Not to be confused with Harem Series, a genre of Japanese media that sometimes heavily relies on this trope.
This trope involves a common reaction from the man when a Harem plot begins and women start fighting for his attention. He might either think like a Celibate Hero, that the gratuitous quantity of boobs he is forced to see every day are just a bother (Comically Missing the Point that he is in an enviable situation), or see them as an obstacle between him and the girl he truly likes, or he may just find them annoying for one reason or another.
The more likely reason plot-wise is the fact that the male lead cannot reciprocate all the girls' feelings without seeming to the audience to be cruel, manipulative, and misleading to the girls. So the far easier solution is to make him oblivious to their affection or Cursed with Awesome.
Even if he does like one or more of the girls, the man won't or can't admit it. Besides, until the point comes where one of the girls is in danger, the man would rather have his nice quiet life back. The trope may or may not involve Innocent Cohabitation.
While this is, as might be gathered, usually a male trope, gender-reversed versions have recently begun to appear.
As shown by poor Tsukune in the above picture, the most common and immediate consequences of said harem is the ever-hilarious (if incredibly painful to watch) Lover Tug of War.
When criticism is raised against a harem show it's usually due to an overdose of this trope; unfortunately, when played straight, this trope is almost always overdosed. While it's often criticized as blatant Wish Fulfillment, most criticism regards the tendency to portray the female cast very negatively, often giving them little personality, or having their characters largely defined by their dependency on the male protagonist and/or irrational tendencies towards violence.
Contrast Harem Seeker, where the "unwanted" part is left out.
Resolutions to such a situation are varied.
The best known example of the Unwanted Harem and the OG is seen in the various versions of Tenchi Muyo!! (Especially the one where the girls use Applied Phlebotinum to turn his bathroom into a literal harem.) Some consider it the Trope Codifier.
Ranma has two unwanted harems, one for his male form, and one for his female. In the manga, with the exception of one persistent lunatic (his lunacy is not related to his persistence), all of the ones courting his female form are one-shot characters who usually either only want something very specific from Ranma (for example, the astral projection of a Dirty Old Man who wants a date to be reminded of his young wife) or lose interest in disgust when they find out they've been "tricked". The one persistent example won't give up only because he's apparently too dumb to realise that "she" isn't quite what she seems...
Granted, no one in both harems is above kicking Ranma's ass if it need to be kicked, given that he is an unrepentant loudmouth.
Akane also has an unwanted harem: Ranma, Ryoga, Kuno, Shinnosuke...
Ukyo's situation is not so much that of a harem as an unwanted emotional conflict between her engagement to and love for Ranma, and later love interest Konatsu. In some interpretations her sometime ally Ryoga further complicates things.
Sasuke from Naruto and his following of insane fangirls (both within the series and in real life!)
Likewise for Kaede Rukawa, Sasuke's probable manga ancestor from Slam Dunk.
Keiichi Morisato is a magnet for Goddesses in Ah! My Goddess!, managing to meet seven different Goddesses though he only aims for Belldandy and not all of them are in love with him.
Everyone from outside does think that it's a harem... so it kinda counts.
Apparently, they are attracted to him because it's just too damn fun to just be at the temple.
Arguably the Trope Maker , since it predates all other examples by many years(1988)
Mahou Sensei Negima! has an unusual one in that the male lead is 10 years old, and all the girls are well above his age (although still too young), so the romance is mostly played for laughs.
We stress "mostly". The ones who have had serious romantic moments are Nodoka, Yue, Ako (in love with his aged-up alter-ego), Makie, Chachamaru (a robot) and Asuna (Maybe).
Although there has yet to be actual romance between the two (Negi accidentally groping her doesn't count), there have been hints of Chisame/Negi. A good example is when he was allowed to take three companions with him to meet with a bad guy. He chose Nodoka (because she can read minds), Asakura (because she can relay the information back to the others)...and Chisame.
Chisame: Wait, I get those two, but why me?
Negi: Huh? I just want you to be by my side all the time, that's all.
Chisame: ...don't say that kind of thing with a straight face. I swear, a girl's gonna stab you one of these days...
By chapter 340, Negi has to deal with all of the above, plus Shiori, Akira, Anya, Ku Fei, Ayaka, and Fate - and these are just the ones who can be described as having a serious crush. For the non-serious: Konoka mentioned that Negi would be attractive when he got older in an early volume, Setsuna had a pretty shipteasy moment that Chamo noted sounded 'like a love confession' during the Tournament arc (though it turned into a KonoSetsu moment pretty quickly), and Misa proposed the Reverse Hikaru Genji plan, noting that if they waited five years it would be much more normal for the girls to go out with him and later also got a crush on his older counterpart. Overall, that's 11 or 12 that have a definite interest in him, and 3 more that have expressed at least a small attraction. Negima Zig-Zagged this trope a lot at the beginning, but it's certainly playing straight the harem aspect now. (Though it's very probable this is less an unwanted harem so much as an Oblivious Harem...)
In Tower of God, Baam has the Tomboy Princess Yuri Zahard, the Empathic Weapon Black March, and the cynical princess Androssi Zahard in his harem. He doesn't care about that, though, since he is focused on finding Rachel.
In the second volume, the Guide Hwa Ryun might count, and the down-on-her-luck noblewoman Yeon definitely does. She offers him her body in exchange for helping her out of a bind (he ended up helping her mostly by accident), and is quite flustered about it until she realizes he's a girl. Except he's not, as she finds out later.
Irresponsible Captain Tylor. AVERTED and wrapped up in a single episode where Tylor manages to blow off confessions of his harem. Whether this was on purpose or just bad timing is up to interpretations, like everything about Tylor.
Kyo Kara Maoh straddles the line between this and Cast Full of Pretty Boys - only two of Yuuri's royal retainers actually demonstrate anything like romantic interest in him (Wolfram, his accidental fiance - long story - and Gunter, whose over-the-top fawning is played for laughs), but he gets Ship Tease with nearly every male character the show encounters...despite his own protestations that he's totally straight, hence the 'unwanted'. The castle maids have a betting pool as to who'll win in the end.
