"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things. Love never ends.
is arguably the most important value of all. Everyone needs to love and be loved in return. This trope applies when a character's main motivation is to love, be loved or both.
Because "love" can apply in many situations and circumstances, for a better study of this trope, the concept of love will be divided into four different types as proposed by C. S. Lewis
in his The Four Loves
- Storge (Affection/Family) - This is fondness through familiarity, especially among family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
- Phileo (Friendship) - Friendship is a strong bond existing between people who share a common interest or activity. This includes what Lewis calls companionship; that is gregariousness of the kind which is found in a Good Guy Bar or Local Hangout; as well as friendship proper which is between Heterosexual Life Partners, Platonic Life Partners and the like but often starts as companionship.
- Eros (Romance) - This is love in the sense of 'being in love'. (This is distinct from sexuality.) This kind of love longs for the emotional connection with the other person. According to C.S. Lewis, sexuality is called "Venus." It can be part of "Eros," but on its own, it is not one of the loves, just desire (not to be confused with Lust which is this desire expressed in a sinful way ).
- Agape (Unconditional Love) - This is the love that brings forth caring regardless of circumstance. The essence of agape love is self-sacrifice. It is also a decision, not fueled by pure emotions (theoretically). However emotions such as the other three loves can provide a "booster rocket" into agape.
Also referenced as a minor note are loves for non-human things. Love for an animal is redirected to Storge according to C. S. Lewis
(modern animal rights proponents rather argue for the inclusion of animals in Agape), but love for nature and love for country are most noted as love for non-human things. Likings and preferences (for food, activities, etc) are also discussed especially as you can admire an object (like a painting for instance) just as you can admire a person.
It is notable that the descriptions are rough categories of types of love and not exclusive to each other. That is, more than one can appear between the same people. For instance, if Alice meets Bob at a Sci Fi
convention and they continue to get together to talk about sci-fi, then they have Phileo. If Alice and Bob in the process become each others' Love Interests
, they will also have Eros, but if they still get together to talk about sci-fi they still have Phileo. If they get married, live happily ever after
, grow old together
and like each other's company simply because they are there, that is Storge. And if they make Heroic Sacrifices
for each other, that is Agape.
It's worth to note that mainstream psychology does not categorise "love" in this way (hell, the above description about Eros is borderlinely cringe-worthy). They serve as purely thematic motiffs, not an accurate depiction of the human mind.
Related to Like Brother and Sister
and I Just Want to Have Friends
. Agape is also a Super Trope
of Heroic Sacrifice
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Anime & Manga
- Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. She just want to be loved by her dearest mother who tortures her on regular basis because she hates how Fate (who is a clone) has her own personality rather than being a complete carbon copy of her deceased daughter. She gets everything she wished, though: she gets a new family (the Harlaowns) and later becomes one of Vivio's two mommies with Nanoha. People even call the three of them "the Takamachi family".
- Miyako Miyamura's goal in ef - a fairy tale of the two. is this, ever since her parents' messy divorce that had them ignoring her completely.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: All Shinji and Asuka ever wanted was someone to love them. Shinji wants to be loved by his father, and is constantly seeking paternal approval. And despite of all her claims of needing nobody, more than anything in the world Asuka yearns for someone to show her affection and make her feel she is not alone.
- Alois Trancy from Black Butler. An evil variation. It gets so bad that eventually he doesn't care whether it's Claude, and sells his soul to Hannah instead because she was pretty much the first person since Luca to earnestly say "I love you".
- One of the rare examples from Soul Eater: Crona, while murdering his... her... their Magnificent Bitch mother Medusa, reprimands her for making them "let go of"—forget— "the only person who really loved me", which would be Maka. Since there's nothing to really suggest that Maka is in love with Crona, and the fact that a hug from Medusa is what sparked their tirade, the implication is that they viewed Maka in this way.
- In One Piece, the only bond seconded by The Power of Friendship is familial love, showcased earlier on in the case of Nami's family. This goes into play more powerfully around the Whitebeard crew, who even refer to each other as family with one badass father. Tragically, this is what ultimately leads to Ace's arrest and death.
- This is the major motivation factor for the Jinnouichi family in Summer Wars, whom despite being rather extensive are very close to each other and feel a strong mutual connection to their matriarch Sakae. Also later applies to Kenji, whom the Jinnouichi come to treat as "part of the family."
- Code Geass: CC once wanted nothing more then this trope. So she got a geass power that forced everyone she met to fall in love with her and shower her with affection, which was great...for a day or two. It's the reason why CC is now a cold-hearted Broken Bird.
