The Obstructive Love Interest

Usually female, this character's sole purpose in the story is to misunderstand, obstruct and otherwise torment the male hero, thus creating unnecessary complications of plot until the end, where she finally rewards the hero with her hand or... other body parts.

This character trope is Older Than Print, dating back to the unreasonable lady-love of medieval romances. An especially irritating version is often seen in war movies or action films, whining about being "neglected" when her significant other is absorbed in vital, world-saving projects. Expect your hero to feel conflicted between her and his Band of Brothers. Your Obstructive Love Interest may undergo some Character Development and come to honor her honeybun's choice to put duty before love, even if she may not necessarily like it — in which case, she and he both exhibit Loved I Not Honor More.

As you can see, this trope has some pretty discriminatory underpinnings — by painting the female love interest as unreasonable, whiny, and hysterical, it compares her unfavorably to the manly and stoic hero, and his always-male band of True Companions that he can't wait to rejoin. Masculinity is favored over femininity, and militarism over domesticity.

Please don't use this trope to pigeonhole love interests you don't like for one or another reason.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Akane Tendo Ranma fits the role, although far more so in her anime incarnation than her manga version. Either way, Ranma doesn't get much more than to hold her hand... not that he could handle much more, given how a surprise hug blew his mind. And given some of the other options, he certainly could have done worse. Or better, depending on your view.
  • Played for comedy in Axis Powers Hetalia, with North Italy being this to his partner Germany.
    • There are also two one-sided examples with Belarus and Russia and Belarus and Lithuania. Belarus stalks and terrifying her brother, certain she can get him to marry her, but her being his love interest is all in her head. Meanwhile, Lithuania sees Belarus as a love interest, while she's not interested but still breaks his fingers while on a date. Subverted with Hungary, who beat up her future husband Austria before she became his love interest.
  • Played straight and depending on if you think it's funny, parodied in the yaoi title Ill Be Your Slave. The Obstructive Love Interest is a pretty boy, well aware of his looks, who's used to having his admirers doing everything for him. The seme becomes his dedicated slave to keep him co-operative in a modelling job. The boy abuses this to no end.

    Film 
  • In the film of Stardust, Victoria Forrester is a big one of these. We're not meant to like her, and The Hero comes round eventually. In the original book, she's a lot more sympathetic, mainly because she seemed to make her claim sarcastically and didn't actually expect the Hero to try to fulfill it, feeling guilty when he does.
  • Jocelyn is this to William in A Knight's Tale. Among other things, she has him lose battles intentionally (since any knight ever smitten by her good looks has tried to dedicate his victory to her, she asks for William to demonstrate his love by going against his own nature and losing for her instead), then after he goes through with it long enough to be almost knocked out of that tournament, she asks that he win all the battles left just to prove his love. Though the latter could be viewed as letting him off now he'd proved his sincerity, so YMMV.
  • Mary Jane is the whining variant in Spider-Man 2, with all her screentime devoted to Peter pining over her or her pining over Peter without much to add for herself.
  • Chev's girlfriend in Crank isn't the sharpest tool in the shed and can't comprehend the gravity of the situation Chev is in.

    Literature 
  • Gordon R. Dickson seems to have a weakness for this trope. In the Childe Cycle, both Anea Marlivana from Dorsai and Melissa Khan from Tactics of Mistake are obstructive love interests in spades. (The latter is lampshaded in the later story "Amanda Morgan", where the title character observes that Melissa is terrific in a crisis, but incompetent the rest of the time.)
  • The heroine of The Night Land goes to absurd lengths to put herself and her rescuer in mortal danger to make sure he pays proper attention to her. But really, she just wants to be whipped.
  • The lady in Leigh Hunt's "The Glove and the Lions," which was based on a supposed actual event, tossed one of her gloves into a pit of vicious lions just so her significant other could "prove his love" for her by retrieving it. He reacted poorly to this, to say the least.
    ...The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
    Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady's face.
    "By heaven," said Francis, "rightly done!" and he rose from where he sat;
    "No love," quoth he, "but vanity, sets love a task like that."
  • Subverted in A Hat Full of Sky. Jennie the kelda initially shows jealousy to Tiffany, the young Witch of the Chalk, because Jennie's brand-new husband, Rob Anybody Feegle, has known Tiffany longer than he's known Jennie, was briefly engaged to her (long story), and is itching to leave behind his home and duties there because he knows Tiffany is in danger. Rob understands Jennie's stress, and promises that if she asks him, he'll stay with his clan and be the Big Man. Jennie thanks him, then lays a Promise on him to go and find Tiffany and protect her, because the Chalk needs its witch. Jennie and Tiffany end up becoming fast friends.

    Live Action TV 
  • Male version: Walter on Ugly Betty (actually, it seems that all of Betty's boyfriends will turn into this if they're around long enough).

    Newspaper Comics 
  • The love interest in Unfit exists entirely to make unreasonable demands for the main character to deal with. She is never in the right, she never shows any positive emotions towards the main character, and it's impossible to tell why he hasn't dumped her yet. In contrast, he's always a perfect saint towards her. (One can't help but suspect that the author had a failed relationship and is using the comic to work through his own issues.)

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 2's Rosemary. Raiden is off trying to save the world (or, at least, save the President of the United States and his entourage from a superpowered black-ops cell gone rogue, and with access to nuclear weapons) and all Rose can talk about is how he refuses to discuss their relationship and how his room in his home contains nothing but a desk and a bed. Poor Raiden can only sigh and try to insist that they'll talk about it after the mission, but she won't let up. And creator Hideo Kojima supposedly based her on his wife. It turns out, Rose is intentionally screwing with his feelings under orders from the Patriots, in order to make sure the S3 training project can sufficiently compensate for personal emotional stress. This goes so far that Raiden is taunted by an AI copy of Rose during the final sequence of the game just to twist the knife into his psyche further.

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s):

Obstructive Love Interest