In the first arc of the final season of the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, normal Yugi has this. His attention is sought after by Vivian Wong, Rebecca Hawkins, and Tea Gardner. He seems to be aware of this, but just acts embarrassed whenever it comes up. Tristan and Joey seem perplexed and jealous. ''
In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, Jack Atlas has a small case of this; there are three girls competing for his attention by the second season, Mikage, Carly, and Stephanie. Eventually, he takes the Let's Just Be Friends option - or as close to it as someone like him can get - as he was never really interested, letting them down gently.
Well as deserted as an island filled with women and talking animals can be.
Martian Successor Nadesico could be described as the wacky, bipolar love child of Tenchi Muyo! and Mobile Suit Gundam. There's a lot of women on that ship, and much to the chagrin of the male crew, almost all of them (or at least the one's with screen time and names) insist on fighting over the Unlucky Everydude who has enough problems of his own. Lampshaded in one scene where one of them points out it's a popular anime trope.
Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei has this with how the girls randomly fall in love with the teacher Itoshiki, when he promises to "take them with him" when he commits suicide. Unfortunately for Sensei, most of the characters fall square in the Yandere type...
Tsukune of Rosario + Vampire (pictured) accidentally enrolls in a monster school and acquires — mostly through conquest — a vampire, a succubus, two witches, and a snow woman. A Tenchi Solution is ruled right out, due to the harem's tendency to spontaneously break out into superpowered free-for-alls both over and against him during bouts of jealousy, though the loli witch does repeatedly ask for a threesome with the vampire. Even harem aside, their unique... quirks... would make a relationship with any rather hazardous (though Ruby is a pretty safe option, if you Whip It Good like Tsukune).
Some later issues deconstruct the trope by showing emotional effects on the girls who know they have already lost out to Moka but are still hopelessly in love with Tsukune, in more realistic, non-comedic, non-I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy ways rather than a typical use of the trope. Kurumu in particular has had a few heartbreaking scenes of unrequited love.
To make things more complicated, he is in love with one of the heroine's split personalities — the other one just kind of scares him. Even worse, the girl he loves isn't even real. She is an artificial persona based on the heroine's mother created by her rosary to protect the "real" girl.
While that was true at first, Tsukune later confesses to loving both Mokas, each in their own way. This is possibly due to the prolonged amount of time he spent with the "Inner" Moka (the real one) in the second season. And "Outer" Moka approves of this (reluctantly in the anime), encouraging "Inner" Moka to accept her feelings for Tsukune.
Transformers Super God Masterforce has a gender-flipped and G-rated version — each of the boys has a crush on Minerva. Minerva herself just seems to think they're being childish.
Happy Lesson has a school full of hot teachers who all decide to play mom for the socially withdrawn Chitose, who doesn't really grow to appreciate this sudden forced invasion of personal space until well into the series, and even then he still blows his top when he thinks they go too far.
In Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, way back in the beginning of the series, remember all the fangirls in the school dying to give Gokudera and Yamamoto chocolates? Gokudera, of course, considered it an example of this, and told them to "Stop following [him] around!"
Sahashi Minato of Sekirei unknowingly/unwillingly becomes an Ashikabi and starts what can only be described as a Battle Harem after one act of kindness, and proceedes to add two more girls to his harem, largely unwillingly (they surprised him with a kiss). Then it is subverted, as he actively pursues his next member, at his Sekirei's encouragement, directly asks if the next one wants to join (she does) and then finally chases down another.
Maiku from Onegai Twins reluctantly starts harboring a pair of girls the same age as him; both of them (a) think they may be his twin sister and (b) are in love with him. There are two other harem members at his school (one of each gender), but it turns out that they're only pursuing Maiku to avoid facing their feelings for each other.
UFO Princess Valkyrie is this, in the classic line of Tenchi Muyo!. Alien princess crash lands into a bath house, severely injuring the (young bishounen) owner in the process. Princess ends up indebted to him and stays on earth, several of her alien sisters (and her head maid) follow. Hilarity Ensues.
Said harem technically 'does not exist' due to a Laser-Guided Amnesia effect. Although they still remember him subconsciously, they do not actively pursue him and may be followed up with someone else. In any case the male lead is pretty much free to do as he pleases... unless his childhood friend approaches.
Averted by the fact that some of the girls do keep their memories and stay in love with him later in the story
This seems to be the situation in Tona Gura, til you scratch the surface. While nearly all the cast is female, very few are interested in Yuuji; the one who seriously is reels from how he apparently changed from a sweet boy to a 'pervert'.
Shugo Chara!, wherein the main character, Hinamori Amu, has her choice of Hotori Tadase, Tsukiyomi Ikuto, Soma Kuukai, Sanjo Kairi, or Fujisaki Nagihiko. The manga and anime both had pretty open endings, so there's not much evidence to say this is who she chose.
The last is wrong. The manga bonus Encore! chapters say she picks Ikuto in the end.
Nyan Koi! is all about Junpei Kosaka doing favors for cats. That doesn't mean his harem is non existent. Kaede Mizuno, Kanako Sumiyoshi, Nagi Ichinose (probably), Akari Kirishima, Kotone Kirishima, and if you want to add her Chizuru Mochizuki all love cats, and putting two and two together, you get one harem based on cats. Of course, the cats take more of a priority over his harem.
Since there are only two people in it I am not sure Kanokon counts as a harem but considering that both of them are centuries old demons that constantly attempt to rape the protagonist it is definitely unwanted for him. At the end he gets the Tenchi Solution and he doesn't have any say in the matter.
It can be played kiiiiinda straighter in the original Visual Novel, however you have to play your cards VERY well for that to happen.
Hiatari Ryoukou features an unwanted reverse-harem involving high school students living in the same boarding house.
An unusual case is Leicester Maycraft of Shukufuku no Campanella, who doesn't seem to be too bothered by the attention from the main girls around him, including his mom Shelly. He seems to just laugh it off even when it happens in public.
Girls Saurus thoroughly establishes the "unwanted" part, as the male protagonist Shingo suffers from extreme gynophobia after being violated and brutalised by a gonkish admirer. This does nothing deter a very determined main cast of girls (including his own sister!) as well as several minor hopefuls. At one point he states how their shriveled hag of a teacher is his "ideal woman" (no threatening sex appeal) which causes her to have a womanly awakening overnight, become hot and young-looking, and try to woo him very directly. He does not approve.
