Wet Blanket Wife

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"Clara Murphy looks like the most terrible female stereotype in movies, an estrogen-soaked wet blanket. There is not one scene in that trailer where she's not cooking or crying. She literally runs into the middle of the road just to stop RoBroCop from being rad on his motorbike: "You listen here, Mr. Robo, you stop being cool and go in and have a glacial emotional scene with your son! I don't care how many cops die fighting armed felons that your indestructible ass could collar in an instant, we're stopping this action right here and won't move another inch until there are emotions!"

The Wet Blanket Wife is the Love Interest (not necessarily a married spouse) that is a constant reminder of how uncool or troubling events in the story are supposed to be. In The Caper, she reminds The Hero that he promised to retire after that One Last Job, or is trying to get him out of the game to begin with. In a War Film or Fighting Series, she's often an Actual Pacifist who wants her love to stop fighting because she doesn't want to see him hurt or killed. In a Superhero story, she chews the main character out for spending too much time crimefighting, or perhaps doesn't even know his Secret Identity and angrily wonders where he's run off to. In short, the character exists to slow the pace of the story and provide emotional heft.

This trope is often paired with the Henpecked Husband or Parenting the Husband, and sometimes the arguments form an Awful Wedded Life between the couple. However, the overlap isn't necessary. A woman tearfully begging her Action Hero husband not to go do whatever dangerous thing he wants to do to avoid being widowed can be Happily Married, but she's still trying to get him not to do the awesome thing that the audience paid to see (however justifiably). Scenes involving this kind of wife will involve her fretting or angsting over the events of the story and otherwise reminding the audience how "awful" this is supposed to be.

This is an Always Female trope, but that doesn't mean there aren't rare male versions. Because of tropes like Men Are Tough and Men Act, Women Are, it's usually just assumed that a husband or boyfriend in a heteronormative relationship will be the one advancing the plot. For that reason, this is also a Sub-Trope of Acceptable Feminine Goals; in this case, trying to salvage her relationship/marriage/home is the greater priority for the woman than whatever else is supposed to be going on in the story. Again, even if she's right, the issue is that the husband doesn't seem to agree (and more often than not, the story is told from his perspective).

Compare and contrast The Obstructive Love Interest, who is against anything their significant other tries to do, as a result of misunderstandings, personal insecurities, and any other number of reasons. See also Yoko Oh No, the girlfriend/wife of an artist that is blamed for destroying their career.

Contrast the Battle Couple and Outlaw Couple, who usually avert this trope.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: During the Arrcanr Arc, Orihime was constantly worried about Ichigo getting hurt or injured fighting on her behalf, even refusing to heal Ichigo if it meant he'd just start fighting again. Her behaviour is so pacifistic for a genre that caters to fans who want to read fights that her lack of battle-appropriate mentality is lampshaded in-universe as well.
  • Dragon Ball Z.
    • Chi-Chi is constantly pushing Gohan towards more scholarly pursuits, despite living in a world where her husband seems to fight world- or universe-threatening bad guys every few years or so. She remains against all the danger her husband and son go through, but learns to adapt. After the seven-year Time Skip, she mellows out a bit with their second son, Goten, to the point where she actually trained him. This may have something to do with Goku dying shortly before he was born, since Gohan theorizes that Chi-Chi feels guilt over this behavior now that Goku's gone and believes she might have had an indirect effect on his death. In Dragon Ball Super, she's back to nagging Goku now that he's alive again, forcing him to take up farming to provide to the family (Mr. Satan tried to provide an enormous cash gift to get Goku out of that, but Chi-Chi squandered it ridiculously fast), even though Goku just fought a literal god who he couldn't defeat and could blow up the Earth on a whim.
    • Bulma actually averts it. For example, when Vegeta sends Trunks out to fight two minor villains for practice, her only complaint is that Trunks isn't dominating like he should because Vegeta doesn't spend more time training him.
  • Rurouni Kenshin. Kaoru is a Martial Pacifist and spends most of each conflict reacting with disdain and horror at the violence going on.
  • s-CRY-ed. Mimori and Nanaly do little else than watch the events of the story unfold and show displeasure at the protagonists' Blood Knight and Spirited Competitor tendencies.
    Mimori: IS THIS REALLY HOW MEN WANT TO LIVE THEIR LIVES?!
  • In Fist of the North Star, most women fit this trope. Of special note is Lin, who fits the role of Kawaiiko Moe Blob Morality Pet for Kenshiro. What really makes her case strange, however, is that she is a small child with a Precocious Crush on Ken, so this can be very uncomfortable to watch. Mamiya is really the only woman that averts this trope, as when the two men in her life (Rei and Kenshiro) decide to go off and do something dangerous, she goes with them to help. Not that she can put up the same level of fight, though.
  • Pokémon: While not a wife or even a girlfriend, Serena has a bit of this: she is not a fan of Ash's more reckless behaviors, such as jump grabbing his Pokemon before they fall into Volcanoes.

