A character is trapped in an Arranged Marriage
with someone they don't love at all. Their parents are dead set on them marrying this person, so they can't talk their way out of it, and they certainly can't stand to go through with it, so what's left for them to do? Running away, of course.
This is a common pastime for the Rebellious Princess
. If a character waits until after the wedding ceremony has begun to do this, she's a Runaway Bride
. Contrast Parental Marriage Veto
Anime and Manga
- In the anime Princess Comet, the main character considers running away from a party where a prince will be betrothed either to her or her rival, only to find that the prince beat her to it by running away himself.
- In Pokémon, it is eventually revealed that James of Team Rocket ran away from home to escape marriage to the insane and sadistic Jessiebelle. While he did have feelings for her at one point, he loved his Growlie (his only friend, a pet Growlithe) even more, and her attempt to get the dog out of the equation was the breaking point. (Ironically, not only is Jessiebelle's name similar to James' partner Jesse, the two look very much alike, and have a similar bossy attitude. This is usually pointed out by fans as "proof" of his feelings for Jesse, but overlooked on the show.)
- In Rune Soldier Louie, Melissa ran away from arranged marriage and even became a priestess to Mylee, the God of War to make sure her parents couldn't force her back.
- In the very beginning (first episode/volume) of Ranma ˝, it initially looks like Ranma Saotome might become this to Akane Tendo, given that he's expressed no interest in her and openly stated that he considers finding a cure far more important than getting a girlfriend. Of course, his (currently her) plans to leave are curtailed when Akane knocks him/her out cold with a table for insulting Akane's (lack of) figure compared to his/her cursed form. When Ranma comes around, he first gets enrolled in school, then caught up in the chaos, so he forgets all about it.
- By the end of the manga, Ryoga Hibiki is something of an unwilling version of this trope- he wants to be around his newfound (and borderline Relationship Sue) love interest and accidental fiancee Akari, but his lack of direction means he can rarely even find her.
- In Romeo X Juliet Romeo is arranged to marry Hermionine, he falls for Juliet and they run away together. Unfortunately for them, they get caught.
- Clarice in The Castle of Cagliostro bailed when the guards left her room to allow her to change into her wedding dress (presumably to rehearse the ceremony). But in spite of Lupin's efforts, she was recaptured, and this time imprisoned in a tall tower. One that could only be entered via a retracting bridge or a hatch on the roof. Other features included grenade-proof glass.
- In the Virtua Fighter anime, the action is kickstarted when Pai Chan runs away from a Triad leader and martial artist named Li Kowloon, who wants to make her go through an Arranged Marriage.
- Jenny Doolittle does this in Bodacious Space Pirates, shooting her way out before stealing a brand-new stealth fighter, then hires the eponymous pirates as her escort. Her answer to family pressure seems to be More Dakka. Too bad her family has their own fleet.
- Freya Wion of Macross Delta ran away from her arranged marriage so she could join the auditions for Walkure. To complicate things, she happens to be a Windermerian whose people end up declaring war against N.U.N.S. (which Walkure is technically part of).
- In the Marvel comic Marvel 1602, Susan Storm went aboard Captain Benjamin Grimm's ship, the Fantastick, to escape such a marriage.
- Happens to Golden Archer in the Squadron Supreme limited series, when his fiance proved to be far too clingy after he brainwashed her to love him.
Film - Animation
- In Catskin, the main female character tries to make outrageous demands before she consents to the match but finally resorts to this.
Film - Live Action
- Jasmine in Aladdin, although she's not threatened with a specific groom, just an obligation to get married... until Jafar "finds" some tiny letters in the local laws.
- Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy's character) in Coming to America convinced his father to send him to America as a sort of extended bachelor party, when in reality, he was looking to escape his arranged marriage and find true love.
- Just before the ceremony is to start in the movie Arthur, the title character and his lover Linda go to his fiancee Susan to tell her the wedding's off. Susan's father tries to kill the lovers and is only stopped by Arthur's grandmother - but he does beat Arthur up enough that he's black and blue when he explains to the guests what's happened and then passes out on the altar.
- In the 1991 film version of Robin Hood (1991), Maid Marion (Uma Thurman) runs away to Sherwood Forest to escape her arranged marriage to Sir Miles Flaconet (Jürgen Prochnow).
- In Titanic (1997) Rose DeWitt Bukater fakes her death in the Titanic disaster and changes her name to escape her engagement. Before the ship went down she told her intended that she's rather be Jack's whore than Cal's wife. Before that she wanted to kill herself so she didn't have to marry him.
