Western popular culture has long told stories of black widows
— women who kill their husbands for money. This trope is something different — a woman driven to kill by the loss of her husband (or significant other or loved one).
A usually evil Distaff Counterpart
to the Crusading Widower
. Compare Determined Widow
, the usually heroic version of this trope.
Anime and Manga
- In Samurai X, Kenshin Himura is an assassin who is forced to go into seclusion for his part in the Meiji Restoration war. As part of his cover, he and a woman named Tomoe go Undercover as Lovers, and live as husband and wife. Over time, the two fall in love, but it's revealed at the very end of the OAV that Tomoe was a spy who had volunteered to go undercover with Kenshin to assassinate him because her husband was one of the men he assassinated. However, she fell In Love with the Mark... which is exactly what her employers planned. So they capture her to lure Kenshin into a trap, but she sacrifices her life in the end to save him. She's happy with this resolution, because she saved one man she loved and can now be with the other.
- In Project Superpowers, one of the members of the Supremacy is Mrs. Octopus, who is implied to be the widow of The Spirit nemesis The Octopus.
- In The Hood, White Fang was a former Stark Enterprises technician who became a vigilante after the Hood killed her husband.
- A parental example: In the Flashpoint continuity, Bruce Wayne was killed, rather than his parents. The Batman in that continuity was actually Thomas Wayne, while The Joker was Martha Wayne.
- Moon Knight's sometime ally, the vigilante Stained Glass Scarlet, was motivated to become a vigilante by the death of her husband and son.
- A one-shot Punisher story involved an alliance of rich Mafia widows hiring several assassins to kill Frank Castle - both because he had blown away their husbands prior and because he was making their business difficult. After Frank killed the entire collection of assassins and found out who hired them, he gave the widows an option: give out all of their money to charity and leave New York to never return or be gunned down by him right then and there. They chose the former, except for the alliance's leader, who tried to draw a gun on Frank for having the gall to threaten them.
- Kill Bill: Admittedly, the Bride was already a trained assassin; but the reason she wants to Kill Bill is that Bill spearheaded the murder of her entire wedding party (including her would-be husband and — as she believes at first — her unborn daughter) during the wedding rehearsal.
- In Black Hawk Down, an army sergeant shoots and kills an insurgent headed for the helicopter crash site. The insurgent's widow emerges from cover, wailing at the loss. Her tone soon changes to railing the U.S. soldier, who repeatedly advises the woman not to touch her husband's firearm. Not understanding English and driven to vengeance, the woman begins to pick up her husband's rifle. She is shot dead on the spot as an armed combatant under the Rules of War.
- The Bride Wore Black, a novel by Cornell Woolrich, is about a woman who hunts down and kills the five men who murdered her husband on their wedding day. It was later adapted into a movie directed by François Truffaut.
- Only to find that they didn't kill him and she's murdered several innocent men. Her groom was in the mob and tried to quit, for her, only to be gunned down as a car sped past them. She thought the car had hit him, but it did not.
- The Duchess of Swayle in the seventh Safehold book, Like a Mighty Army, is suspected of being this, following her husband's arrest and execution for treason earlier in the plot. She has yet to actually act on any such impulses, but the main characters and their subordinates are keeping an eye on her.
- In Holes, Kissin' Kate Barlow began her crime spree after her black lover Sam was killed for kissing her. Her first victim was the sheriff who failed to prevent the mob from killing Sam.
- The Chinese Bell Murders has a complicated case. The widow and her grandson are the only survivor of a housefire that she's been insisiting for years was set off by the head of a rival family (the man claims that she's no longer right in the head, even claiming he was on the best of terms with the woman's family). Later her grandson is killed, which she claims is yet another crime (he insists he's innocent, and technically, he is). However, it turns out she's actually the man's wife, and killed the grandson (actually their son) in order to get back at him for adultery years ago.
- In the Star Trek novel Spock's World, T'Theliah goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge with her Psychic Powers when her husband Mahak is killed by her captors.
- In the Twilight series, after Victoria's mate, James, is killed, she tries to achieve Revenge by Proxy, by killing Bella Swan.
- Older Than Print: Kriemhild from the Nibelungenlied is perhaps the ultimate example. She will not rest until she has avenged her husband Siegfried's death, and to get to killing his murderer Hagen with her own hand (and Siegfried's sword) she causes the deaths of several thousand mostly more or less innocent people through the actions of others.
- In The Following, Mallory Hodge is inspired to join Joe Carroll's crime spree after her boyfriend Lance gets killed during the bookstore attack.
- Inverted in Alias, where Sidney discovers that she's working for a terrorist group after they kill her fiancee, which they do after she tells him that she works for the CIA (which is what she thought SD-6 was a part of). She works as a Double Agent with the real CIA to take SD-6 down.
- The short-lived TV show The Red Widow had the main character try to keep her family safe after her smuggler husband is murdered in front of their house. Part of this involves finding out who murdered her husband and stopping that person from doing more harm to her family.
- In 24: Live Another Day, the Big Bad is Margot Al-Harazi, a British-born shahid widow seeking revenge against President Heller for the drone strike that killed her husband.
- As the fighting between Russia and the Chechen separatist groups has dragged on, traditional "martyrs" (young, devout Muslim men without histories of sinful behavior) have become harder for the Chechen separatists to find. Thus, the recruiters have increasingly turned to the widows of previous martyrs. Since these women are usually young and have usually been left at home, they're seen as close enough to the ideal of martyrdom that their deaths could be seen as "righteous" or "holy". These women are called shahidka (from the Arabic shahid, or "witness".)