The Lost Lenore

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/lostlenorebywehnert_3868.jpg
When a love interest dies and a character's grief is… ongoing.

"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor
Eagerly I wished the morrow, vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore
Nameless here for evermore."

AKA The Dead Love Interest—not parent, not sibling, not offspring, love interest. One of The Oldest Ones in the Book, named for the famous deceased in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven". In short the three defining criteria are
  • a love interest of a prominent character
  • is dead (or occasionally just genuinely believed to be dead) before the story begins or dies relatively early in the story
  • their death has significant ongoing impact, consequences and relevance for the remainder of the story

In determining whether a character who dies during a story can be classified as a Lost Lenore, the third criterion above is the most important. ''In order to fit this trope, the character must have just as much, if not more, importance to the narrative dead than they do alive.

For example, Anna in Van Helsing is the hero's love interest and dies at the climax of the story, but she is not a Lost Lenore as all that happens after she dies is that Van Helsing is cured, lays her to rest, sees her happy with her family in the afterlife and roll credits. She does more for the story alive than she does dead.

Characters who lose Lenore can go on to have other love interests, particularly if she is a Posthumous Character or the story is part of an ongoing series. However, in order to qualify for this trope it must be clear that they grieved strongly for her, and that overcoming their grief and learning to love again is a significant part of character/plot development. Sometimes subsequent love interests never entirely replace Lenore. It can go all the way to a Love Triangle.

The Lost Lenore's mode of death can vary but popular choices include:

Lenores can also become lost through suicide, Innocent Bystander Syndrome, tragic accident or Random Act of God.

If she left children behind, the children often have considerable emotional baggage to deal with, including a father (or father-figure equivalent) whose grief can render him overprotective, neglectful, abusive, or absent. The children may feel, or even be told explicitly, that they are either too much like the Lost Lenore, or else not enough like her. Angst ensues.

If the Lost Lenore was murdered and Stuffed into the Fridge, a Roaring Rampage of Revenge usually ensues. Which leads to a crucial identifying point: many Gwen Stacys are also Lost Lenores, but not every Lost Lenore is also a Gwen Stacy, as someone explicitly blaming themself for the Gwen Stacy's death is an identifying criterion for this trope, whereas this is not always the case for a Lost Lenore.

After her death, whether it occurs before the story begins or during its course the Lost Lenore is present in the the thoughts, dialogue and actions of living characters. Her memory may motivate the living characters to follow the example she set in life, or she can be a dynamic presence within a story through the use of Flashback and/or direct interaction with living characters in the form of a Spirit Advisor. Conversely, forces of evil may evoke the memory of the Lost Lenore, or even masquerade as a manifestation of her, in order to manipulate living characters.

Sometimes living characters encounter another living character who for whatever reason strongly reminds them of the Lost Lenore. This new character could be a relative, reincarnation, or even just an uncanny doppelganger. In this instance a romantic relationship may develop, but this is always based primarily on the character's resemblance to the Lost Lenore and, yes, Angst can ensue. In some cases, the character may name a weapon or belonging after the Lost Lenore just to remember her and even develop a bond with them.

Occasionally, due usually to a dramatic twist Lenore turns out not to be dead after all, or dead for reasons by means other than previously believed. The Lost Lenore can sometimes be brought back to life through an act of Time Travel or by magic but her death must be treated as a real event within the story. However, even if the audience knows or characters subsequently discover a twist in the tale, she must still satisfy the major criteria of having been loved and her perceived loss being of ongoing significance in order to qualify for this trope.

Not to be confused with the comic book character Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl who tends to cause death to other people rather than experience it herself.

Related tropes include: Cynicism Catalyst, Death by Origin Story, I Let Gwen Stacy Die, Death by Childbirth, Stuffed into the Fridge, Crusading Widower, Too Good for This Sinful Earth, The Mourning After.

Contrast with: Disposable Woman, Forgotten Fallen Friend, Oh, and X Dies. The One That Got Away isn't dead, but still a lost love.

As this trope deals in part with characters who die during the course of a story, Here Be Spoilers. Note that this trope is not about misplacing a bottle of the fabric softener "Lenor" ("Downy" in the USA).