- In the live-action Disney film The Sword And The Rose, Princess Mary Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) unsuccessfully attempts to run away with Charles Brandon rather than be married to the aging King of France. It should be noted that the film is historically inaccurate; the real Princess Mary did in fact elope with Brandon, but not until after she had married King Louis and nursed him through his final illness.
- Fanfan la Tulipe in the 2003 French movie of the same name. He is a 18th century libertine and doesn't want to be involved in a relationship of any kind. He is caught up teaching a lesson to a young woman inside a haystack and her father forces him to marry her. He escapes the wedding ceremony and engages in the French army.
- Inverted in the classic comedy It Happened One Night, where the fiancée escapes her father's custody in order to get to her soon-to-be husband.
- Talia, the main character of the original Heralds of Valdemar trilogy, does this, although she left before being assigned a specific bridegroom. She was thirteen at the time.
- Kethry from the related Vows and Honor duology was a year or two younger when her old nurse smuggled her from the home of the new husband her brother found for her. Unfortunately it was after the marriage and consummation of same.
- Aravis in C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy does this to avoid being a child bride to an evil man.
- Princess Cimorene in Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing With Dragons. Her parents try to con her into marrying the empty-headed prince of a neighbouring kingdom, so, on the advice of a talking frog (it happens in a fairy-tale universe, after all), she decides to run away.
- Georgette Heyer loves this trope.
- The Corinthian has Pen running away from marriage to her cousin, and then helping another girl run away from a proposed marriage to her.
- Bath Tangle actually has a subversion, of sorts: the hero's unwanted fiancée runs away from him...and then is persuaded to go back by the heroine, who argues that a loveless but comfortable marriage to the hero (who isn't nearly as horrible as he seems) is much better than a hasty elopement with the hero's poorer nephew.
- Kitty in Cotillion is a slight variation — her guardian is forcing her to marry one of his many nephews (but it's her choice which), so she runs away. And then subverted, in that she meets one of the nephews in the local inn five minutes later and comes up with a better plan.
- In The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker, Emma runs to the swamp when she finds out she's to be engaged to an empty-headed and vain prince. She didn't intend to stay for long, but she ended up turning into a frog. Yeah, another fairy-tale universe.
- Subverted in Shabanu, where the title character tries to run away from an arranged marriage to someone old enough to be her grandfather. She gets (severely?) beaten up by her parents, and marries the guy anyway.
- Averted in Soul Music, where the troll princess Jade says she'll refuse to wed the prince her parents have chosen for her, and that she'll run away if she has to. Susan persuades her to at least meet the potential groom first: he might turn out to be nice.
- Frederica Vernon of Jane Austen's Lady Susan runs away from Boarding School when she finds out her mother, the titular Lady Susan, intends to force her to marry the ditzy Sir James Morton against her will. She gets caught on the road.
- A Song of Ice and Fire: No one's a hundred percent clear on the events surrounding Rhaegar and Lyanna, but one version - the nicest version - is that she abandoned her betrothal to Robert to be with him.
- Alys Karstark flees to the Wall to escape her arranged marriage to her Cregan Karstark, who is maybe three times her age, her cousin, and has had his last two wives die. She believes that she'll suffer a similar accident once they're married, allowing Cregan to become lord of Karhold. She not opposed to arranged marriage in principle though, and marries Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn, the ruler of a wildling tribe she's never met, to foil Cregan's succession plans, give herself her own little army, and give the newly created House Thenn some legitimacy.
- A major part of 1634:The Bavarian Crisis involves Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria trying to avoid marriage to the elderly Maximilian of Bavaria (also her uncle), which ends with her fleeing to the Netherlands.
- Deconstructed together with Arranged Marriage in Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen prequel The Kharkanas Trilogy. Upon receiving the news that she is to marry a considerably older war hero in order to enable him to rise to nobility as thanks for his deeds in the past war, Faror Hend, daughter of a decimated noble house, bolts to a military posting as far away from the capital as possible, where she proceeds to oggle over her younger cousin. When she hears that her betrothed is on his way to her, she jumps to conclusions and bolts again, never stopping to consider why he'd bother to travel that far. Turns out Kagamandra Tulas is about as happy to ruin a young woman's life over political matters as she is to be saddled with an unwanted marriage, but since neither can get out of the arrangement gracefully, he was just trying to tell her that he does not care what she does as long as she's happy and safe. Sharenas Ankhadu points out that neither behaviour is going to help matters.
- An episode of the 1980s series Beauty and the Beast (1987) (nothing to do with the Fairy Tale or Disney movie) has Catherine and Vincent helping a young Chinese woman escape an arranged marriage. Unfortunately, the man she was to marry was the son of a high-ranking member of a Triad which knew all about the World Below.
- The F Troop episode "From Karate With Love", which focused on a runaway Japanese bride and the Samurai sent to fetch her.
