutally put down when he asks Mr. Widmore for his permission to marry Penny.
- A bit of a retroactive one in CSI, with Betty Grissom upset because Gil didn't marry Julia and did marry Sara and because of their Long Distance Relationship.
- In Once Upon a Time: A young Regina saved the life of Snow White, and her father proposed to her over it. Regina had no desire to marry him, as she was in love with her stable boy Daniel. Her mother decides that marrying the king is the best thing for Regina, or more accurately for her, and to decides to force the issue by murdering Daniel. Right in front of Regina.
- Stargate SG-1: Teal'c tries to prevent his son Rya'c from marrying too young. This is resolved by the end of the episode with Teal'c realizing how much Rya'c and Kar'yn love each other
- In Empire, Lucious disapproves of all three of his sons' relationships: Andre is married to a white woman, Jamal is gay, and Hakeem is dating a woman twice his age. Lucious didn't stop Andre from marrying Rhonda, but he isn't shy about his opinion of her. However, he did force Jamal at 18 to marry a woman, and when that didn't last, threatened to cut him off if he came out, and he attempted to bribe Hakeem's girlfriend Camilla to leave him, since he (incorrectly) thinks she's a con artist. The boys' estranged mother, Cookie, takes a more moderate stance once she re-enters their lives. She has her own opinions about her sons' lovers that she makes known, but she respects them enough not to interfere with their lives.
- More of a Fraternal Marriage Veto, but one episode of M*A*S*H has Charles (an uptight WASP) shocked to learn that his sister Honouria is planning to marry an Italian. He spends the rest of the episode furiously trying to contact her back home to stop her. Eventually he learns that the wedding was called off... but only because the groom's family vetoed Honouria for not being a Catholic.
- In the Quantum Leap episode "The Americanization of Machiko", Sam's mission is to convince his leapee's mother Lanore to accept the leapee's Japanese wife Machiko whom he met and married during a tour of duty overseas. In the original timeline he married his former sweetheart Naomi instead, and it was a miserable marriage. Lanore remains hostile throughout the episode despite Machiko and Sam's best efforts. Ultimately the problem isn't Machiko so much as it is Lanore still hurting from her daughter Eileen's (the leapee's sister) suicide and having trouble accepting another daughter into the household. Near the end of the episode, Sam and Machiko are about to be re-married in a church. Sam is worried that he may actually have to exchange wedding vows with Machiko before leaping, since Lanore hasn't accepted her yet. Fortunately, Lanore bursts into the church right when the ceremony begins, wearing a kimono to show her acceptance of Machiko. As Lanore and Machiko bow to each other in respect, Sam leaps...
- Babylon 5: As Delenn's relationship with Sheridan progresses, her clan calls her back to Minbar to explain herself. Neither of her parents are present, but the clan patriarch Callenn threatens to put a stop to it if she can't explain it to his satisfaction. After she finds out that as a descendant of Valen, who was actually Jeffrey Sinclair, she's always been partially human, Callenn allows her to go forward just to keep her quiet about it.
- The song "Rude" by MAGIC! is sung from the point of view of a man who is distraught over the fact that his girlfriend's father refuses to give his blessing to their marriage. The young couple in the song eventually defy the girl's father and decide to get married anyway.
- The narrator of The Who's "The Kids Are Alright" says he "had things planned but her folks wouldn't let her".
- The popular Renaissance Faire song 'Johnny Be Fair', based on an old joke (see the Jokes section):
And I would marry Johnny but my father up and said:I hate to tell you, daughter, what your mother never knew,But Johnny, he's a son of mine, and therefore kin to you.
(repeat with at least two other names)
The lads in town are all my kin and my father is the cause.
If things should thus continue, I shall die a single miss
I think I'll go to mother and complain to her of this.
Oh daughter didn't I teach you to forgive and to forget.
Your father sowed his wild oats, on that you needn't fret.
Your father may be father to all the lads but still....
He's not the one who sired you so marry who you will!