Horribly subverted in the second season of Detective Conan. A Rich Bitch named Reika Yotsui seems to have four young men (Nikaido, Mifune, Ichieda and Gojou) and an older man as her all-male harem... but one of them, Ichieda, actually liked the granddaughter of the family's Old Retainer, Yaeko. Whom Reika and Nikaido killed years ago. And so, Ichieda poses as a member of the "harem"... and then he kills Reika and Nikaido.
Inverted in Urusei Yatsura. Ataru is a self-proclaimed "ladies man" that is trying to build up a harem...it's just that no girl but Lum is willing.
Ouran High School Host Club plays this both plays this straight and inverts it. The harem involving Haruhi and the other hosts is played completely straight, and the individual harems of all the boys are inverted. It's what keeps them in business.
Soul Eater: It's never explicitly stated how many partner offers Soul gets, though Maka does state that he was always popular, but gets more after he becomes a death scythe. He isn't exactly resentful, but he doesn't seem the least bit impressed. That and his answer to Blair's offer was to kill her and eat her soul because "cool men don't cheat". It doesn't work on Blair, but it's the thought that counts.
Nitori from Wandering Son has a harem of sorts, both with girls and boys, though it comes off as a Deconstruction of a harem. So far Chiba has liked him, he's had a very close friendship with Takatsuki (who Nitori says he had a onesided crush on at one time), Doi is unusually into him, Seya fell for him, his friend Mako has a crush on him, and he has an (ex?) girlfriend called Anna who still likes him from the looks of it. He doesn't seem to really like the attention.
Subverted in Hana no Ko Lunlun's Netherlands arc. Lunlun befriends three handsome brothers... but the three fall for her after a "pep talk" from Togenishia and propose to her at the same time. Lunlun runs away as soon as she can to continue her mission, much to the three's dismay, and An Aesop about shallowness is delivered by Serge.
Also alluded to and tweaked in a story that's mentioned in said episode. A princess had three suitors, each one giving her a precious gift: a crown, a sword, and a jewel. She doesn't like either of them so she takes a third option via using magic to transform herself into the first tulip flower: the three petals symbolize the crown, the sharp leaves take after the sword, and the bulb looks like the jewel.
Girls Bravo: Four girls have feelings for Yukinari, one is a bully who has beaten him up almost every day for years, another is an insane YandereDark Magical Girl who tries to abduct and rape him, the third one is a kind and sweet girl who does not set off his woman allergy, the fourth one is the Big Bad another YandereDark Magical Girl.
Hanaukyō Maid Tai. Hanaukyo Taro inherited his grandfather's fortune and, with that, hundreds of maids willing to serve him. In each season he has three personal maids who constantly try to seduce him. The problem: he's only a child.
Gintama eventually turns into this. Some fans speculate that Gintoki's lack of interest in anyone could mean he's asexual, especially after recanting his crush on the weather girl & claiming he was just a fan.
Played for laughs in one storyline where the female characters (including old lady Otose) and ...MADAO convince Gin that he had a one-night stand with them (on the same night) and now has to take responsibility. It's a ploy to get him to stop drinking so much.
Exaggerated in One Piece - After Luffy does the gorgon sisters one of the biggest favours they could ever ask for, he ends up with an entire ISLAND of Amazons immediately taking a liking to him, though Luffy himself treats the inhabitants of Amazon Lily (including their queen, the World's Most Beautiful Woman) as friends at most.
This trope is played straight with Sanji, who really does have the inhabitants of an entire island wanting to get in his pants. The problem is the said inhabitants are all okamas, so he spent the entire time on that island literally running away from his admirers.
In canon, there is the... Uh... "Questionable" relationship between Captain Sousuke Aizen and his female subordinates. Loly and Menoly spring to mind, as well as Hinamori to a lesser extent. He has never, ever shown the slightest reciprocation of their painfully obvious desires for him. Presumably because he sees himself as a God, and because he used poor Hinamori's feelings for him into making her an Unwitting Pawn... and then get her Impaled with Extreme Prejudice TWICE.
Nisekoi - Raku has Chitoge, Kosaki, Seishirou, and Marika. The problem is, he made a Childhood Marriage Promise to Marika, Chitoge and Kosaki, and to make matters more complicated, he must at least pretend to be dating Chitoge or his yakuza and her gangster family will start a war, Seishirou is an assassin sent to kill him if he ever stops going out with Chitoge, and he can't dump Marika because her family controls the police and his family is a yakuza one.
And that's just the first season. Chapter 58 introduces Seishirou's rival, Paula McCoy, and who knows what that one is thinking. When she was first introduced, she tried to challenge Seishirou to a duel, and when she proceeded to ignore her, challenged her to a contest to see which of them could kiss Raku first- by force if need be, and gunfire is allowed to be used to prevent the other from winning. The next time we see her, she's sitting in class next to Kosaki's sister Haru, and she brought her hand grenades with her.
Mamoru Onodera from Deadline Summonner presumably did not get much say in whether or not his summons joined the party. Particularly poignant in that summons are not supposed to act independently of their masters.
Yuuki Momozono, the protagonist from Momogumi Plus Senki started to gain this position as soon as he come into the story. To specify: Yukishiro, Sawa and Masahiko, the three devoted followers, each have their own moments that is much more than that master-follower relationship, Koh is rather too friendly around him, Uraha is Tsundere around him, Saolan expresses interest in him, Kikyo clearly likes him as his "Rurika", Cinderella (clearly an expy of Belarus from Axis Powers Hetalia) also wanted him to be her prince before settling on being friends with him and finally Tokiha was his previous incarnation's love interest, and spent all her lives to find the Momotaro that is his reincarnation who knew of her "True Name" (Which Yuuki happened to be).
In Irredeemable, Bette Noir fails to kill the Plutonian and escapes to live a life of decadence surrounded by a boy harem; that is, until the Plutonian catches up to her and kills the poor man-toys.
Angel's Proper Charlies, a strip in the long-running UK comic Jackpot, revolved around a girl named Angel who was pursued by three rather dimwitted boys who were all madly in love with her. Unlike most Harem Heroes, Angel was a Jerk Ass who routinely toyed with the boys' love for her for her own ends.
