The Doctor: I think this is the night [King Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour] met. The night of the Yew Tree ball. In no time at flat, she'll get herself established as his official mistress, with her own rooms at the palace... even her own title, Madame de Pompadour.Basically the next level up from Your Cheating Heart, but not quite equal to a concubine. She is the usually long-term girlfriend of an already married man. Sometimes the affair is public, but just as often it is not. The reasons can vary: the most common being that the husband just doesn't care enough for his wife, especially if they are in an Arranged Marriage. Sometimes it's actually expected within a culture, particularly for people of high rank (even if kept private). Sometimes the wife can even drive her husband to this, but just as often she can be a kind woman, or even a Hot Consort. Some mistresses will be happy with their position, but others will want their lover to leave his wife and marry them. Occasionally, the latter could even lead to attempts to get rid of the wife. Needless to say, if the wife wasn't aware of her existence and finds out, the mistress is very likely to die at her hands, if the man isn't the one to die. Crime Fiction stories often involve this trope, as it conveniently gives everyone involved a motive for murdering at least one of the Love Triangle. The more mistresses, the more potential red herrings/victims. There are a lot of historical examples, because European aristocratic marriages were almost always purely political. It was generally accepted that the husband and (though less tolerated) wife would take lovers to provide the emotional fulfillment they may not be getting from their marriage. It was usually considered bad form to be conspicuous about it, but not always. In some countries, such as France, the royal mistress was even an official position; she was designated 'maîtresse-en-titre' and had her own special apartments. Formalizing and legitimizing it made things less awkward in public, and it also made it easier to keep tabs on any illegitimate children who might one day contest the throne. Compare The Unfair Sex, Oops! I Forgot I Was Married (if the mistress does not know about the other's family), Dark Mistress (who is not an evil version of this, despite the name). Many a Trophy Wife starts out this way, although it is by no means guaranteed that she'll eventually become his wife...or, for that matter, that every (usually second or third) marriage between an older (and usually rich) man and a younger woman started out this way. A Royal Harem is an officially established and sanctioned legion of mistresses. See also Good Adultery, Bad Adultery.
Rose Tyler: (sarcastically) Queen must have loved her...
The Doctor: Oh, she did. They get on very well.
Mickey Smith: (disbelieving) The King's wife and the King's girlfriend?
The Doctor: France. It's a different planet.
Rose Tyler: (sarcastically) Queen must have loved her...
The Doctor: Oh, she did. They get on very well.
Mickey Smith: (disbelieving) The King's wife and the King's girlfriend?
The Doctor: France. It's a different planet.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- This trope is referenced in Ranma ½. One of the things Ranma does to try and get Ukyo to dump him is to tell her he's going to go spend the night with his mistress. Made funnier when he enters Akane's room and tries to convince her to go along with it. She really doesn't take it well.
- Rosario + Vampire makes use of it overtly; in the case of those seeking Tsukune's love only one has expressed real interest in marriage, with the others either outright saying they want to be something else to him, or simply showing no great interest either way. However more subtly when we finally discover the full picture of the Shuzen family, we learn that not only was Issa casually polygamous, but it is implied that among his partners, Moka's mother Akasha Bloodriver is Issa Shuzen's mistress rather then his wife. This despite also being a Shinso vampire and one of the Three Dark Lords, who control/watch over Japan.
- Nodoka gets the idea of being this in Mahou Sensei Negima! when her subconscious suggests a solution to a Love Triangle she's in. That suggestion is "saishoudoukin," a situation where a man keeps a wife and a concubine in the same house.
- Being set at the court of Versailles in the years preceding The French Revolution, Rose of Versailles has various examples, the most notable being Madame Du Barry (the mistress of King Louis XV and an early villain and enemy of Marie Antoinette). At the time, as explained by Madame De Polignac, it was so common for married nobles to have a lover on the side that people were astonished that Louis XVI and Oscar's father had none, and many were willing to believe that Fersen was Marie Antoinette's lover because it made more sense than Marie Antoinette refusing to consummate their love because of her duty as the queen.
- Speaking of Madame De Polignac... Her lover was her brother in love.