- This joke is also the basis of the song "Shame and Scandal".
- Older Than Dirt: The Egyptian air god Shu tried to prevent his son and daughter, Geb and Nut (earth and sky), from marrying each other and having kids. In another version, the sun god Re tried to prevent their marriage. Either way, it didn't work, and Geb and Nut became the parents of Wesiri/Osiris, Aset/Isis, Sutakh/Set, Nebet-hut/Nephthys, and maybe Haruw/Horus the Elder. Nonetheless, Shu still holds them apart.
- In Japanese Mythology, the God of Storms Susano-o wasn't thrilled when the minor god Okukinushi fell in love with his daughter Suseri-hime and she came to like him back. He tried at least thrice to kill the guy (by sending him to sleep in a room full of snakes, then having him clean his hair of which is full of either wasps and bees or Creepy Centipedes, and later setting a fatal archery challenge involving a field in fire), but Okunikinushi lived through each attempt on his life. Then he outsmarted Susano-oh by tying his long hair to his rafter when he was asleep so he and Suseri-hime could elope, also taking Susano-oh's treasures (his bow and arrow and his beloved koto) with him. When Susano-oh woke up and caught up with them, he relented and gave the lovers his blessings.
- Shakespearean examples:
- A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare — Egeus wants his daughter Hermia to marry Demetrius rather than Lysander, the man she loves.
- Subverted in The Tempest: Prospero seems to vehemently disapprove of his daughter Miranda's budding romance with Prince Ferdinand, only to reveal that he had them pegged for each other all along and that his disapproval was a Secret Test of Character mixed with Genre Savvy.
- Possibly subverted in Romeo and Juliet. Both the Capulets and the Montagues seem to be a lot more comfortable with the idea of marrying across the feud lines than either Romeo or Juliet give them credit for. Of course, they didn't need the Montagues' permission, because Romeo was both an adult and male, so his parents had no grounds at all to mess with his marriage anyway even if they didn't like it. The one who did have a problem with it, however, was Tybalt, who hated the Montagues anyway and was pissed about Romeo entering the party despite the prohibition. Not to mention Paris, to whom Juliet was arranged to be married.
- In Two Gentlemen of Verona, Sylvia's father goes so far as to banish Valentine when he learns that they're in love. Admittedly they're trying to elope at the time...
- A variation in The Taming of the Shrew: Bianca's father will not allow her to get married, not due to any objections with her suitors, but because he swore not to let her marry until her older sister Katherina is married.
- The Fantasticks is the story of two neighboring families trying to arrange a marriage between their children by building a wall between them and faking this trope. Their Batman Gambit works.
- The Importance of Being Earnest. Gwendolyns mother said that 'to lose one parent is unfortunate, to lose two is careless' and refused to allow Gwendolyn to marry Jack until he had found his parents again.
- In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye finds himself increasingly tested by his daughters' choices of husbands. For each daughter, he debates the positive and negative qualities of each husband, contrasting their poverty and low caste with the love each feels for his daughters. Although he eventually agrees to Motel (a tailor) and Perchik (a wandering teacher/vagabond/communist), he can't condone Chava's marriage to Fyedka, a non-Jew, and disowns her.
"But on the other hand... No! There is no other hand!"
- In Zemsta, Rejent Milczek really does not think his son should choose his own wife. The boy may love Klara, but how is this basis for anything?
- In John Woo's Stranglehold, the major contributor to the game's emotional drama is the fact that Mr. Wong's daughter Billie is in love with maverick cop Tequila. Wong despises Tequila both because he is a cop and because back in the movie Hard-Boiled, Tequila killed Johnny Wong, whom it turns out is Mr. Wong's son. Eighteen years ago, Wong intimidated Billie, who was pregnant with Tequila's daughter Teko, into breaking up with Tequila so that Wong wouldn't kill them all, and when Wong had to entrust Tequila with the task of rescuing Billie and Teko from the Zakarovs, Wong had Billie killed by Tequila's own partner Jerry, both to protect his syndicate (Zakarov had threatened to make her reveal everyone connected to Dragon Claw in a court of law to protect Teko's life) and to deny her to Tequila forever in a nasty Kick the Dog moment.