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Casca from Berserk is this to Guts, and is an interesting zigzagged case throughout. She did not die, but was nonetheless "lost" via a brutal Stuffed into the Fridge ordeal that left her psychologically gone, making her a Lenore AND an Ophelia. Because the story starts In Medias Res, this technically happens before the story begins during a flashback, not to mention that even though Casca is not dead, Casca has been insane for most of the series and her insanity has played a bigger role in the course of the story than when she was sane (much to the chagrin of the fanbase), since a) her insanity caused by Griffith violently raping her in front of Guts drove Guts to revenge the most, b) the loss of love and affection that Casca provided Guts constantly anguishes him, and c) the entire drive of the story as of recently is Guts trying to find a cure for Casca's insanity, thus trying to make her "unlost."
  • Saya, in the anime of Black Cat, similar to the stuffed in the fridge example. You get tiny snapshots of her battle with Creed, but she is only found dead by Train. Train doesn't really recover till the finale until he has a vision/encounter with an almost identical girl that seems to give him the realization that she wouldn't want him to grieve and obsess like he is currently.
  • Bleach:
    • Masaki Kurosaki, who is the entire reason we have a show. Everyone in her family (her husband, son, and daughters) all loved her, and treated her as "the center of [their] universe". Her death, and Ichigo's powerlessness to stop it, is exactly what prompts him to be the tough-as-nails badass we come to know him as. Masaki's death also had a profound effect on her husband Isshin, and her daughters Karin and Yuzu. And this is before we learn that she was a pure-blooded Quincy whose death is connected to the death of Kanae Katagiri, another Lost Lenore.
    • Hisana Kuchiki, of the Posthumous Character variety. Without her, much of this manga would never have unfolded the way it did as her death is the reason for the Byakuya/Rukia relationship and all the consequences that have come from that. In fact, BOTH of Byakuya's conflicting vows in the Soul Society Arc stem from his marriage to Hisana, because it was his defiance of custom (in marrying her and adopting Rukia) that led to his second vow (to never risk the family honor again) and the start of all his problems.
    • Nine years ago, Yhwach conducted a purge of "impure" Quincies that resulted in the Cruel and Unusual Death of Kanae Katagiri, the wife/battle partner of Ryuuken Ishida and mother of his son Uryuu. It is heavily implied that her death (and the desire to protect his only remaining family member who mysteriously survived the fate that befell his mother) is behind Ryuuken's Refusal of the Call and Heroic Neutral alignment...but his refusal to explain this to Uryuu caused a nasty, ongoing rift between father and son that drives many of Uryuu's decisions throughout the series.
  • Nakbin of The Bride of the Water God whose death and anticipated resurrection was the basis of the whole plot. When she died, the water god Habaek started to require sacrifices from the humans hoping that one of them will be her reincarnation in order to reunite and have the curse lifted. However, while being in grief, constant longing and waiting for his lost love, Habaek met and fell in love with Soah. Unfortunately, even though Habaek is already completely in love with his current bride, he still continue to long for Nakbin that when he reunited with her resurrected form, he reaffirmed his desire to be with her even if she was not the person to whom he was connected with the red string. After Nakbin's "second death", Habaek also promised not to love anyone the same way he loved her by telling Soah that his one eye will be used to look only at her, instead of looking at her with both which were used to look only at Nakbin. Though Soah had accepted the fact of being a replacement wife to Habaek, Nakbin's significance which was never denied by the god continue to bring troubles to the couple.
  • Mary Magdalene from Chrono Crusade is The Lost Lenore of not just Chrono (of whom she's also the Gwen Stacy), but also Father Remington. Nearly every twist and turn of this trope is played out in the manga—Chrono meets Rosette and he can't help but be reminded of Mary (and she's hinted to even be a reincarnation of her in the anime), it ends up playing out as a sort of love triangle (in the anime he tells Mary's ghost mournfully that "Rosette's covering your place in my heart"), she's a major driving force behind Chrono's character development, and at one point in the manga Chrono and Remington even end up in a duel where Remington seems to take out his anger over Mary's death on Chrono.
  • Wakaba in Cross Game. (She dies in the first episode). The rest of the manga is about Kou and the other characters trying to get over her.
  • Dangan Ronpa 3:
    • Chisa's murder in the first episode is what drives Kyosuke off the deep end, with him vowing to eradicate despair and going on a bloody rampage to avenge her.
    • Chiaki for Izuru. After her death, he holds onto her iconic hairpin in remembrance, and is motivated enough by a combination of his subconsciously-retained love for her and her dying words to him to start moving against Junko. The Grand Finale shows he still mourns her, more than two years later.
  • Detective Conan:
    • In a case Atsuko Tokumoto is this for Takahashi. He was in love with her when they were in their college's cinema club, but she committed suicide before the story starts. And during a trip to the mountain villa with old friends of Sonoko's sister Ayako, he brutally kills their "friend" Chikako alias the one who caused Atsuko's ruin and death, since she stole a script of hers in the past and destroyed her life in the process.
    • In another, Shuichi Akai has Akemi Miyano as this. He met her while working as The Mole in the Black Organization that she and her Teen Genius sister Shiho belonged to, faked feelings for her but ultimately fell in love for real since she was an Anti-Villain... but after lots of messy stuff, she was murdered.
    • There is also Jinpei Matsuda, Miwako Sato's First Love who died in an Heroic Sacrifice to thwart the plans of a Mad Bomber. Sato herself is revealed to be deeply, deeply traumatised by his death, to the point of believing herself to be afflicted of a Cartwright Curse when her prospect Second Love Takagi also almost falls victim to similar deals. It's only when the Mad Bomber is properly captured (and Takagi convinces her to not kill him right there) that she can finally move on.
  • Eliade in D.Gray-Man.
  • Fairy Tail: Mavis to Zeref. Since both became recipients of Ankhseram's Curse, the only people they could relate to were each other. It was because of this that Zeref believed that he had finally found someone he could care about without killing them. Mavis in turn offered him a chance at Eternal Love and to find a way to break the curse—together. Her kindness and empathy caused Zeref to fall in love with her, and they kissed. However, since the ultimate purpose of the curse is to deny happiness, Zeref's love for her bypassed her curse and killed her, ensuring that they couldn't be together. It was this event that began Zeref's true Start of Darkness.
  • Yuria in Fist of the North Star. The first major villain holds her captive before she dies, and after about halfway through the series every single new character had something to do with her in his backstory. One guy is her brother, another her half brother, and several others were attempted love interests, including the Big Bad. The last story arc is entirely about her; at the very end this trope is subverted, and she is revealed to be alive.
  • Male example with Shun from From the New World, who is this to both the main female and male protagonists of the story. Particularly significant since neither Saki nor Satoru can actually remember him due to having their memories altered, but they still realize there's someone who they lost. He's important enough in the character's lives that when the flashback reel at the end of the series plays, he's the last one.
  • Gundam is notorious for this. Many, many stories have this progression: "Gundam Pilot meets Girl, Girl pilots enemy superweapon, Girl dies, Gundam Pilot gets angsty". The Original, Zeta, ZZ, Seed and Destiny all use this plot point. It's easier to name the shows that don't, and only 08th MS Team openly defies it.
  • Helena in GUN×SWORD. Her death is the cause for Van's Roaring Rampage of Revenge the series is all about.
  • Chitose from Hajimari No Niina, main male Atsurou's best friend and crush when in high school. The grief over his death made him develop an eating disorder. However, eventually he moves on thanks to Niina.
  • In Highlander: The Search for Vengeance the hero Colin spends over 2000 years mourning the death of his first wife. While also seeking of revenge on the man that killed her.
  • In InuYasha, Kikyou is an unusual and complicated example. She and the title character were in love fifty years prior to the events of the series until Naraku manipulated them into turning on each other and murdered Kikyou, leaving Inuyasha very much affected by her perceived betrayal and her death, and making it possible for the Shikon Jewel to manifest in the present in the possession of Kikyou's reincarnation, Kagome. Matters are then made much more complicated when Kikyou is resurrected and comes back with a bunch of baggage of her own to sort through regarding her death: while she was dead and gone, Inuyasha could make steps in the process of getting over her death and his other past traumas, but once she's back, neither fully dead nor properly alive, he's trapped between his unresolved feelings for her (including his guilt over her death) and his growing feelings for Kagome, and Kagome sadly acknowledges that as much as she loves Inuyasha, she can't compete with Kikyou because Kikyou's death has given her a place in his heart that she can't match, though she later decides that even if that's true and she is jealous of Kikyou, she will stop comparing herself to Kikyou and will love Inuyasha in her own terms. When Kikyou is then Killed Off for Real over the course of the series, Inuyasha is finally able to reach closure regarding their relationship; while he still grieves for her, she doesn't haunt him the way she had up to that point. However, she continues to influence the plot with her final death, both by saving Kohaku's life and by leaving behind some of her purifying power in a shard of the broken Shikon Jewel, making it possible for the Jewel to be purified and defeated.
  • Judge has Atsuya, who dies during a traffic accident in the first chapter, and has a huge impact on his brother Hiro's and his girlfriend Hikari's life. His death, and resulting trial, is the reason why Hiro and Hikari even created the Judge game to gain revenge on the man, judge and jury who were at fault for his death.
  • Everything Tragic Villain Aki does in Kamisama Dolls is to avenge his dead lover, and her death also weighs heavily on his former friend Kyouhei.
  • In Loveless, Soubi's mother, also having suffered Death by Origin Story, is Ritsu's Lost Lenore—he insists she was "just a co-worker", but Nagisa doesn't think so, and Nagisa accuses Ritsu of taking Soubi's virginity because Soubi looks just like his mother.
  • Souichiro, Kyoko's late husband, from Maison Ikkoku. She was very much in love with him, and an unwillingness to disrespect his memory is the major roadblock for Kyoko and Godai's relationship.
  • Rin of Naruto seemed a Disposable Woman in her one flashback appearance. During the Fourth Shinobi World War she's upgraded to The Lost Lenore when Obito reveals he followed Madara in order to create a world where Rin was still alive.
  • Yui Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Everything Gendo Ikari does stems from her. Mainly to get her out of Unit-01.
  • Kanan from Saiyuki is Hakkai's Lost Lenore and also his Cynicism Catalyst AND I Let Gwen Stacy Die In The Origin Story!
  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear has Amou Kanade, Tsubasa's deceased singing partner. To Tsubasa, Kanade was her everything, and a good deal of season 1 was spent dealing with the grief from this loss. The dealing includes almost-killing Hibiki and attempting a blatantly suicidal Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Kye Wol Hyang from Shin Angyo Onshi, who died before the start of the series, but her death was the main reason Munsu was able to fight the big bad, or had the motivation to endure months and years of travel alone, plotting his revenge against Aji Tae. While he didn't stay chaste after her death (A couple of encounters and just at the beginning of the series), he never took another lover and in the end, he reunited with her in the afterlife.
  • Tomoe Amamiya and Tiger & Bunny's protagonist Kotetsu were Happily Married with a daughter, Kaede, when she passed away. She suffers Death by Origin Story, being deceased since five years before the events of the series. The promise he made to her is one of the two main reasons (the other being wanting his daughter to think he's 'cool') that Kotetsu doggedly continues with his job as a corporate-sponsored superhero despite having to leave Kaede behind with her grandmother, keep his occupation a secret from her, and endure the manipulations of his money-hungry sponsors.
  • There are several in Tokyo Ghoul.
    • Yoshimura has Ukina, the human woman he loved in his youth.
    • Amon's classmate Harima, killed in action prior to the series. His lingering feelings for her cause him to reject the advances of Second Love Akira. He becomes one to Akira at the conclusion of the series, having been declared dead. In the sequel, Akira is shown to have become a less cold and sarcastic person as a result of his influence, but still quietly mourning his loss.
    • Kasuka Mado, the deceased wife of Kureo Mado. Her death fuels his hatred of Ghouls and thirst for revenge, and after his death it's shown that he still wears his wedding ring a decade after losing her.
    • In the sequel, Tsukiyama has spent nearly two years in an Angst Coma and become an Ill Boy as a result of his grief over Kaneki's apparent death. One of the major plot lines of the sequel has involved his Muggle Best Friend, Chie Hori, attempting to prove to him that Kaneki is still alive. Meanwhile, his Poisonous Servant considers secretly murdering Kaneki to be the best way to help his ailing master.
  • Lilith certainly seems to qualify as Abel's Lost Lenore in Trinity Blood. Her murder changed his character forever and he mourned her alone in a cave for 'centuries' afterwards. While Abel later forms strong bonds with other female characters, no one else compares to his memory of her.
  • Peace, deceased member of the Sleuth Brigade from The Voynich Hotel, is this. Aside from having been the glue and diplomat of the group, she was Leader's first love, and consequently Vixen's then rival. Her death is a frequent source of drama between the two.
  • Yuuko Ichihara of ×××HOLiC arguably becomes one for Watanuki when she dies. Whether or not she can actually be considered a love interest for him is up for debate, but there's no denying that her death has a severe impact on his character as he makes a wish to see her again in exchange for being trapped indefinitely at the shop while he waits for her. His personality takes a pretty drastic change into a more serious one and he becomes considerably more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of magic/supernatural as he takes on Yuuko's role. He also makes it a habit of going into moments of melancholy reminiscence for her.
  • In X1999, Kotori would be this for Kamui.
  • Cyndia/Cecelia from Yu-Gi-Oh! is unusual in that she does Lost Lenore duty not for a hero of the series but for a villain, Pegasus.
  • Shito from Zombie Loan's Lenore is his mother who gave birth to him while she was already dead and forced to live with villain Lao Ye. The reason he made the contract with Z-Loan was to give her back her years so she could wake up.
  • Later in Your Name, it is revealed that Toshiki's estrangement from his family is the result of his grief and helplessness over losing his wife Futaba to illness.
  • Aerith in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, as well as Zack, for Cloud. Despite the world being saved, he's still haunted by their deaths. It's unknown if the visions he has of Aerith are actually her or just his imagination.

    Comic Books 
  • Hank Pym of The Avengers—then Ant-Man—first became romantically interested in young Janet Van Dyne (soon to be the Wasp) because she was a dead ringer for his late first wife, Marya Trovaya, who had been murdered by Communists.
    • After Janet's death, Hank spent hours at a time listening to her dying scream and grieving in his laboratory, and occasionally trying to pretend that his Robot Girlfriend Jocasta was Janet (he had uploaded Janet's memories into Jocasta's hard drive). The Replacement Goldfish is strong with this one.
    • Mockingbird was also one for Hawkeye after her apparent death in West Coast Avengers 100 (it was actually a Skrull and she came back at the end of Secret Invasion). Her death led to him leaving the Avengers, spiralling into a deep depression and living in the middle of nowhere, hunting animals to eat. He eventually returned to civilisation after an old mentor helped him to realise that Bobbi wouldn't have wanted him to live that way. Her death still lingered with him, though, and his ideal life in House of M involved being in a relationship with her.
  • In Batman, the slow loss of his beloved Nora drove Dr. Victor Fries to become the obsessed, callous Mister Freeze. Bonus points for "Nora" and "Lenore" being related derivations of "Eleanor."
  • Captain Atom had his wife Angela, who died of cancer during the eighteen year interval that Cap missed when he was catapulted into the future. To make matters worse, Cap was declared dead in that interval, and she remarried...to Wade Eiling, of all people.
  • In Circles, after Paulie's death, Douglas took it really rough and Paulie's significance is still huge within the story.
  • Bêlit to Conan the Barbarian, more prominently in the Dark Horse printed comics, where he spends a lot of time grieving for her death and hallucinating with her at some points.
  • Shelly in The Crow is pretty much THE iconic comic book example of this trope.
  • In Incredible Hulk, Betty Ross becomes this to her husband Bruce Banner until she's Back from the Dead.
  • In Runaways, Chase never truly got over Gert's death, and even once attempted to make a deal with the Gibborim to try and get her back.
  • Goldie in Sin City: The Hard Goodbye.
  • Some writers like to use Gwen Stacy this way for Spider-Man, even though he actually got over her death fairly soon in the 1970s.
    • Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue is perhaps the most blatant example.
    • Inverted in Spider-Gwen where it's Peter Parker who becomes Gwen's Lost Lenore.
    • In Spider-Man: Reign, Spidey is obsessed with the memory of his dead wife Mary Jane. Here the way his perception of her changes over the course of the story ( in the final issue she becomes a source of strength for him, encouraging him to carry on his work, putting off their reunion in the hereafter) is a not unimportant subplot.
  • Valerie in V for Vendetta.
  • Lori in The Walking Dead.
  • Rare Male Example in White Sand with Gevaldin, Khriss' fiancé whose death prompted her to leave the Dynasty and travel to the Dayside in search of the mysterious "Sand Mages".
  • In X-Men:
    • Phoenix was an example of this for her husband, Cyclops—especially in timelines where she stays dead, but the fans don't like to talk about those chapters because the character Took a Level in Jerkass. Ironically, the one time he didn't think of her as this, their outrage was even louder.
    • Villain Magneto was shown to obsess about his dead wife Magda quite a bit in a number of stories. When he became ruler of Genosha, he named the main square of the capital after her.