- When it appeared that he would marry Oscar, Girodelle told Andre he would allow him to be Oscar's lover if they both wished. That is how easily it was accepted.
- Patlabor: The Movie 2: Back when Shinobu was a cadet at the Tsuge Institute, she had an affair with the instructor, himself, despite knowing he was married. It was both a breach of police protocol and ethics. Word of the affair soon got out, reaching as far as he top brass, which created a scandalnote . The stigma forced Shinobu to settle for a position at the SVU, rather than a higher one more befitting her talentnote .
- Set in (last years) Victorian England, Count Roland of Under The Rose manga has two mistresses. One is glamorous, pretty, dughter of declined Marquis Grace King and clumsy, plain jane who was his former intern Margareth Stanley. It says a lot when each of the mistresses has more active role in children, sans William who is his mother's (legitimate wife) favorite. Yes, it is Seinen featuring Disfunctional Family.
- "Heis'he Ri'nanovai": Morgan t'Thavrau realizes by looking at genetic records recovered from the ruins of Romulus she was conceived as the result of an adulterous affair between Merken tr'Vreenak, then a prefectural governor, and his chief of staff Iliana. It's unclear how long the affair went on but Iliana had worked for him for nine years. Morgan surmises her parents ended the affair and kept her paternity a secret to avoid inter-clan blood feuds, never mind a scandal that would've ended both their careers.
- Lola's father has one in Run, Lola, Run, who convinces him to elope with her.
- Helen's husband Charles has one in Diary of a Mad Black Woman , and she even had two children with him (meanwhile Helen had two miscarriages).
- The book in Down with Love even makes mistresses unwilling to cooperate with men any more.
- Sam's mistress in Ruthless People, who tries to blackmail him because she's sleeping with another man.
- Veronica Franco becomes this to Marco Venier in Dangerous Beauty, after having been a courtesan.
- In In the Mouth of Madness, an Insurance Fraud scam is found out when a guy claims a warehouse full of fur coats was supposedly destroyed, but he kept the coats, giving some to his wife, who ratted on him when it turned out he gave some to his mistress.
- Emilia, of The Other Woman, plays the eponymous role.
- In The Life of Oharu, Oharu is sold to a lord to be his concubine and deliver him an heir, the wife being barren. After she does deliver an heir, she is booted out of the lord's palace.
- The court in the Hurog duology has the official version - the queen's lover is appointed by the king, and the king has a male "favourite", who is country-wide known to be the one who shares his bed.
- Tom's relationship with Myrtle in The Great Gatsby.
- In Katherine Kerr's Deverry series, Rhodry takes Jill as a mistress. He would have liked to marry her, and his allies do end up arranging things so she can be given a title to enable them to marry. However, fate has different plans in store for them and they can't... for reasons of destiny. It's acknowledged that this is common among the nobility due to the proliferation of political marriages; and in many cases the jilted spouse doesn't particularly mind as long as you are tactful and discreet.
- One interpretation of the poem "The Rival" by Sylvia Plath (in Ariel (Plath)) is that the subject is an expy of the mistress of Plath's husband.
- Making Money The bank's previous owner was the former mistress and later wife of the former chairman, mentioning that as his mistress, she had the wife's approval because it got him out of her hair for a while. He also had other lovers after they were married, under the same kind of arrangement. She was also good with numbers, which is why she remained in charge of the bank after his death. Before she passed on, she noted that standards have dropped and that now "the ability to spin upside down on a pole is considered sufficient".
- The position is deconstructed, as Paul Atreides considers Chani, the woman who is technically his mistress, as his true wife, and never consummates his official (and political) marriage with his actual wife, the daughter of the emperor he overthrew in the first book.
- Going back a generation, Paul's mother Jessica is the 'bound concubine' of Leto Atreides, and presumably if he'd married she would have been this — but the two of them consider themselves married in everything but name.
- Petra Cotes in One Hundred Years of Solitude, doubling as one of the three hookers with hearts of gold.
- In Guilty Wives, Winnie is revealed to have been the mistress of the President of France for some time before the action of the novel begins.
- A Song of Ice and Fire plays with this trope constantly.
- As part of the series's back story, King Aegon IV ("The Unworthy") had several semi-official mistresses, and thus several illegitimate children. As bastards, they weren't entitled to inherit, until the king legitimized them on his deathbed. Civil war resulted.