- In Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, the King of the Frogs doesn't approve of Princess Caroline's relationship with Michael, a commoner. After catching Michael inside the castle, he almost has him executed on the spot, but then claims that Michael can only earn his respect if he helps Cornet retrieve the Earthstone. After they succeed, he then promptly declares that now Michael must be executed for breaking into the castle and defeating the guardian, and has him killed on the spot. This solves nothing, leading to Caroline and Michael being Together in Death.
- Final Fantasy XIII has Lighting object to Snow and Serah's engagement until a good ways into the game. As her and Serah's parents are dead and she cares for Serah, it's very much this trope despite them being sisters.
- Super Paper Mario had Blumiere's father banishing Timpani to wander all dimensions forever because she was of a different race and he didn't want Blumiere associating with her. Didn't work out for him.
- Tekken 6 has Miguel Caballero Rojo planning on killing his sister's boyfriend, but eventually declines to make her happy. And then the wedding is brutally crashed and smashed by the Mishima Zaibatsu, and the poor girl becomes a dead little sister.
- In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, the protagonist can't seem to get approval from her high school sweetheart's father; instead, his father seems to think that the New Old Flame/Bitch in Sheep's Clothing would be a better fit.
- In Secret of Mana, this is the reason Purim's father has the king of Pandora send her soldier boyfriend Dyluck on a Suicide Mission to the witch's castle.
- In Shiver: Poltergeist, Henry Kangale disapproves of his son and heir Richard's wish to marry Brenda, a household servant. He eventually permits it, though, much to the chagrin of James the butler, who will stop at nothing to preserve the "purity" of the Kangale bloodline.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry, the backstory reveals Shion and Mion's mother Akane faced one coming from her mom, "Demon Granny" Oryuu.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Eva is very vociferous about her rejection of her son, George's, love for Shannon, a Meido who works for the Ushiromiya family's main house.
- In Red String it's been recently revealed Miharu and Kazuo's Arranged Marriage, which has developed into love anyway, was all his mother's idea in order to give him a chance not to be married to be a snotty society girl. This is against his father's wishes, who wants it called off. When he tells Kazuo to do so (Kazuo having overheard the details already a day before) it doesn't go down well.
- In PvP, Brent and Jade's wedding reservation was canceled by Jade's mother due to them arranging the wedding in a way she didn't like, fortunately Robbie allowed them to have it at his mansion.
- In Erstwhile, Maid Maleen's father rejected her love.
- Mr. Pewterschmidt of Family Guy hates Peter. When Peter brought up the idea of marrying Lois, Mr. Pewterschmidt tried to bribe Peter with a check for one million dollars to leave Lois alone forever. Peter, in his own awkward way, refused, tearing up the check.
- In The Fairly OddParents, Mama Cosma hates Wanda and Big Daddy hates Cosmo. The two parents end up as a couple of their own for their mutual hate for their kid's husband/wife.
- Princess Sissi is all about the trials and tribulations Sissi goes through to try to marry the unapproved-of Franz, being loosely based on the life of Elizabeth of Bavaria. In real life, it didn't end up as happily as the cartoon says.
- Many gay and bisexual people risk getting disowned by getting married, if they can even legally get married. Also, if they belong to an organized religion that is against same-sex marriage, they may end up being excommunicated and excluded from certain aspects of involvement with church activities if they dare to marry someone of the same gender as themselves, which can be just as depressing as having one's parents reject them for their marriage.
- Beatrix Potter got engaged to the publisher of her storybooks. Her parents objected because he was a tradesman but eventually relented, if she would wait out the summer to make sure her love for him was real. Unfortunately, he died before summer's end and the wedding never happened. You can imagine her parents' reactions...