Smurfette in The Smurfs has a harem of male Smurf suitors all wanting to be her one true love, but though she is flattered by their affections, she turns them down because (1) she's too young to think about marriage, and (2) she loves all her fellow Smurfs equally.
Exactly fits with Avarian from 'The God Of Death' (Warhammer-Warcraft crossover), a Space Marine (with a Space Marine character) who picked up a nightelf, a bloodelf, a highelf, two human females and even a forsaken (undead) elf, almost all bearing romantic feelings towards him, without Avarian noticing ANYTHING (being a Space Marine, he just picked them up because he thought they would be useful on his quest, he himself is totally unaware of the emotion called 'love' and, much unlike his companions think, does not bear the 'male weak-minded crave-for-female-flesh'-lust) This is going to be fun.
In Flight: AND HOW! Lets break it down. In Flight is a crossover between Sekerei and Fate/Stay Night. You see where this is going? Shirou has Rin and Saber who he has been going steady with for 2 years now back in London. Akitsu joins and quickly develops radical levels of devotion to him. Then Musubi, Then Matsu, then Tsukiumi. On top of this if the author continues as he has been there will be Kazehana still to come. On top of THIS it is possible that Yukari is also interested. Added up to the fact that none of them have any idea as to his status as a Mage or the nature of Saber and Rin, regarding them as a old pair of exes that he broke up with. In short Shirou has got himself into an inescapable position. At this point in the fic there is no way out without breaking somebody's heart.
The Unexpected Love Life of Dusk Shine tries to impart the harem manga genre on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by retelling the episodes with Dusk Shine (Twilight Sparkle's opposite-gender counterpart as established by fanon) as the main character while leaving the other characters gender-intact and mostly unchanged. So far Pinkie Pie wants to become OTP to get extra screentime (and suffering a breakdown after being friendzoned by mistake, resulting in Pinkamena taking over), Rarity wants him to be her prince, Applejack is convinced he's flirting with her, Fluttershy is strongly repressing her burning desire for him, and Rainbow Dash doesn't even seem capable of considering that he might not want to be her boytoy. Add to the mixture having Trixie as a live-in student trying to seduce him with a maid outfit and Luna referring to him as "the royal boyfriend", and he has the plate full. (Even Nightmare Moon had romantic designs for him.) Zecora even suggested that he try the Tenchi Solution, but he realized that would be even worse. And naturally Celestia has no intention of helping him out when making things worse is funnier.
Ignorance is Bliss, a Blue Exorcist fanfic, focuses on an completely unknown Unwanted Harem. Unknown because Yukio and the other Exorcists utterly refuse to let Rin find out. Considering all of the Harem is made up of crazy, ugly demon fangirls, it's probably a good thing.
Part of the premise of The Fledgling Year is that Archenland’s crown prince must travel the country to find girls suitable as potential brides, eventually bringing them back to Anvard to be reviewed by the royal advisory council. Prince Cor is not exactly thrilled with this prospect, and often it falls to his best friend/actual future Love Interest Aravis to coax him into bringing promising girls they meet along with them. Word Of God has promised that Cor/Aravis are the eventual Official Couple, and only briefly do any of the harem play a role as a Romantic False Lead, but they do serve an important function of the plot—thus far, one has turned out to be an assassin that helped reveal The Conspiracy, and another is making the fangirls squee as she’s formed one half of a Beta Couple.
The premise of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic When You Wish Upon A Sue is that Spike the dragon felt unappreciated by his friends, and so he wishes that they will all like him. When he wakes up the next day Spike is transformed into an adult dragon that is adored by everyone who sees him; the magic behind the wish made Spike into such a beautiful dragon that everyone he meets falls hopelessly in love with his beauty and can do nothing but gush over him. His best friends even get into a confrontation at one point over which one of them deserves to be Spike's girlfriend. Naturally you get the impression that while Spike wanted to be appreciated he didn't want women (and even a few men) throwing themselves at him.
Played straight on one hand yet subverted in the other in The Hope Of The Senju Clan. Played straight because as Tsunade's son, Naruto has the misfortune of having a fan club in Konoha who want to continue the Senju clan and other girls who are have seen him fight and think he's a badass who always have him in a Lover Tug of War much to his dismay. The subversion comes in the form of Naruto being oblivious to the harem of girls he might actually consider dating those being Shion, Rurichiyo, Hinata (who he has gone on record to say are his type) the problem being he hasn't seen the former two in years and the latter is too shy to make a move.
The RWBY fic Massages has Jaune Arc gain, through his skill with massages, the affections of Yang, Blake, Pyrrha, Weiss, Ruby, Velvet, and Glynda. He finds this very uncomfortable, especially since the boys get jealous and try to beat him up.
Didier, the French exchange student in Son of Rambow, is so androgynously beautiful that he has two harems; one of girls, and one of boys.
When in Rome has the protagonist relentlessly pursued by several men after activating a magic fountain.
In White Sun of the Desert, Sukhov gets stuck with an actual harem, formerly belonging to Abdullah, the leader of Basmachi guerrillas. While the women consider him to be their protector, they do not actually try to jump him (this being a Soviet film and all).
The title character in Kull The Conqueror inherits a literal unwanted harem from the previous king. At the end of the movie, Kull officially disbands the harem, proclaiming that "the king commands no one's affection".
This trope is the entire plot of the Australian film Alvin Purple.
The Emperors New Groove features a different kind of Unwanted Harem. Kuzco rejects all the women because he thinks nobody is good enough for him.
In Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Galahad enters Castle Anthrax, which is full of women. He initially refuses their sexual advances, but by the time Lancelot shows up to rescue him from 'peril', he doesn't want to leave.
Harry ends up with a large number of admirers in the sixth book in the series. He also suffers from this trope in the fourth book, due to his status as a Tri-Wizard champion. Viktor Krum also, both because he's his school's champion and an internationally famous quidditch seeker.
Hell, Fleur Delacour ends up with a large number of admirers, legacy of her Veela heritage. Cedric Diggory... not so much.
Princess Daenerys Targaryen has one of these, though it's mostly by the power vested in her by her dragons.
Prince Rhaeghar Targaryen, brother to Daenerys, was not short in lady pretenders before his marriage, but his eloping with the Lady he shouldn't have eloped with led to a huge civil war, the near-destruction of his family and the end of the Targaryen kings.