- Some high lords keep mistresses; but they have no official standing and the relationship is considered adulterous and immoral. Such mistresses are kept behind closed doors and the relationship is kept officially secret, even if it's common knowledge. (Tyrion Lannister's whore/mistress is treated in this way, lest she be used against him by Cersei, or killed by Tywin.)
- In Dorne, where looser standards of sexual morality are in play, mistresses can be given official status as paramours. The relationships are public and have no implication of shame. Even a Dornish member of the supposedly celibate Kingsguard kept one. In some cases, a man and wife will even share a paramour.
- Daenerys Targaryen marries twice, but aside from that, has plenty of men and women to serve in her bed. The only one who has a regular position, however, is a mercenary named Daario Naharis who she retains even after she remarries.
- Melisandre is implied to be this to Stannis Baratheon.
- In Les Misérables, Marius's grandfather has had many mistresses over the course of his life, and believes it's better to take a woman as a mistress than to actually marry her. When Marius tells his grandfather about Cosette, his immediate advice is to keep her as a mistress instead of as a legal wife (Marius, who reveres Cosette, finds the idea of dishonoring her so much to be unspeakable).
- In Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Rochester's past is filled with lovers — usually rich and well-known performers, such as Céline Varens. At the time of the novel, he says he's grown tired of keeping girlfriends. After their would-be wedding is busted, Rochester offers this position to Jane. Jane realizes she could not possibly live with herself in this way, and leaves him.
- In In the Time of the Butterflies, Papa has another family with three other children in addition to the four daughters he has with his wife.
- In The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, King Randale's beloved Herald Shavri is officially this, mainly because the option of a State Marriage had to be left open. Shavri even talked Vanyel into siring a child upon her in large part to hide the fact that a wasting disease had rendered the king sterile (little did she know that said "byblow" would marry into the collateral line that eventually got the throne).
- Goes both ways in Star Craft Ghost Nova. It's explained that, due to marriages among the Confederacy's aristocracy on Tarsonis being invariably political in nature, it's expected that both husband and wife will have mistresses (called a "jig" in the wife's case). Nova's parents hate each other so much they've apparently never actually had sex with each other: she was conceived via IVF.
- Elsabeth Soesten:
- Although he's not married, Lord Cuncz offers to make Elsabeth this at the end of No Good Deed... She rightly surmises he's really doing it as a means to keep an eye on her because She Knows Too Much about his identity and declines. For his part, Cuncz remains gracious at her refusal.
- Cuncz himself is the product of a relationship between a rival lord and his favorite mistress. The woman died in childbirth, and the local Abbot used the infant Cuncz as part of his efforts to build a power base against his own political rival.
- Spoofed in Designing Women, when they get a mistress to stop seeing a married man, but the wife was angry, because she knew about the affair and was having her own.
- In the first time in Quantum Leap where Sam leapt into a woman, he was there to save "his" roommate from committing suicide over an relationship with her boss - she thought her boss would leave his wife for her, but the wife made it clear to her that she tolerated his "indiscretions" but they would never break up (and she was a former mistress of the boss herself, having broken up his previous marriage).
- An extremely rare Gender Flip version appears on The Office (US), during the plotline where Michael thinks his girlfriend Donna is cheating on him but it turns out that the "other man" is her husband: "I'M the mistress?"
- Kaamelott: Arthur has up to four mistresses at any given time, going from one to the other as his needs warrant. Hilarity Ensues when a rumor spreads of his rebuking the queen, and each girl tries to convince him to marry her.
- Midsomer Murders loves this trope along with general adultery.
- The Sopranos: Almost every made guy has a "Comare" (literally "godmother" in Sicilian dialect, but slang for mistress) on top of their wives who they won't divorce for their Catholic beliefs. For the main character, it becomes a major plot device when one of his mistresses actually contacts his home pushing his wife to call it quits, albeit temporarily.
- Desperate Housewives wouldn't really be Desperate Housewives if it didn't have at least one mistress per season.