- Peculiar example because it's based partially around an Arranged Marriage: a Jewish rabbi has set up a system in which Jewish children (on a voluntary basis) are tested to see if they're carriers of the Tay-Sachs disease allele. For background, Tay-Sachs is a Mendelian recessive trait (more or less...) and the disease that can kill by age two (life expectancy for the condition in general is about four) should a child receive two copies of the gene, but a child who receives only one copy will be healthy; thus a child of two carriers has an alarmingly high 25% chance of having the disease. This trait is particularly prominent among Ashkenazi Jews. Understandably concerned about the health issue but also cultural sensitivities (among them a desire to see Jews continue to marry Jews), the rabbi started this project; the children are not told the results of the test, but are given a number. In later life, should their families be contemplating a match between two people who have been tested, they just send the numbers in and are advised to drop the match if both of them are carriers... a rare genetic Parental Marriage Veto.
- Then there is of course the royal families. For example, a recently engaged princess had to have her relationship of seven years approved by the local government as well as her family, and there have been rumors that the king has been stalling the engagement for quite some time.
- A rather extreme version of this trope - the bride-to-be's parents kidnapped her on her wedding day to keep her from marrying her husband. She got married anyway a few days late, and they got charged with a felony.
- In the Baha'i faith, a couple cannot get married unless they both get the consent of their parents. If one of them vetoes it, they'll just have to wait until the grouch keels over.
- Consuelo Vanderbilt had hoped to marry Winthrop Rutherfurd. Her mother refused, because she set up her marriage to Duke of Marlborough. To this end, she first begged, ordered, and even faked a fatal illness to force her daughter to marry the Duke. Her daughter finally relented, after which her mother's fatal illness miraculously got cured. It would not be an understatement to call the marriage "unhappy" (famously, the married couple always dined with a gigantic centerpiece placed on the table between them so that they do not have to see each other even when etiquette dictate that they must be in the same room at the same time).
- J. R. R. Tolkien's own romance, which became the basis for the story of Beren and Lúthien. Tolkien met Edith Bratt at 16 and 19 respectively and fell in love, but his guardian Father Morgan later forbade contact between them until Tolkien became a legal adult at 21. He wrote her on the evening his twenty-first birthday and found out she was engaged to another man. She broke it off, though, when she learned he hadn't forgotten her and accepted Tolkien's marriage proposal.
- When Marie Curie was working as a governess to put her sister through university, she fell in love with the son of her employer, but they rejected on the grounds that she was too poor. This was actually a good thing for the world as she and the man she did marry, Pierre Curie, were a fantastic scientific team.
- Dorothy Osborne and Sir William Temple were a famous 17th Century English couple, who finally managed to marry after her father died (and she suffered smallpox, to the ruin of her looks and the loss of any other marriage prospects.)
- This isn't always a bad trope. For all the times parents/family object on unreasonable grounds, there are times when loved ones have the ability to realise two people shouldn't take such a big step and, if said step is taken, are eventually proven right.
- Napoleon Bonaparte, who had a thing for arranging marriages around him, pulled this on his youngest brother Jérôme when he married an American heiress in 1803 ; when he became Emperor, Napoleon annulled the marriage with a decree in 1805 on the grounds that Jérôme was a minor when he married. Napoleon also objected to the second marriage his brother Lucien made out of love, but could not convince him to divorce and Lucien preferred to go into exile rather than renouncing his beloved wife.
- Dieudonné Thiébault, father of General Paul Thiébault, attempted to prevent his son's remarriage to Elisabeth Chenais, citing her expensive tastes and unsavoury reputation as arguments against the match, but more importantly reminding Paul that he was still legally married to another woman when he proposed to Elisabeth. Paul ignored his father's objections, rushed through the divorce and married Elisabeth anyway... and despite his pledges of absolute truthfulness, he makes absolutely no mention of this in the Memoirs he wrote long after both his father and Elisabeth were dead.