- Used in The Holy Pearl, a loose adaptation of Inuyasha. Rebellious Princess Yu Die runs away from her Arranged Marriage...much to the relief of the intended groom.
- "The Big Bopper Wedding" by The Big Bopper, in which he gets cold feet on his wedding day.
- "A Legal Matter" by The Who, from My Generation where the protagonist doesn't want to get married, despite everything already being taken care of.
- The song "Sister Golden Hair" by America has a groom who doesn't show up for a wedding that day because he isn't "ready for the altar"
- Some say Ariadne was already betrothed to Dionysus, when she ran away with Theseus. Dionysus either ordered Artemis to slay her while she was giving birth or forced Theseus to leave her on Naxos, where he took her as his wife anyway.
- Nanki-Poo in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado takes on the guise of a travelling minstrel to escape an unwanted marriage.
- In the musical Camelot, both Arthur and Guinevere run away from their arranged marriage, then meet in the woods and fall in love without knowing one another's identities.
- In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet tries this. It doesn't work so well.
- It works out much better for Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
- In the backstory of First Date, Allison ran away from Aaron just before their scheduled wedding ceremony.
- The title character from Naughty Marietta.
- Princess Seraphine in Puzzle Quest, an optional party member. Kinda understandable since her calculating father wanted to marry her with a tribe of barbarians to stop them from raiding his kingdom. Also, his poor treatment of the player character just asks you to interfere. However, since she's optional, it's also perfectly possible that she gets married if the player doesn't help her.
- Millay of Suikoden IV fled Middleport when Schtoltenheim Reinbach II planned to make her marry his son. Her parents approved the marriage; she didn't, so she made a break for it. Your hero happens to meet her just as Reinbach II's goons track her down — ironically enough, this is also the first time Schtoltenheim Reinbach III meets her, and he's blissfully unaware of the situation until after they've helped her out. Then he's completely horrified at his father's terrible deeds, and apologizes profusely.
- Player Character Hawke's mother did this in the backstory of Dragon Age II. For maximum scandal, she was an aristocrat who fled her arranged marriage to run away with (and marry) a foreign peasant...who was also a fugitive mage in a world where magic users are feared and considered inherently sinful and locked up for the rest of their lives to avoid the risk of DemonicPossession or otherwise endangering muggles. 25 years later, her surviving family's still not too pleased.
- When Elaena Glenmore in Telltale's Game of Thrones becomes engaged to Gryff Whitehill, she runs away to join his enemies, House Forrester. Ironically, before this, she was happily engaged to Rodrik Forrester.
- Fire Emblem Tellius: Astrid ran away from home rather than be forced into a marriage. Since the man her parents wanted her to marry is Senator Lekain, who is eventually revealed as a genocidal monster, this is entirely understandable on her part.
- This is part of Kyrie's back story in Umineko: When They Cry. She ran away from the Arranged Marriage to marry the protagonist Battler's father, Rudolf. It should be noted that she'd been in a relationship with Rudolf for awhile, even when he was married to Battler's mother, Asumu (Or not). Unfortunately, this resulted in her younger sister Kasumi being forced to marry the fiance. Having already promised herself to someone else, she's pretty miffed about that. And considering how Kyrie dies on Rokkenjima, the grudge is transferred to Kyrie's daughter, Ange.
- Red String starts off this way. Though Miharu isn't planning to permanently run away, she just needs to get out of her house.
- Both Inna and Yori do this in No Need for Bushido. The funny thing is that they're engaged to each other.
- In No Rest for the Wicked, November left on The Quest the day before her wedding.
- Hilgya's backstory in The Order of the Stick is one of these, though she's more of a runaway wife than fiancee. The catch? Her husband was kind, loving, and supportive, but Hilgya acted as though he was oppressing and belittling her.
- In Sluggy Freelance Torg is more than a little freaked out when mind controlled assassin Oasis tries to force him to marry her. He tries running away, but Oasis is always one step ahead of him with chains, threats of violence, and "distracting nudity." Fortunately for him, despite her elite assassin skills, Oasis seems to die quite easily. Unfortunately, she keeps coming back.
- In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, the very first story arc involves the jellyfish alien Ahem fleeing his arranged marriage to Princess Voluptua. Fortunately, she doesn't want him, either.
- Girl Genius: When Agatha is first acquainted with Sleipnir O'Hara, Sleipnir mentions that she has an arranged marriage waiting for her at home. In the next arc she shows up in, she's with Theo DuMedd, but at first it's impossible to tell if they're in a relationship or just close friends. She's definitely run away with him.
- In Storm, Eolill fled an arranged marriage and became a mercenary.