    Comic Books 
  • In Alan Moore's Miracleman, Mike Moran's wife ends up as a sort of deconstruction, since she stubbornly clings to her humanity and begs her husband to remember his own, even as he embraces an increasingly distant and terrifying superhumanity. In the end, he and his allies take over and completely transform the world into a posthuman benevolent dictatorship, but she still refuses to become a superbeing.
  • Spider-Man: Mary-Jane Watson developed a reputation for being this. Since Spider-man is intended to be a downtrodden Everyman, writers were constantly looking for ways to make being married to a supermodel suck. Many comics involved MJ being little else than a Damsel in Distress, constantly nagging Peter for spending too much time superheroing, or interrupting the action by cutting back to her just so we could watch her angst. Some speculate this to be part of the reason the writers and some portions of the fandom tried so hard to break them up.
  • The Mighty Thor:
    • Jane Foster, particularly in her older, Silver Age appearances, typically pined for Thor incessantly and also bemoaned the violence going on around her. In fact, the incident originally sank her ship with Thor in those days had her briefly transformed into an Asgardian goddess and locked in a room with a monster to prove that she was worthy. Only a couple of minutes later, she was begging to be sent back to Earth and stating that the life of an Asgardian was too horrible.
    • Sif, despite being introduced as more of an Action Girl than Jane Foster, was also used as the "pathos" of the book in her early days. She often spent her time worrying about Thor's safety, begging him not to run off and fight something dangerous, and so on. Later depictions of her made her far more of a bruiser herself, and most modern versions of Sif would sooner charge into battle with Thor than beg him not to go.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Both mothers in Bend It Like Beckham, and for basically the same reason. Jess' mom doesn't want her playing football/soccer because of Punjabi Sikh/British Culture Clash (read: Indian girls aren't supposed to play football). Jules' mom doesn't like Jules' tomboy tendencies and thinks she isn't feminine enough, and gets mad at Dad for encouraging her:
    Jules' mom: (to Dad) When are you going to realize you have a daughter, with breasts, not a son?
  • Face/Off. Eve Archer, wife of protagonist Simon Archer, is one of those "you promised to quit after one last job" types of wives. What makes this example particularly strange is that not only does she seem to show no interest in bringing to justice the Big Bad responsible for killing her son, but Archer doesn't even try to explain to her that there's a nuclear bomb threatening to blow up their city. The movie just sets up Archer as a workaholic cop with a distant marriage and expects it to fly.
  • Agent Devlin in Notorious is a Rare Male Example. He recruits Alicia to seduce and marry a Nazi leader so she can spy on him, but once he falls in love with her he starts taking digs at her for sleeping with the Nazi before she married him and trying to make her choose between him and the mission.
  • High Noon: Kate (Grace Kelly) is a Quaker and Will promised her he would give up law enforcement when they married. For most of the film, she is adamant that if he stays and fights a group who are out to kill him, she will leave him. She's trying to keep him alive, and if he's going to recklessly endanger his life, she wants to be on the train out of town when he gets himself killed rather than see it happen. If you don't know how the story ends, she later finds another way to keep him alive after realizing that she cannot persuade him to run.
  • In School of Rock Ned Schneebly's girlfriend is this in spades; she frequently reminds both Ned and Dewey of their responsibilities during the film, and discourages any sort of fun that goes outside of their adult duties. She even blows the whistle on Dewey's charade.
  • Angela Bassett's character in The Score is a Wet Blanket Girlfriend, tired of Gentleman Thief Nick's double life and a bit skeptical of his desire to perform One Last Job. Unusual for the trope, Nick wholeheartedly agrees on her point, makes sure everybody knows it will be his Last Job, and gets rid of all of his thief tools (except the ones he needs for the titular "score") off-screen before meeting her at the end.
  • Rosie Perez in White Men Can't Jump shows extreme displeasure at Woody Harrelson's character being a basketball hustler. When he breaks his promise to quit one time too many, she leaves him.
  • RoboCop (2014): Oddly enough, Clara Murphy's actions, which are the focus of the Trope Namer Cracked article, are not only not an example of this trope, but make sense within the film: Alex Murphy is undergoing a corporate mandated Cybernetics Eat Your Soul and she shocks him out of it, she fights for her husband's rights, and later on when Omnicorp tries to ruin her reputation because of this and even threatens to find a legal way to leave her homeless in retaliation, her response is essentially "Bring It".
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Downplayed trope. While at first Pepper Potts seemed fine with Tony's Iron Man alter ego, following his near-death in The Avengers and the destruction of their home, she urges Tony to quit. When he doesn't due to his compulsion to heroism, she ends their relationship.

    Literature 
  • Discworld: War, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, has a retired Valkyrie wife who mostly henpecks him. In Thief of Time, when she objects to him riding out, he stands up to her, and she blushes and murmurs about it reminding her of him when he was younger...