    Fanfiction 
  • Beth Lestrade in the first finale of Children of Time, dying at the end of one episode and then, naturally, being dead at the start of the next. Her Heroic Suicide and the guilt it induces enables Sherlock Holmes's Love Epiphany and Heel Realization, which eventually allows her to come Back from the Dead.
  • In Death Note II The Hidden Note, Near's wife, Rebecca Stoodley River, gets killed by multiple bullets in the back and bleeding to death. In front of her daughter.
  • In Despair's Last Resort, Chiyo Ueda reveals that a friend from her childhood who she was in love with died from a terminal illness. It continues to affect her.
    • Shizuka becomes this for Kazumi after her execution in Chapter 3. She's torn up by it throughout Chapter 4, but she tries to hide it. Starting in Chapter 5, she wears Shizuka's scarf to respect her memory.
  • Martel to Envy in the Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction The Seven Names of Envy Angevin. The story is still ongoing, but it's been hinted that there's even more to her death than we (or Envy) know.
    • On the note of Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction, this is an extremely common theme of Roy/Hughes Slash Fic. If it's not about them experimenting as teens in the academy, it's probably this.
  • Hivefled: Icatus Gritch and Shuran Harkol both mysteriously lost quadrant-mates early in their lives. Said quadrant-mates are both now among Gamzee's Spirit Advisor followers, having been murdered by the Grand Highblood.
  • Invader Zim fanfiction often posit that Professor Membrane's extreme workaholism and Hands-Off Parenting stems from the death of Dib and Gaz's never-seen mother.
  • Many Mass Effect's fanfics have Shepard's death becomes Garrus's main reason to go to Omega and becomes Archangel. In some fics, it's simply because he want to honor her name; in some others, it's because he is a Death Seeker who is too obsessed with her to the point he can't function normally in C-sec or military. Sometimes both reasons are used. To name a few fics: Violence, Voyeurism and Vigilantes, Where Angels Fear To Tread, and Weightless.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mr. Black's wife, Tonya Coupe-Barton, is this for him. She was killed in Dr. Wily's very first attack, and he built a shrine to her in memoriam—and vowed revenge on Wily.
  • Redemption (KHR): Kyoko's death destroys whatever is left of Tsuna's innocence and what finally makes him accept his fate as Vongola Decimo.
  • Why Am I Crying: Crystal Eyes, Filthy Rich's wife and Diamond Tiara's mother, who died in a train accident along with her unborn foal. This drove Filthy Rich to become an alcoholic basket case and, while he got over that, try to avoid seeing his daughter because she looked so much like her.
  • Hungary is revealed to be this to Austria in the 1983: Doomsday Stories AU for Axis Powers Hetalia. Not only is it revealed later that the reverse is also true for Hungary but it's also subverted in that she eventually becomes his and her children's Guardian Angel.

    Films - Animation 
  • The Queen in Epic.
  • Finding Nemo: Marlin's losing Coral, and all but one of their unborn children, at the start of the movie causes him to become overprotective to his one remaining child, and this drives the plot.
  • Martha in Hotel Transylvania.
  • Ellie in UP. Made worse by the fact that she was never able to have children, so her death leaves Carl completely alone. Carl's refusal to leave his house is partially because it's the only way he can keep Ellie's spirit alive.

    Films - Live Action 
  • Victoria from The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
  • Janet van Dyne in Ant-Man. Her situation is left ambiguous, but she shrinks into the Microverse, a dimension from which there is no escape. As a result, Hank Pym becomes a hermit and forbids their daughter from using the technology that made them into super heroes. Though the fact that Scott escapes the Microverse in the movie's climax gives Hank hope that she might be Not Quite Dead.
  • In The Book Of Love, the hero's wife becomes this early on (as is evident from the trailer).
  • Elisabeta in Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula kills herself upon hearing false news that Dracula has died. His reaction is to renounce God and become a vampire. The plot is also driven by him coming face to face with her reincarnation in Mina Murray.
  • Murron in Braveheart. She gets Stuffed in the Fridge as a way to motivate William Wallace to take up arms against the English, but he continues to mourn her loss and brings her up often enough for his comrades to notice:
    Hamish: "It's no' about freedom; it's about Murron! Your doin' this to be a hero, because ye think she sees ye!"
    Wallace: "I don't think she sees me. I know she does."
  • Male example: Jodie Foster's murdered fiancé in The Brave One.
  • The appearance of Dr. Harvey's wife in Casper looks like this, when she says she's not a ghost because she accomplished what she needed to in this life; she Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • Christopher Nolan frequently invokes this trope:
    • The dead wife in Memento.
    • Mal in Inception who ended up killing herself and framing Cobb for her murder. An apparition of her frequently appears in his dreams.
    • Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. In the former, her death causes Harvey Dent to make a Face–Heel Turn to become Harvey Two-Face. In the latter, she's this for Bruce Wayne himself.
    • Julia in The Prestige, to the extent that she, or rather Angier's grief for her, causes the whole plot of the movie.
  • Shelly in both the comic and movie adaptation of The Crow.
  • Dan in Real Life does this rather generically, albeit effectively.
  • Parodied in Erik the Viking. The eponymous character connects briefly with a village maiden and saves her from a Fate Worse Than Death by accidentally subjecting her to the latter. He remains haunted by her memory but when he reunites with her in Valhalla she is less than thrilled to see him.
  • Helen Kimble in The Fugitive
  • In Godzilla (2014), Joe Brody dedicates nearly all of his attention to uncovering why his wife, Sandra died.
  • Sophie in The Illusionist.
  • A rare male example is Kate's dead husband in A Knight's Tale. This serves as a Shown Their Work moment, as Kate is allowed to work as a blacksmith because her late husband taught her the trade and left no sons. There were cases of this in Real Life history.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, Kaulder has Helen, his Black Death-taken wife, as well as his daughter, Elizabeth, dead to the same disease. They're both very prominently featured in Lotus-Eater Machine he's trapped in at one point.
  • Laura in the 1940s film of the same name.
  • Characters in at least two Leonardo DiCaprio movies, Inception and Shutter Island
  • Victoria Riggs to Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon. Her death is the reason Riggs is a Death Seeker in the first film. It's only his unlikely friendship with Murtagh that later helps him get over it, though when The Dragon in the second film tells him that he killed her, Riggs goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Jessie's death in Mad Max causes Max's Despair Event Horizon and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. As a result, in the second film he's a lot colder, only warming to the refinery denizens after his Cool Car is destroyed.
  • Hel, Freder's late mother, for Rotwang in the uncut version of Metropolis. Possibly inspired the Repo! example.
  • Miao Miao has Bei and Chen Fei, in a heartbreaking male/male example.
  • The central plot point of The Mothman Prophecies.
  • Satine in the framing narrative of Moulin Rouge!.
  • Miranda in Picnic at Hanging Rock, so exquisitely beautiful and poignant that Michael fell in love with her at a glance before she vanished forever up that damn rock.
  • Allie's mother is this for her father Neal in Remember Me. Murdered in the subway by muggers when Allie was only a child, the mention of her causes Neal to flip out. He's insanely overprotective of his daughter as a result.
  • Marni in Repo! The Genetic Opera.
  • Adrian had become this as of Rocky Balboa. Instead of a quick throwaway line about how she had passed on to explain her absence in the final chapter, Rocky is shown to still be devastated and utterly heartbroken years after losing her to "the female cancer."
  • Another male example: Surprise! Malcolm in The Sixth Sense is his wife's Lost Lenore.
  • Sara, The Huntsman's dead wife in Snow White and the Huntsman.
  • Hari in Solaris is a particularly interesting case: the prime mover of the story is Kris' guilt over her death, and her doppelganger's reaction to the knowledge of it.
    • Rheya in the 2002 remake.
  • A very literal example in Taken 3 Bryan's ex-wife and perpetual love interest is abruptly killed off at the beginning of the movie, leaving him with the driving mission of clearing his name and finding her killer. Guessing her name shouldn't be too difficult.
  • Margot to Alexandre in Tell No One, although it's later subverted when it turns out she's been Faking the Dead.
  • This is given as the protagonist's primary motivation for time travel in The Time Machine (2002).
  • Unforgiven—Clint Eastwood remained so devoted to his dead wife that he graciously turned down a freebie from the Hooker with a Heart of Gold he was helping even though she was played by Anna Levine.
  • Subverted in Vertigo in an increasingly disturbing manner.
  • Kayla Silverfox in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. She inspires Logan to gain his Adamantium bonding.
  • In 45 Years, Geoff and Kate are approaching their 45th anniversary. Kate knows that shortly before they met, Geoff's girlfriend had died on a hiking holiday and they Never Found the Body, but as far as she knows it wasn't a serious relationship. When the girlfriend's body is discovered in a melting glacier, Geoff's obviously emotional reaction inspires Kate to delve deeper into the facts; she discovers that they had pretended to be married on the trip, and a slide collection hidden in the attic hints that she may have been pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, Geoff conceals his desire to go to Switzerland to identify the body, which he idealistically imagines to be a perfect, youthful Human Popsicle, and seemingly loses interest in making anniversary preparations with his wife.
  • James Bond:

    Literature 
  • In Alonzo and Melissa, one of the all-time great forgotten cheesy novels, Melissa is this for about half the book.
  • Laura in American Gods. Twice as interesting because even though she appears as a intelligent quasi-zombie throughout the story, she still acts as a Lenore to Shadow.
  • Anno Dracula: Lucy Westenra for Dr Jack Seward.
  • Derek Harris' first wife Mary is this in Aunt Dimity and the Duke. The novel takes place over five years after her death from pneumonia, and the Duke's reference to the horrors of death by drowning triggers a flashback for Derek. He throws himself into his work, with young Peter covering for his absences and for the drunken housekeeper Derek unwittingly hired. Most of his character development involves his recovery and the budding romance between him and Emma Porter.
  • Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January novels feature Ayasha, the hero's wife, who died shortly before the beginning of the series. Eleven books and five years later, her (happily remarried) husband still mourns for her.
  • According to Philippa Gregory's interpretation of events in The Constant Princess, Arthur was this to Catalina/Catherine of Aragon.
  • The Cornelius Chronicles: Jerry Cornelius' sister Catherine is a Dead Little Sister and Lost Lenore. She gets better. Sometimes.
  • Arlova, Rubashov's former secretary in Darkness at Noon. Rubashov recalls her in a sisterly light, but the scent of her body lingers with him, as does the curve of her neck, which may have been where she was shot after he made her take the heat for him.
    "You can do what you like with me," Arlova had said, and so he had done.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry becomes a gender-swapped version of this. After his death in Changes, Murphy utterly refuses to accept that he's gone. (Her Madness Mantra during this time is "They Never Found the Body...he's not dead, I can't believe he's dead.") She goes through life as normal, helping others and protecting Chicago's community from magical threats, but...something in her has just stopped. He comes back to life after six months or so, and Murphy is still depressed. It takes her a while to accept that Harry really is alive, because she doesn't want her hopes to get dashed again. He might also be this for Molly, but in her case, the reasons weren't exclusively romantic and they were never involved.
    • In the first few books Harry is still affected by the betrayal and death of his first girlfriend, Elaine Malloroy as seen when Michael brings her up in the beginning of Grave Peril and Harry nearly bites his head off. Michael outright states that he was afraid that Harry wuold never open himself up to love ever again. Later revevaled that she did survive, but let him belive her dead and that her betrayal was due to mind control. Only by the time that happens Harry managed to get over it so that he could fall in love with Susan Rodriguez only for her to promptly become Lost Lenore number two by vampire infection. She survives but her partial transformation renders them unable to continue seeing each other, causing severe depression for years after As of Changes Harry is forced to personaly kill her in order to save their daugter, causing even more angst
  • Pretty much any female character in anything by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Maria Clara is this to Simoun in El Filibusterismo.
  • Poke from Ender's Shadow falls under this category, albeit as a platonic love interest due to the characters' young ages.
  • Ellen in Gone with the Wind, to everyone in her family, but mostly her husband Gerald. And Melanie at the end, to Ashley. Compounding his grief over her is the fact that Ashley never realized how much he loved Melanie and depended on her until it was too late.
  • Lily Potter in the Harry Potter series, to Snape, her Stalker with a Crush and Unlucky Childhood Friend.
    • Cedric was this to Cho Chang, she was rather fragile and alone after he died.
  • In Heart of Steel, the death of one Lauren MacKenzie hit a certain MIT grad and science nut so hard that he had a psychotic break, reinventing himself as a cyborg Mad Scientist named Alistair Mechanus, with no memories of his previous life. When said memories are unlocked late in the novel, the pain is still fresh, almost breaking him again.
  • Paul Tankersley is this to Honor Harrington. His murder sends her into an emotional tailspin; nearly two decades later and married for ten years to Hamish and Emily Alexander, she's still marked by his death.
  • In How Sweet It Is by Melissa Brayden, Molly is still grieving for Cassie, her partner who died four years ago, when she begins to fall in love with Cassie's sister, Jordan. A huge plot point is when she makes the last of her regular visits to Cassie's grave and cries for her one last time so she can move on with Jordan.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss' father for her mother, killed in a mining accident. Her mother's resulting BSOD meant that Katniss was forced to step up and become chief provider for the family.
  • In Hideyuki Kikuchi's Invader Summer, the main character's abiding love for his deceased not-my-girlfriend is the only thing which keeps him from falling under the spell of the titular invader, unlike every other male who sees her.
  • In Craig Silvey's young adult novel Jasper Jones, the girl Jasper is romantically involved with, Laura Wishart, dies before the events of the novel begin. This death causes Jasper great pain and becomes the focus of the novel, prompting Jasper to seek the help of the novel's protagonist in evading the police and finding Laura's killer.
  • The Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series of Tony Hillerman has a mild example. Leaphorn's wife Emma dies of a surgical infection in one of the early books. They had been married for decades and Leaphorn never gets over it, thinking of her constantly.
  • The ballad "Lenore" (1773) by Gottfried August Bürger, which is one of the German ballads translated into English most often and was highly influential on various English-speaking writers besides starting a fashion for Gothic ballads in Germany, inverts the pattern: The eponymous heroine is obsessed with her sweetheart Wilhelm, who went off into the Seven Years' War and did not return. She begins to quarrel with God, causing her mother to chide her for her blasphemy. But then one night the dead fiancé returns and asks Lenore to mount up on his horse with him...
  • The titular character's deceased husband in Stephen King's Lisey's Story.
  • Annabell Leigh for Humbert Humbert in Lolita, complete with several references to the original poem. The reason H.H has his "tastes" is his relationship with her when he was a child and she was a child, which ended in the trope. He falls for Lolita because she looks so much like Annabell.
  • In Loyal Enemies, Tairinn is this to Veres. She was his fellow student at the magic university, they were madly in love with each other, and then he was arrested Taking the Heat for her and she was killed by a werewolf. He became a monster hunter because of that and even years later, she's the woman he's calling when in high fever. Too bad she never loved him, she feigned her death, the werewolf was her accomplice, and she's the villain of the story.
  • Leah Venn is this to her husband in Obsidian Mirror. Her death is what causes him to start experimenting on the mirror.
  • Emily in Jodi Picault's The Pact.
  • In Powers That Be, the first book of Anne McCaffrey's Petaybee series, the death of Yana's first husband is suggested to be the reason she joined the InterGal's military in the first place (which led to the injuries that led her to be shipped to Petaybee, the company's version of a desk job in a podunk town). Her growing feelings for Sean Shongili bring back memories of Husband #1.
  • Capelo's wife in Probability Sun by Nancy Kress. His enormous rage over her death (killed as a civilian noncombatant by enemy aliens) drives Capelo's interest in the main plot, and directly drives an important plot twist.
  • Rebecca plays with this trope. Rebecca seems to be this to her widowed husband Maxim, but it turns out that she was an utterly despicable woman whom he later murdered, and his haunted behavior regarding her death was caused by the strain of having to maintain a facade of devoted mourning and the knowledge that he was unable to be good enough for his innocent young second wife because of this. On the other hand, Rebecca is this trope in Les Yay fashion to her onetime nanny and later housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.
  • In the Redwall series, Luke's murdered wife Sayna is this to him. He even names his ship after her (albeit at the request of their son Martin). He sails away in the Sayna to find the vermin who killed her and avenge her death. Laterose could also be this to Martin, as her death casts a dark shadow over him for the rest of his life.
  • Anne Neville, the late wife of Richard III in the 21st Century. He does eventually end up Happily Married to mom and brilliant inventor Sarah Levine, but he's never fully over Anne. Sarah fortunately understands Richard's grief and does what she can to help him.
  • In Jackie Collins ' Santangelo family series, Gino has a version of this. He falls for a woman named something similar to Lenore. She dumps him and he holds a torch for a while, then he falls for her daughter named Maria. They get married and have two children, then she ends up being murdered by his Mob rival, making her a Stuffed in the Fridge type of this trope.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Lyanna Stark, mourned by her ex-betrothed Robert Baratheon.
    • Joanna for Tywin Lannister. Her Death by Childbirth is one of the main reasons Tywin hates his son Tyrion so much.
  • Lilias Craven in The Secret Garden.
  • Deliciously parodied by Lemony Snicket in A Series of Unfortunate Events where Beatrice serves as this for the narrator.
  • In Star Carrier: Earth Strike, Admiral Alexander Koenig's lover Admiral Karyn Mendelsson gets all of two scenes before being killed offscreen when the Turusch launch an extreme-range kinetic attack on several objects in the Sol System. For the next two books Koenig misses her so much that he keeps her image and personality as the avatar for his personal AI.
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. Times seven.
  • Wicked:
    • Fiyero for Elphaba, after being killed by the Gale Force.
    • Word of God is Glinda had feelings for Elphaba. After her death Glinda is portrayed quite distraught over Elphaba.
  • Ankaa for Virgil in Within Ruin.
  • Susan Delgado in Wizard and Glass. Roland continues to mourn for her throughout the remainder of The Dark Tower series, and her memory is also a significant part of the Marvel prequels.
  • Cathy Earnshaw in the second half of Wuthering Heights.

