The Grovel

"Please take me back! I'll never gripe about your mother's cooking again, I swear!"

Brian Clough: You know why I'm here. Don't make this difficult for me, Pete. I won't bloody grovel...Alright, I'm grove- I'm grovelling. I'm on me knees.
Peter Taylor: I apologize, unreservedly, for being a twat.
Clough: I apologize for being a twat.

One character has hurt or betrayed another, usually their love interest. Perhaps their love learned that they only started dating because of The Bet, or perhaps the offender accuses the other of cheating. In any case, they are now in a Second-Act Breakup.

Eventually, however, the offender decides that they cannot live without their love interest or learns that they were horribly mistaken about them. But how to make it up to them? How to convince them to take you back? By groveling, an act of apology so sincere the love interest will have to forgive you. This may take the form of a long speech but occasionally circumstances call for something more drastic to prove they have really changed.

The offender is usually male and the forgiver usually female, but not always.

When done well, this trope provides drama and emotional catharsis for the audience. Debts have been repaid, sins have been forgiven, and the couple will now live Happily Ever After.

When done poorly, this trope can be seen as demeaning or emasculating the offender. The penalty is too harsh for the crime, and the apology is too extravagant for such a minor offense. It may have the hidden moral that you have to debase yourself to find love. On the other side of poorly done, this trope can make the forgiver appear weak. If reparations have not been made, a simple apology may be letting the offender off too easily. In real life, the Domestic Abuse cycle often consists of abuse - apology - abuse, which may imply that the abuse will continue.

This trope is common in Romance Novels and Romantic Comedies. The Pose of Supplication may or may not be involved. See also Idiot Houdini.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Several times in Hayate the Combat Butler, Hayate thinks he has done something to make Hinagiku angry with him and he invokes this trope in an attempt to smooth things over. This usually suprises her, both because he hasn't done anything of the sort and she would have forgiven him instantly anyway.
    • Taken even further when he actually begins to grovel for something that actually does anger her, along with the fact that he'd even tried to hide it, but then she makes a statement that confuses him, and then helps him correct the mistake.

    Fan Works 

  • The Truth About Cats and Dogs ends with a rare example of the female lead grovelling to her male Love Interest.
  • In Never Been Kissed, Josie poses as a high school student and falls in love with her teacher Sam. When it's revealed that she's actually a 25-year-old investigative reporter, she prints an apology in her paper and tells him to meet her at the baseball stadium if she accepts. Then she waits there with the whole town watching to see if she'll be accepted or rejected.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, after getting Kat so royally pissed off at him that she won't speak to him, Patrick is instructed to "sacrifice yourself on the altar of dignity and even the score." Patrick opts for a marching-band-assisted rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" in the middle of her soccer practice which nets him detention. However, she forgives him and helps him get out of detention.
  • The Will Smith vehicle Hitch has a particularly egregious example, following his love interest flipping her lid and publically breaking up with him due to completely false information supplied by a Smug Snake whose reputation she was well aware of. After refusing to take her back after she later comes by to apologise, the climax becomes him chasing the woman to apologise for not accepting her apology.
  • In The Blues Brothers, Jake Blues delivers one of these (in the form of a Hurricane of Excuses) to the fiance he left at the altar. She forgives him and they kiss passionately - only for him to then drop her in the mud and run off again.

  • In A Civil Campaign, Miles offered Ekaterin her dream job just to keep her close to him. When she learns the truth, she runs away and he sets out to write the best damn apology letter ever, sealed in his own blood. Nothing like a determinator bent on groveling better than anyone else has ever groveled. Eleven drafts! (One of them was in verse.)
  • In Demon Blood, Deacon kneels before Rosalie and offers her his services and anything he owns if she will just give him a second chance to prove his worth to her. The fact that he's willing to offer convinces Rosalie he's changed.
  • Twice in The Parasol Protectorate.
    • In Soulless, Lord Maccon treats Miss Tarabotti in a way that is considered a sign of high respect and romantic interest in his native culture, but in the culture they're both currently living in it's the height of rudeness.
    Professor Lyall: You have behaved, I would go so far as to say, badly. I suggest a well-crafted apology and an extended session of abject groveling.
    Lord Maccon: I am not a groveler!
    Lyall: It is possible to learn many new and interesting skills in one lifetime.
    Maccon: *after consideration* Grovel, you say?
    Lyall: Grovel, my lord.
    • In Blameless, after Lord Maccon publicly accuses Alexia of cheating on him, he prints a retraction and apology in the newspaper.
  • When Betsy turns temporarily evil in Undead and Unappreciated, she attacks her friends. Afterward she tries to grovel but she gets sidetracked into an argument over how much of the possession was her fault.
    Betsy: Hmm, my groveling wasn't going quite the way I planned.
  • In Haunted, Kristof issues Eve an ultimatum: stop trying to communicate with the living or he'll leave her, because he can't be with someone who's slowly destroying herself like that. He catches her red-handed and sadly walks away. Later Eve realizes she's thrown away the one good thing in her life in pursuit of an unreachable goal. She goes to him with a simple yet sincere, "I fucked up."

     Live-Action TV 
  • My Name Is Earl:
    • Earl's friend/cellmate Frank gets dumped by his girlfriend Billie over a misunderstanding. Frank is depressed to the point of attempting suicide, so Earl tries to help them get back together. Frank posts a nude picture of himself on a billboard, and Billie sees that Frank is willing to do anything for her and agrees to give him another chance. It doesn't last too long because Earl sees that Frank had corrupted Billie and caused her to give up her dreams of being a nurse, and convinces Frank to gently break up with her.
    • Earlier, Earl had a golfer on his list that he caused to become obsessed with golf, which caused the golfer to lose his girlfriend. They get the golfer to go to his ex's apartment, and because of the way his golf clubs were arranged as he was burning them, Earl and the golfer got Mistaken for Racist three times.

  • "Love You Better" by LL Cool J is about this. In the Music Video, L.L. has a serious girlfriend, and while they're on a date, another girl puts the moves on him...and of course the girlfriend witnesses this. She throws the diamond necklace he gave her back at him, and some time later is moping around in her own bedroom. L.L. rides up in a Cool Car with roses, and she instantly falls back in love with him.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Video Games 
  • Magical Diary has Damien pull some massive grovelling, both in-person and via letters, after the Villainous BSOD that results from his attempt to kill you. Not that this affects how your friends will react if they find out that you've forgiven him, of course.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • When Ivy, a superhero from the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, royally ticked off her girlfriend, she caused every brush covered hill in the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley to suddenly sprout red roses shaped into the message, "Please forgive me Clarice I love you". The City of Los Angeles fined her $5000, but Clarice forgave her.