    Live-Action TV 
  • Skyler White of Breaking Bad: she starts out (especially in the pilot) as a wet blanket who forces her husband to eat soy bacon and reminds him which credit card to use, but as Walter slides into increasingly erratic, destructive, and criminal behavior, she looks more and more like she has a point. Word of God and more than a few Author Filibuster scenes intended to drive home the point that she's trying to get herself or her children away from an increasingly violent, delusional criminal. The series finale flat out has Walter say this to her.
  • Fred Yokas from Third Watch represents a gender flipping of the trope. He was both worried for his wife Faith's safety on the force and jealous of her partner Bosco. Eventually this leads to the end of their marriage.
  • In Criminal Minds this is the main cause of the strife in Aaron and Haley Hotchner's marriage, culminating in her leaving him and filing for divorce after Hotch decides to go out in the field on "one last case".
    Haley: Aaron, stop! Don't make me the monster here. I feel sick about these women, but when this case is over, there will be another one. And another one and another one. It is never going to stop.
    Aaron: This is who I am.
    Haley: No... This is what you do.
    Aaron: I'm trying to do the right thing, here and there, and I would really appreciate a little support.
    Haley: That's right. 'Cause you always need to be the hero.
    Aaron: Don't give me that.
    Haley: No. Obviously a happy life isn't enough for you.
  • In Rounders, main character Mike McDermott's (Matt Damon) fiancee Jo is a particularly sympathetic example. After supporting him through a very rough period in which he loses his life savings at the poker table, she gives him a clear ultimatum: give up poker or give up Jo, as she's unwilling to go through that again. When he falls back into his poker obsession thanks to Poisonous Friend Worm (Ed Norton), she leaves him with a bare minimum of angst, correctly seeing that he'll never be able to give up poker on any kind of permanent basis and she's not cut out for weathering the ups and downs of the professional gambler. Notably, they do not get back together after Mike pokers his way out of debt at the end. She makes her decision and sticks to it.

    Video Games 
  • Far Cry 3. Liza Snow, girlfriend of protagonist Jason Brody, constantly expresses concern over how Jason is becoming more and more of a bloodthirsty killer. The rest of Jason's friends also get on his case for the insane things he does, but at the same time, they'd be dead if he didn't, and more importantly, we'd have no game if he didn't. However, Liza is by far the most blatant example. She turns out to be totally right, as Jason almost sails off the deep end (or actually does, if you choose the Bad Ending).
  • Grand Theft Auto series
    • Kendl Johnson, sister of protagonist CJ and lover of CJ's ally, Caesar Vialpando, constantly acts as an exasperated voice of reason between the two macho Gangbangers in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. She usually has some sort of gripe against their lifestyle, but she's often right, such as when one of them plans to run off and do something stupid.
    • Tanisha, Franklin Clinton's ex-girlfriend in Grand Theft Auto V is pretty much the Only Sane Woman in the entire game. She's certainly the only person in Franklin's life that wants no part of the criminal or hood lifestyle. She broke up with Franklin because he wouldn't get his act together, and continues to yell at him about it throughout the game. The thing is, GTA is a game about being a criminal, so her protests do nothing except provide Angst for Franklin.
    • Amanda De Santa, wife of the other protagonist Michael, eventually leaves him and leaves behind a note basically saying that she's afraid for herself and their children after Michael returns to a life of crime and brings back all of their old baggage. When the two start reconciling at the end, her primary complaint is that she hates his behavior and lifestyle because she doesn't want Michael to get killed.
  • Ciel in Mega Man Zero at times reminds Zero that he shouldn't fight too much, out of worry for his safety (and worry that he might be bothered by helping her so much). Zero counters this by saying that he has battled his entire life that it's basically his purpose to do the dirty work.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Ken's wife, Eliza, subverts this. She's well aware that she will forever divide her life with her husband with his passion for fighting, probably ever since she met him in Street Fighter Alpha. In Street Fighter IV, when Ken antagonizes over whether to stay with his wife with the baby do any day now or take another opportunity to fight Ryu, Eliza tells him to go right ahead and do what he wants. It's not like she or the baby will be going anywhere. The baby is born in his Super Street Fighter IV ending, meaning she's right.
    • Played straight in the UDON comic. For a brief time, Eliza becomes dispirited and walks out on Ken when it becomes clear that he'd choose a life of fighting over her. She comes back, though, just in time to give him the morale needed to win his match.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Dan Vs. subverts this in "Dan vs. The Wolf-Man". The start of the episode paints Elise as this, with Chris mentioning that she doesn't like him hanging out with Dan. But a scene shortly afterwards clarifies: Elise just wants her husband to be less of a doormat, and apparently he mistook "Stop letting Dan step all over you" for "You can't hang out with Dan anymore." Elise is actually an elite super spy with Blood Knight tendencies; on occasion she's been known to actively join in on Dan's elaborate revenge plots, then Chris has to be the wet blanket.
  • In The Simpsons, Marge started off more as a Closer to Earth spouse for Homer, though was eventually Flanderized into a more dull and neurotic character who tends to find the least enjoyable way of doing things the most acceptable. One episode Lampshaded Marge needs Homer's reckless antics for any excitement in her life, to the point she ended up taking his place when a Jerkass Realization made him this trope instead.
  • Princess Sally of Sonic Satam is a downplayed unmarried example. She's humorless, uptight and constantly on Sonic's back for showing off, but in a dystopian world where his recklessness often risks getting him robotocized or worse by an sadistic Evil Overlord, she's usually in the right to. She started off similar in the comic books, though became more easygoing after a while.

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