    Live Action TV 
  • Captain America becomes this for his girlfriend Peggy in Agent Carter. Thought to have perished in the ocean, a major plot point of the first season has Peggy becoming a double agent to help his friend Howard Stark. Peggy even confesses that she did this just to get a second chance at keeping him safe.
  • Daniel's death is what prompts Sidney Bristow to become a double agent and kicks the plot in motion in Alias.
  • Dylan Hunt's fiancée in Andromeda, after he ends up trapped at the event horizon of a black hole for 300 years. He later tries to use Time Travel to take her with him but is told that only one person can be transported. He later finds out that she has lived a long and happy life and meets her descendants on Tarazed.
  • Arrowverse
    • Arrow:
      • The death of Rebecca Merlyn is the ultimate cause of the events of the series. Malcolm Merlyn was never able to move on from her death, and in the process he joined the League of Assassins, alienated his son, and devised the Undertaking to destroy the Glades in a misguided attempt to avenge her death. Robert Queen, who opposed the plan, had his boat sabotaged, causing his son Oliver Queen to wash up on the island of Lian Yu and remain stranded there for five years, allowing him to learn and hone the skills that would make him the titular "Arrow" and oppose Malcolm.
      • Shado's death and Oliver's role in it along with the Mirakuru driving him insane is what caused Slade Wilson to become an insane psychopath hell bent on destroying Oliver Queen's life.
      • Oliver himself has had several. Along with the aforementioned Shado, he's lost Sara (twice), and Taiana. But the one that completely and utterly crushes him is Laurel, his Childhood Friend, his First Love, his Living Emotional Crutch during his five years away from home, and quite possibly the love of his life. Not only that, she was the woman his best friend Tommy loved and died for, and the immense amount of grief, regret and failure he feels that stems from all this is what causes Oliver to regress on his Thou Shalt Not Kill rule that he adopted in the wake of Tommy's death. In Season Five, it is made very clear that Laurel's death was the one death closest to pushing him over the edge above all others, and that he can't take much more tragedy before he breaks completely, like Malcolm and Slade did.
    • The Flash (2014)
      • In Season 2, Iris West still mourns her deceased fiancé Eddie Thawne a year after his death in the Season 1 finale. She only moves on after Barry uses Time Travel to film a video of Eddie telling her to find happiness again.
      • Similarly, Caitlin Snow is deeply affected by the death of her husband Ronnie Raymond in the Season 1 finale, especially since it was not the first time he died (in her eyes). However, because of that she has an easier time than Iris moving on from her love's death. Unfortunately, her relationship with the guy she tried to move on with did not end well either, though for entirely different reasons.
      • In Season 3, Barry's messing with the timeline alters the future so he and Iris never get married — he later finds out that this is because Season 3 Big Bad Savitar kills her. When Barry travels to the future in "The Once and Future Flash" to avert this tragedy, he finds out that his future self did not react well to Iris' death. He became a recluse, hidden away in S.T.A.R. Labs and continuously mourning the death of the love of his life. And he wasn't the only Barry Allen to break. Savitar is a time remnant of Future Barry who was rejected by the rest of Team Flash. Already on the brink thanks to losing Iris, this rejection caused him to go insane and try to become a god so he could no longer feel emotional pain, eventually resulting in him being driven so mad that he was willing to recreate the greatest tragedy of his life if it meant he could still exist.
  • Babylon 5:
    • John Sheridan believes his wife Anna to be dead, and clearly feels pain and guilt over her loss.
    • Also Adira to Londo Mollari, when her murder (which he attributes mistakenly to Lord Refa) pushes him completely into the designs of Morden and the Shadows, and to a stunning revenge plot against Refa. All of this was arguably pivotal to Londo's eventual fate in the story arc.
    • Marcus for Susan, although she never admitted her feelings while he was alive.
    • Carolyn ("Ship of Tears") to Bester—not quite dead, but no one as yet knew how to bring her out of her unusual less-than-alive state either. And supposedly this was the only person Bester was capable of actually loving, by his own words. His discovery that the Shadows reduced her to that state to prep her for fitting into a battlecrab's organic systems led him to some Enemy Mine cooperation with Sheridan against the Shadows.
    • And per the book ''The Shadow Within'', Morden agreed to serve the Shadows when they revealed to him that his wife and daughter, lost in a transport explosion a few years earlier, were actually trapped alive in a bubble of hyperspace and suffering in perpetual isolation. They offered to release them to a merciful death in exchange for his services. We also see here and in The Passing of the Techno-Mages trilogy that the necklace Morden wears in the show was a special gift from his wife, who he still had feelings for.
    • Isabelle to Galen. The Passing of the Techno-Mages trilogy reveals how Isabelle died and why Galen blames himself (he inadvertantly told Elizar how to defeat Isabelle's shield).
  • Better Call Saul has Matt, Stacey's husband and Mike's son. His death turned Stacey into a paranoid Broken Bird which is why Mike went back to a life of crime to provide for her and his granddaughter. She attends a grief counseling group where that helps people dealing with their lost love.
  • Anna Grant is this to Kerr Avon in Blake's 7.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Jenny Calendar for Giles. After her death, she's frequently mentioned and seen in flashbacks and dream sequences. Though Giles has other relationships, he never really seems to get over Jenny's death. Also, at different points in the series, both Drusilla and the First Evil use Jenny's form to manipulate and torture Giles and other Buffy characters.
    • Spinoff Angel arguably has a slightly twisted version in its final season. The death of Fred soon after they got together sends Wes into an alcoholic, desperate spiral. And since Illyria takes Fred's form, he's forced to still be around her every day and be driven by that constant reminder of his grief, which culminates when Wesley asks her to turn into Fred as he's dying.
  • In Charmed the sisters' grandfather Alan was this to grandmother Penny. He was killed by a warlock and the death caused Penny to fly into a blind rage and become a cold demon hunter. She also became incredibly bitter towards men, getting engaged five more times and marrying three of them.
  • Invoked in Community, where Annie has Abed shoot a video of herself so that in the event of anything happening to her she can more effectively fulfill this trope for someone.
    Annie: You know in movies where the hero's wife or girlfriend is dead or missing and so he sits in the dark and he watches her in a home movie.
    Abed: Or a hologram.
    Annie: Or hologram, and she's always beautiful and full of love almost to the point of being stupid? We're making footage of that for me in case I get kidnapped or murdered!
  • Claire Taylor, the late wife of Mac Taylor,who died on 9/11, in CSI: New York.
  • David for Ellen in Damages after season one.
  • Josette du Pres is this for Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. He even attempts to turn his other love interests into her.
  • Doctor Who:
    • It's implied that the Doctor might have at least one of these in his past (i.e., his unseen first wife).
    • Rose Tyler becomes a non-dead version of this to the Tenth Doctor when she falls into an alternate dimension, to the extent that he completely alienates his next companion Martha as he spends the next season effectively moping over Rose.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Lavinia Swire was supposed to marry Matthew Crawley (the heir to an Earldom) but died of the Spanish Flu right before their wedding. He got over her death quite quickly because Lady Mary was his one true love.
    • Lady Sybil Branson née Crawley is deeply mourned by her husband.
    • In Series 4, Matthew dies and is mourned by Lady Mary; a major arc that series is getting her out of the shell she's imposed on herself since his death. It's implied that even by the end of the series, she hasn't quite gotten over his loss, but is out of her shell.
  • The death of William Boone's wife in the Earth: Final Conflict pilot serves to drive Boone into the role of a double agent, protecting Da'an while working for La Résistance. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that she was killed when he refused Da'an's initial offer by claiming that he wants to spend more time with his wife. While Da'an's role in Boone's wife's murder is unclear at first, Zo'or blatantly states in the Season 2 opener that Da'an was the one who ordered her death.
  • From Farscape, D'Argo's wife, Lo'laan. She's killed, he's framed for her murder and imprisoned. He spends much of the series trying to clear his name so he can return home and trying to find their son.
  • John might qualify for Olivia in Fringe.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Robert Baratheon's rage and pain over Lyanna Stark still hasn't cooled after 17 years. The Season 6 finale implies that this was not really reciprocated since Lyanna was convinced that Robert would murder her son and she feared his wrath.
    • Although she is probably alive somewhere, Tyrion's first wife Tysha is still a deep source of grief for him, as Tyrion poignantly indicates whenever she comes up.
    Tyrion: "I was wed; or don't you remember?"
    • The way Tywin hold his wife Joanna's Death by Childbirth against Tyrion and the fact he has not remarried seems to indicate this trope.
  • General Hospital's Sonny Corinthos has two—his late wife Lily, killed by a car bomb meant for him, and Brenda, who for years was presumed dead in a separate incident, but he blamed himself anyway. In the two decades since Lily's death, he has sabotaged nearly every other relationship he's been in because he's afraid of her meeting Lily's fate, and he fell for Hannah Scott because of her eerie resemblance to both women.
  • In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Hercule's whole reason for fighting for justice is because Hera killed his wife Deianara, and their three kids.
  • In How I Met Your Mother:
    • Turns out while Ted was searching for his true love, the Mother was having trouble letting go of her boyfriend Max who died in 2005 at the beginning of the series.
    • In the end The Mother became this for Ted after dying from unspecified illness. The entire point of the show, talking to his kids about the events leading up to the meet, was his dealing with the grief and covertly asking their permission to date once more.
  • The fact that he couldn't save his wife from a car wreck is what spurs David Banner to gamma experiments in The Incredible Hulk (the TV series).
  • In Key West, the major elements of Gumbo's backstory are based around the loss of his wife, Cee Cee, to a sudden and unexpected illness. In "The Great Beyond," Gumbo finally realizes that he has to move on with his life despite still being desperately in love with his dead wife. But that's okay, because Cee Cee still loves him, and understands.
  • Lost: Charlotte could be this for Faraday. He is smitten with her, and then she dies. Her death makes Faraday question his entire belief system about the ability to change the past, resulting in him deciding to detonate a hydrogen bomb over a pocket of electromagnetic energy, hoping it will change things. This ultimately leads to his own death, and also forms the major narrative of the finale as Jack attempts to continue his plans.
  • Patrick's wife counts in The Mentalist. Her murder by Red John is what fuels all his actions in the series after.
  • Two from Merlin: Freya, Merlin's Girl of the Week who dies in his arms and becomes the Lady of the Lake, and Queen Igraine, King Uther's wife and Arthur's mother. She's a Posthumous Character whose death is the result of a spell that allowed to her concieve, and who kick-started Uther's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against magical users, setting up the main conflict of the entire show (that Merlin has to keep his magical abilities a secret).
  • Trudy in Monk.
  • Agent Gibbs in NCIS never has truly gotten over the murder of his first wife and the daughter the two had.
  • Nikita:
    • Nikita's deceased fiancé, a civilian man named Daniel who was killed by Division after their romance was discovered. Daniel's murder was what led Nikita to go rogue and attempt to take down Division.
    • Owen has his own example in Emily.
    • Michael's wife and daughter are also killed with a similar effect. Realizing that it happened on the order of Division leads to his Heel–Face Turn.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Daniel, Regina's true love, becomes this after he is murdered by her own mother. This leads Regina down her path to darkness, seeking to take revenge for Daniel's death.
    • Belle is also this for Rumplestilskin, who carries this on to his Mr. Gold persona. Subverted in that it turns out Belle isn't really dead and is eventually reunited with him.
    • Once Upon a Time loves to use this trope for its villains. Captain Hook also has one in the form of Rumplestiltskin's wife, Milah.
    • Subverted with Merlin and Nimue. We're told that the original Dark One murdered Merlin's lover Nimue. It turns out Nimue is the original Dark One.
  • Moray's wife in The Paradise. "It's forbidden to talk about her death".
  • Person of Interest:
    • Jessica is this for Reese.
    • Finch seems to be this with respect to his fiancée Grace—he's still alive, but because he faked his death (Or rather, made certain that nobody realized that he survived an assassination attempt aimed at the friend he was standing next to at the time), she doesn't know this.
  • Gender Inverted Example in Rejseholdet, where Ingrid's long-therm boyfriend, Søren, dies from a brain hemorrhage in the sixth episode. His death continues to have lingering effects on Ingrid's private life throughout the series.
  • In Season Three of the BBC series Robin Hood Robin Hood may have got another love interest in the form of Kate but the final scene of the final episode affirmed Maid Marian's status as The One True Love.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand:
    • Sura in season one is almost the most classic example of this trope in a TV series since Shelly Webster in The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Even before the titular hero knows for sure she's actually dead she appears in flashbacks and dream sequences, and after she dies in his arms. Spartacus does get another love interest, Mira but (1) she bears more than a passing resemblance to Sura and (2) it takes him a long time to reciprocate her interest. They spend a lot of Season 2 dancing around Spartacus' ongoing love and grief for his murdered wife, and after they finally do get properly together, Mira is killed too! Word of God has it that Spartacus probably will never be able to love again.
    • Melitta is this both for her husband Oenemaeus and his friend Gannicus, who had been forced to have sex with her for a Roman noble's amusement (and ended up falling for her). The fact that she died while about to have sex with Gannicus complicated matters even further.
    • Quintus becomes this for his wife Lucretia by Vengeance. Their ludus was massacred at the end of the first season and he died, while Lucretia survived. That and the death of her unborn child turns her into The Ophelia.
  • Star Trek
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation
      • Tasha Yar for Data. He keeps a hologram of her in his quarters, which becomes a plot point, and becomes friends with her sister and is hurt when she betrays him. Also, he makes an enemy of her alternate timeline half-Romulan daughter, whose appearances serve to remind him of Tasha.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
      • Without Jennifer Sisko, the entire series wouldn't have unfolded the way it did. It led to Sisko accepting the post in the first place, him becoming the Emissary, him becoming so bound to Bajor, and his final fate at the end of the show.
      • A partially successful example occurs with Tora Ziyal. It succeeded via her father's storyline. He had never been entirely sane and broke completely over the death. He ended up as the Big Bad, trying to bring about a Bajoran apocalypse. She was also supposed to be this trope for Garak as his driving inspiration for every future action he took against the Dominion. However, because the show refused to openly admit the impact of her death on Kira and Garak because it wanted to redeem her murderer, the fans only learned this fact through Word of God rather than the show itself.
  • Supernatural has several:
    • Mary for all the Winchesters. She's the motivation for much of the first two series and Zachariah tortures her soul ( or an artificial copy of her) because he knows it will upset Sam and Dean.
    • Jessica is Sam's Lost Lenore. She appears as a hallucination and in his dreams. Lucifer wears her form the first time he talks to Sam, so that he'll be more convincing ( and possibly for the sake of fanservice ).
    • Lucifer also tries a similar trick with his first vessel Nick, who had lost his wife in a violent crime.
    • And Bobby has his wife, whose death he has never quite gotten over. It's the motivation for everything he's done and if Bobby is getting an episode in the spotlight, chances are fifty-fifty that his wife will appear at some point. Supernatural loves this trope.
  • Inverted in a That Mitchell and Webb Look sketch involving a parody of the film Rebecca. The eponymous Rebecca arrives at her new husband's house only to find out he is obsessed with preserving everything in the house for his second wife.
  • Timeless: Logan's wife, who died in something he believes to be his fault. Emma resembles her, to the point that he pulls tries to her out from under the Hindenburg, despite knowing she was one of the victims of the explosion.
  • Lori in The Walking Dead via Death by Childbirth.
  • Another male example—in Warehouse13 Myka's former partner/lover Sam died on an assignment with her, and her belief that she could/should have saved him drives many of her actions in the series.
  • Kate for Neal in season 2 of White Collar.
  • Male example—and doubly unique and interesting as he is the Lost Lenore to another male character—Brandon from Season One of The Wire, whose death continued to have ramifications through subsequent seasons.