Also, Sansa Stark has one in the form of Joffrey Baratheon, Sandor Clegane, Tyrion Lannister, Dontos Hollard and Petyr Baelish; the lesser of the evils is Dontos Hollard, who is a drunken mess, maybe Clegane, who is a Blood Knight, and Tyrion, who wants the world for her, but cannot possibly amend what his family did to hers. It doesn't help that Sansa is attracted to the people that will simply not give her the time of day or are in a position that prevents them from reciprocating (like Loras Tyrell, Renly Baratheon and Waymar Royce).
King Robert Baratheon had one of these that he himself built, but evaded the responsibility of the numerous resulting bastards he sired whenever he could with the exception of Edric Storm because it was just too obvious to deny. All this happened while his wife sired his "true born" heirs with her own twin brother.
His wife, Cersei, has a penchant for sharing her bed herself. Her harem is an unwanted one because she comes to think that her bed-mates are utter buffoons. These include King Robert, her twin brother Jaime, her cousin Lancel, Osney Kettleblack and Lady Taena.
Subverted by King Aegon IV Targaryen, who just asked that his subjects should wash the wenches before bringing them to romp with him. He began to suspect that his only trueborn son and heir Daeron, being a bookworm and a rather wimpy man might have not been his son and fed the rumor of his suspicions by legitimizing his bastards, specially his favorite Daemon Blackfyre (he is said to have planted the rumor himself); this eventually resulted in his sons and bastards starting a huge civil war after the idiot died.
Aegon IV's cousin and immediately previous king, Baelor I Targaryen The Blessed, had a big relationship with the Faith of Seven. As such, he remained celibate for life by imprisoning his sister-wife Daena and his sisters Rhaena and Elaena to resist temptation. During captivity, Daena had an affair with the aforementioned Aegon, which produced Daemon Blackfyre; this of course, brought trouble for basically everyone in the realm. Thus, Baelor is both fondly remembered and relentlessly mocked for this disastrous bout of celibacy (among other things).
Shiera Seastar, bastard daughter of Aegon IV had two of her four half-brothers behind her tail. Most of the reason Bittersteel sided with Daemon Blackfyre is because she preferred her half-brother Bloodraven, who was loyal to their half-brother king which Blackfyre wanted to depose. Granted, these were not the only men she had behind her.
Tyrion Lannister has one in the form of Tysha, Shae and Sansa; the main subversion is that the "unwanted" part of the trope is tremendously messed up: he thinks Tysha was after his money, but realizes that it was not the case; he thinks Shae loves him, but she was in it for the money; and thinks that Sansa shouldn't care for him after what his family did to her, but in a way she does care.
Margaery Tyrell has two herself in her multiple husbands and her supposed "harem" when she is charged with fornication due to Queen Cersei's machinations. While it's obvious that she did not actually care about Renly and Joffrey, she at least has expressed some sincere interest in Tommen. As she is very determined in having her own way, she has even rejected the likes of one of the Kettleblacks who was sent by Cersei to lure her into fornication; this backfires on Cersei because Margaery is not nearly as slutty as she assumes her to be, Cersei ending up (correctly) charged with fornication herself. Margaery is not free of charges by the Faith and she is released to her dad pending trial, but her supposed bedmates end up imprisoned by the High Sparrow.
Subverted by Prince Oberyn Martell The Red Viper of Dorne, who is simply the biggest horndog in the story line (excluding the Summer Islanders). Since bastards have a better standing in Dorne, he has been happy to bed just anyone that is willing to share his sheets, including men. He has sired eight bastard daughters from a multitude of women; the girls (the Sand Snakes) are among the feistiest and most infamous people in Westeros. Up until his death, he was still on booty call at King's Landing (though officially, he was filling a seat in the Small Council), and was aiming for Queen Cersei to share his and his paramour's bed because they wanted to romp with a blonde, with full knowledge that she has always been a huge jerk.
On the other hand, his niece and Princess of Dorne, Arianne Martell has had a big list of unwanted pretenders piled up by her father, making her doubtful of his intentions. As of her mid-twenties she is still unwed, which is rather late to not have at least a betrothed. She thinks that by bringing such pretenders, his father is trying to cheat her out of her rightful place as the heir to Dorne in favor of her younger brother Quentyn. After an ever escalating series of misfortunes made by her assumptions, her father finally reveals to her that he arranged her pretenders to be unfit for her to throw off the scent of his plans to marry her to Viserys Targaryen until the latter got himself killed by Khal Drogo. The reader at least knows that she is on a good state of mind by recognizing that even though just any woman would melt out of desire in the presence of The Darkstar Gerold Dayne, it would probably be a rather bad idea to even prospect him; this is before he tried to kill sweet Princess Myrcella, mind you!
Subverted also by Brienne, the Maid of Tarth. Her lord father Selwyn has tried to arrange multiple marriages for her, but she argues with a fist that she won't marry anyone that is not capable of defeating her in melee; it doesn't help that she is manly, exceptionally tall and ugly. She is very suspicious of the numerous men that treat her in a courteous manner because she has been relentlessly mocked in such way; however, she has found sincere respect out of Renly Baratheon and Jamie Lannister (who was at least blatantly rude to her until they grew fond of each other).
The worst example of an Unwanted Harem was the Lady of Coldmoat Rohanne Webber, The Red Widow. Young, small and perky, she married five times out of duty and her husbands just kept dying (but not by her hand) She admitted that she had only cared for two men in her life, none of them her husbands or other numerous pretenders: Addam Osgrey, late son of her fifth husband, and Ser Duncan The Tall, a sworn sword of the same husband. It's not revealed whether she did end up loving her fifth husband, though they were left in good terms.
The Odyssey: Dozens of foreign nobles seek Penelope's hand in marriage after her husband is presumed dead. He returns and kills them all. It's fair to say that he not only kills them for being pretenders, but also because, for 20 years they mooched from Ulysses' estate and fortune.
Ulysses has all the ladies from Ithaca behind him, though they want to hang him by the short hairs for managing to kill basically an entire generation of able-bodied men on the Trojan War, on his little trip back and on that last number he pulled by killing his wife's pretenders.