- Some of the Hime in Mai Hime have their most important person chosen from this. Mai's first MIP is Takumi, whom she raised after the deaths of their parents, Nao's is her comatose mother, Mikoto's is her brother Reito, and Alyssa's is her father.
- While Ennis from Baccano understands love, she is unable to distinguish the difference between The Four Loves and thus straddles the line between Oblivious to Love and Asexuality.
- Irredeemable: This is the Plutonian's motivation for being a superhero after spending years in several foster homes with people who were afraid of him. Despite being a respected champion, he's so obsessed with the negative comments and constant demands people give him that it drives him over the edge.
- In the animated film version of Coraline, the heroine is dissatisfied with her family, feeling that they don't care enough for her. This apparently invites the attention of a monster who wishes to have a child to possess and obsess over to the point that she drives them to death... as it has already done to three other children.
Qui Gon Bryan Mills' daughter is abducted and sold into sexual slavery while on vacation in France in Taken. Bryan heads to France, finds the slavers, kick France's butt halfway across Europe, and gets his daughter back.
- Rana Sanga and his family in Belisarius Series. Lady Sanga is the epitome of this.
- Honor Harrington and Nimitz. David Weber probably liked cats.
- Harry Potter feels this way towards the Weasley family (excepting Ginny) as well as Hermione.
- In Les Misťrables, Valjean fosters Fantine's illegitimate daughter Cosette, and, as neither Cosette and Valjean have family of their own and they have both been treated brutally, they bond instantly as father and daughter and develop a very strong relationship.
Live Action TV
- Blue Bloods, because the family that arrests together stays together.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy was willing to let the world burn to save her little sister, Dawn. They have a very good relationship throughout much of the series.
- Firefly: Especially Simon and River.
- Interviews suggest Inara is supposedly the "mother"-type to the rest of the crew, but there's definitely some storge between Mal and Kaylee (though to a lesser extent than Simon/River mentioned above). Both Mal and Inara frequently address Kaylee as 妹妹 (mežmež, the mandarin name for "little sister").
- Connor on Angel was driven by this, but having been raised from infancy to hate his biological father, had trouble accepting his love. "Cordelia" was eventually able to control him almost completely by taking advantage of his desire for a family.
- Lennier and Delenn in Babylon 5; storge for both plus unrequited eros by Lennier.
- The explanation for Kurt's schemes in Glee, basically comes out and says it in "Duets". See also Love Makes You Crazy.
- Kurt and his dad's relationship is widely regarded as one of the best on TV.
- Dylan Hunt and Rommie in Andromeda
- iCarly: Carly and Spencer Shay, sister and brother.
- Supernatural: Sammy and Dean are this.
- Quark with almost everyone on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Teri Bauer took a rape for her daughter in Season 1 of 24. The daughter that had been the cause of all the problems all episode. Yeah, her. She took a rape for her!
- Merlin and Prince Arthur are thrown together against their will in the first episode of Merlin, but since then their close proximity and reliance on each other means that they're now practically joined at the hip.
- The same could be said for the intertwining relationships between Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table. Merlin also shares this kind of relationship with Gaius, and Uther believes this is what his relationship with Morgana is like.
- The Doctor and just about any Companion in Doctor Who are generally Storge and/or Phileo. This can lead to misunderstandings, especially in the reboot, where a Companion expects Eros (See Amy in Flesh and Stone)
- Rather unexpectedly for a series focusing on fairy tales, Once Upon a Time's drama revolves around parental bonds almost more than it does romantic ones. All of the core adult characters are parents, biological or not, and characters like Emma and Regina are very much affected by their lack of healthy familial support growing up.
- Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss' opera Elektra does not share her sister Elektra's thirst for revenge, and just wants to be a simple wife and mother — and this wish is what sustains Chrysothemis in her dark, fearful time as a prisoner. (Note: This is not her characterisation in the original Sophocles play.)
Anime and Manga
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a major driving force for most of the girls is to protect each other. Especially Homura towards Madoka.
- Take your pick at this with practically any good character in One Piece.
- Any of the Shibusen partners in Soul Eater - not only toward their partners, but toward one another.
- Yukino's most important person in Mai Hime is her best friend Haruka, and in the manga, in which Haruka is also a Hime, Haruka has Yukino as her Key. Depending on how one chooses to view it, Natsuki's feelings for Shizuru could be this or Eros.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic A Delicate Balance largely centers around Twilight trying to figure out where Phileo ends and Eros begins. A idea that just having Eros love for one of her friends doesn't diminish the Phileo love for her other friends is a recurring theme.