    Mythology 

    Music 
  • In Ludo's rock opera Broken Bride, the main character is obsessed with turning back time to save his wife, who died in a car accident fifteen years before. He cuddles her old clothes, and was generally unhinged by it.
  • "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow is about a woman named Lola in the 1940s who worked at the titular bar with her lover Tony. One night Tony was shot by a mobster who was trying to seduce Lola. Thirty years later she still spends her nights at the bar, drinking and dressed in the same clothes she wore when Tony was alive.
    Her name is Lola
    She was a showgirl
    But that was thirty years ago, when they used to have a show
    Now it's a disco
    But not for Lola
    Still in the dress she used to wear
    Faded feathers in her hair
    She sits there so refined and drinks herself half blind
    She lost her youth and she lost her Tony
    Now she's lost her mind
  • Country Music loves to tell stories about people pining for their lost loves; for extra drama, the lost love is often dead to insure that the narrator will never, ever have the resolution they want. In fact, it's a bit of a stock Twist Ending for songs in the genre to reveal that the object of the last three verses' obsession is gone forever. Consider Leann Rimes' "Probably Wouldn't Be this Way" or the Brad Paisley/Alison Kraus duet "Whiskey Lullaby". Of note is that both of the above examples have a woman pining over a man, presumably because it's more poignant to hear a feminine voice sing a dirge, as per the One-Woman Wail.
  • Turned Up to Eleven and ultimately Played for Laughs by the folk ballad My Darling Clementine.
  • My Dying Bride loves this trope, as you can probably tell by their name. This album has quite a few examples.
  • "The One You Really Love" from The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs seems at first like it's just a case of the protagonist's love interest being into somebody else (enough that Skins could play the verse out of context for a similar situation). The second verse reveals it's actually that they're unable to move on from a dead lover. The last line of the song swaps out the title lyric for "the corpse you really love."
  • "Terrible Things" by Mayday Parade is about a man telling his son how he fell in Love at First Sight with his wife, spent several years with her, and how she died of a illness when their son was young. It ends with the man begging his son not to ever fall in love or he could suffer similar pains.
  • "Tsui no Hate" from Akiko Shikata's Greek mythology album ''Istoria ~Kalliope~" is about Orpheus's deep grief over failing to bring Eurydice back from the underworld.
  • Much of Tristania's first album is made of this trope, and it's not subtle about it, either: from the album title, Widow's Weeds, to one song being named My Lost Lenore.

    Theater 
  • Lucy Barker in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sweeney Tod's beloved wife. Except she isn't really dead. Mrs Lovett lied. And for much worse, Sweeney kills her without knowing it's her.
  • Lily Craven in the musical adaptation of The Secret Garden, both to her husband Archibald, as in the novel, and to his brother Neville. They sing a duet called "Lily's Eyes".
  • Manfred takes this trope Up to Eleven.
  • In Strange Interlude, Nina can't get past Gordon, who is already dead when the play starts. She sleeps with wounded soldiers because she feels like she has to, after never getting to sleep with Gordon. Charles, for his part, is jealous of a dead man. Ned gets pretty much sick of hearing Nina talk endlessly about Gordon. When she has a baby out of wedlock with Ned years later, she names the baby Gordon.
  • Roger's ex-girlfriend April in RENT is undoubtedly a Lost Lenore, as his entire angst over her suicide and reveal that they've got AIDS is what keeps him locked in the apartment for the better part of a year and prevents him from pursuing a proper relationship with Mimi. The film version even goes as far as including a happier home movie of Roger and April.