Bella from Twilight is a female example with a total of five guys in love with her, two of them supernatural. And she didn't have any boyfriends before moving to Forks. The author insists that this was based on her successful love life in college after she wasn't looked at twice in high school. In one quote, she mentioned that she was dating three guys at the same time (which none of them knew about).
In the Jane Moore novel Fourplay, main character Jo ends up with four very different men staking their claim on her (one of whom happens to be her ex-husband).
Anita Blake, the eponymous heroine of Laurell K. Hamilton's monster hunting series, although as the harem gets bigger it seems to be less and less unwanted. When it was just a vampire and a werewolf she was stressing over it.
Sookie in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries has been romantically/sexually pursued by Bill, Sam, Eric, JB, Alcide, Calvin, and Quinn, at least. She is inexperienced with relationships, both sexually and socially, because her telepathy means that any human she dates will drive her crazy due to unwanted eavesdropping. Combine this with supernatural politics and the rarity of telepaths, and her love life becomes quite unmanageable. As of All Together Dead she has dated four of them (one at a time) and her exes are still hovering hoping to kiss and make up. She has fairy blood, which for vampires (and maybe other supernaturals) is like cat nip.
In The House of Night series, heroine Zoey Redbird has three admirers/boyfriends: Heath, her human ex-boyfriend and quarterback of the football team, Erik Night, the hottest guy in the vampyre high school, and Loren Blake, a teacher and poet. Loren leaves the harem later on when he's revealed to be evil and then dies, only to be replaced by Stark.
In In The Net Of Dreams various events result in Riplakish traveling alone with seven beautiful women. To be fair, only five of them are attracted to him at the time.
In The Wheel of Time series, each of the main three male characters (Rand, Mat and Perrin) all end up with multiple women pursuing them, sometimes even teaming up against the man.
Rand eventually confesses and simultaneously marries all three of his fangirls, who are luckily the best of friends/surrogate sisters to each other anyway.
This also happens to a side character, Gaul, who wants one half of a pair, but has to marry them both thanks to the rules of his culture.
Deconstructing the original Dracula, Saberhagen's The Dracula Tape portrays the Count as being pestered by his trio of vampire brides. Their interminable nagging is implied to be one of the reasons he leaves Transylvania for England.
Henry James' Portrait Of A Lady: The lady in question, Isabel Archer, has quite the unwanted harem.
In the Nero Wolfe short story "Murder is Corny", Susan MacLeod is a young, naive, spectacularly beautiful country girl whose recent success as a model has given her an Unwanted Harem, one of whom is a particularly odious Stalker with a Crush. She can't quite figure out why guys keep proposing to her on the first date.
In Saki (H.H Munro)'s play, The Watched Pot (written in collaboration with Charles Maude), Trevor Bavvel, the local heir to the manor, is pursued by four different young women. In Saki's "The Elk," Bertie Thropplestance is in much the same position, pursued by every woman whom he rescues from the eponymous dangerous quadruped.
The Dresden Files tend to lampshade the fact that Harry has a ton of attractive (and often supernaturally hot) women angling to get into his pants from time to time. These range from his apprentice to FaerieQueens to his Policeofficer best friend and attractive reporter girlfriend. Being a semi-quasi-Chaste Hero with abandonment issues who doesn't want to get involved without emotion backing it up, much of this attention (apart from that from said reporter girlfriend) is unwanted. A lot of the rest is unwanted because the lady in question is trying to bed him in order to enslave/devour/corrupt him or those close to him. Yeah... he has a complicated love life.
Don't forget the demons, the succubi (plural), and his mind controlled boss. And that's the women.
In A Brother's Price, a man is expected to marry every sister in a family - and since they themselves are descended from a family of sisters, there are typically a lot of them. One of the viewpoint characters of the novel is Jerin, who is just reaching the age of marriage and is apprehensive; he wants a good family, and not to be wedded to the Brindles. There are thirty of them. Over the course of the book many more women want him married, and most of this attention is unwelcome. We see from the parts of the book seen through the princess Ren's view, though, that while some of it is due to Gender Rarity Value and Jerin's beauty, a lot of this is political, and the backbone of the book is about intrigues.
The furry sci-fi novel "Lead, Follow, or Suffer the Consequences'' has Koen getting one after liberating a prison camp consisting entirely of females. Granted he wanted it originally but when he realized many of them were going into heat he started making plans to free a predominantly male camp.
In W. S. Gilbert's poem "The Bumboat Woman's Story" Lt. Belaye, commander of a British gunship, discovers that his entire, unusually well-behaved crew is made up of young women, who dressed up like sailors to continue being around him.
Live Action TV
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" features Xander trying to do a love spell on Cordelia, only for the spell to go wrong and every woman in Sunnydale (including Buffy, Buffy's mother, Drusilla and witch Amy) to fall head over heels for him. The only person who seems unaffected is Cordelia (due to the miscasting of the spell), but it transpires that she was already in love with him, she was just pretending not to be.
Another Buffy episode, "Him", has Buffy, Willow (who by this time has come out as a lesbian), demon Anya and teenaged Dawn falling for a high school boy, to the point where they are each trying to kill perceived rivals (or in Willow's case, work a spell to turn him into a girl) for his affections. The boys manage to work out that the boy is unwittingly wearing an enchanted letterman jacket which causes women to fall madly in love with the wearer.
Ned's Unwanted Harem on the live action but AnimesqueNed's Declassified School Survival Guide call themselves "Club Ned" (but are referred to by Ned and his friends as The Huge Crew). They may be a tough, intimidating, leather-and-bandanna-wearing gang, but on the bright side, they don't see any other girls who like Ned as competition, but invite them to join the club!
Seth Cohen in The O.C. spends years as the Dateless Nerd before finding himself pursued by both Summer and Anna.
Dr Temperance "Bones" Brennan has often been pursued and flirted with by several guys. There was one early episode when she went to a small town and most of the guys there were all trying to get her attention at a local bar, until Booth stepped in and grabbed her for a dance. However, she's not a Chaste Hero, as she does date several men, two at the same time at one point.