- In the Firefly episode "Shindig," Atherton Wing wanted Inara for one of these. Mal objected to his possessivity, leading to a sword duel over her honor. It's indicated in the pilot that Inara gets these kinds of offers on a regular basis, and we find out after all's said and done that she had no intention of accepting the offer in the first place.
- On My Name Is Earl, Earl had a Bad Boss with a hot blonde wife and an equally hot brunette girlfriend on the side. When Earl punches him (landing him in the hospital), the two women show up to be by his side...and find out about each other's existence. When the (soon-to-be-ex) wife is giving him a Defenestrate and Berate, she finds the money he's been laundering and he winds up in prison. He loses both his wife and his girlfriend...but he does become his cellmate's prison bitch. (With a coffee mug that has "World's Best Bottom" scrawled on it.)
- Olivia Pope used to be the President's Press Secretary as well as his mistress. Mellie, the President's wife, knew about it and was generally fine with it since the marriage was purely a political one at this point. The people who knew assumed that when the President's term in office was over he would divorce Mellie and marry Olivia. However, Olivia threw a wrench into the arrangement by breaking off the relationship and quitting her job. Throughout the series the President tries to rekindle the relationship but Olivia is tired of the lies and betrayals. In season 2 the relationship between them turns outright toxic.
- One of Olivia's clients turns out to be a male example of this. He is in love with his brother's wife and they have been having a clandestine relationship for more than a decade. Olivia gives him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech where she explains why such an arrangement is not a real relationship and he needs to end it if he wants to be ever truly happy. Of course she is partly talking about herself as well.
- Game of Thrones:
- In a rare male example, Loras Tyrell fulfills this role when his lover Renly Baratheon marries Loras's sister Margaery. Verges on an Open Secret, if the amount of sarcastic references to the relationship is any indication. At one point the exclusively homosexual Renly is trying to make excuses for not consummating the marriage, to which Margaery suggests in all seriousness that they bring Loras in to "get him started". Renly thinks this is an insult, but she actually fully accepts that the marriage is a political sham while Loras is his real lover; she just thinks they need to have an heir to cement the alliance.
- Shae after Tyrion marries Sansa.
- Melisandre for Stannis, though they only have sex once to spawn the Living Shadow that kills Renly.
- Hilariously, on the last season of The Tudors, Charles Brandon introduces his French girlfriend to people as his "official mistress". Less hilariously, in an earlier season, Henry offered this position to Anne Boelyn when he was still married to Catherine of Aragon. To say that Anne refused is underselling the reaction.
- In 'Allo 'Allo!, Rene is cheating on his wife with Yvette, and cheating on both of them with Maria. Later he also cheats with Mimi, Michelle, Denise La Roche, Louise, and possibly most of the Communist Resistance. And apparently this wasn't all of them.
- Lucrezia Donati is this to Lorenzo de Medici on Da Vinci's Demons. At one point she and Lorenzo's wife come face-to-face, and the conversation is surprisingly civil. When Lucrezia asks how Clarice can bear to look at her, Clarice simply points out that "you will never be up on that wall" (that is, the mural that depicts Lorenzo's family).
- In Madam Secretary, Elizabeth's chief of staff Nadine Tolliver, whom she inherited from the preceding Secretary of State Vincent Marsh, confesses midway through season one that she had been Marsh's mistress for six years. He was basically stringing her along saying he was going to divorce his wife, while using her authority to help him plot the overthrow of the Iranian government.
Nadine: I swear, I'm glad he's dead.
- The Doctor Who episode ""The Girl in the Fireplace" revolves around Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV Bourbon of France.
- "Can't Let U Go" by Fabolous is about a man who is already married, and is torn between his wife and his girlfriend (and trying to keep the former from finding out about the latter). For now, he decides to secretly have his cake and eat it too, because "the entree ain't as good without something on the side. For her part, the mistress knows full well that her boyfriend is already married, and is apparently OK with the status quo.
- "Saving All My Love For You", by Whitney Houston, is from the mistress's POV as she laments that her paramour is being about as honest with her as he is with his wife and family.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: De Guiche wants to bully heroine Roxane into this. She will have none of it.
- In The Rose Tattoo, Estelle Hohengarten, a blackjack dealer from Texas who works at the Square Roof on the Esplanade, has an affair with Rosario delle Rose whose one-year anniversary was to have been celebrated on the day of his funeral. Of course, everybody knows about it but his wife, who only acknowledges it several years later.
- King's Mistress is one of the endings in some of the Princess Maker games.
- Not only that, the second game as a possible ending with the girl as the lover of a local landlord as well. Said landlord can potentially show up earlier and make the girl his lover if she has high Charisma with low Morals — it's not reccomended to just let her be, though, as her stats and overall rep will go lower.
- In said second game the King of the Land also has a royal concubine, and the daughter can speak to her. She seems to be a pretty but deadly bored woman rather disenchanted with the life of the court, but unwilling to leave it due to the benefits it still gives her.
- Fire Emblem:
- In Fire Emblem Blazing Sword King Desmond of Bern has a son (Zephiel) by the queen (Helenne), and a daughter (Guinevere) by his unnamed mistress. His illegitimate family lives in the palace, while his official one lives in an old out-of-the way manor. It's explained in the prequel Sword of Seals that said mistress was actually the King's old girlfriend, whom the King couldn't marry due to being forced in an Arranged Marriage with the Queen.. Needless to say, it does NOT end well.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, King Garon of Nohr had many mistresses and some of these women gave him children. This made the Decadent Court even worse than it already was, as the concubines started in-fighting each other and using their kids as leverage; it got so bad that out of all the kids born and raised in such an entourage, only four remained (one of them being the sole legitimate child and heir).
- In Dragon Age: Origins, if a Female Warden makes Alistair king and cannot/will not make herself queen and are in a romance, and provided he became "hardened" earlier, she may become his mistress. Not just a mistress, though, she may be his adviser, as well.
- In Tales of Symphonia, Zelo's father had a half-elf mistress, who was the mother of Zelo's half-sister Seles. Despite him being the Chosen, it's implied that it was something everyone knew, as Zelos and Seles not only knew about each other, but they got on rather well. The mistress wasn't happy with the arrangement though, knowing that Zelos would be The Chosen One instead of her daughter... so she tried to murder Zelos with a powerful spell. She got to kill Zelos' mother instead, who died saying she wishes he'd never be born. The mistress was executed for treason, an emotionally broken Seles was sent away, and Zelos was throughly shattered.
- In Pretentious Game 3, the bright pink square is the gray square's mistress while he's married to the light pink square.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, several characters theorize early on that the basis of the legends of Beatrice, the mysterious witch that Kinzo Ushiromiya seems to be obsessed with, is that Kinzo had a secret mistress (though Natsuhi, trying to be the loyal daughter-in-law, repeatedly tries to deny it). It turns out that they're right. Kinzo did have a mistress, an Italian beauty named Beatrice Castiglioni, who he met during the second World War. They fell deeply in love, and after Kinzo bought the island of Rokkenjima he built her a secret mansion, Kuwadorian, for her to live in, and he would often visit her under the pretense that he was going on business trips. They even had a daughter, but unfortunately Beatrice died in childbirth...and this caused Kinzo to go insane with grief, and as their daughter grew older he convinced himself that she was his mistress reincarnated, eventually leading him to rape her and get her pregnant with the kid who'd grow up into Sayo "Yasu" Yasuda, one of the key characters of the game.
- Nurse Bendy, to Principal Fakey on Moral Orel. She's pretty nonchalant about it. Though the episode Alone, implies that her mental state has regressed to that of a child, and that sleeping around has made her affection starved and depressed.
- There's a Gender Flip on King of the Hill. There is an Open Secret that Nancy has been having a 14 year affair with John Redcorn. Her husband Dale and son Joseph (who happens to look exactly like John, a brown-skinned Native American) are completely oblivious.
- Madame de Pompadour, was one of the mistresses◊ of Louis XV. She was featured in Le Chevalier d'Eon. She also appeared in the Doctor Who episode "The Girl In The Fireplace" (the Doctor even mentions that she and the queen were good friends).
- The Doctor: France! It's another planet!
- Queen Marie Leszczyńska wasn't happy with her husband's affairs at all, since she was a devout Catholic. She merely preferred the well-behaved and properly deferential Pompadour over her downright arrogant predecessors. Marie Therese, Louis XIV's Queen, on the other hand, was openly disappointed when her husband exchanged Louise de la Valliere for Madame de Montespan.
- Madame DuBarry was another mistress late in his life, who was an initial antagonist in Rose of Versailles.
- Looking through the history of any European country, the amount of mistresses the royalty and nobility kept on hand is staggering. Special mention to Louis XIV, who was still sleeping around at 70, and Augustus II of Poland, who ended up with 350 children, of which one was legitimate.
- The most famous example of a queen openly keeping lovers is Catherine the Great. She also rewarded her lovers handsomely (one of them briefly became king of Poland). Notably she started before she had her husband overthrown (and possibly murdered) and kept it up afterward. (This is the likely point of the rumor that she died, um...'a horse' — it was a joke about her insatiable appetite and her penchant for picking her lovers from her horse guards.)
- A Swedish example: Frederik I's mistress Hedvig Taube who (like many others) acquired a large fortune from her liaison with the king.
- Ah, yes, the British and English monarchy. Let's look at the highlights, shall we?
- Edward IV seems to have slept with something like half the married noblewomen in England. Interestingly, this seems to have helped him politically, as his mistresses would influence their husbands to support him in the War of the Roses.
- Henry VIII had two confirmed mistresses, Elizabeth Blount and Mary Boleyn (yes, sister to Anne Boleyn). He may have had other mistresses and considering his personality that wouldn't be surprising but beyond Elizabeth and Mary it is purely speculation. Of course, Anne herself was his quasi-mistress while he went through that whole "divorcing Catherine of Aragon" debacle. Indeed, it seems that Henry was a fan of marrying the mistress. Jane Seymour was his mistress (in the same, not-so-fully-consummated way that Anne had been) while he was married to Anne Boleyn, and went on to become his third wife. Catherine Howard, wife number five, was his mistress while he was married to Anne of Cleves.
- King Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland was known as "the Merry Monarch" for his free-living lifestyle, and is famous for having twelve acknowledged illegitimate children by seven mistresses — with no less than five of the children being by Barbara Palmer, Countess of Castlemaine — and no children at all by his legitimate wife, Catherine of Braganza. Many of Charles' bastards have prominent descendants, with one of them (Diana Spencer) marrying the Prince of Wales (making Princess Di), and thus probably finally getting one of Charles' descendants in line for the throne.
- William IV of the United Kingdom was also famous for a large number of illegitimate children (as, frankly, were many of the sons of George III, much to their devout and Happily Married father's disgust—at least when he was lucid enough to be disgusted). He had only two daughters by his wife, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, but he had ten by his mistress, the actress Dorothea Jordan. Both of his legitimate daughters died, leaving the throne to his niece Victoria. And of course, William's surviving children had important descendants, the most famous of whom is former Prime Minister David Cameron.
- William's case was a bit different, though, in that all of his bastards were born before his marriage, he dumped his mistress long before marrying, and his marriage was actually quite happy.
- Of course, marrying their mistresses wasn't much of an option to the children of George III, despite several attempts to try. They had to have the permission of the monarch (for most of their lives, their father) to marry, which wasn't granted. One son — Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, had two marriages declared invalid because his father hadn't given him permission.
- Edward VII famously had a number of mistresses and affairs, particularly during his fifty-plus-year tenure as Prince of Wales, which occasionally caused trouble. His most famous were Daisy Grenville, the Countess of Warwick (more commonly known as "Babbling Brooke" because her husband had the subsidiary title "Lord Brooke" and because, well, she babbled); the actress Lillie Langtry;note and finally Alice Keppel, with whom he lived during his reign (1901-1910). Edward's wife, Alexandra of Denmark, was generally OK with this—she seems to mostly have been amused by it, especially given that both he and his mistresses were generally overweight and therefore cut rather comic figures together. His dalliances did sometimes get him into trouble; he was famously compelled to testify in a divorce case (the first heir apparent in ages, if not ever, compelled to take the stand) when he was caught carrying on with an MP's wife while the MP was attending sittings of Parliament.
- Marion Davies, longtime girlfriend of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst remained married to his wife Millicent until his death, despite having been carrying on with Davies for the last 34 years.