    Video Games 
  • Another Code: Sayoko Robbins' death and previous life is the driving force of both games.
  • Bioshock Infinite—Lady Comstock, mourned both by her husband and the entire city. It's later revealed that she was killed by Comstock himself to preserve the secret that Elizabeth is not their child, framing nearby scullery maid Daisy Fitzroy in the process.
  • Castlevania:
    • Dracula's wives (Elisabetha back at the 11th century and Lisa in early 15th century). The guy is not really lucky in love.
    • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel's wife Marie plays a role almost identical to Mono's, albeit a bit more involved.
  • In Blue Tea Games' Cursery: The Crooked Man, The Crooked Man's fiancée had died before they could get married and he went insane with grief. While she has been reborn as the player character's sister, her ghost still haunts the areas where she lived and died until the Crooked Man triggers the sister's memories.
  • In The Darkness 2, Jackie Estacado is haunted by eerily lifelike visions of his girlfriend Jenny, who died in the first Darkness game.
  • In the second Dark Parables game, the Frog Prince is immortal and eternally grieving for his lost brides, most particularly his first wife Ivy.
  • Used directly in the tenth installment of the Dark Tales, which is based on The Raven; losing his beloved Lenore is implied to have driven Alan to suicide.
  • Strongly implied in the trailer for Days Gone, with the main character reminiscing of happier times with his girlfriend before The Virus happened.
  • Nicole in Dead Space and its sequel. It's a major plot point in both games.
  • This is the whole point of Dear Esther.
  • Subverted by Dragon Age with Varric and Bianca: in Dragon Age 2, it's told that Varric's crossbow Bianca, which he consistently talks about as if they're in a relationship, is named for the person who helped create it... and that Varric, a gregarious storyteller known for exaggerating or fabricating whatever he feels like, refuses to say any more about the story behind Bianca's creation. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, the real Bianca is shown to be alive and well, and that she and Varric are still in communication somewhat regularly: she's just in an Arranged Marriage to someone else, so they can't be seen together. Or her family will send assassins.
  • Subverted in DragonFable. The fact that Warlic and Xan's teenage rivalry led to the woman both of them were crushing on, Jaania, being imprisoned in a crystal is a major factor in both of their motivations (Xan in particularly wants revenge on Warlic for it). Then Jaania gets out, and she's so royally pissed at both of them that she freezes both them and the player character solid and goes on to become a Knight Templar.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, one of your companions, Boone, recently lost his wife after she was captured by Slavers. He's haunted by his failure to protect her and by the fact that he killed her himself.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VII Aerith has a Lost Lenore in the form of Zack. The reason she joined Cloud's party to begin with is because Cloud (for one reason and another) is similar to Zack.
    • A male example is Lord Rassler to Ashe from Final Fantasy XII. She keeps hallucinating that she sees his spirit following her around and it turns out the Occurria were exploiting this trope to manipulate her.
    • Serah from Final Fantasy XIII, though she has been crystallized instead of killed. It affects every main character, especially Snow and Lightning. Serah's death at the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2 evokes this in Lightning, Mog, Noel, and especially Snow in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Haurchefant from Final Fantasy XIV, for the Warrior of Light/Player character. He's the Implied Love Interest, and his death breaks and marks a painful change in the Warrior of Light's attitude, which is lampshaded by several characters over the course of the story.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has Monica for Orson, her husband. It's so much so he's willing to do a Face–Heel Turn to bring her back to life. Luckily, the player never sees the result.
    • Ke'ri is this to Lon'qu in Fire Emblem Awakening. It's made worse than the standard since she died in a Heroic Sacrifice to save him.
    • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and especially its remake, Shadows of Valentia, if certain characters die in action, another character's ending will mention that he/she became this to the survivor. Some of them are: Clair and Gray for each other, Valbar for Leon, Forsyth for Python (probably), Clive for Mathilda, Zeke and Tatiana for each other, Boey and Mae for each other too...
  • In Ghost Trick, The suicide of Yomiel's fiancée Sissel is part of what drove him mad with isolation. He even named his cat after her.
  • David's wife Laura in the adventure game Gray Matter.
  • Halo: You would never expect to find this trope in a first-person shooter, but Halo 4 ends with the realization that there has been a romance brewing in this series since the first game, and Cortana becomes this for the Master Chief in the end. Then Halo 5: Guardians reveals that Cortana survived and has developed the desire to rule over the galaxy as a benevolent tyrant. Chief is as angry and heartbroken about this as a stoic killing machine can be.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has the unnamed wife of King Rhoam, who died while their daughter Zelda was very young. As the women of the Royal Family of Hyrule are the ones who pass down the Royalty Super Power capable of defeating Calamity Ganon and teach their daughters how to awaken it, and as his wife was the kind and encouraging parent, King Rhoam made Zelda go through a regimen of ritualistic prayer at sacred springs to unlock that power while forbidding her from researching Ancient Technology as she wanted because that was the only way he could think of to do so.
    • Link himself may have had one in Mipha. She was clearly in love with the Childhood Friend and while it's not confirmed he felt the same, the two had a close bond and some dialogue implies he reciprocated.
  • Depending on the player's actions in Mass Effect, this ends up happening. Liara, in particular, is affected by Shepard's death—though her character development is partially a facade due to emotional trauma and survivor guilt.
    • Mass Effect 3 can potentially add two more. If Kasumi was encouraged to keep her graybox and either the extended Destroy or Control endings are activated, she's shown to not be over Keiji at all, and in fact spends nearly all her free time reliving his memories. In the Citadel DLC, if Thane was romanced, Shepard can experience this herself through the use of paragon options during Kolyat's memorial service.
  • Michael from Oxenfree qualifies. He died some time before the beginning of the events of the game occurred, but it's made pretty clear that his ex-girlfriend, Clarissa, never recovered from the loss and his presence is felt throughout the narrative.
  • Mono from Shadow of the Colossus. Bringing her back to life is the entire premise of the plot.
  • James's wife in Silent Hill 2.
  • Maria could be considered this to Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2.
  • Tales Series:
    • Stella to Senel in Tales of Legendia. Senel is so hurt and hung-up on her death that this causes him to be completely oblivious to her younger sister Shirley's own feelings and emotional turmoil and the enemy uses this to break her, among other things.
    • Tales of Symphonia: Lloyd Irving's mother, Anna, for Kratos Aurion. Yuan Ka-fai's is also this for Martel.
    • Tales of Berseria: Zaveid's girlfriend Theodora, who became the dragon Shenlong and was killed by Eizen
  • Tiffin Wrynn in World of Warcraft, who was killed by a brickbat. A rather ornate memorial is built for her, and Varian spends significant amounts of screen time in lore angsting over her death or talking 'to' her about various things. In Wolfheart, he is shown still blaming himself for the death well over a decade later, and in the leader short story The Blood of Our Fathers, he is shown to carry around her locket as a form of Security Blanket.
  • Xenosaga has both male and female examples of this trope. Shion's Lost Lenore is Kevin, her boyfriend and the scientist originally in charge of the KOS-MOS project, while Jr.'s is Sakura, the Ill Girl whom MOMO was created to look like.
    • Mary, as well, for chaos. Who is 'resurrected' not once, but twice, with KOS-MOS holding her soul, and T-Elos being made from her body.
  • Xenoblade, Fiora is this to Shulk. Though she later comes back as a Hollywood Cyborg.

    Visual Novels 
  • In CLANNAD, Nagisa is this for Tomoya.
  • Godot from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials & Tribulations wakes up from a years-long coma to the belief that Mia Fey is this and that Phoenix Wright is the reason she is The Lost Lenore for him. He spends much of the game berating and insulting Phoenix as his way of dealing with it but by the end he sees her spirit in him and realizes that all the hatred he had been building up for Phoenix was misplaced.
  • This trope has become so common in Dangan Ronpa that it's become a running joke among fans that falling in love equals death.
    • From the first game, Sayaka for Makoto. She was both his first crush and the first student to die in the killing game, and her death was what drove the message home to him that this was real. He even privately vowed to never forget her and carry the weight of her (and her killer's) deaths with him forever. In Dangan Ronpa 3, he almost has another in Kyoko, but she fortunately survives, making him one of the few characters (and the only protagonist) in the franchise whose Love Interest is still alive.
    • Super Dangan Ronpa 2 has Chiaki for Hajime. Her death leave him utterly crushed, and he constantly mentions how he'll never forget her. He's also reluctant to go through with the shut-down of the Neo-World Program because it might cause him to lose his memories of her. In a twist of fate, Dangan Ronpa 3 retroactively reveals she was also this for Hajime's other persona, Izuru, being the entire reason he masterminded the events of the game in the first place.
    • From the same game, there's also Peko, whose death kick-starts Fuyuhiko's Character Development. If you do his Free-Time Events you'll also get a clearer picture on how much she meant to him. Also, similar to Hajime above, he's very hesitant about shutting down the Neo World Program, because even though he knows the ramifications of choosing to graduate and bringing everyone back to life (thus allowing everyone who died to be overtaken by AI Junko), he desperately wants to see Peko again.
    • In New Dangan Ronpa V3, Kaede turns out to be a Decoy Protagonist and is executed in the first chapter, with Shuuichi taking over from then on. He is very deeply affected by her death and constantly references the impact she had on him.
    • Also in that game, Kaito for Maki, and Tenko for Yumeno. In a more disgusting way, Korekiyo's murder motivation was spurred by his romantic relationship with his sister.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry: Satoshi Houjou's disappearance (he disappeared a year prior to the story's events, and hence is believed by most to be dead) is the main drive for Shion Sonozaki—how this affects her changes arc by arc (it depends if she's subject to the local Hate Plague); she may throw herself into a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against those she sees as responsible (i.e. almost everyone she knows), or she'll devote herself to looking after Satoko, Satoshi's little sister. It should be noted, however, that Shion only seems to truly believe that he is dead during the arcs where she goes on her RROR (she believes her family killed him because of the prejudice against his family). In other arcs, she seems to hold at least a little hope that he will return (even if it is to reassure Satoko, who believes this as well). The final arc in Kai reveals that he is indeed alive, but in a coma. She decides I Will Wait for You.
    • In the first half of Umineko: When They Cry, it appears Kinzō's desire to revive his dead mistress (Beatrice) pushed him to start a gruesome ceremony that involves sacrificing his own family (and more often than not, himself). And in the second half of the story it turns out Kinzō was dead more than a year before the start of the game. Actually the original Beatrice, Beatrice Castiglioni, died by giving birth to her and Kinzō's child. This drove him to despair, and he ended up raping their daughter as she grew up to look more and more like her mother. Said daughter gave birth to a child, and she too died shortly after. Kinzō then gave that Child by Rape to his daughter-in-law Natsuhi to raise because herself couldn't conceive an heir; since she already was very unstable, her response was to throw the baby off a cliff. Said baby survived miraculously but grew up broken physically and psychologically, to the point of developing multiple Split Personalities and planning a murder motivated by love and all the crap they went through. For Want of a Nail indeed.
  • In Fate/stay night, one of the endings for Heaven's Feel has Shirou sacrificing himself to destroy the Holy Grail. Sakura refuses to accept Shirou's death and waits for the day Shirou returns until she eventually dies of old age.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend, the driving force behind all of the underlying plot is the death of Shuu Iwamine's beloved mentor, Ryuuji Kawara. Said death leads Shuu to promise Ryuuji that he'd grant the wish of Ryuuji's son, Ryouta. Ryouta's wish? For a world where humans and birds, historically opposed factions After the End, no longer fought. Shuu, unhinged Mad Scientist that he is, naturally concocts a plan to make it happen in the most straightforward way possible: by killing off the rest of the human race.