Played straight and parodied on Glee. Played straight with Will in how everytime you turn around since the new season starts he seems to have gotten a new love interest. (though it might have come to head with Bad Reputation. Parodied in Bad Reputation as, Rachel attempts to make it look like Finn, Puck and Jessie are her unwanted haram in her music video of Run Joey Run so she'll get a higher ranking on the Glist (a ranking of hotness by member). Of course since this is Rachel, it doesn't go well for her....
Constable Benton Fraser of Due South tends to instantly inspire crushes in every American woman he comes across. It only really sticks with Ray Vecchio's sister, though she's definitely enough.
The one-season Scott Bakula sitcom Eisenhower And Lutz. Bakula played Bud Lutz, a shady lawyer who was juggling two girlfriends, a waitress played by DeLane Matthews and a much more successful lawyer played by Patricia Richardson. In the final episode, an enemy of Bud's vowed to make his life miserable. He did so by sending both women engagement rings in Bud's name!
Lampshaded in the second "Meanwhile in the Tardis" scene from 2010. After the Doctor rebuffs Amy's attempt at Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex and assures her he's "a Space Gandalf", she gets curious about the companions before her. He immediately loses the ability to look her in the eye and starts hedging about how many of them were girls / young / "hot" (i.e, nearly all of them). Then she tricks him into calling up visual records. "Oooh, Gandalf!"
Bertram Wooster (the Wooster bit of Jeeves and Wooster) has a gang of girls who all feel that they have an open invitation to attach themselves to him whenever their current relationship has gone south. All of the women in question are attractive but they all have issues with their personalities. There's Madeline Bassett (a Love Freak prone to extreme sentimentality), Florence Craye (a pretentious ball buster), and Honoria Glossop (who is probably a closet lesbian who wants to "mould" him). He has also expressed terror at the prospect of marrying Pauline Stocker, Bobby Wickham, and Stiffy Byng, even though none of them really want to. His terror of matrimony also has a lot to do with Bertie's wish to preserve his cosy bachelor establishment with Jeeves.
Jimmy Reed had a song about it. "But I Ain't Got You".
The Duane Elms song "Who Do You Love?", where the protagonist feels he must choose just one of them.
You think it's easy, maybe you would,
to have more choices than one man should.
There is such a thing as too much good.
The Warren Zevon song "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" is a masterpiece mixture of this and complete obliviousness.
The Carl Perkins song "Everybody's Trying to be my Baby"
The Eagles song "Take It Easy," as seen in the page quote.
Gilbert and Sullivan seem to be fond of this trope: nine of their 14 operas have some version of it.
In Iolanthe, the Lord Chancellor, the Earls of Mountararat and Tololler, and the entire Chorus of Peers are all in love with Phyllis, who wants none of them.
At the start of Ruddigore, there have been no weddings in the village of Rederring for six months, because practically every bachelor is in love with Rose Maybud, but none of them can pass her standards of ettiquette (except Robin, who is too shy to declare himself).
In The Gondoliers, the entire female chorus is in love with the same two brothers, who feel it "indelicate" to show a bias towards any particular girl.
In The Grand Duke, Ludwig is all set to marry Lisa, but through various plot contrivances, finds himself forced to marry Julia Jellicoe, the Baroness von Krakenfeldt, and the Princess of Monte Carlo.
Played straight and subverted in Patience: At the start of the opera, the whole chorus of Rapturous Maidens are in love with the poet Bunthorne; when a handsomer poet, Grosvenor, appears on the scene, all the women transfer their affection to him. But while Grosvenor genuinely ignores the Maidens as much as he can, Bunthorne only pretends to — he only dons Aesthetic clothing and writes poetry so he can be followed around by an adoring harem.
Played with in in H.M.S. Pinafore: Sir Joseph enters "accompanied by the admiring crowd of female relatives who follow him wherever he goes" ("relative" is a euphemism here). Sir Joseph obviously enjoys the attention, but doesn't actually want to marry any of them. On the other hand, Hebe is the only "relative" actively pursuing him.
Played with again in Trial By Jury: As soon as the Plaintiff enters the courtroom, the entire jury falls in love with her. She does not want them, but manipulates them as much as she can to win her case.
Subverted in a different way in The Pirates of Penzance: Frederic proposes to the entire female chorus, who unanimously turn him down. Averted completely a moment later, when Mabel enters.
Similarly Subverted in The Sorcerer: Dr. Daly, under the influence of the love potion, proposes to every maiden he meets, but each one refuses. (This happens offstage, but he sings a song about it.)
.hack//G.U.'s Haseo manages to round up a rather large group of potential love interests, including four males, although three of them are essentially zombies. This gives him a grand total of twelve possible characters you can marry in the end of the third game (although the aforementioned zombie characters glomp him instead of marrying him). And that's just characters that you can canonically marry.
Baldur's Gate only has three options, although due to class and/or alignment you're pretty unlikely to keep them all in the same party...
The way the dialogue in Neverwinter Nights 2 is written, a male player expressing interest in Elanee is reacting to Neeshka as if this trope is in play.
The dialogue in question is probably an artifact from when Neeshka was going to be a possible love interest for the male PC.
You'd think Galaxy Angel is like this. Nope, the game enforces a strict Road Cone early on in the game. The sequel even makes the fact about which girl Tact married very obscure until the last minute to keep it in line with your own choice in the previous games.
From Mass Effect 2, Mordinofallpeople claims to have had one of these, or at the very least many come-ons from different species, and he is able to rationalize why each species would find him attractive.
Mordin: Different species react differently to stress. Aware you have come by a great deal. Have had other species become attracted to me before. Awkward. Not interested.
Shepard: You've had members of other species make a pass at you?
Mordin:Constantly. Very awkward. Skin tone apparently attractive by turian standards. Subset of krogan deviants enjoys salarian flexibility. More cartilage than skeletal structure. Asari offers...intriguing, actually. Wonder why. Trans-species pheromones unlikely to work. (inhales) Must be neurochemical.
Shepard:(tongue-in-cheek) I appreciate you letting me down easy.
Shepard also gets this. No matter what species you are, chances are you will want to bang Shepard.
Best shown in Grunt's loyalty mission, where after defeating a Tresher Maw, on-foot, the first to do so since Wrex over a thousand years previously, EDI calls and informs you;
EDI: There are also several breeding requests for Grunt. And one for Shepard.
In the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3, if the genophage is cured and Wrex is alive, he will complain that ever since his people became fertile again, every female krogan has lined-up to have their firstborn from him. He even had to sneak out his own bathroom window, and still got cornered by interested females.
Garlot of Blaze Union. He has childhood friends Siskier and Jenon, along with friends and allies Medoute, Luciana and Aegina, Iita, Sleip, Eudy, Leon, and Nessiah following him around. All of them have at least a little subtext towards him. As Garlot has other things on his mind—like winning the revolution—he views his party rather innocently for the most part. Three years later, in Yggdra Union, he will still have the same harem (with a few members missing), and will still have more important things on his mind than romance. Though Nessiah and the twins appear to be ahead of the rest by then.
In the non-canonical endings to this game, the harem is also pared down thus: Nessiah, Aegina, and Siskier in the good B ending, Aegina winning in the bad B ending, and Aegina, Luciana, and Siskier in the C ending.
Occurs in the H-GameArtificial Girl 3, where you can have up to five girls in a single savefile.
In Come See Me Tonight, the main character's parents mysteriously disappear one day, so an old friend of the family offers to let him stay with her. When he arrives, he discovers her 3 beautiful daughters and a Dojikko act as hostesses in the restaurant she owns. He slowly but surely becomes the target of their affections as he helps out in the restaurant.
The sequel involves the son of a family that runs a shrine famous for its annual harvest festival and accompanying "Dance of the Shrine Maidens" taking over his grandfather's duties as chief priest - which involves helping 3 beautiful maidens-in-training learn the dance, as well as learning his own part, and picking which of the maidens will become his wife.
Fate/hollow ataraxia tends to follow a lot more harem tropes than its predecessor. Shirou is mostly confused, but when the matter comes up, bad things tend to happen — such as a jealous Saber.
Similarly, Shiki of Tsukihime ends up clearly with one girl at the end of each route (except one ending, where Arcueid and Ciel are fighting over him). Side materials usually show all five main heroines, the main character of Melty Blood, and occasionally his familiar as well constantly fighting over his affections.
Marten from Questionable Content, following a series of events between strips 500 and 700, lives with a woman in whom he was once interested, while dating her boss, the owner of a coffee shop with an all-female staff, and spending most of his free time with the obsessive-compulsive neighbor girl, all while working at the Smith College library. Although this doesn't meet the common definition since only two of these women have ever been more than his friends, he once quipped to his mother (before he started dating his roommate's boss) that he wanted to "build a harem of unattainable women," after which his mother takes to calling his female friends his "harem."
Piro from Megatokyo is a geek and harem anime fan, yet he views his own with an increasing level of bemusement and disbelief, completely unable to communicate his feelings (mostly fear and confusion) to any of them.
In all fairness, there was only ever a chance of him dating two of the four: One of the others is a robot that Piro clearly doesn't realize has feelings, and the other is underage. Then of the two he might have had a chance with, one was always more interested in his friend, and saw him as pathetic (and not in the good way) from the start.
Cassie in The Wotch ends up accidentally building up one of these in her attempts to get Robin to drink a love potion, instead attracting Robin's younger brother Kirk, Xander, and finally a plant. And now it's starting to look like Robin and Cassie might start going out anyway.
Keith from TwoKinds has a gender-confused wolf-woman, an ex-fiancee, a (gay) general, and a cute lieutennant gunning for him. This would be a good thing except his people can only get off once a year and mate for life.
Mye of Charby the Vampirate appears to have admirers wherever she goes, although she describes herself as not all that pretty. Eventually this is revealed to be, unknown to her, the effect of a spell that draws men to her.
Homestuck: It seems that all of Jake English's friends secretly harbor romantic feelings for him. This includes DirkStrider. He is of course mostly oblivious to this.
In Rain, it appears that every kid in the school with a compatible sexual orientation gets a crush on the titular character. The attention terrifies her.
Gary in Menage A 3 gains one, though as this comic is cheerfully Not Safe for Work, and Gary is desperate and chronically lacking in willpower, he does end up in bed with some of these women, making this something of an aversion of the full trope. For those who want details:
Early on, after being friend-zoned by Zii and intimidated by DiDi, he seems to want to focus on Yuki, insofar as he has any opinions at all.
Yuki returns his interest but has issues.
Zii sends Sonya after him.
Amber discovers his unique sexual talents, and later decides that he needs rescuing from Yuki (with some reason).
Kiley deflowers him for stress relief, decides that she likes him, but soon backs off for ethical reasons.
Sonya pays him less attention for a while after realising she loves Zii, but meanwhile DiDi has become interested in him.
Amber is induced to back off a bit and then disappears to another title.
Yuki hands him off to Sonya while she attempts to address her problems.
Sonya drops him due to incompatibility.
Zii tries to throw DiDi at him the same night that Sonya tries to do the same with new character Peggy.
However, by then, Gary is on another continent, having joined the Mile-High Club with Senna and survived the attempts of deranged dominatrix Tatiana to determine whether he is "the perfect sub", teaching Sandra about geek culture, platonically.
Karin-dou 4koma starts with Shizuki already in love with Tamaryu. Ran falls in love with Tamaryu not longer after her introduction and agrees to form a threesome with Shizuki, ignoring Tamaryu's desperate protests. And then Tamaryu accidentally seduces Catherine (dog youkai) into becoming—as Catherine herself puts it—Tamaryu's bitch. No one is happy with that development.
Thunderbird of the Whateley Universe has a harem of five girls (at a minimum), and he's been utterly oblivious that four of them have been pursuing him (in their own quirky ways) for almost a year. Since he's a SupermanExpy down to the 'boy scout' behavior and astonishing good looks, it's easy to see why girls want him. Things have come to a head now that Chaka has claimed him as her boyfriend.
Chaka herself has a lot of people after her. More than a few are female.
The Impossible Man subverts this trope. Michael Garcia either hires a woman or his mother hires one and he accepts their application to work for his store.
In this Pokémon the Abridged Series, Gary got his harem by giving up his scholarship to Harvard so they could go receive an education, and they wouldn't stop following him.
Happens in Sapphire. Admittedly, it's not actually Alec's harem, but he still refuses to fall for their advances.
A couple of episodes in Adventure Time mention that Finn has one of these.