- Danny and Reuven in The Chosen
- Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings
- The "four horsemen" in the 1632 series stick together in the True Companions sense of this trope before the Ring of Fire, due to similar interests, and afterward the relationship is more of a familial one due to their respective families being stranded in the time from which Grantville came.
- Yashim and Palewski in the Yashim Series.
- George and Lennie from Of Mice and Men. Their friendship, contrasted with the loneliness of the other characters, was the main theme of the book.
- Ivan Vorputril and Miles Vorkosigan in Vorkosigan Saga.
- Rana Sanga and Damadora in Belisarius Series. In a way Rana Sanga and Belisarius too. Valentinian and Anasstasius also.
Live Action TV
- Xander and Willow have a very strong form of this.
- Jon Lovitz of Saturday Night Live did an impression of Harvey Fierstein, the playwright of Torch Song Trilogy. The parody version of Fierstein had a variant of this as his Catch Phrase. "I just want to be loved. Is that so wrong?"
- Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Carly and Sam in iCarly. Carly towards Freddie, although that could end up in Eros in the future.
- From Merlin, Prince Arthur and Knights of the Round Table, all of whom are dedicated to the safety and well-being of Camelot. Merlin and Guinevere are Platonic Life Partners due to being Birds of a Feather and their mutual devotion to Arthur.
- Skins loves this, and some particularly strong forms of it can be seen with Tony and Sid, and with Freddie and Cook - the latter of whom probably said "I love you" to each other more than they did to their actual mutual love interest, Effy.
- Danny and Jackie in Blue Bloods.
- Dan and Casey in Sports Night. Casey turned down a chance to be a late night talk show host to continue working with Dan.
- In Supernatural, Castiel and Dean are this.
- Nolan and Emily from Revenge. Arguably, between Emily (real Amanda) and Amanda (real Emily.)
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Phileo as the primary Love. However, it also incorporates Storge (in the case of the Apple Family and Twilight and her brother Shining), as well as Eros (in the case of Shining and Cadence) on the side.
Anime & Manga
- In Dragon Ball Z, this is a big desire for Krillin, who ends up dating a very dumb girl called Maron. Fortunately, he finds love in the series' redeemed villain Android 18.
- Sayaka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica can be said to have this for Kyousuke.
- Some of the most important people for the Hime of Mai Hime are based on romantic love. These include Mai's second MIP Yuuichi (who is also Shiho's); Akane's MIP Kazuya, Shizuru's object of affection, Natsuki, which may be reciprocated on Natsuki's part.
- In Berserk, Casca reached the realization that her place was in Guts' heart, so that not only she could love him, but for Guts to love her as well. And the feeling is mutual.
- In Dork Tower, Matt McLimore's ongoing desire to be involved with someone repeatedly pushes him back to his ex-girlfriend, Kayleigh... even while his dream girl, Gilly the Perky Goth, hovers nearby.
- Brokeback Mountain is basically about how painful this emotion is when society hates it in people of the same-sex.
- In Twilight, Bella Swan's main wish is to be loved by Edward Cullen.
- The same goes for Jacob, but about Bella.
- Tess from Tess of the d'Urbervilles. Too sad her husband cares more for her "chasity" than her actual personality and feelings.
- Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, deconstructs the trope as well as gender-flips it via the character of James Taggart. James wants to be loved, but not for anything he actually does. Rather, he wants to be loved for himself. Not for the benefits he might bring into the life of the person that loves him. Not for any of his virtues or good qualities. He says that he wants to be loved for himself. Ultimately, what he truly wants is to be loved for absolutely no reason at all; i.e., loved despite his own worthlessness.
- In John C. Wright's The Hermetic Millennia, the Nymphs are a society of Extreme Omnisexuals, aiming for this: "Social harmony is achieved only when everyone loves everyone."
Live Action TV
- Phoebe of Charmed made it her personal mission to find love during the last few seasons. In the end, she got a Cupid. Yay?
- Sheridan and Delenn in Babylon 5.
- Merlin has this between Arthur/Guinevere, Gaius/Alice and especially Merlin/Freya, a relationship that is explicitly born out of each partner's loneliness and their desire to connect to someone on an emotional level.
- Katherine and Elijah from The Vampire Diaries. He would never have picked someone like her under normal circumstances, but now if anyone threatens his Katerina, they better watch out.
- Charlotte and Declan from Revenge, although they do have some Phileo.
- Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up shamelessly panders to this wish.
- A Papa Roach song has this line in the chorus.
- Queen's Somebody to Love
- Arguably the reason why there are so many love songs in the first place.
- The Dating Sim genre arguably exists because of this wish.
- May from Guilty Gear. Her sole motivation is winning Johnny's love.
- Squall from Final Fantasy VIII without really knowing it at first.
- Gaia Online's "Sainte Ciel" Evolving Item told the story of a nun trying to rescue the princess she loved from an evil demon. You could choose between Eros and Agape routes; if you chose Eros, Ciel would succumb to the demon Mephiste's temptations.
- In World of Warcraft lore, the succubi seem to be motivated by this, given the alarming frequency of succubi falling in love with their summoners and becoming insanely possessive of them.
Anime & Manga
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kaworu Nagisa sacrificed himself in order to ensure Shinji's survival and that of humanity at large, despite the fact that Kaworu could have easily destroyed all mankind in a third impact for his kind to reign supreme. For his selfless love, Shinji (who was in desperate need of this kind of love) was heartbroken when he had to kill his friend.
- While it is still hotly debated whether Rei Ayanami's feelings for Shinji are romantic or not, there is no doubt in the fact that they are unconditional, to the point of doing a Heroic Sacrifice for his sake... twice.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka herself can be said to have this toward the entire world.
- While not explicitly stated or shown, the entire cast of Soul Eater could be said to have this. They frequently save one another from certain death. To be most specific:
- Ox tears out his hair (he tore out part of his soul) to break the hold Arachne had over Kim.
- Everyone remains friends with Kim even after the the reveal that she is a witch.
- Spirit, Sid, Nygus, and even Marie let Stein go, despite his being the main suspect in the murder of Marie's New Old Flame, because none of them believe he really did it, despite his being insane.
- Despite the fact that Crona betrayed Shibusen, all Maka wants is to know that Crona is safe.
- Tezca Tlipoca offers Justin a chance to come back to Shibusen, although he is the real murderer of Marie's New Old Flame.
- Despite trying to steal away her weapon at the start of the series, Maka saves Blair—now her and Soul's pet cat—from harm.
- Maka sits down and gives up in the middle of a fight in the Sloth chapter of the Book of Eibon. When she finally breaks the hold the book has over her, Soul doesn't even let her apologize, but spends the rest of the arc either holding her or holding her hand.
- Kid nearly destroys the world with the Madness of Order, only to have Black*Star, whom often tries to beat him up for no apparent reason, go and get him.
- It could be argued that any Meister and Weapon combination that works out becomes this eventually.
And this is just to name a few.
Live Action TV
- iCarly: Freddie towards Carly, who seems to love Carly unconditionally no matter where their relationship lies with regards to Phileo and Eros. He has proven his ability to self-sacrifice for her, being almost killed in order to save Carly from being killed herself by pushing her out of the way of a truck in one episode.
- Lancelot embodies this love on Merlin in regards to his love for Guinevere and Merlin (and to a lesser extent, Arthur). When a tear in the veil between the worlds results in evil spirits roaming the land, Arthur makes the decision to offer himself up as a blood sacrifice to close the rift. Knowing that Merlin intends to take Arthur's place, and having made a vow to Guinevere to protect Arthur with his life, Lancelot steps up and sacrifices himself for both of them, simultaneously saving Merlin's life and preserving Arthur's relationship with Guinevere.
- In the BBC's modern reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock and John Watson go from being complete strangers, to flatmates, with John demonstrating his willingness to kill to save Sherlock's life, in the space of the first episode. Although many of their mutual acquaintances interpret this as romantic interest, their relationship is in reality phileo intruding strongly into agape.
- Simon and River in Firefly is in some ways an extension of Storge into Agape.
- In Blaze Union, an important part of Gulcasa's characterization is that he is practically incapable of differentiating between types of love due to having been abused. He tends to perceive all types of affection directed towards him as phileo-love, and feels agape-love for his comrades and eventual subjects (which winds up being requited). As he's a Christ analogue, this is probably intentional.
- Though tragically enough, it's his inability to function without having someone fill the position in each of the loves (his desperate desire to be loved and needed by people) that eventually creates the instability needed for him to be the Big Bad of Yggdra Union (well, for a certain definition of bad anyways)
- In Radiant Historia, The Hero believes this separates himself from the Big Bad.
- In Mother3, Lucas' signature ability (PK Love) is a weaponized form of this. It's also required to pull the Seven Needles.
- Gaia Online's "Sainte Ciel" Evolving Item told the story of a nun trying to rescue the princess she loved from an evil demon. You could choose between Eros and Agape routes; if you chose Agape, Ciel would pull a Heroic Sacrifice to rescue Princess Rosamund. A sequel item, "Rosamund's Revenge", suggests that this is the canon route.