    Webcomics 
  • In Decrypting Rita, Barrett-2's girlfriend Kim-2 committed suicide in Universe 2's backstory and Barrett has pined for her ever since. So much that when Kim-3 is thrown into Universe 2 by accident, Barrett-2 is overjoyed at her "return" and begins socializing with her at the expense of Rita-2.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, both Surma Stibnite and Jeanne are this, to a degree.
    • Jeanne actually has her own Lenore; an unnamed elf whom she was divided from by the Court-Forest war. Even when he was alive, she was constantly longing for him and sending messages to the Forest. And when they both died as the result of a plot by the Court leaders (and Jeanne's jealous Stalker with a Crush), her grief and anger was so strong that she lived on as a ghost, dwelling for hundreds of years, at least, in the spot where she died, violently attacking anyone—good or evil—who came down there. Jeanne Used to Be a Sweet Kid, but her actions make it clear that she's just an Empty Shell now. There is nothing in her but sorrow and the desire for revenge. Unusually for the trope, she's an example whose sadness drove her to evil instead of stasis.
  • Inverted in Tower of God. Rachel didn't die, she tried to kill Baam seemingly nowhere and believes along with the rest of the cast to have succeeded.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in Alice Isn't Dead. Though the story begins In Medias Res, the Narrator spends portions of the second episode recounting how she had utterly convinced herself her suddenly vanished wife was dead, and was adjusting well with the help of grief support groups. It's the sight of Alice alive on TV that kick-starts the Narrator's new, life-defining quest, traveling the country as a long-haul trucker in the hopes of hunting Alice down and getting an explanation for The Conspiracy that prompted her disappearance.
  • Reginald's wife in Doom House died before the story begins, which made Reginald very depressed.
  • From Noob, Tenshirock's wife / Judge Dead's mother. After her death, Tenshirock tried to bond with his son by being good at several activities they did together. However, the lens of Judge Dead's Inferiority Superiority Complex made it look like his father was just reminding him how much better he was, contrary to his mother that had always been supportive. One of the activities was playing the MMORPG in which the story is set, where Tenshirock at some point realized that his guild master had a mental condition heavily implied to have caused his wife's death. He eventually got his guild master to quit, which didn't go unnoticed since the guild master in question was Spectre, the game's Living Legend.
  • Allison from Red vs. Blue, whose death many years before the series begins arguably is indirectly responsible for everything that happens in it, as it royally screws up her boyfriend/husband, who goes on to become the Director of Project Freelancer, which proceeds to get deep into Crazyland. Mostly in the Director's efforts to get his beloved Allison back.
  • During Monster Factory's playthrough of Fallout 4, the boys become attached to a radroach corpse they name Roachie, and he becomes The Final Pam's sons-band. Roachie de-spawns, and they mourn him of the rest of the playthrough. Really.

    Western Animation 
  • Princess Yue to Sokka in Avatar: The Last Airbender. While he does later get a new love interest (whom he actually met before Yue), he also spends a lot of time thinking about her, even after he gets together with Suki. This is indicated by his reaction to Suki's teasing during the Ember Island Players' depiction of her Heroic Sacrifice. Doesn't help that the moon is brought up from time to time.
    • In the sequel series The Legend of Korra, we have Hiroshi Sato's wife, who was murdered by firebending gangsters. Her death resulted in him secretly supporting the Equalists, supplying them with weapons to fight off benders.
  • Nora Fries from Batman: The Animated Series, whose demise drove her husband, Victor Fries, to become the villainous Mr. Freeze. This backstory proved so effective that was adopted as the official origin of Mr. Freeze, making Nora a Canon Immigrant to The DCU.
  • The lost Lenore appears in the "Poe Pourri" episode of the Beetlejuice cartoon. Poe himself arrives at Beetlejuice's house wailing about the fact that he's lost his precious Lenore. Subverted in that the lady isn't actually lost; Poe just went to the wrong place to meet her. She turns up perfectly fine near the end of the episode, annoyed but still happy to see him.
  • Razer's wife, Ilana from Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Her death was the reason he joined the Red Lanterns. Invoked by Atrocitus, who not only started the war on Razer's planet in hopes of creating some Red Lantern material, but murdered his wife to achieve precisely this effect, pushing him over the edge.
  • Ivanhoe: The King's Knight: "The Legend of the White Stag" tells the story of Harold Godwin and his love for Blanche Fleur; she tragically died from an illness before they could marry. This was shortly followed by the death of Edward, Harold's father, who was crushed by a tree that was felled by a lightning strike. Harold's grief was so overwhelming that he couldn't remember who he was for a time.
  • Bill's ex-wife on King of the Hill is named Lenore, clearly trying to invoke this, but she's actually The One That Got Away. (Or rather, the most notable of many who got away.)
  • In Regular Show, Skips had a lover named Mona, with whom he used to skip every day. When she died during a fight with a school bully, he vowed to always skip in her memory as well as changing his name from Walks to Skips.
  • ''The Simpsons':
    • Exaggerated in the episode "I'm Goin' to Praiseland". When Ned Flanders invites his date Rachel Jordan to stay at his house (to sleep in separate rooms, of course), she's skeeved out by all the photos of his late wife Maude, the Maude-shaped bedsheet indentation he preserves with sprayed starch, the monogrammed robe he hands her (with Maude's monogram, of course), and his calling her "Maude". None of this prepares her for the discovery, upon awakening the next morning, that Ned has cut her hair to resemble Maude's. Ned isnt able to move on by himself, but is instead forced to have Homer and Bart get rid of all the stuff that reminds him of Maude. By the end of the episode, he's finally capable of removing the Maude-shape in the bed, as he begins to move on.
    • In an adaptation of The Raven from the first "Treehouse of Horror", Marge filled this role.
  • Steven Universe: Rose Quartz, the title character's mother, is this to both Greg Universe and Pearl. Her legacy is a constant presence in Steven's life (especially due to how she died) but Greg actually handles his grief quite well. Pearl, not as much.
  • Duckman had Duckman's beloved wife Beatrice, who died before the show started, but appears in a few flashbacks. Unlike literally every other woman Duckman ever met, with Beatrice, he was a Chivalrous Pervert rather than The Hedonist than he is in the series itself. Even the OTHER characters remark on how much his wife had actually meant to Duckman. the series finale ended on a cliffhanger revealing that she was still alive. This is at it's most notable when Duckman is haunted by dozens if alternate universe versions of himself, and is visited by a version of himself from his wedding day decades prior.
    Past!Duckman: Am I doing the right thing marrying Beatrice? Do we grow old together?
    Duckman: ...you're going to love her until the day you die.
    Past!Duckman: ...maybe I dont need to know anything but that.

    Real Life 
  • The Trope Codifier was Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe, the wife of Edgar Allan Poe and the inspiration for the various Lenore characters in his writings. She was his thirteen-year-old cousin whom he married when he was 27, although their marriage was (according to some biographers) never consummated. Poe was more interested in hearing himself talk than having sex. Nevertheless, when she died of tuberculosis at the age of 29, Poe never quite got over it.
  • An enigmatic individual by the name of "Sook" was allegedly this to Truman Capote. His last words were "It's me, Buddy." Apparently, "Buddy" was Sook's nickname for him.
  • Theodore Roosevelt's first wife, Alice. On the date of her death, Roosevelt simply drew an X through the corresponding page of his diary, writing, "The light has gone out of my life." He seldom spoke of her for the rest of his life. Her death was why he disliked the nickname "Teddy" - it had been her pet name for him.
  • Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe in 1954, but they divorced in the same year. They became close again in 1961, and it was rumored that they might remarry. When she died in 1962, he arranged her funeral and would send half a dozen roses to her grave 3 times a week for the next 20 years until his death. He never remarried or talked publicly about Marilyn or exploited their relationship, unlike others. When he died in 1999, his last words were "I'll finally get to see Marilyn."
  • MMA fighter Denis Kang was on a 23-fight unbeaten streak when his girlfriend, fellow MMA fighter Shelby Walker, died of an apparent overdose. Since then, he has only won 7 of 16 bouts.
  • In December 1972, shortly after he was first elected Senator of Delaware, Joe Biden's first wife Nielle and their daughter Naomi were killed in an auto accident, with their sons Beau and Hunter hospitalized too. Joe always takes the day off on the anniversary of the accident.
  • King Henry VII of England felt this way toward his queen, Elizabeth of York. She died in 1503, and Henry went into seclusion following her death (on her 36th birthday, giving birth to a child who also died); for several days he would allow no one to come near him except his own mother. It's also worth noting that while their marriage was political, it was unusually happy, with no recorded instances of Henry even being suspected of adultery (unlike many kings of the era). After a time he did allow his courtiers to look for a new wife for him, but his description of what he wanted was almost identical to Elizabeth and, of course, no one could be found who came close. He died six years later, in 1509, having never remarried nor taken a mistress.
  • Their son, Henry VIII, also experienced this. Although he did remarry three more times after her passing, he spent the rest of his life mourning his third wife, Jane Seymour. She was his only wife to have died naturally while they were still married. She was also his only wife to give him the son he had always desired, the future Edward VI, and died giving birth to him.
    • However, contemporary accounts have Henry as more "mildly annoyed" than "tragically destroyed" by news of her death (see the Useful Notes page for more detail). He also began hunting for wife number four only days afterwards. He only retroactively began treating Jane Seymour as a Lost Lenore years later when it became obvious none of his following wives would produce another son.
  • Clark Gable married five times throughout his life but he never stopped mourning for his third spouse and film costar, Carole Lombard, to whom he was very Happily Married before she died in a plane crash in 1942, alongside her mother and Gable's agent Otto Winkler. He was even buried next to her.
  • Queen Victoria went into deep mourning upon her consort Albert's death in 1861. It was customary for the bereaved to seclude themselves for a few months, and for widows to wear black for two years. But Victoria wasn't even seen in public again for nearly two years afterward; she even watched the wedding of her son, the Prince of Wales, from a hidden alcove where people couldn't see her. She also wore black for the rest of her life. Even the contemporary British population, which had an unhealthy fascination with death, felt weirded out by her behavior.


Alternative Title(s): Dead Little Love Interest

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheLostlenore